With week six in the books and week seven kicking off with an NFC West showdown in Arizona, let's take a look at players to start, players to avoid and players to pluck off the waiver wire as soon as possible.
GRAB 'EM AND START 'EM
Running backs are always in demand, as teams go to more running back-by-committee setups, finding ones that can score on a regular basis gets tougher and tougher each week. The three to grab right now? First, RB Andre Ellington (ARI) is finally getting the carries from an overmatched RB Rashard Mendenhall, and is expected to start showing the talent that caused the Cardinals to draft him.
Next up, RB Trent Richardson left Cleveland via trade, leaving a big hole for someone to step into. The winner seems to be RB Chris Ogbonnaya (CLE), as he totaled 85 yards and a touchdown on 12 touches last week against the Lions. While RB Willis McGahee is still in the picture, there is a reason that McGahee was unsigned and available after the Richardson trade, and that would bear out in his 2.8 yards per carry average. Bet on Ogbonnaya getting 20 touches or more going forward.
Thrid, the New York Giants struggles have been made far worse by the glaring issues in the backfield, but RB Brandon Jacobs (NYG) did his part to settle the matter. His return to the team he left in free agency led to a couple weeks of adjustment and a breakout 106 yard, 2 TD week against the Bears. Expect more of the same against a struggling Vikings squad come Monday night.
OTHER POSITIONS WITH POTENTIAL
That struggling Vikings squad now has their third starter under center in the last four weeks, but QB Josh Freeman (MIN) is the only one with the chops to possibly keep the job. Freeman's ugly departure from Tampa Bay and a sharp learning curve in Minnesota may limit his immediate impact, but he's the first guy to put on purple this season that can throw the ball down the field, and his mobility will not hurt the team. Against the 0-6 Giants, and their 29th-ranked pass defense, it is a reasonable add-and-start.
WR Keenan Allen (SD) will see a ton of opportunity, now that Malcom Floyd is injured and Allen demonstrated his capability this past Monday night (9/107/1td). Allen is second on the team in catches and yards...and their new best option at WR.
RB Joseph Randle (DAL) will play, and play a lot, as starter DeMarco Murray and backup Lance Dunbar are both out this week against the Eagles. Don't count on much past this week, but Randle will be playing with something to prove.
Is the Kansas City DEF still available in your league? If so...why? What do they need to prove to you to pick them up? The 26 points they scored (Fantasy points-wise) increased their average weekly output to a level equal to a starting WR1. That is sick for a DEF, which is usually an afterthought on Draft Day. Grab. Them. Now.
Grab TE Lance Kendricks (STL) or TE Joseph Fauria (DET) as a flyer pick. Neither of them have put up significant stats yet, but both will be more productive than Owen Daniels sitting on a couch in the locker room.
QB Kevin Kolb (BUF) has not seen the field this year due to injury. Many people drafted him, thinking the Bills' potentially resurgent offense would provide good stats. Then E.J. Manuel arrived, and the parade of half-rate backups followed after injury. Get your roster spot back, and wish Kolb well in his future endeavors.
As valuable as TE Owen Daniels (HOU) has been to the Texans and Fantasy owners, his return in (estimated) seven weeks leaves him of little value until very, very deep into Fantasy playoffs.QB's Christian Ponder (MIN) and Matt Cassel (MIN) shouldn't be on your rosters anymore, either. Get your waders on and go searching for gold in the scrap heap.
To sit and not drop: RB Ben Tate (HOU), RB Eddie Lacy (GB), All WR from ATL, RB DeAngelo Williams (CAR) is facing his first good run DEF of the season, and the normally passable Indianapolis DEF will be torched by an underappreciated former QB on Homecoming Week (QB Peyton Manning - DEN)
Matchup to Watch:
Seattle's offense against a strong Arizona DEF.
Arizona has been strong at home, and have a ball-hawking secondary made even stronger with the emergence of FS Tyronn Mathieu. Seattle has found a way to win, even when they struggle offensively, but this team will have to put on a special performance to win this side of the battle. Seattle's defense, meanwhile, will take Carson Palmer's lunch money. Ellington will get chances to run early, but the way to win this game for the Cardinals involves whipping QB Russell Wilson before he escapes the pocket... and they have the man power to do it.
Blown Call of Week Six:
Ignoring the fact that the author randomly inserted former Charger (and current Bucs) WR Vincent Jackson into a story about the Chargers/Colts matchup, the biggest screw-up from last week's column reads as such:
"WR Jerricho Cotchery (PIT) finally put up a solid game before the bye, and he has a favorable matchup this week against the Jets."
Cotchery proceeded to take the field against the Jets. That, according to the box score, is all he did. Not even targeted once. Surfing the scrap heap stinks some days...
The Patriots will eventually start TE Rob Gronkowski (NE). I promise. His medical issues aren't apparent in practice, but the team hadn't yet cleared him to play in Week 7 at the time of this writing. When he does return, QB Tom Brady may actually call a time out to run over and hug him on the field. Meanwhile, Head Coach Bill Belichick will undoubtedly select yet another running back to get the lion's share of work, sending Patriots Fantasy owners into another round of stroke-like symptoms. (You can still grab WR Kenbrell Thompkins -NE, by the way. He's still out there in more than half of leagues.)
The shutdown may have ended in Washington, but three teams have hit their debt ceiling in the loss column. With the Giants, Jaguars and Buccaneers a combined 0-17, expect these teams to start looking at what the players on their roster are capable of. That means two things: their regular starters may see a decline in playing time (and statistics we Fantasy owners relish so), and unknown quantities will get a chance to shine.
It also means that one of these three teams will likely draft QB Teddy Bridgewater from Louisville after the season. Ahh...advanced scouting.
Good luck, and good scoring.
By Bill Hudson @nosduhllib