The NFL schedule makers did little to help us fantasy football junkies when it comes to scouring the free agent pool for viable last-minute start-sit options for Week 6.
Why? Because the true hidden gems of the fantasy world so often come from bad teams who are endlessly jockeying their players in hopes of finding the winning matchup. They play for bad teams that struggle to keep up with their better opponents and produce a lot of garbage time stats.
So when one looks at the Week 6 NFL schedule and sees the Carolina Panthers, Arizona Cardinals, Buffalo Bills and even the Cincinnati Bengals all off on bye, you know it is going to be a tough week to find decent backup options.
Here are a few worth pondering for emergency use in Week 6 …
Vince Young, TEN. Not a QB I want to depend on for consistent week-to-week fantasy stats, Young is coming off an impressive Week 5 outing and faces a primetime matchup against the Jacksonville Jaguars … currently the most generous NFL team when it comes to opposing fantasy quarterbacks at 26.20 points per game.
Matt Cassel, KC. A downright yucky fantasy QB most weeks, Cassel has struggled to carve out a consistent statistical niche with a team that struggles to provide a solid pass catching option. However, against the Houston Texans and their second-highest 24.80 fantasy points allowed to opposing fantasy QBs, it is a safe bet that Cassel will provide at least adequate QB pointage.
Alex Smith, SF. My personal favorite sneaky QB play this week, Smith has a very tenuous grip on the starting signal caller job for the Niners. He is playing for his career this week against a Raiders team that has yeilded the third-highest fantasy points allowed per game so far this season. Michael Crabtree is starting to come around.
Ryan Torain, WAS. He’s been plugged weekly in this column and is finally starting to get some love in fantasy circles. However, he’s still available in nearly 30 percent of Yahoo leagues and should be owned in all formats at this point, especially this week against an Indianapolis defense that has yielded 18.6 fantasy points per game to opposing running backs.
Brandon Jacobs, NYG. After a rough start both on and off the field, Jacobs has started to show more decisiveness and short-yardage dominance for the Giants. He has 20 carries for 120 yards and two touchdowns through the past three weeks and while he’ll continue to play second fiddle to Ahmad Bradshaw, he will get plenty of goal-line action against the Detroit Lions and their extremely generous run defense (23.40 fantasy points per game allowed)
Ladell Betts, NO. It is really slim pickings this week in terms of finding a solid sleeper starter. Pierre Thomas has again been ruled out, leaving Betts and Chris Ivory to share the load against a generous Tampa Bay defense. Betts offers the best upside in terms of PPR production.
Thomas Jones, KC. After running almost as the primary back for the Chiefs in Weeks 2 and 3, Jones has taken a back seat to Jamaal Charles since then. However, there will be plenty of fantasy points to share against a Houston defense that has given up some nice RB fantasy pointage.
Chris Ivory, NO. Again, slim pickings, and while Ivory will yield more yards to Betts, he is perhaps the better bet for a TD.
Jason Snelling, ATL. The Eagles have been allowing nearly 20 points per week to opposing running backs, and while Michael Turner is entrenched as the starter, Snelling should still produce some nice stats in a relief role, especially if Turner hits a stretch where he needs some rest. Snelling is more dynamic in the passing game, too. There are worse options out there for a fantasy owner desperate for a plug-and-play option.
Kenny Britt, TEN. Finally emerging into the talented young receiver many expected, Britt has scored a TD in three consecutive games and has a Week 6 Monday night primetime date with the league’s most generous secondary in Jacksonville.
Johnny Knox, CHI. Opportunity dwarfs talent when it comes to fantasy breakout performances. Knox has both the talent and opportunity this week. First, QB Jay Cutler returns from a concussion that sidelined him last week. He plays against a Seattle defense that allows plenty of fantasy opportunity to opposing receivers. And, new word out of Chicago is that Devin Hester will be used less in the offensive packages to keep him fresh for return opportunities. Knox is fourth among all receivers in yards after the catch, and that ability will help him achieve solid production this week.
Jabar Gaffney, DEN. The Jets have been very beatable by opposing receivers with Darrelle Revis sidelined, and few expect him to play again this week against the Broncos. People are already onto Brandon Lloyd after his big start to the season, but Gaffney continues to float around off most people’s fantasy radars, despite 31 receptions, 3278 yards and a TD in five games thus far.
Davone Bess, MIA. Available in 64 percent of Yahoo leagues, Bess has been majorly underrated in fantasy circles the past several weeks. He had 14 catches for 182 yards and a TD in Weeks 3 and 4 against the Jets and Patriots, respectively, before Miami’s Week 5 bye. This week, the Dolphins draw a Green Bay secondary that has been hit by injury in a game that should showcase some big passing plays. Brandon Marshall will get his attention, but Davone Bess will be right there with him.
Buster Davis, SD. Need a really deep sleeper for an emergency receiver plug-and-play? Go with Davis. Available in 99 percent of all Yahoo leagues, Davis has turned in a respectable 12 receptions for 167 yards in spot relief for the Chargers. This week, Legedu Naanee is listed as doubtful and Davis should see an immediate opportunity to produce with the hot-handed Philip Rivers chucking the pigskin and a matchup with a St. Louis defense that has allowed an average of 20.6 fantasy points per game to opposing receivers.
Devin Aromashodu, CHI. Called it last week away verbally to sockonfl when I mentioned that Robert Meachem was going to have a breakout game. This week, I have the same feeling for Aromashodu, who produced a 5-for-71 outing in Week 1 before falling into the coaching staff’s doghouse since. However, the Bears brass feels comfortable enough in their secondary receivers to scale back Devin Hester’s part in the offensive game plan, and a juicy matchup with Seattle leaves me with a good gut feeling on Aromashodu. Or was that the leftover chili I had for lunch?
Tony Moeaki, KC. Available in an amazing 69 percent of Yahoo leagues, Moeaki the rookie tight end has become the most reliable pass catching option for the Chiefs. That should do him well against a Houston defense that has allowd the second-most fantasy yielded to opposing tight ends.
Heath Miller, PIT. An almost forgotten commodity at the tight end position in Big Ben’s absence, Miller stands to gain a ton of fantasy value with Roethlisberger’s return to the fold this week. The Cleveland Browns are surprisingly stingy to opposing tight ends, but Miller is due and one would expect Big Ben to come out firing as he works to erase the memories of a rocky offseason.
Andrew Quarless, GB. The Miami defense is stout in all areas except against opposing tight ends. That bodes well for young Quarless, who could find himself thrust into the limelight after the potential season-ending injury to Jermichael Finley. At last report, Donald Lee was looking iffy at best for this week’s game, and if he misses, as well, Quarless becomes a cheap tight end fill-in. If Lee plays, Quarless could still produce some OK stats, but I wouldn’t want to bank on a whole lot if there were other options available.
Who are your last minute waiver wire adds and starts for Week 6?