AJ Green beating Joe Haden (Getty Images)
AJ Green drew a tricky individual match-up on Sunday, spending much of his afternoon covered by Cleveland corner Joe Haden ... and it didn't really matter.
With receivers of Green's caliber, you don't sweat the opponent.
Haden actually had a solid day against Cincinnati on Sunday, with seven tackles and a pick. But he alone couldn't prevent Green from roasting the Browns, as the second-year receiver hauled in seven balls for 135 yards and a pair of scores. The first TD was a four-yarder — linebacker D'Qwell Jackson picked him up in coverage, which was never gonna work — and the second was a 57-yard surgical strike, with Haden trailing (see above).
Entering the week, Green was the top fantasy scorer at his position. He'll exit Week 6 still atop the leader board. Green has visited the end zone at least once in each of his last five games, and he's topped 100 receiving yards in three of four. He's a beast, basically. Green has also boosted the fantasy value of his quarterback in no small way.
Andy Dalton has thrown a dozen touchdown passes over his last five games, six of them caught by AJ. When all the numbers are in the books this week, he'll have his fourth top-10 fantasy finish among QBs this season. Dalton completed 31-of-46 passes for 381 yards in his team's loss to the Browns, with three touchdowns and four turnovers. (There's a game straight from the Jim Everett files). Clearly it wasn't a clinic from Dalton at all times — he's thrown interceptions in every game this year, so you probably weren't expecting a flawless performance. But he has an all-world receiver at his disposal, plus a sketchy defense that consistently forces him to the air. There's a lot to like in this setup, and Dalton has a home match-up on deck with Pittsburgh's aging, scuffling D.
Fantasy owners are facing a brutal bye situation in Week 7, so keep the not-yet-universally-owned Dalton in your plans. Green, obviously, should be on the un-benchable list.
• Turns out it was a big week for various other Green(e)s as well, with Shonn delivering a monster effort against the Colts' miserable run defense. We checked in with Greene at halftime, and he only got better over the final two quarters, finishing with 161 yards on 32 carries. It's fine to call him a sell-high right now, but you'd actually need to find someone who believes that Sunday's effort represents Shonn Greene's true talent level. That won't be easy. He began the day averaging just 2.9 YPC. Still, Green's fantasy stock is definitely trending up, with Bilal Powell suffering a shoulder injury.
The big performance from Greene allowed the Jets to minimize Mark Sanchez's impact, as he attempted just 18 throws, accounting for 82 yards and two scores. New York corner Antonio Cromartie had a mostly excellent day against Reggie Wayne, holding him to almost nothin' while the game was in the balance, although he drew multiple flags. Cro also had a pair of pick-sixes negated by penalty, which you don't see every day (and which absolutely crushed his IDP owners).
Vick Ballard was a dud for Indy, gaining just 25 rushing yards on eight attempts against a defense that had been yielding 4.7 yards per carry. Delone Carter and Mewelde Moore were in the rushing mix, too, though neither fared well. And Coby Fleener should have caught a touchdown, but Andrew Luck just overshot him (possibly ruining my week. We'll see. Like you care).
The Ravens D had a rough day, despite the win (USP)• The Ravens managed to edge the Cowboys on Sunday, 31-29, but the win was offset by massive personnel losses. Baltimore's defense lost both Ray Lewis (triceps) and Lardarius Webb (knee) to injuries that have season-ending potential. If you hadn't already downgraded the Ravens D from the upper tier, you'll want to do it now. That team allowed a franchise-record 227 rushing yards in Week 6, prompting this reaction from DT Haloti Ngata:
"It's disgusting. We need to fix it right away."
But their problems aren't going away if they're forced to deal with major injuries at every level.
Dallas running back DeMarco Murray is headed for a Monday MRI on his strained foot, after X-rays ruled out a fracture. Murray at least attempted to return in the second half on Sunday, which should give hope to his owners. Both he and Felix Jones topped 90 rushing yards against the Ravens. One these guys, if not both (or maybe Phillip Tanner), will feast on the Carolina run D in Week 7.
Dez Bryant had another very nice fantasy day (13-99-2), marred by a killer drop. Tony Romo put a two-point conversion attempts on Dez's hands, but the ball skipped away. Jason Witten made at least one degree-of-difficulty catch among his six for 88 yards, so he seems to have self-corrected. Also, we should note that the end-game management was awful for Dallas, for the thousandth time in the Jason Garrett era. It's not even a story anymore; it's just expected.
• Perhaps taking advantage of Danny Amendola's absence, Brandon Gibson caught seven balls for 91 yards against Miami. Chris Givens hauled in another long catch (65 yards), finishing with three receptions for 85. Daryl Richardson and Steven Jackson split the backfield touches fairly evenly for the Rams — 13 for D-Rich, 15 for S-Jax — combining for 179 scrimmage yards against the NFL's top-ranked run D.
Ryan Tannehill had a decent enough day in Miami's 17-14 win (185 yards, two TDs), but Brian Hartline was notably absent from the box score. Reggie Bush was a dud, too, rushing for just 17 yards on 12 carries. The 'Phins offense delivered just 192 total yards, yet still pulled out a win, joining what is now a four-way tie atop the AFC East.
Russell Wilson, leaving behind a trail of Pats (USP)• And one of the reasons we have a logjam in the East is that New England dropped a thriller in Seattle, 24-23. The Pats held a 13-point fourth quarter lead, but Russell Wilson tossed a pair of late TD passes, capping off a 293-yard, three-touchdown performance. His game-winning bomb to Sidney Rice was a perfect throw, poorly covered. Wilson hasn't quite been a fantasy machine this season, but check the list of opposing QBs that kid has beaten over his first six NFL games: Tony Romo, Aaron Rodgers, Cam Newton, Tom Brady.
Not too shabby.
Brady delivered a big fantasy number in Week 6, but he did it on volume, attempting 58 passes. He finished with 36 completions for 395 yards and two scores, but he was also picked twice. The Pats offense was stuffed late in the fourth quarter, after the Seahawks boldly/crazily punted the ball to New England on fourth-and-3, trailing by six points with 3:20 on the clock. All things considered, it was an impressive effort from Seattle's D, again. Wes Welker hauled in 10 passes for 138 yards and one score, shrugging off at least two big hits. Aaron Hernandez returned from injury, catching six balls for 30 yards, including a first half TD.
• Cardinals kicker Jay Feeley had a ridiculous few minutes in Arizona, nailing a 61-yard(!) missile to tie the Bills late in the fourth quarter, but doinking a 38-yarder in the final seconds of regulation (possibly tipped). The Cards eventually lost in OT, after a Jairus Byrd interception return (his second pick) set up Buffalo deep in Arizona territory. John Skelton was quarterbacking the Cards offense at the time, because starter Kevin Kolb had checked out with a rib/chest injury. (Prior to the pick, Skelton had done nothing to threaten Kolb's job. He finished 2-for-10).
William Powell and LaRod Stephens-Howling split the carries for Arizona, 13 to 11, but the former K-State back outperformed LSH decisively. Powell rushed for 70 yards and caught one pass for eight. For now, he's the Cardinals back to own if you absolutely have to own one. (You don't, but let's just say). Keep in mind that Arizona's end-of-year schedule is awful, and this team's O-line isn't exactly the best group of run-blockers.
• Trent Richardson was sent to the sideline on Sunday with a rib/side injury, leading to an unexpected workload for Montario Hardesty (15 carries, 56 yards, TD). Richardson sounded optimistic following the game...
...but he'll still require a Monday MRI, so his owners can't completely relax.
• Maybe Ahmad Bradshaw didn't single-handedly deliver anyone a fantasy win in Week 6, but he certainly deserves a game-ball after rushing for 116 yards and one TD on 27 carries against the Niners. Bradshaw became just the second opposing rusher to top 100 yards against San Francisco in their last 44 games, which is nuts. Rookie David Wilson had nothing more than a small supporting role for the Giants, carrying seven times for 35 yards.
Alex Smith was a mess on Sunday, tossing three picks, getting sacked four times, posting a rating of 43.1. Antrel Rolle picked off Smith twice, then later said, "I think this is our most complete game all year long." Well, yeah, I suppose it was. A 26-3 result ain't bad.
RG3, crowd pleaser (USP)• Robert Griffin III was unfair on Sunday afternoon, accounting for 182 yards through the air, 138 on the ground, and three touchdowns (one passing, two rushing). If you're involved in a fantasy format that awards bonuses for long TDs, then RG3's late 76-yard rushing score may have clinched your Week 6 win (unless you're facing an Aaron Rodgers and/or Jordy Nelson and/or James Jones led team, in which case you're cooked. Sorry). I'm not ready to rule out the possibility that Griffin will lead the 'Skins in rushing this season. I'm also not ready to back off my concern about the injury risk associated with RG3, but that's an easy issue to dismiss when he puts up 30-something fantasy points for your fake team. The Giants are up next for Griffin, on the road, as he finally gets a taste of division play.
Christian Ponder delivered 300-plus yards against Washington, because ... well, because everyone does it. Ponder was also picked twice and he lost a fumble, so it was hardly a clean box score. Percy Harvin caught 11 balls for 133 yards, which leaves him on-pace for an insane 131. Adrian Peterson was dealing with ankle pain on Sunday, but he still gained 129 yards on 24 touches, including seven catches. He also delivered the perfect game summary for the Vikes: "We've got to turn those 3s into 7s." Blair Walsh kicked four short-range field goals for Minnesota, with three layups in the first quarter (from 20, 27 and 27).
• The Raiders didn't actually get a win in Atlanta coming off the bye, but they did give us a few reasons to believe that their offense won't be a complete wasteland this season. So that's something. Carson Palmer passed for 353 yards on just 33 attempts, connecting with Denarius Moore five times for 104, and Darren McFadden gave us 98 scrimmage yards and a touchdown. Keep the faith, DMC owners. Your guy is still healthy, and he has a string of friendly match-ups ahead (JAC, at KC, TB, at BAL, NO).
• Tampa Bay's Mike Williams continued his quietly useful season, catching four passes for 113 yards and one score against Kansas City. Vincent Jackson brought in Josh Freeman's other two touchdown tosses, in the Bucs' 38-10 win over the Fightin' Succops. The best plan for Kansas City might just be to keep losing, thus putting the franchise in the best position to draft its future quarterback. Whoever that guy is, he's not on the current roster.
• Matthew Stafford passed for 311 yards in Detroit's comeback win at Philly, 700 of which seemed to arrive in the final five minutes of regulation. The Lions' win was a season-saver, as they surged back despite trailing by 10 points late in the game. Eagles fans should be accustomed to losing these un-losable games by now. Mikel LeShoure was solid for Detroit, gaining 94 yards on 18 touches. Jahvid Best could return soon, assuming he's sufficiently de-concussed, but LeShoure is still the Lions back I'd want, no doubt.
Jeremy Maclin posted his first big fantasy total since Week 1, catching six passes for 130 yards and one score. Michael Vick matched Stafford's 311 passing yards, plus he gained 59 more on the ground, but turnovers and other negative plays remain an issue (two INTs, three sacks). Vick now has multiple turnovers in five of his six games this season, which helps explain why this seemingly loaded team is stuck at 3-3.
• Apologies for the late delivery on Sunday Scene this week, but I was busy being pummeled by Aaron Rodgers in four leagues, and found it impossible to turn away. Like watching a rogue surgeon remove your kidney, while you're drugged in a tub. At least I started James Jones in every league where there's no money on the line, so, um ... [expletive]. Rough night.
EARLY ADDS FOR WEEK 7
QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, Buffalo (vs. TEN)
QB Brandon Weeden, Cleveland (at IND)
QB Josh Freeman, Tampa Bay (vs. NO)
RB Felix Jones, Dallas (at CAR)
RB Daryl Richardson, St. Louis (vs. GB)
RB LeGarrette Blount, Tampa Bay (vs. NO)
RB Jahvid Best, Detroit (at CHI)
RB William Powell, Arizona (at MIN)
WR Mike Williams, Tampa Bay (vs. NO)
WR Kendall Wright, Tennessee (at BUF)
WR Brandon Gibson, St. Louis (vs. GB)
WR Devery Henderson, New Orleans (at TB)
WR Josh Gordon, Cleveland (at IND)