• For more fantasy football analysis, go to RotoExperts.com.
Sunday is good for two things, and two things only: church and Fantasy Football. So, I figured, why not combine the two? Certainly doesn't seem blasphemous to me. I originally thought about re-writing popular hymns and replacing the religious reference with football terms, but that just seemed weird and wrong. Instead, I came up with a list of 10 Commandments for the upcoming Week 6 slate of games. Since I wasn't struck down by lighting while composing them, I think the man upstairs approves, or at least has more important things to worry about. I do want to point out, unlike the original stone tablets, my 10 Commandments are simply football recommendations, and in no way should they be used to morally guide your life. Let's get biblical.
In case you were contemplating selling high, or for some reason think his production might fall from the stratosphere, this is just a reminder that Gates is, and always has been, the one. The one tight end who can be reliably started as a wide receiver each week. The one tight end who no matter what the defense does, always finds a way to produce for your team. The one tight end who you should never ever trade, under any reasonable circumstance.
No longer hampered by foot issues, Gates has thrived even more in Vincent Jackson(notes)'s absence, and has been the recipient of seven of Philip Rivers(notes)' 11 touchdown tosses. Some may think the Gates for Fantasy MVP talk is a bit premature, but look at the pass defense ranks of his next four opponents: St. Louis (22nd), New England (28th), Tennessee (27th), Houston (32nd). See anyone there who can stop the runaway Gates train? I don't. Heading into the Chargers' Week 10 bye, Gates could realistically have 50 catches, 850 yards, and 10 touchdowns. In nine games! Say it with me now: M-V-P! M-V-P!
2. Thou shall not worship false Fantasy Gods.
No matter how clutch he is, or how compelling of an argument you can make for him being a better real-life QB than Peyton Manning(notes), Tom Brady(notes) is simply not a Fantasy stud. Not considering the current composition of the Patriots offense. High percentage passes, timely and effective runs, and protecting the ball will be the new name of the game, and really, it's vintage Patriots football when you think about it. And that means vintage Brady, which isn't as great as it sounds.
Before Randy Moss(notes) and the big play arrived in New England, an average Brady season consisted of 530 attempts, 3,700 yards, 25 touchdowns, and 13 interceptions. Good numbers, but certainly not the Top Five totals owners expected in August. This week, Brady will take the revamped offense out for a spin against a Ravens pass defense that's surrendered just three passing touchdowns, and is allowing 156 yards a game through the air, the second best mark in the league. He'll still post useable numbers, but if it tells you anything, I'd rather start his counterpart in this matchup, Joe Flacco(notes). It's time to get off your knees, and accept the fact that Brady is just another cog in your Fantasy machine, and not the deity he once was.
It's been a tough month and a half for Mathews' owners. There was the fumble in Week 1, the ankle sprain in Week 2, the missed game in Week 3, and the annoying emergence of the Human Eight-Ball (Mike Tolbert(notes)) while Mathews sat.
After seeing only nine carries to Tolbert's 12 against Oakland, it's understandable if you want to use Mathews' name as an obscenity every time you look at your roster. It's not advisable though; Mathews could be your savior this week. Despite seeing three fewer handoffs, he outgained Tolbert by 48 yards against the Raiders, and looked completely healthy and fantastically electric on runs of 15 and 17 yards. Norv Turner has long stated his desire to turn the full-time job over to Mathews, and after the runner made it through Thursday's practice sans setbacks, he hinted to the San Diego Union-Tribune that the time was now. Fortuitously for Mathews' owners, the Rams and their speed-enhancing turf happen to be next up on the Chargers docket. Not only do I recommend starting Mathews in all formats, I'm already declaring this the Official Ryan Mathews NFL Breakout Performance game.
4. Remember Monday Night Football, and keep it holy.
It's the end of the football week, and your last chance to secure a victory or mount an amazing comeback, so make sure you give MNF the proper respect and attention. Every Monday should consist of massive food orders, free-flowing draft beer, league-wide taunting, and this Monday the inclusion of Kenny Britt(notes) in your starting lineup.
The mercurial wideout has now caught a touchdown in three consecutive games, and last week, starting in place of Justin Gage(notes), he hauled in four passes on a team-high six targets for 86 yards, and caught a 52-yard bomb that nearly resulted in a second score. He also drew over 40 yards of pass interference penalties, and his ability to stretch the field gave the Titans' running game the room it needed to operate in the second half. Britt is slated to start again on Monday night, and the opponent, the Jacksonville Jaguars, couldn't be more appealing. Ranked 29th in pass defense, the Jags have allowed seven different receivers to top 80 yards this year, and there's nobody on their roster that can contend with the physicality and athleticism of Britt. Get him in your lineup 12-teamers; there will be no regrets come Tuesday morning.
5. Honor thy elders.
No, I'm not talking about Brett Favre(notes). I said elders, not genital flashing grandpas. I'm thinking more along the lines of Derrick Mason(notes). After catching seven balls for 82 yards in the first three games combined, Mason owners were wishing he had retired. The last two weeks have been better; with Mason seeing 14 targets, hauling in nine of them for 127 yards.
The matchup with New England presents a perfect chance for the elderly receiver to briefly turn back the clock. With the Ravens' playoff ground gashing of the Pats in the forefront of Bill Belichick's mind, and the game film of last week's Broncos matchup still spinning in the DVD player (Baltimore totaled 233 rush yards) the Patriots defense will be primed and focused on stopping Ray Rice(notes) and Willis McGahee(notes). The extra congestion up front will allow Joe Flacco to utilize play-action to open up the passing game, and Mason, who will be guarded by a player 10 years his junior, will be able to use his experience and precise route-running to find space in the Pats exploitable secondary. He had seven catches for 88 yards in the Ravens regular season game against New England in '09, and expecting something similar this week is a good bet.
Even under the best of circumstances – meaning you have a healthy, elite RB playing at home – starting any runner against the Steelers defense is a risky proposition (they held Rice, Chris Johnson and Michael Turner(notes) under 100 yards … combined). Starting a running back at Pittsburgh who has a pulled quad muscle, a banged up offensive line, and a third-string rookie QB under center, well, that's just irresponsible. The Colt McCoy(notes) factor alone should prevent Hillis from being started. With no threat of being burned by the pass, Pittsburgh will be paying more attention to Hillis than his own mother. Throw in the injury and the offensive line woes – Cleveland has guys starting that aren't even draftable in a full 53-round Madden draft – there are legitimate concerns that the Browns won't make a single first down all game. As a reference point, I'd much rather start lower-ranked players like Chris Ivory, BenJarvus Green-Ellis(notes), Marshawn Lynch(notes), Barry Word, and Marion Barber(notes) over the hulking, and hurting, Hillis.
7. Thou shall not cheat on your studs.
It's a law known and followed by Fantasy enthusiasts everywhere, but sometimes it's hard to stay the course, especially when you have Greg Jennings(notes) consistently dropping deuces on your roster. And I mean that literally – Jennings has two receptions in each of his last three games. Donald Driver(notes) has been the most targeted Green Bay receiver, and while Jennings does have three touchdowns, he's being used as a deep decoy more often than not. That should change this week against Miami.
For starters, Jermichael Finley(notes)'s nearly seven targets a game have to go somewhere. Jordy Nelson(notes) and James Jones(notes) will see an increase in looks, and Andrew Quarless(notes) won't be ignored completely, but the majority of those throws will be headed in the direction of Driver and Jennings. Particularly Jennings, who had a frustration induced come-apart last Sunday, and met with the coaching staff this week about increasing his role in the offense. There is way too much talent involved in the Rodgers-to-Jennings combo for it to not be successful, and with the absence of Finley, Mike McCarthy and his staff will make restoring that relationship priority number one. Don't waver; the studly Jennings will finally be a game-saver.
8. Thou shall not be ashamed for stealing victories by using bye week replacements.
We toss the term bye-week replacement around a lot, but what we're really saying is, "player that will never be started again" or "player to be used only in desperation." Nothing will prompt an opponent to consider quitting Fantasy Football quite like getting beat because Danny Woodhead(notes) scored 10 points on Monday Night Football. It's nothing to be ashamed of, in fact, making points out of free-agency poop should be celebrated. Here's a deep-option at each position that could have your league mates cursing you out this weekend.
QB: Matt Cassel(notes) at Houston – He's been embarrassingly bad this year (averaging 162.5 yards per game), but so has the Houston pass defense. Ranked dead-last in the league in yards AND touchdowns allowed, the worst outing by an opposing QB was Bruce Gradkowski(notes)'s 19-point showing in Week 4. Something has to give, and my guess is it'll be the Texans secondary.
RB: Mike Hart(notes) at Washington – Really reaching here, but with Donald Brown(notes) expected to sit again, and Joseph Addai(notes) nursing a neck/shoulder issue, Hart, who had 50 yards and a score last week, could find double-digit touches against a Redskins defense allowing 4.5 yards per carry.
WR: Deon Butler(notes) at Chicago – With Branch gone to New England, the starting flanker role has been folded neatly and placed into Butler's lap. Branch led all Seattle receivers with 13 catches from the flanker spot, and the Seahawks will be forced to throw against the Bears third-ranked rush defense.
9. Thou shall not bear false witness to yourself any longer.
In other words, it's time to stop lying to ourselves. Certain players simply aren't who we thought they were, and the sooner we admit that, the easier it'll be to make accurate assessments of our teams going forward. Give these guys one last shot to prove themselves before kicking them to the curb:
QB: Jay Cutler(notes) vs. Seattle – Okay, so you're not going to cut Cutler, but if the Bears offense operates as it did against the Giants two weeks ago, a change of direction needs to be considered, and then acted upon.
RB: Carnell Williams(notes) vs. New Orleans – After rushing 49 times in the first two weeks, Williams has just 17 carries in the past two games. If he can't get untracked against the Saints 22nd ranked run defense, it's time to move your investment to LeGarrette Blount(notes) and Kareem Huggins(notes).
10. Thou shall covet your league mates' players.
The conclusion of Week 6 brings us to the halfway point in most leagues, and ushers in full-scale panic mode for owners sitting on two or fewer victories. If you find yourself in such a situation, you might as well take a vacation from work and spend all your time trying to pull off a season-changing trade. Here are four guys I'm targeting for the stretch run:
QB: Michael Vick(notes) – When he's healthy he'll be the starter, no matter how good Kevin Kolb(notes) looks over the next couple of weeks. In fact, the better he plays, the more Vick's perceived trade value decreases. Root for Kolb, trade for Vick.
RB: Darren McFadden(notes) – Hamstring issues and Michael Bush(notes)'s presence may have made DMC owners forget about his 345 rushing yards in the first three games. Don't make the same mistake – the Raiders are still fully committed to him.
WR: Pierre Garcon(notes) – 14 targets in his first game back, and Austin Collie(notes) wears a boot on his injured foot Monday-Saturday. You may want to act before all is revealed in Sunday Night's game.
TE: Zach Miller – Considering he's a Top Three TE in receptions, yards, and touchdowns, you might find an owner who thinks he's selling high on Miller. If so, pounce – The Zach Attack's numbers are as legitimate as they come.
Sign up for the RotoExperts Xclusive Edge Fantasy Football package
Got a question for Chris? Drop him a line at email@example.com mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org