In “Start or Sit,” we make a call on players who merit strong starting consideration — and players who might be best on the bench. However, owners should tailor their own lineup strategy to their roster constraints, league rules and other relevant factors.
Here’s our Week Six rundown:
Colts RB Vick Ballard (at N.Y. Jets) — Ballard, who's slated to make his first career start at the Jets on Sunday, is an acceptable "flex" play in bigger leagues. The Jets' run defense is allowing 172.4 yards and 1.6 TDs per game. Here is a waiver-wire pickup who immediately can be placed in certain lineups, given the matchup. This especially holds true if you are dealing with bye-week and/or injury-related issues. Ballard gets the call with Donald Brown (knee surgery) expected to miss 2-3 weeks, according to interim head coach Bruce Arians.
Giants RB Ahmad Bradshaw (at San Francisco) — He likely made many fantasy owners very, very happy with 200 yards rushing against Cleveland on Sunday. Now, he draws a tough San Francisco defense. Sit him? No, start him, I say. In his lone 2011 meeting against the Niners (in the NFC championship game), he ground out 126 yards on 26 total touches (20 carries, six catches). With so much at stake against such a strong defense, I would guess Bradshaw won't be getting much rest on Sunday.
Eagles TE Brent Celek (vs. Detroit) — The Lions have had some problems against tight ends. The 49ers' Vernon Davis caught a pair of touchdowns against Detroit in Week Two, and the Titans' Jared Cook scored a 61-yard TD on Detroit the following week. What's more, Cook's Tennessee position mate, Craig Stevens, also had a productive day (5-63-0). Celek's playmaking ability makes him an intriguing play in Week Six.
Buccaneers WR Vincent Jackson (vs. Kansas City) — The Chiefs, who have surrendered 10 TD passes, are one of only eight teams to have given up double-digit scores through the air entering Week Six. Jackson had at least 100 receiving yards and a TD in two of his final three games entering the bye. I would think continuing to get the ball to their go-to receiver will be a big part of the Bucs' post-bye plans.
Redskins RB Alfred Morris (vs. Minnesota) — While the Vikings are allowing just 3.2 yards per carry, I'm still inclined to recommend Morris as a play on Sunday. After all, when these teams met on Christmas Eve 2011, Evan Royster rolled for 132 yards on 19 carries against Minnesota. What's more, Morris (100 carries, 491 yards, four TDs in five starts) has been simply too productive to recommending sitting right now. Note that Morris has received 85.5 percent of the carries that have not gone to QB Robert Griffin III this season.
Cardinals running backs (at Buffalo) — Yes, the Bills' run defense has been wretched the past two weeks, surrendering 558 yards (!) on the ground. However, I wouldn't be pushing William Powell or LaRod Stephens-Howling into the lineup simply because of the matchup. The Cardinals have been a poor rushing team all season, and the Bills fared well against the Jets' and Browns' running games earlier in the season. I have no problem with a "flex" flier on Powell in very big leagues — with Stephens-Howling coming off a hip injury, Powell might be the safer Week Six play for those inclined. However, owners with more proven options will want to look elsewhee.
Ravens QB Joe Flacco (vs. Dallas) — I just don't like the matchup. The Cowboys, who have one of the game's top CB tandems, are allowing just 169.5 net passing yards per game, and they have allowed just five TD passes in four games. While Flacco has been better at home than on the road, that isn't enough to make him a top-caliber play in Week Six.
Chargers WR Robert Meachem (vs. Denver) — The Broncos' stout pass rush is capable of limiting downfield passing, and Chargers wideouts had only one TD in two games against Denver a season ago. Meachem's two TDs at New Orleans in Week Five were positive signs, but they came against his old team, and they came after four games of limited production.
Broncos RB Willis McGahee (at San Diego) — The Chargers have held up pretty well against the run, allowing just 3.7 yards per carry. (Though, to be fair, teams have attempted just 99 rushes in five games vs. San Diego, which is less than the league average.) Nevertheless, the early evidence suggests it's easier to throw than run on the Chargers, who have allowed 11 TD passes.