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NFL Fix: Week 6 (With Saturday Update) - Build Around the Denver Passing Attack

Michael Waldo

Welcome to the 6th installment of the 2014 NFL Fix! Every week we will highlight our top plays, value picks, and contrarian options at each position while focusing on a specific site's pricing for each roster spot. Typically, the pricing of players is consistent across the industry but it's important to check with your specific league before assuming a player that's a value on FanDuel will also be a value on DraftKings, for example. To help you with this process, we are also publishing site-specific cheatsheets with the prices of the top plays from each position. You can subscribe to these cheatsheets here.

Our rankings are based on many different factors including opponent strength, Vegas lines, past performance, projected targets/touches, and coaching schemes to deliver an overall projection of the players. Our goal is to exploit the pricing inefficiencies on each daily site to help find you players that can outperform their cost of ownership.  At the top of each position write-up, you'll find a ranking of the top 5 players ranked by our sister site, Fantistics for standard scoring leagues.  Since scoring formats vary and price is big factor, these rankings might not necessarily reflect the players we view as the top 5 projected point scorers. 

We'll post updates to our analysis on Saturday morning and we'll also send out our Sunday morning email updates as each team's actives and inactives are reported.

Saturday Update:

Stock Up:

Bishop Sankey (RB - TEN) - Bishop Sankey finds himself in a fantastic situation on Sunday against the Jacksonville Jaguars.  Starter Shonn Green missed practice on both Thursday and Friday and it's doubtful that he will see the field this weekend.  Tennessee is a 6 point favorite over the Jaguars at home and Sankey will have a crack at the majority of the carries in Green's absence.  He's dirt cheap around the industry so expect him to be widely owned, making him a solid cash game value. 

Davante Adams (WR - GB) - With Jarrett Boykin unlikely to play for the 3rd straight game, Davante Adam will likely see another big workload in the Packer's offense that's projected to score 26 points.  Adams played in 69% of the snaps in week 4 and 88% of the snaps in week 5 (PFF).  He has emerged as one of my favorite cheap tournament plays of the day. 

Joique Bell (RB - DET) - Reggie Bush is questionable to play so the Joique Bell will likely shoulder most of the touches for the Lions.  With Megatron also unlikely to play, the Lions will probably want to establish the running game early.  He's a little risky for cash games but I do like him in tournaments. 

Storm Johnson (RB - JAC) - A storm is brewing in Jacksonville as rookie Storm Johnson will see an increased workload in Sunday's game against Tennessee.  Toby Gerhart has struggled to do anything on the ground, averaging 2.6 YPC and battling injuries.  Johnson is pretty cheap but like Sankey, will likely be heavily owned.  I'm not as high on him as Sankey (or Oliver or Williams) but the Titans have allowed the 7th most rushing yards per game.   This week is shaping up to be a coming out party for numerous backup running backs. 

Stock Down:

Arizona Offense - Coach Bruce Arians confirmed that his quarterback decision between Drew Stanton and Carson Palmer will be a game time decision. Unfortunately, that game starts at 4:25 ET.  For what it's worth, I still really like Andre Ellington if Michael Floyd doesn't play, so if you play on a site where lineups don't lock until game time, you can use these two players as insurance for one another in the flex.  On DraftKings, Ellington is $5,100 and Floyd is $5,400. 

Eddie Lacy (RB - GB) - The Milwaukee Journal - Sentinel  reported on Friday that Eddie Lacy and James Starks will both see about 50% of the snaps.  Lacy is cheap on DraftKings and was a suggested value play but the news on Friday clouds his outlook, especially since Miami is already in the top half of the league in yards allowed to running backs. 

Tom Brady / Rob Gronkowski (QB - WR) - Tom Brady hit the injury report after being limited in practice with an ankle injury.  He's questionable for Sunday's game.  Patriot mind games or not, it's always a concern when a play pops up on an injury report mid-week.  Stay tuned for more news and watch our inactive/active e-mail tomorrow before the 1 PM start.  Have a backup plan for Gronkowski if Brady doesn't play.

Original Post:

Quarterbacks - Featured site is DraftDay

Fantistics Top 5 QBs:

1. Peyton Manning

2. Aaron Rodgers

3. Matt Stafford

4. Matt Ryan

5. Andy Dalton

Top Play:

Peyton Manning (DEN) - Peyton Manning's price is sky-high across the industry but he's the closest thing to sure bet of anyone on the slate this week.  Manning and company gets an incredibly juicy matchup against the New York Jets who have allowed 12 passing touchdowns through the season's first 5 weeks.  All of the Jets' defensive backs rank in the bottom half of the league by ProFootballFocus and they just gave up 3 touchdowns to the San Diego Chargers.  With Montee Ball out and Ronnie Hillman being asked to square off against a tough Jets defensive line, look for Manning to challenge the Jets through the air early and often.

Aaron Rodgers (GB) - If you can't pay up for Manning, Rodgers is a step down from Manning but still deserves consideration given his lower price point.  Rodgers got off to a huge start last week (3 touchdown passes before halftime) before they turned to the run to eat up the clock.  The Packers offense is clicking on all cylinders right now and Rodgers is manning the ship. He has a 76% completion percentage with 7 touchdowns over his last 2 games and he hasn't thrown an interception since Week 1 against Seattle.  He hits the road to go to Miami to take on a Dolphins defense that ranks 9th in passing yards allowed per game (215) and 11th in passing touchdowns (7).  While those statistics sound nice, it's worth mentioning the Dolphins faced a struggled Tom Brady in Week 1 following by EJ Manuel, Alex Smith and Derek Carr to earn those numbers. 

Other top plays: Matt Ryan (ATL)

Value Play:

Andy Dalton (CIN) - Thanks to an up-and-down start to the year, Andy Dalton's price has fallen to a point where he makes for an extremely good value in week 6.  The Bengals will face Carolina at home on Sunday and are 7 point favorites over the disappointing Panthers.  Cincinnati is 10-1 over their last 11 home games and Mohamed Sanu as emerged as a legitimate WR2 to complement star AJ Green (who may or may not play this week).  At $12,650 on DraftDay, he provides enough salary relief to be able to fit both him and the $18,600 Peyton Manning in the lineup on two quarterback sites. 

Other value plays: Russell Wilson (SEA), Ben Roethlisberger (PIT)

Upside / Contrarian Plays:

Kirk Cousins (WAS) - A week after throwing 4 interceptions, Cousins began to redeem himself in a tough matchup against Seattle on Monday night.  Despite a poor completion percentage of 58%, Cousins managed to throw for 283 yards and 2 touchdowns without turning the ball over against an above average Seahawks defense.  He draws a nice matchup on the road in Arizona against the Arizona Cardinals who are averaging 303 yards given up through the air along with 2 touchdowns a game. 

Eli Manning (NYG) - The up-and-down season continues for Eli Manning.  After two very strong performances in Weeks 4 and 5, Manning took a small step back on Sunday while throwing for just 200 yards but adding 2 touchdowns against a surprisingly tough Atlanta Falcons pass defense.  On the year, Manning has 11 touchdowns and has turned the ball over just once over his last 3 games.  The Giants are hosting the Philadelphia Eagles in what will likely result in a shootout with opposing quarterback Nick Foles.  The Eagles' starting cornerbacks Bradley Fletcher and Cary Williams have been less than impressive this year but coach Chip Kelly is refusing to move their undersized but arguably best coverman, Brandon Boykin, to the outside.  The addition of Odell Beckham also gives Manning another receiving option opposite Reuben Randle with Victor Cruz in the slot and big target Larry Donnell in the red zone.  Manning struggles with consistency but he has tremendous upside this week. 

Other Upside Plays: Carson Palmer (ARI)


Running backs - Featured site is DraftKings

Fantistics Top 5 RBs:

1. Matt Forte

2. LeSean McCoy

3. Le'Veon Bell

4. Giovani Bernard

5. Marshawn Lynch

Top Plays:

Matt Forte (CHI) - Even though he hasn't yet scored a touchdown on the ground (despite being 3rd in the league among RBs with touches in the red zone), Matt Forte has been earning his value through the air, averaging over 7 catches a game on just over 8 targets.  In fact, he has nearly as many receiving yards (299) as he has rushing yards (319)!  Last week he caught 12 passes, including his first receiving touchdown of the year.  Forte had a rough schedule to start the year, facing the Bills, 49ers and Jets and his performance reflected the tough schedule, averaging just 45 yards on the ground.  Over his last two games, however, he has faced a much more favorable schedule (GB and CAR) and averaged 91.5 rushing yards per game.  The favorable schedule continues in Week 6 when the Bears travel to Atlanta to take on the Falcons in what's being projected to be the highest scoring game of the week by Vegas. If there was ever a week for Forte to break his touchdown drought, this would be it.  The Falcons have given up 10 rushing touchdowns this year, 4 more than any other team.

Giovani Bernard (CIN) - The AJ Green injury means that Andy Dalton will likely be relying more heavily on Giovani Bernard than usual on Sunday.  Bernard should be up for the task when he faces a Panthers' front line that has allowed an NFL high 5.4 yards per carry to start the year.  On the season, the Bengals have called a run play in the red zone 65% of the time with Bernard receiving 58% of those opportunities.  I'd expect to see a lot of Bernard and Mohamed Sanu around the goal line on Sunday, especially since the Bengals are projected to be a 7 point favorite over the visiting Panthers according to Vegas books.  

Other Top Play: Le'Veon Bell (PIT), Marshawn Lynch (SEA)

Value Plays:

Frank Gore (SF) - Frank Gore remains under team control until the end of the season and the 49ers are doing everything they can to squeeze every last bit of value out of his legs.  Averaging 21 touches the last 2 weeks, Gore has racked up 226 yards on the ground while averaging 5.4 yards per carry.  St. Louis ranks 3rd to last in rushing yards allowed per game.  A week after allowing DeMarco Murray to rush for 100 yards, the Rams allowed LeSean McCoy and Darren Sproles to combine for 132 yards on the ground in Week 5.  Obviously, Gore is a little less valuable on sites that reward a full point per receptions, like DraftKings, but he's still a decent bet to exceed the century mark for the 3rd straight game. 

Branden Oliver (SD) - Branden Oliver was unbelievable on Sunday in a matchup against a tough New York Jets defensive line.  After Donald Brown was knocked out of the game with a concussion, Oliver totaled 182 multi-purpose yards with 114 yards rushing and 68 yards receiving along with a touchdown of each variety.  Oliver should handle the majority of touches again this week, even if Brown is cleared to play.  The Chargers get to play Oakland, an excellent matchup for opposing running backs.  Oliver's price jumped up big the last week but he's still affordable and is an excellent value play this week.    

Andre Williams (NYG) - The only thing standing in the way of a monster day from rookie Andre Williams is his head coach.  However, even though Tom Coughlin is notorious of distrusting rookies, he has already come out to say that he believes Williams could be a featured back this weekend with Rashad Jennings out.  The Giants will face a Philadelphia Eagles defense that gives up 132 rushing yards per game and Williams is a force to be reckoned with around the goal line. The Eagles defense has allowed opposing offenses to score in the red zone 23% of the time, which ranks in the bottom half of the league. He's not necessarily cheap but he's definitely an affordable value play on many of the daily sites. 

Other value plays: Eddie Lacy (GB) & LeSean McCoy (PHI) are fantastic values on sites where their prices have dropped (i.e. DraftKings), Ronnie Hillman (DEN) - will likely see plenty of garbage time work and despite being a generally tough defensive line, Branden Oliver just torched the Jets on the ground in Week 5

Upside / Contrarian:

DeMarco Murray (DAL) - It's going to be tough to pony up the money for DeMarco Murray this week as the Cowboys travel to Seattle's hostile home turf.   Murray has rushed for 100 or more yards in every game this season and has 5 touchdowns through the first 5 weeks of the year.  Ironically, last week was the first week he didn't score a touchdown but he doubled his previous high for red zone touches with 6.  Seattle's defense has allowed just one rushing touchdown on the season and they lead the league with 62 rushing yards per game.   It's a brutal matchup but Murray comes in as the hottest player in the NFL and obviously carries high upside.   He's strictly a contrarian tournament play this week.     

Other upside play:  Bishop Sankey (TEN) - If Tennessee gets up early over the Jaguars, look for Sankey to see action in garbage time as Ken Whisenhunt attempts to increase the rookie's snap count, Andre Ellington (ARI) - great value upside play if Palmer is out for Week 6, otherwise just okay against an above average run defense in Washington. 


Wide Receivers - Featured site is FanDuel

Fantistics Top 5 WRs:

1. Demaryius Thomas

2. Dez Bryant

3. AJ Green

4. Julio Jones

5. Steve Smith

Top Plays:

Demaryius Thomas (DEN) - Thomas broke out in a big way last weekend and consequently, his price is up all around the industry.  As we mentioned with Manning, all of the Broncos receiving options are in play this week as the team takes on a very weak New York Jets secondary.   Thomas has only reeled in 49% of his targets this year, but when he's being targeted by Peyton Manning as much as he has been, he can still be quite productive. Look no further than his 8 catch on 16 target performance in Week 5.  Of all players with at least 10 receptions, Demaryius Thomas ranks 2nd in the league in yards after catch with 10.3. 

Steve Smith (BAL) - Steve Smith cracks our top WR plays and is also considered one of the best values of the day.  Baltimore faces a Tampa Bay defense that has yielded the 2nd most receiving yards on the season and 5th most receiving touchdowns.  Smith has averaged 15.4 YPRE, largely because of his big play potential.  His 49 targets are the 6th most in the NFL and the highest on the Ravens by 20. 

Other top plays: Julio Jones (ATL), Antonio Brown (PIT), Randall Cobb / Jordy Nelson (GB)

Value Plays:

Brandon Marshall (CHI) - His injury and recent usage has dropped his price down to the levels of the 2nd tier wide receivers.  The last 3 weeks, Marshall has just 6 catches for 69 yards.  I'm expecting that number to grow exponentially in Week 6 after head coach Marc Trestman stated that he wanted to get Marshall more involved with the offense.  On the season, Marshall has an excellent 56% red zone conversion rate on 9 targets around the goal line.  With more targets likely and the Bears squaring off against a terrible Atlanta Falcons secondary, I'm expecting a monster day from Brandon Marshall. 

Mohamed Sanu (CIN) - AJ Green was carted off the field during practice today after re-injuring his toe.   His status is up-in-the-air on Sunday.  I liked Sanu this week before Green got hurt but after the injury news, I love him in my lineups.  Sanu is the clear cut #2 option in the Bengals offense and without AJ Green, he'll be Dalton's target of choice against an inept Carolina pass defense.  The 3rd-year wideout is leading the Bengals in targets and has seen the most red zone looks of anyone else on the roster.  His 8.9 yards-after-catch average also ranks 6th in the NFL.  He has the chance to be one of the best values of the day. 

Reuben Randle/Odell Beckham (NYG) - The Giants' outside wide receivers are licking their chops for a matchup against 2 of the worst cornerbacks in the NFL this week.  As mentioned earlier with Eli, the Giants travel to Philly to take on a Philadelphia defense that has forced a lot of turnovers and scored a lot of points, but has failed to stop their opponent's passing attacks.  The Eagles are giving up the 4th most passing yards per game and have allowed the most receiving touchdowns in the NFL.  Odell Beckham made his NFL debut in Week 5 and showed why he was selected in the first round of last spring's draft.  Beckham was targeted 5 times by Eli Manning and will likely see his snap count rise from the 38 (53%) he played on against the Falcons.  Reuben Randle has also established a nice rapport with Eli Manning this year, seeing 10 targets each of the last 3 games.  Due to their lower price around the industry and nice matchups on the outside, they both make strong consideration as value plays. 

Wes Welker / Emmanuel Sanders (DEN) - If you haven't caught on by now, it's smart to get some exposure to the Broncos offense this weekend and either Wes Welker or Emmanuel Sanders will likely be your cheapest options.  There was some concern that Welker and Sanders would be unable to coexist in the same offense but playing time was no issue in Week 5 with Welker playing 69 snaps and Sanders playing 78 (PFF).  Both receivers were targeted 9 times by Peyton Manning, despite the fact that Demaryius Thomas drew 16 targets on his own.  The offensive onslaught will likely continue this week against the Jets so try to get at least one Bronco in your lineups this week.  Vegas has Denver projected to score nearly 28 points. 

Torrey Smith (BAL) - Even though Steve Smith has the flashy statistics, Torrey Smith is continuing to see close to 6 targets a game.  His price has bottomed out around the industry and he draws a very favorable matchup against a Buccaneers defense that has given up a lot of big plays to opposing wide receivers this year.  CB Alterraun Verner will have his hands full trying to defend Steve Smith, which leaves Jonathan Banks to cover Torrey.  Banks is ranked #86 out of 102 CBs on ProFootballFocus in terms of pass coverage. 

Mike Evans (TB) - Originally thought to be out for at least 1-2 more weeks, Mike Evans practiced on Wednesday and could be cleared to play on Sunday.  The injury dropped his price point and he'll actually have a competent quarterback throwing him the ball this weekend since Mike Glennon will start again for the Bucs.  Baltimore's defense has allowed the 4th most yards to wide receivers this season and Evans looms as a big time red zone target.  He's a nice play if you need salary relief, just make sure he's a "go" on Sunday morning. 

Other Value Plays: TY Hilton (IND), Roddy White (ATL), Markus Wheaton (PIT),

Upside / Contrarian:

Victor Cruz (NYG) - While Odell Beckham and Reuben Randle get consideration as value plays, Victor Cruz was purposely excluded from that list.  Eagles coach Chip Kelly was adamant about leaving Brandon Boykin, the team's best cornerback, on the inside covering their opponent's slot receiver. With Cruz facing pretty good coverage, Eli Manning will likely have more opportunities for his other receiving options in the offense.  Regardless, it's still going to be a high scoring game so Cruz can be used in tournaments but he's a bit too risky to be considered in cash games at this point. 

Michael Floyd (ARI) -  If Carson Palmer is able to make his return in Week 6 (which is sounds like a distinct possibility), Michael Floyd becomes an intriguing option against a Washington Redskins secondary that was picked apart by Russell Wilson on Monday night.  Washington has been able to limit the total receiving yardage pretty well this season (rank 12th in yds/gm) but they have the 7th highest YPRE at 12.1 and have allowed the 4th most receiving touchdowns with 11.  Floyd has predictably struggled without a solid quarterback, catching one pass in 2 of his last 3 games. If Palmer is able to return, Floyd has an excellent matchup and many people will probably shy away from deploying the Arizona offense until they had make a judgment call on Palmer's health.  Floyd is obviously a tournament-only play. 

Other Contrarian / Upside Plays:  Dez Bryant (DAL) - Seattle's defense is not as scary as it appears but will drive down his ownership rate, Justin Hunter / Kendall Wright (TEN), Terrance Williams (DAL), Allen Robinson (JAC), Percy Harvin (SEA)


Tight Ends - Featured site is FantasyAces

Fantistics Top 5 TEs:

1. Julius Thomas

2. Rob Gronkowski

3. Martellus Bennett

4. Delanie Walker

5. Vernon Davis

Top Plays:

Julius Thomas (DEN) - Through 4 games, Peyton Manning has targeted Julius Thomas 36% of the time, the highest rate of any player on the Broncos.  He and Demaryius Thomas are also leading the Broncos in red zone targets with 9 and 8, respectively.  The Broncos face the New York Jets who rank 31st in defending tight ends (FO) and also have allowed the 8th most red zone chances to opposing teams this year.  He won't come cheap but he's a great option give his huge volume usage and TD upside. 

Other Top Play: Rob Gronkowski (NE), Martellus Bennett (CHI)

Value Plays:

Larry Donnell (NYG) - Eli Manning has developed a strong chemistry with tight end Larry Donnell this season.  On the year, Donnell has 32 targets, including 11 in the red zone.  Of those red zone targets, he has scored touchdowns on 4 of those passes.  The emergence of Odell Beckham might redirect some red zone looks towards the rookie but I'm still expecting Donnell to have a big piece in the offense, especially around the goal line.  At his price, he's a strong value play. 

Other Value Plays: Jason Witten (DAL) - Seattle's defense ranks 20th against defending opposing tight ends, Greg Olsen (CAR)

Upside Plays

Eric Ebron (DET) - Eric Ebron nearly had his second touchdown in 2 weeks last week but it was eventually called back because the ball hit the ground.  With Calvin Johnson looking extremely questionable to play, Ebron will again play a role in the red zone for the Lions. The Vikings have given up 9 receiving touchdowns on the year while allowing opposing teams to score in the red zone 38% of the time, the 2nd worst mark in the NFL.

Other Upside Plays: Jordan Reed (WAS), Clay Harbor (JAX)


Kickers - Featured site is FanDuel

Fantistics Top 5 Ks:

1. Justin Tucker

2. Ryan Succop

3. Adam Vinatieri

4. Robbie Gould

5. Steven Hauschka

Top Values:

As usual, I like to approach the kicker position by selecting the players with the highest potential with the lowest salary.  Players who fit that mold this week include Ryan Succop (TEN), Robbie Gould (CHI).  Both kickers will be playing in high scoring games and are priced near league minimum on FanDuel. 

Defense - Featured site is FantasyFeud

Fantistics Top 5 Ks:

1. Detroit

2. San Diego

3. Tennessee

4. New England

5. Cincinatti

Top Play:

San Diego - The Chargers are ranked 3rd in the league in yards allowed per game with just 291 while the Oakland Raiders come to town and bring their league worst yards-per-game average of 270.  The Raiders are also averaging an anemic 12.8 points per game, while the Chargers have allowed a league leading 12.6 points per game.  The result is a perfect storm of dominance for the Chargers defense. 

Other Top Play: Detroit

Value Plays:

Tennessee - What do you do when Jacksonville comes around?  You start the opposing defense, of course!  Jaguars quarterbacks have been sacked league high 21 times through the season's first five weeks and their 10 turnovers are the 3rd highest in the NFL.  Tennessee is also tied for 4th in the league with 6 interceptions.  While the Titans defense isn't as talented as some others, at their price point around the industry, their matchup is hard to ignore. 

Green Bay - If you read my article on defensive red zone statistics, you'll know that I listed the Green Bay game as a matchup to avoid for Miami players.  The Packers' opponents have had the 3rd most chances in the red zone to begin the year but the Packers have allowed the opposing team to score just 7 times, which translates to a 13% red zone success rate (2nd best in the NFL).  The Pack is tied for 3rd for the most takeaways of any defense this year, further reinforcing Green Bay as a solid bet to follow-up their huge week 5 performance with another good week.  

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