I once again have to go on the apology trail. This week's apology goes out to Brandon Lloyd who burned me huge last week. I am sorry, but unlike Brandon Marshall a few weeks ago, I refuse to say it won't happen again. You're suspect Lloyd. I'm keeping my eye on you.
Last week I didn't look so bad, at least on the “Stud” side of things. Aaron Rodgers had his struggles once again and then hurt his brain, so that wasnt so good. Steven Jackson was the lone bright spot, besides Shaun Hill (my favorite waiver wire pick of last week), for the Rams in their embarrassing loss against the Lions as he went for his first 100+ yd game on the year. Roddy White and Matt Ryan continue to hook up more than a Jersey Shore cast member as White went for 101 yds and a score. Lastly, Zach Miller caught another touchdown as he extends his streak to three games with a score, which is surprising considering the Raiders instituted a revolving door style strategy at the quarterback position.
This week it is all about comebacks, especially for me. I was burned far too often by my “Dud” picks last week and I feel as though I let you all down. I've got all sorts of goodness ahead, so without further ado, my Week 6 Studs and Duds.
Stud: Ben Roethlisberger
Ben Roethlisberger's return from suspension will be the big news of the week, obviously, and there will be a litany questions surrounding his performance even before he sets foot on the field or throws his first pass. The line of questioning will look something like this: How will he handle being back on the field? Will there be boos? Will he look rusty? And just to set your mind at ease I will answer all of these questions for you. 1. He will be fine. He is a professional athlete and the great ones thrive on the pressure of the moment. 2. There may be boos but they will be drowned out by the cheers, because how, if you’re a Steelers fan, not cheer after having to watch your 2nd and 3rd string QBs keep your team afloat to start the year. 3. He may look rusty, which is an inevitability as he catches up to the speed of the game again, but he has the advantage of playing against the Steelers D everyday at practice. Roethlisberger may take a quarter or two to get comfortable, but once he does he will be fine. In his season opening games dating back to 2005, Roethlisberger has thrown for an average of 200 yards and 2 TDs with only a single loss.
Dud: Sam Bradford
I've been loving watching this kid play so far this season, but last week Sam and the Rams had an ugly awakening in Detroit. Bradford has almost literally run out of receivers to throw to and is has to face a stellar San Diego Charger pass defense in Week 6. Not exactly the greatest scenario when you're looking to bounce back after such a harsh loss. Unfortunately I do not see Bradford escaping the grasp of mediocrity this weekend. San Diego has been so touch and go all year and have lost some big games, but their defense has been consistent and solid. The Chargers have the third best pass defense in the league giving up 160 yds/g, allowed only 4 passing touchdowns, and have recorded 18 sacks. It looks like it could be a long day for Bradford dropping back trying to find someone, anyone, to throw to.
Stud: Ahmad Bradshaw
Ever since becoming the feature back in New York, Bradshaw has done nothing but thrive in the spotlight. He has answered any doubters, including myself, and showed that he is the total package. Although he only has a single 100+ yard game on his resume this season he has been a solid producer and is on the verge of having a major break out game. It is possible that the only thing holding him back is the fact that he does not get enough touches. In games where Bradshaw has 20+ touches he averages 102 yds, 1 TD, and 4.7 yds/carry. This week the Giants line up against the Detroit Lions who have installed a passive approach to the run as they rank 26th against the run giving up 133.2 yds/g. Just to give you an idea of the struggles the Lions have had, in their beat down of the Rams in Week 5 they still managed to give up 115 yards to Steven Jackson. As long as Eli is fine with handing the ball off to Bradshaw over and over again, the Giants, and Bradshaw, could walk through this one and have a big day.
Dud: Peyton Hillis
Unfortunately, this is where the fantasy Cinderella’s streak ends…for now. Hillis has a chance to be a big time threat, but this week it seems like all of the stars are lined up against him. He is playing in an emotional game as Ben returns to Pittsburgh, against the league’s best run defense, with a rookie QB who has yet to throw an NFL pass, and is still in the process of recovering from a thigh injury. There is very little room for error in this scenario for Peyton Hillis to have a solid fantasy game. The Pittsburgh defense has shut down some of the best runners in the league already, such as: Chris Johnson- 34 yards, Michael Turner- 42 yards, McGahee and Rice- 59 yards combined. Unless Colt McCoy can work some magic in the passing game on Sunday, the Steelers are going to pack the box and tee off on the run, which could spell disaster for the Browns faithful and Peyton Hillis owners everywhere. Even if he were 100% healthy I would still be weary about starting Hillis come Sunday.
Stud: Anquan Boldin
As is stands right now the New England Patriots have given up the third most fantasy points in the NFL despite scoring big against the Dolphins. The Patriots secondary is obviously their weakest link and I believe that the Ravens will finally get their offense on track and pick it apart piece by piece. The best thing that the Ravens and Anquan Boldin have going for them is that they have a solid running attack that will force the Pats LBs to stay home and respect them up front, which will only open up more and more space for Boldin to run. Boldin is their go to guy and is their only true big play threat, regardless of what Housh was able to do against Pittsburgh, and leads the team in almost every receiving category: TDs (3), targets, receptions, yards, and YAC. Also, the Patriots have already given up two 100+ yd, 1 TD games twice this season already to Dustin Keller and Chad Ochocinco, and Devone Bess came up 4 yards short to making it a third. Not exactly the best track record to have this early in the season.
Dud: Greg Jennings
I almost feel like I am adding insult to injury by even listing a Packer on here. Haven’t they suffered enough? No Ryan Grant, possibly no more Jermichael Finley, and Aaron Rodgers hurt his brain; so needless to say, things are not looking good in Packer Country. My biggest issue isn’t with Jennings, although he is having a subpar season, but there are just too many unknowns going into Week 6. Rodgers might play, which is a good thing, but you have to assume that they are going to try and protect him by playing conservative and focusing on the run, just like Chicago is going to do with Cutler. There is too much at risk to get their star quarterback hurt by dropping him back to pass 30-40 times this week, which will inevitably lead to fewer targets, yards, receptions, etc. Despite all that, Jennings has still seemed to be a secondary option in their passing attack with only 14 catches on the year, but more surprising than that is how inefficient he has been. Jennings has 14 catches, but on 31 targets. That’s less than 50% (you’re welcome for that math); Unacceptable for a top tier receiver. Could he be the new Braylon Edwards? Did I just blow your mind? Oh yeah, and Miami isn’t so bad against the pass, they rank 4th overall allowing a shade over 181 yds/g.
Stud: Mercedes Lewis
After Garrard decided to show me up last week I figured I would give him and his only seemingly effectual receiver a second chance at life in Week 6. I’ll be up front about this one, I do not know much about the guy besides the fact that pretty much all he does is catch touchdowns, much like Visanthe Shiancoe did for Minnesota last season. Mercedes Lewis is not going to get you a lot of points in PPR leagues as he only has 16 on the year, but out of those 16 catches, 5 of those were in the End Zone. This is an impressive fact since he resides on a run heavy Jacksonville team that is up and down every week. Now Lewis faces a Tennessee Titans defense that has been suspect at best. They currently rank 27th in pass defense and have been susceptible to giving up big plays to tight ends (84 yds and a TD on only 5 catches to Jason Witten last weekend).
Dud: Benjamin Watson
I know you’re shocked that I would put another Cleveland Browns player on here, but in this case it is justified. I hate feeling like I am bullying a specific team, but I just do not see much hope for them over the weekend in Pittsburgh. If it weren’t for the emergence of the aforementioned Peyton Hillis we may be talking a little bit more about Watson, who has had a surprisingly solid season despite their various and sundry quarterback woes. Watson leads the Browns in catches (23), receiving yards (230), targets (25), touchdowns, and yards after the catch, but that was with veteran QBs throwing him the football. This week there is a very good chance that untested rookie Colt McCoy could take over at quarterback, which could spell disaster for Watson owners. There is just far too much uncertainty with a rookie quarterback going up against one of the premier defenses in the league for me to recommend starting this guy, at least this week.