It seems like just as the dust settles on another wild fantasy week, it's time to haze the next crop.

At first glance Week 6 appears as mild mannered as a bye week boy scout pushing mediocre cookies and cheap holiday favors; there doesn't appear to be any reason for concern, but then again, seldom does anything from the catalog come as it appears.

Thankfully three very fantasy friendly teams return to action (Dolphins, Patriots and Steelers) while four so-so teams take a break (Arizona, Carolina, Buffalo, Cincinnati), leaving us with piles of potential point earners to play and me with a much warmer feeling in my stomach. Let's bounce!

Certainly Start: Matt Forte, Johnny Knox, Greg Olsen, CHI Defense, Robbie Gould, John Carlson

Consider: Devin Hester, Jay Cutler, Mike Williams, Justin Forsett, Marshawn Lynch

Hold back: Matt Hasselbeck, Leon Washington, SEA Defense, Olindo Mare, Deion Butler

Sleepers: Golden Tate, Chester Taylor 

A return home should do the Bears some good, especially against such a pitiful road team like the Seahawks. Despite coming off their BYE, Seattle is and should be a considerable road dog against a tough Bears defense. Even if Lance Briggs (ankle) and Brian Urlacher (groin) don't roll, the return of Jay Cutler (concussion) at the helm against a generous Seattle secondary should provide fine fantasy fare for the Chicago skill players (Forte/Knox/Hester/Olsen). Marshawn Lynch will showcase the goods for the first time as a Seahawk, providing a nice compliment to Justin Forsett and making them both worthy flex options this week. John Carlson could be the only viable aerial option for Hasselbeck, but I'm counting on a run heavy attack from Seattle, so even he is a stretch. Keep expectations low on Golden Tate and Mike Williams for now - maybe one will jump ahead in garbage time as Seattle desperately flings for their fate.

Certainly Start: Tom Brady, Joe Flacco, Ray Rice, Wes Welker, Anquan Boldin, Aaron Hernandez

Consider: Brandon Tate, Rob Gronkowski, Danny Woodhead

Hold back: BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Willis McGahee, Todd Heap, T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Sammy Morris, Fred Taylor (injury), Julian Edelman

Sleepers: Deion Branch 

Rematches of this magnitude deserve a prime time slot if you ask me, but I don't make the schedule, I just predict the outcome. There is arguably no hotter team in the AFC (New York Jets) than the Ravens, who's only loss came at the bumbling hands of the Bengals. After taking some time to find their rhythm in the passing game, Joe Flacco and Ray Rice further showcased their impressive skill-set with a dazzling rushing performance against the the strong Bronco rush defense, so keep all big-gun Ravens in for this week. New England started their BYE week off with a bang by trading Randy Moss and ended it by trading for Deion Branch. Wes Welker should see the majority of defensive attention now with Moss gone, making Brandon Tate and Danny Woodhead prospective sleeper starts. Both Patriot TE's Gronkowski & Hernandez are worthy starts also. I don't put it past Baltimore to steal another one, but the Patriots don't make the same mistakes twice.

Certainly Start: Ahmad Bradshaw, Hakeem Nicks, Jahvid Best, Calvin Johnson (injury), NYG Defense

Consider: Eli Manning, Nate Burleson (injury), Brandon Jacobs, Brandon Pettigrew, Steve Smith

Hold back: Shaun Hill, Tony Scheffler (injury), Maurice Morris, Kevin Boss

Sleepers: Mario Manningham

It's pretty safe to say that the Lions have been un caged after last week. Sure, the Rams aren't anything special, but they were scoring points in bunches up until visiting Detroit and the Lions sure did keep the Bradford and Sons damage to a minimum. The shoulder injury to Calvin Johnson is the most relative fantasy news here - so plan accordingly and be sure to check the injury reports on Friday & Sunday morning for his updated status. If he's active you have to start him, otherwise go with Nate Burleson, however he is also nursing an injury, and if it's the case where neither go - it's a lost cause. I fully expect the Giants to dominate this game. They are 3-0 at home so far this season and won impressively in Houston last week against the high octane Texans. Ahmad Bradshaw (ankle) and Brandon Jacobs should see the bulk of the load, but don't even think about benching Hakeem Nicks or Steve Smith. We all know Eli can score just as swift as Peyton these days, making both must starts.

Certainly Start: Michael Turner, Roddy White, Tony Gonzalez, LeSean McCoy, DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin, Brent Celek, David Akers

Consider: Matt Ryan, Kevin Kolb, PHI Defense, ATL Defense

Hold back: Jason Avant, Jason Snelling, Michael Jenkins

Sleepers: Jerome Harrison, Harry Douglas 

It's unfortunate for Atlanta that Michael Vick is looking doubtful to play this week, otherwise I'd mark them a shoe-in for the upset. Don't expect a repeat performance by the Atlanta defense this week, as Kevin Kolb is a considerably better passer than any of the QB's they have faced (Drew Brees railed them for 365/3 TD's) so put them on the pine. Deploy all Eagle WR's, Jeremy Maclin and DeSean Jackson should both have productive days. The run game got a little more interesting with the swapping of Mike Bell for Jerome Harrison from the Browns, but LeSean McCoy (rib) should still carry the rock most of the time. Matt Ryan isn't my favorite play this week, but if he's all you got I don't hate it. Remember that Philadelphia got the better of Donovan McNabb, but the combination of Ryan Torain and Clinton Portis gave the Redskins the edge. Expect a similar result from Michael Turner and Tony Gonzalez for the Falcons, but most likely they fall short for the win.

Certainly Start: Rashard Mendenhall, Hines Ward, PIT Defense, Mike Wallace

Consider: Ben Roethlisberger, Jeff Reed, Peyton Hillis (injury), Heath Miller, Josh Cribbs

Hold back: Colt McCoy, Mohammed Massaquoi, Ben Watson

Sleepers: CLE Defense 

Unfortunately the fantasy potential on Cleveland began and now seemingly will end with Peyton Hillis (groin/thigh). Until they resolve their QB issues (apparently Colt McCoy gets a try this week) I have zero faith in anyone on the Browns offense, sans a break out play by Josh Cribbs. The trade for Mike Bell is simple insurance in case Hillis becomes limp, but should you have any other Browns on your roster, dump them. The Steelers warmly welcome back Ben Roethlisberger, which increases the value of Hines Ward, Mike Wallace and Heath Miller (a favorite target for Big Ben). I can see him having a rusty first half, but it should pass. Rashard Mendenhall could single handily win this game for Pittsburgh, but don't put it past the Browns defense to show up in a major way against a hated division rival.


CertainlyStart: Brandon Jackson, Ronnie Brown, Ricky Williams, Brandon Marshall, Davone Bess, MIA Defense, Dan Carpenter, Donald Driver

Consider: Greg Jennings, Chad Henne, Aaron Rodgers (injury), Mason Crosby, Andrew Quarless, James Jones, GB Defense, Anthony Fasano

Hold back: Matt Flynn, Jermichael Finley (injury), Donald Lee (injury)

Sleepers: Brian Hartline 

If ever there was a time for a collapse in Green Bay, it would be against the road tested Dolphins coming off their BYE week. It appears as if Aaron Rodgers (concussion) is going to play, something that I disagree with as a Dolphin fan and as a football fan. The hub-bub about concussions this season has been ever evolving, but a one-week out precedent should be the industry standard, bottom line. If he doesn't, all Green Bay wide outs go way down, and Brandon Jackson sky rockets. Keep updated on the status of Rodgers as his fate affects a great many fantasy contributors. Chad Henne and the Fins will return to the road where they have thrived this season, most likely giving the bulk of offense time to Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams, who should both be started this week. Whip out either of these defenses, it's going to get ugly up north.

Certainly Start: Philip Rivers, Antonio Gates, Ryan Matthews, Malcolm Floyd, Nate Kaeding, Steven Jackson, Sam Bradford, Danny Amendola

Consider:  Brandon Gibson, Legadu Naanee (injury), Laurent Robinson (injury), Daniel Fells, Darren Sproles, Michael Hoo

Hold back: STL Defense, Randy McMichael, Kenneth Darby (injury), Billy Bajema

Sleepers: Michael Hoomanawanui, Buster Davis 

St. Louis will want to defend home turf and their 2-0 home win streak at all cost, and despite losing Mark Clayton for the season, they still have good enough pieces to do so. While I don't think they will be able to keep up the pace of the Chargers, even with their 0-3 road losing streak, I do think they will hold their own. Both Phil Rivers and Sam Bradford could be starters this week, and of course Antonio Gates and Malcom Floyd also. Ryan Matthews (ankle) should see a heavy increase in playing time, although he didn't practice on Thursday, so check back Friday to be sure. With the recent troubles of Mike Tolbert, you have to believe Matthews is ready to pop. Look for Danny Amendola and Brandon Gibson to pick up the Clayton-less slack, but don't forget about TE Michael Hoomanawanui if you feel like spiking your punch. Steven Jackson will carry many teams this weekend, including the Rams. If Legadu Naanee doesn't go this week, consider Buster Davis a deep league flex sleeper if you're spunky enough for the gamble.


Certainly Start: Drew Brees, Marques Colston, Jeremy Shockey, Josh Freeman, Kellen Winslow (injury)

Consider: Mike Williams (injury), Cadillac Williams, Earnest Graham, Lance Moore, Devery Henderson, Ladell Betts, Chris Ivory, TB Defense

Hold back: Robert Meachem, Pierre Thomas (injury), Sammie Stroughter, Michael Spurlock

Sleepers: LaGarrette Blount 

The young Buc's have been smoothly sailing through rough match up waters. Despite facing some tough situations, Josh Freeman and Mike Williams have been bitter-benched fantasy players so far this season, but don't make that mistake here. I would start them both, especially playing at home and against a weakened Saints secondary. The Tampa Bay backfield can't find an identity, making Williams/Graham/Blount all risky plays until a clear favorite emerges. Drew Brees is seriously missing Reggie Bush, although Pierre Thomas could return this week from an ankle injury, it's unlikely he will play, making Ladell Betts and Chris Ivory shrewd plays in his absence. It would be nice to see a second straight productive day from Marques Colston, so I'd consider him just for the upside. Same goes for Jeremy Shockey who could be considered Brees' second option when he's pressured, which will be often in this one.


Certainly Start: Arian Foster, Andre Johnson (injury), Thomas Jones, Jamaal Charles, Dexter McCluster, Tony Moeaki, Matt Schaub

Consider: Dwayne Bowe, Derrick Ward, KC Defense, Ryan Succop, Neil Rackers, Matt Cassel

Hold back: Jacoby Jones (injury), Steve Slaton, Owen Daniels, Chris Chambers

Sleepers: Joel Dreessen 

After opening large at home, the Texans have dropped two straight in their own back yard. Perhaps Karlos Dansby was right when he said there are just too many distractions around the nest to perform at maximum potential. Houston should see a healthier Andre Johnson and Arian Foster this week, and if Matt Schaub can adjust his pocket presence they should redeem themselves for an unacceptably piss poor outing last week against the Titans. The Chiefs should continue to announce their arrival with attitude; I dislike Matt Cassel, a lot, but against a Houston team that allows massive passing yards to opposing QB-WR combos, it's tough not to consider him, Dwayne Bowe and Dexter McCluster as upside starts. Tony Moeaki looks like a team-carrying sleeper here, but I'm making him a certainly start because he should be owned in most leagues already. Jamaal Charles' fumble last week might give Thomas Jones a way back in this game, so keep either in mind as a flex option.

Certainly Start: Michael Bush, Zach Miller, Vernon Davis, Frank Gore, Louis Murphy

Consider: OAK Defense, SF Defense, Michael Crabtree, Alex Smith, Jason Campbell, Ted Ginn Jr.

Hold back: Darrius Heyward-Bey, Josh Morgan, Brian Westbrook

Sleepers: Dominique Zeigler 

I'm secretly giddy that this game is on in my area, as nothing beats an 0-5 team battling against Bay Area brethren. Funny thing is, the 0-5 team isn't the Raiders, it's the 49er's, making it all the more interesting to watch. In Peaks & Valley's I said I learned my lesson with San Francisco, and I'm sticking to it here. Even though the Raiders have two more wins than San Fran, the 49er's are still the favorites (SHOCKING!). Michael Bush looked outstanding last week (eat it Chris Collinsworth) and as long as Jason Campbell can continue to mix it up between Louis Murphy and Zach Miller, the Raiders offense could very well be firing on max cylinders. San Francisco continues to clunk a long on offense, and I wouldn't put it past Coach Singletary to yang Alex Smith in the first half should the Raider defense swallow him whole. Frank Gore and Vernon Davis are must starts, week in and out, and Michael Crabtree's best game as a pro last week was encouraging, although watch out as Nnamndi Asomugha should be blanketing him the majority of the game.


Certainly Start: LaDainian Tomlinson, Santonio Holmes, Shonn Greene, Knowshon Moreno (injury), Eddie Royal, NYJ Defense, Matt Prater, Nick Folk

Consider: Kyle Orton, Mark Sanchez, Dustin Keller, Jabar Gaffney, Correll Buckhalter

Hold back: Braylon Edwards, Jerricho Cotchery, DEN Defense

Sleepers: John Conner  

The arrows are all pointing to massive annihilation by the New York Jets, but there's something about the human spirit that makes you doubt such a lopsided prediction. The Broncos have had a hell of a rough season so far, and have played valiantly in each one of their losses. The leadership of Kyle Orton and his abilities as a pure passer make this team a constant threat, no matter what they trail in points. Sure, the Jets defense brings the house and their corner's are second-to-none in the league, so Brandon Lloyd could be a dud this week, however, I do like Eddie Royal to pick up the middle of the field ala Percy Harvin. LT and Greene are certainly starters, but watch for John Conner as Rex Ryan could push the Terminator into fantasy relevance if this game goes hog-wild in the Jets favor. Champ Bailey should have a tough choice between Santonio Holmes and Braylon Edwards, so Dustin Keller seems like the safest bet in the Jet passing game. If you got Mark Sanchez, start him - but the scary presence of Bailey makes my heart flutter at a potential short week collapse by New York.

Certainly Start: Tony Romo, Miles Austin, Felix Jones, Dez Bryant (injury), Adrian Peterson, Randy Moss, Visanthe Shiancoe (injury), MIN Defense, Percy Harvin

Consider: Roy Williams, Marion Barber, Greg Camarillo

Hold back: Brett Favre, Greg Lewis, Bernard Berrian, Tashard Choice, Jason Witten

Sleepers: DAL Defense

Yuck, what a ugly game to analyze. There are going to be some zany, mind-blowingly spectacular plays in this game, in fact, I would go so far as to predict a possible tie, or a 100 point game. Neither of these squads look like the want to win football games. They play for the final moment, not the instant moment, which is where most of the penalties, turnovers and mental mistakes are coming from. You of course must start Adrian Peterson, Miles Austin and Randy Moss, but after that things get a bit dicey. It appears as though Felix Jones is slowly making his way to the top of the food chain in the Dallas backfield, so Marion Barber should be considered a desperate flex only. Both defenses could potentially explode or implode, so temper expectations unless your BYE desperate. Hold your breathe, this one is going to be a tornado of fantasy torture.

Certainly Start: Peyton Manning, Dallas Clark, Santana Moss, Ryan Torain, Graham Gano, Adam Vinatieri

Consider: Reggie Wayne, Austin Collie (injury), Pierre Garcon (injury), Donald Brown (injury), Joseph Addai (injury), Chris Cooley, Anthony Armstrong, IND Defense, WAS Defense

Hold back: Joey Galloway, Clinton Portis (injury)

Sleepers: Mike Hart

The Washington defense showed me something last week. Even though they gave up big plays, they contained the Packers where it mattered most in the red zone. The Colts play a similar game to the Pack, and Jim Haslett will bring the force in prime time, perhaps with a grieving and driven Albert Haynesworth. Peyton Manning is a must start, obviously, but I'd consider benching Reggie Wayne. The Skins held Greg Jennings in check last week, and with so many options, I like the Colts to get back to yeoman work on offense this week by using Garcon, Collie, Clark, especially if they want to win in a tough Washington environment. Ryan Torain has to be considered here against the lowly Colts rush defense and Anthony Armstrong is a wild-hair-up-your-ass gamble if you can't come up with something else on the BYE week. The Joseph Addai injury is something to watch, as if he does not go, Donald Brown or Mike Hart become must starts in his stead.

Certainly Start: Chris Johnson, Marcedes Lewis, Maurice Jones-Drew

Consider: TEN Defense, Josh Scobee, Nate Washington, Kenny Britt, Mike Sims-Walker

Hold back: JAX Defense, David Garrard, Justin Gage (injury), Javon Ringer, Bo Scaife

Sleepers: Vince Young, Deji Karim

The AFC South has never been so up for grabs. Both of these teams have the chance to take the lead within the division on MNF, and if the home crowd doesn't show up for the Jags, it could very well be their last prime time game in Jacksonville ever. Maurice Jones-Drew has a lot of question marks surrounding his status, but it appears as though he will be safe to play. Still, you have to keep an eye on Deji Karim in case of rapture if you're an MJD owner. If you have Kenny Britt or Nate Washington they are both worthy of a start, even WR2 slot if you're in need, considering the Jags secondary can be easily exploited. Chris Johnson, duh, don't even ask, same goes for the Tennessee defense. I'd check myself on Mike Sims-Walker, even with his nice day last week, remember it was against the winless Bills. Don't sleep on this game's potential to be a thriller as neither wants to be at the bottom of the divisional barrel at seasons end.




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