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Give Gates another go in Week 6
On paper, it looked like the Thursday night matchup would be a lopsided Steelers victory. Instead, the Steelers were decimated by injuries, Chris Johnson ran well and the Titans pulled off a home victory.
Of course, the stars of the game were the placekickers. I’m sorry, but Rob Bironas converted four field goals and a PAT. Shaun Suisham converted three field goals of his own, but failed to give owners the “bonus baby” in the game’s waning moments, thereby setting up Bironas for his game-winning try.
Did you stay tuned to the end? Did Major League Baseball … or the Vice Presidential Debate … or a sitcom claim your attention?
Well, I’ve got you now. You’re focused on dominating the gridiron. Let’s find value in the secondary roster slots.
Kyle Rudolph at WAS
He made fantasy owners wait in Week 5, but Rudolph eventually delivered a touchdown reception in the blowout win over Tennessee. The NFL schedule-makers did the Vikings’ passing attack another favor this week with a date against the Redskins. Washington has allowed the second-most fantasy points to tight ends (6.8 receptions, 72.2 yards and 0.8 touchdowns). Rudolph won’t offer much in the yardage department (36 receiving yards or fewer in four consecutive games), but he’s a red zone beast.
Owen Daniels vs. GB
Ride the streak. Daniels has returned to elite status in fantasyland. He’s healthy and boasting a high weekly target count (6.6) as Matt Schaub’s No. 2 receiver. More importantly for fantasy owners, Daniels has scored in three consecutive games. He’s in a great spot this week in what should be a hotly-contested matchup against the Packers. Green Bay has allowed the ninth-most fantasy points to tight ends this season (five receptions, 50 yards and 0.60 touchdown receptions per game).
Antonio Gates vs. DEN
I sent up a word of caution regarding Gates last week, and he produced another tepid effort against the Saints. He narrowly missed recording his first touchdown of the season and later had a 28-yard catch nullified by a penalty.
The emergence of Robert Meachem in Week 5 opposite Malcom Floyd may help to create additional opportunities for Gates over the middle in this matchup. The Broncos have allowed the eighth-most fantasy points to tight ends. If Gates doesn’t break out here, the “Either-Or” roster questions will get even tougher concerning the former all-world fantasy hero.
Fred Davis vs. MIN
Following a slow start to the season, Davis has become a much bigger factor in the Washington passing game. In the past three weeks, Davis has caught 16 passes for 214 yards and looks to extend his good run against the Minnesota secondary. He’s a good fit in fantasyland this week regardless of Robert Griffin III’s availability. The Vikings have allowed the sixth-most fantasy points to tight ends this season (six receptions, 53.2 yards and 0.8 touchdowns allowed per game).
Brandon Pettigrew at PHI
The Eagles rank fifth against tight ends, allowing just 4.4 receptions and 37.2 receiving yards per game (one touchdown). Therefore, an endorsement of Pettigrew may seem bold. I’m looking at the near-misses and sheer volume of opportunities afforded to the big tight end in the Detroit set. Pettigrew has been targeted 35 times through four games, producing 23 receptions for 223 yards.
Brent Celek vs. DET
Celek was quiet in Week 5, producing just three receptions for nine yards. However, he did snag a touchdown reception late to save his fantasy day. Overall, Celek has been targeted 35 times (only four tight ends have been targeted more frequently), producing 21 receptions for 324 yards. He’s a prime play this week against the Lions, a pass defense that has yielded the fourth-most fantasy points to tight ends.
Brandon Myers at ATL
Myers and the Raiders return from the Bye week for a date with the high-octane Atlanta offense. As a result, I’m anticipating some “garbage” points and opportunities for Myers and the Oakland passing game. Myers has caught 16-of-17 targets for 228 yards this season (zero touchdowns).
Dwayne Allen at NYJ
Coby Fleener receives more attention from his former Stanford teammate Andrew Luck, but fellow rookie Allen has become a valuable option in the red zone. Allen has caught 4-of-5 red zone targets this season for 26 yards with two touchdowns. He’s caught 10-of-12 targets overall for 76 yards. The Jets have performed well against opposing passing games overall, but tight ends have fared well (seventh-most points allowed).
Rob Gronkowski at SEA
A number of factors put Gronkowski into a rare “Sit” slot this week. The Seahawks rank fourth against tight ends through five weeks and have yet to cede a touchdown reception to a tight end. Gronkowski is playing through a hip injury. The Patriots have evolved into a running team in red zone sets (he’s been targeted five times in the red zone). Aaron Hernandez returns from injury to cut into the available targets. He’s still a TE1 play this week, but it’s hardly a glorious spot.
Martellus Bennett at SF
Like Gronkowski, Bennett rates as a difficult play for Week 6 for several reasons. He was limited in Thursday’s practice because of a knee injury. Following a hot start to the season, Bennett has produced just four receptions for 32 yards in the past two weeks. The Giants are traveling to San Francisco after receiving a short-term scare from the Browns.
Despite those factors, Bennett still ranks as a low-end TE1 or high-TE2. The 49ers have been vulnerable to tight ends through five weeks and rank in the middle of the pack (37.4 receiving yards and 0.8 touchdowns allowed per game). Bennett’s injury status is the big question. Even if he suits up Sunday, can he finish?
Jay Feely vs. BUF
The Bills rank dead-last in terms of scoring defense at 35.2 points allowed per game. Interestingly, Buffalo has allowed the 15th-fewest fantasy points to kickers. Opponents have converted only five field goals to date with a heavy stack of PATs.
That trend changes this week. The Cardinals’ inability to run the ball will lead to stalled drives and multiple field goal tries for the veteran kicker at home.
Phil Dawson vs. CIN
The Browns continue to lose, but this is a much more entertaining and competitive bunch in 2012. Rookies Brandon Weeden and Trent Richardson are successfully moving the ball, and that portends to great opportunities for Dawson. He’s converted multiple field goals in 4-of-5 games with 10 PATs.
He converted two field goals and three PATs in the Week 2 meeting with the Bengals. Opponents have converted eight field goals with 15 PATs against Cincinnati.
Greg Zuerlein at MIA
Can I make a push for Zuerlein as “Rookie of the Year?” He’s converted all of his 13 field goal attempts, including four conversions of at least 50 yards (seven PATs). The Rams’ inability to close in red zone situations puts Zuerlein in line for another big day. Opponents have kicked 10 field goals and 10 PATs against the Dolphins. The sputtering St. Louis ground game will allow Zuerlein to lay claim to the “Super Jock” tag.
Connor Barth vs. KC
I can go into detail and recount the number of missed opportunities for Josh Freeman and the Buccaneers through the first four weeks of 2012. I’ll save us all the time and extol the virtues of Barth. Barth’s converted each of his nine field goal attempts.
The Chiefs allow 29 points per game and have allowed the seventh-most fantasy points to kickers (tied). Opponents have converted 11 field goals and 16 PATs through five weeks. I don’t expect to see a mountain of PATs in this contest, but multiple field goal tries for Barth are in order.
Minnesota at WAS
The Vikings rank fifth in total defense at 15.8 points allowed per game. The hallmark of this defense is its dominance against opposing running games. Alfred Morris has been spectacular out of the gate, but he’s in a tough spot here against Minnesota (zero touchdowns allowed). If the Vikings hold to form, RGII is going to be in disadvantageous third-down situations with Jared Allen bearing down on him.
New York Jets vs. IND
I know. The Jets rank 22nd in total defense at 26.4 points allowed per game. They’ve been unable to stop the run and rule the news cycle as fans, pundits and fantasy owners await the arrival of “Tebow, Round II.” However, the Colts hardly have a dominant running game in play with Vick Ballard ascending to the top spot. If the Jets can hold the Indianapolis run game in check, they could make things difficult for Andrew Luck on the road following the emotional Week 5 win.
Miami vs. STL
The Rams lost their receiving leader when Danny Amendola sustained a serious shoulder injury in Week 5. As he essentially served as an extension of the running game, this was a serious blow to the St. Louis offense. Steven Jackson’s struggles will continue against the top-ranked Miami run defense, thereby putting Sam Bradford in a bad spot. The Dolphins have generated nine turnovers and 15 sacks through five weeks.
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