FOX Sports Exclusive
Ryan, Richardson hit wall in Week 6
QB: Robert Griffin III, Redskins
That the former Heisman winner laid a statistical smackdown for his owners (182 passing yards, 138 rushing yards and three scores) is not necessarily surprising, as this conquest correlated to his fifth appearance as a top-five fantasy quarterback in six outings on the season. What was unforeseen was such a coup against an outstanding defense, as the Washington quarterback’s previous triumphs were in opposition of less-than-hostile foes. Throw in that it came just a week after suffering a concussion, and the performance of Griffin III is elevated to instant-classic eminence.
QB: Josh Freeman, Buccaneers
Sunday’s windfall (328 yards, three touchdowns) may feel like Freeman’s first fantasy feats since the 2010 season, but the Tampa QB did hit up the Redskins for over 300 total yards in his previous contest. Moreover, with his upcoming slate featuring four exploitable air resistances (New Orleans, Oakland, San Diego, Carolina), Freeman’s recent exploits will prove to be far from an aberration come season’s end.
RB: Shonn Greene, Jets
We took a few jabs at Greene’s execution, or lack thereof, in last week’s Fantasy Basement column, and the Jets running back responded with vigor. Entering with 217 rushing yards and a touchdown in five previous 2012 showings and rumors of demotion, Greene racked up 161 yards on the ground and three trips to pay dirt in New York’s lassoing of the Colts. The rout, coupled with injuries to backups Bilal Powell and Joe McKnight, should give Greene the stranglehold on the backfield. Well, at least until Tim Tebow is moved to the position. (No, this won’t happen, but I saw research that any mention of the Chosen One in an article makes the composition 22 percent more likely to be stumbled upon in search engines, so get ready for a plethora of allusions to Young Jedi Tebow in the upcoming weeks.)
RB: Ahmad Bradshaw, Giants
Taming Miguel Cabrera at the plate. Making Nick Saban smile. Getting Kobe Bryant to pass. All seemed like easier endeavors than attaining success on the soil versus San Francisco, as the 49ers were holding adversaries to a league-low six points per game in standard formats. Yet Bradshaw shattered this premise to pieces, accruing 120 total yards and a visit to the Promise Land in the G-Men’s astonishing disassembling of the Niners. Andre Brown is suffering from a concussion and the Giants coaching staff remains tentative on using rookie David Wilson, meaning Bradshaw should vault into the upper echelons of fantasy standings at the position.
WR: Jordy Nelson, Packers
In one of my leagues, Nelson was dealt straight-up for BenJarvus Green-Ellis early last week. Normally a suspicious waiver-wire move is greeted with catcalls of “Collusion!” in this format, so when the trade was met with little defiance, I thought it was a suitable illustration of the precipitous drop in Nelson’s value. After all, the Kansas State product was a top-15 preseason pick at receiver while the Law Firm fell to the mid-to-late rounds and has been rather pedestrian for the Bengals. Nelson hasn’t been struggling, per se, but owners had higher expectations for the Green Bay wideout after 2011’s breakout campaign than 23 receptions for 289 yards and touchdown through five games.
Apropos, then, that Nelson delivered his first major dividends of the year (nine grabs, 121 yards and three end-zone excursions) in Week 6 despite facing the Houston Texans, a unit many hold as the best in the business. Greg Jennings’ injury forecast looks ominous, vaulting Nelson as the de facto No. 1 wideout in a pass-happy attack. Granted, Aaron Rodgers likes to spread the rock, but the fifth-year receiver may fulfill those lofty August aspirations yet.
WR: Dez Bryant, Cowboys
Bryant has quickly become the poster child for those who rail against the fantasy community, as our game rewards those that blow up the box score (in the case of Bryant, 13 catches, 95 yards and two touchdowns) while overlooking non-statistical contributions and, in regards to the much-maligned Bryant, detriments. Yes, some knucklehead plays from the receiver arguably cost the Cowboys a victory, yet you would never have surmised as much judging by the praise heaped on Bryant for his rotisserie assistance. However, would Dallas have been in that position without Tony Romo’s new go-to guy? I never thought I would ever write the following in reference to a Cowboy, but give the cat a break. A lot of blame can be passed around that locker room, but Bryant is one of the least-deserving victims of this guilt.
TE: Kyle Rudolph, Vikings
And not just for Sunday’s production, which was tops among tight ends in an admittedly down week for the position (six receptions, 56 yards, a touchdown and two-point conversion). Depth at tight end is at an all-time fantasy high, yet Rudolph is ranked third amongst his brethren in total points behind Tony Gonzalez and Vernon Davis and his five touchdowns are tops at the spot. It’s at this juncture that I should mention the verbal abuse I received from Jake Westrich, Digital Content Coordinator at WhatIfSports.com, for trumpeting Rudolph in the preseason, as it was asserted Rudolph’s affiliation to the Elder Panthers was the catalyst for this endorsement. Though my allegiance to the Cincinnati high school is resolute, Rudolph’s big frame, affinity with quarterback Christian Ponder and lack of Vikings receiving weapons outside of Percy Harvin were the incentives for Rudolph’s candidacy as the perfect late-round pick. I usually observe a sense of modesty in regards to the fruition of prognostications, but on this one, excuse me while I drop a big ‘ole “SCOREBOARD” on the chastened Mr. Westrich.
DEF: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Giants defense posted more points, yet the G-Men were started in nearly half of FOXSports.com fantasy football leagues, whereas the Bucs, who held the Chiefs to four points when subtracting Kansas City’s blocked punt return, got the nod in a meager five percent of formats.
Honorable Mention: Aaron Rodgers
To alter Will Ferrell’s renowned view on Randy Jackson in Step Brothers, you’re not gonna not mention a dude who tossed for six touchdown passes, right? Only reason he’s in this category: Rodgers’ acumen as a No. 1 overall pack dictates that these displays will occur, and until this week’s destruction of the Texans, last year's MVP had failed in this enterprise. Here’s to hoping it jumpstarts the high-octane Packers offense.
QB: Matt Ryan, Falcons
With his proficient passing in the opening weeks, a letdown was expected at some point. Alas, an advantageous matchup against a Raiders team that was surrendering the second-most fantasy points to quarterbacks was not the anticipated interval for this setback. On the bright side, the Dirty Birds still got the W, and Ryan didn’t totally leave his proprietors hanging, submitting 249 passing yards, another 15 yards in the rushing game and a touchdown. However, as Ryan topped our list of fantasy quarterbacks for Week 6, his presence in this forum is warranted.
QB: Alex Smith, 49ers
I tried to warn that Smith’s beatdown of Buffalo was an anomaly, counsel that unfortunately fell on deaf ears evidenced by the San Fran signal caller’s implementation in nearly 30 percent of FOXSports.com leagues. Smith did enter with a remarkable 7-1 touchdown-to-interception ratio, and I understand the sentiment behind the start. However, while Smith’s effectiveness under center will translate to a playoff spot for the Niners, his skills fail to transition to the fantasy forum. Even with porous secondaries scattered on his schedule, Smith only merits a start in two-QB leagues or as a bye-week replacement.
RB: Trent Richardson, Browns
Richardson’s streak of scoring six ended at four games, as the Cleveland back was obstructed from the end zone by Cincinnati. Worse, the first-round pick managed just 37 rushing yards and 17 more through the air after torching the Bengals for 145 total yards in their Week 2 matchup. Luckily for Richardson holders, the Browns take on a Colts defense that is yielding the third-most fantasy points to running backs next week.
RB: Michael Turner, Falcons
Turner has taken his constituents for a ride this season, failing to do anything of yardage consequence in the first two weeks, followed by three consecutive games of fantasy relevancy (321 total yards, three touchdowns) only to deliver disappointment yesterday across a non-threatening Raiders rush defense. Atlanta’s bye week may be the first sabbatical welcomed by fantasy users, as managers need a break from the inconsistency and frustration of Turner.
WR: Miles Austin, Cowboys
Perhaps a hamstring issue is hampering Austin more than we are led to believe or this is simply the upshot of amplified integration from the aforementioned Bryant, but Sunday’s relative no-show versus the Ravens (two receptions, 31 yards) was the third time in his last four games that the Cowboys receiver has failed to surpass 65 yards. On paper, a date with Carolina would seem to right these woes, yet we cannot sanction Austin as a smart play thanks to his putrid past month.
TE: Jermichael Finley, Packers
Finley has been far from quiet in his displeasure with chemistry issues between himself and Rodgers, a perspective that might gain more mainstream traction if Finley would stop dropping the pigskin. The tight end did play through a shoulder injury, yet that does little to negate the sting felt by just two snags for 12 yards. Finley is worth a roster spot, but his status as a fantasy starter is no longer firm.
DEF: Pittsburgh Steelers
Even without the services of Troy Polamalu, the Steelers were envisioned to wreak havoc on Matt Hasselbeck and a feeble Tennessee line. This prophecy did not come to pass, as the Titans smacked the Steel City for 26 points in an upset.
Dishonorable Mention: Matt Schaub, Texans
Schaub is no longer a 4,000-yard arm, as injuries and Houston’s change of offensive philosophy to the terrain prevents prolific air numbers. Nevertheless, staring down a vulnerable Packers pass defense seemed like an opportune occasion for fantasy deployment for the Texans QB. This gamble did not bear fruitful, however, as Schaub threw two picks and failed to find the end zone against Green Bay.
More Stories From Joel Beall