There are quite a few under-the-radar players I like to exceed expectations this week. Below are my customary dozen, pinpointing three each from the quarterback, running back, wide receiver and tight end positions. There are only two teams on their byes this week: the Falcons and Dolphins. I whiffed badly on a couple of players last week – Dexter McCluster and Dallas Clark both posted zeroes. But I’m not giving up. You guys know the drill. Have at it in the comments section or get after me on Twitter.
Bucs QB Mike Glennon vs. Eagles: Glennon has a juicy matchup for his second career start. He struggled against the Cardinals in Week 4, especially late in the game. But Glennon’s had two weeks to study, make adjustments, and prepare for the Eagles. Pro Football Focus grades the Philadelphia defense dead last as a pass rushing group and second-to-last in pass coverage. The Eagles have also allowed the sixth-most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks. Glennon isn’t a start-able quarterback in 12- and 14-team leagues, but he’s certainly on the two-quarterback league radar this week.
Jaguars QB Chad Henne vs. Broncos: Henne and the Jaguars are a lock to struggle early on in Sunday’s road contest, but there is a ton of garbage-time appeal here. Henne could easily be throwing against backups for the final 15-25 minutes, giving him plenty of opportunity to pack the stat sheet. The Broncos are surrendering a ton of fantasy points through the air. Not counting Tony Romo’s performance against Denver last week, most of the yards and touchdowns the Broncos have allowed have come when the game was already sewn up. Henne wouldn’t be a bad bye-week fill-in in deeper leagues.
Ravens QB Joe Flacco vs. Packers: If Joe Cool is going to get back on track, this is the week to do it. Top cornerback Casey Hayward (hamstring) is still trying to work his way back to 100 percent, and arguably the league’s best 3-4 outside linebacker, Clay Matthews, is sidelined with a thumb injury. Before their Week 5 bye, the Packers were struggling against the pass. They’re allowing the eighth-most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks per week. Flacco should also get Marlon Brown (hamstring) and Jacoby Jones (knee, Sweet Pea) back Sunday. Flacco is a middling QB2 with some upside.
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Chargers RB Danny Woodhead vs. Colts: Ryan Mathews suffered a concussion in last Sunday night’s loss to the Raiders and has yet to be cleared to practice. Woodhead is fully expected to carry the load against Indianapolis with Ronnie Brown also mixing into the action. Woodhead has three touchdowns over his last two games. Colts inside linebackers Jerrell Freeman, Kelvin Sheppard, and Pat Angerer have all struggled in coverage, so look for Woodhead to be a big part of the passing game in addition to his running duties. He’s firmly on the RB2 radar this week.
Texans RB Ben Tate vs. Rams: Tate has been seeing less and less work the past few weeks. He’s also lost a fumble in each of the Texans’ last two games. Look for the Texans to get Tate back involved this week against a Rams defense that is vulnerable to the ground attack. St. Louis is giving up 126 yards per game on the ground, a 4.5 YPC average, and has surrendered five rushing scores. With Matt Schaub’s confidence at an all-time low, I’d expect the Texans to smash the football down the Rams’ throats on the ground. Arian Foster is a top-five running back, while Tate has some flex appeal.
Browns RB Willis McGahee vs. Lions: The Saints are allowing opposing running backs to rush for a league-high (worst) 5.4 YPC. The Lions are right behind the Saints at 5.3 YPC. McGahee saw 26 carries last week, and he’s clearly the lead dog in the Cleveland backfield. Still, McGahee has looked Brandon Jacobs-esque in his two games this season. Don’t expect him to go out and run for 150-plus yards and multiple touchdowns, but 75-80 yards and a goal-line plunge are certainly within reach. Treat McGahee as a quality RB2/flex option for Week 6.
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Colts WR T.Y. Hilton vs. Chargers: Hilton played over 71 percent of the offensive snaps last week against the Seahawks, easily his highest percentage of the young season. He’s averaging seven targets and just over four catches per game. Hilton has been the definition of boom-or-bust in 2013. There’s a ton of “boom” potential Sunday. The Chargers are surrendering the fourth-most fantasy points to opposing receivers and are allowing 8.6 YPA through the air. Look for Hilton to run most of his routes against Shareece Wright, while Reggie Wayne works on Derek Cox. Wright has been battling a hamstring injury for the past month and hasn’t played since Week 2. He’s practicing in full this week, though. Wright was killed by speed demon DeSean Jackson for a 5-119-1 line in Week 2. Hilton could have a monster afternoon. He’s entrenched as a WR2.
Steelers WR Emmanuel Sanders vs. Jets: Sanders has yet to score this season, but he’s seeing over nine targets per game in Pittsburgh’s pass-happy offense. Expect Antonio Cromartie to follow Antonio Brown around, leaving Sanders to work on Kyle Wilson and Darrin Walls. Dee Milliner is still not practicing due to a hamstring injury. The Jets are fourth-worst in terms of pass coverage in Pro Football Focus’ grading system. Sanders is a legitimate WR3 play this week.
Panthers WR Ted Ginn vs. Vikings: Ginn is locked in as the Panthers’ No. 3 receiver and he’s been playing about half the offensive snaps the past couple weeks. Ginn saw seven targets in Week 2, and then saw six balls come his way last week. He’s yet another boom-or-bust receiver. I like his matchup against the Vikings’ bigger corners on the outside. Xavier Rhodes and Chris Cook may have some trouble rotating their hips and getting down field with Ginn and his world-class speed. Ginn has averaged 70 yards per game the past three games and has found the end zone twice in that span. He wouldn’t be a bad flex option in deeper leagues.
Texans TE Garrett Graham vs. Rams: Graham is locked in as the Texans’ new No. 1 tight end with Owen Daniels out at least eight weeks with a fractured fibula. Matt Schaub loves checking down to his tight ends and occasionally hitting them up the seams for scores. Rams rookie outside linebacker Alec Ogletree has had some hiccups in coverage, while the St. Louis safeties were constantly out of position last week against the Jaguars. Daniels was seeing over nine targets per game the last three weeks. Graham will likely get most of those and could even approach double digits. He’s a back-end TE1.
Rams TE Jared Cook vs. Texans: Cook has gone missing since his monster Week 1. The Rams apparently have no clue how to use him. OC Brian Schottenheimer continues to ask Cook to block. He wasn’t paid to do that. Cook was paid to stretch the seams. Texans FS Ed Reed is banged up with an MCL issue and will be at less than 100 percent. Rookie safety D.J. Swearinger is also struggling in coverage. This is a week to get Cook back involved in a big way on the road. The upside is there. The Rams just need to put Cook in position to succeed. Vernon Davis beat the Texans for a long touchdown last week. Cook is a high-end TE2 in Week 6.
Redskins TE Jordan Reed vs. Cowboys: The Cowboys are getting killed by tight ends. They’ve allowed a league-high 41 receptions to opposing tight ends through five weeks. Reed has been battling a quad injury the past couple weeks, but he’s back to practicing in full. The rookie is a far more athletic tight end than teammate Fred Davis. Cowboys inside linebacker Sean Lee has been a major liability in coverage. Weak-side ‘backer Bruce Carter was recently benched because he couldn’t cover. Reed should see at least six targets in what has the potential to be a shootout. He’s on the TE2 radar.