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Flex Plays: Week 6 Players to Watch

Luke Hoover

Luke Hoover has covered fantasy football for since 2011 and is most proud of recommending Victor Cruz as a starter in his breakout game against the Eagles. He's a lifelong fan of Notre Dame, the Packers and, unfortunately, the Knicks.


Not the start to the bye weeks I was expecting. Of my four favorites picks, only Mark Ingram stepped up to the plate. Meanwhile both Joseph Addai and Julio Jones left with hamstring injuries and Jordy Nelson somehow amounted for only 17 of Aaron Rodgers' 396 passing yards. So suffice it to say it was not my best showing. But despite a 9-17 record in Week 5, I did hit a few homers with BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Jahvid Best and Victor Cruz, not to mention another strong outing from A.J. Green.

Those four players have been banned from this column due to their consistently strong play. Unfortunately I cannot rely on them going forward. So for the second consecutive week with six teams out of action (Arizona, Denver, Kansas City, San Diego, Seattle, Tennessee) I've taken it upon myself to dig up another crop of top starting alternatives.

For Week 6 I'm again pegging four favorites because of the bye. Those trustworthy fellas are, in order of confidence, Ryan Torain, Ben Roethlisberger, Jay Cutler and Danario Alexander. Get them in if you don't have a stud in their place and get ready for some bye-week victory action.

Sunday 10/16/11

San Francisco @ Detroit

Michael Crabtree (WR) for 49ers - Crabtree did not need to do much last week while the 49ers obliterated the Buccaneers. That will not be the case again, as San Fran is now without both Josh Morgan (ankle) and Braylon Edwards (knee). In what will be a battle with Detroit, expect the Niners to lean harder on Crabtree.

Brandon Pettigrew (TE) for Lions - Pettigrew is the clear No. 2 weapon in the passing game for Detroit, and should be targeted heavily against the only defense in the league that has yet to allow a rushing touchdown.

St. Louis @ Green Bay

Danario Alexander (WR) for Rams - Sure the Packers held the Falcons air attack in check, but that was just one week and not necessarily a trend. They're still 31st in pass yards allowed. When the Rams are forced to throw in a blowout, Alexander should post some nice garbage stats.

Ryan Grant (RB) for Packers - The Rams are dead last in the league in rushing yards given up per game, allowing a whopping 180 on average. Though the Packers will mix and match RB's, they will lean on the hot hand, which could be Grant from the very first carry, as he's gotten the start in every game he's played.

Carolina @ Atlanta

Greg Olsen (TE) for Panthers - Olsen has quickly become Cam Newton's favorite red zone target, with a touchdown from inside the 20 in three straight weeks. As the No. 2 receiver in the league's 4th-best passing offense, look for Olsen to make it four straight.

Matt Ryan (QB) for Falcons - Cam Newton has the Carolina offense humming. If Atlanta wants to keep up with them, Ryan will have to throw it a bunch. And since Cam doesn't play linebacker, the Panthers' defense likely won't have the same success as their O, which bodes well for Ryan.

Indianapolis @ Cincinnati

Andy Dalton (QB) for Bengals - The Colts' beat-up defense has allowed Josh Freeman and Matt Cassel to combine for nearly 550 passing yards and six total touchdowns in the past two weeks. They are a sweet, soothing ointment for struggling quarterbacks. And Dalton hasn't even been struggling lately, accounting for four TD's over his last six quarters.

Cedric Benson (RB) for Bengals - Benson struggled against a stingy Jaguars rush defense last week. So what's the best cure? How bout a date with the 31st-ranked rush defense to put his 20 carries-per-game to good use.

Buffalo @ New York Giants

David Nelson (WR) for Bills - Targets have held Nelson down recently. He's received only three combined in the past two games. But that should change quickly with Donald Jones (ankle) out indefinitely. Get him active against a Giants D that just let Seattle throw for more than 300 yards and two TD's.

Ahmad Bradshaw (RB) for Giants - Buffalo's run defense is awful close to the bottom in the league in yards allowed per carry and per game. So despite the Giants' recent conversion to a pass-first team, expect the G-Men to feed Bradshaw plenty, especially if Brandon Jacobs (knee) remains out.

Jacksonville @ Pittsburgh

Ben Roethlisberger (QB) for Steelers - Ben. Still. Has. It. In fact he never lost it. Don't expect another five-score week, but start this gunslinger with confidence.

Antonio Brown (WR) for Steelers - Brown somehow got lost in the shuffle last week after entering the game as the team's leader in targets. Those opportunities should come back this week and could produce better results than the first quarter of the season with Big Ben getting his groove back.

Philadelphia @ Washington

Ryan Torain (RB) for Redskins - The Eagles defense is Swiss cheese. And after his performance against the only team in the league that tackles more air than Philly (135 yards, 1 TD versus St. Louis), Torain figures to be the most well-fed mouse in this matchup.

Jabar Gaffney (WR) for Redskins - Gaffney has posted 60+ yards receiving in each of the past three games and may be in line for even more against the Eagles who have been much softer on No. 2 receivers, while locking down opposing No. 1's with Nnamdi Asomugha.

Houston @ Baltimore

Owen Daniels (TE) for Texans - Matt Schaub attempted 62 passes when he faced Baltimore last year. Though that's not likely to reoccur, it is likely that the Ravens' stingy defense will force frequent third-and-longs, which will dictate more passing than rushing. No Andre Johnson means Daniels will see a lot of balls coming at him.

Torrey Smith (WR) for Ravens - Though coverage prevented completions, Smith was targeted on several deep throws in the Ravens' last outing against the Jets. That should be a weekly trend with Smith's deep speed and Joe Flacco's big arm. The Texans, though stout, do not cover like the Jets.

Cleveland @ Oakland

Ben Watson (TE) for Browns - In what should be an emotional first home game following the loss of Al Davis, expect a Raiders lead to force a lot of Cleveland passing. Watson is tops on the team in targets, catches and scores (tied), which makes him the only start-worthy Brown not named Peyton Hillis.

Jason Campbell (QB) for Raiders - Campbell may be the best bye-week-replacement QB despite his matchup with a stingy Browns pass defense. Hue Jackson has his team taking chances and that leads to big plays regardless of the opponent. So just like the "Just Win, Baby's", don't be afraid to roll the dice here.

Dallas @ New England

Felix Jones (RB) for Cowboys - Assuming his ailing shoulder is well rested after the bye, expect a nice dose of Jones in an attempt by Dallas to keep the Patriots offense off the field.

Aaron Hernandez (TE) for Patriots - I'll give you the same two words I did in Week 1 to describe Hernandez: Matchup. Nightmare. And they're no less true now.

New Orleans @ Tampa Bay

Mark Ingram (RB) for Saints - With two touchdowns in his past three games, Ingram is just warming up. Against a Buc's defense that just let the Niners move up and down the field on them at will, Ingram and the high-powered Saints offense should have plenty of shots from in close.

Earnest Graham (RB) for Buccaneers - With LeGarrette Blount's (knee) availability highly questionable, Graham should receive the bulk of touches out of the backfield this week. As the team's leader in yards-per-carry and catches, that should equal a good amount of total yards.

Minnesota @ Chicago

Visanthe Shiancoe (TE) for Vikings - The Bears have given up a touchdown to a tight end in each of the past three weeks and have been generally awful against them all year. Coincidentally, Shiancoe is tied for 2nd on the Vikings in targets.

Jay Cutler (QB) for Bears - In four games with at least 30 pass attempts Cutler has gone for more than 240 yards and a score. With Minnesota ranked 5th against the run, I'm betting he gets his 30+ throws in. Oh, and not that it means anything, but he's got 10 TD's in his past three meetings with the Vikes. Just saying.

Monday 10/17/11

Miami @ New York Jets

Daniel Thomas (RB) for Dolphins - If Thomas is healthy enough to play for the Dolphins, he's healthy enough to play for your fantasy team. In two starts he's posted over 100 total yards both times and put one in the end zone. He should have similar success against a weak Jets rush defense.

Shonn Greene (RB) for Jets - In the Jets' "ground and pound" revival game versus New England, Greene carried the ball 21 times (his most in over a year) and has now posted at least 100 total yards or a touchdown in three of the past four games. He's worth at least a flex play in a must-win Monday nighter.