The NFL is an ever-evolving landscape in which players and teams rise and fall on a weekly basis, but there are a few sure things you can count on.
Nobody could have predicted Alshon Jeffery’s 27-point outburst against the Detroit Lions, and anyone who said they saw Ryan Fitzpatrick topping 20 points would be lying.
But you didn’t need to be a fantasy guru to hypothesize before Week 5 that Peyton Manning would have a field day against the same defense that allowed 401 yards and three touchdowns to Philip Rivers the week before.
These rankings are not scientific in nature, and you can be sure some of the predictions will end up looking silly in hindsight. That said, there are a few gimmes, starting with Manning against the pitiful Jacksonville Jaguars.
|1||Peyton Manning||Denver Broncos||Jacksonville Jaguars||35|
|2||Tony Romo||Dallas Cowboys||Washington Redskins||28|
|3||Andrew Luck||Indianapolis Colts||San Diego Chargers||26|
|4||Robert Griffin III||Washington||Dallas Cowboys||24|
|5||Aaron Rodgers||Green Bay Packers||Baltimore Ravens||23|
|6||Drew Brees||New Orleans Saints||New England Patriots||22|
|7||Cam Newton||Carolina Panthers||Minnesota Vikings||21|
|8||Jay Cutler||Chicago Bears||New York Giants||20|
|9||Tom Brady||New England Patriots||New Orleans Saints||19|
|10||Philip Rivers||San Diego Chargers||Indianapolis Colts||17|
After the way Manning has played this year, nobody will bat an eyelash if he goes off for 500 yards and six touchdowns against the hapless Jaguars.
The same goes for Tony Romo at home against the Washington Redskins.
Even counting the Week 4 contest against the Oakland Raiders with Matt Flynn behind center (227 yards with one touchdown and one interception), Washington has given up an average of 298 yards a game. Only the San Diego Chargers have given up more fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks.
Speaking of the Chargers, Andrew Luck will have a field day against San Diego in Week 6, rounding out the top three.
This week’s sleeper pick for a monster game is Cam Newton, who takes on the Minnesota Vikings. Minnesota has been atrocious against the pass this year, allowing 326 yards per game and 10 touchdowns.
|1||Arian Foster||Houston Texans||St. Louis Rams||25|
|2||Jamaal Charles||Kansas City Chiefs||Oakland Raiders||22|
|3||Matt Forte||Chicago Bears||New York Giants||21|
|4||Adrian Peterson||Minnesota Vikings||Carolina Panthers||21|
|5||Ray Rice||Baltimore Ravens||Green Bay Packers||18|
|6||Marshawn Lynch||Seattle Seahawks||Tennessee Titans||17|
|7||Knowshon Moreno||Denver Broncos||Jacksonville Jaguars||16|
|8||LeSean McCoy||Philadelphia Eagles||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||15|
|9||DeMarco Murray||Dallas Cowboys||Washington Redskins||14|
|10||Alfred Morris||Washington Redskins||Dallas Cowboys||13|
No team in the NFL gives up more fantasy treasure to opposing running backs than the St. Louis Rams. Arian Foster had a nice game against the always tough 49ers in Week 5, and he’ll be primed for a monster showing against the Rams this weekend.
Adrian Peterson will have a tougher go of it this Sunday against the Carolina Panthers. Star Lotulelei and Kawann Short have greatly improved this team’s ability to stuff the run, and it ranks No. 5 in the league, allowing just 92.3 yards a game.
Keep an eye out for Knowshon Moreno against the Jaguars. After the Broncos go up by a few touchdowns, Moreno will have plenty of chances to gash Jacksonville between the tackles while Denver bleeds the clock.
|1||Dez Bryant||Dallas Cowboys||Washington Redskins||26|
|2||Demaryius Thomas||Denver Broncos||Jacksonville Jaguars||25|
|3||A.J. Green||Cincinnati Bengals||Buffalo Bills||23|
|4||Reggie Wayne||Indianapolis Colts||San Diego Chargers||21|
|5||Jordy Nelson||Green Bay Packers||Baltimore Ravens||20|
|6||Calvin Johnson||Detroit Lions||Cleveland Browns||18|
|7||Torrey Smith||Baltimore Ravens||Green Bay Packers||18|
|8||Josh Gordon||Cleveland Browns||Detroit Lions||17|
|9||Pierre Garcon||Washington Redskins||Dallas Cowboys||16|
|10||Wes Welker||Denver Broncos||Jacksonville Jaguars||16|
How in the world does Washington plan on shutting down Dez Bryant?
Based on what we’ve seen from the Redskins this year, they won’t be able to keep him from dominating the field at home.
Any receiver wearing a Denver jersey on Sunday against Jacksonville is a good bet to start, as the Jaguars will be incapable of stopping Manning from having his way.
Look for Reggie Wayne to break out after being handcuffed by Richard Sherman for much of the game in Week 5. The Chargers feature one of the worst secondaries in the league, and Andrew Luck will be looking for his most reliable receiver often.
|1||Jimmy Graham||New Orleans Saints||New England Patriots||22|
|2||Julius Thomas||Denver Broncos||Jacksonville Jaguars||20|
|3||Vernon Davis||San Francisco 49ers||Arizona Cardinals||18|
|4||Jason Witten||Dallas Cowboys||Washington Redskins||16|
|5||Jordan Cameron||Cleveland Browns||Detroit Lions||15|
|6||Greg Olsen||Carolina Panthers||Minnesota Vikings||12|
|7||Martellus Bennett||Chicago Bears||New York Giants||11|
|8||Rob Gronkowski||New England Patriots||New Orleans Saints||10|
|9||Antonio Gates||San Diego Chargers||Indianapolis Colts||8|
|10||Owen Daniels||Houston Texans||St. Louis Rams||7|
Like Manning at the quarterback position, Jimmy Graham is the king of this particular mountain. He’s exceeded 100 yards receiving in each of his past four games and has caught five touchdowns during the same stretch.
Julius Thomas is another sure bet this weekend, because, you know, Jacksonville.
The Arizona Cardinals have not been able to defend opposing tight ends this year, allowing 14.8 fantasy points on average per game, meaning Vernon Davis owners should expect a huge game from him.
The wild card this weekend at the tight end position is Rob Gronkowski. Ian Rapoport of NFL.com recently noted that Gronk was hoping for a return in Week 6, but he also reported the tight end was a long shot to play:
Rob Gronkowski privately expressed a desire to return Week 6 — next week. Accordingly, it’s viewed as a longshot to play Sunday, per source
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) October 4, 2013
Obviously, if Gronkowski can play, he’s a must-start tight end.
|1||Denver Broncos||Jacksonville Jaguars||21|
|2||Chicago Bears||New York Giants||20|
|3||Seattle Seahawks||Tennessee Titans||18|
|4||Cincinnati Bengals||Buffalo Bills||16|
|5||San Francisco 49ers||Arizona Cardinals||15|
|6||Houston Texans||St. Louis Rams||14|
|7||Kansas City Chiefs||Oakland Raiders||13|
|8||New York Jets||Pittsburgh Steelers||12|
|9||Detroit Lions||Cleveland Browns||10|
|10||Pittsburgh Steelers||New York Jets||9|
Bears defenders must be licking their chops for a chance to have a go at the New York Giants. Eli Manning has already turned the ball over 14 times this year, and the Giants have committed 20 turnovers this season, as noted by Rich Eisen of NFL Network:
That’s an even dozen picks of Eli Manning now. 20 total turnovers for the Giants on the season. Remarkable.
— Rich Eisen (@richeisen) October 6, 2013
Kansas City against Oakland is an interesting matchup. The Chiefs have been brilliant on the defensive side of the ball, but Terrelle Pryor is a different kind of quarterback who is hard to keep in check.
|1||Matt Prater||Denver Broncos||Jacksonville Jaguars||18|
|2||Justin Tucker||Baltimore Ravens||Green Bay Packers||16|
|3||Mason Crosby||Green Bay Packers||Baltimore Ravens||15|
|4||Garrett Hartley||New Orleans Saints||New England Patriots||14|
|5||Steven Hauschka||Seattle Seahawks||Tennessee Titans||14|
|6||Dan Carpenter||Buffalo Bills||Cincinnati Bengals||13|
|7||Stephen Gostkowski||New England Patriots||New Orleans Saints||13|
|8||Blair Walsh||Minnesota Vikings||Carolina Panthers||12|
|9||Dan Bailey||Dallas Cowboys||Washington||11|
|10||Robbie Gould||Chicago Bears||New York Giants||10|
Given the excessive scoring Denver is set to do this weekend, Matt Prater is an easy call as a must-start kicker. Even if he doesn’t attempt a single field goal, he’ll earn you plenty of points on extra points.
Seattle’s Steven Hauschka is another kicker who should put up big numbers this weekend. The Seahawks can move the ball between the 20s against any team in the league, but the Titans feature a tough defense that will limit touchdowns.
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