By chance Smith
In a week five that featured four high scoring teams on their bye weeks of the season─ the Dolphins, Vikings, Jets and Panthers─ fantasy owners had to abandon some of their normal game plans for fantasy success. Devonta Freeman of the Falcons continued to concrete his name in fantasy headlines with his third 20 plus fantasy point performance in a row. Also, a new and improved Andy Dalton hopped up to number two in fantasy points for quarterbacks with his overtime win over the Seahawks. In week six, fantasy owners will have to adjust their rosters to account for the bye weeks of the Cowboys, Rams, Buccaneers and Raiders. So, who’s taking your fantasy team to the top this week?
WHO TO START:
Gary Barnidge, Cleveland Browns TE vs. Denver Broncos.
Barnidge was all over the field for the Browns in their 33-30 overtime win over the Ravens this Sunday. His performance was highlighted by his incredible falling touchdown catch on the goal line. He lit up Baltimore’s stellar defense─ that was ranked first in the league in fantasy points allowed to tight ends coming into the game─ with eight receptions on 10 targets for 139 yards and a touchdown. His performance earned him double-digit fantasy numbers for the third week in a row with 19 points, the second most out of any tight end behind Tyler Eifert of the Bengals.
The eighth-year player out of Louisville has become one of quarterback Josh McCown’s favorite weapons over the past three games, targeting him a total of 26 times─ second only to wide receiver Travis Benjamin. The Browns face off against the league-leading Denver defense at home this week and they’ll need Barnidge to continue producing at this rate in order to get past the savvy veteran secondary of the Broncos.
Blake Bortles, Jacksonville Jaguars QB vs. Houston Texans.
The second-year quarterback out of UCF completed 23 of 33 pass attempts for a career-high 303 yards and four touchdowns in a 31-38 loss to the Buccaneers this Sunday. Despite their 1-4 record, Bortles seems to be finding a home in the backfield with the Jags. He has no shortage of threats at the receiver position with fellow second-year players Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns both putting up consistent numbers.
The triple threat faces off against the Texans, who are ranked 26th in the league against opposing fantasy quarterbacks, this Sunday. The Houston squad just hasn’t shown that they can stop anyone this year and I really like his chances at home, where the Jaguars recorded their only win of the season thus far. Bortles is only owned in 27.5 percent of ESPN fantasy leagues, but after putting up 28 fantasy points this past week─ the third most out of quarterbacks behind Josh McCown and Eli Manning─ he would be a good guy to gamble on this week.
Justin Forsett, Baltimore Ravens RB at San Francisco 49ers.
The 1-4 Ravens have had a tough go at it this season, losing four out of five games by six points or less. On a positive note, Justin Forsett has been on fire in the Ravens backfield, picking up where he left off last season. In two consecutive overtime games, the Lakeland, Florida native has attempted 27 and 21 rushes respectively and recorded triple-digit yards. Many fantasy owners were starting to give up on Forsett who was ranked 25th at the position through four weeks, but he finally broke out with a touchdown this weekend against a shoddy Browns’ defense. I expect Forsett to expose the struggling 49ers that have given up the second most total yards in the league to opposing teams. The 1-4 ‘Niners have let opposing backs have fantasy heydays week-after-week and Forsett─ who recorded 22 fantasy points this past week─ is definitely capable of continuing that trend.
WHO TO SIT:
Jeremy Hill, Cincinnati Bengals RB at Buffalo Bills.
There was a lot of hype for the second-year back out of LSU coming into this year after a superb rookie season. Fantasy owners clamored at the opportunity to pick up a more experienced Jeremy Hill this season—who was drafted an average of 10th out of running backs in ESPN leagues. He is currently owned in 99 percent of leagues, but the consistent production hasn’t been there this year. Hill started off the season with a game-high 19 carries for 63 yards and two touchdowns against the Raiders. Since that game, the Bengals’ rushing attack has become more of a dual threat with Giovani Bernard.
In fact, Bernard has seen more rushing attempts than Hill in weeks two through five. Hill is still outscoring Bernard in total fantasy points─ by three small points─ but there’s no hiding that Bernard is the number one guy right now. He is outrushing the younger Hill by 201 yards and also has 11 more carries. I expect those numbers to increase against a very decent Bills’ defense.
Ameer Abdullah, Detroit Lions RB vs. Chicago.
The rookie Abdullah came into the NFL very heralded after a strong Heisman campaign in his senior year at Nebraska. He has showed some flashes of capability this season, but doesn’t have much to show for it. Abdullah is the Lions’ number one back, but his average of 3.3 yards per carry ranks 41st out of the 51 running backs that qualify with at least six carries per game this season. There’s just no consistency. Abdullah fumbled the ball twice in the first half of the Lions’ 42-17 loss to the Cardinals this week, leading to benching the entire second half. He finished the day with a horrific -1 fantasy points on six carries for 17 yards. The Lions are last place in the NFL in rushing yards this season and I don’t expect them to pick it up against a Bears defense that has been solid against the run.
Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks QB vs. Carolina Panthers.
The Seahawks, fresh off a Super Bowl loss to the Patriots, revamped their passing offense this season with Pro Bowl tight end Jimmy Graham. They also returned their two leading receivers in Doug Baldwin and Jermaine Kearse. The problem for quarterback Russell Wilson is that he has no receiver that has stepped up as a star to grab some of the defensive attention. The 2-3 Seahawks are ranked 22nd in the league in passing offense and Wilson has only recorded multiple touchdowns in one week this season.
This Sunday, they face off against a Panthers defense coming off a bye week that has caused 11 turnovers in four games this season─ four of which were returned for touchdowns. Wilson is currently ranked ninth at the position and I wouldn’t look for him to get it going against Josh Norman, Charles Tillman and the rest of the Carolina secondary this week.