Wow, what a Week 6! The Giants, Redskins and Cowboys all go down in upset fashion, the Bears blow their third fourth-quarter lead of the season in an unfathomable way, and I lost a fantasy game by .19 points when my quarterback and defense combined for -1.92 points. But, at least I’ve got two 5-1 teams sitting in first place at the present moment, and somehow Chicago is tied for first in the NFC North despite injuries and inconsistency on defense. Now for the fantasy stuff…

 

Aaron Rodgers has three 1-yard touchdown runs this season. Ryan Grant has zero. In fact, Grant has yet to score a touchdown through six games, a disturbing trend considering where Grant fell in fantasy drafts. If Rodgers is going to be punching in touchdowns from the goal-line with a separated shoulder, there’s pretty much nothing to keep him from doing so as long as he’s upright. Meanwhile, owners can be happy about the 173 yards Grant has racked up the last two weeks, but I’m concerned about his yards per carry. Since going for 7.7 yards per jaunt in Week 1, Grant has averaged just 2.8 yards per carry. So unless he’s going to get 33 carries each game like he did against the Seahawks – which will run him into the ground by Week 10, by the way – Grant is simply not going to have fantasy value unless for some reason Mike McCarthy starts calling his number by the goal line. And after playing the Colts next week he’s got a bye, then at Tennessee and at Minnesota before a home game against Chicago. So pretty much expect to go without Grant for the next month.

 

Staying in the NFC North, Bernard Berrian has absolutely become an every-week starter. He’s averaged 99.5 yards per game in his last four, has 16 catches in his last three, and two touchdowns in his last two games. Bobby Wade is getting more looks from Gus Frerrote – making him a useful third receiver in deep PPR leagues, by the way (6.3 catches for 70 yards per game in his last three) – but Berrian is a guy that is hot right now and has a great chance of lighting up the secondary of his former team in Chicago next week.

 

Were you able to buy low on Andre Johnson after four weeks? If not, your window has slammed shut after 19 catches for 309 yards and two touchdowns in a two-week stretch. Yikes!

 

Meanwhile, your time to sell Eddie Royal high has come and gone. Not only was he hurt last week, but Darrell Jackson is now back and Brandon Stokley has 16 catches and two touchdowns the last three weeks. Jay Cutler’s suddenly got a lot of mouths to feed, meaning Royal is going to be inconsistent for fantasy owners from here on out unless injuries happen elsewhere.

 

T.J. Houshmandzadeh owners NOT in PPR leagues have reason to worry. Sure, PPR owners are likely to see production drop as well, but at least Ryan Fitzpatrick has Housh on his radar. There is talk of Carson Palmer possibly needing surgery on his elbow, which would leave Fitzpatrick under center the rest of the season. Housh has 13 catches for 99 yards in the two games Fitzpatrick has played this season, but no touchdowns in either. Needless to say, he’s probably not going to perform up to his second- or third- round potential the rest of the way is Palmer is done.

 

Did you stay away from the Tampa Bay backfield in drafts? If so, you’re likely happy at this point as Warrick Dunn and Earnest Graham continue to battle it out, with Carnell Williams not far away from joining the fight. Graham has just 70 rushing yards the last two weeks, but he also has 68 receiving and a touchdown. Dunn, meanwhile, hasn’t scored a touchdown in four weeks but has been the leading rusher the last two. Sure, these numbers have kept BOTH runners fantasy relevant, but its tough to say who will have the better digits each week and it will get even more murky when Cadillac is back. That’s just not a fun game to play.

This work week has been beyond ridiculous, leaving me about as much time as Pittsburgh has healthy running backs to do any fantasy football work. But I did manage to watch some football this past weekend and make a few observations I wanted to comment on before Week 5 games get started.

 

First, I wanted to re-visit Eddie Royal. I discussed him after Week 1 as a sell-high candidate because he would be inconsistent upon Brandon Marshall’s return, which I continue to advocate. However, perhaps his most recent game is uncovering a tendency that could at least help you decide when to start or sit him. In two road games thus far, Royal is averaging nine catches for 125 yards and a half-touchdown per contest. In two games at Invesco, Royal is averaging 4.5 catches for 24 yards and a half score. I’m holding out hope that this trend breaks this week when the Broncos play host to a Tampa Bay squad allowing 306 passing yards and 2.5 passing scores per game on the road, but don’t be shocked if Royal goes silent while Marshall tears apart Ronde Barber.

 

Speaking of the Buccaneers, how about that rushing defense? Sure, they may give it up a bit in the air, but Tampa Bay has yet to cede a rushing touchdown or a 100-yard rushing game through four contests this season. And considering the Bucs faced Matt Forte, Ryan Grant, Michael Turner and Reggie Bush, that’s no small feat. Since Selvin Young has yet to score this season and Michael Pittman can’t always be guaranteed a shot at the goal line, this is probably a week to bench all Broncos running backs. In fact, the bench your backs against the Bucs theory might be in play the next three weeks until the unbenchable Marion Barber travels to Florida in Week 8.

 

Staying on the topic of defenses for a moment, its time to point out that the Chargers simply cannot stop the pass. I mean, we all knew it would be difficult without a healthy Shawne Merriman for this unit to live up to its potential, but this is borderline embarrassing. Through four games, San Diego is giving up more than 286 yards and 2.5 passing scores per game. These numbers are bad enough on their own, but now consider that they come after facing a Carolina team without Steve Smith in Week 1 and a dysfunctional Raiders squad in Week 4 that hadn’t passed for more than 180 yards in the first three weeks. It’s to the point that I would feel comfortable in a pinch playing Chad Pennington this week and Trent Edwards (although he’s becoming more serviceable by the day) in Week 7. If your quarterback goes down with an injury the final week of the fantasy regular season, keep in mind that the possibly available Matt Ryan gets the Chargers in Week 13.

 

Finally, in a year where so far its seemed an above average number of receivers have shown up big one week only to flop the next, consistency in a group of mediocre free agents is key. I’m starting to convince myself I’ve found it in Tennessee, where Kerry Collins has been a non-fantasy factor, but may have found a favorite target in Justin Gage. In the two full games Gage has been healthy for with Collins at quarterback the entire time, he’s caught five passes each game while averaging 75.5 yards. He’s even got a touchdown! I’m not saying he’s an every-week starter, but if you’ve been busy chasing the previous week’s stats at the wide receiver position because Jerry Porter, Reggie Williams, Javon Walker and a host of others have been flops so far, Gage might be the guy to fill in the back part of your roster.