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In The Spotlight – Week 6

Week 6 Fantasy Headlines:

Some Fantasy Studs Showed Up, Some Didn’t
Aaron Rodgers Carves Up Texans With Six TD Passes
Shonn Greene Ground-and-Pounds the Colts
A Long Overdue Breakout Game From Dez Bryant
Russell Wilson Upends Patriots With Last-Minute TD Pass
Bradshaw, Giants Pound The 49ers at Candlestick
Matthew Stafford, Calvin Johnson Rescue the Lions
RGIII Shreds Vikings Defense


Bye week: Carolina Panthers, Chicago Bears, Jacksonville Jaguars & New Orleans Saints

Thursday Night Game:

Tennessee Titans 26 (2-4)
Pittsburgh Steelers 23 (2-3)

Fantasy Focus – Titans: Welcome back, Kenny Britt (4-62-1 on 11 targets). Sure, he dropped a few passes – blame that on rust – but Britt is obviously ready to be used as a regular fantasy starter again. The 37-year-old Matt Hasselbeck (25/44 for 290-1-1) doesn’t have a big arm anymore, but he still can play competently. Kendall Wright (6-71-0 on eight targets) topped all Titans receivers in this contest. The rookie has scored in two of his last three games. Nate Washington (3-57-0 on 10 targets) still hasn’t caught more than three passes in a game so far this season. Despite the favorable matchup for Jared Cook (4-54-0 on four targets) he was a non-factor, salvaging his fantasy outing with a 25-yard catch late in the game. The enigmatic Chris Johnson (19-91-0 rushing and 4-23-0 receiving) logged his second-best rushing game of the season against what had been billed as a good Pittsburgh Steelers run defense.

Fantasy Tips: Jake Locker (shoulder) could return next week. Although Locker has favored Washington in the past, don’t let that scare you away from playing Britt. His presence should draw the attention of the top cover corners on opposing defenses and open things up for Washington and Cook, so don’t give up on either player yet. Wright produces solid numbers with either quarterback under center; he has caught five or more passes in five of six games played. Johnson is a difficult player to read. He struggles in the easy matchups but produces in the tougher ones.

Fantasy Focus – Steelers: After breathing some much-needed life into Pittsburgh’s anemic ground game last week with his 14-81-1 effort, Rashard Mendenhall (6-6-0 rushing and 1-11-0 receiving) went down early with an Achilles’ tendon injury. Isaac Redman (5-14-0 rushing and 4-105-0 receiving) left in the third quarter because of an ankle injury. Ben Roethlisberger (24/40 for 363-1-1) carried the offense, notching his second 300-yard passing game of 2012, but he has tossed just one touchdown pass in his last two starts. Antonio Brown (4-20-0 on 10 targets) was Big Ben’s preferred target in this game, but the two didn’t hook up many times. Heath Miller (6-67-0 on nine targets) has either scored or caught at least six balls in four of five games played. Mike Wallace (2-94-1 on four targets) has scored in four of five contests played.

Fantasy Tips: Because of injuries at the running back position, Roethlisberger obviously will have to carry the offense. He has averaged 39 pass attempts per game so far, and Roethlisberger’s mini-touchdown pass slump should end during upcoming favorable matchups against the Cincinnati Bengals and the Washington Redskins. Some Brown owners have been grumbling about less-than-elite production. He has scored just once and has no 100-yard games (just two with 80-something yards). Brown leads all Steelers pass catchers with 49 targets while Miller is second with 33 looks. Miller’s role in the offense has been much bigger than expected, and he should continue to siphon targets away from Brown.

Early Sunday Afternoon Games:

Atlanta Falcons 23 (6-0)
Oakland Raiders 20 (1-4)

Fantasy Focus – Falcons: Did Atlanta have a letdown after a tough game against the Washington Redskins last week? Did the Falcons take the Raiders too lightly? It’s probably a combination of both. Atlanta needed a pick-six from Asante Samuel and a Matt Bryan 55-yard field goal in the closing seconds to pull this one out. Matt Ryan (24/37 for 249-1-3) played his worst game of the season, tying a career-high in picks before halftime. Roddy White (6-72-1 on eight targets) the team in receiving and caught Ryan’s only scoring strike of the game. Julio Jones (4-63-0 on eight targets) and especially Tony Gonzalez (4-42-0 on seven targets) both cooled off. The Falcons inability to run the football against Oakland was a huge surprise. Coming into this contest, the Raiders had allowed 149 rushing yards and 1.33 rushing touchdowns per game during the last month. Neither Michael Turner (11-33-0 rushing and 1-6-0 receiving) nor Jacquizz Rodgers (2-(-2)-0 rushing and 3-21-0 receiving) could get on track.

Fantasy Tips: The Falcons have a Week 7 Bye. If you’ve been waiting for Rodgers to emerge with a bigger role in the rushing attack, I don’t think it’s going to happen. The 5-foot-6, 190-pound Rodgers is a solid receiver, but he has averaged less than three yards a carry so far this season and does not look like a big-play threat. If you see a better running back prospect in your free-agent pool, unload Rodgers.

Fantasy Focus – Raiders: Carson Palmer (23/33 for 353-1-1) turned in a workmanlike outing, but his pick-six in the closing minutes was obviously a disaster. Denarius Moore (5-104-1 on nine targets) led all Oakland receivers while Darrius Heyward-Bey (1-20-0 rushing) was targeted twice but did not catch a pass. Derek Hagan (4-85-0 on four targets) and Brandon Myers (5-62-0 on seven targets) were the next most-productive receivers. Darren McFadden (27-70-1 rushing and 3-28-0 receiving) struggled but did notch his second rushing score of the season.

Fantasy Tips: Although McFadden has scored just twice and has notched just one 100-yard game, keep him in your lineup. He has nice matchups against the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Kansas City Chiefs coming up. Moore clearly has emerged as Oakland’s top receiving threat and Palmer’s favorite target. Heyward-Bey made his return after suffering a concussion/neck injury in Week 4. It looks like the coaches are going to ease him back into the routine, so plaster DHB to your bench for now.

Baltimore Ravens 31 (5-1)
Dallas Cowboys 29 (2-3)

Fantasy Focus – Ravens: Ray Rice (16-63-2 rushing and 1-43-0 receiving) topped 100-plus total yards for the second week in a row and led the offense in scoring. As expected, the Joe Flacco-led passing attack (17/26 for 234-1-0) struggled against an elite Dallas secondary. The Cowboys smothered Torrey Smith (2-24-1 on four targets) and Dennis Pitta (4-33-0 on five targets), but Anquan Boldin (5-98-0 on six targets) enjoyed his third straight with at least 80 receiving yards. The Ravens defense suffered two injuries: linebacker Ray Lewis (triceps) and cornerback Lardarius Webb (torn ACL).

Fantasy Tip: The “Pitta Party” is over. Downgrade him to backup status for now. Boldin has edged him out as the over-the-middle favorite target of Flacco. Lewis’ injury could be a season-ending one, and his loss obviously would be a huge blow to an already struggling Baltimore defense. If you’ve been relying on the Ravens, you may want to scout out another team defense.

Fantasy Focus – Cowboys: Dallas didn’t lose because of Dez Bryant. While toying with Ravens cornerbacks all afternoon, Bryant (13-95-2 on 15 targets) logged one of the best games of his three-year career. Jason Witten (6-88-0 on seven targets) had a solid game, but Austin Miles (2-31-0 on four targets), as expected, took a back seat to Bryant. Tony Romo (25/36 for 261-2-1) played well and nearly led the team to a comeback victory. DeMarco Murray (14-93-0 rushing and 1-4-0 receiving) ran well before leaving with a foot injury in the third quarter. Little-used Felix Jones (18-92-1 rushing and 1-13-0 receiving) also ran through the Baltimore defense with ease, which was unexpected.

Fantasy Tip: If Murray is unable to suit up for Week 7, Jones has a favorable matchup against what has been a soft Carolina Panthers defense.

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