Welcome to week 6 in the NFL and hope your fantasy football team is winning!
So, unless you started John Brown last week, have Andre Ellington in PPR or have Adrian Peterson stashed on your fantasy team you probably aren’t a happy fantasy camper when it comes to the Arizona Cardinals.
Last week even their stalwart defense was terrible and led to a great game from Carson Wentz.
So, with the Cardinals coming home, who should you play in the game and who should be sitting on the sidelines? Let’s take a look:
Start of the Week: RB Doug Martin, Buccaneers
Martin looked electric in his return to the field for the Buccaneers against the Patriots, going off for 74 yards and a score in addition to an eight-yard reception.
He’s going to be a top running back option potentially the rest of the year. While Arizona’s run defense is a completely different story from the swiss-cheese Patriots defense this season, they did give up 74 yards to LeGarrette Blount on only 14 carries last week, though he was held out of the endzone. You could argue that Arizona turns down the run, but I’ll pick Martin to pick up another score and be involved as the Cards have had a rash of defensive line injuries and Patrick Peterson on the outside.
Speaking of Peterson...
Sit of the Week: Mike Evans, Buccaneers
While Peterson was limited in practice today, there’s no indication he won’t be anything less than a full go for Sunday at this point, and Evans is next in line to be one of the long list of WR1’s who’ve been shut down by Peterson this year. Outside of Dez Bryant scoring a lone touchdown (on a play where it was designed for him to NOT line up against Peterson) teams’ top wide receiver options are non-factors in games.
Winston is known to look Evans’ way even when covered so it’s possible he gets a score but more likely we see similarly to last year where Peterson picked off a forced Winston pass.
Should, for some reason, the Cardinals choose to put Peterson on DeSean Jackson to begin the game and he follows him around all game, it’ll be your loss as Evans will go off for a big week.
Make sure you check social media before kickoff as best as you can on Sunday to find out which guy reporters say that he will be covering just in case it switches. Evans might be a guy you have to roll out anyway, especially with Bye Weeks happening now.
Cardinals Start: Andre Ellington, RB
I sure hope you’ve been taking my advice on Ellington, PPR players. He’s averaged 9 catches a game the last 2 games and despite the lack of rushing attempts he’s had the highest passing volume of any Cardinals receiver not named Larry Fitzgerald.
He’s another must-start even with a certain Cardinals running back pick up we will be getting to in just a bit.
Buccaneers Start: DeSean Jackson, WR
Unlike years past, the Bucs have more options in the passing game than just Evans and the Cardinals so far have given up the 2nd most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers.
The reason for this?
With teams having their run game shut down and Peterson locking down one side of the field, WR2’s have been going off against Bethel and against a mediocre Tyrann Mathieu in the slot.
With Peterson likely drawing Evans, Jackson will get to work free from Peterson for once. And after a good performance of over 100 yards last week, expect Jackson to abuse Bethel or Mathieu from the slot for a long touchdown at least once in the game. I’d also expect Cameron Brate to wind up with a score.
Cardinals Sit: J.J. Nelson, WR
The only thing that’s rotated more than the Cardinals’ running back position has been their dominant wide receiver of the week. Sometimes it’s been John, sometimes Jaron and sometimes J.J. Nelson.
But despite the Bucs’ 32nd ranked pass defense, I’d expect that Arizona comes out with a brutal rushing attack to try to take some heat off of Carson Palmer and involve Andre Ellington in both and split him out as a wide receiver. With John Brown back and Jaron Brown playing 98% of the snaps, the odd man out is...
J.J. Nelson. If John Brown is able to be the deep threat (and INT stopper) he was last week then that leaves J.J. out in the cold as a WR4, despite a hot start against the Colts.
Sleeper Pick: RB Adrian Peterson, Cardinals
You had to guess this one was coming, right?
The Cardinals added a new running back this week and he flew instantly to the top of their depth chart. That would be one future Hall of Fame running back in Adrian Peterson.
He’s a TRUE sleeper right now because, well, we’re not sure what to expect. But we are sure of some things:
Let’s take a look real quick at the pros and cons of the Peterson addition in fantasy.
-Peterson’s shown little effectiveness (or opportunity) so far in New Orleans
-He’s 32 years old
-He’s a 1st and 2nd down only back w/out the pass protection and receiving skills Arians likes
-Volume will be there quickly(at least 15+ touches right out of the gate)
-Red zone struggles to run the ball will make him team’s #1 option down inside the 20.
-Team committing to running the ball to protect Palmer
In the end, we have no idea how Peterson’s time in Arizona will turn out. The odds are pretty well stacked against him considering fit, the line and Father Time, but part of what Arians wants to do is run the ball out of I-formation to set up his passing attack and protect his QB. The Cardinals haven’t been able to find a back who’s capable of getting more than 2.5 Yards Per Carry thus far who won’t go down at first contact.
Peterson’s still, if nothing else, tough and won’t go down easy.
If you can buy into that with the same hope and a prayer that the Cardinals have by trading for him, then maybe you’ll get rewarded. Perhaps he’ll end up with a 17 carry, 95 yard and a TD game in his first action. Or perhaps he will have a similar impact that Chris Johnson had on the team and not much changes behind that offensive line.
Either way, especially in non-PPR leagues if Peterson’s been dropped or sitting on your bench feel free to start him and give it a try if you have him OR see if you can’t dangle him in a trade to a player who’s seen David Johnson hit IR.
That, quite honestly, is probably your best bet as Johnson will still be the unquestioned back should he return this season.
But...if he doesn’t as the Cardinals’ season stretches on, perhaps those that drafted Peterson too early this year might be rewarded after all.
That’s if for this week!
You can follow or direct your fantasy football questions to @blakemurphy7 on Twitter.