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Fantasy Football Fix: Contender or pretender?

LISTEN: The Fantasy Football Fix - Week 6

Week 6 is fast approaching and it’s become evident that this might be a good time for some fantasy football therapy. The game gets tougher every year, with so much access to rankings, advice and the latest news readily available to everyone at all times. Getting an edge on your leaguemates is more difficult than ever before, and picking up wins from week to week can be a grind.

That’s where Percy Harvin comes in. If you or someone you care about started the Seahawks’ dual threat on Monday Night Football this week, there’s a good chance you experienced some of the more memorable fantasy football pain in recent history. Losing is never fun, but there are degrees of frustration associated with it. There’s the last second loss, the narrow defeat where one of your players gets tackled just short of the end zone or drops a sure touchdown and then there’s my personal favorite — the loss where your players put up great numbers… on your bench.

But I’m not sure any of those compare with what happened on Monday. You see, many people needed Harvin to get them 5-10 points against Washington. And he answered the bell, scoring three touchdowns! What a great reward for the fantasy owners who did the research, realized the Seahawks were looking to make Harvin a bigger part of the offense and started him against a shaky secondary. Except wait – they were all called back because of penalties. Every. Single. One of them. No seriously, that actually happened – and two of the penalties were extremely questionable. Harvin should have had about 30 points; instead he finished with three. If aliens landed on our planet Monday night, they probably think the human race has some sort of weird rule that doesn’t allow guys named Percy to score touchdowns or be happy.

Whether you’re a disgruntled Harvin owner or not, there’s a decent chance you need a bounceback effort in this pivotal, midseason week. We’re reaching that point where the contenders are being separated from the pretenders in most leagues. And if you’ve been clinging to one of the top spots on your waiver wire, this could very well be the week to cash it in. Andre Williams suddenly figures to be the Giants’ starting running back for the next couple weeks, and has looked decent in a limited role so far. Branden Oliver was virtually unstoppable against a respectable Jets’ run defense last week, and now should see a sizable workload against the, um, Raiders. And a trio of running backs — led by Ronnie Hillman — will need to step in for Montee Ball as the Broncos’ running back deals with what is being called a potentially “major groin injury”. Honestly, that sounds more painful than starting Percy Harvin.

Of course, the quickest path to fantasy success is to find the strong players that are facing weak opposition and cash in. With that in mind, here are the Money Matchups for week 6…

QB: Peyton Manning, DEN (@ NYJ). Obviously, you’re starting him if you have him. That’s not really the issue here. This is basically just a public service announcement to let you know you’re probably losing if you have to face Manning this week, as he and his happy little group of unstoppable receivers roll into New York to take on a Jets pass defense that has allowed the third-most points to opposing QBs this season. And if you play in one of those daily leagues, it’s probably worth going all in on him this week.

Honorable Mention: Matt Ryan, ATL (v CHI). Ryan has attempted 41 or more passes in four of his five games this season, so volume won’t be an issue. And now he gets a matchup with a Bears secondary that routinely lets receivers run wild. Rookie Kyle Fuller is rapidly emerging as a real nice cornerback for Chicago, so it’s worth keeping an eye on who he’s lined up against. But Ryan can always just look to a different deep threat if he needs to.

RB: Arian Foster, HOU (v IND). Anyone who thought Foster was done heading into this season was way off base. The Texans’ workhorse back has piled up 404 yards and three touchdowns in just over three games, and now faces one of his favorite teams. In five career meetings with the Colts, he has averaged 150.4 yards on the ground and Houston figures to feed him the ball here again in a key AFC South showdown. Injuries remain a risk with Foster, but he appears good to go this week. And that’s all that matters.

Honorable Mention: Matt Forte, CHI (@ ATL). Forte can rack up the yards so many different ways that touchdowns are almost an afterthought. If he gets into the end zone, it’s a nice bonus. If not, he should still be good for double-digit fantasy points anyway. And while he hasn’t run one in yet this year, he did manage a receiving TD in Week 5 and is currently No. 4 among all running backs in standard scoring. Now he faces the Falcons, who have allowed an NFL-worst (by a pretty wide margin, I might add) 10 rushing TDs already in 2014.

WR/TE : Jeremy Maclin, PHI (v NYG). He’s been the model of consistency at a pretty inconsistent position this year, averaging 11.4 targets while hauling in touchdowns in four out of five games so far. Meanwhile, the Giants rank No. 25 against the pass. Plus it’s Sunday Night Football, so you get the extra added bonus of having one of your top weapons bring you back late in your matchup. Unless, you know, he scores three touchdowns and they all get called back.

Honorable Mention: Greg Olsen, CAR (@ CIN). He’s 6-foot-5 and basically 50 percent of the Panthers’ entire offensive attack at this point. On top of that, only two teams allow more points per game to opposing tight ends than the Bengals.

D/ST: San Diego Chargers (@ OAK). Who’s playing quarterback for the Raiders this week? Who cares? The Chargers have quietly been one of the better fantasy defenses this season — registering double-digit points in each of their last three contests. Now just picture them lining up against Derek Carr, Matt Schaub and/or Matt McGloin.

Honorable Mention: Philadelphia Eagles (v NYG). This is the ultimate high risk/high-reward play. The Eagles aren’t exactly the greatest defense around, but they’ve combined with the special teams to somehow score five touchdowns in the last two weeks. Insane? Yes. Dependable? Not really. But what if Good Eli turns back into Bad Eli this week? Don’t you want to be there for that?

The Fantasy Football Fix podcast is available on ArizonaSports.com every week during the NFL season, with Luke Lapinski, Jordan Byrd and Paige Dimakos giving you all the insight you need to rise to the top of your league.