INDIANAPOLIS --- It happens every season. Players emerge early who were buried on draft boards or not drafted at all. There seem to be more than ever this season. The number of surprises players currently ranked top-10 at their position is crazy.
Now it's time to sort through the surprises and figure out which ones to trust moving forward, and which to keep out of your lineup on your bench or trade. So, let's play a little game of "Trust or Toss" with players who are top-10 in standard scoring at their positions through five weeks:
Bengals QB Andy Dalton (#1 QB) - Trust, then Toss. Will he finish as the #1 QB? No. Does he have all his weapons healthy, as opposed to last year's MASH unit? Yes. The schedule is also very favorable, but we're about winning a fantasy championship. Dalton gets Denver week 16. If you can get a reliable RB/WR/TE for a guy that's likely your back-up QB, do it.
Cardinals QB Carson Palmer (#4 QB) - Trust. He was good already before he got hurt in 2014, and is just continuing to play at that same level.
Bills QB Tyrod Taylor (#5 QB) - Toss. He's already banged up, and we've seen this before with rushing quarterbacks in the NFL. I just don't trust him long-term, especially with a healthy LeSean McCoy, who will be the focal point of the offense.
Giants QB Eli Manning (#6 QB) - Trust. He's flourished with a new offensive coordinator that started last year.
Jaguars QB Blake Bortles (# 7 QB) - Toss. He has the weapons and mobility to raise his fantasy floor, but the schedule gets tougher after this week.
Falcons RB Devonta Freeman (#1 RB) - Trust. If you don't trust him by now, I have a league I'd like you to join with me.
Buccaneers RB Doug Martin (#5 RB) - Trust. The games Martin hasn't produced this year weren't because he didn't run well. It's because Tampa Bay didn't give him the ball enough. His three best games have come with 23, 25, and 27 touches. You don't just trade away a rare workhorse like that these days.
Cowboys RB Joseph Randle (#6 RB) - Toss. 41% of his points are from four touchdowns, three of which came in one game. I can't buy into a guy averaging less than 4 yards per carry. Not to mention one that is back in a competition to keep his starting job during the bye week…
49ers RB Carlos Hyde (#8 RB) - Trust. This will be a roller coaster ride, but he's the bellcow, and those are so hard to find in fantasy these days. I wouldn't trade him unless you can get another bellcow back.
Cardinals RB Chris Johnson (#9 RB) - Toss. He's averaging 5.1 ypc. Johnson hasn't rushed for 5 yards per carry since his CJ2K season of 2009. I don't think this is sustainable in a running back. It has to be to retain his value in a running back by committee.
Patriots RB Dion Lewis (#10 RB) - The Patriots gave him a contract extension mid-season. You do the math.
Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald (#2 WR) - Trust. He was always productive with Carson Palmer. This isn't new.
Packers WR James Jones (#4 WR) - Trust. He was always productive with Aaron Rodgers. This isn't new.
Browns WR Travis Benjamin (#5 WR) - Toss. Touchdown dependent. Schedule ahead much tougher.
Jaguars WR Allen Robinson (#8 WR) - Trust. I don't think he'll be as consistent as teammate Allen Hurns, who is moving all over the field for the Jaguars offense, but we saw flashes of this with Robinson last year.
Chargers WR Keenan Allen (#9 WR) - Toss. I am of the belief that Antonio Gates kills Allen's value moving forward. I would trade him as soon as possible after his great early games without Gates on the field.
Colts Media Reporter Steve Andress' picks for the top fantasy matchups this week.
Week 6 Start 'Em (16+ points for QBs, 10+ for RB/WR; 25-8 for season, 6-0 last week...crushed it last week. Let's ride.)
Eagles QB Eli Manning (@ PHL) - The status of Odell Beckham Jr. (hamstring) doesn't scare me with this pick. Philadelphia has been stout against the run, and Manning will have to sling it. He's also made great decisions last year. In year two with this offensive coordinator, it seems like his 27 interception 2013 season was ages ago. 5-1 TD/INT ratio this year.
Broncos QB Peyton Manning (@ CLE) - This feels like the Fantasy Battle of Little Bighorn. Is this Peyton's last fantasy stand? I mean when's the last time Eli was mentioned before Peyton in a fantasy column? 6 TD, 7 INT this year…three of his five games under 10 fantasy points. That's unreliable and losing fantasy football in a week-to-week game. But alas, the Browns have allowed an average of 264 passing yards and 2 touchdowns to opposing quarterbacks. It's a top-5 fantasy match-up for Manning. If not now, then when?
Packers RB Eddie Lacy (vs. SD) - Another if not now, then when pick. 2 points last week...2! But the Chargers have been bad against the run, allowing 123 yards per game to running backs and a touchdown per game.
Browns RB Duke Johnson (vs. DEN) - I'm going out on a limb with this one, because Denver has been the best defense in the league, but the Broncos have given up the most receptions to RBs over the past three weeks. Johnson has 21 receptions over the past three weeks. This feels like a Duke game more than Isaiah Crowell.
Jaguars WR Allen Hurns (vs. HOU) - 116 yards and a touchdown in back-to-back weeks...I love this guy! I recommended him last week and am doing it again. Now he gets to face the Texans secondary? Get this undrafted guy from The U in your lineups, people.
Colts WR Donte Moncrief (vs. NE) - He's been quiet the past couple of weeks with Matt Hasselbeck at quarterback, but Moncrief told NFL Network this week he's 75% sure Andrew Luck starts. If that's the case, get Moncrief in there. He should have one-on-one coverage all night, and is averaging 5.7 receptions, 67 yards, and a touchdown with #12 under center.
SLEEPER OF THE WEEK - Ravens RB Buck Allen or Jaguars RB Denard Robinson: If Justin Forsett or T.J. Yeldon don't play, don't be afraid to start these guys in plus match-ups against the 49ers and Texans, respectively.
TIGHT END WEEK 5 SLEEPER - Jordan Cameron. Coming off the bye, the Dolphins old tight ends coach is now the interim head coach. That's gotta help Cameron, right?
Honorable Mention (warned you not to start Owen Daniels last week...0 receptions) - Chiefs RB Charcandrick West: He's the heir apparent to Jamaal Charles (ACL), but I want to see how the new workload is divided first before starting West. I'd also like to point out what nobody has really mentioned. The Vikings defense is pretty good. Not a great match-up for West out of the gate....
Week 5 Sit 'Em ( < 16 points for QBs, < 10 for RB/WR; 20-10 on the season, 5-1 last week)
Panthers QB Cam Newton (@ SEA) - It seems like the Panthers are going into a buzzsaw in Seattle, with a very angry, frustrated defense waiting for them. The Bengals had a lot of weapons last week. The Panthers don't have those kind of weapons, despite starting 4-0.
Dolphins QB Ryan Tannehill (@ TEN) - You likely drafted him to be your starter this year, but time for an audible. Let's see how this Dolphins team looks first after firing their head coach. There's been talk of getting RB Lamar Miller more involved too. That won't help Tannehill's numbers.
Cardinals RB Chris Johnson (@ PIT) - Since becoming the Cardinals starter in week 2, only Adrian Peterson has more rushing yards. HOWEVER (Stephen A. Smith voice), David Johnson is vulturing goal line carries, Andre Ellington is around to take a few more snaps, and the Steelers have actually been pretty good against the run. Other than the Ravens 182 rushing yards on Thursday night week 4, the Steelers have allowed 70 rushing yards or less to opposing running backs in every other game...and no touchdowns all season.
Lions RB Ameer Abdullah (vs. CHI) - It looks like a decent enough match-up on paper, but it's not. The Bears have allowed less than 4 yards per carry the past two weeks to Latavius Murray and Jamaal Charles/Chiefs RBs. Plus, Abdullah may be in the doghouse after fumbling twice with Joique Bell ready to return in the backfield.
Steelers WR Antonio Brown (vs. ARI) - A sit 'em pick has never broken my heart more. I love Antonio. He was my #1 pick in PPR leagues this year, but if Big Ben isn't at quarterback, we've seen enough to know Antonio is nothing more than a flex start. The struggle is real. Big Ben, get well soon. Plus, Patrick Peterson is covering him this week (nobody can cover Antonio, but it might make Vick look away from him even more).
Chargers WR Keenan Allen (@ GB) - This was my concern in drafting Keenan Allen this year and remained my concern even after his huge games early: what happens when Antonio Gates comes back? Only 57 yards last week. Plus, Gates takes away red zone targets from Allen. Last season, Allen had only 5 games with 60+ yards or a touchdown. Gates? 10.
Get ahead of the waiver wire competition after this weekend! (Must be under 50% owned on NFL.com to qualify)
Last week's Pick 'Em Up scores: Sam Bradford (17 pts), Matt Jones (9 pts), Antonio Andrews (10 pts), ANTONIO GATES (21 pts)
Week 6 Pick 'Em Up
Eagles QB Sam Bradford (32.7%)
Browns RB Duke Johnson (46.1%...come on people!)
Chiefs RB Charcandrick West (26.2%...needs to be owned now in ALL leagues)
Cowboys RB Christine Michael (1.6%...reportedly being considered to start in bye week)
Dolphins RB Jonas Gray (0.8%...reportedly will see increased work)
Dolphins WR DeVante Parker (15.3%...1st round pick, also reportedly will see increased work)
Titans WR Dorial Green-Beckham (46.3%...keep stashing for now if you have the space)