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Cowboys, Patriots clash highlights Week 6 fantasy matchups

Scott Engel of previews all of the Week 6 action from fantasy perspectives.

St. Louis Rams at Green Bay Packers

This one figures to get ugly quick, and the Rams do not have the weaponry to take advantage of a defense that has been vulnerable to the passing game. The Packers defensive backs should keep the St. Louis wide receivers off their game, and the Rams lack any real significant playmakers who should be used this week, even for bye week purposes. Sam Bradford may not throw more than one TD pass, and Steven Jackson will only come through with adequate numbers as his team falls far behind and even struggles to pad statistics in garbage time. The Packers defense is one of the top fantasy starts of the week.

The Rams have allowed an appalling 179.8 rushing yards per game, but the Pack is built on the air game, and Aaron Rodgers should dominate with scoring tosses to Greg Jennings, Jermichael Finley and Jordy Nelson. James Jones is a quality bye-week filler for yardage, and look for James Starks to ring up some nice rushing totals in the second half. Heck, you can even take your shot with Ryan Grant.

Indianapolis Colts at Cincinnati Bengals

The Colts still are without a win, but don't expect them to be the complete pushover some assume as they desperately try to stay in this one. Curtis Painter should post some decent numbers, but the Bengals will make sure Pierre Garcon does not beat them with big plays. Reggie Wayne should be Indianapolis' most productive pass-catcher this week. Delone Carter is the better choice over Donald Brown, and can deliver respectable rushing totals if he gets into a rhythm.

Cedric Benson should enjoy a fine afternoon against the AFC's worst run defense. Look for the Colts to double-team rookie receiver A.J. Green often and attempt to make Andy Dalton beat them with other targets. Don't look for Dalton to throw more than one TD pass, yet one should go to Jermaine Gresham. Green should still be a big threat in the red zone and is a must-start WR3.

San Francisco 49ers at Detroit Lions

The surprising 49ers will lean heavily on Frank Gore. San Francisco needs Gore to help them win the time of possession battle and keep the Lions offense on the sidelines as much as possible. Look for Gore to be successful as an all-around yardage producer from scrimmage. The regular threat of a ground game should allow Alex Smith to use play-action passing effectively in the red zone, where Vernon Davis will be his money man again.

After a big week against the Bears, Jahvid Best is in for a tough matchup. It's hard to reserve Best, though, in a week when byes often dictate you have to use him. Expect only decent all-around totals from Best. Matthew Stafford faces a defense that is 23rd in the league in passing yards per game allowed, so he should be an optimum start again. Expect the usual TD strike to Calvin Johnson, while tight end Brandon Pettigrew is also on the rise as a significant threat.

Jacksonville Jaguars at Pittsburgh Steelers

The Steelers are not always scary against the run anymore, as they allow 108.8 rushing yards per game. Expect Maurice Jones-Drew to get his 100 yards, but the Jaguars are simply too conservative to offer up any other viable fantasy options. Mike Thomas should only be used if you are really struggling for bye week help.

Rashard Mendenhall returns to action, but he is not a top start against a run defense that ranks 10th in the league. Jacksonville has allowed eight TD passes, which means Ben Roethlisberger should be able to get a TD strike to Mike Wallace. The Jaguars probably won't get blown away, but the defense will likely spend too much time on the field and Roethlisberger should add to his stats late in the game.

Houston Texans at Baltimore Ravens

As usual, the Ravens are formidable against the run this year. They have allowed an AFC-low 72.5 rushing yards per game and one TD run. Arian Foster, though, cannot be completely contained because his offensive line is playing too well and he is also a big threat as a pass-catcher. Matt Schaub may come out throwing to loosen up the defense for Foster, and will likely work mostly to TEs Owen Daniels and Joel Dreessen, and WR Kevin Walter. Schaub is an adequate starter who will hurt you this week.

Houston allows 105.8 rush yards per game, and their aggressive front seven will be vulnerable to big plays on screens by Ray Rice. The Texans will bring the pass pressure, though, and Joe Flacco will likely have trouble getting into a positive flow. Look for Anquan Boldin to have another "ho-hum" outing without a TD reception. There's not too much to expect offensively from this game, but the superstar RBs will be up to their tasks.

Dallas Cowboys at New England Patriots

This one promises to be the great offensive showcase of the week. Felix Jones will be a very good starter as the Cowboys attempt to control the tempo and clock as much as possible. Tony Romo should have lots of time to throw, and with his top WRs healthy enough to start in tandem again, he is one of the best QB options for Week 6. Romo should throw more than two TD passes, including one to the returning Miles Austin. Look for Dez Bryant to stack up some big yardage numbers. Expect Jason Witten to make several key catches and have some chances to score inside the 10-yard line.

The Cowboys have the NFL's best run defense and have allowed only one rushing score. But BenJarvus Green-Ellis will still get a few chances to punch it in from short range, even if his yardage numbers are limited. Tom Brady has his two featured TEs back together. Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez are prime starters, and of course, Wes Welker is always unstoppable. Look for Deion Branch to be a top contributor this week as well, as Brady has a strong chance of throwing at least three TD passes.

Buffalo Bills at New York Giants

The Giants should come out fired up in this one, but a run defense that allows 122.2 yards per game won't be able to handle Fred Jackson for too long. Expect another outstanding statistical performance from Jackson. Ryan Fitzpatrick will be pressured often, and do not expect a stellar outing from him. Still, the Giants cannot hold Stevie Johnson down all day. David Nelson moves to the outside and will be a gamble.

It's a good bet Ahmad Bradshaw will post fine all-around numbers after Seattle held him in check last week. Buffalo ranks 26th in passing yards per game allowed, and Eli Manning should come through with a big fantasy day. Hakeem Nicks will be one of the top WR performers of Week 6, and start both Victor Cruz and Mario Manningham with lots of confidence.

Carolina Panthers at Atlanta Falcons

The Falcons allow 89.2 rushing yards per game, which means this is another week where you should look elsewhere than the Carolina running backs for a starter. Of course, that also means that Cam Newton will throw a lot. Count on him for at least two TD passes, and he should see some opportunities to score again on a scramble near the end zone. Expect more big things from Steve Smith.

The Panthers allow 135.2 rushing yards per game, and this could be one of Michael Turner's best weeks of the year. Matt Ryan should enjoy the support of a thriving ground game and TD darts to Roddy White and Tony Gonzalez are a good bet. Look for this to be a high-scoring affair with the QBs trading some offensive punches.

Philadelphia Eagles at Washington Redskins

The Redskins rank sixth in rushing yards allowed per game, but LeSean McCoy should do some respectable work as a pass-catcher even if his rushing yardage numbers are not outstanding. Washington has also allowed a league-low three TD passes, so this is going to be a stiff test for Michael Vick, who may play unevenly. You cannot bank on another DeSean Jackson highlight reel, and Jeremy Maclin could be denied the end zone. Do not start Jason Avant based on last week's outing as inconsistency is often an issue for him.

Philadelphia allows 140.2 rushing yards per game, a number which obviously makes Ryan Torain a terrific start. Roy Helu is also a viable flex option if you are desperate in a bye week situation. Look for Santana Moss and Fred Davis to score this week. The Eagles have allowed an NFC-high 11 TD passes.

Cleveland Browns at Oakland Raiders

Do not assume the Browns will not be able to generate offense here. Many fantasy owners are going to consider starting the Raiders defense, and there are better options out there. Peyton Hillis is going to make a major statement with a big game as he tries to take the focus off what is being said about him in the media. Colt McCoy will likely throw more than one TD pass, as TEs Ben Watson and Evan Moore play significant roles.

Cleveland allows 124.5 rushing yards per game, and you can expect a stellar outing from Darren McFadden. Also watch for a short Michael Bush TD run. Joe Haden will likely limit the output of Darrius-Heyward Bey, so look for Jason Campbell to work frequently to Denarius Moore and Jacoby Ford. Campbell is an adequate bye option for Week 6.

Week 6 trend tracker

  **Brandon Jacobs** out of the 
  Giants lineup this weekend, 
  **Scott Engel** writes that 
  **Ahmad Bradshaw** is primed for a big fantasy performance. 
  **More ...**  

New Orleans Saints at Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The Buccaneers will really miss LeGarrette Blount this week. Do not expect anything more than mediocre totals from Earnest Graham in his place. It's going to be another forgettable day for Josh Freeman without much of a running game. The Saints defense is a top play if you stream defenses in your lineups.

New Orleans should dominate the scoreboard and time of possession in this matchup. Look for Marques Colston to enjoy his best outing of the year so far, and Mark Ingram is a good bet to find the end zone. Drew Brees should throw more than two TD passes, and Lance Moore will also be rediscovered. Jimmy Graham and Darren Sproles are obvious must-starts, and you have to go with the team's secondary fantasy producers where you can in bye week situations.

Minnesota Vikings at Chicago Bears

The Bears are surrendering 135.6 rushing yards per game, an apparently frightening number against the likes of Adrian Peterson. Of course, no defense can handle Matt Forte right now, and the very best RB performances of the week could come out of this matchup. Percy Harvin is being shut down regularly and should not be started unless you are desperate. Opponents simply take him out of the game and let the rest of the receivers sputter. If you are looking for a sleeper WR option, though, consider Devin Aromashodu against his former team.

The Vikings defense deserves true starting consideration this week, as the defensive line should crush the pocket and disrupt Jay Cutler quite often. Outside of the running backs and defenses -- and maybe even the kickers -- there is not much to look for from this game fantasy-wise. The receiving crews on both sides leave a lot to be desired.

Miami Dolphins at New York Jets

The Dolphins will not lay down and get trampled, as they are hungry for a win and will be facing their biggest rivals on a national stage. Matt Moore should show he can at least keep a defense honest, and Reggie Bush will surprise those who have forgotten about him. Be daring and go with Bush as a flex player. Brandon Marshall obviously draws Darrelle Revis, but should still make some plays to keep his team in the game.

Mark Sanchez is a great bye week replacement, as he opens up the New York passing game. Expect at least two Sanchez TD passes, and he will get Dustin Keller back into the offensive flow. Santonio Holmes could generate good yardage numbers and Plaxico Burress has a chance to score. Even against the lowly Dolphins, though, you can do better than the running backs for the Jets.

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