If Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford scores more than 20 fantasy points against the Browns today, then Detroit should leave Cleveland with a 4-2 record and remain tied with the Chicago Bears atop the NFC North division.
The Michigan Gnome and I are back after a brief hiatus while I recover from heart surgery. During our absence, fantasy football continued to function in its own unique, bizarre way. Consider the following:
- If you selected Peyton Manning in the fantasy football draft, you must be wondering if the Denver quarterback can maintain his current scoring binge. He is averaging 39 fantasy points a week.
- Kansas City's Alex Smith, who the 49ers ditched in favor of Colin Kaepernick last season, is the No. 12 quarterback in fantasy football, but more importantly the Chiefs are 5-0 and tied with Denver for 1st place in the AFC West division. Kaepernick is the 23rd-ranked quarterback and San Francisco is 3-2.
- Top-tier wide receivers are plagued with injuries. Atlanta had to put julio Jones in the Injured Reserved list and the Lions' Calvin Johnson is listed as questionable for the second week in a row.
- The Chiefs' Jamaal Charles leads all running backs in fantasy points with 102. Matt Forte of the Bears has 98.5, Philadelphia's LeSean McCoy has 90.5 and the Vikings' Adrian Peterson has 81.5
But we need to focus on the Lions as they travel to Cleveland to play the Browns.
"Hometown Hero" - It is time for Matthew Stafford to step up and lead his team to their fourth win of the season. Regardless of the fact that his two best receivers (Calvin Johnson and Nate Burleson) are injured, Stafford is a top 10 fantasy football quarterback. The Lions QB needs to show the leadership skills that were evident four years ago when Detroit beat Cleveland, 38-37, at Ford Field.
Flashback alert! On November 22, 2009, rookie quarterback Matthew Stafford beat the Browns with a last-second touchdown pass to tight end Brandon Pettigrew, If you remember the game, Stafford got drilled by Cleveland defensive lineman C.J. Moseley while throwing a long pass toward wide receiver Bryant Johnson. Moseley's hit injured Stafford's left shoulder, but pass interference was called on Cleveland. A quick time-out and Stafford stepped onto the field and threw the game-winner to Pettigrew.
Though there has been a lot of turnover in personnel on both teams in the last four years, Stafford needs to lead his team to victory so they can keep pace with the Chicago Bears. The Lions QB is capable of scoring 20+ fantasy points against the Browns.
"Surprise and Delight" - With the receiving corps depleted of quality starters, running back Reggie Bush catches a boatload of passes. If the Lions win, it will be because Bush had 100+ yards receiving and 100+ yards rushing.
"Hometown Zero" - Stafford did a good job of spreading the ball around last week against the Packers. I think the least likely target will be tight end Tony Scheffler.
Summary - Though we were on hiatus, the Michigan Gnome and I did predict the results to the Lions games. The Gnome enters today's game with a 3-2 record and I am one game behind at 2-3.
The Gnome is expecting a high-scoring game with Cleveland winning, 33-29. I am taking the Lions to beat the Browns, 20-17.
"I wish I had him this week" - For Detroit fantasy owners with stars from other teams, here are three players that should have a better than average game in week #6:
- Quarterback Peyton Manning, Denver Broncos
- Running back Adrian Peterson, Minnesota Vikings
- Wide receiver Dez Bryant, Dallas Cowboys
"Expect a Downturn" - Here are three players whose performances will be on fantasy football's downside in week 6:
- Quarterback Sam Bradford, St. Louis Rams
- Running back Willis McGahee, Cleveland Browns
- Wide receiver Dwayne Bowe, Kansas City Chiefs
Feel free to share your feedback, insights, suggestions or questions by commenting on this article, tweeting me @denimartin, or by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.