Oct 7, 2011
We enter the first week of byes with six teams off, which certainly makes lineup decisions tougher. It is time to take a look at the 13 games in Week Five.
Philadelphia Eagles at Buffalo Bills
I’m sure not many people expected this game to mean much before the season started, and even less expected the Bills to be at 3-1 and the Eagles to be sitting at 1-3. There’s nothing to worry about when it comes to the Eagle offense, as the Bills don’t pose much of a threat with their defense, even with CB Terrence McGee returning. The big issue for the Eagles is how their defense will handle this Buffalo offense. For whatever reason, Philly tried to use Nnamdi Asomugha in a variety of different ways, and it’s failed miserably. They need to let him get back to just being one of the best cover corners in the league. If they do, Stevie Johnson could be in trouble. Luckily for the Bills they have other weapons, like Fred Jackson, who should have a very good game against an Eagle defense that continues to look awful in their attempts to stop the run.
New Orleans Saints at Carolina Panthers
Apparently, Cam Newton is going to continue to put up big fantasy numbers as long as the weather is favorable. That should be the case in Charlotte this weekend, so he’ll just have to worry about Saint DC Gregg Williams bringing pressure from many different angles. Because the Panther defense is so bad, we’ll continue to see Newton throw it a lot, and that’s why it might be tough to trust their running game, even if DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart looked good last week. If the Panthers trail, they’re going to throw it because they love Newton’s arm. I was dead wrong about Darren Sproles at the beginning of the season, and he’s now become one of the more dangerous players in the league and a favorite toy of HC Sean Payton. With Marques Colston in his second week back and off the injury report, it’ll be interesting to see how he’s used and how that affects the targets of guys like Jimmy Graham and Lance Moore. I believe Graham is playing too well to stop being the team’s top target, but the Panthers and future opponent may recognize that and pay him extra attention.
Oakland Raiders at Houston Texans
The Texans won a close game last week with their rushing attack and defense. I don’t know if that’s a game they win in the last three years or so, but we now see how far they’ve come. The Andre Johnson injury is huge, but with Arian Foster looking like the player of old, the Texans can weather the storm, especially with how well their defense is playing. I was glad to hear Hue Jackson say that the team finally having a fully healthy receiving corps wouldn’t affect Denarius Moore’s role. Moore’s play has earned him a bigger role in this offense and frankly, guys like Louis Murphy and Darrius Heyward-Bey have had plenty of chances, so they’ll all have to share time for now. Will Heyward-Bey finally build on a good performance coming off what he did last week? It would be a pleasant change.
Kansas City Chiefs at Indianapolis Colts
Here’s our “Suck for Luck” Game of the Week. Dwayne Bowe is the only player in this matchup who is a weekly starter. The Colt offense looked average last week against the Buccaneers, but Pierre Garcon stood out because he hit a couple of big plays for TDs. I don’t that’s something you’ll be able to rely on, but at least it was a sign of life from a team that hasn’t showed much this year. The Chiefs are talking about using RB Jackie Battle more, which appears to be more an indictment of the play of Thomas Jones, not Dexter McCluster. Battle certainly draws a nice matchup, as we saw LeGarrette Blount predictably run all over the Colts on Monday.
Cincinnati Bengals at Jacksonville Jaguars
If Andy Dalton plays just decent football, A.J. Green could have a field day in this matchup. Some of Green’s catches were not only great, but they also bailed Dalton out of some terrible throws. Cedric Benson isn’t happy Bernard Scott has spelled him at times, but it was inevitable in OC Jay Gruden’s West Coast scheme. Scott still isn’t doing enough to consider for fantasy purposes, but that may change quickly if Benson is forced to serve all or part of his suspension. The Jaguars felt it was in their best interests to attack the Saints last week with their passing game and said it was part of the gameplan to give Maurice Jones-Drew 11 carries. That’s right, instead of using one of the best backs in the league, they thought they could win on the arm of rookie QB Blaine Gabbert throwing to the likes of Mike Thomas and…exactly. Jimmy Smith and Keenan McCardell aren’t walking through that door, Jack Del Rio, but you’ll be getting thrown out of it when ownership finally smartens up and replaces this entire terrible coaching staff.
Arizona Cardinals at Minnesota Vikings
Bernard Berrian has caught 2 of 16 targets this season. I believe that speaks for itself. Adrian Peterson had a rare off weak in terms of fantasy in the team’s loss to the Chiefs last week, but I expect him to make everyone forget that when he scores multiple times in the 1st half of this game. The Cardinals are bad enough as it is, but against the best pure running back in the league, they are dead in the water. Speaking of great backs, how about Beanie Wells telling every doubter to stop questioning him with his huge game against the Giants last week after sitting out the week before with a bad hamstring. Through four weeks, the Wells is scoring more fantasy points per game than any RB in the league, as he sits at 21.1. The hate for him seemed a little strong back in Week Three after two good performances to start the year, so I can’t say I was totally surprised to see him play well last week, although I didn’t expect such big numbers in a tough matchup.
Seattle Seahawks at New York Giants
The Seahawks have fantasy relevance? Rookie WR Doug Baldwin has looked like quite a find by Pete Carroll and Sidney Rice appears to be back to his playmaking ways. I still have a tough time trusting either of these guys with Tarvaris Jackson at the helm, but I give him credit for a well-played game against the Falcons last week. However, unlike the Falcons, the Giants have an actual pass rush, even if Justin Tuck is out again and Jackson doesn’t handle pressure well. Brandon Jacobs recent told his doubters they can “go back to living their miserable lives” and yet he’s the one who’s miserable thanks to yet another knee injury, this time an MCL sprain. I’ve always believed Jacobs got in the way of Ahmad Bradshaw putting up numbers worthy of being called a #1 fantasy back, and with him out, I expect great things out of Bradshaw. Mario Manningham appears to have one foot in the doghouse after he was taken out of the game last week in favor of Victor Cruz. I’m still not sold on Cruz for the long-term, but admit he’s taken advantage of the extra opportunities that have come his way in recent weeks.
Tennessee Titans at Pittsburgh Steelers
Ben Roethlisberger may be playing through his foot injury, but he’ll do so against one of the best defenses in the league in your 3-1 Tennessee Titans. While Roethlisberger is in line to start, Rashard Mendenhall’s status is a bit cloudier, and Isaac Redman is expected to see significant touches no matter what this weekend. We seen Antonio Brown’s targets continue to increase to the point he’s actually passed Mike Wallace in that category. Matt Hasselbeck has taken his place as the King of the Mountain in Tennessee with a fine start to his season. We saw Jared Cook and Chris Johnson both perform well in the absence of Kenny Britt, and the Titans will need more of that if they want to keep up their winning ways.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at San Francisco 49ers
Josh Freeman finally gave his owners a game to be excited about in last week’s comeback win over the Colts. While his performance was better, we’re still seeing his receiving corps fail to separate from defenders, specifically Mike Williams, who’s had trouble with the extra coverage from the opposition. LeGarrette Blount may have run well last week in a great matchup, but this one the complete opposite. Blount’s physical style probably won’t work well against an equally, if not more physical 49er defense. I’m still having trouble trusting the 49er passing game with Alex Smith under center, but their rushing attack looks pretty solid with a healthy Frank Gore and Kendall Hunter looking like he’ll stay in the mix. This could be a very interesting game between two teams who haven’t exactly performed up to their identical 3-1 records.
San Diego Chargers at Denver Broncos
The Chargers are 3-1, but the only thing they can hang their hat on is the play of Ryan Mathews. Mathews has averaged 16 carries per game, but HC Norv Turner said he’d like to get that number in the low-to-mid 20s, which seems a little high considering Mathews is also involved in the passing game and they have a more than capable Mike Tolbert in the same backfield. At least that tells you how confident they are in Mathews, which was obviously not the case last season. San Diego’s passing attack has been fine, but consistency just hasn’t been there, although the injury bug has bit them hard early in the season. I’d expect them to put up big numbers against a poor Broncos secondary. Both Brandon Lloyd and Eric Decker continue to play well, and despite the team’s run-first mentality, they should remain viable plays each week, especially in this matchup against a beatable Charger secondary.
New York Jets at New England Patriots
We’ve heard an awful lot about Darrelle Revis covering Wes Welker, but what about Aaron Hernandez? Yes, he’s returning from a knee injury and may not be 100 percent, but he really is their next best WR, even if he’s technically a TE, and proved as such in the team’s first two games. It’s difficult to lock Revis onto Welker since Welker isn’t the typical receiver Revis covers due to his work underneath in crossing routes and over the middle. As we saw in Week One, the Jets will move Revis elsewhere if they’re having issue stopping a player, like Dez Bryant. If Hernandez gives the Jets problems, we could see the switch. That doesn’t mean the Patriots will be slowed down because frankly, it’s hard to believe any defense can slow down their many weapons. Mark Sanchez played an atrocious game last Sunday night, but could be facing a get-well defense in the Patriots, who couldn’t stop an offensive passing attack led by Adam Caplan and the rest of our staff. That should be good news for Santonio Holmes, Dustin Keller, and maybe even Plaxico Burress. I know Rex Ryan has talked about getting back to running the ball, but this matchup doesn’t exactly lend itself to that idea. Might we see Joe McKnight get some carries? OC Brian Schottenheimer would like that to happen, and the team certainly needs a back who can create with the OL issues they’ve been having, although the return of C Nick Mangold will help.
Green Bay Packers at Atlanta Falcons
Even though the Packer pass defense has been disappointing, I believe it’s more a result of them playing with leads most, of the time and not having to be proactive. They have plenty of talent to stop any offense, including the Falcons, who might be putting up decent numbers, but seem to still lack an identity. Matt Ryan will be throwing a bunch to stay in this game, so expect nice fantasy performances from Roddy White and Julio Jones. Michael Turner is probably the odd man out of the equation since he’s facing a great run defense and could have his carries cut by the flow of the game. The Packers will do whatever they want as usual, especially against a bad Falcon secondary that gets hurt by the team’s lack of pass rush. I love the talent of Jermichael Finley, but to hear him complain during the week about the team not getting the ball to their “playmaker” in reference to himself in a game in which the team scored 49 points is comical. In typical Aaron Rodgers fashion, he said he understood Finley’s comments, but would continue to throw the ball to the open man, a concept that was often ignored by Rodgers’ biggest critic, Brett Favre.
Chicago Bears at Detroit Lions
The big story in Chicago is the team’s inability to keep Jay Cutler upright, but what’s being overlooked is the shaky play of their defense. Age, breakdowns, and missed tackles have made this unit look very ordinary this season, and that’s not going to cut it against a high-powered Lion offense. Even if the Bears get it together for this Monday night affair, they don’t have enough talent on the back end to stop Detroit’s passing attack, especially since their pass rush comes and goes. Mike Martz remembered how to call running plays last week, and was rewarded with 205 yards from Matt Forte. The commitment to the run will probably be short-lived, especially if the Lions get an early lead and begin to tee off on Cutler with a very dangerous front four. I know Nick Fairley will be a situational player coming off injury, but just the idea that they’re adding to that group coming into their best matchup of the season is scary. If the Lions execute, this one won’t be close.
I’ll be checking back here between now and game time on Saturday, so feel free to post your comments and questions down below or Tweet me @TheMattCamp. Let’s all win some games this week!