I’m too pissed to give an intro. Isn’t it awesome when you’re the second-highest scoring team of the week yet you lose to the highest-scoring team of the week? And by less than a point, no less? Oh well, at least I lead the tie-breakers. Bah.
On to Week 5!
Note: “Comfortables” can be started in all leagues. “Cautions” can be started in 12-team leagues and should definitely be started in 14-team leagues, but might be bench considerations for 10-team leagues or lower. “Casualties” shouldn’t be started in any leagues. “Sleepers” are meant for FLEX spots in 12- and 14-team leagues
Buffalo Bills vs. Cleveland Browns
Comfortables: Fred Jackson (if active), Josh Gordon, Jordan Cameron, Buffalo Defense, Cleveland Defense
Cautions: EJ Manuel, CJ Spiller (if active), Tashard Choice (if Jackson and Spiller are inactive), Willis McGahee, Stevie Johnson
Casualties: Chris Ogbannaya, Brian Rainey, Scott Chandler
Sleeper: Brian Hoyer
Thursday night games have always been devoid of offensive goodness. Throw in two teams that aren’t exactly known for lighting the scoreboard on fire on Sundays, and you’ve got a 10-7 matchup just waiting to be unleashed on the nation. I really like both defenses. Did you know Cleveland’s defense has given up the third-least amount of points in the league through four weeks? Both teams are solid plug-and-plays for those who like to stream. As long as Brian Hoyer is taking the snaps under center, Josh Gordon and Jordan Cameron are must-starts. Both Fred Jackson and CJ Spiller got hurt, but as of this writing, both look like they’re going to suit up. I actually like Jackson more than Spiller if they’re both active. Jackson’s a must-start if he’s active and Spiller isn’t. And if they’re both out, I’d exercise some caution picking up and playing Tashard Choice. We went through this before last year and the results weren’t exactly great.
Prediction: The Browns make it three in a row.
Jacksonville Jaguars vs. St. Louis Rams
Comfortables: Maurice Jones-Drew, Jacksonville Defense, St. Louis Defense
Cautions: Sam Bradford, Daryl Richardson, Cecil Shorts, Tavon Austin, Chris Givens, Austin Pettis, Jared Cook
Casualties: Blaine Gabbert, Jordan Todman, Isaiah Pead, Zac Stacy, Marcedes Lewis
Sleeper: Justin Blackmon
The offensive matchups don’t get any sexier, do they? After last week’s awful showing against the Niners, I don’t think you can start any St. Louis Ram with confidence, save their defense, which is the stream of the week against the anemic Jaguars offense. I’d only start MJD for the Jags if you absolutely have to. Cecil Shorts will lose targets to the returning Justin Blackmon, but exactly how many targets he’ll lose is up for debate. As long as Blaine Gabbert remains under center, the Jags’ chances of breaking 10 points in a game will seem like a pipe dream. Here’s hoping MJD can punch one in from short yardage.
Prediction: The Jags continue their futility and the Rams D.
New England Patriots vs. Cincinnati Bengals
Comfortables: Tom Brady, Giovani Bernard, Danny Amendola (if active), Julian Edelman (if Amendola and/or Gronkowski are inactive), Kenbrell Thompkins, AJ Green, Rob Gronkowski (if active)
Cautions: Andy Dalton, Stevan Ridley, Brandon Bolden, LeGarrette Blount, BenJarvis Green-Ellis, Aaron Dobson (if active), Tyler Eifert, Jermaine Gresham, New England Defense, Cincinnati Defense
Casualties: Zach Sudfeld (if Gronkowski is inactive)
Sleeper: Mohammad Sanu
Will they play or won’t they? That seems to be question every week for the past month with Danny Amendola and Rob Gronkowski. Now we have all these murmurs about an “inner circle” trying to keep Gronk off the field. Whatever the heck is going on, it’s ruining the universe for those who took a chance on him thinking he’d be back by Week 4. If Gronk and Amendola remain out, Julian Edelman remains a solid play. Kenbrell Thompkins is looking good as well. I dropped him in two leagues after his Thursday night drop-fest, and as punishment from the fantasy gods, I play against him in the two leagues I dropped him. So he’ll go off, obviously. The Patriots have a 33% split between their three running backs, so take your pick as to which one will get the rushing score. As a Stevan Ridley owner, I have to just wait for him to get his turn. He’s running very well and protecting the football, but Lucifer Belichick seems content with the three-headed monster. You can safely start Giovani Bernard and not have to worry about BenJarvis Green-Ellis (although there is the threat of him poaching some scores to stick it to his old team). Gio’s touches have increased week after week. I don’t like either defense in this one. I think the points are going to be seriously tallied in this one. The loss of Vince Wilfork really hurts the Pats, and you’ll see it starting with this game.
Prediction: Bengals right the ship and deliver New England its first loss of the season.
Philadelphia Eagles vs. New York Giants
Comfortables: Michael Vick, Eli Manning, LeSean McCoy (if active), Bryce Brown (if McCoy is inactive), DeSean Jackson, Victor Cruz, Hakeem Nicks
Cautions: David Wilson, Jason Avant, Reuben Randle, Brent Celek, Brandon Myers
Casualties: Brandon Jacobs, DaRel Scott, Riley Cooper, Philadelphia Defense, New York Defense
Sleeper: Zach Ertz
I don’t know what’s more embarrassing…the fact that the Giants are 0-4 or the fact that they’re still in the hunt for the division because the NFC East is so awful? I think this is the week where the Giants go off. They’ve been playing against some pretty good defenses the past few weeks. The Iggles are not one of them. The Giants win their games by winning shootouts. Eli Manning is a serious buy-low candidate for this week. I’m starting him with supreme confidence, as I would Hakeem Nicks and especially Victor Cruz. There’s some concern with Brandon Myers from a fantasy perspective because he has to block more to compensate for the depleted O-line. I’d find a better option for Week 5 if one exists. Shady McCoy hasn’t been himself lately after tweaking his knee in the Thursday night game two weeks ago. Even if he starts, Bryce Brown becomes an intriguing FLEX play. I wouldn’t start either defense if I could help it.
Prediction: Giants get their first win of the season surviving a shootout.
Detroit Lions vs. Green Bay Packers
Comfortables: Matthew Stafford, Aaron Rodgers, Reggie Bush, Eddie Lacy (if active), Jonathan Franklin (if Lacy is inactive), Calvin Johnson, Randall Cobb, Jordy Nelson, James Jones
Cautions: Joique Bell, Ryan Broyles, Brandon Pettigrew, Jermichael Finley (if active), Detroit Defense, Green Bay Defense
Casualties: James Starks (if active), Tony Scheffler
Sleeper: Tom Crabtree (if Finley is inactive)
Hey, remember when the NFC North was known for their punishing defenses and low-scoring games? Yeeeeah, not anymore. This game is going to be another offensive explosion, and all of the usual suspects should benefit. For the Lions, I’m willing to give another chance to Ryan Broyles, but I can’t list him as a comfortable after that goose-egg last week. As long as Reggie Bush is playing, Joique Bell remains a handcuff at best. I’m not buying into Detroit’s defense this week because Aaron Rodgers is not Jay Cutler and will not turn the ball over nearly as much. For the Packers, Eddie Lacy looks like he’s recovered from his concussion and ready to go, but keep Jonathan Franklin on your bench ready to plug him in if Lacy suffers a setback during the week. Somebody who doesn’t look like he’ll recover from his concussion is Jermichael Finley, so Tom Crabtree is starting to make some noise as a plug-and-play for some terrified Gronk owners (cough cough).
Prediction: Fresh off the bye, the Packers roll at home.
Baltimore Ravens vs. Miami Dolphins
Comfortables: Ray Rice (if active), Bernard Pierce (if Rice is inactive), Lamar Miller, Torrey Smith, Mike Wallace, Baltimore Defense, Miami Defense
Cautions: Ryan Tannehill, Joe Flacco, Daniel Thomas, Marlon Brown, Brian Hartline, Charles Clay
Casualties: Tandon Doss, Daniel Gibson
Sleeper: Dallas Clark
Ray Rice doesn’t look like himself after his injury two weeks ago, but I think the Ravens realized they’re not going to win games by having Joe Flacco heave it 50 times. Whoever’s in there in the backfield, expect them to be more involved this week. The Dolphins were torched by Darren Sproles, but otherwise they’ve been a fairly decent defense. I don’t know what we have to do to Joe Philbin to get him to see that Lamar Miller is far and away the better running back of he and Daniel Thomas, and all this talk of a committee timeshare needs to stop. Miller moved the Dolphins down the field on their first drive, and then the Fins put Thomas in, and their drive was killed stone-dead. I’m more bullish on the number 1 receivers (Torrey Smith and Mike Wallace) than I am on the number 2s (Marlon Brown and Brian Hartline) because in this game, I think the talent wins out over the attention they’ll receive. Miami has been susceptible to the Tight End lately, so you might want to kick the tires on Old Man Clark.
Prediction: Miami takes advantage of Baltimore’s depleted backfield and moves to 4-1.
Seattle Seahawks vs. Indianapolis Colts
Comfortables: Russell Wilson, Andrew Luck, Marshawn Lynch, Trent Richardson, Reggie Wayne, TY Hilton, Coby Fleener, Seattle Defense
Cautions: Ahmad Bradshaw (if active), Golden Tate, Doug Baldwin, Sidney Rice, Zach Miller, Indianapolis Defense
Casualties: Christine Michael, Robert Turbin, Donald Brown, Darius Heyward-Bey
The Seahawks are damn near unstoppable at home, but as shown last week against the Texans, they’re beatable on the road, and I don’t expect Andrew Luck to make the same boneheaded mistake Matt Schaub made last week. The Colts actually produce the fewest number of fantasy points for opposing defenses because they score points and don’t turn the ball over. Still, I don’t think you can sit your studs, so I’ve got Seattle’s D teetering in the Comfortable section. As always, good luck predicting who out of Golden Tate, Doug Baldwin, Sidney Rice, or Zach Miller will be catching the touchdown passes from Russell Wilson. Hell, last week it wasn’t any of them! Trent Richardson has shown flashes of explosiveness, but hasn’t really broken anything big. If Ahmad Bradshaw can suit up, I worry about T-Rich’s chances to put up some big numbers.
Prediction: A lot of people will probably think Seattle’s undefeated streak comes to an end this week, but I’m actually going to think the Seahawks take this one on the road as well and stay unbeaten.
Tennessee Titans vs. Kansas City Chiefs
Comfortables: Alex Smith, Chris Johnson, Jamaal Charles, Nate Washington, Dwayne Bowe, Kansas City Defense
Cautions: Kendall Wright, Donnie Avery, Tennessee Defense
Casualties: Ryan Fitzpatrick, Jackie Battle, Kenny Britt, Delaine Walker
Sleeper: Shaun McGrath
Personally I think it’s more surprising that the Titans are 3-1 than I am that the Chiefs are 4-0. The Chiefs sent six players to the Pro Bowl last year, so you always knew they had the talent. I like all starting Chiefs in this one. Ryan Fitzpatrick isn’t anything fantastic, and the Titans would much rather want Jake Locker in there, who himself isn’t anything to write home about. Nate Washington has emerged yet again as an unsexy yet productive receiver that warrants picking up and starting immediately, especially with Kenny Britt falling out of favor in Tennessee. Because KC will run up the score, I expect a lot of garbage time. Note that I’ve been more wrong than right picking either for or against Tennessee this year, but I have a good feeling about this one.
Prediction: Chiefs, and it won’t even be close.
New Orleans Saints vs. Chicago Bears
Comfortables: Drew Brees, Darren Sproles, Matt Forte, Marques Colston, Brandon Marshall, Jimmy Graham, Martellus Bennett
Cautions: Jay Cutler, Pierre Thomas, Alshon Jeffery, New Orleans Defense, Chicago Defense
Casualties: Mark Ingram (if active), Michael Bush, Lance Moore (if active), Robert Meachem, Kenny Stills, Kellen Davis
Sleeper: Nick Toon
The Saints offense is so potent that I know you want a piece of the action, no matter who it comes from. But it’s hard to trust who’s going to get fed other than the big three of Graham, Sproles and Colston. The only other Saints offensive option I’d even consider starting is Pierre Thomas. However, keep your eye on Nick Toon…if only because his name is awesome. What to make of either defense? They’ve been very good this year, but they’re playing high-scoring offenses this week. I’d like to start New Orleans but they’re a dome team playing on the road outdoors, and although it’s not quite chilly out, it’s still a big difference. Plus, you have to figure that Jay Cutler will try and bounce back from his pitiful performance against Detroit last week. Matt Forte and Brandon Marshall are no-brainers, but I think you can also safely start Martellus Bennett. The Black Unicorn has proven to be productive these past few weeks.
Prediction: New Orleans wins a shootout on the road.
Carolina Panthers vs. Arizona Cardinals
Comfortables: Cam Newton, DeAngelo Williams, Steve Smith, Larry Fitzgerald (if active), Greg Olsen, Carolina Defense
Cautions: Carson Palmer, Mike Tolbert, Michael Floyd, Rob Housler, Arizona Defense
Casualties: All Cardinals RBs not named Ellington, Brandon LaFell, Andre Roberts
Sleeper: Andre Ellington
Carolina’s got their swagger back after pounding on the hapless Giants and then beating their chest during the bye week, so roll with them while you have them. Newton, DeAngelo, Steve Smith and Olsen are all must-starts, as is the defense. Carson Palmer hasn’t been getting anything going, and outside of Larry Fitzgerald, I can’t imagine you wanting to start any Cardinal with confidence. Andre Ellington may be the new bell cow in Arizona considering how disappointed coach Bruce Arians was with Rashard Mendenhall. I’ve had him a sleeper for a couple weeks now, and if anybody will surprise you and go off in this game, it’s the former Clemson Tiger.
Prediction: Carolina continues its swagger reunion tour with a big road win.
Denver Broncos vs. Dallas Cowboys
Comfortables: Peyton Manning, Tony Romo, Knowshown Moreno, DeMarco Murray, Wes Welker, Demariyus Thomas, Eric Decker, Dez Bryant, Julius Thomas, Jason Witten, Denver Defense
Cautions: Miles Austin (if active)
Casualties: Dallas Backup Running Backs, Andre Caldwell, Dallas Defense
Sleeper: Terrance Williams (if Austin is inactive)
It bothered me to no end that Julius Thomas didn’t get fed last week, but that’s what you have to deal with in Denver. For some reason Peyton Manning is in love with Wes Welker, who might end up as a Top 5 fantasy receiver by the end of the year. Cut to Tom Brady tearing up. Dallas is no slouch either, as Romo-to-Dez has been a sure thing this year. Terrance Williams was targeted heavy before giving up a key fumble just before getting in the end zone, so we’ll see how the Cowboys treat him this week, but if Romo continues to look his way and Austin is still out, especially with the ‘Boys playing catch up, he could be a decent flex play. I’m willing to roll the dice with Denver’s D because Romo is mistake-prone, but under no circumstances should you start Dallas’s D.
Prediction: There’s no stopping the Denver train.
Houston Texans vs. San Francisco 49ers
Comfortables: Colin Kaepernick, Arian Foster, Frank Gore, Andre Johnson, Anquan Boldin, Vernon Davis, San Francisco Defense
Cautions: Ben Tate, DeAndre Hopkins, Owen Daniels, Houston Defense
Casualties: Matt Schaub, Kendall Hunter, LaMichael James, Anthony Dixon, Quinton Patton
Sleeper: Garrett Graham
By throwing that pick-six last week, his third in as many games, Matt Schaub is a marked man. He has his job because there’s nobody behind him who’s better, but I’d imagine his confidence is shot. That’s why I downgraded all Texans passing options with the exception of Andre Johnson. I think Kaepernick has a big game as the Texans D doesn’t scare me too much. As long as Boldin and Davis are playing, you can bet on Kaep to find one of the two. Foster had a big bounce-back game, so even though San Fran’s run D is really tough, you should ride the wave of momentum. Same goes for Gore.
Prediction: Niners continue to bounce back with a home win.
Oakland Raiders vs. San Diego Chargers
Comfortables: Terrelle Pryor (if active), Philip Rivers, Rashad Jennings (if McFadden and Reese are inactive), Ryan Mathews, Danny Woodhead, Denarius Moore, Antonio Gates, San Diego Defense
Cautions: Darren McFadden (if active), Rod Streater, Eddie Royal, Vincent Brown, Oakland Defense
Casualties: Matt Flynn (if Pryor is inactive), Marcel Reese (if active), Ronnie Brown
Sleeper: Mychal Rivera
This game got moved to 11:35 pm EST to accommodate the Oakland A’s playoff game. A second case where the NFL takes a back-seat to MLB. Don’t they know football is the new pastime in America? Anyway, no telling who’s going to start for Oakland, and considering the late start time, you’re pretty screwed if you have to rely on Terelle Pryor, Darren McFadden, or even Marcel Reese as a handcuff. Let’s just hope you can snag Rashad Jennings. I think Jennings will have a big day if DMC and Reese can’t go. I also like both of the running backs for San Diego. Woodhead has emerged as a big threat in the passing game, as we all expected he would in the preseason. I’m just surprised it took so long. I’m giving Ryan Mathews one last chance because he did run well last week. Deep deep sleeper hunters look no further than Mychal Rivera, who caught a TD last week. He joins the list with Tom Crabtree, Shaun McGrath, Dallas Clark, and Zach Ertz for my tight end play-ins for Gronkowski, Heath Miller, Kyle Rudolph, Jermichael Finley, and Fred Davis owners.
Prediction: San Diego runs it up on the injured Raiders.
New York Jets vs. Atlanta Falcons
Comfortables: Matt Ryan, Bilal Powell, Julio Jones, Tony Gonzalez, Atlanta Defense
Cautions: Geno Smith, Jacquizz Rodgers, Jason Snelling, Stephen Hill (if active), Jeremy Kerley (if Hill and/or Holmes are inactive), Roddy White, New York Jets Defense
Casualties: Mike Goodson, Alex Green, David Nelson, Kellen Winslow
Sleeper: Harry Douglas
The Jets are awful, and they proved it last week. Geno Smith gave us the around-the-butt fumble. I think Atlanta is pissed after being embarrassed by New England. The only Jet I’m starting is Bilal Powell and that’s solely based on volume. Santonio Holmes is out. Stephen Hill is likely out. Who are they going to throw it to? Kerley? Winslow? Newly acquired David Nelson? I don’t think so. There’s some rumblings that Steven Jackson might play rather than wait until after the bye to come back in Week 7, but unless you have Rodgers or Snelling as a handcuff, are you really going to wait until Monday night to find out? Didn’t think so.
Prediction: The Jets’ woes continue and Atlanta bounces back at home.
Good luck in Week 5!