It is so hard to believe that it is Week 5 of the regular season already. It seems like the season has flown by, unless, of course, you’re the New Orleans Saints, who sit at 0-4. A long season could get even longer Sunday night if they lose to the San Diego Chargers in the Louisiana Superdome.
Also, don’t forget that the Dallas Cowboys, Detroit Lions, Oakland Raiders and Tampa Bay Buccaneers have byes this week. For teams in a bind, who dropped decent fantasy options this week so they could set a legal lineup, it might be a good time for you to peruse the waiver wire and stock your shelves, especially if you’re looking for some depth. For instance, in one of my leagues, I saw Brandon Pettigrew come available. In another league, LeGarrette Blount was out there. Check that waiver wire, as some teams have to make difficult decisions, and there are bargains to be had.
Surprise start of the week: Andy Dalton, Cincinnati (vs. MIA): For whatever reason, Dalton still doesn’t get a ton of respect. Sure, he is a second-year player and all, but there is plenty of love out there for Carolina’s Cam Newton, and rookies Robert Griffin III, Andrew Luck, and now Ryan Tannehill. So what is it about Dalton that Fantasy owners do not like? He has a stud wide receiver in A.J. Green, something RGIII and Luck cannot say, and he is fairly consistent, tossing at least two TDs in each of his past three starts with two 300-yard passing days during the span. Yet he is still started in less than half of all Fantasy leagues heading into Week 5. I know I’d rather have Dalton starting this week instead of Philadelphia’s Michael Vick (at PIT), or the aforementioned Newton (vs. SEA), for example.
Other solid, less-than-obvious fantasy plays: Matt Cassel, Kansas City (at BAL), Christian Ponder, Minnesota (vs. TEN), Alex Smith, San Francisco (vs. BUF)
Sit of the week: Michael Vick, Philadelphia (at Pittsburgh): Vick has struggled this season with turnovers, although he was mistake-free against the Giants last Sunday night. Still, he’ll face a stiff Steelers pass defense which allows just 190.3 yards per game through the air in a road game under hostile conditions. The Steelers have allowed only four pass plays of 20 or more yards. Sure, Vick might be able to gather some rushing yards against a surprisingly mediocre run defense for Pittsburgh, but that’s not enough to warrant starting Vick in this difficult matchup unless you are required to start two signal callers.
Others who should be riding the fantasy pine: Ryan Fitzpatrick, Buffalo (at SF), Andrew Luck, Indianapolis (vs. GB), Mark Sanchez, N.Y. Jets (vs. Houston)
Surprise start of the week: Jackie Battle, San Diego (at NO): The Saints haven’t been able to stop anyone on the ground, giving up a whopping 186.8 yards per game on the ground this season. They’ve been gouged for six rushing touchdowns, five runs of 20 or more yards and three rushes of 40 or more yards in their first four games. Battle surprisingly emerged as the top of head coach Norv Turner’s depth chart, as they ease Ryan Mathews (clavicle) into a full-time role. It’s possible, if Battle takes the ball and runs with it Sunday night, that Mathews might be doing a little more watching, and a lot less running. It’s a timeshare right now, but Battle is definitely worth a role of the dice as an RB2, or certainly a ‘flex’ play.
Other solid, less-than-obvious fantasy plays: Cedric Benson, Green Bay (vs. IND), Alfred Morris, Washington (vs. ATL), Trent Richardson, Cleveland (at NYG)
Sit of the week: Chris Johnson, Tennessee (at MIN): After one week, Johnson appeared to wipe away a lot of worry. He rolled up 141 rushing yards on 25 totes with a pair of receptions. His 157 total yards from scrimmage were much more than the 108 total yards he posted in the first three games combined. However, the Texans (last week’s opponent) has been marginal against the run. The Vikings have had it on lockdown, allowing just 85.2 yards per game and only one rushing touchdown. They are one of just five rushing defenses which haven’t allowed 20 or more yards on any one run this season. Johnson could approach 60-70 yards perhaps, but that’s about it. And don’t look for any trips to the end zone.
Others who should be riding the fantasy pine: Brandon Bolden, New England (vs. DEN), BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Cincinnati (vs. MIA), DeAngelo Williams, Carolina (vs. SEA)
Surprise start of the week: Dwayne Bowe, Kansas City (at BAL): In this game, I see Bowe and the Chiefs offense getting off to a very slow start, similar to that of last weekend against the San Diego Chargers. However, in the second half, the attack was mostly aerial, as the Chiefs played catch-up. The Ravens allow 295.8 yards per game through the air, mostly because their opponents are often in catch-up mode, too. That should be the case, primarily in the second half. Bowe, who is in a contract year, doesn’t much care how he gets the stats, and frankly, neither do his Fantasy owners. However, don’t fret if at halftime he is sitting on a 2-25-0 stat line. He’ll get plenty of yardage, and might even find the end zone before the day is done.
Other solid, less-than-obvious fantasy plays: Michael Crabtree, San Francisco (vs. BUF), Demaryius Thomas, Denver (at NE), Kendall Wright, Tennessee (at MIN)
Sit of the week: DeSean Jackson, Philadelphia (at PIT): It’s hard to see D-Jax getting loose against this Steelers pass defense. He has at least 77 receiving yards in three of his first four games, but he has found the end zone just once (last week vs. NYG). Jackson is due for a stinker, and this week will be it. One of those ugly three-catch, 24-yard type of games. The nice thing is that he has been targeted nine times in each of his first four games, but Fantasy owners should be prepared for that to drop as well. The Steelers pass defense has been air-tight, and most of Philly’s damage will come via the ground attack.
Others who should be riding the fantasy pine: Stevie Johnson, Buffalo (at SF), Steve Smith, Carolina (vs. SEA), Reggie Wayne, Indianapolis (vs. GB)
Surprise start of the week: Kyle Rudolph, MIN (vs. TEN)
Other solid, less-than-obvious fantasy plays: Jermaine Gresham, Cincinnati (vs. MIA), Jacob Tamme, Denver (at NE)
Sit of the week: Brent Celek, Philadelphia (at PIT)
Others who should be riding the fantasy pine: Fred Davis, Washington (vs. ATL), Heath Miller, Pittsburgh (vs. PHI)
Surprise start of the week: Matt Bryant, Atlanta (at WAS)
Other solid, less-than-obvious fantasy play: Blair Walsh, Minnesota (vs. TEN)
Sit of the week: Rian Lindell, Buffalo (at SF)
Other who should be riding the fantasy pine: Justin Medlock, Carolina (vs. SEA)
Surprise start of the week:Vikings DST (vs. TEN)
Other solid, less- than-obvious fantasy plays: Jaguars DST (vs. CHI), Panthers DST (vs. SEA)
Sit of the week: Broncos DST (at NE)
Others who should be riding the fantasy pine: Jets DST (vs. HOU), Redskins DST (vs. ATL)