Ideal Fantasy Football Match-ups: Week 5
Is anyone else feeling discouraged with the likes of Doug Martin, Vincent Jackson and Chris Johnson on their teams? Yeah, me too. No worries, those under-performing Buccaneers can’t hurt you this week (they have a bye) and if you’re feeling discouraged about Chris Johnson, read this.
In the meantime, as we wallow in self pity, let’s look at some Week 5 match-ups that do offer some hope. Keep in mind, these match-ups are based on PPR scoring via FFToday.
Matthew Stafford @ Green Bay
Stafford is coming off a season-low in passing yards (242) against the Bears last Sunday, but should be able to put up some nice numbers against a Green Bay defense allowing 27.7 fantasy points per game (FPPG) to opposing quarterbacks, including eight touchdowns in three games. Baby-faced Stafford has Top 5 fantasy quarterback potential in Week 5.
Michael Vick @ N.Y. Giants
The excitement of Chip Kelly’s up-tempo offense has faded since the prime-time Monday night game against the Redskins almost four weeks ago. The good news for Vick owners is that the Eagles square off against the Giants this week, a secondary almost as soft as their own. The Giants are giving up 25.9 FPPG to quarterbacks through four weeks and 20.1 FPPG to running backs. Don’t forget, Michael Vick likes to run too. Vick should have a nice rebound performance against the reeling Giants this week.
Eli Manning vs. Philadelphia
Yes, Eli Manning. While the New York Giants may have been responsible for the U.S. government shutting down, I still think the younger Manning is a good play this week. There’s no better defense to rebound against this year than the Eagles, who have proven week after week to have one of the softest secondaries in football.
The Eagles have allowed an NFL-worst 1,358 passing yards through four games. That’s 339.5 passing yards per game. In total, quarterbacks are averaging 27.8 FPPG against the Eagles’ Swiss cheese defense. If you start Eli Manning just once this year, this is the week to do it, especially if you own Robert Griffin III (bye week).
DeMarco Murray vs. Denver
There isn’t much not to like about the Denver Broncos this season, but if you were to look for a flaw, you might start off with their run defense. They are fifth worst in the league in FPPG allowed to running backs, surrendering an average of 27.3. The Broncos are also tied for last in the league in passing touchdowns allowed to running backs – three in four games. With the way DeMarco Murray has been running combined with the Broncos soft front, Murray should see another successful fantasy day.
Bilal Powell @ Atlanta
You’d be hard-pressed to find a handful of other names that have been more of a pleasant surprise in fantasy land than Bilal Powell. Even before fellow running back Chris Ivory suffered a hamstring injury, Powell was proving that he deserved the starting running back role. The good news continues for Powell this week as he faces an Atlanta defense that is allowing 21.9 FPPG to opposing running backs.
What has been an especially pleasant surprise for Powell and his owners is that he’s seen 18 targets through four weeks, tenth most among running backs and one more than the aforementioned disappointment Doug Martin. Despite Powell’s inability to find the end-zone – one touchdown so far in 2013 – he still provides enough to warrant being in your lineup via yards and receptions. For example, in the Jets’ blowout loss against the Titans on Sunday, (a game in which Powell had just 14 carries) he still managed over 100 total yards with three catches. Keep starting Powell, including this week at Atlanta.
Eddie Lacy vs. Detroit
After missing Green Bay’s Week 3 contest against Cincinnati, Eddie Lacy appears ready to go against Detroit in Week 5 following the Packers’ Week 4 bye. The Lions are a benign opponent to come back and play against for Lacy as they are allowing 27.7 FPPG to running backs. That’s “good” enough for fourth worst in the NFL. While Lacy may be brought back slowly this week, he should still see the majority of touches in Green Bay’s backfield. I consider Lacy to be a decent RB2 option this week at home against the Lions.
Marques Colston @ Chicago
In a game that figures to be a shootout, I like Colston’s chances of producing Top 20 WR stats this week in Chicago. Colston, a possible buy-low candidate, has been relatively quiet in 2013 while Jimmy Graham and Darren Sproles have been making most of the noise, but has still posted steady numbers including a season-high seven catches and 96 yards on Monday night against the Dolphins.
The Bears are coming off a loss in which they yielded 40 points to the Lions and are allowing 38.2 FPPG to wide receivers, including more than one WR TD per game. Despite a slow start, you can play Marques Colston with confidence against Chicago this week.
Mike Wallace vs. Baltimore
Mike Wallace is another name at the top of the “2013 Fantasy Disappointments” list. His one good game this season came in Week 2 when he tallied nine catches for 115 yards and a touchdown against the Colts. The other three weeks have seen Wallace manage just six catches for 61 yards and zero touchdowns.
Why Wallace isn’t being targeted more by quarterback Ryan Tannehill remains a query; although, he’s only been targeted five fewer times (28) than fellow receiver and the team leader in targets (33), Brian Hartline, and once again asked to receive more targets down the field this week. The last time Wallace asked for more looks was before his Week 2 outing.
The good news for Wallace in Week 5 comes in the form of the Baltimore Ravens, who surrender an average of 38.5 FPPG to opposing wide receivers, including six touchdowns. Obviously, putting Wallace in your lineup has been somewhat of a risk as of late, but if he’s on my team I’m starting him this week.
Cecil Shorts/Justin Blackmon @ St. Louis
I don’t know about you guys, but I have a feeling Justin Blackmon is going to have a Josh Gordon kind of inaugural game in his return to the gridiron. In Gordon’s first game following his suspension he hauled in 10 passes for 141 yards and a score. Okay, maybe not that good of a game, but still good. Blackmon, returning from a four game suspension, and the Jacksonville offense will be facing a Rams defense that is giving up 40.1 FPPG to the opposition’s receivers.
Blackmon’s counterpart, Cecil Shorts, has been the one mainstay in the Jaguars’ porous offense so far this season. Shorts still leads all wide receivers in targets with 52. While it’s likely that Shorts won’t receive as many looks for the remainder of the year with Blackmon back, he’ll still get his fair share. At worst, Shorts and Blackmon are flex options this week against the Rams in St. Louis. Keep in mind the Jaguars will be passing a lot this season while trying to catch up to the opposition or in garbage time during a blowout.
Greg Olsen @ Arizona
There’s nothing better than to come off your team’s bye week and playing against the defense that’s the worst in the league at defending your position. That’s the reality for Greg Olsen this week. The Cardinals have allowed 27.2 FPPG to tight ends, the next highest is 23.5 (by the Dolphins). Even with the bye week, Olsen is still TE13 in PPR scoring formats. Even better for Olsen, tight ends have been targeted seven times in the red-zone against Arizona, that’s tied for fourth most in the NFL. Greg Olsen could be a Top 5 tight end this week against the Cardinals.
Brandon Pettigrew @ Green Bay
Remember that Brandon Pettigrew guy? I almost forgot about him too until last week. Pettigrew had season highs in catches (7) and yards (54) on Sunday. He saw an influx in targets with wide receiver Nate Burleson out with a broken arm. While no road game is easy, particularly at Lambeau Field, the Packers are tied for fourth most points allowed to tight ends at 18.4 FPPG, including one touchdown per game.
By no means is Brandon Pettigrew now an every-week starter, but with Burleson out he may have been given his opportunity to prove he deserves a chance on fantasy football rosters. At worst, he’s a great bye week replacement this week for Heath Miller and Kyle Rudolph owners.
Atlanta vs. N.Y. Jets
While I do like Bilal Powell on Monday night, I think the Falcons’ defense is a solid play this week at home against the Jets. The AFC New York is sixth worst in the NFL giving up 8.5 FPPG to defenses. That’s thanks in large part to Geno Smith’s eight interceptions. The Jets as a whole lead the AFC in giveaways with 12.
Panthers @ Cardinals
There’s no sugar-coating it, the Arizona Cardinals’ offense has been atrocious this season. Despite acquiring Carson Palmer and Rashard Mendenhall during the off-season, they’re still near the top of the league in FPPG to defenses. The Panthers have a quietly improved defensive squad this year and are forcing two turnovers per game. On top of that, Arizona just traded their now former starting left tackle Levi Brown to the Pittsburgh Steelers.