NFL FANTASY FOOTBALL: WEEK 5 TIPS

SpartanNation

So, it looks like all is right with the world. Chris Johnson and Frank Gore both bounced back last week with 100+ yard games. Now the question becomes are they both on the upswing, or is this a one game aberration? Unfortunately, this isn’t an easy question to answer. In the case of Gore, he was facing an Eagles defense that has been awful against the run all season, giving up an average of around 139 yards per game so far. So when you look at it that way, Gore’s 127 yard performance was actually below average for Philadelphia opponents. As for Johnson, his 101 yards on 23 carries came against an almost as porous run defense in the Cleveland Browns, who were giving up an average of 124.5 yards per game this year. Looking at these stats, it seems reasonable to assume that both Gore and Johnson may not ever reach the highest of heights most players expected from them this season. It may not be time to trade either one just yet, but if you get a good offer, it certainly wouldn’t be a bad idea to part with them either. Now, let’s trudge forward into week 5.

Quarterback

BEST Â Â  Matthew Stafford, DET

-As good as the Bears defense is presumed to be, that has all just been a myth this season against the pass. So far this year Chicago opponents are averaging 301.5 yards per game through the air. To make matters worse for the Bears, they’ve given up a little less than 2 passing touchdowns per game so far this season. I’ve seen a lot of things that I really like from Stafford to far this season, and I think he should have no problem taking advantage of a Bears’ secondary that isn’t operating at maximum efficiency. I do worry about Stafford tendency to “chuck and pray” the ball to Calvin Johnson downfield, but nobody has stopped that plan so far this year, so why doubt it at this point. The only way the Bears keep Stafford under 300 yards is if they manage to blanket Calvin Johnson, and take away the deep ball on which the Lions have so far thrived. Look for Stafford to end up with about 325 yards passing and 3 scores.

WORST:Â Matt Hasselbeck, TEN

-Yes, after last week he showed me that he’s a worthy fantasy starter in all leagues. He looked smart, efficient, and frankly like a completely different quarterback than we had seen in the last 2 years. However, I just don’t like his matchup this week. The Steelers have been very stingy against the pass this season, giving up only 157 yards per game. What’s worse, the Steelers have been very bad against the run this season, which will probably mean that Hasselbeck won’t be throwing the ball all that much in this week’s game. I expect him to hit right about on Pittsburgh’s average totals this week. Meaning he’ll go for about 150 yards and a touchdown. On the bright side, I don’t think he’ll throw a pick.  When you have bad matchups you have to take the victories where you can get them.

Running Back

BEST Â Â Fred Jackson, BUF

-You know how in the intro we were talking about how pitiful the Eagles’ run defense was? Well, it certainly doesn’t get any easier for them this week. So far this season, Jackson has been very good, with his only problem being that the Bills sometimes fall in love with the pass, and he doesn’t get the carries he deserves. I think that Jackson will see at least 20 carries against the Eagles this week as the Bills will look to capitalize on this weak matchup. Should he get that many carries I would find it hard to believe that Jackson will end up under 100 yards rushing this week, and should add some receiving yards for good measure, as the Bills tend to use him fairly effectively in the passing game. I expect Jackson to end up with around 125 yards rushing, 30 receiving yards, and one touchdown. He could easily exceed these numbers, but I don’t want to get your hopes too high and have an angry mob of villagers at my door with pitchforks and torches.

WORST:Â Matt Forte, CHI

-I actually love Forte as a fantasy back most weeks. He’s involved in every part of the Chicago offense, and is really the best weapon the Bears have. However, I think there are way too many factors going against Forte this week to fully recommend him. The Lions haven’t been as good as advertised against the run this season, but haven’t been bad either. I think the fans will have the Lions jacked for the first Monday Night Football game in Detroit in 10 years. The numbers all point to Forte having a decent, if unspectacular game, but I think the intangibles point to the Lions shutting him down. I expect Forte to end up with about 50 yards rushing, 20 yards receiving, and no scores.

Wide Receiver

BEST Â Â Roddy White, ATL

-Atlanta has certainly been a bit of a disappointment this season, even in their two wins they’ve looked less than stellar. However, I think the Falcons are hungry this week after the embarrassment in the Georgia Dome to end their season last year. Looking at their rematch against the Packers this week I expect a high scoring affair, and for White to be a big part of that. The Packers haven’t been getting the pressure on the quarterback they would like, and that has caused their secondary all kinds of headaches. If you give White the opportunity to get open, he’ll be a thorn in a defense’s side all game. Look for White to rack up 130 yards receiving and 2 touchdowns this week as both the Packers and Falcons find themselves scoring into the 30s and beyond on Sunday night. Just note: He hasn’t practiced this week, so keep an eye on his injury status. I think He’ll be good to go, but it’s always best to be careful.

WORST Chad Ochocinco,NE

-I’m calling a time of death on Ochocinco’s season. I had high hopes for him this year. Heck, I ranked him as my 30th overall receiver. Now I feel like I’m bound to have egg all over my face. It doesn’t get any easier for him this week as he faces a tough Jets’ secondary. Don’t just sit him this week, trade him. And if you can’t do that, cut him. He’s DONE.

Tight End

BEST Â Â Kellen Winslow, TB

-He hasn’t been great nor has he been horrendous this year. I think that all changes this week as he has a breakout game against the 49ers. San Francisco has been near the bottom of the league in pass defense all year, ranking 27th in the NFL giving up 284 yards per game. I think that the Bucs will be able to move the ball with regularity through the air, and Winslow should be a big part of that. Look for him to rack up about 80 yards and get his first touchdown of the season in week 5.

WORSTDustin Keller, NYJ

-Two words. Mark. Sanchez. Even against a terrible Patriot’s pass defense I can’t trust anyone who is catching balls from Sanchez. If he has a great week, fine, I’ll take my lumps as being wrong. I just can’t recommend starting a player whose quarterback is so unpredictable from week to week. It’s a recipe for a fantasy induced ulcer.

Defense

BEST Â Â  Cincinnati Bengals

-The Jags are starting a rookie QB, had trouble moving the ball even before that point, and the Bengals have been shockingly stout on defense this year. In fact, the Bengals already rank in the top half of the league in terms of defensive fantasy points earned, and with starter caliber defenses like Baltimore and Washington on bye this week they should make for an outstanding fill in. Look for the Bengals to create at least 2 turnovers and give up fewer than 21 points this week. All in all, a very nice defensive start.

WORST: New Orleans Saints

-Honestly, I’m not a huge fan of the Panthers’ offense just yet. I just always have trouble trusting a rookie to protect the ball. However, I think New Orleans is in for a lot of trouble this week. Their defense has looked slow to me this season, and frankly, I think Cam Newton poses a significant matchup problem for the Saints. I don’t think the Panthers are going to win this game, but I think that if Cam Newton tucks the ball and runs instead of forcing passes into coverage, he could help the Panthers rack up quite a few points against the Saints this week. Right now I see the Saints giving up 28 or more points, having no sacks, and only stealing one turnover.

SLEEPER OF THE WEEK

-Isaac Redman, PIT

He may start this week, he may not. Either way, he’s still only owned in 37% of Yahoo leagues, and with Mendenhall questionable this week, it would be crazy not to pick him up. When he’s gotten his shots in the past he’s looked solid, and is already averaging 4.9 yards per carry this season. This may not be earth-shattering news to many of my readers, but when I saw how low his ownership rate was midway through the week, I felt I needed to get the word out there. If he starts look for starter caliber production, and even if he doesn’t you can try to hold him hostage and trade him for another player to a desperate Rashard Mendenhall owner.

*For more fantasy tidbits, insights, and info make sure to follow me, @lehmanna36, on Twitter!

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