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It’s pretty funny how much everyone overreacts to a couple weeks of football. For example, I’ve been hearing a lot of debate this week about which Steve Smith is the better play for the rest of the season. Is this a serious question? Steve Smith (NYG) has been great this year but I am here to set the story straight and make the argument for the real Steve Smith.
(Note: I understand that with two Steve Smiths this is going to get very confusing…just bear with me.)
First let’s take into consideration that in a vacuum everyone would choose Steve Smith (CAR) over Steve Smith (NYG). This is to say if both players were in the same situation with no other variables, Smith (CAR) is the more talented player. Now so far this season the stats look like this:
The most important stat for a WR these days is targets. In three games, Smith (CAR) has received 11.7 targets per game while Smith (NYG) has received 11 targets per game. While they have both received the same amount of targets, Smith (NYG) has done much more with his opportunity. It is clear that Smith (NYG) has had a more favorable schedule, but the biggest reason is his quarterback has gotten off to a torrid start. Here are Eli’s splits from the last three seasons:
There is a trend that shows a severe drop-off in production for Eli Manning in the second half of the year, which would suggest that we have seen the best of Steve Smith (NYG), while Steve Smith (CAR) should only get better. Jake Delhomme is not a bad quarterback and those who are jumping completely off the Panther’s bandwagon would be foolish to do so. With Washington, Buffalo, Tampa Bay and Arizona next up for the Panthers, I expect Steve Smith (CAR) to bounce back and reclaim his title as the top Steve Smith of the NFL.
With that out of the way, we are heading into Week 5 and Chicago, Green Bay, New Orleans, and San Diego are off. That means three of the top five fantasy quarterbacks are out this week so owners will be scrambling for fill-ins, which brings us to my starts and sits for Week Five.
The Jaguars are letting up a NFL-worst 282 passing yards per game and apparently the Seahawks aren’t afraid to let Seneca Wallace show off his arm (45 attempts last week). He has a decent arsenal of WRs and I’m expecting this game to be a shootout. So if you have a QB on a bye week, you could do a lot worse than Wallace. However, there is an outside chance that Matt Hasselbeck starts this game, so monitor that situation closely.
Did you watch the game last weekend? No, not the Vikings-Packers games where Favre threw for 271 yards and three touchdowns. I’m talking about the Rams game where the 49ers just dominated them in every facet of the game. Favre showed he still has something left and will probably get one or two touchdowns against a pathetic Rams defense.
Other Mentions: Tony Romo (@ KC), Joe Flacco (vs. CIN), David Garrard (@ JAX)
Manning is apparently going to make the start on Sunday even thought he has been diagnosed with plantar fasciitis, which sounds cool but is said to hurt quite a bit. The Giants shouldn’t have any trouble beating the Raiders this Sunday, so I don’t expect them to make Eli take any chances. Expect a conservative game, which means not a lot of play for Manning.
The Ravens have actually been vulnerable against the pass this season (232 yds/g), but don’t let that trick you into starting Carson Palmer this week. They have only let up five touchdowns while intercepting the quarterback six times. I wouldn’t be totally against starting Palmer, but if you do, be sure to expect a couple turnovers on the stat sheet at the end of the day.
Other Mentions: Kyle Orton (vs. NE), Mark Sanchez (@ MIA), Jason Campbell (@ CAR)
The Cowboys are very good at running the ball (163.8 yds/g) and the Chiefs are not very good at stopping the run (128.5 yds/g). With Felix Jones out again and Tony Romo struggling, Barber and Choice will get a lot of work behind that massive Cowboy offensive line. Barber is the better play, but Choice has shown that he can be a solid contributor both running and catching the football.
The Bills defense has let up seven rushing touchdowns in four games, while letting opposing running backs run for 4.8 yards per carry. With the loss of Braylon Edwards, the Brown will try to focus on the run game more to control the clock and keep its defense off the field. Jerome Harrison (29 carries, 121 yards in Week 4) doesn’t have to share the ball with anyone while Jamal Lewis is hurt so he looks like a very nice start for this week.
Other Mentions: Glen Coffee (vs. ATL), Ray Rice (vs. CIN), Rashard Mendenhall (@ DET)
The last time Baltimore let up a 100-yard rusher they were named the Colts and their QB was Johnny Unitas. OK, so it hasn’t been that long, but it has been 39 games since it has happened. 39 games! The last guy to do it was Larry Johnson on December 10, 2006. It’s safe to say you shouldn’t start your running backs against this defense.
As bad as Miami is this year, their run defense is not. Thomas Jones will be running against a squad that has let up only 61 yards per game on the ground, which is second to only the Ravens. On top of that, the Dolphins have only let up two rushing touchdowns so it is unlikely that Jones gets you productive numbers this week.
Other Mentions: Kevin Smith (vs. PIT), Donald Brown (@ TEN), LenDale White (vs. IND)
Berrian finally emerged Monday night with six catches for 75 yards and a score. Favre looked his way the most of all Vikings receivers and I expect that to be a trend throughout the season. Berrian gets another easy matchup this week with the Rams, so it’s reasonable to expect at least one score from the wide out.
Despite the pronunciation of his last name, he is not French. What he is though, is the second WR on a Peyton Manning offense that is clicking on all cylinders. The Titans are tied with the Jags for the worst pass defense in the NFL so you can expect Manning to go off Sunday night and when Manning goes off, his receivers do well. It’s not rocket science.
Other Mentions: Wes Welker (@ DEN), Hines Ward (@ DET), Nate Washington (vs. IND)
Dwayne Bowe has been a disappointment so far this season. He saved his first two weeks with late touchdowns and since has been playing hurt. The Cowboys haven’t been great against the pass this season, but a lot of it has come in the end of the game. You probably have to start him, and maybe he can save another week with a garbage time touchdown, but I wouldn’t feel comfortable starting a guy like that.
I know this is a bold call with the way Smith has been performing lately, but this week’s matchup has too many red flags for my liking. Firstly, his quarterback is injured and could leave the game at any moment. Secondly, he is facing arguably the best corner in the NFL in Nnamdi Asmougha. Thirdly, the Giants, like I said above, will play conservative because it will not take a lot for them to win this game. Chances are you have a viable option at WR to start because if you have Smith on your team you didn’t get him until late in the draft so I would bench him if possible.
Other Mentions: Antonio Bryant (@ PHI), Braylon Edwards (@ MIA), Donnie Avery (vs. MIN)
Lewis has two touchdowns in his last three games and faces a Seattle defense that lets up 220 passing yards per game. With guys like Greg Olsen, Jeremy Shockey, and Antonio Gates on bye weeks, I would be confident in Lewis this week. The Jaguars’ offense is on a nice roll.
He’s back from a bye week and gets his starting QB back in McNabb. Sounds like a nice combination for Celek to continue his nice season so far (22 rec, 245 yds, 2 TD). Oh and he faces the Bucs defense this week so that also helps.
Other Mentions: Heath Miller (@ DET), Vernon Davis (vs. ATL), Visanthe Shiancoe (@ STL)
I didn’t think it was possible, but JaMarcus Russell has sucked all the fantasy value out of his teammates. Miller was pegged as a nice sleeper in the preseason, but hasn’t delivered thanks to his quarterback’s 42.4 QB RTG. Until things get fixed in Oakland I would stay away.
OK, I give up. I have recommended starting Fasano for two weeks now and he has responded with one total catch for seven yards. Fasano is now dead to me. I promise you that I will never mention him again. Now cue his seven catch for 80 yards and two touchdowns for Monday night. Seriously, watch it happen.
Other Mentions: Kellen Winslow (@ PHI), Kevin Boss (vs. OAK), Ben Watson (@ DEN)
The Saints showed how un-awesome Mark Sanchez can be and the Dolphins will do the same. The Dolphins always play tough at home and because it’s on Monday night the team will be extra motivated to pull off the upset. If the Dolphins are going to win this game, they are going to do it with their defense and I think they have a good shot.
The Chiefs’ offense has been pretty pathetic so far and they have scored 37 of their 64 points in the fourth quarter with the game already out of reach. I think Dallas needs to make a statement this Sunday after losing to the Broncos, so look for the defense to have a nice day.
This could be a trap game because the Seattle offense hasn’t looked great this year, but the Jaguars have been awful against the pass and Seneca Wallace does have the weapons to exploit that weakness. I expect a shootout in Seattle.
Tennessee is the worst pass defense in the league and are facing the Colts with Peyton Manning. Move along, there is nothing to see here.
Tags: Anthony Fasano, Bernard Berrian, Brent Celek, Brett Favre, Carson Palmer, Cedric Benson, Dwayne Bowe, Eli Manning, Fantasy, Fantasy Radar, Jake Delhomme, Jerome Harrison, Marcedes Lewis, Marion Barber, Pierre Garcon, Seneca Wallace, Start 'Em/Sit 'Em, Steve Smith, Tashard Choice, Thomas Jones, Zach Miller