|Notes and Observations Week 15: Patriots Blow Out Dolphins 41-13; Clinch AFC East||Connelly’s Top Ten: Patriots Defense, Special Teams Carry Home Team||Fantasy Football Start ‘Em, Sit ‘Em: Week 15||Right Idea? Red Sox Bring in Rick Porcello, Wade Miley, Justin Masterson|
“Everything seems to have a way of evening out for me.”
About 15 years ago now on “Seinfeld,” there was an episode when Jerry had everything evening out for him. He lost a comedy gig, then five minutes later he got another one instead. Elaine threw 20 bucks out the window from Jerry’s wallet, only for him to find a twenty dollar bill in an old jacket he hadn’t worn in a while. One friend, George, landed a new job with the Yankees, while another friend, Elaine, lost her job at Pendant Publishing because she ate too much Jujyfruit. The episode was loaded with memorable things like this, like when Kramer went on “Regis & Kathie Lee” to promote his coffee table book about coffee tables. It’s a classic.
While words like “memorable” and “classic” can’t be used to describe my putrid performance this past week, “evening out” sure fits my fantasy football life to a tee so far this season. I really nailed Week 1 and 3, but I tanked Week 2 and 4. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that every fantasy football team I own right now is sporting an even 2-2 record at this point. Such is my life.
So while my advice has been consistently inconsistent thus far, at least if I follow my current pattern, Week 5 should be a week that you read this article carefully, and treat it as gospel!
Before I dive into my Week 5 picks though, let’s quickly assess the damage of a dreadful Week 4…
Vick was a yard away from scoring when he went down with his rib injury, leaving him with a lousy 5-for-7 day with just 49 passing yards. At least Sanchez and Gradkowski threw for a pair of scores each, but Sanchez’s 161 passing yards and Gradkowski’s two interceptions limited their fantasy production a smidge.
This trio certainly didn’t light up the fantasy scoreboard in Week 4, with just two TD passes between the three of them. Only Flacco threw for more than 200 yards on the day, with his highlight TD pass to T.J. Houshmandzadeh for the eventual game winner over Pittsburgh taking the cake in an exciting week of close games. McNabb and Eli also got wins, but their stat lines probably didn’t translate to wins for their fantasy owners.
A goose egg in the TD department for this threesome of rushers, with only Frank Gore having a solid yardage total by day’s end (77 rushing, 60 receiving). Forsett will have company in the backfield now with Marshawn Lynch joining the ‘Hawks, and Brandon Jackson still can’t seem to get on track for the Pack.
Swing and a miss on these guys. All three had touchdowns, with Hillis and Bradshaw going for triple digit rushing yards on Sunday. Williams only had 56 yards on the ground, but his four catches for 45 yards also put him over the century mark for all-purpose yards Monday night. He was one of the few bright spots in that mess of a game for the ‘Fins.
If it weren’t for Austin Collie’s late TD grab in the loss to Jacksonville, my three WR ace picks would’ve been another stinker last week. Only Brandon Marshall had 50 or more receiving yards, and he had just that… 50 yards. I think I’m jumping off the Kevin Walter bandwagon, finally. I think I was the only one left on it anyway.
I’d like to thank Jerricho Cotchery and Marques Colston for their attempt at making me look good here, with both men disappointing their fantasy owners with yet another lackluster performance (3 catches for 26 yards for Cotchery, 4 grabs for 36 yards for Colston, neither had a TD). But Brandon Lloyd didn’t get the memo that he was supposed to stink it up last week, going off for 115 yards on 11 catches. Only Reggie Wayne was thrown to more than the 18 targets Lloyd racked up. Last week I said I couldn’t trust a Denver receiver until one of them had a breakout game. Consider me in Brandon Lloyd’s corner from here on in.
Keller only had four catches for a tiny 28 yards in the Jets’ romp over Buffalo, but two of those four catches went for touchdowns, further solidifying Keller’s spot amongst the top 5 tight ends in the game right now. His QB is in love with him, especially in the red zone.
With Vick going down in the first half, Kevin Kolb entered the game. Speaking of QBs in love with their tight ends, Kolb and Celek are “special friends” when it comes to being on the football field. Celek hauled in just three balls for 27 yards, but he did find the end zone on one of them.
“Tom Brady will throw for the least amount of yards amongst the four starting AFC East QBs this week.”
Close, but thanks to Ryan Fitzpatrick’s 128-yard day against the Jets, Brady’s modest 153-yard game was good enough to at least beat one AFC East QB. While we’re on Brady… Tom, cut your friggin’ hair. I don’t have a joke for you there, just cut your friggin’ hair… it looks ridiculous.
“All five 0-3 teams will not only lose again this week, but will all lose by double digits.”
Not close. This time, Buffalo was the only team that helped me out with this prediction. They lost by 24 to the Jets on Sunday, but San Fran, Detroit, and Carolina all lost their fourth games by just two points, and Cleveland earned their first win of the year, topping the Bengals 23-20.
“Of the six top fantasy QBs entering this season that are in action this week (Brees, Rodgers, P. Manning, Brady, Rivers, Schaub), none of them will throw for more than 300 yards this week.”
Close on this one, but once again, Peyton Manning gives me another reason to hate his guts. 352 passing yards for Manning in the loss to the Jags on Sunday… good for him. I would like to thank Matt Schaub, Aaron Rodgers, and Tom Brady for their strong efforts in making this wacky prediction come true, as this trio didn’t even eclipse the 200-yard plateau, never mind 300 yards. Thanks boys.
Ok, enough… why do I have to be so negative sometimes? Let’s accentuate the positive… it’s a brand new week. Time to pull my record above .500… let’s deal out some aces and jokers for Week 5.
For you Tom Brady owners looking for a bye week replacement, you could do a lot worse that Jacksonville’s Garrard, especially due to the fact that his Jags travel north to take on the lowly Buffalo Bills. Garrard is coming off a very solid game against the banged up Colts where he threw for two scores and ran for another. With new backup QB Trent Edwards, a former Bill, breathing down his neck for the starting job, Garrard should have all the motivation he needs to have a big game in upstate New York on Sunday.
It hasn’t always been pretty for the third year signal caller this season, but Matt Ryan has the Falcons at 3-1 atop the NFC South, which is all that Falcons fans can ask for. Fantasy owners of Ryan, well they are asking for a bit more. He has thrown for at least 225 yards in each of his four games this season, which is something. This is the week the former B.C. Eagle breaks out though, going up against a Browns team that while they did upset the Bengals last week, they gave up more passing yards than any other team in Week 4, with Carson Palmer throwing for 371 yards on the day. Ryan might not hit that high a note in Cleveland, but something close to 300 yards and a few scores is definitely a real possibility.
If there’s a week to start rookie QB Sam Bradford on your fantasy team, it’s this week when he plays the Detroit Lions. The Rams are on a two-game winning streak for the first time in seemingly forever and they have a great chance for their third win facing a winless Lions team. Bradford has the big arm to put up fantasy points, and he’s got the brains to lead this upstart Rams team to victory. If he can protect the football and avoid turnovers, Bradford should be in for a very solid Week 5 in the Motor City.
Consider this my official resignation as President of the Alex Smith Fan Club. Smith is tied for the league lead with seven interceptions in just four games, and this week he has to face the turnover hungry Philadelphia Eagles in prime time. San Fran will be hard pressed to avoid losing their fifth game in a row to open the year. Don’t count the Niners out as a team just yet… they are in the NFC West after all… but in fantasy land, I’m dropping Alex Smith and many of the other fringe San Fran players, with the exceptions of Frank Gore and Vernon Davis.
I don’t think I’ve written about Kyle Orton yet this season, so shame on me for not acknowledging the heck of a start he’s off to this year. He threw for 476 yards against Indy in Week 3, and followed it up with another 341 yards last week in Denver’s road win over the Titans. He’s got a great crop of receivers, any of whom can have a breakout game any week they choose to. This week however, I don’t see any receivers breaking out and I see Orton finally coming back down to Earth. He and the Broncos will face a Ravens team that has given up just 476 yards through the air this season. Yup, that’s how much Orton had against the Colts in Week 3. Ain’t happening this week, I can tell you that much. Tough week ahead for Orton and the Broncos.
This one I’m going out on a bit of a limb with. Fantasyheads drafted Schaub early this preseason with high hopes of him leading the Texans to a whole lot of winning, and more importantly in fantasyland, a whole lot of passing. Last week, without his binky Andre Johnson at his disposal, he still threw for two scores and connected with six different receivers in Houston’s win over the Raiders. This week, he faces the New York Giants, fresh off a stunning defensive performance against Jay Cutler and the Bears, in a game that saw the Giants rack up a whopping ten sacks on the night. We’ll see what happens with Johnson heading into Week 5, but I see Schaub struggling a bit this week against the G-Men.
I don’t mean to go crazy praising every Jaguar, but well… they’re playing Buffalo this week, so it’s only natural to be hyping the Jags this week. MJD hasn’t lit up the stat sheet yet for his fantasy owners, with just two TDs so far through a quarter of the season. No team gives up more yards on the ground than the Bills, and Jones-Drew is coming off a breakout game against Indy that saw him go for over 100 yards for the first time this season. MJD is poised to have an even bigger day up in Buffalo this week. You folks that drafted him high will finally be pleased with your investment.
Charles has been in charge of the Chief rushing attack so far this season… sorry if you’re not a fan of “Charles in Charge” references, but I am. He averages 7.0 yards per carry and gets to face a Colts defense that’s full of holes. He’s been stuck in a timeshare with backfield mate Thomas Jones, but he’s clearly the more talented rusher of the two. If he can get the touches, there’s no doubt he’ll be line for a big game in Indy. I don’t see the Chiefs winning the game, but starting Charles on your fantasy team might turn into a win for your squad this week… and that’s what matters most, right?
Take away the game against the Rams in which they limited St. Louis to 75 rushing yards, and Oakland has given up an average of 179.3 yards per game on the ground in their other three contests. Mathews came back last week with a pretty solid game against the Cardinals last week, after missing Week 3 with a high ankle sprain. He’ll lose some touches to Mike Tolbert, but I see San Diego having no problem racking up points against the Raiders this week. This could be the coming out party that Mathews’ fantasy owners have been waiting for.
Williams finally found the end zone last week in New Orleans, ripping off a 39-yard scamper to paydirt that gave Carolina a short-lived 14-10 lead over the defending Super Bowl champs. He has more carries than his running mate, Jonathan Stewart, and he’s doing more with them. But this week, he’s up against the stout Chicago Bears defense. Granted, the Bears had a big day put on them by New York’s Ahmad Bradshaw last Sunday night, but I don’t see that happening two weeks in a row. With Carolina’s Steve Smith out of action this upcoming week hobbled by injury, Chicago will stack the box and bottle up that Panther running game, making Jimmy Clausen try to beat them with his arm, which won’t happen with no one to throw to.
The Bucs are 2-1 and are coming off a bye week. That’s where the good news ends though, I’m afraid. Cadillac still is considered the team’s starting running back, but coach Raheem Morris has all intentions of getting youngsters LeGarrette Blount and Kareem Huggins more involved in the offense as the weeks go by. The Bucs go up against a Cincy defense that was torched by Peyton Hillis and the Browns last week, but they’ll have a good chance to rebound from that by stalling the Cadillac this Sunday.
If Ricky Williams wasn’t on a bye this week, I would’ve totally went for the “Williams Trifecta,” but you totally would’ve called me a chump if I made a guy a joker while on a bye week. I don’t like to be called names just as much as the next guy. Anyway, before last week’s rout of the Bills, New York’s second-year rusher hadn’t had more than 15 carries or 52 yards in his first three games this year. In Week 4, Greene busted out for 117 yards on 22 carries, but he still hasn’t found the end zone this year. This week, the Jets take on Minnesota on Monday night. With the Jets offense relying more on a rejuvenated LaDainian Tomlinson lately, I see Greene’s production reverting back to pre-Buffalo levels. Points may be at a premium in this matchup, so Greene’s touchdown drought will likely last at least one more week.
This may seem like an obvious choice after his huge 222-yard day against the Browns last week, but don’t let that one week fool you. Before that game, he hadn’t seen the end zone and hadn’t gone for more than 57 yards in any of the team’s first three games. While you can’t expect T.O. to repeat his stellar Week 4 performance every week, he should be able to put up another solid week this Sunday against a very small Tampa secondary. They can’t double-team T.O. and Ochocinco, so look for Owens to get open for at least a half dozen catches with hopefully a touchdown in the mix as well.
Nicks has had a very good start to the season, with four TDs in four games, and he’s coming off his first 100-yard day of the year, catching eight balls for 110 yards in their win over Chicago Sunday night. This week, Nicks and the Giants travel to Houston to take on the Texans. While the Texans can put up lots of points on offense, their defense, particularly their pass defense, has been less than stellar so far on the season. Eli should target his favorite receiver early and often in this one, which should put a smile on Nicks’ fantasy owners this week.
I wanted to hype one of the Green Bay receivers, and so far the most deserving one has to be Donald Driver. The 35-year-old Driver hasn’t posted a 100-yard game since Turkey Day last year, but his owners have to be pleased with his overall production through the first quarter of this season. Driver has three TDs already, and while he and teammate Greg Jennings are tied in targets (26 each), Driver has more receptions (21 vs. 12) and more yards (218 vs. 161). He and the Pack travel to Washington to face the ‘Skins, who could be in for a letdown game after their emotional win over the Eagles in Donovan McNabb’s return to Philly. I like Driver this week, and most weeks.
The disgruntled receiver got his wish Wednesday, being shipped out of New England and back to his original NFL home in Minnesota, in exchange for just a third-round draft pick. Moss was held without a catch in Monday night’s big win for the Pats, and now he joins a Vikings offense desperate for a big play receiver. He’ll face off in another Monday night tilt this week, against a team he’s very familiar with, the New York Jets. Darrelle Revis, New York’s All Pro cornerback, has been banged up lately, but there’s no doubt he’ll be locked to Moss all game long. Moss won’t have much time to get acquainted to Brett Favre and the Vikes’ offense, so I see him struggling in his Minnesota debut. It’s a steal of a deal for the Vikings still, no doubt about it, but it’ll take a week or two before the swap starts to pay dividends.
“Housh” made one of the biggest plays of Week 4, on the receiving end of a game-winning touchdown pass from Joe Flacco that would help the Ravens top the previously undefeated Steelers in Pittsburgh, 17-14. The new Raven really hasn’t made his presence felt yet amongst his new teammates, as that TD catch was just his fifth grab in the team’s first four games. He’s only got 80 receiving yards on the year, also a really lousy number at the quarter-turn of the season. The Ravens now face a Denver team that has talented corners that will test Anquan Boldin, Derrick Mason, and T.J. Houshmandzadeh all game long. Baltimore may have to rely on their banged-up running game to shoulder the workload, which will leave “Housh” out in the cold in terms of fantasy production.
As Alex Smith’s fantasy value plummets, so does that of Michael Crabtree. Crabtree is TD-less through the team’s first four games, and while his reception totals have been slowly on the rise the past few weeks (1 in Week 2, 3 in Week 3, 5 in Week 4), his fantasy owners still can’t label him “starter-worthy” just yet, even as a bye week replacement for Brandon Marshall, Wes Welker, or any of the other top wideouts that are out of action this weekend.
I could have easily just gone with one of the many studs at the position this week and called it a day… Dallas Clark vs. KC, Antonio Gates vs. OAK, Dustin Keller vs. MIN, Jermichael Finley vs. WAS… but those are obvious fantasy starters each and every week. Instead, I’m going with Chicago’s Greg Olsen, who despite being held without a touchdown last week for the first time since Week 1, led the team in receptions on the night, albeit with just five grabs. It sounds as if Jay Cutler will shake the cobwebs off and be under center on Sunday against Carolina, after sustaining a mild concussion last Sunday night against the Giants. Whether he plays or not, any Chicago QB that plays will likely rely heavily on Olsen as a safety blanket, and there’s no reason why he can’t have a huge game against the porous Carolina defense.
Witten suffered a sprained MCL in Dallas’s Week 3 win over cross-state rival Houston, but with the Cowboys on the bye last week, he has had time to rest and plans to play Sunday against the Titans. Witten’s been held to just 15 catches so far this season, and none of those have included a trip to the end zone. With Roy E. Williams, Miles Austin, and Dez Bryant all able to put up monster stat lines, the ball can only be spread around so much in Big D, which should put a damper on Witten’s fantasy production, especially until he’s fully healthy again. Tight end is fantasy land’s deepest position… find another option this week, and for a few more weeks while you’re at it.
(These are admittedly low-odds predictions that only I have the stones to profess…)
Tags: Alex Smith, Cadillac Williams, David Garrard, DeAngelo Williams, Donald Driver, fantasy fast forward, Fantasy Football, Greg Olsen, Hakeem Nicks, Jamaal Charles, Jason Witten, Kyle Orton, Matt Ryan, Matt Schaub, Maurice Jones-Drew, Michael Crabtree, NFL, Randy Moss, Ryan Mathews, Sam Bradford, Shonn Greene, T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Terrell Owens