|Connelly’s Top Ten: Patriots Win By Less Than a FOOT||Panic Mode in Full Effect, Minutemen are Struggling||Patriots Survive Gritty Challenge From Jets||Smart Era Gets Off to a Good Start with Win over T’wolves|
An eventful Week 5 is in the books, as the 2010 NFL season just keeps motoring along as unpredictable as ever. Teams like the Cowboys, Vikings, and 49ers can’t seem to get out of their own way despite high preseason expectations, while surprise teams like the Chiefs and Buccaneers are riding high, at or near the top of their division’s standings. Think you know what’ll happen this week? “Not Friggin’ Likely”… that’s what the new parity-filled NFL stands for these days. Acronyms are fun to play with, aren’t they?
Evidence of this runs rampant across my fantasy picks over the first quarter of the season. Sure I’ve had some swings and misses, but I’ve had just as many homers this season as well. I’m like the Rob Deer of fantasy football… I either crush it 500 feet or go down swinging on three straight pitches. Anyone else remember Rob Deer? Or am I the only one that’s nostalgic about the lousy Milwaukee Brewers teams of the early 90′s?
Anyway, back to pigskin… we’ll leave former Brewers Chris Bosio, Teddy Higuera, and Charlie O’Brien out of the conversation, at least for now. Let’s quickly review a very mediocre Week 5 on my part, then we’ll jump head-first into what will hopefully be a triumphant Week 6 for all of us.
Other than Garrard, chalk up Ryan and Bradford as fantasy losers in Week 5. Garrard only had 178 passing yards, but his 3 TD passes had to make his fantasy owners happy. Ryan helped Atlanta win their fourth game on the year, but 187 yards and a single TD pass couldn’t have pleased his fantasy folks. And those of you who jumped on Sam Bradford’s bandwagon, like yours truly did? Thanks for the stinker, rookie… zero scores and two picks against the lowly Lions wasn’t exactly what we were looking for.
Schaub was stumped by the improved Giants defense on Sunday, held to under 200 passing yards and kept out of the end zone. But Orton kept the Bronco offense rolling with 314 yards and a pair of TDs in their loss against the Ravens, and despite nearly getting benched on Sunday night, Alex Smith was able to put up a very solid fantasy stat line, throwing for 309 yards to go with three touchdown passes.
Even though all three guys couldn’t find the end zone in Week 5, I’m still considering MJD and Jamaal Charles solid picks. Each guy had about 100 all-purpose yards on the afternoon (MJD had 93, Charles totalled 101), which had to at least keep their fantasy owners content. Mathews is still losing too many touches to Mike Tolbert, but that’ll change as the rookie gets healthier.
Venus and Serena may have done a better job running the ball than DeAngelo and Cadillac did in Week 5. DeAngelo was very “SUB”-par (Get it? It’s a sub shop joke!), rushing for just 51 yards on 12 carries against the Bears, while Cadillac was kept in park in the Bucs’ win over New Orleans, only able to motor for 33 yards on the day. Other than his touchdown against the Vikes on Monday night, Shonn wasn’t leaving anyone “Greene with envy” either. Man oh man, what a week for witty running back cliches, eh!?!
Hakeem Nicks is a machine this season, plain and simple. His 17 targets were second only to Danny Amendola’s 19 this past week, as he hauled in 12 of those passes for 130 yards and two end zone trips on a monster day in Houston. T.O. followed up his huge Week 4 with a terrific Week 5, catching seven balls for 102 yards and a score of his own. Donald Driver’s day was a bit more modest, with just four catches for 58 yards.
Turns out Moss wasn’t so bad in his return to the Vikings, despite catching just four of the ten balls that were thrown his way. His touchdown grab from Favre in the second half gave the ageless attention hog his 500th career touchdown pass… can we all collectively give #4 a big “whoop-dee-doo?” Anyway, Michael Crabtree finally woke up in Week 5, catching nine passes for a buck-oh-five and a score, but I did get Housh’s joker week right, as the Raven caught just two balls in their win over Denver, for 24 measly yards.
Chicago’s Greg Olsen had as many catches Sunday as Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen had… and that number is zero. I couldn’t stand to really watch a Bears-Panthers game, but I’m sure the tight end had a great game blocking and opening holes up for Matt Forte all day… I doubt the Olsen twins could’ve done that too well… although I’d love to watch them try!
Welcome back to fantasy relevance, Mr. Witten, after a five-catch, 84-yard, one-TD day in yet another Dallas loss in Week 5, this time to Vince Young and the Tennessee Titans. How are those “first team to play a Super Bowl in their home stadium” predictions looking now?
“There are five AFC vs. NFC matchups on the Week 5 schedule. The AFC will win all five, including Cleveland upsetting Atlanta.”
I hope you didn’t put any money on this dud of a prediction. Not only did the Falcons top the Browns, but the Giants beat Houston and the Bengals fell to the Bucs. Thanks Jets and Titans, for doing your part though.
“Through four weeks, we still haven’t seen a shutout. That will change in Week 5.”
Zonk! Wrong again! Carolina and St. Louis scored the lowest of the low in Week 5, with each team only managing to put up a half dozen points in their losses to Chicago and Detroit, respectively.
“Of the 13 AFC teams playing in Week 5, exactly two of their starting QBs will throw for less than 225 yards.”
Where did the passing offenses go in Week 5? Seriously… ten of the 13 starting QBs didn’t hit the 225-mark… that’s ridiculous! Granted, two of those ten left their games early with injuries (Seneca Wallace and Bruce Gradkowski), but that still doesn’t give an excuse why guys like Joe Flacco, Carson Palmer, and Matt Schaub couldn’t toss the ball around more than they did. Come on AFC, man up this week!
Ok, enough about Week 5… it’s over, it’s done with, it’s in the books. Let’s get rollin’ with Week 6… the Pats will be back on the field and I will be back in the win column.
No team has given up more fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks than the Jags have. They let lowly Ryan Fitzpatrick throw for three scores against them last week, so Vince Young should have no problem tossing the ball around on Monday night. Jacksonville gives up over 27 points per game, so the Titans will put up points, and only the Redskins and Texans have given up more passing yards than the Jags. If your usual starter is on a bye this week, or if you just can’t trust the health of Aaron Rodgers or Jay Cutler, roll the dice with V.Y.
Remember what I said above about Houston’s pass defense being even worse than Jacksonville’s? Who gets to face the Texans this week? Mr. Cassel, that’s who. Sure, he’s been incredibly inconsistent so far this season, throwing for three TDs in Week 3, then going scoreless in last week’s loss to Indy, but Cassel’s heading towards big things this week down in Houston, I can feel it. I’m not picking the Chiefs to win this contest, but I will predict that both teams score more than 25 points in a shootout that should produce plenty of fantasy production for the two QBs.
This may seem like a cheap pick for an ace… I mean, who would bench Tom Brady on their fantasy team, right? Well believe it or not, I’ve seen on a few different sites already that Brady is not coming highly recommended for his Week 6 start against the Ravens. I say “phooey” to that! Brady and that Pats are money coming off bye weeks, and you know the Pats’ QB will be out to prove that he can still put on an air show without Randy Moss to throw to. Don’t ask me to tell you who he’ll lean on most, but you can bet he’ll spread the ball around to any and all of his weapons against the Ravens. This should be a high scoring affair as well, with again, lots of fantasy points to be had in this game from both squads.
Fantasy owners are super high on Hill these days, and they have every reason to be. He has passed for over 330 yards twice in his four starts this season, throwing for multiple TDs in three of those four contests. It’s assumed he’ll get at least one more start this week before the team goes on their bye and Matthew Stafford returns from injury, but I don’t see Hill’s swan song sounding too good. He faces the Giants on the road, a team that has totally turned their defense into a pass rushing machine. Hill may not have Calvin Johnson at his disposal either, as Megatron battles a shoulder injury this week. I’m not opting for Shaun Hill this week, even after his team put up 44 points last week.
McNabb has his new team at 3-2, tied for the NFC East division lead, which is all well and good for ‘Skins fans. But his fantasy production just doesn’t match his team’s success thus far. He’s thrown for just one touchdown in each of his last four games. This week, he goes up against a banged-up Colts defense. The Colts are downright awful against the run, one of the league’s worst, so while I do see Washington running all over Indy on Sunday night, I don’t see McNabb lighting up the scoreboard at all.
Orton was on many fantasy benches last week, and with him facing the Ravens tough defense, benching him made sense. But he found a way to post his fourth 300+ yard passing day in a row, in Denver’s losing effort in Baltimore. Orton’s the league’s passing yardage leader after five weeks… who could’ve seen that coming? This week, he faces yet another tough pass defense, the New York Jets. Darrelle Revis should be back in action, so I don’t see the odds of another big day from Orton being too high.
I love me some Ryan Torain, especially this week, at home in prime time against the Colts. Torain has had at least 16 carries in each of the games he’s started since Clinton Portis’s latest boo-boo, and with Indy’s defense really in shambles, I see Mike Shanahan pounding the football with Torain early and often on Sunday night. I’d consider Torain a fantasy starter this week over early fantasy draftees like Shonn Greene, Ryan Mathews, or Ronnie Brown.
Sure, the former Connecticut Huskies ground guru is coming off an injury that caused him to miss last week’s win over the Chiefs, but now the Colts will likely be without starter Joseph Addai, and with Brown back at practice this week, look for Donald Brown to come back with a vengeance. He’ll have to fend off Mike Hart for the carries, but Brown is clearly the better option when healthy, and I see him proving that against a Washington team that just gave up 140 all-purpose yards to a very mediocre Brandon Jackson last week.
I haven’t had the chance yet to talk about LeSean McCoy this year, so I’m taking my chance now. He’s a beast in every sense of the word. Last week, many of you probably did what I did and left him on your bench, knowing that he was listed as questionable heading into Sunday night’s game in San Fran, and you knew you couldn’t risk any last-minute news of him not playing in that game. For all of us doubters, McCoy sucked it up, powered through his cracked rib injury, and put up a 138-yard, one-TD performance. This week he takes on the Falcons in a battle of the birds in Philly. If you haven’t jumped on this guy’s bandwagon, jump on quick while there’s still room.
I was one of Forsett’s biggest backers in the preseason, figuring that he would win the bulk of the running back workload in Seattle, and would easily put up a 1,000-yard season, in route to fantasy greatness for years to come. Super, mega, ultra, turbo, mondo fail on my part. Instead, Pete Carroll brings in Marshawn Lynch, which helps Forsett’s fantasy value plummet even further… I think his value’s down in some Chilean mine shaft by now. (How do you like that for some current events, eh?) Anyway, the Seahawks go up against the third-ranked rushing defense in the league in the Windy City this Sunday, so opt not for Forsett or any other Seahawk for that matter.
Many have joined the Hillis Fan Club this season… I’m just not one of the many, I guess. Might we be forgetting he is on the Cleveland Browns? A Browns team that faces the league’s toughest defense in all the land, the Pittsburgh Steelers, on a day when they will welcome back from suspension, Mr. Big Ben Roethlisberger? I’m not putting any Browns in my starting lineup, and frankly, I don’t think you should either. Hillis is banged up anyway with a quad injury which has kept him out of some practices this week. Find another option, I beg of you.
The Dallas backfield is a crowded one, but the ‘Boys leaned on Felix the most in Week 5, helping him reach a career high 109 yards last Sunday against the Titans. Whether or not he starts over incumbent Marion Barber is yet to be seen, but in my mind it doesn’t really matter either way. Dallas goes up against the Vikings this week in what’ll be close to a must-win for both squads, with each of them sporting disappointing 1-3 records. The Vikes have been a mess so far, but I still wouldn’t want to start a running back against a defensive front that includes Jared Allen and the Williams boys.
I could go either way on the Rams’ new top wideout, but I’m thinking positively with the little guy this week, even though San Diego has been very good against opposing receivers this season. With Mark Clayton gone for good this season, rookie Sam Bradford will lean even heavier on Amendola as a binky, making him greatly valuable especially in PPR (points per reception) leagues. He already leads all NFL receivers in red zone targets, making him more likely than anyone else to find the end zone.
Other than maybe Brett Favre, Percy Harvin may be the Viking the benefits most from the acquisition of Randy Moss. Last week, with Moss commanding the extra attention and stretching the defense deep, Harvin had his most productive game of the season, hauling in five balls for 97 yards and two scores in the loss to the Jets on Monday night. The former Florida Gator has totally turned his year around, after a slow start battling injuries and migraine headache issues. Look for that momentum to continue against Dallas this week.
Ward gets his quarterback back this week, with Roethlisberger rejoining the Steelers after serving his suspension for being naughty in the off-season. Big Ben has been a big reason why Ward still has fantasy relevance at his advanced age, so I’m sure he couldn’t be happier to see his favorite QB back in action. On top of all that, Ward really owns the Browns. In his last four home games against Cleveland, Ward has at least six catches and 70 yards in each game, with three touchdowns in those four contests. Cleveland’s awful too… I guess I could’ve just left it at that.
He was one of the few Packers who actually didn’t get injured last week against the ‘Skins, but he may as well have, putting up just a 22-yard, two-catch day in the loss to Washington. Jennings has caused his fantasy owners to pull their hair out all season long, in a year mired in inconsistency for the Packer receiver. Whether it be Matt Flynn or Aaron Rodgers under center on Sunday (Rodgers suffered a concussion in last week’s game and is questionable for Sunday), I don’t start Jennings in fantasy land until he redeems himself.
I saw that Burleson was a hot topic on the waiver wire in many leagues early this week, after leading the Lions in receiving in last week’s 44-6 rout of the Rams. Sure, Calvin Johnson’s banged up and might not play this week, which would make Burleson the team’s top receiver, but facing off against the Giants in New York… well, New Jersey really… I still don’t trust a Lions receiver this week. Let’s see if Burleson can put up another solid fantasy week before we go trusting him with our fantasy teams, you dig?
Here’s another guy who was a hot add on the waiver wire recently. I just don’t buy it yet, that’s all. Tate’s production should go up with the departure of Randy Moss, but I see guys like Aaron Hernandez or Julian Edelman gaining more notoriety than Tate does when it’s all said and done. I’m not denying that Brandon Tate is a talented guy, especially in the kick return game, but until he tops four catches (season high) or 43 receiving yards (season high), the jury’s still out on the second-year speedster.
Miller has quickly become one of the league’s elite tight ends, as he is easily Oakland’s top target in their passing attack, no matter who might be under center. Last week in their win over the Chargers, starter Bruce Gradkowski and reliever Jason Campbell targeted their tight end a team high eight times, with Miller grabbing six of those ball for 62 yards on the day, including one score. He has a TD in three straight games for Oakland, and could be in line for another big day on Sunday when the Raiders cross the Golden Gate Bridge to take on the Niners in a battle of Bay Area foes.
Shockey has fared pretty well lately for the Saints, scoring in two of their last three games. But he hasn’t done quite as well against Tampa Bay in his career, never scoring against the Bucs in his last three games against them, with just 12 catches over that same span. The Saints offense has struggled to get going this season, and believe it or not, the Bucs defense won’t make it any easier on them. I see Shockey’s struggles continuing this week, and the same goes for Marques Colston, Robert Meachem, Lance Moore, and the rest of the Saints skill players.
(These are admittedly low-odds predictions that only I have the stones to profess…)
Tags: Brandon Tate, Danny Amendola, Donald Brown, Donovan McNabb, fantasy fast forward, Fantasy Football, Felix Jones, Greg Jennings, Hines Ward, Jeremy Shockey, Justin Forsett, Kyle Orton, LeSean McCoy, Matt Cassel, Nate Burleson, NFL, Percy Harvin, Peyton Hillis, Ryan Torain, Shaun Hill, Tom Brady, Vince Young, Zach Miller