Week 5 Fantasy Football Matchups

To prepare you as best we can for your week of Fantasy Football, we've devised this series of previews for each NFL game. We'll give you a taste of what to expect, then rank each significant Fantasy contributor on a scale from 0-5 logos (with five logos suggesting can't-miss; a player or unit without any logos suggests you probably shouldn't start him under any circumstances). The rankings take the matchup into account, but injuries and other significant factors also contribute. You should be able to compare the ratings for the players on your team and make an educated pick on who should start -- and sit -- in your lineup .

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Cincinnati Bengals - Sunday, 1:00 p.m.
The Bucs went under the hood with their offense during their bye week and might come out with several new wrinkles. One might be an utterly annoying running-back-by-committee that could include Cadillac Williams, LeGarrette Blount, Kareem Huggins and Earnest Graham. They might use all four! Two other additions could be rookie Arrelious Benn and more Sammie Stroughter playing inside. These moves would keep the run game fresh and effective while giving quarterback Josh Freeman three or four reliable receiving targets on every play. The best option for Freeman this week is Kellen Winslow against the Bengals' linebackers and safeties. The Cincinnati cornerbacks are solid and should be able to contain Mike Williams and whoever else the Bucs roll out there. The Bengals will take one look at the Bucs' safeties and look for ways to attack, just as the Steelers did two weeks ago. I have Terrell Owens ranked higher than Chad Ochocinco because he'll probably draw Ronde Barber in coverage whereas Ochocinco will see Aqib Talib, but either receiver could get the job done. You can see that Carson Palmer likes Jermaine Gresham a lot, and he's another guy who could streak in the middle of the field and draw one of those safeties. The size advantage the Bengals' receivers have here should go a long way, and with the Bucs unable to bring their safeties into the box, Cedric Benson should have ample opportunity to play well.
Name Rating Pos. Name Rating
Josh Freeman QB Carson Palmer
Cadillac Williams RB Cedric Benson
LeGarrette Blount RB Brian Leonard
Mike Williams WR Terrell Owens
Sammie Stroughter   WR Chad Ochocinco
Kellen Winslow TE Jermaine Gresham
Connor Barth   K Mike Nugent
Buccaneers DST Bengals
Atlanta Falcons at Cleveland Browns - Sunday, 1:00 p.m.
Easy gameplan for Matt Ryan: Find Browns cornerback Eric Wright and throw in that direction. That's what Joe Flacco and Carson Palmer did for the better part of the Browns' last two games and they had excellent stats. Of course, the Browns' other cornerbacks aren't stellar either, so whoever is on Roddy White will surely have his work cut out for him. Where the Browns have been strong is against opposing tight ends, and Tony Gonzalez doesn't play as well outdoors as he used to. The Browns will use a combination of linebackers and safeties to keep him from hurting them in the middle of the field. Even with these matchups, the Falcons should give a lot of carries to Michael Turner and Jason Snelling and test the Browns' front seven which has yet to yield a touchdown this season. Cleveland has been smart about its offense, giving teams a big dose of Peyton Hillis and a lot of short- and mid-range passing. The Falcons have been struggling with opposing tight ends and the Browns use Benjamin Watson quite a bit. He's got a shot to surprise this week, and receiver Chansi Stuckey got involved last week on crossing patterns and could be just as helpful here. The Falcons will be keyed in on Hillis and try to force a returning Jake Delhomme to throw to the outside, where he's vulnerable. Atlanta's defense should be pretty good.
Name Rating Pos. Name Rating
Matt Ryan QB Seneca Wallace
Michael Turner RB Peyton Hillis
Jason Snelling RB Jerome Harrison
Roddy White WR Chansi Stuckey
Harry Douglas WR Josh Cribbs
Tony Gonzalez TE Benjamin Watson
Matt Bryant K Phil Dawson
Falcons DST Browns
Jacksonville Jaguars at Buffalo Bills - Sunday, 1:00 p.m.
Both teams will see this game as a potential win, so expect strong efforts. The Jaguars rode Maurice Jones-Drew's coattails to victory last week and face a Bills defense that really struggles against running backs. He's a no-doubter, but the Jaguars could even get Rashad Jennings a little work to keep the Bills defense reeling. This whole underachieving Mike Sims-Walker thing is annoying, and while the Bills pass defense is better than their run defense, it's still not great. David Garrard has to know by now that he's got to use Sims-Walker a little more, so expect MSW to be better than last week (that won't be hard to do). Keep in mind that new Jaguars backup QB Trent Edwards practiced for years against these Bills and probably will have a couple of tips for Garrard. It sure can't hurt. Buffalo traded Marshawn Lynch to Seattle this week, and that should usher C.J. Spiller into the offense. He won't start, and he might not lead the team in carries -- both of those will go to Fred Jackson -- but with Lynch gone Spiller will have more opportunities to get the ball, and the Bills have to find a way to use him here against Jacksonville's defense. If not in this matchup, then when? Ryan Fitzpatrick also will enjoy playing against a bad pass defense, though he was nearly pulled last week until he got things moving the right way late. He's been leaning on Steve Johnson quite a bit over the last two weeks, and that should continue here, but Lee Evans has been The Invisible Man for Fantasy owners. If he can't find a way to catch a few passes and be even mildly effective here, then someone needs to ask Fitzpatrick if he knows Evans is on the team.
Name Rating Pos. Name Rating
David Garrard QB Ryan Fitzpatrick
Maurice Jones-Drew RB C.J. Spiller
Rashad Jennings RB Fred Jackson
Mike Sims-Walker WR Steve Johnson
Mike Thomas WR Lee Evans
Marcedes Lewis TE Shawn Nelson
Josh Scobee K Rian Lindell
Jaguars DST Bills
N.Y. Giants at Houston Texans - Sunday, 1:00 p.m.
The Giants should continue to get right against the Texans, even with Brian Cushing coming back from a four-game suspension. The Texans' run defense has begun to deteriorate and their pass defense is already shaky. Cushing will help out against the run but Eli Manning should be able to connect to his receivers, especially on mid-range and deep routes. The matchup is better for Hakeem Nicks and Mario Manningham than it is for Steve Smith. The Texans should be able to do what the Bears couldn't last week -- run the ball effectively. It's what won them their game at Oakland in Week 4 and should be effective here, too. Obviously, the more weapons Matt Schaub has in his arsenal, the better his receiving corps should do. Andre Johnson practiced Thursday and might have a better chance to play in this game compared to last week. The Giants looked like world-beaters last week after dominating a poor Bears O-line, but the Texans have protected Schaub well, so if he's got the weapons to throw to, he'll be good.
Name Rating Pos. Name Rating
Eli Manning QB Matt Schaub
Ahmad Bradshaw RB Arian Foster
Brandon Jacobs RB Derrick Ward
Hakeem Nicks WR Andre Johnson
Mario Manningham WR Kevin Walter
Steve Smith WR Jacoby Jones
Kevin Boss TE Joel Dreessen
Lawrence Tynes K Neil Rackers
Giants DST Texans
Denver Broncos at Baltimore Ravens - Sunday, 1:00 p.m.
The Broncos are going to have a hard time here. Teams have run well against Baltimore the last two weeks, but it's been with power backs and good fullbacks. The Broncos have neither. With Knowshon Moreno ruled out with a hamstring strain, don't expect much from the ground game. The bigger problem is that the Ravens should be able to apply just enough pressure and cover the Broncos' receivers enough to give Kyle Orton fits. Getting time to throw will be an issue for Orton, just as it was last season when he played at Baltimore and threw for 175 yards and a score (that was with Brandon Marshall). The Broncos' run defense has been great thanks in part to outside linebacker Robert Ayers and nose tackle Jamal Williams, but they're due for a letdown. On the road for the second week in a row and against a Ravens team that will pound the rock, expect Ray Rice to be busy and the Ravens to slide their blockers toward the edges to give Rice a chance to make some gains. The Broncos will likely try and take away Anquan Boldin with Champ Bailey and Todd Heap with Brian Dawkins, so if Joe Flacco's going to get big numbers he'll have to go through Derrick Mason and T.J. Houshmandzadeh. Mason is fairly appealing, and last week's game against the Steelers might have reminded Flacco just how good his veteran receiver is.
Name Rating Pos. Name Rating
Kyle Orton QB Joe Flacco
Laurence Maroney RB Ray Rice
Correll Buckhalter RB Willis McGahee
Brandon Lloyd WR Anquan Boldin
Jabar Gaffney WR Derrick Mason
Eddie Royal WR T.J. Houshmandzadeh
Daniel Graham   TE Todd Heap
Matt Prater K Billy Cundiff
Broncos DST Ravens
Kansas City Chiefs at Indianapolis Colts - Sunday, 1:00 p.m.
The Chiefs are rested and clear on one key to beating the Colts: Run the football. This should be a good week for both Jamaal Charles and Thomas Jones as Indianapolis' run defense got ripped by Maurice Jones-Drew last week and also lost backup safety Melvin Bullitt. Jones will work on the inside while Charles will test the edges. Both could score. The matchup isn't great for Matt Cassel, though, mainly because the Colts' pass rush will come after him every chance they get. He's only been sacked twice this season but has only attempted 77 passes over three games. Tony Moeaki might get some decent yardage, but the only other sneaky play here is Dexter McCluster if only because the Chiefs could use him on screens and out of the Wildcat to try and run the ball. Remember, the better the Chiefs do on the ground, the longer Peyton Manning is on the sideline. When he gets in the game, look for Manning to attack the middle of the Chiefs defense with Dallas Clark and Austin Collie (if he's healthy). The Chiefs' corners aren't terrible but they have lapsed from time to time. If Pierre Garcon is active, he's got the speed to get open deep -- Reggie Wayne does too, obviously, but Garcon won't have anything more than single coverage. Indy will need to throw the ball here as the Chiefs have been solid against the run and are well-rested to boot.
Name Rating Pos. Name Rating
Matt Cassel QB Peyton Manning
Jamaal Charles RB Joseph Addai
Thomas Jones RB MIke Hart
Dwayne Bowe WR Reggie Wayne
Dexter McCluster WR Austin Collie
Chris Chambers   WR Pierre Garcon
Tony Moeaki TE Dallas Clark
Ryan Succop K Adam Vinatieri
Chiefs   DST Colts
St. Louis Rams at Detroit Lions - Sunday, 1:00 p.m.
This has a shot to be a high-scoring game. That wasn't the case last year when these teams met in Motown, but that game went off without Sam Bradford, Mark Clayton, Calvin Johnson and Jahvid Best. Bradford has a dream matchup here against a Lions secondary that hasn't been able to stop anyone. He'll be real comfortable throwing here, especially with Laurent Robinson and a full complement of tight ends coming back. That could take some targets away from Mark Clayton, but then again, who else in this receiving corps has the skills to make plays? Steven Jackson will still pound away on the ground and provide additional yards through the air to help Bradford, who has 300-yard potential. Shaun Hill also has that same potential. While the Rams' defense has been impressive, it's going to be interesting to see how they fare against Calvin Johnson, Brandon Pettigrew and potentially a returning Nate Burleson. The last time the Lions had all these guys together, Best was a beast and shredded the Eagles, a better defense. Hill clearly will exploit the matchups with his big receivers and won't hesitate to move the ball downfield when Johnson or Pettigrew lands single coverage against a smallish Rams defender. Best, like Jackson, should accumulate plenty of yards.
Name Rating Pos. Name Rating
Sam Bradford QB Shaun Hill
Steven Jackson RB Jahvid Best
Kenneth Darby RB Kevin Smith
Mark Clayton WR Calvin Johnson
Laurent Robinson WR Nate Burleson
Danny Amendola WR Bryant Johnson
Daniel Fells   TE Brandon Pettigrew
Josh Brown K Jason Hanson
Rams DST Lions
Chicago Bears at Carolina Panthers - Sunday, 1:00 p.m.
Without Cutler, the Bears are going to have a hard time moving the football. Todd Collins is a professional quarterback and all, but he doesn't have the arm strength or accuracy Cutler has. Working with the Bears' young receivers will also be an issue as he might have been supported better by veterans. Look for Chicago to lean on their run game and short-area passing game here, which is a shame since the Panthers have struggled all over the place against receivers. Greg Olsen has a nice size advantage and you can't ignore Chicago's speed on the outside, but Collins under center negates all that. Carolina has quarterback issues of its own as well as receiver issues (no Steve Smith), so their gameplan is going to be just as ugly. Luckily for them they have DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart, and leaning on them to plow into the Bears' defensive front 30 times combined could be fortuitous. The Panthers will also see an exploitable matchup against the Bears' safeties, and if Clausen can be effective off of play-action, he could actually have a shot to make them pay with receivers David Gettis and Brandon LaFell a few times.
Name Rating Pos. Name Rating
Todd Collins QB Jimmy Clausen
Matt Forte RB DeAngelo Williams
Chester Taylor RB Jonathan Stewart
Johnny Knox WR Brandon LaFell
Devin Hester WR David Gettis
Greg Olsen TE Dante Rosario
Robbie Gould K John Kasay
Bears DST Panthers
Green Bay Packers at Washington Redskins - Sunday, 1:00 p.m.
If the Texans-Redskins matchup is any indication, the Packers will find ways to put a lot of points on the board. That Week 2 game featured a powerful offense coming into FedEx Field and pretty much doing whatever it wanted, and the Packers will likely try to mimic the Texans here. The Redskins have done well against opposing wide receivers over their last two games but are going to be bowled over by the amount of passing the Packers do and the dynamic of Jermichael Finley in the offense. Not having a lot of receivers will hurt Donovan McNabb here, but this is actually a good matchup for the Redskins to utilize their two-tight end sets against the Packers' safeties. Last week the Lions used both of their tight ends, especially after starting safety Morgan Burnett left with an injury, and they were able to move downfield. The matchup isn't great for Santana Moss, and the rest of the Redskins' receivers won't have much appeal, but Ryan Torain does. Green Bay's defensive line is getting thin and the loss of linebacker Nick Barnett will hurt -- the Redskins might give Torain a healthy dose and see if he can help the chains move and win the time of possession battle. It sounds like more of a longshot than it really is -- Torain looked good last week and could surprise here.
Name Rating Pos. Name Rating
Aaron Rodgers QB Donovan McNabb
John Kuhn RB Ryan Torain
Brandon Jackson RB Keiland Williams
Greg Jennings WR Santana Moss
Donald Driver WR Anthony Armstrong
Jermichael Finley TE Chris Cooley
Mason Crosby K Graham Gano
Packers DST Redskins
New Orleans Saints at Arizona Cardinals - Sunday, 4:05 p.m.
It would be a massive upset if the Saints lost this one, especially with an undrafted rookie starting at quarterback for the Cardinals. Arizona's defense has been sloppy and the Saints should be able to do as they please here. In fact, if Pierre Thomas doesn't play, the matchup is good for Chris Ivory and Ladell Betts. Ivory especially could log a decent amount of garbage time to gain some valuable experience, which the Saints would be thrilled to have. Also, if the Saints play as they please, this could be the week for Marques Colston to score. Lance Moore should also remain effective in the red zone. On to the Cardinals, who will start Max Hall at quarterback and undoubtedly tailor their offense to make it easy for him. Hall was a pretty good passer in college and has some decent skills but ultimately this decision was made in part because the Saints' run defense hasn't been good and the Cardinals can lean on Beanie Wells and Tim Hightower. Wells' game last week was disappointing, and he said as much, so look for the Cards to take advantage of the matchup and lead with their backs. Obviously, Larry Fitzgerald has been a disappointment and it can be linked partially to the Cardinals' quarterback play. Going to Hall won't exactly help him, but in a couple of weeks when the Cardinals get Steve Breaston and Early Doucet back and give Hall some experience, Fitzgerald might regain some form. This won't be a pretty game for him since he'll be blanketed by the Saints' defensive backs.
Name Rating Pos. Name Rating
Drew Brees QB Derek Anderson
Chris Ivory RB Beanie Wells
Ladell Betts RB Tim Hightower
Marques Colston WR Larry Fitzgerald
Lance Moore WR Stephen Williams
Devery Henderson WR Max Komar
Jeremy Shockey TE Ben Patrick
John Carney K Jay Feely
Saints DST Cardinals
San Diego Chargers at Oakland Raiders - Sunday, 4:15 p.m.
With the Raiders doing a good job against Antonio Gates in the past, expect the Chargers to spend most of their time running the ball with Ryan Mathews and Mike Tolbert. Philip Rivers can attack Oakland deep off of play-action, but this one should belong to the running backs. Both Chargers are good rushing options, and I like Malcom Floyd to avoid Nnamdi Asomugha and find a way to hurt the Raiders. Signs point to the Raiders leaning on Michael Bush on the ground, but the Chargers have gotten some outstanding play from their linebackers this year and they could limit his rushing average. Those same linebackers will come after Bruce Gradkowski, who got knocked around last week and will have trouble having time to throw against a pass rush that's notched 15 sacks through four games and recorded five sacks in their last meeting with the Raiders. The Chargers' secondary has been playing well, too, so this isn't the best week to trust any Raiders.
Name Rating Pos. Name Rating
Philip Rivers QB Bruce Gradkowski
Mike Tolbert RB Michael Bush
Ryan Mathews RB Marcel Reece
Malcom Floyd WR Louis Murphy
Legedu Naanee WR Darrius Heyward-Bey
Antonio Gates TE Zach Miller
Nate Kaeding K Sebastian Janikowski
Chargers DST Raiders
Tennessee Titans at Dallas Cowboys - Sunday, 4:15 p.m.
This is a hard game for the Titans, including Chris Johnson. They're facing a Cowboys defense that had a week to rest and watch how the Broncos beat them. Not easy. Johnson has been stymied by two good 3-4 run defenses already this season and this one could be No. 3. Tennessee really needs to go back to the drawing board and find new ways to get Johnson involved. His lack of stats as a receiver (12 catches, 38 yards?!) is mind-numbing. Furthermore, the Titans need to figure out a way to get Vince Young comfortable against a defense that will be able to cover his receivers well while still bringing a rush on third downs. I don't like the matchup for the Titans at all, and the only reason why Johnson is starting for you in Fantasy is because he's got so much ability and upside. If you have the studs and the guts, think about sitting him. Just think about it. Jerry Jones' comments about Felix Jones had people reconsidering the Cowboys' offense, but the reality is probably that they self-scouted themselves and will find ways to get everyone more involved. Tennessee's defense is aggressive and tough, but also beatable. Losing rookie Derrick Morgan will hurt them. Look for the Cowboys to remain pass-oriented here and find mid-range and deep targets to exploit. Tony Romo should continue to be a good provider of stats.
Name Rating Pos. Name Rating
Vince Young QB Tony Romo
Chris Johnson RB Marion Barber
Javon Ringer   RB Felix Jones
Kenny Britt WR Miles Austin
Nate Washington WR Roy E. Williams
Lavelle Hawkins   WR Dez Bryant
Bo Scaife TE Jason Witten
Rob Bironas K David Buehler
Titans DST Cowboys
Philadelphia Eagles at San Francisco 49ers - Sunday, 8:20 p.m.
Between the rib injury to LeSean McCoy and the 49ers' improved run defense last week (in part because of safety Taylor Mays), the Eagles' game plan might fall into the hands of Kevin Kolb. He threw a lot of short passes against the Redskins because they were attacking his offensive line and forcing him to get rid of the ball. The 49ers will likely employ a similar strategy and that could play havoc with Kolb. On one hand he has the receivers to make the Niners pay, and the Niners' defensive backs have not played great. But on the other it remains to be seen if head coach Andy Reid will find ways to better utilize DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin because of the rest of the offense's shortcomings. Because the Niners won't keep both safeties back exclusively, there is room for one of these guys to make a big play. Jackson is the hunch play. The Niners should load up behind Frank Gore both as a rusher and as a receiver. They'll have to because their receivers haven't played well at all and tight end Vernon Davis won't have an easy time with the Eagles' defensive backs. Alex Smith has been way too tentative with the ball and is too focused on not making a mistake. With the blitz that the Eagles will send, particularly to the right side of the 49ers' offensive line, it's going to be tough to expect much from the Niners' passing game.
Name Rating Pos. Name Rating
Kevin Kolb QB Alex Smith
LeSean McCoy RB Frank Gore
Mike Bell RB Anthony Dixon
DeSean Jackson WR Michael Crabtree
Jeremy Maclin WR Josh Morgan
Brent Celek TE Vernon Davis
David Akers K Joe Nedney
Eagles DST 49ers
Minnesota Vikings at N.Y. Jets - Monday, 8:30 p.m.
In a game loaded with intrigue and storylines, we might see both teams attack each other exactly the same way. Both squads added a field-stretching receiver this week and both squads like to run the ball a good amount. Both teams will supplement their rushing attack with screens and three-step drops to the tight ends against the opposing safeties, then try to use play-action to make their receivers effective deep. The Jets have an edge in that they've covered Randy Moss before and won't be shy to let Darrelle Revis and a deep safety account for him. They also won't hesitate to blitz like crazy facing the immobile Brett Favre. It wouldn't be a shock to see the Jets use a Cover-3 scheme in obvious passing situations just to keep the Vikings' playmakers in front of them. One thing's for sure: The Jets' run defense is going to be a little more vulnerable since they can't completely lock into Adrian Peterson with Randy Moss and Percy Harvin threatening on every play. To that extent the Vikings should be able to hold down LaDainian Tomlinson and Shonn Greene with their linemen and linebackers, giving their secondary a chance against the Jets' wideouts. The Vikings also had a week to prepare for this game and might end up using Moss far more than the Patriots did in any game this season. It should be a lot of fun to watch.
Name Rating Pos. Name Rating
Brett Favre QB Mark Sanchez
Adrian Peterson RB LaDainian Tomlinson
Toby Gerhart   RB Shonn Greene
Randy Moss WR Braylon Edwards
Percy Harvin WR Santonio Holmes
Visanthe Shiancoe TE Dustin Keller
Ryan Longwell K Nick Folk
Vikings DST Jets
Senior Fantasy Writer

Dave Richard has spent nearly his entire career covering the National Football League. Beginning with NFL.com at the boom of the Internet, Richard was that site's first Fantasy Football writer before transitioning... Full Bio

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