Winning Fantasy Calls for Week 5
With bye weeks in full swing, setting the best possible lineups for Week 5 can be a challenge. Dave Richard shares his take on all of your fringe options.
Saints at Bears, Sun., 1 p.m. ET
This will be a big test for both defenses. Much has been made of the Saints defense, but aside from a Week 1 game vs. Atlanta they really haven't faced a challenging offense. The Bears at home will be tough for them unless Jay Cutler goes turnover-happy like he did last week. And Chicago's defense will be under siege against Drew Brees and his weapons. This is a defense that has yet to allow under 21 points in a game this season.
Darren Sproles, RB, Saints: My Projection: 10 FPTS
Pierre Thomas, RB, Saints: My Projection: 6 FPTS
A good trend for Sproles resurfaced last week: Without Lance Moore in the lineup, Sproles saw more effective targets from Brees. The Bears' run defense got opened up by Reggie Bush last week and could succumb to some big plays by Sproles again. Thomas' workload is up in the air given how much the Saints tend to pass but the Bears allowing 4.6 yards per carry and 7.2 yards per catch over the last three weeks.
I'd start Sproles over: Trent Richardson, Bilal Powell
I'd start Thomas over: Rashard Mendenhall, BenJarvus Green-Ellis
Marques Colston, WR, Saints: My Projection: 11 FPTS
Let's compare a trend with a defensive track record: Colston has played the Bears three times in his career and has scored at least once each time with decent yardage to boot. The Bears have allowed three No. 1 wideouts to get at least 10 Fantasy points in three of four games (the one that didn't was Greg Jennings of the Vikings). Expect Colston to be in single coverage often, which helps.
I'd start him over: Eric Decker, Reggie Wayne
Jay Cutler, QB, Bears: My Projection: 20 FPTS
The only quarterback to post good numbers on the Saints so far is Matt Ryan. The three others -- Josh Freeman, Carson Palmer and Ryan Tannehill -- combined for two touchdowns in their games against the Saints. They're also mediocre Fantasy passers. Cutler has three games this year with at least 20 Fantasy points and should be a handful for the Saints defense.
Flow chart: Terrelle Pryor > Jay Cutler > Colin Kaepernick > Alex Smith
Martellus Bennett, TE, Bears: My Projection: 9 FPTS
The only time we haven't seen Bennett post good numbers was when the Bears got off to an early lead against the Steelers. They're going to have to put the ball in the air plenty against the Saints. That's a big positive for Bennett as the Saints have allowed two scores to tight ends this season, including one last week to Miami's Charles Clay.
I'd start him over: Vernon Davis, Coby Fleener
Seahawks at Colts, Sun., 1 p.m. ET
I've gone back and forth on this game. Three times last year Seattle played back-to-back road games and twice had a hard time with the offenses they faced. Those specific offenses rostered an elite-level receiver that drew a ton of attention from the 'Hawks but didn't score. The other receivers did. This doesn't feel exactly the same because of Indy's diverse but iffy receiving corps. It seems unlikely this will be the week Luck's crew explodes for a big game statistically, but the Colts still have a chance to win because of their defense.
No-brainer: Marshawn Lynch
Russell Wilson, QB, Seahawks: My Projection: 12 FPTS
Indianapolis' pass defense has yet to allow an opposing quarterback to score multiple touchdowns. One has posted more than 225 passing yards. After the Colts did a great job containing Colin Kaepernick, it's pretty easy to see them doing the same to Wilson, who frankly has only been a swell Fantasy option at home against the lowly Jaguars.
I'd rather start: Andy Dalton, Joe Flacco
Andrew Luck, QB, Colts: My Projection: 15 FPTS
It'll take a leap of faith to start Luck. The stats paint a clear picture to stay away -- the Seahawks have allowed one passer to throw multiple touchdowns and over 250 yards this season (Matt Schaub last week) and have at least two interceptions in each game. True -- two of the three quarterbacks the Seahawks allowed multiple touchdowns to last year came in the back half of consecutive road games. But Luck hasn't been in perfect sync with his offense and the team hasn't been as aggressive downfield as we had hoped. It doesn't help that Luck hasn't thrown two-plus touchdowns in consecutive games since Weeks 3 and 4 -- last year.
I'd rather start: Brian Hoyer, Matt Schaub
Trent Richardson, RB, Colts: My Projection: 10 FPTS
Richardson is a Fantasy starter kind of by default. The Colts are committed to giving him the ball and he'll play a ton (20 carries over 55 snaps last week). Seattle's run defense is among the best but it couldn't contain a heavy dose of Arian Foster last week (171 total yards and a touchdown on 33 touches). Richardson shouldn't be expected to do that well but he should be involved in the Colts' game plan.
Flow chart: DeMarco Murray > Darren Sproles > Trent Richardson > Chris Johnson > C.J. Spiller
Reggie Wayne, WR, Colts: My Projection: 9 FPTS
It's tough to trust any receiver against the Seahawks -- they've allowed only eight to get 10-plus Fantasy points in their last 22 games. Andre Johnson got there last week but needed overtime to get there (he had 91 yards in regulation). Wayne is clearly the top target in Indianapolis and will warrant close coverage.
Flow chart: Justin Blackmon > James Jones > Reggie Wayne > Hakeem Nicks
T.Y. Hilton, WR, Colts: My Projection: 6 FPTS
A look at last week's game saw Hilton and Luck not be on the same page on a couple of plays. Several of Luck's targets to Hilton were deep but only one long pass was close to being a completion. While it's vital for Hilton to get going, the physical style of the Seahawks cornerbacks makes it hard to see him breaking out this week.
I'd rather start: Steve Smith, Dwayne Bowe
Coby Fleener, TE, Colts: My Projection: 8 FPTS
The Seahawks have allowed seven scores to tight ends over their last 22 games. Of those eight tight ends who scored, only two can be considered top-tier pass-first threats (the likes of Tony Gonzalez and Aaron Hernandez). The odds are against Fleener but it's worth noting that he's been awesome in the two games Luck has had to throw more than 30 times this year. This should be one of those games.
Flow chart: Jared Cook > Owen Daniels > Coby Fleener > Dallas Clark
Chiefs at Titans, Sun., 1 p.m. ET
The timing couldn't be better for the Chiefs. With Jake Locker out, Kansas City will take on Ryan Fitzpatrick. That should make for an easy game plan: Focus on containing Chris Johnson and don't let the Titans' receivers beat you deep. Chiefs defensive coordinator Bob Sutton, formerly a long-standing member of the Jets, is familiar with Fitzpatrick from their battles in the AFC East.
No-brainers: Jamaal Charles
Alex Smith, QB, Chiefs: My Projection: 18 FPTS
Smith has been great for Fantasy: Three games with at least 20 Fantasy points and at least 25 rush yards in every game. We've seen his passing yardage improve every single week -- that might not continue against the Titans, who have allowed just one passer to fling multiple scores so far this year. But Smith's smart, steady play should still give him a chance to be good this week.
Flow chart: Eli Manning > Matt Schaub > Alex Smith > Andrew Luck
Dwayne Bowe, WR, Chiefs: My Projection: 7 FPTS
Yes, Bowe scored last week. It was in garbage time. Before the score he had three grabs for 24 yards. So, no, I'm still not buying Bowe as a legit Fantasy threat. But I am buying the Titans -- they have given up one touchdown to a receiver over their last three games, and it was in overtime in a brouhaha with the Texans. Only one receiver has topped 80 yards against the Titans all year.
I'd rather start: Alshon Jeffery, Vincent Brown
Chris Johnson, RB, Titans: My Projection: 8 FPTS
Johnson dared owners to not start him if we thought he was "sorry." This could be a matchup to take his advice. Aside from LeSean McCoy, the Chiefs have contained every running back they've faced to six Fantasy points or less! Johnson has maxed out at nine Fantasy points through four weeks and will surely be the focus of Kansas City's defense here given the Titans' situation at quarterback. It took Johnson until Week 7 last season to score his first touchdown. "Sorry" indeed!
I'd rather start: David Wilson, Danny Woodhead
Nate Washington, WR, Titans: My Projection: 8 FPTS
Kendall Wright, WR, Titans: My Projection: 4 FPTS
Kansas City has been susceptible to big games by elite receivers (Dez Bryant, Victor Cruz) but everyone else they've faced they've contained (including DeSean Jackson in a Thursday night game). Hard to have confidence in these guys; Washington's veteran status gives him an edge over Wright.
No. 3 WR Flow chart: Mike Wallace > Nate Washington > Jeremy Kerley > Austin Pettis > Kendall Wright
Jaguars at Rams, Sun., 1 p.m. ET
This is the perfect opponent for the Rams to kick-start their spread offense against. Yeah, they'll try to run the ball a good amount here but the combination of a weakish pass rush and a legitimately poor secondary should mean good numbers for a Rams offense in desperate need of a feel-good game.
Maurice Jones-Drew, RB, Jaguars: My Projection: 6 FPTS
Consider this my no-confidence vote: The Rams have allowed four running backs to post 10-plus Fantasy points -- including two Niners last week -- and yet I still struggle to find Jones-Drew a reliable player. He's averaged 3.0 yards per carry or less in every game and has no more than 62 yards in a game this season. And, by the way, the Jaguars traded away trusted left tackle Eugene Monroe and will start an undrafted free agent at right tackle.
I'd rather start: Knowshon Moreno, Jason Snelling
Justin Blackmon, WR, Jaguars: My Projection: 10 FPTS
It's a risk to start any receiver catching passes from Blaine Gabbert, but Blackmon is one who will sorely help him in the intermediate area. Receivers not named Cecil Shorts have averaged 13.3 targets per game from Jags quarterbacks. Assume most of those targets (and maybe some that went to Shorts too) now head Blackmon's way. I don't know if he'll be sensational, but against a depleted Rams pass defense that's allowed six scores to receivers through four games, he's worth a shot.
I'd start him over: Julian Edelman, Cecil Shorts
Cecil Shorts, WR, Jaguars: My Projection: 8 FPTS
Maybe Blackmon's return helps Shorts see lighter coverage. He got plenty of targets last season with Blackmon on the field. But the bigger issue remains Gabbert as his quarterback. Shorts was targeted 23 times by Gabbert and caught 10 passes. If that ratio remains true and his targets sink, we're probably looking at four or five catches for Shorts this week.
I'd rather start: Anquan Boldin, James Jones
Sam Bradford, QB, Rams: My Projection: 18 FPTS
When Bradford studies the Jaguars leading up to the game he'll see a defense that's allowed at least two scores to three of four quarterbacks. His Fantasy owners will see a pass defense that's yielded at least 20 Fantasy points to three of four starters. Bradford was a mess last week in the face of a tough 49ers defense. The Jaguars (eight sacks this year) sport a much softer challenge. He should be considered a borderline starter.
I'd rather start: Eli Manning, Matt Schaub
Daryl Richardson, RB, Rams: My Projection: 4 FPTS
Isaiah Pead, RB, Rams: My Projection: 4 FPTS
Jacksonville's run defense has allowed 12-plus Fantasy points to three of four starting running backs they've faced. St. Louis' run offense doesn't boast a qualified running back capable of being effective over 20 touches. Richardson tweeted he lost the starting job but still should work as a passing downs back. If there's a back to stash it's Pead, after coach Jeff Fisher said he's going to get some opportunities this week.
I'd rather start: LeGarrette Blount, Bernard Pierce
Austin Pettis, WR, Rams: My Projection: 7 FPTS
Tavon Austin, WR, Rams: My Projection: 7 FPTS
Chris Givens, WR, Rams: My Projection: 6 FPTS
Expect the Rams' passing game to undergo some enhancements after struggling last week and having time to fix things. The biggest complaint about the offense is that Bradford doesn't chuck it deep. The Jaguars secondary is perfect to test that against as they've allowed six scores to wideouts through four games. Givens is an established deep threat but Pettis looks like Bradford's favorite receiver while Austin still warrants use because of the investment the Rams made in him. I wouldn't feel comfortable starting any of these guys, but we should learn something from them this week.
I'd rather start: Brian Hartline, Marlon Brown
Jared Cook, TE, Rams: My Projection: 8 FPTS
The Jaguars have given up three scores to tight ends over the last two weeks. Their safeties are either backups or rookies and don't have the size to fight with Cook. We've seen Cook underwhelm the last three weeks but the matchup and his targets still make him fairly appealing.
Flow chart: Greg Olsen > Martellus Bennett > Jared Cook > Coby Fleener > Jason Witten
Lions at Packers, Sun., 1 p.m. ET
In years past this matchup has had the look of a shootout. Many people will likely figure the same thing to happen here -- and it could -- but it remains to be seen just how good the Packers offensive line is following the bye week. Led by Ndamukong Suh, the Lions defensive line is playing great and could make things tough on Aaron Rodgers, much like the Bengals did in Week 3. The Lions have only nine sacks so far this year but got three last week. Rodgers has been sacked 10 times in three games. It's going to be a factor.
Ryan Broyles, WR, Lions: My Projection: 7 FPTS
The good news is that Broyles played a ton of snaps last week -- 41 of a possible 66. The bad news is that he had one pass thrown his way and it was off target. The Lions seem to be easing Broyles back into action, first keeping him benched until last week when he started to pick up playing time. The targets have nowhere to go but up; the only problem is that he's no better than the third read on a given play.
I'd rather start: Vincent Brown, Jeremy Kerley
Brandon Pettigrew, TE, Lions: My Projection: 6 FPTS
So was Pettigrew's uptick in targets last week because of the matchup against the Bears or because the injury to Nate Burleson opened up some opportunities? Pettigrew faces another favorable defense as tight ends have scored on the Packers three times total in three games. Maybe Pettigrew figures into this game because of Green Bay's relative shortcomings against his position. Pettigrew has never scored on the Packers.
Bye-week TE Flow chart: Dallas Clark > Kellen Winslow > Brandon Pettigrew > Scott Chandler
Eddie Lacy, RB, Packers: My Projection: 13 FPTS
Running backs against the Lions have posted at least 70 yards and a touchdown in every game. That's hard to overlook. After watching Lacy rumble to start the season and then get plenty of rest, he should have fresh legs and several opportunities to be a very good Fantasy rusher.
I'd start him over: Trent Richardson, Bilal Powell
James Jones, WR, Packers: My Projection: 9 FPTS
Jones has 20 targets in his last two games, catching 15 of them for 212 yards and a touchdown and two games with at least nine Fantasy points in each. The Lions allowed their first two touchdowns to receivers last week -- both were non-No. 1 options. Their secondary is banged up, making Jones one of the four obvious Packers candidates to benefit from their suspect play.
I'd start him over: Reggie Wayne, Mike Wallace, Hakeem Nicks
Patriots at Bengals, Sun., 1 p.m. ET
It's going to be interesting to see how the Patriots stack up against the run without Vince Wilfork. Veteran Tommy Kelly will lead the line and while he has some good ability left, the reality is that the Patriots might struggle against the run for the foreseeable future. Expect the Bengals to test it early.
Tom Brady, QB, Patriots: My Projection: 20 FPTS
Brady's pretty much an obvious starter. He's found his chemistry with Kenbrell Thompkins, retained it with Julian Edelman and should fare moderately well, even in the face of a very good Bengals front seven (the secondary is still a little banged-up). It will be key for Brady to work on quick routes given the push the Bengals will get from their defensive front.
I'd start him over: Eli Manning, Colin Kaepernick
LeGarrette Blount, RB, Patriots: My Projection: 8 FPTS
Brandon Bolden, RB, Patriots: My Projection: 6 FPTS
I'm expecting a pretty basic split between these two: Blount to handle the running downs, Bolden to handle the passing downs. The Bengals run defense is allowing 4.2 yards per carry over the last three weeks but have given up just two touchdowns to running backs -- one from 1 yard out and the other from 2 yards out. That's in Blount's wheel house.
Flow chart: Lamar Miller > LeGarrette Blount > Knowshon Moreno > Pierre Thomas > Brandon Bolden
Kenbrell Thompkins, WR, Patriots: My Projection: 11 FPTS
Julian Edelman, WR, Patriots: My Projection: 10 FPTS
The track record for receivers against the Bengals is bleak. Only one -- Brandon Marshall -- has posted 10-plus Fantasy points against them. This defense contained all of the Packers receivers two weeks ago and held Josh Gordon in check last week, even with a depleted secondary. Expect a modest receiving average from both receivers with Thompkins the better red zone threat and Edelman the high-catch target.
Flow chart: Marques Colston > Kenbrell Thompkins > Justin Blackmon > Julian Edelman > Anquan Boldin
Andy Dalton, QB, Bengals: My Projection: 18 FPTS
Dalton can't be trusted. He was a mess last week against the Browns and hasn't been close to improving as a passer. Even with the team surrounding him with weapons he's not effective enough and the play calling hasn't helped either. If the Patriots take A.J. Green away with double coverage, who could even believe Dalton could make them pay with the other guys around him? The Pats have allowed two quarterbacks to toss two touchdowns against them this year -- one is Matt Ryan last week.
I'd rather start: Sam Bradford, Alex Smith
Giovani Bernard, RB, Bengals: My Projection: 12 FPTS
BenJarvus Green-Ellis, RB, Bengals: My Projection: 4 FPTS
Both guys should benefit from the absence of Vince Wilfork in the middle of the Patriots defensive line. Even before the Wilfork injury, running backs posted 10-plus Fantasy points in three straight. Bernard had 16 touches last week and dominated snaps between the two of them.
I'd start Bernard over: DeMarco Murray, Darren Sproles
I'd rather start over Green-Ellis: Rashad Jennings, LeGarrette Blount
A.J. Green, WR, Bengals: My Projection: 11 FPTS
Bill Belichick is probably going to aim to take Green out of the Bengals' game plan with double teams and bracket coverage. It doesn't mean Green won't get his opportunities, but it might mean he won't have a massive game. Pats haven't allowed a score to a receiver in three straight weeks.
I'd start him over: Larry Fitzgerald, DeSean Jackson
Eagles at Giants, Sun., 1 p.m. ET
Talk about desperation, these NFC East powerhouses have one win combined. I really like the Giants' chances in this game. One good thing they've done on defense is contain the opposing team's top receiver. It might mean just a good -- not great -- game for DeSean Jackson. The Giants are also working to find ways to put up points on offense -- taking on an Eagles defense that has been destroyed by pretty much everyone they've faced helps the cause.
Michael Vick, QB, Eagles: My Projection: 23 FPTS
Vick should go off: The Giants have allowed 10 passing touchdowns this year, including three each to their last two opponents, Cam Newton and Alex Smith. Hint: Both are running quarterbacks who averaged at least 5.0 yards per carry. Hint: Both posted at least 30 Fantasy points against the G-Men! The Giants probably have planned for the Eagles' tendencies under Chip Kelly, but it doesn't mean they can defend it well.
I'd start him over: Cam Newton, Philip Rivers, Tony Romo
DeSean Jackson, WR, Eagles: My Projection: 11 FPTS
No. 1 receivers have not done well against the Giants. Last week Dwayne Bowe was held in serious check until he got free for a nice touchdown against cornerback Terrell Thomas. D-Jax has one touchdown in his last five against the Giants, a sign the team prepares heavily for him. Despite totaling 96 yards in his last two games combined, I think he's too good to sit.
I'd start him over: Marques Colston, Kenbrell Thompkins
Brent Celek, TE, Eagles: My Projection: 5 FPTS
The Giants are among the worst against tight ends, allowing one to score at least one touchdown in three of four games. That's the kind of stat that makes Brent Celek an interesting Fantasy play. It just hurts him that he has only 15 targets on the year.
I'd start him over: Kellen Winslow, Brandon Pettigrew
Eli Manning, QB, Giants: My Projection: 19 FPTS
The two red flags with Manning are his ridiculous turnovers -- 10 through four games! -- and his offensive line. Even the Eagles' defense should be able to get close to Manning, negating some of the positive matchup. Philadelphia has allowed multiple touchdowns to three of the four quarterbacks they've faced, putting up a fight against only Alex Smith in a Thursday night game. With his back against the wall at home against a terrible secondary, Manning should have a huge game, but he's had pretty good matchups before this season and has gotten clobbered. I think there is far less risk in using him this week compared to last with a little more reward.
Flow chart: Terrelle Pryor > Brian Hoyer > Eli Manning > Colin Kaepernick
David Wilson, RB, Giants: My Projection: 10 FPTS
The Giants' release of running back Da'Rel Scott signals that Wilson's workload is about to get bigger. There's no way they can be honest with themselves and give Brandon Jacobs more touches -- he's as slow as a cement truck. Wilson averaged 4.2 yards per carry last week and has had six rushes for nine or more yards in his last two games (make it eight if you include penalized plays). With the Eagles giving up a rushing score in three of four weeks to running backs and at least 14 Fantasy points to rushers each of the last two weeks, there's room for optimism. If Wilson stinks this week then it's over.
I'd start him over: Chris Johnson, Lamar Miller, any Chargers RB
Hakeem Nicks, WR, Giants: My Projection: 8 FPTS
The good news is that Nicks is playing a ton and getting a lot of passes thrown his way -- 26 on the season. The bad news is that Nicks isn't doing anything with all of these opportunities. He has 12 catches, none for touchdowns, and has barely more yards in his last three games than he had in Week 1. The Eagles allowed four touchdowns to receivers last week, seven in the last three weeks and nine on the season. Of the nine wideouts the Eagles have faced this year with five or more catches, only three failed to get to 10-plus Fantasy points. Nicks is worth starting as at least a third receiver.
Flow chart: Torrey Smith > Hakeem Nicks > Cecil Shorts > Mike Wallace
Ravens at Dolphins, Sun., 1 p.m. ET
Last week, the Ravens play calling went a little too pass happy against a Bills defense that wasn't too good against the pass. The result was a loss with Joe Flacco throwing five interceptions, though not all were his fault. Maybe it was because Ray Rice was banged up, maybe it was because the matchup dictated it. Regardless, it's been a hot topic in Baltimore all week and it should be expected that the Ravens give a big dose of the run this week, especially with Rice off of the injury report.
Joe Flacco, QB, Ravens: My Projection: 13 FPTS
Flacco hasn't had a good Fantasy game since Week 1, and even that was marred by turnovers. Miami's pass defense has gone from hot to cold after Drew Brees torched them for four touchdowns last week. Three of four opponents have passed for at least 275 yards and the last two have tossed multiple touchdowns. Starting Flacco this week is risky but with games coming up against the Packers and Steelers, there are some opportunities for him to be productive.
I'd rather start: Andy Dalton, Ryan Tannehill
Ray Rice, RB, Ravens: My Projection: 14 FPTS
Bernard Pierce, RB, Ravens: My Projection: 4 FPTS
Rice is still a pretty obvious start but some people might be nervous to use him after last week. He's healthy and should see the bulk of the work with Pierce, who is also not on the injury report, getting around half as many touches. The Dolphins have allowed four touchdowns to running backs in their last three games, two by ground and two by air. Thanks to that, they've given up at least 13 Fantasy points to the primary running back each of the three weeks.
I'd start Rice over: DeMarco Murray, Trent Richardson
Low-end RB flow chart: Rashad Jennings > Bernard Pierce > BenJarvus Green-Ellis > any Rams RB
Torrey Smith, WR, Ravens: My Projection: 9 FPTS
Smith was awesome last week because of a soft matchup and a Ravens game plan that ignored the run. Things are different this week. The Ravens will likely overreact to the lack of running last week and it might serve them well because no receiver has found the end zone against the Dolphins this year. Three receivers have had at least nine Fantasy points and two have had at least 11 thanks to some nice yardage production. That might be the most to expect from Smith.
Flow chart: James Jones > Anquan Boldin > Torrey Smith > Alshon Jeffery
Marlon Brown, WR, Ravens: My Projection: 7 FPTS
The thing to like about Brown is the three touchdowns he has through four games. But the yardage hasn't been pretty. He's been more of a short- and intermediate-type receiver, not the field stretcher like Smith is. Assuming he plays, the expectations have to be realistic.
I'd rather start: Nate Washington, Denarius Moore
Dallas Clark, TE, Ravens: My Projection: 8 FPTS
If there's one thing we learned from the Ravens' pass-happy game plan last week it's that they pay attention to their opponents' weaknesses and statistical trends. In that case, Clark should see some success. Miami has allowed a touchdown to a tight end in every game this year (six total!). The list includes top-flight superstars and role players who happen to be open near the goal line. Clark has seen seven or more targets and has posted four or more receptions in three of four games this season. He's a sleeper.
I'd start him over: Jason Witten, Charles Clay
Ryan Tannehill, QB, Dolphins: My Projection: 14 FPTS
Whatever preseason excitement there was for Tannehill is dwindling fast. He's been sacked a ton, he's not even close to maximizing his plays with Mike Wallace and he's posted one game in four with multiple touchdowns. That's not a good thing as the Ravens have allowed one passing touchdown -- that's it -- in their last three games.
I'd rather start: Brian Hoyer, Alex Smith
Lamar Miller, RB, Dolphins: My Projection: 8 FPTS
I'm not a Dolphins coach but if I were, I'd use a lot more of Miller. It's so evident he's the most electric back the team has on the roster but he played on just 57 pct. of the snaps last week and had one second-half carry. Baltimore allowed its first rush touchdown and first 10-plus-point game to a running back last week (Fred Jackson) but it's still allowing under 4.0 yards per carry to rushers on the year.
Flow chart: Ryan Mathews > Lamar Miller > Knowshon Moreno > DeAngelo Williams
Mike Wallace, WR, Dolphins: My Projection: 8 FPTS
Brian Hartline, WR, Dolphins: My Projection: 7 FPTS
Wallace is fourth on the team in receiving yards and is averaging 11.7 yards per catch. Miami has to find ways to get him more active like they did at Indianapolis. Hartline leads Miami in every passing category -- including targets -- and has posted 10-plus Fantasy points every other week. The Ravens have been weaker against receivers on the road than at home but they've ultimately allowed just one touchdown to a wideout in their last three (Robert Woods last week).
Flow chart: Hakeem Nicks > Mike Wallace > Brian Hartline > Ryan Broyles
Charles Clay, TE, Dolphins: My Projection: 6 FPTS
Clay has been very involved in Miami's offense, getting at least 40 yards per game with two total touchdowns in his last three. The Ravens have been lights out against tight ends since Week 1.
I'd rather start: Owen Daniels, Garrett Graham
Panthers at Cardinals, Sun., 4:05 p.m. ET
Both running games face tough matchups -- this might come down to which quarterback makes the most plays. The Cardinals are coming off a furious rally at Tampa Bay to notch their second win of the season while the Panthers are off a bye and their first win. Carson Palmer has had a hard time being effective against tough pass rushes and the Panthers (10 sacks through three games) are no slouch.
No-brainer: Larry Fitzgerald
Cam Newton, QB, Panthers: My Projection: 23 FPTS
The only quarterback to not total 275-plus yards and multiple touchdowns against the Cards this season is rookie Mike Glennon. That's a good sign for Newton, who in his last game looked more like the passer we've come to love in Fantasy.
I'd start him over: Tony Romo, Tom Brady
DeAngelo Williams, RB, Panthers: My Projection: 7 FPTS
Count the Cardinals as one of the best run defenses in the NFL. They haven't allowed a touchdown to a running back and no one they've faced has posted 10 Fantasy points. Williams hasn't scored yet this year but has found at least 80 rushing yards through three weeks. Put him in the mix at Flex.
Flow chart: Lamar Miller > Knowshon Moreno > DeAngelo Williams > Maurice Jones-Drew
Steve Smith, WR, Panthers: My Projection: 7 FPTS
Only two of the four touchdowns Arizona has allowed to receivers have gone to No. 1 options, and in the case of both it was Calvin Johnson. The Cards have shut down the likes of Marques Colston and Vincent Jackson, allowing only Megatron to exceed 10 Fantasy points this year. Smith might play decoy again much like he did in Week 3. He hasn't had more than 52 yards in a game so far.
I'd rather start: Denarius Moore, Nate Washington
Greg Olsen, TE, Panthers: My Projection: 14 FPTS
While receivers have struggled against the Cardinals, tight ends have dominated. Jared Cook and Jimmy Graham each scored twice against Carolina, the only two to get more than three receptions against them. Olsen is practically the Panthers' No. 1 receiver, leading the team in catches and yards. I like his chances to be very good this week.
I'd start him over: Jermichael Finley, Vernon Davis
Carson Palmer, QB, Cardinals: My Projection: 13 FPTS
Palmer is wavering on must-sit status because he's been getting harassed behind his patchwork offensive line. It's impacting his completion percentage and touchdown production (two scores in his last three games). The Panthers are going to come after him in an attempt to force some turnovers.
I'd rather start: Alex Smith, Andy Dalton
Rashard Mendenhall, RB, Cardinals: My Projection: 5 FPTS
The Panthers' run defense has been outstanding in two games, deplorable in one. The one game was at Buffalo, their only road game. That's the only factor that helps Mendenhall as he's otherwise been pretty horrible, posting six Fantasy points or less in three of four games. We could be getting close to seeing Andre Ellington get more playing time.
I'd rather start: Pierre Thomas, both Falcons RBs
Broncos at Cowboys, Sun., 4:25 p.m. ET
Everyone is expecting a high-scoring game, and I think we'll get it. The Cowboys have allowed 10 passing touchdowns already, including three last week to Philip Rivers and four in Week 1 to Eli Manning. Peyton is going to do his thing. The Broncos have allowed half as many passing touchdowns -- including one each of their last three games -- but Romo is the toughest quarterback they'll face this season.
Knowshon Moreno, RB, Broncos: My Projection: 7 FPTS
Moreno's the toughest Bronco to project because even in tough matchups he could find a way to score. Really that's the way he's been so productive in Fantasy -- he's had one game over 100 total yards and two under 70. The plus side is that he's averaged over 6.0 yards per carry in two of his last three and has seen a steady amount of work, typically between 12 and 16 touches. So, can he score on the Cowboys? It'll be tough, as they haven't allowed a rushing touchdown to a back this year (but three to RBs on passes including two last week) and 3.8 yards per carry. Hopefully the yardage Moreno pieces together will be enough to salvage his game.
Flow chart: Eddie Lacy > Bilal Powell > Knowshon Moreno > Maurice Jones-Drew
Eric Decker, WR, Broncos: My Projection: 10 FPTS
You're going to go with Decker regardless but the matchup isn't ideal. The Cowboys have done mostly well against outside receivers -- only one has scored on them through four weeks. Two have posted over 100 yards and those were both Giants players in Week 1. It is fair to say that Dallas hasn't played an offense loaded with receivers since Week 1, though.
I'd start him over: Julian Edelman, Reggie Wayne
Tony Romo, QB, Cowboys: My Projection: 21 FPTS
Most people will go with Romo just because he's their only option. The Broncos' pass defense has been really solid this year, owning more interceptions (six) than touchdowns allowed (five). Two of four quarterbacks have hit 20 Fantasy points against Denver but the two that didn't were Eli Manning and Michael Vick last week. Romo's cadre of weapons combined with the 'Boys having to keep up on the scoreboard should mean lots of passing. He's thrown two-plus scores in six straight at home.
I'd start him over: Tom Brady, Jay Cutler
DeMarco Murray, RB, Cowboys: My Projection: 10 FPTS
The Broncos have allowed eight touchdowns to running backs this season, the most in football. But that's due to two fullbacks and a third-down back catching touchdown passes along with goal-line plunges from non-starters and a touchdown throw from Darren McFadden. Only one legitimate Fantasy starting running back -- Ray Rice -- has found his way to over 10 Fantasy points against Denver by traditional means. The Broncos are allowing 2.7 yards per carry and that's with teams averaging just under 20 carries per game against them. Murray should start on rep alone but there's some risk.
I'd start him over: Trent Richardson, Chris Johnson
Jason Witten, TE, Cowboys: My Projection: 7 FPTS
Witten's owners have noticed his precipitous drop in production since Week 1. That's a case of the worst-case scenario coming true -- Witten's never been a big touchdown guy and that means he has to get by on big yardage to keep his role as a top Fantasy tight end. He's had 67 yards or less in three straight. Meanwhile Denver hasn't allowed a tight end to score yet this year; Dallas Clark did the best against them with 87 yards in a sloppy Week 1 performance (Clark should have done better). Since then tight ends have been really limited. This could be tough for Witten.
I'd rather start: Coby Fleener, Dallas Clark
Texans at 49ers, Sun., 8:30 p.m. ET
These teams are incredibly similar: Both love to run the ball, both have terrific defenses. But I'd say the Texans have a better receiving corps and that could be enough to give them an edge. The Texans' utilization of their tight ends and running backs as receivers make covering them a major chore for the Niners.
Matt Schaub, QB, Texans: My Projection: 18 FPTS
After Aaron Rodgers ripped the Niners for three scores in Week 1 the Niners pass defense has held opposing quarterbacks to one touchdown each over the last three games. I don't know if the defense we saw last week was the reason for Sam Bradford's bad game against the Niners -- he made a lot of terrible throws. You'd think Schaub would be better but you go back to that interception he threw in the fourth quarter last week and you'd think again. Schaub can throw two touchdowns but I don't know if he can deliver big otherwise.
I'd rather start: Eli Manning, Colin Kaepernick
Owen Daniels, TE, Texans: My Projection: 8 FPTS
Garrett Graham, TE, Texans: My Projection: 6 FPTS
The matchup says these guys could struggle -- aside from allowing two touchdowns to the position over four weeks the Niners have allowed an average of 35.5 yards per game to tight ends. But the Texans lean on these guys to move chains and score points. Daniels has delivered seven or more Fantasy points in three of four and Graham has scored eight or more Fantasy points in three of four, thanks to a steady diet of touchdowns.
I'd start Daniels over: Coby Fleener, Dallas Clark
I'd start Graham over: Kellen Winslow, Brandon Pettigrew
Colin Kaepernick, QB, 49ers: My projection: 19 FPTS
The Texans have done a nice job erasing tight ends and Vernon Davis is playing hurt. The Texans also have the cornerbacks to keep Anquan Boldin under wraps, though it will mean scheming to contain him when he lines up in the slot. If those guys can't get going -- and if the Niners stay in love with their run game -- then Kap's not going to have big stats.
Flow chart: Terrelle Pryor > Eli Manning > Colin Kaepernick > Andrew Luck
Anquan Boldin, WR, 49ers: My Projection: 9 FPTS
I think the Niners' chances in this game hinge on Boldin. I've gone on and on about how receivers in the slot can exploit Texans cornerback Brice McCain. That's a nice matchup for Boldin if he indeed gets it in single coverage. The Texans haven't allowed a touchdown to a receiver since Week 2 but were susceptible to slot receivers in their first two games.
I'd start him over: Reggie Wayne, Steve Johnson, Steve Smith
Vernon Davis, TE, 49ers: My Projection: 9 FPTS
Davis scored last week but had under 20 yards to go with it. That would be considered great against the Texans, who have held every tight end they've faced so far to seven Fantasy points or less. Davis should get to them for more but not one of his typical monster games.
I'd rather start: Martellus Bennett, Greg Olsen
Chargers at Raiders, Sun., 11:35 p.m. ET
The Chargers defense stinks and it's could get worse. Losing veteran pass rusher Dwight Freeney means one less guy to attack the quarterback. They enter this matchup ranked 25th vs. the run and 29th vs. the pass. This would be an epic matchup for Darren McFadden had he been healthy but his absence should give Terrelle Pryor plenty of chances to make some plays.
No-brainers: Antonio Gates
Philip Rivers, QB, Chargers: My Projection: 22 FPTS
Rivers has over 30 Fantasy points in three of his last four! You'd have to have a really good passer to sit him at this point. Both of the quarterbacks to play at Oakland so far this season have each thrown just one touchdown, but in the Raiders' other games quarterbacks have torched them. Expect Rivers to go to town. Rivers has thrown three touchdowns in two of his last three against the Raiders.
I'd start him over: Tony Romo, Tom Brady
Danny Woodhead, RB, Chargers: My Projection: 8 FPTS
Ryan Mathews, RB, Chargers: My Projection: 8 FPTS
Both runners should have good weeks. Oakland has allowed a running back to get at least 13 Fantasy points in each of its last two. The Raiders have given up 8.3 yards per catch and 4.2 yards per carry so far this season. Woodhead remains the back with more upside on a week to week basis, though Mathews has some potential to kill the clock a little bit if the Chargers hold a fourth quarter lead.
RB flow chart: David Wilson > Danny Woodhead > Chris Johnson > Ryan Mathews > Knowshon Moreno
Eddie Royal, WR, Chargers: My Projection: 4 FPTS
We're pretty much at the point of giving up on Royal. After a hot start where he remained involved in the Chargers offense, he's been cast aside. In Weeks 1 and 2 he scored five touchdowns. In Weeks 3 and 4 he totaled five targets. Only Wes Welker has thrived as a slot receiver against the Raiders.
I'd rather start: Austin Pettis, T.Y. Hilton
Terrelle Pryor, QB, Raiders: My Projection: 21 FPTS
Every quarterback to play the Chargers has totaled at least two touchdowns. Three of the four quarterbacks to play the Chargers has thrown for 299 yards or more. San Diego has one interception this year. Pryor has gotten you to 20 or 21 Fantasy points in two of three starts. He should be at least that good this week. If you have the guts, start him.
I'd start him over: Tom Brady, Eli Manning
Rashad Jennings, RB, Raiders: My Projection: 5 FPTS
Marcel Reece, RB, Raiders: My Projection: 4 FPTS
If Reece is active as expected he'll take work away from Jennings. That includes catches, an area Jennings excelled in last week with Matt Flynn at quarterback. Pryor has targeted running backs 19 times over 81 pass attempts, a decent 23 pct., so he will throw to them. Jennings has been a major disappointment whenever he's been given an opportunity. He's not a great player. I'd be nervous or desperate to start him.
I'd rather start: Jacquizz Rodgers, Brandon Jacobs, Brandon Bolden
Denarius Moore, WR, Raiders: My Projection: 12 FPTS
In four games with Pryor as the Oakland starter, Moore has a touchdown in three and at least 10 Fantasy points in two (both this season). The Chargers have allowed five scores and at least 13 Fantasy points to each No. 1 receiver they've taken on. I'd take a big chance on Moore this week.
I'd start him over: Larry Fitzgerald, Eric Decker
Jets at Falcons, Mon., 8:40 p.m. ET
I'm impressed with the Jets' defensive front but the secondary has some issues. The Titans connected for four passing touchdowns last week, although one was on a weird play where Antonio Cromartie ran into a ref. With the Falcons at 1-3 and in desperate need of a get-right game, I'd expect a monster game from Matt Ryan.
Bilal Powell, RB, Jets: My Projection: 10 FPTS
Powell might be the Jets' best offensive weapon! He's had 15-plus touches in each of his last three games and has a good firm grip on the playing time. Mike Goodson might take a handful of touches. The Falcons have allowed a rushing score in two straight games and are allowing 5.1 yards per carry over their last three games.
I'd start him over: Chris Johnson, any Chargers RB
Jeremy Kerley, WR, Jets: My Projection: 7 FPTS
Kellen Winslow, TE, Jets: My Projection: 6 FPTS
You're looking at the Jets' top two receiving threats given the injuries suffered by Santonio Holmes and Stephen Hill. Kerley's playing time should go up as should his targets while going against a Falcons defense that has struggled with receivers (six scores through four games). Winslow should also see a lot of balls aimed in his direction as the Falcons have yielded three touchdowns to tight ends through four games, including two goal-line jobs in consecutive weeks.
Low-end WR flow chart: Steve Smith > Jeremy Kerley > any Rams or Bills WR
Low-end TE flow chart: Charles Clay > Brent Celek > Kellen Winslow > any Bengals TE
Jason Snelling, RB, Falcons: My Projection: 6 FPTS
Jacquizz Rodgers, RB, Falcons: My Projection: 6 FPTS
The matchup is rough for these guys. The Jets haven't allowed a score to a running back since Week 1 and have held rushers to 2.9 yards per carry through four games. If either guy makes an impact it'll be as a receiver or in garbage time -- and it's pending Steven Jackson's availability of course.
I'd rather start: DeAngelo Williams, Knowshon Moreno
Roddy White, WR, Falcons: My Projection: 3 FPTS
White looked mostly fine last week and I liked him for Week 5 until he disclosed he suffered a setback. Keep him out of lineups until Week 7 the soonest.
I'd rather start: Ted Ginn, Michael Floyd
Bills at Browns, Thu., 8:30 p.m. ET
The short week is dangerous for injured Bills running backs C.J. Spiller (ankle) and Fred Jackson (knee). Both are expected to play against one of the most impressive run defenses in the league. Any further injury suffered could cost them some games -- Spiller specifically couldn't play effectively and had to be pulled late last week and has left each of the Bills' last two games early.
No-brainer: Jordan Cameron
Fred Jackson, RB, Bills: My Projection: 10 FPTS
C.J. Spiller, RB, Bills: My Projection: 6 FPTS
Let's start with the matchup: The Browns have allowed 89.5 total yards per game to running backs and have given up over 100 total yards to only Adrian Peterson. The Bills backs are expected to continue to split with Jackson the more productive back and potentially the one to lead the way given Spiller's physical status. If Spiller had a hard time running well when he was healthy, how's he going to do coming off of a sprained ankle on three days rest?
I'd start Jackson over: Chris Johnson, Maurice Jones-Drew
I'd rather start over Spiller: DeAngelo Williams, Lamar Miller
Steve Johnson, WR, Bills: My Projection: 6 FPTS
Cleveland's pass defense is improving. The unit did a masterful job against the Bengals last week and held down the Vikings the week before. Not a single No. 1 receiver has exceeded eight Fantasy points against them. Johnson posted 61 yards and a touchdown on the Browns last year while cornerback Joe Haden was suspended.
I'd rather start: Brian Hartline, Jeremy Kerley
Scott Chandler, TE, Bills: My Projection: 4 FPTS
Chandler seems to be rounding into a regular role with the Bills, albeit one that makes him a Fantasy sensation. The Browns have yet to allow a touchdown or 60 receiving yards to any tight end they've faced this season.
I'd rather start: Kellen Winslow, Brandon Pettigrew
Brian Hoyer, QB, Browns: My Projection: 20 FPTS
Thursday night games don't tend to favor quarterbacks but this matchup is juicy. The Bills have allowed two passing touchdowns to every opponent they've faced and at least 275 pass yards to three of four opponents. Hoyer might turn the ball over once or twice but he still should pay off.
I'd start him over: Jay Cutler, Eli Manning
Willis McGahee, RB, Browns: My Projection: 8 FPTS
Chris Ogbonnaya, RB, Browns: My Projection: 5 FPTS
The theory here is that the Browns can build a lead and grind down the Bills run defense, which has yet to allow a touchdown to a running back but has given up 116.0 rush yards per game. That average includes the ludicrous 24 rush yards the Ravens posted on just nine carries last week. McGahee is the grinder and Ogbonnaya can work on passing downs. Both are risks but not total duds depending on the league size and scoring.
I'd start McGahee over: Knowshon Moreno, Stevan Ridley
I'd start Ogbonnaya over: Joique Bell, Bernard Pierce
Josh Gordon, WR, Browns: My Projection: 12 FPTS
Buffalo has allowed six receivers to post at least 10 Fantasy points and three to post at least 19 Fantasy points. Wideouts have caught four touchdowns over the last two games against Buffalo. Gordon should be given another chance after disappointing last week.
I'd start him over: DeSean Jackson, Larry Fitzgerald
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