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Look, if you have Houston’s Arian Foster or Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers, start the holy hell out of ‘em! However, instead of stating the obvious, let’s focus on the hidden gems of week 5 in the NFL!
QB's - Start 'Em!
- Peyton Manning (Denver Broncos) – The New England Patriots (2-2) secondary has given up 73.3 fantasy points while surrendering 4 TD’s over just the last two weeks. That alone is reason enough to believe Denver Broncos (2-2) QB Peyton Manning (96.9 QB Rating – 1,162 YDS, 8 TD’s, 3 INT’s) will exploit each and every hole in their defense. Manning understands Foxboro, Belichick, Brady and defenses – especially defenses with gaping holes to exploit. Look for big numbers from Manning this Sunday.
- Matt Ryan (Atlanta Falcons) – Another week, another start if you’ve got Atlanta Falcons (4-0) starting QB Matt Ryan (112.1 QB Rating – 1,162 YDS, 11 TD’s, 2 INT’s). Ryan will look to have further success heaving the ball downfield on a Washington Redskins (2-2) defensive secondary that is giving up an atrocious 326.3 passing yards per game (31st), has allowed 10 touchdown passes and is just barely ahead of a Tampa Bay passing defense (32nd - 345.3 YPG) who RGIII and company just squeaked a last-second win over a week prior. *NOTE: The only scary thing to pay close attention to is the conditions – it’s shaping up to be a wet, rainy day in the mid-50’s by Sunday’s kickoff… but that’s not enough to stop "Matty Ice", right?
- Philip Rivers (San Diego Chargers) – Although it’s been a rough, slow start for the San Diego Chargers (3-1) QB Philip Rivers (91.9 QB Rating - 897 YDS, 2 INT’s, 6 TD’s), you wouldn’t know it by their record. Truth is, Rivers has only surpassed the 250-yard mark once this season, even with one of the easier schedules I’ve seen. The rich will get richer; facing a winless New Orleans Saints (0-4) team with a 24th-ranked (276.5 YPG) passing defense. I feel like the elusive Rivers breakout game is coming in just a few days!
RB's - Start 'Em!
- Jackie Battle (San Diego Chargers) – Getting the nod this week over starter RB Ryan Mathews may be confusing for some, but for ex-Chiefs RB Jackie Battle (32 ATT, 163 YDS, 3 RUSH TD’s, 1 REC TD), he has come into his first season in San Diego with a vengeance. With Mathews battling injuries and simply coming up short, in all reality, Battle has shown he’s worth the start – especially against a New Orleans Saints (0-4) rushing defense that ranks dead last in the league (32nd – 186.8 YPG).
- Alfred Morris (Washington Redskins) – Many may think the Washington Redskins (2-2) are ranked 2nd in overall rushing yards (171.0 YPG) due to rookie QB Robert Griffin, III’s legs – while it’s definitely helped, Washington’s other rookie, RB Alfred "The Broker" Morris (82 ATT, 376 YDS, 4 TD’s), nicknamed for both breaking tackles and having a name that sounds like an online brokerage firm (again, copyright pending), is as much to thank for the success of the ‘Skins ground-attack. If there’s anywhere the Atlanta Falcons (4-0) struggle, it’s definitely in stopping the run (29th – 146.3 YPG) and if you’ve watched the way Morris tears through a defensive line, never seeming to go down, I see no help coming to help Atlanta’s numbers this Sunday. Watch for Morris to toss it up, knock it out of the park and watch it fly a few times this week.
- Frank Gore (San Francisco 49’ers) – Coming off a huge shut-out win against the New York Jets (2-2) at MetLife Stadium, the San Francisco 49’ers (3-1) return home to completely dismantle the Buffalo Bills (2-2) dreadful rushing defense (28th – 137.0 YPG) with RB Frank Gore (66 ATT, 326 YDS, 3 TD’s) leading the charge. If New England’s duo of Ridley and Bolden can combine for 242-yards and 3 TD’s on the ground, I’m sure Gore and company can have their way with them, as well. Don’t allow the Wildcat look with 49’ers backup QB Colin Kaepernick scare you away, Gore will get his points.
WR's - Start 'Em!
- Julio Jones (Atlanta Falcons) – I understand Atlanta Falcons (4-0) WR Julio Jones (16 REC, 219, 3 TD’s) is usually viewed as a top-tier receiver, but if you recall, he had a poor showing last week against the Carolina Panthers (1-3) and has been inconsistent with his fantasy numbers (Kansas City: 22 PTS, Denver: 1 PT, San Diego: 12 PTS and Carolina: 3 PTS) overall. This week he is facing a Washington Redskins (2-2) team who is terrible in secondary coverage (31st – 326.3 YPG). Look for Jones to put up double-digit numbers and probably a TD or two against Washington’s suspect defense.
- Wes Welker (New England Patriots) - For the second straight week, I’m calling for New England Patriots (2-2) WR Wes Welker (25 REC, 380 YDS, 0 TD’s) to have another big game - too bad he just can’t seem to find the endzone yet this year. With the decent defensive backfield the Denver Broncos (2-2) have (13th – 220.5 YPG), it would seem as if the Pats are going to have to rely on the short, across-the-middle routes that Welker has simply perfected. I’m sure they’re ok with this. He’ll get a score this week, I promise.
- Demaryius Thomas (Denver Broncos) - For the same reasoning behind me starting Manning is the same for why I think this could be one of WR Demaryius Thomas’ (21 REC, 325 YDS, 2 TD’s) biggest weeks yet. Start ‘em, sit back and enjoy the show along with the numbers he’s bound to throw up!
QB's - Sit 'Em!
- Kevin Kolb (Arizona Cardinals) - I cannot stress enough how overrated I think of both the Arizona Cardinals (4-0) thus far undefeated season and the complete and utter lackluster performances QB Kevin Kolb (97.6 QB Rating – 752 YDS, 7 TD’s, 2 INT’s) has given throughout the beginning of the season. Facing a solid St. Louis Rams (2-2) secondary, I see Kolb bowing out of this game early once the Rams stop what joke Arizona has for a running game, followed by tight downfield coverage by the secondary. Arizona's offensive line gave up 8 sacks to Miami last week and I'm sure the Rams will be ready to follow suit, bringing both the heat and pain... and lot of it. I mean, hell... it's not like Kolb's athletic enough to take off running with the damn ball!
- Matt Cassel (Kansas City Chiefs) – Once your job becomes up for grabs to QB Brady Quinn, it’s time to reevaluate some things. Kansas City Chiefs (1-3) QB Matt Cassel (70.4 QB Rating – 1,058 YDS, 5 TD’s, 1 INT) may have had a decent start to the season, but that’s all since ended. And although this isn’t the typical Baltimore Ravens (3-1) defense people are used to seeing, especially on the passing side of things (29th – 295.8 YPG), they’re still solid enough to shut Matt Cassel down at Arrowhead. Sad but true – I’d still take Cassel over Kolb. #TrustMeHeSucks
- Robert Griffin III (Washington Redskins) – It looks like it’s reality check time for Washington Redskins (2-2) rookie QB Robert Griffin, III (QB Rating - 103.2, 1,070 YDS, 4 TD’s, 1 INT) this Sunday at FedEx Field in Landover, MD. Not to take anything away from RGIII, because he’s a brilliant athlete who racks fantasy points up like a madman, but this is the first real test he’ll have against an extremely solid passing secondary. The Atlanta Falcons (4-0) have the 8th-ranked defensive unit, giving up only 207 yards per game through the air; it’s their 29th-ranked rushing defense (146.3 YPG) that allows athletes like Griffin to keep things close. Although he may be able to rely on his legs and athleticism, I see RGIII looking as sloppy as the rainy forecast when it comes to throwing the ball. This being Griffin’s first test in lower, rainy temperatures, we’ll see just how prepared he is coming into Sunday’s match-up. *NOTE: The last game RGIII played in mid-50’s temperatures was when he and his alma-mater Baylor Bears were shutout in the 2nd half of a 32-20 loss in Lincoln, Nebraska. Griffin, III went 9-20 passing for 134 YDS and had 121 rushing YDS and 1 TD… on October 25, 2008! Where do I even find this sh*t?!
RB's - Sit 'Em!
- DeAngelo Williams (Carolina Panthers) - My general rule of thumb is to sit any running back on the Carolina Panthers (1-3) due to the fact that anytime QB Cam Newton is within striking distance of the endzone, he puts his blinders on and keeps it for himself… selfish bastard. When facing an insanely talented Seattle Seahawks (2-2) rushing defense (2nd – 62.8 YPG), there’s not much RB DeAngelo Williams (42 ATT, 167 YDS, 2 TD’s) is going to do to change things. Hell, it may even be a better move to leave the RB spot vacant – so you don’t have the chance at coming up with negative points!
- Fred Jackson (Buffalo Bills) - Last week Buffalo Bills (2-2) RB Fred Jackson (19 ATT, 44 YDS, 0 TD’s) stats were less-than-thrilling, to be extremely nice about it (13 ATT, 29 RUSH YDS, 3 REC, 50 REC YDS, 1 FUM, 0 TD’s). I don’t see the San Francisco’s 49’ers (3-1) 6th-ranked rushing defense (79.5 YPG) helping Jackson in any category – or C.J. Spiller, for that matter. The 49’ers have given up the fewest fantasy points of any defense this year (7.78 PPG) to opposing runners. That being said, sit yo’ ass down, Frederick!
- Rashard Mendenhall (Pittsburgh Steelers) – I’m sure most everyone who owns Pittsburgh Steelers (1-2) starting RB Rashard Mendenall is elated to see him come back from his knee injury this Sunday… but, not so fast. Being that it’s in the thick of bye week insanity, you may have no choice but to start Mendenhall, but if you have the option, I’d let him ride this one out. Oh, c'mon... it's not like you're used to playing him anyway!
WR's - Sit 'Em!
- Stevie Johnson (Buffalo Bills) – After last week’s atrocity (2 REC, 23 YDS, O TD’s) with Buffalo Bills (2-2) premier WR Stevie Johnson (15 REC, 195 YDS, 3 TD’s) at home against a shotty New England Patriots (2-2) secondary who has been giving up an average of 281.5 YPG through the air, I don’t see them being able to do much more against a San Francisco 49’ers (3-1) secondary who can simply shut people down. Combine that with the fact that Johnson will be double-teamed all day and it’s probably time to find a sleeper on the waiver wire for this week. Is Miami’s TE Brian Hartline still available?!
- Larry Fitzgerald (Arizona Cardinals) – Yet again, don’t even get me started on just how overrated the Arizona Cardinals (4-0) have been and continue to be. Most people would think by starting Pro-Bowl WR Larry Fitzgerald (22 REC, 245 YDS, 2 TD’s) it may lead to some easy fantasy points against the St. Louis Rams (2-2) – think again. The Rams are surprisingly ranked 11th in the league on passing defense (213.5 YPG) and will assuredly double-team Fitzgerald all night long with most of the pressure coming from star CB Cortland Finnegan (26 TACK, 3 INT’s) and his smartass mouth… I mean, psychological gameplay.
- Fred Davis (Washington Redskins) - Technically, Washington Redskins (2-2) TE Fred Davis (15 REC, 212 YDS, 0 TD’s) isn’t a WR, but he does lead the team in receiving. The Atlanta Falcons (4-0) have a great secondary (8th – 207 YPG) and I look for them to target Davis with sneaky coverage, attempting to get RGIII to force bad passes which ultimately turn into turnovers. Besides, I think if the ‘Skins have any chance in winning this game it’s going to come from the legs of both Griffin and Morris, not through the air.