Friday, October 9, 2009
Week 5 Starters & Benchwarmers
You don’t need me advising you to start Peyton Manning and Adrian Peterson, or to bench JaMarcus Russell and Michael Crabtree. So I’ll leave the obvious recommendations to the network bozos and focus instead on the players typically on the bubble of most fantasy lineups. Here are my picks to roll, and get rolled, in Week 5.
Watch ‘em roll
Donovan McNabb, QB, Eagles vs. Buccaneers. Rested and rehabbed, McNabb returns for a delectable matchup. Only two defenses have surrendered more passing TDs than the Bucs’ nine. Flack jacket and all, McNabb will soar at home.
Tim Hightower, RB, Cardinals vs. Texans. Arizona failed to take advantage of Indy’s soft run defense in Week 3, and lost the game. They shouldn’t repeat the mistake against a Houston squad that surrenders 165 rushing yards per game and has given up a league-high eight TDs on the ground. For now, Hightower remains the Cards’ lead runner and a key weapon in the passing game.
Jerome Harrison, RB, Browns at Bills. Even if Jamal Lewis (hamstring) suits up, Harrison should get the bulk of the reps against Buffalo’s sieve-like run defense. The multi-dimensional tailback excelled against the Bengals last Sunday, and should be leaned upon heavily again.
Dwayne Bowe, WR, Chiefs vs. Cowboys. Injuries and offensive ineptitude have slowed the Chiefs’ top receiving weapon over the past two weeks, but Bowe will get back on track when he faces one of the league’s softest secondaries.
Sidney Rice, WR, Vikings at Rams. With touchdowns in two consecutive games, Rice has emerged as a solid fantasy play thanks to his strong rapport with Brett Favre. Though his quarterback won’t be forced to throw as often as he did on Monday night, his receivers should have little trouble racking up the points against the lowly Rams.
More thumbs up: QBs Matt Schaub, Joe Flacco, Ben Roethlisberger; RBs Rashard Mendenhall, Knowshon Moreno, Glen Coffee; WRs Santonio Holmes, Bernard Berrian, T.J. Houshmandzadeh.
Roll ‘em back
Kyle Orton, QB, Broncos vs. Patriots. He has thrown five TDs in four games, which isn’t that impressive to begin with. Then consider that two of the five were last-minute miracles (Brandon Stokley in Week 1, Brandon Marshall on Sunday). Don’t count on big numbers from Orton against New England.
Kevin Smith, RB, Lions vs. Steelers. He managed to score twice against the Bears last weekend, though his lingering shoulder injury contributed to a lackluster 30-yard rushing effort. The going gets tougher this week, though, as Pittsburgh has allowed just 61 yards per game and only one rushing score to date.
Steven Jackson, RB, Rams vs. Vikings. I hate to pick on him two weeks in a row, but the once-elite runner is unlikely to be the first back to score against Minnesota this season. With the dearth of talent surrounding him, he’ll be lucky to penetrate the red zone, much less the end zone.
Braylon Edwards, WR, Jets at Dolphins. A fresh slate and more potent offense should salvage his fantasy prospects; but not this week. It will take his rookie quarterback some time to get comfortable with him, and he must first learn a new playbook. The Jets have little choice but to start Edwards. Hopefully you have better options.
Torry Holt, WR, Jaguars at Seahawks. With the emergence of Mike Sims-Walker, the veteran wideout has taken a back seat in the Jags’ air attack. Throw in the fact that none of David Garrard’s five TD passes has come on the road, and Holt is a very risky play.
More thumbs down: QBs Tom Brady, Trent Edwards; RBs Michael Turner, Thomas Jones, Cadillac Williams, Ricky Williams; WRs Donnie Avery, Ted Ginn, Laveranues Coles, Justin Gage.
TAKING A FLIER
Matt Cassel, QB, Chiefs vs. Cowboys. Both of the defenses in this game are giving up tons of yardage and plenty of passing scores, so don’t be surprised to see Cassel winging it often with success. In a week when four of the top fantasy passers are on bye, Cassel could come through in the clutch, even if that means padding his stats during garbage time.
DON’T BE THE BONEHEAD WHO…fails to check the inactive reports (or my Sunday morning tweets) before finalizing your starting roster. Several key players – including Eli Manning, Matt Hasselbeck, Brian Westbrook, Jamal Lewis, Willie Parker, Roy Williams and Kevin Boss – could be late scratches, which would have a domino effect on multiple players’ value.