What is bliss in the fantasy football realm? Is it a 4-0 start to your 2013 season? Can you claim bragging rights in your work league after a few weeks? Don’t rest on your laurels. Things can change in a hurry.
With four teams on a bye this week—Pittsburgh, Minnesota, Washington and Tampa Bay—Week 5 might be a bit dicey. Here are some lineup tips to guide you through these treacherous waters.
Sit: Colin Kaepernick, QB, San Francisco 49ers
The 49ers finally got things going against the Rams last week after a couple of bitter disappointments against the Seahawks and Colts. Colin Kaepernick got the offense rolling again—with big help from Frank Gore—and the ship appears righted in San Francisco. So why should you bench him against Houston this week?
The Texans buttoned up their pass defense after Philip Rivers torched them for four touchdowns on this season’s inaugural Monday night contest. Houston hasn’t allowed a touchdown to opposing quarterbacks for consecutive weeks, a big reason why they are now allowing the fourth-least fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks in the league. Russell Wilson came to town and laid an egg, though his 77 yards rushing masked the pain.
It’s unlikely the Texans will continue to shut out opposing quarterbacks, but it’s a good bet Kaepernick won’t be having a banner day.
Start: Eli Manning, QB, New York Giants
If you were counting on Manning as your top quarterback this season, you might be hitting the panic button. Perhaps you have considered dropping the Giants quarterback, mentally cursing your faith in the younger Manning. But there is hope, and it comes in the form of an Eagle.
Actually, it comes in the form of several Eagles, namely those who play in that sieve they call a defense. The Eagles boast one of the worst pass defenses in the league. Elder Manning just got done wiping down the flamethrower he used against Philadelphia this past week, and he’s shipping it to his brother. Hopefully the latter can write a good chapter in the Book of Eli.
Andy Benoit Says: It’s hard to critique Eli Manning right now because his offensive line has had so many issues lately. The Week 3 film vs. Carolina was unwatchable because New York’s protection was too atrocious for the plays to even have a chance at unfolding. The Giants did get things straightened around a bit against the Chiefs, but they’re having to give their tackles so much help that Manning has very limited eligible receivers to choose from when he drops back.
Sit: DeAngelo Williams, RB, Carolina Panthers
Things were heating up for DeAngelo Williams before he hit the team’s Week 4 bye. He had 120 rushing yards against the Giants in his last outing, and it seemed like he was on the verge of having a big game.
Hold your horses. The Cardinals are in the way.
Arizona has given up the second-fewest fantasy points to opposing running backs this season. That includes games against Doug Martin and Reggie Bush. If you were thinking about putting Williams in your lineup this week, think again. Find a better option.
Benoit Says: DeAngelo Williams has looked like his old self. His controlled acceleration and shiftiness are back, making him a viable inside and outside runner.
Start: Maurice Jones-Drew, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars
Watching the Jaguars offense is like staring into the abyss, only there aren’t any aliens to save them. So why dare put Maurice Jones-Drew into your lineup?
The good news is the Rams are on deck. St. Louis has given up the most fantasy points to opposing running backs thus far this season. Of course, most of that came from DeMarco Murray and Frank Gore, who play in much better offenses. Then there is the fact Jacksonville decided to start the fire sale before Week 5.
The Jaguars traded their best offensive lineman—Eugene Monroe—to the Baltimore Ravens for some late-round picks and a bag of footballs before we could finish this write-up. As such, don’t expect Jones-Drew to go supernova this weekend, but he should provide a nice spot start for you.
Sit: Reggie Wayne, WR, Indianapolis Colts
The Seahawks aren’t quite otherworldly on the road—the source of their magical powers lies beneath the seats of the 12th Man—but they are still a formidable team, particularly on defense.
Many players contribute to that stout defense, and Richard Sherman is not the least of these. He likely will receive the lion’s share of work against Reggie Wayne this week, which means a poor game is on the horizon.
Benoit Says: Reggie Wayne had a field day against Jacksonville’s zones last week because Andrew Luck was consistently able to extend the play. Seattle has a similar (though far more aggressive) scheme in terms of interior coverage designs. However, they also have a much better pass-rush than Jacksonville, so don’t expect the Colts’ aerial assault to be nearly as vertical this week.
Start: Justin Blackmon, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars
Here he comes to save the day! Justin Blackmon mercifully returns to the Jaguars offense this week after a self-induced four-week vacation to start the season. He reportedly is in excellent shape, ready to pick up where he left off last season.
Unfortunately, Blackmon did most of his second-half damage with Chad Henne at quarterback—the rookie’s torrid streak began in Week 10, when Henne took over. Given Gus Bradley is currently married to Blaine Gabbert for some Lombardi-forsaken reason, it seems unlikely we will see The Robot on the field anytime soon, barring injury.
Even accounting for that, Blackmon isn’t going to have a better matchup for quite some time. The Rams haven’t just been bad against running backs; they are giving up the seventh-most fantasy points to wide receivers this season. With Cecil Shorts to worry about and Maurice Jones-Drew probably doing damage on the ground, Blackmon will find some space upon his return. Now if only Gabbert could stop channeling Tim Tebow on his throws.
Sit: C.J. Spiller, RB, Buffalo Bills
If you are like most of his fantasy owners, you drafted C.J. Spiller with an early first-round pick. You might also have a few more gray hairs or holes in your living room wall. But you just can’t quit him. He is, after all, getting much more work than Fred Jackson, even if the latter is doing more with his opportunities. Spiller has to eventually break out, right?
Well, not this week.
It’s questionable if Spiller even plays, given the Bills play on a short week. That combined with how stout Cleveland has been against the run makes Spiller a dubious part of your starting lineup.
Start: David Wilson, RB, New York Giants
As we explained in the Eli Manning section, the Eagles cure all manner of ills. That includes disappointing David Wilson.
The second-year back was already in line for a big week before the Giants announced they’d cut Da’Rel Scott. It was a bit of a surprising move given Scott was on the field so much, taking opportunities away from Wilson at every turn. Scott’s departure leaves the door open for more playing time for Wilson. More opportunities equal more chances to hit big runs, and the Eagles have given up plenty of those.
Benoit Says: David Wilson basically has been neutered by his fear of fumbling. He isn’t playing with the burst and creativity that got him drafted in the first round. He’s just hoping to survive getting from Point A to Point B.
WEEK 5 SURVIVOR DRAFT
This week is clearly Giants week, with Edholm taking David F. Wilson with the first-overall pick of the draft. I countered by taking Eli Manning, who should break out of his malaise. Of course, Edholm followed by taking Victor Cruz, my next target. Hopefully Rueben Randle can get something going, given the Eagles have given up a ton of fantasy points to opposing second and third options at receiver.
Given Eric had already taken many of my targets—most of whom have great matchups this week—I decided to nab Jordan Cameron and the Rams defense before he could. Of course, as good as fantasy defenses have been against Jacksonville, St. Louis is liable to get me two points this week. Such is life for the Hard Luck Hobos.
I am not sure what to say about my 4-0 record, other than I feel like I am at a hot craps table—without really knowing the finer points of craps. Both of us are learning strategy on the fly with this new survivor fantasy approach, and it leads to some fascinating weekly decisions.
For instance, I took David Wilson with my first pick this week—perhaps the first and last time that could happen in any fantasy format. But with the Eagles on the schedule, I had to pull the trigger. (Plus, I am using up many of the top-tier running backs. And quickly, I might add.)
My other strategy, to combat his Eli Manning pick, was to take Victor Cruz. From there, it was just plucking good medley of players I thought could go off this week, taking the more injury-prone guys now (as opposed to not having them later on) and keeping an eye on the long term. But so far, I am feeling pretty good about the way this has gone. I just don’t know if it’s anything that’s my specific doing, or blind luck mixed with a little football knowledge.