Another week gone by, hopefully another win for those who followed (most) of our Week 4 Fantasy advice! In the QB department Blake Bortles lived up to expectations, throwing for a couple of hundred yards and two TDs while scrambling for 36 and a TD on his way to being the third highest fantasy passer of the week. Matthew Stafford proved a letdown, as did Eli Manning – but for the latter that’s just what we wanted. RBs where the low point last week, with Spencer Ware and LeVeon Bell finding themselves on the wrong side of the game situation for this column. Ware’s production would have been respectable had he not lost a fumble, whilst Bell’s wouldn’t have been anywhere near as impressive had the Steelers not effectively won the game by the end of the first quarter.
Receivers Hilton and Pryor both nabbed crucial TDs, whilst our bold prediction of a quite day for Mike Evans proved correct. At the end of the line, TEs Kyle Rudolph and Greg Olsen both had a number of targets which led to handy yards and a TD each. Unlike last week where Walford somewhat delivered, he was a lesser showing in the Raiders victory over the Ravens. Lucky we had him on the bench this time, right! Anyways, it’s now time for our fearless week 5 predictions….
Must Start QBs
Tom Brady – New England Patriots (v Cleveland Browns)
He’s back! Normally Brady is the type of obvious start this column would avoid feeling the need to mention, however given the circumstances of his return from Deflategate suspension – I feel an exception to the rule is required. First and foremost, if you have the Patriots main man in your squad, chances are you’ve got a second QB who has been playing weeks 1 through 4. Depending on who that QB is, you may not think rushing Brady straight back into your lineup may not be an easy decision. I’m in that situation myself, with my other QB being Big Ben, coming off a 300 yard, 5 TD effort. Despite that, it’s a no brainer to play Brady. For starters, you just know he’s going to be mad and intent on stamping his mark on the NFL. Luckily, he has the perfect match up to do so – the Cleveland Browns. I’m expecting a dominant performance, and even if the Pats jump out to a lead, history shows that they maintain the ball and run the clock down through passing the football – there’ll be no relying on the running game to close this one out. Then there’s the Gronk factor. Brady’s go to man has no been a factor this year as he’s returned from injury, but last week he did manage a number of snaps and even a couple of receptions. Reports suggest he’s almost fully back, so what a weekend to re-assert his dominance than alongside his partner in crime against the Browns. Lastly, the Pats were shut out by the Bills last week in a result that will have left Bill Belichick seething. You really think they’re not going to come out all guns blazing? They’d sure want to hope to! Look for a monster game from the future Hall of Famer and perennial GOAT candidate.
Ryan Fitzpatrick – New York Jets (v Pittsburgh Steelers)
After protracted off season contract negotiations finally resulted in an extension, Jets fans and management would be forgiven for being none too satisfied with their long term QB thus far. Through 4 games Fitzpatrick has only managed to produce 4 TDs , but of more concern is the fact he’s thrown 10 picks. In seasons gone by the Jets have managed to get by somewhat on the back of their famed defensive unit, but with Revis and the rest of Gang Green stuttering, their QBs shocking start to the year has only furthered the Jets woes. Injuries to the likes of Eric Decker haven’t helped the cause, but the reality is Fitzpatrick is capable of much better, and if there’s any match up to help get him back in the groove – it’s this week against Pittsburgh. The Jets QB has still managed to throw for 250 odd yards per game, and I’m expecting his volume to continue this week. But with the Steelers showing so far this year their defence is by no means elite, I’m predicting Fitzpatrick to finally snag a few TDs and avoid a plethora of picks, either by getting involved in a shootout, playing from behind or cashing in during garbage time. Either way, I’m predicting this to be the week where he finally turners a corner of sorts.
Must Sit QBs
Matt Ryan – Atlanta Falcons (v Denver Broncos)
Yes, yes I know Ryan threw for about a million yards last week, I know Julio Jones just had one of the biggest games for a receiver in years and I know the Falcons offence has been red hot. But, what goes up must come down, and Mile High is one of those places that good offences go to die. The Broncos defence has been at it’s dominant best this year and to be completely honest, Ryan isn’t a top 10 QB and has enjoyed a relatively soft schedule to start the year. His 500 yard haul came against a CB-less Carolina and the Falcons high scoring win against New Orleans came mostly off the back of a lethal running display. I’m predicting the Broncos to bring the Falcons crashing back down to Earth this week with their defence, led by Aqib Talib who will be desperate to divert media attention from his off season Plaxico Burress impersonation.
Must Start RBs
Jordan Howard – Chicago Bears (v Indianapolis Colts)
The Bears rookie RB started the season as a third stringer, with Chicago looking to ease Matt Forte’s potential heir apparent into life as an NFL player. How quickly things change. With injuries to Jeremy Langford and Ka’Deem Carey, Jordan Howard has been thrust into the starting role and rewarded the faith shown by head coach John Fox in emphatic fashion. In the Bears divisional match up win against the Lions, Howard produced over 100 rushing yards while chiming in with 20 odd yards as a receiver. With the Bears QB issues, Alshon Jeffrey appearing on the outer and Kevin White under an injury cloud, I’m expecting Chicago to lean heavily on the run this week as it’s by far their best chance of consistently moving the chains. Admittedly the game situation did assist Howard last week, but with the Bears defence showing glimpses of what they’re capable above I wouldn’t be surprised to see them in a close one or even leading against Indy this week. The Colts defence is nothing to write home about either, so look for the rookie to produce the goods again while picking up his first NFL TD.
Eddie Lacy – Green Bay Packers (v New York Giants)
The Packers RB is notorious for starting seasons slowly and coming into his own as the weeks go by. Ordinarily I wouldn’t consider the Green Bay big man as a must start this early on in the season for that slice of history alone. However with the Packers fresh after coming off the early bye I’m predicting Lacy might just have a big one in store for us. In Week 3 we saw evidence that Lacy’s off season work was looking to have yielded early dividends, with the much maligned RB picking up 100 yards as the Packers closed out the game after Rodger’s blistering first half display. While those numbers for a RB playing from the front normally aren’t anything to get excited about, the runs themselves showed signs of just how much Lacy is poised to improve this year. Coming up against a Giants defence that allowed multiple big yardage plays to the Vikings back up committee, I’m expecting Lacy to bust through the line for a couple of big gains on his way to another big day at this office while breaking his season TD duck.
Must Sit RBs
Matt Jones – Washington Redskins (v Baltimore Ravens)
So many times when a player who is normally not a major Fantasy factor has a breakout game, coaches rush to the waiver wire to get their hands on him. It’s a classic case of chasing last weeks points. This week I’ve been seeing it with one player in particular – Washington RB Matt Jones. Jones had a huge game against the Browns in Week 4, picking up 140 odd combined yards and a TD – a great performance yielding almost 20 fantasy points. But make no mistake, games like this are few and far between for players like Jones. The Browns are one of the worst defences in the league, especially against the run, so coaches shouldn’t be judging players solely on performances against Cleveland. The Ravens, on the other hand, have a far more competent defence and will ensure Jones has a much quieter day at the office this Sunday. Leave him out.
Must Start WRs
Steve Smith Jr – Baltimore Ravens (v Washington Redskins)
Unlike with our must sit RB for the week, there’s a difference between chasing last weeks points and recognising a legitimate statement performance that bodes well for a players potential output. Baltimore WR Steve Smith Jr falls into the latter category. After suffering a season long injury early in 2016 many were predicting the veterans career may be over. How wrong they were. Smith Jr has come back from the brink in a big way, producing almost 200 yards and a TD in his last two weeks. It’s safe to say he’s still got a lot left to offer, and this weeks matchup looks perfect for the WR to continue his career renaissance. The Redskins have been shaky against the pass for some time now, even with new start CB Josh Norman, and the combination of Flacco and Smith looks primed for a big day. Smith Jr has been receiving a lot of targets and that’s set to continue this week. Look for the wily old receiver to have another strong game when the Redskins come to town.
Jordan Matthews – Philadelphia Eagles (v Detroit Lions)
Given the Eagles prepared for 2016 assuming Sam Bradford would be under centre, it’s truly amazing how quickly the team has adapted to the Carson Wentz era. Wentz has had a remarkable start to life in the NFL, throwing for almost 800 yards, 5 TDs, 0 interceptions with a passer rating over 100. The chemistry between Wentz and his number one receiver has developed instantly. Given the Eagles had the early bye last week, one can safely assume the combination has only developed further on the practice field. Matthews has had a very decent start to the year, receiving over 200 yards and 2 TDs. I have no doubt he’s set for a big one with a very favourable matchup against Detroit this week, who are coming off a loss to the Brian Hoyer led Bears and a first half mauling from the Bad Man Aaron Rodgers the week before that.
Must Sit WRs
DeAndre Hopkins – Houston Texans (v Minnesota Vikings)
Despite being a lifelong Packers fan, I am absolutely loving watching Purple Reign decimate opposition offences. Only because I have the Vikings defence in my fantasy team, but nonetheless, their unit is scary good. So far they’ve nullified the much vaunted Carolina offence, held Rodgers and the Packers, shut out Eli Manning and forced superstar receiver Odell Beckham into having his worst ever game. This week the Texans come to time, and I’m picking their unit to stay true to form and force Houston’s most lethal weapons into having quiet games. Hopkins is a superstar, make no mistake, but Brock Osweiler certainly isn’t, and I’m predicting the ferocious Minnesota defence to put the pressure on big time. Hopkins may manage a few yards purely thanks to volume, but I’m predicting a very subpar game with little to no TD chances.
Must Start TEs
Jesse James – Pittsburgh Steelers (v New York Jets)
Jesse James hasn’t produced a lot in terms of yardage so far this year, but crucially he has picked up two TDs, and it’s clear he’s a top redzone target for Big Ben, and in a season that’s proving inconsistent for the TE position, that’s good enough for me. The Jets defence has been well below their best this year, and against the Steelers imposing pass offence, bolstered by the return of rushing threat Le’Veon Bell, I’m picking James to have another good day fantasy-wise. In addition, the Jets have been particularly susceptible to the TE position, giving up over 300 yards and a TD so far this year. Look for James to have a few more targets than normal and add to his promising start to 2016.
Cameron Brate – Tampa Bay Buccaneers (v Carolina Panthers)
Third year Bucs TE Cameron Brate has had a fantastic start to 2016. Through 4 games he’s notched up over 150 yards and 2 TDs – over half of what he had managed in his career to date up until this year. Not many would have predicted this kind of start for Brate given his 2015 stats, but so far it’s clear Jameis Winston is making him a priority target. This weeks matchup against the Panthers looks to be a good one for the Tampa TE, with the Panthers giving up the 4th most fantasy points in the league to the position. In 2016 opposing TEs have punished Carolina to the tune of 250 odd yards and 4 TDs. Given it’s highly likely the Bucs will be playing from behind this week and therefore running a pass heavy offence, I’m predicting one of this years surprise packets to have yet another strong game.
Must Sit TEs
Charles Clay – Buffalo Bills (v LA Rams)
Charles Clay is one of those players that is capable of a big game at any time, but rarely produces the goods. With a few injury concerns in the Buffalo receiving unit, many fantasy coaches and pundits are suggesting the Bills TE may be a player set to cash in. That may be so, but it won’t be this week. Clay had his best game of the year last week in the shutout victory over New England, and seems to be getting the attention to warrant relative fantasy relevance. But the Rams defence is a bad match up, especially with the offence finally appearing capable of scoring a few points. The Rams have only given up 137 yards to opposing TEs, and while they have conceded 3 TDs – one of those was Niner Vance McDonalds single reception in Week 1 where the Rams were woeful, and the other two were Must Start Cameron Brate in a Week 3 shoot out against the Bucs. The game situation will be much different this week, and the Rams are set for a much a closer, grinding affair. Look for receiver production to be down across the board in this one, but especially for the Bills TE.