The Bye Weeks are here! The Bye Weeks are here!
How did you survive the first round of bye weeks? It can be difficult to navigate around those bye weeks and if you didn't carefully plan on draft day or since, you could find yourself in a bad position to replace 4 or 5 or more players all in one week.
Luckily, there weren't too many majors stars missing in action this week outside of Ray Rice. Around the league we continued to see lots of passing yards, lots of scoring, very little defense and a couple major upsets.
There's a lot to review, so lets get started.
Bills: Take Us Seriously! We Are a Good Team! Eagle: Take Us Seriously! We Are a Bad Team!
So we have to start taking both of these teams seriously for what they are. You don't get to 4-1 by luck and you don't get to 1-4 by any fault other than your own.
Michael Vick is a good player and an extremely talented athlete, but he didn't do himself any favors yesterday after throwing 4 interceptions. Vick threw 6 interceptions and had 3 fumbles over 12 games last season, and he's already got 7 picks and 3 fumbles this season. Vick was so dynamic last season and the fantasy MVP, and he's still a very dynamic player that could go off at any time, but you have to wonder if last season is going to go down as his career year that he'll never duplicate. Its too late to sell high.
LeSean McCoy bounced back from a bad week 4 to put up 107 total yards and a touchdown. DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin each caught a TD pass, but Jason Avant led the way with 9 catches for 139 yards. Honestly, I wouldn't change any of their values, but I wonder about Jackson and his relation to the word "overrated" sometimes.
The Bills won the game 31-24 behind the 111 rushing yards and TD from a guy we need to start taking serious as "elite" in Fred Jackson. He's rushed for over 100 yards in 3 games, he's scored 5 TDs, and he has 232 yards in the air. CJ Spiller won't be getting a chance in Buffalo any time soon.
He was the Bills leading receiver 85 yards, while Stevie Johnson, Donald Jones, and David Nelson didn't do anything special. Nelson caught a TD, but had only 6 yards. Donald Jones was carted off of the field with a left ankle injury.
A LOT more after the jump...
Cam Newton Shows Vick-Like Ability in Leading Panthers to 1-4 Start
The similarities are endless, but nothing quite like the fact that both of these highly talented quarterbacks have combined for two wins this season. I do owe Cam Newton an apology, I had no idea he would be this good in fantasy so soon. I thought owners that drafted him at all were simply wasting a pick on a guy who wasn't ready yet.
Preseason I did think that he could have a few games this year where he'd put up three or more touchdowns because of his two-way ability, but with bad yardage and completion numbers. Instead, yesterday was his third game this season with three total touchdowns and he's got twelve total already.
Newton was 16 of 31 for 224 yards, 2 TDs/1 INT, plus 27 yards rushing and another score. His interception came on the first play of the game, but he settled down after that.
Steve Smith was his favorite target once again, and he added 79 more yards and another touchdown. He now has 606 yards on the season for a pace of 1,939 in a 16-game season. DeAngelo Williams had his best game of the season with 115 yards and a TD on 9 carries. Most of it came on a 69 yard run in the 2nd quarter. Williams is pulling away from Jonathan Stewart, a player you keep around at your own risk.
Defeating the Panthers for their fourth straight win was Drew Brees and the Saints on a 6-yard TD pass to Pierre Thomas with :50 seconds left. Brees finished with 359 yards and 2 TDs, and is still on pace (along with Newton) to be one of the players to top 5,000 yards this season.
The increasingly popular Darren Sproles led the team in carries with 11 and had 91 total yards, but failed to score. Mark Ingram had his 2nd TD of the season. Jimmy Graham led all receivers with 8 catches for 129 yards, but Brees screwed over fantasy owners by only hitting Thomas and Jed Collins with TD passes.
This was a game that the Raiders won fair and square after too many missed opportunities by the Texans, but really Matt Schaub simply gave it away after he threw an interception from the Raiders 5-yard line at the end of regulation. It has to be a sick feeling for Houston after Tennessee had lost to Pittsburgh and opened the door for sole possession of first place in the AFC South.
Overall, Schaub had 416 yards and 2 TDs along with 2 INTs. That gives him a "paltry" 1,377 yards on the season.
Arian Foster the People only rushed for 68 yards on 22 carries, but added 116 yards on 5 catches. He was held scoreless however. Joel Dreessen caught a wide-open 56 yard TD pass and finished with 115 yards on the day, proving that Schaub hates fantasy owners that were hoping for something from Jacoby Jones. Kevin Walter had 81 yards and a TD, Owen Daniels had 7 catches for 89 yards, and sleeper James Casey actually wasn't intergrated into the offense like Gary Kubiak said he would be.
On the Raiders side, Houston shut down Darren McFadden to 51 yards on 16 carries. McFadden had 1 run that was longer than 51 yards, but it was called back due to holding. Darrius Heyward-Bey had his 2nd straight big day with 99 yards and a TD. That gives him 214 yards over the last two games. Its still hard to trust DHB or any one Raiders wide receiver on a consistent basis. He'll be a popular add this week though. The Raiders draw the 4th ranked passing defense of Cleveland next week.
In the ultimate battle of "Suck for Luck" the Chiefs, perhaps the team most desperate for Andrew Luck, have pretty much destroyed any chance at drafting first next season by winning their 2nd straight game. And in doing so have given the 0-5 Colts the inside track on having back-to-back All-Pro quarterbacks.
Indianapolis led this game 24-7 in the 2nd quarter, but Kansas City stormed back with 4 touchdown passes from Matt Cassel to win 28-24. Dwayne Bowe and Steve Breaston each had 2 TD catches, with Bowe adding 7 catches for 128 yards. That's Bowes third 100 yard game this year, and he's enjoying his finest season. Even last season he didn't get his third 100 yard game until week 10.
Meanwhile, after I supposed that stud athlete Dexter McCluster would take over a serious and impactful role running the football, of course its 28-year-old unknown Jackie Battle out of Houston that carries the ball 19 times for 119 yards. Battle had 155 career yards over parts of five seasons coming into this game. McCluster carried the ball four times for eight yards.
For the Colts, Curtis Painter looks a million times better (I calculated. Its an exact science) than Kerry Collins. He threw 2 TDs without a pick and 277 yards. Pierre Garcon had his 2nd straight big game with 5 catches for 125 yards and 2 scores. That gives him 271 yards and 4 TDs in the last two weeks. This could turn into the first time in 5 years that Reggie Wayne doesn't lead the team in receiving. (The last time that neither Wayne or Marvin Harrison didn't lead the Colts in receiving was Marshall Faulk in 1998.)
No Colts running back looks like a good option now as it seems like they have a three person running-back-by-committee situation going on. The winless Colts now head on the road for three straight before home matchups with Atlanta and Jacksonville. There's a very good chance that the Colts will be 0-9 going into the Jags game. Its amazing how much one person can affect a team, but what's the Colts record this year with a healthy Peyton Manning? 3-2? 4-1?
Jags Not Opposed to Drafting Andrew Luck, Lose Game at Last Minute
Jack Del Rio looked up at the scoreboard and thought, "Oh crap, we might win this game" when the Jaguars were leading 20-16 late in the fourth quarter against the Bengals. Pinned at their own 6-yard line and forced to punt, Del Rio told his punter to shank it and Matt Turk promptly gave the ball to the Bengals at the Jacksonville 23-yard line after a 5-yard penalty.
The Bengals converted a crucial 4th-and-6 after Del Rio told his defense to letup and the Bengals scored on a 2-yard TD run from Bernard Scott to take the lead for good.
I'm of the mindset that the Jaguars really are one of the worst teams in the league and they have a real shot at finishing with 2 or 3 wins and potentially drafting first. What would they do with that pick, especially if they see good progress out of Blaine Gabbert? They might be one team that would be smart to trade it considering how much talent they really lack in all facets of the game.
Gabbert finished 15-of-28 for 221 yards and 1 touchdown, without an interception. Maurice Jones-Drew had 85 yards and a touchdown as well. Jason Hill, a potential breakout player this season, had his first big game of the year with 5 catches for 118 yards and a score, most of it coming on a 74-yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter.
The Bengals Andy Dalton had a good game by going 21 of 33 for 179 yards and 2 TDs. He does have five interceptions in his last three games. Fellow rookie AJ Green had his third good game of the season with 90 yards and a touchdown. The rookie phenom has 402 yards on the season and is on pace for 1,286 yards. He is pretty impressive.
Cedric Benson, who may FINALLY face suspension this week, had only 53 yards on 24 carries. Next week against the Colts could finally be Bernard Scott time.
The Vikings Prove Homefield Advantage Means Everything as They Blowout the Cardinals
So the Vikings, a week off of losing to the Kansas City Chiefs on the road, beat Arizona 34-10 at home. I will never fully understand the NFL. Minnesota was supposed to be the leagues worst team after they lost to the leagues worst team. Now are the Cardinals the leagues worst team after losing to Minnesota in this fashion?
Arizona was supposed to be a serious player in the NFC West to make the playoffs, but after a week one win over Carolina, they've lost four straight games including this one and one to Seattle. The Cardinals just acquired Kevin Kolb and gave him a bunch of money (which I said was a terrible mistake at the time, and so did a lot of other people. And then there were a lot of OTHER people too that thought it was a good move) but going into this game there was a lot of talk about "Did the Cardinals make a terrible mistake?"
This was Kolbs chance to say "No" to that noise, and he finished 21-of-42 for 232 yards, 0 TDs and 2 INTs against a Minnesota Vikings defense that was 28th against the pass going into this game.
Kolb is now completing 58.7% of his passes with 5 TDs and 6 INTS on the season and a QB rating of 77.2. You can safely drop him or perhaps buy him low if you're looking for a deep bench backup QB. I can't really recommend him in any way, shape or form. The Cardinals have a bye this week and then face Pittsburgh and Baltimore. Arizona still has two games left against the Rams and a home game against Seattle, so I wouldn't put it past them to win 4 or 5 games this year, but they'll be picking in the top 8.
Even with their team up big in the fourth quarter, Vikings fans were chanting "We Want Ponder!" in favor of Donovan McNabb who was 10 of 21 for for 169 yards and 0 TDs. McNabb was once one of the most exciting players in the NFL, but his days in Washington and Minnesota will be best forgotten. Not that it would be tough to forget. In this season of passing records across the league, McNabb has 849 yards and 4 touchdowns in 5 games.
Adrian Peterson was the Fantasy Player of the Day with three touchdowns, all of which came in the first quarter. He also had a season-high 122 yards. Even with the victory, the Vikings are still very much in the hunt for Andrew Luck with a mostly tough schedule ahead. Their best chances are @Carolina and Denver.
Everybody in the World Loses in Their Survivor League After Seahawks Beat Giants
Reset your Survivor League pools because everyone picked the Giants to beat the Seahawks at home, because why wouldn't they? Seattle hadn't won in New Jersey since 1983. They had lost 8 straight games on the east coast. They were playing at 10 AM PST. The Seahawks were 1-3, the Giants were 3-1. Eli Manning is superior to Tarvaris Jackson.
Yet here we sit on Monday morning, still trying to process how this happened. And as a Seahawks fan who watched the game, I can tell you honestly that the Seahawks should have won by a lot more if it weren't for the fact that they are the Seahawks and they turned the ball over inside the Giants 10-yard line twice in the first half. This should have been a blowout, and I still can't fully explain how or why.
A big part of it was three interceptions and a lost fumble (and a recovered fumble) from Eli Manning. He did add 420 yards and three touchdowns to have a decent fantasy day. The Seahawks proved they aren't a team you want to run on by holding Ahmad Bradshaw to 58 yards on 17 carries.
Victor Cruz had 8 catches for 161 yards and a touchdown, which is one of the craziest touchdowns you will see all year, but he also fumbled twice. Seriously, nobody could hang onto the ball in this game. Cruz now has 369 yards in the last three games.
Tight End Jake Ballard made a name for himself with 72 yards and touchdown.
Tarvaris Jackson was perhaps on his way to his best game as a Seahawk with 166 yards, 1 TD and 1 INT, but left the game with a shoulder injury which opened the door for Charlie Whitehurst. Whitehurst had 119 yards and 1 TD without a pick. He looked okay at times, but the real star for the Seahawks was undrafted rookie free agent Doug Baldwin.
Baldwin had 8 catches for 136 yards and a touchdown. This guy is very impressive. He may be inconsistent just because he's a rookie, and because the Hawks don't usually have any one guy thats going to be the star every week, but Baldwin is clearly the 2nd best wide receiver on this team after Sidney Rice. And I don't know... Baldwin may be the best. He's a potential star in the making. Rice had just 4 catches for 38 yards.
Marshawn Lynch had his best regular season game as a Seahawks rushing 12 times for 98 yards and a touchdown.
Titans Blow Their 3-0 Lead, Lose to Pittsburgh 38-17
It seemed like the Titans would cruise after they went up 3-0 after a first quarter field goal by Rob Bironas, but somehow the Steelers stormed back to make the heroic comeback after 28 unanswered points.
Ben Roethlisberger led the comeback trail with 228 yards and 5 touchdowns. It's a season-saving performance for Big Ben owners.
Mike Wallace caught his third touchdown pass of the season and added 82 yards. He's on pace for 1,715 yards. Hines Ward had his first good fantasy performance of the season with 2 touchdowns on 54 yards. I don't think he'll top 800 yards this year, but he could be a decent spot start in the right situation. Heath Miller also caught a touchdown, but he's still not much of a fantasy option.
In the absence of Rashard Mendenhall it was Jonathan Dwyer, not Isaac Redman, that stepped up. He had 107 yards on 11 carries and it was the first game action of the year for the 2nd year pro out of Georgia Tech. This is still Mendenhalls job, obviously, so you just have to monitor the progress of his hamstring injury.
For the Titans, Chris Johnson only had 51 yards rushing but he did score his first touchdown of the season. Perhaps Johnson held out this season because he knew he was quickly declining. After career-low 4.3 yards per carry in 2010, he's averaging 3 yards per carry in 2011. He has 366 total yards in 5 games with 1 TD.
The career resurgence of Matt Hasselbeck didn't take a step back yesterday, but he didn't have his best game of the season either: 29 of 49 for 261 yards, 1 TD/1 INT.
The ball was spread around pretty evenly by Matty H, and Nate Washington finished with 5 catches for 69 yards. Potentially stepping up in the absence of Kenny Britt will be Damien Williams, one of my preseason sleepers. He had 6 catches for 66 yards and a TD.
The Titans have a bye this week.
San Francisco 49ers Mathematically Clinch NFC West with 4th Victory
The race in the NFC West is officially over as the Niners can now go no worse than 4-12, which will be more than enough to win the division.
San Francisco dominated Tampa Bay, making it all the more likely that the 49ers will have no competition on a playoff berth and a game at home in the postseason this year. Alex Smith may be unspectacular, but after a 3 TD/0 INT day against the Bucs, he is now completing 65.1% of his passes with 7 TDs/1INT and a 104.1 QB rating on the season. In a year when quarterbacks are tossing for 400 yards on a regular basis, Smith has just 965. But with a 4-1 record and only 1 blemish on his record, Smith can brag that he's doing just fine. He could be this years Matt Cassel.
The Bucs had their three-game winning streak snapped pretty dramatically after their 48-3 defeat at the hands of San Francisco, and I can't say I'm entirely surprised that the leagues youngest team would be so inconsistent and unpredictable. Tampa is 20th on offense and 23rd on defense, and with the schedule ahead, I can't really buy them as a playoff team.
Josh Freeman was 17 of 33 for 187 yards, 0 TD/2 INT. This years favorite breakout fantasy QB now had 3 TDs/6 INTs and a 74.1 QB rating. I predicted that Mike Williams would take a step back this season too, and he has 183 yards in five games after a 28-yard performance yesterday.
This was a terrible-looking matchup for LeGarrette Blount and he had 34 yards on 10 carries. There was nothing good to take away from this game for Tampa. They play New Orleans in two of their next three games, with Chicago sandwiched in between.
God Descends From the Heavens To Lead Broncos to Near-Victory
Coach John Fox called upon our Lord and Savior to come in the form of Tim Tebow and lead his team to a come from behind victory but the efforts fell just short for the holy trinity.
The score was 26-10 in the fourth quarter with San Diego looking to cruise to an easy victory on the road, but the chants for Tebow were too loud and too important for Fox to ignore. Despite not really having much ability to, ya know, pass the football, NFL Jesus came in and actually... almost led the Broncos to a win.
First on a 12-yard TD run and then on 28-yard screen pass for a TD to Knowshon Moreno. The Broncos converted their first 2-point conversion, but despite their solid running game for some reason decided to have Tebow pass it on the 2nd 2-point conversion attempt that would have tied the game.
Down 29-24, Tebow got the Broncos near the Chargers 30-yard line with 1 second left and a Hail Mary into the end zone just couldn't find a lucky target (but it was scary close) and the Chargers somehow did not blow a game in October. Still, San Diego always tries their darnedest to screw these games up.
Tebow finished 4 of 10 for 79 yards with 1 TD and 38 yards rushing with another TD. It seems apparent that Tim Tebow is going to be the starting QB in Denver now. From a football perspective, I can't say it's really a surprise or a bad decision because Denver is terrible anyway. From a fantasy perspective, Tebow is a good prospective add if you're looking for a backup because like Cam Newton he can score touchdowns even if he's flawed. Tebow can score 2 TDs in a game just because of scheme.
Willis McGahee had another big game with 125 yards on 16 carries. Brandon Lloyd only had 1 catch for 20 yards. Eric Decker had 2 catches for negative 4 yards. If Tebow is a full-time starter, its good for Tebow owners and McGahee owners, but not good for Denver wide receivers.
Philip Rivers was boring again, with 250 yards and 1 TD against 1 INT. I'm not sure what is going on with Philip, but this is far from what I expected, especially in the year of the pass.
Malcom Floyd had 3 catches for 100 yards and a score. Ryan Mathews had 125 yards and watching him run, I can say he just looks like a really good NFL running back. The Mike Tolbert competition is not a competition anymore and Tolbert had just 5 carries.
New England Beats New York in Game You Have to Care About if You Love America
I think the national media wants us to care about these matchups as much as we are supposed to care about the Red Sox and Yankees, but I can't say that I do. When is the last time the Jets won a Super Bowl? Or even went to the Super Bowl? I hope New England versus Buffalo is the new premiere AFC East rivalry. Or Buffalo versus Miami.
Tom Brady was good again, but held to only 1 touchdown pass against 1 interception. BenJarvus Green-Ellis was the fantasy star of the game with 136 yards and 2 touchdowns. There's a lot of "bleh" talk about BJGE because he's a boring running back for the Patriots, but did you realize he has 18 rushing touchdowns since the start of the 2010 season? That 18 TDs in 21 games.
Wes Welkers quest to become the leagues first 2000-yard receiver continues with 124 yards, 120 of which came in the first half. He is on pace for 2,368 yards now. Did you know that Wes Welker was not drafted?
Deion Branch bounced back with 7 catches for 74 yards and a TD.
Packers Named This Years Champion in Record Time
Everybody is ready to hand Green Bay the Lombardi trophy, and why not? The Packers have won 11 straight games dating back to last season, including in the playoffs. They are first in the NFL in scoring. They are 3-0 on the road. They are third against the run. They are 11th in scoring defense. Aaron Rodgers is already the MVP.
Yesterday the Pack outscored the Falcons on the road 19-0 in the 2nd half and won the game 25-14. Rodgers had 396 yards and 2 TDs without a pick. He's on pace for 5,507 yards (would-be record), 45 TDs and 7 interceptions.
James Jones had his first big game of the season with 140 yards and a TD. Greg Jennings had 82 yards and a TD and he's been a good fantasy play in all 5 games this season. James Starks and Ryan Grant combined for only 58 yards rushing however and no scores.
Matt Ryan continues to unimpress this season. He was supposed to go to that next level with these weapons around him, but he has only 7 touchdowns against 6 interceptions and 4 of those touchdowns came in week 2 against Chicago. The 2-3 Falcons are looking really overrated and I think they are just as bad as Philadelphia. The potential is there, but they aren't performing and they are weak in several areas.
Roddy White had only 50 yards, but he did score a touchdown. Super rookie Julio Jones had his worst game of the year with 1 catch for 16 yards. Tony Gonzalez led the way with 6 catches for 60 yards and he's quietly having a nice season for a tight end.
Michael Turner was held to 56 yards rushing but he did get into the end zone once.
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- Get Ready for the Week 6 Byes: Denver, Arizona, San Diego, Kansas City, Seattle, and Tennessee.
- In my Week 5 Preview that I hope you read, my sleepers were: Mark Ingram, Dexter McCluster, Austin Collie, Mark Sanchez and Jacoby Jones. Ingrams touchdown saved him and Mark Sanchez was decent. I couldn't decide between Jones or Kevin Walter and I should have gone with Walter. Collie is just gone this year, and McCluster lost out to Jackie Battle who I should have picked.
- I didn't like: LeGarrette Blount, Michael Turner, Ben Roethlisberger, Wes Welker or Sidney Rice. Rice and Blount didn't do much, Turner was saved by a touchdown. Wes Welker kind of had his worst game of the season which turned out to be 124 yards because "Jesus do you see what Welker is doing this season?" Big Ben was perhaps the best QB of the day so OOPS.
- I really liked: Fred Jackson, Phil Rivers, Santonio Holmes, Adrian Peterson, and Chris Johnson. AP was the player of the day, Jackson was awesome, Holmes and Johnson each scored touchdowns. Rivers wasn't terrible but he wasn't good either.
- My dumbest move of the day: Waking up early and replacing Victor Cruz with Mike Thomas. I decided to go with the #1 receiver on a bad team instead of the #3 wide receiver on a good team with a good matchup. Cruz was lucky on his touchdown catch, but fantasy doesn't care about luck.
- I'm getting demolished in my $200 league where I didn't play Cruz. I'll need a legendary performance from Matthew Stafford tonight.
- Speaking of tonight, this is my most anticipated Monday Night game of the year so far. A chance for Detroit to move to 5-0 and make the NFC North the most interesting battle in the NFL. Also the first national stage for Stafford, Calvin Johnson, and the Detroit defense.
- What are your thoughts after week 5? Looking for trade advice or "should I shouldn't I?" pickups on the waiver wire this week? Hit me up on twitter @casetines for answers and also in the comments below.