By Mike Cannici
Jaguars @ Bills
The Jags are coming off a big home win against the Colts, a team that they have played well against in recent history. The Bills are coming off a blowout loss to the Jets. QB David Garrard has a really good matchup this week against the Bills and their 12th ranked pass defense. The Bills can’t get any pressure on the QB and Garrard can also make plays with his legs. Maurice Jones-Drew will match if not exceed last week’s performance this week against the league’s worst run defense. Mike Thomas is a solid flex play especially in PPR leagues this week as he is Garrard’s favorite target. Mike Sims-Walker needs to be left on benches until he can string together some consistency but is a good buy low candidate. TE Mercedes Lewis is also a good option this week as the Bills have allowed 3 TD and over 250 yards receiving to TE’s through the first four weeks.
The Bills were just embarrassed last week against the Jets at home after putting up a hell of a fight the previous week in New England. Ryan Fitzpatrick is a solid matchup play this week. The Jaguars rank 30th against the pass and 12th against the run. The Bills backfield has now changed with the trade of Marshawn Lynch; Fred Jackson will get the start, with C.J. Spiller rotating in. I like both these backs as flex plays especially in PPR leagues. Lee Evans, oh Lee Evans where have you gone. He is a flex play at absolute best but hopefully you have some better option. Stevie Johnson has caught a TD pass in each of the last two games and is good play in 12 team leagues at your flex spot. Rookie David Nelson had a great game last week with 75 yards receiving but we need to see a little more consistency from him before picking him up.
Giants @ Texans
Can Big Blue experience Déjà vu and play anywhere near the way they did last Sunday night against the Bears? That remains to be seen, but Texans QB Matt Schaub has been sacked 11 times this season and could be put on his butt quite a few times Sunday. Matt Schaub is still a solid start this week even with Andre Johnson and Jacoby Jones questionable. It appears Johnson will play though and is a must start. Jacoby Jones is highly unlikely to play so keep him on your bench. Kevin Walter is a solid WR3 or flex play especially in PPR leagues this week as Schaub will look for him a lot on underneath passes.
Owen Daniels and Joel Dreessen – Owen will also see an increase in targets with Jones out and a big boost if AJ were to not play or re-aggravate his injury. Daniels is a decent start this week while Dreessen shouldn’t be anywhere but on your bench or the waiver wire. Arian Foster could have a big day and is a solid RB1 right now the way he has been running.
On the Giants side, Eli Manning and this offense have been struggling to get into the end zone since Week 1. They’re putting up plenty of yards but are just not able to finish drives; they turned the ball over 4 times last week against the Bears. Eli makes for a great start this week as the Texans rank dead last in the league against the pass giving up an average of 337 yards per game. Ahmad Bradshaw was limited in practice all week with an ankle injury but is expected to start against the Texans 2nd ranked run defense. Bradshaw is a low-end RB2 this week. The Giants receivers, Steve Smith and Hakeem Nicks are must starts, while Mario Manningham is a pretty decent flex play. Kevin Boss is not an option this week to be in your lineup. The key for the Giants is to put a lot of pressure on Matt Schaub and attempt to slow down Arian Foster. If they do those two things they should leave Houston with a 3-2 record.
Chiefs @ Colts
Who would have thought coming into the season that in Week 5 the Kansas City Chiefs would be 3-0 while the Colts would be 2-2 and 0-2 in the division. This is a big game for both teams; the Chiefs want to show us that they are for real, while the Colts are trying to get some type of momentum going. I believe both these teams are much better when playing at home and that’s what the Colts get to do this week. Peyton Manning is an obvious every week must start, and when at home puts up huge numbers almost every time. Joseph Addai will carry the load once again with backup Donald Brown on the shelf still with a hamstring injury. Addai has a tough matchup though as the Chiefs are currently the 6th ranked run defense in the league. WR Pierre Garcon is expected to return to the lineup after missing the last three weeks with a hamstring issue. He’s a decent WR3 and flex play especially if Austin Collie (foot) were to sit out. Collie is currently listed as questionable but is a very solid WR2 if he can go. Reggie Wayne and Dallas Clark are obvious top options at their respective positions and should always be in lineups.
The Chiefs are coming off a bye this week and are the only undefeated team left in the league. I think this team has vastly improved under GM Scott Pioli and Coach Todd Haley, and I do think they’ll keep it close with their surprisingly good defense. Matt Cassel hasn’t been great but has played just well enough to help this team win. He is not a good start this week so leave him on benches or on the waiver wire. The Chiefs will try to exploit the Colts Achilles heel, their 29th ranked run defense, so look for Jamaal Charles and Thomas Jones to have big days. Jones is a decent flex play as he could break a big run or two and punch one into the end zone. Dwayne Bowe and Dexter McCluster are super talented and both could have decent days, they’ll try and run some trick plays with Dexter and hopefully Bowe will be able to get open against the average Colts pass defense. Rookie TE Tony Moeaki is great start this week as the Colts haven’t played a TE talent like him yet. Moeaki is the best play of all the Chief receivers.
Buccaneers @ Bengals
The Bucs are coming off their bye week while the Bengals return home to try to recover from a loss against the other Ohio team, the Cleveland Browns. Bucs QB Josh Freeman is going to be a fine QB in this league but is no more than a QB2 this week as he is my 24th ranked QB. Cadillac Williams is a very poor play as he will now be splitting carries with rookie’s LaGarette Blount and Kareem Huggins. Unless all your RB’s are on a bye this week, keep Caddy out of your lineups. Rookie WR Mike Williams will have to deal with possibly the best CB tandem in the NFL in Jonathan Joseph and Leon Hall so you hopefully have other options at receiver as well. TE Kellen Winslow is a mid level start this week as he could find space down the middle of the field and on check downs.
Terrell Owens is coming off one of the best games of his career last week where he tallied 10 catches for 222 yards and a TD. Owens seems to be QB Carson Palmer’s go to guy right now and is a very good WR2 this week while his counterpart Chad OchoCinco still makes for a solid WR3. Cedric Benson is a great start against the Bucs 28th ranked rush defense so make sure he is in your lineup. Rookie TE Jermaine Gresham is a very good start this week as well after having 12 catches over his last three games and Carson Palmer seems to be developing a good relationship with him.
Packers @ Redskins
The Packers head out on the road to face the Redskins who just defeated the Eagles minus Michael Vick. Packer QB Aaron Rodgers was just average last week in Detroit but I expect a bounce back against the Redskins pass defense that is ranked 31st in the league and giving up 305 yards per game. Greg Jennings, Donald Driver and TE Jermichael Finley are all must starts this week. The Packers lack of a run game may eventually catch up to them but so far they’ve been able to make do. Brandon Jackson and John Kuhn should definitely be rostered at the moment but left on your bench until they show us something legit.
Donavan McNabb is coming off an emotional victory last week in his return to Philadelphia where he didn’t play great (8-19 125 yards, 1TD, 1INT) but did have a great pass down the middle of the field to TE Chris Cooley for a 31 yd TD. McNabb is a good play this week at home especially with Safety Morgan Burnett out for the year as well a LB Nick Barnett. Chris Cooley also is a must start this week with those guys out , as well as that the Packers allowed 154 yards receiving to Lions TE last week. Santana Moss will bounce back from his zero catch performance last week and will have a solid day. He’s a high-end WR3 this week. Joey Galloway and Anthony Armstrong need to show some more consistency before you get anywhere near grabbing them in your leagues.
Rams @ Lions
This is a very interesting matchup, it would be even more interesting if the Lions had QB Matthew Stafford back as it would be a battle of the last two #1 picks. Nevertheless that won’t happen but we do get to watch Shaun Hill go against rookie Sam Bradford. The Lions almost made a great comeback against Green Bay last week but fell just short as they were unable to score TD late in the game and had to settle for field goals. Shaun Hill is a great matchup or bye week filler start this week against the Rams 21st ranked pass defense. Hill is averaging 301 yards a game since replacing Stafford in 3 games. Jahvid Best is averaging 7.73 yards per touch on turf thus far and 3.3 yards per touch on grass. Best has a decent matchup at home on turf this week and could have a big day like he had back in week two against the Eagles when he totaled 232 total yards and 3 TD’s. He’s a low-end RB2 this week. Calvin Johnson had a solid game last week as well and look for him to have another big game this week. TE’s Tony Scheffler and Brandon Pettigrew are below average starts this week as the Rams have yet to allow a TE more than 53 yards or a TD this season.
QB Sam Bradford I like a lot this week as long as the o-line can hold up as the Lions will blitz the rookie early and often. If he can avoid getting hit and knocked down he’ll have a big day throwing to his favorite target Mark Clayton. Clayton is a solid WR3 as is Danny Amendola as a flex in PPR leagues. Steven Jackson is fully recovered from that groin injury and I have a feeling he will find the end zone at least once. The Lions rank 25th against the run so look for Jackson to have a big day. So to recap, your starting Sam Bradford if needed, Steven Jackson and Mark Clayton are must starts and Amendola is solid flex play in ppr leagues.
Bears @ Panthers
The Bears were just embarrassed last week in the New Meadowlands, especially in the first half and yet because of the ineptitude of the Giants to be able to score a TD trailed only 3-0 at the half. Jay Cutler suffered a concussion and is out for this weeks game. Todd Collins will get the start and shouldn’t even be on your radar and if he is, either you’re a terrible fantasy owner or are in a 2QB 14 team league. Matt Forte is a pretty good play especially in PPR leagues as Collins will check down to him a lot this week. WR’s Johnny Knox, Earl Bennett and Devin Hester should be benched this week. TE Greg Olsen is a solid start this week so get him into your lineups. Backup QB’s historically like to throw passes to the TE and RB’s which they consider their safety valves.
The Panthers almost notched a huge upset last week in New Orleans if not for 46-year-old John Carney kicking a field goal late in the game. Jimmy Claussen wasn’t great, but didn’t turn the ball over and managed the game fairly well. The biggest problem to come from that game for Carolina was the loss of Steve Smith to an ankle injury that’ll cost him a few weeks. The Panthers will rely heavily on their run game and DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart are both good starts this week. WR’s Brandon LaFell and David Gettis will see the majority of the snaps but neither should be started this week until we see something. TE Dante Rosario could be the biggest winner here with Steve Smith being out but has not shown enough yet either to put in lineups.
Falcons @ Browns
The Falcons come off a late field goal to beat the 49ers last week 16-14. The Browns play much better at home and could stay in this game longer than expected. Matt Ryan is a great matchup play once again this week and Michael Turner and Roddy White are obvious must starts. White leads the league in targets per game with 12.5 which is pretty incredible. Harry Douglas is a decent play in PPR leagues even with Michael Jenkins expected back. TE Tony Gonzalez is the best TE that the Browns have faced yet to date. The Browns are giving up an average of 4.5 receptions and 43 yards per game to TE’s. Gonzalez is a must start week in and week out.
The Browns are expected to get Jake Delhomme back this week and that spells trouble. He is a turnover machine and that could be the lone reason why there out of this game early. Peyton Hillis who was limited in practice this week with a thigh injury is expected to play and is a solid RB2 this week and a good bet to get into the end zone at least once. Mohammed Massaquoi cannot be inserted back into lineups just yet, but his value should start to go up with Delhomme coming back. Massaquoi had 2 catches and a TD in week 1 before the Delhomme injury and has just 2 catches over the last three games. Ben Watson is a pretty good option at TE especially in PPR leagues. Jerome Harrison has little to no value unless Hillis were to sit or get injured so leave him on your benches for now.