TE Notes: Gronk is neck-and-neck with Tony Gonzalez for the positional lead in fantasy points after a 100-yard game at Buffalo. It could have been so much better. Brady hit Gronk in stride for their second downfield strike, only to have a defender knock the ball out inside the 5-yard line. Not long after, he dropped another pass on the door step of the end zone. Gronkowski’s afternoon could have been closer to 160 yards and three scores versus the Bills.I expect Bennett and Pitta to bounce back strong after their first disappointing outings of 2012. … For owners wary of week-to-week inconsistency at tight end, though, the best TE1 trade targets are Gates and Aaron Hernandez. Gates look good after the catch at Kansas City and would have produced better stats had the Chiefs not doubled-teamed him in the red zone after a strong first half. Hernandez could return as early as next week.Finley should see an increase in targets with Jennings out of the lineup. … Matchups don’t get much better than Rudolph’s versus a Titans defense that has already allowed seven touchdowns -- and the most fantasy points -- to opposing tight ends. … The defense allowing the second-most points? New England, which draws Tamme and Dreessen this week. The Pats were especially vulnerable down the seam at Buffalo. Speaking of which, Chandler may be here to stay as Ryan Fitzpatrick’s favorite red-zone target and a borderline TE1, but the matchup is daunting at San Francisco. … Olsen and Heath Miller join Chandler as borderline weekly starters squaring off against stingy defenses.
Week 5 Team Defense
Week 5 Kickers
The latest interview in Zach Law’s “Ask Your Fantasy Football Expert” series features Rotoworld’s Adam Levitan, highlighted by the following Yoda-quality quote: “I know it’s hard, but the general fantasy owner has to stop being so results oriented. If we’re informed, thoughtful and make the right decision, then we have won. Sometimes, that decision will turn out to yield a negative result. That happens all the time in fantasy football because a one-week, or even 17-week sample size is SO small. We can’t be discouraged by this or change our strategies.”Levitan was expounding on Frank Gore’s fantasy value in light of our knowledge on the decline phase of running backs, Gore’s limited role in the passing game, and the 49ers’ cache of talented backups. Through four games, the result has been negative for owners who avoided Gore as a RB2 option in fantasy drafts. Will that remain the case after Week 17? I have my doubts, especially with a now-healthy Brandon Jacobs looming as a touchdown vulture.Levitan’s thought process is germane to the Chargers backfield depth chart shenanigans as well. Last week’s results suggest Jackie Battle is the fantasy back to own while Ryan Mathews continues to lead the all-hype All Stars. As Pat Daugherty explains in Thursday’s Daily Dose, that line of thinking is flat wrong. Mathews was already a legit RB1 a year ago despite two missed games and the presence of Mike Tolbert. What separates the extraordinary from the mundane at running back is how many yards they can gain on their own. “Any back can really run until the first guy gets to him,” Bill Belichick recently explained. “That’s not that special, but it’s what guys do after they could or should be brought down, whether they can continue to add yards to the play after that. That’s the mark really of a good runner.”We’ve seen the Jackie Battle Show before, and it flopped in spectacular fashion after he was a waiver wire darling at this time a year ago. A special teamer and role player exposed as a straight-ahead runner with the lateral agility of a riding mower, Battle failed to break 4.0 YPC in 6-of-10 weeks after his 119-yard breakout game. He managed to top 75 rushing just once the rest of the way. Covering the Chiefs one too many times last season, Daugherty labeled Battle one half of the worst QB/RB tandem he’d ever seen.Mathews is special. Battle is not. The Chargers are squaring off against the worst defense in the NFL, which has surrendered the most fantasy points to opposing backs through four weeks. Conduct your fantasy roster accordingly, realizing Mathews will be off the fantasy trading block if he goes for 150+ yards and a pair of scores this week.
Week 5 Quarterbacks
QB Notes: Thanks to an 80 percent Adjusted Accuracy Percentage, Ryan is the near unanimous MVP pick at the quarter-season mark. Over his last 15 games, Ryan is 329-of-517 (63.6 percent) for 4,037 yards (7.81 YPA), a 33:8 TD-to-INT ratio and 102.5 passer rating. The Redskins have allowed the most fantasy points to opposing fantasy QBs this year, and they’re facing the hottest signal-caller in the league. Matchups don’t get any better.Brady has been razor sharp the past two weeks. If not for a pair of questionable calls by the officials in Weeks 2 and 3, Brady would be in the thick of the MVP discussion himself. You won’t see a prettier throw than the one Brady made to hit Rob Gronkowski in stride deep down the field at Buffalo. … Brees’ uncanny accuracy returned at Green Bay last week. … You don’t need me to tell you that Manning vs. Brady offers shootout potential.RGIII’s legs have carried him to the top of the fantasy charts, but he’s also one of three rookies QBs in NFL history (Cam Newton, Ryan Tannehill) to throw for 1,000+ yards in his first four games of the season. … They call it the Big Easy for a reason. Rivers is in store for a breakout game. … The Seahawks don’t play nearly as well on the road, but they’ve allowed just one touchdown to a quarterback through four games. Newton’s matchup is brutal. For all of the grief Vick has taken this year, he’s just the fourth QB since 1960 (Terry Bradshaw 1979, Brett Favre 1999, Vinny Testaverde 2000) to lead a comeback and game-winning drive in three of his team’s first four games. He’s done so with his best receiver absent or hampered by injury for the majority of the snaps. Vick has another tough matchup this week, but the schedule opens up a bit in the coming weeks. Dalton is playing at a high level, particularly in the fourth quarter, but he’s also exploited a string of soft pass defenses the past three weeks. After winnable games versus the Dolphins and Browns the next two weeks, Dalton has a murderer’s row of PIT-DEN-NYG-SD-DAL-PHI-PIT-BAL down the stretch. It’s not a bad idea to sell high. Fitzpatrick’s arm strength limitations were evident on his four picks a week ago. The matchup is even more daunting with a cross-country trip to face the most physical defense in the NFL. … The coaches clearly want Tannehill taking short drops and hitting his first read. What’s impressive is that he’s still willing to take chances down the field instead of settling for dumpoffs. … Cassel is on pace for an eye-popping 40 turnovers. In 15 starts since ex-coordinator Charlie Weis announced he was leaving, Cassel has a 56.7 completion percentage, 15:21 TD-to-INT ratio and less than 200 yards per game.
Week 5 Running Backs
RB Notes: Foster has a whopping 26 touches + targets in the red zone through four weeks. It’s no wonder he leads all backs in fantasy points per game for a third consecutive season. … Lynch leads all NFL backs with 21 forced missed tackles. He’s facing a defense that has been shredded by Andre Brown and Michael Turner the past two weeks. The math should work itself out. Peterson was beastly versus the Lions in Week 4. This week he draws a Titans defense hemorrhaging nearly 38 points per game while allowing the fourth-most points to opposing fantasy backs. The touchdowns are coming. … Charles is the No. 1 fantasy back in the league over the past three weeks. The Chargers brass should have taken notes last week. Charles fumbled on two of his first six carries, and rewarded Romeo Crennel's faith with a pair of impressive touchdowns. … Forte and Bush escaped their Week 4 injury tests without setbacks. … Norv Turner can’t afford to send another message to Mathews when the 0-4 Saints are actually favored at the Super Dome. Morris trails only Foster, Charles, Ray Rice and C.J. Spiller in fantasy points, and he’s getting better by the week. … Benson has a second consecutive inviting matchup after surviving the early-season gauntlet. … Richardson is second in fantasy points over the past three weeks, thanks to his work in the passing game and his nose for the end zone.Brandon Bolden’s role may be increasing, but Ridley has been a borderline RB1 to date. It can be argued that if the Pats trusted Ridley as much late last season as they do now, they would have another Lombardi Trophy to show it. … I haven’t seen what a lot of smart people have seen in hyping Ryan Williams since training camp. He’s had just one quality quarter in 16 this season and didn’t show the ability to get to the corner or accelerate through holes versus the Dolphins. His YPC sits at 2.98, which may be all that can be reasonably expected behind a patchwork offensive line. If Williams doesn’t establish RB2 value against a Rams defense that surrendered 179 rushing yards to Seattle last week, it might be time to throw in the towel. Never mind the box score. Chris Johnson looked like the same back in his 157-yard outburst at Houston as he did in the first three weeks. The only difference is that he wasn’t swarmed at the line of scrimmage. Watch Johnson and Jamaal Charles back-to-back and you will notice that CJ1K is still overly hesitant and no longer makes defenders miss in space. Two years of data suggest he’s simply a boom-or-bust back dependent on his blocking. We can expect another three or four 100-yard games to go with seven or eight games under 50 yards. I would shop him around for a more reliable fantasy asset. After not losing a fumble in his first 589 career touches, Green-Ellis has coughed the ball up three times in the past two weeks. It’s why teams shouldn’t sign a back with ball security as his primary asset. The Bengals line is blocking fairly well, but Law Firm is averaging just 3.0 YPC over the past three games. He’s now facing a Miami defense that has allowed just 2.36 YPC to opposing backs. The 49ers led the league at 3.50 YPC in 2011.S-Jax is playing injured and the Rams haven’t scored an offensive touchdown since Week 2. … F-Jax’s numbers and snaps dwarfed Spiller’s last week, but he was also the one most affected by his injury. He may need another week or two to regain his pre-injury burst. … Although Mendenhall expects to handle the majority of the workload in his return, it’s a daunting matchup against a stout Eagles front seven.
Week 5 Wide Receivers
WR Notes: Green’s 3.17 Yards Per Route Run is the second most in the league. He and Calvin Johnson have been a cut above this season. … Playing with a hand injury that limited Dirk Koetter’s wide-receiver screens and slants, Julio just missed on a couple of big plays a week ago. He’s set to explode against a Redskins secondary burned by the big play this season. Buy now. You won’t regret it. … Tied for the league lead in targets, Cruz has a dream matchup against a Browns defense still missing Joe Haden. The game film shows Harvin as perhaps the toughest NFL player to bring down, and his 10 forced missed tackles are four more than any other receiver. … Bowe is averaging 15 targets per over the past three games, putting the Chiefs’ woebegone passing attack on his back. … Contrary to popular belief, Demaryius isn’t burning defenses vertically. The Broncos love to use him on bubble screens and slants to take advantage of his explosive run-after-catch ability, similar to the Falcons with Julio Jones. Andre Johnson is on the brink of a breakout game. After coming within inches of two additional deep scores in Week 3, Johnson lost a potential touchdown in the lights and had a catch nullified by a crackback block versus the Titans. … Nelson is a WR1 option with Greg Jennings (groin) sidelined. … Lloyd had trouble separating early in last week’s game, but the steady targets are keeping him in WR2 territory. Establishing himself as Peyton Manning’s possession receiver, Decker has averaged 7.5 catches and 107.5 yards the past two games. … Hartline has two career 100-yard games, both coming in the past three weeks. His league-leading 455 yards are 74 percent of his previous career-high for a season. Keep him rolling against a banged-up Bengals secondary. Signs are pointing up for Garcon. After playing 50 snaps in his Week 4 return, he was a full participant in Wednesday’s practice. He’s worth the risk as an upside WR3 in a potential shootout. … With the status of both Hakeem Nicks (knee) and Ramses Barden (knee) in doubt, Hixon is this week’s obvious waiver-wire plug ‘n’ play versus a Browns pass defense allowing the second-most fantasy points to opposing receivers. Jones and Cobb and both viable WR3 options with Jennings out versus a suspect Colts defense. … Bump Moore (hamstring) three or four spots if he returns to practice Thursday. … Britt (ankle) is headed toward a game-time decision. It’s not a bad idea to have Kendall Wright as a handcuff, but keep expectations in check. According to Pro Football Focus, only Legedu Naanee, Greg Little and Titus Young have been less effective than Wright this season. Little and Wright each dropped three passes in Week 4. Roberts’ touchdown rate is unsustainable, and only two teams have allowed fewer fantasy points to opposing receivers than the Rams. … LaFell has been an afterthought in Carolina’s offense the past two weeks. … After his six-catch “breakout” game, Blackmon draws Tim Jennings and the Bears. Opposing QBs have a 15.9 passer rating on 33 throws in Jennings’ direction this season.
Sunday Update: Moved Leonard Hankerson down following news that Josh Morgan is starting over him versus the Falcons.
Week 5 Tight Ends