Chris Wesseling

Goal Line Stand

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Updated Week 5 Rankings

Sunday, October 07, 2012


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

Rank Player Name Opponent Notes
1 Matt Ryan at WAS -
2 Tom Brady vs. DEN Probable(shoulder)
3 Aaron Rodgers at IND -
4 Drew Brees vs. SD -
5 Robert Griffin III vs. ATL -
6 Peyton Manning at NE -
7 Philip Rivers at NO -
8 Eli Manning vs. CLE -
9 Joe Flacco at KC -
10 Cam Newton vs. SEA -
11 Michael Vick at PIT -
12 Ben Roethlisberger vs. PHI -
13 Andrew Luck vs. GB -
14 Andy Dalton vs. MIA -
15 Matt Schaub at NYJ -
16 Jay Cutler at JAC -
17 Christian Ponder vs. TEN Probable(knee)
18 Alex Smith vs. BUF -
19 Matt Hasselbeck at MIN -
20 Ryan Fitzpatrick at SF -
21 Ryan Tannehill at CIN -
22 Matt Cassel vs. BAL -
23 Kevin Kolb at STL -
24 Sam Bradford vs. ARZ -
25 Mark Sanchez vs. HOU -
26 Brandon Weeden at NYG -
27 Russell Wilson at CAR -
28 Blaine Gabbert vs. CHI -


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.



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Chris Wesseling is a senior football editor and Dynasty league analyst for Rotoworld.com. The 2011 NFL season marks his fifth year with Rotoworld and his third year contributing to NBCSports.com. He can be found on Twitter @ChrisWesseling.
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