We’re ¼ way through the season (for all of you who play in the legit leagues that end in week 16), and we’ve learned a lot. Here are just a handful of some things to take away from weeks 1-4:
1. Peyton Manning is good, very good. He’s having his best season ever while throwing to Reggie Wayne and the Vagabonds.
2. Michael Vick is back. He’s as electrifying as ever, and suddenly an adequate passer. As a fan of the game, I hope his recent injury won’t slow him down.
3. Kyle Orton seems to be the real deal, as does Jay Cutler, two QBs who will face the comparison for the rest of their lives. Of the two, Orton is the bigger surprise, as he’s done it with drifters Brandon Lloyd and Jabar Gaffney, and had lower expectations going into the year. It will be interesting to see how Cutler responds to the beating he took last week.
4. 2010 #1 pick Sam Bradford is already paying dividends, and he is only going to get better
5. Former top five picks Matt Ryan and Mark Sanchez have also been lighting up scoreboards, and show no signs of slowing down significantly.
However, the season isn’t near over, it's barely begun. To start your 2nd quarter well, here’s who to start in week 5:
|Brett Favre @ NYJ
|On what is likely to be his farewell tour (how many times have I heard that one?), Favre will visit his old stomping grounds in New York. While he might not feel at home in the new stadium, he will certainly be comfortable under the Monday Night Lights. In the last three years, Favre has a 109 passer rating and eight touchdowns on three Monday night appearances.
In the first few weeks, Favre was awful and never seemed to have a good connection with his receivers. However, I’m sure they drilled the passing game over the bye week, and I expect the Vikings to come out fresh and hot against the Jets. Also, the Jets passing defense hasn’t been as incredible as it was last year. The squad has given up the 11th most passing yards. Even Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Bills were able to score twice through the air. Start Favre this week, and enjoy the show, now starring Randy Moss!
|Sam Bradford vs. DET
|I hate to say, “I told you so,” but, well, Sam Bradford is good, and is only going to improve. Unfortunately, less than 1 in 10 ESPN users took my advice and started the #1 pick. Bradford took a big step against Seattle last week, throwing for 289 yards and two TDs while leading his team to another win. This week, he gets another easy match-up when Detroit comes to town. Continue to track the young gun’s progress and consider starting him this week.
|Matt Ryan @ CLE
|Although Ryan didn’t put up monster numbers again against the 9ers, he threw for a good number of yards and netted a score Sunday. Expect him to bounce back to form this week in Cleveland. The Browns have given up the 9th most passing yards, despite facing several average QBs before going against the Bengals last week. Carson Palmer took advantage of the defense for 371 yards. Matt Ryan might do just as well, so start him.
|Joe Flacco vs. DEN
|Flacco finally seems to be clicking with his wideouts as he put up a solid 256 yards and a TD against the vaunted Steelers D. The Ravens get an easier matchup at home against the Broncos in week 5. Joe has traditionally played better at home, as evidenced by his big home performance against the Browns in week 3. Flacco will have to pick his game up to compensate for Ray Rice's lack of production, and he'll help you in the process.
|Kevin Kolb vs SF
|Well Kolb’s back. After Michael Vick tore rib cartilage against the Redskins, the former starter stepped in and threw for 200 yards and a TD in just over three quarters. This week, he gets the San Francisco 49ers, who have given up the 3rd most TD passes through the air this year. Kolb will have a week to prepare and won’t have the pressure of Vick breathing down his neck. In a similar situation last year, Kolb went off in two starts while Donovan McNabb was out. Expect a repeat this year, pick him up and start him if you can.
And here is who to sit in Week 5:
|Donovan McNabb @ GB
|While McNabb was able to leave Philly with a win, don’t think for a second that that means he had a good week. The former Eagle was 8/19 for 125 yards – a disappointing performance like I foresaw.
This week, it gets no easier as he goes to Lambeau Field. Expect McNabb to play flat after getting up for the emotional game last week. That, in combination with the matchup only spells trouble for Donovan. Green Bay has given up the 6th fewest passing yards and their poor performance against the Lions can be attributed to the matchup. The Packer defensive backfield isn’t big enough to man-up Brandon Pettigrew and Calvin Johnson, but they have the speed to slow Santana Moss and co. Sit McNabb again this week.
|Kyle Orton @ BAL
|Kyle Orton’s production thus far is certainly legitimate, but so is the Ravens D. Baltimore has given up 125 yards a game in the air, and opposing QBs only have 1 TD in 4 games.
|Philip Rivers @ OAK
|Rivers had a solid but uninspiring performance against the weak Cardinals defense. This week, he won’t get the luxury of an easy matchup in Oakland. The Raiders have given up the 3rd fewest passing yards, and Rivers doesn’t have enough weapons to do any major damage. On the other hand, Oakland is 31st against the rush and the Chargers have three capable backs. This week, the Chargers will keep the ball on the ground, so keep Rivers grounded on the bench.
|Matt Schaub @ NYG
|The Texans put points up Sunday, but Schaub wasn’t the reason for most of them. Schaub had two TDs but less than 200 yards as Arian Foster continues to garner more carries. This week, Schaub goes against the Giants, who pulverized whichever Bear was standing the backfield last week. While he’d be worth starting over a bottom-tier QB, think twice about sitting him this week.
|Alex Smith vs PHI
|Smith put up average numbers against Atlanta, but I’m just about done holding my breath and waiting for him to finally explode on the scene. While it might not be time to completely cut ties, The former #1 has no shot of putting up anywhere near good numbers against a tough Philly D.