The Monday Night, Favre vs. Green Bay match up turned out to be all we could have hoped for and more, with Favre and the Vikings coming out on the winning end. The game might have panned out differently had TE Donald Lee managed to hang onto that ball in the endzone, when the packers went for it on 4th and goal. What a cheesehead. Although that miss was not as bad as Ravens' WR Michael Clayton dropping a chest high between the numbers bullseye pass, on what could have been a game winning drive for Baltimore in the waning seconds Sunday. I don't want to be him this week.
With the Packers/Vikings game over, one quarter of the 2009 season is officially in the books. I started strong in my predictions but ended weak. I got hammered in week 4, going a lousy 9-6. My first quarter record stands at 46-17. Still better than the professional game pickers, but still, 9-6? Ouch. The Ravens' and Bills' losses were probably the most surprising, but I digress. Here's last week's column.
--Week 4 Soundbites--
This week we had two mammoth defensive players. The first came in the Monday night game, when top fantasy IDP defensive lineman Jared Allen finally showed up to play. He racked up 6 solo tackles, a forced fumble, and a measly 4.5 sacks, one for a safety. Booyah!
On Sunday it was top overall IDP pick, linebacker Patrick Willis, who finally lived up to his draft ranking with 6 tackles, 2.5 sacks, 1 pass defense, and an interception returned for a touchdown. The Rams will feel his pain all the way home.
On the offensive side of the ball, two Browns players made big noise in Week 4. WR Mohamed Massaquoi, and RB Jerome Harrison. You can read my take on them in What Can Browns Do For You?
It was another bad week for quarterback injuries, with Eli Manning and Matthew Stafford both making early exits. And Drew Brees made a second consecutive start with no TD passes. Read that update in QB Quick Hits.
This week's waiver wire breakout pick up has got to be Pittsburgh Steelers running back, Rashard Mendenhall. With Willie Parker on the shelf, Rocket Rashard exploded Sunday Night, and he faces the Lions in week 5. I think he'll be devouring that run stop all day.
Welcome back Brandon Marshall. If you missed his zig-zag, touchdown march into the endzone against the befuddled Cowboys on Sunday, you missed Marshall's 2009 coming out party. The Broncos are now a surprising 4-0. Now on to week 5.
--Team Defense Start and Sit - Week 5--
Plug and Play
|Solid defensive option
|If they are on your bench, leave 'em there
|Reasonable risk/reward option
Cincinnati Bengals at Baltimore Ravens
This should be an intriguing game. Both teams are 3-1. The team known for it's defense (Ravens) are winning with offense, and the team known for its offense (Bengals) are winning with defense. The Bengals like to keep it interesting as well, winning each of their games at the bitter end. I think this could be a closer affair than Ravens fans might like, but this week, I don't think the kitty kats will have a last minute triumph.
Minnesota Vikings at St. Louis Rams
The Vikings looked great against Green Bay last week, while the Rams once again looked pitiful. Marc Bulger may be back this week, but don't expect that to help much. The Rams best offensive threat is running back Steven Jackson, and he's facing perhaps the top run defense in the league. These Rams will sadly be like sheep to the slaughter. For fantasy owners, let's just hope Jackson doesn't get killed out there. One hope for the Rams is an over confident and emotional Vikings team. St. Louis is desperate and sloppy play by the Vikes could open the door. Trivia fact: With Monday's win against his old team, Favre become the first QB to defeat all 32 teams.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Philadelphia Eagles
Much like the Vikings should feed on the Rams, look for the Eagles to trounce the Bucs. Tampa has been just dreadful this season on both sides of the ball. Young QB Josh Johnson has to face the second toughest pass defense this week, which means the team will rely on RB Cadillac Williams, et al, to run the ball frequently. If you play in a Survivor league or dead pool, the Eagles make a safe pick this week. Donovan McNabb is slated to return in week 5, but if not, Kevin Kolb has shown he can get the job done. Rookie tight end Brent Celek could chock up his third consecutive 100 yard game.
Washington Redskins at Carolina Panthers
Two teams with something to prove. The Washington offense has been anemic, and Jason Campbell keeps turning the ball over. He has five interceptions to go with his 5 touchdown passes. The Redskins faithful are losing patience. Meanwhile the ever consistent Clinton Portis has been anything but. I pegged him as a bust in my preseason rankings, and so far I'm winning that call. On paper he has a solid fantasy match-up this week, but don't bet on it. On the other side, Jake Delhomme has been even worse than Campbell, with 2 TDs to 7 interceptions. Ouch. Why is he still playing? Last year's stud RB, DeAngelo Williams has been average so far this year, and his partner in crime, Jonathon Stewart doesn't even rank in the top 50 producers yet. The question becomes, who blinks first? I'll flip a coin and say the Redskins fall.
Pittsburgh Steelers at Detroit Lions
It would take a meltdown of ice age proportions for the Steelers to gack this game up. They should have Troy Polamalu back on defense, Rashard Mendenhall is staking claim to be what the team was needing at RB, and Big Ben is one of the league's best QBs. Add to that mix that they face the still struggling Lions, who look to be without their rookie QB, Matthew Stafford. Oh, and RB Kevin Smith is banged up too. It'll be a long day for Lions fans.
Oakland Raiders at New York Giants
Will Eli play or won't he? If he has any say he'll be out there decimating the already chewed up Raiders. However, against a poor Oakland team, the Giants may go the safe route and play David Carr, allowing RBs Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw to eat up the field and the clock. Oakland has very little going its way right now. Their QB has been heavily fined for being overweight and being late to or missing team meetings. He's looked horrendous through 4 games, and now the team's star RB, Darren McFadden is out for several weeks. Former QB, Jeff Garcia went public this week claiming there are a lot of Oakland players, old and new, just showing up to collect a paycheck. The Giants should win this handily regardless of QB.
Dallas Cowboys at Kansas City Chiefs
These teams haven't gone head to head since 2005. This week's game could be a shootout similar to that last encounter. The Chiefs hope to have WR Dwayne Bowe back, and this could be the week maligned RB, Larry Johnson shows he still has a little something something left. Dallas has been weak on defense so far, and their offense may be without Felix Jones, Marion Barber and Roy Williams this week. This should be an air show on both sides. I think the Chiefs actually have a chance to upset at home, and you can't forget they have the best homefield advantage going, with that Arrowhead crowd. Tony Romo will have mucho trouble hearing. I think the difference maker for the Chiefs could be WR Bobby Wade, and for the Cowboys, RB Tashard Choice.
Cleveland Browns at Buffalo Bills
Can you call it an upset pick if you think the Browns will outlast the Bills? Buffalo has not been able to find their offense of late, and the Browns are desperate for a win, and energized by last week's near win over the Bengals. They got stud performances out of rookies Jerome Harrison and Mohamed Massaquoi. The downside for the Browns is they have surrendered 8 TDs to RBs so far, and the Bills have two great ones in Marshawn Lynch and Fred Jackson. On the bright side, the Bills are equally bad, and have also surrendered 8 TDs to RBs. Look for a lot of running in this game. The Browns have not been great against the pass, and that means Lee Evans and Terrell Owens could be the difference makers. But Derek Anderson likes the aerial game as well, and the Bills are poor against TEs, so Robert Royal could play a big roll.
Atlanta Falcons at San Francisco 49ers
The Falcons are coming off a bye week, and the 49ers are coming off an offensive stampede against the Rams. The Falcons like to run the ball, but Michael Turner has been a first round bust, much as I predicted. The 49ers are ranked 4th against the rush, so look for another poor showing there. The 49ers also like to run, and so far the Falcons have been accommodating to opposing runners, giving up 177 yards and a TD on average. The Falcons have yet to give up a passing TD to a WR, but they have given up 2 to TEs. Hello 3rd straight week with a TD, Vernon Davis. Look for a close game, but I like the hometown team to steal the win they lost to the Vikes.
Houston Texans at Arizona Cardinals
This game has shootout written all over it, but last time we thought that it was one sided, with Indy lighting up a struggling Cards offense. Arizona had a bye week to get healthy, and that could make a difference. Sooner or later, all the birds have to start flying the same direction. They also need to get their running game on track. I think that will take a step forward this week. Houston has been lights out lately, and RB Steve Slaton finally got into the endzone...twice. Look for lots of points, and the Cardinals nipping the Texans.
Jacksonville Jaguars at Seattle Seahawks
It is hard to say yet whether we will see Seneca Wallace or Matt Hasselbeck under center in Seattle this weekend. The Seasquabs have been offensively aimless without Hasselbeck, but I think even if he returns this week, he'll need time to get back in a rhythm, and that's all the Jaguars will need to pounce. I'm going to assume he does play, but the Jaguars' run game, combined with David Garrard's ability to shred the Seattle secondary will be too much for Hasselbeck and crew to overcome this week.
New England Patriots at Denver Broncos
This is perhaps the best game of the week. Coach Bellichick gets to face his former pupil, as the Patriots take on the Broncos. Coach Josh McDaniels puts his 4-0 defense up against the once fierce New England offense. Denver has surrendered only 26 total points so far. Tom Brady can put that up in the first half, if he plays like the Brady of old. This is an old fashioned chess match. New England gets Wes Welker back this week, and the Broncos offense just doesn't have much going so far. Look for an old time Patriots fireworks display.
| Indianapolis Colts at Tennessee Titans
The Titans went 13-3 last season, and and are now 0-4 to start 2009? Talk about your meltdowns. Their run defense is second best despite their record, allowing only 1 rushing TD. However, they have given up a whopping 1214 yards through the air, and 10 TDs. That's over 303 passing yards a game and 2.5 TDs. Do we know any QB who likes to throw more than Peyton Manning? Unless the 2008 Titan's defense shows up this Sunday night, fantasy owners of any Colts receiver should be happy Monday morning. The Colts should have no trouble pushing their regular season win streak to 14 games.
New York Jets at Miami Dolphins
The Jets came crashing down to Earth last week with a convincing loss to the New Orleans Saints who didn't even get a passing TD from Drew Brees. Rookie QB Mark Sanchez finally looked like a rookie, and the Saints defense dismantled him for it. Meanwhile Miami started the Chad Henne era with a surprising win over the buffaloed Bills. The Dolphins relied mostly on their running game, which isn't going to fly with the Jets who are ranked 12th against the run; but that's without OLB Calvin Pace who returns to action this week. If Henne is forced to go airborne, the Jets will shut the team down completely.
Week 5 RB Start Sit
Week 5 TE Start Sit
Week 5 Risers and Fallers
Updated Team Defense
Do not forget the Chicago Bears, Green Bay Packers, New Orleans Saints and San Diego Chargers will be on Bye this week. Adjust your rosters accordingly.
I was listening to the new KISS CD Sonic Boom while writing this article: