Week 5 – AFC North Preview
What to Watch For:
Can Joe Mixon Turn His Increased Workload into Fantasy Production?
While Mixon led the backfield in both snaps (48%) and touches (21), he failed to take advantage of a very favorable matchup against Cleveland in Week 4 gaining only 29 yards on the ground and 19 through the air. In fact, Giovanni Bernard (3 rec for 67 yards and a TD) was the star of the Bengals backfield on Sunday taking a 61-yard screen pass to pay dirt to give Cincy a 21-0 lead right before halftime. With the Bengals in control early in the 3rd quarter, Mixon faced stacked boxes as the few people left in Browns stadium knew the Bengals just wanted to run the ball and kill the clock. The Bills have allowed the 10th most fantasy points to RBs the last two weeks and were just gashed by the tandem of Devonta Freeman and [profile]Tevin Coleman[/profiler] for 137 rushing and 85 receiving yards. Look for Mixon to have a bounce-back week, and make no mistake, this is still Mixon’s backfield with Bernard and Jeremy Hill being used as complements. Don’t let the one-sided nature of the game against Cleveland sour you on Mixon’s future prospects as he’s still the RB to own and start on this team.
Ben Roethlisberger would consider the Week 3 game in Baltimore a success as the Steelers were able to ride their defense and star running back to a tough road victory. Unfortunately, his fantasy owners don’t get extra points for wins as Big Ben put up pedestrian numbers (216 passing yards, 1 TD, 1 INT) and, as advised, should be left on your fantasy bench when the game is not being played in Pittsburgh. Lucky for everyone with shares of Big Ben, he plays this week’s game in the friendly confines of Heinz Field. I’m throwing caution to the wind this week (the Jags give up the least fantasy points to opposing QBs this season) and rolling with Big Ben at home. Roethlisberger has 38 TDs against just 12 INTs at home and I want that high-upside production in my lineup.
JuJu Smith-Schuster WR Pittsburgh Steelers
JuJu has come alive the past three weeks catching eight of his fourteen targets for 102 yards and two touchdowns and seems to be gaining the trust of his veteran QB. Smith-Schuster also seems to have emerged as the team’s primary slot receiver as Eli Rogers was a healthy scratch in Week 4. Look for JuJu to be a beneficiary of Big Ben and the Steelers’ aerial attack getting back on track this Sunday.
Pittsburgh Steelers 35, Jacksonville Jaguars 24
The Jaguars defense has been formidable over the first four weeks of the season as they rank 11th in the NFL in total defense giving up only 18.5 points and 312.5 yards per game. You can toss those numbers out the window for this game as Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown, and Le’Veon Bell are glad to be home and will have no trouble lighting up the scoreboard at Heinz Field. Look for Martavis Bryant to make a few big plays and bounce back from two subpar weeks in a game the Steelers will dominate early and survive a late Jacksonville surge.
New York Jets 24, Cleveland Browns 21
The Jets and Browns are both in the middle of the pack defensively (16th and 17th respectively) but have been prone to allow big plays. Outside of the running back position, consider every member of the Browns’ 26th ranked total offense fantasy lepers until further notice. Duke Johnson Jr. is a low-end RB2/Flex option against a Jets D that has allowed the 4th most points to fantasy RBs. You can play Russian Roulette with Isaiah Crowell if you want a risky TD dependent Flex play who has scored 0 TDs on the season. The Browns will trail by ten heading into the 4th quarter and a DeShone Kizer INT thwarts a late, potentially game-winning drive.
Cincinnati Bengals 21, Buffalo Bills 17
A.J. Green and Joe Mixon should have success exploiting the Bills 24th overall ranked defense and need to be in your fantasy lineups. The Bills have allowed the 2nd least points to fantasy quarterbacks and Andy Dalton needs to have a good game against a team not from Cleveland before he makes your fantasy roster. Third-year TE Tyler Kroft will continue to be a reliable target for Andy Dalton and makes a big play late to give the Bengals the win and prove why he needs to be on all fantasy rosters as long as Eifert is out.
Oakland Raiders 13, Baltimore Ravens 10
Both Baltimore and Oakland rank inside the Top 13 in total defense, and this, combined with some struggling offenses, look to give us a low scoring, ugly game. The Ravens offense is not yet in Browns leprosy territory, but it’s close. Despite the Raiders allowing the 9th most points to fantasy RBs the last two weeks, Alex Collins and Javorius “Buck” Allen are no more than risky flex plays until this backfield picture becomes clear. E.J. Manuel (I know!) makes a few more plays than Joe Flacco at home to give the Raiders a win.
Week 5 – AFC South Preview
What to Watch For:
Division Leaders Clash in Pittsburgh
If you were to read that headline for week 5 it’s unlikely you’d associate the Jaguars as the team opposite of Pittsburgh. This should be a potent offensive performance between the two teams. Both possess excellent running backs and a mixture of receivers, but this will come down to the ground game. I can visualize where Leonard Fournette chalks up 150+ rushing yards but loses out to Le’Veon Bell in total yards in this game. One name to keep an eye on is Martavis Bryant. In week two against Minnesota, he nearly eclipsed 100 yards on just 3 receptions and he and Roethlisberger have been close to connecting with a number of passes. This might be the week Bryant surpasses the century mark, plus some.
Hill has been overshadowed by rookie Kareem Hunt through the first quarter of the season, and rightfully so. Hill was the rookie to watch last year and then became a must watch. This year he’s been somewhat quiet. I think this is the week Hill breaks out. Houston could make this a shootout and Andy Reid is always scheming to zig when the opposing side zags. I could see a reverse or a wild-cat option play with Hunt involved that turns Hill loose. This is the week Hill fills up his stat lines.
Robinson is not a well-known name at this point, and rightfully so, as San Francisco’s receivers have been putrid. Robinson saw 12 targets last week, but only produced 3 catches. The injury to Marquise Goodwin is what caused the benefit for Robinson, but I would look for the 49ers to check what they have in the 5th year pro.
Indianapolis Colts 17, San Francisco 49ers 10
Jacoby Brissett has tried to keep the Colts afloat until Andrew Luck is deemed fully healthy. Unfortunately, the offensive skill players are sinking with him. With the exception of T.Y. Hilton’s week 3 performance against the Browns, the Colts receiving group has been dismal and Frank Gore is hitting the age wall. There won’t be many startable options in this game. Only look to it if you were hit with the “bye week blues”.
Pittsburgh Steelers 34, Jacksonville Jaguars 21
Fans of Pittsburgh offensive players hope this is the game in which they turn it around. I expect them to do so in front of the home fans and Antonio Brown hits some home runs along with it. The Jaguars gave up 471 yards against the New York Jets in week 4, so look for Pittsburgh to follow suit in adding to the stat lines in this one.
Miami Dolphins 23, Tennessee Titans 14
Brandon Weeden has been added as a Plan B option if Marcus Mariota cannot go Sunday due to his hamstring injury. The Titans are already reeling from an embarrassing loss to Houston last week after the Texans put up 57 points. Miami’s positional players shouldn’t have a problem producing this week, and Cutler could slide into QB1 range. Tennessee could look to get some momentum with a heavy dosage of Derrick Henry, so I would look to start him in all formats.
Kansas City Chiefs 34, Houston Texans 20
This season has been the Kareem Hunt show and deservedly so. I think it’s Tyreek Hill who steals the show this week and puts up his biggest yardage performance of the season. Houston’s running game will try to continue to become the offense’s main option to allow for Deshaun Watson to see single coverage, but this is going to be a difficult week to add onto last week’s performance.
Week 5 – AFC East Preview
What to Watch For:
How bad will the Dolphins’ offense be this week?
Well, it can only go up from here, right? After scoring 0 points in week 4 and scoring a garbage time TD as time expired in week 3, this offense has basically gone 2 games without scoring points. How is that possible in this day and age of the NFL? Cutler is back to not caring about anything again, Ajayi is yelling at others on the sideline, and DeVante Parker is only able to flash here and there since the team can’t sustain drives. Even though this offense is dysfunctional, Parker has the ability to take advantage of the Titans’ soft secondary as they’re one of the top five teams to give up the most TD’s, yards per game and highest QB rating to opposing passing attacks. Parker has garnered 9+ targets in each game and getting him the ball should open things up for the rest of the offense
Charles Clay is starting to become one of the most consistent players at the most inconsistent position in fantasy football. Tyrod Taylor has targeted him 6+ times in 3 of the first 4 games and he leads the team in total receiving yards so far. Add in the fact that Jordan Matthews is now out after getting thumb surgery and you can lock him into an even more reliable role in the Bills’ offense. Feel confident in starting Clay this week and for the next few weeks to come
Austin Seferian Jenkins
ASJ has had the feel of a sleeper ever since training camp and he hasn’t disappointed since being activated in week 3. He hasn’t blown up over the last couple weeks but considers that just he getting his feet wet. His receiving totals of 3 for 41 and 5 for 46 show a conservative floor. However, with him going against a beatable Browns defense that just gave up 2 TDs to Tyler Kroft, this very well could be the game where he winds up in the endzone.
Patriots 33, Bucs 27
This matchup could be one of the better Thursday night games over the last few years. Both offenses are top 3 in passing yards per game while both defenses are bottom 3 in giving up the most passing yards per game. It’s a match made in heaven on paper and if things go as planned both offenses should move the ball consistently. The Tampa Bay D has had some of their top players been nicked up over the first 3 weeks (Gerald McCoy, Lavonte David, TJ Ward). The Patriots should lean on the short passing game as an extension of the run game and keep the Bucs offense off the field as much as possible.
Bills 20, Bengals 17
Last week I said the Bills won’t be in first place by this week. Yeah, that was wrong, and even though I still don’t believe they’re a playoff-bound team, I won’t underestimate them anymore either. If the Patriots vs. Bucs game is the battle of the offenses, this game is the battle of the defenses as they both rank in the top 3 for the least amount of points per game allowed. This Bills defense is for real. They’ve only given up 1 TD pass over 4 games, least in the NFL. LeSean McCoy and the Bills’ offense haven’t hit their stride as of yet and I think that continues again this week against a tough Bengals D. However, with Tyrod’s rushing ability (3rd most rushing yards for a QB with 118), LeSean gradually getting better 90+ total yards in week 3 and 100+ yards in week 4, and Charles Clay performing as well as he has (4th most receiving yards for TEs with 227), I see them pulling off a narrow W.
Jets 23, Browns 13
The Jets are another team that has been a pleasant surprise to come out of the AFC East. Their offense was able to do enough against a tough Jaguars D to pull off an overtime win. Although they have a lower end passing game (26th most passing yards) the combination of Powell and Elijah McGuire looked like quite the combo last week. The Browns have a top 8 rush defense so this could be a good matchup to watch. That being said, the Browns also have given up the 4th most points per game so the opportunities for ASJ and Powell should continue to be there for the taking. If Forte misses another game, Powell looks like another RB2 option with ASJ having his first opportunity to blow up
Titans 27, Dolphins 10
As I explained in What To Watch For, the Dolphins offense is struggling (8.3 points per game), and I’m not sure if that’s a strong enough word to describe it. It’s a shame too because they have the skill players to have a very good offense. However, this passing offense mostly plays horizontally which allows defenses to load the box in order to stop Ajayi. Maybe playing in their first home game will change things but the offensive line needs to help Ajayi improve his 3.6 yards per carry and allow Cutler enough time to keep targeting their top WR option, DeVante Parker (yes, not Jarvis Landry) who’s averaging 15.7 points per game in PPR leagues good for #30 WR. In the end, if Mariota plays, this offense may still struggle to find itself even against a generous Titans D
Week 5 – AFC West Preview
What to Watch For:
Can anyone slow down Kareem Hunt?
After the first quarter of the season, nobody’s been more dominant or electric than Kansas City’s Kareem Hunt. After four games, Hunt is leading the league in rushing yards (502) and total yards from scrimmage (659). The Chiefs week five opponent, the Houston Texans, may have something to say about that. After giving up 100 yards to rookie running back Leonard Fournette in week one, the Texans defense has limited Joe Mixon (36 yards), Mike Gillislee (31) and DeMarco Murray (31) the last three games. Look for Jadeveon Clowney and company to limit Hunt this week.
Philip Rivers, QB, Los Angeles Chargers
Jameis Winston just torched the New York Giants pass defense to the toon of 332 yards and three touchdowns last weekend. Philip Rivers and his WR group will get their chance to exploit a secondary that has given up seven TDs already this season and no interceptions. Look for Rivers to throw early and often in this game.
Albert Wilson, WR, Kansas City
Since Houston will focus a lot of their attention on Hunt, Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill in this matchup, fourth-year player Albert Wilson has the potential for a breakout game this week. Last Monday night, Wilson finished with four catches and a season-high 63 yards. Alex Smith does a great job of finding the open receiver, instead of forcing the ball like some QB’s do. Look for Wilson to exploit the mismatch on the slot and get behind the safety for some big plays.
Los Angeles Chargers 24, New York Giants 21
In a matchup that pits two 0-4 teams, the game will come down to execution. While both teams are ranked sixth and seventh respectable in passing yards respectively, the Chargers have held their opponents under 240 yards passing in each game. If the Giants try and run the ball (ranked 31st in yards and attempts), they could be forced into third and long situations throughout the game… not where you want Eli Manning operating. The Chargers get their first win of the season in New York.
Oakland Raiders 16, Baltimore Ravens 13
How the tables have turned for both the Raiders and Ravens this season. After both starting the 2017 season 2-0, each team rides into this crucial matchup on a two-game losing streak. Joe Flacco has thrown six interceptions already this season and Derek Carr is out with a back injury for the next few weeks. They’re still more playmakers on Oakland sideline compared to Baltimore. Therefore, look for the Raiders talented offensive line to right the ship and control the game in the trenches. The Raiders win in ugly fashion versus the Ravens.
Kansas City Chiefs 27, Houston Texans 20
The Chiefs are arguably the best team in football right now. They have beaten the defending Super Bowl champs in New England, the 3-1 Philadelphia Eagles and a tough Washington Redskins on Monday Night last week. Houston is fifth in the NFL in rushing yards and turnovers created, two key ingredients for an upset, but asking rookie quarterback Deshaun Watson to beat Kansas City at this point in the season is too much. The Chiefs remain undefeated after this game against the Texans.
BYE: Denver Broncos
Week 4 – AFC North Recap
Cincinnati Bengals 31 Cleveland Browns 7
Pittsburgh Steelers 26 Baltimore Ravens 9
What to Watch For:
The fantasy demise of Isaiah Crowell reached a climax on Sunday. The late second/early third round fantasy pick gained 20 yards on seven carries, caught his only target for seven yards, and most importantly played on just 33% of the offensive snaps. As predicted, his “backup” Duke Johnson Jr. was the lone bright spot of a forgettable game for the Cleveland Browns. Duke caught nine of his team-leading ten targets for 47 yards, scored the Browns only TD of the game late in the 4th quarter, and paced the backfield playing the majority (55%) of the snaps. He will not be the traditional lead back in the mold of Le’Veon Bell. However, the Browns will trail in most games and Duke should continue to see the majority of snaps in must-pass scenarios giving him a safe, solid RB2 floor of 10-12 PPR points. If you own Isaiah Crowell (hand raised) there’s not much you can do at the moment. His value on the trade market is nonexistent so I suggest giving him one more week in what SHOULD be a more favorable game script against the Jets. If the Crow can’t fly on Sunday, it’s time to set him free from your fantasy roster.
The leading offensive playmaker for the Bengals against the Browns in Week 4 was A.J. Green, Joe Mixon, TYLER KROFT?! That’s right, the third year TE from Rutgers paced Cincinnati tying for the team lead in targets (7) while catching six receptions for 68 yards and two touchdowns. Kroft is developing a nice rapport with Andy Dalton and should be both added and started on all TE-streaming fantasy rosters as long as Tyler Eifert is sidelined.
Big Ben’s road struggles even trickled down to limit Mr. Reliable Antonio Brown to four catches for 34 yards on nine targets. The big miss by Roethlisberger on the second drive of the game, and subsequent AB blowup highlighted that Big Ben and his favorite target were not in-tune for the game on Sunday. With Le’Veon Bell literally carrying the team to victory on his back, there was no need for the team to force the ball to Brown. Brown led the team in targets and should be back to his All-Pro self in a HOME game against the Jaguars.
Week 4 – AFC South Recap
What to Watch For:
Can the Jaguars offense keep the momentum?
Although Jacksonville didn’t get the win against the Jets, they did produce 311 yards of offense. Unfortunately the offense last week came from the Jets who posted 471 total yards. I thought the Jaguars would be the team that produced the big numbers as New York was viable to give up the yardage. I was wrong.
Bell was the cream that rose to the top of week 4. He amassed 144 rushing yards, 2 touchdowns to go along with 4 receptions and 42 yards. Those are the home run type of numbers Bell is able to produce at any point and can win games for owners. Hopefully, this was the week he did that for most.
6 rushes, 7 yards. I wish there were additional numbers associated with that line, but that is it. He just never seemed to get any positive yardage to add momentum and Houston diffused the X-factor for Tennessee.
He is considered day-to-day with a hamstring injury, but consider this a weekly monitoring throughout the season. Tennessee doesn’t have the luxury to give Mariota enough time during the season to heal, as evidenced by the signing of Brandon Weeden. Temper expectations for the running game as long as this injury is an issue.
Week 4 – AFC East Recap
What to Watch For:
Can the Patriots whip another NFC South team?
No…is that good enough for analysis? I’ve been told it’s not so I’ll digress. The Patriots did dink and dunk throughout the game as Brady completed 32 passes but only had two passes go farther than 25 yards, one of those being a 26 yarder. They didn’t establish the run game with only 19 attempts but instead supplemented it with short passes. The O-line did an okay job at times but still allowed 3 sacks and 7 QB hits which didn’t allow Brady to control the game as much as he likes to. With all that being said, the reason why they lost this game wasn’t because of the offense. This defense is a mess and look like they’re searching for answers on the fly.
Powell came into this game as a trendy sleeper once news comes out that Matt Forte would miss this game and he didn’t disappoint. He had a 75 yard TD run on a play where the entire Jaguars D gave up after thinking he was down by contact after Powell tripped. He wasn’t, thus scoring one of the easiests TDs of his career. Although that made up a good amount of his 163 rushing yards, take that run away, and he still averaged 4.4 YPC. Add in 4 receptions for 27 yards and you have yourself a great all-around day. If Forte misses more action feel free to consider him a mid-range RB2.
Man, this is frustrating. Ajayi finished with 46 yards on 12 carries but one of those carries was a 15 yarder on the first drive of the game. And this was another plus matchup against the Saints who had given up 199+ rushing yards in each of their first 3 games. The fault can’t squarely be placed on Ajayi as the Fins’ O-Line just isn’t providing much running room. Midway through the game you the telecast showed Ajayi visibly frustrated on the sidelines and for good reason. As a whole, this offense just isn’t doing anything right and unfortunately, Ajayi is suffering because of it.
Jordan Matthews goes down with a thumb injury and will be out for the next month or so. This solidifies Charles Clay as the #1 receiving option on the team
Week 4 – AFC West Recap
Oakland Raiders 10, Denver Broncos 16
Los Angeles Chargers 24, Philadelphia Eagles 26
Kansas City Chiefs 29, Washington Redskins 20
What to Watch For:
Will the Raiders offense rebound against Denver?
Simply put, no they did not. The Raiders offense got manhandled for the second straight week. Marshawn Lynch finished his afternoon with only 12 yards on nine rushes. The passing game didn’t fare any better. Michael Crabtree was inactive this week, due to his bruised ribs he sustained in week three. Therefore, Amari Cooper needed to step up with his teammate’s absence. He was nowhere to be found. The former Alabama star caught two passes for nine yards (eight targets).
After throwing up a dud last week against the Los Angeles Chargers (one catch for one yard), Travis Kelce rebounded nicely for his owners with a rock-solid game. On eight targets, Kelce caught seven passes for 111 yards and one touchdown. Also, one rush for four yards. Kelce and the Chiefs are on fire right now.
With a chance to silence the naysayers this week, Amari Cooper did nothing but prove them right. A week after catching only one pass, Cooper went out and caught two passes for nine yards. The Denver secondary is one of the best in the league, but you expect more from your #1 receiver in a big game against a division rival.
In the third quarter, franchise quarterback Derek Carr went down with a back injury and didn’t return. Head Coach Jack Del Rio came out Monday and gave a timetable of 2-6 weeks for Carr’s transverse fracture.
Los Angeles Chargers
RT Joe Barksdale exited the fourth quarter with an ankle injury and didn’t return. The Chargers are struggling to run the ball so far this season and missing Barksdale would be a blow in that department.
Kansas City Chiefs
Laurent Duvernay-Tardif left the game Monday night with a knee injury. The RG was not able to put any pressure on it as he exited the field, which is not a good sign. Duvernay has played solid so far this season for the Chiefs. Therefore, this could force coach Andy Reid to reevaluate his strategy running the ball if the injury is long term.