Week 4 was a rough one for my personal quest toward emulating Nostradamus.
After a putrid Aces showing that left me at 1-6 for the week, I followed it up with only a slightly better run at the weekly losers, calling two out of six performers correctly. Since Dallas decided to not show up against Chicago and Tampa Bay’s rush defense showed their true colors, only DeMarco Murray and Vernon Davis proved me right with their underachievement last week.
This week, though, brings a lot of tough defensive matchups for the usual fantasy studs, leading me to believe a few of them are worthy of being left on the bench to rot with the rest of your duds.
Week 5 – Deuces
WR Mike Wallace, Pittsburgh Steelers (vs. Philadelphia Eagles) Prior to the Steelers’ Week 4 bye, Wallace shot out of the gates against the Raiders, racking up a healthy 123 yards and a touchdown on eight receptions. Before that, though, he did not surpass 74 yards in a game against much better secondaries from the Broncos and Jets. This week, Wallace and the Steelers take on Philly’s seventh-ranked passing defense, which has only given up two pass plays of more than 40 yards (aka Wallace’s bread and butter). With Antonio Brown leading the team in targets and the return of Rashard Mendenhall meaning more balance between the pass and the run, look for Wallace to put up numbers similar to the first two weeks of the season. Prediction: 69 yards receiving = 6.9 fantasy points
QB Michael Vick, Philadelphia Eagles (@ Pittsburgh Steelers) On the sideline opposite Wallace will be Vick, who is coming off his cleanest game of the season last Sunday against a strong New York Giants defense. Fantasy owners should be feeling better about Fragile Rock (my pet name for Vick) this week, then, since he managed to hold onto the ball for the whole game, right? Wrong. With James Harrison and Troy Polamalu (plus his gorgeous locks) set to return to the field, look for Pittsburgh’s team total of five sacks to increase as they apply heavy pressure to Vick throughout the game. Prediction: 189 yards passing + 24 yards rushing + 1 TD + 2 INTs = 9.96 fantasy points
RB Jamaal Charles, Kansas City Chiefs (vs. Baltimore Ravens) On paper, this looks like a solid matchup for Charles to exploit, as the Ravens have been vulnerable to the rush this year, allowing 94.5 yards per game and six touchdowns through the first quarter of the season. However, Baltimore will be well-rested after their grueling stretch of four games in 17 days to start the year, and the longest run the team has given up has been a measly 20-yard scamper to LeSean McCoy in Week 2. But the most important factor in Charles having a poor showing will not be Charles, or even the Ravens’ defensive line. Rather, it will be the play of Matt Cassel, who is averaging 6.6 yards per attempt and has thrown seven interceptions (including three last week at home against San Diego). What’s going to stop Baltimore from stacking the box against Charles and making Cassel beat them through the air? Cassel. Don’t bet on him. Prediction: 72 yards rushing + 16 yards receiving = 8.8 fantasy points
RB Fred Jackson, Buffalo Bills (@ San Francisco 49ers) FJax was held to 79 total yards last week in Buffalo’s blowout loss to New England, as the Bills had to take to the air to catch up late in the game. However, this week’s matchup against San Francisco does not look like it is going to offer Jackson a shot at redemption. San Francisco’s front seven will be too strong, and while this game will probably be closer than last week’s tilt, traveling across three time zones after an absolute lashing is not a good recipe for success. Prediction: 55 yards rushing + 17 yards receiving = 7.2 fantasy points
RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Cincinnati Bengals (vs. Miami Dolphins) Remember that time the Dolphins led the league in rush defense? It just happened to coincide with the time that the Law Firm forgot how to hold onto the ball, with three fumbles so far this season after holding onto it for his entire career. Green-Ellis may be a Top-10 back in terms of yardage, but his yards per carry (3.5) and lack of game-breaking speed (long run of 19 yards) say otherwise, and those will be the numbers to tell the story against a team allowing fewer than 60 yards per game on the ground. Plus, Green-Ellis is a non-factor in the passing game, with only nine targets to his name. Hire a new lawyer this weekend. Prediction: 47 yards rushing = 4.7 fantasy points
WR Jordy Nelson, Green Bay Packers (@ Indianapolis Colts) As Greg Jennings continues to take time off from the field to shoot Old Spice commercials (oh, he’s hurt? All I see are the commercials…), opposing defenses have keyed on Jordy. The end result? One touchdown this season and a long reception of 28 yards. While he may be averaging 12.4 yards per catch, teams have taken away the deep ball from Nelson, relegating him to a chain-moving, possession receiver. Green Bay has plenty of passing options, and Nelson is becoming less attractive as a weekly shoo-in for gaudy fantasy numbers. Indy is a weaker defense, but I expect Vontae Davis to take Nelson out of the picture and make Aaron Rodgers spread the ball around. Prediction: 42 yards receiving + 1 TD = 10.2 fantasy points