Aces & Deuces: Week 9 Aces

Quarterback Joe Flacco and the Baltimore Ravens should be in for a big week against division rival Cleveland.

Much like Mark Sanchez and Eva Longoria, the Aces & Deuces have split up.

Also like Sanchez, yours truly has also put together a string of lackluster performances, with Week 8 being perhaps the season’s worst.

Despite Andrew Luck’s handsome matchup against Tennessee and Santana Moss being the only functional “receiver” the Redskins have, I still managed to go for 0-for-5 in the Aces department last week, which means this week has to get better as we meet the halfway point of the season.

Wait, I have half a season’s worth left of predicting to do? Better get this train back on track.

Aces – Week 9

QB Joe Flacco & WR Torrey Smith, Baltimore Ravens (@ Cleveland Browns) Well-rested after a bye week and facing a divisional rival that has shown some energy lately, this should be a monster week for Flacco and all his receivers. True, Cleveland is coming off a defensive performance in which they held San Diego to a mere six points, but anyone who has watched San Diego this season knows that, sadly, the Browns’ performance was hardly impressive. With an offense that is ripe with weapons for spreading the ball around the field, Baltimore will be able to exploit Cleveland’s 26th-ranked defense from all angles. I like Smith, especially, in this game due to Anquan Boldin’s recent re-emergence. With safety Joe Haden likely devoting most of his attention to the veteran, we could see plenty of targets headed Smith’s way. Predictions: Flacco – 295 yards passing + 2 TDs = 19.8 fantasy points; Smith – 74 yards receiving + 1 TD = 13.4 fantasy points

QB Tony Romo, Dallas Cowboys (@ Atlanta Falcons) Romo is the ultimate garbage time hero. Whether the garbage time is of his own making or the oppositions matters not, as ultimately Dallas digs so big a hole that the team has to take to the air for three quarters of the game. With a banged up corps of running backs, a quick-strike Atlanta offense, and a ball-hawking Falcons secondary, it’s a perfect storm of passing opportunities for Romo. Even if he throws three picks, he’ll still get the ball back in time to throw three TDs and a few hundred yards to offset them. Prediction: 310 yards passing + 3 TDs + 2 INTs =  20.4 fantasy points

WR Mike Williams, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (@ Oakland Raiders) The distraction method seems to be working for Williams. While opponents are busy keying on big man Vincent Jackson, Williams is making the most of his looks, with only a marginally smaller yards per target average than VJax (9.27 vs. 9.94). Tampa Bay’s offense has been firing on all cylinders since playing the New Orleans Slump Busters, and against an Oakland secondary that is lacking for playmakers, Williams is a great WR3 play this week. Prediction: 66 yards receiving + 1 TD = 12.6 fantasy points

New Orleans Saints running back Pierre Thomas won’t stop fighting for your fantasy team.

RB Pierre Thomas, New Orleans Saints (vs. Philadelphia Eagles) With the news today that Saints jack-of-all-trades man Darren Sproles is out with a broken hand, Thomas’ value has skyrocketed. Normally a victim of New Orleans’ spread the love offense, Thomas routinely racks up yards after contact and truly shines when given a larger volume of touches (see his Week 2 effort against Carolina, in which he touched the ball 13 times for a total of 143 yards). I just hope the team lets him enjoy the spoils of the end zone, instead of letting PT carry it to the two, only to have Mark Ingram take three downs to push it past the pylons. Prediction: 72 yards rushing + 43 yards receiving + 1 TD = 17.5 fantasy points

RB Mikel LeShoure, Detroit Lions (@ Jacksonville Jaguars) I have been down on the Detroit running game all season, but this week presents a positive matchup for the team. Calvin Johnson has been hobbled and out of practice all week, which is going to make offensive balance an absolute necessity. The Jags give up more than 130 yards and a touchdown on the ground per game, and LeShoure just had a baby this week that he has to impress (even if he will be lacking for sleep). He’ll still get pulled on third downs in favor of Joique Bell, but he is a solid flex option or bye week starter for owners of the Stevens (Jackson and Ridley). Prediction: 59 yards rushing + 1 TD = 11.9 fantasy points

On the season, Celek has amassed 169 yards after the catch. Saints defenders couldn’t tackle Lieutenant Dan if they tried, so the formula here seems pretty simple to me. Look for Celek to exploit Corey White’s slot coverage and for Malcolm Jenkins and Roman Harper to miss a few easy stops, as per usual. Prediction: 70 yards receiving + 1 TD = 13 fantasy points

Aces & Deuces: Week 8

Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck is in store for a huge game against a poor Tennessee Titans defense.

Better late than Sunday afternoon, right?

This week’s slate of Aces & Deuces are a little behind schedule, but still in with enough time to make any lineup tweaks before the games begin tomorrow. After last week’s 4-6 showing, though, I feel like I got cheated a little. I mean, who would have expected San Francisco and Seattle would both yield 100-yard games on the ground? That effectively ruined my shot at a good Deuces showing, but I will say this: I knocked my Dustin Keller swing-for-the-fences out of the park.

Now that I’ve puffed my chest out a little, let’s check out this week’s picks.

Aces

QB Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts (@ Tennessee Titans) A look at the Titans’ defensive statistics is enough to make Luck’s owners salivate. Tennessee has given up 16 touchdowns (tied for most in the league), the highest opposing passer rating (108.2), and a whopping 103 first downs via the pass. With a running game that still isn’t clicking, and a major bromance developing with Reggie Wayne, look for Luck to have a big day on the road. Prediction: 315 yards passing + 25 yards rushing + 3 TDs passing = 27.1 fantasy points

TE Joel Dreessen, Denver Broncos (vs. New Orleans Saints) While Dreessen is owned in fewer leagues than teammate Jacob Tamme and also trails the latter in targets, the former Texan standouts out in the most important category when predicting Aces: fantasy points. Dreessen has three touchdowns on the year to Tamme’s one, and more yardage on fewer looks. In a likely shootout against a Saints defense that couldn’t stop a scarecrow, targets will be aplenty, and Dreesen’s size will prove to be a huge advantage in the red zone. Plug him in if you were burned by Aaron Hernandez’s fear of bangers and mash. Prediciton: 45 yards receiving + 1 TD = 10.5 fantasy points

RB Michael Bush, Chicago Bears (@ Carolina Panthers) I like Bush this week simply due to Jay Cutler’s rib injury last week. Since he will be limited in his mobility, I look for the Bears to lean more heavily on the running game against a subpar Carolina defense. Matt Forte will get the bulk of the work, but Bush has performed well as a deep flex starter (242 yards, 3 TDs), and this will be a good week to use him in that role. Prediction: 64 yards rushing + 1 TD = 12.4 fantasy points

Washington Redskins wide receiver Santana Moss has become RGIII’s go-to guy.

WR Santana Moss, Washington Redskins (@ Pittsburgh Steelers) Pierre Garcon has a torn tendon in his foot. Fred Davis blew out his Achilles. Josh Morgan has been a free agent bust. Leonard Hankerson is Leonard Hankerson. Someone has to catch RGIII’s bombs, and that someone has emerged in the form of the veteran Moss. With 226 yards and three touchdowns in his last four games, he is poised for more action against a seemingly always hobbles Pittsburgh defense. And while the Steelers are holding opponents to under 200 yards per game passing, they have yet to deal with the play-extending machine that is Bob Griff, and Moss will use his experience to get open when refined plays break down into sandlot game breakers. Prediction: 96 yards receiving + 1 TD = 15.6 fantasy points

WR Jeremy Kerley, New York Jets (vs. Miami Dolphins) Even though Miami averages an interception per game, the secondary is the team’s biggest defensive liability. Kerley is Mark Sanchez’s go-to guy in New York, and with a 17.4 yards per catch average, he has a knack for the big play. With a game plan that will see the Jets put more trust in Sanchez’s hands in order to play to the Dolphins’ weakness, Kerley’s role should be expansive. Prediction: 115 yards receiving + 1 TD = 17.5 fantasy points

Deuces

Matt Ryan is in for a tough week against a physical Philly defense.

QB Matt Ryan and WR Julio Jones, Atlanta Falcons (@ Philadelphia Eagles) Picking against the leaders of an undefeated offense doesn’t seem like the smart way to make money, does it? I guess that’s why I’m not getting paid for this gig. Despite firing their defensive coordinator during the bye week, Philly still boasts a strong secondary. Even though they are the league’s 15th-ranked pass defense based on yardage, opposing signal callers are completing only 52.7% of their attempts against the Eagles, and Gang Green has given up only one touchdown per game via the pass. Atlanta is certainly riding high, but the Falcons have also been the benefactors of some soft secondaries in the final two minutes of the game, and I don’t think they will experience the same fortune this weekend. Predictions: Ryan – 260 yards passing + 2 TDs + 1 INT = 16.4 fantasy points; Jones – 72 yards receiving = 7.2 fantasy points

WR Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona Cardinals (vs. San Francisco 49ers) The Niners have held Calvin Johnson, Jordy Nelson, and Percy Harvin to less than ten fantasy points in their respective matchups this season. Even Victor Cruz, who has been his usual salsa-dancing self for most of the year, only managed 11.8 against San Francisco, which tells me Fitzgerald will have his work cut out for him. With no other viable receiving threats to take away attention, and a patchwork offensive line that continues to play matador for its poor quarterbacks, Larry will be lucky to score as many points as the number on his jersey. Prediction: 89 yards receiving = 8.9 fantasy points

TE Jason Witten, Dallas Cowboys (vs. New York Giants) Witten managed a paltry 44 yards against a poor Carolina defense last week, and he takes on a Giants team that is stifling opposing tight ends. The overall inconsistency of Dallas’ offensive play, combined with Witten only scoring one touchdown on the year thus far, is cause for concern in a big divisional matchup that should prove New York is the cream of the NFC East crop. Prediction: 62 yards receiving = 6.2 fantasy points

WR Calvin Johnson, Detroit Lions (vs. Seattle Seahawks) I am posting Megatron on this list for one reason alone this week: Richard Sherman. The second year cornerback out of Stanford is by no means a household name, or even dominant, but anyone having the audacity to change his Twitter handle for the week to Optimus Prime gets the nod in my book. I like the confidence this Seattle defense displays. Prediction: 104 yards receiving = 10.4 fantasy points

Aces & Deuces: Week 7

Ryan Fitzpatrick and his awesome beard are here to bail you out of your bye week conundrums.

Together again, and it feels so good.

With a Thursday night game pitting two outstanding defenses against two top tier running backs, the Deuces needed to come a day earlier than normal this week. It just felt odd to put the Aces off until Friday, so we are back to basics, putting both sides together for your consumption.

And really, with a killer bye week looming large, there is a little comfort that comes in having additional perspectives early, especially if you know you are going to have to sweat out some sticky injury situations (Jimmy Graham, Adrian Peterson) until Sunday morning. So take some time and enjoy the Aces and Deuces now, and leave the worries for your Twitter trolling time before the weekend slate begins.

Aces

QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, Buffalo Bills (vs. Tennessee Titans) Besides his nasty penchant for bringing down his scores with a damn near equal touchdown to interception ratio (OK, it’s 12 to 8, but still…), Fitzpatrick is a lock for a huge game this week against Tennessee. The Titans have allowed opposing quarterbacks to score a total of 128.12 fantasy points this season, with their lowest yield coming in a Week 4 loss to Houston (Matt Schaub, 15.88 points). True, Fitzpatrick is only averaging 6.6 yards per attempt, but he throws about 30 passes each game and averages two touchdowns. Look for a volume-based shootout this week. Prediction: 252 yards passing + 3 TDs + 2 INTs = 18.08 fantasy points

WR Kenny Britt, Tennessee Titans (@ Buffalo Bills) After many owners were hoping for a fantasy steal by taking a chance on him in the late rounds of their drafts, Britt has delivered little more than exasperation. The talent and potential are there, but an anemic offense that has had trouble moving the ball has left him with a mere 145 yards and a single touchdown to his name. That all changes this week against a Buffalo secondary that more closely resembles a doormat than a football team. The Bills are tied for the league lead in touchdowns allowed via the pass with 13, and that lucky number should move higher thanks to Britt on Sunday. He is gaining more red zone targets and more confidence, which means owners can finally cash in. Prediction: 105 yards receiving + 2 TDs = 22.5 fantasy points

Owners will settle for boring two-handed grabs from Devery Henderson this weekend if they happen in the end zone.

WR Devery Henderson, New Orleans Saints (@ Tampa Bay Buccaneers) When the bye week blues strike, hitting up a deep New Orleans receiver is usually a safe option for some points. In this case, I like Henderson against Tampa Bay’s 31st ranked passing defense. He has always shown flashes of brilliance and is Drew Brees’ lone deep threat this year. Coming off a bye and looking to establish the run in the beginning of the game, Henderson should receive some looks in the Saints’ patented play action game in the second quarter for some big gains. Prediction: 75 yards receiving + 1 TD = 13.5 fantasy points

RB Alex Green, Green Bay Packers (@ St. Louis Rams) The Rams have been pesky this season, hanging around late in games with a solid defensive front that gets after the passer, as well as tough corners who have been taking away the top names in the game. Their Kryptonite, though, has been the run. They don’t give up many big plays (only three runs of more than 20 yards), but do allow more than 100 yards and a touchdown per game. Green showed some promise last week against Houston, and Green Bay coach Mike McCarthy wants to feed him the rock. It all adds up to an eye-opening performance, as well as his first NFL touchdown. Prediction: 96 yards rushing + 15 yards receiving + 1 TD = 16.1 fantasy points

RB Rashard Mendenhall, Pittsburgh Steelers (@ Cincinnati Bengals) Prior to being hobbled in last week’s tilt with Tennessee, Mendenhall posted a 16.1 point effort against Philly in his return to the game after an ACL tear at the end of last season. While the back has had extra time to recover from last Thursday’s game, he did not practice yesterday and is still questionable for this weekend. If he is able to go, though, his matchup against Cincy’s porous run defense should yield another strong effort. Baron Batch may snake goal line duties, but look for Mendy to be the main man between the 20s as he works his way back into the mix. It’s a situation to monitor, but if he is active Sunday morning, the Steelers will use him and he should net close to the 16 touches he saw in the Philadelphia game. Prediction: 80 yards rushing + 12 yards receiving + 1 TD = 15.2 fantasy points

UPDATE: With Mendenhall being ruled out for Sunday’s game, the Pittsburgh backfield becomes an absolute mess and a fantasy avoid. However, if you are truly desperate and can only pick one of their backs, I like Baron Batch over Jonathan Dwyer due to the former’s goal line power that was displayed last week.

TE Dustin Keller, New York Jets (@ New England Patriots) This is the deep sleeper of the week, to be sure. After four weeks of battling hamstring issues, Keller returned last week to only one reception on one target in a robust New York offensive showing. So why choose him this week? This New England-New York matchup is always like two bickering brothers who want to knock the snot out of each other, with Mark Sanchez playing the role of little brother to Tom Brady’s older jock with cool friends. In this case, Sanchez is going to need to rally all of his nerdy crew together, “Little Giants” style, and a key part of that will be returning to Keller, who Sanchez had great chemistry with last season. More looks against a Pats defense that has allowed 15 passing touchdowns are in order. Prediction: 55 yards receiving + 1 TD = 11.5 fantasy points

Deuces

Marshawn Lynch may not fumble tonight, but you might want to pack some extra Skittles for good luck.

RB Marshawn Lynch, Seattle Seahawks (@ San Francisco 49ers) As previously stated, tonight’s game features two top defenses that have been stellar at putting the lid on their opponents’ running game. However, with the 49ers yielding their first 100-yard rusher of the season last week (Ahmad Bradshaw) and Lynch being the only back to eclipse that mark last season, it would seem that owners should be ready to hand out the Skittles a couple weeks early, right? Not likely. The fancy stat being touted this week is that, since Lord Harbaugh took the reins, San Francisco has yielded a total of 11 points in four games following a loss. Plus, the Niners have still only surrendered two touchdowns on the ground and will be fired up to avenge last week’s slaying at the hands of the Giants. Beast Mode is taking a week off. Prediction: 55 yards rushing + 7 yards receiving = 6.2 fantasy points

RB Frank Gore, San Francisco 49ers (vs. Seattle Seahawks) Many preseason pundits (this one included, if I am so bold as to actually refer to myself as a pundit) saw Frank Gore as a liability on fantasy rosters. “He’s old” was the main argument, with “Kendall Hunter and LaMichael James are more explosive” being used as support. But six weeks into the season, Gore averages a healthy 12.45 fantasy points per game and is ranked 10th in scoring among running backs. Seattle, though, is even stingier than San Francisco, with their second ranked rush defense giving up 70 yards per game and forcing four fumbles. A much younger Stevan Ridley took the train to Nowheresville last week against the ‘Hawks, and Gore will do the same as Seattle makes Alex Smith beat them through the air. Prediction: 54 yards rushing + 2 yards receiving + 1 fumble = 3.6 fantasy points

WR James Jones, Green Bay Packers (@ St. Louis Rams) Jones has been one of the most valuable waiver adds of the season so far, filling in admirably for Greg Jennings with three consecutive two-touchdown games. In fact, his seven touchdowns and 270 yards receiving have vaulted him to seventh overall among wide receivers in standard scoring systems. However, taking on a St. Louis defense that has limited numerous number ones to meager weeks (I’m looking at you, Hartline), Jones will not make it a fourth straight week with a pair of end zone splashes. Prediction: 22 yards receiving + 1 TD = 8.2 fantasy points

RGIII has a difficult matchup against a physical Giants team looking to create some division separation.

QB Robert Griffin III, Washington Redskins (@ New York Giants) Nothing statistically about the New York defense suggests that RGIII won’t have his way with the Giants this weekend. Indeed, they are ranked 16th against the rush and 21st against the pass, which would seem to make this a favorable matchup for this season’s Cam Newton. But the physicality the Giants displayed against San Francisco last week – on the road – will only be intensified against a divisional rival on their home turf. Look for Jason Pierre-Paul to take Griffin to Subway (and by Subway, I mean drive him underground, while also referring to RGIII’s sponsorship…aw, forget it). Prediction: 185 yards passing + 34 yards rushing + 1 passing TD = 14.8 fantasy points

WR Brandon Lloyd, New England Patriots (vs. New York Jets) Even without Darelle Revis, the Jets are shutting wide receivers down, allowing:

  • 47 yards to Mario Manningham in Week 4
  • 15 yards to Andre Johnson in Week 5
  • 87 yards to Reggie Wayne in Week 6, with a fumble for good measure

With plenty of other weapons to spread the ball to, plus a healthier Aaron Hernandez and a punishing running game, Lloyd will be the fantasy casualty for the Pats this weekend. Prediction: 47 yards receiving = 4.7 fantasy points

Aces & Deuces: Week 6 Deuces

Victor Cruz and a tough 49ers defense are a mixture to avoid this weekend.

Perhaps tougher than knowing who to start in Fantasy Land each week is having the stones to sit the big names on the bench. It is always difficult to see a name like Calvin Johnson or Maurice Jones-Drew riding the pine, but it gets even more vexing when one of your bench players completely outperforms a stud, all because you were too scared to have him take a seat.

With that in mind, here are the big names to avoid as we head into Week 6 of the fantasy season. After a strong showing last week where I chose four out of six Deuces correctly, my confidence is brimming with picking the losers, even if that does pose quite the paradox. Now is the time to step up and take some of these guys out of your lineup.

Deuces – Week 6

WR Victor Cruz, New York Giants (@ San Francisco 49ers) If there is one thing I know about Jim Harbaugh, it is that he has elephant blood running through his veins: The man does not forget. The Niners have been scheming for this rematch of last year’s NFC title game since January, and top priority will be to take Cruz out of the equation and make Eli Manning rely on his young wideouts who are filling in for Hakeem Nicks. San Francisco is only allowing one passing touchdown per game, so don’t get greedy and expect Cruz to haul in another hat trick like last week. Trade in your salsa this weekend for some bean dip, instead. Prediction: 72 yards receiving = 7.2 fantasy points

RB Stevan Ridley, New England Patriots (@ Seattle Seahawks) Look up the word stingy in the dictionary, and it is likely that next to it you will find a Seattle Seahawks logo. The boys from the land of Pearl Jam are giving up a devilish 66.6 yards rushing per game. At home, that number drops to 57 yards, which does not bode well for Ridley, who is coming off back to back 100-plus yard games. If New England works a lead and grinds out the clock, the carries will come for the Pats’ “lead” back, but the likelier scenario sees Bill Belichick switching up his rushers to try and keep Seattle off balance. Prediction: 43 yards rushing + 1 TD = 10.3 fantasy points

RB Marshawn Lynch, Seattle Seahawks (vs. New England Patriots) This game will be tough for runners on both sides of the ball. While Lynch will be hoping to tap into his Beast Mode against the Pats’ eighth-ranked rush defense, the odds he accomplishes much are slim. New England has allowed a long run of only 17 yards this season, and opposing running backs have only made it into the end zone twice. Granted, Lynch was the lone rusher to put the hurt on San Francisco last season, but being the main weapon on a lackluster offense is going to make him the man with a target on his back. Beware. Prediction: 86 yards rushing + 5 yards receiving = 9.1 fantasy points

Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford has not proven to be the reliable fantasy option he was last season.

QB Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions (@ Philadelphia Eagles) Detroit’s game is just too one-dimensional for this matchup. Yes, Stafford can throw it up to Calvin Johnson all day, but the quarterback only has three – three! – touchdowns in four games. I will give him that he has played tough passing defenses like San Francisco and St. Louis, but even Minnesota’s middle-of-the-pack secondary shut him out in Week 4. Put up against two of the top corners in the game, it looks to be a week to let Stafford take a rest. Prediction: 222 yards passing + 1 TD + 2 INTs = 8.88 fantasy points

RB Willis McGahee, Denver Broncos (@ San Diego Chargers) San Diego has quietly put up the fifth-ranked rushing defense in the league, which is no small feat when your divisional opponents boast running backs like Darren McFadden and Jamaal Charles. McGahee struggled last week against New England, mustering only 3.64 yards per carry and losing a key fumble near the end of the game. The Chargers, meanwhile, hold runners to less than 75 yards per game and have recovered four fumbles early this season. McGahee will still be a factor in the receiving game, which makes him worthy of a flex option this week, but don’t expect RB2 points out of him. Prediction: 66 yards rushing + 16 yards receiving = 7.2 fantasy points

WR Andre Johnson, Houston Texans (vs. Green Bay Packers) I have a number in my head, and I want you to guess it. It’s the number of catches Johnson had against a pitiful Jets defense, and it is also the loneliest number. That’s right, Johnson had a measly one catch against New York last week, and a physical Green Bay defense will only continue to hold him in check. While Matt Schaub gets blinded by Clay Matthews’s hair, Johnson will continue to attract safety help and be blanketed by coverage as he has been all season. The one thing Andre does have going for him, though, is that the Pack have yielded a whopping 10 passing touchdowns this year, so there is hope. With his owners’ luck, though, the TDs will probably go to a wide open Owen Daniels or a nice catch-and-run by James Casey. Prediction: 98 yards receiving = 9.8 fantasy points

Aces & Deuces: Week 6 Aces

Get ready to celebrate with Buffalo Bills tight end Scott Chandler this weekend.

Is it wild to anyone else that we are already in Week 6 of the 2012 season? It seems like only yesterday we were mock drafting and anticipating that first kickoff between New York and Dallas.

Maybe it is because we now have football on three nights a week, or maybe it is because the season normally goes by this fast. Either way, it just seemed odd to type “Week 6” in this week’s headline.

Typing “Aces” also proved a bit tricky, as I just can’t seem to crack these sleeper performers week in and week out. Last week saw me repeating Week 4’s performance of one correct pick – big thanks to Michael Crabtree for actually proving me right, but no thanks to Philip Rivers against a normally unreliable New Orleans defense.

And speaking of the worst defense in the league, with the Saints on a bye this week, I have no team to give me that surefire Ace pick I can usually depend on. Which means I will probably go oh-for my picks this week, unless I can pull some magic out of my fake football hat.

Now sporting a 9-26 win-loss record in the Aces department, it can only go up from here, right?

Here goes nothing.

Aces – Week 6

QB Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers (@ Tennessee Titans) There is some good math favoring Big Ben in tonight’s matchup. Tennessee is surrendering a hair under 280 yards and more than two touchdowns in the air per game. Roethlisberger has a bevy of receiving weapons that can exploit the Titans secondary, and the surprisingly strong return of Rashard Mendenhall should also open up play action opportunities the team was not afforded earlier in the season. Ben is still flying under the radar this season, as his past fantasy output has always left him in quarterback no man’s land, but this week he will put everyone on notice. Prediction: 310 yards passing + 16 yards rushing + 3 TDs + 1 INT = 24 fantasy points

Indianapolis Colts rookie running back Vick Ballard is ready for his close-up.

RB Vick Ballard, Indianapolis Colts (@ New York Jets)
Ballard, the newly-anointed starting running back in Indy thanks to “Dammit” Donald Brown’s knee surgery, could not have drawn a more generous date for his first big dance. New York has been atrocious against the run this season, allowing 172-plus yards per game and seven touchdowns on the year. Look for Indy to try and establish the run early to open things up late for Andrew Luck, which means plenty of opportunities for the rookie from Mississippi State. Prediction: 105 yards rushing + 1 TD = 16.5 fantasy points

TE Scott Chandler, Buffalo Bills (@ Arizona Cardinals) Through the first four games of the season, Arizona’s defense looked unstoppable, holding vaunted offenses from the likes of Philadelphia and New England in check. After being exposed by a mediocre St. Louis squad last week, though, they are showing some weaknesses – weaknesses I expect Buffalo to take advantage of. The hidden beauty of Buffalo’s defense being so abysmal is that the offense takes to the skies for most of the game to play catch up, and as a result Chandler is second on his team in targets and fifth among all tight ends in fantasy scoring. I like him to haul in another touchdown this week while Arizona tries to handle Stevie Johnson and C.J. Spiller on the outside. Prediction: 63 yards receiving + 1 TD = 12.3 fantasy points

WR Andre Roberts, Arizona Cardinals (vs. Buffalo Bills) On second thought, maybe I have found that special defense to pick on in New Orleans’ absence. After all, when you have given up 12 receiving touchdowns this season and let Michael Crabtree burn you for more than 100 yards, you’re officially on my nice list. Roberts has more targets on the season than Dez Bryant and more touchdowns than teammate Larry Fitzgerald, as he continues to prove his worth to an Arizona offense that must rely on quick passes if Kevin Kolb is going to live through the season. He is a great play against a defense that continues to disappoint fans but delight fantasy opponents each week. Prediction: 65 yards receiving + 1 TD = 12.5 fantasy points

WR Andrew Hawkins, Cincinnati Bengals (@ Cleveland Browns) It’s a given that A.J. Green is going to lead the Bengals each week in targets, catches, yards, and awesomeness. It’s also a given, though, that Hawkins is going to rack up yards after the catch – the youngster is fourth in the league in that category behind big names like Welker and Harvin. Against Cleveland’s 26th-ranked pass defense, Hawkins should move up the ladder in those standings this Sunday. Prediction: 116 yards receiving + 1 TD = 17.6 fantasy points

RB Doug Martin, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (@ Kansas City Chiefs) For all intents and purposes, Martin has been a fantasy disappointment this season. Widely viewed as the second rookie running back players should covet (behind Trent Richardson), this writer went so far as to take Martin as his lead back in round 4. I have been rewarded with 36 total fantasy points and LeGarrette Blount vulturing a touchdown. Coming off a bye and taking on a weak Kansas City defense, though, this game is the one where Martin will go big. KC gives up 20 percent of their first downs to running backs, and Martin touches the ball about 18 times per game, which bodes well for his owners. Play him with confidence. Prediction: 92 yards rushing + 12 yards receiving + 1 TD = 16.4 fantasy points

Aces & Deuces: Week 5 Deuces

Eagles quarterback Michael Vick will lead you to fantasy shame this weekend against a strong Pittsburgh D.

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

Jamaal Charles put the ball on the ground twice last week and faces a difficult test this weekend against Baltimore.

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