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JL's Observation Deck - Week 5

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NFC East

If you are a starting wide receiver from the New York Giants, you need to be prepared to play a major role. Any of the three starting wide receivers catching passes from Eli Manning can make a case for being in fantasy lineups any given week. Manning has shown the propensity to turn average players in to good ones as his brother Peyton Manning did so many times in Indianapolis. When Hakeem Nicks returns, it will take some time to decipher who truly is the third option in their air attack. That player could carry WR3 value moving forward playing the role that Rueben Randle played this past Sunday against Cleveland as all defensive attention will be focused on stopping Nicks and superstar, Victor Cruz.

The Dallas Cowboys come off a bye week that they desperately needed. This team really has no identity. Dez Bryant is the true star on offense, and while he took a lot of heat for his play against Chicago two Mondays ago, he should be the focal point on offense. Coach Jason Garrett continues to be a predictable and simple-minded play caller, which is hurting the value of DeMarco Murray as well. Don’t sleep on the Cowboys, though. They could easily string together a few wins at any time.

Robert Griffin III finally showed a few dings in his armor when he stayed down Sunday after a big hit on the sideline. I expressed my concern with him constantly running the football and feel this team, more than most with a possibly elite quarterback, need to establish a constant running game. Alfred Morris has proven legit thus far in the season, but don’t expect him to carry out this workload for a full slate of 16 games.

A whole article could be written about the up-and-down Philadelphia Eagles. From quarter-to-quarter, rather play-to-play, you just never know what you are going to get from this team. Their loss Sunday knocked the wind out of them, but I do expect a bounceback very soon. The three best defenses they go up against the rest of the season happen to be Detroit, Dallas and Atlanta, all at home. Otherwise, expect big numbers against New Orleans, Washington, Tampa Bay, Cincinnati and Carolina.

NFC West

The St. Louis Rams’ defensive front is for real. There is a reason their defense has allowed one of the lowest amounts of passing touchdowns on the season, and it’s not because of the secondary. Chris Long is a legitimate All-Pro at this stage of his career. Expect the Rams to hang in almost every game this season in and out of the division. Seeing them on the schedule is no longer an easy task for your fantasy players to match up against.

The Arizona Cardinals have the worst offensive line in football. Kevin Kolb actually proved his toughness last Thursday when he took an absolute beating in St. Louis. Problem is, they are one-dimensional on offense and their pass defense might not be as dominant as we once thought when they shut down New England and Philadelphia earlier this season. Don’t get too excited about any fantasy running back that gets the nod for the Cardinals in the coming weeks.

The Seattle Seahawks made a mistake starting the year with Russell Wilson. In Matt Flynn’s years in Green Bay, he did learn one great thing from Aaron Rodgers that he carried over to his days in Seattle. Get rid of the football quickly from the pocket. It really is what the Seahawks need right now. They need rhythm, they need sustained drives and they need structure. Flynn would bring that, whereas Wilson is content throwing way too much from outside the pocket because he isn’t comfortable with the timing of the NFL game just yet. Seattle will be more successful if it makes the change at quarterback.

What can you say about the San Francisco 49ers that hasn’t already been said? They have looked like the most dominant team in football at times, and many expect them to continue that in the coming months. They are a lock for the playoffs, yes, but are very beatable if you can implement a certain game plan. You have to challenge them at every position. Put eight in the box, and play press man on their receivers. Make Alex Smith beat you with precision and accuracy in the pocket. On offense, you have to be able to threaten them deep down the field as Drew Brees did in their playoff game a season ago. The Green Bay Packers couldn’t hit the big play in Week 1, and they fell perfectly into the 49ers’ trap of playing the dink-and-dunk game down the football field. You can’t beat them that way; too many good players and too many good athletes on the 49ers defense. They will run you down, break up passes, and tackle you short of the first down marker before you can make your way down the field. A vertical passing attack is the kryptonite for the best defense in the NFL currently.



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