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Week 5: Review of the First Quarter of the Season

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Welcome to Week 5 of the Brew Crew Corner. We have now completed the first quarter of the NFL season. So far it has been a crazy season. Robert Griffin the III leads fantasy leagues with 119 fantasy points. That is the same number of fantasy points Cam Newton had last season at the same point in the season. However, I am concerned about Griffin’s ability to stay healthy all season. Aaron Rodgers who went really early in drafts is ranked 12th among fantasy quarterbacks.

Last season at this time Wes Welker was dominating leagues, where as this season he is 14th among fantasy receivers. A.J. Green holds the top receiver spot with 87 fantasy points. Julio Jones has struggled and is currently 24th. Arian Foster and Ray Rice are ranked first and second among running backs. Just as we anticipated, LeSean McCoy, who was selected first in some leagues over Foster and Rice, is currently at eighth. Chris Johnson, drafted around the sixth spot, finally produced this week but I’m not ready to count on him on a weekly basis.

Tony Gonzalez doesn’t look like a player that will retire after this season. He is the top tight end so far this season with 70 fantasy points. Antonio Gates looks like a player that needs to retire as the preseason overvalue on him was pretty high. He is currently 27th among fantasy tight ends.

Jason Hanson is tops among fantasy kickers, but keep an eye on Greg Zuerlein in St. Louis as he is available in most leagues but is producing nicely this season. The Chicago Bears and Houston Texans lead the defensive units and are averaging close to 20 fantasy points a game. The Pittsburgh defense has not been a reliable fantasy unit as the Steelers are 30th among defenses, averaging just 7.3 fantasy points a game.

Teams on a bye this week are the Dallas Cowboys, Detroit Lions, Oakland Raiders and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The Golden Mug Award
Awarded to the fantasy players who came through for their team.

Brian Hartline - 12 receptions, 253 yards, TD. Hartline has emerged as the top receiving option on the Miami Dolphins as he is averaging 12 targets a game. If for some reason he’s still floating around on waivers, scoop him up.

Roddy White - 8 receptions, 169 yards, 2 TD. For all the hype that Julio Jones had received entering the season, it has been White that has been the better receiver in Atlanta. After Week 1, White has out produced Jones by a large margin, especially in Weeks 2 and 4.

San Francisco 49ers D/ST - 0 points and 145 yards allowed, defensive touchdown (51-yard fumble return), INT, 3 forced fumbles and 3 sacks. Sometimes defense wins games in fantasy football. Depending on your leagues scoring system the 49ers defense could have gotten you 30-50 points. That’s a big swing if your opponent started the Green Bay Packers defense, which gave them just 2-4 points for two sacks.

The Urinal Cake Award
Awarded to the fantasy players who you would like to, well, you know.

Doug Martin - 8 carries, 33 yards. You have to be concerned with the amount of touches Martin is getting every week. Since Week 1, his carries and yards have dropped every single game. He has just one touchdown on the year. There is a chance that LeGarrette Blount could take his goal line opportunities.

Darren McFadden - 13 rushes, 34 yards. McFadden has not run the ball well in three of the first four games. He is averaging just 29.3 rushing yards in Weeks 1, 2 and 4. He has just one touchdown on the season. Could McFadden be a bigger bust than Chris Johnson?

DeMarco Murray - 11 carries, 24 yards. Murray is looking like an early bust as well as he is averaging 35.3 rushing yards per game over the past three weeks. The Dallas offensive line has not given him much help as Murray has 14 plays the past two weeks that have generated negative rushing yards.

MATCHUPS

Good quarterback matchups this week:

Matt Ryan at Washington. This could be potentially the highest-scoring game this week for fantasy owners. Start ‘em if you got 'em in this one. We’ve got the No. 1 fantasy player, Robert Griffin III, facing the No. 3 fantasy quarterback Ryan. Ryan is facing a Redskins team that is allowing 326.5 passing yards per game with a league-leading 11 touchdowns allowed this season.

Joe Flacco at Kansas City. So far this season there are three teams that have allowed double-digit touchdowns passing. The Chiefs are one of those, allowing 10 touchdowns this season. They are 12th in yards allowed with 216 passing yards per game. Flacco has posted back-to-back games of 350-plus passing yards and is on pace to throw for 28 touchdowns this year.

Sleeper Pick of the Week: Christian Ponder against Tennessee. So it’s Week 5 and you’re without Matthew Stafford this week. Looking through the matchups at your backups or what is on the waiver wire, you look to see who is facing a Titans team that is tied for second for most passing touchdowns allowed and is ranked 27th with 285 passing yards allowed per game and have only one interception on the year. Consider that Ponder is averaging more fantasy points per game than Philip Rivers, Alex Smith and Jay Cutler.

Good running back matchups this week:

Matt Forte at Jacksonville. Last week Forte was not yet 100 percent from that ankle injury so hopefully this week he'll be close to 100%. The Jaguars are coming off a game against the Cincinnati Bengals where they gave up 138 rushing yards and a touchdown, and they are allowing 150.2 rushing yards per game with six touchdowns given up on the ground this season. While Michael Bush may vulture a touchdown, I still expect Forte to play well if that ankle is healthy.

Ryan Mathews at New Orleans. It's time for Mathews to breakout and prove that he is the top tier running back that people drafted him to be. I did not draft him because of the injury concerns, but this is the game he can prove himself. The Saints are the worst run defense in the league, allowing 186.8 rushing yards per game with six touchdowns given up this season.

Sleeper Pick of the Week: Ryan Williams at St. Louis. This is probably the best week you will have playing Williams. I think you should hope he goes off in this game and then trade him to someone else in your league. The Rams are 26th in the league, allowing 135.2 rushing yards a game with six touchdowns surrendered this season.

Bad quarterback matchups this week:

Ryan Tannehill at Cincinnati. Tannehill threw for 431 yards in Week 4. It was the most by a rookie quarterback this season and missed Cam Newton’s record of 432 in Week 1 of the 2011 season by one yard. This will prompt a dash for those in your league to add him off waivers. Tannehill had thrown for an average of 205 yards before last week’s game. He will be facing a Bengals team that is allowing 232 passing yards per game (16th) with just six touchdowns allowed this season.

Blaine Gabbert against Chicago. Gabbert must have watched how Tony Romo was manhandled by the Bears defense on Monday night and just cringed. There will be plenty of pressure coming for him this week. You could see a repeat of Week 2 when Gabbert threw for just 53 yards. The Bears defense leads the league with 11 interceptions. They are allowing 249.5 yards passing per game (18th) with just five touchdowns allowed this season.

Mark Sanchez against Houston. What a difference three weeks make when it comes to NFL quarterbacks. In Week 1, Sanchez looked to have a solid hold on the starting job only to play poorly in Weeks 2 and 4 against difficult defenses from Pittsburgh and San Francisco. Despite passing for 306 yards in Week 3, Sanchez is 31st among fantasy quarterbacks with 50 fantasy points on the season. Only Russell Wilson has fewer points this season of starting quarterbacks. The Texans defense is allowing just 14 points per game while holding quarterbacks to 182.8 passing yards per game, and they have five interceptions and 13 sacks this season. I can hear the Tim Tebow calls from here.

Bad running back matchups this week:

Fred Jackson/C.J. Spiller at San Francisco. The 49ers are still a very good run defense. They have not allowed a touchdown or a 100-yard rusher this season. They have given up just two rushing touchdowns to running backs in the last 20 regular season games. Jackson returned to the lineup and carried the ball 13 times last week. More carries than Spiller. This week, don’t expect the Bills to be able to move the ball on the ground.

Rashard Mendenhall against Philadelphia. The Steelers have been targeting Mendenhall’s return for Week 5 since the season began, and he looks to be on track to do so. The Steelers have struggled to run the ball this season as they rank 31st with 65 yards per game on average. They will face their in-state rivals, the Eagles, who have allowed just one touchdown on the ground this year. Last week the Eagles held the New York Giants running backs to just 57 yards rushing.

Chris Johnson at Minnesota. Don’t be fooled by Johnson’s effort against the Houston Texans. Sixty of the yards he had were after the team was getting blown out. It will take a couple of weeks before we can really trust Johnson as an every week starter. Remember last season when he would have a big game and then disappear the next two weeks.

Week 5: Through the first month of football, you should know the strength and weakness of your lineup and who you can start on a weekly basis. Make trades and work the waiver wire to fill in the gaps.

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Cheers!