Just when New England and New York’s defenses seemed unstartable, Week 4 happened. Whether you can blame the pitiful offensive performances of the Chicago Bears and the Miami Dolphins, these two defenses turned 180 degrees and proved to be the key difference in their victories and in many fantasy matchups. Prior to Sunday, the combined record of Miami and Chicago was 5-1, yet both offenses were completely dismantled.
As we head into Week 5, we can research player statistics, defensive matchups and other game variables to hopefully improve our chances of winning. Thankfully, our analysis does forecast accurately sometimes. However, I doubt there was one analyst on earth that projected Terrell Owens to post 222 receiving yards and Randy Moss to be held catchless. Nevertheless, look at Owens’ game log for the previous two seasons. He has enjoyed one monster game each of the last two seasons as well.
Then there’s Moss, who was traded yesterday to the Minnesota Vikings. Although Moss has not been pleased with New England this season and has not posted premier wide receiver totals, this trade caught most by surprise. Faithful Moss owners have seen his stats drop suddenly in the past. Once doubt begins to settle in, he seems to consistently bounce back with a three-touchdown game and all is forgiven. The former Patriots’ receiver may rebound this week in a purple uniform catching bombs from Brett Favre. Whether you own Favre, Moss, Tom Brady or Wes Welker, this trade will have an affect on your team. However, it is difficult to predict which players will benefit and who will suffer. I will try my best to guide you through the injuries, trades, byes, workloads and defensive matchups shaping an intriguing NFL Week 5.
You cannot bench Favre this week. I understand he is playing against one of the tougher pass defenses, but do you really want to sit Favre this week? He will be coming off of a bye to battle the New York Jets, throwing to brand new receiver and future Hall of Famer Moss, and the game will be televised on Monday Night Football. I doubt Favre will have much chemistry with his new receiver as they may only have a practice or two to prepare. However, it will be epic to see Favre air it out to Moss on Monday night. Not to mention, Moss seems to step up his game when he plays with a chip on his shoulder. Favre was bitterly disappointed when his former team, the Green Bay Packers, did not sign Moss in 2007, which was the season that Moss broke Jerry Rice’s touchdown receiving record. He will now have his chance. Honestly, I do not have any shocking statistical nuggets to throw at you as Favre has not played the Jets’ defense recently, but this matchup is going to be exciting. I predict Favre to throw for 200 yards with two touchdowns, one interception and a victory!
I am aware that you were not going to sit Jones-Drew in Week 5 despite his slow start. After three games, he finally topped 100 yards and earned his first score. One cannot point their finger solely at Jones-Drew as Jacksonville’s offense has been inconsistent and lackluster thus far. With a huge upset over Indianapolis last weekend, the Jaguars should be inspired this week and maneuver past Buffalo, who has allowed the most yards and points to opposing running backs. In fact, both LaDainian Tomlinson and Shonn Greene surpassed 100 yards last week. With Jones-Drew serving as Jacksonville’s primary ball carrier, he should be in store for a huge game. Though he seems like a certain lock, the Jaguars’ running back has averaged just 42 yards per game in four previous contests. Is Jones-Drew a must-start this week? Yes, but I have my doubts as Buffalo seems to have a solution to taming him. I am going to go out on a limb and forecast Jones-Drew for only 75 rushing yards and a score. This line would not be terrible, but likely lower expectations than owners are anticipating.
As a late draft pick, your team may be in the “Driver’s seat” if you picked Green Bay’s veteran receiver this year. Yes, that was corny, but the 35-year-old wideout’s performance hasn’t been, as he already has three touchdowns and is averaging more than 50 yards per game. These stats will not cause you to jump out of your seat, but his numbers have been superior than much earlier drafted fellow wide receiver Greg Jennings and comparable to tight end Jermichael Finley. With a favorable matchup against the Washington Redskins’ second to worst pass defense this week, expect another solid game. Driver’s receptions yards have improved each week, and I predict a triple digit yardage and a score.
One of the rare bright spots for the Detroit Lions this year has been Pettigrew. Although Detroit’s sophomore tight end was drafted in only the deepest of leagues, he currently ranks third in receptions and sixth in receiving yards among tight ends. With Shaun Hill hurling the pigskin for nearly 1,000 yards over the last three games, Pettigrew should continue to produce. Most of the elite tight ends will be playing this week, but Pettigrew may be a handy filler if your starter is Heath Miller, Aaron Hernandez, Anthony Fasano or John Carlson. Although St Louis’ defense has been non-existent for several seasons, they have been surprisingly efficient thus far. The Rams have only given up 52 points this season, which ranks fourth in the league. Also, St. Louis is among the league’s best at defending tight ends and has not allowed a score this season. According to my crystal ball, Pettigrew will earn 50 yards, but his scoreless season will continue.
Although the Saints’ defense ranked among the top last season, it has been subpar this season. With a matchup against Arizona’s newly promoted rookie starting quarterback Max Hall, the Saints will be a solid play. The San Diego Chargers had their way with Arizona’s messy quarterback situation last week with nine sacks and two interceptions. Expect more of the same as New Orleans should terrorize Hall and receive a fair amount of rest as the Saints’ offense should sail by the Cardinals defense, which has given up the second-most points. Pick up the New Orleans’ defense this week if they are available and start confidently.
It is amazing that Week 5 is already upon us. If your team is struggling, take a chance on a newly promoted starter for this week. As we have seen already, each week breeds a few random fantasy lottery winners!