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In The Spotlight – Week 5 In Review

Week 5 Fantasy Headlines:

Game Summaries & Fantasy Commentary:

Bye week: Minnesota Vikings, Pittsburgh Steelers, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Washington Redskins.

Note: The San Diego Chargers/Oakland Raiders game ran very late, which is why it’s not included in the game summaries.

Thursday Night Game:









Fantasy Focus – Buffalo Bills:
Fred Jackson (17-53-2 rushing and 4-40-0 receiving) got the start and carried the offense. C.J. Spiller (8-66-1 rushing) played sparingly on a bum ankle (no touches in the first quarter) and wasn’t targeted in the passing game. Spiller rolled up most of his yardage on a 54-yard touchdown scamper.

The passing game fizzled quickly after Stevie Johnson (2-19-0 on three targets) left in the first quarter due to a back injury. E.J. Manuel (129 passing yards, 0 TDs, 0 INTs; 1-14-0 scrambling) was knocked out in the third quarter with a knee injury. Backup Jeff Tuel (80 passing yards) couldn’t move the offense and tossed a pick-six. Rookie Robert Woods (5-64-0 on 13 targets) and Scott Chandler (4-49-0 on six targets) were the leading receivers.

Fantasy Focus – Cleveland Browns:
Hometown guy Brian Hoyer (25 passing yards) left the game early in the first quarter with a season-ending torn ACL. Brandon Weeden (197 passing yards, 1 TD, 0 INTs) was rusty in the early going, because he had missed two games with a thumb injury. Josh Gordon (4-86-1 on six targets) hauled in Weeden’s only touchdown pass. Jordan Cameron (3-36-0 on five targets) failed to score or amass 90-plus receiving yards in a game for the first time this season.

Thirty-one-year-old Willis McGahee (26-71-1 rushing and 0-0-0 receiving) averaged just 2.8 yards per carry, but he is clearly the lead dog in the backfield. Backups Chris Ogbonnaya and Bobby Rainey touched the ball a combined four times.

Cleveland scored on a 79-yard Travis Benjamin punt return and a 44-yard T.J. Ward pick-six.

Key Injuries:
Stevie Johnson (back), E.J. Manuel (knee), C.J. Spiller (ankle), Brian Hoyer (knee – torn ACL), Chris Ogbonnaya (concussion)

Fantasy Tips:
Cameron owners and Gordon owners shouldn’t panic about Weeden starting from this point forward. He was the quarterback when Cameron lit it up in Week 1 and Week 2, and Weeden demonstrated that he can get the ball to Gordon. However, there is no denying that Weeden lacks Hoyer’s athleticism and pocket presence.

It’s doubtful that McGahee will rack up many big yardage games, but he is receiving goal-line touches. The veteran runner looks like a safe flex start most weeks.

Things just keep getting worse for Spiller. He is injured, and Spiller’s timeshare with Jackson has been unpredictable. Now, with Manuel out, Spiller and Jackson likely will see a lot of defenses stacked to stop them. Spiller has slipped to high-risk/high-reward fantasy RB2 status.

Waiver Wire Prospects:
Brandon Weeden (in deep leagues)


Early Sunday Afternoon Games:








Fantasy Focus – New Orleans Saints:
Drew Brees (288 passing yards, 2 TDs, 0 INTs) seemed content to settle for the short- and medium-range throws that Chicago allowed in abundance. This explains why Marques Colston (2-15-0 on two targets) had a surprisingly quiet outing. Jimmy Graham (10-135-0 on 11 targets) failed to score in a game for the first time this season. Nick Toon (1-35-0) was the only other New Orleans receiver to haul in a pass.

The Bears easily contained the Saints’ struggling ground game, which rolled up just 66 yards. Darren Sproles (3-10-0 rushing and 3-31-0 receiving) surprisingly took a back seat to Pierre Thomas (19-36-0 rushing and 9-55-2 receiving), who accounted for both of New Orleans’ touchdowns.

Fantasy Focus – Chicago Bears:
Jay Cutler (358 passing yards, 2 TDs, 0 INTs; 4-27-0 rushing) lost a fumble for the second week in a row, but Cutler didn’t toss any picks and played much better overall than he did during a Week 4 loss to the Lions.

Chicago was playing in comeback mode most of the afternoon, which opened the door for a career-best outing from Alshon Jeffery (10-218-1 on 13 targets). Brandon Marshall (4-30-1 on five targets) hauled in Cutler’s other scoring strike and came up two yards short of hitting paydirt a second time. Martellus Bennett (5-56-0 on five targets) left the game briefly after he was flipped upside down on a hard, but clean hit landing on his head.

Although Matt Forte (12-55-0 rushing and 4-40-0 receiving) averaged 4.6 yards per carry, he rarely found room to run. The Bears also had to abandon their rushing attack when they fell behind, which obviously cut into Forte’s carries. He scored on a two-point conversion.

Key Injuries:

Fantasy Tip:
Thomas’ 28 touches were the most that he has received in a game since 2008, so this outing obviously was a fluke. However, as long as Mark Ingram (toe) remains out, Thomas is a risky flex-option in PPR leagues. If your own Thomas and you’re loaded at running back, see if you can trade him off. A rebound outing from Colston seems unlikely in Week 6. He’ll square off against the Patriots’ Aqib Talib.

Opposing defenses are adjusting to the Bears new offense by blitzing frequently – Chicago’s improved offensive line is still a work in progress – and using blanket coverage on Marshall. Yes, his numbers have been down lately, but he is too good to bench. A get-well game for Marshall and the Bears offense is on the way. They draw a very juicy Thursday night matchup against the sagging Giants. If Marshall’s numbers improve, Jeffery’s stats likely will take a hit.

Waiver Wire Prospect:
Somebody in your league probably owns Alshon Jeffery, but double-check to see if he is available in your free-agent pool.









Fantasy Focus – New England Patriots:
For the first time in 52 games, Tom Brady (197 passing yards, 0 TDs and 1 INT) was held without a touchdown pass. What happened? Blame it on a scrappy Bengals pass rush (four sacks) and miscues/dropped passes. Brady also had his problems throwing the rock while playing in a rainstorm late in the contest.

Danny Amendola (4-55-0 on nine targets) made his return after missing three games with a groin injury. He topped New England in targets and was tackled just short of the goal line on a catch in the fourth quarter. Julian Edelman (2-35-0 on seven looks), Kenbrell Thompkins (3-16-0 on five targets) and Aaron Dobson (2-49-0 on four looks) weren’t sharp.

With Stevan Ridley (thigh) sitting out, LeGarrette Blount (12-51-0 rushing and 0-0-0 receiving) handled the bulk of the first- and second-down rushing duties. Although he averaged more than four yards per carry, the Patriots didn’t seem interested in running the ball regularly. Blount lost a fumble in the second quarter and received only three more touches afterwards. Brandon Bolden (5-24-0 rushing and 6-40-0 receiving) didn’t appear to be hampered by his bum knee.

Fantasy Focus – Cincinnati Bengals:
Rebounding from a dismal Week 4 outing, BenJarvus Green-Ellis (19-67-1 rushing and 0-0-0 receiving) averaged a season-best 3.5 yards per carry against his former team, and the “Law Firm” scored the only touchdown of the game in the fourth quarter. Giovani Bernard (13-62-0 rushing and 2-7-0 receiving) averaged 4.7 yards per carry but lost a fumble.

Andy Dalton (212 passing yards, 0 TDs, 1 INT; 6-25-0 rushing) completed 20 of his 27 passes, but he tossed an ugly interception in the first quarter and almost was picked again in the second half. A.J. Green (5-61-0 on eight targets) didn’t seem to have trouble separating from Aqib Talib, but Dalton didn’t seem interested in throwing the ball more than 10-to-15 yards down the field.

Tyler Eifert (5-53-0 on seven targets) and Jermaine Gresham (4-24-0 on four targets) continue to amass only fantasy TE2 numbers.

Key Injuries:

Fantasy Tip:
With Amendola back and Rob Gronkowski expected to return next week, it looks like Edelman will become an inconsistent third option in the passing attack…until Amendola gets hurt again.

Contrary to what many had thought, the Bengals have not given up on Green-Ellis. Although his week-to-week fantasy numbers will remain inconsistent, he is still getting the goal-line carries. However, the plodding Green-Ellis will continue to struggle against the better run defenses. Bernard is a much safer play in PPR leagues.

It looks like Dalton is starting to lose the confidence of the Cincinnati coaching staff. He didn’t throw in some critical situations against New England, and they seem to be utilizing him as a game-manager. Dalton hasn’t tossed a touchdown pass in two straight games. Downgrade him to fantasy QB2 status for now.

Waiver Wire Prospects:









Fantasy Focus – Detroit Lions:

Here is all you really need to know: Calvin Johnson (knee) was a surprise inactive, and he obviously was missed big time. Matthew Stafford (262 passing yards, 1 TD, 0 INTs) completed 25 of his 40 passes, but most of them were dump-offs.

Brandon Pettigrew (4-59-0 on five targets) and Tony Scheffler (4-55-0 on seven targets) were Detroit’s top-two receivers. Kris Durham (3-30-1 on eight targets) caught Stafford’s only scoring strike and a two-point conversion. Ryan Broyles (2-27-0 on two targets) disappointed against what was a porous Green Bay secondary. Perhaps his knee (ACL surgery) is not as healthy as the Lions have wanted us to believe.

With Johnson out of the lineup, the Packers defense sold out to contain Reggie Bush (13-44-0 rushing and 4-25-0 receiving). Joique Bell (5-21-0 rushing and 4-30-0 receiving) also struggled.

Fantasy Focus – Green Bay Packers:
Following a very slow start, Aaron Rodgers (274 passing yards, 1 TD, 0 INTs; 5-8-0 rushing) was lucky to throw for as many yards as he did. Rodgers was fine, but his receivers were rarely racking up yards after the catch because of some solid tackling by what looks like an improved Lions defense. However, Rodgers was sacked just once.

James Jones (4-127-1 on six targets) topped the Packers in receiving, and he hauled in Rodgers’ only scoring pass of the day. Jordy Nelson (5-82-0 on seven targets) hasn’t scored since Week 2. Randall Cobb (4-35-0 on eight targets) made up for a dismal receiving outing with two carries for 72 yards. Jermichael Finley (6-32-0 on six targets) had a lousy drop on a fourth-and-four play, but a penalty erased the miscue.

Eddie Lacy (23-99-0 rushing and 1-(-2)-0 receiving) made his return after sitting out since Week 2 because of a concussion. He ran with good power and toted the rock 23 times as part of a game plan that was conservative by pass-happy Green Bay standards. Johnathan Franklin, who enjoyed a huge game against the Bengals before the Packers’ Week 4 bye, carried the ball just three times for one yard.

Key Injury:
Matthew Stafford (knee)

Fantasy Tip:
Stafford obviously should not be in your starting lineup until Megatron returns. By the way, Stafford was seen in the locker room after the game with a huge wrap on one of his knees. It could be only a minor injury – Stafford did finish the game – but keep an eye on the injury reports this week.

It’s time to bench Broyles if you haven’t already. Physically, he is not 100 percent.

The Packers’ decision to run the ball 23 times with Lacy, unfortunately suggests that they want to operate a more balanced attack whenever possible, which is not what owners of Rodgers and his receivers want to hear. Relax – some weeks they’ll have no choice but to air it out, but we could see a few more bland outings from the Green Bay air attack in later weeks.

Waiver Wire Prospects:
Kris Durham

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