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In The Spotlight – Week 5

Week 5 Fantasy Headlines:

  • Drew Brees Torches San Diego; New Orleans Notches First Win of 2012
  • Andrew Luck and Reggie Wayne Light It Up, Stun Green Bay
  • Ahmad Bradshaw Shreds Cleveland With Career Rushing Day
  • Matt Ryan and Atlanta Falcons Carve Up Washington To Go 5-0
  • Chicago’s Defense Squashes Another Offense
  • New England Runs To Second Straight Victory
  • San Francisco Runs For 300 Yards and Pass For 300 Yards
  • Buffalo’s Big Money Defense Shredded Again


Bye week: Dallas Cowboys, Detroit Lions, Oakland Raiders and Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Thursday Night Game

St. Louis Rams 17 (2-2), Arizona Cardinals 3 (4-1)

Fantasy Focus – St. Louis:
As you probably know, this feeble offense will have to compensate for the absence of top receiving threat Danny Amendola (dislocated collarbone) until possibly Week 12 at the earliest. Aside from a couple of scoring strikes, Sam Bradford (7-for-21, 141 yards, 2 TD, INT) and the St. Louis passing attack looked lifeless. Lance Kendrick (1 catch, 7 yards, TD on two targets) and Chris Givens (1 catch, 51 yards, TD) were the standout pass-catchers. Steven Jackson (18 rushes, 76 yards) received a heavy rushing workload but did little with the touches. Rookie Daryl Richardson (9 rushes, 35 yards) is clearly Jackson’s backup.

What you should know: Who replaces Amendola in the starting lineup? Good question. We’ll all find out later this week, but it’s hard to get excited about any receiver in one of the NFL’s worst passing attacks. Although Jackson’s 76 yards was a season-high, he continues to disappoint. The ninth-year pro has caught just seven passes and hasn’t scored so far in 2012. Three of his next four matchups are against Top 10 run defenses, so Jackson’s slump likely will continue. It’s hard to see him as anything more than a backup for now. Keep an eye on the St. Louis defense. The Rams sacked Kevin Kolb nine times, and they had looked like an up-and-coming unit before a 2011 nosedive.

Fantasy Focus – Arizona: Although Kevin Kolb (28-for-50, 289 yards) didn’t duplicate his season-best 324-yard, three-touchdown, two-interception line from Week 4, he deserves credit for enduring a ferocious St. Louis pass rush that sacked him nine times. Andre Roberts (5 catches, 39 yards on 10 targets) also fell way short of duplicating his Week 4 stats, even though Kolb did try to get the ball to him. Larry Fitzgerald (8 catches, 92 yards on 15 targets) was the Cardinals’ leading receiver. Starting in place of Chris ‘Beanie’ Wells (turf toe), who is out until at least Week 12, Ryan Williams (14 rush, 33 yards; 1 catch, 5 yards) struggled before leaving with a shoulder injury.

What you should know: Two weeks ago, the Miami Dolphins sacked Kolb eight times. Now the Rams took him down eight times, so the Arizona triggerman obviously will be under siege from opposing defenses going forward. Can Kolb hold up under the predicted pounding? If you own Roberts, don’t give up on him. Roberts is entrenched as the Cardinals’ No. 2 receiving option for now, and Kolb is trying to get the ball to him regularly. With Wells out, and now Williams out, monitor the Arizona rushing situation.

Early Sunday Afternoon Games

Miami Dolphins 17 (2-3), Cincinnati Bengals 13 (3-2)

Fantasy Focus – Miami: Not exactly a banner day for the Miami offense, but the Dolphins did just enough. A porous Cincinnati secondary managed to keep Brian Hartline (4 catches, 59 yards on five targets), Davone Bess (2 catches, 49 yards on six targets) and Ryan Tannehill (17-for-26, 223 yards) in check. After taking a backseat to the passing attack last week, Reggie Bush (19 rush, 48 yards, TD; 2 catches, 24 yards) powered the offense this week with some help from Daniel Thomas (10 rushes, 29 yards, TD; 1 catch, 8 yards).

What you should know: Lamar Miller didn’t receive any touches, but don’t assume Thomas has locked up the No. 2 tailback job. The Dolphins promised to lighten Bush’s workload a bit, because he is playing through a knee injury. The team also plans to alternate using Miller and Thomas based on game plans and matchups. During the last two weeks, the better-than-you think Miami defense has notched 16 sacks, four interceptions and one recovered fumble. This unit looks like a sneaky start at home next week against the anemic St. Louis Rams offense.

Fantasy Focus – Cincinnati: What had been a productive Cincinnati offense in recent weeks sputtered against a better-than-expected Miami defense. BenJarvus Green-Ellis (9 rushes, 14 yards; 1 catch, 2 yards) logged what was easily his worst outing as a Bengal. Bernard Scott (5 rushes, 40 yards) looked solid before leaving the game with a knee injury. Andy Dalton (26-for-43, 234 yards, TD, 2 INT) tossed some costly interceptions and saw his string of games with multiple touchdown passes snapped at three. A.J. Green (9 catches, 65 yards, TD on 13 targets) has scored in four straight games and has amassed 100-plus receiving yards in two of his last three outings. Jermaine Gresham (5 catches, 60 yards on six targets) has been steady the last few weeks. Andrew Hawkins (5 catches, 47 yards on 13 targets) was quiet.

What you should know: Green-Ellis has been somewhat disappointing. He has scored just one time, averaged just 3.2 yards per rush and racked up three fumbles in his last 28 touches. Does Green-Ellis deserve to receive 20-plus touches each week? Nope. Scott has more speed and is a candidate to steal touches, but he is hurt. Green-Ellis will hold onto the starting job for now. Does he have trade value? Not at the moment. Don’t give up on Hawkins. Although he hasn’t scored or topped 60 receiving yards during the last two weeks, the Bengals still seem determined to get the ball to the speedy Hawkins regularly.

Indianapolis Colts 30 (2-2), Green Bay Packers 27 (2-3)

Fantasy Focus – Colts:
Rookie Andrew Luck (31-for-55 for a career-high 362 yards, 2 TD, INT; 6 rush, 24 yards, TD) and veteran Reggie Wayne (13 catches, 212 yards, TD on 20 targets) carried the Indianapolis offense in this comeback victory. Luck’s outing was the best of his young career, and Wayne, who turns 34 in November, is still playing some outstanding football. The 212 receiving yards was a career-high. Not counting the Sunday night and Monday night games, Wayne currently leads all NFL receivers with 60 targets. Donnie Avery (3 catches, 22 yards on eight targets) just missed hooking up with Luck on a long touchdown pass. T.Y. Hilton (3 catches, 37 yards on nine targets) and Coby Fleener ( catches, 41 yards on nine targets) were both targeted heavily, while Dwayne Allen (4 catches, 38 yards, TD on five targets) scored in two of his last three games. Donald Brown (17 rushes, 84 yards; 2 catches, 8 yards) had one of his better days rushing the football but hasn’t scored a touchdown since Week 1.

What you should know: Can Avery emerge as a viable fantasy option? I honestly am not sure. During his last two starts in place of Austin Collie (knee – out for the year), Avery has amassed a combined five catches and 50 receiving yards. Luck doesn’t seem to have a favorite second receiving target right now. He targets Wayne heavily but spreads his passes around the other wideouts and tight ends. Allen, however, could be emerging as a TE2. He has compiled 30-plus receiving yards in two straight contests.

Fantasy Focus – Green Bay: If you’re a regular reader, you’ve heard me remind everyone that the Green Bay passing attack just doesn’t click on all cylinders when Greg Jennings (groin – did not play) is not on the field, and this game was no exception. In fact the Packers looked pathetic most of the afternoon. Aaron Rodgers (21-for-33, 243 yards, 3 TD< INT; 5 rushes, 57 yards) made some tough throws but missed some easy ones – including what could have been a 67-yard touchdown pass to Jordy Nelson (2 catches, 29 yards on just five targets). Randall Cobb (4 catches, 82 yards, TD on four targets) and James Jones (4 catches, 46 yards, 2 TD on seven targets) helped carry the passing attack. Jermichael Finley (3 catches, 11 yards on five targets) dinged his shoulder. Meanwhile, Cedric Benson (7 rushes, 20 yards; 2 catches, 21 yards) left the game in the second quarter with a foot injury. Alex Green (9 rushes, 55 yards; 1 catch, 8 yards).

What you should know: Could Green steal some touches from Benson going forward? We’ll see. In case you didn’t see the game or the highlights, Green notched 41 of his rushing yards on one carry. By the way, John Kuhn stole a goal-line carry (2-yard touchdown run) from Benson. The consistently inconsistent Jones seems to be more … consistent. He looks like a much safer fantasy play – only when Jennings is out of the lineup. By the way, I suspect the Packers thought they could win this game without Jennings – and they almost did. I know you Nelson owners are getting frustrated. Rodgers seems to miss him on long throws every so often. With Jennings out, Nelson is struggling to produce against coverage that Jennings normally would receive. Nelson, in my opinion, is a better No. 2 receiver. He should improve when Jennings returns.

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