Saints v Panthers
Mark Ingram – Who is the best choice to start out of the New Orleans’ backfield? Is it Darren Sporles and his ability to break the long run at any moment? Is it Pierre Thomas and his ability to work every facet of the offensive game plan? Or is it Mark Ingram and the hope that he will turn into both the workhorse back and the goal line back? It’s becoming far too large of a gamble to start any of the Saints’ running backs. Mark Ingram has the best chance to salvage himself as a valuable fantasy starter though. He needs to find his explosiveness and hit the end zone in impressive fashion here in Week 5 in order to maintain fantasy relevance. Still carrying the label of goal line back means that Ingram has the highest probability to score. If he hits pay dirt here in Week 5 and rushes with the Heisman Trophy ability we saw in college then Ingram could save his value. Week 5 is a make or break time in terms of his 2011 fantasy value. The sky is the limit for Ingram in the long term, but Ingram’s 2011 value is on the line in Week 5.
Chiefs v Colts
Pierre Garcon – Someone has to catch the ball in Indianapolis. No matter who the quarterback is, someone has to become a beneficiary. So far we haven’t seen anything from Reggie Wayne or Dallas Clark indicating that it would be them. So, who could it be? Pierre Garcon’s monster game in Week 4 with Curtis Painter under center showcased exactly who could benefit from a Manning-less quarterback situation. All of the inexperienced quarterbacks lock onto and lean heavily on a main target. In this case it could be Painter to Garcon. There are many uncertainties heading into Week 5 but one thing is an unquestionable certainty. It won’t get any easier than this matchup against the Chiefs. We will see the easiest matchup the Peyton-less Colts will have all season long. If Painter can’t elevate his production here then it just won’t happen at all. With Painter looking for a safety net against a very soft defense I’d expect Garcon to build on his week four productivity. Painter doesn’t have the arm to find Wayne or the patience to wait for Clark’s routes to develop. Garcon should become the only trustworthy fantasy option in Indianapolis in week five, almost by default.
Eagles v Bills
DeSean Jackson – Even Mike Vick has given up on the “Dream Team” label that was mistakenly applied to the 2011 Eagles. Like many news articles would build a news line pun upon, it’s more of a nightmare than a dream. But that’s not to say that everything has been “Nightmare on Elm Street” in Philadelphia. The quartet of Mike Vick, LeSean McCoy, DeSean Jackson, and Jeremy Maclin have looked completely dominant at times. The problem is that they don’t dominate at the same time. When McCoy is rolling, Maclin is useless. When Maclin is dominating, Jackson is nowhere to be found. They have all yet to get on the same page. Week 5 against the Buffalo Bills will give the Eagles a huge opportunity to get on the same page. I’m guessing that the main recipient of getting on the same page will be DeSean Jackson. Jackson is a game breaker. He’s not an 80-catch type of receiver. He’s a play action beneficiary, field stretching, lead the league in yards per catch type of receiver. Though the Bills have played well in 2011, their defense is not as good as advertised. People see four interceptions from Tom Brady and quickly disregard the three touchdowns and massive yardage he had in the same game. Vick will be rolling out of the pocket and firing bombs downfield to perhaps the fastest starting receiver in the NFL. If DeSean doesn’t produce here, I’d have to say that he falls down a tier or two due thanks to such sporadic production. If you can’t trust him then you can’t continuously start him without question.
Seahawks v Giants
Eli Manning – The only thing that is 100% about Eli is that he will finish with more yards in 2011 than his brother Peyton. Other than that, you’re on your own. As soon as you trust Eli he lets you down. And when you finally bench him he comes through with a career day to slap you in the face. This game against the Seahawks though should be the closest thing to a lock that the G-Men have all season in terms of good fortune. The Seahawks are so lost on defense at this point that they have cut starting linebacker Lofa Tatupu and benched fellow linebacker Aaron Curry without any type of replacement. Things shouldn’t get much more appealing for Eli than they get here in Week 5. Manning should be able to find all three of his wide receivers on a regular basis for four quarters of play. I’m expecting huge games from both Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz here, and I’m even expecting Mario Manningham to come crawling out of Tom Coughlin’s doghouse. If you can’t trust Eli against the Seahawks then you flat out can’t. Eli Manning has a chance to pad his stats and I completely expect him to do so. If he does then he becomes more than just a fantasy bench player. If he doesn’t then he becomes nothing more than a bye week helper. With the way the Giants have been playing I’m expecting them to try to run the score up and gain confidence. And the fact that Brandon Jacobs may not play will lead to more plays for Ahmad Bradshaw, thusly aiding Eli’s passing stats.
Bengals v Jaguars
Jermaine Gresham – It’s time to make the jump from the bench to a starter for Gresham here in Week 5. He’s an obvious talent given his NFL draft position in the first round of last year’s selection process. And Andy Dalton has seemingly stepped in for the temporarily retired Carson Palmer with ease. With AJ Green drawing secondary coverage Jermaine Gresham should be able to roam amongst the linebacking core of the Jacksonville Jaguars. Though the Jaguars do have a gifted linebacking unit Gresham is a premier talent at his position. He has the chance to not only gain significant yardage but continue to build on the previous weeks’ production and develop further red zone chemistry with the “Red Rifle”, Andy Dalton. There aren’t that many high profile players at the tight end position and several of the preseason ranked Top 10 have HUGE issues at hand. Tight end is the leading position for ranking turnover from this season to the next. Andy Dalton needs favorable targets and AJ Green is clearly number one. Gresham has the chance to become the sturdy second target for the maturing Andy Dalton. If not, he slips past the Top 10 back into tight end obscurity. If he does produce though, he could crack the Top 10, even after bye weeks are over.
Titans v Steelers
Matt Hasselbeck – I have no problem admitting my mistakes. A-I drafted Ben Roethlisberger as my number one quarterback, B-I didn’t think that Matthew Stafford would last this long into the season before a shoulder injury, C-I thought that Wes Welker was a mere human made of blood, flesh, and bone. I am undoubtedly wrong about things from time to time. D on my list of “I thoughts” would be that Hasselbeck is completely done. I swore that the best years of Hasselebeck were behind him, and those best years weren’t that spectacular to begin with. Hasselbeck continues to remind me of a “Brad Johnson Game Manager” quarterback here in 2011, but the fantasy points say differently. He’s been more than productive on all the competition he’s faced thus far. Hasselbeck has the chance here to produce against a name brand defense in the Pittsburg Steelers and impress even the hardest of critics, like myself. His numbers thus far for 2011 don’t lie but there will be an added “holy crap” effect for beating up on the Steelers and their historically acclaimed defense. Is he a game manager or a fantasy starter? Week five gives the Boston College Alum the chance to either take the wheel or get in the back seat.
Raiders v Texans
Arian Foster – Being an Andre Johnson owner, I can say that watching his injury during the game was one of the most horrifying injuries for fantasy owners I’ve ever seen. Right up there with Tom Brady’s knee injury in game one a few season’s back and Jamaal Charles here in 2011. As my stomach was turning and I was searching for a bucket to get sick in and all the while Arian Foster owners were rejoicing. Because not only did Foster return in that same game, but he completely dominated the defense. He was the undisputed focal point of the offense and responded in ridiculous fashion. His stats were impressive but only by watching the game could you see the actual impact. The play where he ran to the right and the play was dead so he bounced it up the left side for a huge gainer was jaw dropping. The Texans will rely on the running game heavily with Andre being sidelined. And to add to the boost in value is the fact that Ben Tate is dealing with an injury. Arian Foster should see 5 receptions and 20 carries on Sunday. It’s completely up to him on whether he jumps back up into Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson territory or whether he falls back into a possible running back by committee situation. After what I saw on Sunday, I’m guessing that he eases troubled owners worries.