Christian Ponder. Tashard Choice. Daniel Thomas. Yeah, those were great plays.
Alfred Morris. Brandon Marshall. Jamaal Charles. I hope you sat those guys.
Sometimes even the experts have one of those weeks. Oh, and me too.
But hey, do I get any credit for telling you to bench Tony Romo? Well, just because I can’t stand him and he’s my default player to hate and I couldn’t choose anyone else … hey, I still got it right!
But seriously, how was I supposed to know the Cowboys defense would be that atrocious? What? You knew? Oh, sorry. Well, how was I expected to figure out that Ponder was going to hand off to Adrian Peterson, and Percy Harvin was going to run back a kickoff. What? Well, your so special. Yes, I know that’s what they do. OK, smarty.
To heck with it, then. All I can do is put together a list that will knock your socks off this week. … What do you mean you don’t wear socks? Are you the last Sperry customer?
Ah, but I digress.
Now, it really gets important. This is when the byes start to kick in. (Forget about Pittsburgh and Indianapolis.) This is when your team depth will either give you a big boost or show why you don’t deserve to be among the league’s elite. So I’m going to try and reach back a little further in my bag of tricks. Despite being miserably wrong last week with a bunch of scabs, I’m going to give you some lower-rated players who are sure to come through.
If not, we’ll just forget it ever happened.
Andy Dalton, Bengals vs. Dolphins (30th vs. pass)
There’s a small chance Dalton is on your waiver wire this week if you’re looking for that bye-week replacement or if you’re just sick of Michael Vick. If you’re not one of the lucky ones, it might not be a bad time to deal for him. Miami is allowing almost 300 passing yards per game, although they have only given up six touchdowns. And Dalton has quite a few nice matchups the rest of the fantasy regular season.
Honorable mention: Philip Rivers, Chargers at Saints (do we really need to go over this again?); Alex Smith, 49ers vs. Bills (if he is ever going to light anyone up, this would be the week)
Jacquizz Rodgers, Falcons at Redskins (11th vs. run); Pierre Thomas, Saints vs. Chargers (6th vs. run)
Despite Washington faring pretty well against the run, Rodgers is generally a part of the passing game, and he has been seeing more of the field as the season has progressed. The Redskins have been burned by the short pass – well, the deep pass, too – and going against Matt Ryan isn’t really going to help raise their ranking much. … Forget about the high ranking for the Chargers D and the Saints’ winless record. Might sound crazy, but I have a hunch, the boys in black and gold are about to get it together, and their second-most-important offensive player has been Thomas. (Yes, even more so than Graham.)
Honorable mention: Jackie Battle, Chargers at Saints (might start one more week); BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Bengals vs. Dolphins (you heard it here first: two TDs, one rushing, one receiving)
Domenik Hixon, Giants vs. Browns (28th vs. pass); Jerome Simpson, Vikings vs. Titans (27th vs. pass)
With it looking more and more like Hakeem Nicks will miss another week, Hixon (available in 76 percent of CBS leagues) becomes a strong play (as he showed last week) against a surprisingly weak defense against the pass. After last week’s debacle against the Eagles, you can bet the Giants will be in a foul mood and looking to exact revenge with Eli Manning throwing all over. … Simpson (available in 51 percent of CBS leagues) played a good bit in his return from a three-game suspension. He could become a larger target as the season wears on, but against this very favorable matchup, this would be a nice bye-week replacement.
Honorable mention: Mario Manningham, 49ers vs. Bills (if he learns how to catch, he’ll become dangerous); Golden Tate, Seahawks at Panthers (maybe he’ll really catch a game-winner some day)
Joel Dreesen, Broncos at Patriots (24th vs. pass)
More and more as Peyton Manning gets comfortable in this offense, he seems to look more for Dreesen in the red zone. If you have a tight end on a bye in a deep league, this might be a great one-week pickup.
Honorable mention: Heath Miller, Steelers vs. Eagles (Ben’s gonna have to get rid of it quick)
KICKER: Nick Novak, Chargers at Saints (perfect one-week pickup)
Cam Newton, Panthers vs. Seahawks (10th vs. pass)
Tough to look at passing defense when trying to figure out how effective Newton will be. You also have to factor in the rushing D. Fact it, the Seahawks have only allowed five touchdowns all season. Period. With nowhere to run for DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart, Seattle will probably place a spy on Newton. Hey, maybe the Saints should do that. But that’s another story. Point is, if you have even an average backup, this might be the week to use him.
Not-so-honorable mention: Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers vs. Eagles (Philly has something to prove)
Maurice Jones-Drew, Jaguars vs. Bears (6th vs. run); C.J. Spiller/Fred Jackson, Bills at 49ers (7th vs. run)
MJD has showed little, if any, ill effects from his extended holdout. But the Bears have been tough on just about every opposing runner so far, shutting down DeMarco Murray last week. I’m looking elsewhere if possible. … Following Golden Rule that says don’t start a mediocre running back against San Fran. Well two mediocre backs don’t equal one good one in this case, and S.F. probably is still ticked from that whoopin they received in Minnesota two weeks ago.
Not-so-honorable mention: Ahmad Bradshaw, Giants vs. Browns (Cleveland has allowed just one rushing TD); Donald Brown, Colts vs. Packers (Ditto, except change out Cleveland with Green Bay)
Mike Wallace, Steelers vs. Eagles (8th vs. pass); Steve Smith, Panthers vs. Seahawks (10th vs. pass)
Wallace has scored three weeks in a row, and although a wise man once told me never to bet against a streak of three or more, I’m shunning that advice here. Eagles D has been solid, and I expect Big Ben to be dumping off short. Might be a good week for Heath Miller. … Not to beat a dead horse, but I don’t see the Panthers’ offense having a whole lot of success in what should be a low-scoring game. The Seabags have allowed just three passing touchdowns all season and none two weeks ago against the vaunted Packers in the Shame Game.
Not-so-honorable mention: Any Eagles receiver at Steelers (this one is going to be all McCoy); Brandon Marshall, Bears at Jaguars (Jekyll and Hyde Cutler due to turn ugly this week)
Rob Gronkowski, Patriots vs. Broncos (13th vs. pass)
Still listed as questionable Friday, although he’ll probably play, the late start doesn’t do fantasy owners any favors. Keep monitoring, but if you aren’t sure, you’ll have to figure out whether it’s worth the risk. Personally, if I had any sort of decent backup and I had to choose at noon Sunday, I’d go with the backup.
Not-so-honorable mention: Kyle Rudolph, Vikings vs. Titans (say it with me: overrrattted)
KICKER: Blair Walsh, Vikings vs. Titans (finally showed the shakes)
MY WEEK 5 LINEUPS (as of Friday)
FINKS FOOTBALL LEAGUE (touchdown-heavy scoring, 3 pts passing TD, no PPR, 20-team keeper league with two separate conferences – which have separate drafts — of 10 teams)
MojoXpress (2-2, won 39-32)
Starters: PRivers, MLynch, LMcCoy, PHarvin, JNelson, ABradshaw (flex), JFinley, DAkers
Bench: MVick, JFreeman, CalJohnson (bye), KevSmith, BTate, JStewart, DAmendola, RMoss, JGresham, SGraham
WHO DAT LEAGUE (mostly standard scoring, 6 pts passing TD, no PPR, 12-team keeper league)
Squirrel Pool (2-2, lost 118-94)
Starters: PRivers, TRichardson, MLynch, VCruz, AntBrown, RMoss (flex), JFinley, Bengals Def, GHartley
Bench: MStafford, KevSmith, KOgletree, KBritt, RTurbin, DPitta, Lions Def
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