Once again, I take a seat to review the Sunday slate and offer analysis and numbers to bring you to the fantasy promised land. And, once again, I do so after a less than thrilling Thursday night game. I take nothing away from the Rams and the nine sacks recorded against Kevin Kolb. It was the pass rush that I had anticipated seeing all season long, and the St. Louis defense delivered in a huge home spot against the undefeated Cardinals.
It was ugly. Let’s not sugarcoat it. Sam Bradford emerged victorious despite completing only seven passes. That isn’t to say that Bradford didn’t have his spots, completing beautiful 44 and 51-yard passes to Danny Amendola and Chris Givens, respectively. The loss of Amendola obviously impacted the passing game, leaving Bradford without a reliable option in the short game.
As for Kolb, he did connect with Larry Fitzgerald eight times for 92 yards. Kolb passed for 289 yards (28-of-50), but the Cardinals produced a single Jay Feely field goal. Concern about the Arizona offensive line is obvious, and Arizona fans and fantasy owners will await word on the health of Ryan Williams.
With Thursday’s game in the books, let’s turn our attention to the rest of the schedule. I’ll get things started with the high-octane Packers, a unit that looks to build on the Week 4 win over New Orleans.
(Exclude Andre Johnson, A.J. Green, Roddy White, Victor Cruz, Percy Harvin, Brandon Marshall, Wes Welker and Julio Jones)
Jordy Nelson at IND Nelson scored his first touchdown of the season and logged season-high totals in receptions (eight) and receiving yards (93) in the “get-right” game against the Saints in Week 4. He’s on the board for another huge effort this week against Indianapolis, a unit that has allowed the eighth-most fantasy points to wide receivers.
Torrey Smith at KC Smith posted two huge efforts in a five-day stretch against the Patriots and Browns, producing 224 yards on 12 receptions, including three touchdowns. He’s in line for another big game against the heretofore disappointing Kansas City defense following an extended break. The Chiefs’ best cornerback, Brandon Flowers, was back on the mid-week injury report because of a recurrence of his heel issue. If he goes, look for Joe Flacco to test him early.
Reggie Wayne vs. GB Wayne enters Week 5 tied for the eighth-most targets in the game with 40. Remember, he didn’t play in Week 4 because the Colts took an early Bye. He and Andrew Luck have connected 23 times for 294 yards.
Wayne’s on the board as a strong back-end WR1 or high-end WR2 this week against the Packers. Green Bay has allowed the 14th-most fantasy points to wide receivers despite early success against Jay Cutler and the Bears. I certainly don’t expect a dominant effort out of Luck, but I am anticipating the need to throw early and often to keep pace with the Green Bay offense.
Mike Wallace vs. PHI Wallace excelled in the first three weeks of the season despite sitting out all of training camp. He scored in each of the Steelers’ first three games, racking up 17 receptions for 234 yards. Fresh off the Bye and with Rashard Mendenhall returning to the backfield, I expect to see the Steelers offense to run more consistently. Wallace has been used all over the field and, though Ben Roethlisberger and Todd Haley may not always see eye to eye, there’s great potential in the vertical game. I’m curious to see if the Steelers take something out of the Bears’ blueprint from Monday night against Dallas to free Wallace from the Philly cornerbacks.
Demaryius Thomas at NE Do I need to elaborate? The Patriots have allowed the ninth-most fantasy points to wide receivers and got rolled into a shootout in Week 4 against the Bills before blowing them out in the second half. Thomas produced two 100-yard games in the first quarter of the season while demonstrating big-play potential, and he would have scored a touchdown in Week 4 had he not bobbled a ball off his knee on a dead sprint to the end zone. He’s a rock-solid play in what promises to be a high-scoring revival of the longstanding Brady-Manning battle.
Eric Decker also rates a strong WR2 play this week in this matchup. Through four weeks, Decker has been targeted 36 times, producing 24 receptions for 322 yards.
Brandon Lloyd vs. DEN Lloyd only registered three receptions for 50 yards in the blowout win over the Bills, but he did shake loose to record a 25-yard touchdown reception. It was his first of the season. Lloyd has already posted 25 receptions for 287 yards. He’s a low-end WR1 or high-end WR2 this week alongside Wes Welker. The Broncos have allowed the 13th-most fantasy points to wide receivers.
Marques Colston vs. SD Despite playing through a nagging foot injury, Colston broke through in a big way against the Packers in Week 4. He nearly matched his output from the first three weeks of the season and scored his first touchdown in the season. It’s not the easiest of matchups against the Chargers, the 11th-best defense against wide receivers. However, it’s a home tilt in the proverbial “must-win” game for the 10th-ranked scoring offense (27.5 points per game).
Malcom Floyd at NO Which Floyd will you see this week? Floyd scored a touchdown in Week 1 and registered 109 receiving yards in Week 2. He’s produced five receptions for 75 yards total in his past two games, including a tepid two-reception, 23-yard game against the Chiefs after signing his contract extension. I look for a bounce-back effort on the road in a great spot against the Saints. Floyd’s inconsistency carries risk, but the Saints have allowed the fourth-most fantasy points to wide receivers. Just yell at Rivers to “Throw it up!” through your television.
Anquan Boldin at KC Don’t jump off of the bandwagon just yet. Boldin produced a huge game (nine receptions for 131 yards) in Week 4 against the Browns. He’s in another advantageous matchup against the middling Kansas City defense. The Chiefs have allowed the 19th-most fantasy points to wide receivers, including five touchdown passes. Overall, opposing quarterbacks have completed 65.1% of their pass attempts against Kansas City with 10 touchdowns against two interceptions.
Domenik Hixon vs. CLE Hixon started in place of the injured Hakeem Nicks against the Eagles and produced a big game, corralling six receptions for 114 yard (including receptions of 32 and 41 yards). He’s on the radar for another big outing in Week 5 against the Browns with Nicks sidelined. The Browns are still without cornerback Joe Haden, thereby leaving the secondary vulnerable (third-most fantasy points allowed to WR).
Reuben Randle is also on the radar as the third wide receiver for Eli Manning. Week 3 hero Ramses Barden has been affected by a concussion and may be unavailable.
Jerome Simpson vs. TEN Simpson drew two pass interference penalties last week that netted the Vikings 57 yards in field position. Those plays don’t help in the box score, but I must note that Simpson also led the Vikings with 50 receiving yards on four receptions in his first game back from suspension. He’s a prime target for a Bye week slot as a WR3 against the woeful Tennessee pass defense that has allowed the most fantasy points to wide receivers.
James Jones at IND Jones posted his second straight five-reception game last week against the Saints. He took on a bigger role because of Greg Jennings’ lingering injury concerns and scored twice, including the interception of a pass intended for Jermichael Finley. Jennings has been shut down altogether this week, thereby putting Jones in line for a huge day against the weak Indianapolis secondary.
Stevie Johnson at SF Johnson’s three-game scoring streak was halted with a resounding thud in Week 4 against the Patriots. Despite the high-scoring, wide-open contest, Johnson managed just two receptions for 23 yards on 10 targets. This week, he faces a much better test against the San Francisco secondary. The 49ers rank third in fantasy points allowed to wide receivers, surrendering just a single touchdown. Johnson averaged 48.8 receiving yards per game in the first quarter of the season. He’s no better than a WR3 this week for me.
Dwayne Bowe vs. BAL Bowe’s going to appear in your lineup. Unless you’re in the random one-receiver league, he’s going to be a starter for your squad. I am, however, moderately concerned about his potential in this matchup against a rested Baltimore defense. Some may point to the big numbers put up against the pass defense, particularly in the Week 4 matchup against the Browns. Step back and remember that the Ravens played a ridiculously rigorous schedule out of the gate. Now rested, I expect the Ravens to harass Matt Cassel and keep him uncomfortable in the pocket. Bowe sits at No. 16 in my Week 5 rankings.
Steve Smith vs. SEA Smith’s production has dipped in three consecutive games, and he was merely a bystander in Week 4 against the Falcons (three receptions for 52 yards on six targets). He won’t see free releases this week against the Seattle secondary, a unit that ranks 10th against wide receivers in terms of fantasy points. He’s a mid-WR2 this week.
Pierre Garcon vs. ATL Garcon continues to be limited because of his foot injury. In Week 4, he was targeted just once against the Buccaneers, producing a 20-yard reception. This week’s matchup is enticing despite the lofty ranking of the Atlanta pass defense against wide receivers (fifth against wide receivers). The Falcons are going to put up points, without question, thereby putting RGIII into shootout mode. However, I’m reticent to slide Garcon higher than a WR3 slot this week. I need to see progress on his foot.