For me, the most intriguing action of Week 5 didn’t even occur on a playing field. It happened in an interview room in the Cincinnati clubhouse, and involved Michael Irvin and Terrell Owens. Let’s just say, if you had Week 5 in your “when will T.O. poison the Bengals locker room” pool, you win. In 10 short minutes, without mentioning any names or specifics, Owens managed to subtly undermine the entire organization. From claiming that his opinion wasn’t valued, to outright driving the bus over offensive coordinator Bob Bratkowski, it was vintage T.O. And in the process, he made it perfectly clear what the “implications” were if his voice was not heard (see: San Francisco, 2004; Philadelphia, 2006; Dallas, 2009).

On a related note: He now leads all receivers with 60 targets, and in his last two games has 17 catches for 324 yards and two touchdowns. As an owner, I have no idea what to do right now. After the bye, I guess I’ll just keep him in my lineup, avoid watching Bengals games, and start drinking heavily. Did I say start? I meant continue…

Other observations from Week 5:

-For the second straight week, DeSean Jackson was a virtual non-factor, catching just two balls on three targets for 24 yards. In the last two weeks he has a combined five catches for 43 yards. I’m sure there’s a reason for the sudden drop-off in production, but I’m not seeing it …………. oh. Kevin Kolb.

The difference in Jackson’s production with Kolb under center compared to Mike Vick is downright alarming. Not only does he have 10 more targets and 10 more receptions with Vick quarterbacking, but Jackson’s 23.2 yards per catch is massively different than the 9.2 average he has with Kolb throwing the ball.

The reason is simple. Jackson is often bumped at the line and doubled over top, meaning he’s usually not open at first glance. Which is the only glance Kolb gives him. When he sees Jackson surrounded, he immediately checks down to Brent Celek and LeSean McCoy, or looks over to Jeremy Maclin, who often sees single coverage. Vick, on the other hand, excels at stretching the play, giving time for Jackson to separate from coverage down the field. Plus, he throws an elite deep ball, which obviously plays to Jackson’s strength. With Vick expected to return soon, there’s no need to do anything rash, but in the short-term, I’d bench Jackson until Kolb is re-replaced as the starter.

– I was under the assumption Robert Meachem went missing in the French Quarter at the end of training camp and was presumed dead. Guess not. He showed up on Sunday against the Cardinals, catching four balls and scoring a 35-yard touchdown. He’s got 10 catches and 111 yards on the season, which seems abysmal considering the expectations, but it’s really no different than his ’09 season. Heading into Week 9 last year, Meachem had eight catches, 151 yards, and two touchdowns. He then proceeded to delight owners with 37 catches, 571 yards, and four scores in his last nine games. If the Saints can ever get on track, the return of Pierre Thomas and Reggie Bush will help, a repeat could be in store.

Mike Hart was useful in his first extensive action of the season, rushing for 50 yards on 11 carries, good for 4.5 YPC. He’s shifty between the tackles, and hard to take down, and his 11-yard touchdown run was a thing of beauty (and I’m not just saying that because I’m a Colts fan. Ok, maybe I am, but still…it was a big-boy NFL running back touchdown). Problem is, Joseph Addai‘s neck injury doesn’t appear to be too serious, and Donald Brown returned to practice this week. If either of those guys is in the lineup, Hart won’t see more than five carries, 10 if the game’s a blowout. If you’re debating, Brown’s the better waiver pickup.

-Looking less comfortable than a man in skinny jeans, Matt Schaub was held under 200 passing yards for a second straight week, and finished without a touchdown for the first time in 12 games. He was also sacked three times by the Giants, and has now hit the ground on 14 occasions this year, a number surpassed by only Jay Cutler. A hobbled Andre Johnson and an absent Jacoby Jones didn’t help, but Schaub’s attempts are way down compared to last year, and the Texans are clearly at their best when Arian Foster is grinding out yards on the ground. Don’t do anything drastic, but it may be time to start discreetly looking for a replacement– Schaub has the feel of a low-end QB1, rather than the high-end one you paid for.

-While everyone was watching the aerial antics of Philip Rivers, Malcom Floyd, and Antonio Gates, Ryan Mathews quietly slipped past Mike Tolbert on the depth chart. The box score showed Tolbert had 12 carries while Mathews had nine, but the story is in the play-by-play. The Rotund Runner started, and had nine of the first 11 carries of the game, gaining 15 yards while scoring a short touchdown and coughing up a fumble. His last tote came on the first drive of the 3rd quarter, at which point Mathews took over, finishing with 59 yards on nine carries. He looked healthy throughout, and flat-out electric on runs of 15 and 17 yards. With the Chargers sitting at 2-3, Norv Turner is done easing Mathews into the lineup. The leash comes off against the Rams this week.

Unfortunate Downer Side Note: Fatty McTolbert still has his sweaty palms on the short yardage/goal line duties, so don’t expect more than five or six touchdowns from Mathews.

Matt Ryan looks like an elite QB, wins like an elite QB, and, I’m guessing, smells like an elite QB. But he’s not an elite QB. Not in the fantasy game anyway. Not even close. After throwing for 187 yards and a touchdown against the Browns on Sunday, he’s now averaging 15 fantasy points a game, and has been held under 12 points in three of five contests. In 38 career games, Ryan has thrown for 300 yards just three times, with two of those coming in his rookie year. Essentially you have a 12% chance of getting 300-yards when you start Ryan, making his value largely dependent on touchdowns. And as we all know, relying on touchdowns in fantasy usually leads to drunken bitter emails, and a new hobby by December. Ryan’s barely a top 15 QB.

-With Jermichael Finley sidelined eight-ten weeks after a knee scope, and Donald Lee out at least two games with a man-boob strain, starting tight ends duties in Green Bay fall to some dude named Andrew Quarless. In three quarters of action, the athletic rookie fifth rounder didn’t look half bad, catching four balls for 51 yards on six targets, and showed his ability to stretch the field on a 21-yard reception. The Packers even called his number on a fourth-and-goal play, but the pass was a bit behind him and he couldn’t haul it in. Gotta love the immediate confidence the coaching staff showed in him though. As long as Aaron Rodgers isn’t a concussion casualty, Quarless is a fine plug-and-play over the next few weeks. Think Tony Moeaki with a better chance of scoring. Touchdowns, of course.

  1. swingkungfu says:

    i ask again about dropping joe flacco for kyle orton. i know it sounds like i want flacco to be found in a ditch somewhere, but orton produced more than flacco did when it was supposed to be the other way around in week 5. orton has the jets and flacco has NE, so i feel like of course i’ll keep flacco for this week, but a league mate is getting antsy with sanchez and has teased picking up orton. i don’t know if i’m strong enough to keep the faith in mister falcon.

    also, with vick riding my bench til he’s back, and desean jackson’s unproductive streak of two weeks, along with djax’s owner being fairly stacked at WR, he’s got him on his bench, so i’m thinking of making a play for him. thinking of offering up anquan boldin, maybe with dez bryant too, for him. i’ve got andre johnson and zach miller, with either michael crabtree or buc williams(maybe both) being picked up off waivers to replace clayton. that seem as sound of a trade to you as it does to me? or is my brain leaking again?

  2. BAM says:

    would you trade Nicks for J.Best? I got an offer today and I’m considering it. I’m running with CJ, Addai and Hillis in my backfield already and have R.Moss, Nicks and Lloyd as my 3 wides. My thinking is that I can take on Best and trade Addai or Hillis for Austin, who I really want since I have Romo at QB already and both are past their byes.

    Sound rationale?

  3. Roger Lodge says:

    Your thoughts on Matt Ryan were pretty much taken straight from my brain. I could not agree with you more. My question is whether you would start Mark Sanchez @ DEN over Matty Ice @ PHI this week? I understand that B.Bunkley might not play for PHI but A.Samuel could return. This bodes well for Turner and is bad for Ryan, right? Then again, Bailey in DEN is no picnic for Sanchez either. I know everyone’s week 6 ratings will have Ryan over Sanchez but is that the right play? What are your thoughts on these two guys (especially for week 6 but also just in general)?

  4. BAM says:

    One more question…I own Romo and Orton and I’m trying to decide which of the two to start. Aside from their matchups for the week, there’s another interesting wrinkle: I also own Brandon Lloyd and my opponent for the week has Miles Austin. I like the idea of doubling up on point production when Orton connects with Lloyd but I’m not sure whether or not Denver has a better passing matchup than Dallas…

    Anyone with advice, I’m open. Thx.

  5. bartaksu says:

    @swingkungfu: Not to be rude, be how in the heck is Orton available?!? And someone is starting Sanchez? Please tell me you have money on this league!

  6. swingkungfu says:

    it’s a money league, indeed. sanchez was his back-up, he traded away drew brees, ryan matthews and brandon marshall for tony romo, deangelo williams and pierre thomas. this was right around the time romo was doing just alright and sanchez had his two big games against the pats and miami.

    i’ve got no clue why orton isn’t available. it’s an 8 man league, and everybody seems to have a pretty steady QB and orton has just flown under the radar. that’s why i’m antsy. he’s gotta get picked up at some point, i’m thinking.

  7. Rex

    Rex says:

    @swingkungfu – If Orton’s available, you have to make a play for him…I like Boldin equal if not more than D-Jax
    @BAM – If you think you can turn Addai/Hillis into Austin, do it. If not, I think Nicks may be your #1 wideout by the end of the year. Dude’s beastly….I’d roll with Romo to negate his Austin.
    @Roger Lodge – On the whole, I trust Ryan more over the course of the season, but this week, I’d go with the guy on whichever team you think will have more scoring opportunities. I say that’s Sanchez and the Jets…

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