“Start ’em and Sit ’em” was on hiatus last week as I made my way to Boston to catch Derek Jeter’s farewell game on Sunday. Things went well. Some random dude gave us a free parking pass when we were driving up to Fenway, Jeets got a hit in his last at bat, and I even caught a foul ball.
So did you miss me? (You’re supposed to say, “yes”). I’ll just assume you did, and we can all move on. Fantasy football didn’t stop for me just because I didn’t put out a Week 4 column. I never got off the saddle — well, maybe once to enjoy a warm bowl of chowdah. Hopefully you survived that hectic week of byes, and let’s keep on, keepin’ on to Week 5…
Austin Davis, Rams: Rams’ coach Jeff Fisher has named Davis his starter for the rest of the season. We’ll see if he sticks to his word, but for now, Davis is the guy — and he has a fantastic matchup in Week 5. The Rams travel to Philly to face the Eagles, who have given up the second-most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks. Davis is coming off a 327-yard, three-TD performance, and looked in synch with Brian Quick, Kenny Britt, and Jared Cook. The possibility of getting Tavon Austin back this week doesn’t hurt either.
Ryan Fitzpatrick, Texans: Houston has been surprisingly competitive this year, and while a lot of that has to do with their defense, Fitzpatrick has also done a pretty good job as a game manager. Fantasy-wise, the Harvard alum has scored at least 13 points in all four games. The TD/INT ratio isn’t pretty (5/5), but a matchup vs. the porous Cowboys pass defense (24th in fantasy) is one to take advantage of in 2-QB leagues. If Arian Foster (GTD), doesn’t suit up, Fitzpatrick should benefit even more.
Doug Martin, Buccaneers: Are we on the D-Mart train or off of it? Well, this week, we’re on it. The Bucs face the Saints in a division showdown at the Superdome (I’ll omit the “Mercedes Benz” for nostalgia sake), and Martin will look to capitalize vs. a defense that has given up the 11th-most fantasy points to opposing running backs. The offense has moved a lot better with Mike Glennon at the helm, and if there were any questions about workload, all you have to do is look at last week’s stats — Martin had 16 touches to Bobby Rainey‘s five.
Allen Hurns, Jaguars: With Cecil Shorts and Marqise Lee out, rookie QB Blake Bortles will have limited weapons this week. Remember Week 1 when those two receivers sat out? Chad Henne completed four passes for 110 yards and two touchdowns to Hurns. Look for a repeat with Bortles under center and the Jags facing a Steelers pass D (minus Ike Taylor) that has allowed 448 yards and 3 TDs to opposing wideouts over the past two weeks.
Golden Tate, Lions: Calvin Johnson was mainly used as a decoy Sunday, drawing just two targets in the Lions’ win over the Jets. While Megatron was relatively non-existent, Tate thrived, reeling in eight catches for 116 yards. Johnson has been kept out of practice this week and we could be looking at a repeat scenario. The former Seahawk has yet to hit pay dirt with his new team, but I wouldn’t put it past him in Week 5 — the Bills have allowed five touchdowns to opposing wideouts in 2014.
Garrett Graham, Texans: The Texans’ opponents this week — the Dallas Cowboys — have surrendered the most fantasy points to opposing tight ends this season, and it’s not even close. They have given up a full seven more points per game than the next worst team, the Jacksonville Jaguars. Graham has been pretty quiet up to this point, but Week 5 could be his breakout game. Ryan Fitzpatrick likes going to his tight ends and so does coach Bill O’Brien. It’s true Graham has just nine catches for 95 yards on 12 targets, but his backup, Ryan Griffin, has been targeted only twice. With both Andre Johnson and Arian Foster ailing, look for Fitzpatrick to play the checkdown game and get Graham more involved in the offense.
Tony Romo, Cowboys: Things are changing in Dallas. With an improved offensive line, and in an effort to keep Romo (and his back) upright, the Cowboys have become a run-first team. DeMarco Murray is the NFL’s leading rusher, and he should continue to add to those stats on Sunday. Romo has been quite efficient this year, completing almost 70 percent of his passes, but in the majority of leagues, that doesn’t get you fantasy points. The emphasis on the run game has limited Romo’s opportunities, and that’s not a good thing for his owners. Through four games, he’s attempting 29.5 passes per game, down from 35.6 last year. Romo’s matchup vs. the Texans isn’t a great one either. Houston is the eighth-stingiest team vs. fantasy QBs.
Shane Vereen, Patriots: The Pats’ offense is a mess right now. All the bad publicity has gone Tom Brady‘s way, but the running backs haven’t contributed much either, including Shane Vereen. With an early-round ADP, Vereen has let many owners down, and this week’s matchup vs. the Bengals won’t likely earn him a reprieve. Vereen is predominantly a pass-catching back, and the Bengals have allowed only 11 catches for 71 yards to opposing RBs. The yards allowed are second-best in the NFL. With only two teams on byes this week, you can do better.
Steven Jackson, Falcons: These days, the Falcons running attack is so spread around, it’s impossible to know who will benefit from a fantasy standpoint. The aging S-Jax isn’t a recommended play in most weeks, and that won’t change in a matchup vs. the New York Giants. On paper, the Giants’ 16th-best ranking vs. RBs looks okay, but when you consider that only 55.6 percent of the points they’ve allowed have come on the ground, it makes Jackson, who isn’t a pass-catching back, much less appealing.
Michael Floyd, Cardinals: Don’t get me wrong, I really like Michael Floyd, but this week’s matchup is one that’s best avoided if you have capable replacements. Carson Palmer has been ruled out and Drew Stanton will make his third consecutive start for the Cards, and he’ll be doing so in an extremely hostile environment. Palmer isn’t the greatest, but a healthy Palmer is better than a healthy Stanton. The Broncos’ defense has allowed just 10 yards per completion (eighth in NFL), which should limit the big play-dependent Floyd and his league-leading 22.9 YPR.
Dwayne Allen/Coby Fleener, Colts: This is just a terrible matchup and one that should be completely avoided. The Ravens are No. 1 vs. the tight end, having given up just 12 catches for 141 yards and zero scores against the position this year. Not only is the matchup bad, but both players have to compete with one another for targets. Allen has 11 catches on 15 targets this year, while Fleener has 10 on 19. This is a situation to stay away from.
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