By Dan Snake Watson
Hello again, Fantasy Football fans! We’ve arrived at Week 5 of this column in Cleary’s Notebook. Here’s hoping that everyone is at 4-0 heading into this week. I am 4-0 in one of my leagues and 3-1 in the other. This is my best start in the 25 years I’ve been involved in fantast football.
A lot happened this week. Guys like Cutler, Vick, Portis, etc were hurt badly enough that the decision has already been made to not play them this week. For the status of other folks that are important to fantasy football lineups I recommend watching Fantasy Football now on ESPN2 beginning at 11:30am Eastern Time on Sunday morning. It’s a very complete program aimed at fantasy football and the status of players and last minute changes are given during the program.
Another big event this week was Randy Moss being traded to Minnesota. I like Moss and I always have but he’ll be more of a decoy over the next couple of weeks until he’s learned the playbook of the Vikings. I think the player that moves up during that time will be the now healthy Percy Harvin who will go back to his more comfortable role of the slot receiver.
Here are my recommendations for week 5:
Joe Flacco is home vs Denver this week. He does much better at home having thrown 9 TDs in his last 5 starts. Denver has injuries in their secondary which should open things up for the Baltimore receivers. The Broncos only have 4 sacks this year which should give Flacco time to move the ball downfield.
Matt Ryan is at Cleveland this week and the Browns secondary is a weak part of this team having given up 600 yards, 5 tds and no interceptions. Ryan and his Falcons should have a field day in Cleveland. Ryan only had one TD against 2 interceptions last week in San Francisco but he should bouce back against a much weaker opponent.
Shaun Hill is home vs. the Rams this week. The Lions have not been a good team this year but St. Louis is just what the doctor ordered. Hill has a good history vs. the Rams based on is years with the49ers when he faced them 3 times in 2 years and threw for 6tds during those games. Hill is a recommended starter if you’re faced with a BYE week replacement issue.
Brett Favre faces his old team the Jets this week and he’s worth the risk now that he has Randy Moss as one of his weapons. Favre should be motivated vs. New York as any good quarterback wants to beat up on his former team. The Jets have allowed two passing touchdowns in each of the past three games against New England, Miami and Buffalo, and Favre should be ready coming off his bye week.
Carson Palmer is home vs. Tampa Bay this week. Palmer is coming off a game where he threw for almost 400 yards and finally discovered Owens. The Buccaneers defense is overrated this year. They’ve not been challenged have played against Carolina, Cleveland and a Steelers l3ed Charlie Batch. Palmer should expose them. He’s thrown at least 35 times in each of his games this year and Tampa Bay won’t be able to keep pace with that production.
I do not recommend Kyle Orton at Baltimore, Bruce Gradkowski vs. San Diego, Donovan McNabb vs. Green Bay, Josh Freeman at Cincinnati, Kevin Kolb at San Francisco or Mark Sanchez vs. Minnesota.
Beanie Wells is home vs. New Orleans this week snd the Saints have not fared well against running games this year. Keep in mind that Wells shares carries with Tim Hightower but with Max Hall at Quarterback, this should be a game where both backs go over 100 yards.
Jahvid Best is home vs. St. Louis this weekend and he should be back to the form that he had during the first two weeks of the season. He’s had a toe injury that seems to be handled now and rushing opponents have fared well against the Rams this year averaging 4.6 yds per carry.
Mike Tolbert is at Oakland this week and the Charger are still being cautious with Ryan Mathews. The Raiders should not pose a threat here and Tolbert should benefit against a team that is 31st vs. the run.
Fred Jackson is the new starter in Buffalo now that they’ve parted ways with Marshawn Lynch. He’ll face a Jacksonville team at home this week and he has a chance to show his Bills what he’s made of. He should get the majority of carries being relieved by Spiller. This should be Jackson’s best game of the year and the Jags are very weak vs. the run.
Ryan Torain is a great pickup since Portis is shelved for the next 3 or 4 weeks with a strained groin. Sounds nasty. Washington is home vs. Green Bay this week and they will be leaning on Torain who has no one to share carries with. He did well against Philly last week with 18 carries for 70 yds and a td.
I do not recommend Marion Barber vs. Tennessee, Cadillac Williams at Cincinnati, Jonathan Stewart vs. Chicago, Brandon Jackson at Washington, Laurence Maroney at Baltimore.
Mark Clayton is at Detroit this weekend and he’s done well since being traded to St. Louis and hooking up with Sam Bradford who was his QB at Oklahoma back in the day.. In 3 games this season, Clayton has at least 70 yds. He should be good for at least that production when he faces off against the Lions this week.
Lance Moore has thrived in the Saints offense since Reggie Bush went down. This week the Saints travel to Arizona to face the Cardinals and Moore should continue to produce. He has 11 catches, 186 yds nd 3 tds in the two games without Bush and that production should continue as he has become the check down guy for New Orleans.
Terrell Owens vs. Tampa Bay. I mentioned in this column last week that I expected a big game from Owens and he did not let me down as he was good for 220 yds and a 78 yd td. I expect Owens to be productive again when he lines up against the Buccaneers. I’m also looking for good production for Ochocinco in this game as he’s not a guy to be ignored and he’ll ent his fair share of targets. That’s a problem any QB would love to have.
Percy Harvin is at the Jets this week and will draw Kyle Wilson for coverage. This is a matchup that Brett Favre and Harvin should exploit all day as Harvin deserves more than single coverage. He’s also coming off a BYE week so he’s well rested and all the aches and pains are gone now. Here’s hoping the migraines are a thing of the past.
Lee Evans. Remember him? Yeah it’s been a while. He and Buffalo will host Jacksonville this week and I have a feeling that this is where Evens has a breakout game. He’s a good BYE week replacement and a big play gut. The Jags are susceptible to big plays in the passing game.
I cannot recommend Malcom Floyd at Oakland, Louis Murphy vs. San Diego, Santana Moss vs. Green Bay, Devin Hester at Carolina, Nate Washington at Dallas or Brandon Lloyd at Baltimore this week.
Zach Miller vs. San Diego has a good history vs. the Chargers. In his past 5 meetings he had 32 catches for almost 400 yds which is good production at that position on a lousy team. The Chargers are vulnerable to tight ends this year and Miller should continue this production
Visanthe Shiancoe is at the Jets this week and he should do quite well with single coverage. Keep in mind that he’s had a hamstring injury but with the BYE last week, he should be good to go. Jets are vulnerable to tight ends this year having allowed at least 7 points in each game they’ve played. Shiancoe should do well this week.
Somebody mentioned in responses last week that Mercedes Lewis was a stiff. Well he’s looking to prove you wrong as he travels to Buffalo this week. He has 3 TDs this year and that’s a personal best for Lewis. I give him a good chance to score this week. Finley, Gronkowski and Keller have all thrived against the Bills this year and I look for Lewis to continue that trend this week.
Benjamin Watson (no relation) faces Atlanta this week and he has quickly become the number 1 option in Cleveland. That may not be saying too much as we are talking about the Browns receivers. With that said, Watson has 15 catches for 169 yds and 1 td this year so he could be a good BYE week replacement this week.
This week, bench Owen Daniels vs. NYG, Brandon Pettigrew vs. St. Louis and Tony Gonzalez at Cleveland
DEFENSE / SPECIAL TEAMS
This week I like Chicago at Carolina, Atlanta at Cleveland, Cincinnati vs.. Tampa Bay and Dallas vs. Tennessee
I do not recommend Tennessee at Dallas this week.
How about that 46 year old John Carney back with New Orleans. Love it. I also like David Buehlar vs. Tennessee, Mike Nugent vs. Tampa Bay and Robbie Gould at Carolina
I ddon’t like Sebastian Janikowski this week vs. San Diego.
That’s all for this week folks. Please keep the BYE weeks in mind when submitting those starting lineups. This week Miami, Seattle, New England and Pittsburgh will take a break. That’s going to effect guys like Marshall, Brown, Williams, Hasselbeck, Branch, Forsett, Brady, and his crew and Mendenhall, and Ward. Big Ben comes back next week after his 4 game suspension and he should be tearing into his remaining opponents with a vengeance. If he can stay out of trouble from here on out, he could become the productive QB that he was prior to his problems.
I look forward to more of your comments in the weeks to come. I hope to hear any questions or concerns or suggestions to improve this column.
Dan “Snake” Watson