Fantasy Clicks: Broncos' face tough test, best/worst Week 5 games
Ravens boast the NFL's top pass defense, allowing 119 passing yards per game
Jamaal Charles, Thomas Jones may have big Week 5s vs. Indy's porous run D
Marshawn Lynch likely to be Seahawks' goal-line back after trade from Bills
Kyle Orton won't ever be confused for John Elway, but through the season's first month his passing numbers just might. Orton is leading the NFL in passing yards and leading fantasy football's most surprising offense. This weekend's most interesting fantasy matchup has to be the pass-happy Broncos at the Ravens, they of the NFL's top-ranked pass defense allowing 119 yards a game.
Irresistible force, meet immovable object.
Orton's weekly clip of nearly 44 attempts and 354 yards is showing no signs of letting up, especially given running back Knowshon Moreno's recent hamstring injury setback. And just think, many figured it would be the Bears going all run and shoot on us (Mike Martz, eat your heart out).
This game will affect the fantasy landscape for the rest of the season. If the Broncos can throw on the Ravens, they can do it against anyone. But if the Ravens shut it down, it might be the first chink in the Denver offense's armor.
The best plan of attack for fantasy owners might be to sit Orton, but play your Denver receivers.
Even in the worst case scenario of a blowout, Brandon Lloyd, Jabar Gaffney and Eddie Royal are all fine garbage time options to produce points. It's also easier to overcome a receiver having an off-game than a quarterback in fantasy.
Either way, Sunday allows Denver a chance to show the league and the fantasy world just how legit Orton and the Broncos are.
Here are my top four picks for fantasy goodness and bottom four games of this weekend.
The Top 4
1. Kansas City at Indianapolis: It should be a Peyton Manning air show against the Chiefs' 25th-rated pass defense. But KC's Jamaal Charles and Thomas Jones will able to run on Indy's 29th-ranked run defense to keep KC in it.
2. New Orleans at Arizona: Look for the Saints offense to finally start clicking against Arizona's 29th-ranked defense. Also, the Saints' defense could have a field day as QB Max Hall makes his first start.
3. San Diego at Oakland: With Oakland allowing more than 160 rushing yards a game, both Ryan Mathews and Mike Tolbert should have plenty chances to audition for the full-time tailback position.
4. Green Bay at Washington: Look for the Packers' passing game to torch the 31st-ranked pass defense in the league. James Jones might even need a look at the starting lineup in deeper leagues.
The Bottom 4
1. Chicago at Carolina: Two top-20 defenses facing off against a never was at QB (Todd Collins) for the Bears and a rookie project (Jimmy Clausen). This one should be a field goal battle.
2. Philadelphia at San Francisco: Instability at QB is the Eagles' middle name as Kevin Kolb is back at the controls while the 49ers' offensive woes have been legendary.
3. Atlanta at Cleveland: On paper it looks like a Falcon blowout, but the Browns should hang tough at home. Neither offense is scary, while none could've foreseen a Peyton Hillis-Michael Turner showdown at RB.
4. Minnesota at the New York: Jets: Randy Moss will be adjusting to his new surroundings and Darrelle Revis' attention but the Vikings' defense is good enough to keep things interesting.
True, Moss gives Brett Favre his most talented receiver ever, but the question is how much does the Vikings' QB have left? Since the trade, Favre is still not startable unless in deeper leagues, but his value gets a boost as a result. Moss is a far cry from the player who exited Minnesota over six years ago (nine catches in four games, really?) and has an entire playbook to absorb. There are still offensive line problems, and the other receivers have done little (while Sidney Rice is hardly a lock to come back in another six weeks at full speed).
While I'm "meh" about the Vikings outlook, I think it hurts the Patriots' stock considerably. Tom Brady has a nice complementary cast of targets, but with his biggest weapon gone, opponents' defenses have less to worry about. Moss is a huge X-factor, but is he enough to stop the Vikings' downward trend? I don't know.
On the lower end of the transaction ticker this week, I like the Marshawn Lynch to Seattle deal and here's why: First, it helps the Bills clear up the RB workload, allowing the criminally underused C.J. Spiller more touches while Fred Jackson might be usable again as a flex play in larger leagues. Second, in Seattle, Leon Washington and Justin Forsett weren't lighting it up. They'll provide competition, but Lynch automatically becomes the goal-line back just by setting foot in the locker room. He's the biggest of the backs with only two smurfs in the way. He'll also benefit from a change of scenery and could be the starter before long.
Call it venting or just a teed-off clarion call for certain players to wake up. With 16 weeks pretty much the universal standard fantasy season, we're one quarter of the way through 2010, and there's plenty of highly drafted question marks sucking the life out of starting lineups, or worse yet, gathering digital dust on the bench. Here is my baker's dozen of dart board targets so far:
1. RB DeAngelo Williams -- Poor QB play has crippled "Double Trouble."
2. QB Brett Favre -- If Moss acquisition doesn't get him going, nothing will.
3. RB Shonn Greene -- Now second string, last week showed signs of life.
4. WR Marques Colston -- So invisible, it's hard to prove he's even out there at times.
5. RB Knowshon Moreno -- Will he ever be healthy?
6. RB Beanie Wells -- First he was injured and now he can't shake Tim Hightower.
7. WR Steve Smith (NYG) -- It's about time for him to score, Hakeem Nicks is the new WR1.
8. RB Ryan Mathews -- Even before injury, wasn't playing up to either draft status (real or fantasy).
9. WR Mike Sims-Walker -- Speaking of invisible, is he still playing for Jaguars?
10. WR Andre Johnson -- First it was the Arian Foster show, now a nagging injury.
11. QB Jay Cutler -- Week 3 was a bummer, Week 4 a disaster.
12. WR Michael Crabtree -- Finally hit the 50-yard mark last week, a season-high (!)
13. TE Vernon Davis -- Another casualty of Smith and a cratering offense.
WR Santonio Holmes makes his return to football in Week 5 and makes his regular season Jets debut in the process. Expect Holmes to assert himself as the Jets' No. 1 wideout. Routinely through preseason, Holmes shined no matter what unit he played with. Plus, factor in that de facto WR1 Braylon Edwards has a consistent history of being inconsistent and expect Holmes' target numbers to rise while Edwards' falls. Holmes owners rejoice, he makes for a nice WR3 out of the chute this weekend, especially if you're caught between byes.