Fantasy Football Week 5: Predicting Fantasy MVPs of Each Matchup
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Each NFL game has the potential to produce a transcendent performance from a player that may make some fantasy owners salivate upon hearing his name.
Seeing that sort of number in the box score on your team is a very comforting feeling.
Seeing it on someone else’s, especially your opponent’s, could break a fantasy team’s spirit…if a fantasy team had a spirit.
Read on to find out who my projected fantasy MVPs are and why neither of the guys pictured above was selected to be the biggest game-breaker of his matchup in Week 5.
Arizona Cardinals at St. Louis Rams
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St. Louis Rams D/ST
Aside from the potential for fireworks being produced by special teams or big plays made by the defense (of either side), I expect this to be a relatively low-scoring matchup.
I picked the kicker for the Rams, rookie Greg Zuerlein, last week to be the fantasy MVP, and he responded by breaking the team record for longest field goal made twice in the same game.
In a second straight home divisional matchup for St. Louis, they should bottle up the Cardinals' offense and take the ball away from Kevin Kolb.
The running backs for Arizona stand a chance to be the MVP, as the Rams' run defense has been sub-par this season, but its pass defense has been legitimate.
Miami Dolphins at Cincinnati Bengals
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A.J. Green, WR, Cincinnati Bengals
I’ll be interested to see if Brian Hartline of the Dolphins can come close to repeating the quality of his Week 4 performance: 12 catches for 253 yards and a touchdown.
I wouldn’t bet on it.
Look for the Bengals to pay Hartline added attention and force Ryan Tannehill to go elsewhere with the football. Reggie Bush has a shot to shine here, but I’ll go with the Bengals’ best playmaker as my MVP instead.
The Dolphins have given up 484 receiving yards and four touchdowns to the New York Jets’ and Arizona Cardinals’ wide receivers since Week 3.
I dare you to name three wide receivers on either of those teams not named Larry Fitzgerald.
Green Bay Packers at Indianapolis Colts
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Aaron Rodgers, QB, Green Bay Packers
Rodgers finally rewarded his fantasy owners with a huge Week 4 performance that reminded us why he was hyped as a first-round pick in drafts this summer.
He gets the Colts off a bye this week, a team that hasn’t been tested by a quarterback of Rodgers’ caliber.
Indianapolis has faced Jay Cutler, Christian Ponder and Blaine Gabbert. Even still, it has forced a combined two turnovers from players at the QB position this season.
Baltimore Ravens at Kansas City Chiefs
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Ray Rice, RB, Baltimore Ravens
The Chiefs have been getting worked by running backs so far this season. In each of the last three weeks, they’ve allowed at least one rushing or receiving touchdown to RBs.
Ray Rice has yet to get more than 20 carries this season, so perhaps nominating him as a potential MVP is a bit ambitious.
Yet, Rice’s talent is undeniable, and he should have as good a chance as anybody to outperform the running back on the other sideline, Jamaal Charles.
Cleveland Browns at New York Giants
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Victor Cruz, WR, New York Giants
Wide receivers facing the Browns are getting targeted second-most frequently in the NFL. Cleveland has allowed no fewer than 15 receptions to opposing wideouts and has allowed guys at the position to do an end zone dance each week.
Cue the salsa.
This should be the last time you hear that “(Wide receiver X) is facing the Browns with no Joe Haden due to suspension, so you should start him!”
But, uh...Victor Cruz is facing the Browns with no Joe Haden due to suspension, so you should start him!
Philadelphia Eagles at Pittsburgh Steelers
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Mike Wallace, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers
The Steelers have sorely missed a fearsome running game in the early part of this season.
Rashard Mendenhall should come to the rescue in that regard, but I’m not sure that they’ll thrust him into a full workload in his first game back from a torn ACL.
The Eagles have surrendered 436 yards and three touchdowns on 30 catches to opposing wideouts in the last two weeks.
Wallace might be able to find space downfield and haul in a score or two for the Steelers.
Atlanta Falcons at Washington Redskins
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Robert Griffin III, QB, Washington Redskins
The MVP of this game was the most difficult to select.
On one side, you have Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, Roddy White, Michael Turner, Tony Gonzalez and Jacquizz Rodgers.
No wonder the Falcons are 4-0.
Anyway, on the other side, you’ve got RGIII and Alfred Morris, who have both been outstanding to begin their respective rookie seasons.
I expect this game to be really fun for objective fans of NFL offenses. I’d have to go with RGIII as the projected fantasy MVP due to the numbers that the Falcons allowed Cam Newton to put on them last week.
Seattle Seahawks at Carolina Panthers
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Marshawn Lynch, RB, Seattle Seahawks
If there’s one thing Marshawn Lynch has done this season, it’s get carries out of the backfield.
Beast Mode has received an absolute minimum of 20 rushing attempts per game. The Panthers, meanwhile, have been getting ambushed by teams’ ground games.
They’ve allowed an average of 23 carries, 11 receptions and 238 total yards per game to running backs in their last three appearances.
That’s in addition to four touchdowns.
Chicago Bears at Jacksonville Jaguars
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Chicago Bears D/ST
The Chicago defense has been so good this season that it rivals quarterbacks in fantasy scoring through the first four games of the year.
Only one running back has more points thus far than the Bears D/ST: Arian Foster of the Houston Texans.
I expect the Bears to harass Blaine Gabbert this week while giving Maurice Jones-Drew nowhere to run. They should be coming for him in the backfield more times than not.
Tennessee Titans at Minnesota Vikings
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Kyle Rudolph, TE, Minnesota Vikings
There are a lot of versatile, deadly playmakers in this game. Adrian Peterson, Percy Harvin and Chris Johnson (yes, I said it) are going to be on display this Sunday.
However, there’s matchup kryptonite to be taken advantage of here.
The Tennessee Titans have been terrible defending opposing tight ends this season, allowing players at the position to make reservations for six seven times in four games.
Rudolph could find himself open often enough to make a big impact on the box score this week.
Denver Broncos at New England Patriots
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Tom Brady, QB, New England Patriots
In this showdown between Tom Brady and Peyton Manning, picking a wide receiver to be the fantasy MVP is a difficult proposition.
Brady’s main targets on the outside should be blanketed by Champ Bailey and Tracy Porter, while Manning has yet to have a vintage performance on the road this season.
Though this matchup features a couple of talented starting tailbacks (Willis McGahee and Stevan Ridley), choosing a running back here just seems ridiculous.
I’ll go with Brady spreading the ball around to his receivers, backs and Rob Gronkowski.
Buffalo Bills at San Francisco 49ers
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Vernon Davis, TE, San Francisco 49ers
When the Bills faced a legit fantasy tight end this year (Rob Gronkowski), they gave up 100-plus yards and a score to him.
Davis is Alex Smith’s second-most targeted player (behind Michael Crabtree) and is tied for second in receptions on the team with 15.
He leads the 49ers by far with four receiving touchdowns. The next-highest guy is Randy Moss, who’s the only other guy to score at all in the passing game this season.
He caught one touchdown in Week 1.
San Diego Chargers at New Orleans Saints
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Ryan Mathews, RB, San Diego Chargers
I know Drew Brees should have a monster game while staring an 0-5 start in the face.
I know Philip Rivers is capable of having a big game on the road against a Saints team that has been unable to stop too many passing games.
Mathews is the pick here, assuming that he resumes his normal level of work this week. I don’t necessarily anticipate that happening, but with the way New Orleans has fared against the run this season, he won’t need 25 carries to be a monster for your fantasy team.
The Saints have yielded 5.4 yards per carry to running backs in the last three weeks. They’ve also surrendered six total touchdowns to players at the position this season.
Houston Texans at New York Jets
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People are calling for him to come in and lead the Jets to the Promised Land.
(Or, at least, the playoffs).
The stage is set, and there will be national attention directed right at him.
He has the ability to galvanize a team and lead a rushing attack rivaled by few, if any, other NFL quarterbacks.
Will his coaching staff feel pressured to unleash him on an unsuspecting defense for all to see?
Who knows? I’m not going to pick Tim Tebow for this matchup.
I think, in Week 5, the Jets still pretend they can assemble a passing game with weapons falling off the depth chart left and right.
Mark Sanchez is completing less than 50 percent of his passing attempts this year, but he has no one to throw to except the defense: three picks in his last two games.
The Jets scored 48 points in Week 1 but have only managed 33 total in the three games since.
That’s why I’ll have to go with the Houston Texans D/ST on Monday Night Football.