Week 5 represents a major turning point on the fantasy football schedule.
The training wheels have come off.
Week 4 was the week your dad walked alongside you, keeping your body upright and peddling forward in this wobbly new existence atop your first form of transportation.
Week 5 is where you are blazing down your neighborhood's steepest hill faster than you ever thought imaginable. Your parents are at work, and taking a spill at these speeds is the kind of event that ends up with sirens and flashing lights.
Yet somehow, you realize through a mix of horror and excitement that this is what you have been waiting for all along.
This is your last-minute fantasy advice for NFL Week 5.
Why is this important? Easy. No one can predict which aggregate outcomes will lead to the eventual outcome of a touchdown. You can predict the scoring, but you cannot predict the manner in which the actual event of the score will take place.
No one can predict Brandon Marshall getting dragged down on the 1-yard line after a long reception, leaving the Bears to bring in Michael Bush as opposed to Matt Forte for an easy scoring opportunity.
Bush is the obvious choice at the goal line for one reason: Bush is probably, quietly, the league's best pass-blocking back and "chipper" out of the backfield. He is also a straight-ahead running beast.
This is why the Bears always feature Bush in offensive six-man protection sets. His tackles need help, badly. Bush has shown the ability to help them in sealing the corner and then releasing to the flats. He is terrific as a pure pass-blocker and understands disguised blitzes when he needs to stay in.
All this is in addition to Bush's powerful ability to create straight-ahead running yards. He is, simply put, a harder player to defend against at or near the goal line than Matt Forte.
The problem is you can't count on this scenario, or any scenario like it. When you're thinking about making trades this week, think about a player's production and less about "what," and more about "why" and "how."
Why is this player under- or over-performing? How has this player scored their fantasy points? Now is the time to start identifying these trends before others do.
Of the top 40 fantasy football RBs coming into Week 5, these are the 10 most dangerously touchdown-dependent:
1. Jackie Battle, San Diego Chargers
2. Danny Woodhead, New England Patriots
3. Michael Bush, Chicago Bears
4. Ben Tate, Houston Texans
5. Trent Richardson, Cleveland Browns
6. (Tie) Brandon Bolden, New England Patriots; Kevin Smith, Detroit Lions
8. Andre Brown, New York Giants
9. Alfred Morris, Washington Redskins
10. DeAngelo Williams, Carolina Panthers
Of the top 40 fantasy football RBs coming into Week 5, these are the 10 who are least reliant on TDs. When these players score touchdowns, it is the "cherry on top," and this group represents more dependable plays moving forward due to this trend.
1. Cedric Benson, Green Bay Packers
2. Shaun Draughn, Kansas City Chiefs
3. Marshawn Lynch, Seattle Seahawks
4. (Tie) Maurice Jones-Drew, Jacksonville Jaguars; Joique Bell, Detroit Lions
6. Reggie Bush, Miami Dolphins
7. Darren Sproles, New Orleans Saints
8. Adrian Peterson, Minnesota Vikings
9. Ray Rice, Baltimore Ravens
10. Jamaal Charles, Kansas City Chiefs
Let's stick with the TD-dependency line of thought and extend it into the world of fantasy WRs. This is important to you right now for two reasons:
1. Trades are flying into your fantasy inbox like grenades. You do not want them to explode in your face.
You want to act quickly and decisively in getting the grenade tossed back into the fantasy bunker of your opponent. You do this by getting ahead of things and recognizing situations for what they are.
This is my biggest piece of advice for this week, so allow me to reiterate:
When thinking about a player's fantasy production through the first quarter of the fantasy season, think about not "what" they have scored, but "how" they have scored and "why" that is important.
This allows you to counter-offer with authority and keep your foxhole free of explosives.
2. These results were posted just prior to the Thursday night game, and as you will see, Andre Roberts of the Arizona Cardinals is dangerously TD-dependent.
As we saw on Thursday: No touchdown, no production. WR is historically the hardest fantasy position to project, simply because there are three of them for every one player at another position.
These sorts of trends are an absolute necessity to track, given the depth of the group.
Of the top 40 fantasy football WRs coming into Week 5, these are the 10 most dangerously touchdown-dependent:
1. Andre Roberts, Arizona Cardinals
2. James Jones, Green Bay Packers
3. Steve Johnson, Buffalo Bills
4. Julio Jones, Atlanta Falcons
5. Mike Williams, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
6. Mike Wallace, Pittsburgh Steelers
7. Dwayne Bowe, Kansas City Chiefs
8. (Tie) Kevin Ogletree, Dallas Cowboys; Nate Washington, Tennessee Titans
10. Torrey Smith, Baltimore Ravens
Of the top 40 fantasy football WRs coming into Week 5, these are the 10 who are least reliant on TDs. When these players score touchdowns, it is the "cherry on top," and this group represents more dependable plays (relative to others at their slotting) moving forward due to this trend.
1. Wes Welker, New England Patriots
2. Steve Smith, Carolina Panthers
3. Percy Harvin, Minnesota Vikings
4. Davone Bess, Miami Dolphins
5. Brian Hartline, Miami Dolphins
6. Calvin Johnson, Detroit Lions
7. DeSean Jackson, Philadelphia Eagles
8. Eric Decker, Denver Broncos
9. Marques Colston, New Orleans Saints
10. (Tie) Reggie Wayne, Indianapolis Colts; Jordy Nelson, Green Bay Packers; Brandon Lloyd, New England Patriots
Fantasy owners of Tony Romo and Matt Stafford are having a small case of the bye-week blues in Week 5.
Part of it comes from not having their starting QB available, but most of it comes from the miserable displays that their "elite" fantasy QBs have rolled out to start the 2012 season.
If you have been depending on Josh Freeman or Carson Palmer (who are also on byes this week) as your starter thus far, then you are playing a different game than I am, and I don't understand your ways.
Hopefully, if you own either Romo or Stafford, you have rostered a legitimate backup and are ready to insert him into your lineup for Sunday's games—unless you had a genius idea to fill the gap with a QB who played on Thursday night.
If you started Kevin Kolb, you have likely already lost your fantasy week before it has started, and frankly, you deserve it. Shame on you.
I like Russell Wilson of the Seattle Seahawks to have a decent game this week against a Carolina secondary that is very friendly against opposing fantasy QBs to begin with, and will likely be getting even friendlier on Sunday as their best cover corner, Chris Gamble, is listed as doubtful.
Wilson is available in most leagues and should provide a relatively high fantasy floor with a few big passing plays and a fair amount of rushing production against the Swiss-cheese front seven that Carolina is currently rolling out.
Martellus Bennett of the New York Giants was thoroughly shut down in Week 4 by a Philadelphia Eagles team that I told you was a brutal matchup for TEs.
They are the big, red No. 32 on my weekly matchup tool. The toughest to face as an opposing TE. Those young, fast linebackers can cover. Eli Manning did look to Bennett regularly, though, and was Manning's first read more than the three targets he accumulated indicates.
This week, the Giants face the Cleveland Browns, who are a big, red No. 31. The second worst.
Last week, I went against the tool I spend so many hours on every week and said that without Hakeem Nicks, a player like Bennett could prove matchup-proof. As it turns out, my tool was right and I was wrong.
I am going against it again this week, though.
Bennett is always on the field. Literally. Last week's 93 percent of offensive snaps played is right in line with his season average. The Browns secondary is miserable, and Bennett can get vertical on seam routes like very few others in the league.
One of the reasons why teams don't utilize TEs against the Browns is because they generally don't have to. Quarterbacks don't like throwing the ball over the middle any time D'Qwell Jackson is assigned as the Mike.
He will pop out of nowhere and bite you.
Ramses Barden and Nicks are both out this week, and the amount of aerial slaughter I see coming down the pipe is too much to be shared by Victor Cruz and Domenik Hixon alone.
Matchups should serve as a tie-breaker, not a decision-maker. Although the matchup dictates Bennett is likely to do less in Week 5 than owners might expect, I'm rolling with him if I got him.