Fantasy Football Week 5: Nightmare Matchups to Avoid at All Cost
In fantasy football, specific matchups can determine whether your team walks away with a big victory or suffers a traumatizing loss.
With the fantasy football season now in full swing, fantasy general managers across the country are breaking out their research shovels and digging around to find any sliver of information that may help them win.
Using a series of advanced NFL statistics, film study and combining those elements with past and recent player performances, I have compiled this list of Week 5 nightmare matchups to avoid at all cost.
*All stats and fantasy football scoring information courtesy of ESPN.com unless noted otherwise.
Dwayne Bowe vs. Alterraun Verner and Jason McCourty
One of the biggest disappointments in fantasy football this season has been Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Dwayne Bowe.
Bowe, who recently signed a five-year deal worth $56 million, was supposed to break out this season and put up big numbers for this revamped Chiefs offense.
But five weeks into the season, outside of his touchdowns against the Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants, Bowe has been a disaster for fantasy owners.
To put into perspective how bad he's been, guys like Austin Pettis, Doug Baldwin, Ted Ginn, Robert Woods and Leonard Hankerson have all scored more points than Bowe this season.
To make things even worse, Bowe has a tough Week 5 matchup against the Tennessee Titans and their talented cornerbacks, Alterraun Verner and Jason McCourty.
When you think of dominant cornerbacks in this league, names like Richard Sherman, Darrelle Revis and Joe Haden come to mind. But did you know, according to Pro Football Focus (subscription required), that Verner has graded out as the top cornerback in the NFL?
Out of the 23 passes that have been thrown in his direction, only eight have been completed against Verner. That, my friends, is the definition of a shutdown cornerback.
On the other side of the field, things don't get much better for Bowe. Jason McCourty has been fantastic as well so far this season, grading out as the ninth-best cornerback in football.
With a quarterback in Alex Smith who won't drive the football downfield—Smith is averaging just 6.5 yards per pass attempt—and his upcoming matchup with Verner and McCourty, fantasy owners would be wise to avoid starting Bowe this week.
Trent Richardson vs. Seattle Seahawks Defense
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Bringing Trent Richardson over from Cleveland was a huge acquisition for the Indianapolis Colts.
Thanks to his bruising style of running, Richardson is a perfect fit for the power run game that Colts offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton is trying to install.
Although the former No. 3 overall pick possesses immense talent, it's not crazy to think that Richardson may struggle in Week 5 against the Seattle Seahawks and their tenacious run defense.
Don't let superstar running back Arian Foster's 102-yard rushing performance in Week 4 fool you. This Seattle defense is tough.
Although Foster ran well last week, don't count on Richardson to put up big numbers against the Seahawks on Sunday against a talented defense who can control the line of scrimmage and stuff the run.
A.J. Green vs. Aqib Talib
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One of the hardest players to sit in fantasy football has to be Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green.
Coming off a poor performance against the always-effective Joe Haden and the Cleveland Browns, Green is about to face another tough matchup in Week 5.
For all of the talk about Tom Brady and the New England Patriots offense, did you know that the Patriots have the third-best pass defense in the NFL, according to Pro Football Focus (subscription required)?
Sticking with PFF's grades, Patriots cornerback Aqib Talib has graded out as the fourth-best cornerback in the league.
Don't let Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones' numbers last week fool you. It's easy to forget that Jones caught a 49-yard pass over Devin McCourty and Alfonso Dennard late in the game to push him above the 100-yard receiving mark.
Logic says, regardless of his talent (and Green has a ton of it), that if Green and Talib match up often, it's going to result in another tough day for the Bengals receiver and all of his proud fantasy owners.
Chris Johnson vs. Kansas City Chiefs Defense
Don't look now, but the best defense in the NFL belongs to the Kansas City Chiefs.
Going up against KC's third-best run defense, according to Pro Football Focus (subscription required), Chris Johnson owners should be wary about playing him in Week 5.
Already off to a slow and frustrating start that has him ranked 25th in points at the running back position, Johnson is always just one cut away from breaking out a long touchdown run. However, against a polished Chiefs defense, this matchup is one that fantasy owners don't want any part of.
If you have a capable backup running back ready to go on your bench, it's time to realize that Johnson isn't worth starting this week going up against a Chiefs defense that is allowing just 3.3 yards per carry.
Jay Cutler vs. New Orleans Saints Pass Rush
While the Chicago Bears have started this season 3-1, starting quarterback Jay Cutler hasn't been a great fantasy football option for his owners.
After being beaten down by an aggressive Detroit Lions defense last week, Cutler will head back to Chicago to take on the unbeaten New Orleans Saints.
For all of the positive things Cutler has done this season, the fact is that the Bears still aren't protecting him very well. According to Pro Football Focus, the Bears have a -17.6 grade for pass blocking.
Heading into a tough matchup with PFF's sixth-ranked pass rush, Cutler is not only going to have to rely a lot on running back Matt Forte, but also his ability to get the football out quickly if he has any chance of putting up good numbers.
If you are one of those owners considering starting Cutler this weekend, don't. This matchup with Rob Ryan and the Saints defense has bad news written all over it.