Enter The Red Zone: NFL Week Five Breakdown

Joe FortenbaughCorrespondent IOctober 9, 2009

28 Sep 1998:  Running back Barry Sanders #20 of the Detroit Lions in action during the game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the Pontiac Silverdome in Pontiac, Michigan. The Lions defeated the Buccaneers 27-6. Mandatory Credit: Tom Pidgeon  /Allsport

The Week 5 schedule poses several problems for owners as some of the highest ranked fantasy players in the NFL hit their bye weeks.

With Chicago, Green Bay, New Orleans and San Diego off this weekend, four elite quarterbacks, three No. 1 wideouts and a host of talented running backs will all be sipping margaritas by the ocean; leaving a lot of us looking to our benches for help.

But the good news is that today is Friday—time for another installment of the National Football Post’s “Enter the Red Zone.”

You may not be sipping margaritas by the ocean today, but at least you’ll know that New Orleans Saints safety Darren Sharper leads the league in defensive personal fouls this season, with three.

You know you love it.

Let’s enter the Red Zone…

From the 20: Can we get a stop?

It’s certainly not the most appealing game of the weekend, but when the Cleveland Browns head to Buffalo to take on the Bills this Sunday, there will definitely be something worth watching in this battle for a better draft position.

Believe it or not, both teams actually rank in the top three in the NFL in a statistical category.

Done guessing? The Bills (second) and Browns (tied for second) are among the NFL leaders in five-minute drives allowed this season.

Buffalo and Cleveland each have allowed nine five-minute drives through just four games (San Diego ranks first, with 10). Give Cleveland the edge since it has allowed only two of those drives to result in touchdowns, while the Bills have allowed three.

However, when you factor in field goals, Buffalo is allowing points to be put on the board 55.6 percent of the time (five scores in nine drives), while Cleveland is allowing a score 66.7 percent of the time (six scores in nine drives).

Obscure? Yes, but at least it gives you something to watch for in an otherwise unwatchable game.

From the 19: Did you know …

That Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker Barrett Ruud leads the NFL in tackles when the temperature is above 81 degrees?

Rudd has amassed 18 total tackles when the temperature climbs that high, while the Ravens’ Ray Lewis ranks 10th, with 12.

Both players rank in the top seven in total tackles through four weeks, and both are excellent IDP linebacker starts this weekend as Ruud takes on the Eagles and Lewis goes up against the Bengals.

From the 18: On legendary pace?

Through the first four weeks of the 1997 season, Detroit Lions running back Barry Sanders had a total of 57 fantasy points (standard scoring). Currently, five NFL running backs have amassed a higher total through the first four weeks of the 2009 season (Adrian Peterson, Chris Johnson, Ronnie Brown, Maurice Jones-Drew and Willis McGahee).

Does this mean these guys will have a better fantasy season in 2009 than Sanders had in 1997? Doubtful.

Sanders may have started slowly (53 total rushing yards through the first two games), but the dude went off like a nuclear bomb by ripping off 14 straight 100-plus-yard performances.

He finished the year with 2,053 rushing yards and 305 receiving yards. Think McGahee can top that?

I almost forgot. Sanders averaged 6.1 yards per carry in 1997 and had five games in which he topped 160 yards rushing.

From the 17: Take to the skies

You still think that running the football wins games in the NFL?

NFL teams are 18-7 (.720) this season when their quarterback throws for over 300 yards.

However, don’t go running your mouth about this stat to the Panthers. Carolina is 0-1 when quarterback Jake Delhomme throws for over 300 yards.

It should come as no surprise that Delhomme is currently the 28th-ranked fantasy quarterback, right above Matt Hasselbeck and right below Byron Leftwich, two guys who haven’t even played in every game this year.

From the 16: You must protect the football

The New York Giants are currently the fourth-ranked fantasy defense and have been a nightmare to face this season, which is only one of several reasons they will dominate the Oakland Raiders on Sunday.

The Giants are the best team in the NFL at converting turnovers into points. New York has turned eight turnovers (sixth) into 45 points (first), an average of 5.63 points per turnover.

Guess what? Oakland’s offense has turned the ball over nine times this year (five fumbles, four interceptions), good for the fourth-highest number of turnovers in the league.

From the 15: Notes from the Week 4 Target Report

How many of you drafted one of these guys in the first four rounds?

Name                                    Team                         Targets                Rank

Steve Smith                 New York Giants                    44                        2
Nate Burleson              Seattle Seahawks                 41                       3
Mario Manningham     New York Giants                   32                       18
Mike Sims-Walker      Jacksonville Jaguars            31                       19
Nate Washington         Tennessee Titans                31                       19

Side note: Manningham leads the NFL in receptions of 25-plus yards, with five.

From the 14: Pick ‘em No. 1

PITTSBURGH STEELERS —10½  at Detroit Lions

Detroit is a better football team this year, but that won’t matter Sunday, especially when the Steelers shut down the Lions’ running game and force backup quarterback Daunte Culpepper to win this one through the air.

From the 13: Pressure, pressure, pressure

Dwight Freeney (Indianapolis Colts) and Mario Williams (Houston Texans) lead the NFL in quarterback knockdowns, with 10½ each.

James Farrior and Lawrence Timmons (both of the Pittsburgh Steelers) lead the NFL in quarterback hurries, with six.

Elvis Dumervil (Denver Broncos) and Antwan Odom (Cincinnati Bengals) lead the NFL in sacks, with eight.

From the 12: Notes from the Red Zone Running Back Report

1. Willis McGahee has scored the most red zone touchdowns, five. Ronnie Brown and Maurice Jones-Drew are tied for second, with four each.

2. Matt Forte is tied with Ronnie Brown for the most carries inside the red zone, with 19.

3. Brandon Jacobs is averaging just 1.93 yards per carry inside the red zone.

4. Fred Jackson has carried the ball inside the red zone seven times this season for minus-1 yard.

5. Donald Brown (11), Reggie Bush (9) and Willie Parker (7) have more red zone carries than Steven Jackson (5), Steve Slaton (4) and Darren McFadden (4).

From the 11: Did you know …

That the Green Bay Packers lead the NFL in plays for negative yards?

Wisconsin’s favorite form of entertainment has racked up minus-155 yards (first) on 22 negative-yardage plays (first).

In news that should surprise absolutely no one, the Indianapolis Colts have the fewest number of negative-yardage plays, with two.

From the 10: Start ‘Em

Matt Hasselbeck   Quarterback   Seattle Seahawks

Owners in need of quarterback help for Week 5, look no further (or maybe I should say farther) than the city of Seattle.

While it’s not official, Matt Hasselbeck could be returning to the starting lineup this weekend to take on the NFL’s 31st-ranked passing defense (Jacksonville).

In Hasselbeck’s last two home October starts (it’s all about obscure stats around here), he’s thrown the ball 78 times for 557 yards and four touchdowns.

From the 9: Nothing but big things

Titans running back Chris Johnson leads the NFL in rushes of 20-plus yards, with five.

Receivers Calvin Johnson (Detroit) and Mario Manningham (N.Y. Giants) lead the NFL in receptions of 20-plus yards, with seven.

Quarterbacks Peyton Manning (Indianapolis) and Eli Manning (Giants) lead the NFL in completions of 20-plus yards, with 18.

From the 8: A brand new draft strategy

If you played in a standard scoring fantasy league that starts: 1QB, 2 RBs, 2WRs, 1 Flex (RB/WR), 1 TE, 1 D/ST and 1 kicker and you used your first nine picks on:

1. Cedric Benson
2. Fred Jackson
3. Ricky Williams
4. Ben Roethlisberger
5. Mike Sims-Walker
6. Derrick Mason
7. Vernon Davis
8. New Orleans Saints D/ST
9. Lawrence Tynes

You would be averaging 120.5 points per week.

From the 7: Sit ‘Em

Ronnie Brown   Running Back   Miami Dolphins

Starting running backs are averaging just 61.5 rushing yards per game this season against the New York Jets and their sixth-ranked run defense.

From the 6: Did you know …

That quarterbacks Kyle Orton (Denver) and Shaun Hill (San Francisco) are two of the best fourth-quarter signal callers in the NFL?

Orton ranks second (144.7) and Hill ranks third (133.7) in fourth-quarter QB rating. They have combined to throw five touchdowns and zero interceptions during the final 15 minutes of each game.

Is it any surprise that they’re a combined 7-1 as starters this season?

Eli Manning (first), Aaron Rodgers (fourth) and Peyton Manning (fifth) round out the top five.

From the 5: Did you know …

That you should not watch football on Sundays with a buddy who has little kids?

I made that mistake during the Eagles’ Week 4 bye and am now stuck with the flu because three rugrats were sticking their germ-infested hands in the dip I was eating for the better part of Sunday afternoon.

Thanks, Ed.

From the 4: Catch the football!

Yes, there’s actually a statistic that gives you a percentage by taking “catchable pass” and dividing it by “drops.”

Stop traffic, the Oakland Raiders lead the NFL in whatever the hell you want to call this statistic.

Basically, the Raiders receivers/tight ends/running backs have dropped 18.2 percent of the catchable passes being thrown their way. No surprise, they’re currently 1-3.

What is surprising is that the three teams with the fewest number of drops (Seattle, Washington, Miami) are a combined 4-8.

From the 3: Can the Patriots’ offense solve the Broncos’ defense?

Yes, the Denver Broncos’ defense is for real.

In four games, Broncos opponents have had a combined 45 offensive drives. Only six have resulted in scores (13.3 percent, first in the NFL).

Meanwhile, you should start every Pittsburgh Steeler, Dallas Cowboy and Philadelphia Eagle on your roster.

Team                 Total Drives     Scores     Percentage       Rank

Tampa Bay                45                 19               42.2                30th
Kansas City               47                 20               42.6                31st
Detroit                        46                 21               45.7               32nd

From the 2: What to watch on Monday night

The New York Jets head to Miami to take on the Dolphins on Monday night football in Week 5.

The Jets and Dolphins rank first and second, respectively, in rushes on first down this season.

The Jets have run the ball 72 times on first down, while the Dolphins have run it 71 times.

On the flip side (not including teams that have already had a bye week), Chicago has run the ball the least amount of times on first down, with just 41.

From the 1: Let’s cash in

ATLANTA FALCONS   +2½  at San Francisco 49ers

I like this pick for three reasons:

1. Atlanta is coming off a bye
2. They are getting points
3. They have an explosive offense

Enjoy the games this weekend!

Hit me up on Twitter: @JoeFortenbaugh


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