Week 5 Early Game Reviews
Week 5 is in the books, except for tonight’s game pitting the Falcons against the Jets. The Falcons have not looked good in recent weeks and are riddled with injuries. This could be a game that the Jets could steal with a strong defensive performance. I’m interested to see how Julio Jones does against the Jets defense tonight. He has been on a tear and I think he might be due for a subpar game. It would also be nice if Roddy White was healthy and not a glorified decoy. I don’t think the Jets have many fantasy options tonight, aside from Jeremy Kerley. I think the Falcons will end up winning 24-10. Week 5 provided a few great games, including an all-time classic where Tony Romo and Peyton Manning held a QB duel for the ages. I’ll cover that game in my review tomorrow, but for now, below are the news and notes from the early games.
Saints @ Bears
The Saints were able to handle the Bears in Chicago with relative ease, which was surprising. Drew Brees was his typical efficient self with 288 yards passing and 2 TDs, both of which shockingly went to Pierre Thomas. Thomas had 9 receptions for 55 yards and 36 yards rushing to lead the Saints. Jimmy Graham eclipsed 100 yards receiving again with 10 receptions for 135 yards. He’s been an absolute stud so far and anyone who spent a high pick on him is reaping the reward. Darren Sproles and Marques Colston had very quiet games. Sproles had 3 receptions for 31 yards and Colston had only 2 catches for 15 yards. Better days are ahead for them.
Jay Cutler threw for a ton of yards in a losing effort. He ended his day with 358 yards passing and 2 TDs. He also continued his trend of turning the ball over with a crucial lost fumble. One TD pass went to Brandon Marshall, and if it wasn’t for that score, he would have had a bad day. He ended up with 4 receptions for 30 yards and a TD. Martellus Bennett had a solid game with 5 catches for 56 yards. However, the big star in this game was Alshon Jeffery, who had a career day with 10 receptions for 218 yards and a score. He has flashed potential in the past, so it will be interesting to see how he follows up this breakthrough performance.
Patriots @ Bengals
This game was a low-scoring affair, and I think the poor weather certainly was a factor. Tom Brady saw his streak of 52 games with a passing TD snapped, as he finished with 197 yards passing and an interception. Owners who rely on him as a backbone for their teams were surely quite disappointed. Every Pats WR had an average or worse game. Danny Amendola returned from injury to have 4 receptions for 55 yards. He is due to get hurt again in 2-3 weeks based on his track record. Julian Edelman had only 2 catches for 35 yards. Kenbrell Thompkins came back to earth with 3 catches for 16 yards. Rob Gronkowski can’t return soon enough. The Patriots running game was missing Stevan Ridley, so LeGarrette Blount started and finished with a pedestrian 51 yards. Look for the Pats to bounce back next week.
Andy Dalton had another poor game, and there are legitimate questions as to whether he can be a franchise QB. I would never trust him in a big game. He had 212 yards passing and an interception and seems to have completely regressed. Because of poor QB play, AJ Green had another lackluster game with 5 catches for 61 yards. Aside from one big game, Green hasn’t been nearly as dominate as he was last year. BenJarvus Green-Ellis was the leading rushing for the Bengals with 62 yards and a cheap TD. He continues to get fed the ball at the goal line, so there is some value in that, but rookie Giovani Bernard needs to be given more work. However, Bernard had a potentially costly fumble late in the game, so the coaching staff may be concerned about his ability to hold onto the ball. Aside from the fumble, he finished with 62 yards rushing and only 7 yards receiving.
Lions @ Packers
The Lions were surprisingly without the services of all-world WR Calvin Johnson, and it showed. Matthew Stafford looked shell-shocked and only managed 262 yards passing and one TD to Kris Durham. Reggie Bush was a nonfactor with 44 yards rushing and only 25 yards receiving. The entire Lions offense was in a funk. You know it’s not a good day when Brandon Pettigrew is your leading receiver with only 59 yards.
The Packers continued their dominance of the Lions at home, as Aaron Rodgers finished with 274 yards passing and a long TD to James Jones. Rodgers and Jones had another potential TD overturned due to replay, which surely frustrated their owners. Jones still led the way with 4 receptions for 127 yards and a TD. Jordy Nelson had a respectable 5 catches for 82 yards, and Randall Cobb had 4 receptions for 35 yards. Eddie Lacy returned from a concussion to have a good game, as he had 99 yards rushing and is the clear feature back.
Chiefs @ Titans
The Chiefs were able to escape with an ugly win over the Titans. Alex Smith had an uncharacteristically poor game, as he finished with only 245 yards passing and an interception. Donnie Avery led the Chiefs in receiving with 3 catches for 91 yards before suffering a shoulder injury. Dwayne Bowe had only 4 receptions for 35 yards, and it looks like his days as a true fantasy difference maker are over while Smith is under center. Jamaal Charles led the way offensively with 108 yards rushing and a score and also had 5 receptions for 37 yards.
The Titans were playing their first full game without the services of starter Jake Locker. Ryan Fitzpatrick played in relief and was very inconsistent. He finished with 247 yards passing, 1 TD and 2 INTs. His TD pass went to Chris Johnson, who finally had the sort of breakout game owners have been anticipating. While he only had 17 yards rushing, he was able to have 63 yards receiving to go along with his TD. Kendall Wright led the Titans in receiving with 6 receptions for 74 yards. All other Titans passing game options were again inconsistent and can’t be counted on weekly.
Seahawks @ Colts
The Seahawks good luck on the road finally ran out, as the Colts were able to defeat them and knock them off of the list of unbeaten teams. Andrew Luck had a tremendous game and finished with 229 yards passing and two TDs to TY Hilton. Hilton is turning into a star and had 5 receptions for 140 yards along with the two TDs against the best secondary in the NFL. Reggie Wayne had his typical solid game with 6 receptions for 65 yards. Trent Richardson is really starting to prove to be nothing more than a slightly above average RB. His YPC was once again horrible, as he had 56 yards rushing on 18 attempts. Normally I would chalk this up to the Seattle defense, but around 3 yards per carry has been what he’s done over his entire career. Donald Brown scored the lone rushing TD for Indy, and if I owned Trent, I would try to sell high immediately because he isn’t going to be a consistent option unless he is poaching cheap TD runs.
Russell Wilson was his usual elusive self, but it wasn’t enough to win the game. He finished with 210 yards passing, 2 TDs and 1 INT. The TDs went to Golden Tate and Jermaine Kearse. Doug Baldwin led the receivers with 5 receptions for 80 yards, and the always disappointing Sidney Rice had one catch for 8 yards. You can basically draw a name from a hat when guessing the leading receiver for Seattle each week. They are all quite inconsistent and it makes me wonder how much better Wilson would be with better targets. Marshawn Lynch rushed for over 100 yards again, finishing with 102 on 17 carries. Wilson actually tied Lynch in rushing yards because of his excellent scrambling ability.
Jaguars @ Rams
The Jaguars once again proved to be without a doubt, the worst team in the NFL. Blaine Gabbert was his usual atrocious self, throwing a pick six and looking lost out there. He did throw a long TD to Justin Blackmon, who finished with 5 receptions for 136 yards in his season debut. Chad Henne relieved Gabbert after he left with a “hamstring” injury, and he fared a little better, but was still not great. He threw a TD pass to Cecil Shorts, who had a respectable 5 receptions for 74 yards and a score. Blackmon and Shorts should be decent fantasy options because the Jaguars basically play entire games in garbage time and have no choice but to abandon the run game and throw the ball. MJ had 70 yards rushing and is being absolutely wasted on this team. I hope he gets traded to a contender to salvage what little is left of his fantasy value.
The Rams finally rebounded for a win after looking pathetic the past few weeks, but it has to be put into context because it’s the Jaguars. Sam Bradford threw for 222 yards and 3 TDs, two of which went to Austin Pettis. Pettis finished his day with 4 receptions for 49 yards and two TDs. Tavon Austin was again a non-factor with 3 catches for 32 yards. He isn’t a weekly fantasy starter at this point and is either being misused horribly or is massively overrated. Zach Stacy was the new Rams starting RB and had a decent game with 14 carries for 78 yards. Whether he stays the starter or not remains to be seen.
Ravens @ Dolphins
The Ravens outlasted the Dolphins in a very close game. I thought Miami would end up pulling it out, but their awful offensive line has made Ryan Tannehill a sitting duck in the pocket. He finished with 307 yards passing and a TD to Charles Clay. Mike Wallace rebounded from a poor game to post a solid 7 receptions for 105 yards. He is extremely talented, but his inconsistency is maddening and he needs to develop better chemistry with Tannehill ASAP. Lamar Miller only had 7 carries for 15 yards as the Dolphins went away from the run game. He will have much better days ahead.
Joe Flacco had yet another inconsistent performance and it really looks like his Super Bowl run last year was a complete anomaly. That run of superb play made him one of the richest players in the NFL, but he’s nowhere near the level of other franchise QBs such as Brees, Brady, Rodgers or Peyton. He threw for 269 yards and an interception. Torrey Smith continued to be outstanding with 6 receptions for 121 yards. Ray Rice finally had a breakout game with 74 yards rushing, 2 TDs and 6 receptions for 28 yards. He still doesn’t look to be 100% healed from his hip injury, but this was an encouraging sign.
Eagles @ Giants
The NFC Least sure lived up to its nickname in this sloppy game. The Giants fell to 0-5 and continued to look like one of the worst teams in football. Eli Manning was once again a turnover machine with 3 INTs to go along with 334 yards passing and two TDs. Hakeem Nicks was unstoppable after a few poor outings with 9 receptions for 142 yards. He has the physical tools to be a star, but needs to put it together on a more consistent basis. Rueben Randle had 6 receptions for 96 yards and Victor Cruz had 5 catches for 48 yards. The Giants tried to throw the deep ball a bunch of times in the game but were unsuccessful. David Wilson scored his first TD of the year, but then sustained a neck injury and didn’t return to the game. He finished with 16 yards rushing on only 6 carries, so he doesn’t look completely fine yet. Brandon Jacobs became the primary back after Wilson left and continued to show that he’s totally washed up. He had 11 carries for 37 yards and also simply just dropped the ball once leading to a lost fumble.
The Eagles weren’t nearly as sloppy, but still didn’t look great. The big story here was that Michael Vick left the game with a pulled hamstring and didn’t return. His week 6 status is already in doubt. Nick Foles came on in relief to throw for almost 200 yards and two scores. DeSean Jackson finally had another big game with 7 receptions for 132 yards and a score. Brent Celek had the other TD to go along with his 3 catches and 47 yards. LeSean McCoy didn’t have a great game, but he got the job done with 46 yards rushing, 46 yards receiving and 1 TD. It will be interesting to see how the Eagles fare if Vick misses an extended period of time.