NFL Week 5: Previewing the NFC North
Green Bay Packers at Indianapolis Colts
On the surface this seems like a tremendous mismatch in favor of the road-tripping Packers. However, there are a few different variables that come into play when I conclude this game will be much closer than originally anticipated.
First, Indianapolis has been competitive in all three of their games this season. Second, Green Bay has struggled through the first four games. The Packers yielded nearly 500 total yards to the New Orleans Saints last week in a last second victory over a winless football team. Moreover, Indianapolis has put up over 350 yards per game thus far in 2012.
While I don’t envision a scenario where Indianapolis is going to be able to stop Aaron Rodgers and company on a consistent basis, this is definitely going to be a shootout.
The likes of Reggie Wayne, T.Y. Hilton, Donnie Avery, among others, will definitely give Green Bay all they can handle in the passing game. The one issue I see is the Colts inability to protect Luck from the onslaught that is Clay Matthews. That could really hamper the Colts ability to find seams against a lackluster Packers secondary.
Look for a much closer game than expected, but Green Bay should be able to pull through in the end against what is a much more competitive Indianapolis team than we saw last season.
Everyone, just start everyone here. Seriously, I have a hard time coming up with fantasy options on either team that wouldn’t be good in Week 5. I guess you could say that Cedric Benson and Donald Brown won’t see enough carries to make a major impact.
With Greg Jennings out for this game, both Randall Cobb and James Jones should be solid FLEX options for Green Bay. Meanwhile, look for T.Y. Hilton and Donnie Avery to be solid waiver wire options this week.
Start both Luck and Rodgers in this game as well. There is no doubt in my mind that they are going to put up elite QB1 numbers going up against what has to be considered lackluster defenses.
Chicago Bears at Jacksonville Jaguars
This is a mismatch if I have ever seen one. Chicago comes to Jacksonville after completely destroying the Dallas Cowboys in “The Big D” last week, intercepting Tony Romo a total of five times.
More importantly for Chicago than the stellar defense that we have come to expect, is the fact that their offense seemed to come alive after two pedestrian games against the Chicago Bears and St. Louis Rams. Jay Cutler and Brandon Marshall found that connection that made them such a dynamic duo with the Denver Broncos a few years back.
They are going to be going up against a Jacksonville defense that ranks 20th against the pass and 30th against the rush in the NFL. This is most definitely not a good sign for the home-standing Jaguars. While Matt Forte was limited in practice on Thursday, there stands a good chance that he will play in this one. The combination of Forte and newcomer Michael Bush should run rough-shot over a horrible Jaguars front.
This game will most likely be over by halftime with the Bears improving to an outstanding 4-1 record through five games.
I will continue to advocate against starting Jay Cutler until he proves that he can be a consistent fantasy option. More importantly, despite their lack of success in terms of yardage against the pass, Jacksonville’s pass defense ranks 13th in fantasy points against. Not too shabby.
On the other hand, start both Bush and Forte here. Jacksonville is giving up an average of nearly 25 fantasy points to opposing running backs, which ranks them 30th in the NFL just ahead of the atrocious defenses in New Orleans and Oakland.
Maurice Jones-Drew is always a start in my book, but you better have a solid RB2 option in your lineup. Chicago’s run defense ranks 4th in fantasy points against at just 9.3 per outing.
Tennessee Titans at Minnesota Vikings
Look for Minnesota to continue their roll against Tennessee and their “new” starting quarterback Matt Hasselbeck, who is replacing the injured Jake Locker. To understand what the Vikings have done this season you have to look no further than the fact that they have now won as many games, through four weeks, as they won last year.
There is a simple equation that has helped Minnesota win three of their first four. Playing time possession offense, limiting the passing game on defense and playing football like it is supposed to be paid...Without many mistakes. They are not the most talented team in the NFC and may end up fading down the stretch, but right now Minnesota is a damn good football team.
The same cannot be said for a Tennessee Titans defense that ranks dead last in points against, 31st in total yards against and 27th against the run. OUCH!!
Needless to say, Minnesota has the upper-hand here.
Depending on where you stand at QB1, I would suggest taking a deep look at Christian Ponder here. If you are not confident in your matchup or your starter has a bye this week, Ponder would be a good choice. Meanwhile, Adrian Peterson is, once again, turning into an every-week starter in the fantasy ranks.
Also, take a deep look at starting Percy Harvin. He has been targeted more than any receiver in the NFC outside of Calvin Johnson and leads the NFL in receptions. Not to mention, Harvin will be going up against a lackluster Titans’ secondary.
Chris Johnson is a definitely a no-go in this game (points finger awkwardly into the air). He isn’t going to be able to get anything going against what has become a staunch Vikings defense.
That’s about it from me here.