Fantasy is a speculative game. Predict the future, and you look like a genius. Don't, and you're painfully human. Gazing into the crystal ball here's our view on 10 intriguing over/unders for Week 5.
Chris Johnson combined yards at Minnesota 79.5
Dalton — UNDER. There's no question both Johnson and Tennessee's run blocking looked much improved last week, but he averaged just 27.0 yards from scrimmage over the previous three games to start the season. Plus, the Vikings have allowed the second fewest fantasy points to opposing running backs this year.
Brad — UNDER. Are we really to believe the Titans have suddenly solved their run-blocking issues after one week? Tennessee's O-line couldn't part a puddle. Minnesota, which has allowed just 3.1 YPC to RBs, dominates the line of scrimmage.
Scott — UNDER always feels right with Chris Johnson. I have nothing good to say about Tennessee's run blocking (neither does CJ), and the Minnesota front seven has been stuffing everyone on the ground.
Michael Vick final Week 5 QB rank 12.5 (In other words, will he finish as a top-12 passer?)
Brandon — UNDER. I have him ranked No. 12, so I'll say barely under, but I don't feel great about him facing a Pittsburgh defense getting Polamalu and Harrison back this week .
Andy — OVER. But I ranked him No. 13, so a top-12 rank obviously wouldn't shock me. The Steelers defense is coming off a bye, getting Troy Polamalu and (possibly) James Harrison back. Not the easiest setup for Vick.
[Fantasy Football 101: Keys to survive the bye weeks]
Dalton — UNDER. The Steelers' secondary has actually allowed a 6:1 TD:INT ratio over three games this year, although the defense should return healthier after the bye. Vick is unlikely to go crazy Sunday, but I think he just barely finishes as a top-12 fantasy QB.
Ryan Mathews, currently the No. 2 RB on the Chargers' depth-chart, total yards at New Orleans 94.5
Andy — OVER. I think he can top this yardage number with ease vs. New Orleans, but the key to Mathews' fantasy value is whether he remains on the field near the goal line. I'd give Jackie Battle better odds to actually find the end zone this week.
Dalton — UNDER. New Orleans has allowed the most fantasy points to opposing RBs this season, and I am on board with Mathews being a buy low right now, but I'll fade this number thanks to the uncertainty of his usage Sunday night.
Brad — OVER. Everyone is overreacting to Jackie Battle's 'promotion.' It's a facade. Talent trumps in New Orleans. Against the league's worst run defense Mathews goes for 120-plus total yards.
Dalton — BUSH. I worry about his shoulder injury, but I'm banking on Bush getting a couple of goal-line carries. I don't particularly like any of these options this week.
Brad — BUSH. Even with Matt Forte back in action, the Bears' stringent defense should allow Bush to log plenty of second-half carries. Think 40-50 total yards and 1-2 goal-line vultures.
Scott — When in doubt, dial up a shrubbery. BUSH has a dedicated goal-line role, and the Jaguars have been chummy to opposing backs (4.3 YPC, six scores). I'm also leery of Tate; those garbage-time pile-on games haven't been in the cards yet, per the team's play calling.
Rashard Mendenhall, approximately nine months removed from reconstructive knee surgery, total yards versus Philly 64.5
Brad — OVER. This is extremely close, but Mendenhall is a strong candidate for 15-17 touches in what should be a triumphant return to the lineup. In his absence, Isaac Redman and Jonathan Dwyer were the Bert and Ernie of rushers.
[Survival Football: NFL upset picks for Week 5]
Scott — UNDER is my default call on any player off a major injury. I need a show-me game first. I do expect Pittsburgh to win in Week 5, but it will be because of Ben Roethlisberger and the passing game.
Brandon — UNDER. Three consecutive RBs have topped this number against Philly (Ray Rice, Ryan Williams and Ahmad Bradshaw), but I'm not confident that he gets thrown into the fire for more than 12-15 touches in his first game back, and that's probably not enough to get it done against the Philly D.
Brian Hartline, fresh off a franchise record 253 yards last week in 'Zona, receiving yards at Cincinnati 74.5
Scott — OVER. Follow the targets, follow the improving rookie QB. The Bengals secondary has been a mess all year. Turn on your Hartline.
Brandon — OVER I like the usage consistency — he's third among WRs in targets, and has at least eight in each game. And Cincy allows a healthy 7.7 YPA and is one of just seven teams allowing a QB Rating above 100, so the matchup is far from daunting.
Andy — OVER. Cincinnati hasn't stopped anyone through the air or on the ground this year, so it could be a decent day for multiple Dolphins. Hartline has topped this total twice in four games.
Thursday Night Throwdown: Ryan Williams or Steven Jackson?
Brandon — S-JAX. I like Ryan Williams, in theory, but the reality is that he's been good for 26 total yards or less in three of four games. And based upon the fantasy points allowed to RBs, this will actually be S-Jax's second-easiest matchup of the year.
Andy — WILLIAMS. Just playing match-ups here. The Rams have allowed 4.7 yards per carry through four games, and they gave up 4.8 last season.
Dalton — WILLIAMS. He has the more favorable matchup and is ostensibly the healthier back. However, I don't expect either to have a big game Thursday night.
Martellus Bennett receiving yards versus Cleveland 49.5
Andy — OVER. Is this where I'm supposed to discuss how effective Cleveland has been at limiting the fantasy production of opposing tight ends? Well, it's not as if they've faced a murderer's row of TEs, plus they were simply league-average in 2011. Eli is gonna need Bennett this week, given the injury situation in his receiving corps.
Dalton — UNDER. The Giants will likely be running the ball a lot nursing a lead during the second half, and Cleveland has actually defended tight ends well this season. I'll say Bennett finds the end zone but falls just short of this yardage output.
Brad — UNDER. Everyone's favorite Black Unicorn won't be worthy of a sticker on a tween's Trapper Keeper. Jermaine Gresham, Scott Chandler and Dennis Pitta were nowhere near this number against Cleveland over the past three weeks. Expect lots of Cruz, Hixon.
Minnesota D combined turnovers/sacks against Matt Hasselbeck and the Titans 5.5.
Brad — OVER. Jared Allen may accomplish this in sacks alone. Matt Hasselback is blessed with the elusiveness of an anchored oil tanker.
Scott — UNDER. Matt Hasselbeck's arm has seen better days, but he's still a sharp guy between the ears. He knows how to avoid negative plays.
Brandon — UNDER. I'll say that the Vikings fall just short (5). Tennessee has actually been fourth-best in the NFL in limiting sacks and the Vikings have just one INT.
QB Conundrum. Best play out of Andy Dalton, Andrew Luck and Christian Ponder.
Scott — DALTON, and not just for the Roadhouse references. The Cincinnati receiving group has proven to be deeper than anyone expected, and A.J. Green might be Robin to Calvin Johnson's Batman. And the Bengals secondary will do everything it can to keep the game competitive.
Brandon — DALTON. Dalton's the No. 2 fantasy QB over the past three weeks, and he's going to have to throw the ball a good amount this week as Miami allows a league-best 2.4 YPC.
Andy — DALTON. He's facing an opponent that allows nearly 300 passing yards per game. Layup.
Dalton — LUCK. I like all three this week, but the Colts should have to throw it a ton in a likely shootout. Luck is sneaky productive from a rushing perspective as well.
Brad — LUCK. He and Raggedy Andy are neck-n-neck here, but Aaron Rodgers should run roughshod over Indy's defense, greatly enhancing the rookie's workload. A 300-plus yard 2-3 TD day very attainable.
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