NFL Skinny: Week 5 preview

Brandon Funston
Yahoo! Sports

After going 14-2 with my game predictions in Week 3, I followed it up with a solid 12-2 mark in Week 4. For those scoring at home, and those that warned me that I needed to be publicly accountable for my picks, I'm now 26-4 through two weeks. To think, if I had any clue as to how to read the Tennessee Titans … Alright, here's the early jump on Week 5.

Week 5 Preview
A snapshot of each Week 5 matchup

Key Stats: BROWNS – 4.8 YPC allowed | 227 YPG passing allowed
BILLS – 5.4 YPC allowed | 227 YPG passing allowed | 11 sacks

What to watch for: BUF can get after the QB, and CLE can't protect its signal-caller very well. But injuries in the BUF secondary could tempt the Browns to fire it downfield often on Sunday. QB Derek Anderson(notes) chucked it 48 times against CIN in Week 4, and the Browns nearly pulled out their first victory. Interestingly enough, Anderson targeted rookie WR Mohamed Massaquoi(notes) 13 times compared to just 5 looks for WR Braylon Edwards(notes), who apparently took his frustrations out on LeBron James' 130-pound friend. I suspect Edwards will rebound against BUF, but the 0-catch performance in Week 4 to go with the off-the-field incident puts him directly under the caution flag for this week. The ground game should be open for business as BUF yields the 3rd-most FAN PPG to RBs – RBs Pierre Thomas(notes) and Ronnie Brown(notes) have burned the Bills for 100+ rushing yards and two TDs apiece the past two weeks. As a fantasy owner, feel good about whoever starts for CLE, be it RB Jamal Lewis(notes) or backup RB Jerome Harrison(notes) – 29/121 in Week 4.

CLE allows 5.4 YPC on the ground and opponents have converted a NFL-high 31 percent of rush attempts into 1st downs. Given those numbers, it's easy to understand why CLE is the 4th-most run upon team in the NFL. With RB Marshawn Lynch(notes) back in the fold, it seems pretty obvious that it will be a full-meal backfield combo deal for the Bills on Sunday with Lynch and RB Fred Jackson(notes). But the 50/50 timeshare has become a reality, and a buzz-kill for Jackson and Lynch owners. CLE has also been susceptible to the deep ball, as it has allowed 14 pass plays of 20+ yards, 5th-most in the league. That said, it hasn't been the burners at the WR position that have victimized CLE, and I think it's risky to assume that WR Lee Evans(notes) will be any better than he was last week (2/60). Same goes for WR Terrell Owens(notes) (3/60 in Week 4), who has just 8 catches through four games. QB Trent Edwards(notes) has yet to throw more than 35 times or top 230 passing yards this season (and yet BUF has still allowed the most QB sacks – 16), and there's nothing to lead me to believe this will be the week that changes.

Buffalo Defense, Fred Jackson, Derek Anderson, Jerome Harrison
Trent Edwards, Terrell Owens, Lee Evans, Marshawn Lynch, Braylon Edwards
Joshua Cribbs(notes), Robert Royal(notes), Derek Fine(notes), Cleveland Defense
Sleeper: Mohamed Massaquoi, Jerome Harrison
Injuries: CLE RB Jamal Lewis (hamstring) is likely to be questionable; BUF CB Leodis McKelvin(notes) (leg) is out; BUF FS Donte Whitner(notes) (thumb) is likely to be questionable; BF LB Paul Posluszny(notes) (forearm) is out
Prediction: Buffalo 24, Cleveland 19
Key Stats: COWBOYS – 4.7 YPC allowed | 256 YPG passing allowed
CHIEFS – 4.1 YPC allowed | 251 YPG passing allowed
What to watch for: As the NYG proved in Week 4, KC is still a team that can be run on – 33 carries, 4.7 YPC allowed v. the Giants. DAL has taken a run-heavy approach this season, but it is dealing with health issues in the ground game that could carry over into Sunday. RB Marion Barber(notes) had his quad tighten up on him in Week 4 and it could be that the team goes more exclusively to RB Tashard Choice(notes) against KC. Choice had just 14 carries for 33 yards in Week 4, but his opponent, DEN, has thwarted almost all RB comers this season. Feel confident about this one, Choice owners. As for QB Tony Romo(notes), he's riding his first career two-game streak without a TD pass. Frankly, his WR corps is not giving him much help – and now WR Roy Williams is dealing with a ribcage injury (consider him a "yellow light" option if he plays on Sunday). I'd expect that after connecting just four times (for 31 yards) with TE Jason Witten(notes) in Week 4, he'll be showered with love and attention by Romo on Sunday. Witten just needs the looks – he's caught 23 of 27 passes thrown at him, thus far – only PIT TE Heath Miller(notes) has a better completion percentage among those that have been targeted at least 20 times this season.

KC is operating the 7th-worst offense in the league (16 PPG), yet somehow QB Matt Cassel(notes) is managing to post at least serviceable fantasy numbers – 5 TD passes, 58 rushing yards combined in his past 3 games. DAL has allowed at least a TD pass and 220 passing yards to each of the four QBs it has faced and, other than Eli Manning(notes), that hasn't exactly been an illustrious group – Byron Leftwich(notes), Jake Delhomme(notes), Kyle Orton(notes). It's a big QB bye week (Aaron Rodgers(notes), Jay Cutler(notes), Drew Brees(notes), Philip Rivers(notes)), so if you are forced to roll with Cassel this week, it's not the worst-case scenario. RB Larry Johnson(notes) has faced some stiff competition, which could help explain why he has yet to top 3.3 YPC in a game this season. But the fact of the matter is that he's not the RB he once was, and the O-line in front of him is an even further cry from the KC ground game glories of a few seasons ago. You can look at the 4.7 YPC that DAL allows and think that this is the game that LJ breaks out, but DAL has been very stout since TB ran all over the Cowboys in Week 1. Since then, DAL has shut down the ground advances of Brandon Jacobs(notes), DeAngelo Williams(notes) and Knowshon Moreno(notes). RB Jamaal Charles(notes) is a dynamic talent and he'd be handling the pigskin more often if he could hang onto it. His fumble on the opening kickoff in Week 4 has set him back to square one, and I'm through touting him as a sleeper for now – clearly, head coach Todd Haley is afraid to commit to him.

Jason Witten, Tony Romo, Tashard Choice, Dallas Defense
Matt Cassel, Dwayne Bowe(notes), Patrick Crayton(notes), Marion Barber
Roy Williams, Martellus Bennett(notes), Larry Johnson, Bobby Wade(notes), Mark Bradley(notes), Jamaal Charles, Sean Ryan(notes), Kansas City Defense
Sleeper: Sam Hurd(notes)
Injuries: DAL RB Marion Barber (quad) could be questionable; DAL WR Roy Williams (ribs) could be questionable; DAL C Andre Gurode(notes) (knee) could be out; DAL SS Gerald Sensabaugh(notes) (thumb) is out
Prediction: Dallas 24, Kansas City 17
Key Stats: VIKES – 3.7 YPC allowed | 211 YPG passing allowed | 16 sacks
RAMS – 4.1 YPC allowed | 225 YPG passing allowed
What to watch for: STL has allowed 13 pass plays of 20+ yards and the 4th-highest QB rating to opposing QBs (100.2). If QB Brett Favre(notes) needs to, he can make it happen on Sunday with his arm. But that likely won't be necessary. MIN is the 6th-most run-heavy offensive attack in the league and it should be able to move the chains via RBs Adrian Peterson and Chester Taylor(notes) without too much trouble. That said, STL allows the 7th-most FAN PPG to QBs (3 of 4 QBs faced have thrown for at least 2 TD passes) and Favre will likely try to take advantage of some aerial opportunities. WRs Bernard Berrian(notes), Sidney Rice(notes) and Percy Harvin(notes) are starting to bunch together in terms of fantasy value, and there doesn't seem to be an obvious reason why one would stand out better than the other in this contest. They are all reasonable plays, but I'm flying Rice and Berrian under the caution flag because there's a good chance that both could come up light in what should be a conservative effort from MIN – because of his athleticism and versatility, I'm not as comfortable discounting Harvin. STL has been generous to TEs, but TE Visanthe Shiancoe(notes) has yet to top 26 yards alongside Favre. He's a reasonable bye-week filler, but hardly a slam dunk.

STL is scoring a league-low 6 PPG. And backup QB Kyle Boller(notes) may be forced to man the helm of the offense one more week. It's as bleak as can be imagined in Rams country right now. The only entity keeping this team on life support remains RB Steven Jackson, who is 4th in the NFL in rushing yards. But he hasn't found pay dirt yet and MIN has yet to allow a RB into the end zone this season. I have a feeling that S-Jax breaches the goal line on Sunday, and turns out respectable yardage totals, if only because of the sheer size of his workload. TE Randy McMichael(notes) is a deep league intrigue for the reason that MIN allows the most FAN PPG to TEs. But you can't really consider anyone else on this squad right now. And I don't think you need me to spell it out in more detail than that.

Adrian Peterson, Brett Favre, Percy Harvin, Minnesota Defense, Steven Jackson
Sidney Rice, Bernard Berrian, Visanthe Shiancoe
Kyle Boller, Donnie Avery(notes), Keenan Burton(notes), St. Louis Defense
Sleeper: Chester Taylor, Randy McMichael
Injuries: STL QB Marc Bulger(notes) (rotator cuff) is expected to be questionable; STL T Jason Smith(notes) (knee) could be questionable
Prediction: Minnesota 27, St. Louis 10
Key Stats: RAIDERS – 4.0 YPC allowed | 211 YPG passing allowed
GIANTS – 5.5 YPC allowed | 115 YPG passing allowed
What to watch for: DAL ran wild on NYG in Week 2, but nobody else has. That game has skewed NYG's YPC allowed average (5.5). As I stated last week, don't let that number fool you. And don't think RBs Michael Bush(notes) and/or Justin Fargas(notes) are viable plays this week – I have Bush down as a sleeper if only because he should see more work with Darren McFadden(notes) out, and he's the goal-line option. I cut TE Zach Miller before Week 4, and I haven't had a moment of regret. Miller is an excellent talent that is completely wasted by the worst passing attack in the league – Miller is also dealing with a concussion suffered in Week 4. If OAK really is committed to starting QB JaMarcus Russell(notes) the entire season, I really don't see where they'll win another game, save Week 10 v. KC. By the way, I failed to mention that this game pits the worst passing attack in the NFL against the top pass defense in the NFL – ouch!

Here's all you need to know on the Giants side of the equation: NYG is 2nd in league in rushing attempts, OAK has had the most rush attempts against its defense, and QB Eli Manning has a sore foot. RBs Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw(notes) are "green light" specials yet again. But the rushing game will allow Manning to make big plays in the passing game – Manning ranks behind only his brother and Philip Rivers in the number of pass plays of 20+ yards. But just remember that CB Nnamdi Asomugha(notes) is still a legit terror threat to opposing No. 1 WRs – Vincent Jackson(notes), Dwayne Bowe, Brandon Marshall(notes) and Andre Johnson(notes) have all walked away from an OAK contest with fewer than 70 yards this season – and Manning will be limited in the passing game more than usual because of the foot injury. That makes new-found go-to WR Steve Smith a bit sketchy this week. I'd fly both he and Manningham under the caution flag this week, but I suspect Manningham, who snagged just one of 8 targets in Week 4, may see a return to the spotlight this week. TE Kevin Boss(notes) has just one red zone target this season and OAK does a decent job shutting down opposing TEs, so avoiding Boss, who is dealing with an ankle sprain, this week is a prudent move.

Eli Manning, Brandon Jacobs, Ahmad Bradshaw, New York Defense
Mario Manningham(notes), Steve Smith
Kevin Boss, JaMarcus Russell, Louis Murphy(notes), Darrius Heyward-Bey(notes), Justin Fargas, Oakland Defense
Sleeper: Hakeem Nicks(notes), Michael Bush
Injuries: OAK RB Darren McFadden (knee) is likely to be out; OAK TE Zach Miller (concussion) could be questionable; OAK T Cornell Green(notes) (calf) is likely to be questionable; OAK S Tyvon Branch(notes) (groin) could be out; NYG QB Eli Manning (foot) could be questionable; NYG TE Kevin Boss (ankle) could be questionable; NYG LB Michael Boley(notes) (knee) is likely to be out; NYG CB Aaron Ross(notes) (hamstring) could be out;
Prediction: New York 31, Oakland 13
Key Stats: BUCS – 4.8 YPC allowed | 222 YPG passing allowed
EAGLES – 3.6 YPC allowed | 156 YPG passing allowed | 10 sacks
What to watch for: QB Josh Johnson(notes) threw for just 106 yards in his NFL starting debut in Week 4. But he ran for 41 yards, and he'll likely have to rely heavily on those legs again on Sunday against a PHI defense that has 10 sacks in just three games. PHI gets after the QB with a blitz-heavy approach, and CBs Asante Samuel(notes) and Sheldon Brown(notes) can make life miserable for receivers. So Johnson will likely turn to RB Carnell Williams(notes) early and often – the dump pass could be heavily utilized as RBs have averaged 57 receiving YPG against PHI this season. Assuming Derrick Ward(notes) is out of action again (knee), I like Williams' potential this week. WR Antonio Bryant(notes) re-emerged with a TD catch and a 27-yard reception in Week 4 after knee swelling limited him the first three weeks of the season. He's looking the healthiest that we've seen him in '09, but he's a hard one to rely on this week given the opponent and the inexperience of Johnson. If anyone excels in the passing game for TB, it's likely to be TE Kellen Winslow(notes), as the PHI LBs and Safeties are the weakest links in the Eagles' defensive chain.

QB Donovan McNabb(notes) returned to practice this week, and his timing works well for his fantasy owners as he'll face a TB pass defense that has allowed 2+ TD passes to each of the four starting QBs it has faced. It has also allowed a QB Rating of 101.1, third-worst in the NFL behind TEN and DET. And the mere 6 QB sacks that TB has produced helps eliminate the worry of McNabb's ribs taking a pounding in his first game back. Under head coach Andy Reid, PHI has consistently ranked among the most pass-happy offenses in the league. With RB Brian Westbrook(notes) also back to weekday workouts, Reid has all his offensive guns to work with. Don't be surprised if Westbrook is heavily involved on the ground and through the air in the first half of this one and, assuming a nice lead is built, rookie RB LeSean McCoy(notes) could get a sizeable piece of the action in the second half. TB has allowed a league-high 6 pass plays of 40+ yards, a fact that makes game-breaking WR DeSean Jackson(notes) even more of a slam dunk than usual. Three TEs have surpassed the 60-yard mark against TB this season, so TE Brent Celek(notes), who leads TEs in FAN PPG, needs to be active. Also, something to keep in mind in what could be a route for PHI, reserve WR Jason Avant(notes) leads all WRs with 7 red zone targets this season.

Donovan McNabb, Brian Westbrook, DeSean Jackson, Brent Celek, Philadelphia Defense, Carnell Williams
Kellen Winslow
Josh Johnson, Antonio Bryant, Michael Clayton(notes), Tampa Bay Defense
Sleeper: LeSean McCoy, Jason Avant
Injuries: TB RB Derrick Ward (knee) could be questionable
Prediction: Philadelphia 34, Tampa Bay 12
Key Stats: STEELERS – 3.6 YPC allowed | 218 YPG passing allowed
LIONS – 5.2 YPC allowed | 240 YPG passing, 12 TD passes allowed
What to watch for: RB Rashard Mendenhall(notes) put on a show in Week 4, and he could be asked to return to the stage for an encore in Week 5 in the likely event RB Willie Parker(notes) misses another week with his turf toe injury. DET allows the 7th-most FAN PPG to RBs and has allowed a RB to top 90 rushing yards in 3 of 4 contests. Mendenhall is a good bet for another 100-yard game if Parker sits. The Lions also give up a lot of points to RBs through the air, which makes RB Mewelde Moore(notes) a reasonable reach in deeper leagues, but Mendenhall is the featured backfield attraction right now and Moore won't see a ton of carries – my initial expectations of Moore seeing heavy action in a post-Parker scenario clearly look off target now. Only TEN allows more FAN PPG to QBs than DET and QB Ben Roethlisberger(notes) has accounted for 2 TDs (run or pass) in three straight contests. There is always the possibility that WR Hines Ward(notes) or Santonio Holmes(notes) doesn't deliver, but you have to go into this contest believing that both will be all good. And lest I forget, DET has conceded a league-high 5 TD receptions to TEs, so TE Heath Miller is an excusable play, as well. In short, start all your Steelers.

Because of scoreboard deficits and a running game producing just 3.5 YPC, DET has aired it 150 times, 5th-most in the league. In Week 4, rookie QB Matthew Stafford(notes) paid the price for this aerial emphasis, getting sacked five times before leaving the game with a dislocated knee. If he can't go on Sunday (a questionable situation at the moment), backup QB Daunte Culpepper(notes) would get the call. Even if PIT S Troy Polamalu(notes) doesn't return from a knee injury (he's back practicing this week), you can't feel too good about starting a DET QB. The Lions have allowed the 7th-most QB sacks and PIT LB James Harrison(notes) is starting to pick up the scent of the QB (3 sacks in the past 2 games). But if your league doesn't discount for turnovers, there's probably worse options than Stafford (or Culpepper). PIT has been the hardest team for RBs to score fantasy points against, thus far. You want to avoid starting RB Kevin Smith(notes), who is less than 100 percent healthy (shoulder). In addition to the unbenchable WR Calvin Johnson(notes), who tweaked his quad in Week 4, consider rookie TE Brandon Pettigrew(notes). He was targeted 10 times in Week 4, and looked very confident with the increased attention. PIT has allowed the 4th-most FAN PPG to TEs, so Pettigrew is at least sleeper material.

Ben Roethlisberger, Rashard Mendenhall, Santonio Holmes, Hines Ward, Heath Miller, Calvin Johnson, Pittsburgh Defense
Matthew Stafford
Bryant Johnson(notes), Kevin Smith, Detroit Defense
Sleeper: Brandon Pettigrew, Mewelde Moore, Mike Wallace(notes)
Injuries: DET QB Matthew Stafford (knee) could be questionable; DET WR Calvin Johnson (quad) could be questionable; PIT RB Willie Parker (toe) is expected to be questionable;
Prediction: Pittsburgh 31, Detroit 9
Key Stats: REDSKINS – 4.3 YPC allowed | 174 YPG passing allowed
PANTHERS – 5.4 YPC allowed | 180 YPG passing allowed
What to watch for: WAS QB Jason Campbell(notes) is coming off his 1st 3-INT game of his career in Week 4, something he apologized to his team about in the huddle last Sunday. But fantasy owners will take the big-play Campbell of the last six quarters – he's completed 2 pass plays of 50+ yards in that span and had 9 of 12 completions in Week 4 go for 10+ yards. CAR has just 4 QB sacks in 3 games, so Campbell should have time to search out TE Chris Cooley(notes) and WR Santana Moss(notes). I'd feel good about starting those two, but I'm less confident in RB Clinton Portis(notes), despite the fact that CAR allows 5.4 YPC. Portis has yet to find pay dirt against lesser competition and is averaging just 3.9 YPC. He's also dealing with a sore ankle and a rested Panthers defense (Week 4 bye).

CAR ranks among the league's worst offenses in terms of TOP (time of possession) and it is 31st in plays from scrimmage. That doesn't do RB DeAngelo Williams any favors, but his owners should be reminded that he didn't score a TD or produce his 1st 100-yard game of '08 until his 5th game of the season. CAR should be able to establish its running game against a WAS defense that has produced just 5 TOs in four games and also struggles to control the clock. Coming out of the bye, I expect CAR to lean on Williams 20+ times on the ground, with RB Jonathan Stewart(notes) also reaching double-digit carries. QB Jake Delhomme will likely play it very conservative with the passing game, but WR Steve Smith will get his shots, and he has something to prove after he pulled up on a slant route late in the Week 3 game against DAL, which led directly to a back-breaking Delhomme interception. I think the 6/80 line that the Giants' Steve Smith hung on WAS in Week 1 is a good expectation for the Panthers' Smith. Expect WR Muhsin Muhammad(notes), one of the best blocking WRs in the game, to be asked to do a lot of path clearing for the backfield duo. CAR likes TE Dante Rosario(notes) and it is starting to feel very comfortable with him in all aspects of the game plan. That said, I'm not optimistic about him finding the end zone for the 3rd consecutive week.

Santana Moss, Chris Cooley, DeAngelo Williams, Steve Smith
Jason Campbell, Clinton Portis, Carolina Defense, Washington Defense, Jonathan Stewart, Dante Rosario
Antwaan Randle El(notes), Jake Delhomme, Muhsin Muhammad
Sleeper: Ladell Betts(notes)
Injuries: WAS RB Clinton Portis (ankle) could be questionable
Prediction: Carolina 26, Washington 13
Key Stats: BENGALS – 4.2 YPC allowed | 242 YPG passing allowed | 12 sacks
RAVENS – 2.6 YPC allowed | 232 YPG passing allowed
What to watch for: CIN can try to establish a ground game with RB Cedric Benson(notes), the NFL leader in carries (84), but it will most likely prove to be a fruitless endeavor. No RB has reached 80 rushing yards against the Ravens in Baltimore in the past 12 games. And only one RB has found pay dirt on the ground in those 12 contests. BAL has allowed the 2nd-most receptions (29) and receiving yards (262) to RBs, however, so backup RB Brian Leonard(notes), who caught six passes in Week 4, qualifies as a deep league PPR Hail Mary – yes, you'd have to be really desperate. IF CIN can keep the BAL blitz heat from overwhelming QB Carson Palmer(notes), the signal-caller should be able to post decent numbers – BAL has been just average in FAN PPG allowed to QBs. But something tells me that BAL is going to be all over Palmer in what will turn into a route. I'd roll with WR Chad Ocho Cinco(notes), but that's about it.

BAL shouldn't have to veer from its run-heavy course on Sunday. The RB combo of Ray Rice(notes) and Willis McGahee(notes) has been extremely effective – both rank among the top dozen fantasy RBs. But BAL is no longer all run, all the time. The team ranks 3rd in the NFL with 151 pass attempts and plays from scrimmage thanks to a league-high 26.5 1st downs per game. QB Joe Flacco(notes) doesn't get sacked often (5) and rarely makes mistakes (8 INTs, 1 fumble lost in his past 15 regular season games). It all adds up to the fact that Flacco is now a must-start fantasy commodity, and the matchup with CIN is certainly enticing (all 4 QBs to face the Bengals have thrown for at least 240 yards and a TD, and it has allowed a league-high 17 pass plays of 20+ yards). Go-to WR Derrick Mason(notes) is starting to hit his stride with Flacco and he's a solid option this week. Also, it should be noted that CIN has allowed a few big games to NO.3 WR types like Brandon Stokley(notes), Mike Wallace and Mohamed Massaquoi, which makes WR Kelley Washington(notes) someone to consider this week if you are in a bind at receiver. TE Todd Heap(notes) has been consistently in the Flacco mix, as well, and he's at least a "yellow light" consideration against a CIN that has allowed the 9th-most receiving yards to TEs.

Joe Flacco, Ray Rice, Willis McGahee, Derrick Mason, Chad Johnson, Baltimore Defense
Carson Palmer, Todd Heap, Mark Clayton(notes)
Cedric Benson, Andre Caldwell(notes), Laveranues Coles(notes), Chris Henry, Cincinnati Defense
Sleeper: Brian Leonard, Kelley Washington
Injuries: CIN WR Andre Caldwell (shoulder) could be questionable; CIN T Andre Smith(notes) (foot) is out; BAL LT Jared Gaither(notes) (neck) is likely to be questionable; BAL LB Brendon Ayanbadejo(notes) (quad) is out for the season
Prediction: Baltimore 30, Cincinnati 16
Key Stats: FALCONS – 4.7 YPC allowed | 245 YPG passing
49ERS – 3.1 YPC allowed | 210 YPG passing allowed | 11 sacks
What to watch for: This game sets up fairly well for ATL RB Michael Turner(notes) despite the fact that SF allows just 3.1 YPC. Like SF, ATL will pound away with the ground game so long as the score is close. And SF does not have the type of offense that can run up the score, even against an ATL defense that has had plenty of issues stopping both the run and pass, thus far. I can see Turner posting a workman-like 25/80/1 line. Three of four teams to face SF have thrown at least 40 times, and SF is the second-most thrown on team in the league. ATL has done a good job of protecting QB Matt Ryan(notes) (2 sacks) and should be able to work TE Tony Gonzalez(notes) heavily into the mix when it goes away from Turner. WR Roddy White(notes) will likely face off against SF CB Nate Clements(notes), who is one of the top shutdown corners in the league. Your confidence should not run high for White in this one. We could see Michael Jenkins(notes) turn in another solid effort (5/78 in Week 3) opposite White.

There's no mystery to SF. It runs the ball even when it can't. In 3 of 4 games, a SF back has carried 20+ times despite gaining 3.1 YPC or less. The 49ers average fewer than 27 passes per game, the league's low mark. So, yes, RB Glen Coffee(notes) can be expected to carry at least 24 times for the 3rd consecutive week. And the 4.7 YPC allowed by ATL, thus far, suggests that Coffee can have success. TE Vernon Davis(notes) leads the team with 27 targets and, with 3 TDs in his past two games, he's the only part of the passing "attack" worth considering here – Davis is a solid play, in fact, against an ATL defense that is allowing 10 FAN PPG (default scoring) to the TE position.

Glen Coffee, Vernon Davis, Michael Turner, Matt Ryan, Tony Gonzalez
Shaun Hill(notes), Roddy White
San Francisco Defense, Atlanta Defense, Isaac Bruce(notes), Josh Morgan(notes)
Sleeper: Michael Jenkins
Injuries: SF LB Marques Harris(notes) (hamstring) could be questionable; SF LB Jeff Ulbrich(notes) (head) is out
Prediction: Atlanta 23, San Francisco 20
Key Stats: JAGS – 4.0 YPC allowed | 282 YPG passing allowed
HAWKS – 5.1 YPC allowed | 220 YPG passing allowed
What to watch for: On the road, JAC has leaned heavily on RB Maurice Jones-Drew(notes) this season – 53 touches in two home games vs. 26 touches in two road contests. With SEA allowing 5.1 YPC, MoJo is very likely to lead the way for the JAC offense after carrying just six times in Week 4. QB David Garrard(notes) is coming off a 323-yard, 3 TD pass performance in Week 4, but he has yet to throw a road TD this season. Not having to face SEA DE Patrick Kearney this week certainly helps Garrard's odds of bucking the fruitless road trend, but the Seahawks are getting healthy again in the secondary and LB Lofa Tatupu(notes) looks almost back to 100 percent, and I don't think it'll be a great fantasy day for Garrard when all is said and done. But that doesn't mean you bench WR Mike Sims-Walker(notes). He's been a machine the past three weeks, ranking as the No.2 fantasy wideout in that span. Meanwhile, WR Torry Holt(notes) has seen a healthy 23 targets in the past three weeks, but he and Garrard clearly don't have the same type of chemistry that Sims-Walker and Garrard have been enjoying. Holt has caught just 12 of the 23 passes sent his way in the past three games. TE Marcedes Lewis(notes) has topped 60 yards and scored a TD in 2 of his past 3 games, but I expect JAC to play it fairly conservative and keep Lewis in to block regularly in this one.

SEA could get QB Matt Hasselbeck(notes) back this week. He'll try to practice and, if all goes well, he'll be back in action on Sunday. It's a tough time to bring Hasselbeck back, if he can go, as SEA is continuing to suffer health setbacks along the offensive line. It's a patchwork unit up front right now, but at least it'll face a JAC defensive line that has mustered a league-low 3 QB sacks. Be it Hasselbeck or QB Seneca Wallace(notes), the SEA QB should be afforded time to pick on a defense that is allowing 282 passing YPG. WRs T.J. Houshmandzadeh(notes) and Nate Burleson(notes) would both benefit from Hasselbeck's return, but they aren't terrible options even if Wallace remains the man at the helm for SEA on Sunday. RB Julius Jones(notes) has done his best work in SEA at home, and he should be in line for a return to something close to 20 touches, so long as SEA can keep things close or maintain control of the game. JAC has held Dallas Clark(notes) and Owen Daniels(notes), along with all the other TEs it has faced, to less than 40 receiving yards, and SEA TE John Carlson(notes) has withered with Hasselbeck on the sidelines. Even if Hasselbeck returns, SEA has serious injury issues on the edges of its offensive line, and Carlson will likely play a heavier role as a blocker than usual.

Maurice Jones-Drew, Mike Sims-Walker, Nate Burleson, T.J. Houshmandzadeh
David Garrard, Marcedes Lewis, Matt Hasselbeck, Julius Jones, John Carlson, Seattle Defense
Jacksonville Defense, Torry Holt
Sleeper: Seneca Wallace
Injuries: SEA QB Matt Hasselbeck (ribs) is likely to be questionable; SEA LT Walter Jones(notes) (knee) may be out; SEA RT Sean Locklear(notes) (ankle) is out; SEA G Rob Sims(notes) (ankle) is out; SEA DE Patrick Kearney (groin) is expected to be doubtful
Prediction: Seattle 26, Jacksonville 21
Key Stats: TEXANS – 5.5 YPC allowed | 204 YPG passing allowed
CARDS – 3.1 YPC allowed | 280 YPG passing allowed
What to watch for: ARI allows the 3rd-most passing yards per game in the league, and HOU is 9th in passing offense (249 YPG). HOU QB Matt Schaub(notes) shouldn't be afraid to look to WR Andre Johnson, who was held in check by CB Nnamdi Asomugha in Week 4, early and often. Mike Sims-Walker and Reggie Wayne(notes) have victimized the Cards with back-to-back 100-yard, 1 TD performances. RB Steve Slaton(notes) scored 2 TDs in Week 4, but he also lost his second fumble of the season, which is a major point of contention for head coach Gary Kubiak. Kubiak sent Slaton a message by running backup RB Ryan Moats(notes) 15 times in last week's contest, but Moats is now dealing with turf toe, so Slaton should have yet another opportunity to gain Kubiak's favor. I like Slaton's chances of finding pay dirt and reaching the 100 total-yard mark. TE Owen Daniels is the No. 7 fantasy TE and he's facing an ARI defense that has allowed the 9th-most FAN PPG to TEs. He's a no-brainer start.

WRs Anquan Boldin(notes) and Steve Breaston(notes) should be at or near 100 percent health after a Week 4 bye, and that means the ARI offense should be at full strength against a HOU defense that would probably rank last in YPG allowed if not for the grace of a matchup with OAK in Week 4. HOU has just 4 sacks, so QB Kurt Warner(notes) should be able to sit in the pocket and dissect the Texans' secondary. But HOU struggles mightily against the run and this is a good chance for ARI to test a more traditional balanced attack as opposed to the spread-heavy schemes that has been its calling card since last year. Don't be surprised if rookie RB Beanie Wells(notes) sees a heavier workload than RB Tim Hightower(notes) for the first time.

Matt Schaub, Andre Johnson, Steve Slaton, Owen Daniels, Kurt Warner, Anquan Boldin, Larry Fitzgerald(notes)
Kevin Walter(notes), Arizona Defense, Tim Hightower, Steve Breaston
Houston Defense, Anthony Becht(notes)
Sleeper: Beanie Wells, Jacoby Jones(notes)
Injuries: None of major significance
Prediction: Arizona 35, Houston 31
Key Stats: PATS – 4.5 YPC allowed | 192 YPG passing allowed
BRONCOS – 3.2 YPC allowed | 163 YPG passing | 15 sacks | 6 INTs
What to watch for: DEN has been among the league's best at shutting down the run and NE has been among the league's worst at running the football. From a fantasy perspective there's very little to hang a hat on in the NE backfield. RB Fred Taylor(notes) did top 20 carries and 100 rushing yards a couple weeks ago, but he was promptly marginalized with just seven carries (25 yards) in Week 4. Continue to avoid this backfield, especially this week. DEN hasn't allowed a TD pass this season, but you'd have to have a real strong backup option to consider benching QB Tom Brady(notes). WR Randy Moss(notes) scored 2 TDs against DEN last season, but both TDs came after CB Champ Bailey(notes) went down with a groin injury. That said, the fear of a Bailey matchup shouldn't prevent you from playing Moss. Go-to WRs Chad Ocho Cinco and Braylon Edwards combined to average more than 90 yards against DEN this season.

Last week, NE was able to jump out to a 17-7 halftime lead on BAL, which forced the Ravens to the air despite the fact that the team gained 6.8 yards per pop on the ground. Averaging a healthy 4.7 YPC, look for DEN to try and work over NE on the ground and avoid a situation like BAL had where the pass becomes a necessity. With RB Correll Buckhalter(notes) nursing a sore ankle, rookie RB Knowshon Moreno should push 20+ carries. NE has been strong against the pass and DEN, clearly, does not have total faith yet in QB Kyle Orton's ability to carry this offense through the air – DEN is attempting just 29.2 passes per game, sixth-lowest in the NFL. WR Brandon Marshall has come alive the past couple weeks, but I'd be leery of the DEN passing game in general in this one.

Knowshon Moreno, Tom Brady, Randy Moss
Wes Welker(notes), Brandon Marshall, Denver Defense
Kyle Orton, Eddie Royal(notes), Brandon Stokley, Tony Scheffler(notes), Daniel Graham(notes), Benjamin Watson(notes), New England Defense, Fred Taylor, Sammy Morris(notes), Kevin Faulk(notes), Laurence Maroney(notes)
Sleeper: LaMont Jordan(notes)
Injuries: DEN RB Correll Buckhalter (ankle) could be out; LB Jerod Mayo(notes) (knee) could be out
Prediction: Denver 20, New England 17
Key Stats: COLTS – 4.0 YPC allowed | 202 YPG passing allowed | 12 sacks
TITANS – 2.8 YPC allowed | 282 YPG passing allowed
What to watch for: Three of four QBs to face TEN have surpassed the 300-yard passing mark, and now TEN gets to face a QB, Peyton Manning(notes), who has opened the season with four consecutive 300-yard performances. Go-to WRs have had a field day with the Titans, and six WRs in total have scored at least 10 FAN PTS against TEN this season. But WRs aren't the only ones to join in on the fun, as TEN has also allowed the 3rd-most FAN PTS to TEs. Teams have tried to run on TEN, but it's been to no avail (2.8 YPC allowed). In fact, in Week 4, JAC backup RB Rashad Jennings(notes) had the highest rushing yardage total against TEN this season with a mere 53 yards. TEN has shut down RBs of all types, so don't think that the style of RB Joseph Addai(notes) or rookie RB Donald Brown(notes) could somehow offer something that TEN hasn't seen. Just steer clear from the IND backfield completely.

IND has stuffed the ground games of NFC West opponents Arizona and Seattle in the past two weeks, but the Colts were pounded early in the year by the rushing attacks of JAC and MIA. The key, of course, for JAC and MIA was being able to keep the score close. We saw last week how ugly things can turn when TEN has to play from behind and rely solely on QB Kerry Collins'(notes) arm. TEN has to get back to running the ball – its ranked 23rd in rush attempts per game (24.8), seven fewer attempts, on average, than last season. Not only does RB Chris Johnson need to see a heavy workload, but former platoon partner LenDale White(notes) has to get back in the mix. When TEN was most dominant last season, White was getting a lot of work in conjunction with Johnson. Look for TEN to get that blue collar swagger back with the ground game. IND has allowed just 8 TD passes in the past 20 regular-season games, by far the lowest mark in the league during that span. QB Kerry Collins threw 13 consecutive incompletions last week. Sure, WRs Kenny Britt(notes) and Nate Washington(notes) are interesting, but you don't want any piece of the TEN passing game this week.

Peyton Manning, Reggie Wayne, Pierre Garcon(notes), Dallas Clark, Chris Johnson
LenDale White
Joseph Addai, Donald Brown, Kerry Collins, Justin Gage(notes), Nate Washington, Kenny Britt, Bo Scaife(notes), Tennessee Defense, Indianapolis Defense
Sleeper: Austin Collie(notes)
Injuries: TEn WR Nate Washington (head) could be questionable; IND T Charlie Johnson(notes) (knee) could be questionable;
Prediction: Indianapolis 21, Tennessee 19
Key Stats: JETS – 4.2 YPC allowed | 178 YPG passing allowed
FINS – 2.9 YPC allowed | 239 YPG passing allowed | 11 sacks
What to watch for: NYJ rookie QB Mark Sanchez(notes) is coming off his worst performance as a pro, by far. He threw three picks and lost a fumble at New Orleans in the team's first loss of the season. But as bad as that performance was, Sanchez's arm could prove crucial this week against a MIA defense allowing just 2.9 YPC. NYJ may try to more heavily mix rookie RB Shonn Greene(notes) into the backfield rotation to add a fresh face to the Thomas Jones(notes)/Leon Washington show. But, assuming MIA maintains its rigidity in run defense, Sanchez is likely going to have to throw it 30-35 times. And if that turns out to be the case, I like the way it sets up for Washington (as a receiver out of the backfield) and TE Dustin Keller(notes) (only MIN has allowed more yards to TEs than MIA). MIA can get after the QB and, after last week, I don't expect NYJ to ask Sanchez to sit in the pocket too often on MNF. That's why I'm a little tepid in regards to go-to WR Jerricho Cotchery(notes) and WR Chansi Stuckey(notes). I'd play just the extreme safety options this week.

We saw last week that MIA is going to play it extremely conservative with QB Chad Henne(notes). MIA ran 45 times against BUF in Week 4, but it could have a rough time trying to duplicate its ground success this week against the Rex Ryan-led Jets – Ryan was able to stymie the MIA running game twice last season with BAL. But the Wildcat has been working like a charm for RB Ronnie Brown, and his confidence in this offense is running high. I expect the team to add some wrinkles and still be able to have some success on the ground. NYJ allows the 5th-fewest passing yards per game, a discouraging number for anyone hoping to get something out of the MIA passing game.

Ronnie Brown, Dustin Keller, New York Defense, Miami Defense
Ricky Williams(notes), Jerricho Cotchery, Leon Washington(notes)
Thomas Jones, Chansi Stuckey, Chad Henne, Ted Ginn Jr.(notes), Davone Bess(notes), Anthony Fasano(notes), Greg Camarillo(notes)
Sleeper: Mark Sanchez
Injuries: None of major significance
Prediction: New York 17, Miami 13