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.
Tom Brady, who's been dropped en masse over the past few days, passing touchdowns against the visiting Bengals 1.5
Scott – UNDER. I just gave Brady away cheap in the Stopa 10K League, and with zero regrets. The offensive line is a joke. The receivers can't get to the second and third levels. Cincinnati has a nasty defense, and it's fresh off the bye. Even if the Patriots steal this game, it will be through a balanced offense, not through Brady playing Superman. Those days are over.
Brandon – UNDER. I want to keep saying over, because it's going to happen soon enough. But the tape on Brady and that pass offense have been criminally offensive. And if you look at the Bengals' defense, it's allowing just 5.4 yards per pass attempt (YPA), which is easily the lowest in the league. Then you see Brady averaging 5.77 YPA, which is 33rd among the 34 qualifying quarterbacks, to this point. Having a home game, coming off a brutal loss, you'd expect New England to come out with a major chip on its shoulders. But, Rob Gronkowski or not, there's no mistaking the fact that the Patriots have a serious talent issue on the offensive side of the ball, and it's likely that Brady goes down in woeful fashion once again.
Andy – UNDER. Soon, we'll just have to stop talking about this team and this player. Brady has been ordinary, his receivers have been ordinary, his line is ordinary, his running game is ... well, it's just a big pile of ordinary. Even his hair has lacked its usual luster. No thanks. This week, he faces a damn good defense that's coming off a bye.
Eddie Royal, who's stormed out to his usual hot start, touchdowns against the hapless Jets .5
Andy – OVER. The targets have been there for Royal all season. If he sees his usual 6-8 chances against the Jets secondary, I like his chances for an end-zone spike. As the year goes on, I fully expect this to be a spin-the-wheel offense, with everyone binging at various points.
Brandon – OVER. Sure, I'll bite. Royal is fourth among receivers with three goal-line targets. And, with Danny Woodhead out (a guy that Philip Rivers loves to target near painted grass), I expect Royal to see a lot of the targets that would normally be ticketed for Woodhead, since they both can be easily moved around the line of scrimmage, and are nifty/shifty in tight spaces. And considering that this week's opponent is the Jets, about as stout as it gets in run defense (zero touchdowns allowed to RBs), the Chargers are likely to have to throw when they get close to have any hope of success.
Dalton – OVER. I’m guessing I'm going to be the contrarian here. He’s scored four touchdowns over his past nine receptions (on 13 targets), and while Royal is 5-foot-10, 185, that actually goes with this year’s theme of smaller receivers scoring this season, to go along with Randall Cobb and Antonio Brown. Royal sure seems like an early season fluke, but San Diego can’t run without Ryan Mathews and faces a Jets secondary this week that has allowed the third-most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers this year (including an NFL-high six TDs).
Mr. Conservative, Russell Wilson, total pass attempts against a highly exploitable Washington secondary 31.5
Brandon – UNDER. He's only went over this number in five of 35 regular-season games, with two being overtime affairs. True, Washington's secondary is easily the best way to attack the 'Skins, but the Seahawks don't change their style for anyone. Marshawn Lynch sets up the entire offense, and everything is predicated upon teams having to shut him down. Wilson's passing game success lies heavily in taking advantage of the focus on Lynch, and he's highly efficient when he does take his opportunities downfield.
Dalton – OVER. He’s averaged 29.0 pass attempts this year, and while it hasn’t been the case so far this season, it’s safe to expect more when on the road. Washington looked terrible last week, but they are at home on Monday night and should rebound to at least give the Seahawks a game. Wilson should be throwing against a Washington defense that has ceded the third-fewest fantasy points to opposing running backs this season (while yielding the sixth-most against opposing signal callers).
Brad – OVER. For some sick demented reason, I believe Washington gives Seattle a game, forcing Wilson to remove gun from holster. Given Washington's porous play against the pass (7.82 ypa allowed), he exceeds the proposed number and finishes with 260 passing yards and two touchdowns.
Jamaal Charles, fresh off a TD hat trick against the Pats, combined yards on the road in San Fran 89.5.
Dalton – UNDER. After facing the best running game in football in Week 1, the 49ers have held backs to a total of just 157 yards over the past three games. That’s an average of 52.3 yards from scrimmage from Matt Forte, Andre Ellington and LeSean McCoy. Charles is on the road during a short week and now giving up touches to Knile Davis.
Brad – UNDER. The JC of KC walked on water last week against New England, but this week will be a wakeup call. San Fran has given up just 3.44 yards per carry. The Niners have also done a magnificent job collapsing on short-field receivers. Just look at what Matt Forte did against them. Not much.
Scott – UNDER. The unstoppable DeMarco Murray did well against the Niners, even if it came outside of the competitive game context, but Matt Forte and LeSean McCoy did nothing, and Andre Ellington was underwhelming. For all the questions about the San Francisco team right now, it's still stuffing the run well (3.5 YPC).
Same game different name. What RB finishes with the better Week 5 fantasy line: Ben Tate or Bishop Sankey?
Andy – SANKEY. I have no idea what the Tate-Crowell-West mess is gonna look like, but I do know that Isaiah Crowell has been awfully impressive. It seems silly to ask him to return to an understudy role, in favor of Ben Tate. I think Whiz will come through on his promise to feed Sankey a bit more this week.
Scott – As much as I want to go Sankey, I can't trust Whisenhunt to do the right thing. Tate has to deal with other talented backs in-house - Crowell's skill jumps off the tape - but at least he's with a team willing to give him a fair shot. I'm sick of listening to Whisenhunt complain about his only good running back. Please, put us out of the Shonn Greene misery.
Dalton – TATE. This is a coin flip. Sankey is no doubt headed for a bigger role in Tennessee’s backfield with such little competition, while Tate was the clear workhorse before suffering an injury but now has to compete with an impressive Crowell. I have Tate ranked slightly higher this week, but I don’t feel strongly about it.
DeSean Jackson, for all intents and purposes stayed at home versus the Giants in Week 4, receiving yards against Richard Sherman and friends 54.5.
Brad – UNDER. The 'Hawks excel at taking away big plays downfield, but have conceded opportunities underneath. Unless D-Jax is active in the screen game, this a contest tailored to Pierre Garcon's strengths.
Andy – UNDER. No one likes Washington skill players this week, for obvious reasons. These guys are pure desperation plays. I'd sit Garcon, too. I'd sit Art Monk and Riggins and Stephen Davis and Mark Rypien.
Brandon – UNDER. Seattle is a tough defense for a deep-ball artist like Jackson. The Seahawks have allowed just three pass plays of 20-plus yards this season. And after watching Washington QB Kirk Cousins float errant deep passes that the Giants secondary feasted on (4 INTs), I'm guessing that the team employs a lot of shorter, less volatile routes, which is one reason I'm really high on Roy Helu as a PPR play this week. Sure, the bubble screen is likely to get DeSean Jackson into the mix, but he's not going to get rich off of that against this defense. Expect a quiet afternoon from one of the NFL's brashest individuals.
Travis Kelce, who's created fan clubs across Fantasyland, receiving yards against the Niners 59.5?
Brandon – UNDER. I love Kelce, but you have to look at that 49ers defense and what it has done vs. the TE position, holding Jason Witten, Martellus Bennett, Zach Ertz and all other tight ends it has faced this year to no more than 43 yards (Ertz). And, for his part, Kelce has gone under this number twice in four games, so he's only been a coin flip at this O/U number.
Dalton – UNDER. I love Kelce’s talent and am happy to see him being more featured in Kansas City’s offense, but the 49ers have allowed an average of just 34.0 yards to opposing tight ends this year, which is the fewest in the NFL. Kelce has a bright future, but he’s not a great start in Week 5.
Brad – OVER. Ertz, Bennett and Witten were nowhere close to this number, but down Donnie Avery, Alex Smith has sparse weapons at his disposal. Kelce's explosive capabilities will be on display yet again. Bank on 65-70 receiving yards.
Dalton – UNDER. I expected a lot more from Ball this year and would love to call him a buy-low candidate, but it’s hard to ignore how tough his matchup is this week. The Cardinals have allowed an average of 72.7 yards from scrimmage from opposing running backs, so the safe bet here is another disappointing game from Ball.
Brad – UNDER. Ball is entering an unfavorable period akin to what Eddie Lacy experienced to begin the season. After this week, he faces the Jets and Niners. The volume will be there, but 'Zona has surrendered just 2.58 yards per carry to RBs. He falls just shy of the above number.
Scott – UNDER, though he might bail out with some goal line looks. The Broncos might as well pass their way to victory, anyway. Arizona has three sacks on the season; Peyton Manning's jersey won't need laundering after this one.
BOLD PREDICTION. The one quarterback under 50-percent started in Yahoo leagues that has the best chance to exceed 19.9 fantasy points in Week 5 is ____________.
Brad – AUSTIN DAVIS. Philly, netting nearly 76 snaps per game, forces opponents to play a breakneck pace. Davis, who exceeded this number prior to the Rams' bye week versus Dallas, has rock solid odds of placing inside the RB top-20. Keep in mind he's completed more than 72 percent of his attempts in his past two games.
Scott – That Brady trade I referred to earlier? I accepted MIKE GLENNON in return, hoping he takes the Bucs QB job and runs with it. It's a joke he lost the gig in the first place; no one else in the NFL took Josh McCown's brief moment of glory seriously. The Saints should be able to chuck the ball against the leaky Tampa pass defense, which presents a volume case for Glennon and friends. It's a shame Mike Evans won't be part of the mix, but I'll take a shot, anyway.
Andy – AUSTIN DAVIS. The matchup certainly works (Philly), plus he's coming off a bye. The kid is completing everything, and both Britt and Quick are looking like viable fantasy plays. I just dealt Quick for Davis in a 20-team league, in fact, because I needed to start anyone other than Kirk Cousins this week.
Top-Five Buys. Your best bets (versus the spread or over/unders) for Week 5.
Andy – 1) TB/NO UNDER 48, 2) Den -7.5 vs. Ari, 3) Cin -1.5 vs. NE, 4) Hou +6 at Dal, 5) KC +6 at SF
Brandon – 1) HOU (+6) at DAL 2) N.O. (-10) vs. T.B. 3) DET (-7) vs. BUF 4) CHI (+3) at CAR 5) PHI (-7) vs. STL
Dalton – 1) DEN (-7.5) vs. Ari 2) N.O. (-10) vs. T.B. 3) HOU (+6) at Dal 4) JAX (+6.5) vs. Pit 5) K.C. (+6) at S.F.
Scott – 1) SEA -7, 2) PIT/JAX over 47, 3) ATL/NYG under 50.5, 4) CLE/TEN under 44.5, 5) ATL +4.
Brad – 1) TB/NO OVER (48), 2) Ari (+7.5) at Den, 3) NE (+1.5) vs. Cin), 4) Ind/Bal OVER (48), 5) Hou (+6) at Dal
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