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 this week.
DeMarco Murray, matched against the No. 1 ranked run defense in the league (Denver), combined yards in Week 5 89.5
Dalton – OVER. Murray has averaged 123.5 yards from scrimmage so far this year, so while he remains one of the league's biggest injury-prone backs, he's healthy now. Even in a tough matchup, with Dallas likely playing from behind most of the game, it could result in a bunch of dump offs.
Andy – UNDER. He clearly faces a brutal matchup, and we know Denver can pile up points at a pace that takes away an opponent's ground game. He'll do some work as a receiver, but don't love his chances to get to 90 yards.
Brandon – OVER. I think Murray could catch 7-8 passes in this contest, with Dallas undoubtedly being forced to the air early and often. I think Murray nets more than 100 YFS when the dust settles.
In his first game off suspension, Justin Blackmon, who was a top-20 WR over the final 10 games of 2012, receptions in St. Louis 5.5
Andy – UNDER. But I don't think he'll have a disastrous day. Let's call it 5 catches for 70 yards, and perhaps he'll get Jacksonville's lone passing score.
Brandon – OVER. He finished off '12 with 6-plus catches in each of his final four games. And big, physical receivers have fared well against the Rams this season – Larry Fitzgerald, Julio Jones, Dez Bryant and Anquan Boldin have all hit pay dirt vs. St. Louis.
Brad – UNDER, by one of the thin hairs plucked from my dome. Blackmon eclipsed this number three times in 10 games with Gabbert under center a season ago. He's a terrific, polished wideout who will pay dividends as a WR3 as the season wears on. However, he could be a little rusty in his first game back despite the friendly matchup. Sharpie me for five receptions for 75 yards.
Colin Kaepernick, who’s struggled mightily over the past three weeks averaging just 187.3 combined yards, passing yards against Ed Reed and the Houston Texans 199.5
Brandon – UNDER. The issue the past three games for Kaepernick has been a low volume of passes, and I expect that to be the case again this week. If Houston doesn't run up the score, then the 49ers are going to be content playing a smash-mouth brand of football. And I don't see Houston running it up.
Brad – UNDER. Kaepernick has completed just 52.3-percent of his attempts since Week 2. With defenses bracketing Anquan Boldin, Vernon Davis still somewhat limited by a hamstring injury and no reliable WR2 at his disposal, the struggles will manifest again. Jonathan Joseph and Ed Reed have been spectacular this season. Overall, Houston has yielded a mere 6.0 yards per attempt and has yet to allow a 200-yard passer. Look for that streak to continue.
Scott – UNDER is the call. This defense has been stingy with the yardage all year and it hasn't even allowed a touchdown pass the last two weeks (against Joe Flacco and Russell Wilson). Houston has problems, but most of them are tied to leaky purgatory quarterback Matt Schaub.
Late-night delight. Pick a Charger (non-PPR leagues): Danny Woodhead or Ryan Mathews
Brad – MATHEWS. Yes, it's hard for me to speak objectively about my delicate flower, but he's dominated Woodhead in touches 71-to-41. In a standard format, ere on the side of volume.
Scott – WOODHEAD gets the nod for his terrific pass-catching of late (20 grabs on 24 targets over three weeks). Even in non-PPR formats, that matters - receptions accrue more yards, and the Chargers are flying by air more often than not this season.
Dalton – MATHEWS. Neither have rushed for a touchdown this year, and I don't think it's a fluke Woodhead has twice as many scores through the air. However, Mathews has 30 more touches this season, so he remains the far safer bet on a weekly basis.
Torrey Smith, off a career high 166 yards last week in Buffalo, receiving yards in the follow-up at Miami 89.5
Scott – OVER. Smith hasn't had a bad game yet in 2013, showing the ability to run the entire route tree. He's stepped up with all the key injuries and losses. There's nothing daunting about Miami's pass coverage.
Dalton – OVER. Despite securing just 50.0 percent of his passes this season, Smith is on pace to finish with 1,740 receiving yards. Only five wide receivers in the history of the NFL have reached 1,700 yards. The Dolphins have allowed the second fewest fantasy points to opposing WRs (and are the only team yet to allow a TD to a WR in 2013), but I still say Smith gets 90+ yards.
Andy – OVER. Sure, Miami has done a fine job limiting the fantasy production of opposing wide receivers. I'll give 'em that. But this D hasn't actually shut down anyone's passing game — they allow 297 yards per game through the air.
Eli Manning, who many are pegging for a bounce-back game, passing yards against rival Philly 299.5
Dalton – OVER. The Giants' offensive line is a travesty, but this team's strength remains its weapons at the skill positions. Moreover, the Eagles have allowed the most passing yards in the NFL this season. For what it's worth (which isn't much), I pegged NYG as my "best bet" this week.
Andy – OVER. It could be an ugly 300 – like maybe with four sacks, two picks and a fumble. But Eli will probably give us a useful fantasy line.
Brandon – OVER. The Eagles are giving up 325 passing yards per game, which is worst in the NFL. Manning has a nice history vs. Philly and, frankly, he's past due for a big effort.
TE Tussle. Pick one: Charles Clay (vs. Bal), Coby Fleener (vs. Sea), Owen Daniels (at SF) or Kellen Winslow (at Atl)
Andy – DANIELS. He's an every-weeker for me, off to a great start. Daniels has actually run more pass routes this year than any NFL tight end.
Brandon – CLAY. You gotta recognize. This guy is making plays every week, and he's a key component for the 'Fins in the red zone. And Baltimore has had some bad moments against tight ends this season.
Brad – WINSLOW. He may be a wildcard, but the Jets' SOLDIER is one of the few reliable options left on roster for Geno Smith. Toss in the fact Atlanta is Swiss cheese in coverage, and it seems likely he'll net his third 70-yard game of the season.
New England Patriots, down massive hole-plunger Vincent Wilfork, total yards allowed to Cincy’s Giovani Bernard 84.5
Brandon – OVER. Bernard had 50 snaps last week compared to 18 for BJGE – the changing of the guard is well underway in the Cincy backfield. Bernard has been getting a regular 35-40 receiving yards per game to this point, and Cincy is likely to have to throw even more than usual against New England. I think Bernard will push the century mark in yardage in this one.
Brad – OVER. Without the buffet closer, New England's defensive line is incredibly soft. Fred Jackson, Doug Martin and Jacquizz Rodgers surpassed the proposed total against the Pats with Wilfork in the lineup. Clearly, separating himself from Green-Ellis (50-to-18 snap differential in Week 4), Bernard has entered must-start territory. Bank on him flirting with 100 total yards this week.
Scott – I'm still going OVER, in part because Wilfork hasn't been an overlord for a few seasons (remember, this is his tenth year). I also expect Bernard to do some damage as a pass catcher, taking advantage of a Pats back seven that can struggle to defend versatile backs (23 receptions allowed).
Eddie Lacy, a ‘full-go’ in practice this week after missing time due to a concussion, total yards against visiting Detroit 89.5
Brad – OVER. Lacy will resemble an over-sized rolling cheese wheel this week against the Lions. Run away from Suh and the lines are quite wide. On the season, Detroit has surrendered 5.0 yards per carry to RBs. Healthy and likely to shoulder the lion's share he should achieve this number on the ground alone.
Scott – OVER, but maybe it's shaded by my need for Lacy in a few leagues. I trust the Packers word on his condition, and I see teams running through the Lions consistently.
Dalton – OVER. James Starks is out, and while maybe Johnathan Franklin takes some third down work, I fully expect Lacy to step back into the role as feature back. The Lions have allowed the third-most fantasy points to opposing RBs this season. Lacy looked like a top-10 fantasy back before going down. Only health can hold him back now.
Over the first four weeks of the season, several high-profiled RBs have crushed the souls of their investors. Which slumping RB saves the most face in Week 5: David Wilson (vs. Phi), Ray Rice (at Mia), Chris Johnson (vs. KC) or Maurice Jones-Drew (vs. StL)
Scott – RICE hardly saw the ball in Buffalo but that shouldn't be an issue at Miami - he's likely to be involved early and often. Baltimore's run-blocking has been abysmal for a month, but Rice should get there on volume.
Dalton – RICE. He'll be closer to full strength, and sometimes coaching staff talk (they recently stated they want to reinstate Rice as a full workhorse) isn't just talk. The Dolphins have allowed the seventh-most fantasy points to running backs this year, and Cameron Wake's health remains in question. I expect a breakout game from Rice in Week 5.
Andy – RICE. Buy low, while you can. I'd say the same for every back on this list, actually, except for MJD.
Brandon – WILSON. I think Rice and Johnson will have solid days, but Wilson has the biggest hole to climb out of, and I think he'll have a breakout game against a soft Philly defense. With the release of Da'Rel Scott, the Giants are giving Wilson a vote of confidence on passing downs, which should give him a nice workload bump. With a likely 17-20 touches, Wilson should be a top 15-20 RB in Week 5, easily.
Brad – WILSON. Rice is also another strong candidate, but the Giant's set up is too juicy to ignore. Philly has given up 151.8 total yards per game to RBs this season and just over 4.3 yards per carry. With Da'Rel Scott no longer in the mix, Wilson should net at least 18-20 touches and a 100 yards in what should be a shootout.
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