Welcome to the weekend and week 5 of the NFL season as your fake life team heads into the first 4-team bye week. We need to navigate around the Panthers, Vikings, Jets, and Dolphins taking a hiatus this week. However bad your week might have been, it was probably better than Joe Philbin's week. That firing was really on their ownership for not taking action last year. It seems pretty crazy to me that you would give him a late vote of confidence at the end of the season and then fire him a month into the next season, but, on the bright side, there is at least one organization more fundamentally flawed than ours. If you're counting on Ryan Tannehill and crew coming out of the bye, I can understand a hold to see if they're emboldened by the new staff, but I'm cutting ties. There are just too many free agent flash-in-the-pan players to acquire and cut in two weeks!
Game of the week: New Orleans Saints vs. Philadelphia Eagles - Two of the most reliable pools of fantasy players in recent years have experienced plenty of offensive struggles thus far in the young season. Chip Kelly and his patented "cut or trade every good player" system isn't quite paying the dividends he was hoping for. DeMarco Murray, predictably, has been ineffective or injured behind a depleted offensive line. Kelly spent a lot of money to bring in Murray after shipping out fan favorite Shady McCoy to the hinterlands of Buffalo. Murray was probably a 1st or 2nd round pick and is playing like waiver wire junk. If he can't get something substantial going against New Orleans, he's just not someone we can trust. The expectations were similarly high for Sam Bradford and his receiving corps of Jordan Matthews, Zach Ertz and Nelson Agholor. Matthews has retained most of his value but the other two are simply unplayable as Bradford hasn't shown near enough to keep more than one receiver relevant.
On the other side, Drew Brees is currently battling a rotator cuff issue and the Saints have looked lost without Jimmy Graham. I wonder if both sides would swap back if they could. Brandin Cooks has yet to be unlocked this year for a big game and the secondary options are sorting themselves out. It appears that Willie Snead is emerging as a viable #2 receiver in this offense and if Brees regains his form, Snead could prove to be a valuable WR3. The key to this offense, sans Jimmy Graham, is CJ Spiller. If Spiller can fill the Darren Sproles role, he will be able to give Brees those "long handoff" type throws and help open things up for Cooks, Snead, and certainly help the fantasy value of Brees himself. I would hold firm to my Saints right now and see what they look like against the Eagles.
Philip Rivers vs. Pittsburgh - Rivers has posted two good fantasy games and two bad fantasy games. If you're counting on Rivers, hopefully it is in a quarterback-by-committee situation with someone in a similar tier, playing matchups. Rivers has been independently viable in the past, and this game against Pittsburgh on Monday night may reveal if he's ready to jump back into that status. Pittsburgh is around league average against the pass and this week marks the return of Antonio Gates. If Rivers puts up another good game this week, we can start to trust him more with his full arsenal.
Calvin Johnson vs. Patrick Peterson - What do we think about Megatron at this point? He's certainly still getting his targets but his production is down and he looks like he's lost a step. Johnson has battled a lot of injuries in recent seasons and he just doesn't look like the same dominant receiver who was the clear #1 fantasy wideout for a long time. I have very low expectations for Megatron this weekend against Patrick Peterson and a very good Arizona secondary. It may be time to readjust our expectations for the former king.
CJ Anderson vs. Ronnie Hillman - Admittedly, I stayed away from CJ Anderson during draft season. The Broncos offensive line looked shaky and with Peyton Manning continuing his decline, I wanted to stay away from a small sample size running back like Anderson. Ronnie Hillman had the job last year until an injury opened the door for Anderson. Hillman might be a better fit for this offense and definitely has an explosive element to his game that Anderson hasn't shown yet. Let's track the carries for each this weekend to see who the lead back might be in what will likely still be a high volume offense.
4 Defenses to Use - I really like Arizona's defense this weekend to destroy the Lions offensive line and give Stafford trouble all day. I'll sign off on the Giants defense this weekend against the 49ers as Colin Kaepernick has looked dreadful so far this season. New England coming off their bye may be available for pick up (if they cleared waivers) and are a strong play against Brandon Weeden's Cowboys. If you're really desperate, pick up the Cincinnati Bengals to play against Seattle. The Bengals line is good enough to disrupt the Seahawks in what might be a great game to watch.
4 Defenses to Abuse - Start all your Patriots (vs Dallas), Cardinals (at Detroit), Falcons (vs Washington), and Chiefs (vs. Chicago). Rob Gronkowski will have another Gronk spike, sure, but look for Dion Lewis to have a nice game. David Johnson and Chris Johnson could both be relevant for the Cards, and we'll see if Devonta Freeman can keep it up. The Chiefs will probably have success with Travis Kelce and Jamaal Charles in this one, but you'll want to start Jeremy Maclin too. I can even see Alex Smith if you're in a pinch.
Shotgun Longshot - Josh McCown @ Ravens - The Ravens defense has been friendly to quarterbacks thus far and McCown has been able to product the last two weeks. He is currently 4% owned so he's likely out there on your waiver wire and if you're sitting Cam Newton with nothing behind him, McCown could be a solid play.
Toss Sweep Sleeper - Ronnie Hillman @ Oakland - I'm doubling down here. I think Hillman does more with his chances and gets a good workload against the Raiders as Denver protects its lead and milks the clock late.
Fly Route Flier - Kamar Aiken vs Browns - Aiken caught a TD pass last week and looked pretty good trying to fill the void that Steve Smith Sr. left after his back injury. If you're desperate for a WR this week, take a chance on Aiken to corral enough of Flacco's targets to be relevant.
What are you looking forward to the most this weekend? Anyone make an interesting trade they'd like to share with the class?