What we are talking about:
Brady vs. Manning
Nevermind the matchup
MVP! MVP! MVP!
Romantic comedies typically follow this same plot point: Boy chases his dream girl with the help of his nerdy best girlfriend, and at some point the boy gets the dream girl, but it turns out his nerdy best friend was there all along and a better catch. Of course, it helps that the nerdy best friend is typically some beautiful woman like Mila Kunis (pictured above) dressed down.
But still, I caught one of those movies last weekend (I think it was "Forgetting Sarah Marshall" or "Black Swan") and it made me think of the Atlanta Falcons receivers.
Yes, I'm serious.
Think about this. Everybody raved about Julio Jones over the offseason. He was the must-have receiver to get from the Falcons. (And I was guilty of this a little bit, too.) But he's been anything but a dream this fantasy season. But the best friend you had there all along, Roddy White, has continued to be as strong as ever.
I guess I should probably have a point here. How about this -- don't give up on Jones just yet. He's expected to play this weekend and he should have a great game against the Washington Redskins.
Likes and dislikes are in bold.
A big hand to stats maven Bill "Sudsy" Sudell for dropping the knowledge.
And without further ado ...
This is a quarterback league and it's time for a new generation of quarterbacks to take over. So it should come as no surprise the marquee quarterback battle of the week is Tom Brady vs. Peyton Manning. Oh, right.
Brady is a must-start every week, but it's a surprise to receive questions on whether to start Manning or not.
Manning has a good matchup against the Patriots this week. New England has allowed nine touchdown passes this season, but seven in the last two weeks. The Patriots were so convincing in their win last week, you kind of overlook how many points Ryan Fitzpatrick put up against them.
Red Dalton has become your elite backup of choice, edging out many of the other mid-card quarterbacks who deserve a push. And much like another ginger superstar, Heath Slater, I like Dalton more and more each time I see him.
Dalton currently ranks seventh in fantasy points among quarterbacks, and he has eight touchdown passes and just three interceptions in his last three games. The Miami Dolphins are in the middle of the pack when it comes to fantasy points to quarterbacks, but have allowed three consecutive quarterbacks to top 300 passing yards.
Andy Luck is still in the mix, too. Luck has thrown for more than 300 yards in two of his last three games. The Packers were lit up, fantasy wise, by Drew Brees. But again, that was Brees. Luck is a good option if you have a quarterback on a bye week.
Ryan Tannehill has a new nickname courtesy Handsome Hank of the Dave Dameshek Football Program which is available on iTunes. Tannehill's nickname is RT1. BTW, Tannehill is a member of Rank's 11 this week as the Cincinnati Bengals have allowed the eighth-most fantasy points to quarterbacks.
So Rank, do I play Tannehill over Drew Brees? I didn't see him mentioned here. Uh, yeah. Make sure you're playing Brees. If you Tweet me that question, you will get blocked! Well probably not, I don't block anybody. But that's not an invitation to test me, though.
What is more impressive to you, Brees' eventual record of 48 straight games with a touchdown pass or Miguel Cabrera's triple crown? This isn't going to be very popular around these parts, but I'm going to say it's Cabrera's mark. If the NFL didn't make so many rules to enhance passing, I would say it was Brees.
ImageMike Trout is the MVP of the league. And it's not even close. If you want to disregard the wins above replacement, his superiority on the base paths and in the field as a defender, I'll leave it to this: Trout had 30 home runs, 40 stolen bases and scored 125 runs, which has never been done before. As fantasy editor Marcas Grant notes, doing something that has never been done before trumps doing something that hasn't been done in 45 years.
Marshawn Lynch continues to be overlooked. It never fails: At least a handful of questions about Lynch come to me via Twitter each week. So for this week, any start/sit questions about Lynch will get you blocked. Lynch has 15 touchdowns in his last 16 games and the Carolina Panthers have given up the second-most fantasy points to running backs this year.
Matt Forte is a must-start every week. Well, sort of. The key is what games do you start Michael Bush? This one against the Jaguars will do. Jacksonville has allowed the third most points to running backs this year. Bush is a nice flex/RB2 option.
Frank Gore has a rushing touchdown in six of his last eight games, and now he plays the team that has given up the second-most rushing touchdowns this season. So sit Gore, right? Wrong.
I played Ryan Williams this week, too. I hope it doesn't bite me. (I turned this in before the game started, but I believe in full disclosure.)
Let's cut the noise, there is no way Ryan Mathews should be considered a backup running back in San Diego. As Matt "Money" Smith (who called the Chargers game last week) said, Mathews was clearly the better running back just based on the eyeball test. Pay no attention to the depth chart, those things are meaningless once you're trying to win games.
The New Orleans Saints have allowed 586 rushing yards this season, the most fantasy points, and running backs are running more than 50 percent against New Orleans. All tops in the league.
Speaking of motivational ploys, I like the idea of letting Steven Jackson know he's going to be a free agent at the end of the season. This typically works to inspire players. Unless that player is DeSean Jackson. But Steven Jackson will have a reason to run hard because he will be running for a new contract.
Willis McGahee has been a pleasant surprise for fantasy owners this season. If you can get anything for him in a trade, now is the time to make a move.
Chris Johnson has a tough matchup this week, going against the Vikings, who have allowed the second-fewest points to fantasy running backs (you'll be quizzed on this later). But how many options are there for fantasy running backs? If you have an embarrassment of riches at the position, then yes, you can afford to bench him. Most of us are not in that position.
Who is the biggest disappointment over the last year, Chris Johnson or your Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim? It has eaten me up inside that Trout's rookie season has been wasted. I mean, the experience was fun, but wow, in a year with an expanded wild card playoff the Angels failed to deliver. I blame C.J. Wilson and the bullpen. Pitching coach Mike Butcher will get the axe, but manager Mike Scioscia should be safe for another year.
ImageJonah Keri has advocated the elimination of divisions, which would have put the Angels into the playoffs. It's an interesting concept. I miss how the American and National Leagues were separate, right down to their own umpiring crews (and the umpires even had separate uniforms). But now we're just trying to make excuses for the Angels, and we don't deserve it.
ImageMy World Series prediction: The Oakland As take on the Cincinnati Reds in a rematch of the 1990 World Series, and the outcome is the same as your Red Legs are the champions of baseball.
Cedric Benson wasn't bad in Week 4. In fact, for an RB2, he was pretty good. I'm only smarting because I lost by .1 in my league of record, the Corona Football League I play with my buddies from Corona, Calif. Benson has a great start this week against the Colts, who have allowed the eighth most fantasy points to running backs this season. But the Colts will be inspired this week, that's the only thing that kind of scares me.
The Saints have allowed the fourth-most fantasy points to receivers this season. Malcom Floyd becomes a better option this week. The only scary thing -- the Saints are going to put it all together one week. Just hope this isn't the one.
Eric Decker was a darling draft pick this year, especially after he had two touchdowns in the third preseason game this year, which probably pushed him up at least two rounds in your fantasy drafts. Strong back-to-back games from Decker have me feeling pretty good. His 21 targets even better. And the fact the Patriots have allowed seven pass receptions in the past two weeks? I'm damn-near ecstatic!
Percy Harvin will be a top-5 receiver this week. Harvin joined us on NFL Fantasy Live this week (watch the link), and Dave Dameshek gave him the business for his kickoff return for a touchdown, which helps no one. Harvin is a great sport, too. The Titans have allowed 10 touchdown passes this season, so I say Harvin gets one.
ImageLast week, I advocated Danny Amendola's special teams' touchdown being credited to the St. Louis DST. The more I think about this, Harvin's kickoff return for a touchdown should count for a touchdown for Harvin owners. You don't want to include return yardage, fine. But touchdowns should be the domain of the individual player. And if this gets us close to eliminating defenses from fantasy football, all the better.
Dom Hixon is a sneaky sleeper play this week with Hakeem Nicks out again. Remember when it was Harvin who was considered the injury risk?
Kendall Wright is a nice sleeper with Kenny Britt's injury status still uncertain. The Vikings have improved on defense this year, and have allowed only two touchdown passes to receivers this season, good for third-fewest in the NFL. But Wright has 19 targets in his last two games, and two touchdowns in his last three. Again, a nice sleeper option.
Brandon Lloyd is currently ranked 30th among receivers in fantasy points. But he's currently tied for eighth with 40 targets. So Tom Brady is clearly looking his way. It's only a matter of time before he's in the top 20. I fear there's too much competition among his teammates to be a top 10 guy, but he's going to be good.
Wes Welker is coming on, too. Welker has 32 targets in his last three games, and you hope his current production is because he's getting back into the mix, and less to do about all of the injuries. There is a concern Welker's production will decline when Aaron Hernandez returns, but I don't see it.
Marques Colston is a 1,000-yard receiver who continues to get no respect. Yes, it's hard for him to be consistent because Drew Brees likes to redistribute the football. Sorry, distribute. The presidential debates are still on my mind. But Colston is a lot better than people give him credit for.
James Jones is attracting a lot of attention after his two-touchdown performance against the Saints, who truly have one of the worst pass defenses in the NFL. The Saints have allowed the fourth-most points to fantasy receivers this year. The Packers have another favorable matchup against the Indianapolis Colts, who have allowed the eighth-most fantasy points to receivers this year. He's a good option with Greg Jennings out.
Victor Cruz has the most fantasy targets this season (49) and the Cleveland Browns have allowed the third-most fantasy points to receivers this year, thanks in no small part to the suspension of Joe Haden. The Browns have allowed an NFL-best seven touchdown receptions to receivers this year.
Cruz is actually tied with Dwayne Bowe for the most targets in the NFL. Amazing thing about Bowe, he has 43 targets in the last three games. Let's be honest, this is a terrible matchup for Bowe. The Ravens are tough against fantasy receivers. But Bowe is a good option because he's the only guy Matt Cassel trusts right now. Now if only the Chiefs trusted Cassel.
ImageActor Jerry O'Connell is a huge Giants fan. He joined us on NFL Fantasy Live on Friday. In his honor, I present to you the Top 5 movies O'Connell has been in: 5. "Phirana" 4. "Jerry McGuire" 3. "Scream 2" 2. "Tomcats" 1. "Can't Hardly Wait." He's also been in two TV series set in Las Vegas and was the voice of Nightwing in the animated series.
Torrey Smith has a tough matchup, but he plays every week now. Smith has 20 targets in his last two games, to go along with 224 yards and three touchdowns. Smith has been a pleasant surprise for me: I wasn't sure about him coming into the season, but he's won me over.
ImageAntonio Cesaro has won me over, too. I wasn't really into him much at all recently. But after watching him completely own Albert, I mean Lord Tensi, I'm on board with this guy. If I had my way, he'd be the one challenging CM Punk instead of Ryback.
ImageThe WWE has a way of pushing the wrong guy way too much. It seems like we're only weeks away from piped-in chants for Ryback. Seriously, Ryback has that look of a goon-bouncer who's swinging a flashlight and yelling at closing time, the kind of guy you just chuckle at because he has popcorn muscles. Cesaro looks like he would legitimately kick your (expletive) for looking at him funny.
ImageOh yeah, and if John Cena can't go, how do you feel about that CM Punk heel turn? You've gone too far with his "I demand your respect." You could have kept Punk in character and gracefully faced any number of the mid-card heels like Cesaro, Damien Sandow, Alberto Del Rio or Cody Rhodes.
Jared Cook is a good option for the Tennessee Titans, too. It seems like we keep waiting for Cook to break out every year, and he's 14th right now. But the Vikings have allowed the eight-most fantasy points to tight ends this year.
Don't hold a grudge against Dennis Pitta. One bad game is not a reason to write him off. The good news was Joe Flacco was looking for him in the end zone and that trend should continue. The Chiefs have allowed the ninth-most fantasy points to tight ends.
Here's the deal with Scott Chandler, the dude just scores touchdowns. He's had three in his last four games. And San Francisco gives up a lot of touchdowns to tight ends (4). In fact, only the Titans have given up more touchdowns to tight ends this season than the 49ers.
BTW, the 49ers are the second-place team in the NFC West. Regardless of how Thursday night turns out, all of the teams will be at least .500. You can make excuses, be a nonbeliever in the West, and that's fine. But the Birds have won at New England and humiliated the Eagles. Two of the Packers' losses have come against the NFC West. I just provide the facts.
My Perfect Challenge lineup for the week (now known as the Curt Hennig All-Stars: Matt Ryan, Adrian Peterson, Cedric Benson, A.J. Green, Roddy White, Jimmy Graham, Blair Walsh, Birds defense. You'll probably never win without picking one obscure guy who is going to come through, but I'll take my chances with this team.
I'm starting Cam Newton this week over Andy Luck in the one league where I still own him. (Thankfully, I was able to dump him on Michael Fabiano in our "NFL AM" league.) But I'm not enthralled with it, and in a way I've nearly conceded the week.
The Seahawks have allowed the third-fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks this season, and have allowed only two touchdown passes this season. No team has allowed fewer touchdown passes than the Seahawks. And Newton's running ability? The Seahawks have allowed just 15 rushing yards to quarterbacks this season, good for fourth in the NFL.
Ryan Fitzpatrick has been a fantasy superstar this season, and if some fantasy owner has dropped him because of his matchup against the San Francisco 49ers, you should add him to your bench for coming weeks. He's a good matchup-based starter, just not this week.
Blaine Gabbert has thrown only one interception in his last five games. You have to like that, right? But he's had fewer than 190 passing yards in three consecutive games. The Bears have allowed the fewest points to quarterbacks this year.
Matt Hasselbeck is the starting quarterback for the Tennessee Titans this week, but he's not much of a fantasy option. The only hope is Hasselbeck will make defenses respect the pass a little more, and open things up for Chris Johnson.
The turnovers are troubling for Michael Vick. He has five total touchdowns and nine turnovers this year. The good news if you must start Vick, the Steelers have allowed the 13th-most fantasy points to quarterbacks this season, and have only recorded one interception. I'm still not crazy about the matchup with the familiar names returning to Pittsburgh.
Philip Rivers has averaged 191 passing yards per game over his last two, to go along with two interceptions and three touchdowns. He's scored fewer points than Matt Cassel, Alex Smith, Kevin Kolb and Ponder. The Saints do provide a favorable matchup, as they have allowed the fifth-most points. But sometimes when you have those games where a guy should go crazy, he fails to deliver.
I would love to see the look on A.J. Smith's face when Brees breaks Johnny U's touchdown record. This was the guy you let walk away because of your beef with Marty Schottenheimer. I stated at the time, the Chargers were better off with Brees. Imagine how much different the football world would have looked if the Chargers had selected Larry Fitzgerald with the first overall pick in 2004.
I'm ashamed by how much I like Jay Cutler's commercial with the roommates stealing clothes. I'll admit it, the commercial is funny.
The Steelers would have still ended up with Ben Roethlisberger, who I don't like this week. The Eagles have allowed the fourth-fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks this year. Roethlisberger has fewer than 185 passing yards in both career meetings against the Eagles. This feels like a must-win game for the Steelers, but it should still be low-scoring.
If Rashard Mendenhall is sitting on your waiver wire (you've got a 40 percent chance), add him this week. He's expected to make his debut against the Eagles. But don't start him. Philly has allowed only one rushing touchdown in its last eight games.
But even when the matchup is good, you need to temper your expectations for Mendenhall. The Steelers would love to be a running team. I would love to have a full head of hair, but sometimes you can't always get what you want. There will be times to play Mendenhall, but this is not one of the weeks.
Brandon Jacobs says he's ready to return, and while he could end up threatening Gore's touchdown totals, he's not a fantasy option until we at least see him play in a game.
You can cut Mark Ingram if you need space on your fantasy roster. It's just hard to see any value there. Ingram ranks 51st among fantasy running backs, and he hasn't rushed for more than 53 yards in any game this season.
C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson are two players to avoid this week going against the San Francisco 49ers, who have allowed the fewest points to fantasy running backs. Do you know who has allowed the second-fewest points to fantasy running backs? That's right, the Minnesota Vikings. Thank you for reading the other side, too. I told you there would be a quiz.
But is there a team more automatic when it comes to shutting down running backs than the 49ers? Well, let's put 20 seconds on the clock and I'll count down things as automatic as the 49ers rush defense: The only thing more automatic than the 49ers rush defense is the fact BenJarvus Green-Ellis never fumbles.
Oh no wait, BenJarvus Green-Ellis now has two fumbles this season. I'm still starting him, but this is a situation to monitor going forward, just in case the Bengals follow the Chargers' lead and promote some curtain-jerker to be the starter.
ImageSo let's leave the Law Firm out of it. Here are things more automatic than the 49ers defense: Drew Brees will throw a touchdown pass; the Oakland Raiders will be overhyped and underdeliver; NBC can't develop a sitcom any more, and when they do find great ones ("Community" and "Scrubs") they bury them; everybody will make excuses for Tony Romo; Any non-Batman DC Comics movie will bomb; Everybody thinks the backup is better; especially if the backup is Tim Tebow; people always try and fail to complete the words to "We didn't start the fire;" Ozzie Guillen can't go a week without offending 40 percent of the population and some Lakers fan tries to contend Kobe Bryant was better than Michael Jordan.
And yes, I'm a Lakers fan and I'll concede Jordan over Kobe. But you'll never get me to say Jordan was better than Magic Johnson. Mostly because I won't say something that isn't true. But send me your own this week on Twitter and we'll do this every week.
The more I think about this, I wanted Benson to get that TD against the Saints because it would have left me with a no-doubt win in the CFL (my 'league of record' as mentioned in the 'Like' column). But if Graham Freaking Harrell could have just handed the ball off cleanly and -- as a conservative estimate - Benson gains a yard, I have a push in my league of record. I really don't like Graham Harrell. The Packers should cut him just out of principle. How dare he.
Rex Ryan has reiterated Shonn Greene is still the Jets starting running back. Well, Ryan still insists Mark Sanchez is the team's starting quarterback, too. Bilal Powell is a guy to take a look at if you have an extra roster spot or two on your fantasy roster. He's not going to set the league on fire by any stretch. But dang, he's better than Greene.
Anybody else miss jolly Rex Ryan? But is there any doubt he's going to end up as the next coach of the Dallas Cowboys? At some point Tony Romo needs to throw his hands in the air and say, "(Expletive) me." If I had to make a guess, the Cowboys will have Rex as the head coach, with Norv Turner as the offensive coordinator. Actually, that's not too bad.
Stevan Ridley has become a pretty good fantasy option this year, but he's had a tough start this week against the Broncos, who have allowed the sixth-fewest fantasy points to running backs and only one rushing touchdown in the last four games. So look for better options if you have them.
Congratulations on your waiver pickup of Brandon Boldin this week. His 20.80 fantasy points certainly helps no one from last week. But did you not see what I just wrote about Stevan Ridley above? Boldin deserves a spot on your roster, but this isn't the week you start him.
Congratulations on your waiver pickup of Brian Hartline this week. His 253 receiving yards against the Cardinals were more than his previous four games combined. So he's not an automatic start for you. The Bengals have been rather stingy with the fantasy points to fantasy receivers. So tread lightly this week. If you're in need for a receiver, you could do worse. But don't expect another monster game.
Congratulations on your waiver pickup of Jackie Battle. No, I don't mean that. He's not going to be the next Mike Tolbert, if that's what you think. Curtis Brinkley is a better hammer in that offense. As long as Mathews can hold on to the ball, and stay healthy, the job belongs to him.
Bobby Meachem was one of my preseason sleepers, but it clearly hasn't worked out in San Diego. Meachem has just 15 targets this season, good for 109th in the NFL. Meachem had two targets last week (one of them was picked off), and no receptions in two of his three games.
Norv Turner has tried to make excuses for Meachem, and even mentioned the disappointment has been running faster than ever. Which is great, but we get points for him catching the football, not running fast. Somebody might want to explain the game to Norv. He might not completely understand.
ImageIf I were Turner, I would use Bobby Valentine as an example as to why I shouldn't be fired. I mean, you make a coaching change and it doesn't always work out for the best.
But there's one subtle difference here. The Red Sox dumped Valentine after one season when it was clear he was outmatched. The Chargers have kept their version of Bobby Valentine, even though he's proven he can't get the job done. And really, the Red Sox should have kept Valentine for at least another year because baseball fans were having too much fun with it. I'm going to miss the Bobby V. era in Boston. Seriously, the one consolation for the Angels being so bad is Boston was worse.
Greg Little has just two touchdowns in his last game and his big pop against the Ravens in his last game was his only reception longer than 25 yards in his last six games. But come on Browns, your season is over, why not get Josh Gordon out onto the field? Yes, he's raw but it's not like he's sitting behind Swann and Stallworth.
ImageI hope you had a chance to watch "A Football Life: Cleveland '95." Moving, gripping and really, really depressing. This should be must-viewing for anybody who still holds to the notion Art Modell should even be considered for the Pro Football Hall of Fame. I don't want to throw out hyperbole considering the state of the world. But in terms of sports, what Modell did to Cleveland was one of the worst things you could do. That fan base was loyal and didn't deserve that.
ImageThe great thing for Cleveland, it got to keep the Browns name, logo and marks. It was the right thing to do. This should be the precedent for all teams that move. When you see things like the Winnipeg Jets being reborn, a hopefully potential return of the Seattle SuperSonics and let's not forget a real return for the Los Angeles Rams, it makes your heart sing.
ImageToo bad the city of Baltimore didn't get to keep the Baltimore Colts name, logo and marks. I had once suggested we do a reset with the names and logos, but we're too many generations removed from these relocations. How many kids today even realize the Rams played in Los Angeles?
ImageThe Houston Texans should be able to wear the Houston Oilers throwbacks, not the Tennessee Titans. The Titans have great fans, but none of them fondly remember watching Earl Campbell roll through the Astrodome like some of the Texans' faithful.
Sorry, one more. Did you notice how nerdy Nick Saban looked in those glasses? Hilarious. No lie, Saban looked like he would have been just as comfortable working the counter at Comics Unlimited in Westminster, Calif., than coaching the defense for the Browns.
Stevie Johnson didn't get in on the fantasy frenzy against the Patriots last week. So watch, he'll be good against the 49ers who have allowed the fourth fewest fantasy points to receivers this season. You can move on the 49ers at times, but if you have better options than Stevie, use them. Unfortunately in one league, I don't.
Anquan Boldin is going to be inconsistent for fantasy owners. He just is. This is a week when you bench him. The Chiefs have allowed the third-fewest points to fantasy receivers this year. Brandon Flowers is out for the Chiefs, but I'm worried about Boldin's consistency. I want to see more from him.
Owen Daniels is a great guy. I liked how he was rocking the Houston Astros hat in our interview for NFL Fantasy Live this week. But I interviewed Martellus Bennett in Week 4 and he struggled. So tight ends interviewed by me have averaged .2 fantasy points. All right, it's a very small sample size, but still.
Jermichael Finley has had less than 65 receiving yards in six consecutive games. I don't think it will get better this week. The Colts have allowed just five receptions to tight ends this year, and the second-fewest points.
Aaron Hernandez returned to practice, but isn't going to play in Week 5 and he has an outside chance to play in Week 6. Let's not rush him back into our lineups just yet. High ankle sprains can be a bother, so take your time with this injury so he can be right for the fantasy stretch drive. Which is what Bill Belichick must be thinking, right?
ImageIn case you missed it, I lost in my league of record because of fractional points. This isn't a rant about fractional points or anything. But Ryan Fitzpatrick had four interceptions and still had a 30-point game. My man Elliot Harrison has long said interceptions don't hold enough weight in fantasy football. How about an increasing weight for interceptions? The first interception of a game is a negative point, and it continues to increase. By the time you get to the fourth or fifth interception, it eventually ruins your day. Just like real football.
Yes, I'm still bitter about losing a close one. Sue me.
Rob Gronkowski tweeted earlier this week he was contemplating a run for the presidency. Gronkowski not knowing presidential candidates need to be at least 35 years old might be the least surprising thing of the year. Thankfully, you donât have to be completely verse in current affairs to start on my fantasy team.
For the record, you can submit your fantasy questions to NFL Fantasy Live, Michael Fabiano or me on Twitter. But realize, NFL Fantasy Live has 70,000 followers, and Fabiano has 60,000. Me? Just 13. See, the odds are better I will answer your question, so hit me up both via Twitter or via Facebook (oh wait, I told you to stop going to Facebook). Go instead to Google+. Also be sure to catch the latest "Dave Dameshek Football Program."