Every week, Scott Engel of RotoExperts.com focuses on key recent trends and numbers, and tells you how they will affect your fantasy outlook for the upcoming week.
FEELING THE HEAT:
Players who have positive numbers following them into Week 5.
Lance Moore, WR, New Orleans
Stat: Moore has four TDs in his past five meetings with the Panthers.
Analysis: Moore is rounding back into form and has 14 catches in his past two games. Drew Brees tends to spread the ball around a lot and has taken a liking to RB Darren Sproles in the passing game. Moore, however, has been a consistent favorite of the New Orleans QB and is simply a must-start as a PPR WR3 now that he is healthy again. Moore is less of a lock in standard formats.
Darrius Heyward-Bey, WR, Oakland
Stat: Heyward-Bey had a career-high 115 receiving yards last week.
Analysis: Heyward-Bey has teased fantasy owners before. Case in point: A 105-yard game in Week 8 last year, with a high of 40 yards thereafter. Jason Campbell is unafraid to gun the ball this year, and his WRs are starting to pop onto the fantasy radar. Heyward-Bey still has intriguing potential and should be rostered in larger leagues, but do not start him until he can demonstrate more consistency. He will likely be regularly outperformed by Denarius Moore and Jacoby Ford.
Reggie Wayne, WR, Indianapolis
Stat: Wayne has four TD catches in six career games against the Chiefs, including the postseason.
Analysis: Wayne's value has taken a major hit with the absence of Peyton Manning, to the point where he is no longer a must-start and carries WR3 value. The Colts offense showed some signs of life on Monday under Curtis Painter, but he seems to go elsewhere frequently when Wayne is covered. Wayne is not a surefire start this week, but there is some hope for him ahead if Painter keeps spreading he ball around respectably. Unless you have a bye week issue, consider reserving Wayne if you have good WR depth.
A.J. Green, WR, Cincinnati
Stat: Green is tied for best in the NFL with three catches of 40 or more yards in 2011.
Analysis: Green has been an instant impact performer, and already has two 100-yard games. He also could have registered a pair of TD receptions last week had Andy Dalton not overshot him on a pair of end zone tosses. Green is a scary-good talent, and Dalton is learning that if he throws the ball anywhere in Green's vicinity, he can make a play. The rookie should be active in all lineups as a WR3 right now.
Eli Manning, QB, New York Giants
Stat: Manning has completed 40 of 57 attempts with five TD passes and no interceptions in his past two games vs. the Seahawks.
Analysis: Manning is one of the better QB starts of Week 5. Do not expect Seattle to generate much offense this week, putting the defense on the field for too long. Manning will dictate the flow of the game and you can expect a minimum of two TD throws. The Seahawks are respectable against the run, but they simply will not be able to handle the Giants receivers when it counts. Hakeem Nicks will give Marcus Trufant some fits, and Mario Manningham should bounce back, while Victor Cruz also contributes.
Ryan Mathews, RB, San Diego
Stat: In his last meeting with the Broncos, Ryan Mathews set career highs in rushing yards (120) and TDs (3).
Analysis: The Chargers coaches are doing a great job of playcalling, working to Mathews' strengths. They are using counters, misdirections and getting him to the edges where he is most effective. Mathews is starting to live up to the hype and should be primed to perform well again in a divisional matchup. He is a top RB2 start for Week 5.
Michael Turner, RB, Atlanta
Stat: In his last two meetings with the Packers, Turner has 231 rushing yards and two TDs.
Analysis: Turner will be a key performer for Atlanta this week, as the Falcons hope to win the time of possession battle by employing some ball control tactics. But Green Bay's stout run defense has allowed 71 rushing yards per game so far with one TD. Turner is going to have to work very hard for his yardage this week, and at best, you may only see adequate fantasy totals.
Jay Cutler, QB, Chicago
Stat: Cutler is 4-0 against the Lions with a 67.2 completion percentage, nine TDs and one interception.
Analysis: As we all can see, these are not the same Lions Cutler used to face in the past. The defense will be coming after him hard after its pride was wounded last week by Tony Romo and the Cowboys. Cutler is going to take a lot of big hits on Monday night and is not a recommended start for Week 5. Only use him if you have a dire need for a bye-week filler.
SEARCHING FOR SPARKS:
These players will look to turn some negative outlooks around in Week 5.
Chris Johnson, RB, Tennessee
Stat: In three career games against the Steelers, Chris Johnson has averaged 53.3 rushing yards per game with one TD.
Analysis: Johnson registered his first 100-yard game of the year last week, but appeared to be somewhat lacking his true signature speed. While more quality performances are certainly ahead for Johnson, and the Steelers defense is not what it was last year, do not expect another 100-yard game. Johnson is still working toward top form and will get a lot of defensive attention this week.
Jacoby Jones, WR, Houston
Stat: Jones has one 100-yard game in his career.
Analysis: Jones has been a fantasy tease before, and when Andre Johnson has been out in the past, he was cited as a top pickup. Opportunity does not always lead to production, though, and Jones is not suited to be a starter who can face top defensive backs on a regular basis. Pass on him as a potential plug-in. Jones caught 10 passes for 185 yards when Johnson missed two games last year. He'll be adequate at best.
Percy Harvin, WR, Minnesota
Stat: Harvin has 172 receiving yards and no TDs so far in 2011.
Analysis: Harvin is going to be double-teamed a lot this year, and the numbers will continue to frustrate his fantasy owners. But the Vikings are a desperate team, and desperate teams can be dangerous. Look for Harvin to score at home this week against the vulnerable Arizona pass defense.
Marshawn Lynch, RB, Seattle
Stat: Lynch has 141 rushing yards and one TD so far this year.
Analysis: The Seahawks offense showed some signs of life last week, and Lynch scored for the first time this year. But the offense will falter again this week under the very erratic Tarvaris Jackson. At some point, it will become inevitable that Seattle will have to give Charlie Whitehurst a shot. When the QB change is made, Lynch will see more open running room and will be useful in fantasy again.
Mike Williams, WR, Tampa Bay
Stat: Williams has 155 receiving yards and one TD this year so far. He has not scored since the season opener.
Analysis: Williams is looking like the sophomore jinx is hitting him hard early in his second year. The Buccaneers offense has appeared conservative and lacking big-play punch. Defenses simply are not letting Williams get into position to beat them as frequently as they did last year. Until you see Williams show true signs of shedding his recent mediocrity, do not hesitate to bench him.
Week 5 Start 'Em & Sit 'Em
Mark Sanchez, QB, New York Jets
Stat: In four career games against the Patriots, Sanchez has five TD passes and seven interceptions.
Analysis: Sanchez is coming off an awful game at Baltimore, too. The odds appear to be against him, which is why Sanchez will play well overall in a marquee matchup. It's certainly no secret that the New England secondary has been an issue, and the Jets have the pass-catchers to exploit the weakness. Emotions and numbers will be raised as Sanchez carries the Jets offense in Week 5. Do not be afraid to start him.
Michael Crabtree, WR, San Francisco
Stat: In his only meeting with the Buccaneers, Crabtree had one catch for 15 yards.
Analysis: The enigmatic Crabtree showed he still has some promise with a 38-yard catch against the Eagles last week. He also had a controversial TD reception wiped out in Week 3. Crabtree is injury-prone and has been an underachiever so far as a pro. Yet he does retain some playmaking ability and is a viable bye week filler if you are scraping for WR help.
Dwayne Bowe, WR, Kansas City
Stat: Bowe caught two passes for 33 yards against the Colts in 2010.
Analysis: Bowe is rising above the play of his teammates in Kansas City, as he continues to solidify himself as a prime WR2 in fantasy. The Chiefs have no choice but to throw the ball without Jamaal Charles, and in the past Bowe has often made his catches while being frequently double-teamed. Bowe is a must-start against the Colts in Week 5, and many fantasy owners should trust him more than they do.
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