"Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together, mass hysteria!" -- Dr. Peter Venkman, Ghostbusters.
Little did Bill Murray know when he uttered those famous words back in 1984 that he would be describing the 2007 fantasy football season.
I've been in this business for close to a decade, and I have never seen such madness. It's come to the point where you can't even trust your studs (unless they're names are Tom Brady or Peyton Manning). Heck, I started Ron Dayne over Frank Gore this week...and it worked! Here's a stat that will shock and awe: LaDainian Tomlinson, Larry Johnson, Clinton Portis and Shaun Alexander combined to score fewer points than Kris Brown -- a kicker!
Has hell frozen over?
Let's get into the numbers and start like we do every week with the quarterbacks. Brady and Philip Rivers tied for the most points at the position (and overall) with 28. Brady wasn't a surprise, but Rivers sure was based on his opponent, the Denver Broncos. Mike Shanahan's team entered the weekend ranked first against the pass. It went on to allow Rivers to throw for 270 yards and score three touchdowns. Gus Frerotte, who will be a hot name on the waiver wire, threw for 262 yards and three touchdowns in his first start for St. Louis. Based on a little more than four quarters of work, Frerotte already has more fantasy points than Drew Brees. Jason Campbell (23 points) and Peyton Manning (20 points) round out of the top five.
Kurt Warner was also solid with 190 yards and two touchdowns against the Rams, and he'll be a top free-agent add this week with Matt Leinart out several weeks with a broken collarbone. In fact, Warner is still available in over 80 percent of NFL.com leagues. If you need a quarterback add him now. One quarterback who should be released is Jake Delhomme, who requires a surgical procedure to repair his right elbow and will miss the rest of the season.
All the quarterback performances weren't so good, as owners of Jon Kitna can attest. After four solid weeks, Kitna posted zero points against Washington. Brees continued his fall from grace with a mere six points, and he could be the lead candidate for the biggest fantasy disappointment of the season. Vince Young (2 points), Matt Hasselbeck (2 points) and Jay Cutler (7 points) were also busts. Chad Pennington, who threw three interceptions against the Giants, could lose his starter's role to Kellen Clemens.
That's a situation that fantasy owners need to watch.
If you had told me that Kenton Keith would lead all running backs in points this week, I would have asked you to pass over whatever it was you were smoking. But in this bizarre fantasy season, it's much more believable. He totaled 158 all-purpose yards and two touchdowns -- that equates to 27 fantasy points -- in a win over Tampa Bay. Michael Turner, a reserve runner, was second with 20 points. More than half of his total production came on a 74-yard touchdown run. Another reserve, Najeh Davenport, tied Turner with 20 points. Ronnie Brown, who has been this season's version of Tomlinson, also scored 20 points. Maurice Jones-Drew and Mike Sellers tied for fifth with 17 points apiece. So to recap, four backs who are second on their respective team's depth charts and a player with no value (Sellers) scored the most points among runners in Week 5.
The backs who were supposed to lead fantasy owners continues to flounder. Larry Johnson had one point, and now he'll face even greater odds with Brodie Croyle as a possible starter Can you say eight-man fronts? Jamal Lewis scored one point as well, but he missed significant time against New England with an injured foot. If the ailment is serious, owners should look to add Jason Wright. Alexander (2 points), Thomas Jones (4 points), Travis Henry (6 points) and Clinton Portis (6 points) also failed to produce.
Injuries were also a major issue this week, as Lewis, Ahman Green, Brandon Jackson, Laurence Maroney and Michael Pittman were either out or hurt in action. That adds to a list of injured backs that already includes Steven Jackson, Deuce McAllister and Cadillac Williams. If fantasy football owners have learned one lesson this season, it's that handcuffing your top runners is extremely important. If Ron Dayne, DeShawn Wynn or Earnest Graham are available, pick them up now.
Brandon Jacobs actually returned from an injury and scored 14 points. He did share carries with Derrick Ward, who had 11 points, but the combination seemed to work. New York could look to duplicate the Thunder and Lightning seasons it had with Tiki Barber and Dayne, so Jacobs and Ward both have fantasy relevance.
Larry Fitzgerald lead all wide receivers with 19 points, and the fact that Warner is the new starter in Arizona bodes well for him and Anquan Boldin. Plaxico Burress, who has scored a touchdown every week, finished with 18 points. Torry Holt (16 points), Vincent Jackson (14 points) and Greg Jennings (14 points) round out the top five. Jackson's success was a surprise based on a matchup against Denver, but he still produced solid totals. Jennings, who has scored in three consecutive weeks, has become a favorite of Brett Favre.
Overall, wideouts didn't produce solid numbers. No one scored 20 points or more, and a mere 14 had double-digit fantasy points. What's more, a number of the wideouts who did have a decent stat line weren't active or even on fantasy rosters. That list includes Dennis Northcutt (13 points), Tim Carter (11 points), Devery Henderson (10 points), and Brad Smith (10 points). Some of the bigger disappointments included Chris Chambers (1 point), Bernard Berrian (1 point), Roy Williams (3 points) and Marques Colston (3 points). Even the great Randy Moss had a bad stat line (5 points), but he's still on pace for 1,700-plus yards and 22 touchdowns.
All of these five wideouts had fewer fantasy points than Glenn Martinez.
Injuries didn't only affect running backs, as stud wideouts like Anquan Boldin, Marvin Harrison, Andre Johnson, Santana Moss and Javon Walker were all inactive. Santonio Holmes hurt a hamstring in pregame warmups and didn't play against Seattle, and Deion Branch spained his foot against the Steelers and will be out the next two weeks. Burress, Jennings and Laveranues Coles were also dinged up, but both should be fine for Week 6.
The top tight end of the week was Benjamin Watson (23 points), who scored twice against Cleveland and has now found the end zone in four of five weeks. Antonio Gates (17 points) continued to be solid, and he's now on pace for an incredible 128 receptions on the season. Alex Smith (12 points) had three catches -- two for touchdowns -- and a pair of Chicago tight ends (Desmond Clark, 12 points; Greg Olsen, 11 points) rounded out the top five at the position. Most of the notable tight ends had decent stat lines, though Todd Heap was inactive due to an injured hamstring.
Kickers made a real impact in Week 5, none greater than Kris Brown. He posted 23 points on five field goals -- three from 50-plus yards -- and was the reason countless owners took home this week. However, Brown is only owned in 40 percent of NFL.com leagues and was active in just 33 percent. He'll be a popular name on waivers this week. Jay Feely (14 points), Nate Kaeding (12 points), Neil Rackers (12 points), Jeff Wilkins (12 points) and John Kasay (12 points) rounded out the best performances at the position. One kicker who has struggled is Jeff Reed. After a solid start to the season, Reed has scored a mere five points with no field-goal attempts in the past two weeks.
The top defensive performance of the week came in our nation's capitol, where Washington scored 33 points on five sacks, one touchdown and three points allowed. Atlanta (24 points) was also solid, as was Tennessee (24 points), San Diego (23 points), New England (21 points) and Pittsburgh (21 points). Chicago (15 points) and Baltimore (17 points) were also solid, but the latter is still ranked out of the top 10 in fantasy points among defenses. Kansas City, which is still available in more than 40 percent of NFL.com leagues, ranks fifth on the season.
NEWS & NOTES
» Santana Moss was able to run some routes during Sunday's pregame warmups, but his status for Week 6 remains uncertain as he recovers from an injured groin. With six teams on a bye this week, the return of Moss would be welcomed for most owners. Be sure to keep tabs on whether or not he practices later in the week. Antwaan Randle El, who hurt his hamstring against Detroit, expects to return this week but could be limited in practice. He posted seven catches and 100 yards in a win over the Lions.
» Falcons head coach Bobby Petrino announced Monday that Joey Harrington will remain his starting quarterback. After two solid weeks, Harrington fell apart against Tennessee with 87 yards, no touchdowns and interceptions. He was pulled late in favor of Byron Leftwich, who also did little between the white lines. It appears the Harrington honeymoon is over for fantasy owners, and he'll be on a short leash the rest of the season. Unless you're desperate, reserve him in Week 6 against the N.Y. Giants.
» Jake Delhomme will be forced to miss the rest of the season with an injured elbow that now requires a surgical procedure to correct. That's extremely bad news for Steve Smith. In just over nine quarters this season without Delhomme, Smith has recorded 10 catches for 89 yards and one touchdown. In just over 10 quarters with Delhomme, he had a far more impressive 15 catches for 271 yards and four touchdowns. Fantasy owners might want attempt to deal Smith now while his value is still high.
» Frank Gore rushed for a mere 52 yards against Baltimore, and he has now failed to score a touchdown in three consecutive weeks. He is also on pace to finish the season with less than 1,000 rushing yards, which would be a serous fall from the 1,695 yards he had in 2006. Whether it's the loss to former offensive coordinator Norv Turner, the presence of an extra player in the box because of a poor pass defense or a combination of both, Gore has not been what fantasy owners had hoped for after five weeks.