Week 5: Sleepers
San Francisco humbled Bradford last week in front of a national audience. Leading up to that game, the media was touting the Rams and that attention died down after the loss. Let's not be so quick to judge. Bradford faces a much easier opponent when St. Louis hosts the Jacksonville Jaguars. It isn't just the Jags' offense holding them back either. They are ranked near the bottom of the league in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks per game (25.0). Only the still blossoming Terrelle Pryor has failed to post good numbers against Jacksonville. Three other quarterbacks passed for at least two TDs and added 200 yards in the air. Bradford should get his offense back on track on Sunday. One key to the puzzle is the Rams' struggling run game. Establishing Benny Cunningham, Isaiah Pead or Daryl Richardson on first and second down allows for easier third-down conversions. Bradford can't do it on his own and his time is running short in St. Louis if the team is unable to change direction towards the top of the NFC West.
Buffalo's run defense has been below average. They've been lucky though to not yet allow a running back to score a touchdown. This in spite of allowing 149 rush yards to Bilal Powell, 85 yards to DeAngelo Williams and 101 yards to Shane Vereen. Some good players; yet nobody that special. McGahee isn't going to burn any defenders for 60-yard gallops any time soon. It's perfectly reasonable to expect the former Miami Hurricanes back to rush for about 90 yards and a score. He's now had ample time to shake the dust loose and adapt to the pro game after so much time off. The Browns weren't really able to give Trent Richardson enough running room, so fantasy owners must hope McGahee receives some goal-line attention.
Philip Rivers' 8.44 yards per attempt average ranks him fifth in the NFL. In case you're keeping score at home, Rivers hasn't seen such a high YPA since 2010 and that was when the former N.C. State QB was still a somebody in fantasy and in the league. As Rivers go, so will Woodhead, whose 22 receptions rank second-best among running backs. That's just one catch behind fantasy studs like Jamaal Charles, Matt Forte and Darren Sproles. The difference between those guys is simply a matter of volume of touches and potential to score touchdowns. The bread and butter for Woodhead is his contributions as a PPR back. Through four games, he only has 19 carries for 90 yards. The slow but steady production from Ryan Mathews limits Woodhead's scoring potential since it's highly unlikely he scores in any given week. Consider Woodhead a decent flex with most of his value limited to PPR formats.
The Ravens are sputtering on offense, whether it is their dual backfield highlighted by Bernard Pierce or Ray Rice or their wildly inconsistent receiver play. Losing Anquan Boldin before the season began undoubtedly changed the dynamic, and Torrey Smith has not yet lived up to early expectations. Brown has been unable to make the most of his starting oppuntunities either. He did collect four catches in his last game for 65 yards and a score. The impending return of WR Jacoby Jones could regulate Brown back into the murky depths of the waiver wire. Jones is a deep threat only, while Brown can be counted on to run more of the route tree. The former Georgia rookie is listed as questionable for Week 5, but remains on schedule to play.
Having Pryor back under center should provide Moore a healthy number of targets and receptions. The former Tennessee receiver leads the team in targets, receptions, yards and receiving touchdowns. That may not be saying much, but the opportunity to play against a very bad San Diego pass defense is wonderful. Guys like Nate Washington, Dez Bryant, Andre Johnson and DeSean Jackson have already taken the Chargers' defense to task. The foursome has combined for 35 receptions 551 yards and three TDs. Starting Moore here is all about the matchup, and not much about his talent or the offense surrounding him. Stacking Moore and Pryor (starting both) is a bit high risk for my tastes. That strategy might be left to use on daily fantasy sites, not for your home leagues.