Week Five Preview

Okay. Well.

It feels a little different to start this weekly preview of Week Five’s action from the standpoint of a winner. I’m not trying to fix major weaknesses in my lineup – I actually am pretty damn proud of my lineup, especially as it stacks up this weekend. (You’ll see just how proud I have reason to be in a minute.) Now, the fact that I have nine top performers in my arsenal as a mighty fine base starting lineup is no reason to get lazy. Matchups are a huge part of this game, and if one of my core guys is facing a rough team (or a bye week), then I’ll have some work to do to compensate. I’ve done some of that this week too. But for the main guys, my main position players, I’m pretty well set up at this point to continue to dominate.

So let’s take a look at my odds of getting not my first win, but my first win streak.

w5-lines-shot

Not bad, eh? I’m projected to end this week as I did the last, with the highest score in my league. Of course, everything is unpredictable, so who knows if that ends up panning out. It would be nice, but it’s not necessary. What I have to do is beat Mr. Smile$ Julio. And the 16 point spread makes it seem like that’s very possible, to say the least.

So let’s look closer.

w5-preview-shot

Well, that seems fairly one-sided.

You’ll notice that Frank Gore remains on my team, and Odell Beckham Jr. hasn’t joined it. Yes, that trade possibility fell through. I offered him Gore, and I offered him the Barnidge/Taylor combo, and I got rejected. Fair enough. It will be interesting to monitor what might have been in the weeks to come, but if the price to get Beckham was Ezekiel Elliott, then I’m much better off without the trade.

You’ll also notice that the defense and kicker positions on my team have changed. Those were matchup decisions, at least for now. Just because I have strong RBs and, at last, a QB and WRs who should also come out strong, doesn’t mean I can neglect upgrading any position I can to get every last point I can. The Texans face Minnesota this week, and Minnesota is for real. That offense can go. I saw how the Texans fell apart against New England. And, they don’t have Watt anymore. I still believe they can be a top-tier defense most weeks, but for this week, I took the opportunity to show my hometown Rams some love. This isn’t just a bias play, either. The Rams defense has been doing excellent work since that first disastrous game, and they have the Bills at home this week. The Bills have also been better in the last two weeks, so this could go either way, really. But I’m letting it ride on the blue and gold. (So don’t let me down, guys!)

I also changed out my kicker for the week, from Chandler Catanzaro to Mason Crosby. Crosby kicks for Green Bay, who should score wildly against the Giants. I don’t know what to expect from Catanzaro, or from Arizona – you’d think San Francisco would be a soft matchup, but the Cardinals have wiffed on two seemingly soft matchups in a row now (Buffalo and LA, coincidentally), so who the heck knows anything. I trust Crosby more. That may be a change that will stick, but I’m not committing either way just yet. Crosby goes for this week, but Catanzaro is still on my bench. Next week I can decide if I want to keep him there, or if Crosby was a good move at all.

I did have to cut two players for this move, and those players were Kirk Cousins (who I was only streaming for last week anyway, I don’t need him in the future) and Virgil Green (who I wanted to see develop into usability, but his injuries weren’t letting that happen, and in the meantime I covered my TE worries elsewhere). Goodbye and good luck to you, fellas.

Now, just because I’m ranking favorably against Smile$ Julio doesn’t mean I’m out of the woods. This is a strong team. Roethlisberger has been a fantasy monster, averaging over 20 points a game this season even with one outlier performance, 6 points against Philly, on his resume. He should chew up the Jets and spit them out. Likely, he’ll overperform his projected points in that category. Likely, I will too, so hopefully it all evens out.

His RBs are pretty good too, but not without risk for him. Gurley should be a fantasy standout, but he has yet to perform like one. Maybe this is the weekend he shakes it off – as a Rams fan, I certainly hope so – but maybe not. And Carlos Hyde is at RB10 in my league-wide metric, although on a short week against Arizona (who can play excellent defense if they ever shape up their act and put a whole game together), who knows what he’ll really do. That game is tonight, and I’ll be watching.

His WRs are another interesting set. Mike Evans is great, but has to face Carolina this weekend. Carolina got embarrassed by Julio Jones receiving 300 yards against them last week – will they continue to be weak or will they step up and stop Evans? It probably helps them, and hurts Evans, that Tampa Bay has fewer weapons and a weaker QB than Atlanta does. So I don’t see Evans going off here. Same for Travis Benjamin. He should be very good, but if he couldn’t perform last week against New Orleans, what makes anyone think he’s going to break out against Oakland? He could, don’t get me wrong. He has the talent. But will he really? Then there’s Jarvis Landry, who Mr. Julio has at the flex. He’s a good WR facing a weak Tennessee defense. He doesn’t have the world’s most amazing QB, but Tannehill’s a capable guy – he certainly came through for me before. So Landry could, in fact, get loose for more than he’s projected to. And I also have to worry now about Edelman, who missed some of practice today with a foot injury. I think it’s likely he plays, but if he doesn’t, I’d have to put in Randall Cobb, who is much less likely to score big.

Smile$ Julio also has the Jets defense, who can’t do anything against Pittsburg. I would not be surprised by a negative score there. And he has Dan Bailey, who is a very good kicker but who has been missing his long field goals of late. If that continues, his scoring could be limited.

Overall, I do think I’m well set up to dominate. On my team, only Elliott faces a defense that scares me at all, so he probably won’t get 20+ again, but he should have a TD and a productive day. And Brady’s back. He faces the weakest defense in the league and has the most incentive to perform like a boss. I expect him to do just that.

And now I’m worried that I’m overconfident, that I’m riding for a fall. But can you blame me, with points projections like I have, with the team I have?

Hopefully, the next time we chat, I’m the proud owner of a two-game winning streak.

Either that, or the story of the meltdown will be epic.

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