Week Five: Players to Avoid

Joe Flacco, Ravens, $11,100 – The Browns defense once again was roasted by an opposing quarterback (QB) and allowed Philip Rivers to accumulate the highest fantasy total at the position in week four. In week three, David Carr threw for 314 yards and two TD against the Browns, so it’s pretty clear this defense is one to be targeted when considering opposing QBs. So why not Joe Flacco? There are a couple issues I have with this matchup, beginning with the fact that Steve Smith Sr. will not play. Looking at the Ravens depth chart, this leaves Kamar Aiken and Marlon Brown to be relied upon to catch a majority of the passes. Joe Haden was listed as probable heading into last week, yet didn’t end up playing. This is leading to a NFL investigation into the incident, but nevertheless, Haden likely ends up active in week five. Even if he doesn’t, top tight end (TE) Crockett Gillmore is probably less than 50/50 to play this week as well, so Flacco’s options are severely limited. Cleveland has also allowed the second-most rushing yards of any team and Baltimore has been attempting to establish Justin Forsett for weeks now to no avail. I think this is the game he gets going, which should limit the amount of times the team is forced to call passing plays to their second-string pass-catchers. In the $11,000 range, there are better options such as Jay Cutler, Alex Smith and Blake Bortles. Do not be fooled by the great matchup alone, because the rest of Flacco’s equation does not add up to a potential monster performance.

Jeremy Hill, Bengals, $11,500 – Just when Jeremy Hill was being left for dead following back-to-back horrific performances, he found the end zone not once, not twice, but three times on Sunday. This performance will likely encourage people to hop back on his bandwagon in week five, but let me be the one to hold up the caution flag. Despite the 24 fantasy points in week four, Hill only received nine total touches, all of which were of the carry variety. He has now caught only one pass in four games, which vastly limits his upside in the PPR format. This week, the Bengals will face a Seahawks defense that has allowed less than 50 yards to opposing backs twice in four games. They allowed 85 yards to Bears’ backs as a whole in week three and 104 yards to the Packers, plus they have yet to allow a rushing TD. If Hill is going to see a limited amount of touches, be held to less yards than usual and not find the end zone, then he should prove to be borderline useless. If spending in the $11,500 price range for a back, make sure it’s Mark Ingram instead.

Calvin Johnson, Lions, $14,400 – Calvin Johnson and Patrick Peterson had a memorable battle last season (at least to me) in the only Lions/Cardinals meeting. Matthew Stafford targeted Johnson 12 times and he had to duel for each one of them. When the smoke cleared, “Megatron” had hauled in only five of those targets for 59 yards (11.8 yards per catch, which was his fourth-lowest output of the year). At this point, Johnson is a year older and has yet to have a true Megatron-esque monster game through four weeks. If we truly are witnessing a slight decline, then he should assuredly have another tough time getting open against Peterson. Furthermore, the Cardinals have allowed the eighth-lowest fantasy-point output to the RB position this season and only one rushing TD. The Lions have not rushed for more than 69 yards in four games, so it’s unlikely they get the run game going in this one either. If the Cardinals are not worried about the run game, they can focus in on defending Johnson. For that reason, it would seem Golden Tate is the best play among Lions receivers and Johnson is worth fading.

Amari Cooper, Raiders, $12,900 – In a juicy matchup against the Bears’ weak secondary, Amari Cooper turned in a third-straight productive performance, despite a season low in catches (four). Here are how the four teams he has faced rank in terms of fantasy points allowed to the WR position: 18th, 31st, 22nd and 25th. Rather than squaring off against another beatable secondary, the Raiders will face the number-one ranked Denver Broncos in week five (meaning they have allowed the least amount of fantasy points). It’s time to see what he’s really made of when not playing one of the cupcake teams. He’ll face a matchup against either one of Denver’s two excellent corners: Chris Harris Jr. or Aqib Talib. My guess is Harris Jr. will shadow him, and that’s a scary proposition considering Harris is probably one of the game’s best three cover corners (if not number one). This feels like a game to watch from the sidelines instead of rostering Cooper and sweating it out. Don’t get me wrong; I think Cooper is absolutely legit as a receiver, but there’s a learning curve to the NFL. There are going to be bumps along the way and this game should be approached like one of the yellow road signs displaying the word “BUMP.”

Josh Hill, Saints, $6,300 – I’ll admit at this price it’s tough to go wrong, but I’m not falling into the trap just because he scored last week. Two catches and 11 yards in week four marked his season high in both categories. Drew Breesshoulder is still hurting, therefore he’ll look for the short routes in the interim as he gains back strength. That thought process does signify Josh Hill could see some extra targets, but there just isn’t any upside here. If ten yards and a TD is as good as it gets, then you won’t be winning any GPPs with Hill as your TE… especially on the road (where Brees’ career splits are much worse) and against an Eagles defense that has been stout against the TE since the beginning of last season. Despite the bargain price, I wouldn’t even consider Hill in a game that should actually prove to be high-scoring. Going with the skill position players at other positions if looking to roster a Saint.

Ricky Sanders

Ricky Sanders

Ricky Sanders is a fantasy sports expert with over 15 years of playing experience. After starting several freelance fantasy sports blogs, Ricky moved up in the fantasy industry when he joined Going9 Baseball. He wrote fantasy baseball content and had a weekly radio spot on the site’s SiriusXM Satellite Radio show. Shortly thereafter, in early 2013, Ricky joined RotoExperts as a three-sport fantasy contributor, eventually becoming one of the site’s lead basketball writers. While writing for RotoExperts, Ricky was introduced to daily fantasy sports and immediately fell in love. With help from some of his mentors, some of the best DFS players in the world, he honed his skills and became the daily fantasy expert he is today. When RotoExperts created a daily-focused website called DailyRoto.com, Ricky was brought on as one of the main contributors. He still makes frequent appearances on the RotoExperts SiriusXM Radio show and on the FNTSY Sports Television Network, talking daily fantasy sports. He also continues to write for a few DFS content sites: RotoCurve and The Fantasy Fix. Ricky is a proud and active member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association. He has agreed to be a writer and representative for the FantasyDraft brand and serves as an ambassador to the site. He has no more access to the site than the typical user. Don’t hesitate to contact Ricky with questions on Twitter @RSandersDFS.

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