Fantasy: Matchups to avoid or exploit in Week 5

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Justin Boone, TSN.ca
10/3/2012 4:08:35 PM
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As you prepare to set your lineup each week, TSN.ca's NFL Editor Justin Boone breaks down some of the less obvious matchups you should capitalize on and those you should steer clear of for the weekend games.

For specific lineup decisions, consult the Weekly Fantasy Player Rankings.

QUARTERBACKS

Exploit

Philip Rivers (at Saints) - Rivers didn't need to air it out in last week's win over the Chiefs and yet he still delivered a decent fantasy day with over 200 yards and two touchdowns. Now, the Chargers travel to face a Saints defence that is in the bottom 10 in both passing yards and touchdowns allowed. With Jared Gaither playing his second straight game at left tackle, Rivers will get his first 300-yard game of the season as he tries to outduel Drew Brees.

Christian Ponder (vs. Titans) - It's tough to put your fantasy faith in a quarterback who only threw for 111 yards last week, but that's what I'm encouraging you to do. Ponder's low yardage total came as a result of a very conservative gameplan by the Vikings. Minnesota was scoring points with their special teams and therefore leaned on Adrian Peterson and the run game to eat the clock and keep the Lions offence off the field. This week against Tennessee, Ponder will find Jerome Simpson deep for at least once for a score, while continuing to work the underneath routes with Percy Harvin and Kyle Rudolph. He may not eclipse the 300-yard mark, but two scores and 200-plus yards will make him a nice QB1 this week.

Avoid

Cam Newton (vs. Seahawks) - Newton is the kind of quarterback that if you drafted him (likely in the first or second round) it's pretty difficult not to start him. However, this week against the Seahawks he could be in for his toughest challenge of the year. Seattle has held their opponent's to 275.8 total yards per game, letting them reach the end zone just five times through four games. The Seahawks control the line of scrimmage and are able to get all kinds of pressure with pass rushers Bruce Irvin and Chris Clemons. Newton won't have room to run this week and he will be challenged all day by rushers on the edge and tough cover corners.

Ryan Fitzpatrick (at 49ers) - Looking for the man who leads the NFL in passing touchdowns after four weeks? Here's a hint - he plays in Buffalo. Fitzpatrick has taken advantage of matchups with the Browns and Chiefs, as well as garbage time against the Jets and Patriots to put up 12 touchdowns already this year. The passing party will come to an end when the Bills head to the West coast to battle the 49ers. San Francisco's defence is one of the most punishing units in the league and they won't allow Fitzpatrick to have another multiple-score afternoon.

RUNNING BACKS

Exploit

Alfred Morris (vs. Falcons) - It's finally time to admit it: We live in a world where Mike Shanahan has stuck with one lead running back through four games. Not only that, but Morris has been excellent in those contests. Morris may not be the most physically gifted back, but he breaks tackles and powers his way forward for 60 minutes. Morris showed that he is matchup proof, when he bruised the Buccaneers' defence en route to 113 yards and a touchdown. The Falcons will present another test -- especially if Atlanta can get out in front early -- but Morris is one of the breakout stars early in this fantasy season.

Cedric Benson (at Colts) - Benson has yet to register a 100-yard game in 2012, but that will change in Week 5 against the Colts. Benson has dominated carries for the Packers and averaged 4.7 yards per carry last week against the Saints. While Benson may not be an explosive runner, he hits the hole with power and will rack up yards against the Colts' undersized defenders. Hopefully Indy let their players rest during the bye week, because Benson will wear them down over four quarters.

Avoid

Chris Johnson (at Vikings) - Poor Chris Johnson owners. After watching their first round pick struggle through the first three weeks of the season, they likely sat him against the Texans' elite defence. So what did Johnson do in Week 4? He rattled off 157 yards on 27 touches. The only logical next step would be to put Johnson back in your lineup against the Vikings, but let me urge you not to do that. Many of the yards Johnson compiled last week came against soft fronts, as the Texans dared the Titans to beat them with the short game. The move worked out perfectly for Houston and gave false hope to Johnson owners. Keep him on the bench this week.

Michael Turner (at Redskins) - Word of Turner's demise came a little prematurely in the off-season as many people, including myself, had him on the verge of losing his job to Jacquizz Rodgers. So far, Turner has been fantastic for fantasy teams. The only bad news is that he's done most of his work against weaker run defences and the Falcons have held leads in games, which has allowed him to pound other teams into submission. If you didn't sell Turner this week after he torched the Panthers, then you may have missed moving him at his peak value. The Redskins have a sub-par secondary, but their run defence is strong (10th). I think Turner will be kept out of the end zone and in check in Washington.

WIDE RECEIVERS

Exploit

Dwayne Bowe (vs. Ravens) - The Ravens' defence has uncharacteristically given up 295 passing yards per game this season. Bowe should see plenty of Ravens top cover man Lardarius Webb, but Bowe has been a garbage time all-star this year and that is likely to continue in this one. Bowe should top 100-yards for the third time on the season and visit the end zone for the fourth time this year.

Domenik Hixon (vs. Browns) - Hixon filled in admirably for the injured Hakeem Nicks as he caught six passes for 114 yards last week. There is a strong chance Nicks sits out again, leaving Hixon in the Giants' starting lineup versus the Browns. Cleveland's secondary was unable to stop the Ravens from connecting with their receivers last Thursday. Even 10 days rest won't help the Browns stop Eli Manning and Hixon will thrive for a second straight week.

Avoid

Anquan Boldin (at Chiefs) - Boldin had his best game of the season in Week 4, catching nine balls for 131 yards. That may prove to be his best game of the entire year thanks to the generous Browns' secondary. Boldin will go back to being a respectable veteran compliment to Torrey Smith, but don't expect a double digit fantasy day at Arrowhead.

Justin Blackmon (vs. Bears) - The rookie wideout made his first real impact, hauling in six passes for 48 yards against the Colts in Week 3. Good things are ahead for Blackmon, who will be more relevant in fantasy leagues once the Jaguars begin getting solid play under centre. Unfortunately for Blackmon, that won't happen this week as the Bears defence will torment Blaine Gabbert and prevent any significant gains downfield.

TIGHT ENDS

Exploit

Dennis Pitta (at Chiefs) - Held without a catch last week, Pitta drew the ire of his fantasy owners. Pitta actually could have saved the day with a touchdown, but fell down on the play. Pitta's poor outing was a result of the Ravens' receivers getting open early and often, something that won't continue on a weekly basis. Even with his off week, Pitta is still tied for third in targets among tight ends. Look for Flacco to find his tight end in the end zone this week.

Greg Olsen (vs. Seahawks) - Quietly Olsen has delivered on the pre-season hype. With Jeremy Shockey no longer in Carolina, Olsen has seen an uptick in targets and has become the Panthers' second option in the receiving game. In the past two weeks, Olsen has 13 receptions for 187 yards and a touchdown. In a tough battle with the Seahawks, Newton will be forced to look for his tight end.

Avoid

Owen Daniels (at Jets) - Daniels has found the end zone twice in the last two weeks and is rewarding owners with dependable production. The Jets aren't particularly great at stopping tight ends, but the Texans won't need to turn to the passing game in this Monday Night Football matchup. Expect Houston to unleash Arian Foster and Ben Tate on the Jets and run themselves right to the victory.

Brent Celek (at Steelers) - Celek has the ability to put up big fantasy weeks, but that hasn't been the case through the early weeks of the season. Celek has one strong game against the Ravens, but outside of that he has been marginal at best. With the Steelers' defence getting healthy (Troy Polamalu and James Harrison are likely returning), Celek will be in tough once again.

Dwayne Bowe (Photo: Peter G. Aiken/Getty Images)

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(Photo: Peter G. Aiken/Getty Images)
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