Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
Sometimes it pays to play against the right defense, a weaker defense, even if it means starting a less talented player. It's called "managing" and this week was full of examples where managing your team instead of letting it manage itself, paid huge dividends.
Let's look at a couple of examples.
The worst passing defense in the league, from a yardage standpoint, heading into Week 5 was the Houston Texans. If you were paying attention to that statistic, and started Eli Manning, you were rewarded with a very nice effort - 19 fantasy points. Of course, you would have had to have faith in the theory, because Manning had just come off a horrible effort against the Bears. Manning abused the Texans' defense for 297 yards and three touchdowns.
You would have to "really" believed in the theory to start Buffalo quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, but if you did, the Bills signalcaller threw for 220 yards and three touchdowns without an interception (20 points). He was going up against the 30th-ranked pass defense - Jacksonville.
More likely, many fantasy owners started Detroit quarterback Shaun Hill because they were playing the suspect St. Louis Rams and those who did are smiling right now. Hill posted 21 fantasy points (21-for-32 for 227 yards, 3 TDs, no interceptions) to lead all quarterbacks in the early games.
That's pretty good considering Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers and the league's leading yardage passer, Kyle Orton, all had one o'clock starts.
That was all before Philip Rivers took the field against the third-ranked Raiders' passing defense. Rivers was superb, throwing for 290 yards in the first half, and 431 for the game. His two-touchdown, no-interception performance was worth 22 fantasy points, but no a victory as he fumbled late in the contest.
And Tony Romo was a fantasy star as well, throwing for 406 yards and three scores (22 points), but his Cowboys still lost 34-27 when he tossed his third interception to stop a final game-tying drive.
However, overall it was a pedestrian day for most fantasy quarterbacks.
It was a better performance by the running backs, with nine cracking the 100- yard mark led by Matt Forte's 166 rushing yards.
Forte got the week going, scoring two early touchdowns, one on a 68-yard burst in the first quarter of Chicago's game with Carolina. The fourth-round selection (RapidDraft ADP 36.6) matched his Week 1 effort of 30 fantasy points by rushing for 166 yards and two scores and catching a couple of balls for 22 yards.
Those numbers put Forte slightly ahead of Ray Rice, who combined for 159 yards from scrimmage with two touchdown runs. After four disappointing weeks, the top-five fantasy draft choice (ADP 4.12) finally woke up with 27 points.
While Forte was the rushing star, Hakeem Nicks continued to display an incredible knack for the endzone. Nicks scored twice in the first half, his fifth and sixth of the season, and finished the day with 25 fantasy points after posting career highs in receptions (12) and yards (130).
Around four o'clock, Brandon Lloyd caught a long touchdown pass during "garbage time," his second of the day, and matched Nicks' fantasy total of 25 points (5-135-2).
Then it was Malcom Floyd's turn to shine and did he ever. Floyd caught eight balls for 213 yards and a touchdown for 27 fantasy points to edge Nicks and Lloyd for the day's best receiver.
Of course, there is still the Sunday night game and the Monday night contest in which Randy Moss will don the Vikings uniform once again and we all know he has the flair for the dramatic.