Week 5 of the NFL regular season had the-dog-found-the-chili disaster written all over it.
Things were bad enough in Week 4, when Tony Romo made like Santa Claus and passed out gifts to all the Bears in Whoville, which turned a potential game-changing victory into a soul-crushing defeat that had friend and Bee co-worker Jim Silva concerned that I could go “Hey, Kool-Aid!” through the walls at any second.
Now, I was facing the prospect of having to pick up the pieces with half my starting lineup — Romo, Darren McFadden, Miles Austin and Sebastian Janikowski — sitting this dance out.
A starting eight featuring desperation grabs Christian Ponder at quarterback, DeAngelo Williams at running back and Randall Cobb at wide receiver inspired little confidence in me and no fear in my opponent Eddie, our league’s 2012 Mike Trout Derby baseball champion and the smartest, prettiest, luckiest man in fantasy sports history. When Williams kicked off “Black Sunday” by rushing six times for a Tylenol-grab six yards, I figured I would be lucky to break 400 points (I had been averaging just over 1,000 per week) and that falling to 1-4 on the season was my fate.
But a funny thing happened on the way to the back of the bus: Ponder started throwing touchdown passes. Aaron Rodgers started throwing to Cobb. Michael Turner began to take over the fourth quarter. And Marques Colston made the clouds disappear.
Colston’s nine-catch, 131-yard, three-TD pointpalooza against the Chargers last Sunday night paved the way to a season-high 1,242 points and my second victory in three weeks. Unfortunately, Colston and the Saints are off this week, which means the wholly unreliable Romo and McFadden must come through with big games today for me to maintain momentum and stay above water.
Not helping matters is that Romo and the Cowboys will be in Baltimore, while McFadden and the Raiders face the 5-0 Falcons in Atlanta — not exactly desirable matchups by any stretch of even the most vivid imagination.
I’m not overly worried about McFadden, who should be able to break a long one or two against a Falcons defense that ranks 27th in the NFL against the run. And even if the Raiders again struggle to move the ball on the ground, they should be able to keep McFadden busy by incorporating him in the passing game the way they did against the Chargers in Week 1. The best-case scenario is that the Raiders accidentally turn this into a game and are able to subject the Falcons to heavy doses of DMC throughout.
Romo, as usual, is my wild card. Riding the Romocoaster can be hazardous to one’s health, but it can also pay huge fantasy dividends if you have the intestinal fortitude.
When least expected, Romo can deliver a 300-yard, three-TD game against any defense, including one as good as the Ravens, which is what I’m counting on this week. With nearly two weeks to sit and stew over his second-half meltdown against Chicago, nobody is more eager to take the field today than the shaky sheriff in Big D.
I added, and played, Cobb last week because Pro Bowl Packers wideout Greg Jennings was out and I was beaten to the punch on Green Bay teammate James Jones. With Colston off, I’m again rolling with Cobb, who caught 4 passes for 82 yards and a TD last week.
As long as Jennings is out, both Cobb and Jones are strong plays based on the fact that Green Bay has no running game and Aaron Rodgers could be putting the ball up 50-plus times per game from here on out. My Week 6 lineup — QB: Tony “Last Chance Saloon” Romo (at Ravens); RB: Michael Turner (Raiders) and Darren McFadden (at Falcons); WR: Miles Austin (at Ravens) and Randall Cobb (at Texans); TE: Fred Davis (Vikings); D/ST: Texans (Packers); K: Justin Tucker (Cowboys).
Bee fantasy sports columnist can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 578-2300.