Week 5: Pickups of the Week
Injuries happen, so do benchings. We're glad they do - well, unless it's your guy getting the demotion or red cross next to his name - because otherwise what would we discuss in this space each week? So, thanks Darren McFadden, Brandon Weeden, Montee Ball and others who opened the door for their teammates to receive some play. Anyway, owners are always on the lookout for the next helpful option (whether for the long haul or as a quick fix), so let's not dawdle any further. Therefore, we present our Week 5 Pickups suggestions...
(Players in italics profiled below)
Should be owned in all formats: Danny Woodhead, Alshon Jeffery, Justin Blackmon (coming off suspension this week), Alex Smith, Coby Fleener
Notes: Danny Woodhead has been consistently ranked among the top-40 RBs and is owned in 75 percent of MyFantasyLeague.com leagues. If there is any confusion, he's the number one pickup of the week.
1) Brian Hoyer
2) Ryan Tannehill
3) Terrelle Pryor
4) Ryan Fitzpatrick
Notes: Initially I had these as pure Week 5 rankings, but Brian Hoyer has closed the gap considerably with the more talented Ryan Tannehill thanks to the playmaking Jordan Cameron and Josh Gordon. ...Ryan Fitzpatrick is all kinds of streaky. The good news is there are receiving weapons at his disposal. Trusting him in your fantasy lineup is not that easy.
1) Rashard Jennings
2) Roy Helu Jr.
3) Jacquizz Rodgers
4) Jason Snelling
5) Benny Cunningham*
6) Ronnie Hillman
7) Johnathan Franklin
8) Andre Ellington
9) Kendall Hunter
Others: Isaiah Pead, Brandon Bolden (PPR), LeGarrette Blount, Tashard Choice, Chris Ogbonnaya, Mike Goodson
Notes: Roy Helu's mention comes with a bye, but also with Alfred Morris dealing with a rib injury. Helu's Week 4 performance in relief showed he's been worth holding onto all this time. ...I agree with Ian Ritchie: As much as I prefer Jason Snelling to Jacquizz Rodgers, snaps are snaps. Over the last two weeks,Quizz is getting more. ...Eddie Lacy is back in Green Bay's lineup, but James Starks (knee) missed practice on Monday. Indications are he won't be ready this week. Frankly, it shouldn't matter after what Johnathan Franklin showed in his Week 3 relief performance (horrible fumble aside). Whether he picks up enough snaps to be Flex worthy is uncertain, but he is a worthy stash-and-see option, especially for Lacy owners. Rashard Mendenhall, eh, not showing much so far. The spry Andre Ellington is in line for more work as time goes on...Seeing as the Rams' RB situation is a mess, owners should start looking closer at Benny Cunningham, who scored on a two-point conversion last week and caught a 17-yard pass. The fact that St. Louis deactivated Isaiah Pead provides an opening...Tashard Choice would be higher on this list - at least into the Ellington range - if we knew the status of C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson this week. He's a handcuff option for owners with the other two backs heading into Thursday's game. ...Mike Goodson returns from a four-game suspension. In time he could be involved with the Jets' RB situation, perhaps significantly depending on what happense elsewhere. What's happening now is Bilal Powell racking up yards.
*Wednesday update: Daryl Richardson said on Twitter that he's not the Rams starting RB in Week 5. Alas, he did not say who would take his place if the Rams are going with a pure RBBC. Isaiah Peadwent from sleeper to inactive last week. Rookie Benny Cunningham took Pead's spot as Richardson's backup. My best guess is he's the one receiving the depth chart bump. The bummer is St. Louis has a GREAT matchup this week against the Jaguars. Any of three backs would be a viable Flex option if not a low-end RB2 option - as a starter. If roster space allows, grab Cunningham (with Pead as the backup plan) and hope we receive clarification before Sunday. As a long-term play, Cunningham falls in the mix with Hillman, Franklin, Ellington and Hunter but with less upside due to the Rams overlal running issues.
**Originally had Da'Rel Scott at the back end of this list until the Giants waived him Tuesday afternoon. We'll see if the Giants bring in new bodies. At least David Wilson looked better-ish in Week 4 and has a stellar matchup against the Eagles.
1) Nate Washington
2) Robert Woods
3) Kendall Wright
4) Marlon Brown
5) Terrence Williams
Others: Keenan Allen, Rueben Randle, Jeremy Kerley, Doug Baldwin, Austin Pettis, Dexter McCluster, Leonard Hankerson, Markus Wheaton, Justin Hunter
Notes: The issue with Nate Washington or Kendall Wright has never been about talent, but the QB play in Tennessee. Just when Jake Locker starting figuring it out, he goes down with a possibly lengthy hip injury. Now both are reliant on the streaky Ryan Fitzpatrick. For now, ride the wave with Washington overall and Wright in PPR. ...Some good news involving USC this week involves former star Robert Woods hauling in two touchdowns last week. Per PFF.com's Mike Clay, Woods played more snaps than Stevie Johnson for a second straight week. Considering both he and quarterback E.J. Manuel are rookies, Woods is not a weekly starter, but he's certainly moved into WR3 discussion. ...Nice game for Terrence Williams with a team-high seven receptions for 71 yards while stepping in for Miles Austin, who is questionable for Week 5. If Austin sits, Williams is WR3 against Denver in a game Dallas likely finishes in catch up mode.
1) Coby Fleener
2) Brandon Pettigrew
3) Garrett Graham
4) Jordan Reed
Others: Dallas Clark, Sean McGrath
Notes: Glad the preseason love we handed out to Coby Fleener is finally paying off, even if it took an injury to Dwayne Allen to get there. The chemistry with his former Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck is obvious. ...Jordan Reed is on a bye, but he's the Redskins starter when Washington returns in Week 6 against Dallas.
Others: Browns, Eagles, BillsMyFantasyLeague availability: 64%
Part of my weekly "Sizzlers and Fizzlers" submission to USA Today this week (link to come) focused on the Browns QB, including this portion: "There were reasons to dismiss Hoyer's productive first start, including the Vikings' suspect defense, minimal game film for opponents to chew over and having crazy low expectations in the first place. Well, none of those excuses existed in Cleveland's Week 4 tilt against a stingy Bengals defense, even one missing key defensive backs. Hoyer passed for 268 yards with two touchdown and no interceptions after throwing three against the Vikings. More importantly, he led the Browns to a win, meaning Brandon Weeden remains on the bench whether healed or not. Plenty of opportunity for more hookups with Jordan Cameron and Josh Gordon will come the next two weeks against the Bills and Lions." Ponder the Cameron and Gordon part when noting QB2 staple Joe Flacco has but one game-breaking weapon. Carson Palmer has playmakers, but the Cardinals passing game has yet to click. Over the last week and for very different reasons, Josh Freeman and Jake Locker went from backups to out. Tampa rookie Mike Glennon isn't be ready to take advantage of his stealthy targets and Ryan Fitzpatrick's inconsistency is well documented. In other words, Hoyer suddenly doesn't look so bad, whether sitting on benches or as a plug-and-play option.
Maybe it's because he burned me when with the Bucs or maybe because he lacks a diversified skill set fantasy owners seek, but I've been hesitant to get on board with the resurgent LeGarrette Blount angle. Actually, I still am, but I'd be wrong if I didn't mention him after he breaks off a 47-yard touchdown run against the Falcons last week. Ultimately, almost all of Blount's production came on the one run; he went for 17 yards on his other eight carries (no catches this season). He played 18 snaps, less than Stevan Ridley (25) or Brandon Bolden (18). That breakdown actually is nice for Blount - and reeks for Ridley - in that he's remaining a factor in New England's backfield. When injuries or bye weeks strike, owners must react (even if it's taking a flyer on a deep option). Only because he's playing in a potent offense does Blount have any real value, though Ridley owners could also roster him as a handcuff if space permits. There is something to be said for being involved, but he's not an advisable play in any scenario (let alone against a rugged run defense like Cincinnati offers).Injury Status: Out - Shoulder
The second-year running back's fantasy value has been nothing short of schizophrenic. Hillman wound up on many "sleeper" lists entering training camp with the thought he had a chance at landing either the starting RB job or solidifying a steady role in Denver's backfield. A disappointing preseason ended those hopes and just one carry in Week 2 sent him to the waiver wires in many formats. Two weeks later, well, we cannot say the situation is much improved, but it's ticking up. Playing ahead of the fumbling Ball, Hillman received 20 carries combined against the Raiders and Eagles, Sure, many came with the game out of hand, but over the next four weeks the Broncos face the Jaguars and Redskins. In Week 5, Denver travels to face the Cowboys, who are stingy against the run, but could be without Danny Woodhead in the passing game. Hillman is more of a Flex option than RB2, though those feeling a pinch with Adrian Peterson and Alfred Morris on byes might have no choice. Considering the way Peyton Manning's unit is racking up points, any RB is a threat to score. Considering starter Knowshon Moreno's injury history, any Denver backup is a threat eventually to be the starter. Right now, Hillman is higher on the depth chart, making him lottery ticket worthy once again.
In last week's "Strategy Session" article, I listed Oakland's Marcel Reece as my Sleeper RB of the Week due in part to Matt Flynn's expected use of check down passes. Well, I got half the equation correct, but my crystal ball didn't spit out injuries to Reece and Darren McFadden. Of course, in the case of DMac, it was just a matter of when. With the Raiders' top two backs out, Rashard Jennings took over and caught eight passes for 71 yards while rushing 15 times for 45 yards. MJD's former backup is nothing special, but with McFadden and Reece expected to miss this week's matchup against the Chargers, Jennings is looking at another 20-touch game even with Terrelle Pryor expected back under center. Though reports suggest McFadden avoided serious injury, the Raiders could choose to sit him through their Week 7 bye. Note that because the Oak-SD game time was moved to 11:30 p.m. ET (!!), non-McFadden owners could be in a tricky situation if the Raiders don't announce their starter until closer to game time. At this point, it would be stunning if it weren't Jennings.Injury Status: Out - Ankle
The Giants' offense is a mess. We know this. That's why those reading a recommendation of any player on the Giants (sans Victor Cruz) as anything more than a piñata design are rolling eyes, raising eyebrows or smirking to the nth degree. However, all we can do each week as fantasy prognosticators is look at what the schedule presents. What's presented to Eli Manning and company is the Eagles' 31st ranked pass defense. The Giants' offense line has struggled keeping Manning upright, but the Eagles are just a middle-of-the-pack pass rushing group. As for Randle, the risk is starting any team's third receiver, especially one with only six receptions for 61 yards over the last three games. The reward is facing a Philly defense allowing 339.5 yards per game and nine touchdowns overall. Last season Randle had three touchdowns grabs. Two came against the Eagles in Week 17. Whether because they trail early or take advantage of the Eagles' issues, the Giants will be throwing a lot. Randle is the rare WR3 talented enough to justify starting on fantasy teams in the same role. That hasn't been the case this season, but daring owners in deeper leagues can ponder whether they're willing to take a shot this week.