Week 6 proves interesting as several strong RBs face bye-weeks; with RB availability already limited, even in shallower leagues, due to rampant injuries across the NFL, fantasy owners face additional challenge in this week’s contests. Cincinnati (Cedric Benson), Arizona (Beanie Wells, Tim Hightower), Carolina (DeAngelo Williams, Jonathan Stewart), and Buffalo (Fred Jackson, C.J. Spiller) all take this week off. Flex positions likely will contain far more WRs than usual as RB options are scarce. (Imagine the heightened challenge fantasy owners will face managing byes and injuries when the league expands to an 18-game regular season schedule.) Accordingly, this Week’s edition of the Waiver Wire focuses on WR additions, as well as potentially sneaky RB plays.
For those forward thinkers, note that Week 7 will be a mad QB-scramble as some elite and several strong fantasy QBs face byes: Indianapolis (Peyton Manning), Houston (Matt Schaub), N.Y. Jets (Mark Sanchez), and Detroit (Shaun Hill/Matthew Stafford). Each of these teams has produced decent or better scoring at the QB position and owners in deep or two-QB start leagues likely are starting these players weekly. Consequently, owners in such competitions need to act now to position themselves advantageously moving into Week 7. With such needs in mind, we also focus upon decent two-week QB plays below.
QB: Michael Vick, Philadelphia. Ah, the saga continues. Seriously, Andy Reid is as fickle as a spoiled debutante. Kevin Kolb, no Vick, no Kolb, no Vick, now Kolb, but then Vick. Last week, Andy Reid commented that, once Vick recovers from his rib cartilage injury, the ex-Hokie, ex-con again will start for the Eagles. Fantasy owners should be reminded that, following Kolb’s concussion in Week 1, Reid uttered a similar vote of confidence on behalf of Kolb. Still, Kolb has played ineffectively, Vick excitingly. As many fantasy owners in shallow to medium leagues likely cut Vick after Week 4, opportunity abounds to “Snatch Him” off waivers and await his expected emergence as the starter once his ribs heal. Patience is required as Vick may be out another week or two, but his explosive scoring potential could be a huge asset come fantasy playoff time. Stash him now and thank me later.
QB: Matt Cassel, Kansas City. Cassel is not the second coming of Dan Marino or Dan Fouts, but he and the Chiefs face the Houston Texans (Week 6) and Jacksonville Jaguars (Week 7) in succession. Cassel has produced decent numbers thus far. A two-week stretch against defenses quite charitable versus the pass could be just the tonic for fantasy owners forced to drinking bitter bye-week spirits. Fantasy owners should focus on statistics and not the hype. For example, consider the following numbers: 433, 426, 284, 278. Those are the passing yardage totals against the Texans’ defense Peyton Manning, Donovan McNabb, Tony Romo, and Bruce Gradkowski generated, respectively. Such consistently solid to excellent numbers from as an eclectic group as the four aforementioned signal-callers suggests Cassel’s Week 6 prospects are solid. In addition, the many QB byes awaiting owners in Week 7 merit consideration of an early stash of Cassel and his then-match-up with generous Jacksonville.
QB: Josh Freeman, Tampa Bay. Now is the time for owners who have contemplated grabbing the Buccaneers second-year starter. Tampa Bay faces New Orleans (Week 6), St. Louis (Week 7), and Arizona (Week 8), a trifecta of potential fantasy value in opposing defenses. The Week 7 and Week 8 match-ups are particularly juicy for would-be Freeman owners, as so many of the league’s top fantasy QBs will have byes these weeks. Freeman has had up and down games, but he should produce over this stretch and certainly is a worthy addition to the rosters of owners anticipating QB byes.
QB: Jason Campbell, Oakland. He’s baaaaaaaaaaaaack. Maybe. Bruce Gradkowski injured his shoulder and despite trying to gut it out simply could not finish the game against San Diego. Campbell entered and performed adequately, posting 159 yards passing and a TD. Even more significantly, Oakland won. With upcoming games against San Francisco, Denver, Seattle, and Kansas City, there is ample opportunity for the starting Raiders QB to put up decent fantasy numbers, whoever that may be. Owners of course need to scour the injury and practice reports and also any comments from the Raiders coaching staff to determine whether Campbell steps back into the mix in Week 6 and beyond.
RB: Marshawn Lynch, Seattle. Likely the new starting RB for the Seahawks, Lynch’s exact role remains unclear as he was traded prior to Seattle’s Week 5 bye. Nevertheless, the former Bill projects as the starter with Justin Forsett serving a change-of-pace role. Accordingly, Lynch, who remains available in 40% of ESPN leagues, represents value, particularly in a week with so many top RBs facing byes. Seattle’s Week 6 match-up on the road against Chicago is far from stupendous; however, owners in need of a starter may have to suck up the risk. Upcoming match-ups against Arizona (Week 7) and Oakland (Week 8) may help ease the pain of a potential lackluster day in the Windy City.
WR: Danny Amendola, St. Louis. With Mark Clayton out for the year with a knee injury, Amendola appears destined to fill the WR1 spot in St. Louis. Following Clayton’s departure from Sunday’s blow-out loss versus Detroit, Amendola stepped up, hauling in 12 passes for 95 yards. Admittedly, St. Louis was playing from behind; however, this scenario likely will occur frequently for the remainder of the year. Sam Bradford has shown poise and accuracy in his rookie season and the young QB has few options beyond Amendola. Indeed, the Rams signal caller locked onto Amendola following Clayton’s injury, targeting the slot receiver an amazing 19 times Sunday. Fantasy owners in all formats should pick Amendola up immediately; he could be a strong play many weeks, especially in PPR formats. Prior to a Week 9 bye, the Rams face San Diego, Tampa Bay, and Carolina. He should produce decently over this span.
WR: Davone Bess, Miami. Bess’ luster may fade a bit as Miami was on a bye in Week 5. Loss of focus among other fantasy owners could prove fruitful, particularly in PPR leagues, as Miami and Bess face Green Bay in Week 6. Owned in less than 8% of ESPN leagues, Bess has been best on third downs, as Chad Henne consistently has targeted the shifty receiver. In four games, Bess has 22 receptions, 242 yards, and one TD. That’s only five less receptions than Brandon Marshall, who like Bess has found the end zone once. While Marshall sports almost 100 more receiving yards, the disparity is exclusively the result of Marshall’s huge Week 3 performance against the Jets, in which he tallied 166 yards receiving. This is not to say that Bess somehow is on par with Marshall; rather, Bess is receiving looks and putting up yardage worthy of fantasy WR3/4 status. With many owners needing help, particularly at the flex position, in Week 6, Bess makes an intriguing play as there is potential for Miami to be playing from behind against the explosive Packers offense. As Bess also serves as the Dolphins’ punt returner, he presents additional upside for owners in formats that count return yardage among individual player statistics.
WR: Brandon Tate, New England. Randy Moss has gone full-circle, returning to the Vikings via trade prior to Week 5. Since the Patriots had a bye last week and just traded for WR Deion Branch, fantasy owners lack clear information regarding New England’s plans moving forward. Wes Welker obviously moves up to the WR1 role; the remaining pecking order is unsettled. Tate presents deep-threat potential and may see significant increases in targets, receptions, and yardage as a result. Further, Tate has served as the Patriots’ primary kick-off returner this year and already has taken two kickoffs back for TDs in four games. For leagues that count return yardage, Tate presents additional upside. Exercise caution, however, as there is no guarantee that Tate will be the main beneficiary of Moss’ departure. New England and Tom Brady traditionally spread the ball around, and the meteoric rise of TE Aaron Hernandez suggests that he, not Tate, may be the more desirable pick-up. Owners with the roster space and the nerve might consider adding Hernandez and Tate prior to Week 6, as each is likely to see an uptick in looks and value.
WR: Mike Thomas, Jacksonville. Were it not for the force-field that invisibly yet powerfully seemingly repels Thomas from the end zone, the Jaguars speedy wideout would appear on more fantasy radar screens. Owned in a mere 6% of ESPN leagues, Jacksonville’s “other Mike” is producing decent numbers, especially over the past two weeks, during which the Jaguars have revamped their offensive attack. Confronting the early season horror that was David Garrard throwing repeated interceptions downfield while Maurice Jones-Drew got stuffed at the line, Jacksonville has morphed its attack. Now, the Jaguars are mixing in shorter throws as well as tendency-busting rushing plays out of the WR position, all of which feature Thomas. In Weeks 4 and 5, he produced 87 and 104 combined rushing and receiving yards, respectively. Indeed, other than in a poor Week 3 against Philadelphia, Thomas has caught at least four passes and added 43 receiving yards each week this season. He remains a decent albeit unspectacular play, yet this WR4/5 almost assuredly is available on waiver wires in most leagues. Upcoming games against Tennessee, Kansas City, and Dallas will provide opportunities for Thomas to continue adding sneaky fantasy value.
WR: Kenny Britt, Tennessee. As forecast in a previous Waiver Wire, Justin Gage’s injury indeed allowed Kenny Britt to emerge from Jeff Fisher’s doghouse. Britt made the most of his opportunity in Week 5, grabbing a TD to go along with 84 yards on four catches of five targets. Significantly, Britt had a second TD catch reversed by replay review. While the Titans’ offense is not among the league’s more explosive aerial attacks, Britt is a playmaker who certainly could add value to fantasy owners in need of a bye week fill-in. A Week 6 match-up against Jacksonville bodes well for Britt’s short-term value.
WR: Jabar Gaffney, Denver. Since Brandon Lloyd–previously touted in the Waiver Wire–now is owned in 86% of ESPN leagues, fantasy owners need to look elsewhere in Denver’s league-leading passing attack for fantasy value. Gaffney, a pre-season fantasy favorite among many pundits, has seen his stock drop in recent weeks. Now is the time, therefore, for owners to consider buying. Owned in a mere 20% of ESPN leagues, Gaffney likely is available in shallower and even medium-sized fantasy competitions. While he has not put up the TDs of Lloyd, Gaffney has shown consistency the last three weeks, never producing less than 51 yards or five receptions. Moreover, in that span he has had a stellar performance against Indianapolis (12 receptions, 140 yards) along with a strong showing this past week against the Ravens (9 receptions, 87 yards).
In Week 6, Denver faces the N.Y. Jets. Of course, this means some lucky wideout gets to visit “Revis Island” every down. Fantasy owners should note that Darrelle Revis generally plays left corner each down; unless New York chooses to move Revis around to shadow Lloyd, Gaffney may draw more of Revis’ attention than his roster-mate. On the other hand, drawing Antonio Cromartie, the Jets’ other corner, is no treat. Obviously, Gaffney’s Week 6 value may be diminished. Nevertheless, Denver’s passing offense appears rock solid and with subsequent games against Oakland and San Francisco, Gaffney’s fantasy value appears secure near-term.
TE: Aaron Hernandez, New England. See the above discussion about Brandon Tate. With Randy Moss moving to Minnesota, more looks will flow to other members of the Patriots passing attack. Hernandez has shown tremendous skills thus far in his rookie season; he is yet another WR in a TE body. Accordingly, fantasy owners in need should look the rookie’s way. Hernandez, for example, projects as a worthy replacement for the injured Jermichael Finley or the suddenly less impactful Visanthe Shiancoe, the Vikings’ TE who tweaked his hamstring in Week 3 and now faces diminished yardage, red zone looks, and TDs with the arrival of Moss in Minnesota.
TE: Marcedes Lewis, Jacksonville. Since the Waiver Wire has been beating the Lewis drum for weeks, it is no surprise that fantasy owners finally have taken notice. Lewis now resides on rosters in 57% of ESPN leagues. However, despite the increased interest and attention from fantasy owners, the percentage should be higher. With his two-TD performance Sunday, Lewis now has five TDs on the season. This total eclipses current-year TD performances of all but Antonio Gates and Dustin Keller at the position. Admittedly, the Jaguars wide-body does not put up consistent yardage numbers on par with a Dallas Clark, Gates, Finley, or Vernon Davis; however, he is healthy, not on a bye until Week 9, and obviously basking in David Garrard’s confidence.
TE: Tony Moeaki, Kansas City. Moeaki again led the Chiefs in receptions and receiving, though not targets, in Kansas City’s Week 5 loss to the Colts. Upcoming games against Houston, Jacksonville, Buffalo, Oakland, and Denver may prove a bonanza. With numerous byes as well as injuries to players such as Finley with which to contend, owners seeking TE help should grab Moeaki if he remains available. The Chiefs have completed their bye and, with Moeaki a fixture in Kansas City’s offense, fantasy players can pencil him in as a decent TE for the remainder of the season. Though he leads Kansas City in receptions, passing yardage, and receiving TDs, Moeaki is owned in merely 6% of ESPN leagues. Grab him.
K: Josh Brown, St. Louis. The Rams are moving the ball offensively, and even though a Week 6 match-up against the Chargers is somewhat daunting, the game is in St. Louis. In home games this year, Brown has earned at least two FG attempts per contest, converting two field goals in Week 1, three field goals in Week 3, and two field goals in Week 4. He also added a total of six XPs in these three games. Of some concern is that the two field goals Brown missed in the first quarter of the season were both inside 40 yards. Ultimately, fantasy owners should spend little time fretting over the kicker position; Brown makes a decent Week 6 play and is as likely as most other kickers available on the majority of league waiver wires to produce seven or eight points.
K: Jeff Reed, Pittsburgh. With Pittsburgh coming off a Week 5 bye, kicker Reed likely is available on waivers. Starting in Week 6, Reed’s value increases as Pittsburgh’s #1 QB, Ben Roethlisberger, returns from suspension. Accordingly, the Steelers’ offensive cohesion and consistency should improve. Owners looking for help at K should grab Reed. Since his bye is complete, many fantasy leaguers can add the Pittsburgh kicker now and ride his leg for the remainder of the season. Roster simplicity is bliss!
Team Defense: San Francisco. Playing Bay-area rival Oakland at home, the 49ers defense is one among a series of relatively poor options this week for owners desperate for a Team Defense fill-in. Assuming the top tier defenses are rostered, owners looking for a one-week play are better off picking against an opposing offense than anything else. The Raiders are decent offensively, but not overly explosive, having had two games already scoring under 17 points. The risk, of course, is that San Francisco’s defense has had some weak performances themselves, although as the season has progressed, the 49ers generally have tightened things down. With the Raiders banged up a bit, San Francisco is a worthy play for owners truly in need.
Team Defense: Jacksonville. Hopefully, most fantasy owners do not have their top team defense on a bye in Week 6, as Arizona, Carolina, Buffalo, and Cincinnati are hardly a list of the league’s elite defensive squads. Players in deep leagues may have a need, however, and if so, should consider Jacksonville. The Jaguars defense hardly inspires fantasy confidence; however, a home-game against the relatively anemic Titans could prove to be a sneaky, one-week play. Beware, though, as this game is the Monday-night feature and Chris Johnson’s presence in a nationally-televised contest has the makings of a night of horrors for Jacksonville defense owners, particularly in light of Johnson’s strong performance Week 5 against the Cowboys. Despite this risk, owners in deep leagues and desperate for a bye-week filler should roll the dice. Jack Del Rio is a defensive-minded coach who will sell out to stop Johnson, forcing other players on the Titans to beat him offensively. Thus far, none have overly impressed.
QB: Matt Flynn, Green Bay. Aaron Rodgers suffered a concussion at the end of Green Bay’s Week 5 upset loss to Washington. The extent of Rodgers’ injury is unclear; however, he is Green Bay’s franchise player and teams are increasingly conservative with head injuries. There are good odds therefore that Rodgers will miss Green Bay’s Week 6 game at Miami. Fantasy owners truly desperate for help at QB need to follow the injury news out of Green Bay and add Flynn if he looks to get the start. Be warned, however, that the drop off from franchise player to journeyman back-up can be monumental, as Todd Collins’ four-INT day filling in for the similarly concussed Jay Cutler in Week 5 can attest.
QB: Colt McCoy, Texas, er, Cleveland. McCoy’s days as the best college football player without a Heisman are long behind him. Now, he totes the clipboard as the Browns’ rookie third-string QB. That may have changed with Week 5 injuries to both Seneca Wallace and Jake Delhomme. Fantasy owners so desperate that they would consider McCoy for a spot start in Week 6 truly are in need—many better options should exist on your waiver wire. Indeed, the Browns most likely will sign a veteran back-up to run the offense for a week rather than allow McCoy to be obliterated by the Steelers. Assuming McCoy plays, the Week 6 match-up is an opportunity for fantasy players to gauge his skills. Dynasty and keeper leaguers in particular should follow the action with an eye toward the future. For the present, look elsewhere for help.
QB: David Carr, San Francisco. Sunday night, the San Francisco crowd resoundingly chanted “we want Carr” as the 49ers fell to 0-5. Picked to win the NFC West, San Francisco’s horrific play has surprised many and already has cost their opening day offensive coordinator his job. Now, the spotlight turns toward QB Alex Smith. Smith has not played horribly, but he has made some horrible plays, including a pathetic fumble while scrambling Sunday that the Eagles returned for a long, defensive TD. Head coach Mike Singletary suggested that he might consider a change at QB moving into Week 6, but has since relented. Carr, a former #1 pick, never fulfilled the lofty expectations others set for him coming out of Fresno St. After a few years in Houston, he bounced around, going from Carolina to the Giants and now to San Francisco. Carr never threw for more than 16 TDs in a season and only exceeded 3,000 yards once in his career (and this, over a 16 game schedule). Fantasy owners should keep him in mind as a potential fill-in, but must keep their own expectations low until Singletary changes his mind and Carr proves he can move an offense.
RB: James Starks, Green Bay. Technically, fantasy owners cannot “watch him” during Week 6 as Starks resides on the Packers’ PUP list. However, the Packers can activate the rookie, sixth-round pick for Week 7. Starks has size at 6′2″, 211 lbs, and could get into the mix in the Packers’ backfield as Ryan Grant is out for the year and top replacement Brandon Jackson has not impressed. Still, Starks is a rookie and has not played competitive football for some time–he missed the 2009 college season at the University of Buffalo with a torn labrum. At present, he has limited value in redraft leagues. That may change if Green Bay provides him with an opportunity to shine; owners should stay tuned.
RB: Mike Hart, Indianapolis. With Donald Brown already dinged, Mike Hart stepped into the Colts’ backfield limelight Sunday after Joseph Addai left with a banged up shoulder. Hart generated respectable numbers: 50 yards rushing, a rushing TD, and five yards receiving. Fantasy owners should check the injury reports and add Hart if the news on Addai is at all concerning. The Colts facing a Week 7 bye and may take it easy with Addai in Week 6 even if he otherwise is ready to go. Assuming Donald Brown remains unavailable, Hart easily could see some touches. While Indianapolis’ Week 6 opponent–Washington, on the road–is no push over, Hart showed Sunday that with as few as a dozen touches he too can put up 50+ yards in the Colts’ high-powered offense. With so many RBs out or on byes in Week 6, Hart could make a nice one-week edition in medium-sized and deeper leagues.
RB: Danny Woodhead, New England. Nothing like a bye week (hopefully) to allow a nifty pick-up to drift off opponents’ radar. Woodhead, featured in last week’s “Watch Them” list, gets a reminder listing this week as he comes off a bye. Risks are plenty for the young Patriots’ star as New England faces Baltimore in Week 6 and Woodhead’s role remains somewhat cloudy. Does the youngster continue to see time in the running and passing game assuming Fred Taylor’s health improves? How does the departure of Randy Moss impact Woodhead’s playing time and role within the offense? Remember, against Miami in Week 4, Woodhead rushed for 36 yards while adding 11 yards receiving and a TD. Playing time surely will dictate his value, so bid accordingly.
RB: Deji Karim, Jacksonville. Karim ran for 70 yards on 15 carries Sunday after Maurice Jones-Drew left the game with a wrist injury. The rookie thus made the most of his opportunity to fill-in for Rashad Jennings, himself out with an injured shoulder. However, Jones-Drew later returned to the fray, suggesting his most recent injury is none-too-serious. Owners in keeper or extremely deep redraft leagues may want to take a flier on Karim, as Jones-Drew has suffered all sorts of injuries dating back to pre-season. At present, however, it appears that only a significant injury to Jones-Drew would open up sufficient playing time for Karim to add value in redraft leagues.
RB: Jerome Harrison, Cleveland. Yes, him. Peyton Hillis injured his quadriceps muscle Sunday, adding to a lengthening series of maladies. The increased workload he is experiencing as Cleveland’s feature back obviously is taking a toll. Hillis’ health challenges could open up playing time for Harrison. However, fantasy owners need to be careful before jumping on the Harrison bandwagon. Head Coach Eric Mangini clearly disfavors Harrison. Moreover, both Seneca Wallace and Jake Delhomme aggravated injuries on Sunday. Neither may be healthy enough to play in Week 6, meaning untested rookie Colt McCoy would get the start unless Cleveland grabs a free agent quickly. Either way, the prospects for the Browns’ running game appear muted short term as opponents will load the box until whomever sits behind center proves capable of moving the offense.
WR: Nate Burleson, Detroit. Back from injury, Burleson led the Lions in receiving Week 5, scampering for 56 yards on four receptions from among six targets. The Lions “other” receiver also added a TD, capping a strong fantasy day against the Rams. Detroit’s Week 6 match-up is a bit disturbing, however, as the Lions face the resurgent N.Y. Giants, whose defense has looked other-worldly the last two weeks. Add a Week 7 bye and the expected return of Matthew Stafford in Week 8 (bringing a need for new chemistry) and Burleson merits watching, though not necessarily snatching. Owners in deeper leagues or otherwise desperate for a flex fill-in might make a move now; however, note that New York has not given up a receiving score since Week 3.
WR: Steve Johnson, Buffalo. Off with a bye in Week 6, Johnson merits watching for possible addition as a bye-week filler in Week 7 and beyond. Yes, he plays for lowly Buffalo. However, the young receiver out of Kentucky quietly is putting up consistent fantasy numbers. Johnson has caught three or more passes each of the first five weeks of the season. More significantly, since Buffalo replaced Trent Edwards with Ryan Fitzpatrick, Johnson has received significant TD love. Indeed, the Buffalo wideout has snagged four TDs in the last three games, including two against Jacksonville in Week 5. Certainly he will not pile on the receiving yards; Johnson’s high total thus far is a mere 66 yards. On the other hand, the young Bill has totaled at least 31 yards in each game thus far, exceeding in various of those weeks the yardage totals of some of fantasy’s premier wideouts. Johnson could be a sneaky play if Fitzpatrick continues to look his way. Fantasy owners should keep this situation in mind as they consider their options moving into Week 7 and beyond.
WR: Deion Branch, New England. Branch returns to the Patriots, a franchise on which he played for a Super Bowl team, via trade from the Seahawks. Added to help supplement the loss of Randy Moss, Branch’s role in the offense, especially short term, remains unclear. Fantasy owners should watch how New England utilizes Branch during Week 6 and consider adding him, depending on his match-ups, targets, and bye-week needs. The Waiver Wire likewise will keep tabs on Deion and move him up or down our list in future weeks.
TE: Heath Miller, Pittsburgh. Hoorah, hoorah, Big Ben has returned. Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger’s suspension has ended, and he will return to the field in Week 6. The Steelers performed admirably during the Dennis Dixon-Charlie Batch-maybe Byron Leftwich four-game stretch to start the season. Now, with their #1 QB under center, Pittsburgh is expected to return to a higher level offensively. This would be good news for the Steelers’ receiving corps, which with one exception (Mike Wallace’s game against Tampa Bay in Week 3) largely has been invisible. There is no need to jump on the Miller bandwagon yet. However, fantasy owners should review his targets, catches, and productivity as he likely is available in even deeper leagues and now has some upside.
TE: Andrew Quarless, Green Bay. Who? Possibly the Packers’ new starting TE. Uber-talent Jermichael Finley left Sunday’s game early after injuring his knee. Soon thereafter, the Packers’ #2 TE Donald Lee injured his shoulder and also departed. Up stepped rookie Andrew Quarless, who finished with four receptions on six targets and 51 yards. Finley will miss the next 3-6 weeks; Lee’s injury will keep him out two weeks. Meanwhile, Packers’ QB Aaron Rodgers may have suffered a concussion late in Green Bay’s loss to the Redskins. Rodgers’ status will drive Quarless’ value as long as Lee and Finley are out. Fantasy owners in need of TE help should watch the injury and practice reports and act if Rodgers appears likely to start in Week 6. Even though back-up QBs often look to their TE for security, should Rodgers be unable to play in Week 6, the Matt Flynn-Andrew Quarless combination hardly inspires fantasy confidence. Absent Rodgers starting, fantasy owners should look elsewhere for help at TE.
RB: Clinton Portis, Washington. Portis is out 3-5 more weeks with a groin injury. Given his age and Mike Shanahan’s fickle nature, desire to rebuild, and love for younger, unheralded backs, Portis’ future in Washington may be over. As the fantasy season moves into its sixth week–for many leagues the half-way mark–keeping a player in Portis’ situation makes little sense. Redskin RBs Ryan Torain and Keiland Williams are better plays, with Torain appearing to be the golden child at present. Owners in all formats should drop Portis.
RB: Marion Barber, Dallas. The Cowboys announced early in Week 5 that Felix Jones will be the focal point of their backfield attack. While the exact phrasing was the more political “will see more touches,” Sunday’s workload dispersion made clear that Dallas intends for Jones to be the man. Jones carried 15 times to Barber’s six and also saw four targets to Barber’s zero in the passing game. Significantly, Jones even saw duty inside the 10-yard line, though the Titans stuffed his attempts to reach the end zone. Owners in shallow to medium-sized redraft leagues, particularly those that are not TD heavy, should find a better option to Barber. Owners in deeper leagues may want to stash him, hoping for a Jones injury. For those in keeper or dynasty leagues, it probably is worth retaining Barber as he will be a free agent after this season and likely will hook up elsewhere. Depending on his situation, Marion “the Barbarian” may still represent value in 2011. Heck, for those familiar with my “Love the Slugs” theory–one that projected LaDanian Tomlinson’s strong year in 2010–consider a Barber in new surroundings an early call for slug-love in 2011.
RB: Tashard Choice, Dallas. See the comments above regarding Barber and consider that Choice did not see a carry or target Sunday against the Titans. Barring injury to Jones or Barber, or both, it appears that Choice’s role in the Cowboys’ offense will diminish considerably. Owners in redraft leagues should find a better option at RB immediately.
WR: Devin Thomas, Carolina by way of Washington. Washington cut Thomas prior to Week 5; even though the Panthers picked him up, he is not viable in any fantasy format other than perhaps the very deepest of keeper leagues.
WR: Mark Clayton, St. Louis. Clayton injured his knee in Week 5 and is out for the season. He should be cut in all formats.
WR: Demaryius Thomas, Denver. Thomas was erased while returning a kick Sunday, leaving the game with an apparent head injury. While fantasy owners seemingly cannot go wrong owning a piece of Denver’s league-leading passing attack, Thomas seems unworthy of a roster spot as he is no higher than fourth on the depth chart.
With Devin Thomas cut in Washington and Demaryius woozy in Denver, fantasy owners playing the “name game” referenced in a prior article and desperate for a Thomas fill-in at WR should consider Jacksonville’s Mike Thomas. All kidding aside, Mike is quietly putting up nice combinations of rushing and receiving yards (87 total rushing/receiving yards in Week 4; 104 total rushing/receiving yards in Week 5) in the Jaguars recently-revamped attack.
Scott Rozmus is one of a growing number of fantasy experts who write for the Cafe. You can catch up with Scott in the Cafe's forums where he posts under the name of Goose.
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