This is the third week of this article and the fifth week overall. If you followed the advice over the past couple of weeks (Week 3 & Week 4), then you probably have done pretty well for yourself. Sure a few misses have occurred (Jake Locker – injury, Ramses Barden, Tashard Choice); but a couple of big hits (Brian Hartline – 253 yards!, Mikel Leshoure – Detroit starter, Kyle Rudolph – 2 TD game) as well.
Again this week, be aware of the teams on a bye and don’t get stuck with zero points because your player was off this week. Byes: Cowboys, Lions, Buccaneers, Raiders.
Pick ‘Em Up
1. Kevin Kolb – Cardinals
Kolb was a huge investment by the Arizona franchise that has not lived up to expectations coming into this season. In fact, John Skelton was the starter for Week 1, but Kolb has taken over the reigns and so far, has made the decision look like a good one. Kolb’s number have improved every week and while it is unreasonable to expect numbers like he put up in Week 4 (324 yards, 3 TDs, 2 INTs), expect him to be a decent bye week replacement and another guy to plug in if the matchup seems to favor him.
2. Tim Tebow – Jets
Despite what Rex Ryan is saying now, and even ii he does not see much action in Week 5, Tebow will be the starter sooner rather than later if the Jets continue to slide. Tebow provides an interesting option, as he will not go out there and throw for 300 yards, but provides enough offense with
his rushing yards and rushing touchdowns. If or when Tebow takes over, his numbers will be downright ugly some weeks for a QB, but the one number that matters, fantasy points, will be high enough to make him a starter in most leagues.
1. Rashard Mendenhall – Steelers
It is amazing on how a guy being injured for the first games of the season affects how many people own the player on a fantasy team. Mendenhall has been a top pick the past couple of years, being taken in the first and second rounds of drafts. Now it can be understood that folks might have injury concerns on Mendenhall, but wouldn’t a guy like him be worth stashing on the bench for when he does return to form. Jonathan Dwyer and Isaac Redman did the best they could to ensure that Mendenhall will be thrust into the starter’s role once he returns and expect that to happen this week if he passes the strength test; if not, then it will happen next week.
2. Bilal Powell – Jets
The New York Jets are a mess and it wouldn’t be surprising for them to do anything they can to turn the ship around, as mentioned with Tebow. The amount of snaps Powell is in the game for has increased every week and continue to expect that as Shonn Greene’s averages stay down. It is also completely possible for the Jets to go to the dreaded running back by committee, but expect them to give Powell every opportunity to see what they have with him.
3. Jackie Battle – Chargers
Battle is turning heads everywhere as going into the season, he was third on the Chargers’ depth chart behind both Ryan Mathews and Ronnie Brown. Brown never got it going and Mathews, since returning from injury hasn’t gotten it going either. In fact, he has been in Head Coach Norv Turner’s doghouse since he has shown an inability to hold onto the ball. Enter Battle, who showed promise in Kansas City last year and continues to strive this year for another AFC West team. Now saying all this, I still believe Mathews is the number one in SD, but pick up Battle and use him while he has the hot hand and Turner’s trust.
1. Mike Williams - Buccaneers
Last year was a down year for Williams, who mired through a sophomore slump. He was not completely to blame as the whole Tampa Bay squad went into free fall mode after a blazing start to the 2011 campaign. It appears that last year is behind all of them and Williams is the number two option behind Vincent Jackson and is also a red zone target. Look for him to approach his rookie season totals as opposed to what he had last year.
2. James Jones – Packers
The Green Bay Packers are a high powered offense and will put up the points. Folks were worried about the Packers offense because it looked sluggish in the first few games of the season. The fact of the matter is they were playing some of the best defenses in the league and those performances were more on the defenses rather than the Packers’ offense. Jones will be the number two or three receiver for the Packers depending on the health of Greg Jennings. Expect Aaron Rodgers to look Jones’ way many times a game and the points will pile up, so pick him up.
3. Alshon Jeffery – Bears
Brandon Marshall finally had a breakout performance this past Monday Night and other than fantasy owners, the person to benefit the most from it is the rookie from South Carolina. Jeffery has the build to be a top receiver and appears to be that guy that the Bears were always looking for, except now they have two. Defenses will key on Marshall which should leave Jeffery to prosper. Not too bad for someone that Lane Kiffin said “will end up pumping gas the rest of his life.”
1. Scott Chandler - Bills
This one is easy. A two touchdown performance this past Sunday probably put Chandler on many fantasy radars. He is a big time red zone target and look for the Bills to set up the pass with the run game and Chandler will be looked for a lot underneath.
2. Greg Olsen – Panthers
He was seen as a possible sleeper at the beginning of the season as the only Tight End target in Carolina with the off season departure of Jeremy Shockey. Two less than stellar performances at the beginning of the season led him to “Dump City.” Now, it looks as though he is firmly entrenched in the game plan and will be used often as a safety valve for Cam Newton.
They are the defense pickup of the week if you are looking for someone to plug in for the week. The Vikings D had two return scores last week and are facing the Tennessee Titans this week and that is a favorable matchup.
1. Mark Ingram – Saints
Ingram looks like the odd man out as it seems that Darren Sproles and Pierre Thomas will get the most looks in the New Orleans backfield. Ingram was expected to be the goal line back for the Saints, but with their offense struggling, his opportunities to score have been scarce. Unless he turns it around quickly, Ingram isn’t worth holding onto.
2. Peyton Hillis – Chiefs
Jamaal Charles is back and looks like he is in 2010 form that took the NFL by storm. That is bad news for Hillis owners as he has not looked good and it seems he won’t get much action unless the Chiefs are far ahead or far behind.
3. Titus Young - Lions
He is one big play away from being just a total disappointment. Young caught the ‘Hail Mary’ pass at the end of regulation in the Lions/Titans game to send it into overtime. Unfortunately, that’s really all the production he has had. Drop him.
1. Washington Redskins – As mentioned in the Week 3 article, the Redskins will be in here just because of their Head Coach Mike Shanahan. Roy Helu hit the IR last week, but the Redskins went out and signed Ryan Grant. Alfred Morris should still get 90% of the carries, but it should be interesting to watch on how Grant will be used in the offense.
2. Pittsburgh Steelers – Rashard Mendenhall should be the starter from here on out. Jonathan Dwyer and Isaac Redman will split the rest of the carries. Mendenhall might not get the bulk this week as they ease him into the offense, but you need to grab him now.
3. Buffalo Bills - Tashard Choice was the chic pickup last week until Friday when it was announced that CJ Spiller might indeed play and play he did. Spiller and Fred Jackson, both nursing injuries didn’t look too sharpe, but to be fair the Bills were playing from behind most of the 2nd half and stayed away from the run. Look for Spiller to be used more as a pass catcher out of the backfield and for Fred Jackson to be used closer to the goal line.
4. Atlanta Falcons – Michael Turner delayed Jacquizz Rodgers ascendence to the lead back for at least another week by putting together a good performance. Rodgers still expected to be the lead back by season’s end, so keep an eye on that.
Ben Hogan is the producer of MSL and a long-time fantasy sports guru. Follow him @NotTheGolfer for any fantasy or lineup questions throughout the week.