The NFL season is four full weeks in and that means most fantasy football leagues are a quarter of the way through (most are done by Week 16.) Even if you haven’t managed to win a game there is still a possibility to make the playoffs. In most leagues, 8-5 will get you the last spot in the playoffs, which means you can still lose one more game, but have to go on quite a run to do it. Hopefully though you have been able to get at least one win to keep a little room for error. Also, with four teams on bye this week, depth becomes a concern for most teams. Now without further ado, here on some guys you can add, some guys you can let go, and a look at crowded backfields around the NFL.
1. Rashad Jennings – Raiders
Stop me if you haven’t heard this before: Darren McFadden is injured. Yes, once again the fragile Raider tailback is out with an injury. Now, Jennings was drafted in some leagues as a handcuff to McFadden, but with McFadden excelling at the beginning of the season Jennings became expendable. Now is the time to pick him up, even if only for a couple of weeks while it appears the injury to McFadden is not serious. The reason to pick up Jennings is because not only is McFadden out, but Marcel Reece is out as well.
2. Brian Hoyer – Browns
Here is something that I never though I would be writing – pick up Brian Hoyer. In his first week as the Browns starter he lead them to a surprising victory over the Minnesota Vikings by throwing for over 300 yards and three touchdowns. But, as with most QBs in their first NFL start, Hoyer had some mistakes; three interceptions. Last week he cut out the mistakes and had another good game throwing for 289 yards and 2 TDs. This week is a short week against Buffalo, but you could do a lot worse than Hoyer if you need a spot start quarterback this week.
3. Danny Woodhead – Chargers
On draft day, Danny Woodhead was considered a sleeper if you were in a PPR league, hoping he could be utilized in the same way Darren Sproles was when he was in San Diego. Even though Philip Rivers was busy turning back the clock the first couple of games, he was not looking Woodhead’s way in the first game (2 receptions) and just used him as a dump off option in the second game (8 receptions, 37 yards.) Last week is when Woodhead’s value became visible to everyone as he compiled 86 total yards and scored twice. If Rivers has trust in Woodhead, then he will see plenty of action as a receiver at least this year and if anything happens to Ryan Mathews, then you hit the jackpot.
1. Eddie Royal – Chargers
The man that was the fantasy football darling at the beginning of the season has put in back-to-back dud performances. He scored five touchdowns in the first two games, but has combined for just five receptions in the last two games. I don’t see the number increasing too much as the season progresses. Rivers seems fine passing to Antonio Gate
s and Danny Woodhead and then sprinkling in whatever receiver he is in a groove with at that time. Royal will sure have another game or two in which he has solid numbers, but when they will happen is anyone’s guess. There are plenty of other receivers worth holding onto over Royal.
2. Lance Moore – Saints
Another receiver finds his way onto this list. It was unfortunate for Lance Moore to have to miss a game, especially since he hasn’t put up the numbers that fantasy owners are used to him putting up. On the heels of a 1,000 yard season, Moore had only 44 yards total through his first three games. Combine that with the emergence of Kenny Stills, then the future doesn’t look too bright for Moore. There are too many weapons in New Orleans and Lance Moore’s numbers will suffer because of that.
3. Joe Flacco – Ravens
Joe Flacco may win a Super Bowl, but he won’t win you a Fantasy Football Championship. Flacco seems to struggle throughout the regular season and then turn it on when it’s crunch time towards the end of the season and playoffs. Flacco has had only one game in which he threw for a TD AND did not throw an interception (Week 2.) Now he may be worth a look at picking up towards the end of the season and playoffs, but right now you are trying to get to the playoffs, so it’s time to cut bait.
1. Buffalo Bills
This should not be a backfield battle, but with recent injuries to both CJ Spiller and Fred Jackson, this backfield has become a muddled mess. Spiller has been a disappointment to fantasy owners that drafted him as a first round pick and Jackson hasn’t been getting enough carries while Spiller has been healthy to warrant a start. Now that changes, as Spiller is questionable for Thursday night’s tilt vs Cleveland while Jackson is probable. Tashard Choice is the wild card in this too, as he is ready to go if neither of them can. I would put in this order as of right now – Jackson, Spiller, Choice, with all three getting touches this week.
2. Cincinnati Bengals
This happened a lot quicker than I thought it was going to happen. Giovani Bernard has seemed to already have taken the lead running back role in Cincinnati. It will be interesting to see if they keep this up as they did suffer a loss to the Browns this past week. Bernard is the more explosive back, but also is smaller than BenJarvus Green-Ellis, so it will be tougher to get those hard earned yards. The Bengals passed twice as much as ran the ball this past week and I am guessing that will probably be closer to even this upcoming week. Also, they will be playing the New England Patriots and trying to control the clock, so look for Green-Ellis to get a few more carries this week. Saying all of that, Bernard is still the back to own in this Bengals’ backfield and will be an impact player come fantasy playoff time.
3. St. Louis Rams
This backfield is a mess. Daryl Richardson has tweeted that he will not be the starter this week, and then said there would be a competition. What is actually going on in St. Louis is anybody’s guess. What I do expect is to see 5th round pick Zac Stacy to finally get some decent playing time as the Rams try and figure out who they are most comfortable with toting the rock out of the backfield between Richard, Stacy, and Isaiah Pead. Pead looked like he was going to be the lead back this past Thursday, but a game time decision to keep him out kept that from happening. Richardson has been less than spectacular, so keep an eye on the Rams backfield to see who comes out ahead this Sunday.
Ben Hogan is a long-time fantasy sports guru. Follow him @NotTheGolfer for any fantasy or lineup questions throughout the week.