Well here we are going into week #5, just a little over 1/3 of the way through the fantasy season and things have started to settle in. However your team has performed over the 1st four weeks, if you don’t make any adjustments you can probably expect more of the same.
At this point there are very few surprises, the waiver wires have been picked clean, and the only new explosive player is going to be birthed from an injury. At least that is most likely how things would go, but as we have seen this season we have no idea how things will play out. As Benjamin Franklin once said “in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” A lot has changed since Franklin uttered those words and if he were alive today I think that quote would look a little different. I think it would look something like this: “in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death, taxes, and the Patriots.” Isn’t that the truth?
Blake Bortles, QB, Jacksonville Jaguars – 19.7% Owned
Talk about a guy who has not been on my radar at all, Bortles has finally made the list. After week #1 I wrote him off as another failed QB, but then week 2, 3, and 4 happened and I am singing a different tune. Over the last 3 weeks he is averaging over 17 pts per game which is far better than average. During that streak he has thrown for over 800 yards, 5 touchdowns, and only 1 interception. Sure there are red flags here, his completion percentage is a little over 50% and he isn’t throwing the ball down field. However, those are real world problems, not fantasy problems. Going against Tampa this week Jacksonville is sure to get some turnovers and Bortles is going to get a lot of chances.
Josh McCown, QB, Cleveland Browns – 1.8% Owned
After 2 incredible weeks under center is seems the QB controversy is over in Cleveland. Two games back and he is averaging 348 yards, that’s pretty impressive. Yes we know it will not stay that way but he is showing that he can ball. We have seen this before from McCown in the past and he is a good horse to ride when he is hot. Teams are not having problems scoring on Ravens which is a good sign for McCown this week. The fantasy numbers don’t lie and he has scored over 20pts in the last 2 games. That is something you don’t see from too many QB’s not named Brady or Rodgers. Maybe you don’t start him but get him on your bench and see what happens.
Jay Cutler, QB, Chicago Bears – 12% Owned
This is the first time in about 3 years that I don’t have Cutler on my team. Aside from the injuries I have been satisfied with his output. Sure he finds a way to lose the game for his team, but that doesn’t usually have a fantasy impact. Usually good for a couple TD’s and over 200 yards, you are going to get a consistent 15pts a week. It’s Cutler and what you see is what you get.
Marcus Mariota, QB, Tennessee Titans – 65.8% Owned
He is owned in most leagues but I figured I should get him on your radar and maybe you are one of the lucky few who have him available. He is a little scary because he is a rookie. The NFL season is long and physical but all signs point to good things. 277 yards per game and I expect him to start racking up yards on the ground as he gets more and more comfortable in the offense. Even with the bye week he is still top 10 in TD’s. What is most impressive about these stats is that doesn’t have the weapons other QB’s on his fantasy level have. He is elevating his team, and I am thinking he has the ability to elevate yours as well.
Ronnie Hillman, RB, Denver Broncos – 46.7%
I get it, I don’t trust Hillman either. His name is always in the conversation as Denver’s starter but for some reason it just doesn’t pan out. However, as we know the cream always rises to the top and it’s going to be hard for Denver to continue to keep him down. He is clearly out performing CJ Anderson and he is the best available this week because we know that he is going to be splitting carries at the very least. He broke out for 70 yard TD run which padded his stats but also gives us a taste of what he can do. Look, at the end of the day, all stats aside he is a good RB in a Peyton Manning offense. Manning can’t air it out like he used to and they are going to relying on defense and running. This makes Hillman a good bet going forward.
Duke Johnson Jr, RB, Cleveland Browns – 49.6 %
This might be the first time in history you see multiple Browns on the same list. While Johnson isn’t the starting RB, he made some noise last week not only on the ground but in the passing game as well. If that trend continues Johnson is a must add is PPR formats and should get serious look in standard leagues too. He is also a good handcuff should Crowell go down. With the lack of RB’s available Johnson at least gives you a chance to score some points.
Bobbie Dixon, RB, Buffalo Bills – 1.1% Owned
I had never heard of this guy until this week, because who needs to know the Bills 3rd string running back? Well, I guess we all do now. Things are so bad the Bills were looking at Trent Richardson so you know Dixon is going to get his shot. The upside here is that Dixon is in line to get the bulk of that carries and Rex wants to run the ball. Sometimes this is how stars are made. If you are hurting and don’t know where to go, go with the guy who is going to get the ball. Keep an eye on the injury reports, he only matters if Shady and Williams can’t go.
Darren McFadden, RB, Dallas Cowboys – 49% Owned
Who doesn’t like a little old school Run DMC? This is another situation where injuries have created an opportunity. McFadden isn’t a stranger to injury as he has spent enough time on the IR to go from #1 in Oakland to #3 in Dallas. We know that he can play when he is healthy but we have not had a chance to see it for a while. He is still behind Randle but he should step up into Dunbar’s spot which gives him PPR value. 3rd down back? Change of pace back? The point is that they are going to use him and that is what you want in your waiver pickups. You are looking for someone who is going to play.
Thomas Rawls, RB, Seattle Seahawks – 45% Owned
Who knows what is going on with Lynch, I wonder if he has hit the age wall? Maybe getting that check killed the motivation or maybe he is just banged up and this is temporary. Either way Thomas Rawls is a great handcuff. He has had 2 respectable games, the issue here is Lynch. There is no chance carries will be split so how long will Rawls start. If he is available you need to get him, as he is a clear RB #2 when Lynch is out. Could give you the boost you need. The down side is that the O-line is soft, but that didn’t stop him from running for over 100 yards in week 3.
Tavon Austin, WR, St. Louis Rams – 11% Owned
Austin has emerged as the #1 target for QB Nick Foles catching over 70% of his passes. He is very much in the mold of Percy Harvin as we see action in the running and return games as well. He is a top 20 receiver and I don’t see anyone stepping up to steal his touches. He is emerging as a legit receiving threat, and he would be a great bye week fill in or a regular in your flex position.
Allen Hurns, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars – 11.6 % Owned
His stats are almost identical to teammate Allen Robinson and Robinson is owned in 90% of all leagues. That either makes Robinson a flop or Hurns a bargain. I am going with bargain. Bortles made this list this week because he has shown the ability to move the ball. Defenses are going to focus on Robinson and that is going to allow Hurns to be in more 1 on 1 situations. Another good week by Hurns and you won’t have chance to pick him up at all. Don’t be last, be first.
Ted Ginn Jr, WR, Carolina Panthers – 32.3 % Owned
Cut out of the same cloth as Austin but with a better QB and no one else to catch the ball. He is competing only with Olsen for targets as well as Newton’s feet. Newton is putting up high points and Ginn seems to be a TD machine. Again like Austin you get the return yards as well. It looks like Cam is looking to him more and more. That is obviously a good thing going forward.
Kamar Aikan, WR, Baltimore Ravens – less than 1%
See Boobie Dixon. Same song, second verse. Here is a guy that no one is looking at and he is thrust into a #1 receiver spot. While I have never been a Flacco guy, you have to think that he is going to be able to deliver the ball. All he needs is a few catches and TD and he is going to be on everyone list.
Gary Barnidge, TE, Cleveland Browns – 24% Owned
McCown has been back for 2 games and Barnidge has found the endzone twice. Is that a coincidence, I don’t think so. The Brown offense has been a different animal that last few weeks especially when it comes to the air attack. He caught 4/5 passes in the first 2 games this season and never sniffed the goal line. Since McCown took the reins back he has caught 12/16 passes and scored in both games. I think the Browns are better than we thought. Maybe not playoff ready but they are going to move the chains and it looks like McCown is going to be leaning on Barnidge to do some of the work.
Yes, there are some injury concerns here I would be cautious but optimistic. First of they are playing the Browns who have been generous when it comes to granting yards to TE’s. It is a divisional game and the Ravens have had a rough start so they are going to need to get help from everywhere. He has caught 10/13 passes and found the end zone twice. I am not a big fan of Flacco, but he more often than not finds a way to get it done. Gilmore is going to be a big part of that way.
Last but not least I will throw some defensive advice. Find whoever is playing Tampa or San Francisco and pick them. Those teams are not only horrible but they give the ball up. Next week we will look at the accuracy of my waiver picks, can’t wait to see what emerges in week 5.