Rent-a-Player: Week 7 Pickups

Dallas Cowboys running back Felix Jones has an opportunity to help you through the toughest bye week of the season.

Everybody run! It’s the attack of the bye week!

If Week 6’s slate of teams taking a breather was too much for you to bear, then this week will be the one that ultimately does you in, as there are upwards of 15 top fantasy players on bye. With names like Ryan, Manning, Charles, McCoy and Gates likely convening somewhere in the Bahamas, or maybe making a cameo on The League, we mere fantasy mortals have to plug and play our backup options. That is, if you planned well enough and have backup options.

What’s that? You don’t? Keep reading.

There is no possible way to find replacements on the waiver wire for all of the players missing this week, so what do you do if you have been pairing Matt Ryan with Julio Jones all season? Hope your opponent this week is also suffering from Bye Weekitis and has been pairing Manning and Thomas, or cross your fingers that he is having to start Joique Bell as his RB2 because he didn’t plan for Willis McGahee and Reggie Bush to be out the same week.

As a last result, try and snag one of the following players. A couple may blossom into something more special, and the rest you can probably drop after the weekend. But it’s better to plug someone in and snag a couple points than playing no one at the position at all.

On Bye: QB Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons & Peyton Manning, Denver Broncos

Rent-a-Player: QB Carson Palmer, Oakland Raiders – 43% owned While Palmer isn’t the rifle arm loaded with fantasy points that we was back in 2007, he is a perfectly serviceable replacement this week. After posting 353 yards and a touchdown against a solid Atlanta secondary, he gets to feast on a Jacksonville squad ranked 24th in the league in pass defense. With Denarius Moore healthy and Darren McFadden as a screen pass option, Palmer could be in for a big week. The only downside will be if Oakland opens up a big lead early and churns out the clock on the ground.

On Bye: RBs Jamaal Charles, Kansas City Chiefs & LeSean McCoy, Philadelphia Eagles

Rent-a-Player: RB Felix Jones, Dallas Cowboys – 25% owned When DeMarco Murray went down with a foot sprain last weekend, Jones stepped up admirably with 105 total yards and a touchdown before leaving the game with cramps. After loading up on Gatorade and salt licks this week, look for Jones to get the bulk of the carries against a hapless Carolina defense. Jones is the only explosive option that can come close to matching Charles or McCoy’s output, so jump on him. If Murray’s injury takes a while to heal – and if Jones can stay healthy (a big if) – you may have a midseason steal on your hands.

On Bye: RBs Willis McGahee, Denver Broncos & Ryan Mathews, San Diego Chargers

Rent-a-Player: RB Vick Ballard, Indianapolis Colts – 39% owned Ballard torched owners – this one included – who put their faith in him last week once Donald Brown went down. His matchup against the Jets looked ripe for the taking, but Indy got behind early and the running game disappeared. The young runner has plenty of gas in the tank for a big role this week – he only carried the ball eight times last week – and has a favorable slate of games in the next two contests against Cleveland and Tennessee. Don’t give up on him quite yet.

Cleveland Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon leads his team in receiving yards and touchdowns.

On Bye: WRs Demaryius Thomas, Denver Broncos & Julio Jones, Atlanta Falcons

Rent-a-Player: WR Josh Gordon, Cleveland Browns – 16% owned RGIII’s old Baylor teammate has quickly become Brandon Weeden’s go-to guy in Cleveland. He currently leads the team in receiving yards and touchdowns, and has been on fire since torching the Giants for 82 yards and two touchdowns in a Week 5 loss. It’s time to give Gordon a whirl if you are looking for the long TD bomb that Thomas or Jones can usually supply.

On Bye: WRs Eric Decker, Denver Broncos & Roddy White, Atlanta Falcons

Rent-a-Player: WR Kendall Wright, Tennessee Titans – 38% owned Yet another Baylor rookie receiver pops up on the list. Wright was more highly regard coming out of college than his teammate Gordon, but his output with the Titans has been almost equal – in more games. However, with 18 first down plays and 52 targets to his name, Wright is clearly who Matt Hasselbeck will be looking to for some chain moving action, and he could have a breakout week against Buffalo.

On Bye: TE Antonio Gates, San Diego Chargers

Rent-a-Player: TE Tom Crabtree, Green Bay Packers – 0% owned I will admit that this one is a swing for the fences. However, if I am Aaron Rodgers, I am not throwing the ball to Jermichael Finley anymore until he a) has a hand transplant or b) invents invisible stick ’em. With Finley’s penchant for poorly-timed drops, Crabtree has quietly racked up 23.1 fantasy points in standard scoring leagues. Even though he is primarily a blocking tight end, he may be open over the middle this week as St. Louis works to take away Jordy Nelson and James Jones on the outside. It’s worth a shot if you’re desperate, or bored.


Monday Meltdown: Patient owners finally rewarded

Jordy Nelson (above) and Dez Bryant finally delivered for fantasy owners this weekend.

The curses could be heard across the nation through the first five weeks of the fantasy season. Owners were starting to squirm, entertaining desperate trade offers just to try and get something positive out of their high round picks, only to reject those transactions and hope for the best.

Then, Sunday happened.

Sound familiar? Then you likely have Dez Bryant or Jordy Nelson on your squads.

The first five weeks of the season were not kind to owners of arguably two of the most talented receivers in the game. Posting a combined 65.8 points (28.9 for Dez, 36.9 for Jordy) put them both out of the Top 25 scorers in standard formats and, more importantly, had owners champing at the bit for more production. Once must-starts in all leagues, these players were now relegated to positive matchup status, which is quite the fall from grace in Fantasyland.

But with two breakout performances yesterday against respectable defenses, it’s time to take the kid gloves off and start trusting your studs again.

With 121 yards and three touchdowns against Houston, Nelson jumped off the screen, but still played second fiddle to Aaron Rodgers’ record night. Bryant commanded more attention against Baltimore, hauling in almost 100 yards and two touchdowns (plus a costly drop, but you don’t lost fantasy points for those, luckily). For both receivers, these were the kind of games we have been expecting since Week 1.

And with some favorable team situations in the coming weeks, we should see more of these games. For Nelson, the absence of Greg Jennings and the emergence of running back Alex Green (who has more burst than Cedric Benson has had his whole career) should lead to more uncontested targets. For Bryant, the decimation of the Dallas running game via injury means the team will rely more on the pass, which equates to more red zone opportunities and, hopefully, more trust from his quarterback.

The real end result from all of this, though, is a massive sigh of relief. For owners who lost sleep over these top receivers, it’s time to get some Zs.

Other thoughts from the weekend that was…

Hartline shutout by St. Louis. I had the tremendous foresight this week to bench Bryant against what I thought was a formidable Baltimore secondary, plugging in Hartline instead. What a colossal failure. Hartline was held to no catches by a Rams team that is no longer the NFC West’s pushover. I should have seen this coming, though, as St. Louis has held the following top receivers in check:

  • Calvin Johnson, Week 1 – 11.1 points
  • Brandon Marshall, Week 3 – 7.1 points
  • Larry Fitzgerald, Week 5 – 9.2 points

With Cortland Finnegan adding some much needed swagger to the secondary, the Rams are a matchup to consider every week now. Cheers to them.

Houston defense showing vulnerability. For being one of the league’s alleged top defenses, Houston has struggled in the past couple weeks, both in real and fake football games. Since posting a 23 point fantasy line against Tennessee in Week 4, the Texans have yielded high point totals to the Jets and Packers, combining for only 14 fantasy points in the last two weeks. With a season-ending injury to Brian Cushing certainly playing a role, Houston fantasy owners may no longer have a sure thing.

Rookie receivers were last year’s thing, clearly. We were spoiled by Julio Jones and A.J. Green last season, as newcomers to the NFL this season have been lackluster by comparison. Through six weeks, the leading rookie receiver has fewer than 300 total yards (Kendall Wright, 285) and only three touchdowns (Josh Gordon). Let’s hope for a better draft class next year.




Aces & Deuces: Week 6 Deuces

Victor Cruz and a tough 49ers defense are a mixture to avoid this weekend.

Perhaps tougher than knowing who to start in Fantasy Land each week is having the stones to sit the big names on the bench. It is always difficult to see a name like Calvin Johnson or Maurice Jones-Drew riding the pine, but it gets even more vexing when one of your bench players completely outperforms a stud, all because you were too scared to have him take a seat.

With that in mind, here are the big names to avoid as we head into Week 6 of the fantasy season. After a strong showing last week where I chose four out of six Deuces correctly, my confidence is brimming with picking the losers, even if that does pose quite the paradox. Now is the time to step up and take some of these guys out of your lineup.

Deuces – Week 6

WR Victor Cruz, New York Giants (@ San Francisco 49ers) If there is one thing I know about Jim Harbaugh, it is that he has elephant blood running through his veins: The man does not forget. The Niners have been scheming for this rematch of last year’s NFC title game since January, and top priority will be to take Cruz out of the equation and make Eli Manning rely on his young wideouts who are filling in for Hakeem Nicks. San Francisco is only allowing one passing touchdown per game, so don’t get greedy and expect Cruz to haul in another hat trick like last week. Trade in your salsa this weekend for some bean dip, instead. Prediction: 72 yards receiving = 7.2 fantasy points

RB Stevan Ridley, New England Patriots (@ Seattle Seahawks) Look up the word stingy in the dictionary, and it is likely that next to it you will find a Seattle Seahawks logo. The boys from the land of Pearl Jam are giving up a devilish 66.6 yards rushing per game. At home, that number drops to 57 yards, which does not bode well for Ridley, who is coming off back to back 100-plus yard games. If New England works a lead and grinds out the clock, the carries will come for the Pats’ “lead” back, but the likelier scenario sees Bill Belichick switching up his rushers to try and keep Seattle off balance. Prediction: 43 yards rushing + 1 TD = 10.3 fantasy points

RB Marshawn Lynch, Seattle Seahawks (vs. New England Patriots) This game will be tough for runners on both sides of the ball. While Lynch will be hoping to tap into his Beast Mode against the Pats’ eighth-ranked rush defense, the odds he accomplishes much are slim. New England has allowed a long run of only 17 yards this season, and opposing running backs have only made it into the end zone twice. Granted, Lynch was the lone rusher to put the hurt on San Francisco last season, but being the main weapon on a lackluster offense is going to make him the man with a target on his back. Beware. Prediction: 86 yards rushing + 5 yards receiving = 9.1 fantasy points

Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford has not proven to be the reliable fantasy option he was last season.

QB Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions (@ Philadelphia Eagles) Detroit’s game is just too one-dimensional for this matchup. Yes, Stafford can throw it up to Calvin Johnson all day, but the quarterback only has three – three! – touchdowns in four games. I will give him that he has played tough passing defenses like San Francisco and St. Louis, but even Minnesota’s middle-of-the-pack secondary shut him out in Week 4. Put up against two of the top corners in the game, it looks to be a week to let Stafford take a rest. Prediction: 222 yards passing + 1 TD + 2 INTs = 8.88 fantasy points

RB Willis McGahee, Denver Broncos (@ San Diego Chargers) San Diego has quietly put up the fifth-ranked rushing defense in the league, which is no small feat when your divisional opponents boast running backs like Darren McFadden and Jamaal Charles. McGahee struggled last week against New England, mustering only 3.64 yards per carry and losing a key fumble near the end of the game. The Chargers, meanwhile, hold runners to less than 75 yards per game and have recovered four fumbles early this season. McGahee will still be a factor in the receiving game, which makes him worthy of a flex option this week, but don’t expect RB2 points out of him. Prediction: 66 yards rushing + 16 yards receiving = 7.2 fantasy points

WR Andre Johnson, Houston Texans (vs. Green Bay Packers) I have a number in my head, and I want you to guess it. It’s the number of catches Johnson had against a pitiful Jets defense, and it is also the loneliest number. That’s right, Johnson had a measly one catch against New York last week, and a physical Green Bay defense will only continue to hold him in check. While Matt Schaub gets blinded by Clay Matthews’s hair, Johnson will continue to attract safety help and be blanketed by coverage as he has been all season. The one thing Andre does have going for him, though, is that the Pack have yielded a whopping 10 passing touchdowns this year, so there is hope. With his owners’ luck, though, the TDs will probably go to a wide open Owen Daniels or a nice catch-and-run by James Casey. Prediction: 98 yards receiving = 9.8 fantasy points

Aces & Deuces: Week 6 Aces

Get ready to celebrate with Buffalo Bills tight end Scott Chandler this weekend.

Is it wild to anyone else that we are already in Week 6 of the 2012 season? It seems like only yesterday we were mock drafting and anticipating that first kickoff between New York and Dallas.

Maybe it is because we now have football on three nights a week, or maybe it is because the season normally goes by this fast. Either way, it just seemed odd to type “Week 6” in this week’s headline.

Typing “Aces” also proved a bit tricky, as I just can’t seem to crack these sleeper performers week in and week out. Last week saw me repeating Week 4’s performance of one correct pick – big thanks to Michael Crabtree for actually proving me right, but no thanks to Philip Rivers against a normally unreliable New Orleans defense.

And speaking of the worst defense in the league, with the Saints on a bye this week, I have no team to give me that surefire Ace pick I can usually depend on. Which means I will probably go oh-for my picks this week, unless I can pull some magic out of my fake football hat.

Now sporting a 9-26 win-loss record in the Aces department, it can only go up from here, right?

Here goes nothing.

Aces – Week 6

QB Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers (@ Tennessee Titans) There is some good math favoring Big Ben in tonight’s matchup. Tennessee is surrendering a hair under 280 yards and more than two touchdowns in the air per game. Roethlisberger has a bevy of receiving weapons that can exploit the Titans secondary, and the surprisingly strong return of Rashard Mendenhall should also open up play action opportunities the team was not afforded earlier in the season. Ben is still flying under the radar this season, as his past fantasy output has always left him in quarterback no man’s land, but this week he will put everyone on notice. Prediction: 310 yards passing + 16 yards rushing + 3 TDs + 1 INT = 24 fantasy points

Indianapolis Colts rookie running back Vick Ballard is ready for his close-up.

RB Vick Ballard, Indianapolis Colts (@ New York Jets)
Ballard, the newly-anointed starting running back in Indy thanks to “Dammit” Donald Brown’s knee surgery, could not have drawn a more generous date for his first big dance. New York has been atrocious against the run this season, allowing 172-plus yards per game and seven touchdowns on the year. Look for Indy to try and establish the run early to open things up late for Andrew Luck, which means plenty of opportunities for the rookie from Mississippi State. Prediction: 105 yards rushing + 1 TD = 16.5 fantasy points

TE Scott Chandler, Buffalo Bills (@ Arizona Cardinals) Through the first four games of the season, Arizona’s defense looked unstoppable, holding vaunted offenses from the likes of Philadelphia and New England in check. After being exposed by a mediocre St. Louis squad last week, though, they are showing some weaknesses – weaknesses I expect Buffalo to take advantage of. The hidden beauty of Buffalo’s defense being so abysmal is that the offense takes to the skies for most of the game to play catch up, and as a result Chandler is second on his team in targets and fifth among all tight ends in fantasy scoring. I like him to haul in another touchdown this week while Arizona tries to handle Stevie Johnson and C.J. Spiller on the outside. Prediction: 63 yards receiving + 1 TD = 12.3 fantasy points

WR Andre Roberts, Arizona Cardinals (vs. Buffalo Bills) On second thought, maybe I have found that special defense to pick on in New Orleans’ absence. After all, when you have given up 12 receiving touchdowns this season and let Michael Crabtree burn you for more than 100 yards, you’re officially on my nice list. Roberts has more targets on the season than Dez Bryant and more touchdowns than teammate Larry Fitzgerald, as he continues to prove his worth to an Arizona offense that must rely on quick passes if Kevin Kolb is going to live through the season. He is a great play against a defense that continues to disappoint fans but delight fantasy opponents each week. Prediction: 65 yards receiving + 1 TD = 12.5 fantasy points

WR Andrew Hawkins, Cincinnati Bengals (@ Cleveland Browns) It’s a given that A.J. Green is going to lead the Bengals each week in targets, catches, yards, and awesomeness. It’s also a given, though, that Hawkins is going to rack up yards after the catch – the youngster is fourth in the league in that category behind big names like Welker and Harvin. Against Cleveland’s 26th-ranked pass defense, Hawkins should move up the ladder in those standings this Sunday. Prediction: 116 yards receiving + 1 TD = 17.6 fantasy points

RB Doug Martin, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (@ Kansas City Chiefs) For all intents and purposes, Martin has been a fantasy disappointment this season. Widely viewed as the second rookie running back players should covet (behind Trent Richardson), this writer went so far as to take Martin as his lead back in round 4. I have been rewarded with 36 total fantasy points and LeGarrette Blount vulturing a touchdown. Coming off a bye and taking on a weak Kansas City defense, though, this game is the one where Martin will go big. KC gives up 20 percent of their first downs to running backs, and Martin touches the ball about 18 times per game, which bodes well for his owners. Play him with confidence. Prediction: 92 yards rushing + 12 yards receiving + 1 TD = 16.4 fantasy points

Rent-a-Player: Week 6 Pickups

St. Louis Rams quarterback Sam Bradford has the arm to be an effective rental player this week.

With the top-ranked fantasy quarterback and defense – as well as the third and fourth ranked wide receivers – taking a break, this is one of the most challenging bye weeks owners will experience this season. It’s no simple task to replace Drew Brees, or the ball-hawking secondary of the Chicago Bears, but you have to try if you want to stay atop the standings.

However, there are arguably 10 top fantasy players sitting the bench this weekend (if you count Cam Newton and Steve Smith, which is debatable at this point), which makes combing the waiver wires a bit of an exercise in futility. There is no substitute for Brandon Marshall’s production who has gone unnoticed, and a suitable Maurice Jones-Drew-like performance isn’t just coming out of nowhere. Obviously, you should have a serviceable backup on your roster to make these weeks less stressful, but for those owners who decide to roll with a one quarterback or one tight end roster – or get hammered with multiple players on a bye – refuge needs to come from somewhere.

Enter this week’s Rent-a-Players, those guys who are owned in a low percentage of leagues, yet have the capacity to break out in an emergency situation. I am not going to list 10 players to fill in for all 10 who are out this week – the likelihood of finding that many needles in the haystack is like finding dignity in a Kardashian – but I will suggest the best matchups to exploit on your way to making your team respectable in the face of bye week adversity.

On Bye: QB Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints

Rent-a-Player: QB Sam Bradford, St. Louis Rams (@ Miami Dolphins) – 19% owned If there was one thing evident in St. Louis’ upset victory over Arizona last week, it was that Sam Bradford, when given time, can throw a beautiful deep ball. And while Miami has been one of the surprises of the season (in that they have actually won a couple games and been more competitive than expected), the Rams have been no slouch, either. Bradford has a few young receivers to spread the ball to, and Miami is sporting a 27th ranked pass defense that have given up 18 plays of 20 or more yards and seven touchdowns. I like Bradford for adding about 300 yards and a couple more TDs to his resume this weekend.

On Bye: WR Brandon Marshall, Chicago Bears

Rent-a-Player: WR Armon Binns, Cincinnati Bengals (@ Cleveland Browns) – 3% owned Armon who? Playing third fiddle on a Bengals offense led by receiving wunderkind A.J. Green and slash threat Andrew Hawkins, Binns doesn’t exactly jump off the screen when thinking about receivers to plug and play for the week. But when you look at the matchup, and the fact that he is averaging 12.4 yards per catch, he is a nice play against a Cleveland secondary that was scorched by the Giants last week. Sure, he is third on his team in targets, but with Browns cornerback Joe Haden returning from a suspension just in time to shadow Megatron Jr., that leaves Binns as the second in line for looks from the Red Rifle, Andy Dalton. Give him a peek in deep leagues.

On Bye: WR Marques Colston, New Orleans Saints

Denver Broncos wide receiver Brandon Stokley should be open over the middle against a soft San Diego secondary.

Rent-a-Player: WR Brandon Stokley, Denver Broncos (@ San Diego Chargers) – 8% owned Stokley has been mentioned here before, but after watching San Diego continue to leave Colston open over the middle all game last Sunday night, it is even more clear to me that the former Colt is a steal for this weekend. With Chargers DBs working to take away Demaryius Thomas, Stokley will get all warm and fuzzy in his role as Peyton Manning’s security blanket, dropping into the open to haul in his third touchdown of the season and continuing to be used as a veteran chain-mover.

On Bye: RB Matt Forte, Chicago Bears

Rent-a-Player(s): RBs LaRod Stephens-Howling & William Powell, Arizona Cardinals (vs. Buffalo Bills) – 6% & 2% owned The Arizona O-Line is in shambles, as evidenced by Kevin Kolb playing the last couple games from his back, but with Ryan Williams and Beanie Wells both on injured reserve, the job is up for grabs. Stephens-Howling is returning from a hip injury, but has shown great burst when given opportunities in the past. Powell, the rookie from Kansas State, will also be given a shot, and if he can repeat his preseason numbers (which, obviously, were against third stringers) of 5.9 yards per carry and three touchdowns, you’ll see a new number one in the desert. You can flip a coin, but I’m taking Powell just for fun.

On Bye: RB Maurice Jones-Drew, Jacksonville Jaguars

Rent-a-Player: RB David Wilson, New York Giants (@ San Francisco 49ers) – 18% owned Suggesting you start a rookie with fumbling problems against a rush defense that yields just more than 80 yards per game and is looking for redemption after a playoff loss last year is, admittedly, stupid. However, taking Wilson this week is less about volume and more about hitting one out of the park. While spelling Ahmad Bradshaw last week, Wilson ripped off a 40-yard touchdown run, and his playing time has been ticking up ever since his Week 1 fumble on national television. Besides, with Bradshaw toting the rock nearly 30 times last week, New York is going to need to spell him more this week against a stout Niners front. It’s a risky play, but you’ll look like a genius if Wilson breaks out, and he is always good insurance in case Bradshaw goes down yet again.

On Bye: TE Jimmy Graham, New Orleans Saints

Rent-a-Player: TE Brandon Myers, Oakland Raiders (@ Atlanta Falcons) – 5% owned OK, so he hasn’t splashed the endzone yet this season, but Myers has caught all but one of his 17 targets through four games for a beastly 14.3 yards per catch. Atlanta is a Top-10 pass defense, and Carson Palmer doesn’t inspire confidence the way he used to when he was wearing tiger stripes, but Myers is an up-and-coming pass catcher, and when most of the other top tight ends are spoken for, sometimes desperate measures are called for.

On Bye: D/ST Chicago Bears

Rent-a-Team: San Diego Chargers (vs. Denver Broncos) – 12% owned I went back and forth a couple times with this one, finally settling on San Diego instead of Indianapolis (against the Jets) for one reason: turnovers. The Chargers give up plenty of points, but you can get away with that in fantasy if you have a nose for the ball, and this team’s six interceptions and four fumble recoveries on the season make them the Toucan Sam of the waiver wire. Plug them in and hope Peyton Manning has flashbacks to his Monday Night Football debacle against Atlanta.

Dez’s Drop Zone

Of course, in order to acquire some of the players mentioned above, you’ll have to drop one of your underachievers. Through five weeks of the season, here are some solid drops to make room on your roster, brought to you by Dez Bryant:

– RB Andre Brown, New York Giants

– RB Jackie Battle, San Diego Chargers

– WR Mike Williams, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

– RB DeAngelo Williams, Carolina Panthers

– RB Ryan Williams, Arizona Cardinals

– QB Josh Freeman, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

– QB Jake Locker, Tennessee Titans

– WR Alshon Jeffrey, Chicago Bears

Monday Meltdown: RGIII owners need insurance; The Hoodie comes through

If Robert Griffin III continues to take hits like the one he did yesterday, fantasy owners are going to need an insurance policy.

It might be time for Robert Griffin III to take over for teammate Brian Orakpo in those Geico commercials.

At the very least, RGIII’s owners should be looking to invest in some insurance.

After taking a vicious hit to the head from Atlanta Falcons linebacker Sean Weatherspoon yesterday, Griffin did not return to the game, officially labeled by the Redskins as “shaken up” (which, last time I checked, was not an actual injury). As was obvious to anyone watching, Griffin was later diagnosed with a concussion, and it is uncertain if he will play in the coming week.

For fantasy owners who have invested heavily in the rookie signal caller, this was exactly the kind of play that would make them squirm. The hit was legal, as Griffin was running with the ball and was no longer covered by the NFL’s many rules preserving the safety of the quarterback. And with all of the young aplomb that makes him so fun to watch, it also brings a high amount of risk, as Griffin will often hang onto the ball and try to get a couple extra yards with his legs, rather than throwing the ball away or stepping out of bounds to avoid the big hit.

With a build that more resembles Michael Vick than Cam Newton, Griffin is going to be at risk for injury the more Washington runs him and the more he lets his sandlot instincts kick into overdrive. Indeed, media pundits have already raised plenty of concerns about the number of hits he has taken – not including the 11 sacks he has sustained – and those voices will only be louder after this week’s incident.

As a result, it might be time for fantasy owners to start looking for a backup plan. The only problem, though, is that most of the under the radar options are disappearing in 12-team and deeper leagues as the season progresses. In one league where I own Bob Griff, my alternates currently encompass Ryan Tannehill on my bench, or the devil’s threesome of Russell Wilson, Blaine Gabbert and Mark Sanchez off waivers.

So what is a desperate fake footballer to do? At this point, hope for RGIII’s return in Week 6, then start shopping him around for a safer alternative. Even this might be a difficult end to achieve, as his points have ticked a little bit lower each week, but it is the only safe way to ensure actually having a decent starting quarterback in your lineup each week.

Other thoughts from the weekend that was…

Colston returns to form. Lost in the hubbub of Drew Brees breaking the consecutive games with a touchdown record was the monster night by wide receiver Marques Colston – 131 yards receiving and three touchdowns. In the past two weeks, Colston has been looking like the reliable fantasy option he always has been, with 284 yards and four TDs in his last two games. With a bye week up next to help rest his nasty plantar fascia injury, Colston becomes a must-start from Week 7 on.

Graham hobbled. Another takeaway from Sunday Night Football was a little less fortunate for fantasy owners, as Saints tight end Jimmy Graham scored less than one point and left the stadium in a walking boot after suffering an ankle injury. Keep an eye on this one, and hope for the best after the team’s bye.

The Hoodie loves your team – this week, at least. After railing on Bill Belichick and his nefarious use of running backs last week, I must say I owe him an apology – or at the very least, some recognition. This week, Belichick leaned heavily on Stevan Ridley, rewarding fantasy owners with a 151 yard, one touchdown performance against a reeling Denver defense. Ridley is now the fourth ranked running back in standard scoring leagues, and the way New England’s offense is firing on all cylinders, it looks like there will be plenty more touches coming for the youngster.

Chuckstrong could be Luckstrong. What an inspiring, emotional performance from the Indianapolis Colts yesterday, knocking off the Green Bay Goliaths on the heels of news that their head coach, Chuck Pagano, was diagnosed with leukemia. Rookie quarterback Andrew Luck continues to prove he is the real deal, as he tossed for 362 yards, two touchdowns, and one interception while dissecting the Packers’ secondary. It also helps that the kid has Reggie Wayne, who is using all of his veteran savvy, to throw to. If I am in a dynasty league and I don’t have Luck, I am selling the farm to acquire him at this point.

Don’t ditch Jordy, yet. Much to Mrs. Naptime Quarterback’s chagrin, Packers wide receiver Jordy Nelson has been nothing short of a disappointment through five games this season. While some drop off was to be expected from last season’s 15 touchdown outburst, no one could have seen less than 300 yards and a single touchdown coming. At the same time, the Packers are going to have to make adjustments to stay afloat in a competitive division, which may mean taking the same route as Arizona has with Larry Fitzgerald, moving their stud receiver around in different formations to get the ball in his hands. I still think it is too early to give up on Nelson, but I understand the impatience his owners are experiencing.

Aces & Deuces: Week 5 Deuces

Eagles quarterback Michael Vick will lead you to fantasy shame this weekend against a strong Pittsburgh D.

Week 4 was a rough one for my personal quest toward emulating Nostradamus.

After a putrid Aces showing that left me at 1-6 for the week, I followed it up with only a slightly better run at the weekly losers, calling two out of six performers correctly. Since Dallas decided to not show up against Chicago and Tampa Bay’s rush defense showed their true colors, only DeMarco Murray and Vernon Davis proved me right with their underachievement last week.

This week, though, brings a lot of tough defensive matchups for the usual fantasy studs, leading me to believe a few of them are worthy of being left on the bench to rot with the rest of your duds.

Week 5 – Deuces

WR Mike Wallace, Pittsburgh Steelers (vs. Philadelphia Eagles) Prior to the Steelers’ Week 4 bye, Wallace shot out of the gates against the Raiders, racking up a healthy 123 yards and a touchdown on eight receptions. Before that, though, he did not surpass 74 yards in a game against much better secondaries from the Broncos and Jets. This week, Wallace and the Steelers take on Philly’s seventh-ranked passing defense, which has only given up two pass plays of more than 40 yards (aka Wallace’s bread and butter). With Antonio Brown leading the team in targets and the return of Rashard Mendenhall meaning more balance between the pass and the run, look for Wallace to put up numbers similar to the first two weeks of the season. Prediction: 69 yards receiving = 6.9 fantasy points

QB Michael Vick, Philadelphia Eagles (@ Pittsburgh Steelers) On the sideline opposite Wallace will be Vick, who is coming off his cleanest game of the season last Sunday against a strong New York Giants defense. Fantasy owners should be feeling better about Fragile Rock (my pet name for Vick) this week, then, since he managed to hold onto the ball for the whole game, right? Wrong. With James Harrison and Troy Polamalu (plus his gorgeous locks) set to return to the field, look for Pittsburgh’s team total of five sacks to increase as they apply heavy pressure to Vick throughout the game. Prediction: 189 yards passing + 24 yards rushing + 1 TD + 2 INTs = 9.96 fantasy points

Jamaal Charles put the ball on the ground twice last week and faces a difficult test this weekend against Baltimore.

RB Jamaal Charles, Kansas City Chiefs (vs. Baltimore Ravens) On paper, this looks like a solid matchup for Charles to exploit, as the Ravens have been vulnerable to the rush this year, allowing 94.5 yards per game and six touchdowns through the first quarter of the season. However, Baltimore will be well-rested after their grueling stretch of four games in 17 days to start the year, and the longest run the team has given up has been a measly 20-yard scamper to LeSean McCoy in Week 2. But the most important factor in Charles having a poor showing will not be Charles, or even the Ravens’ defensive line. Rather, it will be the play of Matt Cassel, who is averaging 6.6 yards per attempt and has thrown seven interceptions (including three last week at home against San Diego). What’s going to stop Baltimore from stacking the box against Charles and making Cassel beat them through the air? Cassel. Don’t bet on him. Prediction: 72 yards rushing + 16 yards receiving = 8.8 fantasy points

RB Fred Jackson, Buffalo Bills (@ San Francisco 49ers) FJax was held to 79 total yards last week in Buffalo’s blowout loss to New England, as the Bills had to take to the air to catch up late in the game. However, this week’s matchup against San Francisco does not look like it is going to offer Jackson a shot at redemption. San Francisco’s front seven will be too strong, and while this game will probably be closer than last week’s tilt, traveling across three time zones after an absolute lashing is not a good recipe for success. Prediction: 55 yards rushing + 17 yards receiving = 7.2 fantasy points

RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Cincinnati Bengals (vs. Miami Dolphins) Remember that time the Dolphins led the league in rush defense? It just happened to coincide with the time that the Law Firm forgot how to hold onto the ball, with three fumbles so far this season after holding onto it for his entire career. Green-Ellis may be a Top-10 back in terms of yardage, but his yards per carry (3.5) and lack of game-breaking speed (long run of 19 yards) say otherwise, and those will be the numbers to tell the story against a team allowing fewer than 60 yards per game on the ground. Plus, Green-Ellis is a non-factor in the passing game, with only nine targets to his name. Hire a new lawyer this weekend. Prediction: 47 yards rushing = 4.7 fantasy points

WR Jordy Nelson, Green Bay Packers (@ Indianapolis Colts) As Greg Jennings continues to take time off from the field to shoot Old Spice commercials (oh, he’s hurt? All I see are the commercials…), opposing defenses have keyed on Jordy. The end result? One touchdown this season and a long reception of 28 yards. While he may be averaging 12.4 yards per catch, teams have taken away the deep ball from Nelson, relegating him to a chain-moving, possession receiver. Green Bay has plenty of passing options, and Nelson is becoming less attractive as a weekly shoo-in for gaudy fantasy numbers. Indy is a weaker defense, but I expect Vontae Davis to take Nelson out of the picture and make Aaron Rodgers spread the ball around. Prediction: 42 yards receiving + 1 TD = 10.2 fantasy points