What a week five it was for fantasy football.
Drew Brees vaulted to the top of all fantasy quarterbacks, Ahmad Bradshaw busted loose for over 200 yards, and both Marques Colston and Victor Cruz solidified their elite status with three TD games.
But it wasn’t all good, unless you have two or three of those players on one team.
Ok, bragging timeout.
I do have three of those players on the same team (Brees, Colston, Cruz). And that team also contains Tony Gonzalez, Adrian Peterson, and Matt Forte.
It was a good week for me.
As that team flew on to an easy victory, another one of my teams fought the bye-week blues and Greg Jennings’ groin. Many teams find themselves in the same boat, with injuries to Ryan Williams, Donald Brown, and Matt “I hope you weren’t starting me” Cassel.
But alas, hope is not lost, as there are many players left on the waiver wire that can save you from throwing in the towel on Brees and Colston’s bye week.
Bye-week pickup All-Stars
Vick Ballard, RB, Indianapolis Colts (owned in 0.3% of ESPN leagues)
Donald Brown underwent knee surgery this week, and he will be sidelined for 2-3 weeks. Ballard has handled the ball as Brown’s backup so far this year, and is in line for the start this Sunday against the Jets. The Colts played inspired football last week in Chuck Pagano’s absence, and the Jets can’t stop the run even a little. I like this one.
LaRod Stevens-Howling, RB, Arizona Cardinals (owned in 11.0% of ESPN leagues)
LSH may not roll off the tongue quite as well as MJD does, but Stevens-Howling is now the starting back in Arizona. First Beanie Wells, now Ryan Williams; hopefully Stevens-Howling isn’t next. Against Buffalo, I’ll take my chances with him.
Kevin Kolb, QB, Arizona Cardinals (owned in 20.1% of ESPN leagues)
The Cardinals play Buffalo at home. ‘Nough said.
Jeremy Kerley, WR, New York Jets (owned in 36.7% of ESPN leagues)
I’m quite surprised that Kerley is still available in more than 60% of ESPN leagues. He is the number one receiver in New York with Santonio Holmes out for the year, and should get a healthy number of balls thrown his way. Even with Mark Sanchez under center, he had nearly 100 yards against Houston.
Kevin Walter, WR, Houston Texans (owned in 2.3% of ESPN leagues)
This is a deep-league flyer at best, but if nobody else is available, I don’t hate Walter this week. He has seen more balls come his way recently (4 catches last game and 11 over his last four) and Houston should throw it against Green Bay’s middling secondary.
Kyle Rudolph, TE, Minnesota Vikings (owned in 56.7% of ESPN leagues)
Rudolph and QB Christian Ponder have shown great rapport in the red zone so far in 2012. Rudolph has hauled in four touchdowns so far this year, and Washington has problems defending tight ends. I also like Jermaine Gresham and Coby Fleener this week if Rudolph isn’t available.
I don’t mean to rip Matthew Berry off, but I’m a fan and I like his love/hate column. I’m much better looking and more knowledgeable than Berry, so here’s my better version of love/hate.
PS- I haven’t read his column this week, forgive me if we have many of the same picks.
Peyton Manning, QB, Denver Broncos
Manning has been stellar in his last three games, and I expect him to have another big game in a divisional clash against San Diego (the 24th ranked defense against opposing fantasy QBs).
Matt Schaub, QB, Houston Texans
I expect Schaub and the Texans to rise to the occasion this Sunday night. Playing in primetime, protecting an undefeated record against the Green Bay Packers, I say Schaub plays well.
Trent Richardson, RB, Cleveland Browns
Obviously, you’re starting Richardson at this point without a doubt. I just wanted to give the rookie a shout out and say how impressed I am with the kid. We could be watching Richardson rack up yards for a long time in this league.
Rashard Mendenhall, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers
Mendenhall didn’t seem to miss a beat, racking up 81 yards and a score in his first action since tearing his ACL last year. Combine that with a trip to Tennessee (4th worst against fantasy RBs) and you get a spot in the “love” section.
Michael Turner, RB, Atlanta Falcons
Turner has run hard this year, scoring in three straight games. At home against Oakland, I expect Atlanta to establish a lead early, then look to Turner to finish the game.
Roddy White, WR, Atlanta Falcons
On the road, White’s numbers have been fine. At home, his numbers have been an outrageous 16/271/3 in just two games. The Falcons are not only at home, but facing a lackluster Raiders defense. Expect a big game.
Mike Wallace, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers
Wallace has underachieved a bit this year, but I expect the Steelers to hit a big play to Wallace against Tennessee’s weak pass defense.
Michael Crabtree, WR, San Francisco 49ers
Crabtree got silly last week, catching 6 balls for 113 yards and a score. Against a below-average Giants secondary, expect another 100-yard day.
Brent Celek, TE, Philadelphia Eagles
Celek has the second-most receiving yards by tight ends this season, and Detroit has been beaten regularly by opposing TEs.
Tom Brady, QB, New England Patriots
Brady has to travel three time zones to face a formidable Seahawks defense that held even Aaron Rodgers in check. Avoid this one if you can.
Stevan Ridley, RB, New England Patriots
Not only is Seattle that good defensively, but the emergence of Brandon Bolden in the backfield hurts Ridley’s value. Bolden vultured a touchdown away from Ridley last week, and while Ridley was able to get in the end zone anyway in that game, I don’t expect as many chances for him this week.
Willis McGahee, RB, Denver Broncos
McGahee dropped a fourth-down pass that would have kept Denver alive this Sunday against New England. John Fox won’t bench McGahee yet, but he may be in the doghouse and has been boom-or-bust anyway.
Julio Jones, WR, Atlanta Falcons
While Roddy White has been feasting in the Georgia Dome, Jones hasn’t eaten. Julio has just five catches for 45 yards at home this season.
DeSean Jackson, WR, Philadelphia Eagles
Jackson will be covered by Detroit’s best corner in this game: Chris Houston. Houston is either very underrated, or just the best out of a poor secondary in Detroit. Either way, Vick will throw elsewhere.
Torrey Smith, WR, Baltimore Ravens
Somehow, Dallas has managed to lose with the best pass defense in the league. I have no doubt that Smith will see a few targets, but Baltimore will run Ray Rice a hundred times in this one, limiting Smith’s upside.
Vernon Davis, TE, San Francisco 49ers
Davis may be the 49ers’ most talented offensive weapon, but the Giants know this and will make Alex Smith beat them elsewhere. Plus, New York has defended TEs well this year (6th best).
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