Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Through The Wire Week 5

Running Backs
Off The Top
Felix Jones, DAL (@MIN, NYG, JAC, @GB) – Jones rushed 15 times for 109 yards in Sunday’s loss to Tennessee, setting season and career highs, adding a much-needed spark the Cowboys running game and freeing up Tony Romo’s capable receivers. While Dallas inexplicably lost the game, Jones appears to have surpassed Barber on the depth chart with this performance and should get the bulk of carries going forward.

Digging Deeper
Donald Brown, IND (@WAS, BYE, HOU, @PHI) – The injury-plagued sophomore tailback has missed the past two games (hamstring), but the Colts running game is really holding out for a hero – which could be Brown. If Joseph Addai (shoulder, neck) isn’t available on Sunday, Brown could get a start.

Scouring The Barrel
Fred Taylor, NE (BAL, @SD, MIN, CLE) – Taylor’s supposed to return from a lingering toe injury in Week 6, but the situation in New England remains cloudy because of BenJarvus Green-Ellis, the changing personnel in the passing game, and fringe performers like Danny Woodhead and Sammy Morris.

Earnest Graham, TB (NO, STL, @ARI, @ATL) – Fantasy owners anxious for some semblance of order to the Bucs running game might be nippy at Graham’s heels after his big day Sunday. While he’s not getting enough work to be a relevant starter, it’s a situation worth watching, as the veteran fullback was once a successful tailback and fantasy RB2.

Michael Bush, OAK (@SF, @DEN, SEA, KC) – Bush, returning from a broken thumb that kept him out of the first two games, rushed for 104 yards and a touchdown on 26 carries in Sunday’s victory against San Diego. The Raiders can take their time easing Darren McFadden back into the rotation, and when both are healthy, this situation smells like a pretty even time share. But if one is inactive, the other will flourish.

Ryan Torain, WAS (IND, @CHI, @DET, BYE) – Torain didn’t gain large chunks of yardage on Sunday, but he’s active in the passing game and Clinton Portis won’t be back anytime soon. Consider Shanahan’s favorite pet a RB2 with upside.

Ladell Betts, NO (@TB, CLE, PIT, @CAR) – The early word is that Pierre Thomas could return to action in Week 6. Keep an eye on the injury report; it’s clear that the veteran Betts has more value than Christopher Ivory in Thomas’ stead.

Mike Bell, PHI (ATL, @TEN, BYE, TB) – With LeSean McCoy active, Bell didn’t see much work. He’s nothing more than a low-grade handcuff at this point.

Kareem Huggins, TB (NO, STL, @ARI, @ATL) – I don’t understand the carry distribution in Tampa Bay, but with Cadillac Williams struggling, it seems the perfect opportunity to roll out the youngsters (Huggins, LeGarrette Blount) a little more than three or four times a game. Don’t give up just yet, optimistic Huggins owners.

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Off The Top
WR Michael Crabtree, SF (OAK, @CAR, DEN, BYE) – The much-maligned Crabtree is available in about one-fourth of fantasy leagues (including one ultra-competitive 14-teamer I’m in), and has benefited from a change in the offensive playcalling. He broke out against the Eagles on Sunday night, catching nine passes for 105 yards and a touchdown, and has gobs of risk/reward value as a WR3. We all saw what the Chargers did to the Raiders last week with a fast TE and athletic No. 1 WR, so the favorable matchup elevates Crabtree’s Week 6 value to WR2.

WR Mike Williams, TB (NO, STL, @ARI, @ATL) – Williams caught a career-high seven passes for 99 yards and a touchdown in the Bucs’ victory over the Bengals on Sunday. The rookie is the most dynamic target at Josh Freeman’s disposal, and with the running game a major question mark, he’ll get lots of work.

Digging Deeper
TE Marcedes Lewis, JAC (TEN, @KC, DAL, BYE) – You can’t argue that his production in the red zone has been awesome, so why not just add him? He’s not going to catch two TD passes every game, but he’s done it twice this season and Garrard has a soft spot for his tight end once the Jaguars offense gets close to the paint.

WR Danny Amendola, STL (SD, @TB, CAR, BYE) – The primary benefactor of Mark Clayton’s torn patella (placed on IR), Amendola caught 12 passes for 95 yards in Sunday’s blowout loss to Detroit. While it’s an unfortunate turn of events, the talented Amendola is the new No. 1 in St. Louis.

Scouring The Barrel
WR Deion Branch, NE (BAL, @SD, MIN, @CLE) – Branch heads from the uncertainty of Seattle to nebulous New England, where the football workforce is in a state of flux. While the best years of Deion’s career were in the Boston of yesteryear, the veteran is on the wrong side of 30 and coming off a few lackluster campaigns. Don’t expect a repeat of the days of yore, especially with Wes Welker, Julian Edelman, Brandon Tate and Aaron Hernandez clamoring for targets, but in deeper leagues, I can easily justify a roster spot for Branch.

WR Anthony Armstrong, WAS (IND, @CHI, @DET, BYE) – Armstrong had a big hand in beating the reeling Packers on Sunday, snagging three passes for 84 yards, including a game-changing 48-yard touchdown. His athletic TD grab helped ignite the Redskins rally, and going forward, he’s a viable deep threat for Donovan McNabb, who still throws one of the best long balls in the NFL.

Derrick Mason, BAL (NE, @BUF, BYE, MIA) – While Mason had just three receptions for 47 yards during Sunday’s win over Denver, he led the team with six targets in a game the Ravens won on the ground.

Roy Williams, DAL (@MIN, NYG, JAC, @GB) – Williams had another solid game Sunday, catching six passes for 87 yards and a touchdown. He’s a high-risk WR3/FLEX moving forward.

Davone Bess, MIA (@GB, PIT, @CIN, @BAL) – Before the Week 5 bye, Bess racked up 15 catches over two games. He’s not a great red zone weapon because of Brandon Marshall’s presence, but he’s a viable option in PPR formats.

Mike Thomas, JAC (TEN, @KC, DAL, BYE) – Thomas totaled over 100 yards on Sunday, catching four passes for 51 yards and running for 53 on three carries. He’s a more consistent option than Mike Sims-Walker and a must-own WR in deeper leagues.

Devin Thomas, CAR (BYE, SF, @STL, NO) – Thomas was released by the Redskins and claimed by the Panthers. We’ll see how much the Panthers plan to use him after the bye week, but the mess in Carolina isn’t an ideal situation.