Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Fantasy Football 2011: Week 5 Waiver Wire

We've reached the point in the NFL season where bye weeks are now in play and fantasy line-ups need adjustment. This week: the Cleveland Browns, Dallas Cowboys, Miami Dolphins, St. Louis Rams, Baltimore Ravens and Washington Redskins have byes - which means no Ray Rice, no Tony Romo and no Dez Bryant. Also, it's likely injuries will impact your line-up this week, especially if you own Houston Texans WR Andre Johnson, who's out 2-3 weeks with a hamstring injury.

The waiver wire is getting pretty thin and finding an every week starter becomes more difficult with each passing week. However, there are some bye week fill-ins worth taking a look at and some guys who could have an impact later in the season.

Ryan Torain, RB, Washington Redskins
Even though the Redskins are off in Week 5, Torain is worth picking up. Torain had 19 carries for 135 yards against the St. Louis Rams on Sunday and looked like best runner in Washington. Torain is worth adding in all league formats, and especially for owners who have Tim Hightower or Roy Helu. But be warned about Torian, he plays for Mike Shanahan. Shanahan has a tendency to keep fantasy owners guessing more than opposing defenses on who will get the most carries from week-to-week. Regardless, add Torain - he's the best of the running free agents.

Stevan Ridley, RB, New England Patriots
After a solid preseason, Ridley got drafted in many leagues as a late-round sleeper. However, after three less than impressive games (where he barely touched the ball), he has a chance to play bigger role in New England's high-powered offense. With Danny Woodhead injured, Ridley took advantage of his first extended playing time of the season and rushed for 97 yards on ten carries and scored his first-career NFL touchdown. BenJarvus Green-Ellis still figures to be the main ball carrier for the Patriots, but Ridley certainly showed what he can do. With that said, Bill Belichick is just like Shanahan in that he keeps fantasy owners guessing on who will get the ball from week-to-week. Ridley is still worth a roster spot, but not a starting spot.

Jacoby Jones, WR, Houston Texans
With Andre Johnson out 2-3 weeks with a hamstring injury, Jones looks to be the most likely candidate to replace him. While it would be crazy to think Jones will match Johnson's offensive production, I think Jones is still a very good addition. If you recall last season when Johnson was out with an injury, Jones had 10 catches for 185 yards in the two games. Jones is a good fill-in WR if you need a bye week replacement, but don't plan on having him on your roster once Johnson is healthy and playing again.

Antonio Brown, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers
It's becoming more clear each week that Brown is emerging as the Steelers number two WR. He has outplayed Emmanuel Sanders and he has younger legs than Hines Ward. On Sunday vs. Houston, Brown led the Steelers in targets (he also led the Steelers in targets in week 3). Brown had huge preseason so he may not be available in your league. But if he is, he's the WR with the most upside going forward.

Tim Tebow, QB, Denver Broncos (pictured)
Maybe it was the pro-Tebow billboards that swayed me, but it might be time to add Tebow to your fantasy roster. His struggles have been well documented and he may not be a very good NFL quarterback, but he's already proven that he can be a fantasy football stud. In the final three games of last season, Tebow finished with 15, 17 and 21 fantasy points (standard scoring). His ability to run and throw makes him just as valuable as (dare I say) Michael Vick and Cam Newton. Go get him now before it's too late.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

2011 Fantasy Football: Week 4 Tuesday Takeaways

We're a quarter of the way through the NFL season and some things are beginning more clear. It's clear that the Green Bay Packers are the elite team in the league and they have all the makings of a dynasty. It also looks like defense are still way behind offenses when it comes to execution.

The offensive numbers being put up each week have been staggering. In fact, there are six(!) quarterbacks currently on pace to break Dan Marino's single-season passing yardage record of 5,084 (Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Cam Newton, Aaron Rodgers (pictured), Philip Rivers and Tony Romo).

Every Tuesday The Source takes a look back at the weekend (and Monday night) that was in the NFL. Here are The Source's takeaways from week four.

1) Mr. Rodgers officially joined Mr. Brady in the MVP candidate neighborhood.

2) Okay, it's official, the Minnesota Vikings are officially in the Andrew Luck sweepstakes. It's to imagine things getting much worse for the 0-4 purple, but it will when rookie Christian Ponder gets thrown to the wolves. Sidenote on #SuckForLuck: the Indianapolis Colts and Miami Dolphins are worse than the Vikings.

3) After a terrible week one, Tampa Bay RB LeGarrette Blount is gaining steam and looks like the fantasy player I thought he'd be. In the last three games he's rushed for 279 yards and 3 touchdowns. While his performance has improved, look for him to take a step back this weekend when he faces a San Francisco defense that hasn't allowed a 100-yard rusher since November 2009 (the Niners held Philadelphia Eagles RB LeSean McCoy to 18 yards rushing in week 3).

4) So much for thinking San Diego Chargers RB Ryan Mathews had a strangle hold on the Chargers featured running back spot. After a two touchdown performance in week 3, Mathews split time with Mike Tolbert again in week 4 and Tolbert vultured a one-yard TD. Good luck figuring this one out each week. The good news for Mathews owners, he's still healthy.

5) The Houston Texans got RB Arian Foster back at just the right time. The Texans will be without superstar WR Andre Johnson for at least 2-3 weeks with a hamstring injury he sustained in week 3's win over the Pittsburgh Steelers. Look for Foster to get a healthy dose of carries with Johnson out and look for QB Matt Schuab's production to drop as well.

5) How is Jerome Simpson still on the field? If you're a faithful reader than you know I have an unhealthy fixation on the Cincinnati Bengals WR2. I think anyone who lines up opposite rookie WR A.J. Green has value, Green is a superstar in the making. With that said, I want to know how Simpson, who caught 3 passes for 26 yards Sunday against the Buffalo Bills, hasn't been arrested for his role in a sting where police found 8.5 pounds of marijuana at his house. I know we must wait for the process to work its way through, but geez, quit leaving us Bengals-WR2-loving-fantasy-owners in a lurch. Until this Simpson case (I know, not very original) gets resolved, avoid playing him and WR Andre Caldwell. Right now they are stealing each others targets.

6) Last week I proclaimed Dallas Cowboys QB Tony Romo 'Captain Comeback' - a name I ripped from former QB and current Niners head coach Jim Harbaugh. Now I need to rip it away from Romo and give it to Tampa Bay Buccaneers QB Josh Freeman. In his three seasons as a starter, Freeman has eight fourth quarter comebacks, including two already this year (week 2 @ MIN, week 4 vs. INDY).

7) I need to apologize to San Francisco 49ers RB Frank Gore. Last week, I suggested rookie RB Kendall Hunter should start getting more touches because he had looked more versatile than Gore. Gore responded by ripping off 127 yards and a touchdown in Sunday's come-from-behind win over the Philadelphia Eagles. Gore's performance was even more impressive when you consider he rushed just 15 times and was playing on a gimpy ankle. Keep Gore in your starting line-up and Hunter on your bench, at least for now.

8) If you reached and overdrafted Washington Redskins RB Tim Hightower, you're probably cursing Mike Shanahan right about now. But let's be honest, Washington's backfield shuffle was bound to happen - we're talking about Shanahan here. During the preseason all signs pointed to Hightower being the guy in the Skins' run-first offense. For a couple of weeks that looked to be the case, until Ryan Torain came back. Now Torain, who had 19 carries for 135 yards and a touchdown on Sunday against the St. Louis Rams, looks like the best runner in Washington. Hightower and rookie RB Roy Helu each carried the ball eight times, gaining 24 and 35 yards respectively. Good luck trying to figure out Shanahan's backfield rotation from week-to-week. But if last Sunday is any indication, Torain will be the lead back in Washington going forward.