Fantasy Football Week 5 Pickups

If you're lucky, Week 4 saw the return of some key fantasy players to your starting lineups.  Unfortunately, you'll need to bench players on the Carolina Panthers, Miami Dolphins, Minnesota Vikings, & New York Jets, as they're all on bye in Week 5.  Here are this week's i's (injuries), byes (players on bye), and r's (their replacements). 

Quarterback (QB)
- i's - 
Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers (knee - sprained MCL & bruised bone, projected return week 7)
Tony Romo, Dallas Cowboys (shoulder - fractured collarbone, projected return week 11)
Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts (shoulder - unknown)

- Byes -
Cam Newton - Carolina Panthers
Ryan Tannehill - Miami Dolphins
Ryan Fitzpatrick - New York Jets
Teddy Bridgewater - Minnesota Vikings

- R's -
Alex Smith, QB, Kansas City Chiefs (currently owned in 26.3% of all ESPN leagues): Yes, he's known to be a dink-and-dunk game manager who doesn't take very many shots down the field, but it's because his only viable receiving threat in 2014 was a rookie no one had heard of named Travis Kelce, and Dwayne Bowe who basically plays played with a permanently dislocated finger.  The Chiefs promptly sent Bowe packing, and now they have a real threat in Jeremy Maclin.  Enough of the bad news.  Does anyone remember the game where Jamaal Charles single-handedly destroyed the Raiders in Week 15 of the 2013 season?  Although Charles only rushed for 20 yards, he caught the ball for 195 and had a combined FIVE touchdowns.  The beauty is he caught 4 of those touchdowns from Alex Smith.  Yours truly had a combined 90+ points, in a ppr league, from Smith & Charles in that game alone.  If opposing defenses stack 8 in the box, they'll let Maclin and Kelce loose on a crossing route or a quick slant.  If cover Maclin and Kelce, Smith can dump it off to Charles for a quick gain.  Smith also has a reputation for taking care of the ball and using his legs to make plays.  Now that he's clicking with Maclin, expect increased production from Smith over the next 4 weeks as he faces favorable matchups. 

Blake Bortles, QB, Jacksonville Jaguars (currently owned in 19.7 of all ESPN leagues): at 6'5" and 245 lbs., the big sophomore QB has been looking pretty good.  He's been connecting with the Allens (Allen Hurns & Allen Robinson) and has thrown for a pair of TD's to each of them.  He may also get TE Julius Thomas back who, at 6'5, 260 lbs, has caught 12 TD's in both 2013 and 2014, and gives Bortles another big target to throw to.  If you're still in doubt, at least pick him up against a relatively soft Tampa Bay cover 2 defense.  Bortles could be a sneaky bye-week sub.

Runningback (RB) / Wide Receiver (WR) / FLEX
- i's -
Bilal Powell, RB, NY Jets - (groin)
Lance Dunbar, RB, Dallas Cowboys (knee, possibly out for season)
Marshawn Lynch, RB, Seattle Seahawks (various injuries)
Dez Bryant, WR, Dallas Cowboys (foot)
Stevie Johnson, WR, San Diego Chargers (hamstring)

- Byes -
Jonathan Stewart, RB, Carolina Panthers
Lamar Miller, RB, Miami Dolphins
Adrian Peterson, RB, Minnesota Vikings
Chris Ivory, RB, New York Jets
Ted Ginn Jr., WR, Carolina Panthers
Jarvis Landry, WR, Miami Dolphins
Kenny Stills, WR, Miami Dolphins
Rishard Matthews, WR, Miami Dolphins
Mike Wallace, WR, Minnesota Vikings
Brandon Marshall, WR, New York Jets
Eric Decker, WR, New York Jets

- R's -
Thomas Rawls, RB, Seattle Seahawks (currently owned in 45.1% of all ESPN leagues): Running vs. a relatively soft Bears defense in week 3, Rawls ran for 104 yards on 16 totes for an average of 6.5 yards per carry, but had a tough outing with Detroit in week 4.  Lynch looks to be banged up for the foreseeable future, so it looks like Rawls will pick up the slack.  The 5'9" 215 stocky back can make defenders miss, but also keeps his feet moving to gain valuable yards after contact.  He's running behind a decent  Seattle Seahawks line, and has some nice matchups coming up.

Darren McFadden, RB, Dallas Cowboys (currently owned in 48.6% of all ESPN leagues): this walking injury report has seen his stock dwindle in the previous weeks due to lack of usage. If someone dropped him in your league, pick him up.  With Lance Dunbar out for the season, D-MAC will split carries with Joseph Randle.  He's a good runner, decent playmaker, & can catch the ball out of the backfield (that means you, ppr leaguers) when he's healthy.  The key words seem to be "when he's healthy."  The veteran has only played one complete season since he was drafted in 2008.  Nevertheless, in leagues of 12+ teams, he might be your guy.

David Johnson, RB, Arizona Cardinals (currently owned in 54.7% of all ESPN leagues): the stock of the rookie 6'1" 224lb wideout-converted-runningback has dropped in recent weeks due to lack of usage.  3 things to consider in this possible breakout game: 1. CJ got all the totes, but DJ was the one who got in the endzone 2. How long will Chris Johnson be able to run like this?  3. Is Arizona's backfield starting to turn into a timeshare?  With Ellington's conservative use and Chris Johnson's relative wear, David Johnson, who had 4 catches for 63 yards and a TD, might be worth a look, especially in ppr formats.  He's a big back who can make the jump cuts, run with power, and make plays catching the ball out of the backfield since he was converted from wide receiver.  He's a player worth stashing to wait and see.  

Allen Hurns, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars (currently owned in 11.3% of all ESPN leagues): Bortles isn't the only one having what seems like a breakout season.  He targeted Hurns 15 times, successfully connecting on 11 of those attempts for 116 yards and a score on Sunday in a loss to the Colts.  There's no slump for this sophomore receiver as he's now on pace for 1200 yards and 8 scores.  While Hurns isn't a week-to-week starter, he's a matchup flex play that could fill in nicely on by-weeks.  The Buccaneers' cover-2 defense gave up 2 TD's to the Panther's number 2 receiving threat in week 4.  If they try to double-cover Allen Robinson, Hurns could be in for another big week.

Leonard Hankerson, WR, Atlanta Falcons (currently owned in 13.6% of all ESPN leagues): he caught 6 for 103 & a TD, has 2 scores in the past 3 weeks, & seems to be preferred over Roddy White.  The 6'2" wideout  can line up anywhere, run all the routes, & provides a decent deep threat & big play ability.  When teams try to stop Julio Jones, or   stack the box to stop the run, it opens things up for the relatively unknown Hankerson.  He has some soft matchups & comes as a decent value, so get him now.

Tavon Austin, WR, St. Louis Rams (currently owned in 10.9% of all ESPN leagues): Week 4 was a showcase of versatility for this high-risk, high-reward playmaker.  He caught 6 balls for 96 yards & 2 scores, & rushed twice for 20 yards.  At 5'8" & 174lbs, this burner ran an unofficial 4.25 40 & is a big play threat every time he touches the ball.  Buyer beware, he's had a combined 8.4 points in weeks 2 & 3 in standard scoring, so there's a bit of a usage issue, & he plays in arguably the toughest defensive division in the NFL.  PPR leaguers will have an easier time starting him.

Kamar Aiken, WR, Baltimore Ravens (currently owned in 0.7% of all ESPN leagues): with Steve Smith Sr. out, the targets need to go somewhere.  Aiken saw an increase in targets &, at 6'2" 215lbs, gives Flacco a big target to throw to.  With Haden out, Cleveland's secondary just got softer so look for a decent matchup in week 5. 

Tight End (TE) 
- i's -
Jordan Reed, Washington Redskins (knee, sprained MCL)
Eric Ebron, Detroit Lions (knee, questiomable for week 5)

- Byes -
Greg Olsen - Carolina Panthers
Jordan Cameron - Miami Dolphins
Kyle Rudolph - Minnesota Vikings

- R's -
Gary Barnidge, TE, Cleveland Browns (currently owned in 11% of all ESPN leagues): He's big, he's fast, he can make plays (yes, he can even catch a football with one hand), and he has a combined 12 catches for 180 yards and 2 scores in the past 2 weeks.  There aren't many receiving options in Cleveland, but they may have just found another one in Barnidge.  As long as he's on the field, McCown will look to dump the ball off to him.  Look for continued production this week against a decent matchup against the Ravens.

Coby Fleener, TE, Indianapolis Colts (currently owned in 16.4% of all ESPN leagues): Most people forget that Luck has been throwing to Fleener since their Stanford days.  Fleener has a rapport with Luck & knows the offensive system.  With Dwayne Allen coming off an injury & J.J. "SWAT" looking to block some passes, Luck will be looking for quick outlet passes & high completion percentage throws.  Look for a possible increase in targets to Fleener, with Dwayne Allen coming off of an ankle injury.

Maxx Williams, TE, Baltimore Ravens (currently owned in 6.7% of all ESPN leagues): with Smith & Gilmore out, Flacco has to throw the ball to someone.  Williams gives him a big athletic target who can catch the ball, break tackles, & gain valuable yards after contact.  With a lack of healthy targets, look for Williams to get increased looks to try & keep the defense honest & open things up for the run game.

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