Ten fantasy moves to make or avoid for Week 5
With a quarter of the NFL season already in the books, the fantasy landscape has finally stabilized. (Well, it's as stable as any situation can be when a single play can yield a season-ending ACL tear.) We have clear surprises (Ryan Fitzpatrick, Eric Decker) and obvious busts (Chris Johnson, Reggie Wayne). For the most part, lineup decisions this week should be a little less mind-boggling and time-consuming. This is the period when you should relax, enjoy the games and see where the chips fall.
In theory, anyhow.
With Week 5 comes the bye weeks, a sub-season when fantasy owners find themselves plugging holes and just trying to stay afloat. This week we won't be watching the Ravens, Browns, Dolphins, Cowboys, Rams or Redskins. But never fear. Here are some likely available pickups to help you weather the bye storm, as well as some guys who should be sent on a permanent vacation:
Pick up: Matt Hasselbeck, Tennessee, QB
Perhaps it is because he has been bald for 10 years and has that kooky sister-in-law, but it has been difficult to think of Hasselbeck as an upper echelon quarterback. But the Hass has enjoyed a rebirth in Tennessee, where he's slicing apart defenses and putting up big numbers. He has thrown for eight touchdowns and averages close to 300 yards a game (288, to be exact). The Titans face the league's best pass defense statistically in the Steelers this week, yet Hasselbeck is performing at a high enough level to warrant the pick up and start.
Pick up: Stevan Ridley, New England, RB
The Patriots like to carry a congested backfield, but Ridley was clearly the running star Sunday in Oakland. Even with fewer carries than starter BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Ridley had 97 yards and a touchdown and showed the explosiveness the Patriots love. Green-Ellis isn't a guy who has earned loyalty capital, so expect Ridley to continue to get more carries.
Pick up: Michael Bush, Oakland, RB
If the Raiders have a first-and-goal inside the 5, it's out with Darren McFadden and in with Bush. It's almost automatic at this point. While Bush will never get you that 100-yard bonus, he is a viable option because of his scoring opportunities. He has already reached the end zone three times this season.
Pick up: Jacoby Jones, Houston, WR
Early reports from Houston indicate star receiver Andre Johnson will miss multiple weeks with a hamstring injury. While no one fills Johnson's shoes, Jones will step in and see a major increase in targets (and presumably catches). He's a legitimate deep threat who could put up nice numbers this week against the Raiders, who have allowed eight passing touchdowns.
Pick up: Victor Cruz, New York Giants, WR
One big mental mistake aside, Cruz had six catches for 98 yards Sunday at Arizona, his second consecutive strong performance. He has worked his way up the depth chart, and at this point is almost sharing the No. 2 receiver slot with Mario Manningham. Cruz is a deep threat and should continue to get plenty of opportunities this week against the Seahawks.
Pick up: A.J. Green, Cincinnati, WR
Green has come on strong, and there's no reason to think his impressive rookie campaign won't continue. In four games, Green has two touchdowns and two 100-plus yard performances, including Sunday against the Bills. Andy Dalton loves throwing it deep to Green, a trend that should continue this week when the Bengals face a Jags team that has given up big plays to opposing receivers.
Pick up: Ryan Torain, Washington, RB
OK, I know this column is supposed to focus on Week 5 fill-ins, but a little forward thinking never hurt anyone. Torain came out of nowhere Sunday to rush 19 times for 135 yards and a touchdown. His surprising increase in action came after Tim Hightower injured his shoulder on the third play of the game. For now, Mike Shanahan is staying mum on the severity of Hightower's injury, but between Hightower's uncertain status and Torain's dominant performance Sunday, expect Torain to see more playing time. He could be especially valuable when the Redskins face one of the league's worst rushing defenses in the Eagles in Week 6.
Drop: Kendall Hunter, San Francisco, RB
Frank Gore isn't going anywhere for a while. He proved that Sunday with an inspired performance that led the Niners to an improbable win over the Eagles. While Hunter looked decent when he played, his time on the field was limited. The rookie running back had nine carries to Gore's 15; Gore had the touchdown and was called upon to help the team kill the clock and seal the victory. This will not be a platoon situation, as many had predicted.
Drop: Alex Henery, Philadelphia, K
I usually ignore kickers in this space, but I have a hard time supporting one who has made only 73 percent of his kicks and missed two crucial field goals (both less than 40 yards) in Sunday's loss to San Francisco. As an owner, I'd fish elsewhere before Andy Reid does.
Drop: Chad Ochocinco, New England, WR
I don't know how many times to say it: Drop Ochocinco. Drop Ochocinco. Drop Ochocinco. Is that enough? Prolific tweeting doesn't equal prolific receiving. He's dead weight in New England, and I still think Randy Moss will replace him at some point.
If you have any waiver questions not addressed here, please ask away. As always, join me with your tough start/sit questions during for our weekly Fantasy Help Desk chat, every Friday at 3 p.m. ET.