Fantasy flex plays for Week 5
With four teams on byes this wek, the absence of some of elite fantasy players will certainly hurt many teams. But every week new names creep into the flex discussion, and this is no exception. The Dolphins' suddenly sparked passing game is evidence of that. And the Chargers' and Patriots' backfield developments made some deeper names very intriguing. Others, meanwhile, have become increasingly valuable because of injuries (sorry, Beanie Wells, Hakeem Nicks and Santonio Holmes ... hmm, wait ... not Holmes. No Jet has value. Sorry, Rex Ryan).
Entering the second quarter of the season, the shockingly 0-4 Saints present a weekly smorgasbord fantasy feast for their opponents. With the yards and points they're hemorrhaging, it appears safe to roll out the fringe players for whatever team is lucky enough to face them. The Titans defense is another to pick on, as it continues to give up points (37.8 per game!) like a Big 12 defense. Conversely, the Texans and Niners have been so dominant that true-blue studs (see Peterson, Adrian, Week 3) are the only ones worth taking a shot with versus those units.
1. Andrew Hawkins vs. Miami - After a down performance versus the Jaguars last week, Hawkins could be primed for a big bounce-back. Look what Andre Roberts did to Miami with Larry Fitzgerald drawing coverage. Hawkins is a similarly quick and explosive slot receiver who just so happens to have an opposite receiver, some guy named A.J. Green, distracting entire defenses.
2. Ryan Williams at St. Louis - The Rams have allowed 135 yards per game on the ground at 4.7 yards a tote. Williams struggled badly last week, but that was because Miami boasts the league's best run defense and took an early lead. St. Louis has even fewer weapons than Miami, though, and is not going to put up a ton of points on an aggressive and stingy Cardinals defense. This could be Williams' time to really break out.
3. Domenik Hixon vs. Cleveland - In the three games the Browns have been without Joe Haden, their pass defense has been burned for seven scores and 882 yards. What's more, they've allowed six receivers to post double-digit fantasy points in that stretch. Without Hakeem Nicks versus Philly, it was Hixon, not Ramses Barden, who proved to be Eli Manning's replacement for the missing playmaker. If Nicks' knee does not improve dramatically during the week, expect him to sit once again, particularly given the highly winnable nature of this game. That means Hixon should continue to see a high volume of targets and post back-to-back strong performances.
4. Davone Bess at Cincinnati - Bess has 209 yards in his last two games and now gets a Bengals defense that's rolling with its fifth and sixth options at corner with a rash of injuries in the secondary. Although Cincinnait may get star cover man Leon Hall (hamstring) back, he'll likely square off with Brian Hartline. And with the Bengals leading the league in sacks, a heavy pass rush could lead to a lot of hot routes to Bess underneath. Facing inferior coverage, that figures to equal a lot of catches and yards for the savvy veteran.
5. Jacquizz Rodgers at Washington - After barely registering any yards in Weeks 1 and 2, Rodgers has totaled 125 yards and a score the last two games. Of that total, 75 yards and the score came through the air on nine catches. If the Falcons decide to go with no huddle against an absolutely dreadful Redskins pass defense - which has allowed a league-high 11 passing scores - don't be surprised if Rodgers has his best day yet.
6. Brandon Stokley at New England - In two games versus the Pats last year Demaryius Thomas racked up 13 catches for 209 yards. And he did that catching balls from Tim Tebow. With Peyton Manning under center, expect Bill Belichick to do everything he can to limit Manning's go-to guy, particularly in the red zone. Furthermore, New England knows as well as any team that if you send too many rushers at Manning he'll absolutely pick you apart. When the Patriots use just four to get pressure and drop seven, Manning will look to all his reads and find Stokley uncovering more often than anyone else for what should be a lot of connections between the pair of 36-year-olds.
WEEK 5 FLEX-PLAY RANKINGS
*Check injury status.
1. Marshawn Lynch SEA at Car
2. Arian Foster HOU at NYJ
3. Ray Rice BAL at KC
4. A.J. Green CIN vs. Mia
5. Victor Cruz NYG vs. Cle
6. Roddy White ATL at Was
7. Wes Welker NE vs. Den
8. Frank Gore SF vs. Buf
9. Adrian Peterson MIN vs. Ten
10. *LeSean McCoy PHI at Pit - Tweaked his knee Sunday night, which might explain why Bryce Brown and not he was in the game for the Eagles' final possession after reaching first-and-goal.
11. Jamaal Charles KC vs. Bal - Two costly early fumbles, but also two touchdowns as the Chiefs stuck with him.
12. Trent Richardson CLE at NYG
13. Maurice Jones-Drew JAC vs. Chi
14. Jimmy Graham NO vs. SD
15. Rob Gronkowski NE vs. Den
16. Dwayne Bowe KC vs. Bal
17. Larry Fitzgerald ARZ at StL
18. Julio Jones ATL at Was
19. Brandon Marshall CHI at Jac
20. Percy Harvin MIN vs. Ten
21. *Reggie Bush MIA at Cin - (Knee) Wasn't targeted in the passing game much, but otherwise looked good considering the injury the previous week.
22. Darren Sproles NO vs. SD
23. Stevan Ridley NE vs. Den - In Week 3 it was Woodhead staling carries, this week it was Bolden. Ridley still had a huge game, but the timeshare is frustrating.
24. *Willis McGahee DEN at NE - Able to play through his rib injury last week just fine.
25. *Ryan Mathews SD at NO - Norv Turner's sly benching of Mathews caused a lot of fantasy anguish, but it appears he's back out of the doghouse now. But there's always going to be that concern in the background now with him.
26. *Matt Forte CHI at Jac - (Ankle) Early scare Monday night, but recovered quickly after getting re-taped and made it through the game decently.
27. Ahmad Bradshaw NYG vs. Cle
28. Mike Wallace PIT vs. Phi
29. Demaryius Thomas DEN at NE
30. Reggie Wayne IND vs. GB
31. Steve Smith CAR vs. Sea
32. Brandon Lloyd NE vs. Den
33. Torrey Smith BAL at KC
34. Marques Colston NO vs. SD
35. Andre Johnson HOU at NYJ - 50+ yards on the first drive, ended up with just 56 yards for the game.
36. Alfred Morris WAS vs. Atl - Another strong game last week, even with a semi-tough matchup (the Bucs had allowed just 2.3 yards per carry prior to Week 4).
37. Chris Johnson TEN at Min - Went for 141 yards in a losing effort.
38. *C.J. Spiller BUF at SF - At one point it appeared that Spiller aggravated his shoulder injury, but afterward he said he emerged ok. So we're now back to the old timeshare that we had at the beginning of the season.
39. *Fred Jackson BUF at SF - Jackson's knee was sore after playing against the Pats, but not enough to stop him from playing this week. So we're back to the same timeshare that we had at the beginning of the season.
40. Brian Hartline MIA at Cin
41. Vernon Davis SF vs. Buf
42. Tony Gonzalez ATL at Was
43. DeSean Jackson PHI at Pit
44. Antonio Brown PIT vs. Phi
45. Eric Decker DEN at NE
46. Jordy Nelson GB at Ind
47. Steve Johnson BUF at SF
48. BenJarvus Green-Ellis CIN vs. Mia - Two more fumbles, one lost at the goal line, the other he was able to recover himself. It's in his head now.
49. Steven Jackson STL vs. Ari
50. Ryan Williams ARZ at StL - Very disappointing first game as the starter, 13 carries for 26 yards.
51. Michael Turner ATL at Was - Took advantage of a great matchup last week, this week won't be so easy.
52. Donald Brown IND vs. GB
53. DeAngelo Williams CAR vs. Sea
54. *Rashard Mendenhall PIT vs. Phi - (Knee) Expected to make his 2012 debut this week.
55. James Jones GB at Ind
56. Nate Washington TEN at Min
57. Danny Amendola STL vs. Ari
58. Andre Roberts ARZ at StL - Huge game in the comeback effort against the Dolphins.
59. Lance Moore NO vs. SD
60. Michael Crabtree SF vs. Buf
61. Malcom Floyd SD at NO
62. Fred Davis WAS vs. Atl - Hasn't found the end zone yet, but he's getting good targets now and faces a Falcons defense that allowed Greg Olsen to score last week.
63. *Antonio Gates SD at NO - (Ribs) Had a season-high 59 receiving yards last week.
64. Jermaine Gresham CIN vs. Mia
65. *Jeremy Maclin PHI at Pit - Disastrous game - one catch, three targets.
66. Donnie Avery IND vs. GB
67. Greg Little CLE at NYG - If a ball drops in a forest, can anyone see it?
68. *Domenik Hixon NYG vs. Cle - Hixon and not Barden started with Nicks out against the Eagles.
69. *Jonathan Stewart CAR vs. Sea - (Toe) Split carries nearly evenly with DeAngelo Williams against the Falcons.
70. *Ben Tate HOU at NYJ - Sore toe, missed Monday's walk-through. This also explains his very limited use against Tennessee on Sunday.
71. *Brandon Bolden NE vs. Den - Big effort sharing the carries with Ridley last week.
72. Shonn Greene NYJ vs. Hou
73. Sidney Rice SEA at Car - Seahawks' conservative offense really limiting his upside.
74. Andrew Hawkins CIN vs. Mia
75. Anquan Boldin BAL at KC
76. *Jeremy Kerley NYJ vs. Hou - With Santonio Holmes out, Kerley should get more targets. Whether there's a quarterback that can deliver is a matter of debate.
77. Brandon LaFell CAR vs. Sea - Costly goose egg last week - seemed to be hurt by Greg Olsen's targets.
78. *Donald Jones BUF at SF - Suffered a head injury has been classified as minor by head coach Chan Gailey.
79. Jerome Simpson MIN vs. Ten - Four catches for 50 yards and drew two pass interference penalties.
80. *Pierre Garcon WAS vs. Atl - (Foot) Didn't suffer a setback last week, but was kept off the field on the Redskins' final game-winning drive.
81. T.Y. Hilton IND vs. GB
82. Randall Cobb GB at Ind
83. Jacquizz Rodgers ATL at Was
84. Andre Brown NYG vs. Cle - Bradshaw got the bulk of the work Sunday night.
85. Daniel Thomas MIA at Cin
86. Michael Bush CHI at Jac - Limited use with Matt Forte back.
87. *Jackie Battle SD at NO - Battle got the surprise start in Week 4, but he might return to a backup role this week against the Saints.
88. Kendall Hunter SF vs. Buf
89. Kyle Rudolph MIN vs. Ten - One of many disappointing tight ends last week.
90. Owen Daniels HOU at NYJ
91. Greg Olsen CAR vs. Sea
92. Heath Miller PIT vs. Phi
93. Brent Celek PHI at Pit
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