Fantasy Football

Bolden, Battle top wish list

RotoWire.com Kevin Payne
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Week 4 began the bye weeks with both Indianapolis and Pittsburgh taking Sunday off. This week the number of teams on bye will expand to four, which will have fantasy owners searching for viable replacements off of waivers. As you'll read, there are many options to look at this week.

QUARTERBACK

Brandon Weeden, CLE - After Week 1 it was hard to imagine recommending Weeden at any point this season. However, a lot has changed since Weeden struggled mightily against the Philadelphia pass defense. He had 300-yard passing games in two of his last three games. Being 0-4 means Weeden will be playing from behind a lot and attempt a lot of passes (averaging 44 over his last three games). Greg Little can only improve his hands as the season goes on, and speedster Travis Benjamin has been more involved in the offense. Josh Gordon is raw but should improve as he gets acclimated to the NFL while Jordan Cameron shows a lot of athleticism for a tight end.

Matt Hasselbeck, TEN - Hasselbeck is only a good option to consider if you're in a deep league or a league that starts two quarterbacks. Hasselbeck took over for Jake Locker after he hurt his shoulder while getting sacked. While Hasselbeck has limited upside at age 37, there are a few factors working in his favor. First, he threw two touchdowns against one of the better defenses in the league. The Tennessee defense is among the worst in the league, meaning the Titans should be playing from behind a lot and therefore passing a lot. Hasselbeck will get to work with the first string in practice this week and should get Kenny Britt back this week. Just remember that Locker hasn't been officially ruled out yet, though it appears he'll be out a few weeks.

RUNNING BACKS

Brandon Bolden, NE - Bolden had one of the surprise performances of the week, benefiting from a blowout to get some extra touches. He finished Sunday with 16 carries for 137 yards and a touchdown. Stevan Ridley is still the lead back for the Patriots but Bolden has carved out a role in the backfield. Bolden scored a touchdown against Baltimore Week 2 showing that Belichick isn't afraid to use the undrafted rookie at the goal line. In deeper leagues look at Shane Vereen who saw his first action of the season against the Bills.

Jackie Battle, SD - Battle was named the surprise starter over Ryan Mathews Sunday morning, which wasn't a total shock considering Mathews' fumbling issues. Battle responded with two touchdowns, one by air, one by land. The truth is Mathews has a lot more upside than Battle and should eventually be the lead back for the Bolts. Then again, Mathews has yet to prove he's over the fumbling and has never been a model of good health. Like Stevan Ridley's owners with Brandon Bolden, Jackie Battle is the right handcuff if Ryan Mathews is on your roster.

Rashard Mendenhall, PIT - Mendenhall is expected to return to the field this week after suffering a season-ending knee injury to end last year's campaign. In his absence, Jonathan Dwyer and Isaac Redman have been less than impressive, averaging 2.9 and 2.3 YPC, respectively. It's hard to determine how much of a workload Mendenhall will have initially or how his surgically repaired knee will hold up. He's also going against a tough Eagles defense that allows just 3.8 YPC. Keep in mind he's not behind the greatest offensive line but will eventually see the lion's share of carries for the Steelers.

Bryce Brown, PHI - This is purely a speculative play at this point but it's worth noting that starter LeSean McCoy tweaked his knee Sunday night and reportedly has swelling after the game. Brown is a seventh-round pick who was considered one of the top recruits in the country when he came out of high school. He's a big back at 6-foot, 223, and could work himself into a bigger role if McCoy's knee issue lingers. The Philadelphia offense is a good spot to be in if McCoy misses time.

WIDE RECEIVER

Brian Hartline, MIA - The surprise performance of Week 4 belongs to Hartline who exploded for 253 receiving yards on 12 catches and a touchdown. Taking out a dud Week 3 against the Jets (and Darelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie), Hartline has had 414 receiving yard and 39 targets over his other three games. Ryan Tanehill has played better than most expected, and the Dolphins have to throw to someone. With opposing teams taking note of this performance, look for Hartline to attract more attention in the upcoming weeks. That makes teammate Davone Bess (12 catches, 209 receiving yards over the last two games) another waiver option. Just make sure you have the priority of getting Hartline over Bess.

Andre Roberts, ARI - While rookie Michael Floyd garnered the hype this preseason, Roberts flew under radar. The Cardinals are committed to Roberts as their second receiver, and he's repaid their faith with 229 receiving yards and four touchdowns through four games. He benefits from playing opposite Larry Fitzgerald, and Arizona likely will throw a lot with a running game that has done little thus far. Kevin Kolb appears to be improving as the weeks go on (7:2 TD:Int), which bodes well for Roberts' future.

Domenik Hixon, NYG - Many were excited about Ramses Barden's performance in the Thursday night victory over the Panthers in Week 3. While he is a huge target and has some upside, the common denominator between Barden and Hixon is Eli Manning. Manning has never been afraid to spread the ball around and take what the defense gives him. Now healthy, Hixon is the secondary target to Victor Cruz. If you're a Hakeem Nicks owner, you can't be too optimistic considering this foot injury seems to be lingering. Therefore, Hixon is a nice play this week if Nicks is out - at home against the 0-4 Cleveland Browns (and Joe Haden-less).

Jeremy Kerley, NYJ - First, insert Three Stooges joke here. It might seem like a joke to recommend someone who finished Week 4 with a paltry two catches for 12 yards. However, that was against San Francisco, and the situation has turned favorable for Kerley considering the Jets likely will be without both Stephen Hill and Santonio Holmes this week. That leaves Kerley, his 14.1 YPT and two touchdowns the likely top target for Mark Sanchez. Keep an eye on Dustin Keller, as well, who has always been a good red-zone target, even though he's coming off an injury.

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Tagged: Browns, Titans, Dolphins, Patriots, Giants, Jets, Eagles, Cardinals, Steelers, Chargers, Matt Hasselbeck, Eli Manning, Domenik Hixon, Jackie Battle, Rashard Mendenhall, Brian Hartline, LeSean McCoy, Ryan Mathews, Andre Roberts, Stevan Ridley, Jeremy Kerley, Brandon Weeden, Bryce Brown, Brandon Bolden

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