Beware Blount, Turner in Week 5
Week 5 of the NFL season brings Bye weeks back into the picture, and fantasy owners have already had to consider injury replacements and the regular annoyances that come with committee situations. The high-flying passing games across the league have left owners scrambling to find quality touches at the position, and the waiver wire has been turning over quicker than the turnstiles at (include your favorite amusement park here).
Since sandwich board-wearing and protests are dominating the news, I’m trying to start a movement of my own to bring back the glory days of the power back. Who’s with me?
OK, let’s just get back to the Week 5 slate.
Exclude: Arian Foster, LeSean McCoy, Darren McFadden, Adrian Peterson, Fred Jackson, Matt Forte, Chris Johnson and Frank Gore
Week 5 Heroes
Ahmad Bradshaw, NYG vs. SEA: Bradshaw didn’t light up the Cardinals in Week 4 as anticipated, but he did find the end zone for the third time this season. He scored in three of the Giants’ first four games and logged more than 100 total yards in Weeks 2 and 3. I anticipate a Giants blowout this week at home against the Seahawks. As a result, Bradshaw will be running downhill for much of the day in tandem with Brandon Jacobs. I understand that the Seahawks have performed well against opposing runners thus far (105 yards and 1.25 touchdowns per game), but this is a different spot.
Ryan Mathews, SD at DEN: Mathews is creeping toward the “Exclusion” class following his fantastic first quarter of the season. He produced at least 118 total yards in each game, caught 19 passes and scored three rushing touchdowns despite the presence of Mike Tolbert. Start him with confidence as the Chargers weather the storm of injuries in the receiving corps.
Willis McGahee, DEN vs. SD: Knowshon Moreno is now an afterthought in the Denver running game, leaving McGahee to pile up touches. The formula continues again this week. San Diego piles up points against the Denver defense. Orton chucks the ball downfield. McGahee logs a strong rushing total as the defense spreads out and claims any goal-line chances.
Joseph Addai, IND vs. KC: Addai continues to split the workload with rookie Delone Carter, but this smacks of a prime spot for Indianapolis to pound the ball against the struggling Kansas City run defense (130 yards and 1.5 touchdowns allowed per game). Addai averaged 4.6 yards per carry through the first four games. Pound the rock!
Darren Sproles, NO at CAR: Who doesn’t love watching Sproles operate in space? Sproles has already piled up 26 receptions through four weeks and has amassed at least 82 total yards in three of four weeks. He’s not the “lead” back in the traditional sense, having carried the ball only 15 times, but Sproles is an explosive contributor to the Brees-led attack.
Beanie Wells, ARI at MIN: Wells posted a fantastic return to the field in Week 4 with a three-touchdown romp in the narrow loss to New York (Giants). He faces a stiff road test this week against the fifth-ranked Minnesota run defense. The Vikings allowed just 76.3 yards per game (3.3 yards per carry), though they have ceded three rushing touchdowns.
I do believe that Kevin Kolb will find success against the Minnesota secondary, thereby affording Wells with running space. Even with the possibility of a reduced touch count (the hamstring injury still scares me to a degree) and the specter of the one-Williams wall ahead of him, Wells rates a play as a high-RB2 this week.
Jahvid Best, DET vs. CHI: It’s hard to turn away from Best this week against Chicago. The Bears have ceded 5.1 yards per carry and 124.3 yards per game, including resuscitating a seemingly lifeless Carolina running game. Best is averaging only 47.5 yards per game on the ground. You can certainly expect Best to be active on the edge in the passing game (4.25 receptions per contest).
Cedric Benson, CIN at JAC: Benson remains available to the Bengals and, as such, remains a solid starter. He averaged 20.25 touches per game in the first quarter of the season and 87 rushing yards.
Andy Dalton is playing strong football and will have his chances with A.J. Green and Jermaine Gresham downfield. As a result, Benson will get his chance to close out the Jaguars as he did the Browns in Week 1. The Jaguars rank 16th against the run at 107 yards allowed per game.
James Starks, GB at ATL: Ryan Grant has been back at practice, so Starks’ ceiling has been lowered for Week 5. However, this promises to be a high-octane score-athon (I’m making up words), and Starks figures to be active near the goal line. Atlanta does rank 10th against the run, so this is hardly a cakewalk. However, it’s safe to say that a running lane or two will open as Aaron Rodgers spreads out this defense.
DeAngelo Williams, CAR vs. NO: Rod Chudzinski finally got Williams off and running in Week 4 against the Bears (82 yards on 10 carries). As a result, I’m pounding the desk and promoting Williams to a starting slot for this week. Williams and the Saints face a New Orleans run defense that has ceded 4.6 yards per carry.
Jonathan Stewart rates a RB2 play this week as well. Stewart has logged at least 85 total yards in three consecutive games and will continue to play a role in the passing game for Cam Newton. I came close to picking the Panthers to winning this game outright, but decided against it because of the sizable holes in the Carolina defense.
Week 5 Ninja Alerts
Shonn Greene, NYJ at NE: Much has been written about the sad state of affairs that is the New England pass defense. The fact that the normally stout run defense is ceding 4.8 yards per carry (108.8 yards and one touchdown per game) has received little ink. He’s a sneaky play this week as a RB2.
Mark Ingram, NO at CAR: Sproles’ ability in the open field and frequent pass targets has made him a fantasy star in the first month. Ingram remains a strong option in and around the goal line and piles up touches (over 13 per game). He’s not world-beating at his 3.5 yards per carry, but opportunities will be there against the 31st-ranked Carolina run defense (143.8 yards and one touchdown allowed per game).
Stevan Ridley, NE vs. NYJ: We put Ridley on the radar ahead of last week’s tilt in Oakland, and he delivered in a big way with 100 total yards on 11 touches with a touchdown. He’s set for a split workload alongside BenJarvus Green-Ellis against the 27th-ranked New York defense (130.5 yards and 1.5 rushing touchdowns per game). Look for Ridley and BJGE to see a sizable workload and set up plays against the second-ranked Jets pass defense.
Isaac Redman, PIT vs. TEN: Redman has performed nicely in the backup role and change-of-pace runner behind Rashard Mendenhall. His play was one of few bright spots in a lackluster effort against the Texans (six carries for 40 yards, including an 18-yard run, and a 12-yard reception).
With injuries affecting the other tailbacks and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, Redman likely sees a heavy workload against the Titans. It’s not a tremendous spot against Tennessee (87.8 yards per game with one rushing touchdown), but the high touch count plays at home.
Dexter McCluster, KC at IND: McCluster won’t ever be dubbed a workhorse back in the Kansas City offense, but he’s a solid play here in tandem with “Super Ninja” Jackie Battle. McCluster has averaged 4.8 yards per touch and has already nabbed 17 receptions. The speedy second-year man has breakthrough potential this week against the 28th-ranked Indianapolis run defense. Battle softens up the middle and creates big running lanes for McCluster.
Week 5 Flop Alerts
Michael Turner, ATL vs. GB: Turner is a difficult proposition for fantasy owners this week. His rushing average has plummeted in the past two weeks, but high touch count (and two glory touches in Week 4) has produced decent returns for owners. Turner averaged 76 rushing yards with three rushing touchdowns in the Falcons’ first four games.
This week, Turner opposes the second-ranked Green Bay run defense that held Matt Forte and Jonathan Stewart to single-digit rushing totals (71 yards per game overall with one touchdown). Turner starts this week for your squad, but you may be hoping for a PI call or for a receiver to go out of bounds inside the five-yard line for Turner to make some noise.
LeGarrette Blount, TB at SF: Football fans couldn’t help but love what they saw in the final minutes of the Buccaneers’ win on Monday night. We watched a team actually run the ball successfully to close out a game. Blount rumbled for 127 yards on 25 carries, including his decisive 35-yard touchdown run.
He faces a much stiffer task this week. The 49ers surrender 74 rushing yards per game (3.5 yards per carry) and have yet to yield a rushing touchdown.
Maurice Jones-Drew, JAC vs. CIN: You’re not benching MJD. I know. I do need to put up the caution sign as the Bengals travel to visit the Jaguars. Jones-Drew has averaged 5.1 yards per carry and 19 carries per game. He’s finished each game with at least 87 total yards.
This is an interesting test against the underrated Cincinnati defense. The Bengals yield 3.1 yards per carry and 86.8 rushing yards per game. The lack of scoring opportunities by this Jacksonville offense (dead last at 9.8 points scored per game) and MJD’s reduced role in the passing game concern me in this spot.