Walter, Cook solid plays in Week 5
Week 4 marked the last time for several weeks we will see all teams in action, as byes start this week. The games provided more comebacks while some teams predicted to be a force in the league continued their downward spirals. Meanwhile, other teams in the league continue to surprise with their winning ways. With the bye weeks upon us, the waiver wire becomes even more important.
Ryan Torain, RB, WAS - Torain came out of nowhere to carry the ball 19 times for 135 yards. This shouldn't come as a surprise given the several running backs Mike Shanahan has used over the years - see Quentin Griffin's 156 yards on 23 carries and three touchdowns in Denver's 2004 season-opener. While Torain's performance was impressive in relief of a banged up Tim Hightower, the Washington backfield remains murky if Hightower is healthy after the bye week. Roy Helu has done nothing but impress when given the opportunity, and the Redskins didn't trade for Hightower to see him on the bench, if healthy. Stash Torain on your bench if you have the space and take a wait-and-see approach as to how the work is divided up for Week 6.
Laurent Robinson, WR, DAL - A last minute change gave Robinson and not Kevin Ogletree the start opposite Dez Bryant for the Cowboys tilt against the Lions on Sunday. Robinson was able to take advantage of single coverage with the Lions focused on stopping Bryant and finished with seven catches for 116 yards. Robinson was tied with Jason Witten with 10 targets for the game, but, unfortunately, Miles Austin is expected back after the Week 5 bye, which will cut into Robinson's value. By no means are Austin and Bryant completely out of the woods from a health standpoint, and Robinson would be an interesting guy to target if their respective injuries concerns flare up.
Jared Cook, TE, TEN - Cook had a beautiful 80-yard catch-and-run that instantly put him on the map given what a crazy year it's been for tight ends. Antonio Gates is out indefinitely, and Dallas Clark has had little value without Peyton Manning under center. Cook led the team in targets with six, and while that's not a lot keep in mind Matt Hasselbeck only threw 20 passes with the game well in hand in the second half. This shows Cook will be a big part of the passing game, especially with Kenny Britt out. Chris Johnson looked more like the CJ2K of old, which should open some passing lanes for Hasselbeck when the Titans run play-action. Think of Cook as a low No. 1/high No. 2 TE the rest of the season.
Kevin Walter, WR, HOU - The injury to Andre Johnson should give both Walter and Jacoby Jones extra looks in the Texans passing game. While it's uncertain how long Johnson will be out, he averaged almost 11 targets the first three weeks of the season. The Texans were comfortable letting Arian Foster grind out the game on the ground, which is why Walter and Jones didn't do much Sunday. However, with the resurgence of Foster and the running game look for teams to devote more men to stopping the run. Over the last few seasons Walter has been more of a red-zone target, which is why he gets a very slight nod over Jones to be the recommended pickup.
Keiland Williams, RB, DET - While Williams only had four carries for 14 yards on Sunday, he was the running back not named Jahvid Best used most by the Lions. Best has not been overly productive with goal-line carries, which could mean the team uses Williams inside the five. Williams, at 5-foot-9, 230, was claimed off waivers from Washington after Mikel LeShoure went down with a season-ending injury. That means while Williams and Best are about the same height, Williams has almost 35 pounds on him. With Calvin Johnson getting a bunch of targets inside the 10 so far, defenses likely will devote two players to stop the jump ball, thereby loosening the running lanes.
Steve Breaston, WR, KC - It's becoming apparent that the Chiefs don't have a good defense or running attack without Jamaal Charles. Both of those items likely means Matt Cassel will have to air it out if the Chiefs want to be competitive. Enter Breaston, who now has seven catches for 146 yards over his last two games. His targets have also improved since the first two weeks, which could show a growing chemistry between him and Cassel. Look at him as a fringe No. 3 WR who could produce, especially when teams look to double Dwayne Bowe.
Doug Baldwin, WR, SEA - Baldwin posted his second game with at least 80 receiving yards Sunday, leading the Seahawks with six targets. Baldwin has been a boom or bust player so far, recording only three catches for 27 yards in Weeks 2 and 3. The lesser known of the two Baldwins coming out of college at wide receiver, Doug signed with the Seahawks as an undrafted free agent from Stanford. As a Cardinal, he was the favorite target for Andrew Luck and finished his senior season with 857 receiving yards and nine touchdowns. Given that Sidney Rice is playing with a torn labrum, Baldwin could see his role in the passing game increase should Rice be shut down for the season at some point. Even with Rice healthy, Baldwin still has a shot at producing fantasy worthy numbers given Seattle's lackluster receiving options.
Joe McKnight, RB, NYJ - You have to hand it to McKnight, he's shown a full 100 percent effort so far this season as well as what a versatile player he can be. McKnight has already blocked a punt, returned a kickoff for a touchdown and lined up as a corner on defense. For his standout effort so far, he'll be my darkhorse pick for this week. Rex Ryan has vowed to get back to smashmouth football and run the rock in the upcoming weeks. While this could help the defense, which should see longer periods of rest if successful, there is one problem with the idea: the Jets can't run the ball. Shonn Greene hasn't averaged more than 4.0 YPC in any of the first four games and holds a 3.1 YPC for the season. Future Hall of Famer LaDainian Tomlinson is well past his prime and looked completely worn out the second half of last season. That leaves McKnight, who has fresh legs and showed breakaway speed on the kickoff return for touchdown. It might not be this week, but don't be surprised if the Jets give McKnight a look at some point this season given the anemic production in the run game.
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