We've reached Week Five, which means fantasy owners will increasingly go to fill out their rosters ... and find a more-limited talented pool than they would like. The Cowboys, Lions, Raiders and Buccaneers will rest this week, the first of seven consecutive slates with 14 games or fewer. Here is where a fantasy team's depth really starts to come into play.
The suggestions below are a function of matchups, expected opportunities and other factors. As a general rule, we will focus only upon players available in more than 50 percent of Yahoo! fantasy leagues.
Jets QB Tim Tebow (owned in 8 percent of leagues) — Yes, Jets head coach Rex Ryan has given Mark Sanchez multiple votes of confidence after the Jets' starting quarterback threw for just 103 yards and committed two turnovers in New York's shutout loss on Sunday. However, Sanchez faces a tough Houston defense in Week Five. If he continues to struggle, couldn't Tebow potentially get a longer look at quarterback? If you are thinking about picking up Tebow to stash him on your bench, this is not a bad time to consider it. Tebow scored 15.36 fantasy points per game in 2011 and could be a useful player to have if he enters the Jets' lineup — especially in two-QB formats. Hey, I'm just saying.
Vikings QB Christian Ponder (21 percent) — He didn't exactly have a productive Week Four (111 passing yards, no TDs), but he has another favorable matchup Sunday vs. Tennessee. What's more, the Vikings play Washington in Week Six and Tampa Bay in Week Eight. If you need a bye-week fill-in in one of those weeks, Ponder may have appeal.
Browns QB Brandon Weeden (6 percent) — He's shown enough promise to be a potential pickup in bigger leagues. Weeden is on pace for close to 4,000 yards passing.
Dolphins QB Ryan Tannehill (5 percent) — He's a solid claim for fantasy owners who like to gamble after his 431-yard performance in Week Four.
Titans QB Matt Hasselbeck (2 percent) — He's a fine short-term option if you need a bye-week starter. According to The (Nashville) Tennessean, QB Jake Locker is expected to miss Sunday's game at Minnesota, and he could also miss the Week Six game vs. Pittsburgh.
Chargers RB Jackie Battle (21 percent) — Red-zone touches for Battle in Week Four at Kansas City: six. Red-zone TDs for Battle: two. Red-zone touches for Ryan Mathews: one, a run for minus-four yards. I'm not sure if this trend holds, but fantasy owners have to claim first and ask questions later when it comes to any running back who could have material fantasy value.
Buccaneers RB LeGarrette Blount (17 percent) — Rookie Doug Martin rushed for 95 yards on 24 carries in Week One, but his carries and yards have declined in each week since, and Blount received a season-high six rushing attempts in Week Four. If you're heavily depending on Martin, perhaps it's time to pick up Blount just in case.
Patriots RB Brandon Bolden (8 percent) — He'll surely be a popular pickup this week after his breakout 137-yard, one-TD performance at Buffalo on Sunday. While he definitely has a role in the offense, Stevan Ridley remains the featured back. What's more, Danny Woodhead and Shane Vereen are also in the mix. There's every reason to claim Bolden — again, you just never know with running backs — but he's better stashed than started right now.
Seahawks RB Robert Turbin (6 percent) — The top backup to Marshawn Lynch, Turbin rushed for a season-high 45 yards on six carries in Week Four at St. Louis. His value is highest to those starting Lynch on a weekly basis.
Lions RB Joique Bell (5 percent) — Has passed Kevin Smith in the pecking order in Detroit, which should be noted by Mikel Leshoure owners. Bell has racked up a combined 141 rushing-receiving yards in the last two games.
Ravens RB Bernard Pierce (2 percent) — Continues to show potential in limited work behind featured back Ray Rice.
Browns RB Chris Ogbonnaya (0 percent) — He's emerged as the top backup to Trent Richardson. Only a deep-league consideration for now.
Jaguars WR Justin Blackmon (44 percent) — While he has only 10 catches for 79 yards, he's been targeted a team-high 25 times. With Laurent Robinson having suffered concussions in back-to-back weeks, Blackmon clearly looks like the go-to target among the Jaguars' wideouts for the time being. QB Blaine Gabbert threw his way 10 times in Week Four, with Blackmon catching 6-48-0. Blackmon's an interesting pickup for owners with the patience to allow him to develop.
Giants WR Domenik Hixon (4 percent) — With Hakeem Nicks missing Week Four, Hixon played 91 percent of New York's offensive snaps, hauling in six catches for 114 yards on 11 targets. Of note: Hixon played more than Ramses Barden (63 percent of snaps), who was targeted just four times. (Also of note: Barden's breakout Week Three game at Carolina came with Hixon and Nicks out of the lineup.) If Hicks can't go in Week Five, Hixon, not Barden, may be the Giants' wideout to claim off the waiver wire. The Giants face a less-than-imposing Cleveland defense on Sunday.
Jets WRs Jeremy Kerley (26 percent), Stephen Hill (20 percent) and Chaz Schilens (0 percent) — All could get more opportunities with Santonio Holmes likely to miss Week Five (and perhaps beyond) with a foot injury suffered in Sunday's loss to San Francisco. Hill, who caught a pair of TDs in Week One, might have the most potential of the group, but he's had no catches since the opener (in nine targets), and a hamstring injury kept him inactive in Week Four. I don't know if any of these wideouts will provide much short-term help to fantasy owners, what with the Jets facing a stout Houston defense on Monday night. However, it's a situation to monitor for owners in bigger leagues.
Dolphins WR Brian Hartline (24 percent) and Davone Bess (16 percent) — After accumulating a franchise-record 253 receiving yards in Week Four, Hartline will be atop the waiver-claim list for many fantasy owners. Considering he's been targeted 48 times in four games — including an eye-opening 19 times on Sunday — he's very much worth adding. Bess, who's caught 20-297-0 (32 targets), is worth a look, too.
Colts WR Donnie Avery (23 percent) — I mentioned him last week, and with quite a few owners dropping him with the Colts on their bye in Week Four, he's even more widely available. He's averaging nine targets per game.
Cardinals WRs Andre Roberts (13 percent) and Michael Floyd (10 percent) — In an offense that doesn't have a lot of punch, Roberts has nonetheless emerged as an intriguing claim for WR-needy owners. Roberts has caught at least one TD in three of his last four games, and he's hauled in 9-173-2 (15 targets) in the last two weeks. Floyd, meanwhile, was targeted a season-high eight times on Sunday.
Redskins WR Leonard Hankerson (11 percent) — His playing time — and targets — have increased in each of Washington's first four games. Playing 89 percent of Washington's offensive snaps in his second consecutive start, Hankerson led the Redskins in catches (seven) and targets (11) in Washington's 24-22 win at Tampa Bay on Sunday.
Colts TE Coby Fleener (30 percent) — Targeted 10 times in Week One, Fleener had but six passes thrown his way the next two games. Then, the Colts had their bye, so the rookie tight end from Stanford may be out-of-sight, out-of-mind for some fantasy owners. If you liked him entering the season but couldn't draft him, perhaps you can snag him on waivers.
Bills TE Scott Chandler (28 percent) — Caught two more TDs in Week Four, and he was targeted a season-best eight times. However, he has a tough matchup this week at San Francisco.
Jets TE Dustin Keller (27 percent) — He's battled a hamstring injury, and the Jets' offense is a mess, but if he can get healthy, he could have some fantasy value with Santonio Holmes (foot) on the mend.
- Tim Tebow
- Domenik Hixon