TOYOTA TUNDRA – PICKUPS OF THE WEEK
This week, Yahoo! Sports fantasy expert Brad Evans looks at eight intriguing fantasy football players, and a defense, likely to be available on the waiver wire in fantasy leagues.
Moderate Buy (12-teams plus) Much lampooned rookie making tremendous strides in early season
Ryan Tannehill (QB) Miami Dolphins
Fantasy owners would unanimously agree the only thing attractive about Tannehill entering his rookie season was his wife. With only 19 career starts under his belt in college, most thought he would be an enduring project. Unquestionably, he's looked green at times, but in other instances, like last week in Arizona (431-1-2), he's exhibited the promise of a franchise cornerstone. Joe Philbin's Green Bay-styled offense will continue to lean on the youngster's arm regardless of the inconsistencies, presenting additional useful, high-volume situations. This week against Cincinnati could be another one of those opportunities. The Bengals, routinely picked apart vertically, have allowed the 10th-most fantasy points to passers this year, giving up 7.7 yards per attempt. Add in Miami's issues in coverage, and Tannehill is in prime position to bank sizeable totals again. Tony Romo, Matthew Stafford and Carson Palmer owners in need should cast a line.
Solid Buy (12-teams plus)Rookie latest undrafted RB to make a splash
Brandon Bolden (RB) New England Patriots
In recent years an undrafted RB has emerged from the woodworks seemingly every season. Pierre Thomas and Arian Foster, for example, wrote rags to riches stories. Bolden has too. The rookie rusher out of Mississippi plowed over and through the Bills en route to an eye-opening 137-total yard, one-TD performance. A load at 5-foot-11, 220-pounds, he displayed strong burst, pad-level and power reminiscent of Corey Dillion. Make no mistake, Stevan Ridley is the primary rusher, and Danny Woodhead will continue to stake a claim, too, but in Bill Belichick's rotational backfield, Bolden has rightfully earned a spot. His exact workload will be indecipherable from week-to-week, but in most instances he should log 10-12 touches per game, including this Sunday's primetime battle versus Denver. The Broncos, fresh off dismantling Darren McFadden and the Raiders, are a tough defense to penetrate. This season, they've surrendered just 3.2 yards per carry to RBs. But any rusher with a growing role is worth a roster spot in competitive leagues.
Solid Buy (12-team leagues plus) Battle is at the crux of Norv nonsense
Jackie Battle (RB) San Diego Chargers
Prior to last week's game against the rival Chiefs, the Chargers front office and coaching staff made this abundantly clear to Ryan Mathews: fumble and you're workload will drastically shrink. On Sunday, the message was hammered home. Mathews, benched in favor of Battle, rotated series and ceded goal-line touches to the elevated backup. As a result, the ex-Chief burned his old team for 53 total yards and two touchdowns. Though Mathews is clearly the more talented back, Battle may keep his red-zone role over the foreseeable future. Because of the incumbent's banana hands, head coach Norv Turner trusts the backup more in certain situations, at least for now. This week, matched against the league's worst run defense, New Orleans, Battle is a terrific flex option in 12-team and deeper leagues. Though his workload will likely be curtailed, he is a strong candidate for a touchdown or two on roughly 8-12 touches.
Solid Buy (12-team leagues plus) Desert Bird taking flight as complement to Fitzgerald
Andre Roberts (WR) Arizona Cardinals
The third-year wideout is arguably the biggest surprise on the league's most surprising team. Though he's averaged a modest 6.2 targets per game, Roberts currently ranks seventh among wide receivers in points scored, setting the position pace with four touchdowns. His 6-catch, 118-yard, two-TD outburst in Week 4 was only his third century mark effort of his career. With defenses focusing on Larry Fitzgerald, and Kevin Kolb thriving, the second fiddle should continue to play a sweet tune, even against difficult opponents. On Thursday, Arizona puts its unblemished record on the line at St. Louis, a team that's yielded the third-fewest fantasy points to wide receivers. Despite the stiff opponent, consider Roberts an upside WR3 in a bye-heavy week.
Solid Buy (12-teams plus) Nicks' swollen knee, foot problems could keep spotlight on backup
Domenik Hixon (WR) New York Giants
Thrust into the starting lineup Sunday night with Hakeem Nicks sidelined by knee swelling, Hixon stepped in and paid instant dividends. Targeted 11 times, he hauled in six receptions for a team-best 114 yards. Obviously his value is directly tied to Nicks' health, but if the incumbent is a lineup casualty once again, Hixon should be trusted as a borderline WR2 in 12-team and deeper leagues this week. The Giants host Cleveland, a team in which wide receivers are scoring 45.4-percent above the league average against. The Browns' best defender, corner Joe Haden, is still serving a suspension and won't be available, enhancing Hixon's chances for a quality fantasy day.
Strong Buy (10-teams plus) WR a PPR heartthrob after shocking performance in ‘Zona
Brian Hartline (WR) Miami Dolphins
Out of nowhere, Hartline delivered what could be the finest fantasy performance by a receiver in PPR formats this season. Targeted 19 times against a rigid Arizona defense, the wideout hauled in 12 receptions for a franchise record 253 yards and a touchdown. Currently the league leader in receiving yards, he is must add material in any sized league. Though his contributions may be uneven at times, Ryan Tannehill has matured rapidly, increasing buyer confidence in Hartline. Assuming that continues this week against a exploitable Cincinnati defense, the target should be counted on as a WR2/3 in shallow formats. With additional favorable matchups versus Indy, Tennessee and Buffalo upcoming, he has favorable odds of developing into a consistency king.
Strong Buy (10-teams plus) Jennings' nettlesome groin has Jones rolling in the green
James Jones (WR) Green Bay Packers
Historically, Jones has been such a fantasy tease. Occasionally, he's exuded the performance level of a dependable WR2. However, in other instances, he's disappeared, plagued by humiliating drops. But after dismantling New Orleans in Week 4, the matured veteran may finally be on the brink of a breakout. Greg Jennings, hampered by a nagging groin injury, is a major question mark for Week 5. If he's unable to go, Jones will again serve as next man up. The Packers' opponent this week, Indianapolis, hasn't exactly locked down the pass. The Colts have allowed the eighth-most fantasy points to WRs thus far. With Aaron Rodgers back in business and given Jones' expanded role, he's highly employable as a WR3 this week.
Solid Buy (12-teams plus) Week 5 QB Plug n' Play
Alex Smith San Francisco 49ers
After getting pounded by Tom Brady and friends yet again, the Bills are rewarded a cross-country trip to San Francisco. Advantage Alex. As usual, the former No. 1 pick has delivered only modest numbers through four weeks, averaging a marginal 16.3 points per week in standard formats. But due to the friendly matchup, look for him to channel the Steve Young-esque passer seen in last year's playoffs. Buffalo has surrendered 7.7 yards per attempt, 286 passing yards per game and 10 total touchdowns to QBs this year, equal to the fifth-most fantasy points allowed. Because of the balanced nature of the Niners' offense, it's unlikely he'll blow the doors off the yardage department. Still a useful 230-250 yard, 2-3 TD performance could be in the offing.
Solid Buy (all leagues) Week 5 DEF Plug n' Play
Minnesota Vikings Defense/Special Teams
Arizona is undoubtedly the league's biggest shocker special, but Minnesota isn't far behind. At 3-1, the Vikings sit atop the NFC North due in large part to it's suffocating trench defense. Erin Henderson, Chad Greenway and Kevin Williams each ranks inside the top-15 versus the run according to Pro Football Focus. This week, matched against a wayward Titans offense possibly minus Jake Locker, the Vikes are a standout waiver grab for streamers. Behind a shoddy offensive line, Matt Hasselbeck will look like a cooked turkey to Jared Allen and friends, especially if Chris Johnson can't carry momentum over from his first 100-yard game of 2012. For the new Purple People Eaters, multiple sacks and turnovers are on the menu. Plug ‘n play happily.
Other Week 5 Pickups: Matt Hasselbeck, Ten, QB, Russell Wilson, Sea, QB, Kevin Kolb, Ari, QB, Jacquizz Rodgers, Atl, RB, T.Y. Hilton, Ind, WR, Jerome Simpson, Min, WR, Robert Meachem, SD, WR, Davone Bess, Mia, WR, Heath Miller, Pit, TE
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