Week Five of the fantasy football season means we’ve reached the portion of the schedule where bye weeks become problematic.
Headlining the list of fantasy players sitting out this week are Minnesota running back Adrian Peterson, Washington quarterback Robert Griffin III and Redskins running back Alfred Morris. Tampa Bay receivers Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams would usually make that list, but the change at quarterback from Josh Freeman to Mike Glennon puts the usefulness of both of them in question.
The other team off this weekend, Pittsburgh, does not have a fantasy player in the top 30 in scoring (in standard ESPN leagues), although receiver Antonio Brown is sixth at his position.
The list of popular bye-week replacements begins with San Diego’s Danny Woodhead. The diminutive Chargers running back has 22 catches this season out of the backfield, serving as quarterback Philip Rivers’ safety valve. Woodhead had his first two touchdowns of the season last week against the Dallas Cowboys. He doesn’t offer much by way of rushing yards (only 90 this season), but is averaging 4.7 yards per carry and his receiving ability is valuable, especially in points-per-reception leagues, and makes him a good flex play.
The running back position has been pretty well picked through at this point in the season, but New England’s LeGarrette Blount is an intriguing add in deeper leagues. Blount is part of a rotation with the Patriots, but he has the team’s only rushing touchdown of the season. He also has 25 carries the past two weeks, and scored on a 47-yard run in Week Four.
Another option to consider in deeper leagues is Green Bay running back Johnathan Franklin. He will back up Eddie Lacy on Sunday against Detroit, but Franklin ran 13 times for 103 yards and a touchdown against a tough Cincinnati defense in the Packers’ last game in Week Three in place of James Starks. With Starks expected to miss the game Sunday, Franklin should see at least a handful of carries in relief of Lacy.
Best to wait
There are two strategies to employ when drafting a quarterback in fantasy football: Take an “elite” one in the first couple of rounds, or wait until the middle of the draft to find a guy.
Count me in the latter category, for the following reason. Of the top 20 quarterbacks in ESPN leagues, at least five of them – San Diego’s Rivers, Kansas City’s Alex Smith, St. Louis’ Sam Bradford, Tennessee’s Jake Locker and Buffalo’s EJ Manuel – were available in the very late rounds, or weren’t drafted at all. Those quarterbacks are ahead of the likes of San Francisco’s Colin Kaepernick and the New York Giants’ Eli Manning, both of whom went much higher. Rivers is third in all of fantasy scoring with 88 points, while Smith is 10th with 72. They are outscoring the likes of Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers and New England’s Tom Brady, both of whom were picked in the first two rounds of most drafts.
The Peyton effect
Peyton Manning’s first month of the fantasy season was nothing short of incredible. Manning has 152 fantasy points in CBS Sports leagues – 41 more than any other player – on the strength of 16 touchdown passes and 1,470 yards. He’s found a way to make all three of his top receivers – Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker and Wes Welker – reliable fantasy options, and turned tight end Julius Thomas into one of the must-play players at his position.
On top of all that, Manning has even given fantasy life to running back Knowshon Moreno, who was an afterthought heading into the season. Moreno has gotten between 12 and 16 touches in each game of the year, and has scored three times. That type of usage should continue in the high-octane Denver offense.
Chiefs’ defense impressing
I’m usually a favorite of playing the matchups when it comes to fantasy defenses. But the Kansas City Chiefs’ “D” is playing itself into an every-week starter.
Kansas City has at least 20 fantasy points in three of four games this season and has scored three touchdowns on the defensive side of the ball. The Chiefs haven’t allowed an opponent to score more than 16 points and have recorded 12 turnovers, most in the AFC.
The Chiefs also have registered an NFL-high 18 sacks, led by a league-leading 7.5 from linebacker Justin Houston.
What’s wrong with A.J.?
Bengals receiver A.J. Green, a top two-round selection in most drafts, has failed to record more than 51 yards receiving in the last three games. Green had a monster Week One – 162 yards and two touchdowns at Chicago – but since then has scored only once and managed just 19 combined fantasy points in ESPN leagues.
His slump, however, shouldn’t be a long one. Green leads the NFL with 51 targets, including six in the red zone from quarterback Andy Dalton. As long as he keeps looking Green’s way, the numbers will come.