Week 5: Start 'Em
Another wild week of football. At one point it was looking like upset city, but in the end Jacksonville over the Colts was the only the big upset of the week. Last week had some great ups and downs; injuries to Michael Vick, LeSean McCoy, Clinton Portis and some others. Huge weeks by some old timers -- LT and TO -- and some real duds by fantasy regulars Randy Moss, Santana Moss, and Hines Ward. While other players continue to be out with injuries or played sparingly through injury like Andre Johnson and Ray Rice (not to mention that we are right in the thick of bye season). If you're dealing with line up issues due to injuries or bye weeks, take a look below for some ideas of who you might want to start. Good luck this week and May the Force be with you.
It normally takes rookie QBs some time to get used to the NFL game (and even longer to be worthy of being a fantasy starter), but Sam Bradford looks to be ahead of schedule. Bradford sat most of the 2009 season (his last in college) due to an injured shoulder, but he has rehabbed hard and is making the transition from college to NFL look easy (despite playing on a less than stellar team). Bradford has led the Rams to a 2-2 record and is coming off his best game last week, throwing for 289 yards and 2 touchdowns. This week he faces the Lions and should put up very similar numbers. If you're looking for a start at QB for this week, Bradford is worth a look.
Pierre Thomas sat out last week and Ladell Betts and Chris Ivory took over the for him. While Ivory ran the ball a little better then Betts, he also lost a fumble and isn't a help in the passing game. Despite splitting carries and playing from behind most of the game, Betts put up 70 total yards with 4 receptions on 5 targets. The fact that Betts will be involved in the passing game as well as the running game makes him a bigger threat than Ivory. If (and only if) Pierre Thomas is out again next week, I would give Betts a chance to start this week as a low end RB2 or flex over Ivory.
When Michael Bush injured his finger before the season, it gave Darren McFadden the chance to be the lone running back in Oakland and to show why he was drafted #5 overall in the 2008 NFL draft. McFadden was so good that it seemed that even when Bush was healthy he would not have too big a role in the Oakland running game. Then came last week where McFadden pulled up lame due to an injured hamstring. Bush came in and (despite the Raiders playing from behind) he was able to rush the ball 7 times for 40 yards and 1 touchdown, while catching 2 passes for 16 yards. It's looking more and more like McFadden will not play this week, making Bush a great start against San Diego; he will most likely play all 3 downs, being a help in the passing game as well as the running game.
Coach Mike Shanahan has had a lot of praise for Ryan Torain since the two were back in Denver in 2008, but so far no one has really had a chance to see what Mike Shanahan likes so much as Torain missed most of 2008 and 2009 due to injuries. When the season started Torain wasn't even on the Redskins roster, but when they finally dumped LJ they decided to give Torain his chance to back up Portis. Last week when Portis had to leave the game due to an injury, Torain came in to play and we all finally got to see a little of what Shanny likes so much. Torain rushed for 70 yards and a touchdown in only 1 half of play. With Portis looking like he will be sitting out this week, Torain makes for a solid start as a low end RB2 or a flex.
It's one of the biggest surprises of the fantasy season: the Denver Broncos' passing game. QB Kyle Orton has been one of the best fantasy QBs this season and so far each week at least one of the Broncos WR has stepped up to have a big game (and very often 2 or more WR have been good). The Broncos seem to be trying to steal a page out of the Patriots' book pre Moss and Welker, where they would have big passing days by Brady but to a different WR each week. To keep defenses guessing, Denver will focus on a different WR each week. Since Brandon Lloyd has been the man the last 2 weeks, look for the Ravens to try and shut him down. The biggest beneficiary should be Gaffney. Look for Gaffney to have the big numbers this week. He is an even better start in point per reception leagues.