We are one quarter of the way through the 2012 NFL Regular Season. Any 4-0 Fantasy Teams out there? I’m keeping my hand down because I made a statistically bonehead move and will now sit “butterface” at 3-1. Thank you Jeremy Maclin, and sorry Michael Bush.
The second bye week is also here and that means the Dallas Cowboys, Detroit Lions, Oakland Raiders, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers all get to hang out this week. So please don’t start Megatron, Run DMC, or V-Jax—I’m talking to all 12% of fantasy owners that do that. It boggles my mind.
That being said let’s look at some players who could conceivably replace the Megatrons, the Run DMCs, and the V-Jaxes of the world. Here is my top 10 Waiver Wire Target list for Week 5:
1. Brian Hartline, WR, Miami Dolphins– Owned in 26.7% of leagues (ESPN) I’ll be honest I thought this guy was a fluke when he posted 9 catches for 111 yards (12.3 YPC) in week 2 and then 1 catch for 41 yards last week. Turns out I was wrong. Hartline went nuts in Week 4 (modest shout-out to Ryan Tannehill.) He snagged 12 balls for 253 yards (21.08 YPC) and 1 touchdown against a defense that completely shut down Michael Vick and the Philadelphia Eagles last week. Something is brewing in Miami. All of a sudden they have a passing attack and we have Ryan Tannehill to thank. He’s (Tannehill) not entirely fantasy relevant yet but this past week was a HUGE step in the right direction. Go get Brian Hartline!
2. Davone Bess, WR, Miami Dolphins – Owned in 7.4% of leagues (ESPN) If Week 5 was any indication there’s plenty to go around in Miami. Bess was regarded as the Dolphins receiver to own in 2012 especially if your league rewards kick returners. Granted, he was overshadowed due to an amazing performance by teammate Brian Hartline on Sunday. But Bess, even without his stellar game on Sunday, has been steady all year. His season numbers thus far are 20 catches for 297 yards (14.85 YPC.) The only thing I’d like to see more of, as a fantasy owner, are touchdowns.
3. Christian Ponder, QB, Minnesota Vikings – Owned in 17.3% of leagues (ESPN) Like a fine wine, Christian Ponder gets better with age. After arguably being rushed into the starting lineup last year, it seems now that Ponder is blossoming as the second year signal caller and his team are atop the NFC North at 3-1. Ponder is the 13th ranked Quarterback (ESPN) in fantasy football this year and it’s not hard to see why. His skill set allows him to not only throw for scores but run if he has to as is evidenced by his performances thus far. Through 4 games Ponder has thrown for 824 yards, 4 touchdowns and 2 interceptions, completing 68.3% of his passes. He’s also carried the ball 12 times for 46 yards and 1 touchdown. The Vikings didn’t need him to put up huge numbers on Sunday because Adrian Peterson was running so well. But, don’t let that fool you, I think Ponder has the ability to be a solid QB2 in all leagues.
4. Andre Roberts, WR, Arizona Cardinals – Owned in 1.8% of leagues (ESPN) Perhaps the biggest surprise of the year is how well Kevin Kolb and the rest of the Arizona Cardinals are playing this year. The team is 4-0 with impressive victories over the Seattle Seahawks, New England Patriots, and Philadelphia Eagles. They beat Miami this past week and the passing game was what throttled the Dolphins. Miami is definitely a run stopping defense but they looked lost in their secondary against the Cardinals. It’s been Andre Roberts though, not Larry Fitzgerald getting most of the work done for Kevin Kolb. I’ve had this guy on my Honorable Mention list since the beginning of the season. Through 4 games Roberts has hauled in 15 passes for 229 yards (15.2 YPC) and 4 scores. Fitzgerald (22 catches for 245 yards and 2 scores) will continue to get special attention from defenses but Roberts is impressive.
5. Scott Chandler, TE, Buffalo Bills – Owned in 31.7% of leagues (ESPN) The most targeted player in the red zone on the Buffalo Bills is still available in 68.3% of ESPN leagues. He has been Mr. Consistent for Ryan Fitzpatrick and the gang and against the Patriots he did more of the same. It was a tale of two halves, sadly, for Chandler and the rest of the Bills though. In the first half Chandler tallied 4 catches for 62 yards (15.5 YPC) and 2 touchdowns. The second half was a nightmare as Chandler went down with a head injury and the Patriots scored 45 points to embarrass the Bills at home 52-28. I would certainly monitor Chandler’s injury situation because when he’s on the field he produces.
6. Brandon Bolden, RB, New England Patriots – Owned in 0.3% of leagues (ESPN) Brandon Bolden may be more of a flash in the pan than a reliable fantasy playmaker at this point but definitely keep him on your radar. Each week he’s getting more and more work. He racked up 16 carries for 137 yards (8.5 YPC) and 1 touchdown against an atrocious Buffalo Bills defense. Bolden will have to have a similar workload and similar results going forward to deserve a roster spot on your team.
7. James Jones, WR, Green Bay Packers – Owned in 21.6% of leagues (ESPN) The odd man out last year may have found the opportunity he needs to remain a fantasy threat. Greg Jennings’ groin injury is starting to linger and affect his play. Jennings sat out the second half on Sunday and may miss some time pending the severity of his injury. Jones has played very well in games where Jennings misses time. In Week 1 Jones had 4 grabs for 81 yards (20.3 YPC) and a touchdown. This past week Jones caught 5 passes for 56 yards (11.2 YPC) and 2 touchdowns. His playmaking skills are very good when given the chance. Even with Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb, James Jones is worth having on your team especially with Jennings out.
8. Jackie Battle, RB, San Diego Chargers– Owned in 9.0% of leagues (ESPN) Ryan Mathews is back and that will obviously hurt Battle’s value. However, Battle has taken over the void left by Mike Tolbert in the Chargers offense. That means Battle is the short-yardage/goal line back and he’s catching out of the backfield. He still managed 23 fantasy points this week even with Ryan Mathews playing. He rushed for 39 yards on 15 carries and a score while also catching 4 passes for 42 yards and another score. With the Chargers playing so well and Rivers spreading the ball around Battle definitely still has value this season.
9. Jerome Simpson, WR, Minnesota Vikings – Owned in 7.9% of leagues (ESPN) Jerome Simpson just made his 2012 season debut after being suspended for the first three games. He had 4 catches for 50 yards (12.5 YPC) which, for those playing the home game, accounted for just under half of Christian Ponder’s passing yardage for the day. The running game was clicking on all cylinders and so Simpson wasn’t needed but he certainly produced when called upon. He’s quite the athlete and he’s also got speed to burn so I’d look for Jerome Simpson to quietly score points in all leagues (much like Mike Williams, WR, Tampa Bay.) Percy Harvin has established himself as the #1 wideout and he’s not going anywhere but Simpson will provide a nice compliment.
10. Andrew Hawkins, WR, Cincinnati Bengals – Owned in 28.0% of leagues (ESPN) Ownership on Hawkins shot up about 21% this past week but I still think he should be on more teams. Andy Dalton and AJ Green have established a can’t miss rapport with each other but Andrew Hawkins continues to catch passes each week. He had a quiet game against the Jaguars only catching 3 passes for 39 yards but on the season he’s still a top 25 wide receiver (in PPR leagues) with favorable match ups, vulnerable to the pass, in the next few weeks.
Honorable Mention: Kendall Wright, WR, Tennessee Titans. Donald Jones, WR, Buffalo Bills. Shaun Draughn, RB, Kansas City Chiefs. Jeremy Kerley, WR, New York Jets. Kendall Hunter, RB, San Francisco 49ers.