Ponder’s fantasy upside is limited because the Vikings are following the 2011 49ers’ blueprint with dominant defense and a grind-it-out offense. This week’s matchup favors Ponder, however, versus a Redskins secondary that has been burned repeatedly for big plays while allowing the third-most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks. It’s easier to beat the Redskins through the air than on the ground.Recommendation: Worth a look as a matchup play.Wesseling's Waiver Wired column
The Bills defense has surrendered 1,201 yards the past two weeks, the most in the NFL since the 1950 New York Yanks allowed 1,227 in Weeks 9 and 10. The meltdown hasn’t been limited to run defense. Buffalo also allows the most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks. Kolb is averaging 278.3 passing yards over the past three games and will have to shoulder even more of the burden with Ryan Williams and Beanie Wells out. Recommendation: Worth a look as a matchup play. Wesseling's Waiver Wired column
Weeden’s pocket presence and decision making have left a lot to be desired, but he’s showing improvement by the week. Showing off a stronger arm than expected, Weeden has averaged 292.5 yards over the past four games. He’s a legit QB2 option versus the Bengals in Week 5. Recommendation: Worth a look in deeper leagues.Wesseling's Waiver Wired column
Coach Mike Shanahan has yet to decide if Cousins or Rex Grossman will get the call should Robert Griffin III (concussion) miss this week’s game versus the Vikings. Cousins showed poise early in his bullpen stint last week before sealing the Redskins’ fate with a pair of late-game interceptions. He would be purely a desperation option against a surging Minnesota defense allowing just 11 points per game over the past three weeks.Recommendation: Worth a look in two-quarterback leagues.Wesseling's Waiver Wired column
Coach Romeo Crennel deemed Matt Cassel (concussion) “highly unlikely” to play at Tampa this week, leaving Quinn as the presumptive starter. In 15 NFL games, Quinn has posted a dreary 52.5 completion percentage, 5.4 YPA, 10:9 TD-to-INT ratio and 67.3 passer rating. His 12 career starts have produced an average of just 154 yards per game with five outings under the 100-yard mark. Use him at your own risk.Recommendation: Worth a look in two-quarterback leagues. Wesseling's Waiver Wired column
Colin Kaepernick (pictured), Tim Tebow, Matt Flynn, John Skelton, Nick Foles
The 49ers are increasing their use of the WildKaep, which is worth noting in deeper two-quarterback leagues. … Tebow will replace Mark Sanchez at some point. … The same could be said for Flynn and Russell Wilson if the rookie doesn’t improve. … Skelton will get another shot at some point if the Cardinals can’t protect Kevin Kolb. … Foles could get a late-season start or two if Michael Vick continues to turn the ball over at an incredible rate.
Best will undergo a battery of concussion tests this week to determine if the Lions will activate him from the PUP list when eligible in Week 7. The Lions are “hopeful” that Best will be available versus the Bears for the Oct. 21 Monday Night Football matchup. The expectation is that Best will take on a Darren Sproles-type role in a tandem attack with Mikel Leshoure. The Lions have a brutal run defense schedule over the next month, but that’s more of a concern for Leshoure than Best, who garners the majority of his value through the air. Best is far from guaranteed to receive concussion clearance, but his upside is such that he merits a roster spot in all leagues. He was a RB1 play in five games last year before the concussion ended his season.Recommendation: Should be owned in all leagues.
Since the 1970 merger, only the 2006 Falcons have topped the 49ers’ team average of 6.1 YPC through the first five weeks of the season. Mario Manningham and Randy Moss have been effective decoys, drawing safeties out of the box and allowing both Frank Gore and Hunter to gash defenses at a 5.4 YPC clip. Gore is typically good for one lower-leg injury per season, which would leave Hunter as a strong RB2 option behind the league’s most dominant offensive line. Hunter is owned in 22 percent of Yahoo leagues; he should be on a roster in every league. Recommendation: Should be owned in all leagues.
The Giants coaches told us last week that the explosive back would get chances on offense, and his role will grow if he takes advantage. Wilson responded with a 40-yard touchdown run while Andre Brown never saw the field versus the Browns. Considering Ahmad Bradshaw’s history of chronic foot and ankle injuries, he’s hardly a good bet to stay healthy coming off a career-high 34 touches in Week 5. Wilson is owned in just 18 percent of Yahoo leagues; that number should be well over 50 percent. Recommendation: Should be owned in 12-team leagues.
The latest back to regain explosiveness coming off ACL surgery, Green averaged 6.1 YPC after replacing Cedric Benson in Week 5. While the opportunity is there for flex value in fantasy leagues, Green is more likely to headline a committee attack with James Starks, John Kuhn and Brandon Saine also in the mix. Green isn’t trusted to carry the load, doesn’t play on third downs and won’t get the ball at the goal line. In other words, don’t go overboard bidding on Green in FAAB formats this week.Recommendation: Should be owned in 12-team leagues.
The undrafted rookie has averaged 15 rushes for 95.5 yards the past two weeks in the Patriots’ new fast-break offense. Stevan Ridley, dog-housed late last season for fumbling, has coughed the ball up in consecutive weeks. Ridley has played well enough for increased job security this season, but Bolden will benefit if the starter continues the slippery mitts routine. Recommendation: Worth a look in 12-team leagues.
Powell looked much improved while leading the NFL in rushing during the preseason, but we know it’s a good idea to take exhibition stats with a hefty grain of salt. The Cardinals opted to chain him to the bench for the opening month while Beanie Wells and Ryan Williams combined to average 2.76 YPC. Powell has an inviting matchup this week versus a historically bad Bills defense that has hemorrhaged an average of 279 yards on the ground the past two games. On the hand, he’s coming off a Week 5 concussion and could be mired in committee with LaRod Stephens-Howling and Alfonso Smith. We remain highly skeptical that Arizona will establish a successful ground attack at any point this season.Recommendation: Worth a look in 12-team leagues.
Wells (turf toe) is eligible to return after Thanksgiving, just in time for the Cardinals’ Week 12 game. He could offer value in the fantasy playoffs with Ryan Williams out for the season, but it’s nearly a two-month wait for his services. As much as the Cardinals have struggled to run the ball behind an overmatched offensive line, Wells is only worth stashing in deeper leagues right now.Recommendation: Worth a look in deeper leagues.
Blount has practiced better the past few weeks, and coach Greg Schiano is now talking up an increased role at Doug Martin’s expense. Blount has looked good as a change-of-pace back and red-zone specialist the past two games while Martin has struggled to break off big plays. We don’t expect Blount to overtake the more well-rounded rookie, but he could turn this backfield into a committee. Recommendation: Worth a look in touchdown-heavy leagues.
The third-rounder has overtaken Lance Ball as Denver’s No. 2 back, but he’s not a threat to Willis McGahee even after the veteran’s two late-game gaffes at New England. Hillman is purely a roster stash and will only have value in the event of an injury to McGahee.Recommendation: Worth a look in 12-team leagues.
James Starks (pictured), LaRod Stephens-Howling, Justin Forsett, Brian Leonard, Shaun Draughn, Bernard Pierce, Bryce Brown, Shane Vereen, Jamie HarperStarks has a chance to start over Alex Green, but we prefer the latter’s talent edge. Either way, the upside is low in a committee attack. … Stephens-Howling isn’t built to touch the ball 15 times per week. We prefer William Powell as a flier. … Forsett will head back to the bench once Ben Tate’s toe is healthy. … Leonard saw increased snaps at BenJarvus Green-Ellis’ expense last week. … Draughn continues to touch the ball 10 times per week for under 50 yards per game. … Vereen’s touchdown was his only carry of the game versus the Broncos. … Harper is now the backup to Chris Johnson with Javon Ringer out 4-6 weeks.
Cobb’s ownership has dropped to 60 percent in Yahoo leagues after frustrating fantasy leaguers in Weeks 2 and 3. He played his highest snap-count of the year in Week 5, though, and has topped 65 yards in three of five games. At Indy, Aaron Rodgers had a perfect 158.3 passer rating on throws to Cobb, who continues to flash Percy Harvin-like ability after the catch. As long as Greg Jennings (groin) is out of the lineup, Cobb is a viable WR3 fantasy play. Once Jennings returns, Cobb should still be rostered while we wait to see how coach Mike McCarthy uses his unique talent. Recommendation: Should be owned in all leagues.
Matchups guru Evan Silva continues to be impressed by Kerley’s ability to get open and make defenders miss after the 2011 fifth-rounder gave Johnathan Joseph all he could handle Monday night. With three of five games over 65 yards, Kerley is easily the Jets receiver to own now that Santonio Holmes is out for the season. Mark Sanchez’s crew will be playing from behind for the majority of the season, so there’s potential for garbage-time stat padding as well. Recommendation: Worth a look in 12-team leagues.
Philip Rivers and Meachem finally got their timing down with a two-touchdown performance in the Big Easy after just missing on a bomb in Week 4. Meachem was targeted just four times versus the Saints, however, and has been shut out of the boxscore completely in two of five games. He’s a hit-or-miss fantasy play, but can be rostered to see if his rapport with Rivers continues to grow.Recommendation: Worth a look in 12-team leagues.
DHB has been medically cleared from his concussion and resumed practicing during the bye week. He had fallen behind Denarius Moore in the pecking order before the injury, but is worthy of a roster spot if the Raiders can get their aerial attack back on track coming out of the bye. Nearly a 1,000-yard receiver a year ago, Heyward-Bey is now owned in less than 50 percent of Yahoo leagues. Recommendation: Worth a look in 12-team leagues.
The NFL’s leading rookie receiver is owned in just a third of Yahoo leagues. Wright has topped the Titans in receptions for three consecutive games and currently resides in the top-20 among all receivers with 27 catches. Tennessee has a tough matchup versus the Steelers this week, and Wright’s role figures to decrease once Kenny Britt (ankle) returns to full health. Recommendation: Worth a look in PPR leagues.
The rookie second-rounder caught just two of his eight targets versus the Giants, but they both went for touchdowns. Although coaches have been talking up an increased role for Gordon, he still played fewer snaps than drop-prone Greg Little in Week 5. It’s not clear yet if Gordon will continue to start once Mohamed Massaquoi returns from a hamstring injury. We suspect Gordon is still another year away from consistent fantasy value. Recommendation: Worth a look in deeper leagues.
Playing Hakeem Nicks’ “X” receiver role, the talented second-rounder got open versus the Browns at will for 82 yards on six receptions. His fantasy viability is entirely dependent on the health of Nicks (knee, foot) and Ramses Barden (concussion). If the veterans return to game action this week, Randle will head back to the bench. If they both sit out again, Randle is worthy of WR3 consideration at San Francisco.Recommendation: Worth a look in deeper leagues.
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. Givens is a rookie receiver with straight-line speed but a limited understanding of the NFL route tree. He led all Rams receivers in snaps versus the Cardinals and is expected to replace Danny Amendola as the starter opposite Brandon Gibson, with Steve Smith or Austin Pettis operating out of the slot. Givens will be an inconsistent fantasy play going forward. Recommendation: Worth a look in deeper leagues.
Jordan Norwood (pictured), Vincent Brown, Golden Tate, Brandon Gibson, Steve Smith (STL), T.Y. Hilton, Michael FloydI need to see Norwood do it again before I use a roster spot on the Browns’ slot receiver. … Brown is worth monitoring, but he’s not guaranteed to start upon his return. … Tate is playing well, but it hasn’t resulted in consistent fantasy numbers in Seattle’s run-heavy offense. … Keep an eye on Gibson and Smith to see if one of the veterans can replace Danny Amendola as Sam Bradford’s go-to receiver. … Hilton has averaged 8.5 targets the past two games.
Chandler didn’t find the end zone in a blowout loss at San Francisco, but he’s still fifth in fantasy points among tight ends through five weeks. A borderline TE1 most weeks, Chandler is still owned in less than 50 percent of Yahoo leagues. He’s been the second option in the Bills passing game behind Stevie Johnson.Recommendation: Should be owned in 12-team leagues.
Jermichael Finley expressed optimism that he would play through his shoulder injury versus the Texans, but coach Mike McCarthy offered only that his tight end “has a chance” to go in Week 6. Beat writers noted that Williams had arguably the best training camp of anyone on the roster this summer. With outstanding vertical speed and athleticism, Williams was the 2010 John Mackey Award winner at Arkansas. He would take over as the primary pass-catching tight end if Finley’s shoulder keeps him out this week.Recommendation: Worth a look as an injury fill-in.
The third-rounder started the season behind Coby Fleener in the pecking order, but he’s played more snaps than his fellow rookie in two consecutive games. Big and athletic with nice hands, Allen is emerging as a key red-zone weapon for Andrew Luck. Over the past two games, Allen is averaging 5.5 targets, 4.5 receptions and 36.5 yards. He’s purely a deep-league or bye-week crunch fantasy play.Recommendation: Worth a look in deeper leagues.
We suspected back in August that Dreessen would be Denver’s primary red-zone tight end after excelling in the role with the Texans. That’s how it has played out through five games, as Dreessen has actually out-scored Jacob Tamme 26.7 to 23.5 in fantasy points. Dreessen is averaging just two catches per game, leaving him as an option only in touchdown-heavy formats. Recommendation: Worth a look in touchdown-heavy leagues.
Jimmy Graham was in a walking boot after rolling his ankle in Sunday night’s game. It’s not clear yet if it’s a sprain of the high-ankle variety, but Graham does have the bye week as a buffer. If he can’t go in Week 7 at Tampa, Thomas would pick up extra snaps as an underwhelming fantasy option. Recommendation: Worth a look as an injury fill-in only in deeper leagues.
Rob Housler (pictured), Jordan Cameron, Zach Miller, Jeff CumberlandHousler is picking up snaps and stretching the seam, but Todd Heap could return to eat into his workload. … Cameron has yet to take advantage of Alex Smith’s absence. … Miller’s 59 yards were his most in a Seahawks uniform, but he saw just three targets. … Cumberland will head back to the bench with Dustin Keller returns from his hamstring injury.
It’s going to be a challenge for Arizona to establish a successful ground attack with untested William Powell and scat back LaRod Stephens-Howling. Mario Williams & Co. should be pinning their ears back against a quarterback that has been sacked 17 times the past two weeks. Recommendation: Worth a look as a matchup play.
Coming out of their bye week, the Bucs have a home game against a backup quarterback. With a career 52.5 completion percentage, 5.4 YPA and 10:9 TD-to-INT ratio, Brady Quinn isn’t one of the top 50 signal-callers in the NFL. Jamaal Charles has a tough matchup against the league’s fourth-ranked run defense.Recommendation: Worth a look as a matchup play.