Ask any fantasy owner what he/she hates most about fantasy football, and the answer is almost certainly going to be bye weeks. What a pain in the arse. Every week our fantasy practologists will prognosticate their waiver wire nabs and bye week replacement suggestions. But as they say in the service, "trust but verify", or in the medical world, "always get a second opinion." So this week, as we have a lot of top performers out with byes or injuries, I will offer up my thoughts on who to grab for a week or long term. I may agree with my colleagues, or I may prescribe something different. Also check out Tab Bamford's Week 5 Bye Week Buys column.
Thought for the week: If you're like me, you have multiple teams. You probably drafted them all well, but you may still find yourself sitting at 0-4 or 1-3. Don't give up on those teams. Even if you can't turn it around completely, you can use those teams as a learning experience for how to make waiver picks and trades to improve. This will help you next year and in your other leagues.
--Week 5 ~ Waiver Wire or Free Agent Pick Ups--
On Bye ~ Philip Rivers, Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees and Jay Cutler
David Garrard, JAX - Garrard has never been flashy, but every year he seems to end up in the top 12 fantasy producers. So far this season he is ranked 10th. Last week he broke out, and people took notice, so this week he may be a top waiver add. With 4 of the top 10 QBs out, it's an ugly week for fantasy quarterback production. Garrard is perhaps the best option this week going up against a poor Seahawks secondary. Availability: 31% in Yahoo and ESPN leagues.
Shaun Hill, SFO - Hill hasn't been a big fantasy producer yet this season, but he quietly puts up points. The Falcons have allowed 731 passing yards to QBs over three games, and 3 TDs. Hill could put up a decent production day at home this week. Availability: 91% in ESPN and 73% in Yahoo leagues.
Matt Cassell, KCC - Yes, I'm suggesting a Chiefs QB. I told you it was slim pickings this week. The Dallas Cowboys have allowed 1069 passing yards and 6 TDs to opposing quarterbacks. And that included Kyle Orton last week. If Orton can produce against Dallas, Cassell can do better. Availability: 40% in Yahoo, and 17% in ESPN leagues.
Grid Iron Gamble ~ Derek Anderson, CLE - Anderson only started one game so far, and this week he faces the Buffalo Bills who have been up and down on defense. He has made a connection with rookie receiver Mohamed Massaquoi, and he inherits Chansi Stucky from the Jets, who is an excellent slot receiver. Anderson likes to throw a lot so anything can happen. The Bills have been middle of the road against opposing QBs, having already surrendered 6 TDs and 1000 yards. Availability: 99% in ESPN and 90% in Yahoo leagues.
On Bye ~ Matt Forte, Pierre Thomas, Reggie Bush, Ryan Grant, Darren Sproles and LaDainian Tomlinson
Rashard Mendenhall, PIT - This one is a no brainer, especially if Willie Parker sits out again against the Lions. I won't belabor this one. You can read my article on Rocket Rashard here. Availability: 63% in ESPN and 33% in Yahoo leagues.
Jerome Harrison, CLE - Like Rashard, Jerome was another rookie who had a massive breakout last week. This week he gets to run through the Bills defense, and who knows if Jamal Lewis returns this week. But regardless, he's worthy of the investment. Grab him if you can. Availability: 99% in ESPN and 67% in Yahoo leagues.
Tim Hightower/Beanie Wells, ARI - The Cardinals haven't had much of a running game so far, but they need to establish one, and the Texans have been terrible against the run. Hightower has the most upside as both a runner and pass catcher, but Wells has had an extra week to get more familiar with the team's playbook. Both could have big days. Availability: Wells - 59% in Yahoo and 20% in ESPN leagues -- Hightower - 32% in Yahoo and 7% in ESPN leagues.
Tashard Choice, DAL - Choice had a solid week against the Broncos in place of Felix Jones. He out performed Marion Barber, but Barber got the endzone rush. This week Jones is said to be out again, and there's a decent chance Barber may be out too. He gets to face the Kansas City defense. Nuff said. Availability: About 55% in ESPN and Yahoo leagues.
Grid Iron Gamble ~ Justin Fargas, OAK - This is the risk pick. Anyone on the Raiders team is a hard sell right now. But as we've seen in the past, when Fargas has the opportunity, he performs. Right now the Raiders pass game sucks, and the team will need to feed the ball to Fargas and Bush, with Fargas being the main man. Even against the Giants he could have a productive week. If you're really hurting at RB this week, take a flyer on Huggy Bear's kid. Availability: Almost 100%, everywhere.
On Bye ~ Greg Jennings, Donald Driver, Devin Hester, Johnny Knox, Earl Bennett, Vincent Jackson, Marques Colston, Devery Henderson
Mohamed Massaquoi, CLE - Much like Mendenhall and Harrison above, everyone will be staking a claim to this kid this week, especially now that Braylon Edwards has been traded. He looks to be Derek Anderson's number one target. If you have a high waiver spot, he's worth wasting it on. I also like Chansi Stucky, now that he's out of NY. Availability: 100% in ESPN and 85% in Yahoo leagues.
Kenny Britt, TEN - Another rookie who has been creeping slowly onto fantasy radars. The Titan's haven't had much to be thankful for this season, but the play of their young receiver goes in the plus column. He hasn't found the endzone yet, but he's got 271 receiving yards so far, and he's due to hit pay dirt soon. Availability: About 85% in all leagues.
Austin Collie, IND - Pierre Garcon got all the love when Anthony Gonzalez went down, but each week Peyton Manning is making connections with both receivers. Anyone playing with Manning can put up points each week. This week presents a good match up for all Indy receivers. Looking ahead, if you have the bench room, snake Anthony Gonzalez in the next week or so, as he will be back soon and a lot of owners dumped him. Collie's Availability: About 95% in all leagues.
Kelley Washington, BAL - Derrick Mason is the Raven's top WR, but number two, Mark Clayton is not getting the job done, as witnessed in the final dying drive last week. Washington meanwhile has become a favorite outlet for Joe Flacco. He's getting an average of 5 targets a game and hauling in 80% of them. This week he faces the Bengals. He could put another TD on the stat sheet. Availability: 98% in ESPN and 91% in Yahoo leagues.
Grid Iron Gamble ~ Josh Morgan, SFO - Last week I recommended playing this kid after he had a miserable opening 3 weeks. To thank me for my faith he scored a touchdown. This summer he was a huge sleeper pick to be a top receiver. He has the skills. The knowledge that Crabtree will be coming soon gives him extra incentive to make things happen the next week or two. Many owners gave up on him early. Availability: 93% in Yahoo and 40% in ESPN leagues.
On Bye ~ Greg Olsen, Antonio Gates, Jermichael Finley, and Jeremy Shockey
Sean Ryan, KCC - QB Matt Cassel has made a connection with this veteran, and it's a release valve he'll need to continue to make use of . This week Ryan faces a sputtering Dallas defense. He should have another decent week, and makes a solid bye week filler. Availability: 99% of ESPN and Yahoo leagues.
Marcedes Lewis, JAX - Who is the 10th best fantasy producer at tight end through 4 weeks? That's right, Lewis is. This week he gets to feast on Pacific Northwest Seasquab. Some consider it a delicacy. I think he'll put up about 8-10 fantasy points. More in PPR leagues. Availability: 95% in ESPN and 84% in Yahoo leagues.
Robert Royal, CLE - I have Royal on here because one of Bills big weaknesses this season has been surrendering points to tight ends as mentioned in my weekly TE Start Sit column . Availability: 98% of ESPN and Yahoo leagues.
Grid Iron Gamble ~ Dante Rosario, CAR - This guy is hit or miss. He started out solid last year then died on the vine. This season he's got 2 TDs in 3 games and he faces the Redskins. He could find hit pay dirt this week or leave you with a couple of paltry fantasy points. How desperate are you at TE this week? Availability: over 95% everywhere.
Three solid plug and play options this week at D/ST are the San Francisco 49ers, Cincinnati Bengals, and Buffalo Bills. All three are ranked in the top 10 in fantasy points through the first 4 weeks, as you can read in my updated Team Defense column.
If you want to know who the hottest waiver pick-ups are, or the latest injury updates, make sure you sign up for our Dominator Service.
In 1973 I was living in San Francisco. This weekend the Falcons will be feeling a little Smoke on the Water: