Our weekly rankings have just been updated. And as always, they will provide you with a dependable resource to help with those difficult lineup decisions. Here is a look at some additional players that I believe could provide you with high quality production this week, if you are inclined to utilize sleepers in your starting lineups. For a look at defenses to grab from your waiver wire check out my column here.
Brian Hoyer vs. Bills
Hoyer’s ascension into the starting role was accompanied by very low expectations. But he has generated 590 yards and five TDs in his initial two starts, while leading Cleveland to a pair of victories. All of which has solidified him as the team’s starter for the foreseeable future. Now, he has a chance to deliver a highly productive performance on Thursday night versus an injury depleted Buffalo defense. The Bills are just 23rd against the pass, while allowing 277 YPG. DBs Stephon Gilmore and Ron Brooks will be sidelined by injuries, and Jairus Byrd and Leodis McKelvin are likely to join them. That presents Hoyer with an encouraging combination of factors that should enable him to torture the Bills. And to do so almost exclusively through the extensive targeting of Jordan Cameron and Josh Gordon. Hoyer has connected with Cameron for 16 receptions, 157 yards and four TDs in the past two weeks, while Gordon has collected 14 receptions for 217 yards and a TD. Expect Hoyer to accumulate very favorable numbers if you start him in deeper leagues.
Sam Bradford vs. Jaguars
If you have difficulty generating enthusiasm for starting Bradford in 2 QB leagues, that is very understandable. And if you listen to some analysts, your viewpoint regarding the fourth-year signal caller will be extremely negative. Granted, the inaccurate passing and inexplicably poor play calling that have been displayed in the past two weeks are legitimate concerns. But Bradford is still 10th in passing yardage (1,093), and has thrown the same number of TDs (seven) as Tom Brady and Matthew Stafford. Plus, he has tossed just three INTs. All legitimate reasons why you should still maintain hope for the former Sooner if the matchup is favorable. And the words favorable, matchup and Jacksonville blend together extremely well this season. The Jaguars have already yielded nine TDs through the air, and their numerous deficiencies on offense should result in many three and outs. That in turn will provide Bradford and the Ram offense with sufficient opportunities to move the ball, and should propel him to his best numbers since Week 2 (352 yards, three TDs).
Rashad Jennings vs. Chargers
Jennings becomes an intriguing roster addition for owners who find themselves in need of a RB. He qualifies as a sleeper, since he has a chance to start for the Raiders this week, yet is involved in a very uncertain situation. Darren McFadden is dealing with a hamstring issue, while Marcel Reece has sprained his knee, and their status could remain unclear until much closer to Oakland's Sunday Night matchup with San Diego. McFadden’s extensive track record of lengthy absences from the lineup make it difficult to believe that he will be available this week. Plus, Reece’s knee problem would limit his effectiveness if he can even perform at all. Therefore, Jennings will likely have an opportunity to be Oakland’s primary back this week. And, he has a genuine opportunity to accumulate yardage regardless of who is under center. If Terrelle Pryor returns to the lineup as expected, San Diego’s 30th ranked defense must account for his duel threat capabilities, which should create more space for Jennings. If Pryor suffers a setback in his recovery from a Week 3 concussion, Matt Flynn will almost assuredly utilize Jennings as a checkdown option, just as he did in Week 4. That process enabled Jennings to accumulate 71 yards on eight receptions, and would produce similar results on Sunday. If you do secure Jennings, it will be necessary to monitor the latest updates regarding both McFadden and Reece. Plus, Oakland’s Sunday night kickoff could complicate your lineup decisions if the RB situation has not been clarified prior to kickoff.
Benny Cunningham vs. Jaguars
The Rams have been outscored by 48 points in their past two contests, and have looked dreadful in the process. It is logical to expect Jeff Fisher to make some changes during the 10 days of preparation for this week’s matchup with Jacksonville. And even though their anemic ground game is far from the only concern, something needs to be done in order to somehow ignite this aspect of their attack. Incumbent starter Daryl Richardson essentially told a twitter follower that he will not start this week, which quickly led many owners to ask whether Isaiah Pead or rookie Bennie Cunningham will have the opportunity as a RB1 on Sunday. Richardson was held to just 16 yards on 12 carries, after missing the Week 3 encounter with Dallas completely due to a foot injury. During that game, Pead was limited to 20 yards on six attempts, while Cunningham ran for 16 yards on four carries. It is very possible that all three backs will split touches this week, and Zac Stacy could also enter that mix. And if any member of the trio is particularly effective, then Fisher and Brian Schotteheimer will continue to utilize them. Since Richardson’s status as the clear cut starter has been altered, and Pead was inactive for disciplinary reasons in Week 4, Cunningham should at least receive a major opportunity to distinguish himself. For now add him… and continue to monitor the situation.
Isaiah Pead vs. Jaguars
Of course, this ambiguous situation also propels Pead into the role of sleeper, as it is highly possibly that the second-year rusher will be supplied with ample opportunities to distance himself from Richardson, Cunningham and Stacy. The concern with Pead is the aforementioned disciplinary action that apparently was taken against him last week. As it certainly would appear that he had fallen out of favor with Fisher to a certain degree. Still, the Rams need their ground game to improve sizably. And if Pead would prove to be the most proficient rusher from among the foursome, then it would be logical to believe that he will garner even more touches. Not only is it unfortunate for St. Louis that no member of this trio has distinguished himself, but it has the potential of a lost opportunity for fantasy owners. Because an officially designated starter could be used with confidence against a Jacksonville defense that is dead last against the run, and is yielding 164 YPG. If a choice needs to be made without any clarification on this situation, Pead is definitely an option, as you continue to peruse updates.
Robert Woods at Browns
After receiving eight targets during Buffalo’s first two contests, Robert Woods has garnered 18 in the past two weeks. That includes the team high eight passes that E. J. Manuel directed toward Woods in Week 4. The rookie responded by collecting four receptions, and generating the most prolific numbers of his brief career. Not only did he assemble a team best 80 yards, but also produced a 42-yard touchdown. Plus, he had a second scoring catch that was reversed by instant replay. Woods is in great position to deliver more highly productive outings, since he is clearly Buffalo’s No. 2 receiving weapon. Manuel’s inconsistency as a passer will occasionally impact his fellow rookie, but not enough to deter you from utilizing Woods when the matchup is appealing. That is certainly the case in this week’s Thursday Night contest in Cleveland. Joe Haden should be focused on neutralizing Stevie Johnson, which will create complications for Manuel when he attempts to locate the Bills’ No. 1 WR. That should lead to an expanded target total for Woods, who can be utilized as a WR3.
Nate Washington vs. Chiefs
Washington was an afterthought during fantasy drafts, but is now establishing himself as a viable option for owners. He certainly qualifies as a sleeper for this week’s matchup with Kansas City, after generating over 100 yards for the second consecutive week. He is tied for the team lead in targets with 30, and easily paces the Titans with 332 receiving yards. Last Sunday, he also scored his first two TDs of the season by catching a four-yard pass from Jake Locker along with a 77-yard connection with Ryan Fitzpatrick after Locker’s hip injury forced him to the sidelines. Fitzpatrick will ascend into the starting role this week, but that does not automatically mean that Washington’s target will decline. Both he and Kendall Wright should continue to collect the majority of opportunities, and Washington is fully capable of delivering consistent WR3 numbers.
Brent Celek at Giants
The matchup between NFC East rivals will be interesting. Because both offenses have an opportunity to generate a sizable number of fantasy points. Particularly Michael Vick and the Eagles, who should find repeated success attacking the Giants’20th ranked pass defense. They have already surrendered 10 TD passes which is tied for the NFL's highest total. Four of those scoring throws have been yielded to opposing TEs, which ties them for the second most in the league. The Giants are also tied for the fourth most fantasy points allowed to TEs, which further cements Celek as a sleeper. You should not expect high volume targeting, as Celek has a grand total of 15 for the season, and a game high of six. But the optimism toward utilizing the seven- year veteran is associated with his matchup against thoroughly beatable defensive unit. If you are in need of a TE this week, you could do much worse than Celek.