Think of the waiver wire as the Fantasy Football 401K plan. Each week you wager on a certain player, and in some cases they work out beautifully, and in other cases they serve as release fodder to pick up that next sure-fire superstar. In most cases you’ll deal with the latter. Why? Because NFL head coaches and offensive coordinators couldn’t care less about fantasy football. While I am sure it’s flattering for the players, I will assume that most with the exception of RB Maurice Jones-Drew don’t indulge in and really don’t care about fantasy football either. That fuels the frustration with the hobby as in many cases the numbers alone don’t tell the true story. They don’t tell the story behind the success or failure of a player on game day. The only thing that jumps out at most is a head-turning performance from a previously unknown entity, suddenly vaulting them into the fantasy consciousness. Realize that there is so much more under the surface. How do you get that info? Well aside from jumping in a full laundry cart at the stadium and taking the stinky ride into the locker room, you need to look at more than just fantasy sites. Sure, take the pearls of wisdom garnered here at FantasyPros 911, but then do some research by checking out the local newspapers for each team and players you are targeting. Read the local columnists who have a closer feel of the situation. Get the straight dope from the guys who are on the sidelines at practice and have a better relationship about the situation than some yahoo writing about it thousands of miles away. Local papers can and will devote more time to the local team – it’s that simple.
Some will say you can’t be everywhere, but the internet says different. It affords you logistical luxuries like never before. Want to check out some tidbits on the Oakland Raiders? Check out the Oakland Tribune. The Seattle Seahawks? Info is a click away at the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. The Philadelphia Eagles? Try the Philadelphia Inquirer, or Philly.com. You get the idea. There you can apply the fantasy knowledge discovered here and dive deeper into the situation and make an informed, educated decision when selecting a player.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at some players worth checking out on the fantasy free agent market for week five, and for God’s sake – do your homework!
QB Andy Dalton, Cincinnati Bengals – For far too long and rightfully so Dalton has been perceived as a marginal fantasy quarterback, a bye week patchwork player at best. Well folks he’s turning the corner in a hurry and deserves some genuine fantasy attention. Through the Bengals first four games of the season, he is averaging just under 280 passing yards per game and has thrown eight touchdown passes. In addition he’s minimized his interceptions, with just one per contest, and has a touchdown on the ground. If you look at the numbers, he’s out-scored the likes of Patriots QB Tom Brady, Giants QB Eli Manning, Lions QB Matthew Stafford, and even Packers QB Aaron Rodgers. That, any way you look at it is impressive. With a nice group of wide receivers, led by second-year standout WR AJ Green, Dalton is more than worth roster consideration.
QB Kevin Kolb, Arizona Cardinals – Since taking over the starting gig from injured QB John Skelton, Kolb has gotten progressively better with each minute of playing time. Over his past two starts, Kolb has thrown for 222 and 324 yards respectively and tossed five touchdown passes. News is Kolb will retain the starting job regardless of Skelton’s availability and the schedule boasts some match ups that he should be able to exploit.
QB Matt Hasselbeck, Tennessee Titans – With QB Jake Locker out with an injury to his non-throwing shoulder, the Titans will turn to the wily veteran Hasselbeck in week five. We’re seeing all over the web how Hasselbeck is a poor addition, but I would tend to disagree. Look, his better years are behind him, but he still brings a veteran leadership and maturity that could translate into success on the field and subsequent fantasy success. Regardless of the slow start, the Titans have a running game that needs to be respected, and they possess a nice mix of young and veteran receivers as well. Hasselbeck’s starting opportunities are dwindling fast, so look for him to make the most of these final shots in his NFL career.
RB Brandon Bolden, New England Patriots – The caveat here is a simple one – this is a Bill Belichick offense and the focal point of the ground game is almost impossible to hammer down. Bolden’s week four performance is hard to ignore, with 137 rushing yards and a touchdown. Of course the concept of the waiver wire is all about striking while the iron is hot, but it’s also a crap shoot especially when gambling on a player in an offense that is decidedly pass-first. He’s worth taking a chance on, but don’t be surprised if he puts up numbers closely resembling week one as opposed to last week.
RB Jackie Battle, San Diego Chargers – This will be the second time Battle has been mentioned in the waiver wire segment. It is obvious when they are within striking distance of the end zone, the Chargers look to Battle to seal the deal. With four combined touchdowns, he certainly warrants consideration, especially with RB Ryan Matthews still working his way back from the collarbone injury that cost him the first two games of the season. Bottom line is while his yardage totals may decrease, Battle is getting the red zone looks and that makes him a quality, viable fantasy option.
WR Brian Hartline, Miami Dolphins – Talk about a PPR monster. Talk about a fantasy monster in general! He is an obvious free agent option across the board, but be clear that Hartline will endure the inconsistencies, the ups and downs if you will, of his rookie quarterback. The smart fantasy owner might pick up Hartline and move him immediately while his value and noteworthiness is at its peak. If he repeats his week three one-reception performance, his perceived value will take a hit.
WR Domenik Hixon, New York Giants – With all the uncertainty surrounding the health of WR Hakeem Nicks, look for guys like Hixon to take on an expanded role in the Big Blue offensive attack. It was evident this past Sunday night against the Eagles, as Hixon was targeted 11 times by QB Eli Manning en route to 114 receiving yards. The Giants are no strangers to bringing seldom used players into prominent roles on the squad, so a gamble on the likes of Hixon and WR Ramses Barden would be wise.
WR James Jones, Green Bay Packers – As long as WR Greg Jennings is hobbled by a groin injury, Jones will see an increase in 3 “T’s” – Time, Targets and Touchdowns. There are plenty of receiving options in Green Bay, between the likes of WR Jordy Nelson, WR Randall “Tex” Cobb and a plethora of tight end options, but Jones is a big, physical target who QB Aaron Rodgers looks to early and often. He is most definitely worth a roster spot and a represents a decent bench option.
WR Andre Roberts, Arizona Cardinals – It is nice to see Roberts mentioned in regards to viability this early in the season. He came on late in 2011, and was a quality receiver down the stretch. With QB Kevin Kolb’s confidence growing, as well as lining up alongside an attention grabbing receiver like WR Larry Fitzgerald, look for Roberts to continue his solid play.
WR Jerome Simpson, Minnesota Vikings – Here is a guy who has been flying under the radar due to a three game suspension to start the season. He returned last week, and brings with him the ability to open things up and stretch the field for Minnesota. It will take him a week or two to get into the swing of things, but in my opinion Simpson is a guy who should have been a draft day selection. Any time you have a shot to get that off the waiver wire, you go for it.
TE Scott Chandler, Buffalo Bills – For the same reason I mentioned Pittsburgh Steelers TE Heath Miller last week, I mention Chandler this week. A tight end with a nose for the end zone is a good thing. When you take into account the Bills will likely be playing from behind most weeks and forced into throwing the ball, Chandler is a lock solid option to get plenty of looks.
TE Jermaine Gresham, Cincinnati Bengals – As this offense improves, and if Gresham remains healthy, his effectiveness will increase. He is a big, sure handed option, and a will emerge as a vital piece of the Bengals offensive game plan. Of course, every time folks get excited about Gresham, he gets hurt. So don’t get that excited – draft him, act as though you don’t care, and he’ll likely flourish.
Have a great Week Five!
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