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Studs, Duds and Fantasy Football–Week 5

Let the year of mediocrity continue. Last year, we had the Saints and Colts flirt with perfect seasons; this year we already lost the one undefeated team.

I think I kind of prefer it that way, but I do miss having that one team that ESPN spends all their time talking about and I spend all my football-time hating. You know you do too; no one likes a winner.

This parity-filled season has had an interesting effect on the fantasy side of things, as there seems to be no runaway, clear-cut, No. 1 must-own player at every position. With that in mind, let’s analyze the best, worst, and just plain mediocre of Week 5, fantasy style.

Top Performer

Just how bad are the Carolina Panthers? In order to sufficiently answer this question, all one needs to do is look at Matt Forte’s stat line from Sunday’s game: 22 carries, 166 yards and 2 long TDs. This is from an offense that had failed to score a rushing TD in all their previous games this season. What makes Forte’s line all the more impressive is that he did this with no threat of a passing game. The immortal Todd Collins went out and threw 4 INTs in roughly little more than half a game, while barely notching 30 yards passing. And the Bears still won.

I’m not buying into the Bears hype at all, if you couldn’t tell. Forte looks good, but I don’t trust that offensive line or Mike Martz to continue calling runs when Jay Cutler returns. My advice is to trade Forte while he’s high.

But seriously, how are the Panthers SO bad? They look like a JV team.

Studs

Miles Austin–He’s moving into the Peyton Manning/Adrian Peterson column where they are just so consistently good that I won’t bother writing about them. Did you see him go up in the air and snatch the ball on his way to a long TD? He looks like the fastest and toughest WR in the league to me.

Brandon Lloyd–I almost claimed him at the beginning of the season, but I passed on Lloyd and grabbed Jabar Gaffney instead (I was a BIG Gaffney believer). Even after Lloyd had a big Week 1 (5 catches for 117 yards), I decided to pass on him, believing it to a fluke.

Oops.

I think my main reason for not grabbing Lloyd dates back to his 2008 season with the Bears. In Week 3 of that year against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, he had a huge game, catching 6 passes for 124 yards and a TD. They were great catches too, which made his fantasy stock soar the next day. Everyone wanted him, everyone put a claim in on him, and a bunch of fantasy writers wrote articles on him. He never followed up with a similar game, as he missed large parts of the season due to injury/the Bears deactivating him because they felt that he wasn’t as injured as he said he was. I didn’t want to get burned again.

However, he now has three straight 100 yard games and only one game this season that didn’t go for 100. He’s cemented himself as the No. 1 option for a team that is passing the ball better than pretty much everyone. Obviously you should be starting him.

Ray Rice–Out of fantasy hibernation came Ray Rice, riding a white horse equipped with 100+ yards and 2 TDs. His owners have clearly been waiting for this one. When Rice slipped to you in your draft at around the 4th or 5th pick, admit it–you could hardly contain yourself. You thought to yourself “they let the lead back on a now offensively stacked team slide!? Fools! I can brag about this all year!”

After Week 4, you then felt that panic creep into your stomach, the one that makes you wonder when, if ever, Rice will break out. Chalk his first four weeks up to bad matchups and injuries. Rice will still be a stud, but the schedule still holds one more meeting with all the other AFC North teams. He won’t have as a good of a year as you hoped, but he will produce against lesser opponents.

Malcom Floyd–Mama, this man went and did something that Vincent Jackson never done! Out of nowhere, Floyd joins the 200 yard receiving club, and on a side note, the more exclusive “The-Majority-of-People-Probably-Didn’t-Start-Me Club.”

Let’s be honest: Vincent Jackson is big and fast, but so are all the other San Diego receivers. Floyd is more than just filling in for Jackson, he is on pace to have a better season than Jackson has ever had. With the Chargers leading the league in passing now and Philip Rivers having already passed for 400 yards twice this season, Floyd has cemented his position as an every week starter. This preseason fantasy sleeper is delivering BIG.

Underachievers

Larry Fitzgerald–It’s not his highest scoring game of the season but it might have been his best. I’ve stood by Fitzgerald though his rough start to the season (only double digit points once and that was in Week 1 with 10), and it looks like things are turning around for the Cardinals offense with the insertion of Max Hall, a QB who can complete passes. Fitz has a bye next week and I’m sure he’ll use every chance he can get to get on the same page with his young QB. The best is yet to come for this soon-to-be stud (on my list, that is).

Drew Brees–It is officially time to be concerned. The explosive Saints offense of last year is gone and it doesn’t look like its coming back anytime soon. With his starting running backs hurt, Brees is supposed to step up and carry this team, but it looks like the running game was more important than anyone thought. What the Saints were unable to do against a Cardinals team that they smacked in last years playoffs (a Cardinals defense which lost a few of its best players as well) was just shocking. Other than the Saints’ opening drive against the Minnesota Vikings at the start of the year, I haven’t been impressed by them at all. You can fool me once, twice, three times and even four times, Drew Brees, but five times? That’s a trend, and I’m taking notice.

Ahmad Bradshaw–Ahmad, you came so close to being on my duds list. In fact, that’s where you probably deserve to be, but I just can’t do that to you. Maybe it’s my misguided love for you or maybe I just don’t want to blame it all on you. Still, the fact is, you’ve spent every week of the year on my underachiever list. I don’t know how to get through to you. You could be a Top 10 back, but you either fumble (3 lost this season) or you get hurt (injured ankle versus Chicago Bears); allowing Brandon Jacobs back into the game and go figure, he actually does a decent job (10 carries, 41 yards and a VULTURE TD on Sunday). This is your last notification, Bradshaw: either have a complete game next week or find yourself on my duds list!

There, that should do the trick.

Duds

Arian Foster–It was bound to come sooner or later, but I really didn’t expect it to be against the Giants. That “it” I referred to is Foster’s first really bad game of the season. All the studs have them; just ask Chris Johnson and Adrian Peterson. I don’t think I need to list the stats; you’ve probably already stared at them in disbelief a million times by now. One bad week isn’t much to worry about, but that terrible Houston Texans defense is…

Greg Jennings–I haven’t really written about Jennings so far this season, and there’s a reason for that. Besides his opening week game against the Philadelphia Eagles, Jennings hasn’t really done anything noteworthy. In fact at this moment in time, Week 5 of the NFL season, he has less than 200 yards receiving. Honestly except for his 2008 season (especially his first four games of that year), I don’t see Jennings as a No. 1 fantasy receiver, and now I don’t even really see him as worth a No. 2 spot. He’s a borderline “Should I or shouldn’t I?” flex play right now. With Aaron Rodgers suffering a concussion and likely missing next week’s game, I would seriously consider not playing Jennings at all.

Waiver Wire Claim of the Week: Kenny Britt

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - SEPTEMBER 26: Kenny Britt  of the Tennessee Titans scores a second half touchdown during a game against the New York Giants at New Meadowlands Stadium on September 26, 2010 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

Kenny Britt--Fantasy Football Waiver Wire Pickup of the Week.

Soooo, my last two picks haven’t exactly set the world on fire. Justin Forsett will likely be heading to the fantasy scrap heap with the addition of Marshawn Lynch, and Ryan Torain could barely muster 6 points against the Packers even though the game went into overtime. With Forsett, I was wrong, but Torain WILL have his weeks going forth. Don’t drop him just yet.

With that being said, this seems to be an especially weak week for pickups, but if there’s one guy you need to grab with some relatively big-name WRs on bye next week (Fitzgerald, TO), it’s Kenny Britt.

This guy has been a TD machine for most of the season, but last Sunday against the Cowboys, he finally added around 80 yards to go with his score. His size and Vince Young’s trust in his abilities makes him a go-to receiver in the red zone, which is shown by his three red zone TDs this season. The Titans still want to run the ball, but they’ll take their shots and when they do, it will be to Britt. Expect double digit points next week against a porous Jacksonville Jaguars secondary.

Players I Love/Hate Score-Tracker

Jamaal Charles: +1 (finally getting the majority of carries)
Arian Foster: -1
Kevin Kolb: 0 (nothing special)
Larry Fitzgerald: 0
Brandon Marshall: BYE
Chris Johnson: -1
Justin Forsett: BYE
The Rams: +1 (not much against a bad Lions defense)
Joe Flacco: +1
Tom Brady: BYE

Last week’s score: +1
Current standing: +2

Check out all the articles from the Players I Love/Hate series. Players I Love: Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV and Part V. Players I Hate: Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV and Part V.