After last week when we had two new running backs jump onto the fantasy scene, we get two wide receivers breaking out in Week 5.
Jeremy Maclin and Miles Austin didn’t just break out either, they blew up. Granted, they did it against the equivalent of junior high defenses, but their performances will go down as legendary breakouts.
Will they become dynasty studs? What about the aforementioned Rashard Mendenhall and Jerome Harrison? There are several other players with Week 5 implications you should be targeting in trades, picking up off waivers or considering as a potential keeper in the offseason.
Miles Austin – I let Austin sleep and he burned me. I don’t remember mentioning much of Austin during the preseason, ignoring him while I touted Patrick Crayton. Through the early part of the Cowboys game on Sunday, Crayton was the leading target. That changed quickly when Romo realized Austin’s talent. He finished with 10 catches for a team-record 250 yards and 2 TDs. Austin was targeted 15 times and had a 60-yarder. Again, I say, it came against the Chiefs, but I’m still buying. He’s available in 63% of Yahoo leagues. Pick him up fast or trade for him. He’s a potential dynasty gem.
Jeremy Maclin – Hey, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are awful, but did you see the catches this rook made? He’ll be getting a lot more action for the rest of the season. He won’t be able to match his 6-catch, 142-yard, 2-TD game, but he and DeSean Jackson will give Eagles opponents more than they can handle. He’s available in 81% of Yahoo leagues and I’m buying him too. Another dynasty gem.
Rashard Mendenhall – Most backs not named LaDainian Tomlinson can’t go for 200 total yards every game, so it’s not surprising Mendenhall came back to Earth in Game 2. However, he did have a great 15-77-1 rushing line and had two catches for 16 yards. He’s definitely a dynasty keep and looks like a keeper in four- and five-keeper setups. It’ll be interesting to see how the Steelers use Willie Parker when he returns.
Jerome Harrison – He only ran for 21 yards on eight carries, a stark contrast to his Week 4 performance. Meanwhile, Jamal Lewis ran 31 times for 117 yards in his return. Is Harrison still a keeper in deep dynasty leagues? Absolutely. He’s shown as much as Darren McFadden has, and you didn’t think about throwing him back last year, right? I think I just insulted Jerome Harrison by comparing him to McFadden. And I definitely just insulted Darren McFadden. McFadden, I hate your face.
Ahmad Bradshaw – Go, overpay for Bradshaw now, make him a (insert your team name here) because you want him on your roster for the next five years. You know who he reminds me of? Tiki Barber. The dominant, end-of-career Tiki Barber, not the early fumble-fumble-fumble Tiki. He’s catching passes (1 for 55!) he’s running with authority despite his small stature (11-110) and he’s scoring TDs (2). Yes, Jacobs will steal some carries, but Bradshaw is the horse in New York. He’s just a more exciting thoroughbred, to Jacobs’ Clydesdale.
Mohamed Massaquoi – After his paltry 1 catch for 16 yards on six targets, if you make a hasty move to dump Massoquoi I’m not going to try to convince you otherwise. If you can swap Massquoi for Maclin or Austin, do it. Now. Massaquoi has talent – all NFL players do – but we might not know how much until the Browns trot out a real NFL quarterback. Derek Anderson was a JaMarcus-esque 2-for-17 for 23 yards and an interception. Is he a dynasty keeper? In deep leagues, yes. If you have position-specific keeper limitations, you probably have better options and can get him in your draft next year.
Tashard Choice – Marion Barber was back, so I removed Choice in a league and started Barber in another league. Bad idea. It appears as though the Cowboys have something going like the Giants. Choice (or maybe Jones when he gets back?) is going to have only 10 carries, but do more with it than Barber. On Sunday, Choice went 8-92 with a TD and Barber went 15-53. Now, 15-53 isn’t bad, unless you consider it came against the Chiefs, and that his teammate did more with much less.
Percy Harvin – I said to temper expectations until he shows us more in the yardage department. He didn’t score a touchdown on Sunday and had four catches for 66 yards. It was hardly a banner day. However, he made a catch along the sideline, made some moves, broke some tackles and in the process impressed the hell out of me. I’m not going to hurry out and get him, but if an opportunity arises for me to acquire him in a dynasty league, I will do it.
Michael Bush – Had 12 carries for 37 yards and a touchdown. As much as I hate McFadden, the Raiders are in such a shambles that nobody is a good play. Coaches are punching each other, JaMarcus Russell is just all kinds of awful. Bush is a good talent, but depending on how deep your league is, he is not a strong dynasty option only because we don’t know how long Raiderfunk lingers.
Steve Smith/Hakeem Nicks/Mario Manningham – Oh, this situation is a fantasy plague along the lines of the RBBC. Steve Smith only had three catches this week, but led the team with 70 yards receiving. Mario Manningham, the other receiver stud, had a TD but only 2 catches on 3 targets and 36 yards. Meanwhile, the dark horse in this race, Hakeem Nicks, had the most targets (6) and catches (4) to go along with 49 yards and a TD. Not every opponent is going to offer opportunities like the Raiders, but this is clearly at least a three-man race. It’s great for the Giants, but not so great for fantasy players. If I was betting $100 on these guys, I’d put $50 on Steve Smith, $17 on Hakeem Nicks, $16 on Mario Manningham, $5 on Sinorice Moss and save $12 for some guys we haven’t seen yet, or the Chinese buffet, whichever comes first.
Roddy White – If you didn’t trade for the 2005 first round pick last week, youaintgettinim. Dude looked like Miles Austin out there. He had eight catches, 210 yards, two TDs and 10 targets. Despite his lack of production, he’s been one of the most targeted receivers in 2009. Like TJ Houshmandzadeh, those targets are finally turning into fantasy production.
Ray Rice – Rice hasn’t given owners much of a reason to not keep him, so that’s not an issue here. What I want to discuss is his ceiling. I have a feeling we still don’t really know how good Rice can be. He had 69 yards rushing on 14 carries and 74 yards receiving on seven catches. He was second on the team with eight targets.
Brandon Marshall – Last week, I said Marshall was going to be a decent play for the rest of the season and he didn’t disappoint against the Patriots – eight catches, 64 yards and two TDs. Marshall is an example of how one player can singlehandedly change the fantasy fortunes of his teammates. Eddie Royal had 10 catches for 90 yards and was targeted 15 times and Kyle Orton had 330 yards passing with two TDs.
Austin Collie – Collie had eight catches for 97 yards and 2 TDs for the Colts. His opponent in the battle for being the next Reggie Wayne (which was Anthony Gonzalez’s title before he got hurt, and might still be his when he gets back), Pierre Garcon, had one catch for nine yards. As much as I touted Garcon, we’re looking at another situation like the Giants. The difference here is that Peyton is going to throw a lot more than Eli, so the Colts receivers will have more value.
Justin Gage – Had 1 catch for seven yards on seven targets. You don’t want him on your regular season roster, let alone on your list of keepers. Why is he getting play in the dynasty-themed Day of Reckoning? Because I like to kick Justin Gage when he’s down.
What was your surprise of the weekend? Targeting Austin (Collie or Miles)? Maclin? Let us know in the comments.