You might have been confident in your fantasy football team, but as injuries and bye weeks pick up, adjustments need to be made.
The Miami Dolphins, Minnesota Vikings, New York Jets and Carolina Panthers are all off for Week 5, which could force some teams into desperation mode. Without many obvious options on the waiver wire, you are pretty much left shuffling your roster to get the best possible lineup available.
While you can still have a great week with middling players, it’s important to pick the right ones in your lineup. Here is a look at what to do with some borderline flex options for Week 5.
T.J. Yeldon, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars
When the Jaguars are in a competitive game—like they were in the overtime loss to the Indianapolis Colts—running back T.J. Yeldon can stay heavily involved in the game plan. He finished Week 4 with 105 rushing yards on 22 carries while also adding two catches.
Although he hasn’t gotten into the end zone yet, this was by far the rookie’s best performance in the NFL.
Jacksonville has been forced to abandon the run in bigger losses to the Carolina Panthers and New England Patriots, but that shouldn’t be an issue for the upcoming matchup against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The team should be able to keep giving Yeldon the ball against a defense that has allowed the third most yards on the ground this season.
Hopefully he can turn this opportunity into a big game that includes his first career touchdown.
Donte Moncrief, WR, Indianapolis Colts
For the first time all year Donte Moncrief failed to score in Week 4, but he proved he is still a major part of the offense with six catches for 75 receiving yards. Even with backup Matt Hasselbeck throwing him the ball, he found ways to get big chunks of yards and remained an important part of a pass-heavy offense.
ESPN’s Matthew Berry noted just how much work he has gotten to start the year:
Although the Houston Texans just “shut down” Julio Jones in Week 4, a lot of that had to do with the fact the Atlanta Falcons could do whatever they wanted in the run game. The Colts won’t repeat this strategy and will take advantage of their talented receivers.
Whether Andrew Luck or Hasselbeck ends up under center, Moncrief has shown he is worthy of a fantasy start.
PPR Start: Kamar Aiken, WR, Baltimore Ravens
As an undrafted player who has been on various practice squads throughout his short career, Kamar Aiken was a surprise to get the start in Week 1 opposite Steve Smith Sr. With Smith unable to play in Week 5 because of a back injury, Aiken will now be a No. 1 target for the Baltimore Ravens.
The 26-year-old played a big role in the team’s come-from-behind win against the Pittsburgh Steelers last Thursday, finishing with five catches for 77 yards and a touchdown. Among his team-high matching seven targets was the biggest play of the game, a 20-yard catch with 29 seconds left to help set up the game-tying field goal.
While there is certainly pressure to replace Smith’s production, the 6’2″, 215-pound receiver isn’t concerned.
“We’ve been getting that even with Steve being 100 percent,” Aiken said on a conference call, per Jon Meoli of the Baltimore Sun. “I don’t think that’s going to change. We’re just going to continue to grind, and just count on each other. We’re a pretty confident group in each other, and I think we’ll get the job done.”
It’s tough to expect a huge game out of the little-used receiver, but quarterback Joe Flacco trusts him and will likely target him a whole lot. At the very least, this could lead to a lot of catches to help those in points-per-reception leagues.
Melvin Gordon, RB, San Diego Chargers
While the rookie still has plenty of talent, Melvin Gordon just isn’t getting the opportunities you would like to see. According to Pro Football Focus, Danny Woodhead still had more snaps in Week 4 (38 to 32), and the banged-up offensive line has struggled mightily in run blocking (minus-5.1 grade as a team).
Gordon ended up with just 38 rushing yards on 12 carries in what many were expecting to be a breakout day, including Mike Clay of PFF:
It’s true the Pittsburgh Steelers were recently gashed by Justin Forsett to the tune of 150 rushing yards in Week 4, but the Cleveland Browns had been much worse against the run heading into last week. If Gordon couldn’t get it done in that matchup, it’s hard to trust him in anything until he proves otherwise.
Brandin Cooks, WR, New Orleans Saints
The Philadelphia Eagles don’t have an intimidating secondary, but the scary factor is the lack of production for Brandin Cooks to this point. He was a hot name throughout the preseason because of his expected emergence as quarterback Drew Brees’ favorite target, but that hasn’t happened quite like planned.
Cooks was targeted eight times in Week 4 but still only managed four catches for 25 yards. Five different Saints players finished with more receiving yards in the overtime win.
Running back C.J. Spiller will likely take away a lot of the shorter targets previously intended for Cooks, while Willie Snead, Brandon Coleman and Marques Colston will continue to battle for catches down the field. This doesn’t leave a whole lot of room for the former first-round pick.
The talent is obviously there for him to improve, but for now Cooks should remain on your bench.
PPR Sit: Isaiah Crowell, RB, Cleveland Browns
Week 4 was an encouraging game for Isaiah Crowell. He totaled 125 yards from scrimmage on 15 touches, including a 53-yard reception and a 32-yard run. However, there are important factors to consider before expecting more production.
First, the success came against a poor San Diego Chargers run defense that currently ranks dead last with 4.9 yards allowed per carry. Additionally, Duke Johnson Jr. was a true star out of the backfield and ended with nine catches for 85 yards and a touchdown.
Evan Silva of Rotoworld explained Johnson’s expanded role within the offense:
Crowell did get three catches, but that only brought him to five on the year. It’s clear Johnson will take over much of the receiving duties, leaving Crowell to about 10-15 carries per game. Unless he is getting into the end zone, this isn’t enough to be productive in a PPR league.
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