Week five and some sure-fire busts are starting to emerge, but as the bye weeks begin, we might be left banking on them to carry us through.
Always active and interested in the lives of you, our fine and flawless readers, this week Playboy.com premieres the newest addition to our sporting family, our “Start ’Em, Sit ’Em” Fantasy Football guide. Each week, we’ll sort through the rubble of waiver wires and underappreciated players to find sneaky good players to start (or in some cases sit) to help you win your fantasy week. Please keep in mind that we’re not going after the big fish here; you should start Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady and Arian Foster all the times. These are the guys you might be on the fence about or find rotting on the wire. You can thank us later.
Alex Smith: Last week the Bills gave up an astounding 247 rushing yards to the pass-happy Patriots. This week, with Frank Gore coming to town, they’ll probably focus on stopping him, leaving San Fran’s bolstered receiving corps alone in man coverage. Smith, never known as a fantasy stud, can get the ball to them when he has to, so this could be a sneaky good start as the bye weeks begin.
Jackie Battle: Battle wins the battle this week for player most searched and immediately claimed from free agency; after Ryan Mathews got benched for a fumble, Battle exploded for 19 fantasy points and is likely to be rewarded this week with a few more touches against a Saints team that has yet to prove it can even identify a running back, let alone stop one.
Malcolm Floyd: On draft day, the race for San Diego’s wideouts was a confusing one at best; with Vincent Jackson in Tampa Bay, no clear number one stood out, but a good QB still stood under center. Robert Meachem looked like the best bet, but Malcolm Floyd has emerged as Rivers’ preferred target. His performance over the last two weeks has been dismal, but he should return to the 70-90 yard range with a score against the Saints.
Kyle Rudolph: We’re going to keep riding the Rudolph train in spite of a bad week. The Titans haven’t figured out how to match up tight ends, giving up the most fantasy points to the position through four weeks, and Rudolph has become the preferred short yardage, red zone target for Christian Ponder.
Baltimore Ravens: Matt Cassel has yet to have a game with a goose egg in the interception column, and he’s faced Atlanta, Buffalo, New Orleans and San Diego, average defenses at best. The Ravens should force at least a few wily throws and those should land somewhere they aren’t supposed to.
See who we've got on the bench on Page 2...
Ryan Fitzpatrick: No quarterback has found the end zone through the air more than Fitzy; he’s connected with his receivers 12 times in the past four games and currently ranks eighth in fantasy scoring at the position. So why are we sitting him? Well, he threw up four picks against the Pats last week (and three in Week One when all the Jets ball hawks were healthy); we expect that trend to continue against a ’Niners D that has left many fine QBs in the lurch through four games.
BenJarvus Green-Ellis: The Law Firm is a second-tier back on his best days, but going up against a Miami defense that has given up an NFL-best 56.8 yards per game, he’s best suited for the bench in Week Five.
Chris Johnson: Chris Johnson fantasy owners, rejoice! CJ2K finally broke off a decent fantasy week four games into the season, but the comeback is far from complete. This week he faces the Vikings, who have only allowed 56, 63 and 28 yards on the ground to running backs in the last three weeks, and given Johnson’s early season struggles you might want to wait at least another week before inserting him back into the starting lineup.
DeSean Jackson: With a bye week under their belt, Pittsburgh have had a chance to heal up, meaning Troy Polamalu and James Harrison are back. Even without them, the Steelers have only given up a modest 190.3 passing yards per game. With Jeremy Maclin out with a hip injury, Pittsburgh’s D will zero in on Jackson, who hasn’t been all that productive to begin with. If you’ve got options, use them.
Jermichael Finley: Good, seasoned offense meets bad, inexperienced defense. That’s usually the recipe for a fantasy field day, but Finley owners beware (if you aren’t already): the Colts have given up only one touchdown to opposing tight ends and currently rank second in fantasy points surrendered to the position. Add Finley’s pending status as a bust (he ranks 18th at the position in scoring) and this might be a sit-worthy week.
San Diego Chargers: The Chargers D has always been feast or famine; last week they went off for 21 points in standard scoring but had amassed only 16 combined in the three games previous. The Saints (regardless of their terrible, terrible record) have never been kind to opposing Ds, so don’t ride these guys as the hot hand.