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Balancing Act: Hottest Week 5 Fantasy Football Waiver Wire Grabs

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Brian Hartline is catching on fire this season. Brian Hartline is catching on fire this season. Icon

Each Tuesday we highlight the most valuable waiver wire pickups in fantasy football. We also give you a few guys to avoid, despite their "waiver buzz."

Running Backs

Joique Bell - Detroit Lions

The Detroit Lions' backfield looks a bit disheveled right now. To start the season, Kevin Smith had the position locked down with Mikel Leshoure suspended two games and Jahvid Best experience a concussion every time he sneezed. Smith's promise pummeled. Leshoure returned.

Leshoure showed promise during his first game back from suspension. He rushed for 100 yards on 26 carries and chipped in a score. But even during that solid statistical performance, he didn't showcase any big-play ability. In Week 4, he averaged a disappointing 26 yards on 13 carries and failed to see the end zone.

Bell only had a single carry for two yards in Week 4, but he led all pass-catchers with six receptions for 72 yards. Bell's receptions since Week 1 have been: 0, 2, 4, 6. Head coach Jim Schwartz has been on record saying that Bell will be the Lions' "game closer." With Leshoure coming off a major injury and being a 3 yards and a cloud of dust-type of runner, Bell is worth a look in fantasy circles. 


Brandon Bolden - New England Patriots

Bill Belichick is the new Mike Shanahan. Well, maybe not as bad, but close.

Shane Vereen (foot) was set to make his 2012 NFL debut in Week 4 and was generating a bit of waiver wire buzz heading into the game. Vereen received one carry and went nowhere. Literally, not one yard. 

Brandon Bolden received 16 carries in the Week 4 blowout versus the Buffalo Bills. He capitalized on those runs, rushing for 137 yards and a touchdown. He also grabbed one of Tom Brady's passes for 11 yards. 

Bolden first reared his rookie head in Week 3 when he poached a goal line score against Baltimore. Now Bolden is completely out of the bag and should be completely off of your waiver wire. But view Bolden as he is, a backup running back on an explosive offense that is a weak RB2/solid flex player.

But in a year where running backs are few and far between, he's worth a roster spot. Just remember, you may get Belichick'd and Bolden could not be a part of next week's game plan.


William Powell - Arizona Cardinals

With Beanie Wells being placed on the "lay away" injured reserve, Ryan Williams was thought to be a strong RB2 against the Miami Dolphins. Williams fizzled in Week 4. He gained a putrid 26 yards on 13 carries. Williams' regular season play hasn't matched his preseason hype of being an explosive runner who can make defenders miss. "Lil' Sweetness" is hardly living up to his nickname averaging 2.98 yards per carry.

And in Week 4, Williams ceded red zone carries to Powell and was on the sidelines for the Cardinals' hurry-up offense. Powell didn't do much with his opportunities (two carries for two yards, two receptions for six yards and a fumble), but he also faced Miami's third-ranked run defense. Arizona faces St. Louis in Week 5 who has been a bit better this year against the run than in years past, but is still not dominant. 

Powell may generate some waiver wire buzz this week for being a possible goal line back, but you'd be smart to ignore it.


Jackie Battle - San Diego Chargers

Battle was surprised to get the start in Week 4 against his former team. Not only did Battle get the start, but he also received all of the red zone looks, as well. 

He's not worth burning a waiver spot for, however. Battle was given these gifts this week as a way to punish Mathews. Our only concern is Mathews' goal line work. If that recedes, then there is a real problem. We doubt it will though. 

If you have Mathews, pick up Battle as a handcuff. Although gaining 39 yards on 15 carries, he showed he's not necessarily a great handcuff to own. Sure he did some damage in the passing game (42 yards on 4 receptions), which makes him a decent backup, but don't go chasing his two touchdowns. 


Wide Receivers

Brian Hartline - Miami Dolphins

One stat that is highly important but often overlooked in fantasy football is targets. As we have stated repeatedly, targets equal opportunities. The more steady a player's targets are each week, the more consistent production you'll see from that player.

It may seem like a basic principle, but look at how many people rushed to grab Cecil Shorts after he puts up 80 yards and a score in Week 3. Shorts did that with one pass. He's an unreliable fantasy player because his snap count is low, as are his targets.

Hartline is the opposite of Shorts. Hartline is second in the NFL (behind Dwayne Bowe and Victor Cruz (tied with 49)) in targets with 48 through four weeks of play. Hartline leads the NFL in yards (455) and has the trust of rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill. If you're in a competitive league, Hartline is most likely not on the waiver wire—he's been gone for a couple of weeks. If that's the case, then he's a guy worth targeting in a trade. 


Jerome Simpson - Minnesota Vikings

Simpson returned to NFL action with a bang after sitting out for violating the league's substance abuse policy. In Week 4, Simpson was immediately plugged in as the Vikings' "X" starting receiver and received Christian Ponder's acceptance. Ponder connected with Simpson on four throws for 50 yards.

What's not on the stat sheet, however, is that Simpson also drew two pass interference calls for a total of 57 yards. With Ponder looking solid at the quarterback position, Simpson is worth a roster stash. 

Jerome Simpson_diving


Domenik Hixon - New York Giants

They say that a player should never lose his job due to injury. For the New York Giants, that principle rings true.

Prior to Hixon suffering a concussion and being sidelined, he was the No. 3 wideout on the Giants' roster behind Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz. After Ramses Barden exploded in Week 3 with nine catches and 138 yards, there was speculation that Barden may get the start over Hixon with Nicks out. 

Hixon not only drew the start, but secured his No. 3 wideout status. Hixon caught six passes for 114 yards. He's worth grabbing off the wire, especially if you own Nicks, who may be hobbled again in Week 5 against the Cleveland Browns. 


Andre Roberts - Arizona Cardinals

Roberts is worth a look in touchdown-heavy leagues, but prepare yourself for weeks where he gives you little to nothing. He leads the NFL in receiving touchdowns (4), but has only 15 catches. Those kinds of stats will lead to inconsistent results from Roberts. And throw in the fact that either Kevin Kolb or John Skelton will be throwing the ball, and you can't get too excited about picking Roberts up off the wire.


Leonard Hankerson - Washington Redskins

With Pierre Garcon returning to the field, there was a question as to who would start opposite of him. The Redskins chose Hankerson and he did everything in his power to put the starting gig in a chokehold. 

Hankerson caught seven passes for 57 yards against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He looked solid and poised to have consistent numbers going forward.

The best part is that RGIII looked Hankerson's way 11 times throughout the game. Any wideout that has RGIII throwing to him that many times a game has fantasy value. And picking him up off the wire is a great value for your team.


Chaz Schilens - New York Jets

With Stephen Hill sidelined in Week 4 and Santonio Holmes out for multiple weeks, Schilens will become a starting wide receiver by default. But if you see Schilens' name on any advice to pick him up off the waiver wire, ignore it. Remember: he plays for the Jets. The Jets cannot get anything going offensively, at least not with Mark Sanchez under center. 

Our recommendation is to let Schilens rest on your waiver wire.


Quarterbacks

Matt Hasselbeck - Tennessee Titans

In a week where Dallas, Detroit, Oakland and Tampa Bay are on byes, Hasselbeck may be a fill-in for a fantasy owner. He may be. He's not going to give you top-5 numbers, but he might toss a touchdown for you if you're in a bind.

Stepping in for a hurt Jake Locker (shoulder), Hasselbeck put up...well...Hasselbeck-type of numbers: 17-of-25, for 193 passing yards, two scores and two picks. Nothing special, but still worth a look in all leagues. Remember, it's time to start considering your bye-week replacements. You could do worse.

Also, look to see if Kenny Britt is active this week. If so, Hasselbeck's value increases somewhat, although Britt is unlikely to be playing at 100%. 


Tim Tebow - New York Jets

Tebow played only 12 snaps over the first two weeks of the season. As you're reading this, he has yet to throw a pass in the NFL in the 2012 season. That all should change.

It appears that Mark Sanchez has a term in his contract that mandates he be the starting quarterback. Or at least that's what head coach Rex Ryan's body language suggests:

Screen shot_2012-10-01_at_11.04.55_PM

That can be the only explanation as to why Sanchez is still under center. Sanchez has completed a inept 41-of-101 passes (43.6%), for 547 yards. He boasts a 2:4 touchdown-to-interception ratio. And oh yeah, the Jets have scored only a single touchdown in their last 34 possession. You see why we say to leave Schilens on the wire?

The next man up for the Jets is Tebow. If he draws the start, he's worth a grab in all leagues. Over the course of the final 3 weeks in 2011, Tebow was the highest scoring quarterback in fantasy football. He gets it done with his legs.

While you may feel a little dirty doing it—and your league-mates will surely tease you—stash Tebow on your bench if you have the room.

Defense/Special Teams

Minnesota Vikings

The Minnesota Vikings are a fired-up team this season. They are starting the year at 3-1 and finally have some consistent play at quarterback with Christian Ponder. The important thing for the defense with respect to Ponder is that he is not turning the ball over. That fact translates into good field position for the defense.

The Vikings' defense ranks 7th in the league in points given up (18.0 per game) and Pro Football Focus has Minnesota's special teams ranked second behind the Denver Broncos. And let's not forget what Percy Harvin can do on kick returns.

This unit faces a Tennessee Titans organization who just had their starting quarterback knocked out of Week 5. We all know what Chris Johnson is capable of—and by that we mean his sub-30-yard games. 

 

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Cedric Hopkins

Cedric Hopkins Bio

Cedric Hopkins runs this sports law/fantasy football blog. If you have issues with it, it's all his fault. Cedric was an athlete-student at the University of New Mexico (Basketball - Go Lobos!). He then morphed into a student-athlete when he attended law school in San Diego. Age replaced athleticism and now he writes appellate briefs for criminals (alleged criminals, of course) in state and federal cases, including writing U.S. Supreme Court briefs.

For years Cedric has researched and written about legal issues but maintained a love for sports. With FieldandCourt.com, he's combining his two passions: researching and writing about sports. When he's not in court arguing a case before a judge (or writing about himself in the third person), he'll be doing the same with his articles on FieldandCourt.com. Follow me, er, him on Twitter (opens in a new window).

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Featured Writer

Cedric Hopkins

Cedric Hopkins runs this sports law/fantasy football blog. If you have issues with it, it's all his fault. Cedric was an athlete-student at the University of New Mexico (Basketball - Go Lobos!). He then morphed into a student-athlete when he attended law school in San Diego. Age replaced athleticism and now he writes appellate briefs for criminals (alleged criminals, of course) in state and federal cases, including writing U.S. Supreme Court briefs.

For years Cedric has researched and written about legal issues but maintained a love for sports. With FieldandCourt.com, he's combining his two passions: researching and writing about sports. When he's not in court arguing a case before a judge (or writing about himself in the third person), he'll be doing the same with his articles on FieldandCourt.com. Follow me, er, him on Twitter (opens in a new window).