We're past the first quarter of the fantasy season and there have been a lot of disappointments, pleasant surprises and guys that have been as advertised. Now that we're into the part of the schedule that has several teams on byes, adding depth to your roster is very important. Fantasy owners should be abreast of bye-week trouble and check out which weeks might present problems.
We'll be focusing on some plug-n-play guys over the next few weeks. It's tough to know who to cut, so you can ask me on Twitter (@MikeSGallagher) and I'll try to help you out. Don't forget about the SB Nation War Room as well.
Matt Hasselbeck, Titans - Jake Locker has a sprained AC joint in his non-throwing shoulder and is listed as day-to-day. This is the second injury to his left shoulder on the season and his owners have to be at least a little concerned that it might pop up again. Hasselbeck had a productive outing against the Texans on Sunday with 193 yards and two TDs on 17-of-25 passing. He'll have a nice matchup against the Vikings secondary next week.
Bottom line: He has QB1 upside for Week 5 with a nice matchup and plenty of weapons in the passing game.
Ryan Tannehill, Dolphins - Last year rookie Cam Newton went out to Arizona and put up 400 yards through the air and Tannehill did the same with his 431 yards on 26-of-41 attempts. Tannehill isn't exactly equipped with the same weapons as Matt Ryan, but he has been impressive enough against three very good defenses in Arizona, Houston and the Jets (with Revis for three quarters). His schedule is going to get a lot better after this week at Cincinnati as he'll play the Rams, Jets, Colts, Titans and Bills from Week 6 to Week 11 (Dolphins have a bye Week 7). You could do worse for a bye-week fill in.
Bottom line: His wife is a little hotter than his fantasy value, but there's some upside here. He's a backup QB in 12-team leagues.
Mark Sanchez, Jets - Just kidding. I'd rather own Tim Tebow.
Rashard Mendenhall, Steelers - The Steelers haven't had much of a rushing game in their first three games. They ranked dead last in YPC and 31st in rushing yards per game. While it's not entirely due to the inept tandem of Isaac Redman and Jonathan Dwyer, they have literally done nothing to assert themselves. Mendenhall has to be owned in pretty much every league since he is expected to play on Sunday.
Bottom line: Even though there's some risk, he's a must-own back.
Brandon Bolden, Patriots - Yeah so you had Brandon Bolden ripping off 137 yards at an 8.6 YPC clip with a TD on Sunday, right? Sure you did! The Patriots ran the ball a season-high 40 times and you might be surprised to know that they're second in the league in rushing attempts. They're also on pace for 548 attempts, which would be more than any team last year (546 attempts from the Broncos and Texans). The Patriots had a great draft on defense and they're not going to give up The point is that there could be enough attempts to go around for Bolden to have some value since Stevan Ridley isn't going to run the ball more than 300 times this year. For what it's worth, nine of Bolden's 17 touches came when it was a one-score game.
Bottom line: Bolden could gain some steam and might help for owners in a bye-week jam. He should be owned in 14-team leagues.
Kendall Hunter, 49ers - This is more about the matchup for shallow owners needing help in a plug-n-play spot this week. The Niners get the Bills for Week 5. The same Bills that allow the third-worst yards per game on the ground and in YPC. Hunter is a sneaky flex play this week.
Bottom line: He already is one of the better handcuffs to own and he has a very good chance to put up double-digit points this week. He should already be owned in 12-team leagues.
Ronnie Hillman, Broncos - Hillman made his way on Waiver Wire Scoops last week and he did a little more to grab our attention again. More importantly, he has been getting the attention of John Fox. "We feel comfortable where we are right now," Fox said about Hillman being more involved in the offense. The San Diego State product had 10 carries for 31 yards and two catches for 32 yards. If the 31-year-old Willis McGahee goes down, Hillman could be in line for 15 touches on a regular basis.
Bottom line: Hillman is a high-upside player to stash in most 12-team leagues.
William Powell, Cardinals - Powell is still a ways off from being totally fantasy relevant. Ryan Williams had an underwhelming performance and really didn't show any burst through the hole on his 26 yards on 13 carries. Considering how he looked in college, the lack of explosiveness is almost certainly due to the torn patella tendon from last year. There's a good chance that the extra work would put Williams on the injury report at the very least, so Powell might be next in line as a handcuff. It's also worth noting that Powell was on the field for 36 snaps compared to Williams 33. Powell also led the NFL in rushing yards and TDs during the preseason.
Bottom line: He's just a roster stash with some upside for now.
Joique Bell, Lions - Mikel LeShoure hasn't really been that impressive this year. His preseason was pretty sad with just a 2.2 YPC and he was even worse on Sunday with only a 2.0 YPC on his 13 carries. Bell surprisingly led the Lions in receiving and yards from scrimmage on Sunday. While he only saw one carry, the 26-year-old back caught six balls on his eight targets. He looks to be second on the depth chart with Kevin Smith not even getting a touch in the last two weeks.
Bottom line: The bye week might help him get integrated into the offense. He's nothing more than a desperation add in PPR leagues.
Jackie Battle, Chargers - Norv Turner gave the fantasy world a big "(expletive deleted) you" by starting Jackie Battle on Sunday. Battle continued his share by getting more snaps at tailback with six more than Ryan Mathews. On Monday Turner gave Mathews owners even more to be upset about by saying that Battle gave the Chargers the "best chance to win" and it wasn't about Mathews and his fumbling woes. While we don't expect Battle to lead the team in snaps and carries again while Mathews is healthy, it's enough to consider adding him in deeper formats. He's really not that talented and had just a 2.6 YPC on Sunday and was below 3.0 YPC during his last five games with the Chiefs.
Bottom line: Battle might be useful as a bye-week option and he's a handcuff for Ryan Mathews at the very least. He's worth monitoring in all 12-team leagues.
Vick Ballard, Colts - The Colts are coming off a bye and they do have some concerns at running back. Donald Brown has quite separated himself from the pack with a 3.6 YPC and only one catch on the season. I'd keep an eye on Ballard if your league is really competitive.
Brian Hartline, Dolphins - Hartline is another case where if you follow the targets, you'll usually find yourself a guy with upside. His targets in four games were as follows: eight (in limited snaps), 12 and nine. Those 29 targets only accounted for 13 receptions, which is an underwhelming catch percentage to say the least. Ryan Tannehill had tremendous command of the offense despite getting quite a bit of pressure on nine QB hits and four sacks.
Bottom line: He's the obvious add this week, but don't expect 19 targets for 253 and 12 catches.
James Jones, Packers - Usually when a guy scores two TDs, that's why he'll get some press in fantasy football. However, the main reason why Jones makes sense as an add is due to the aggravation of Greg Jennings' groin injury. Jennings was in street clothes for most of the second half. Jones has a favorable matchup as he will likely square off against Jerraud Powers on most snaps. He does line up in the slot some of the time and runs all sorts of routes for Aaron Rodgers.
Bottom line: He should be owned by any owner looking for a plug-n-play WR this week.
Randall Cobb, Packers - After falling off a cliff, Cobb was productive with seven catches for 77 yards on eight targets. His upside is through the roof and I'd suggest sticking with him.
Bottom line: Make sure Cobb's owner didn't hastily cut him last week.
Leonard Hankerson, Redskins - Hankerson was busy on Sunday even while Pierre Garcon active. The U product saw seven targets and brought in four of them for 56 yards. It was only his first start at flanker, so you'd think the learning curve should bode well for him. Washington's D is in shambles, so RG!!! will have to air it out a little bit.
Bottom line: Hankerson should be owned in all 12-team leagues.
Jerome Simpson, Vikings - Simpson actually got off to a decent start in his first game as a Viking. He turned five targets into four catches for 50 yards. Minnesota didn't really rely on passing the ball down the field and tried to keep the Lions O off the field. In fact, only one of Ponder's completions was deep (over 20 yards) and he only had five attempts. Simpson's arrow is pointing up.
Bottom line: He's worth adding in some 12-team leagues and has a nice matchup this week against the Titans.
Andre Roberts, Cardinals - Kevin Kolb apparently is starting to like Andre Roberts. In his last two games Roberts has seen 15 targets and turned them into nine catches for 173 yards. Roberts surprisingly also leads WRs in receiving TDs with four. While he's not going to be this good, the numbers have been there and he's getting more than enough targets to matter.
Bottom line: He'll see lots of single coverage and could be useful in matchups at any depth. Yeah. They get the Rams on Thursday Night Football.
Davone Bess, Dolphins - Yes, Brian Hartline will get all the credit in the world for exploding on Arizona. Bess was no slouch either with 12 targets, seven catches and 123 yards. Bess was tied with Hartline in receptions and second on targets coming into Sunday's game. Most of Tannehill's targets were of the short variety and that's right in Bess' wheelhouse. It's also interesting that Tannehill threw 13 passes to the short right and 13 to the short left, so the even distribution bodes well for Bess.
Bottom line: He should be owned in some 14-team PPR leagues.
Kendall Wright, Titans - Wright is starting to come on a little lately. He caught seven balls on 11 targets last week and this week he hit pay dirt on his way to four catches, 46 yards and a TD. Only one incomplete target came from Jake Locker, so Hasselbeck might take a liking to Wright.
Bottom line: Wright has a nice matchup this week and has some upside as a WR3 this week in PPR.
Chaz Schilens, Stephen Hill and Jeremy Kerley, Jets - The Jets are running out of options. Schilens has the inside track to see be the X and Hill could step in at the Z. Honestly, there isn't enough upside here to care in most leagues.
Bottom line: Welp.
Scott Chandler, Bills - Chandler has seen many more snaps that last year and is becoming more consistent. He basically has become Fitzpatrick's second option behind Stevie Johnson.
Bottom line: He's a low-end TE1 in most matchups.
Dustin Keller, Jets - The Jets are hurting at their skill position in a major way. Keller might get some serious targets. He has to come back healthy before starting him though.