We’ve survived the first bye week with six of the better teams in the league on a two week vacation. It led to unusual results and other players taking a turn in the other spotlight. Miami and Oakland are the only teams on bye in Week 5 after they beat up on each other in London, so there aren’t that many players you need to replace this week. Oakland also needs to replace its coach, but that’s another story. But there is one player that needs to go immediately, and his name is Tom Brady.
Brady has been shoddy at best this season, and it’s got to be killing fantasy teams. For the season, he has 791 passing yards with four touchdowns and two interceptions, and has failed to break the 250-yard barrier this season. It hit a low point last night when he was replaced by Jimmy Garoppolo, who was put in during the fourth quarter of the Chiefs’ 41-14 a**-kicking of New England. Brady just doesn’t look right. He still has Rob Gronkowski and Julian Edelman, but after that, there is little else in the way of receiving talent that he can utilize. His tackles aren’t protecting him well, and the ground game isn’t getting the holes it used to. Brady can still dink and dunk, but without a good deep threat, it looks ugly for the 37-year old signal caller from Michigan. He’s on pace for career lows for a full season and he has a Sunday night game with 3-0 Cincinnati and it’s tough defense in Week 5, before Buffalo and the New York Jets in a five-day span.
Brady’s not getting it done, and you have to do something. While his name has value, his performance doesn’t. Let’s look at some quarterbacks from Week 4 and see who is who in what I like to call a “blind taste test”. We’ll give you the stats of the players but not their names until the end. Here we go.
Player A: 12-of-23 for 177 yards with 1 TD and 1 INT
Player B: 16-of-25 for 146 yards with 1 TD and 1 INT
Player C: 14-of-23 for 159 yards with 1 TD and 2 INT
So who are these low performers?
Player A is Charlie Whitehurst, B is Derek Carr before he left hurt, and C is Brady. When you take away the names, it shows that Brady had a terrible week and is on par with Clipboard Jesus and a guy with two lower-leg injuries. Brady might not ever wake up this season. Let’s take a look at some of the other options out there at quarterback….
Kyle Orton (BUF) has been named the starter over EJ Manuel. The good news is that he’s a starter who is widely available. His next four games (@DET, NE, MIN, @NYJ) have some okay matchups in it. Until he proves himself on the field, Orton remains nothing more than a speculative add.
Christian Ponder (MIN) is another quarterback to pass on. He came on in relief after Teddy Bridgewater was carted off with an ankle injury. Ponder might know the offense, but we don’t trust him on a short week when the Vikings visit the Packers Thursday night. Check and see if Bridgewater is available, since he put up solid numbers against Atlanta but is questionable for Thursday. You might not start Bridgewater this week but his long-term value is there.
Eli Manning has been sharp lately. He’s led the Giants to two straight wins and an impressive 75 points in the process. His schedule looks favorable with Atlanta, Philadelphia and Dallas all coming up before Big Blue has it’s bye week in Week 8. He would make a nice addition for those of you suffering the Brady Blues.
Joe Flacco is coming off of a great game with 327 yards and three touchdowns and no interceptions. Flacco is a quiet part of a 3-1 Baltimore team without Ray Rice and Dennis Pitta. They take on Indianapolis and Tampa on the road in the next two weeks so anything could be possible from Flacco. I still want to see one more solid game from him before I view Flacco as something more than a QB2.
Let’s take a look at our second blind taste test of the column. These three running backs have relatively similar rushing numbers. Which one do you want on your team?
Player A: 199 rushing yards, 4.9 YPA, 2 TD
Player B: 192 rushing yards, 2.7 YPA, 1 TD
Player C: 203 rushing yards, 3.3 YPA, 1 TD
If you guessed that A was Bobby Rainey, B was LeSean McCoy and C was Trent Richardson, you’re very impressive. Hopefully the numbers start to flow for McCoy, but when you consider who his peers are in stats, it makes him a strong buy-low candidate. Richardson has been okay this season in a complimentary role to Ahmad Bradshaw. Rainey has fallen in line behind Doug Martin after Martin missed two games with a knee injury.
Jerrick McKinnon (MIN) saw his first real action of the season and makes a good add if you’re looking for depth. He was lost in the headlines behind the three-touchdown outburst from Matt Asiata. McKinnon rolled up 135 yards on 18 carries and had a touchdown wiped out by a penalty. He’s got the goods to get the job done, but has a tough schedule with Green Bay on Thursday, with Detroit and Buffalo over his next three games.
Darrin Reaves of Carolina sits on top of the Panthers depth chart at running back. Reaves gets the honor with Mike Tolbert, DeAngelo Williams and Johnathan Stewart all battling injuries. They signed former Cleveland running back Chris Ogbonnaya this week, so one of them will be the top dog against the Bears. Neither seems to be an overly attractive option, but starting running backs are hard to come by.
Here’s our final blind taste test to get you thinking on wide receivers. Who do you have out of this group?
Player A: 16 receptions, 235 yards, 1 TD
Player B: 12 receptions, 233 yards, 1 TD
Player C: 12 receptions, 254 yards, 3 TD
Player D: 22 receptions, 260 yards, 1 TD
These guys are (in order) Brian Quick, AJ Green, Allen Hurns and Julian Edelman (before the Kansas City game). Quick and Hurns are widely available and should be added. Green and Edelman are only available by trade at this point.
Andrew Hawkins of Cleveland should be looked at in every PPR league. Hawkins has a team-high 32 targets and 21 receptions to lead the Browns. Tight end Jordan Cameron should get the tighter coverage and with running back Ben Tate on his way back from a knee injury, it should open up more chances for Hawkins.
Eddie Royal of the Chargers had a sweet game against the Jaguars with 105 yards and two touchdowns on five catches. Pair it up with a matchup against the soft secondary of the Jets, and Royal could be in line for another solid day in Week 5. Louis Murphy was signed by Tampa earlier in Week 4 and came out with 99 yards on 7 catches against the Steelers. Mike Evans is down for at least a couple weeks with a groin injury, so Murphy could squeeze out a couple more solid games against the Saints and Ravens before the Bucs go on bye.
For a deeper option, look at John Brown of Arizona. The rookie speedster has three of Arizona’s four receiving touchdowns this season. His speed and ability to get open could pose problems for the Broncos on defense in Denver. Carson Palmer is expected to play for the Cardinals so Brown could be in line for a big day. He’s finding the end zone while Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd have been shut out of it through three games.
If you need one, take a look at Tampa TE Austin Sefarian-Jeknins, who was on the field for all 71 snaps of the Bucs offense last week. This is the last week to get on the Travis Kelce train after his 8-93-1 line against the Patriots, and should be added in all leagues. The same can be said about Giants TE Larry Donnell who is uber-hot after a three-score game against the Redskins. With the injuries that have hit this position, Sefarian-Jenkins should be a backup add if Donnell and Kelce are already snapped up.
Defense & Special Teams
Philadelphia’s DST had a monster day with three return touchdowns. They take on St. Louis this week and are still suffering from quarterback woes since Sam Bradford went down for the season with another torn ACL. The Pittsburgh defense gets Jacksonville this week and should be rather pissed after coughing up a win in the final 10 seconds against Tampa Bay. You can hold onto the San Diego DST for one more week as they take on the Jets in Week 5 since the Jets didn’t look that great against the Lions. See if the Cincinnati DST got dropped on their bye week and try to pick them up as they host a woeful New England offense this week.
Shaun Suisham of the Steelers should be busy against Jacksonville this week. Randy Bullock of Houston is a deeper option with the Texans taking on Dallas after he hit three field goals and both extra points last week. Shayne Graham of the Saints gets another nod here for the divisional matchup with Tampa Bay.
In closing, take a look through and see what players were dropped last week with six teams on bye. There could be something of value that was let go, so don’t forget to check through last week’s waivers before you file your claim this week. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.
Follow me on Twitter @AndrewNordmeier and fire off your questions.