ONE NIGHT STANDS
Jason Witten, TE, Cowboys
Surprisingly, fantasy owners have yet to kick Witten to the curb; after all, he ranks 27th among all tight ends in fantasy points per game—behind the likes of Michael Palmer, Josh Hill, Daniel Fells, and Clay Harbor—and hasn’t scored a touchdown since Week 15 of last year. But while he’s still owned in 96% of MFL leagues he’s only being started in 51% of those leagues—and it’s entirely possible those owned stats decline once the first batch of Week 6 waivers have run. But you can capitalize on what appears to be a tough matchup with the Seahawks, as no other team has allowed more fantasy points to the TE position. While Richard Sherman occupies himself with Dez Bryant and Terrance Williams and the run D focuses on DeMarco Murray, maybe Witten can reacquaint himself with the painted portion of the turf at either end of the field.
Corey Fuller, WR, Lions and Jeremy Ross, WR, Lions
Detroit may finally do what they should have done almost a month ago and shut down Calvin Johnson until his ankle is fully healed. Even if they don’t, at this juncture Megatron is all decoy and participating in a mere fraction of the team’s offensive snaps. The primary beneficiary has been Fuller, whose snaps jumped dramatically last week. Both he and Ross will be used to fill Johnson’s sizeable role in the Detroit offense and should find ample room to do so against a struggling Minnesota secondary. Fuller seems to be the safer bet, with Ross more of a home run guy—though against the Vikings, either would work for a bye week or injury plug-in play..
Charlie Whitehurst, QB, Titans
What’s not to like about a guy who sets down the clipboard and throws touchdown passes on his first two attempts? With Jake Locker nursing a banged-up thumb it will very likely be Whitehurst handling quarterbacking duties for Tennessee this week. And that means a matchup with the Jaguars, who have allowed an average of 330 yards and two-plus passing touchdowns per game. If you’re lacking Drew Brees this week, Whitehurst could be the temporary fix.
GROUNDS FOR DIVORCE
Cam Newton, QB, Panthers
Good luck getting name value for Newton in a trade; his struggles have buried him at 24 in the quarterback rankings—sandwiched in between Mike Glennon and EJ Manuel. And his complete and utter lack of a ground threat—he has 42 rushing yards through five games; last year he topped that total in eight of 17 games—has dumped him from top-five to just another quarterback. His upcoming schedule will do him no favors, with road games in Cincy and Green Bay and a home date with the Seahawks. If your roster is deep enough, however, he may be worth a stash due to favorable matchups in Weeks 15 and 16—assuming he’s remembered how to run by that time.
Ronnie Hillman, RB, Broncos
Wait… what? Hillman just fell into a primo gig carrying the ball in Denver and we’re showing him the door? In theory sure it’s a nice gig, but do you really want to start a backup next week on the road against the Jets (sixth fewest fantasy points allowed to running backs) or the following week against San Francisco (fewest fantasy points allowed to RBs)? Hillman’s track record with a heavy workload isn’t particularly solid: he’s averaged less than four yards per carry in six of his eight career games with double-digit carries and sports a less-than-stellar 3.6 ypc cumulatively in those eight games. Plus, by the time the schedule turns favorable Montee Ball is expected back. This might be a case of you swiping Hillman off the waiver wire, then selling high—before he demonstrates just why he’s a backup.
PUT A RING ON THAT THING
Tim Wright, TE, Patriots
It took about a month but the Pats seem to have figured out how to best use Wright—and it looks a whole lot like how they used to use Aaron Hernandez. Wright saw five targets in the Sunday night win over Cincinnati; that’s more than any Patriot other than Gronk or Julian Edelman has had since Week 1. There’s a definite role here for Wright, and it looks to be one that offers more than a little fantasy upside.
Odell Beckham Jr., WR, Giants
Maybe OTAs and training camps are overrated; after missing most of the above—as well as the first month of the regular season—with an assortment of hamstring injuries Beckham jumped into the Giants’ lineup last week and caught four of five targets for 44 yards and a touchdown. While that still ranked him behind Reuben Randle and Victor Cruz in the target race, keep in mind this was Beckham’s first extended action with Eli… pretty much ever. Going forward there’s a ton of upside to Beckham’s game, as the Giants and Eli have barely scratched the surface of what his blazing speed brings to the offensive table.
Jeremy Hill, RB, Bengals
Hill’s not going to usurp Giovani Bernard for carries in Cincinnati, and coming off a two-carry, one-yard showing against the Patriots his stock isn’t exactly at its apex. But not team has a more favorable fantasy slate for running backs than the Bengals, and Hill not only contributes on the ground but also as a receiver—three catches for 68 yards in the lopsided loss to New England. There’s a good chance he can be picked up at a discount this week; he may be the guy kicked to the curb for a bye week plug-in or tossed in on a trade based on his lack of contributions lack week. But going forward it’s not at all difficult to see him as a potential fantasy starter for most of the rest of the season.