With six teams on a bye this week, you may be desperate for some temporary fill-ins. Here’s who I like and don’t like for Week 5.
IN: Kevin Kolb, Cardinals
Even though Kolb is coming off his worst game statistically of 2011 (237 yards and a pick vs. the Giants), he could be a great bye-week fill-in play. The Cardinals are taking on the still winless Vikings on Sunday, who are allowing almost 290 passing yards a game and an average of 18 fantasy points to opposing QBs. The emergence of Beanie Wells will only help the passing game going forward.
OUT: Jay Cutler, Bears
Oh, Jay. You made a fool out of me last week — with Matt Forte in attack mode, Cutler finished with just 102 passing yards against Carolina. On Monday night the Bears travel to Detroit to take on the still undefeated Lions, who are giving up the fifth-least fantasy points to quarterbacks this season. Detroit is good at forcing turnovers (Cutler is good at causing them) and that defensive line (led by Ndamukong Suh) will attack a very porous Bears o-line. Cutler could be in trouble.
IN: Ahmad Bradshaw, Giants
Bradshaw is one of the best multi-purpose backs in the league (if it wasn’t for all those darn fumbles). This week, the Giants are back at home taking on a Seahawks team that a) is not very good and b) has to travel halfway across the continent to NYC. Bradshaw should get plenty of looks on Sunday. I wouldn’t be too worried about Brandon Jacobs splitting carries with Bradshaw — with this lopsided matchup, there will be plenty of touches to go around.
OUT: LeGarrette Blount, Bucs
It may be difficult to sit Blount because of the bye week and because he has been playing so well of late, but use him with caution in Week 5. The 49ers are very good at stopping the run (allowing only 74 rush yards per game) and are giving up the least fantasy points to running backs this season. That means Tampa will likely take to the air to put points on the board. Josh Freeman is also a mobile quarterback, so look for him to take off running if the opportunity presents itself rather than hand it off to Blount.
IN: Santonio Holmes, Jets
To say Holmes is having an off season would be an understatement — 51 wide receivers have more fantasy points than Holmes after four weeks of play. But next up for the Jets, the Patriots and their 32nd-ranked pass defense (368.8 passing yards per game) who are giving up the most points to wideouts in 2011. Mark Sanchez will continue to target Holmes and the receiver could finally get the breakout game fantasy owners have been hoping for.
OUT: Brandon Lloyd, Broncos
Lloyd is coming off a terrific 136-yard game last week but that was against the Packers, one of the worst teams in the NFL against the pass. Sunday will be a different story for Lloyd as the Broncos face off against the Chargers, who have a much better secondary and are allowing fewer than 200 passing yards per game. Throw in the fact that Eric Decker has been getting a lot of attention lately (at least five catches in each of his games this season), and Lloyd might be too much of a question mark to start.
IN: Brandon Pettigrew, Lions
Pettigrew is one of Matt Stafford’s favorite targets (his 22 receptions are second to only Calvin Johnson) and he should do some major damage against the Bears on Monday night. Chicago has given up the most fantasy points to tight ends this season and you can expect the Lions to put up some big numbers against their division rivals.
OUT: Scott Chandler, Bills
Chandler’s production has definitely cooled since he jumped out of the gate with four touchdowns in his first three games. Last week against the Bengals, the former journeyman had just two receptions for a paltry eight yards — he was a non-factor. This week the Bills run game should be front and center versus the visiting Eagles (they’re giving up almost 140 rush yards a game) meaning Chandler could be used more for blocking than receiving.
IN: Adam Vinatieri, Colts
It hasn’t been a very good season for Vinatieri (but then again, it hasn’t been a very good season for many Colts) but he could be a great bye-week play against the Chiefs. Kansas City is giving up almost 10 points per game to kickers and as he showed on Monday night, Curtis Painter is doing a better job of moving the ball down the field. Another plus for Vinatieri: Indy is having issues converting touchdowns in the red zone.
OUT: Rob Bironas, Titans
The biggest question surrounding the Titans this week has nothing to do with the Titans. The Steelers D is banged up but the team is back at Heinz Field and looking for revenge after dropping a winnable game to the Texans last week. Now don’t get me wrong, Bironas is a very good kicker, but I just don’t know what to expect from Pittsburgh this week. I think this will be a low-scoring affair and there are better kicker options out there.
By pure stats alone the Cincinnati Bengals are the top-ranked defense in the league (allowing just 275.5 yards per game). Who woulda thunk it. The D did a great job of slowing down the high-flying Bills last week, holding them to just 13 points on offense (this after Buffalo had scored at least 34 points in each of their previous three games). Next up for the Bengals: rookie Blaine Gabbert and the Jags. Even though Cincinnati hasn’t had an interception since Week 1, points are hard to come by against this unit.
People are starting to lose confidence in a defense that many expected to be among the best in the league. Last week, the 49ers (hardly an offensive juggernaut) put up over 400 yards on the Eagles, including 164 on the ground. Those numbers are music to Ryan Fitzpatrick’s and Fred Jackson’s ears. The Bills are one of the highest-scoring teams in the league (over 33 points per game, good for fourth in the NFL) and they’ll be looking to prove themselves after seeing their undefeated streak end last week. This is not the week to put your faith in Philly’s D.