If you’re like me, you didn’t pick up Peyton Manning in your fantasy football draft this year because you were busy wasting your first pick on the likes of CJ Spiller or Arian Foster (for me it was Spiller). If you had taken the chance on Manning (or Brees, or Rodgers) in the first round, you very well may be leading your fantasy football league right now. Or, like some people in some of my leagues, you might even be at the very bottom. You know why? Because Peyton Manning can’t get you enough points by himself to win every single week (even though he probably did win the game singlehandedly for some people during week one). You need a solid team from top to bottom to consistently win in fantasy football.
So, it’s week 5, and where are you sitting in your league? In five out of six leagues I have a winning record, and in two leagues I am undefeated through four weeks. My average margin of victory in my primary league is 48 points, and my largest win in that league was a whopping 67 points. Of course in the one league where I don’t have a winning record, there are two huge reasons why. The first is that it is a keeper league, and I decided to keep CJ Spiller, buying into the notion that he would receive the bulk of the work in Buffalo (he isn’t so far), and the second is that in the ensuing two rounds I chose AJ Green and Dez Bryant. So far those two receivers haven’t had great weeks at the same time (Green the first two weeks, and Bryant the last two).
It all comes down to the running backs, and the flex position (if your league supports the flex position, where you can play a running back, a wide receiver, or in some cases a tight end), that can make the difference between winning and losing. And yes, don’t forget your quarterback. Sorry Peyton.
Here are the running backs that could help decide week 5 in your favor:
Fred Jackson – Buffalo Bills
With Spiller hobbled, a healthy Jackson could be the driving force for the Bills against the Cleveland Browns on Thursday night. The one problem is that Jackson himself was hobbled somewhat in the Bills last game; however, he returned to that game and ended up outscoring Spiller as usual in fantasy terms. Running backs routinely play better on the short week than any other player, so that also works in Jackson’s favor.
Lamar Miller – Miami Dolphins
Another timeshare, Miller splits time with Daniel Thomas, but Baltimore just allowed Fred Jackson to run all over them, and I think it’s Miller Time now. Eventually Thomas gets phased out, especially after a poor showing in New Orleans, and this may just be the week. Miller is a smart play all around.
Danny Woodhead – San Diego Chargers
With the Chargers throwing more and more, and with the resurgence of Philip Rivers as a viable fantasy option, the running back on the team that can catch is doing pretty well the last couple of weeks. That should continue when the Chargers face the Raiders on Sunday. Oakland just allowed Alfred Morris to wake up against them, so Woodhead may be in for a huge week.
And here are the quarterbacks that can help you this week:
Michael Vick – Philadelphia Eagles
I know what you’re going to say about Vick, but it’s simple. The Giants defense is miserable right now, and with that high-paced offense of the Eagles, even if Vick isn’t perfect, if he can protect the football it should make for a very big fantasy day, much like what he did in weeks 1 and 2. If you have him on your roster, play him. I’m playing him over Tom Brady this week.
Alex Smith – Kansas City Chiefs
Sure, they’re playing at Tennessee, but right now Alex Smith is showing all the right stuff that made him such a winner in San Francisco. He can indeed manage games well, but he can also take his shots when they’re there, and the guy can run. Did you see how many times he ran for yardage and /or first downs against the Giants? Now, the Titans defense is a couple of steps up from the Giants but I can see Smith keeping them honest enough to help out the run and the short passing game, and we all know what Charles and McCluster can do in the open field.
Sam Bradford – St. Louis Rams
Someone has to play the Jaguars every week, and this week it’s St. Louis’s turn. This benefits Bradford and his receivers more than anyone else on the team. That’s not to say he’s a top 10 play this week, but possibly a top 12, which is huge for Bradford at this time of year. You could do a lot worse off the waiver wire if you’re looking for a signal-caller this week. And if you buy into him, then Austin and Pettis are good picks too.