With Clinton Portis out the next 4-6 weeks with a groin injury, Ryan Torain becomes the hot pick up in all fantasy leagues. He has slowly picked up momentum each week and was getting more and more carries so it was just a matter of time before Torain took over the top spot in the Washington backfield. He’s a big physical runner who loves contact, but has also shown good speed to the outside as well. Torain has looked very impressive over the last few games and should be in your starting lineup this weekend no matter what. Green Bay does have a good defense, but he’ll be getting a lot of touches now that he’s the premier back and I fully expect Torain to take advantage of this. I think 100 total yards and a touchdown are well within reach for him on Sunday.
Fred Jackson owners will see an upgrade in his fantasy value now that Marshawn Lynch is with the Seahawks, but I don’t necessarily know if Jackson is worth a start. Buffalo has one of the worst offensive lines in the NFL and their offense in general is just horrendous, so I don’t think Jackson will be able to do much with his increased role. The only saving grace is that Jackson is a great pass catcher out of the backfield which always helps, especially in fantasy. Remember, he did rush for more than 1,000 yards last season so Jackson is certainly capable, but I need to see if he will be able to find some running room before I trust him enough to start him. If he’s available in your league, he’s definitely worth a bench spot on your team until you see how he does over the next few weeks.
The New England Patriots are becoming a run-first offense? It sure seems like that, at least over the last two weeks. And now that they just traded away their best wide receiver in Randy Moss, it looks like the Patriots may just start running the ball a little more frequently. This directly benefits, say it with me, BenJarvus Green-Ellis. Green-Ellis has gotten 16 carries in back-to-back games for New England and has not disappointed. He’s averaged close to 90 yards rushing and a score in these two games and is only going to get stronger. Green-Ellis does have a bye this week and a tough matchup against Baltimore next week, but he will have plenty of chances to help owners with upcoming games against Cleveland, Indianapolis and Detroit. The only negative with Green-Ellis is he doesn’t do much as a receiving back, but he should still be in your lineup until the Patriots stop giving him the ball.
Mario Manningham, WR, New York Giants
Manningham has been solid this year and is on the brink of breaking out in New York. He did miss the Week 4 win against Chicago with a concussion, but has been cleared to play this Sunday in a very favorable matchup at Houston. Any receiver that poses as a deep threat is always dangerous in the NFL and Manningham is just that – dangerous. In three games this season he is averaging about five catches and right around 80 receiving yards a game and also has one score. Quarterback Eli Manning has shown a lot of confidence in him in 2010 as he works the outside of the field. The only thing hurting Manningham right now is fellow wideout Hakeem Nicks. Nicks has solidified himself as the No. 1 option in New York and gets most of the red zone targets so Manningham will have to find other ways to find paydirt. The Texans have been allowing points in bunches this season though so there will be plenty of balls thrown his way. Use Manningham as a low-end WR2 or high-end number WR3 this weekend and you will be rewarded.
Kevin Kolb, QB, Philadelphia Eagles
I know many of you will disagree with me here after last week’s performance, but I think Kolb will have a strong showing against the 49ers on Sunday. Kolb did prove last year that he can rack up the passing yards when he threw for almost 700 in two games while Donovan McNabb was injured. Throw in the fact that San Francisco is completely lost as a team right now and you have the recipe for a solid sleeper pick. The 49ers are allowing opposing quarterbacks to throw for almost 240 yards and two touchdowns per game so far in 2010. This is encouraging for those on the fence of whether starting Kolb or not. Plus, you know that Andy Reid will be throwing the ball a lot because that’s what the Eagles do. Kolb may have his share of incompletions and an interception or two, but you can live with that because of his rushing ability and the fact that he should throw for a lot of yards.
Brandon Tate, WR, New England Patriots
No one benefited more from the Randy Moss trade than Tate did as he has now moved into a starting role for New England. Tate has all the skills to be a very good receiver in the NFL and could be one of the big fantasy breakouts of 2010. He has unbelievable speed and will surely be the new deep threat for the Patriots. We all know that Tom Brady loves throwing that deep ball two or three times a game so if he and Tate get on the same page there could be some fireworks in New England once again. Tate also has great hands and Brady has been getting more and more comfortable with him each week, so it will be interesting to see how the two gel now that Tate is a starter. He’s also already returned two kicks for touchdowns this year so he can do it all. It may take a week or two for Tate to get into the flow, but I expect double-digit fantasy point scoring out of him more often than not the rest of the season.
Lock of the Week
Matt Forte, RB, Chicago Bears
Although Forte has been very impressive as a receiver this season (209 yards, three scores), he still hasn’t found much room to run so far in 2010. He’s only rushed for 134 yards in four games and is averaging less than three yards per carry. I think this is the week he finally gives owners a solid rushing performance. Forte is matched up against the Carolina Panthers, which is very favorable for him and his owners. And, with starting quarterback Jay Cutler out this week, Chicago will rely heavily on the services of their running back. He should get at least 20 carries this week and I also expect Todd Collins to be dumping the ball off the Forte quite often in this game. Don’t be surprised if Forte sees close to 30 touches in week 5. He is a must start.