When was the last time New England had two running backs have big days in the same game? This was exactly the case in Week 4 as both Stevan Ridley and Brandon Bolden ran for more than 100 yards against the Buffalo Bills. Ridley received more carries and found the end zone twice and is your clear cut starter here, but Bolden definitely opened some eyes with his 137-yard, one-touchdown performance. Ridley is now a must start every week, but keep a close eye on Bolden’s progress should anything happen to Ridley.
Maybe there’s still hope for Chris Johnson after all. After a disastrous 2011 and even worse start to 2012, Johnson put up a very nice Week 4 effort for the Tennessee Titans. He rushed 25 times for 141 yards and also caught two passes for 16 yards. This was huge seeing that he ran for a combined 45 yards in the first three games of the season. Although he’s still looking for his first touchdown this year, this game was an encouraging sign for his fantasy owners. It’s still too early to tell if he’s going to have a bounce back season, but last Sunday was a step in the right direction. I’m leaning towards starting him Sunday at Minnesota and see what he can do.
Jackie Battle has made things very interesting in the San Diego backfield already. Ryan Mathews is the starter here, but Battle has clearly outperformed him and is gaining the trust of the Chargers in the process. Battle has four touchdowns in his last three games (three rushing, one receiving) and is slowly stealing carries away from Mathews. He had 15 last week with a touchdown and also caught four balls for 42 yards and added another touchdown. San Diego still says that Mathews is the starter, but it could be changing very soon if Battle keeps running the way he has been. Pick him up if he’s available.
James Jones, WR, Green Bay
Jones is coming off a two-touchdown game in Week 4 and should be a solid play for Week 5 since it looks like Greg Jennings will not be playing. It’s hard to own any receiver in Green Bay because each week a different one has a big game, but Jones will be starting on Sunday so I would definitely roll with him. There will still be other weapons playing, but Aaron Rodgers has gained some trust in Jones over the first four games of the season. Expect a nice performance against the struggling Indianapolis Colts.
Matt Hasselbeck, QB, Tennessee
Hasselbeck should be starting this weekend for the injured Jake Locker and is a very intriguing play. He came in for Locker early in Week 4 against the Houston Texans and ended up having a nice game, throwing for 193 yards and two touchdowns. He did throw two interceptions as well, but overall this was a solid performance right off the bench for the veteran against arguably the best defense in the NFL. Minnesota isn’t a great matchup for Hasselbeck, but he has enough weapons on offense to put up serviceable numbers, and if Chris Johnson can run like he did last week this will only enhance his day.
Andre Roberts, WR, Arizona
Roberts has been one of the biggest surprises of 2012 thus far, scoring four touchdowns in four games and he’s only getting stronger and more comfortable with Kevin Kolb. Last week against Miami, Roberts had six receptions for 118 yards and a touchdown. Even though he’s not the primary receiver in Arizona, he is still a very important part of the offense. He had a tough matchup in St. Louis on Thursday night, but still should be started in most formats. Larry Fitzgerald will continue to see constant double teams so this is where Roberts comes in to play.
(Editor’s note – this was written before Thursday night’s game. Roberts finished with five catches for 39 yards in Arizona’s 17-3 loss to St. Louis).
Michael Crabtree, WR, San Francisco
Crabtree is the clear-cut number one receiver for the 49ers, but still hasn’t found pay dirt after the first quarter of the season. That will all change on Sunday as he will score his first touchdown of 2012 against the Buffalo Bills. Buffalo’s defense is less than spectacular, and the New England Patriots just erupted for 52 points on them in Week 4. Look for San Francisco to run frequently on Sunday, but there will still be plenty of opportunities for Crabtree to chop up the defense. He’s getting the targets, but Vernon Davis and Frank Gore have been getting all the red zone work thus far. This changes come Sunday.