Friday - May 24, 2019

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Rock and a Hard Place – Week 5

The hope is that you don’t find yourself in a situation like this. The hope is that you dodge the bullet. But hope won’t help you come Sunday.

Let’s move on to this week’s targets. Keep in mind that these aren’t every week starters. Instead, these are guys that should only be used if you’re in some kind of roster emergency, whether it be related to bye weeks or injuries.

Below, I’ll list the player, their Week 5 matchup, and the percentage of leagues in which he is owned according to our friends at


Christian Ponder vs. Tennessee
48 percent. Ponder had a tough go of it last week in Detroit, but this was really his first subpar showing. He played well each of the first three weeks, but with a lead and a little pressure to perform, he didn’t need to make any plays. Tennessee has been giving up points to fantasy quarterbacks at a ridiculous pace, and Ponder will have plenty of opportunity to provide value to savvy owners on Sunday.

Ryan Tannehill at Cincinnati
16 percent. Robert Griffin III has thrown for 1,070 yards, most by a rookie this season. Second on that list is Tannehill. Now, there’s an asterisk next to that, since Andrew Luck had a bye last week. But Tannehill has gotten better and better each week, with his Week 4 stat line of 431 passing yards and a score. He’s going to throw interceptions, but he’ll be behind, and he’s trending upward.

Running Back

Jackie Battle at New Orleans
52 percent. Battle is still available in almost half of leagues. And while I understand his new “starting” spot may just be a motivational ploy to get Ryan Mathews to start playing like his potential indicates, he’s still the starter. He’s gaining 5.1 yards a carry and was even a weapon in the passing game last week in Kansas City. This week the Chargers play in New Orleans and the Saints have been very generous to opposing running backs. I’m not saying Mathews won’t get touches, but I’m saying Battle may get more than you think. If you need a flex fill-in, he might be your guy.

Bilal Powell vs. Houston
15 percent. Powell may end up being more of a long-term answer than a Week 5 guy, but he’s still got potential this week. Contrary to what the New York Jets’ organization will have you believe, Shonn Greene is not the answer. Want proof? On 68 rushes this season, Greene has gained 191 yards for a 2.8 yard average, with a touchdown and two fumbles. On 26 carries, Powell has totaled 99 yards, good for 3.8 yards per carry. My feeling is that the Jets will eventually turn to Tim Tebow because it seems everyone else already knows Mark Sanchez isn’t very good. When they do that, they’ll need a more capable runner, and Powell is easily the best on the roster. And remember that Willis McGahee revived his career to the tune of nearly 1,200 yards last season, primarily because of Tebow’s emergence. If you can afford a roster spot, make the investment now.

Wide Receiver

James Jones at Indianapolis
44 percent. With Greg Jennings set to miss another game, Jones makes another appearance in this space. Everyone in Green Bay said he was one of the top performers in the preseason, and he’s continued that into the regular season. If you excuse the stinker in Week 2 against Chicago, Jones has 14 catches for 192 yards and three scores. Oh, and Aaron Rodgers seems to be hitting his stride at just the right time. If that’s my WR3 or bye week flex, sign me up.

Alshon Jeffery at Jacksonville
37 percent. I was a big fan of Jeffery’s when he was at South Carolina. He’s big and uses his body well as a receiver. But he had issues in his final college season, causing his pre-draft stock to fall. When he wound up in Chicago with Jay Cutler and Brandon Marshall, it may have been the perfect situation. He has a decent quarterback that isn’t afraid to chuck it deep and a troubled receiver to show him the path not to take. He’s already a starting wideout in Chicago, and as he gets more time in the offense, he’ll improve by leaps and bounds, especially with teams rolling coverage to Marshall.

Tight End

Scott Chandler at San Francisco
51 percent. Chandler has four touchdowns through four weeks. It’s blatantly obvious that Buffalo quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick is looking for him in the red zone, but opposing defenses have to pay attention to Fred Jackson, C.J. Spiller and Stevie Johnson, so Chandler winds up with some space. San Francisco’s defense has been stingy this year, but they’ve given up their share of points to opposing tight ends.

Marcedes Lewis vs. Chicago
20 percent. In 2010, Lewis put up 700 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns. In 2011, he posted just 460 yards and no touchdowns. Disappointing, yes, but with the exception of Maurice Jones-Drew, the Jacksonville offense was a disaster last season. Quarterback Blaine Gabbert has begun to target Lewis a bit more, and he’s already scored twice this season. With starting wideout Laurent Robinson struggling with concussions, Lewis may become a bigger part of the offense going forward.

Good luck in Week 5.

Drew Magyar is a staff writer and can be reached at “What Did We Learn” will be posted each Tuesday morning during the season, and “Rock and a Hard Place” will be posted each Friday morning.

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