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What Did We Learn – Week 5

William Powell is now “the guy” in Arizona.
Ok, maybe “the guy” is a bit strong. Maybe, “flavor of the week” is more appropriate. On Thursday night, Ryan Williams suffered a shoulder injury. Turns out he will need surgery to repair the AC joint in his left shoulder, and appears to be done for the rest of the season, making him one of the most unlucky players I can remember. Chris ‘Beanie’ Wells is still out with a turf toe for several weeks, so it looks like Powell will be the next man up. Only problem is that he suffered a head injury on Thursday night. If it’s not Powell, I assume that La’Rod Stephens-Howling and Alphonso Smith would share the load. This is a situation worth monitoring over the next few days prior to your waiver period.

I’ll never own DeAngelo Williams again, either.
Ugh. He’s excruciating to own. I think my issue with Williams is that I owned him that one year when he absolutely went off. Ever since then, I’ve had this…loyalty to him. But I’m cutting the cord. On Sunday, he rushed six times for six yards. He also lost a fumble. That’s about as bad as it gets, right? Nope. In Week 1, he ran six times for minus-1 yard. In Weeks 2-4, he ran 36 times for 168 yards, good for 4.7 yards a carry, and he added two scores. The problem is he’s incredibly inconsistent. With bye weeks and injuries mounting, owners may find themselves without an alternative. He’s sharing backfield duties with Jonathan Stewart, whom most view as a better option anyway, and the team’s best running back is probably Cam Newton, who also gets the goal line carries. So he’ll need to break big plays to score. Add it all up, and I just can’t give him an endorsement.

The Green Bay running game just got cloudy.
Cedric Benson has a foot injury of some kind, believed to be a sprain. The Packers will most likely go the committee route, with Alex Green, a now healthy James Starks, and John Kuhn. Benson had provided some value, but no running back in Green Bay will provide much value with Aaron Rodgers on the field. The offense won’t miss a beat, but owners that had been counting on Benson in a flex role will have to look elsewhere. This may be a plus for Aaron Rodgers who will just end up throwing even more.

Reggie Wayne is still a bona fide No. 1.
Wayne was, at one point, one of the Top 5 receivers in the league. Then there was the year where Peyton Manning was hurt, and people jumped on the “Wayne isn’t what he used to be” bandwagon. I was one of them. Apparently, Andrew Luck likes him quite a bit, as he’s been targeted 60 times in just four games, catching 36 passes for 506 yards and a pair of scores. I did see something the other day explaining how his production is sure to drop off, which I agree with, but only to an extent. I don’t think he’ll finish with 140-plus catches and 2,000-plus yards, but I think that he’ll continue to be a top option on an offense that isn’t afraid to throw it a lot. If both he and Luck stay healthy, I could see Wayne finishing with 110 catches for 1,600 yards and 10 scores.

Ahmad Bradshaw isn’t dead yet.
Bradshaw is another guy I had pretty much assumed was about done. Bradshaw had struggled with injuries since Week 1, and even when he was healthy, he still looked bad. After Andre Brown blew up in Week 3 against Carolina, I figured we were witnessing a changing of the guard. Instead, he suffered a concussion against a Cleveland defense that had been at least average against fantasy backs thus far. Even though Bradshaw fumbled on the first Giants possession, he rebounded to the tune of 30 carries for 200 yards and a score. Attention Bradshaw owners: this is your sell high opportunity. He faces several tough run defenses in the coming weeks, including the San Francisco 49ers in Week 6.

Rashard Mendenhall gives Pittsburgh a balanced offense.
Mendenhall was a Top 10 pick in many leagues a year ago, but an ACL tear late last year kept him out of the Steelers’ first three games. Neither Isaac Redman nor Jonathan Dwyer did much with the opportunity, so Pittsburgh fans eagerly awaited Mendenhall’s return. After a bye week, playing the Philadelphia Eagles, Mendenhall ran 14 times for 81 yards and a score, and he added two catches for 20 yards. For those who stashed him previously, he will provide RB2-level value going forward. If he’s still available, grab him immediately.

Jay Cutler and Brandon Marshall are a dangerous combination.
Reunited after a few productive seasons in Denver, Cutler and Marshall haven’t missed a beat. Cutler’s stats don’t represent how good he’s been, since a terrible night in Green Bay skews his numbers. He’s thrown for 1,209 yards and seven touchdowns, but also seven interceptions, four of which came against Green Bay in Week 2. As for Marshall, through five games, he has 35 catches for 496 yards and three scores, and he’s been an absolute nightmare for opposing defenses. In the league right now, there’s Tom BradyWes Welker and Matthew Stafford-Calvin Johnson, but after that, Cutler-Marshall is the top tandem in the league.

Wes Welker is back to being Tom Brady’s favorite target in New England.
Just a ho-hum 13 catches for 104 yards and a touchdown. No big deal. But in Week 1, he caught just three passes for 14 yards. In Week 2, he improved to five receptions for 95 yards. In the last three weeks, he’s caught 30 passes for 375 yards and a score. While Aaron Hernandez has also been out during that time, it seems that he’s also gotten back onto the same page with Brady again. With Hernandez on the mend, and Rob Gronkowski and Brandon Lloyd also getting some targets, and Stevan Ridley emerging as a viable backfield threat, Welker may not continue on his current pace. But those who do own him can rest easy knowing he’s back.

Nobody in Denver is happier than Demaryius Thomas.
In the preseason, I thought Eric Decker would be Peyton Manning’s primary target, but it looks like Thomas may be the bigger threat in Denver. Thomas caught nine passes for 188 yards on Sunday, and it could have been more had he held on to a first quarter fumble. Through five games, he has 30 catches for 513 yards and a pair of touchdowns. He’s an imposing receiver on the outside, which is evident if you watch the Broncos offense for any period of time. I can’t recall Manning ever playing with a receiver with his combination of size and speed. Decker still makes for a nice play, but it looks like Thomas will put up bigger numbers.

Marques Colston is outplaying defenses on one foot.
Colston is hobbled. Early in the season, he was slowed by a foot injury. And after most plays on Sunday night, he could be seen favoring his foot, but that didn’t stop him from posting nine catches for 131 yards and a trio of scores. In the last two games, he has caught 18 balls for 284 yards and four touchdowns. Lance Moore missed the game, and Jimmy Graham sprained his ankle in the first half, so Colston became Drew Brees’ top target. Colston now gets two weeks to heal during the bye before facing a porous Tampa Bay defense in Week 7.

Good luck in Week 6.

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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