Fantasy football Risers, Sliders: Top players struggling to deliver
Five weeks into the NFL season, some big names -- most notably Tom Brady -- are not delivering the fantasy numbers their owners are expecting. Let's take a look at who improved their fantasy stock and who's trending downward after Week 5.
• Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks -- Aside from a pair of touchdowns, he didn't have great passing numbers -- just 15-of-31 for 210 yards and an interception. But Wilson had his second big rushing game in a row, running for 102 yards in Sunday's loss to the Colts. Wilson has looked inaccurate in the air at times this season, but his ability to run makes him a solid fantasy player.
• Tom Brady, New England Patriots -- Brady's still one of the best quarterbacks in the league, but he's struggling to be a top fantasy quarterback with such a depleted group of receivers. The Bengals held Brady to just 197 yards passing and no touchdowns, ending his streak of 52 straight games with a passing touchdown. He's averaging fewer fantasy points per game than guys like Sam Bradford and Alex Smith.
• Eddie Lacy, Green Bay Packers -- Lacy, who missed most of the Packers game in Week 4 with a concussion, returned after the bye week and got 23 carries, rushing for 99 yards. (He also caught one pass for negative yardage.) If Lacy's playing, the Packers appear committed to starting the rookie.
• Pierre Thomas, New Orleans Saints -- Thomas received the bulk of the carries for New Orleans on Sunday, rushing 19 times -- compared to the nine carries spread among the rest of the team. He only had 36 yards on those 19 carries against a tough Bears run defense, but the sheer number of touches makes him go up in value. And he was the Saints' No. 1 running back option out of the backfield, too: he caught all nine passes thrown his way for 55 yards and two touchdowns. The Bears had been defending running backs well coming into the game, too. Darren Sproles was targeted just three times Sunday.
• Trent Richardson, Indianapolis Colts -- Richardson received 18 carries for 56 yards this week, bringing his rushing total up to just 151 yards on 51 carries since coming over to Indianapolis. It's a good sign he's getting lots of carries, but on Sunday Donald Brown scored Indy's goal-line touchdown. There's a chance Richardson will gel with the Colts' offense eventually, but right now you can't start a guy averaging under three yards a carry.
• David Wilson, New York Giants -- Wilson scored a touchdown on the Giants' first drive, and celebrated with two back flips in the end zone. However, he left the game with a neck injury later in the first quarter, finishing with just six carries for 16 yards and the score. He tweeted he was held out for precautionary reasons, but leaving in the first quarter isn't a good sign.
• Ryan Mathews, San Diego Chargers -- Three carries, eight yards and zero targets for Mathews, who was sidelined by a concussion against the Raiders. If you were holding on to him in your league, it's time to cut bait.
• Alshon Jeffery, Chicago Bears -- His fantasy value just keeps on increasing. He caught 10 passes for 210 yards and a touchdown on 13 targets. It was his second big game in a row after catching five passes for 107 yards and a score the week before. He's been targeted 45 times this season, which is second-most on the team behind Brandon Marshall.
• Golden Tate, Seattle Seahawks -- After being targeted 11 times in Sunday's loss, Tate now leads the Seahawks with 32 on the season. He caught five passes for 61 yards and a score. Seattle's a run-first team, but Tate is very quickly becoming Russell Wilson's favorite option. And the upcoming schedule isn't too bad; after facing a decent Tennessee pass defense, the Seahawks play the Cardinals and Rams the next two weeks.
• Buffalo's receivers -- With EJ Manuel out a few weeks with an injured hip, Buffalo coach Doug Marrone has named former Duke quarterback Thad Lewis the starter. Lewis started one game for the Browns last season and was serviceable enough -- 22 of 32 for 204 yards with one touchdown and one interception -- but Manuel's injury obviously lowers the value of Stevie Johnson and Robert Woods.
• Jason Witten, Dallas Cowboys -- Witten's a starter in every fantasy league, but last season he didn't get many targets in the red zone. After catching two touchdowns in the Cowboys' opener this year, he didn't score in his next three games. On Sunday, though, he was targeted 10 times, catching seven passes for 121 yards and a 10-yard touchdown. If Witten gets red zone looks, his already-high value improves even more.
• Brandon Myers, New York Giants -- After putting up solid numbers in his first two games, Myers has had three subpar fantasy games in a row. He was targeted five times on Sunday, catching two passes for 35 yards against an Eagles defense that was just average at defending tight ends. He has just 10 targets in his last three games.
• Steven Hauschka, Seattle Seahawks -- Seattle put up 28 points in Sunday's loss to the Colts, giving it 157 on the year. That suggests a lot of chances to score, and Hauschka went four-for-five. He's available in over half of fantasy leagues.
• Dan Carpenter, Buffalo Bills -- Carpenter's been solid this season -- he hit his lone field goal attempt on Thursday -- but the Bills' offense will be slowed down with EJ Manuel out for a few weeks. His value dips a bit.
• Cincinnati Bengals -- The conditions weren't the best, but Cincinnati gave up just six points to the Patriots on Sunday, sacked Tom Brady four times and had one interception.
• Denver Broncos -- The Broncos have now given up the sixth-most points in the league after the Cowboys scored 48 on Sunday. Dallas rolled for 522 yards of offense in the game. The Broncos did sack Tony Romo four times and forced two turnovers, but their secondary looks to have holes. The Broncos may not be a good start in leagues that penalize harshly for points given up.
MORE WEEK 6 FANTASY FOOTBALL CONTENT:
BELLER: Stat Focus -- How your roster can benefit from Justin Blackmon
GONOS: Start 'Em, Sit 'Em -- Is it worth starting any Raiders this week?
BELLER: Player Stat Projections -- A.J. Green primed for a huge game
SI STAFF: Composite Player Rankings -- Expect another strong week from Bryant
BELLER, FLOOD: Weekly Roundtable -- Is Alshon Jeffery the real deal?
FLOOD: Waiver Wire -- Stacy stepping up as Rams' starting running back
McQUADE: Risers & Sliders -- Top players struggling to produce stats
BELLER: Fast Forward -- Quarterbacks steal the spotlight in Week 5