Seemingly every year a rookie running back looks good in camp, wins a starting job on a good team and shoots up the fantasy draft boards. The hype gets so strong a week or two before the season he's being drafted in the first round.
Sometimes the guy has a stellar rookie season and earns his pre-draft buzz. But sometimes the guy is Ryan Mathews. Drafted with the 12th overall pick by the Chargers, Mathews looked good in his first two preseason games and was the starter heading into Week 1. He was going in the middle of the second round.
Mathews carried 20 times for 78 yards in his first game and hasn't had double-digit carries since. Injuries have relegated him to the backup role, and Mike Tolbert has received the majority of the carries for San Diego. This season Mathews has 218 yards rushing and just one touchdown, far underperforming his draft slot.
Disappointing as Mathews has been, owners can breathe a sigh of relief: Norv Turner said Monday Mathews will return to the starting lineup as early as next week, as long as he can get through the week healthy. With a 4.7 yard-per-carry average, Mathews could end up being a quality fantasy player after all.
Not everyone is so lucky. It's been five weeks, and there are quite a few players you might want to think about benching, if not releasing. Along with waiver pickups this week, you'll find a few players you might want to cut think about benching or trading (or even releasing in some cases).
Shaun Hill toasted the Rams on Sunday, but this week he'll face the Giants and their No. 1 pass rush next week. Then there's a bye. Then Stafford should return to an offense in which Hill has been able to put up solid fantasy numbers. You can probably leave Stafford on the waiver wire for another week or two, but keep him in mind.
On the hot seat:Carson Palmer. The Bengals QB continues to put up OK numbers, but interceptions (six) keep hurting his total and he hasn't had a standout fantasy day since Week 1. At this point, he's strictly bye week filler unless you absolutely can't find someone else.
Now that we're into the bye weeks, be on the lookout for bye-week fillers. Keep an eye on the status of Joseph Addai this week. Addai hurt his shoulder against the Chiefs on Sunday and didn't return. Hart, who had done nothing all season, carried 11 times for 50 yards and a touchdown in relief. If Addai can't go and Donald Brown is still banged up, Hart is an attractive one-week fill in against Washington's average run defense.
Deji Karim (15 carries, 70 yards): The rookie from Southern Illinois was active for Jacksonville for the first time on Sunday and actually had a solid first performance. Maurice Jones-Drew's wrist injury doesn't appear serious, so this is a pickup for down the road.
On the hot seat:Shonn Greene. A good performance Monday night (10 carries, 57 yards, 1 TD) has to assauge owners' fears a bit, but LaDainian Tomlinson still got 20 carries and caught five passes. Still, LT is 31 and he's been in the NFL for 10 years. The workload could get to him by the end of the year, so you'll want to keep Green. Whether he starts for you depends on your running back situation.
Surprise fantasy standout Mark Clayton was placed on injured reserve with a torn patellar tendon suffered Sunday. The new No. 1 is pretty obvious: Rams QB Sam Bradford targeted (Hard Knocks alert!) Danny Amendola an astounding 19 times. Amendola caught 12 of those for 95 yards. He probably won't get 19 targets again, but anybody getting that many attempts can be useful, especially in PPR leagues.
Mike Williams (7 catches, 99 yards, 1 TD): If any owners gave up on Tampa Bay's version of Mike Williams (as opposed to the Seattle edition), grab him off the waiver wire. He was targeted 11 times on Sunday and caught his third score of the season.
On the hot seat:Chad Ochocinco and Terrell Owens. While Owens has broken out the past two weeks with 17 catches for 324 yards and two scores, Ochocinco has just three catches in each of his last two games and appears to be Palmer's No. 2 option. Cleveland's and Tampa Bay's secondaries are bad; the only notable thing Ochocinco did this weekend was on Twitter. He belongs on your bench at the very least.
Marcedes Lewis caught two touchdowns again on Sunday for the Jaguars, his second two-TD game of the season, and is still available in about half the leagues out there. He won't catch a lot of passes -- his season high is five -- but he's David Garrard's favorite option near the goal line. You could do much worse.
On the hot seat:Brent Celek. One of the top-ranked tight ends before the season, Celek has now scored for the Eagles in two straight weeks. The bad news: While he's a favorite target of Kevin Kolb, he had been getting almost no looks from Michael Vick. Both his TD passes came from Kolb. If you expect things to hold to form when Vick returns, you might want to see what you can get for Celek in a trade now.
Tennessee will give up some points, but the Titans have 7 interceptions and 22 sacks this year and haven't really put up a bad fantasy game. As long as your league doesn't penalize too heavily for points allowed, the Titans are a decent option.
On the hot seat: Philadelphia. The Eagles' D will look pretty good for a half and then fall apart. The Birds have given up lots of points late to Detroit and San Francisco and won't be as fortunate as this week, when an Alex Smith fumble went right into the arms of Quintin Mikell, who ran it in for a score. You might not have another option, but don't expect big numbers every week.
Let's just recommend Josh Scobee for the second straight week: The Jaguars offense isn't great, so Scobee will get a lot of field goal tries. Scobee's been kicking the ball a mile, so he'll get a lot of long field goal tries, too. This leads to your opponent screaming that he or she (What? Plenty of women play fantasy. I co-own a team with my mom.) was beaten by a kicker. It's fun, you should try it.
On the hot seat:Garrett Hartley and/or John Carney. We can all agree that curses and the like are just superstitions and we shouldn't really believe in them, right? Right: Except in the case of the Saints kickers this year. Hartley misses a 29-yard field goal in OT two weeks ago, then Carney missed a 29-yarder in Week 5. Kidding aside, whoever kicks for the Saints is a fantastic fantasy option. Just don't expect that kicker to start for too long.