Tennessee is a difficult team for fantasy owners to figure out. With Kerry Collins lodged behind center, the offense has taken a different shape from what was in place under the guidance of Vince Young, and new weapons have found their way to the top.
By now, most fantasy owners have either given up on or forgotten about Brandon Jones, a fourth-year wide receiver who has struggled at the pro level. But Jones has slowly grown this season, and has caught three passes in each of the past two weeks. On Sunday, against the league's top-ranked pass defense (Baltimore), his three catches for 54 yards led all Titans wideouts (tight end Bo Scaife led all receivers). Now Jones has a chance for continued growth in an offense desperately trying to achieve balance.
And on a team in need of players to relieve pressure from their two talented tight ends, perhaps Collins has found the right guy; if so, Jones could pay fantasy owners dividends as a bye week fill in.
Here are a few other waiver wire candidates who offer value to fantasy owners ...
Not long ago this column sold the idea of picking up Brandon Lloyd, who proved valuable until a knee injury took him out of the action. Now the Bears have turned to another unsuspecting receiver to pick up the slack in the passing game. Davis, who had nine catches through the first four games, caught six for 97 yards in Week 5 to lead all Chicago receivers. Davis has had big games before (84 yards against Seattle in the 2006 playoffs), but now he must show consistent results.
Much like was the case in Denver, where Eddie Royal made the most of his opportunity with Brandon Marshall on suspension, Hixon lit up fireworks in place of Plaxico Burress on Sunday. His 102 yards against Seattle came in the first half alone (a concussion kept him out of the second half). Now that Burress is returning, fantasy owners might be tempted to ignore Hixon, but New York is a team in search of more targets in the passing game, and Hixon has now earned a chunk of the action. As a No. 4 or 5 receiver he's worth a look.
The Colts have long employed a system which favors two tight end options, and on Sunday Santi may have finally cemented his place opposite of Dallas Clark. The 6-foot-3, 250-pounder caught four passes against Houston, including a seven-yard score (in Week 2 he had five catches against Minnesota). Santi is not starting material, but for a fantasy owner thin at the position he could offer some cushion.
Here is a look at this week's buy and sell candidates:
Matt Ryan, QB, Falcons
At a time when most fantasy owners are looking to sell Ryan at a high price, it might not be a bad idea to get in on the bidding. Not only did Ryan look sharp in the pocket in Sunday's win over Green Bay, but the road ahead presents him with a few golden fantasy opportunities. The Falcons face a Bears defense next week that has allowed 223.4 passing yards per game. After a bye, Atlanta faces Philadelphia (seven passing scores allowed), Oakland and New Orleans (244.6).
Brandon Stokley, WR, Broncos
As a short-term buy option, Stokley could provide respectable totals in the coming weeks. Royal's ankle is a concern that could keep the rookie shelved for a week or longer. While he's away Stokley will be the player to eat up whatever table scraps Marshall and Tony Scheffler leave behind in Denver's pass-happy system. In the past two weeks Stokley has looked strong, with a combined 13 catches for 132 yards and a score.
Aaron Rodgers, QB, 49ers
If it's possible to look not-so-desperate in dumping Rodgers, do so. The Packers quarterback is probable for this coming week's game against Seattle, a defense he should do well against. After that, however, the road for the Green Bay passing offense could get a bit rocky. In Week 7 they face the fourth-ranked Colts, followed by a bye and then a date in Tennessee (ranked seventh). Rodgers is an injury risk whose numbers are likely to decline. Sell him now as he comes off the top fantasy quarterback performance of Week 5.
Jamal Lewis, RB, Browns
It's doubtful Lewis has much of an asking price at this point of the season. In four games he's gained just 235 yards with one score. Hopefully Cleveland's bye week has led fantasy owners to forget how cold he is. The next few games for Lewis will be brutal -- the Giants, Redskins, Jaguars and Ravens in the next month. Fantasy owners should try to package him as part of some deal which successfully disguises the desire to unload the 29-year-old back.