Thoughts after watching every play in the NFL last week that you can use in the weeks ahead.
• Fred Jackson was the biggest winner in the wake of the Marshawn Lynch trade. Remember, this is a guy who ran for 1,633 yards on 367 carries in 2008 and '09, good for 4.4 yards per carry. With Ryan Fitzpatrick injecting a little life into the offense by getting the ball downfield with a modicum of success, Jackson becomes a nice flex play until further notice.
• I'm not exactly sure how Mike Sims-Walker caught just four passes for 46 yards as the Jaguars rolled up 36 points against the Bills, but I am sure it signals he should be on your bench if your team is at full strength.
• Carson Palmer is a far more effective fantasy quarterback than real-life, and Terrell Owens appears to be his first read. He has to be considered a top-12 receiver right now.
• In Week 5, Kellen Winslow had six catches for 75 yards, while Jermaine Gresham caught four balls for 24 yards and a touchdown. If you can't find a useful tight end, just give up playing fantasy football.
• If I redrafted right now, Roddy White would be my No. 1 receiver.
• The Peyton Hillis experience has been fun, but with Colt McCoy taking over, Hillis is going to face a ton of stacked boxes. You should have been doing this already, but see what you can get for him right now.
• For a guy with turf toe, Jahvid Best has played really well the last two weeks. He's getting healthy and the Lions' offense is, dare I say, dynamic. Best has to be considered a top-12 back going forward. That is, as long as Calvin Johnson doesn't miss a significant amount of time. As long as Megatron is healthy, whoever plays quarterback for the Lions is worth starting with the right matchup.
•As we discussed a few weeks ago, there are no training wheels for Sam Bradford, and he's on pace to attempt 650 passes this season. A plurality of those will be thrown in Danny Amendola's direction.
• Jamaal Charles finally dominated the workload out of the backfield for the Chiefs in Week 5, getting 16 carries compared with Thomas Jones' eight. Hopefully, this isn't just a one-week deal and Todd Haley has come to his senses. If that's the case and Charles can hold up, he's a top-12 back for the remainder of the season.
• Dwayne Bowe, on the other hand, did not help himself last week, dropping a sure touchdown pass and then putting the very next throw on the carpet. Keep him on your bench unless you have no other options.
• Losing Jermichael Finley for at least the next two months is a huge blow to the Packers. There's a chance he's the team's best receiver, and with a dormant run game, the Packers offense could look a whole lot different, no matter who is under center. I do give Greg Jennings' value a slight boost with Finley out, though.
• Matt Forte looks better than ever. Even in his huge rookie year, he didn't have the sort of breakaway speed he showed on his 68-yard touchdown run.
• The Bears defense is back, thanks to Julius Peppers and a healthy Brian Urlacher. They're a matchup problem for nearly any back in the league.
• Carolina is a mess. No matter who starts at quarterback, they look like the worst team in the NFL. If you own DeAngelo Williams and Steve Smith, you have to start them, but it's time to see what you can get in a trade. With that quarterback situation, I'm not sure Smith is a top-20 receiver.
• Ray Rice owners, join the Michael Turner owners inside from the ledge. Just last week, I said I'd check in on Rice to see what the price of poker is. I think that potential buy-low window slammed shut with his 133-yard, two-score performance. I wouldn't be fooled by Willis McGahee's game either. He's still going to get the goal-line carries, but his numbers were inflated by a 30-yard carry that will almost certainly go down as his longest run of the year.
• As long as the Denver run game is as inept as it has shown, Kyle Orton will pile up huge yardage numbers. Baltimore owned their Week 5 matchup from start to finish, yet Orton still threw for 314 yards and two touchdowns. He's getting 8.1 YPA and is on pace to throw 682 passes this year. Even if his YPA tails off a bit, he's a near-lock to throw 4,500 yards this season if he stays healthy. Bump up Brandon Lloyd, Eddie Royal and Jabar Gaffney accordingly.
• Remember earlier when I said Roddy White would be my No. 1 receiver if I redrafted today? Hakeem Nicks would join him in the top-5. He's clearly Eli Manning's first read, especially in the red zone. Nicks converted his 17 targets into 12 catches for 130 yards and two touchdowns in Week 5, and is in a group with White, Andre Johnson, Miles Austin and Reggie Wayne moving forward.
• Last week, I told you not to quit on this Steve Smith. I hope you listened. The Giants offense is for real, and with Mario Manningham seemingly phased out the last couple weeks, Smith will continue to flourish.
• Matt Schaub hasn't been the elite quarterback he was last year but he's still the same guy with the same weapons. He's completing fewer passes and getting 0.7 fewer YPA, but I'd see if I could buy him right now, even if it's at market value.
• Drew Brees just isn't getting the ball down the field like he did last year, at least not for completions. He's getting just 7.1 YPA even though he's completing 71.4 percent of his passes. This after getting 8.5 YPA with a 70.6 completion percentage in 2009, and 8.0 YPA with a 65.0 completion percentage in 2008. In my opinion, the problem was the seeming disappearance of Robert Meachem, Brees' best deep threat. He finally got him involved at the end of last week's game, and he needs to remain an integral part of the offense if they Saints are to fix their problems. Also, the return of Pierre Thomas (ankle) should help.
• Even though Beanie Wells could have probably just fallen forward at the line of scrimmage and got 1.8 yards per carry, it was encouraging to see him run the ball 20 times last week. I still like him as a top-15 back for the rest of the season, and would see how low I could by him after last week's dreadful performance.
• Like Todd Haley in Kansas City, it appears Jason Garrett and Wade Phillips may have finally come to their senses with Felix Jones. If they continue to feature him the way they did last week, he could break out over the next 10 weeks.
• In that redraft scenario, Miles Austin would have to be the No. 2 receiver, and I'd have no arguments with anyone who ranked him first. That leaping grab he made between two defenders on his touchdown was ridiculous. I think Chris Johnson or Adrian Peterson would have to be involved for me to listen to an offer for Austin.
• Kenny Britt quietly has a touchdown in three straight games. With bye weeks in play for the next five weeks, he could be in line for a lot of fantasy play, and he may garner more attention even when the byes are behind us. The Vince Young performance felt fluky, and Britt gets all the credit for the touchdown
• Now what do we think of the Raiders' running back situation? Michael Bush was the favorite heading into the season before he broke his thumb, and he absolutely lit up the Chargers last week, a better defense than any of the teams victimized by Darren McFadden. When both are healthy, both will play, but I think Bush is the better back, and he's going to get the goal-line carries. He's the one I want.
• I think we've seen the last of Mike Tolbert as anything more than a fringe flex option. With the style of offense the Chargers run and the return of a fully healthy Ryan Mathews, Philip Rivers is a top-3 quarterback going forward.
• I'm starting to get the feeling DeSean Jackson's value is tied to Michael Vick. With Vick likely to be back after this week, I like Jackson more than Jeremy Maclin going forward, although both are likely top-20 options.
• Hey, Alex Smith. Maybe you don't want to roll out in the face of pressure with no ball security. Don't worry, it's not like you cost me a victory in pick'em for the second time this year (I swear I'm not bitter).
• Nice of you to join the 2010 season, Michael Crabtree. The change to Mike Johnson from Jimmy Raye at offensive coordinator was a welcome one for Crabtree and Vernon Davis. I have Crabtree as a top-15 receiver going forward, and would try to trade for him while I still could.
• It's clear Randy Moss is going to get a ton of downfield targets now that he's in Minnesota. He sure cleared out a ton of space for Percy Harvin. When Sidney Rice (hip) returns, all three will be weekly starters. With the best running back in the league in the backfield, the Vikings' offense is going to be scary good, as long as Brett Favre is done sending text messages. The buy-low window on Harvin probably no longer exists.
• With LaDainian Tomlinson getting way more work than anyone anticipated, it's possible the Jets will bring Greene along slowly and feature him in the final months of the season. If I own one Jets receiver, I want it to be Santonio Holmes and not Braylon Edwards.
1. Peyton Manning @ Redskins2. Philip Rivers @ Rams3. Eli Manning vs. Lions4. Tony Romo @ Vikings5. Jay Cutler vs. Seahawks6. Matt Schaub vs. Chiefs7. Tom Brady vs. Ravens8. Drew Brees @ Buccaneers9. Joe Flacco @ Patriots10. Kyle Orton vs. Jets11. Matt Ryan @ Eagles12. Aaron Rodgers (concussion) vs. Dolphins13. Ben Roethlisberger vs. Browns14. Brett Favre vs. Cowboys15. Mark Sanchez @ Broncos
1. Chris Johnson @ Jaguars2. Rashard Mendenhall vs. Browns3. Ray Rice @ Patriots4. Adrian Peterson vs. Cowboys5. Michael Turner @ Eagles6. Frank Gore vs. Raiders7. Ryan Mathews @ Rams8. Jamaal Charles @ Texans9. Arian Foster vs. Chiefs10. Steven Jackson vs. Chargers11. Matt Forte vs. Seahawks12. Ahmad Bradshaw vs. Lions13. Maurice Jones-Drew vs. Titans14. Jahvid Best @ Giants15. LeSean McCoy vs. Falcons16. LaDainian Tomlinson @ Broncos17. Michael Bush @ 49ers18. Ryan Torain vs. Colts19. Ronnie Brown @ Packers20. Felix Jones @ Vikings|21. BenJarvus Green-Ellis vs. Ravens22. Joseph Addai @ Redskins23. Shonn Greene @ Broncos24. Thomas Jones @ Texans25. Brandon Jackson vs. Dolphins26. Marshawn Lynch @ Bears27. Peyton Hillis @ Steelers28. Ricky Williams @ Packers29. Chris Ivory @ Buccaneers30. Marion Barber @ Vikings
1. Roddy White @ Eagles2. Miles Austin @ Vikings3. Hakeem Nicks vs. Lions4. Andre Johnson vs. Chiefs5. Reggie Wayne @ Redskins6. Randy Moss vs. Cowboys7. Brandon Marshall @ Packers8. Anquan Boldin @ Patriots9. Wes Welker vs. Ravens10. Greg Jennings vs. Dolphins11. Marques Colston @ Buccaneers12. Mike Wallace vs. Browns13. Steve Smith (NYG) vs. Lions14. Malcolm Floyd @ Rams15. Percy Harvin vs. Cowboys16. DeSean Jackson vs. Falcons17. Santonio Holmes @ Broncos18. Brandon Lloyd vs. Jets19. Calvin Johnson (shoulder) @ Giants20. Michael Crabtree vs. Raiders21. Hines Ward vs. Brown22. Donald Driver vs. Dolphins23. Santana Moss vs. Colts24. Danny Amendola vs. Chargers25. Austin Collie @ Redskins26. Jeremy Maclin vs. Falcons27. Mike Williams (TB) vs. Saints28. Kenny Britt @ Jaguars29. Braylon Edwards @ Broncos30. Dwayne Bowe @ Texans
1. Antonio Gates @ Rams2. Vernon Davis vs. Raiders3. Dallas Clark @ Redskins4. Zach Miller @ 49ers5. Dustin Keller @ Broncos6. Aaron Hernandez vs. Ravens7. Kellen Winslow vs. Saints8. Tony Gonzalez @ Eagles9. Tony Moeaki @ Texans10. Chris Cooley vs. Colts11. Brandon Pettigrew @ Giants12. Jason Witten @ Vikings13. Heath Miller vs. Browns14. Marcedes Lewis vs. Titans15. Greg Olsen vs. Seahawks
We went 3-for-3 once again last week, and if you went with the Lions you cruised to one of the most profitable survivor victories of the year.
1. Chicago Bears (vs. Seahawks): The Bears host the Redskins next week and they go to Toronto to play the Bills after their Week 8 bye before the schedule gets brutal. Two games with the Vikings, road games in Green Bay, Detroit and Miami and home games against the Jets, Patriots and Eagles. This might be the last chance you get to use the Bears, and with Jay Cutler likely back this week, they should have no problem with the visiting Seahawks.
2. Pittsburgh Steelers (vs. Browns): The Steelers are a safer pick than the Bears, but they have a number of good matchups down the road (most notably a Week 11 home game against the Raiders). They also don't offer a huge payoff, as they figure to be the most popular pick this week. Still, they should nearly guarantee you Week 6 survival.
3. New York Giants (vs. Lions): I admit I thought twice about this one. The Lions are pretty frisky, but the Giants have looked amazing in their last two games, wins over the Bears and Texans. I think the winner of this game gets into the 30s, and I'm just not sure the Lions have the firepower to get there against the pass rush of the Giants, especially if Calvin Johnson's shoulder injury keeps him out.