By Julian Martinez
Quarterback: Kaepernick owners, it’s time to bail
Colin Kaepernick has some dynamic athletic ability, but unfortunately he is at the forefront of a very unproductive offense. A week after throwing four interceptions, Kaepernick was hoping to rebound against a Green Bay Packers team he has largely dominated throughout his career.
He would, however, get abused physically and verbally by the opposing Packers’ defense, which picked him off twice. Clay Matthews screamed at the quarterback, “You’re not Russell Wilson, bro,” following a negative run from Kaepernick.
Right now Kaepernick is not even the same player the 49er organization once knew and loved. It will be surprising if talks of benching Kaepernick don’t at least arise in the next week.
If you are looking for a couple names to pick up, consider two quarterbacks that will be playing against each other this weekend.
Jay Cutler looked good in his first game coming back from a hamstring injury against the Raiders. Cutler was able to target Martellus Bennett throughout the contest, and this week he should get even more help when Alshon Jeffrey returns from his own hamstring injury. Cutler is owned in only about 13 percent of leagues.
His opponent in week five will be the Kansas City Chiefs and their quarterback, Alex Smith. Smith this past week was able to put up 386 passing yards against the Cincinnati defense, even though it was largely a garbage time.
The Bears are not a great defense, but if Cutler and company is able to take advantage of the Chiefs’ equally bad defense, then this game can turn into a bit of a shootout.
Running back: A couple of injury comebacks that impact Fantasy
The Rams could have been considered a risky investment when they took a running back coming off an ACL tear with their first overall pick. In their game against the Cardinals, however, they were reminded why it was worth it.
Todd Gurley technically made his debut last week, but in this match-up he was given more opportunity in what is generally considered an unfavorable match-up for opposing running backs. Gurley ripped the Cardinals for 146 yards and carried the ball 19 times. A 52-yard burst personified the type of explosiveness and playmaking ability that propelled Gurley into the Top-10 picks this year. Gurley will be a fantasy must start week-in and week-out for the rest of the season.
Another running back who had to recover from injury is Houston’s Arian Foster. Foster did not have the greatest coming out party, as he fumbled the ball and managed a mediocre 10 yards in the game. Regardless, it is advisable to start Foster on Thursday night against the Colts.
Foster is the lifeblood of the Texans’ offense and the Colts have a known reputation for being a soft run defense, so expect a bounce back.
A pickup who may be advisable now more than he was three weeks ago is Christine Michael. Michael was active for his first game against the Saints, and even though he went backward on his only carry of the game, he should start seeing more work, given that Lance Dunbar, who was really developing into a pivotal part of the offense, unfortunately might not see the field again this season due to an ACL tear.
Joseph Randle saw the ball taken out of his hands following an untimely fumble in the fourth quarter, and everyone knows about Darren McFadden’s tendency not to stay on the field. Michael should at least be a bench stash and perhaps he can be more in a mere couple weeks.
Wide Receiver: Two new birds take flight
The Ravens don’t have a ton of options in the passing game outside of veteran Steve Smith. Smith fell victim to the injury bug, though, this past weekend and now it is time for quarterback Joe Flacco to find a new favorite target.
The receiver to keep an eye on is Kamar Aiken. Aiken had a big week four against rival Steelers, as he was able to secure five catches for 77 yards and a score. Aiken should have an opportunity to develop a good rapport with Flacco moving forward, as the Ravens’ first-round pick, Breshad Perriman, doesn’t appear to be coming back onto the field in the immediate future and injuries at Smith’s age tend to be more nagging.
Last week, I noted the demise of Roddy White. Well, now it is time to note the guy who is taking over White’s role in the offense. Leonard Hankerson crossed the century mark for the first time this season and found the end zone in the Falcons’ week four blowout against the Houston Texans.
Hankerson is Matt Ryan’s clear second choice behind Julio Jones, and the undefeated Falcons appear to be rolling on offense with the emergence of Devonta Freeman in the run game as well. Hankerson could very well be a solid FLEX consideration against a Redskin defense that does not defense receivers well.
Even though it is his bye week, take a chance on Ted Ginn, Jr., moving forward. Ever since Kelvin Benjamin went down, the question has been, “Who does Cam Newton throw to?” Many thought it would be rookie Devin Funchess, but injuries prevented Funchess from developing a real chemistry with Newton, which has allowed Ginn to become the top target among Carolina wide receivers.
Ginn has an occasional tendency to develop stone hands, but he has enough speed to get open and with three touchdowns this year, it is clear that Newton will look his way. Ginn is worth the own.
If you’re desperate, then take a chance on Willie Snead of the New Orleans Saints. Snead saw six targets against the Cowboys on Sunday night, and Brees coming off the shoulder injury showed signs of his former greatness. Snead will be matching up against Philadelphia and could be a boom-or-bust type play.
Tight End: Another developing tight end to monitor?
Boo on me last week for doubting the name Gary Barnidge. Barnidge followed his solid performance against the Raiders with another outstanding performance in San Diego. Barnidge had 105 yards on six receptions and found the end zone for the second week in a row.
Josh McCown seems to like him in the passing game, and that should keep him Fantasy-relevant for the rest of the year. It will be interesting to see if, moving forward, his value is dependent on finding the end zone, but chances are he’s available in your league if you’d like to take a chance.
A name to note particularly for this week is Owen Daniels. This season it is hard to endorse the Denver Broncos’ inconsistent offense, but the Raiders cannot stop tight ends. Martellus Bennett was just the latest name to torch the Raiders, but throughout the first four weeks they have allowed more than 20 points to Tyler Eifert, Crockett Gillmore, Barnidge, and Bennett, respectively.
Kicker and DST: A Few Notes
A defense that I would recommend streaming this week is the New York Giants. I don’t consider the Giants an elite defense, but considering they will be playing perhaps one of the most meager offense in the NFL this week, they are worth picking up and starting.
If you are uninformed, they will be playing the San Francisco 49ers, the same offense that has only managed 48 points for the entire season and has seen their quarterback throw six interceptions in the past two games.
This was a rough week for kickers, as 12 field goals were missed in the NFL from Thursday through Monday. People expected the extra point to be more of a problem coming into the year, but it would appear that kickers are struggling to make even basic kicks. Some replacements to expect this coming week are Pittsburgh and Jacksonville.
Pittsburgh has already signed Chris Boswell to replace Josh Scobee. In Tampa Bay, Kyle Brindza was mercifully let go after he missed six field goals and two extra points in just four weeks of play.
New York Jets