The first four weeks of the NFL season are in the books. Some owners rolled to dramatic comebacks on the arm of Drew Brees or Jimmy Graham’s touchdown dunks. Some (maybe me) weren’t as lucky, absorbing narrow defeats with Mike Wallace’s smallish stat line and a missed 43-yard field goal from Garrett Hartley playing a part.
Our “Inside Fantasy” videos on FOXSports.com examined the heroes and zeroes from the first quarter of this NFL campaign, so I’ll spare you the “end credit” list that could be assembled herein.
For now, I’m turning my attention to Bye week management and waiver wire options for the future (imminent and long-range).
Philip Rivers, QB, SD: I don’t know that I need to make too big a sales pitch here. Other than a dismal second half against the Texans in Week 1 (Zero QB Rating), Rivers has played fantastic football. He’s effectively spread the ball around (keep an eye on Keenan Allen) with Antonio Gates and Danny Woodhead leading the way. His accuracy on the deep seam route to Gates over the top of Sean Lee hearkened back to Rivers’ performances of several years ago. He’s a QB1-worthy option this week.
Brian Hoyer, QB, CLE: You’ve seen the highlights. Now, you’ll get to watch Hoyer and that Jordan Cameron character you’ve been hearing about on Thursday against the Bills. Buffalo turned in a strong performance last week and positively tormented Joe Flacco. This week, Jairus Byrd is expected to return to the mix, so this shan’t be easy. However, I love the deep ball potential with Josh Gordon and the mismatch with Cameron down the middle.
Terrelle Pryor, QB, OAK: Pryor is slated to return to action this weekend against division rival San Diego. He’s on the Ninja list this week against the most generous defense to opposing quarterbacks to date.
Danny Woodhead, RB, SD: Woodhead’s caught 20 passes in the past three weeks and logged a two-touchdown day against the Cowboys. The Chargers continue to employ a workload split, and the former Patriots star and cult hero has made the most of his opportunities (41 touches overall). He’s in line for another huge workload against the Raiders in what promises to be a wide-open affair late on Sunday night.
LeGarrette Blount, RB, NE: Speaking of the Patriots, I can’t bang the drum to start Blount, but he’s earning enough of a workload (and RZ opportunities) to warrant stashing on the bench. Stevan Ridley hasn’t been displaced altogether and Brandon Bolden
Rashad Jennings, RB, OAK Jennings reemerges as a potential plug-in Flex play for Sunday night should Darren McFadden and/or Marcel Reece be unable to answer the bell. He posted 116 total yards on 23 touches in relief of the aforementioned backs in Week 4. Remember, Jennings was on the radar for spot starts as a member of the Jaguars in years past.
Roy Helu, Jr., RB, WAS: The Redskins have a Bye in Week 5, so this one may fall under the radar. Alfred Morris sustained an injury in Week 4, thereby putting Helu, Jr. in a prime role against the Raiders (84 total yards on 15 touches). Morris may be available after the Bye, but plan ahead by stashing his handcuff.
Nate Washington, WR, TEN: Washington has been the receiving star for Tennessee the past two weeks (rookie Justin Hunter is an interesting up-and-comer), producing back-to-back 100-yard games with two touchdown against the Jets. Washington had been limited to a combined 96 receiving yards in the Titans’ first two games, but the crafty veteran asserted himself as a top option for Jake Locker (and Ryan Fitzpatrick in Week 4).
Alshon Jeffery, WR, CHI: Jeffery posted a strong day for the Bears in a high-scoring loss to the Lions. He logged five receptions on 11 targets for 107 yards, including his first touchdown of the season. Jeffery has been targeted at least eight times in three of the Bears’ first four games (32 times overall). He’ll be busy again as a Ninja WR3 this week against the Saints.
Kenbrell Thompkins, WR, NE: I know that the Brady-Thompkins connection hasn’t been the most efficient in the game, but I can’t look past his 39 targets YTD. He posted a breakout game in the Patriots’ Week 4 over the Falcons with 127 receiving yards on six receptions. The Bengals are banged up in the secondary, and this New England team is getting its timing down (and perhaps returning one or both of its would-be stars).
Justin Blackmon, WR, JAX: Blackmon returns from suspension for Week 5 against the Rams. He finished his rookie season with a fantastic second half, posting five or more receptions in six of his final seven games. Of course, that was with Chad Henne slinging the ball all over the place. Still, I can’t look past a positive matchup. Throw it up and let him go get it.
Robert Woods, WR, BUF: Woods is on the board this week against the Browns on Thursday night. He caught four passes for 80 yards, including his second touchdown, against the Ravens. Woods has caught 11 passes on 26 targets thus far, producing 201 receiving yards. With Joe Haden locked down on Stevie Johnson, I suspect fellow rookie E.J. Manuel looks his way frequently.
Charles Clay, TE, MIA: Clay’s emerged as a top-notch option for second-year man Ryan Tannehill as the Dolphins try to engage Mike Wallace’s deep threat potential. He caught all six of his pass targets for 42 yards, including a touchdown in Monday’s thrashing by the Saints. Clay has already recorded 20 receptions (tied for sixth among tight ends) for 245 yards (61 YPG).
Garrett Graham, TE, HOU: Graham’s one to watch going forward. He’s scored in three of the Texans’ first four games, including a five-catch, 69-yard day against the Seahawks in Week 4. Graham’s down the list of targets (16 thus far) for Matt Schaub, but it’s hard to deny his place in the team’s red zone sets.
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