Times like these should make fantasy owners with a strong running back corps very happy. There weren’t very many examples of breakout players at the running back position in Week 4.
Rookie Brandon Bolden was the only name to surface from obscurity to produce a big game, but the fact that he plays for the New England Patriots should give fantasy owners pause.
These are the same Patriots that scored 52 points on the Buffalo Bills on Sunday. Therefore, it’s difficult to project whether Bolden will have the same impact in other games this season while fellow rushers Stevan Ridley and Danny Woodhead are still healthy.
If you’re absolutely desperate for a bench RB, then Bolden is worth an addition to your fantasy roster. But I’m in no rush to add him.
You won’t find any quarterbacks or tight ends on this short list, as fantasy owners have most likely found the guys they’ll want to start.
Here’s who I’m looking for on the waiver wire for Week 5.
Rashard Mendenhall, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers
Mendenhall is already owned in the majority of fantasy leagues.
He should be owned in all of them.
Fantasy owners who have burned a bench spot on the Steelers running back should finally be rewarded with seeing him on the field this week, according to ESPN.com.
None of the running backs that substituted for Mendenhall in his absence averaged even three yards per carry.
Brian Hartline, WR, Miami Dolphins
Hartline has been targeted an awful lot by rookie Ryan Tannehill. He saw 19 balls thrown his way in Arizona on Sunday.
He came down with 12 of them for an NFL season-high 253 receiving yards and a touchdown.
Hartline now has 48 targets on the season. That number alone makes him worthy of a fantasy waiver claim.
That’s five more looks than the Detroit Lions’ Calvin Johnson.
Andre Roberts, WR, Arizona Cardinals
Roberts has scored a touchdown in three of the season’s first four games. He had an offensive explosion in Week 4, gaining 118 yards on six catches for two touchdowns.
Each of those numbers was a season high.
Prior to Week 4, Roberts had collected a total of nine catches for 111 yards and two touchdowns.
Whether Roberts will keep up this type of scoring is anybody’s guess, but he deserves to be on fantasy rosters based on his work through the first four games of the season.
Jackie Battle, RB, San Diego Chargers
The Ronnie Brown experiment hasn’t worked out so well for the Chargers in Ryan Mathews’ absence early this season. Ditto for Curtis Brinkley.
The two running backs have been inactive once each over the last two weeks.
Battle, meanwhile, has seen the field each game since Mathews’ return. With Mathews’ fumbling problems, Battle has been able to get fantasy-relevant work.
In Week 4 against the Kansas City Chiefs (his former team) on the road, Battle took 15 carries for 39 rushing yards and a touchdown.
He also caught four Philip Rivers passes for 49 yards and another score.
Battle will see the New Orleans Saints in Week 5. The Saints have been a favorable matchup for opposing fantasy rushers this season.
Domenik Hixon, WR, New York Giants
The fantasy football excitement surrounding Ramses Barden’s nine-catch, 138-yard effort in Week 3 died down quickly, didn’t it?
Barden played well for the Giants against the Carolina Panthers while Hakeem Nicks was nursing a foot injury. Left largely unnoticed was the fact that Domenik Hixon missed that game, too.
Hixon played in Week 4 and regained his place on the hierarchy of receivers vying for Eli Manning’s attention with Nicks out against the Eagles.
Victor Cruz had 13 targets, Hixon had 11 and Barden had four. Hixon caught six passes for 114 yards. If Nicks is still missing games as the season goes on, Hixon is the guy you’ll want.
James Jones, WR, Green Bay Packers
Similar to Hixon, Jones may be called up to fantasy rosters from the waiver wire based on an injury to a guy positioned higher than him on the depth chart.
Greg Jennings left the game against the New Orleans Saints with a groin injury. Jones finished the game with five catches for 56 yards and two touchdowns on six targets.
Randall Cobb should also be owned in more leagues, as he has attracted a similar volume of targets from Aaron Rodgers.
Robert Turbin, RB, Seattle Seahawks
Turbin was shut out of the Packers game in Week 3. That contest notwithstanding, he has increased his carries and yards per attempt in each game this season.
A zero is clearly cause for concern, but against the Carolina Panthers in Week 5 he should have an opportunity to see 10 or more carries.
Carolina’s run defense has been horrific. If Turbin gets the work in tandem with Marshawn Lynch during Week 5, he should finish with a solid stat line, and fantasy owners will be scrambling to add him to their benches.
But you’ll already have him if you get him this week.