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By Paul Hickey
As expected, four weeks into the 2010 NFL season, there are several factors affecting player values, aside from play on the field. Per usual, injuries are starting to rear their ugly heads and recently affect guys like Clinton Portis, Mike Vick, Steve Smith (CAR), LeSean McCoy and Jay Cutler. The collateral damage that can be felt by these injuries has a wide range. On top of that, several coaches are still trying to establish who their top pass catching targets are - ahem - that's you Pete Carroll and Josh McDaniels. So, let's jump in and analyze what to do about this week's key risers and fallers...
Ryan Torain, RB, Redskins- Yes, he's rising after a gaining 70 yards and a score on 18 carries in Week 4 against the Eagles. On top of that, Clinton Portis injured his groin, leaving Torain likely to be the lead back in Week 5. However, proceed with caution here, as he has a history of injuries and is unlikely to emerge as a featured back. Sorry, but if you just picked him up, you may want to consider selling now while a slew of folks in your league are surely drinking the cool-aid.
Mark Sanchez, QB, Jets- After a horrible Week 1, the "San-chize" has eight TD passes in his last three games. He is playing with confidence, hooking up with Dustin Keller and Braylon Edwards often. On top of that, he gets Santonio Holmes - who many expect to be his best pass catcher - back from suspension this week. It's not a great match-up against the Vikings this week, but owners could do worse then Sanchez against Minny's beat up secondary. His future as a fantasy performer is bright as he has teams like the Broncos, Lions, Browns, Texans and Patriots on the schedule over the next nine weeks.
Steve Johnson, WR, Bills- I guess it's time to start giving this third year man from Kentucky some love. After all, he does have three catches in each game this season and a TD in each of his last two. While guys like Davone Bess and Nate Washington may be taken above him on the waiver wire this week, Johnson is worth an add in deep formats. And something for dynasty owners to think about - if he can perform in Buffalo's offense now, imagine what he can do when they actually become respectable.
Taylor Mays, SS, 49ers- IDP owners can thank Michael Lewis' tantrum and demanded release from the team for the rookie from USC's emergence. It looks like Mike Singletary has his new starting strong safety, as Mays made quite an impression against the Falcons, recording 11 tackles (nine solo), and scoring a TD. Consider him a rising IDP star in all formats.
Braylon Edwards, WR, Jets- Make sure you read this. Braylon owners in all formats should deal him now. Not only has he salvaged some value by catching a TD in each of his last three games, but the Jets passing attack looks great overall. Still, it's important to realize who we're dealing with here. He's one strike away from a huge suspension, and Santonio Holmes returns from his this week, which means Edwards will surely lose some of those deep targets that have made him so valuable these last three weeks. So, while his value is up, I recommend selling high.
Deion Branch, WR, Seahawks- Just as the veteran looked to be a larger part of what Seattle planned on doing offensively, the Seahawks go out and sign veteran journeyman Brandon Stokley, who led the team with four catches for 64 yards in Week 4 against the Rams. At this point, there seems to be very little upside or consistency to Branch, Deon Butler or any of the Seahawks pass catchers.
For more risers and fallers, check out our weekly rankings on Wednesday.