Week 5 has come and gone and another devastating injury strikes the NFL (and fantasy), as it loses another of its biggest stars in Jamaal Charles. The season-ending torn ACL will open the door for Charcandrick West and Knile Davis, who have nowhere near the explosiveness or talent as Charles, but will be some of the biggest names on the waiver wire this week.
As if this fantasy season couldn’t have more injuries, twists and surprises the fact I am able to easily come up with names for this post should say a lot. Once again there are four players I will delve into below who are simply not playing up to their preseason expectations and carry plenty of concern.
I hope to help you decide to temper the storm for another week, bench some surprising bums, or simply cut bait. So without further ado, let’s decide...
Patience or Panic?
Jeremy Hill, RB, Cincinatti Bengals (Averaging 10.2 fantasy points per game)
Hill has five touchdowns on the season and two very productive fantasy weeks so far. However his 63 yards rushing in Week 1 are the most he has had this season, and as most feared in Week 5 the stout Seahawks defense held him in check with 25 yards. Needless to say he is losing carries to Giovani Bernard, and much like C.J. Anderson has not done enough to seperate himself from Bernard to reassure his owners.
The Verdict: Panic (bench or trade)
Hill like so many other players mentioned in this series was taken very high in fantasy drafts. Aside from his five touchdowns in two weeks Hill has rewarded his owners with a 4.6-, 2.1- and 3-point weeks in .5 point PPR leagues. He also gets a tough Buffalo Bills defense on Sunday and then has a bye week. Time to panic, but not drop yet. Perhaps an owner will bite on his potential and name and you can flip him. Target a Jamaal Charles owner perhaps.
2. Jimmy Graham, TE, Seattle Seahawks (8.58 FPPG)
Graham has the same issue as Jeremy Hill but with less touchdowns. The Seahawks offense is simply not set up to utilize Graham as a top weapon. He complained and got some extra attention in Week 3, but with a run game featuring Marshawn Lynch (when healthy, Thomas Rawls for now) and a mobile quarterback, Graham is not a featured target.
The Verdict: PANIC
This is definitely a panic situation, but not a cut bait-type of panic, at least not yet. Graham is another big game you simply don’t want to bench but I don’t think anyone should continue feeling forced to play him. When there are other options out there who are seeing more targets and consisitent production, Graham’s name alone should not be keeping owners plugging him in automatically every week. You may need to, I understand that, but if you have options, why not use them?
3. Peyton Manning, QB, Denver Broncos (17.1 FPPG)
Manning has not been a top-10 fantasy QB like most were hoping for this season. His weapons remain, but Denver's transition to a run-heavy team has not gone smoothly to say the least, further compounding Manning's struggles. He has thrown six touchdowns this season, but more concerning are his seven interceptions.
The Verdict: Patience (at least for one more week)
Manning has been awful all things considered and once again carries a name that over-shadows his performance. He also is the No. 22 fantasy QB to date, and has shown no signs of rapid improvement. He seems to have lost his touch and some zing to his throws, and both are contributing to the increase in turnovers. If, and that is a big IF the ground game can return perhaps Manning will rebound too.
I wouldn’t count on it however, and seeing that many other quarterbacks continue to exceed expectations, the time to bench Manning if he struggles in Week 6 against Cleveland has arrived.
4. Dallas Cowboys Running Backs
The definition of a Running Back By Committee (RBBC), the Cowboys have been literally a revolving door at the position as Dallas has tired everything. Joseph Randle is the starter but hasn't been able to seize the role, which has given Darren McFadden plenty of opportunity to remain in the conversation.
The problem is that McFadden hasn't exactly shined when given the touches, so for the time being, Randle's standing atop the depth chart appears safe. However, Randle's limited workload (5-10 total touches each week), only muddies the backfield situation in Big D.
The Verdict: Patience
Running back is a nightmare at the moment, and even though I would prefer not to start any of the Dallas options, some may not have any other choice. The potential for Randle to explode like he did Week 3 (105 total yards, 3 rushing TDs) will always exist, but can’t be guaranteed. There are also those who think it is only a matter of time before the flashy and talented Christine Michael will get his chance and run with it in the future.
Bottom line, if you can avoid using a Cowboy RB, do it. If not play Randle for now, but it may be worth stashing Michael this week if he is still available in your league.
— Written by Chris Meyers, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and a member of the FSWA. Meyers' work appears on many other sites, including socalledfantasyexperts.com. Follow him on Twitter @FantsyChillpony.