By Dalton Del Don
Braylon Edwards, WR, NYJ – Edwards wasted no time getting acclimated to the Jets' offense, catching five balls for 64 yards and a touchdown during his New York debut Monday. In fact, a borderline review overturned a second TD, and he nearly had another score on a deep ball as well. Jerricho Cotchery is still dealing with a hamstring injury, and it's telling Edwards was targeted nine times just days after getting traded. He's happy to be out of Cleveland, and while his hands will likely remain inconsistent, the Jets will better utilize his talents than the Browns did. The trade is a big upgrade for Edwards' fantasy value.
Miles Austin, WR, DAL – Miles entered Week 5 with just five receptions for 81 yards over four games this season, so expectations should probably still be tempered after Sunday's outburst (10 catches, 250 yards). That said, Austin is by far Dallas' most explosive receiver, so he must move into the starting lineup over the mediocre Patrick Crayton immediately. Even when Roy Williams returns, which should be after this week's bye, he's hardly dominant enough to demand most of Tony Romo's attention. In fact, Romo targeted Austin a whopping 15 times Sunday, including three in the red zone. Austin is the No. 1 waiver priority this week.
Ahmad Bradshaw, RB, NYG – Bradshaw totaled 165 yards with two touchdowns on just 12 touches Sunday, and while he won't have the benefit of facing Oakland every week, it was an extremely impressive performance nevertheless. Bradshaw is now averaging 6.2 YPC throughout his career, and he's dangerous as a receiver as well. He hasn't been given even 15 carries in a game this season, yet remains a viable flex option regardless. If Brandon Jacobs were to suffer a serious injury, Bradshaw would immediately become a top-five fantasy back.
Jeremy Maclin, WR, PHI – Maclin broke out in a big way Sunday, catching six balls for 142 yards and two touchdowns. Regardless of Kevin Curtis' health, Maclin needs to move into the starting lineup from this point forward. The rookie is likely to remain inconsistent this year, as he's still rather raw, and the Eagles spread the ball around on offense. Still, it's worth noting Maclin led Philadelphia with eight targets Sunday while DeSean Jackson saw just three. That type of distribution can't be expected to continue, but Maclin's TD catches were highly impressive, and it's clear he has a bright future in the league. Philadelphia loves to throw (just 12 rushing attempts by running backs last week despite a 33-14 blowout), so Maclin needs to be added in all fantasy formats.
Donnie Avery, WR, STL – The Rams remain a mess on offense, but Avery is back to being the team's No. 1 wide receiver, which resulted in five catches for 87 yards and a score last week. Keenan Burton actually saw more targets (nine) than Avery (seven), but the latter was far more productive with his looks and should continue to be involved in an offense that will be forced to throw frequently, thanks to a terrible defense. Avery flashed as a rookie, so despite the slow start to his sophomore campaign, he's a WR3 option moving forward.
Roddy White, WR, ATL – And that is why you never bench your studs. White's slow start came to an end last week, when he hauled in eight balls for 210 yards and two touchdowns. Not that White ever deserved to be downgraded in the first place, but Sunday's outburst was a good reminder of why he was drafted so high in the first place.
Sammy Morris, RB, NE – Owning Patriots running backs can be frustrating, but with Fred Taylor (ankle) out of the way, Morris is the closest thing to a feature back in New England. Whatever the reason, Laurence Maroney has fallen out of favor, and Morris managed 107 total yards against a tough Denver defense last week. He's finally healthy after an injury-plagued preseason, and Morris is an option as a receiver out of the backfield as well as being the goal-line guy. New England has a tough matchup against the Titans in Week 6 (they've allowed a league-low 2.8 YPC on the year), but Morris is a decent flex option as the back most likely to get the most touches in the Patriots' system.
Eddie Royal, WR, DEN – Royal finally showed a pulse Sunday, catching 10 balls for 90 yards (more than doubling his season totals in both categories in the process) against the Patriots. He's still not a safe weekly start, but it was encouraging to see him targeted 15 times. With an upcoming game in San Diego, a shootout could be in store, so hopefully Royal remains a big part of Denver's offense.
Calvin Johnson, WR DET – After a back injury essentially ruined his rookie season, Johnson has dealt with a thumb injury, a thigh injury and now a knee injury this year. It's safe to question his durability at this point. Johnson looks unlikely to play in Week 6, and fantasy owners can only hope he returns fully healthy after the following week's bye. He's been a pretty big disappointment, and an injury-prone label is starting to fit.
Willis McGahee, RB BAL – Since getting 15 carries in Week 2, McGahee has seen his rushing attempts fall to seven to five and then to just one during the three subsequent games. He's still on pace to somehow score 22 touchdowns this season and remains the goal-line runner, but Ray Rice has clearly secured the feature back role in Baltimore. As a result, McGahee is a risky fantasy option week-to-week, as his value will almost assuredly be tied to scoring. He can still be used in favorable matchups, but McGahee's decreased role is worrisome.
Jerome Harrison, RB, CLE – Despite impressing over the previous two weeks, Harrison took a backseat to Jamal Lewis on Sunday, as the veteran returned from a hamstring injury and was immediately back in the feature role. In fact, Lewis was given 31 carries while Harrison saw just eight. Lewis' 3.8 YPC mark wasn't overly impressive, but he looked refreshed after sitting out a couple of weeks, and Cleveland will continue to give him a full workload. Lewis is 30 years old and has accrued 2,455 career carries, so he remains a candidate to break down, but until then, Harrison loses all his fantasy value.
Julius Jones, RB, SEA – During a game in which Seattle won 41-0, Jones mustered just 36 total yards without a score. He's still the team's No. 1 running back, but three of his five games this season have been complete duds, continuing a theme of inconsistency that has plagued Jones throughout his career. With Matt Hasselbeck back, Seattle's offense is strong, so Jones could benefit from being in a positive situation. Still, it's hard to count on him.
Kerry Collins, QB, TEN – Not that many fantasy owners are using Collins, but this is a downgrade for the entire Tennessee passing attack. Collins has gotten just 5.8 YPA this year and already has thrown as many interceptions (seven) as he did all of last season. With an 0-5 record that should only get worse with an upcoming matchup in New England, the following bye week would be a good time to make the switch to Vince Young. The team might as well see if there's any hope at all for Young in the future, as Collins is clearly not the long-term answer. It remains to be seen how Young will react, but it's safe to say wide receivers Nate Washington and Kenny Britt will suffer as a result, because Young has been terribly inaccurate as a passer throughout his career.
Anthony Gonzalez, WR, IND – Gonzalez shouldn't be dropped in deeper leagues, but it's disconcerting that the wide receiver isn't going to be able to return to practice during Indy's bye week. It appears Gonzalez is going to be out for some time still, as the knee injury was clearly serious. Moreover, the emergence of Austin Collie and Pierre Garcon mean Gonzalez isn't necessarily going to be a big part of the offense once he does return to the field. The Colts' young receivers have really impressed and will remain involved from here on out.
Article first appeared 10/14/09