Oct 7,2010

Looking to Week 5: One for the Money, Two for the Show, and Three to Let Go

The Money: Sam Bradford

For the most part, the Bulger years were not a bright spot in St. Louis history. In fact, the Rams haven’t been 2-2 since the 2006 season. While there are various and sundry reasons for this turnabout, Sam Bradford should certainly be counted among them.

The first pick in the 2010 draft, Bradford has breathed new life into a hapless and downtrodden offense. The addition of fellow Sooner and veteran WR Mark Clayton has additionally aided the rookie’s cause, proving a reliable target for his impressive arm. Each week Bradford appears both more confident and better poised. Sure, he’s still making mistakes, but his ability to stay focused, shake them off, and adjust speaks volumes about his potential. Heading into Week 5, Bradford has thrown for 944 yards and scored six TDs… that’s one TD and 24 yards more than Joe Flacco. This week Bradford and the Rams will travel to Detroit and attempt a three game winning streak against the totally defeatable 0-4 Lions. Given Detroit’s “Red Rover, Red Rover, we’ll let anyone over” style defense, I have to believe Bradford will earn his keep for the Rams and fantasy owners alike.

Bottom Line: Given the injuries of Michael Vick and Jay Cutler and in a week that has both Tom Brady and Chad Henne on a bye, Sam Bradford vs the Lions should be a solid option for any QB depleted fantasy team. However, if Bradford isn’t available in your league, try taking a look at the other side of the ticket. Despite a losing record, Shaun Hill has posted decent to good fantasy stats in the past few weeks. All signs point to a shoot out in the Motor City this Sunday… and, no, I wasn’t trying to be ironic.

The Show: Ryan Torain

Coach Shanahan has a knack for recognizing and developing late round running back talent. While still coaching the Broncos in 2008, he took a chance and drafted Ryan Torain in the 5th round. Many thought Torain had the potential to do in 2008 what fellow Shanhan protege Clinton Portis did in his 2003 and 2004 seasons with the Broncos. Due to an elbow and then knee injury, however, that potential was never actualized in Denver.

Two years later in Washington, both running backs and their coach have reunited. These days though, it seems like Portis is sprinting towards 30 faster than he is the goal line… which means a great opportunity for the younger Torain. The former Sun Devil has looked promising in the past two weeks, carrying the ball 25 times for 116 yards and scoring 1 TD. With Portis nursing a groin injury that’s expected to keep him sidelined for 4-6 weeks, Torain will become the Redskins main man in the backfield. Those odds in tandem with Shanhan’s affection for the second year RB make him a must look fantasy option.

Bottom line: Torain’s fantasy stock has risen faster than Jimmy Johnson at an ExtenZe convention. Before Week 4, he was owned in 18% of most fantasy leagues. Now, heading into Week 5, he’s got a roster spot on 61% of fantasy teams. If he’s still available in your league, definitely pick him up. If you’re a Torain owner with some holes in your roster, on the other hand, now is a great time to sell high.

To Let Go: Owen Daniels

Owen Daniels makes me nostalgic for a simpler time. One in which Pro Bowl tight ends rack up 519 receiving yards and 5 TDs in the first seven weeks of the season. That was a great run, right? Well then do you remember Week 8 of the 2009 season? You know, when everything came to a screeching halt and – much like Daniels’ ACL – thousands of fantasy hopes and dreams were torn asunder? If not, then you clearly didn’t own #81 in ’09.

This year a lot of fantasy owners were hoping to recreate the magic that was so alive in the first half of last season. It seems, however, that in this case lightning may not strike twice. Bouncing back from knee surgery has proved a challenging task for the 27 year old TE. In addition, he suffered a hamstring injury in Week 3 against Dallas. While he was active last week against the Raiders, he only caught the ball once for a total of 8 yards. That’s not very magical. This week Daniels is expected to start against the resurgent New York Giants. While that may be fine with Coach Kubiak and the Texans, I don’t advise it for your fantasy team.

Bottom Line: Hoping and dreaming for the Daniels of yesteryear was fine in Weeks 1-3. Now, however, it’s just plain foolish. With guys like Moeaki, Lewis, and Pettigrew owned in 20%-50% of most leagues, there’s no reason to hang on to Daniels.