Week 5 Sleepers: Michael Bush, Baby!
I thought Michael Bush was a quality sleeper heading into the preseason. The Raider running game looked like it would take a step forward, as teams would have to start respecting the pass with JaMarcus Russell out of town. Why Bush? His only competition was the oft-injured Darren McFadden, a player we expected to keep disappointing fantasy owners.
But with Bush being the one to suffer an injury that kept him out of the first two games of the season, McFadden ran wild in fantasy leagues, posting top-five numbers through three games. In the fourth, injury finally caught up to the electric back, hitting him with a hamstring injury. Enter Bush, who racked up 40 yards and a touchdown on seven carries largely in relief.
It would be unrealistically optimistic to expect McFadden back this week, setting Bush up with his chance to prove he deserves the lead back role as well. He isn't the type of player to squander opportunity.
With a big game against San Diego on Sunday, Bush would give the Raiders every reason to take McFadden's recovery slowly and surely. I'd be surprised if he didn't come through. Mark him down for 100 yards and a score, and definitely plug and play him if your dealing with injuries or byes.
More Week 5 Sleepers
Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB, BUF
The Bills are obviously going to trail in every game they play this year, and with nothing coming out of the running game, the potential exists for Fitzpatrick to have a big game every time out. He had just 128 passing yards against the Jets, but he did add two passing TDs and 74 rushing yards to his total, ending with a nice fantasy game. A matchup with Jacksonville looks tasty.
Kevin Kolb, QB, PHI
With Michael Vick out, Kolb should get at least one full game to prove he has what it takes to be a starting QB in the NFL. He didn't look ready for Washington, but perhaps a full week of practicing with the starting unit will help him prepare for San Francisco. The 49ers have looked awful this year, and I like Kolb to flash the fantasy potential he showed last season.
LeGarrette Blount, RB, TB
After averaging 2.5 yards per carry in the Buccaneers' first three games, Cadillac Williams should start to get phased out of the game plan in Week 5. This young Tampa Bay nucleus should get even younger, as Blount and Kareem Huggins take the reins of the rushing offense. Blount has more potential of the two as the early-down and goal-line back in the committee.
Chris Ivory, RB, NO
While Ivory impressed in Week 4 with Pierre Thomas out of the lineup, he did appear to have problems hanging onto the ball. That certainly won't endear him to coach Sean Payton, but he should have done enough to work himself into the rotation moving forward (a la Mike Bell in 2009). Unless Thomas is 100 percent by Sunday, Ivory should have another solid game in Arizona.
Stephen Williams, WR, ARI
Williams has three big things going in his favor for this Week 5 start. First, Steve Breaston and Early Doucet should be out through the Cardinals' Week 6 bye. Second, Arizona is expected to turn to Max Hall at quarterback, and Hall spent plenty of time building chemistry with Williams practicing on the second team. Third, the New Orleans secondary is extremely banged up, and the Saints should make this a shootout. I love Williams as a WR3 play this week.
Harry Douglas, WR, ATL
Speaking of great matchups, Douglas gets a stellar one in Week 5 as well. The Browns just finished getting burned by Terrell Owens to the tune of 222 yards and a long TD. Douglas now gets his shot at the same weak secondary as the Falcons' secondary receiver. Coming off a game where he scored a TD, Douglas should find the end zone again in Week 5.
Brandon Tate, WR, NE
While he's on a bye this week, meaning he won't provide any help in Week 5, Tate sees a huge rise in fantasy stock with the trade of Randy Moss. The talented Tate has returned two kickoffs for touchdowns this season and has the type of game-changing ability that Moss possessed once upon a time. He's a longshot to be as productive as the guy he's placing, but he's now a must-own in fantasy leagues and a big sleeper moving forward.
Brent Celek, TE, PHI
He's not the kind of guy you're likely to find on the free agent list, but Celek certainly has disappointed his owners to date. The stars are aligned for him to have a big week in Week 5. Kolb is back under center, and the two hooked up for a TD in Week 4 after Kolb had to replace Vick. Another TD connection seems virtually certain against the 49ers, and Kolb should use his tight end to move the chains all night long.
Indianapolis Colts, TM, IND
The Colts are coming off a loss to a bad Jaguars team and now face the only undefeated team remaining in the league. So why do I see them as a great defensive plug-and-play? Because that team is Kansas City Chiefs, and their quarterback is the mundane Matt Cassel. Peyton Manning should run up the score, leaving the Chiefs to pass to keep up in the second half. That plays right into the hands of the defense.
Connor Barth, K, TB
Didn't expect a kicker sleeper, did you? Barth hasn't missed this season, scoring five FGs and five XPs in three games. Two of those field goals were in the 40-49 yard range, and for those in leagues that award bonus points for distance, I'll point out he was 3-for-4 on kicks of 50 yards or more in 2009. His bye is up, so if you pick him up now you don't have to deal with another kicker transaction all season. What could be better than that?