Just like the New York strip at the Keg, these are my suggestions for “must haves” in the near future. These are the guys that are outperforming their pre-season draft position and I believe will continue to produce in the same fashion for the next few weeks.
1. Phillip Rivers, QB, Chargers – San Diego is losing ball games this year and that bodes well for Rivers owners. Their run game is suspect and Ryan Mathews is not the plug and play replacement for LT that everyone thought he would be. He isn’t who we thought he was. Mike Tolbert has outscored him the last two weeks somehow and my bet is that Rivers will continue to feel the need to throw the ball. Although he doesn’t have Vincent Jackson to throw the ball to Legedu Naanee (its still fun to say), Malcolm Floyd, and Antonio Gates continue to be good, better, and great receivers. He has thrown at least 2 TD’s in every game this season and his worst fantasy output after 5 weeks is 17 points. Two 400+ games out of his first 5, make Rivers a must have for you fantasy team.
2. Kyle Orton, QB, Broncos – Like I mentioned in the Who Dat? segment of this weeks show, Orton is not a household sexy name. If you have watched any Denver games though you may have been impressed with how well Orton has been getting the ball to his receivers. Brandon Lloyd is not only getting open, he’s getting downfield and making catches and scoring touchdowns. Add Jabar Gaffney, Eddie Royal, and Demaryius Thomas to the list of targets that Orton has gelled with nicely this season, and he will continue to give fantasy owners 20 points or better, as he has for the last 4 weeks now. He is only owned in 84% of leagues and I expect that number to be at 100% after this weeks waiver wire pickups, so make sure he’s at the top of your list, even if you have a Flacco, Ryan, or McNabb.
3. Brandon Lloyd, WR, Broncos – 4/5 games this year he has over 100 yards receiving. I have heard over and over again how bad this guys hands are. When I was in Denver he went off and caught 6 passes for 169 yards and a score. I don’t see the production or targets going away any time soon. Its time to start believing in the Denver passing game and this guy is the biggest recipient.
4. Hakeem Nicks, WR, Giants – Like a good skeptic, I will change my position on a subject when the evidence demands it. I wasn’t buying this guy outperforming his teammate Steve Smith in the pre-season. I wasn’t even buying it after his 3 TD performance in week 1. But after his last 3 weeks where he has 27 catches for 296 yards, I will now admit I was wrong. It seems this is the year that Nicks becomes the Giants number 1 receiver. He has really showcased his talent thus far and could be what Eli needs to stave off his mid to late regular season slump, which he so consistently falls into.
5. Malcolm Floyd, WR, Chargers – 3 games with a TD this year and is 2nd in priority in the San Diego passing game behind Antonio Gates. He’s only had two bad games this year; week 1 which we will selectively forget, and then week 4 against Arizona where the Chargers destroyed them and passing was not a necessity. See above on why I love the Chargers, RIvers, and now their favorite passing targets. Did I mention that Floyd is 6’5, 225 lbs? If he didn’t look like a scared Kindergarten teacher on the first day of class, he would garner a lot more respect.
6. Mike Williams, WR, Buccaneers – Who wants a Tampa Bay wide receiver right? Snap to a shot of 2 thumbs pointed at this guy. Somehow Williams has managed to have number 2 wideout production in 3/4 weeks (TB had their bye in week 4). Just this last week, he managed 99 yards and a score on 7 catches. He had 11 targets and the next guy on his team had 3. He is clearly Freeman’s number one target and has a touchdown in every game that Freeman has thrown one. In most conversations that wouldn’t mean a whole lot, but it does in deep fantasy leagues. He is currently only owned in 35% of leagues and could be a smooth pickup for your number #2/#3/flex option.
7. Roy Williams, WR, Cowboys – I hate myself for typing his name down but he has increased his catches in each consecutive game this year. If Alex Barron had not given up and taken that hold in week 1, Williams would have 4 TD’s this year. I hear word that he has a new attitude and work ethic and that is probably the only thing that got him on this list because he has perenially underperformed and disappointed. The Cowboys are struggling and will need to keep throwing the ball. Williams can be a nice pickup and #2/#3/flex option for your team. He is currently owned in only 39% of leagues.
8. LaDainian Tomlinson, RB, Jets – Seriously. I declared my love for him before the season in our NFL preview show and I stand before you justified with a smile on my face. LT is getting more touches than Shonn Greene and even better, he is doing more with them. LT told Gruden he is healthy and as proven by Thomas Jones the last 3 years, even an average running back can hammer out great seasons behind that Jets O-line.
9. Jamaal Charles, RB, Chiefs – This guy doesn’t belong on the list based on the definition above of outperforming his draft position but he does for his talent and upcoming schedule. Although he splits carries with Thomas Jones, he is by far the better running back and has, in my opinion, the best schedule going forward for any running back in the league. Couple that with the amazing play of his teams defence and I’m sold that Charles is going to give you far more than he will cost you to get at this point in the season.
10. Rashard Mendenhall, RB, Steelers – In a league of timeshares and Kubiak dictatorships that put the best RB’s way down on the depth chart (my boy Steve Slaton), a guy who consistently gets 19+ carries, every game, is a gem. There aren’t many of them in the league and Mendenhall is the one that will probably cost you the least. I know Roethlisberger is coming back this week, but I don’t think the Steelers start giving him the ball any less. He’s rarely going to get you any passing yards but in his 2 games he has 3 scores and 200+ yards, and one of those games was against the stingy Baltimore defence with Charlie Batch at the helm. Mendenhall is currently in the top 10 running backs for fantasy points scored, my guess is he only gets better going forward.
I’m not sure why I give the Keg the free advertising on this massive medium. Well its probably because when Ryan was in the CFL and we had a discount at the Keg, we ate like kings! Look to see if you can replace any lackluster performers on your team with these 10 players and remember that 64% of the time I’m right 94.875% of the time.
Listen to Athletes Angle with Ryan Karhut every Monday at 3 p.m. ET on 101.5 UMFM and download the podcast from athletesangle.com. Email any fantasy football questions to firstname.lastname@example.org and put Fantasy in the subject line. Unlike the big guys, we will get back to you.