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News-Herald Assistant Sports Editor Kevin Kleps doesn’t just write headlines and stories. He also checks on his fantasy sports teams. A lot. See if the moves and news from the world of sports affect your fantasy teams.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Fantasy football: Rapid reaction, Week 5

There might be another running back who is every owner's first pick on the waiver wire Tuesday morning.

Chiefs running back Jackie Battle had 19 carries for 119 yards and two receptions for 21 yards Sunday against the Colts. Considering teammates Thomas Jones (10 attempts for 55 yards) and Dexter McCluster (four carries, 8 yards) combined for 63 yards against Indy, Battle certainly will merit consideration this week.

Before you get too excited, though, consider this: Prior to Sunday, he had 51 rushes for 155 yards (3.0 per carry) in his career.

He's no Jamaal Charles, but he's definitely more interesting than Jones and McCluster at this point. And there aren't many opportunities to acquire a featured back as a free agent in Week 6.

Let's get to a few more quick takes from another busy Sunday in fantasy:

-- If you're a LeSean McCoy owner, you can't complain about the Eagles running back's production. McCoy has scored seven TDs, rushed for 443 yards and caught 19 passes. But you can grumble about the fact he has had a combined 20 rushing attempts the last two weeks. Leave it to Andy Reid to under-use a running back who is averaging 5.8 yards per carry. McCoy had 57 rushes and 66 touches in the Eagles' first three games.

-- We'll keep it on the ground and throw out the possibility that Buffalo's Fred Jackson might be the most surprising backfield stud of 2011. In five games, Jackson has 90 carries for 480 yards (5.3 average) and five TDs, and he has caught 18 passes for 232 yards. That's a norm of 6.6 yards per touch. Quick, would you rather have Fred Jackson or Chris Johnson right now?

-- Now that we've reached the five-game mark, the Titans' Johnson officially has me worried. I drafted him second overall in the News-Herald league, thinking he was a no-brainer there once his holdout ended, and he has 250 yards rushing and an average of 3.0 yards per attempt. Johnson has rushed for more than 53 yards once all year, and Sunday's garbage-time touchdown against the Steelers was his first score of the year. I'm not benching him yet, but I am kicking myself for not taking Arian Foster.

-- Foster has rewarded the owners who took a risk and drafted him in the top five. His hamstring injury delayed his rise to his 2010 level, but the Texans back has 223 yards rushing, one TD and eight receptions for 127 yards in his last two games. Houston clearly isn't worried about his health. Foster has averaged 30 touches in the two contests.

-- Speaking of bad hamstrings, the Steelers' Rashard Mendenhall might have more of an urgency to get back in the lineup after watching Jonathan Dwyer (11 carries for 107 yards, one catch for 6 yards) and Isaac Redman (15 carries for 49 yards, three receptions for 12 yards) combine for 174 total yards Sunday against a Titans defense that entered the game allowing 87.8 rushing yards per game and 3.2 yards per attempt. If Mendenhall is out another week, Redman is the better play of the two.

-- No worries after all, Frank Gore fans. The 49ers back was limited to 148 yards on 59 carries (2.5) in his first three games. In two games since, Gore has 35 carries for 252 yards (7.2) and two TDs, along with four receptions for 30 yards.

-- So much for the Stevan Ridley hype in New England. The rookie had seven rushes for 13 yards Sunday, one week after he got our attention with a breakout 10-carry, 97-yard, one-TD performance against the Raiders. BenJarvus Green-Ellis, meanwhile, had a whopping 27 carries for 136 yards and two TDs for New England in its win over the Jets. No featured-back debate here -- at least for now.

-- Blaine Gabbert and the Jaguars' debacle of a quarterback situation is crushing Maurice Jones-Drew's value. Now that Jones-Drew doesn't catch many passes (he has seven receptions for 67 yards in five games), we need him to rack up yards and TDs on the ground. Jones-Drew was productive Sunday, but Jacksonville's ineptitude has resulted in him receiving a combined 30 rushing attempts the last two weeks.

-- It must be the year of the quarterback. Tennessee's Matt Hasselbeck has thrown for 1,414 yards and nine TDs in five games. He's on pace for 4,525 yards for a team that has lost top wideout Kenny Britt and has Chris Johnson being outperformed by the likes of Willis McGahee.

-- If it is the year of the QB, it's puzzling that San Diego's Philip Rivers has thrown one more interception (seven) than he has TD passes (six) this season. Rivers is averaging 307 yards passing per game, but the absence of Antonio Gates clearly is affecting him in the red zone and beyond.

-- Check out the Saints' box score from their win over Carolina on Sunday. That spread-the-wealth mentality is why it's so difficult to trust any New Orleans wide receiver. But it is easy to believe tight end Jimmy Graham is among the league's best. Graham has three consecutive 100-yard games.

-- The last two weeks have proven that it's advantage, Victor Cruz, when it comes to deciding the second-best fantasy option among Giants receivers. The rookie has a combined 14 receptions for 259 yards and a TD in his last two games. Mario Manningham has six catches for 66 yards and zero scores in that span.

-- Would you believe me if I told you Darrius Heyward-Bey has 13 receptions for 214 yards and a TD in the Raiders' last two games? I wouldn't start the much-maligned Al Davis draft pick, but he has at least caught my eye.

That's it for tonight. We'll we back Tuesday with waiver-wire picks for Week 6.

Until then, you can follow me on Twitter.

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