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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.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Fantasy football: Week 5 waiver-wire picks

Mike Shanahan just couldn't leave us alone.

We were foolish enough to think the Redskins had their featured back in Tim Hightower, who rushed for 209 yards, caught nine passes for 74 yards and scored two touchdowns in Washington's first three games.

Hightower reportedly injured his shoulder early in Week 4, and the result left many of us cringing.

Yes, the Redskins might have a new featured back. The Shanahan Fantasy Curse is going strong, and so are our waiver-wire picks after a one-week absence in which real life intervened (hint: Moving is less fun than watching "Two and a Half Men" without Charlie Sheen).

As always, we're looking for players who are available in a majority of the leagues on We made an exception for the first player on this list, since he's available in more than 42 percent of the ESPN leagues, and chances to get a featured back are rare on the waiver wire (even if it's a Shanahan back).

1. Ryan Torain, RB, Redskins (owned in 57.6 percent of the leagues): Torain rushed for 135 yards on 19 carries Sunday at St. Louis. It "was like he was possessed," Shanahan said.

You'll have to wait a week if you make this move, since Washington is off this week. By Week 6, Hightower could be healthy and "The Guy," whatever that means in a Shanahan offense.

Regardless, Torain was effective last season, despite receiving 10 or more carries in only eight games. He rushed for 742 yards, averaged 4.5 yards per carry and caught 18 passes.

Long term, he should be Washington's best option. Hopefully, his coach agrees.

2. Stevan Ridley, RB, Patriots (3.6 percent): The rookie third-round pick had 10 carries for 97 yards and a TD on Sunday at Oakland. In four games, he has 18 rushes for 148 yards (8.2 yards per attempt).

BenJarvus Green-Ellis is clearly the Patriots' top option for the time being in the backfield, but Bill Belichick likes to torment us when it comes to running backs almost as much as Shanahan.

Green-Ellis has rushed for 197 yards and three touchdowns. His backup, Danny Woodhead, has been banged up. He had 14 carries in Week 1, but has 12 since.

Ridley could overtake Green-Ellis at some point. The more likely scenario is he will share carries, with Green-Ellis dominating the touches at the goal line.

3. Isaac Redman, RB, Steelers (2.3 percent): Rashard Mendenhall has a hamstring injury that could limit him this week, and his numbers -- thanks in large part to the Steelers' much-maligned offense line -- are less than mediocre (173 yards, 3.0 yards per attempt, two TDs).

Redman has 107 yards on 22 carries (4.9), and he could receive a much greater workload this week because of injuries to Mendenhall and Mewelde Moore.

If you need a one-week fill-in, Redman might get the most touches of any back on this list in Week 5. But keep in mind Sunday's opponent, the Titans, are allowing only 3.2 yards per carry and rank eighth against the run.

4. Bernard Scott, RB, Bengals (5.9 percent): Scott's value depends entirely on Cedric Benson's looming three-game suspension. The latter has appealed Roger Goodell's verdict, but since the commissioner often only has to answer to himself, we should expect Benson to miss at least two games.

If the hammer comes down this week, Scott's value rises. Scott has only 13 rushing attempts and two receptions this season, thanks to a surprisingly productive start by Benson (348 yards, 4.5 yards per carry).

Scott has averaged 4.4 yards per carry in his career, and he could be a decent flex option if Benson is forced to miss Sunday's game at Jacksonville (No. 16 vs. the run).

5. Victor Cruz, WR, Giants (19.3 percent): The rookie has nine receptions for 208 yards and two TDs in his last two games. Sunday, he joined Hakeem Nicks in most of the Giants' two-receiver sets in the second half, reportedly because Eli Manning wasn't happy with Mario Manningham's route-running.

Manningham missed the Giants' game Sept. 26 because of a concussion, and he had one catch for 10 yards against Arizona.

Sunday, the Giants play host to the Seahawks, who are allowing more than 24 points per game. With six teams on a bye, Cruz has to be considered a No. 3 fantasy receiver in Week 5.

Three more possible free agents of note:

-- Jacoby Jones, WR, Texans (8.5 percent): With Andre Johnson possibly being sidelined this week by a hamstring injury, Matt Schaub has to throw to someone other than Owen Daniels and Arian Foster, right? Why not Jones, who had 51 receptions in 2010? In the final two games of 2010, both contests in which Johnson sat, Jones had 10 receptions for 185 yards.

-- Jabar Gaffney, WR, Redskins (6.2 percent): He has 17 receptions for 238 yards and one TD, and he's had at least 54 yards in each of Washington's first four games. Gaffney has 13 receptions in his last three contests, and he had 65 catches for 875 yards in 2010. The negative: If you play in a league in which touchdowns dominate the scoring, he's not an effective option. Gaffney has seven TDs in 52 games since 2008. A reminder: The Redskins are off this week.

-- Montario Hardesty, RB, Browns (19.6 percent): As we wrote Sunday night, Hardesty has a combined 29 touches in his last two games, as the Peyton Hillis Mystery continues to confound. The Browns are off this week, and Hillis eventually should get a lot more work, but Hardesty is an interesting option if you have the luxury of stashing him on your bench for later in the season.

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