FANTASY FORECAST: Saviors for NFL bye week survival
MINNEAPOLIS — For some fantasy football players, the arrival of NFL bye weeks present the first real challenge of the season, as their drafted players have propelled them to the top of their leagues.
For the rest of us — who, incidentally, hate those lucky few — it's a chance to flex our waiver muscles and claw back from a poor start to the season.
(If I seem a little jaded, perhaps it's because I'm 0-4 in one of my leagues, including a loss to a guy who drafted three quarterbacks in the first five rounds. Aaron Rodgers put up 20 points on his bench. I promise I know what I'm talking about, though.)
With injuries complicating matters, your bench might not be as deep as it was during Week 1. Here are a few pickups that remain available in many leagues hosted by major fantasy football sites:
• Will Fuller V, Houston: This dependable target and 2016 promising rookie returned from a collarbone injury last week and turned six targets into two touchdowns. You can't depend on the Texans to put up 50-plus points every week, and Deshaun Watson is a rookie quarterback, but Fuller's a good risk to take if you need wide receiver help.
• Alvin Kamara, New Orleans: Kamara has firmly moved past future Hall of Famer Adrian Peterson in the depth chart, and a pass-catching running back will always have a place in a Drew Brees/Sean Payton offense.
• Danny Amendola, New England: You never really know which offensive player will be featured on a week-to-week basis with the Patriots, but two factors should convince fantasy owners to use Amendola as a bye-week filler: Tom Brady is the best quarterback in the league, and the New England defense is bad enough to guarantee every game will be a shootout.
• Jameis Winston, Tampa Bay: For one week, at least, Winston could be a stud. The Buccaneers face New England in Week 5, so you might as well take the guy who put up 332 yards and three touchdowns last week in a soft Thursday night matchup.
• Detroit defense/special teams: The Motor City Kitties are getting it done, and getting it done in different ways. One week, they'll notch five sacks. The next, three picks and a touchdown. At this point, why not Detroit?
• Greg Zuerlein, Los Angeles Rams: I said last week I'll never write much about kickers, but everyone needs one, right? Zuerlein leads the world in fantasy points from a kicker and is owned in less than 30 percent of NFL.com leagues. Scoop him up!
Don't do it
Here's a couple guys who I'm not so big on for Week 5:
• Michael Crabtree, Oakland: He sat out last week with a chest injury, but even if he does go this week, he's got E.J. Manuel throwing to him. Also, let this serve as a friendly reminder to bench Derek Carr, who suffered the same back injury that forced Tony Romo into retirement.
• Jordan Howard, Chicago: Minnesota has done a pretty good job bottling up run-only running backs — last week's 90 yards for Ameer Abdullah notwithstanding — so I would imagine the Bears are devising a game plan around the versatile Tarik Cohen instead.
• Mercedes Lewis, Jacksonville: His three touchdowns in London two weeks ago was a complete fluke. Do not consider him when looking for tight end replacements.
Last week's picks: Odell Beckham Jr., Demaryius Thomas, Mike Gillislee. Beckham tallied 90 yards, but was held out of the end zone. Thomas was only able to catch one pass for 11 yards, and Gillislee put up a paltry 49 yards rushing.