Three of the NFL's top running backs, one breakout rusher, and one of the top five receivers will all sit out Week Five for byes, leaving fantasy owners scratching their heads about who to start.
Minnesota’s Adrian Peterson (No. 2 with 421 yards, 5 TDs), Tampa Bay’s Doug Martin (No. 4 with 356 yards, 1 TD), and Washington’s Alfred Morris (No. 7 with 296 yards, 2 TDs) will all rest up. As will Pittsburgh rookie LeVeon Bell, who had 57 yards and two touchdowns in his first NFL game, and fellow Steeler Antonio Brown (No. 5 with 32 receptions, 412 yards, 2 TDs).
Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III, who is sixth in the NFL with 1,202 passing yards, also won’t be in anyone’s lineup in Week Five. Griffin’s value has dipped since he’s not rushing nearly as many times as he did last season, but he’s still one of the more accurate passers in the league. With Griffin rushing less, owners can plug in such passers as Eli Manning or Sam Bradford, and possibly get some of the same production.
Still, that's a lot of fantasy points lost for any owner lucky to have any of the aforementioned performers. Scour your bench or league waiver wire for some of the below players who could serve as a one-week stopgap.
Byes: Minnesota, Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay, Washington
Rashad Jennings, Oakland Raiders
During his three years in Jacksonville, Jennings was really a handcuff to Maurice Jones-Drew. But after Week Three he could be the No. 1 option in Oakland, with Darren McFadden showing no signs of repeating his 1,157 yards and seven-touchdown performance of 2010.
LeGarrette Blount, New England Patriots
Blount is splitting his carries with Stevan Ridley, but his size should land him more snaps in the red zone and the goal line. He also has New England’s only rushing touchdown after four games.
Eddie Lacy, Green Bay Packers
Lacy said he planned to comeback after Green Bay’s bye week, and reportedly had a great practice on Monday. He’ll probably split carries with James Starks until the Packers are comfortable.
Justin Blackmon, Jacksonville Jaguars
Blackmon is fresh off a four-game suspension, and is reportedly in terrific shape. He’ll provide some relief for the entire offense, as he led the team in targets and catches last season for 865 yards and five touchdowns. This week Blackmon should start against St. Louis, a team ranked 18th in the league with 253 passing yards allowed a game.
Robert Woods, Buffalo Bills
The rookie is second on the team in yards, and tied with three plays of 20-plus yards and for receiving touchdowns with two. The Browns are a difficult matchup in Week Five, so consider Woods your third receiver, or second at best.
Justin Hunter, Tennessee Titans
Probably best to stash him away until later in the season or beyond if you're in a dynasty league, should you have the roster space. Hunter has shown flashes of chemistry with recently injured quarterback Jake Locker, and the two could hook up more when Locker comes back.
Sam Bradford, St. Louis Rams
The Rams have lost three straight and Bradford’s completion percentage and yards per completion have dropped for three consecutive weeks. But this week he’s playing Jacksonville, a team that has given up nine passing touchdowns this season.
Eli Manning, New York Giants
Yes, Manning is first in the league in interceptions (9) and 29th in completion percentage. Still, he’s averaged 230 yards and two touchdowns in 18 career starts against his Week Five opponent Philadelphia. In the final game of the regular season last year, Manning also torched the Eagles for five touchdowns, and they are currently ranked 31st against the pass.
Terrelle Pryor, Oakland Raiders
In Week Four, the Raiders sorely missed Pryor, who was pulled at the last second once the NFL player’s union questioned how quickly the team was putting back on the field after a concussion. After Matt Flynn was sacked seven times, it’s easy to see why Pryor was on the run so often. If he’s healthy, Pryor could mangle San Diego, who’s given up the most fantasy points to quarterbacks so far, in Week Five.
Brent Celek, Philadelphia Eagles
Celek’s numbers are less than underwhelming (seven catches, 131 yards, and one touchdown), but the Giants have struggled this season defending tight ends. In career games against New York, he’s totaled 29 receptions for 397 yards and three touchdowns.
Zach Miller, Seattle Seahawks
The market for tight ends is rather shallow this week, but Miller could be available in eight or 10-team leagues. Even though his scores came against the lowly Jaguars, he’s tied for first on Seattle with two touchdowns, and is a better start than the Colts' Coby Fleener, who’s one of the hotter pickups this week.
Garrett Graham, Houston Texans
Houston quarterback Matt Schaub is spreading the ball to either Graham or Owen Daniels. In almost any league, Daniels is owned more, so Graham could be a sneaky addition for this week and beyond. If your league has as flex spot, you could even handcuff them.