As injuries and bye weeks begin to stack up, the questions about your lineup do as well. Here’s a look at a lingering question for each position heading into Week 6.
The Third-Stringer Turned Starter
QB: Austin Davis, St. Louis
In a nutshell, the stat line was impressive: 29-of-49 for 375 yards with three touchdowns, no interceptions, and 30 yards rushing for good measure. That’s otherwise known as a 30-point fantasy game in standard scoring. If you were lucky (or crazy) enough to start Davis in Week 5 against Philadelphia, you were able to reap the benefit. But can you get over the fact that it’s Austin Davis and keep him in your lineup?
Week 5 wasn’t necessarily a fluke, given the fact that Davis threw for 327 yards and three touchdowns (plus two picks, but who’s counting) in Week 4 against Dallas. While the next two games are at home, the defenses get a bit stiffer in division foes San Francisco and Seattle. That’s followed by a three-game road swing in the noise in Kansas City, again versus the Niners and then the Arizona Cardinals. If you got lucky starting Davis either of the past two weeks, congratulations, but the future isn’t all that bright.
RB: Branden Oliver, San Diego
If you didn’t know Oliver’s name before last weekend, you do now. And if you didn’t have a favorable waiver priority in your league, chances are you missed out on him. But how long can his breakout last? Well, it should at least carry through this week, as the Chargers go up against an Oakland team (without a head coach) giving up the second-most yards per game on the ground (158.3 ypg).
Signs are pointing to Ryan Mathews being out at least until Week 8, so Oliver should have a few weeks to prove exactly how valuable he can be. If Philip Rivers keeps playing at the MVP level that he has been, that bodes well for Oliver in the passing game, even when Mathews returns. Oliver has four receptions each of the past two weeks, and could shift into more of a Danny Woodhead-like role for San Diego for the remainder of the season, which still makes him an intriguing flex play even if he isn’t starting.
WR: Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona
Arizona is off to a somewhat surprising 3-1 start with the likes of Drew Stanton and Logan Thomas under center, but signs are pointing to Carson Palmer coming back soon for the Cardinals. Fitzgerald has averaged more than 70 yards a game over the course of his career, which works out to about 1,200 yards a season. So far in 2014, Fitzgerald has just 164 yards through four games. His 13 receptions have come on 28 targets, which is a terrible percentage, and the return of Palmer could help turn some of those targets into actual completions. By comparison, some of the best receivers in the league haul in between 65 and 70 percent of their targets (Julio Jones 70 percent, Antonio Brown 66 percent, Jordy Nelson 65 percent). Fitzgerald certainly has the same talent as some of those top-level guys, and if he can get consistent quarterback play, his numbers should reboud. Keep the faith for now. Or pray for a trade, because that could happen too.
TE: Coby Fleener and Dwayne Allen
While fantasy owners dread the RBBC (running back by committee), the Colts are wading into territory that isn’t seen all too often: the TEBC. It’s not like the Patriots from a few years back when both Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski were solid fantasy options, but rather, it’s a plug-and-play-and-hope-for-the-best scenario in Indianapolis.
If you could combine the stat lines from Coby Fleener and Dwayne Allen into one player, you’d have a solid 26 receptions for 343 yards and six touchdowns, which would put that hybrid player up there with Jimmy Graham in terms of fantasy value. Obviously, you can’t do that, but what it shows is that Andrew Luck and the Colts utilize the tight end within their offense. Luck is leading the league in both passing yards and touchdowns, which is a good thing, but the targets between Allen (20) and Fleener (21) have been evenly split, so it’s hard to say who is going to be better on any given day. Should either go down with an injury, the other would vault to TE1 status, but for now, you hope for the best with a TE2.