Week 5 Fantasy Football: Top 10 Waiver-Wire Pickups for 12-Team Leagues

Jay ClemonsFantasy Sports Lead WriterOctober 3, 2012

Week 5 Fantasy Football: Top 10 Waiver-Wire Pickups for 12-Team Leagues

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    The following countdown touts the top 10 waiver-wire pickups heading into Week 5 (12-team leagues).

    Obviously, free-agent quarterbacks like Brandon Weeden, Christian Ponder, Matt Cassel, Kevin Kolb and Sam Bradford are the likeliest candidates for most points from Sunday to Sunday.

    But I would also place an equal or higher priority on landing possible dynamos at receiver, running back and tight end...ahead of a quarterback who may only draw one start all season (a star QB's bye week).

    For a full listing of Week 5's top 30 free agents, click here.

10: WR James Jones, Green Bay Packers

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    2012 Stats: 16 Catches, 191 Yards, 3 TD

    Reasons To Support This Selection

    1. James Jones has collected at least five targets in all four games, a trend that is likely to continue while Greg Jennings is sidelined with a groin injury.

    2. In his last seven games, Jones has twice tallied 50 receiving yards and/or one touchdown in back-to-back outings.

    3. Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, the No. 1 fantasy asset during the preseason, is averaging 39 passes per game and boasts a completion rate of 70 percent in 2012.

9: QB Brandon Weeden, Cleveland Browns

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    2012 Stats: 997 Yards Passing, 3 TD

    Reasons To Support This Selection

    1. Brandon Weeden has per-outing averages of 293 yards passing and one touchdown in his last three games—all competitive losses for the precocious Browns.

    2. The rookie QB has increased his pass attempts for four consecutive weeks, a result of Cleveland incurring three deficits in the first half. By extension, this puts more pressure on the passing game.

    3. The Browns may be young, but they're also stacked with high-upside playmakers at quarterback (Weeden), running back (Trent Richardson) and receiver (Greg Little/Josh Gordon).

8: TE Heath Miller, Pittsburgh Steelers

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    2012 Stats: 15 Catches, 129 Yards, 4 TD

    Reasons To Support This Selection

    1. In just three short Sundays (Pittsburgh had a Week 4 bye), Heath Miller has already matched his touchdown output for the 2010 and '11 seasons combined (30 games total). And his 20 targets easily surpass any Weeks 1-3 production of recent years.

    2. Against Oakland, Miller racked up eight catches, 10 targets, 60 yards and two touchdowns, the kind of monster fantasy day he hadn't experienced in three years (October 2009).

    There are three reasons to explain Miller's resurgence:

    a. New offensive coordinator Todd Haley likes to feature tight ends.

    b. The Steelers currently rank 31st in rushing yards per game (65).

    c. Pittsburgh QB Ben Roethlisberger often targets Miller in the red zone.

7: WR Jerome Simpson, Minnesota Vikings

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    2011 Stats (with Bengals): 50 Catches, 725 Yards, 4 TD

    Reasons To Support This Selection

    1. In his 2012 debut last week, Jerome Simpson caught four balls for 50 yards. In that three-hour window, Simpson quickly emerged as the Vikings' primary downfield asset.

    2. With Adrian Peterson and Percy Harvin performing well for the 3-1 Vikings, opposing defenses might not have enough resources to combat Simpson's combination of size, speed and athleticism. It also helps that QB Christian Ponder throws an accurate deep ball.

    Assuming he can get the receptions-to-targets ratio above 50 percent and avoid clunkers of zero, six or 14 yards (five times last year), Simpson's a good bet to match or eclipse his 2011 production (in just 13 games).

6: RB Jackie Battle, San Diego Chargers

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    2012 Stats: 205 Total Yards (163 Rushing), 4 TD

    Reasons To Support This Selection

    1. Until Ryan Mathews proves to be a dynamic force in short-yardage and goal-line situations, the Chargers will likely be in the market for a power rusher to fill Mike Tolbert's shoes.

    In other words...opportunity knocks for Jackie Battle.

    2. Battle caught four balls for 42 yards in Week 4 against the Chiefs, enhancing his viability as a No. 5 rusher in 12-team leagues—regardless of scoring rules.

5: WR Andre Roberts, Arizona Cardinals

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    2012 Stats: 15 Catches, 229 Yards, 4 TD

    Reasons To Support This Selection

    1. In three home games this year, Andre Roberts boasts superb per-outing averages of five catches, 75.6 receiving yards and one touchdown.

    2. In Week 4, he had a career-best day of six catches, 118 yards and two touchdowns.

    3. Roberts has collected six-plus targets in three games.

    4. The Cardinals desperately need to develop a No. 2 receiver, complementing Larry Fitzgerald (17 catches, 178 yards, two TD in his last two games). And there's no guarantee that Michael Floyd will blossom in his rookie campaign.

4: RB Brandon Bolden, New England Patriots

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    2012 Stats: 163 Total Yards (152 Rushing), 2 TD

    Reasons To Support This Selection

    1. Brandon Bolden carved up the Bills defense for 148 total yards (137 rushing) and one touchdown in Week 4. His contribution also helped the Patriots achieve the extremely rare feat of having multiple 100-yard rushers (Bolden/Stevan Ridley) and 100-yard pass-catchers (Wes Welker/Rob Gronkowski) in the same game.

    2. An undrafted rookie out of Mississippi (the same school that BenJarvus Green-Ellis played for), Bolden has registered touchdowns in consecutive games for New England.

    3. Since you can never have enough quality running backs, fantasy owners will likely move heaven and earth to land the Next Big Thing at a vital position—even if Bolden ends up being an eminently replaceable asset by Week 7.

3: QB Ryan Tannehill, Miami Dolphins

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    2012 Stats: 1,046 Yards Passing, 2 TD

    Reasons To Support This Selection

    1. Ryan Tannehill now holds the Dolphins' single-game rookie record for passing yards (431 in Week 4)—a feat that supersedes anything Dan Marino (1983) or Bob Griese (1967) accomplished in their inaugural NFL seasons.

    2. The Dolphins will likely incur first-half deficits in numerous games this season, prompting Tannehill to pass his way out of holes.

    3. There's no harm in taking a low-risk, minimal-dollar flier on a quarterback with tangible upside—especially in keeper leagues. From a physical standpoint, Tannehill seemingly has the tools to be a top-flight QB someday.

2: RB Rashard Mendenhall, Pittsburgh Steelers

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    2011 Stats: 1,082 Total Yards (928 Rushing), 9 TD

    Reasons To Support This Selection

    1. The Steelers' rushing attack has struggled mightily this season, with neither Isaac Redman nor Jonathan Dwyer standing out during Rashard Mendenhall's absence.

    2. Before his Week 17 knee injury last year, Mendenhall was a viable top-20 rusher in fantasy circles (standard-scoring leagues).

    3. Given the amazing progress of Adrian Peterson (396 total yards, two TD) after major knee surgery, it's no longer en vogue to question a running back's capacity for rock-solid numbers in Year 1 of his own ACL recovery.

    Bottom line: Mendy serves as a low-risk, medium-upside asset in 2012.

1: WR Brian Hartline, Miami Dolphins

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    2012 Stats: 25 Catches, 455 Yards, 1 TD

    Reasons To Support This Selection

    1. In the wake of his 12-catch, 253-yard, one-TD outing from Week 4, Brian Hartline has officially been upgraded to 'automatic-starter' status in points-per-reception leagues. And for standard-scoring leagues, he's a WR2 or flex consideration every Sunday.

    2. Hartline already boasts two games of 110 yards receiving, four games of eight-plus targets and has zero peers in the realm of single-game dominance. No NFL playmaker can match or eclipse Hartline's 19 targets or 253 receiving yards this season.

    3. The Dolphins wideout has a viable chance to be a top-10 receiver in PPR leagues and top-20 asset in standard-scoring leagues by season's end.