After a couple of teams had a bye last week, things really start to pick up in that area in Week 5 with four teams having a chance to regroup after the first month. In fantasy football terms, that means searching the free-agent market for potential replacements.
Here are some options to fill the void of missing stars.
QB: Christian Ponder
Ponder put up 24 fantasy points against the San Francisco 49ers defense a couple of weeks ago. The performance illustrated how far he's come since he struggled as a rookie last year, and earns him a look as a one-week starter.
The Minnesota Vikings face the Tennessee Titans this week, which is the biggest thing working in Ponder's advantage from a fantasy perspective. The Titans secondary has been one of the worst in football, allowing at least two TD passes in each game.
Since the Titans will be focused on stopping Adrian Peterson, the passing lanes should be wide open for Ponder. He has a good chance to surpass the 20-point barrier for the second time in 2012.
RB: Jackie Battle
An injury to San Diego Chargers starting running back Ryan Mathews opened the door to more playing time for Battle and he took full advantage. Even with Mathews back in the mix, Battle is a worthy flex option in fantasy leagues.
He's averaging 14 points over his last three games. By stepping up the way he has, it should ensure he continues to see a steady dose of touches moving forward. Given Mathews' injury history, a bigger role is always a possibility.
The Chargers face the New Orleans Saints, who rank dead last in the NFL against the run, in Week 5. That means there should be enough carries for both Battle and Mathews to have good fantasy weeks.
WR: Andrew Hawkins
Hawkins is averaging the same amount of fantasy points through the first four games as Larry Fitzgerald. Nobody could have predicted that. It also means he's going to become a popular waiver-wire target during bye weeks.
The only reason he isn't a reliable starter every week is because of A.J. Green, who dominates the targets for the Cincinnati Bengals. Hawkins' numbers will be reliant on how much the Bengals decide to throw against the opposing defense.
Andy Dalton should be taking to the air quite often against a Miami Dolphins secondary that wasn't able to slow down Kevin Kolb last week. That will lead to another strong showing for Hawkins.
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