Jackie Battle burst onto the fantasy football radar with 42 points over the last three weeks, making him a popular target on the waiver wire as owners look to replace players on bye weeks. He should fill that role to perfection in Week 5.
The San Diego Chargers' running back is in line for another good game on Sunday despite a crowded backfield. That's mostly because the Chargers are facing a New Orleans Saints defense that ranks last in rushing yards allowed at nearly 190 per game.
Battle found the end zone last week while rushing for 39 yards on 15 carries and adding four catches for 42 yards. The fact he did it despite Ryan Mathews' presence is a sign things are changing in the Chargers' backfield.
Heading into the season, Mathews was expected to serve as the team's workhorse, leaving very little work for his backups. But while he was sidelined due to injury, Battle shined and earned himself a chance to maintain playing time.
Mathews also has a history of fumbling–11 in 28 career games–which hasn't sat well with the Chargers' brass. So the fact Battle hasn't fumbled in 222 carries during his career also works in his favor when the timeshare gets decided each week.
That's why he remains a useful fantasy player in Week 5. The combination of his recent play and terrific matchup means Battle should be able to keep his recent hot steak alive even if the workload is split pretty evenly with Mathews like it was last week.
It's usually best to avoid most situations where it's impossible to know exactly how many carries a running back will get. That might even be the case for Battle and Mathews moving forward when the matchups get tougher.
This week is a rare exception, however, because the Saints have struggled mightily trying to stop opposing running games. So both backs should get more than enough work to put up starter-worthy fantasy numbers.
Ultimately, a weekly decision will have to get made on Battle. He's not the type of player fantasy owners can plug into the lineup every week and expect him to produce huge numbers. There are just too many factors in play.
That being said, Week 5 should be one of the weeks where he's at least worth playing in the flex spot.
Fantasy prediction: 14 points (80 total yards and a TD)