Week 5: Player Upgrades
(Editor note: This week's Player Upgrades article comes via Jack Anderson. Hit him with questions and comments on Twitter @jackandersonIII. Cool? Cool.)
Hello and welcome to player upgrades. Throughout the year we'll be focusing on which players should receive starts based on matchups, injuries, etc. plus those rising weekly and long-term rankings.
Your opponent has a clear-cut starting QB in Drew Brees, but maybe you're saddled with Andy Dalton and Big Ben? You locked up AP with the number one pick, but forgot to take another back until round seven? Player upgrades will help you decide whom to start each week and forecast the winding road ahead.
The Rivers resurgence continued with another three-touchdown day for the Chargers quarterback. Rivers also threw for more than 400 yards for the second time in four games. Everything is clicking for him even without the weapons that Matt Ryan or Peyton Manning possess. The Raiders, Jaguars and Redskins are all on the schedule in the next month. All three have given up a combined 25 passing touchdowns and have just four interceptions. Consider Rivers a must-start.
Solid, but unspectacular – that's Smith's mantra through four weeks. He isn't going to light the world on fire, but he's a worthy backup and spot starter on your fantasy team. He doesn't turn the ball over and is a perfect fit in Andy Reid's offense. Don't overlook the fact that he's on pace for 28 touchdowns – a more than respectable number for any QB this side of Brees, Brady or Manning.
Take this mention from the following point of view: Over the opening three games, Darren Sproles had zero touchdowns. In Week 3, he scored less than 10 points even in PPR formats. Nobody was in panic mode, but, hey we all want points from our guys. Now, let's continue...The Saints employ a plethora of running backs, but Sproles is by far the most lethal. The Saints line him up all over the field and his speed makes it difficult to contain him. Sproles isn't a traditional back. In fact, he has just 93 yards rushing. But Monday night he scored his first two touchdowns of the season to go along with seven catches for 114 yards. While guys like Pierre Thomas have more touches (48 for Thomas, 45 for Sproles), Sproles is the threat to score from anywhere on the field and he illustrated that Monday night.
Like Sproles, Woodhead scored his first two touchdowns on the season in Week Four. Also like Sproles, Woodhead has company in the backfield. Ryan Mathews is certainly the feature back in San Diego, but Woodhead is a sneaky play due to his versatility. Philip Rivers loves to get his running backs involved in the passing game and we saw that firsthand Sunday as Woodhead scored both his touchdowns through the air while amassing 86 total yards. Woodhead has 252 total yards on 41 touches this season to Mathews' 292 yards on 71 touches, so be aware the Chargers are likely to try and increase Woodhead's opportunities going forward.
His hands are questionable, but Thompkins has seemingly won the trust of Tom Brady - hauling in three touchdowns in the past two weeks. Thompkins has also been targeted 39 times and seems to be finally making the most of his opportunities, catching six passes Sunday night in Atlanta. Until the return of Rob Gronkowski, Thompkins will factor into the Patriots passing attack, making him a low-end No. 2 or No. 3 receiver.