1. It looks like the running back carousel in Washington js over with rookie sixth-round pick Alfred Morris having laid claim to the starting position and unlikely to relinquish it barring injury. With his 115-yard rushing performance this week against the Falcons, Morris became just the second rookie in NFL history to rush for at least 75 yards in his first five games in the league. With 491 rushing yards to go along with four touchdowns, Morris is currently the 6th ranked fantasy running back. While he is unlikely to attain that lofty ranking by season’s end due to his lack of ability as a receiver (just two receptions for 16 yards) and the likelihood the Redskins will be trailing in at least a few games this season, his fantasy owners have been rewarded by a solid performance from a Mike Shanahan coached running back, a situation that hasn’t occurred much in recent seasons. And that’s unlikely to change with 2nd year player Evan Royster and veteran journeyman Ryan Grant in reserve.
2. With Donald Brown out two to three weeks with a knee injury, rookie 5th round pick Vick Ballard will take over in the starting lineup with Delone Carter and Mewelde Moore spelling him. While Brown has been a decent fantasy producer over the first four weeks of the season, a closer look reveals that his production is mostly volume based as he has averaged just 4.0 yards per carry and caught three passes for 47 yards. Given that the Colts have spent plenty of time playing from behind against soft defenses, his production this season and poor performance during the first three years in the league hardly ensures that he will get his starting job back if Ballard or Carter performs well. Both Brown and Carter were inherited from the previous regime making it likely that Ballard will be given an opportunity to win the job outright. His production thus far in his rookie season has been underwhelming (21 carries for 42 yards and one reception for four yards) but he is definitely worth taking a flier on if you are in need of help at running back.
3. With Matt Cassel out with a concussion this week, Brady Quinn will take over in the Chiefs staring lineup at quarterback. Cassel owners likely weren’t using him as a starting quarterback so Quinn will only end up on rosters in leagues that have 14 to 16 teams but his presence will have an impact on the Chiefs other skill position players. And that impact is most likely to be negative. While it is hard to believe that Quinn, the 22nd pick in the 2007 draft, has only started 12 career games, what is harder to believe is how unbelievably bad he has been in those games, averaging 154 passing yards with ten touchdown passes and nine interceptions. Look for opposing defenses to stack the box to stop running back Jamaal Charles, forcing the Chiefs to open up the passing game. Wide receiver Dwayne Bowe has had a hot start to the season and is on pace to finish the year with a career-high 1,286 receiving yards and ten touchdowns but a long stay in the starting lineup for Quinn is likely to result in a decrease in his production.
4. Last week’s Cardinals-Rams matchup may have featured the worse group of starting offensive tackles in a game in decades with the Cardinals lining up D’Anthony Batiste (cut by five teams) and rookie 4th round pick Bobby Massie and the Rams countering with Wayne Hunter and Barry Richardson. Of course, this week’s Cardinals-Bills matchup will come close to topping that with the Bills starting rookie 2nd round pick Cordy Glenn, who has been decent, and veteran journeyman Erik Pears. The Rams accounted for eight sacks last week with most of the pressure being applied by defensive ends Robert Quinn and Chris Long so if the Bills prized free agent acquisition Mario Williams doesn’t get it going this week, it might be time to purge him from your IDP roster. Williams has failed to record a sack in four of five games thus far in 2012.
5. Sticking with the Cardinals, wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald is once again putting together a solid season with 30 receptions for 337 yards and a pair of touchdowns during Arizona’s first five games despite another season of poor quarterback play in the desert. With 9,953 career receiving yards, Fitzgerald is just 47 yards shy of the 10,000 mark and with Buffalo, the team’s Week 6 opponent, having surrendered over 1,200 totals yards in its last two games, it seems a good bet he will reach that milestone this weekend.
6. Recently signed by the Dolphins, Jabar Gaffney figures to make his season debut this week against the Rams. Coming off a career year in 2011 with the Redskins in which he caught 68 passes for 947 yards and five touchdowns, Gaffney signed this offseason with New England only to be released in training camp. With a depth chart that basically goes two deep with Brian Hartline and Davone Bess, Gaffney is likely to earn a significant role early in his tenure with the Dolphins. Rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill, the team’s 1st round pick in this year’s draft, has played reasonably well after his Week 1 debacle against the Texans so Gaffney may emerge as a decent addition in deeper fantasy leagues.
7. With a pair of touchdown receptions this week against the Giants, Browns rookie receiver Josh Gordon became the first Cleveland receiver to score multiple touchdowns in a game since Braylon Edwards accomplished the feat late in the 2007 season. With Greg Little failing to nail down the lead receiving job due to his poor hands, look for the Browns to utilize Gordon in the coming weeks. With Little struggling, it seems likely the Browns will either bench him when Mohamed Massaquoi returns from the hamstring injury he suffered in Week 3 against the Bills or have the two players split time opposite Gordon.