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Fantasy Fix: Always Absent Alshon

One of the biggest fantasy mysteries of this NFL season has been the injury-related one revolving around Bears' WR Alshon Jeffery. Jeffery hasn't played since Week 1, though by appearances he has been nearly a game-time decision in each of the last three weeks.

Is it his previous calf injury? A new hamstring injury? Both? We will get no answers from Bears coach John Fox. What it all adds up to is that Jeffery is arguably the biggest fantasy bust among WRs this season.

Judging by his 97% ownership in Yahoo! leagues, fantasy owners are not cutting Jeffery loose just yet (although a lot of them, myself included, have him on the trading block). His high rate of retention has a lot to do with the fact that when he does come back, he is virtually guaranteed to be the Bears' No. 1 pass target. With Jay Cutler having a better-than-expected campaign, this is no small thing.

Alshon's ongoing absence in Week 5 coincided with an injury that left Eddie Royal, the team's perceived No. 2 WR, also out. Cutler seemed to be enjoying a second week back from his own injury, as he turned to young WRs Marquess Wilson and Josh Bellamy.

Wilson was a great late waiver-wire pick-up for those paying close attention. He had six catches for 85 yards and one TD. Like Wilson, Bellamy was targeted eight times and also caught six balls, though for just 31 yards. (Undrafted rookie Cameron Meredith, who grew up in suburban Westchester and played at Illinois State, caught all four of his targets for 52 yards.)

Will Alshon be back for Week 6? He already has practiced this week, which seems like a good sign, but I'm guessing we won't know for sure until he exits the tunnel on Sunday. If you picked up Wilson last week, I'd still hold onto him a little bit longer.

Week 5 Winners

QB: Josh McCown, CLE.

A couple weeks ago, I couldn't figure out why he was starting, but the former Bear seems to be very comfortable exploding expectations. His Week 5 line: 457 yards passing, two pass TDs, one rush TD, one two-point conversion, zero INTs. He's had an amazing couple of weeks, but will get three tough defenses the next three weeks: DEN, STL, ARI.

RB: Doug Martin, TAM.

He couldn't manage more than 78 yards rushing in any of his first three games, and appeared to be losing touches to fellow RB Charles Sims, but has since reeled off 106 yards and a TD in Week 4, and 123 yards and two rush TDs and a receiving TD in Week 5.

WR: Andre Johnson, IND.

Failed to score any fantasy points in two of his first four games, but racked up 77 yards and two TDs in a so-called revenge game against former employer HOU. I'd still be afraid to start him until I see another week of the old Andre. If he does well against an aggressive NE secondary this week, we may have a comeback story on our hands.

TE: Antonio Gates, SD.

Two TDs in his first game back from suspension, and his QB, Phillip Rivers, was leading the NFL in passing yards even before his return. It's looking like a nice payoff for owners who drafted and stashed him.

Week 5 Losers

QB: Matt Ryan, ATL.

Ugly Week 5 line: 254 yards, zero TDs, two INTs, one lost fumble. Ryan continues to have a wide array of receiver talent at his disposal, and can surely pile up the yards, but has only one pass TD in the last two weeks, as the red zone is quickly becoming the domain of RB star Devonta Freeman.

RB: Eddie Lacy, GB.

Jamaal Charles suffered a season-ending injury, and may have been the biggest loss of the week, but Lacy is the biggest loser. True, he faced a very tough STL defense and GB only handed off to him 13 times, but he amassed only 27 yards. There should be better times ahead for Lacy, but he didn't get it done in Week 5.

WR: Antonio Brown, PIT.

Had his second straight week of less than 50 yards receiving since QB Ben Roethlisberger was injured. How massive a swing of fortune is this? Brown had 100-plus yards in each of the first three games. Substitute QB Michael Vick can't seem to find the best WR in the league.

TE: Charles Clay, BUF.

A one-catch, seven-yards performance in Week 5 effectively killed the hype Clay had accrued entering the week. The Clay hype peaked in Week 4 with a nine-catch, 111-yard performance, and the rest of the way we could probably expect him to remain a top 10 TE, though maybe not at the Gronk level.

Expert Wire
* ESPN's Talented Mr. Roto has Devonta Freeman at the top of his top 200 for Week 6. It's not even halfway through the season and Freeman is looking a lot like next year's overall No. 1 pick.

* notes that the unheralded Charcandrick West, RB, KC, is likely to replace star RB Jamaal Charles. Not that anyone can really replace Charles, but Knile Davis has filled in for him before, and probably already was on a lot of rosters as a handcuff to Charles. West's sudden emergence has thrown waiver wires into a tizzy.


Dan O'Shea is our man in fantasyland. He welcomes your comments.

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Posted on Oct 11, 2021