Week 4 Risers/Sliders: Bolden, Battle run into teams' plans
Brandon Bolden reminds us of former New England back BenJarvus Green-Ellis
Jackie Battle appears to be getting the bulk of the red-zone carries for San Diego
With Mark Sanchez struggling, Tim Tebow seems destined to become the starter
No athlete is associated with the South Florida sports scene more than Dan Marino. During his Hall of Fame career as quarterback of the Miami Dolphins, Marino captivated fans while thrusting his way into the NFL record books. That's why when someone like Ryan Tannehill suddenly finds himself on a list alongside Marino, it would be foolish not to take note. Tannehill is just one of the featured players in this week's edition of fantasy risers and sliders.
Brandon Bolden, Patriots: The undrafted rookie has so much in common with former Patriot BenJarvus Green-Ellis that it seems like someone's trying to perpetrate identity theft. College: Ole Miss? Check. Draft status: Undrafted? Check. First pro team: Patriots? Check. Height: 5-foot-11? Check. Weight: 220? Check (give or take five pounds). Running style: Hard driving between the tackles with a strong reputation for a firm grasp of the ball that leads to very few fumbles? Check. On Sunday in Buffalo Bolden joined Stevan Ridley as the first pair of Patriots to rush for more than 100 yards each in a single game since 1980, when Vagas Ferguson and Don Calhoun each topped the century mark against the Baltimore Colts. The Pats' coaching staff was very high on Bolden throughout camp and now we see why. He's a good complement to the speedier Ridley, and offensive coordinator Josh McDaniel will find a way to use both liberally.
Michael Turner, Falcons: The old man wasn't supposed to have much left in his tree-trunk sized legs, but against the Panthers Turner looked like a youngster, running for 103 yards and adding a career-high 68 yards receiving. Most of that came on the longest catch of his career, a short pass through the middle of the line that Turner YAC'ed for 62 yards. Jacquizz Rodgers is still a viable backup to have hanging around the end of your roster, but for now, in an offense that is clicking, Turner remains a valuable asset.
Chris Johnson, Titans: Public enemy No. 1 on many fantasy squads, Johnson burst out of his season-long slump by becoming the first visiting running back to gain 100 yards in a game at Reliant Stadium since the final weekend of the 2010 season. In fact, Johnson's 141 yards are the most by a running back so far in Week 4. However happy you may be that he had a big game against a quality team, remember this is just a first step. It also may be a shining sign from above that you have what you've been waiting for: a chance to trade him for something of greater value than a backup kicker. Do it before his next clunker, possibly in his next game against the Vikings.
Jackie Battle, Chargers: Returning to Arrowhead Stadium for the first time as a Charger, backup running back and special teams maven Battle seemed to add a new description to his job on the football field: red zone back. Starter Ryan Mathews received only one touch inside the Kansas City 20-yard line on Sunday. Battle, on the other hand, found the end zone twice, once on a run and once on a short pass. For all of Norv Turner's talk of 350 touches for Mathews, his workhorse back, it's looking more and more like Battle may end up the more valuable of the two.
Shonn Greene, Jets: The only offensive player on the Jets who isn't a fantasy disaster is Tim Tebow, and that's because of his limited action. Those like Greene, who have played the majority of the snaps, have shown little consistency to make owners believe they will win fantasy games. Since a stellar 94-yard game on opening weekend, Greene has been stymied to the tune of 97 yards on 41 carries.
Doug Martin, Buccaneers: Is it possible that Martin has hit the wall already? The rookie has had every opportunity to shine but has been steadily losing touches to veterans D.J. Ware and LeGarrette Blount while rushing for an average of 3.2 yards per carry over his past three games, reaching the end zone just once. Don't panic yet, especially with the Bucs entering their bye week. Look for a strong game on the other end. If it doesn't come, set yourself up with alternatives.
Mark Ingram, Saints: Constantly playing from behind has made the Saints' rushing game disappear. Through four games New Orleans has a total of 75 rushing attempts, which is fewer than six individuals have for the season. While Pierre Thomas and Darren Sproles have been somewhat successful with the ball in their hands, especially as receivers out of the backfield, the former Heisman Trophy winner has not, averaging just 2.8 yards per carry. With a defense that gives up points in bunches, the 0-4 Saints won't be running much anytime soon.
Brian Hartline, Dolphins: Quick, who leads the NFL in receiving yards? How many imagined that after four weeks it would be Hartline, who is up to 455 yards after gaining 253 against the Cardinals Sunday to break the Dolphins record for receiving yards in a game (previously held by Chris Chambers)? Hartline should be flying off of waiver wires this week but hopefully you heeded my advice about him two weeks ago in Sports Illustrated and he's already on your roster.
Andre Roberts, Cardinals: Four NFL players have caught four touchdowns this season. Three are tight ends. The fourth is Roberts, the receiver opposite Larry Fitzgerald who broke out for a career high 118 yards and his first two-score day against Miami. Since taking over for an injured John Skelton, Kevin Kolb has been quietly productive, averaging nearly two touchdown tosses per game, most of which have gone to Roberts.
T.Y. Hilton Colts: For every action there is a reaction, and the reaction to this week's news that Austin Collie will miss the remainder of the season due to a ruptured patellar tendon in his right knee is the Colts' reliance on the speedy rookie Hilton in their offense. Prior to the Colts' bye, Hilton had an impressive four catches for 113 yards and a touchdown. Playing the slot, with fellow rookie Andrew Luck at quarterback, Hilton will provide enough catches and yards to make rosters and earn an occasional start.
Anquan Boldin, Ravens: In the second half of Thursday night's win over the Browns, the veteran Boldin put on a clinic on what it means to be a professional receiver, hauling in eight balls for 125 yards. Despite his great hands and the toughness of a running back, Boldin had been written off by many fantasy players. This game was a statement, especially in the Ravens' new pass-first offense. Torrey Smith may be Joe Flacco's first option, but Boldin can still produce fantasy numbers.