Week 5 Risers/Sliders: Bradshaw offers reminder of fantasy worth
Ahmad Bradshaw prevented a Giants timeshare with 200 yards rushing in Week 5
Alex Green may become Packers' starting running back after Cedric Benson injury
Cam Newton has thrown for 300 yards only one time over the last calendar year
We all knew coming into this season that the 49ers' defense would be a force, and after allowing a total of three points over its last two games (three to the Bills and zero to the Jets), that's clearly the case. But the 49ers didn't win those games 10-3 and 7-0; they were blowouts, 34-0 against New York and 45-3 versus Buffalo. That's a two-game differential of plus-76 points. Against the Bills, the 49ers also became the first team in NFL history to throw for and run for 300 yards in the same game. You heard that right. The first. Not bad for a team that coming into the season featured only two offensive players -- Frank Gore and Vernon Davis -- guaranteed to be weekly fantasy starters. Not surprisingly, some Niners are rising this week.
Ahmad Bradshaw, Giants -- There was plenty to worry about Bradshaw prior to Sunday's meeting with the Browns. Cleveland had done a solid job of limiting Baltimore's running game a week before and had 10 days to game-plan for the Giants. Also, with Andre Brown in the mix, the split of touches was up in the air as well. Early in the Giants come-from-behind victory, though, all issues were settled when Brown suffered a concussion, leaving Bradshaw to carry the load. And what a load he carried, gaining 229 yards from scrimmage, 200 on the ground, both career highs. Also career highs were his 30 carries and 34 touches overall, a workload that would put him among the top five or six backs in the league if duplicated. Brown is subject to the league's head injury protocol, so his availability against the 49ers is in doubt. While Bradshaw would certainly have been a sit candidate versus the ferocious Niners in San Francisco next week, he's worth using as a flex.
Rashard Mendenhall, Steelers -- For the first time all season, the Steelers had a back gain over 100 yards from scrimmage. It's no coincidence that the back was Mendenhall, who made his first appearance of the season in Week 5. Most of Mendenhall's damage came on hand-offs, on which he gained 81 yards on 14 carries -- of 5.9 yards per carry -- which is a heck of a lot better than the NFL-worst 2.6 yards-per-carry average Pittsburgh sported prior to their Keystone State kerfuffle with the Iggles. Skepticism about the offensive line still lingers, but responsibility for a running game's success is a two-way street. In any case, Mendenhall is someone not only to own, but to use Thursday against the Titans.
Alex Green, Packers -- Cedric Benson suffered a foot injury against the Colts and was seen walking out of Lucas Oil Stadium in a boot, not a welcome sign for Benson owners nor Packers fans. When he went down, Green, a second-year runner from Hawaii, got his first real action of the year, picking up 55 yards on nine carries. While not recommended to use next week in Houston, Benson owners would be smart to pick up Green in the event that the starter's injury is more significant than originally believed.
Stevan Ridley, Patriots -- The league's fourth-leading rusher (at least before Arian Foster gets a crack at the Jets Monday) is averaging 98 yards per game and his emergence just may be turning the pass-first Pats back into a ground-gobbling machine. Ridley's 490 yards are the fourth-best total in New England/Boston history through five games of a season, trailing only Curtis Martin (540) in 1997, Corey Dillon (522) in 2004, and Jim Nance (494) in 1967. Including his backfield mates, most notably Brandon Bolden, Danny Woodhead and Shane Vereen, the Patriots have run the ball 191 times (a league-leading 38.2 times per game) compared to 185 throws. That has made the Patriots just one of five teams that run more than throw. With three 100-yard games under his belt, Ridley has become a must-start player.
BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Bengals -- The Law Firm may have to file a motion to get back into the good graces of Bengals fans and coaches after putting up 14 yards on nine carries against the Dolphins, a game in which he found himself on the bench for a long stretch watching backup Bernard Scott. However, the Browns are up next for Cincy, and Scott may be out for the year with what is likely a torn ACL, meaning that his stock should rise again quickly.
Chris Johnson, Titans -- We hate to say we told you so, but ... Johnson was back to his old self against the Vikings, gaining just 24 yards on 15 carries. Hopefully you were able to deal him during last week's small window of opportunity.
C.J. Spiller, Bills -- Remember when he was the league's hottest player, leading everyone in yards and challenging for the lead in overall fantasy points? Well, Spiller not only has been slowed by injuries, he's proved to be at best a matchup player, with performance based on the defensive prowess of his opponent. Splitting time with Fred Jackson is also a value killer.