Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
During every NFL week one or two players jump out with an atypical performance, but in Week 5 we saw an inordinate number of surprises on the fantasy radar.
Let's evaluate the best of them to see who will have staying power and who will be classic "one-time wonders."
Victor Cruz (31 points in Week 5) - The Giants No.3 receiver is quickly becoming an Eli Manning favorite. He's put together three consecutive fantasy- worthy weeks and against Seattle was targeted more than starters Hakeem Nicks and Mario Manningham. Manning has looked his way 20 times over the past two weeks. For the season he's ranked 12th among fantasy receivers. Cruz should be a solid value for the remainder of the season and could out-perform Manningham.
Jason Hill (29 points) - One long pass may make you a fantasy star for the week, but it won't get you in my starting lineup. Hill is a little better than a one-week wonder because he's getting the second-most targets behind Mike Thomas, but until you see consistent production, he's not yet fantasy worthy. Given a rookie quarterback, Hill might not be ready for your starting lineup until 2012.
Joel Dreessen (28 points) - Dreessen took advantage of Andre Johnson's absence to post a five-catch, 112-yard, one touchdown effort worth a lot of fantasy points. It's his first big effort of the season but he can't be counted on for continued production unless starting tight end Owen Daniels gets injured too.
DeAngelo Williams (26 points) - It wasn't long ago that Williams was a fantasy star. That hasn't been the case for the last two years, but with Cam Newton forcing teams to honor the Panthers' passing game, Williams and Jonathan Stewart could become fantasy-worthy starters. One of the problems with starting Williams, however, is that now he has two players poaching his red zone touchdowns. I think Sunday was more of a one-time occurrence than a regular habit.
Doug Baldwin (26 points) - The No.4 wideout in a mediocre Seattle passing offense didn't figure to have much fantasy value but two things have changed the situation since the season began. The first was a concussion suffered by Mike Williams which may force him to sit for a few weeks. The second was an injury to starting quarterback Tarvaris Jackson (pectoral). Charlie Whitehurst took over as quarterback and proved to be a better thrower than Jackson. Baldwin doesn't figure to have any long lasting value unless both injuries turn into long-term problems.
Curtis Painter (22 points) - This second consecutive solid effort from Painter (19 points last week) has fantasy owners wondering if he's worth a waiver claim. He certainly has top quality receivers in Reggie Wayne, smoking hot Pierre Garcon, Austin Collie and Dallas Clark to help him continue at this level. Temper your enthusiasm, however, he's scheduled to play two top-10 pass defenses in the next three weeks, but if you have an open spot on your roster he could be a spot starter down the road.
Hines Ward (20 points) - With Ben Roethlisberger and his offensive line hurting, the Steelers brain trust turned to shorter passes and Ward was the beneficiary. He was targeted a team-high eight times, catching seven for just 54 yards but two touchdowns. The Pittsburgh offense looked pretty good and it seems likely that they will continue this strategy to help preserve their star quarterback. The Steelers certainly won't forget Mike Wallace and the deep ball, but they should use Ward more than in the previous two games where he was targeted just four times each. With Jacksonville, Arizona and New England scheduled over the next three weeks, Ward should be a valuable fantasy asset.
Darrius Heyward-Bey (19 points) - Honoring the late Al Davis' love for speedy receivers which went all the way back to the days of Warren Wells, Cliff Branch and Raghib "Rocket" Ismail, Heyward-Bey put together a nice display on Sunday with seven catches for 99 yards and a score. For the second consecutive week he was a primary target with 19 looks over that span. After a slow start he's now worthy of a start or two.
Jackie Battle (17 points) - Battle was buried on the depth chart as the season began behind rising superstar Jamaal Charles and veteran backup Thomas Jones. With Charles injured and out for the season and Jones showing his age (33), Battle saw enough action in Week 4 to prove to the Chiefs that he should get more of an opportunity. He got that chance this Sunday and made the most of it, rushing for 119 yards on 19 carries. He should be the primary ball carrier this week too.
Steve Breaston (17 points) - Breaston has been "MIA" since leaving the Arizona desert but showed up on our radar screen on Sunday following a two-touchdown performance. He's still getting less than six looks a game which limits his upside, but his last two weeks have been encouraging. He's worth monitoring to see if Matt Cassel will target him a few more times each week, but he'll always be second fiddle to Dwayne Bowe.