Ladd Biro: Few fantasy stars shine brightly in Week 5

Some things defy explanation.

Why gas stations tack nine-tenths of a cent to every gallon. Why millions of people care about Jon and Kate. And how Max Hall’s Cardinals beat Drew Brees’ Saints on Sunday.

Aside from a handful of masterful performances – highlighted by Matt Forte, Ray Rice, Hakeem Nicks and Brandon Lloyd – Sunday’s games were noteworthy more for their surprising real-world outcomes than the exploits of their fantasy stars.

Packers players were dropping like flies. Houston’s running game was even more pathetic than its passing attack. Peyton Manning won without a passing touchdown, while Tony Romo and Philip Rivers lost while amassing 837 yards and five touchdowns between them. And, of course, Brees was thwarted by a defense that had surrendered 41 points apiece in two of its past three games.

The only thing left to determine from Week 5 is who will emerge with bragging rights from the second epic showdown of the season between Randy Moss and Darrelle Revis. Countless fantasy matchups hinge on the outcome.

Hopefully it will be a thrilling end to an otherwise nondescript weekend in Fantasyland.

Free agent picks and pans

To win a fantasy championship, you need to start with a good draft. But filling in your roster throughout the season with the right free agents can also make a big difference. Here’s a look at a few players worth considering, and others who would look better in someone else’s lineup.

Catch ‘em while you can

Steve Johnson, WR, Bills. This is one of those recommendations that goes against my every instinct, because I simply cannot imagine relying on a Buffalo wideout. But Johnson has quietly accumulated four touchdown catches over the past three games, so he demands our attention. For that matter, Ryan Fitzpatrick has thrown seven TDs and only two INTs over the past three weeks, so go figure.

Danny Amendola, WR, Rams – The pickings are indeed slim in free agency this week. But with Mark Clayton lost for the year with a knee injury, someone has to catch passes from the gun-slinging Sam Bradford. Assuming St. Louis doesn’t make a play for Vincent Jackson, Amendola is the most likely beneficiary of Clayton’s demise, after posting a dozen catches for 95 yards against the Lions.

Aaron Hernandez, TE, Patriots – With news that Jermichael Finley will miss the next three weeks or so after undergoing knee surgery, fantasy owners will be scrambling to replace one of the game’s most dominant tight ends. Hernandez, owned in just over a third of all leagues, has now served his bye week and should become an even more integral weapon in the Patriots’ passing arsenal now that Moss has been traded.

Don’t be fooled

Marion Barber, RB, Cowboys – Though it’s hard to get excited about any member of the Dallas backfield, the long-anticipated transition to Felix Jones may finally have begun on Sunday. Jones amassed 109 yards on 15 carries and caught all four balls thrown his way, while Barber touched the ball only six times. With the Vikings on tap next, this may be your last chance to unload Barber for some semblance of value.

Legedu Naanee, WR, Chargers – He left Sunday’s game with a hamstring injury but, just as concerning, he’s been a non-factor in the San Diego passing game since his excellent Week 1 performance. There’s little reason to keep Naanee on anything but the deepest of fantasy rosters.