Week 5 fantasy picks

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An Amobi Okoye autographed mini-helmet goes to the winner of this week's free fantasy football challenge.

Week 5 of the HoustonTexans.com Home Team Challenge is here. I had some recommendations that didn't go so well last week – namely, Marion Barber III, the scoring machine who inexplicably was not a part of the Cowboys' touchdown fest against the Rams. But in the world of fantasy football, you've just got to come to grips with the reality that things like that happen and move on.

And so here are my picks for the week. You're playing for a Texans mini-helmet autographed by Amobi Okoye, who just won NFL Defensive Rookie of the Month, so set those lineups with care:

SIGN ME UP RB Edgerrin James, ARI, 39 points (@ STL):James looks revitalized this season with 354 rushing yards and three TDs and is averaging 14 fantasy points per game. The Rams have given up an average of 157 rushing yards, 29th in the league. And St. Louis' injury-ravaged offense averages a league-worst 9.8 points/game, which means the surging Cardinals are likely to be holding a lead for most of the game. Translation: even more carries for Edge as the Cardinals milk the clock. This is a slam dunk pick.

WR Roy Williams, DET, 36 (@WAS): His 388 receiving yards are third in the league. Among the receivers in his price range, Steve Smith(37) has a great matchup against New Orleans but has been a shadow of himself with David Carrthrowing the ball; Marvin Harrison(36) is hurt and may not play; Reggie Wayne(35) could be in for a huge day as the Colts' number one WR but struggled against double teams after Harrison went down last week; and Torry Holt(35) has been lackluster along with the entire St. Louis offense and has Gus Frerottethrowing him the ball this week. Williams was held in check against Chicago but still had six catches. With a quarterback and offense that have been on fire, Williams should produce against a Redskins defense that hasn't faced the likes of him yet.

NO THANKS Frank Gore, SF, 41 (vs. BAL):With Steven Jacksonsitting out this week and Joseph Addai, Travis Henry, Clinton Portisand Laurence Maroneyall questionable for their respective games on Sunday, last year's NFC rushing champ might look like the only viable name left among the top backs still standing. But Gore hasn't topped 100 yards in a game this season, hasn't scored a TD in his last two and will likely face increased focus from defenses with 49ers QB Alex Smithout for the foreseeable future. That focus this week will be coming from the stingy Baltimore run defense, allowing 71 yards per game, fourth-best in the league.
Alternatives: Willie Parker, PIT, 40 (vs. SEA); Willis McGahee, BAL, 38 (@SF)

Giants D/ST, 31 (vs. NYJ):The Giants' D probably caught your eye with their NFL record-tying 12-sack destruction of the Philadelphia Eagles this past Sunday night. But that can largely be attributed to the Eagles leaving rookie LT Winston Justiceout to dry. Looking at the whole body of work, the Giants have allowed 25 points per game over the course of the season. The Jets' offense isn't as potent as some of the others that torched the Giants early on, but the Giants' defense only notched 10 fantasy points last week against a Redskins team that's been scoring slightly less real-life points than the J-E-T-S Jets Jets Jets. There are some much better options available at a similar price.
Alternatives: DAL, 32 (vs. STL); HOU, 31 (vs. MIA)

TOSS-UP RB Reggie Bush, NO, 36, (vs. CAR):Make or break pick right here. Reggie's got the world to prove this week. He has been hammered by critics who've said he can't handle the full load in Deuce McAllister's stead. He's had a rough start to the season and so have the reigning NFC South champion Saints, who are in a must-win situation to keep their playoff hopes alive after an 0-4 start. And the Panthers' run defense is 21st in the league. Using Bush would be a big, big gamble, but with so many running backs nursing injuries, it just may be worth the risk.

KEEP AN EYE ON…
Injuries:Aside from the banged-up backs, be wary of injured receivers Marvin Harrison, Anquan Boldin, Javon Walkerand Hines Ward. Based on reports, Ward sounds most likely out of the bunch to play, but monitor these situations closely or you might find yourself with a couple of zero-point performers at wideout. Also, be sure to note that Rams QB Marc Bulgerhas been benched to recover from ailing ribs and will not play.

TEXANS FANTASY SPIN RB Ron Dayne, 8 (vs. MIA): This all depends on whether Ahman Greenplays on Sunday. Green has been practicing some this week and will be a game time decision. If he can't go, consider Dayne once again this week. The big bruiser rumbled his way to a 4.1 yards-per-carry average last week on his way to seven fantasy points; that's one for every point in his price tag. If every player on your team did that, you'd finish with 300 points! And that seven points was as good as or better than Shaun Alexander(51 point price this week), Marion Barber(37), Reggie Bush(36), Cedric Benson(30) and Warrick Dunn(23) each fared in their last games. Frank Gore(41), meanwhile, has averaged seven points over his last two games.

The Texans have the best rushing matchup in the league this week, going against a Dolphins ground defense that is dead last in the NFL with 199 yards allowed per game, 18 yards worse than the next closest team. You've got to admit: this is just a little bit tempting.

Other options: WR André Davis, 8 (117 yards, one TD last week; Andre Johnsonout and Jacoby Jonesa game time decision); TE Owen Daniels, 13 (team-leading 18 receptions for 197 yards); K Kris Brown, 25 (34 total points this season).

To register for the Home Team Challenge, click *here. Make sure to set your lineups by Sunday, Oct. 7 at 10:00 a.m.*

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