Fantasy Fodder: Five players you better hang on to

Desperation might be setting in inside your fantasy locker room if your squad is 1-3 or 0-4 at the quarter pole, especially if you're in a cutthroat league where only four or six teams make it into the playoffs. We have enough data to see that trends are developing, and it looks as if some big names in fantasy are on track to be big busts.

But in some instances, it's too soon to push the panic button on certain players likely drafted in the early rounds. When your fellow owners try to prey on your desperation, here are five players you should hang on to tightly:


1. Philip Rivers: The Chargers quarterback has thrown more interceptions (six) than touchdowns (five) as the Chargers have had trouble finding the end zone. That will change will favorable second-half matchups.

2. Roddy White: Falcons rookie Julio Jones has more yards than White. Tony Gonzalez has four TDs to White's one. But it's only a matter of time until White, a consensus top-three fantasy wideout, lives up to his billing by finishing off a few big plays.

3. Shonn Greene: I'm bullish on Greene, who has been running in place for the pass-happy Jets. Rex Ryan says he wants to get back to "ground and pound," and I believe him. If the offensive line holds up its end of the deal, Greene will thrive down the stretch.

4. Reggie Wayne: His numbers won't touch what they were when Peyton Manning was conducting the Colts offense, but things have been better since Curtis Painter, who targeted Wayne eight times Monday, replaced Kerry Collins in Week 3.

5. Chris Johnson: After rushing for 98 yards in his first three games, it looked as if Johnson had worked off his holdout rust when he topped the century mark against the Browns. And with Matt Hasselbeck giving the Titans a respectable passing attack, Johnson might still meet your lofty expectations this season.

Andre 3000: Andre Johnson stopped, dropped and rolled after making a catch on Sunday, striking fear into the hearts of fantasy owners. You can take some relief in knowing that one of the best receivers in the NFL injured his hamstring, not his knee. The Texans are still trying to figure out the severity, but the injury doesn't sound like it is season-ending. For now, snag Jacoby Jones, who will attempt to do his best Andre Johnson impersonation in his absence.

Is Cam Newton legit? In a word, yes. I hope you bought in on his fantasy potential early and jumped on him, because I didn't.

Fantasy penthouse: Aaron Rodgers had the biggest fantasy performance of the young season, throwing for 400-plus yards and four touchdowns and running for two others. Pierre Garcon had two catches for 146 yards and two scores. Beanie Wells scored three times. Jimmy Graham was the top tight end. And props to the Baltimore D/ST, which scored three TDs and produced 32 fantasy points (based on ESPN standard scoring).

Fantasy doghouse: Joe Flacco was worth just two fantasy points, but that's six more than Mark Sanchez. Tim Hightower was a bust. Devery Henderson pitched a shutout. Chris Cooley had one catch for four yards.

The wire: 1. Matt Hasselbeck has more fantasy points than Philip Rivers, Tony Romo, Matt Schaub and Josh Freeman. … 2. Ryan Torain had a big week and may overtake Tim Hightower atop the Redskins' depth chart (staying there will be a new challenge). … 3. Stevan Ridley might soon replace BenJarvus Green-Ellis as New England's top back, for whatever that's worth. … 4. Victor Cruz has 208 receiving yards and two touchdowns in the past two weeks, and is pressing Mario Manningham for playing time next to Hakeem Nicks. … 5. Pittsburgh's Antonio Brown has had at least four catches and 67 receiving yards in three straight games.

Five guys I really like this week: 1. Matt Ryan figures to be throwing the ball a lot against the Packers. … 2. Mark Ingram will finally get his breakout game for the Saints. … 3. Fred Jackson should find the end zone at least once against the Eagles. … 4. I expect Philip Rivers and Vincent Jackson to connect for a couple of big plays in Denver. … 5. Tampa Bay's Mike Williams will produce against San Francisco, so make sure you keep him in your lineup.

Reader question: My good buddy @wesleycase asked, "I just traded Antonio Gates for Julio Jones and Dustin Keller. Chances Gates gets healthy and I regret this?" My response: Injuries are really the only thing that has slowed the tight end in his fine Chargers career. This time it's a foot injury. Reports out of San Diego are that Gates is trying to test the foot this week, but the team would be wise to sit him out until after the team's Week 6 bye so he can get up to speed, and it sounds like that will be their plan. The key for your deal, Wes, is Jones, who has 24 catches for 342 yards. If he starts getting into the end zone, you might not regret trading Gates.

Extra point: I already mentioned this briefly, but how about the Baltimore D/ST? When Chuck Pagano was introduced as defensive coordinator, he talked about the Baltimore defense restoring chaos. That was music to the ears of fantasy owners looking for sacks and turnovers from the Ravens. They probably weren't counting on four touchdowns, though. That's why through four games, the Ravens are far and away the top fantasy defense.

Matt Vensel is a blogger and community coordinator for The Baltimore Sun. Send your fantasy questions and comments to, @mattvensel on Twitter or leave them in the comments section below.