Fantasy Football: The Best Starts at Every Position for NFL Week 5
It's Week 5 of the 2012 NFL season, and with the bye weeks kicking in in earnest, we've now hit the dog days of the fantasy football campaign.
With four teams taking this week off, fantasy stars such as Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson are sidelined, leaving their fantasy owners scrambling to find a replacement who can help guide their team to victory this week.
So, whether you're 4-0 and playing with a full complement of stars, or 1-3 and trying to right the ship short-handed, here's a look at both the top fantasy options at each position in Week 5 and an under-the-radar player who should be in for a solid showing.
QB: Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons (at WAS)
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Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan is, by far, off to the best start of his five-year NFL career. He's completed nearly 70 percent of his passes, throwing for 11 touchdowns versus only two interceptions for the undefeated Falcons.
Fantasy football's second-ranked quarterback should keep the momentum rolling this week against the Washington Redskins, whose terrible pass defense is giving up the most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks this year.
Sleeper: Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts (vs. GB)
Luck could pile up garbage-time stats against the Packers, who have been a favorable fantasy matchup for quarterbacks in 2012.
RB: Adrian Peterson, Minnesota Vikings (vs. TEN)
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With each successive game, Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson appears to be more and more back to form after his ACL tear last year. The sixth-year pro topped 100 rushing yards for the first time this season in last week's win over the Detroit Lions.
The table is set for Peterson's best game of the season Sunday when Tennessee comes to town. The Titans have surrendered the second-most fantasy points per game to opposing running backs so far this season.
Sleeper: Ryan Mathews, San Diego Chargers (at NO)
Sure, the third-year pro may not even start for the Chargers in New Orleans, but given the woeful state of the Saints defense, Mathews should be in for a big night even if he splits carries with Jackie Battle.
WR: Roddy White, Atlanta Falcons (at WAS)
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Given that Matt Ryan should be in for a strong showing this week, it stands to reason that the Atlanta Falcons wide receivers would also be excellent fantasy options against a Washington Redskins secondary that is making every wide receiver look like Jerry Rice.
Both Julio Jones and Roddy White are top-10 fantasy options at their position in Week 5, with White being the best bet after erupting for 169 yards and a pair of touchdowns against the Carolina Panthers a week ago.
Sleeper: Domenik Hixon, New York Giants
With Hakeem Nicks out again this week, the seventh-year veteran should see more than a few targets against a Cleveland Browns defense giving up the third-most fantasy points to opposing wideouts.
TE: Jimmy Graham, New Orleans Saints (vs. SD)
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I'll admit I was inclined to put Atlanta Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez here, but I think I've made my point in regard to the state of the Washington Redskins pass defense (it's decidedly un-good).
Granted, not much has gone right for the Saints, as they've stumbled to an 0-4 record. But blame for that can't be laid at the feet of tight end Jimmy Graham, who has 24 receptions for 248 yards and three scores.
If the Saints are going to break into the win column Sunday night against the San Diego Chargers, they'll need a good game from Graham, who should be able to get open against a Bolts pass defense that's a top-10 fantasy matchup for tight ends.
Sleeper: Kyle Rudolph, Minnesota Vikings (vs. TEN)
The second-year pro was all but invisible in last week's victory over the Detroit Lions. But Rudolph should rebound this week against a Tennessee Titans squad surrendering the most fantasy points to opposing tight ends.
DEF/ST: Houston Texans (at NYJ)
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The Houston Texans are the lone remaining undefeated team in the AFC, due in large part to their formidable defense led by end J.J. Watt, who leads the NFL with 7.5 sacks in four games.
Watt should have every opportunity to build on that tremendous start when the Texans travel east to face the New York Jets, who looked completely inept offensively in getting shut out by the San Francisco 49ers last week.
Sleeper: Minnesota Vikings (vs. TEN)
Star defensive end Jared Allen is off to something of a slow start, but the ninth-year veteran should get things on track against a Tennessee Titans team that has been the friendliest fantasy matchup for opposing team defenses this season.