Week 5 Fantasy Football Projections: Predicting the Top Players at Each Position
Week 5 of the fantasy football season can be a pivotal turning point.
3-1 teams getting to 4-1 will feel good about their playoff chances. 5-0 teams can all but stamp their place in the final tournament.
1-3 teams falling to 1-4 might start feeling the pinch. Time for a big trade? Time to quit paying attention? 0-5 teams are probably already done.
There's no time for fun and games this week.
In the following slides, we'll break down the top players at every fantasy position for Week 5. More than likely, these guys will decide your fate in this pivotal swing week.
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Aaron Rodgers, Packers
The Colts' defense is without starting cornerback Vontae Davis, and nickelback Justin King may not play. This is a banged up secondary. Rodgers has historically played well inside domes, and the Colts have the roof closed Sunday. It will take a heroic effort for the Colts' defense to keep Rodgers and the Packers' offense under 30 points.
Drew Brees, Saints
The Saints are in win-or-you're-really-done mode. 0-5 is unrecoverable. To get in the win column for the first time in 2012, New Orleans again needs to ride Brees. He may throw 50 times again Sunday. There may be a turnover or two along the way, but 300-plus yards and a couple of scores is well within his fantasy reach.
Matt Ryan, Falcons
Like Rodgers and Brees, Ryan has begun planting himself among the top 3-4 fantasy quarterbacks every week. Robert Griffin III will be nipping at his heels, and it wouldn't at all surprise me if he leapfrogs Ryan in total fantasy points this week. But the matchups for Julio Jones and Roddy White this week are too much to overlook, and Ryan has that MVP-feel to his game right now. Ride the horse while it's running hot.
Sleeper: Andy Dalton, Bengals
Dalton has thrown for nearly 900 yards and eight touchdowns over the last three games (each over 20 points in ESPN standard leagues), and he's facing the 30th-ranked Dolphins' pass defense Sunday at home. Looks like another plus-matchup.
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Arian Foster, Texans
The Jets are the second-worst run defense in football, with running backs tearing up that unit for an average of over 130 yards a game. They've also scored six touchdowns. Back in 2010, Foster went for 143 total yards and two scores against the New York defense. That stat line might be the expectation Monday night for the AFC's second-leading rusher.
Marshawn Lynch, Seahawks
The Seahawks keep feeding Lynch (over 20 carries in all four games) and Lynch keeps producing. He's went over 80 yards in each game this season. The Panthers aren't a good run defense, and Pete Carroll will likely want to keep protecting Russell Wilson on the road. Expect at least 20 carries and 100 yards for Lynch, hopefully with a touchdown or two sprinkled in.
Adrian Peterson, Vikings
Already a top-three fantasy running back option? I think so. Peterson has been given 20 or more carries in back-to-back games, and the Tennessee run defense is allowing almost 130 yards a contest to opposing running backs. Peterson should be able to find the end zone at least once, especially at home.
Sleeper: Cedric Benson, Packers
The Packers are giving Benson a consistent work load, with 55 carries over the last three games. Benson is due for a 100-yard game with all the touches he's getting, and the Colts' run defense represents a perfect opportunity. 20-plus carries and a touchdown for Benson Sunday.
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Victor Cruz, Giants
The Giants are dangerously thin at receiver Sunday, with Hakeem Nicks and Ramses Barden on the shelf against the Browns. Expect Cruz to pick up the slack. He's Eli Manning's favorite security blanket, leading the NFL in targets with 49, and 15 or more targets isn't out of the question Sunday. That kind of activity could make Cruz the best fantasy receiver for Week 5.
A.J. Green, Bengals
There's no reason to quit on fantasy football's top receiver through four weeks now. The Bengals are facing the 30th-ranked pass defense at home, and Andy Dalton is as hot as any quarterback in the NFL. Green has caught 15 passes for 300 yards and two scores over the last two weeks.
Julio Jones, Falcons
Roddy White is the man most are going with, but I like Jones to be the Falcons' top receiver Sunday. The Redskins don't have a physical matchup at cornerback for Jones, and he's actually been more productive on the road this season (all three touchdowns away from Atlanta). He'll bounce back against Washington with the focus on White.
Sleeper: Reggie Wayne, Colts
The Colts will likely need to win a shootout with the Packers Sunday, which means plenty of targets and looks for Wayne. Green Bay's pass defense might be a little shaken after Drew Brees shredded it up in Week 4, too. There's fantasy value here.
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Jimmy Graham, Saints
Graham is going to be the top fantasy tight end coming into most weeks. That is especially true Sunday, as the Saints look to air it out against the Chargers in the pass-friendly dome in New Orleans. Graham should get back into the end zone today.
Vernon Davis, 49ers
The Patriots ripped the Bills' defense with a combination of players, but one was Rob Gronkowski at the tight end position. Davis should also get back into the scoring column this week after being shutout for the first time this season in Week 4.
Rob Gronkowski, Patriots
A back injury has Gronkowski as questionable, but he should play. And if he does, fantasy value usually follows. Most are expecting a shootout between New England and Denver, so expect Gronkowski to play a part in the scoring.
Sleeper: Kyle Rudolph, Vikings
If I didn't have Rudolph as the best sleeper, he'd probably be in the top three for tight ends. The Titans have allowed a whopping seven touchdowns to tight ends already, and Rudolph is Christian Ponder's favorite red zone target.
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A Bears' defense that is strong against the run and opportunistic against the pass, facing a quarterback and offense that is struggling to score points? Fantasy gold. Bears should torment Blaine Gabbert and Co. Sunday.
The Browns will feed Trent Richardson, but eventually Brandon Weeden will have to make plays with his arm. Once that happens, expect the Giants to tee off on him. There should be plenty of turnovers and sacks. The Browns could score 10 or fewer points, too.
The Jets' starting offense will consist of Shonn Greene, Jeremy Kerley, Chaz Schillens and Jeff Cumberland at the skill positions. Is there any wonder why Mark Sanchez can't score points? Texans will roll this offense.
Sleeper: Packers D/ST
The Packers have been historically good against rookie quarterbacks under Dom Capers, especially in the turnover category. Expect the Green Bay secondary to get its hands on a few Andrew Luck passes Sunday. And Randall Cobb is also a threat to score on special teams.
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Mason Crosby, Packers
Green Bay is likely to score a boat-load of points Sunday in Indy. Crosby has yet to miss a kick in 2012.
Stephen Gostkowski, Patriots
Spin the same record here: New England should be on the scoreboard plenty against Denver. Gostkowski has been inconsistent, but the opportunities should be there.
David Akers, 49ers
Remember when the Patriots scored 45 second-half points in Week 4? That Bills' defense is traveling to San Francisco Sunday. Akers could go off.
Sleeper: Robbie Gould, Bears
Maybe the Jaguars' defense comes to play at home Sunday, limiting the Bears to field goal attempts instead of touchdowns. As is the case most weeks, kickers are toss ups.