Fantasy Football Week 5: 1 Up, 1 Down for Each Major Offensive Position

Matt FitzgeraldCorrespondent IIIOctober 2, 2013

CLEVELAND, OH - SEPTEMBER 29: Tight end Jordan Cameron #84 of the Cleveland Browns runs for extra yards after a reception during the second half against the Cincinnati Bengals at FirstEnergy Stadium on September 29, 2013 in Cleveland, Ohio. The Browns defeated the Bengals 17-6. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
Jason Miller/Getty Images

Week 5 of the 2013 NFL season kicks off on Thursday evening, and a couple of the players in action for that matchup are among the critical start-and-sit options for fantasy football lineups.

This forthcoming list of offensive weapons to consider for this week consists of those who are either just now coming into their own in the league, past standouts who are struggling, or stars who aren't quite dependable on an every-game basis.

Check out the best semi-sleeper options—and the worst—to ensure that your fantasy matchup can be a less stress-inducing experience. A number of these options may even be floating around on the waiver wire.



Up: Eli Manning, New York Giants

CHARLOTTE, NC - SEPTEMBER 22:  Eli Manning #10 of the New York Giants during their game at Bank of America Stadium on September 22, 2013 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Some semblance of synergy has to lock in for the G-Men, whose offense consists of a two-time Super Bowl MVP quarterback and three legitimate receivers in Victor Cruz, Hakeem Nicks and Rueben Randle.

Manning has had a rough go at it this season, forcing the ball often down the field and throwing nine interceptions.

Absent a competent rushing attack that is averaging 57.8 yards per game, the Giants don't have much choice but to go to the air. This is a system Manning has been in forever, and this is the week he will finally get back on track.

The NFC East rival Philadelphia Eagles have been awful since their season-opening win on Monday Night Football.

Philadelphia's uptempo offense will give Manning plenty of opportunities to attack the league's 31st-ranked pass defense, which also can't stop the run. Look for New York to get its first win of 2013 and somehow force its way back into the division race.

Projections: 30-of-43 passing for 410 yards, 4 TD, 1 INT


Down: Andy Dalton, Cincinnati Bengals

CLEVELAND, OH - SEPTEMBER 29: Quarterback Andy Dalton #14 of the Cincinnati Bengals throws a pass during the first half Cleveland Browns at FirstEnergy Stadium on September 29, 2013 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
Jason Miller/Getty Images

Other than A.J. Green, it seems like the Bengals don't have many options on the outside for Dalton to target.

A pair of viable tight ends occupy the middle in Jermaine Gresham and Tyler Eifert, but Dalton is looking shaky in his third season in the same offense.

Dalton tends to don the cape of Captain Checkdown at times, doesn't have great arm strength and is not accurate often enough to be a surefire, franchise-caliber quarterback.

B/R NFL expert Mike Freeman perhaps said it best:

The New England Patriots invade Paul Brown Stadium on Sunday. Even with Pats nose tackle Vince Wilfork's torn Achilles injury, Dalton won't be dynamic enough to push the Bengals back over .500.


Running Back

Up: Chris Johnson, Tennessee Titans

NASHVILLE, TN - SEPTEMBER 22:  Chris Johnson #28 of  the Tennessee Titans runs the ball against the San Diego Chargers at LP Field on September 22, 2013 in Nashville, Tennessee.  (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

If one has even a casual interest in the NFL, one has heard about the controversy CJ2K has generated since Week 4's win over the New York Jets.

Johnson ran for only 21 yards on 15 carries and caught two passes for 10 yards, much to the chagrin of many a fantasy owner. His response was admirable in a sense, but also could have been avoided if he simply didn't listen to the trolls:

Just to spite the doubters, the speedy playmaker is going to come back with a vengeance against the undefeated Kansas City Chiefs.

As athletic as KC's front seven is, it is yielding 117.5 yards per game on the ground—24th in the league.

Backup quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick has been thrust into starting duty after Jake Locker's hip injury. That would in all likelihood shift the game plan to a more Johnson-driven offense.

Projections: 20 carries, 110 yards, TD; 5 receptions, 60 yards, TD


Down: DeAngelo Williams, Carolina Panthers

Sep 22, 2013; Charlotte, NC, USA; Carolina Panthers running back DeAngelo Williams (34) runs as New York Giants outside linebacker Spencer Paysinger (52) defends in the third quarter.  The Carolina Panthers defeated the New York Giants 38-0 at Bank of Ame
Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Fresh off a bye week, fantasy owners should be feeling good about Williams' chances to put up good numbers with the rest.

Only not.

Williams has started off 2013 on a far better pace in being the catalyst for the Panthers' No. 3 rushing attack, producing explosive plays of 10-plus yards at a more frequent rate:

But the veteran took a bit of a low blow at departed offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski, as Williams implied that the new scheme is the reason he is playing better.

Easy there, Mr. Williams. It's only been three games, and defenses have plenty of time to adjust.

A road trip to face the Arizona Cardinals—against whom QB Cam Newton lit it up in his NFL debut 422 yards passing—will prove more difficult for Williams than the early part of the season. Arizona has the second-ranked rush defense, letting up an average of 75 yards per contest.


Wide Receiver

Up: Julio Jones, Atlanta Falcons

ATLANTA, GA - SEPTEMBER 29: Julio Jones #11 of the Atlanta Falcons goes up for a pass against Aqib Talib #31 of the New England Patriots at the Georgia Dome on September 29, 2013 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)
Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

The young man is a beast, and he leads the league in receiving yards with 481. Only his lack of touchdowns is surprising, as he's had two through four games.

That's not enough to keep him out of the lineup though. Even with fellow receiver Roddy White missing only two offensive snaps on Sunday night against the Patriots, Jones managed to make his mark in a big way late.

Jones should be relied upon more in the red zone, where the Falcons failed to score a touchdown in five of six trips in falling to 1-3 last week.

Not only does Jones' incredible speed make him a dangerous deep threat, he has excellent vision in the open field, as he's second in yards after the catch:

New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan succinctly summarized the problems Jones brings to the table:

Jones will bring the pain on Monday night in a must-win game for the Falcons in the Georgia Dome. With QB Matt Ryan's 34-6 career home record (h/t, it would be a shock for a team this talented to lose two weeks in a row on the big stage.

Projections: 10 receptions, 145 yards, 2 TD


Down: Steve Johnson, Buffalo Bills

ORCHARD PARK, NY - SEPTEMBER 8: Stevie Johnson #13 of the Buffalo Bills drops a pass during NFL game action against the New England Patriots at Ralph Wilson Stadium on September 8, 2013 in Orchard Park, New York. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

Last week's one catch for minus-one yard was not the type of performance a No. 1 wide receiver should have, but Johnson was frequently open. Rookie quarterback EJ Manuel simply missed him on many of his six targets, as Mike Rodak of points out in a brilliant, detailed way.

Rodak also points out how Johnson has been dealing with an ailing hamstring, which doesn't bode well for him on a short week for Thursday night's encounter with the Cleveland Browns.

Johnson will be matched up with Browns cornerback Joe Haden, who shut down the Bengals' superstar wideout, A.J. Green, in Week 4.

The Browns are getting a lot of pressure on opposing QBs and are tied for third in the league with 14 sacks. Rookie outside linebacker Barkevious Mingo is living up to his billing as a top draft pick, and that's helping a lot on the back end.

Considering how well Haden is playing and the inexperience of Manuel, Johnson is someone who should not be relied upon this week.


Tight End

Up: Jordan Cameron, Cleveland Browns

On the other side of the coin of Thursday's prime-time showdown, the third-year tight end is now a must-start option.

Cameron has risen to stardom in placing 11th in the NFL in receiving yards with 360 and tied for third in touchdown receptions with five through four games.

In the fantasy spin section of Cameron's profile points, it is noted that the Bills have given up just 161 yards to tight ends through four games.

B/R expert Matt Miller also believes the Browns offense is in trouble once defenses figure out how to stop the 25-year-old playmaker:

With all due respect, this is disagreeable, because that implies with a tone of inevitability that defenses will be able to shut Cameron down.

Miller did follow up with this tweet, though, implying that a banged-up Bills secondary won't be able to handle the league's current No. 2 receiver at the tight end position:

New quarterback Brian Hoyer has lit a fire under this Cleveland team, is getting the ball out quick and is placing it in all the right locations. The return of Josh Gordon in Week 3 has also made things far easier on the other Browns' playmakers, including Cameron.

Projections: 8 receptions 105 yards, 2 TD


Down: Coby Fleener, Indianapolis Colts

A knee-jerk reaction will be to add Fleener this week after he caught five passes for 77 yards and a touchdown last week.

Pump the brakes.

First of all, the opponent was a horrendous Jacksonville Jaguars team that might go 0-16.

Fleener does have the benefit of playing under his college offensive coordinator in Pep Hamilton and his ex-roommate at Stanford in Andrew Luck. In weighing those factors, Fleener should be far more consistent than he's been.

The Seattle Seahawks are a different beast on defense, with linebackers in K.J. Wright and Bobby Wagner capable of dropping in coverage, on top of a deep cornerback corps consisting of Walter Thurmond and Byron Maxwell in addition to Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner.

Sherman is capable of facing up to Reggie Wayne one-on-one, which won't allow as many favorable matchups as Fleener might be used to.