Fantasy Football Week 5: Top Plays at Every Position
Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports
Angry you missed out on the production of Fred Jackson, Willis McGahee and C.J. Spiller from Thursday night's game? You probably should be, because the running back position just hasn't been that good to fantasy owners this year.
The screws tighten with the bye-week absences of Adrian Peterson, Doug Martin, Alfred Morris and Le'Veon Bell. Perhaps we should focus on the positive here: They are getting their bye out of the way early, setting you up for a solid run through the thick of the bye season.
We'll help you plug the holes and settle the debates with our comprehensive look at all of the rankings and options by position in this six-part slideshow.
Quarterbacks: Michael Vick Gets the Woeful Giants, but Don't Trust Eli Manning
Dustin Bradford/Getty Images
The likes of Aaron Rodgers and Cam Newton come off byes and, if you own those guys, you don't need to bother with rostering a backup behind them in standard, one-quarterback formats. They are must-start options in all fantasy leagues the rest of the season. They just happen to have favorable matchups in their return this week too.
Take advantage of the Giants
Michael Vick gets the woeful Giants defense that has given up a league-worst 10 touchdown passes. It also happens to be banged up, as The Bergen Record's Jeff Roberts reports. This makes the quarterback you drafted as a backup a must-start, even over the likes of Andrew Luck and the red-hot Alex Smith.
The Colts a defense to fear?
Some people are going to sit Russell Wilson at Indy, but that might be a mistake. Sure, the Colts have shut down Colin Kaepernick, but having faced the likes of the Raiders, Dolphins and Jaguars have more to do with the Colts' third-best standing in fantasy against quarterbacks.
Wilson—who the Seattle Post-Intelligencer's Sam Barbee said wins, fantasy points be damned—is going to do much better than he did against the 49ers and Texans in Weeks 2 and 4. The Colts just aren't in their class defensively.
Week 5 sleepers
Speaking of Kaepernick, he will also be better than he has been since opening week, despite facing those same Texans, who have been No. 4 against fantasy quarterbacks.
ESPN's Bill Williamson predicts 276 yards and two touchdown passes. With Vernon Davis (hamstring) having more time to heal and Jon Baldwin getting more involved in the offense, we see Kaepernick doing even more than that optimistic projection.
Kaepernick is among the quarterbacks we put more than a couple of spots higher than the consensus this week:
- Tom Brady
- Matt Ryan
- Colin Kaepernick
- Russell Wilson
- Carson Palmer
Week 5 duds
Despite a favorable matchup against the Eagles, who have given up the fourth-most points to fantasy quarterbacks through four games, Eli Manning is too difficult to trust as a fantasy starter right now.
His offensive line is in shambles, and there are inconsistent results coming from his receivers. Manning is too tough to start outside of two-quarterback formats until his line proves more worthy and the team shows some balance with its long-lost running game.
Make no mistake: Vick is a must-start, but he belongs on this list as well. He'll be hard-pressed to reach the lofty expectations set for him this week by most of the other experts.
Manning and Vick are among the quarterbacks we like less than the masses:
- Philip Rivers
- Michael Vick
- Eli Manning
- Ryan Tannehill
- Geno Smith
|1||Peyton Manning||Den||at Dal||1||0|
|2||Aaron Rodgers||GB||vs. Det||2||0|
|3||Matthew Stafford||Det||at GB||4||+1|
|4||Drew Brees||NO||at Chi||3||-1|
|5||Cam Newton||Car||at Ari||7||+2|
|6||Tom Brady||NE||at Cin||9||+3|
|7||Matt Ryan||Atl||vs. NYJ||10||+3|
|8||Tony Romo||Dal||vs. Den||8||0|
|9||Colin Kaepernick||SF||vs. Hou||13||+4|
|10||Russell Wilson||Sea||at Ind||14||+4|
|11||Philip Rivers||SD||at Oak||6||-5|
|12||Michael Vick||Phi||at NYG||5||-7|
|13||Terrelle Pryor||Oak||vs. SD||12||-1|
|14||Sam Bradford||StL||vs. Jac||15||+1|
|15||Jay Cutler||Chi||vs. NO||16||+1|
|16||Brian Hoyer||Cle||vs. Buf||18||+2|
|17||Andrew Luck||Ind||vs. Sea||17||0|
|18||Alex Smith||KC||at Ten||19||+1|
|19||Andy Dalton||Cin||vs. NE||21||+2|
|20||Eli Manning||NYG||vs. Phi||11||-9|
|21||Joe Flacco||Bal||at Mia||23||+2|
|22||Matt Schaub||Hou||at SF||22||0|
|23||Carson Palmer||Ari||vs. Car||26||+3|
|24||Ryan Tannehill||Mia||vs. Bal||20||-4|
|25||EJ Manuel||Buf||at Cle||25||0|
|26||Geno Smith||NYJ||at Atl||24||-2|
|27||Ryan Fitzpatrick||Ten||vs. KC||27||0|
|28||Blaine Gabbert||Jac||at StL||28||0|
Running Backs: With Elite Options on Bye, We Try to Make Sense of a Mess
If you think the start of your elite backs has been rough, Week 5 doesn't have much in the way of answers for us. It is a tough week for byes with some elite backs having to hit the pine, including Adrian Peterson, struggling Doug Martin, Alfred Morris (ribs) and Le'Veon Bell, who scored two touchdowns in his return from his preseason foot sprain.
We will try to help you patch together some viable starts in spite of this.
Built Ram tough? Hardly
The Rams have made the likes of DeMarco Murray (175 yards) and Frank Gore (153 yards) look like Pro Bowlers, if not Hall of Famers, so there is a shred of hope for Maurice Jones-Drew owners this week. MJD has yet to surpass 45 yards in any of the first four games, but he could break 100 against a Rams defense that has been the worst in fantasy against running backs.
Don't worry too much about the trade of left tackle Eugene Monroe to the Ravens. Rookie Luke Joeckel is excited about moving back to his natural left tackle position for the Jags, according to the Florida Times-Union's Hays Carlyon. MJD fantasy owners should be too.
Richardson has earned must-start status
The Colts are facing a tough Seattle run defense this week, but the prospect of Ahmad Bradshaw facing neck surgery, according to the Indianapolis Star's Mike Chappell, will put the onus on Trent Richardson to carry the load.
With Bradshaw out this week (and possibly more), you should consider Richardson too promising to sit in any matchup. Donald Brown might be a flier to take as a handcuff if you are a Richardson owner, but don't dare consider Brown this week.
Week 5 sleepers
With the release of Da'Rel Scott, the Giants are going to have to lean on David Wilson, the back they should have been leaning on the whole time. Brandon Jacobs will still be the short-yardage back and touchdown vulture, but Wilson will pick up more touches, especially as a pass receiver out of the backfield.
Consider this the most important game of the season for Wilson owners. You have to keep him active for this.
He leads the backs we like considerably more than the consensus this week:
- David Wilson
- Knowshon Moreno
- Danny Woodhead
- Willis McGahee (played Thursday night against Buffalo)
- Rashard Mendenhall
Week 5 duds
The Rams have made a mess of their running back situation as Daryl Richardson reportedly tweeted he was being removed as the starter. (The tweet has since been deleted.)
Jeff Fisher says all of his backs will play in a rotation, but ESPN's Nick Wagoner reports it is rookie Zac Stacy's turn, over the likes of Richardson, Isaiah Pead and Benny Cunningham.
Richardson's demotion makes him one of the players we like less than the masses this week. Here are the top five we like more than five spots less:
- Darren Sproles
- Rashad Jennings
- Jason Snelling
- Andre Ellington
- Benny Cunningham
|Rank||Running Backs||Team||Opponent||ECR||vs. ECR|
|1||LeSean McCoy||Phi||at NYG||1||0|
|2||Jamaal Charles||KC||at Ten||2||0|
|3||Arian Foster||Hou||at SF||6||+3|
|4||Marshawn Lynch||Sea||at Ind||4||0|
|5||Reggie Bush||Det||at GB||5||0|
|6||Matt Forte||Chi||vs. NO||3||-3|
|7||Ray Rice||Bal||at Mia||9||+2|
|8||Frank Gore||SF||vs. Hou||7||-1|
|9||Chris Johnson||Ten||vs. KC||11||+2|
|10||David Wilson||NYG||vs. Phi||16||+6|
|11||DeMarco Murray||Dal||vs. Den||8||-3|
|12||Eddie Lacy||GB||vs. Det||12||0|
|13||Knowshon Moreno||Den||at Dal||20||+7|
|14||Maurice Jones-Drew||Jac||at StL||15||+1|
|15||Trent Richardson||Ind||vs. Sea||10||-5|
|16||DeAngelo Williams||Car||at Ari||17||+1|
|17||Bilal Powell||NYJ||at Atl||13||-4|
|18||Ryan Mathews||SD||at Oak||21||+3|
|19||Danny Woodhead||SD||at Oak||26||+7|
|20||Darren Sproles||NO||at Chi||14||-6|
|21||Willis McGahee||Cle||vs. Buf||29||+8|
|22||Lamar Miller||Mia||vs. Bal||19||-3|
|23||Giovani Bernard||Cin||vs. NE||18||-5|
|24||Fred Jackson||Buf||at Cle||22||-2|
|25||Joique Bell||Det||at GB||25||0|
|26||Stevan Ridley||NE||at Cin||24||-2|
|27||Rashard Mendenhall||Ari||vs. Car||32||+5|
|28||BenJarvus Green-Ellis||Cin||vs. NE||35||+7|
|29||Jacquizz Rodgers||Atl||vs. NYJ||28||-1|
|30||Pierre Thomas||NO||at Chi||31||+1|
|31||C.J. Spiller||Buf||at Cle||23||-8|
|32||Isaiah Pead||StL||vs. Jac||40||+8|
|33||Zac Stacy||StL||vs. Jac||48||+15|
|34||Daryl Richardson||StL||vs. Jac||30||-4|
|35||Robert Turbin||Sea||at Ind||59||+24|
|36||Bryce Brown||Phi||at NYG||50||+14|
|37||Ronnie Hillman||Den||at Dal||44||+7|
|38||Bernard Pierce||Bal||at Mia||37||-1|
|39||Rashad Jennings||Oak||vs. SD||27||-12|
|40||Ben Tate||Hou||at SF||36||-4|
|41||LeGarrette Blount||NE||at Cin||39||-2|
|42||Brandon Jacobs||NYG||vs. Phi||51||+9|
|43||Kendall Hunter||SF||vs. Hou||54||+11|
|44||Daniel Thomas||Mia||vs. Bal||46||+2|
|45||Brandon Bolden||NE||at Cin||45||0|
|46||Jason Snelling||Atl||vs. NYJ||33||-13|
|47||Michael Bush||Chi||vs. NO||52||+5|
|48||Andre Ellington||Ari||vs. Car||38||-10|
|49||Benny Cunningham||StL||vs. Jac||41||-8|
|50||Montee Ball||Den||at Dal||47||-3|
|51||Johnathan Franklin||GB||vs. Det||42||-9|
|52||Tashard Choice||Buf||at Cle||53||+1|
|53||Christine Michael||Sea||at Ind||67||+14|
|54||Chris Ogbonnaya||Cle||vs. Buf||43||-11|
|55||Mike Goodson||NYJ||at Atl||56||+1|
|56||Jackie Battle||Ten||vs. KC||61||+5|
|57||Ronnie Brown||SD||at Oak||60||+3|
|58||Knile Davis||KC||at Ten||75||+17|
|59||Alfonso Smith||Ari||vs. Car||77||+18|
|60||Bobby Rainey||Cle||vs. Buf||70||+10|
|61||Jordan Todman||Jac||at StL||73||+12|
|62||Kenjon Barner||Car||at Ari||82||+20|
|63||Anthony Dixon||SF||vs. Hou||81||+18|
|64||Alex Green||NYJ||at Atl||80||+16|
|65||Stepfan Taylor||Ari||vs. Car||86||+21|
|66||Lance Dunbar||Dal||vs. Den||72||+6|
|67||Chris Polk||Phi||at NYG||66||-1|
|68||Donald Brown||Ind||vs. Sea||65||-3|
|69||Darren McFadden||Oak||vs. SD||34||-35|
|70||Mark Ingram||NO||at Chi||69||-1|
Wide Receivers: Better Week for the Giants; Not so Much for the Colts
Wide receiver is one position where four teams on bye has a minimal negative impact on your lineup, particularly since the teams off in Week 5 are not really wide receiver heavy. You do need to replace Vincent Jackson, Mike Williams, Pierre Garcon, Antonio Brown and Greg Jennings, but there are ample options available to you as long as you have the roster flexibility.
That set of receivers is almost replaced entirely by the return of the Packers from bye, including Randall Cobb, Jordy Nelson and James Jones. The Panthers are back too, with Steve Smith and perhaps Brandon LaFell for those that need a sleeper.
Eli Manning's receivers finally get positive matchup
The Giants' struggles are all blamed on the banged-up offensive line and the error-prone Manning, but we probably should be giving some credit to the Broncos, Panthers and Chiefs defenses.
They are far better off in the secondary to date than the Eagles, who are the worst team in fantasy against receivers. That latter stat should help you feel confident in starting Hakeem Nicks and perhaps even Rueben Randle as a sleeper.
Seattle brings its D to Indy
If there is one team in the NFL you should fear if you’re a wide receiver, it is the Seahawks with their talented, shutdown corners and elite safeties. The Colts might have to focus on their ground-and-pound game with Trent Richardson on Sunday.
This matchup makes it difficult to trust Reggie Wayne and T.Y. Hilton. You definitely cannot feel good about Darrius Heyward-Bey either.
Week 5 sleepers
The Colts defense has quietly held its own this season, and nowhere has that been more apparent than against wide receivers.
The Colts have been the fourth-best team against them to date in fantasy, but the Raiders, Dolphins, 49ers and Jaguars don't have that much talent in that position. The Seahawks have a lot of interchangeable parts there, including one of the more underrated commodities in Sidney Rice.
Rice and his teammate Doug Baldwin are among the receivers we like more than 10 spots than the consensus this week:
- Sidney Rice
- Kenny Britt
- Mohamed Sanu
- Keenan Allen
- Doug Baldwin
Week 5 duds
Alshon Jeffery is emerging as one of the best second-year receivers in football right now, working with Jay Cutler in Marc Trestman's West Coast offense. He was one of the most-added players off waivers this week, but you shouldn't feel overly confident in him going against an improved Saints defense that has been fifth best in fantasy versus receivers.
Jeffery is among the options we like less than the masses in the rankings below:
- Reggie Wayne
- Alshon Jeffery
- Brian Hartline
- Michael Floyd
- Chris Givens
|Rank||Wide Receivers||Team||Opponent||ECR||vs. ECR|
|1||Calvin Johnson||Det||at GB||1||0|
|2||A.J. Green||Cin||vs. NE||6||+4|
|3||Dez Bryant||Dal||vs. Den||2||-1|
|4||Brandon Marshall||Chi||vs. NO||7||+3|
|5||Demaryius Thomas||Den||at Dal||3||-2|
|6||Julio Jones||Atl||vs. NYJ||5||-1|
|7||Victor Cruz||NYG||vs. Phi||4||-3|
|8||Wes Welker||Den||at Dal||8||0|
|9||Jordy Nelson||GB||vs. Det||10||+1|
|10||Randall Cobb||GB||vs. Det||9||-1|
|11||Larry Fitzgerald||Ari||vs. Car||14||+3|
|12||DeSean Jackson||Phi||at NYG||11||-1|
|13||Josh Gordon||Cle||vs. Buf||13||0|
|14||Andre Johnson||Hou||at SF||12||-2|
|15||Torrey Smith||Bal||at Mia||15||0|
|16||Hakeem Nicks||NYG||vs. Phi||20||+4|
|17||Mike Wallace||Mia||vs. Bal||23||+6|
|18||Anquan Boldin||SF||vs. Hou||18||0|
|19||Roddy White||Atl||vs. NYJ||25||+6|
|20||Marques Colston||NO||at Chi||17||-3|
|21||Eric Decker||Den||at Dal||16||-5|
|22||James Jones||GB||vs. Det||22||0|
|23||Dwayne Bowe||KC||at Ten||29||+6|
|24||Steve Smith||Car||at Ari||19||-5|
|25||Steve Johnson||Buf||at Cle||31||+6|
|26||Cecil Shorts||Jac||at StL||24||-2|
|27||Julian Edelman||NE||at Cin||27||0|
|28||Danny Amendola||NE||at Cin||32||+4|
|29||Reggie Wayne||Ind||vs. Sea||21||-8|
|30||Eddie Royal||SD||at Oak||39||+9|
|31||Denarius Moore||Oak||vs. SD||35||+4|
|32||Kenbrell Thompkins||NE||at Cin||28||-4|
|33||Sidney Rice||Sea||at Ind||50||+17|
|34||Justin Blackmon||Jac||at StL||30||-4|
|35||DeAndre Hopkins||Hou||at SF||34||-1|
|36||Brian Hartline||Mia||vs. Bal||26||-10|
|37||T.Y. Hilton||Ind||vs. Sea||37||0|
|38||Golden Tate||Sea||at Ind||45||+7|
|39||Nate Washington||Ten||vs. KC||38||-1|
|40||Tavon Austin||StL||vs. Jac||36||-4|
|41||Alshon Jeffery||Chi||vs. NO||33||-8|
|42||Kenny Britt||Ten||vs. KC||76||+34|
|43||Rueben Randle||NYG||vs. Phi||48||+5|
|44||Vincent Brown||SD||at Oak||44||0|
|45||Miles Austin||Dal||vs. Den||47||+2|
|46||Kendall Wright||Ten||vs. KC||49||+3|
|47||Mohamed Sanu||Cin||vs. NE||59||+12|
|48||Robert Woods||Buf||at Cle||42||-6|
|49||Donnie Avery||KC||at Ten||57||+8|
|50||Keenan Allen||SD||at Oak||60||+10|
|51||Michael Floyd||Ari||vs. Car||41||-10|
|52||Andre Roberts||Ari||vs. Car||58||+6|
|53||Chris Givens||StL||vs. Jac||40||-13|
|54||Riley Cooper||Phi||at NYG||62||+8|
|55||Ryan Broyles||Det||at GB||54||-1|
|56||Doug Baldwin||Sea||at Ind||70||+14|
|57||Rod Streater||Oak||vs. SD||55||-2|
|58||Stephen Hill||NYJ||at Atl||53||-5|
|59||Lance Moore||NO||at Chi||64||+5|
|60||Brandon LaFell||Car||at Ari||61||+1|
|61||Jeremy Kerley||NYJ||at Atl||43||-18|
|62||Marlon Brown||Bal||at Mia||46||-16|
|63||Jason Avant||Phi||at NYG||69||+6|
|64||Austin Pettis||StL||vs. Jac||52||-12|
|65||Brandon Gibson||Mia||vs. Bal||68||+3|
|66||Justin Hunter||Ten||vs. KC||77||+11|
|67||Harry Douglas||Atl||vs. NYJ||72||+5|
|68||Davone Bess||Cle||vs. Buf||63||-5|
|69||Jon Baldwin||SF||vs. Hou||83||+14|
|70||Kyle Williams||SF||vs. Hou||78||+8|
|71||Marvin Jones||Cin||vs. NE||92||+21|
|72||Damian Williams||Ten||vs. KC||105||+33|
|73||Ted Ginn||Car||at Ari||65||-8|
|74||Darrius Heyward-Bey||Ind||vs. Sea||67||-7|
|75||Brandon Stokley||Bal||at Mia||88||+13|
|76||Dexter McCluster||KC||at Ten||84||+8|
|77||Terrance Williams||Dal||vs. Den||51||-26|
|78||Kenny Stills||NO||at Chi||73||-5|
|79||Earl Bennett||Chi||vs. NO||79||0|
|80||Jacoby Ford||Oak||vs. SD||90||+10|
|81||Kris Durham||Det||at GB||71||-10|
|82||Dwayne Harris||Dal||vs. Den||81||-1|
|83||Brian Quick||StL||vs. Jac||98||+15|
|84||Aaron Dobson||NE||at Cin||66||-18|
|85||Greg Little||Cle||vs. Buf||82||-3|
|86||Ace Sanders||Jac||at StL||80||-6|
|87||Seyi Ajirotutu||SD||at Oak||118||+31|
|88||Stephen Williams||Sea||at Ind||114||+26|
|89||Austin Collie||NE||at Cin||112||+23|
|90||Brice Butler||Oak||vs. SD||95||+5|
Tight Ends: You Shouldn't Miss Gronk Too Much, but Start Him If He Plays
Another week, and likely another lineup without Rob Gronkowski available to fantasy owners. The good thing about Week 5 is we will have another plane trip Saturday and a 1 p.m. Sunday game at the roster deadline to figure out whether Gronk will be active.
If he is, he should be in your fantasy lineup, but it doesn't look promising. He is saying a lot without saying anything, as the Shalise Manza Young's Boston Globe story showed.
Don't lose track of Olsen this week
The bye week had the Panthers' Greg Olsen get cut in four percent of CBS Sports leagues, but you should expect starter-quality numbers on a consistent basis the rest of the way.
It certainly helps he has his bye week out of the way and is facing the Cardinals, who have been the worst team in fantasy against tight ends, giving up a pair of touchdowns to Jared Cook in Week 1 and Jimmy Graham in Week 3. Olsen is a set-it-and-forget-it tight end.
49ers' Davis banged up and has a tough matchup
You should not sit Vernon Davis (hamstring) if he plays, because he is one of Colin Kaepernick's truly legit weapons, but the injury and difficulty of the Texans matchup might make you think twice if you have a viable backup. The Texans have allowed a league-low eight receptions to tight ends through four games.
Week 5 sleepers
Coby Fleener is a fantasy darling right now, but he does have a tough matchup against the Seahawks this week. If you are a fantasy owner with two tight ends on your roster and like to play the matchups at the position, Fleener is probably not a play.
If you're looking for the next Fleener-like breakthrough, look no further than Rob Housler of the Arizona Cardinals. Housler hasn't done anything yet, but he was held up early by a high-ankle sprain that won't keep him out of action any longer. Carson Palmer is going to make him a gem off waivers for fantasy owners sooner rather than later.
Fleener and Housler are among the tight ends we like more than the consensus rankings:
- Tony Gonzalez
- Vernon Davis
- Jermichael Finley
- Coby Fleener
- Rob Housler
Week 5 duds
After a hot start, Julius Thomas hasn't performed like a sure-fire fantasy starter. It should have been expected with the numerous weapons Peyton Manning has to rotate the ball around to. Thomas is coming off his quietest effort from Week 4, even if he faces a Dallas defense that has given up a league-high 30 receptions to tight ends thus far.
Thomas is among those we like less than the masses this week:
- Julius Thomas
- Martellus Bennett
- Jared Cook
- Charles Clay
- Kellen Winslow
|Rank||Tight Ends||Team||Opponent||ECR||vs. ECR|
|1||Jimmy Graham||NO||at Chi||1||0|
|2||Jordan Cameron||Cle||vs. Buf||2||0|
|3||Tony Gonzalez||Atl||vs. NYJ||6||+3|
|4||Antonio Gates||SD||at Oak||3||-1|
|5||Jason Witten||Dal||vs. Den||5||0|
|6||Vernon Davis||SF||vs. Hou||8||+2|
|7||Greg Olsen||Car||at Ari||7||0|
|8||Julius Thomas||Den||at Dal||4||-4|
|9||Jermichael Finley||GB||vs. Det||12||+3|
|10||Rob Gronkowski||NE||at Cin||10||0|
|11||Martellus Bennett||Chi||vs. NO||9||-2|
|12||Owen Daniels||Hou||at SF||13||+1|
|13||Coby Fleener||Ind||vs. Sea||16||+3|
|14||Jared Cook||StL||vs. Jac||11||-3|
|15||Brandon Myers||NYG||vs. Phi||15||0|
|16||Rob Housler||Ari||vs. Car||26||+10|
|17||Charles Clay||Mia||vs. Bal||14||-3|
|18||Garrett Graham||Hou||at SF||24||+6|
|19||Brent Celek||Phi||at NYG||21||+2|
|20||Scott Chandler||Buf||at Cle||29||+9|
|21||Jermaine Gresham||Cin||vs. NE||20||-1|
|22||Tyler Eifert||Cin||vs. NE||22||0|
|23||Zach Miller||Sea||at Ind||23||0|
|24||Kellen Winslow||NYJ||at Atl||17||-7|
|25||Joseph Fauria||Det||at GB||32||+7|
|26||Lance Kendricks||StL||vs. Jac||43||+17|
|27||Marcedes Lewis||Jac||at StL||28||+1|
|28||Dallas Clark||Bal||at Mia||19||-9|
|29||Brandon Pettigrew||Det||at GB||18||-11|
|30||Mychal Rivera||Oak||vs. SD||31||+1|
Defensive/Special Teams: Streaming Options Abound, Some Still on Waivers
Wesley Hitt/Getty Images
This is a favorable week for fans of streaming defenses. While some of the elite fantasy defenses play some tough matchups—namely the Bears facing Drew Brees, the 49ers and Texans facing each other, and the Patriots facing the Bengals—there are ample fringe fantasy units facing suspect quarterbacks.
The Rams, Falcons, Panthers, Chargers and Eagles are solid one-week plays. You won't even miss the bye teams of the Vikings, Steelers, Redskins and Buccaneers—not that you should own those suspect teams in fantasy anyway.
Take advantage of the Giants
Eli Manning has been turnover prone and a sack machine, so you might consider a bad Eagles defense interesting because of the matchup.
The Giants need to get their running game going to take the pressure off, but with pass-happy Kevin Gilbride—an architect of the long-lost run-and-shoot—that is no sure thing. If the Giants stay one-dimensional, they are going to remain no-win-sional. The Eagles defense is a top-12 unit in this rare week.
Chief concern? Meh, keep them active
The Titans have not turned the ball over this season, which certainly has contributed to their surprising start. It has also made them the toughest opponent for defenses to date. The Chiefs have been the best fantasy unit so far, so something has to give.
We figure it will be the Titans, who are stuck relying on Ryan Fitzpatrick as their starting quarterback now. He should be good for a few turnovers and sacks, maybe even a pick-six.
Week 5 sleepers
The Chargers defense was great in fantasy last year and has been mediocre to date this season, but this is a week to expect a resurgence. The Raiders offense might be without Darren McFadden (hamstring), or a Run DMC who will be playing with a sore hammy and sans practice.
The Chargers have an elite run defense and are a top-five unit in fantasy against running backs. Consider the Chargers if you did not get your hands on St. Louis, Atlanta or Carolina.
Here are the units we like more than the masses this week:
- San Francisco 49ers
- Denver Broncos
- Chicago Bears
- San Diego Chargers
- Philadelphia Eagles
Week 5 duds
While the Patriots vs. Bengals game is going to be interesting with AFC playoff implications down the road, it shouldn't be one you are looking forward to if you own either defense.
In smaller leagues, you are justified cutting either defense for one of the streaming options above. Both offenses are secure with the ball and can put up points against each other.
They are among the defenses we like less than the consensus:
- Kansas City Chiefs
- Baltimore Ravens
- Cleveland Browns (D'oh! played well Thursday night)
- Cincinnati Bengals
- New England Patriots
|Rank||Defenses and Special Teams||Team||Opponent||ECR||vs. ECR|
|1||Seattle Seahawks||Sea||at Ind||2||+1|
|2||St. Louis Rams||StL||vs. Jac||1||-1|
|3||Atlanta Falcons||Atl||vs. NYJ||3||0|
|4||San Francisco 49ers||SF||vs. Hou||6||+2|
|5||Carolina Panthers||Car||at Ari||4||-1|
|6||Denver Broncos||Den||at Dal||12||+6|
|7||Kansas City Chiefs||KC||at Ten||5||-2|
|8||Chicago Bears||Chi||vs. NO||11||+3|
|9||San Diego Chargers||SD||at Oak||16||+7|
|10||Houston Texans||Hou||at SF||10||0|
|11||Philadelphia Eagles||Phi||at NYG||17||+6|
|12||Baltimore Ravens||Bal||at Mia||8||-4|
|13||New Orleans Saints||NO||at Chi||20||+7|
|14||Cleveland Browns||Cle||vs. Buf||7||-7|
|15||Green Bay Packers||GB||vs. Det||24||+9|
|16||Cincinnati Bengals||Cin||vs. NE||14||-2|
|17||New England Patriots||NE||at Cin||9||-8|
|18||Miami Dolphins||Mia||vs. Bal||15||-3|
|19||Arizona Cardinals||Ari||vs. Car||19||0|
|20||Tennessee Titans||Ten||vs. KC||21||+1|
Kickers: Packers' Mason Crosby Is Better Than You Think
Andy King/Getty Images
Kicker is a position you shouldn't concern yourself too much with. In fact, you should just pick up a kicker who has exhausted his bye and ride him out the rest of the way.
That makes Mason Crosby a must-add for all but a handful of fantasy owners—say, if you have Stephen Gostkowski, Matt Prater or Matt Bryant. Crosby will be productive because Aaron Rodgers is, particularly with that bolstered running game and the return of Eddie Lacy (concussion).
You can ignore Giants' Brown
The Eagles have allowed the most points to kickers in fantasy thus far, but Josh Brown is closer to the street than your fantasy lineup. If you are looking for a kicker, Alex Henery is the better play here. The Giants have been sieve-like defensively, allowing the seventh-most points to kickers to date.
Bear down: Saints are tough on kickers
If you have Robbie Gould, cut him. There are better options out there, and the Saints have allowed a league-low three field-goal attempts. They are No. 1 in fantasy against kickers.
Week 5 sleepers
Fantasy owners have been down on Justin Tucker, but the Ravens are going to get that running game going to take the pressure off the mostly weaponless Joe Flacco, who threw five interceptions last week. It will be more of a conservative approach against the upstart Dolphins.
Tucker is still a must-have kicker and rates among the options we like better than most:
- Stephen Gostkowski
- Justin Tucker
- Dan Bailey
- Mason Crosby
- Sebastian Janikowski
Week 5 duds
"Hey, didn't you just tell us above to pick up Henery?" Yes. He is a top-12 kicker. We just don’t like him as an elite option. He is a start, but he's still among the kickers we like less than the consensus:
- Matt Bryant
- Greg Zuerlein
- Alex Henery
- Nick Novak
- Garrett Hartley
|1||Stephen Gostkowski||NE||at Cin||3||+2|
|2||Matt Prater||Den||at Dal||2||0|
|3||Matt Bryant||Atl||vs. NYJ||1||-2|
|4||Justin Tucker||Bal||at Mia||6||+2|
|5||Dan Bailey||Dal||vs. Den||10||+5|
|6||Mason Crosby||GB||vs. Det||11||+5|
|7||Greg Zuerlein||StL||vs. Jac||5||-2|
|8||Phil Dawson||SF||vs. Hou||8||0|
|9||Alex Henery||Phi||at NYG||4||-5|
|10||Nick Novak||SD||at Oak||7||-3|
|11||Sebastian Janikowski||Oak||vs. SD||18||+7|
|12||Steven Hauschka||Sea||at Ind||15||+3|
|13||Mike Nugent||Cin||vs. NE||24||+11|
|14||Ryan Succop||KC||at Ten||19||+5|
|15||Randy Bullock||Hou||at SF||16||+1|
|16||Garrett Hartley||NO||at Chi||9||-7|
|17||Adam Vinatieri||Ind||vs. Sea||21||+4|
|18||David Akers||Det||at GB||14||-4|
|19||Robbie Gould||Chi||vs. NO||12||-7|
|20||Caleb Sturgis||Mia||vs. Bal||17||-3|