As always, a few breakthrough stars emerged in Week 5, scoring bundles of points for fantasy owners and taking the NFL by surprise.
The question that intrigued owners (or prospective owners) are asking is whether or not these players are worth starting next week. Can lightning strike twice?
Let's find out.
Nick Foles, QB, Philadelphia Eagles
Week 5 Stats: 16-25 for 197 yards and two touchdowns; 15 fantasy points
Analysis: You may be about selecting a player who scored 15 points is on this list, but keep in mind that Foles accumulated those stats in a little over a half in relief of the injured Michael Vick. Foles led the Eagles to 20 points after entering the game (though Eli Manning's three interceptions helped), and the Eagles didn't seem to miss a beat with him under center.
Now, we've learned Vick will likely be out against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, via Ian Rapoport of NFL.com:
Vick owners need to add him as a handcuff across the board. But should he be started?
Long Verdict: Probably not. The Bucs allow just 12.5 points to opposing quarterbacks per week, and shutdown corner Darrelle Revis will likely take DeSean Jackson, the one dangerous weapon the Eagles have in their passing attack, out of this game.
Desperate Vick owners may not have a choice but to start him, but everyone else should look elsewhere.
Short Verdict: SIT
Pierre Thomas, RB, New Orleans Saints
Week 5 Stats: 19 rushes for 36 yards; nine receptions for 55 yards and two touchdowns; 20 fantasy points
Analysis: It was Thomas' turn in the Saints backfield to post big fantasy numbers, a week after Darren Sproles crushed it for owners. This doesn't really change the fact that Sproles is the only Saints back worth starting. Still, next week, we could see Khiry Robinson explode for big fantasy numbers, given the way the Saints rely on different running backs from week to week.
Long Verdict: Thomas had five games with seven or more fantasy points a year ago. This was his first performance with more than five points this season. Even desperate owners should recognize that Thomas can't be relied upon on a weekly basis.
Short Verdict: SIT
Alshon Jeffery, WR, Chicago Bears
Week 5 Stats: 10 receptions for 208 yards and one touchdown; 27 fantasy points
Analysis: For the second week in a row, Jeffery has exceeded 20 fantasy points. He now has 18 receptions on the season for 419 receiving yards and two touchdowns. Just as importantly, he's been targeted in the Bears offense 45 times this season, second among Chicago pass-catchers to only Brandon Marshall.
If teams want to double Marshall, Jeffery has proven more than capable of burning them. And this week he faces a New York Giants defense that has given up 22 or more fantasy points to opposing wide receivers in four straight weeks.
Long Verdict: At worst, he's worthy of your flex spot, and...oh, why beat around the bush? Here's your long verdict—START HIM!
Short Verdict: START
Terrance Williams, WR, Dallas Cowboys
Week 5 Stats: Four receptions for 151 yards and one touchdown; 23 fantasy points
Analysis: Williams is an exciting young talent, and along with Dez Bryant, he torched the Denver Broncos secondary. Williams now has 11 receptions for 122 yards and a touchdown in the past two weeks, and the Cowboys next face a Washington secondary that is giving up 27 fantasy points to opposing wide receivers per week.
He sure seems like a flex play this week, right?
Long Verdict: Well, yes, if Miles Austin doesn't play. Williams has played well as Austin has missed the past two games, but some of his production would surely dip upon Austin's return. Still, Williams may be worth a stash even if Austin gets healthy this week.
Short Verdict: START if Austin is out, SIT if Austin plays
Rueben Randle, WR, New York Giants
Week 5 Stats: Six receptions for 96 yards and two touchdowns; 21 fantasy points
Analysis: In Week 1, Leonard Hankerson registered 20 fantasy points against the Philadelphia Eagles defense. In Week 2, Eddie Royal put up 27. In Week 3, Donnie Avery scored 14 fantasy points against Philly. In Week 4, well, just about everyone from the Denver Broncos torched the Eagles.
The point is this—the Birds have made second, third and even fourth options in the passing game look brilliant this season. Don't get too excited about Randle—he's a good young player, but it's hard to see him coming close to 20 fantasy points again.
Long Verdict: Teams have thrown the ball successfully against the Chicago Bears this year (278 passing yards per game allowed, 23rd in the NFL), but the Bears have also forced 14 turnovers, third in the NFL. Seeing as the Giants have committed 20 turnovers already this year, Eli Manning could be throwing more to the Bears than his own wide receivers.
Short Verdict: SIT
Keenan Allen, WR, San Diego Chargers
Week 5 Stats: Six receptions for 115 yards and one touchdown; 17 fantasy points
Analysis: For a more in-depth look at Allen's fantasy prospects moving forward, check out my article here.
The short version is this: Allen is the San Diego wide receiver I would want to own moving forward, but the fact that Vincent Brown has been targeted more (31 targets to 19) and that Antonio Gates and Danny Woodhead seem to be Philip Rivers' favorite targets is somewhat worrisome. Allen has been brilliant in the past two weeks, however (11 catches for 195 yards and a score), making him a definite stash grab on waivers this week.
Long Verdict: The Colts have generally been pretty stingy against opposing wide receivers, allowing a total of 17.4 fantasy points to opposing wide receivers per week. In deeper leagues, owners hurting due to the byes or needing a flex can roll the dice, but in general Allen is better served remaining on your bench this weekend.
Short Verdict: SIT
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