It's Week 5 in the NFL. Your rosters have started to take shape, and hopefully we've been able to figure out who's for real and who's not. Most of the good pickups are gone off of the waiver wire, and now the trades will begin. And as always, the struggle remains of who to start week in and week out. Hopefully I can help you decide.
As a side not this list does not mention the obvious starts, such as Aaron Rodgers or Adrian Peterson. This list is meant to help sort out the confusion surrounding the lesser players in the NFC North, and provide a helpful guide when choosing who to start.
Detroit vs. Chicago
QB Matthew Stafford , WR Calvin Johnson, TE Brandon Pettigrew, Lions D/ST
It has always been said that Stafford could be an elite QB if he could stay healthy for a full season. Well, it appears that that has become the case this season. Stafford has come out in a monster way this year, and his go-to-guy in every situation is Megatron, aka Calvin Johnson. Stafford immediately elevates the level of play of all those around him, including Pettigrew, who is turning out to be a extremely productive young TE. The Lions D probably isn't the best choice this week, but the Bears O-Line gives up a lot of sacks, and could result in a productive day for Ndamukong Suh and Co.
QB Jay Cutler, WR Johnny Knox, Bears D/ST
Cutler has never been the elite QB that Chicago thought it was getting when it traded for him, however, he still remains a fringe starter. The fact that he has managed to put up decent numbers against three very good defenses means he will most likely have a decent day against a Lions defense who will load up to stop Matt Forte, though the Lions D-Line could make life miserable for Cutler. Johnny Knox is Cutler's go-to-receiver after Matt Forte, and the Bears are finally getting Knox involved in the passing game. The Bears defense could be a sneaky start this week, as the Lions haven't faced a defense of the Bears' caliber.
WR Earl Bennett, RB Jahvid Best
Earl Bennett has become lost in the Bears receiver depth chart. Johnny Knox and Devin Hester have moved ahead of him, so Bennett has effectively become the No. 4 receiver for the Bears, behind Hester, Knox, and Forte. The Bears have yet to give up a rushing touchdown to any running back this year, despite giving up plenty of yards and fantasy points. Best has also yet to perform to his early 2010 level. The Bears defense will offer no reprieve this week, so look for other options if you have them.
Minnesota vs. Arizona
QB Donovan McNabb, TE Visanthe Shiancoe, WR Percy Harvin,
The Cardinals have struggled this year against opposing QB's and WR's. They currently stand in the bottom 10 against both. This could be an opportunity for McNabb and the rest of the Vikings passing game to take off. You might even consider WR Michael Jenkins as a sneaky start this week. Also the Vikings are playing at home and will hope to impress by opening up the offense and spreading the ball around.
RB Beanie Wells, Cardinals D/ST
Wells had a monster game last week against the Giants. The Vikings defense remains solid against the run, but Wells has put up good numbers in recent weeks, enough to be worthy of a start. The Cardinals defense has largely been inept against the opponents passing offense. Luckily for them, the Vikings haven't been able to get anything started through the air, so they could have a decent matchup this week provided Adrian Peterson doesn’t decide to run all over them.
QB Kevin Kolb
Kolb has been productive week in and week out, however, he doesn't deserve a start simply because he hasn't been productive enough. Larry Fitzgerald is his only main weapon on offense other then Wells, so it's not completely his fault. However, other starts are probably to be found.
Atlanta vs. Green Bay
RB Michael Turner, QB Matt Ryan, WR Roddy White, WR Julio Jones, TE Tony Gonzalez
The Packers defense, while solid against the run, has left much to be desired against opposing QB's and WR's. They are currently the worst team against opposing QB's and the third worst versus opposing WR's, so expect big games from White, Gonzalez, and Jones. Ryan, provided he can stay upright, will also put up some decent numbers. In contrast to their pass defense, the Packers have the No. 2 ranked run defense in the NFL right now, so starting Turner may be a little confusing. However the Falcons have stated they want to play ball control against this explosive Packers offense, so expect the Falcons to stick to this game-plan for as long as possible
WR Jordy Nelson, TE Jermichael Finley, Packers D/ST
Aaron Rodgers and Greg Jennings are obvious must starts, and Nelson and Finley are quickly joining them in that category. Nelson has moved into the No. 2 receiver slot, as Donald Driver has been slowed down by age and injury. Finley remains a beast at TE, and poses a matchup problem to anyone who attempts to cover him. The Packers are going to put up points each and every week, and right now no-one can match them in a shootout. The Packers defense could be a decent start this week, as Matt Ryan has been victimized this year by opposing defense who aren't nearly as good as the Packers D.
RB James Starks, RB Ryan Grant, Falcons D/ST
Neither back has proven to be the better runner, so, for the time being, assume that both Starks and Grant will be splitting the carries 50/50. Also, the Packers have clearly established themselves as a passing offense, so the Packers running backs would be fringe starts even if the carries weren't split evenly. The Packers are putting up huge amounts of points even against solid defenses like the Saints and Bears, so the Falcons defense should be in a for a bad day. Look for other options if you can.