We're nearly a month into the 2016 NFL season, which means we've also gotten through nearly four weeks of fantasy football. There might not be many things we know for certain at this point, but we do know that the fantasy world is ripe with the unexpected.
There were some fantasy disappointments in Week 4, to be sure. New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski seems closer to being fully healthy, but he only caught one pass for 11 yards. Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford failed to produce good numbers against a Chicago Bears defense that had previously been laughable.
Stafford produced just 213 yards passing and a pair of turnovers.
Of course, there were some positive surprises too. Did anyone expect Atlanta Falcons receiver Julio Jones to have a strong day against the Carolina Panthers defense? Well, sure. Did anyone expect him to go off for 300 yards and a touchdown?
What does all of this mean for the looming fifth week of fantasy? On a game-to-game basis, not a whole lot. However, there are some trends that are beginning to emerge as the season rolls on. We're going to use those trends, along with the rest of what we've seen on the field, to help analyze upcoming fantasy matchups.
We'll be looking at each fantasy skill position and defenses, along with Week 5 point projections, courtesy of NFL.com. We'll also examine some of the best and worst plays at each skill position.
First, though, let's look ahead to the upcoming slate of games.
|NFL Week 5 Schedule|
|Date||Game||Time (ET)||National TV|
|Thur. 10/6||Arizona at San Francisco||8:25||CBS/NFL Network|
|Sun. 10/9||New England at Cleveland||1:00||CBS|
|Sun. 10/9||Philadelphia at Detroit||1:00||Fox|
|Sun. 10/9||Chicago at Indianapolis||1:00||Fox|
|Sun. 10/9||Tennessee at Miami||1:00||CBS|
|Sun. 10/9||Washington at Baltimore||1:00||Fox|
|Sun. 10/9||Houston at Minnesota||1:00||CBS|
|Sun. 10/9||NY Jets at Pittsburgh||1:00||CBS|
|Sun. 10/9||Atlanta at Denver||4:05||Fox|
|Sun. 10/9||Cincinnati at Dallas||4:25||CBS|
|Sun. 10/9||Buffalo at Los Angeles||4:25||CBS|
|Sun. 10/9||San Diego at Oakland||4:25||CBS|
|Sun. 10/9||NY Giants at Green Bay||8:30||NBC|
|Mon. 10/10||Tampa Bay at Carolina||8:30||ESPN|
|Week 5 Quarterbacks|
Boom: Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts
The Indianapolis Colts continue to struggle in 2016. The team cannot seem to find an identity on defense or a regular rhythm on offense. After losing to the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday, the Colts fall to 1-3 and are rated just 29th overall as a team by Pro Football Focus.
However, a lack of team success hasn't prevented Colts quarterback Andrew Luck from finding his fair share of fantasy success. Luck has already passed for 1,147 yards and eight touchdowns this season with just three interceptions.
OBJ's Trade to Cleveland Has the Browns Hyped
Le'Veon's Power Move Pays Off After Signing Massive Deal with Jets
Friends to Foes, Ex-UGA Teammates Meet in Super Bowl
Cooks Gave a Super Gift to This Rams Employee
Mahomes Loves Ketchup as Much as Torching Defenses
Bears Hoping to Ride Club Dub to the Super Bowl
The Worst Fantasy Football Punishments for Last Place
NFL Players Bring Soccer Traditions to the NFL
JuJu Is a Man of the People
Bills Superfan 'Pancho Billa' Continues to Inspire
Happy 26th Birthday to OBJ 🎉
Mahomes Is 'Showtime' Off the Field Too
Thielen's Ride from Underdog to Record-Breaking WR
Shanahan and His Son Carter Are Hyped for Carter V
Browns Winning Off the Field with Community Service
Conner's Journey from Beating Cancer to Starting RB
Does Donovan McNabb Deserve Your 2019 Pro Football Hall of Fame Vote?
B/R Fantasy Expert Matt Camp Gives His Picks for Keep or Release After Week 2
Does Hines Ward Deserve Your 2019 Pro Football Hall of Fame Vote?
This week, Luck and the Colts host the Chicago Bears. The Bears defense held its own against Matthew Stafford and the Detroit Lions on Sunday, but the unit has generally been inconsistent this season. Chicago has surrendered an average of 24.2 points per game and is rated just 16th in overall defense by Pro Football Focus.
Add in the fact that Luck regularly finds himself in quarterback duels—and could find himself in one again in Week 5—and signs point to a strong day for the Colts' cornerstone.
Bust: Brock Osweiler, Houston Texans
The Houston Texans spent big to secure the services of Brock Osweiler this past offseason. In return, the team has gotten a strong-armed, if inconsistent, gunslinger in return. He has passed for 949 yards with five touchdowns and six interceptions.
It's worth noting, of course, that Osweiler still doesn't have a full season of starting experience—even if the quarterback won't use that as an excuse.
"I don't use my lack of starts as an excuse for anything," Osweiler said, per Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle. "I expect myself to play at an extremely high level. I have great confidence in my abilities and what I can do, and I have great confidence in the teammates around me to help me do my job."
Confidence is great and all, but Osweiler is going up against the Minnesota Vikings in Week 5. The Vikings, who are ranked second in scoring defense (13.3 points per game allowed), have already made Aaron Rodgers and Cam Newton look below average this season. Expect Osweiler to be in for a long day in Week 5.
Sleeper: Marcus Mariota, Tennessee Titans
The jury is still out on whether or not Marcus Mariota can be a franchise quarterback for the Tennessee Titans. The second-year man definitely hasn't been a fantasy star—in part because of turnovers (he has eight already this year).
Mariota does draw an interesting matchup with the Miami Dolphins. Miami is rated just 26th in pass coverage by Pro Football Focus and has surrendered an average of 272.0 yards passing per game.
Mariota appears determined to drive forward, and this could be a game that helps break him out of a mediocrity funk.
Don't expect Mariota to blow Miami out of the water, but 300-plus passing yards and a couple of scores are definitely possible.
|Week 5 Running Backs|
Boom: C.J. Anderson, Denver Broncos
Denver Broncos running back C.J. Anderson may have experienced his ups and downs during the 2015 season, but so far this year, he's been looking a lot more like the fantasy stud we remember from late 2014.
Anderson already has 252 yards rushing, 73 yards receiving and four total touchdowns. Expect him to add quite a bit to that total in Week 5.
Anderson is going up against an Atlanta Falcons defense that is rated just 27th against the run by Pro Football Focus. Yet, that's not the only reason to like Anderson.
Broncos starter Trevor Siemian was unable to finish Sunday's contest against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers because of a shoulder injury. NFL Media's Ian Rapoport has reported that it is a joint sprain in his non-throwing shoulder:
Rookie Paxton Lynch finished the game and could be called upon to start against the Falcons in Week 5. If so, the Broncos could try easing the rookie's workload with a strong running game. That should equal more fantasy action for Anderson.
Bust: Rashad Jennings, New York Giants
We haven't seen a whole heck of a lot from New York Giants running back Rashad Jennings so far this season. He has 102 yards rushing, 16 yards receiving and zero touchdowns on the season. He is also dealing with a thumb injury and missed last week's game against the Washington Redskins.
According to Jordan Raanan of ESPN.com, Jennings is unlikely to play on Monday night against Minnesota.
Jennings owners may be tempted to play him if he returns for Week 5's matchup with the Green Bay Packers because Shane Vereen was recently placed on injured reserve.
However, playing Jennings is probably something that is best to be avoided.
The Packers are currently rated third in run defense by Pro Football Focus, and they have surrendered a league-low 42.7 yards per game on the ground.
Sleeper: Duke Johnson, Cleveland Browns
The Cleveland Browns appear to have a budding fantasy star in running back Isaiah Crowell. His backfield mate, Duke Johnson, is probably best known right now for his costly fumble against the Redskins that may or may not have actually been recovered by the other team.
Johnson, though, does have fantasy value, particularly in points-per-reception (PPR) leagues. He already has 18 receptions on the season to go with 271 combined rushing and receiving yards. He has made 11 of his receptions over the past two weeks with Cody Kessler under center.
Look for the Browns to continue to ease Kessler into the offense with the short-passing game, which benefits Johnson.
|Week 5 Receivers|
|9||Odell Beckham Jr.||12.30|
Boom: Antonio Brown, Pittsburgh Steelers
Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown continues to terrorize the NFL with his ridiculous ball skills, route running and quickness.
Brown already has 369 yards receiving and four touchdowns on 28 receptions.
Brown's value, though, could be set to go even higher now that running back Le'Veon Bell is back in the fold. While Brown remains the focal point of the Steelers' passing attack, defenders are going to find it difficult to key in on him with so many other weapons at quarterback Ben Roethlisberger's disposal.
The Steelers face a talented New York Jets defense in Week 5, but it's a defense that has been torched deep in the passing game.
A.J. Green put up 180 yards and a touchdown against the Jets in Week 1. Marquise Goodwin produced 112 yards and a score in Week 2. This past week, Jimmy Graham put up 113 yards against the Jets defense.
Fully expect Brown to top the coveted 100-yard mark.
Bust: Will Fuller, Houston Texans
Rookie receiver Will Fuller has become a trendy fantasy start because of his big-play ability and his potential to produce sizable fantasy outings. Just this past week, he racked up 81 yards and a touchdown against the Tennessee Titans.
Unfortunately, Fuller is going up against the Vikings this week. We don't like his value for many of the same reasons why we don't like his quarterback Osweiler.
However, it's the Minnesota pass rush that really causes Fuller's overall value to fall. Much of his game is predicated on his speed and his ability to make plays downfield. If Osweiler doesn't have time to stand in the pocket and attack downfield, then Fuller is likely to be limited.
This was what happened for much of the Texans' Week 3 game against the New England Patriots. Osweiler was often rushed in the pocket, and as a result, Fuller finished with just three receptions and 31 yards.
Minnesota's pass rush, which already has 15 sacks heading into Monday night, is likely to give Osweiler very, very little time to throw.
Expect some short stuff for Fuller but few downfield strikes.
On the Rise: Eddie Royal, Chicago Bears
After he produced 111 yards and a touchdown this past week, we can't call Bears receiver Eddie Royal a sleeper. However, it's worth keeping an eye on him heading into Week 5.
As Brian Hoyer settles in more as quarterback of the Bears, the passing game becomes more efficient. Royal was one of the biggest benefactors of Hoyer's solid quarterback play in Week 4.
Next week, he'll go against a Colts defense that is rated a mere 31st in pass coverage by Pro Football Focus.
|Week 5 Tight Ends|
Boom: Greg Olsen, Carolina Panthers
The Carolina Panthers have struggled in recent weeks, but the team's struggles haven't affected tight end Greg Olsen.
So far, Olsen already has 24 receptions, 335 yards and two scores. He should remain a focal point of the passing attack, even if starting quarterback Cam Newton cannot return from the concussion he suffered against the Falcons on Sunday.
On top of possessing a strong role, Olsen gets a terrific matchup in Week 5. He'll be going up against a Tampa Bay Buccaneers defense rated just 24th in pass coverage by Pro Football Focus.
Don't be surprised if Olsen's yardage total soars into the triple digits in this one.
Bust: Gary Barnidge, Cleveland Browns
Browns tight end Gary Barnidge was a Pro Bowler a year ago, and he seems to be finding his rhythm once again in 2016. He produced a whopping seven receptions over the weekend against Washington.
The problem with starting Barnidge this week is that he's facing New England. Patriots head coach Bill Belichick loves to neutralize assets on the opposing offense, and Barnidge is one of the biggest assets the Browns have.
With Kessler making just his third pro start in this game, Barnidge has the potential to be a major security blanket and outlet receiver for the rookie. Expect Belichick to do everything he can to take that away.
|Week 5 Defenses|