Fantasy football managers can't explain their pain when they leave a player who's outscored one or more of their starters on the bench—that's why they go off in expletive-filled rants. Yes, inactive points hurt that much.
Every week, it's important to weigh your options. Who's the better play between these two or three guys? Even the savviest managers have left big scoring totals on the pine, but you can minimize those occurrences with a good ranking system.
For Week 5, we'll go through all the positions, including kickers and defensive units. For owners stuck on a tough decision, take a look at the hierarchy for every spot on the roster. Each listing takes trends, matchups, injuries and the point-per-reception scoring format into account.
Unless you have a select group of fantasy stars, leave your mind open to swapping out typical starters in tough matchups for someone who's in a more favorable scenario. That's the playmaker capable of going off for 40 points on the bench.
1. Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs vs. Indianapolis Colts
2. Deshaun Watson, Houston Texans vs. Atlanta Falcons
3. Lamar Jackson, Baltimore Ravens vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
4. Carson Wentz, Philadelphia Eagles vs. New York Jets
5. Tom Brady, New England Patriots vs. Washington Redskins
6. Kyler Murray, Arizona Cardinals vs. Cincinnati Bengals
7. Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks vs. Los Angeles Rams
8. Jameis Winston, Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. New Orleans Saints
9. Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons vs. Houston Texans
10. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers vs. Dallas Cowboys
Wins and losses don't affect fantasy points, but typically, a winning team produces a couple of fantasy stars. The Arizona Cardinals have a legitimate chance to beat the Cincinnati Bengals Sunday. You'd agree after watching the AFC North club struggle on the Monday Night Football stage.
Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph threw for 229 yards and two touchdowns against the Bengals.
According to FantasyPros, Kyler Murray exceeded his point projections every week. He's expected to reach 16.6 in the upcoming matchup, but Cincinnati's inability to stop the pass or stuff the run could result in a big day for the dual-threat signal-caller.
The Cardinals have one glaring weakness that knocks Murray down a few notches: their offensive line. The rookie quarterback has taken the most sacks (20), which explains why he's just outside the top five.
Running Back Rankings
1. Dalvin Cook, Minnesota Vikings vs. New York Giants
2. Ezekiel Elliott, Dallas Cowboys vs. Green Bay Packers
3. Christian McCaffrey, Carolina Panthers vs. Jacksonville Jaguars
4. Alvin Kamara, New Orleans Saints vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
5. David Johnson, Arizona Cardinals vs. Cincinnati Bengals
6. Sony Michel, New England Patriots vs. Washington Redskins
7. Mark Ingram II, Baltimore Ravens vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
8. Leonard Fournette, Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Carolina Panthers
9. Joe Mixon, Cincinnati Bengals vs. Arizona Cardinals
10. Nick Chubb, Cleveland Browns vs. San Francisco 49ers
When quarterback Tom Brady doesn't light up a defense, skeptics begin to whisper about his age. In Week 4, the 42-year-old threw for 150 yards and an interception. Rather than harp on his biological time clock, let's dig a little deeper into why the New England Patriots may lean on the run going forward.
The Patriots don't have much stability on their offensive line. Center David Andrews landed on injured reserve because of blood clots in his lungs. Left tackle Isaiah Wynn started two games, but he's also on injured reserve with turf toe. The front office signed Marshall Newhouse to fill the void on Brady's blind side, but he's bounced between a starter and backup roles throughout his nine-year career.
In order to protect Brady for a playoff run, the Patriots could opt to go run-heavy, especially against lesser competition to preserve the golden arm in the pocket. Keep in mind, the Patriots selected running back Damien Harris in the third round of this year's draft.
Harris has yet to carve out a role in the Patriots offense, leaving Sony Michel and Rex Burkhead to carry the majority load. The former averages 2.8 yards per carry, but he's registered at least 15 rush attempts in three out of four games.
In Week 5, Michel will face the Washington Redskins' 28th-ranked run defense. He's primed for a productive outing following an uninspiring first quarter of the season.
Wide Receiver Rankings
1. Julio Jones, Atlanta Falcons vs. Houston Texans
2. DeAndre Hopkins, Houston Texans vs. Atlanta Falcons
3. Keenan Allen, Los Angeles Chargers vs. Denver Broncos
4. Odell Beckham Jr., Cleveland Browns vs. San Francisco 49ers
5. Michael Thomas, New Orleans Saints vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
6. Julian Edelman, New England Patriots vs. Washington Redskins
7. Mike Evans, Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. New Orleans Saints
8. Amari Cooper, Dallas Cowboys vs. Green Bay Packers
9. Cooper Kupp, Los Angeles Rams vs. Seattle Seahawks
10. Adam Thielen, Minnesota Vikings vs. New York Giants
In the first two weeks, fantasy managers with Mike Evans locked into the WR1 slot may have hit the panic button. He recorded six catches for 89 yards in that short window. Patient owners struck gold with him in Week 3, he logged 45 points in PPR leagues.
Last week, he came down to earth a bit, but he still finished with 18.9 points against the Los Angeles Rams. Thanks to quarterback Jameis Winston's turnaround under center, managers should feel good about plugging the Buccaneers' lead wide receiver into their lineups.
Tampa Bay goes on the road to face the New Orleans Saints who shut down the Dallas Cowboys' red-hot aerial attack in Week 4. However, defensive coordinator Dennis Allen's pass defense, specifically cornerback Marshon Lattimore, has shown inconsistencies this year.
New Orleans ranks 23rd against passing attacks. Until Lattimore displays solid coverage in consecutive games, he's not someone to shy away from in a matchup. Evans may not have a performance comparable to Week 3, but the 6'5", 231-pounder could win some battles especially in the red zone.
Tight End Rankings
1. Travis Kelce, Kansas City Chiefs vs. Indianapolis Colts
2. Zach Ertz, Philadelphia Eagles vs. New York Jets
3. George Kittle, San Francisco 49ers vs. Cleveland Browns
4. Austin Hooper, Atlanta Falcons vs. Houston Texans
5. Will Dissly, Seattle Seahawks vs. Los Angeles Rams
6. Mark Andrews, Baltimore Ravens vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
7. Evan Engram, New York Giants vs. Minnesota Vikings
8. Darren Waller, Oakland Raiders vs. Chicago Bears
9. Jimmy Graham, Green Bay Packers vs. Dallas Cowboys
10. Eric Ebron, Indianapolis Colts vs. Kansas City Chiefs
Quietly, Will Dissly has established himself as a viable red-zone option. He's scored four touchdowns over the last three outings—one in each contest since Week 2.
The Seattle Seahawks passing attack doesn't have a solid No. 2 pass-catcher yet. Rookie second-round wideout DK Metcalf's receptions have dropped after each game from four in the season opener down to one Sunday.
Dissly's receiving yard total isn't appetizing to fantasy owners (181), but he's a reliable pass-catcher who makes the most of his targets with an 86.4 percent catch rate.
Because of Lamar Jackson's uneven performances over the last two weeks, Mark Andrew takes a bit of a slide down the rankings with Dissly on the way up. The latter could have a big showing against a Rams defense that just allowed 55 points to the Buccaneers Sunday.
1. New England Patriots vs. Washington Redskins
2. Philadelphia Eagles vs. New York Jets
3. Chicago Bears vs. Oakland Raiders
4. Tennessee Titans vs. Buffalo Bills
5. Minnesota Vikings vs. New York Giants
6. Buffalo Bills vs. Tennessee Titans
7. Carolina Panthers vs. Jacksonville Jaguars
8. New Orleans Saints vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
9. San Francisco 49ers vs. Cleveland Browns
10. Los Angeles Chargers vs. Denver Broncos
The Tennessee Titans defense lists fourth, but that unit could climb one or two spots in the coming days.
Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen is still in concussion protocol. He took a massive hit from Patriots cornerback Jonathan Jones Sunday. With his status up in the air, Matt Barkley could start against the Titans.
Barkley stepped in for Allen in the last outing and threw an interception while under duress and the pass floated to linebacker Jamie Collins.
The Bills offensive line can share some of the fault on that play, but the 2013 fourth-rounder has only started seven career games. If he's commanding the huddle in Buffalo's next game, that's a major upgrade for Tennessee's defense.
If Allen starts, fantasy managers may want to keep the Titans defense active anyway. The group ranks fourth in scoring, holding all their opponents under 21 points.
1. Harrison Butker, Kansas City Chiefs vs. Indianapolis Colts
2. Justin Tucker, Baltimore Ravens vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
3. Ka'imi Fairbairn, Houston Texans vs. Atlanta Falcons
4. Greg Zuerlein, Los Angeles Rams vs. Seattle Seahawks
5. Wil Lutz, New Orleans Saints vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
6. Brett Maher, Dallas Cowboys vs. Green Bay Packers
7. Jason Myers, Seattle Seahawks vs. Los Angeles Rams
8. Jake Elliott, Philadelphia Eagles vs. New York Jets
9. Robbie Gould, San Francisco 49ers vs. Cleveland Browns
10. Matt Bryant, Atlanta Falcons vs. Houston Texans
In the kicker rankings, owners should pay close attention to offenses that can move the ball—or a unit going against a subpar defense. This isn't restricted to the top scoring clubs in the league. You'd prefer three field goals rather than the same number of extra points after touchdowns.
The Houston Texans offense hasn't clicked on all cylinders lately. Once again, quarterback Deshaun Watson can't escape unrelenting pocket pressure. He's been sacked 18 times.
However, the Texans could regain some of their offensive mojo in the next contest with the Atlanta Falcons. Head coach Dan Quinn, who's now calling plays, fields a generous defensive unit in terms of points.
Although the Falcons defense ranks ninth in yards allowed, it's 21st in scoring. In every game, Atlanta has surrendered at least 20 points. With a dynamic passer like Watson in the pocket and DeAndre Hopkins, arguably the league's top wide receiver, the Texans should have multiple drives that venture into field-goal range.
Rankings based on the author's opinion