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Fantasy Overview, Week 5

Get yourself caught up on what's going on in the league as we enter Week 5 of the NFL season. Here's my take on the fantasy landscape around the league and how you can benefit. 

It's hard to believe, but we are a quarter of the way through the season. In fantasy terms we're even further, considering most league's playoffs start in Week 14. For those of you with a 4-0 record, Conratulations! All the power to you. 

This week's edition is more for those that are 0-4, 1-3 or 2-2. I'll take a look at some struggling players from each position and let you know what you how you should proceed with those players. These do not include any players who have have missed multiple games with an injury. 

QUARTERBACK
 

Matt Ryan, ATL

Current rank:18th
Drafted as: QB1. 
Opponents played: at CHI, GB, at DET, BUF
Record: 3-1
Upcoming schedule: BYE, MIA, at NE, at NYJ, at CAR 

Matt Ryan and the Falcons are lucky to be 3-1 considering they had two close, last play wins. In Week 1 at Chicago, the Bears failed to score the winning touchdown in four consecutive plays inside the 10 yard line. Atlanta escaped with a victory. In Week 3 at Detroit the Falcons escaped with a fortuitous call at the goal line and a 10-second run off that sealed the victory. Week 4 they lost at home to a good Buffalo team. They enter the Week 5 bye at just the right time with an ailing Julio Jones (hip) and Mohamed Sanu (hamstring). Ryan has only one game with multiple touchdown passes this season and he has five interceptions in the last two games. Last year was an MVP season for Ryan and we rarely see a follow-up season with similar numbers. A regression was expected and so far that's what we're seeing. Ryan is a career 11th ranked quarterback. I have a feeling we will see better games from him in the near future, but also some disappointing games. He and the Falcons are playing like a 2-2 team or worse. Imagine the adversity they would have to overcome if not for those helpful good luck charms received at the end of Week 1 and 3. 

Result: Hold but don't expect Top 5

ben roethlisberger, pit

Current rank:20
Drafted as: Late QB1
Opponents played: at CLE, MIN, at CHI, at BAL
Record: 3-1
Upcoming schedule: JAC, at KC, CIN, at DET, BYE

Four weeks into the season Ben Roethlisberger has been good, but not great. He has not had a 300-yard game, nor a game with more than two touchdown passes. He doesn't run much at all, so that eliminates any additional fantasy points that you would've received from a Matthew Stafford, Marcus Mariota, Cam Newton, Alex Smith, or several others. He hasn't been bad, but he's ranked 20th. Antonio Brown has been a top flight wide receiver for years including the last two. Roethlisberger finished 21st and 18th in those years. The success of Brown (and Le'Veon Bell for that matter), doesn't necessarily equate into fantasy success for Roethlisberger. At least not that I can see. The harsh reality is that he's just not an elite fantasy quarterback anymore. This is his 14th year of being a starting quarterback in the NFL. Constant hits, injuries and wear & tear has taken a toll. He has contemplated retirement for a reason and we're starting to see it this season. 

Result: Bench him and look elsewhere, play him for favorable matchups only

Philip rivers, LAC

Current rank:17
Drafted as: Late QB1
Opponents played: at DEN, MIA, KC, PHI
Record: 0-4
Upcoming schedule: at NYG, at OAK, DEN, at NE, BYE

The Chargers are a disappointing 0-4 and they can't fill a 28,000 stadium in a new city. They lost to Miami, who may struggle to win another game this season and they play in one of the best divisions in the league, the AFC West. Philip Rivers is capable of big things and he's shown that he can be fantasy relevant on a 5-win team (last season). The Chargers have a budding defense and a strong running back in Melvin Gordon III, so what's the problem? They just can't seem to hold a lead or overcome a deficit. Rivers has two 300-yard games and six touchdowns in four games, but like Ben Roethlisberger, he's not nimble and the rushing fantasy points are not there, nor will they arrive. The magic number for fantasy success for Rivers is 250 yards and 2 touchdowns. If he can average that with some 300 yard games or 3 touchdown efforts sprinkled in, he should manage to be a low-end fantasy quarterback this season. 

Result: Hold, but if you have a better option, look in that direction 


RUNNING BACK
 

Isaiah Crowell, CLE

Current rank:47 (PPR)
Drafted as: RB2/RB3
Opponents played: PIT, at BAL, at IND, CIN
Record: 0-4
Upcoming schedule: NYJ, at HOU, TEN, MIN, BYE

There were visions of Isaiah Crowell rising to the occasion this season. He had an impressive 4.8 yards per carry average last year with touchdown scoring potential. His numbers were far better in the first half of games than the second half. The game scripts for the Browns did not favor the running game last season and we're seeing a similar result this year as well. Cleveland is still Cleveland, which isn't good for a back that is primarily a rushing threat. The Browns have Duke Johnson Jr who is a much better receiving back and he's seeing more snaps than Crowell. Not only is Crowell getting phased out in the second half of games, but his yards per carry has dropped to a paltry 2.8 yards per carry this season. It's possible that he rebounds, but his worth may only be for certain matchups. You can't have a RB2 that has potential to perform on certain matchups only. There's too much risk and not enough reward. 

Result: Bench and hope for a resurgence

marshawn lynch, oak

Current rank:43 (PPR)
Drafted as: RB2
Opponents played: at TEN, NYJ, at WAS, at DEN
Record: 2-2
Upcoming schedule: BAL, LAC, KC, at BUF, at MIA

Marshawn Lynch is on the older side of 31 years old and the NFL is a younger man's league. Beastmode may still have a few good games in him, but there's reason to believe his best games are well behind him and his team is going to have to move forward without Derek Carr (back) for at least two games, possibly more. The Raiders, particularly their ground game, has struggled recently if their offense can't get into a rhythm. They have scored 10 points in each of their last two games, and face some adversity in October. They may turn to Lynch to carry them, but I'm not sure he's up to the task. He has one touchdown in four games and has three games with 45 yards rushing or less. He has a combined three receptions and his team is falling, rather than rising. He's a risk to start as a RB2 and if you have better options, especially in a PPR league, it may be best to use them. 

Result: Trade in for a better option. At best, hold. 

Melvin gordon, lac

Current rank:17 (PPR)
Drafted as: First round RB1
Opponents played: at DEN, MIA, KC, PHI
Record: 0-4
Upcoming schedule: at NYG, at OAK, DEN, at NE, BYE

Melvin Gordon III started off with three decent games inlcuding a touchdown in each game that resulted in a Top 8 place among PPR running backs. Then came Week 4, a minor knee ailment, and the Eagles run defense which knocked him all the way down to 17th. As long as he can overcome his banged up knee, he should bounce back into a reliable weekly start. If he continues to score, he'll have value. A few items of concern: He started with 12 receptions in the first two games, but he only has one in the last two. He also has not had a 100-yard effort in rushing and receiving yards combined yet. That's a bit of a concern for a player who had six games with over 100 yards combined last season. If the touchdowns drop off, so will his fantasy value. The upcoming Chargers schedule, aside from Denver is favorable, so there's no reason to panic. But, if you can get a good return, it may not be a bad idea to try to sell him. 

Result: Hold, or sell if the deal is right

WIDE RECEIVER

 

amari cooper, oak

Current rank:68 (PPR)
Drafted as: WR1
Opponents played: at TEN, NYJ, at WAS, at DEN
Record: 2-2
Upcoming schedule: BAL, LAC, KC, at BUF, at MIA

Amari Cooper has been a disappointment this season and arguably his entire career. The expectations were high for the former Crimson Tide star, but he has not elevated his game to the elite level that many people expected. He finished 14th and 23rd in the last two years and after four games this season, he's sitting at 68th among all PPR wide receivers. Michael Crabtree has played in one less game and yet he has more touchdowns (3) and receptions (13) than Cooper. To make matters worse, the Raiders will not have Derek Carr under center for at least the next two games, possibly more. There is nowhere to go but up for Cooper. He has to get better and he will. His 31 targets lead the team and he'll be relied on by EJ Manuel while Carr is out. Cooper may not evolve into a Top 10 wide receiver, but Top 20 is still doable. He won't face Denver every week. The three consecutive home games beginning this week will definitely help. 

Result: hold, a bounce back into the Top 25 is coming

Demaryius Thomas, den

Current rank:36 (PPR)
Drafted as: WR2
Opponents played: LAC, DAL, at BUF, OAK
Record: 3-1
Upcoming schedule: BYE, NYG, at LAC, at KC, at PHI

The Broncos have 7 touchdown passes in four games and Demaryius Thomas has none. Among wide receivers, Emmanuel Sanders and Bennie Fowler each have two. The days of Thomas reaching double digit touchdowns are behind him. That left with Peyton Manning, but that doesn't mean he can't be a productive fantasy wide receiver. He still has 30 targets and 18 receptions for 247 yards this season. He should return to the Top 25, but his days in the Top 15 may be over, unless Trevor Siemian takes another step forward. Right now, Emmanuel Sanders is the receiver to own in Denver, but that could change as early as next week. If you can get Thomas from a disgruntled owner, there should be much better days ahead. 

Result: Hold, buy

Sammy Watkins, LAR

Current rank:29 (PPR)
Drafted as: WR3
Opponents played: IND, WAS, at SF, at DAL
Record: 3-1
Upcoming schedule: SEA, at JAC, ARI, BYE, at NYG

Sammy Watkins has been a big disappointment for many. He was lackluster in Weeks 1 and 2, which then likely led to most people benching him for Week 3, when he had his best game this year. Owners jumped back on the bandwagon in Week 4 and were disappointed again with a 1 catch performance. He's not injured, he's just not getting the ball as much as he's used to. Plus Todd Gurley is playing better than any running back in the league not named Kareem Hunt - and even that's debatable. Watkins has a concerning 16 targets, but he's made good on 14 of them for an 87.5% reception percentage. Still, DeAndre Hopkins and Antonio Brown have 49 and 45 targets respectively. Watkins' 16 is puny in comparison.What makes his struggles more frustrating is that the Rams lead the league with 142 points scored. There's reason for concern that he won't turn it around to the point of being a Top 20 receiver. Todd Gurley (25), Robert Woods (22) and Cooper Kupp (21) all have more targets, which makes Watkins the fourth option on offense. It's difficult to rely on a fantasy receiver who is fourth on the team in targets. Injuries have not hit the Rams yet, which would help his overall game, but you can't base your hopes on someone else getting injured. He's on the fence right now and it's unclear if he's going to keep climbing or fall off. It may not be a bad idea to wait for him to have another good game and then attempt to sell. 

Result: Hold (sell after big game)

Julio Jones, atl

Current rank:25 (PPR)
Drafted as: First round WR1
Opponents played: at CHI, GB, at DET, BUF
Record: 3-1
Upcoming schedule: BYE, MIA, at NE, at NYJ, at CAR

Julio Jones has yet to score a touchdown this year and Matt Ryan's numbers are also down. Atlanta may not be as potent as they were last year and people are concerned about Julio Jones. Should you be? Probably not. The hip injury he suffered in Week 4 is thought to be minor, plus the Falcons have a bye this week, followed by games against Miami and at New England. The future looks bright for Jones, especially if his teammate Mohamed Sanu (hamstring) may not be ready to return by Week 6. Matt Ryan may not have another MVP season, but Jones has thrived before when Ryan was a Top 15 quarterback. This is the time to go after Julio especially during his bye week. An owner is always more willing to let go of a player if their bye is that week. 

Result: Buy while he's down, especially now that he is on a bye

TIGHT END
 

kyle rudolph

Current rank:23 (PPR)
Drafted as: TE1
Opponents played: NO, at PIT, TB, DET
Record: 2-2
Upcoming schedule: at CHI, GB, BAL, at CLE, BYE

Kyle Rudolph has been a big disappointment this year. He has one touchdown, which came back in Week 1. Since then he has had games of 4, 1 and 2 receptions with 45 yards being the high. Minnesota has evolved into a pass-first offense, namely utilizing their top wide receivers Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen. Rudolph is fourth on the team in targets with 15 and only 10 receptions. On the bright side, his fortunes may turn around with the loss of Dalvin Cook and the return of Sam Bradford, but that doesn't mean he will return to the Top 8 or even Top 3 where he was last year. He should improve, but don't expect Top 5 numbers. Buy him if you can. I doubt he gets any worse than his rank right now. 

Result: buy low, he can only get better

 

martellus bennett, gb

Current rank:16 (PPR)
Drafted as: TE1
Opponents played: SEA, at ATL, CIN, CHI
Record: 3-1
Upcoming schedule: at DAL, at MIN, NO, BYE, DET

The Packers and Aaron Rodgers have long favored wide receivers over tight ends, especially when it comes to touchdowns. In 2016, Rodgers had 40 touchdowns, 3 went to the tight end. We haven't seen a fantasy TE1 in Green Bay since Jermichael Finley, which says a lot considering the potent Packers passing game. The thought process in the offseason was that the signing of Martelllus Bennett (a former 90-catch receiver), would buck that trend. So far, Rodgers has 10 touchdown passes this season. One each have gone to a running back and tight end, while 8 have gone to wide receivers. In other words - no change from what we've seen from Rodgers in the past. What does this mean for Bennett going forward? He'll score 3-4 touchdowns this year and average around 45-50 yards per game. Is he worth starting every week? If he can get some scores, maybe. His luck is bound to improve, but those splits between wide receivers and non-wide receivers for touchdowns is sobering. I would condone trying to move Bennett as soon as he gets in the end zone. Chances are he won't sustain that level of success this season. 

Result: Sell or keep as a bye week filler

thumbs up or thumbs down - what does the consensus say?

I took to twitter to get a gauge on what the consensus thinks about several different fantasy related situations. Here's the results. 

 

 

 

Questions, suggestions and comments are always welcome to haseley@footballguys.com