Week 5 Sleepers

A look at the best under the radar starts for Week 5

QB

Joe Flacco (vs WAS) - Flacco is starting to hit his stride going into his best matchup yet this season. Steve Smith has regained his pre-achilles shredding form, and other than Josh Norman, the Washington defense lacks the playmakers in the pass rush or secondary to frustrate Flacco, especially playing at home. In addition to having the third most pass attempts in the league, Flacco has rushing scores each of the last two weeks, and he’s facing a defense that has allowed every quarterback they’ve faced at least one score and 292 passing yards except Cody Kessler.

Carson Wentz (at DET) - Wentz has a solid floor coming out of his bye, with at least 190 yards and a score in every game, and two of three with at least 278 yards and two scores - this despite not throwing the ball more than 37 times in any game. He’s going up against a Lions defense that has already allowed 12 passing touchdowns, including two each to Marcus Mariota and Brian Hoyer. Ezekiel Ansah and DeAndre Levy are the team’s best defensive lineman and linebacker, and they will remain out this week. They’ve also given up two 300-yard games, and Aaron Rodgers only threw for 205 against the Lions because the Packers were up 31-10 at halftime. It would have sounded crazy a month ago but the rookie Wentz is a very safe play with upside this week.

Brian Hoyer (at IND) - Hoyer is not only the quarterback of the moment for the Bears, but unless his play declines, he might be the quarterback for the rest of the season. That decline is unlikely to come against the Colts defense, which has been getting healthier, but still lacks a pass rush and quality run defense. Only Blake Bortles failed to go over 266 yards against the Colts this year, but he accounted for three scores. As long as Eddie Royal and Zach Miller are good to go this week, Hoyer should have enough weapons to satisfy streamers that rely on him this week.

Paxton Lynch (vs ATL) - It doesn’t look like Trevor Siemian will be able to go this week, which means that the first-round pick Lynch is in line to start and throw to maybe the best wide receiver duo in the league. Emmanuel Sanders and Demaryius Thomas are warm coming off of a good tandem game at Tampa with Lynch at the helm for most of the contest. Atlanta is yet to allow less than 281 yards and three scores through the air to an opposing team, so Lynch has a great matchup. He is also a good athlete and could add some points as a runner.

RB

Terrance West (vs WAS) - Don’t listen to John Harbaugh. After last week’s performance, West is going to be the lead back in a choice fantasy matchup against Washington. West was very strong at the end of the game and helped the Ravens have true balance in the offense for the first time this year. Washington has allowed seven rushing touchdowns to opposing backs this year, and only the Raiders have allowed more than their 4.9 yards per carry. Washington couldn’t run away from the Browns, so the Ravens should keep this one competitive enough to feed West 15-20 carries at worst.

DeAndre Washington (vs SD) - The Chargers have been a somewhat stiff run defense this year, allowing only 3.6 yards per carry on 90 attempts through four games, but they have also allowed seven rushing scores. Washington will likely get the start with all signs pointing to Latavius Murray being out, although Jalen Richard will also get a lot of work in place of Murray. Washington is averaging over six yards per carry and his involvement in the passing game should peak this week, so he has plenty of upside with an increased workload.

Jay Ajayi (vs TEN) - Miami head coach Adam Gase said that he made a mistake going with a four-back committee and will reduce the rotation back to a manageable two backs this week. Arian Foster was back to a limited practice this week, but at least one Miami beat writer said they don’t expect his status to change in Week 5. If that’s the case, Ajayi should get at least half of the work in the backfield against the Titans in one of the most winnable games for the Dolphins this year.

Duke Johnson Jr (vs NE) - Lost in Isaiah Crowell’s rampage through NFL rushing defenses to over six yards per carry thus far this season is Johnson’s almost equally impressive 6.2 yards per carry. Johnson is also facing a Patriots defense that has surrendered at least six running back receptions in each game this year. The Patriots get Tom Brady back this week and should force the Browns to play from behind, which could equal a big second half for Johnson as the offense is in hurry-up mode.

Bilal Powell (at PIT) - Matt Forte’s health and play are both trending down, and in no coincidence, Powell’s workload is trending up. The Jets go into Pittsburgh this week, where the Steelers play much better and generally control games. They have also allowed two 100-yard receiving games to opposing running backs this year, and Powell has caught six passes in each of the last two games, while Forte has only caught two in each of those games. Powell has a good PPR ceiling for a part-time back this week.

WR

DeSean Jackson (at BAL) - Scott Barrett of PFF pointed out on Twitter this week that Ravens corner Shareece Wright has been torched for five scores the past three weeks, and that Jackson had the second-biggest game any receiver has had against Wright back in 2013. The Ravens have given up eight scores to wide receivers in the past three weeks, and in Week 1 they faced Tyrod Taylor and a banged up Sammy Watkins. Jackson has been up and down this year, and Week 5 is pointing up.

Mike Wallace (vs WAS) - Wallace scored three times in the first two games, but failed to score in Weeks 3 and 4. Some of that is because of the re-emergence of Steve Smith, but against Washington this week, Smith and Wallace could both get fed. Wallace had a season-high nine targets against Oakland last week, and that should translate to production against a Washington pass defense that had allowed six wide outs to go for 70 or more yards before facing Cody Kessler and the Browns last week. Joe Flacco also made some noise about more deep passing this week, and Wallace has a good chance of being in the crosshairs if the Ravens dial up the long ball more this week.

Sterling Shepard, Victor Cruz (at GB) - We all know that this should be a huge bounceback week for Odell Beckham, but it could also be a big week for all of the Giants wideouts. The Packers allowed two Jags receivers over 70 yards not including copious amounts of pass interference penalties (called and not called), and in Weeks 2 and 3 they allowed a receiver to go over 180 yards in each game. The Vikings and Lions didn’t have a secondary receiver that has been playing as well as Cruz and Shepard have, and with top Packers cover corner Sam Shields out again this week, Eli Manning should have success no matter who he is throwing to.

Chris Hogan (at CLE) - Tom Brady is the rising tide that will lift all ships in the Patriots pass offense. He and Hogan hooked up on a long score in the third week of the preseason despite very limited snaps together. Now he’s facing a Browns defense that had allowed six wide receiver touchdowns in the first three weeks before Jordan Reed snapped up two scores last week (get Martellus Bennett in your lineup this week). Hogan is one of the best bets for a long touchdown this week, as the Browns can’t come close to matching up with all of the New England passing game weapons.

Robert Woods (at LA) - Woods isn’t a high ceiling play against a tough Rams defense, but he could be a PPR wonder as the clear #1 receiver in an offense that is emphasizing safe, short passing coming out of a win over New England in Foxboro. The 49ers were able to have two wideouts with five or more catches despite having Blaine Gabbert at quarterback, and in the last two weeks, three different receivers have at least nine catches against the Rams. Woods has six and seven catches over the last two weeks, consistently getting open and making the play when his name is called. He’s a high floor PPR option this week.

TE

Zach Miller (at IND) - Miller got in a limited practice on Thursday, so make sure he’s active, but as long as he is, he should be considered a TE1 this week against the Colts. Kevin White is out, Alshon Jeffery is banged up, and Eddie Royal might not play, so Miller might be a key target for Brian Hoyer, who has already found Miller for three red zone scores in two games. Miller has caught 11 of 12 targets from Hoyer, so as long as the targets are there (and they should be with the state of the wide receivers), Miller will post good numbers.

Cameron Brate (at CAR) - Brate is emerging a top secondary target for Jameis Winston now that Austin Seferian-Jenkins was granted his release and joined the Jets. He has at least eight targets in the two games without Seferian-Jenkins, converting those targets to five catches in each game and two scores in the game that didn’t feature the Broncos as an opponent. This week, he gets a Panthers defense that has already allowed four scores to opposing tight ends this year.

Will Tye (at GB) - Tye should get a chance to have the tight end work all to himself this week, as Larry Donnell still hasn’t practiced due to a Week 4 concussion. Tye had at least five catches in more than half of the games he played without Donnell last year, and he’s facing a Packers defense that has allowed two tight end touchdowns and two games of at least 64 receiving yards to opposing tight ends in only three games this year. He’s almost certainly on your waiver wire and can fill in for Julius Thomas, Coby Fleener, Travis Kelce, or Jimmy Graham this week.