Week 5 Fantasy Football Rankings: Position-by-Position Breakdown
We’re now a quarter of the way into the football season, and fantasy football lineup decisions are becoming much harder. Factoring in lingering injuries, as well as the bye weeks taking their toll (this week Minnesota, Tampa Bay, Washington and Pittsburgh are idle), you may be having a hard time finalizing your roster decisions.
In this slideshow I will break down every major fantasy spot and give the top 20 options at each position/unit.
So, let’s dive right in and break down the matchups and trends in this week’s positional rankings.
Disclaimer: These lists are just for this week and do not reflect any seasonal value.
Peyton Manning, Denver Broncos
After throwing for four more touchdowns on Sunday, there seems to be no limit to how good of a season Manning will have. The Cowboys (Denver’s Week 5 opponent) should be no match for Manning and crew.
Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers
Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints
After another outstanding outing (413 passing yards and four touchdowns) on Monday night, Brees is humming right along. However, a road game at Chicago is less than ideal.
Michael Vick, Philadelphia Eagles
Playing at New York against their suspect defense this week keeps Vick as a must-start.
Matt Stafford, Detroit Lions
Although playing on the road in Green Bay this week, there are not many quarterbacks who love to throw as much as Stafford (coming off passing for 242 yards and one touchdown, along with a rushing score against the Bears), and that will continue to make him a high-end play.
Tom Brady, New England Patriots
Brady is rolling along and had himself a good night (316 passing yards and two touchdowns) in Atlanta on Sunday. He remains a must-start when he and the Pats visit Cincinnati this week.
Tony Romo, Dallas Cowboys
Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons
While the Falcons did lose to the Patriots on Sunday night, Ryan had himself a great game (421 passing yards and two touchdowns). A home game against the Jets on Monday night makes Ryan a must-start once again.
Philip Rivers, San Diego Chargers
Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers
Colin Kaepernick, San Francisco 49ers
Sam Bradford, St. Louis Rams
Terrelle Pryor, Oakland Raiders
Granted he is cleared to play, Pryor could put up some nice numbers when the Chargers come to town this week.
Andy Dalton, Cincinnati Bengals
He is by no means lighting the world on fire, but considering Matt Ryan just hung 421 passing yards on the Patriots, Dalton is an intriguing option this week at home against New England.
Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts
As expected, Luck and the Colts steamrolled the Jags this past weekend. However, a matchup at home vs. Seattle makes him a risky pick this week.
Joe Flacco, Baltimore Ravens
Jay Cutler, Chicago Bears
If he can limit the picks, Cutler could do well in his matchup with the Saints on Sunday.
Eli Manning, New York Giants
Yes, Manning is struggling, but with the Eagles and their woeful defense invading the Meadowlands this week, Manning might just do enough to be a stealth play this week.
Matt Schaub, Houston Texans
Not expected to do well against Seattle, Schaub passed for 355 yards and two touchdowns. So, Schaub may not be a bad option when he and his Texans visit San Francisco on Sunday.
Alex Smith, Kanas City Chiefs
Smith looks rejuvenated in Kansas City, and going up against Tennessee should allow Smith to build on his fine start.
LeSean McCoy, Philadelphia Eagles
Matt Forte, Chicago Bears
Forte is getting it done this year and is coming off a game in which he ran for95 yards and a touchdown against the Lions. A juicy matchup at home against the Saints makes Forte a fantastic option this week.
Marshawn Lynch, Seattle Seahawks
“Beast Mode” should have little trouble racking up the yardage against the Colts. Lynch is coming off a great performance in Houston, in which he ran for 98 yards and a touchdown, while also hauling in three receptions for 45 yards.
Jamaal Charles, Kansas City Chiefs
Charles did it all on Sunday versus the Giants (65 rushing yards; 62 receiving yards and a touchdown) and he should be a great option again this week in Tennessee.
Reggie Bush, Detroit Lions
Bush shook off the rust after sitting out last week with an injury and returned in emphatic fashion, rushing for 139 yards and a touchdown (along with four receptions for 34 yards) against the Bears. Now back healthy, Bush is a no-brainer selection this week when the Lions take on the Packers.
Arian Foster, Houston Texans
After some early season struggles, Foster returned to prime-time status this past week after rushing for 102 yards and reeling in six receptions for 69 yards and a touchdown against the vaunted Seahawks defense. Foster will not have it any easier, though, when the Texans visit the 49ers this week.
Frank Gore, San Francisco 49ers
Gore is coming off a spectacular outing versus the Rams when he ran for 153 yards and a touchdown. Gore remains the heart and soul of the 49ers offense, and they’ll be sure to feed him early and often against the Texans.
DeMarco Murray, Dallas Cowboys
While the Broncos (Dallas’ Week 5 opponent) do a great job limiting the rush, Murray is still an integral part of what the Cowboys do on offense.
Bilal Powell, New York Jets
Powell has seized control of the Jets backfield and is coming off a decent outing (66 rushing yards, three receptions for 42 yards) against the Titans. Powell should do just well enough against the Falcons on Monday night to be recommended No. 2 RB (or very low-end No.1) this week.
Ray Rice, Baltimore Ravens
Rice’s ranking here depends on his ability to stay healthy. Although he had an awful outing against the Bills on Sunday (five carries for 17 rushing yards), if he can show that he is healthy, he still makes for a recommended play against the Dolphins in Miami this week, as does Bernard Pierce.
Trent Richardson, Indianapolis Colts
Darren Sproles, New Orleans Saints
The PPR beast is clearly the best weapon in the Saints backfield and he is coming off a super effort on Monday night (28 yards rushing and a touchdown; seven receptions for 114 yards and a touchdown). Even if you’re not in a PPR league, Sproles should make enough plays against the Bears to warrant a starting spot this week.
Chris Johnson, Tennessee Titans
Johnson had an awful day against the Jets (15 carries for 21 yards), but if the Titans have ideas of beating Kansas City this week, they are going to have to lean on Johnson since backup quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick is starting his first game of the season.
Lamar Miller, Miami Dolphins
If the Dolphins fed Miller the ball more, he would be higher on the rankings. As it is, Miller is still a solid No. 2 running back.
DeAngelo Williams, Carolina Panthers
Well-rested after the bye week, Williams should be a trusted back to lean on given the fact that he has rushed for at least 85 yards in each game this year (120 against the Giants in Week 3). The Cardinals (the Panthers' Week 5 opponent) are tough against the run, but Williams should still make it onto your squad as a starter nonetheless.
Giovani Bernard, Cincinnati Bengals
The multi-purpose rookie back is still a little rough around the edges, but Bernard is the most explosive playmaker in the Bengals backfield. He has a decent matchup with the Patriots coming to town this week.
Knowshon Moreno, Denver Broncos
Eddie Lacy, Green Bay Packers
Now that he’s a full go after his concussion, Lacy should get a lot of touches when the Lions visit Green Bay this week.
Danny Woodhead, San Diego Chargers
If you’re in a PPR-league, Woodhead is now bordering on a must-start. If not, Woodhead is still a solid start, since Rivers is looking at Woodhead a lot in the passing game. This week against Oakland, Woodhead could put up some overall crooked numbers.
Maurice Jones-Drew, Jacksonville Jaguars
MJD is skating on thin ice in fantasy circles. With the Jags struggling mightily, opposing teams have been taking out Jones-Drew. If he can’t get going against the Rams this week, he might turn into a prime-sit candidate.
Calvin Johnson, Detroit Lions
Dez Bryant, Dallas Cowboys
Bryant is as good as it gets from the wide receiver position, and he is coming off a great game against the Chargers (six catches for 81 yards and two touchdowns). Expect Bryant to get his points in a possible shootout with Denver.
A.J. Green, Cincinnati Bengals
Demaryius Thomas, Denver Broncos
Brandon Marshall, Chicago Bears
Victor Cruz, New York Giants
Wes Welker, Denver Broncos
Randall Cobb, Green Bay Packers
Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona Cardinals
Julio Jones, Atlanta Falcons
With Roddy White still struggling, Matt Ryan will rely on Jones for as long as he can.
DeSean Jackson, Philadelphia Eagles
Andre Johnson, Houston Texans
Johnson shook off his shin injury to put up a fine performance against the Seahawks (nine receptions for 110 yards). Johnson will take on the 49ers this week, and it will be good if he can eventually score (still scoreless on the season).
Jordy Nelson, Green Bay Packers
Torrey Smith, Baltimore Ravens
Smith, as many expected, is breaking out this season. He is coming off his best performance of the season (five receptions for 166 yards and a touchdown against the Bills), and he is an excellent start when the Ravens visit Miami on Sunday.
Eric Decker, Denver Broncos
As long as Peyton Manning is passing at this level, you have to feel confident about the chances for Decker to continue succeeding. At this point, all three major Denver receivers are must starts.
Marques Colston, New Orleans Saints
Colston is always a solid option to fall back on, and he had a good game on Monday night (seven receptions for 96 yards). He may keep it going with a trip to Chicago up next.
Reggie Wayne, Indianapolis Colts
Wayne is an oldie but goodie, and his consistency should not be overlooked. That said, he’ll have a tough matchup with Seattle coming to Indianapolis this week.
Anquan Boldin, San Francisco 49ers
Boldin is fitting in like a glove in San Francisco, and as Kaepernick’s most trusted weapon, Boldin will remain a solid No. 2 WR to lean on.
Julian Edelman, New England Patriots
The listing of Edelman and Thompkins here is dependent on the health of Danny Amendola. If Amendola continues to miss games, Thompkins and Edelman will be safe bets for production. Even if Amendola does return, Edelman and Thompkins will still be trusted targets for Brady and their game in Cincinnati.
Kenbrell Thompkins, New England Patriots
Jimmy Graham, New Orleans Saints
It will take herculean efforts to knock Graham from the top of the tight end rankings. A trip to Chicago should not pose a problem for him.
Jordan Cameron, Cleveland Browns
Cameron is really turning heads this season having already scored five touchdowns. Cameron should be a good bet to score again when he goes up against the Bills on Thursday night.
Jason Witten, Dallas Cowboys
In what will likely be a shootout, expect Romo to target Witten early and often when Denver and Dallas tangle on Sunday.
Antonio Gates, San Diego Chargers
Don’t write the old man off just yet. Gates is coming off a tremendous performance against the Cowboys (10 receptions for 136 receiving yards and a touchdown), and the Raiders should offer little resistance this week.
Julius Thomas, Denver Broncos
Although he didn’t score in the game against the Eagles on Sunday, Thomas continues to be a key target for Peyton Manning. With a matchup against the Cowboys on tap next, expect him to produce at a high clip.
Tony Gonzalez, Atlanta Falcons
Gonzalez had himself an awesome performance (12 receptions for 149 yards and two touchdowns) against the Patriots on Sunday night, and he’ll look to keep it up when he and the Falcons take on the Jets this week.
Martellus Bennett, Chicago Bears
While he hasn’t scored in two weeks, Bennett is coming off a very productive game on Sunday against the Lions (eight receptions for 90 yards). He’ll make for a solid No.1 tight end against the Saints this weekend.
Jared Cook, St. Louis Rams
Vernon Davis, San Francisco 49ers
Davis came back to the field last Thursday after missing a week with a hamstring injury and scored upon his return. If he is healthy, he makes for a good start when Houston and the 49ers battle in San Francisco this weekend.
Coby Fleener, Indianapolis Colts
Having scored in two out of his last three games, and having the starting tight end position all to himself, Fleener is as good a starting option as there is in the league.
Greg Olsen, Carolina Panthers
After a week off and a matchup (Arizona) that can be exploited, Olsen is someone you should roll with.
Jermichael Finley, Green Bay Packers
Monitor Finley's status. If he suits up, he's a solid start. If not, well, you know.
Owen Daniels, Houston Texans
The matchup (at San Francisco) is less than ideal, but there are simply not many better options out there than Daniels.
Charles Clay, Miami Dolphins
Clay is building off his fine start and once again scored this past week (also registering six receptions for 42 yards against the Saints on Monday night). Clay is climbing up the tight end ranks and is a good option to trust when the Dolphins host the Ravens this week.
Rob Gronkowski, New England Patriots
Once again, check Gronkowski’s injury status. If he gets clearance, Gronkowski will right away become a must-start.
Garrett Graham, Houston Texans
Even with Owen Daniels ahead of him on the depth chart, Graham is still a key target for Matt Schaub and the Texans. Thus far on the season, Graham has scored in three out of the first four games. On Sunday he hauled in five receptions for 69 yards (to go with the touchdown). Clearly he is becoming more involved in the offense.
Brandon Myers, New York Giants
Although he got shut out in Kansas City, there is a chance that defense will be at a minimum when Philadelphia and New York battle this week, hence Myers could get some token receptions.
Tyler Eifert, Cincinnati Bengals
While he hasn’t dazzled anyone just yet, Eifert’s been solid. As such, Eifert makes for a good streaming option when Cincinnati hosts New England this week.
Brent Celek, Philadelphia Eagles
Considering the Giants just let Sean McGrath of the Chiefs score a touchdown, not to mention they have allowed four overall touchdowns to tight ends, Celek is a deep sleeper this week.
Dallas Clark, Baltimore Ravens
Not the most sizzling option to bank on, Clark is still a trusted weapon for Flacco in the Ravens offense.
Stephen Gostkowski, New England Patriots
Call it a hunch, but the reliable Gostkowski just may be needed more in the Pats game against the Bengals this weekend.
Matt Bryant, Atlanta Falcons
Facing an unpredictable Jets team, the Falcons should put together enough scoring drives to make Bryant an active kicker.
Matt Prater, Denver Broncos
With the Broncos capable of scoring 40-plus points on any given day, Prater will always remain a great kicking option.
Nick Novak, San Diego Chargers
Between field goals made and extra points, Novak has been a busy kicker this year. He should be busy once again when San Diego visits Oakland on Sunday.
Greg Zuerlein, St. Louis Rams
The points should be flowing in St. Louis when the Jags come to visit, and Zuerlein is a recommended start as a result.
Dan Bailey, Dallas Cowboys
In a game that might be destined to become a shootout, Bailey will likely have his number called plenty of times in the matchup against Denver.
David Akers, Detroit Lions
Akers is fifth in field goals made this year, and his offense should continue to give him enough scoring opportunities.
Caleb Sturgis, Miami Dolphins
Sturgis is excelling in his rookie season, and a home matchup with the Ravens is an exploitable matchup, considering Dan Carpenter just kicked three field goals against Baltimore this past week.
Ryan Succop, Kansas City Chiefs
With the Chiefs surging, Succop is not a bad kicker to roll with, especially with a trip to Tennessee looming.
Alex Henery, Philadelphia Eagles
With defense likely an afterthought in the Eagles-Giants affair, Henery should have his opportunities to put points on the board.
Sebastian Janikowski, Oakland Raiders
San Diego’s defense is not that imposing, and the Raiders could move the ball on them, making Janikowski a reliable kicker to trust.
Steven Hauschka, Seattle Seahawks
Hauschka is coming off a three-field goal game in Houston and with a game indoors in Indianapolis, he should do well once again this week.
Robbie Gould, Chicago Bears
With the Saints coming to town, Gould could do some damage as an under-the-radar option.
Mason Crosby, Green Bay Packers
We all know Green Bay can put up the points, and Detroit should offer little resistance to Green Bay’s high-octane offense.
Justin Tucker, Baltimore Ravens
Not the sexiest of kickers (you can probably say that for all kickers), but more times than not, Tucker does the job.
Adam Vinatieri, Indianapolis Colts
The Colts may stall on drives against Seattle, and that should make Vinatieri a solid kicker this week.
Dan Carpenter, Buffalo Bills
With Carpenter second in the league in field goals made, and with Buffalo an inconstant red-zone offense, Carpenter is a solid choice to start at kicker week in and week out.
Nick Folk, New York Jets
The Jets offense also fizzles out near the red zone, and that has made Folk a great field-goal threat (tied for third in the NFL with eight field goals made) this year.
Phil Dawson, San Francisco 49ers
At home against a good defense in the Texans, the 49ers may fizzle out on scoring drives, making Dawson a solid play.
Billy Cundiff, Cleveland Browns
Scoring on the Bills (the Browns' Week 5 opponent) shouldn’t be too much of a problem for Cundiff and the Browns on Thursday night.
Team Defense/Special Teams
While the Colts have a burgeoning offense, they might be in for a rude awakening when Seattle comes to town on Sunday.
St. Louis Rams
A home game against the Jags equals a no-brainer No. 1 defense.
Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs just keep on getting better and better, and a trip to Tennessee makes them a high priority once again this week.
San Francisco 49ers
Just like the team (Houston) they are playing, the 49ers are off to a rough start defensively, but it will be hard to keep this unit down for long.
Although they had a setback in Buffalo, the Ravens are getting it done with defense of late and expect a rebound performance in Miami on Sunday.
While they have yielded a lot of points lately, the Bears' ball-hawking ways keeps them near the top of the rankings—even with a tough matchup against the Saints on the docket.
Although they have not been at their best this year, the Texans defense should come around soon enough.
Not a slam-dunk defense thus far, but against a rookie quarterback (Geno Smith) and an inconsistent offense in the Jets, the Falcons are not a bad selection this week.
The Browns will take on an unpredictable offense in the Bills on Thursday night, and they might force Bills quarterback EJ Manuel into some mistakes.
New England Patriots
The Bengals have a solid offense, but the Patriots should make enough plays to be a low-end selection.
The Bengals have not lived up to their preseason hype, and a game with the Patriots this weekend makes them a vulnerable selection.
San Diego Chargers
The Chargers are no world beaters on defense, but with the Raiders up next on the schedule, they are viable defense to consider this week.
While they had it rough in New Orleans on Monday night, the Dolphins should rebound nicely at home in a matchup with Baltimore.
After a one-week layoff, the Panthers should be ready to go after shutting out the Giants in Week 3. However, the Cardinals (Panthers Week 5 opponent) should put up a slightly better fight.
Not the safest of options with a trip to Dallas on tap, but the Broncos are still good in forcing turnovers.
Green Bay Packers
While the Lions are an offensive juggernaut, a week off and with the game at home should make the Packers defense a decent option this week.
While the Titans forced the Jets into four turnovers (along with a defensive score) and also recording five sacks, the Chiefs will present a whole new challenge.
While not the most reliable option out there, the Colts could do a good job in limiting Seattle this week.
New York Jets
The Jets will live and die by their defense, but containing the Falcons in Atlanta could get dicey.
The Browns are still a work in progress on offense, and the Bills D might be good enough as a low-end defensive selection.