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Fantasy Football Week 5: Top Plays at Every Position

Eric MackFantasy Football Lead WriterOctober 4, 2013

Fantasy Football Week 5: Top Plays at Every Position

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    We feel good about a rested Colin Kaepernick this week, and his fantasy owners should too.
    We feel good about a rested Colin Kaepernick this week, and his fantasy owners should too.Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

    Angry you missed out on the production of Fred Jackson, Willis McGahee and C.J. Spiller from Thursday night's game? You probably should be, because the running back position just hasn't been that good to fantasy owners this year.

    The screws tighten with the bye-week absences of Adrian Peterson, Doug Martin, Alfred Morris and Le'Veon Bell. Perhaps we should focus on the positive here: They are getting their bye out of the way early, setting you up for a solid run through the thick of the bye season.

    We'll help you plug the holes and settle the debates with our comprehensive look at all of the rankings and options by position in this six-part slideshow.

Quarterbacks: Michael Vick Gets the Woeful Giants, but Don't Trust Eli Manning

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    Michael Vick hasn't been great yet, but he should be against a terrible and banged-up Giants defense this week.
    Michael Vick hasn't been great yet, but he should be against a terrible and banged-up Giants defense this week.Dustin Bradford/Getty Images

    The likes of Aaron Rodgers and Cam Newton come off byes and, if you own those guys, you don't need to bother with rostering a backup behind them in standard, one-quarterback formats. They are must-start options in all fantasy leagues the rest of the season. They just happen to have favorable matchups in their return this week too.

     

    Take advantage of the Giants

    Michael Vick gets the woeful Giants defense that has given up a league-worst 10 touchdown passes. It also happens to be banged up, as The Bergen Record's Jeff Roberts reports. This makes the quarterback you drafted as a backup a must-start, even over the likes of Andrew Luck and the red-hot Alex Smith.

     

    The Colts a defense to fear?

    Some people are going to sit Russell Wilson at Indy, but that might be a mistake. Sure, the Colts have shut down Colin Kaepernick, but having faced the likes of the Raiders, Dolphins and Jaguars have more to do with the Colts' third-best standing in fantasy against quarterbacks.

    Wilson—who the Seattle Post-Intelligencer's Sam Barbee said wins, fantasy points be damned—is going to do much better than he did against the 49ers and Texans in Weeks 2 and 4. The Colts just aren't in their class defensively.

     

    Week 5 sleepers

    Speaking of Kaepernick, he will also be better than he has been since opening week, despite facing those same Texans, who have been No. 4 against fantasy quarterbacks.

    ESPN's Bill Williamson predicts 276 yards and two touchdown passes. With Vernon Davis (hamstring) having more time to heal and Jon Baldwin getting more involved in the offense, we see Kaepernick doing even more than that optimistic projection.

    Kaepernick is among the quarterbacks we put more than a couple of spots higher than the consensus this week:

    1. Tom Brady
    2. Matt Ryan
    3. Colin Kaepernick
    4. Russell Wilson
    5. Carson Palmer

     

    Week 5 duds

    Despite a favorable matchup against the Eagles, who have given up the fourth-most points to fantasy quarterbacks through four games, Eli Manning is too difficult to trust as a fantasy starter right now.

    His offensive line is in shambles, and there are inconsistent results coming from his receivers. Manning is too tough to start outside of two-quarterback formats until his line proves more worthy and the team shows some balance with its long-lost running game.

    Make no mistake: Vick is a must-start, but he belongs on this list as well. He'll be hard-pressed to reach the lofty expectations set for him this week by most of the other experts.

    Manning and Vick are among the quarterbacks we like less than the masses:

    1. Philip Rivers
    2. Michael Vick
    3. Eli Manning
    4. Ryan Tannehill
    5. Geno Smith

      

    Week 5 Quarterbacks Rankings - Eric Mack
    RankQuarterbacksTeamOpponentECRvs. ECR
    1Peyton ManningDenat Dal10
    2Aaron RodgersGBvs. Det20
    3Matthew StaffordDetat GB4+1
    4Drew BreesNOat Chi3-1
    5Cam NewtonCarat Ari7+2
    6Tom BradyNEat Cin9+3
    7Matt RyanAtlvs. NYJ10+3
    8Tony RomoDalvs. Den80
    9Colin KaepernickSFvs. Hou13+4
    10Russell WilsonSeaat Ind14+4
    11Philip RiversSDat Oak6-5
    12Michael VickPhiat NYG5-7
    13Terrelle PryorOakvs. SD12-1
    14Sam BradfordStLvs. Jac15+1
    15Jay CutlerChivs. NO16+1
    16Brian HoyerClevs. Buf18+2
    17Andrew LuckIndvs. Sea170
    18Alex SmithKCat Ten19+1
    19Andy DaltonCinvs. NE21+2
    20Eli ManningNYGvs. Phi11-9
    21Joe FlaccoBalat Mia23+2
    22Matt SchaubHouat SF220
    23Carson PalmerArivs. Car26+3
    24Ryan TannehillMiavs. Bal20-4
    25EJ ManuelBufat Cle250
    26Geno SmithNYJat Atl24-2
    27Ryan FitzpatrickTenvs. KC270
    28Blaine GabbertJacat StL280
    Expert Consensus Rankings (ECR) from over 100 experts provided by FantasyPros.

Running Backs: With Elite Options on Bye, We Try to Make Sense of a Mess

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    If you think the start of your elite backs has been rough, Week 5 doesn't have much in the way of answers for us. It is a tough week for byes with some elite backs having to hit the pine, including Adrian Peterson, struggling Doug Martin, Alfred Morris (ribs) and Le'Veon Bell, who scored two touchdowns in his return from his preseason foot sprain.

    We will try to help you patch together some viable starts in spite of this.

     

    Built Ram tough? Hardly

    The Rams have made the likes of DeMarco Murray (175 yards) and Frank Gore (153 yards) look like Pro Bowlers, if not Hall of Famers, so there is a shred of hope for Maurice Jones-Drew owners this week. MJD has yet to surpass 45 yards in any of the first four games, but he could break 100 against a Rams defense that has been the worst in fantasy against running backs.

    Don't worry too much about the trade of left tackle Eugene Monroe to the Ravens. Rookie Luke Joeckel is excited about moving back to his natural left tackle position for the Jags, according to the Florida Times-Union's Hays Carlyon. MJD fantasy owners should be too.

     

    Richardson has earned must-start status

    The Colts are facing a tough Seattle run defense this week, but the prospect of Ahmad Bradshaw facing neck surgery, according to the Indianapolis Star's Mike Chappell, will put the onus on Trent Richardson to carry the load.

    With Bradshaw out this week (and possibly more), you should consider Richardson too promising to sit in any matchup. Donald Brown might be a flier to take as a handcuff if you are a Richardson owner, but don't dare consider Brown this week.

     

    Week 5 sleepers

    With the release of Da'Rel Scott, the Giants are going to have to lean on David Wilson, the back they should have been leaning on the whole time. Brandon Jacobs will still be the short-yardage back and touchdown vulture, but Wilson will pick up more touches, especially as a pass receiver out of the backfield.

    Consider this the most important game of the season for Wilson owners. You have to keep him active for this.

    He leads the backs we like considerably more than the consensus this week:

    1. David Wilson
    2. Knowshon Moreno
    3. Danny Woodhead
    4. Willis McGahee (played Thursday night against Buffalo)
    5. Rashard Mendenhall

     

    Week 5 duds

    The Rams have made a mess of their running back situation as Daryl Richardson reportedly tweeted he was being removed as the starter. (The tweet has since been deleted.)

    Jeff Fisher says all of his backs will play in a rotation, but ESPN's Nick Wagoner reports it is rookie Zac Stacy's turn, over the likes of Richardson, Isaiah Pead and Benny Cunningham.

    Richardson's demotion makes him one of the players we like less than the masses this week. Here are the top five we like more than five spots less:

    1. Darren Sproles
    2. Rashad Jennings
    3. Jason Snelling
    4. Andre Ellington
    5. Benny Cunningham

     

    Week 5 Running Backs Rankings - Eric Mack
    RankRunning BacksTeamOpponentECRvs. ECR
    1 LeSean McCoyPhiat NYG 10
    2Jamaal CharlesKCat Ten20
    3Arian FosterHouat SF6+3
    4Marshawn LynchSeaat Ind40
    5Reggie BushDetat GB50
    6Matt ForteChivs. NO3-3
    7Ray RiceBalat Mia9+2
    8Frank GoreSFvs. Hou 7-1
    9Chris JohnsonTenvs. KC11+2
    10David WilsonNYGvs. Phi16+6
    11 DeMarco MurrayDalvs. Den8-3
    12Eddie LacyGBvs. Det 120
    13 Knowshon MorenoDenat Dal20+7
    14Maurice Jones-DrewJacat StL 15+1
    15Trent RichardsonIndvs. Sea10-5
    16DeAngelo WilliamsCarat Ari17+1
    17 Bilal PowellNYJat Atl 13-4
    18Ryan MathewsSDat Oak21+3
    19Danny Woodhead SDat Oak26+7
    20Darren Sproles NOat Chi14-6
    21Willis McGaheeClevs. Buf 29+8
    22Lamar MillerMiavs. Bal 19-3
    23 Giovani BernardCinvs. NE18-5
    24Fred JacksonBufat Cle 22-2
    25 Joique BellDetat GB250
    26Stevan RidleyNEat Cin 24-2
    27Rashard MendenhallArivs. Car32+5
    28 BenJarvus Green-EllisCinvs. NE35+7
    29 Jacquizz RodgersAtlvs. NYJ 28-1
    30Pierre ThomasNOat Chi31+1
    31C.J. SpillerBufat Cle 23-8
    32Isaiah Pead StLvs. Jac 40+8
    33 Zac StacyStLvs. Jac 48+15
    34Daryl RichardsonStLvs. Jac 30-4
    35Robert Turbin Seaat Ind59+24
    36Bryce BrownPhiat NYG 50+14
    37Ronnie Hillman Denat Dal44+7
    38Bernard PierceBalat Mia37-1
    39 Rashad JenningsOakvs. SD27-12
    40Ben TateHouat SF36-4
    41 LeGarrette Blount NEat Cin 39-2
    42Brandon JacobsNYGvs. Phi51+9
    43Kendall HunterSFvs. Hou 54+11
    44Daniel ThomasMiavs. Bal 46+2
    45Brandon Bolden NEat Cin 450
    46Jason Snelling Atlvs. NYJ 33-13
    47Michael BushChivs. NO52+5
    48Andre EllingtonArivs. Car38-10
    49Benny CunninghamStLvs. Jac 41-8
    50Montee BallDenat Dal47-3
    51Johnathan FranklinGBvs. Det 42-9
    52 Tashard ChoiceBufat Cle 53+1
    53Christine MichaelSeaat Ind67+14
    54Chris Ogbonnaya Clevs. Buf 43-11
    55Mike Goodson NYJat Atl 56+1
    56Jackie BattleTenvs. KC61+5
    57Ronnie BrownSDat Oak60+3
    58 Knile DavisKCat Ten75+17
    59Alfonso SmithArivs. Car77+18
    60Bobby Rainey Clevs. Buf 70+10
    61Jordan Todman Jacat StL 73+12
    62 Kenjon Barner Carat Ari82+20
    63Anthony DixonSFvs. Hou 81+18
    64Alex GreenNYJat Atl 80+16
    65 Stepfan TaylorArivs. Car86+21
    66Lance DunbarDalvs. Den72+6
    67Chris PolkPhiat NYG 66-1
    68Donald BrownIndvs. Sea65-3
    69Darren McFaddenOakvs. SD34-35
    70Mark IngramNOat Chi69-1
    Expert Consensus Rankings (ECR) from over 100 experts provided by FantasyPros.

Wide Receivers: Better Week for the Giants; Not so Much for the Colts

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    Wide receiver is one position where four teams on bye has a minimal negative impact on your lineup, particularly since the teams off in Week 5 are not really wide receiver heavy. You do need to replace Vincent Jackson, Mike Williams, Pierre Garcon, Antonio Brown and Greg Jennings, but there are ample options available to you as long as you have the roster flexibility.

    That set of receivers is almost replaced entirely by the return of the Packers from bye, including Randall Cobb, Jordy Nelson and James Jones. The Panthers are back too, with Steve Smith and perhaps Brandon LaFell for those that need a sleeper.

     

    Eli Manning's receivers finally get positive matchup

    The Giants' struggles are all blamed on the banged-up offensive line and the error-prone Manning, but we probably should be giving some credit to the Broncos, Panthers and Chiefs defenses.

    They are far better off in the secondary to date than the Eagles, who are the worst team in fantasy against receivers. That latter stat should help you feel confident in starting Hakeem Nicks and perhaps even Rueben Randle as a sleeper.

     

    Seattle brings its D to Indy

    If there is one team in the NFL you should fear if you’re a wide receiver, it is the Seahawks with their talented, shutdown corners and elite safeties. The Colts might have to focus on their ground-and-pound game with Trent Richardson on Sunday.

    This matchup makes it difficult to trust Reggie Wayne and T.Y. Hilton. You definitely cannot feel good about Darrius Heyward-Bey either.

     

    Week 5 sleepers

    The Colts defense has quietly held its own this season, and nowhere has that been more apparent than against wide receivers.

    The Colts have been the fourth-best team against them to date in fantasy, but the Raiders, Dolphins, 49ers and Jaguars don't have that much talent in that position. The Seahawks have a lot of interchangeable parts there, including one of the more underrated commodities in Sidney Rice.

    Rice and his teammate Doug Baldwin are among the receivers we like more than 10 spots than the consensus this week:

    1. Sidney Rice
    2. Kenny Britt
    3. Mohamed Sanu
    4. Keenan Allen
    5. Doug Baldwin

     

    Week 5 duds

    Alshon Jeffery is emerging as one of the best second-year receivers in football right now, working with Jay Cutler in Marc Trestman's West Coast offense. He was one of the most-added players off waivers this week, but you shouldn't feel overly confident in him going against an improved Saints defense that has been fifth best in fantasy versus receivers.

    Jeffery is among the options we like less than the masses in the rankings below:

    1. Reggie Wayne
    2. Alshon Jeffery
    3. Brian Hartline
    4. Michael Floyd
    5. Chris Givens

     

    Week 5 Wide Receivers Rankings - Eric Mack
    RankWide ReceiversTeamOpponentECRvs. ECR
    1Calvin JohnsonDetat GB10
    2A.J. GreenCinvs. NE6+4
    3Dez BryantDalvs. Den2-1
    4Brandon MarshallChivs. NO7+3
    5Demaryius ThomasDenat Dal3-2
    6Julio JonesAtlvs. NYJ 5-1
    7Victor CruzNYGvs. Phi4-3
    8Wes WelkerDenat Dal80
    9 Jordy NelsonGBvs. Det 10+1
    10Randall CobbGBvs. Det 9-1
    11Larry FitzgeraldArivs. Car14+3
    12DeSean JacksonPhiat NYG 11-1
    13Josh GordonClevs. Buf 130
    14Andre JohnsonHouat SF12-2
    15Torrey SmithBalat Mia150
    16Hakeem NicksNYGvs. Phi20+4
    17Mike WallaceMiavs. Bal 23+6
    18Anquan BoldinSFvs. Hou 180
    19Roddy WhiteAtlvs. NYJ 25+6
    20Marques ColstonNOat Chi17-3
    21Eric DeckerDenat Dal16-5
    22James JonesGBvs. Det 220
    23Dwayne BoweKCat Ten29+6
    24Steve SmithCarat Ari19-5
    25Steve JohnsonBufat Cle 31+6
    26Cecil ShortsJacat StL 24-2
    27Julian Edelman NEat Cin 270
    28Danny Amendola NEat Cin 32+4
    29Reggie WayneIndvs. Sea21-8
    30Eddie RoyalSDat Oak39+9
    31 Denarius MooreOakvs. SD35+4
    32 Kenbrell Thompkins NEat Cin 28-4
    33Sidney RiceSeaat Ind50+17
    34Justin Blackmon Jacat StL 30-4
    35 DeAndre HopkinsHouat SF34-1
    36Brian HartlineMiavs. Bal 26-10
    37T.Y. HiltonIndvs. Sea370
    38Golden TateSeaat Ind45+7
    39Nate WashingtonTenvs. KC38-1
    40Tavon AustinStLvs. Jac 36-4
    41 Alshon JefferyChivs. NO33-8
    42Kenny BrittTenvs. KC76+34
    43 Rueben RandleNYGvs. Phi48+5
    44Vincent BrownSDat Oak440
    45Miles AustinDalvs. Den47+2
    46Kendall WrightTenvs. KC49+3
    47Mohamed Sanu Cinvs. NE59+12
    48Robert WoodsBufat Cle 42-6
    49Donnie AveryKCat Ten57+8
    50Keenan AllenSDat Oak60+10
    51Michael FloydArivs. Car41-10
    52Andre RobertsArivs. Car58+6
    53Chris GivensStLvs. Jac 40-13
    54Riley CooperPhiat NYG 62+8
    55Ryan Broyles Detat GB54-1
    56Doug BaldwinSeaat Ind70+14
    57Rod Streater Oakvs. SD55-2
    58Stephen HillNYJat Atl 53-5
    59Lance MooreNOat Chi64+5
    60Brandon LaFell Carat Ari61+1
    61Jeremy Kerley NYJat Atl 43-18
    62Marlon BrownBalat Mia46-16
    63Jason Avant Phiat NYG 69+6
    64Austin Pettis StLvs. Jac 52-12
    65Brandon GibsonMiavs. Bal 68+3
    66Justin HunterTenvs. KC77+11
    67Harry DouglasAtlvs. NYJ 72+5
    68 Davone BessClevs. Buf 63-5
    69Jon BaldwinSFvs. Hou 83+14
    70Kyle WilliamsSFvs. Hou 78+8
    71Marvin JonesCinvs. NE92+21
    72Damian WilliamsTenvs. KC105+33
    73Ted GinnCarat Ari65-8
    74 Darrius Heyward-BeyIndvs. Sea67-7
    75Brandon StokleyBalat Mia88+13
    76Dexter McCluster KCat Ten84+8
    77Terrance WilliamsDalvs. Den51-26
    78Kenny StillsNOat Chi73-5
    79Earl BennettChivs. NO790
    80Jacoby FordOakvs. SD90+10
    81Kris DurhamDetat GB71-10
    82Dwayne HarrisDalvs. Den81-1
    83Brian QuickStLvs. Jac 98+15
    84Aaron Dobson NEat Cin 66-18
    85Greg LittleClevs. Buf 82-3
    86Ace SandersJacat StL 80-6
    87 Seyi Ajirotutu SDat Oak118+31
    88Stephen WilliamsSeaat Ind114+26
    89Austin CollieNEat Cin 112+23
    90Brice ButlerOakvs. SD95+5
    Expert Consensus Rankings (ECR) from over 100 experts provided by FantasyPros.

Tight Ends: You Shouldn't Miss Gronk Too Much, but Start Him If He Plays

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    Another week, and likely another lineup without Rob Gronkowski available to fantasy owners. The good thing about Week 5 is we will have another plane trip Saturday and a 1 p.m. Sunday game at the roster deadline to figure out whether Gronk will be active.

    If he is, he should be in your fantasy lineup, but it doesn't look promising. He is saying a lot without saying anything, as the Shalise Manza Young's Boston Globe story showed.

     

    Don't lose track of Olsen this week

    The bye week had the Panthers' Greg Olsen get cut in four percent of CBS Sports leagues, but you should expect starter-quality numbers on a consistent basis the rest of the way.

    It certainly helps he has his bye week out of the way and is facing the Cardinals, who have been the worst team in fantasy against tight ends, giving up a pair of touchdowns to Jared Cook in Week 1 and Jimmy Graham in Week 3. Olsen is a set-it-and-forget-it tight end.

     

    49ers' Davis banged up and has a tough matchup

    You should not sit Vernon Davis (hamstring) if he plays, because he is one of Colin Kaepernick's truly legit weapons, but the injury and difficulty of the Texans matchup might make you think twice if you have a viable backup. The Texans have allowed a league-low eight receptions to tight ends through four games.

     

    Week 5 sleepers

    Coby Fleener is a fantasy darling right now, but he does have a tough matchup against the Seahawks this week. If you are a fantasy owner with two tight ends on your roster and like to play the matchups at the position, Fleener is probably not a play.

    If you're looking for the next Fleener-like breakthrough, look no further than Rob Housler of the Arizona Cardinals. Housler hasn't done anything yet, but he was held up early by a high-ankle sprain that won't keep him out of action any longer. Carson Palmer is going to make him a gem off waivers for fantasy owners sooner rather than later.

    Fleener and Housler are among the tight ends we like more than the consensus rankings:

    1. Tony Gonzalez
    2. Vernon Davis
    3. Jermichael Finley
    4. Coby Fleener
    5. Rob Housler

     

    Week 5 duds

    After a hot start, Julius Thomas hasn't performed like a sure-fire fantasy starter. It should have been expected with the numerous weapons Peyton Manning has to rotate the ball around to. Thomas is coming off his quietest effort from Week 4, even if he faces a Dallas defense that has given up a league-high 30 receptions to tight ends thus far.

    Thomas is among those we like less than the masses this week:

    1. Julius Thomas
    2. Martellus Bennett
    3. Jared Cook
    4. Charles Clay
    5. Kellen Winslow

     

    Week 5 Tight Ends Rankings - Eric Mack
    RankTight EndsTeamOpponentECRvs. ECR
    1Jimmy GrahamNOat Chi10
    2Jordan CameronClevs. Buf 20
    3Tony GonzalezAtlvs. NYJ 6+3
    4Antonio GatesSDat Oak3-1
    5Jason WittenDalvs. Den50
    6Vernon DavisSFvs. Hou 8+2
    7Greg OlsenCarat Ari70
    8Julius ThomasDenat Dal4-4
    9 Jermichael FinleyGBvs. Det 12+3
    10Rob Gronkowski NEat Cin 100
    11 Martellus BennettChivs. NO9-2
    12Owen DanielsHouat SF13+1
    13 Coby Fleener Indvs. Sea16+3
    14Jared CookStLvs. Jac 11-3
    15Brandon MyersNYGvs. Phi150
    16Rob Housler Arivs. Car26+10
    17Charles ClayMiavs. Bal 14-3
    18Garrett GrahamHouat SF24+6
    19Brent Celek Phiat NYG 21+2
    20Scott ChandlerBufat Cle 29+9
    21Jermaine GreshamCinvs. NE20-1
    22Tyler Eifert Cinvs. NE220
    23Zach MillerSeaat Ind230
    24Kellen WinslowNYJat Atl 17-7
    25Joseph Fauria Detat GB32+7
    26Lance KendricksStLvs. Jac 43+17
    27 Marcedes LewisJacat StL 28+1
    28Dallas ClarkBalat Mia19-9
    29Brandon Pettigrew Detat GB18-11
    30Mychal RiveraOakvs. SD31+1
    Expert Consensus Rankings (ECR) from over 100 experts provided by FantasyPros.

Defensive/Special Teams: Streaming Options Abound, Some Still on Waivers

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    We should expect the Falcons to get healthy and tee off on Geno Smith and the bumbling Jets on Monday night.
    We should expect the Falcons to get healthy and tee off on Geno Smith and the bumbling Jets on Monday night.Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

    This is a favorable week for fans of streaming defenses. While some of the elite fantasy defenses play some tough matchups—namely the Bears facing Drew Brees, the 49ers and Texans facing each other, and the Patriots facing the Bengals—there are ample fringe fantasy units facing suspect quarterbacks.

    The Rams, Falcons, Panthers, Chargers and Eagles are solid one-week plays. You won't even miss the bye teams of the Vikings, Steelers, Redskins and Buccaneers—not that you should own those suspect teams in fantasy anyway.

     

    Take advantage of the Giants

    Eli Manning has been turnover prone and a sack machine, so you might consider a bad Eagles defense interesting because of the matchup.

    The Giants need to get their running game going to take the pressure off, but with pass-happy Kevin Gilbride—an architect of the long-lost run-and-shoot—that is no sure thing. If the Giants stay one-dimensional, they are going to remain no-win-sional. The Eagles defense is a top-12 unit in this rare week.

     

    Chief concern? Meh, keep them active

    The Titans have not turned the ball over this season, which certainly has contributed to their surprising start. It has also made them the toughest opponent for defenses to date. The Chiefs have been the best fantasy unit so far, so something has to give.

    We figure it will be the Titans, who are stuck relying on Ryan Fitzpatrick as their starting quarterback now. He should be good for a few turnovers and sacks, maybe even a pick-six.

     

    Week 5 sleepers

    The Chargers defense was great in fantasy last year and has been mediocre to date this season, but this is a week to expect a resurgence. The Raiders offense might be without Darren McFadden (hamstring), or a Run DMC who will be playing with a sore hammy and sans practice.

    The Chargers have an elite run defense and are a top-five unit in fantasy against running backs. Consider the Chargers if you did not get your hands on St. Louis, Atlanta or Carolina.

    Here are the units we like more than the masses this week:

    1. San Francisco 49ers
    2. Denver Broncos
    3. Chicago Bears
    4. San Diego Chargers
    5. Philadelphia Eagles

     

    Week 5 duds

    While the Patriots vs. Bengals game is going to be interesting with AFC playoff implications down the road, it shouldn't be one you are looking forward to if you own either defense.

    In smaller leagues, you are justified cutting either defense for one of the streaming options above. Both offenses are secure with the ball and can put up points against each other.

    They are among the defenses we like less than the consensus:

    1. Kansas City Chiefs
    2. Baltimore Ravens
    3. Cleveland Browns (D'oh! played well Thursday night)
    4. Cincinnati Bengals
    5. New England Patriots 

     

    Week 5 Defenses and Special Teams Rankings - Eric Mack
    RankDefenses and Special TeamsTeamOpponentECRvs. ECR
    1Seattle SeahawksSeaat Ind2+1
    2St. Louis RamsStLvs. Jac 1-1
    3Atlanta FalconsAtlvs. NYJ 30
    4San Francisco 49ersSFvs. Hou 6+2
    5Carolina PanthersCarat Ari4-1
    6Denver BroncosDenat Dal12+6
    7Kansas City ChiefsKCat Ten5-2
    8Chicago BearsChivs. NO11+3
    9San Diego ChargersSDat Oak16+7
    10Houston TexansHouat SF100
    11Philadelphia EaglesPhiat NYG 17+6
    12Baltimore RavensBalat Mia8-4
    13New Orleans SaintsNOat Chi20+7
    14Cleveland BrownsClevs. Buf 7-7
    15Green Bay PackersGBvs. Det 24+9
    16Cincinnati BengalsCinvs. NE14-2
    17New England PatriotsNEat Cin 9-8
    18Miami DolphinsMiavs. Bal 15-3
    19Arizona CardinalsArivs. Car190
    20Tennessee TitansTenvs. KC21+1
    Expert Consensus Rankings (ECR) from over 100 experts provided by FantasyPros.

Kickers: Packers' Mason Crosby Is Better Than You Think

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    Crosby still can mash: We will be singing the praises of the Packers kicker before long. He is through his bye week too.
    Crosby still can mash: We will be singing the praises of the Packers kicker before long. He is through his bye week too.Andy King/Getty Images

    Kicker is a position you shouldn't concern yourself too much with. In fact, you should just pick up a kicker who has exhausted his bye and ride him out the rest of the way.

    That makes Mason Crosby a must-add for all but a handful of fantasy owners—say, if you have Stephen Gostkowski, Matt Prater or Matt Bryant. Crosby will be productive because Aaron Rodgers is, particularly with that bolstered running game and the return of Eddie Lacy (concussion).

     

    You can ignore Giants' Brown

    The Eagles have allowed the most points to kickers in fantasy thus far, but Josh Brown is closer to the street than your fantasy lineup. If you are looking for a kicker, Alex Henery is the better play here. The Giants have been sieve-like defensively, allowing the seventh-most points to kickers to date.

     

    Bear down: Saints are tough on kickers

    If you have Robbie Gould, cut him. There are better options out there, and the Saints have allowed a league-low three field-goal attempts. They are No. 1 in fantasy against kickers.

     

    Week 5 sleepers

    Fantasy owners have been down on Justin Tucker, but the Ravens are going to get that running game going to take the pressure off the mostly weaponless Joe Flacco, who threw five interceptions last week. It will be more of a conservative approach against the upstart Dolphins.

    Tucker is still a must-have kicker and rates among the options we like better than most:

    1. Stephen Gostkowski
    2. Justin Tucker
    3. Dan Bailey
    4. Mason Crosby
    5. Sebastian Janikowski

     

    Week 5 duds

    "Hey, didn't you just tell us above to pick up Henery?" Yes. He is a top-12 kicker. We just don’t like him as an elite option. He is a start, but he's still among the kickers we like less than the consensus:

    1. Matt Bryant
    2. Greg Zuerlein
    3. Alex Henery
    4. Nick Novak
    5. Garrett Hartley 

     

    Week 5 Kickers Rankings - Eric Mack
    RankKickersTeamOpponentECRvs. ECR
    1Stephen GostkowskiNEat Cin 3+2
    2Matt PraterDenat Dal20
    3Matt BryantAtlvs. NYJ 1-2
    4Justin TuckerBalat Mia6+2
    5Dan BaileyDalvs. Den10+5
    6Mason CrosbyGBvs. Det 11+5
    7Greg Zuerlein StLvs. Jac 5-2
    8Phil DawsonSFvs. Hou 80
    9Alex Henery Phiat NYG 4-5
    10Nick Novak SDat Oak7-3
    11Sebastian JanikowskiOakvs. SD18+7
    12Steven Hauschka Seaat Ind15+3
    13Mike NugentCinvs. NE24+11
    14Ryan Succop KCat Ten19+5
    15Randy BullockHouat SF16+1
    16Garrett HartleyNOat Chi9-7
    17Adam VinatieriIndvs. Sea21+4
    18David AkersDetat GB14-4
    19Robbie GouldChivs. NO12-7
    20Caleb Sturgis Miavs. Bal 17-3
    Expert Consensus Rankings (ECR) from over 100 experts provided by FantasyPros.

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