Heroes and Zeroes - Week 5 Fantasy Football Picks

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Sometimes you just get that feeling... this week is going to be special. A typical NFL week can turn into a horror show when it's rife with injuries, or if the team you had stacked in multiple leagues gets upset at home... cough cough, Falcons, cough... But this is one of those weeks where each game is almost evenly matched in terms of record and overall talent. That means we'll have some instant classics and some slugfests that will be tough to stomach.

So now we pick out which players will rise among the crowd to lead your fantasy team, and their real-life team too I suppose, to victory. Last week, Russell Wilson going off and Amari Cooper being a bust (again) was low-hanging fruit. This time, I'll reach deeper to see which players could be worthy flex plays and streamers to win you an all-important Week 5 matchup. Why is Week 5 so important? Trick question. EVERY week is important!

In this series, I'll give you my fantasy "heroes" and "zeroes" at each position to get you ready for Week 5 of the NFL season. For my opinion on all fantasy-relevant players, you can check out how my rankings stack up against the other experts, or simply consult our RotoBaller consensus rankings.

Editor's Note: For a limited time only, our Premium Tools - including DFS cheat sheets, expert lineups, and matchup ratings - are only $9.99 for the rest of the season! Sign Up Now!

 

Week 5 Lineup Heroes

QUARTERBACK

Deshaun Watson, Houston Texans - First, let's get this out of the way: there is no conceivable way Watson replicates last week's numbers, probably for the rest of the season. That said, he could could still be a QB1 in what has suddenly become the Game of the Week. Da Chiefs enter as the only undefeated team in the NFL, believe it or not, so we don't have to keep Nick Buoniconti and Larry Csonka on standby with the champagne much longer. That doesn't mean they have been perfect in every way, however, as their pass defense is 25th in terms of passing yards per game allowed. They've also allowed the third-most rushing yards to QBs this year and I'm told that Watson has been known to scramble occasionally. With Drew Brees, Matt Ryan, and Kirk Cousins taking the week off, Watson should be a high-priority add for shallower leagues where you can stream the quarterback position.

Notables Worth Mentioning: Jacoby Brissett, Josh McCown

 

RUNNING BACKS

Jordan Howard, Chicago Bears - As a player who will make or break my season based on my unreasonable preseason predictions and ownership levels, I'll admit I'm pulling for him. There are also reasons to be optimistic, objectively speaking. Mike Glennon put the Bears at a disadvantage because teams were stacking the box repeatedly. Howard ranks 11th in rush attempts against fronts with eight men or more (38%). Despite that, Howard also ranks eighth among all RB in Effective Yards. If Mitch Trubisky can create somewhat of a downfield threat and relieve some pressure from the running game, Howard could benefit immediately. He will still play a workhorse-like role despite Tarik Cohen's presence. Cohen is still a passing-down/change-of-pace back who won't take away from Howard's carries like Glennon's turnovers did. I'm big on Howard and think he does just fine this week as an RB2.

Alex Collins, Baltimore Ravens - Call me a believer. For now at least. Collins not only leads the league in rushing average with 8.2 Y/A, he is second among RB in rushing efficiency with a 2.95 EFF rating, behind only Kareem Hunt. Collins hasn't seen a heavy workload yet, so his averages will surely go down, but his production should only go up. The Raiders have allowed the 10th-most rushing yards in the league despite not facing a single top-1o running back this year. It'll be an ugly game low on offense, as both teams try to win on the ground. I expect 15-18 carries for Collins for the first time this season, with 90+ yards and a score. Can't say I expect the same out of Marshawn Lynch.

Notables Worth Mentioning: Bilal Powell, LeGarrette Blount, Wayne Gallman

 

WIDE RECEIVERS

Stefon Diggs, Minnesota Vikings - No Sam Bradford, now no Dalvin Cook. No problem. Diggs has shown that he doesn't live by the hand of Bradford, posting huge numbers in Week 3 and nearly cracking 100 yards in Week 4. If anything, the absence of Cook should force them to rely on the passing game more, like last year. Diggs faces off against Kyle Fuller, who is adequate, but far from a shut-down CB. If you hesitated to consider Diggs a WR1 after a couple of games, now's the time to realize he'll put up big numbers the rest of the way and make him a fixture in your lineup.

Tyreek Hill, Kansas City Chiefs - There's a very clear pattern emerging among the Chiefs' star skill players in terms of production. One week Travis Kelce goes off, the next it's Tyreek Hill and the two are mutually exclusive. Hill scored a TD and posted at least five catches and 75 yards in Weeks 1 & 3, so now it's his turn again. Even if you don't believe in things like that, Hill does get the better end of the DB matchup in Houston, facing the man with two first names mushed together, Johnthan Banks. Hill is always a big play waiting to happen, but don't think that Houston's tough defense will necessarily bottle him up all day.

Randall Cobb, Green Bay Packers - While Jordy Nelson is my top-ranked receiver this week and a better bet to score, he's also the obvious call and an every-week WR1. Cobb always has to prove that he's healthy and involved, which he has been this season to the tune of 19 catches and 189 yards in three games. OK, so the health part hasn't been perfect, but he's not on the injury report for this week. Cobb should get the better of Orlando Scandrick in what figures to be a high-scoring affair. Then again, what did we all say about the Tampa-New England game?

Notables Worth Mentioning: Rishard Matthews, Cooper Kupp, Pierre Garcon

 

TIGHT END

Hunter Henry, Los Angeles Chargers - Double down time. I'm obviously a fan of Henry (by way of having invested a couple of dynasty league picks in him) so I'll make him a repeat pick. He only caught two balls for 16 yards last week, but he scored a touchdown so that's still a win. This week, it's a no-brainer to start him, just like you should be streaming any TE who goes against the Giants. Their defensive gameplan seems to involve ignoring the tight end altogether; they give up 15 fantasy points per game to the position, including five TD in four games. By the time this is published, I'll probably have him as my No. 1 TE for Week 5.

Jared Cook, Oakland Raiders - The only Raider I'm actually touting this week, Cook looks to be one of the primary targets for EJ Manuel. Crabtree might miss the game and Cooper has been limited by a knee injury. Oh, and he's forgotten how to catch the football too. Cook has been solid all season, logging at least five targets and three catches in each game. A backup quarterback's best friend is often the tight end sitting in the middle of the field or the running back leaking out the backfield for an outlet pass.

Notables Worth Mentioning: Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Adam Shaheen

 

Week 5 Lineup Zeroes

QUARTERBACKS

Blake Bortles, Jacksonville Jaguars - Bortles is never more than a bye-week filler, unless you are in a two-QB league, but you might be tempted to try him out if he's your backup and you're a Brees/Ryan owner. Don't. Just don't. The Steelers literally eat opposing quarterbacks alive. Not literally, I guess, but you get the drift. They've allowed the third-fewest fantasy points to QB this year, including a 3:4 TD:INT ratio. The London game was a clear aberration. No A-Rob plus the addition of Leonard Fournette will mean a lot more running the rest of the way for the Jags. Don't bank on the possibility of garbage time production either and play it safe instead.

DeShone Kizer, Cleveland Browns - But they play the Jets this week! But, he still plays for the Browns... which is far worse, trust me. The Jets have shown they aren't who we thought they were, in a good way. Unless you were really hoping for the #1 overall pick in the draft, that is. Mo Claiborne has been one of the top-rated corners in the league after four games and the Browns have shown little offensive potential. Kizer, for his part, has the lowest DVOA among all starting quarterbacks this season at -46.5%. You can pray for a rushing touchdown, but Jacoby Brissett is a far better bet and his ownership is just as low in Yahoo leagues (10%).

Notables Worth Mentioning: Cam Newton, Alex Smith

 

RUNNING BACKS

Marshawn Lynch, Oakland Raiders - Here's the other side of the coin in that Ravens-Raiders tilt. Lynch looked beastly in Week 1, scored a TD in Week 2 and has been a non-factor since. He is down to 3.4 yards per carry, hasn't seen double-digit attempts in two weeks and is non-existent in the passing game. Take away Derek Carr and possibly Michael Crabtree again and this looks like a disaster in the making. The Ravens have been terrible against the run the last two games, but they've been flat-out terrible in every other way as well. The first two weeks, they limited opponents to 85 YPG on the ground and were one of the better run-stopping units in 2016. This is a good time for a turnaround performance. As an aside, if you own Lynch and didn't sell already, it's probably too late.

Joe Mixon, Cincinnati Bengals - Last week was the perfect opportunity for Mixon to blow up and I said as much in several forums including this column. Watching him play with extended snaps for the first time convinced me of something: he's not ready. It's not about opportunity any more and it was never about talent. Mixon just doesn't have the necessary vision and experience to read NFL defenses. The switch could flip on in a couple weeks, making him a great stash or buy-low candidate, but I'm not starting him against the tough front line of the Bills.

Notables Worth Mentioning: Jonathan Stewart, Chris Johnson

 

WIDE RECEIVERS

Alshon Jeffery, Philadelphia Eagles - Jeffery has been effective, but hasn't put together a breakout performance in Philadelphia yet. It won't come this week, as he gets the blanket treatment from Patrick Peterson, who has been one of the most effective shadow corners in the league this year. It's a bit paradoxical, because the Cardinals have allowed the fifth-most fantasy points to WR this year, but it's mostly been slot receivers and secondary guys dong the damage. Dez Bryant, T.Y. Hilton, and Pierre Garcon have all put up duds against Arizona this year and Jeffery should do the same.

Sammy Watkins, Los Angeles Rams - He may not get Richard Sherman all afternoon, but rookie Shaquill Griffin has been impressive so far and won't leave much room for Watkins to operate. Truth be told, Watkins' perceived value lies in the strength of one big game. Otherwise, it's been a disappointing transition to L.A. Throw in an illness that held him out of practice and he looks like a bench player this week If you have a better option, use it.

Notables Worth Mentioning: Kelvin Benjamin, Martavis Bryant, Zay Jones

 

TIGHT END

Eric Ebron, Detroit Lions - No more excuses. Ebron should have benefited from the absence of Kenny Golladay the last couple of weeks, but he's only caught four of his last 11 targets. Even his one good game in Week 2 should be taken with a large grain of salt because it came against the Giants (see above Hunter Henry blurb). He's not hurt, he's being targeted, and his team is performing well on offense. I have little faith in him already and this week's contest against the Panthers just solidifies his position on the bench, or more justifiably, on waivers.

Notables Worth Mentioning: Evan Engram, Tyler Kroft

 

More Week 5 Lineup Prep