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Week 5 Risers & Fallers Analysis for Fantasy Football

By Jeffrey Beall (Own work) [CC-BY-3.0 (], via Wikimedia CommonsAs Week 5 of the NFL season kicks in, many teams have now played a quarter of their season. At this point, for me at least, the spot where I drafted a particular player starts to matter much less.

We've generated a fairly decent sample size now, so you shouldn't be afraid to start benching some of your higher-round draft picks (Vincent Jackson, Torrey Smith, Tom Brady, just to name a few) if they're not performing well, especially if you can replace them with guys that are playing better or have better matchups.

This weekly column examines ten players-- five guys that are on the up-and-up, or “risers,” and five guys that are struggling, or “fallers.” You shouldn't necessarily take these as start/sit sleepers or waiver wire add/drop recommendations, as the analysis is meant to be more of a gauge for how a fantasy football player is currently trending.


Fantasy Football Risers - Stock Up

Larry Donnell, TE - New York Giants

Donnell exploded on Thursday Night Football, catching three Eli Manning touchdown passes, and seven passes total, for 54 yards. While he clearly is not going to score three times every week, he appears to be a very serviceable TE in 12-team leagues, as he's yet to have a game with fewer than six catches. Additionally, the Giants have three favorable passing matchups over the next three weeks leading into their bye week, so Donnell should continue to see plenty of looks.


Eddie Royal, WR - San Diego Chargers

San Diego's passing game looks extremely efficient right now, as pretty much everybody got involved on Sunday against Jacksonville. Royal had five grabs for over 100 yards and two scores. While some of his TDs will eventually go to Keenan Allen and others, he looks very involved and should probably be owned in most leagues right now. The Chargers also can't seem to run the ball, so Philip Rivers will likely be throwing a ton until Ryan Matthews returns.


Terrance Williams, WR - Dallas Cowbooys

Williams has now scored in two straight games, and he looked great on Sunday night, catching six balls for 77 yards and two touchdowns. Tony Romo also looks much improved from a month ago, and it's fair to speculate that he had not really 100% recovered from his back surgery by the season opener. The Cowboys do seem very committed to DeMarco Murray, but Williams should still see plenty of targets, especially if teams continue to double team Dez Bryant, like the Saints did for much of the game on Sunday.


Lorenzo Taliaferro, RB - Baltimore Ravens

Taliaferro now has back-to-back weeks of scoring a touchdown, along with 15 and 18 carries in each game, while Bernard Pierce was shut out on Sunday with zero touches. Justin Forsett should continue to see some looks, especially on passing downs. But it's clear that the Ravens see Taliaferro as a big part of their running attack moving forward.


Heath Miller, TE - Pittsburgh Steelers

After a slow first three weeks for Miller, Ben Roethlisberger found him 10 times for 85 yards with a touchdown on Sunday. Roethlisberger-to-Miller was something that we all got accustomed to seeing a lot prior to 2013, when Miller missed the entire season due to a torn ACL. But he looks fully recovered now, and should stay heavily involved in the Steelers' passing game.


Fantasy Football Fallers - Stock Down

EJ Manuel, QB - Buffalo Bills

Unless you're in a deep league or a two-QB format, you likely weren't starting Manuel in the first place. But after a very slow start to the season, the second-year QB has officially been benched, as it was announced that veteran QB Kyle Orton will be starting in Week 5. It's not as though Manuel has been so terrible for the Bills, but the offense should really be much better with offensive weapons like C.J. Spiller, Sammy Watkins and Fred Jackson at his disposal.


Pierre Thomas, RB - New Orleans Saints

I was completely shocked by how little Pierre Thomas was used on Sunday night against the Cowboys. Thomas received zero rushing attempts and only caught two passes for eight yards. Thomas has been consistently the most reliable and under-appreciated running back in the Saints backfield, and it's frustrating to see so many other factors seemingly come out of nowhere to take snaps away from him (I am looking at you, Travaris Cadet and your six catches for 59 yards on Sunday). It might be best to avoid the Saints running back situation for now.


Knile Davis, RB - Kansas City Chiefs

Clearly, Jamaal Charles's "high ankle sprain" was misdiagnosed, as he was back on the field Monday night scoring three touchdowns against the Patriots, and he missed just one game due to the injury. Knile Davis, who would easily be a top 10-15 running back if he received lead-back touches, will once again be relegated to a complementary role. However, he can still be extremely effective even with limited snaps, so he of course still needs to be rostered. And obviously, there's always a chance that Charles reaggravates his ankle.


Chris Johnson, RB - New York Jets

What was once a timeshare that favored Johnson just a few short weeks ago appears to have turned out of his favor, as Chris Ivory is seeing the bulk of the touches out of the Jets backfield. While Johnson did manage a score on Sunday, it has to be concerning for his fantasy owners that in only three weeks, the Jets seem to prefer Ivory get the majority of the carries (11 more for Ivory on Sunday).


Cecil Shorts, WR - Jacksonville Jaguars

Shorts simply can't seem to put a nagging hamstring injury in his rear-view mirror. After a decent home debut last week, catching five balls and a touchdown, Shorts had to leave the contest early against San Diego on Sunday after aggravating his hammy. By far the best receiving option that Jacksonville has when he's healthy, he's obviously not effective if he can't stay on the field. It's a shame too, because rookie QB Blake Bortles would likely look his way a ton if he were playing consistent snaps.