Welcome to week five of the NFL season, fantasy owners! We have reached the dreaded start of bye weeks (and there are a ton of starters out this week) and have seen plenty of injuries and subsequent rising stars. With that in mind, let’s take a look at the players with the best and worst matchups, and the highest chance to rack up points for your fantasy team.
Week five byes: Atlanta, Denver, New Orleans, Washington
Dak Prescott (QB - DAL)
Prescott has been reliable all season, even through the first two tough matchups. He faces off with the Packers this week, but has a history of playing well against them (with 300+ yards and three touchdowns the last time the two teams met in the 2016 playoffs). Expect another big game out of him in week five.
Ben Roethlisberger (QB - PIT)
The Jaguars defense has been for real this season, but so has the Steelers offense. With Antonio Brown, Martavis Bryant and JuJu Smith-Schuster as his top receiving options, Big Ben should be able to beat Jacksonville’s star-studded secondary in one way or another. Start him this week with confidence.
*Cautiously optimistic - Deshaun Watson (QB - HOU) could be a sneaky option to start at quarterback in week five. The rookie from Clemson is on fire, and this bout with the Chiefs could easily turn into a shootout between two AFC offenses that are firing on all cylinders. The Kansas City defense is good, but Watson is playing too well for me to give the Chiefs the edge. If you’re feeling risky, Watson could pay huge dividends this week.
Latavius Murray (RB - MIN)
He’s not Dalvin Cook, but Murray was a solid back for the Raiders last year and will be in line for the bulk of snaps following Cook’s season-ending ACL injury. Murray will have the benefit of running behind a reliable offensive line and should also get his starting quarterback Sam Bradford back from injury this week, returning a spark to the offense. Facing off with the Bears defense this week, Murray should be able to rack up some serious fantasy points for owners.
Mike Gillislee (RB - NE)
The Tampa Bay and New England defenses have both struggled this season, so this week’s primetime tilt is likely to be a high-scoring affair. Gillislee has been quiet over the last two weeks, but back-to-back matchups against the Bucs and Jets should give him a chance to right the ship. Gillislee should be in line for a big game this week.
DeAndre Hopkins (WR - HOU)
Nuk is back, y’all. With Watson at the helm and Will Fuller back in the lineup, Hopkins finally broke free for over 100 yards and a score last week. He doesn’t have the easiest matchup against Kansas City, but the Texans offense is on fire and I expect that to continue. Houston finally has a quarterback and they will be fired up and playing at home in a primetime matchup. Hopkins should have a huge game this weekend.
Devante Parker (WR - MIA)
Parker has managed an average of 77 yards over the last three weeks and has scored once. He should be in line for another good game this week against a Titans team that has been allowing a lot of points to opposing wide receivers, including one to Hopkins and two to Fuller last week. He’s a solid start option in a week where a lot of starters are on bye.
Charles Clay (TE - BUF)
Plenty of tight ends have struggled over the past few weeks, but Clay has managed largely consistent numbers. Over the last two weeks he has 151 yards and a score and is fourth at his position. This weekend against Cincinnati, Clay should continue his streak as a reliable tight end play for fantasy owners.
Alex Smith (QB - KC)
I know Smith has been great this season, but he is facing off with my beloved Texans this week, and that whole team has been sparked by the incredible play of rookie quarterback Deshaun Watson. A dominant defensive line that boasts J.J. Watt, Jadeveon Clowney, Whitney Mercilus and Benardrick McKinney will get pressure on Smith early and often, especially in a primetime matchup where the Texans want to make a statement. If you’ve got a quarterback with a better matchup, I’d start him over Smith.
Seahawks running backs (Thomas Rawls, Eddie Lacy)
Following Chris Carson’s injury, the Seattle backfield has regressed to a RBBC situation that has no clear startable fantasy option. Until things settle for the Seahawks running backs, you probably have safer options on your roster.
Ravens runnings backs (Alex Collins, Buck Allen, Terrance West)
Like Seattle, Baltimore has no clear starter in their backfield, making it difficult to start any of their backs. Of everyone, I trust Collins the most, just because he seems to have the most potential to take over the bulk of carries. But until his role develops a little more, I’d go with another running back this week.
Amari Cooper (WR - OAK)
I love Cooper, he’s generally one of my favorite receivers, but he has struggled mightily this season. Cooper has only managed one score this season and one game over 50 yards (both of which came against Tennessee in Week one). Now that he’s lost his starting quarterback for several weeks, Cooper’s value only drops. For now, you probably have better options than the Raiders wideout on your roster.
Julius Thomas (TE - MIA)
Thomas has not managed to score or eclipse 30 yards in any of his first three games this season. With little indication that pattern will change anytime soon, you should find a better option on your roster or the waiver wire as we head into the week five matchups.
What are your thoughts for this week, fantasy owners? Who are you leaning towards or away from as the Thursday night matchup looms large? You can discuss any and all fantasy matters in the comments section below. Feel free to ask questions or stare strategy with your fellow Texans fans.