There was little else anyone could talk about heading into this week than the return of Tom Brady from his four-game suspension. And, to make matters worse, the Patriots took on the Browns in a game that might make you think this whole thing was scripted in some sort of WWE storyline. One thing was for sure though: Brady and his bunch were going to have a chip on their shoulder and hit the Brows with everything they had on Sunday!
Around the rest of the league, the Jaguars, Chiefs, Saints, and Seahawks were all on a bye, creating problems for fantasy owners trying to set a quality lineup. When the bye weeks start, the waiver wire gets picked cleaner than a supermarket before Thanksgiving. Before we get into the winners and losers from Week 5, how about I throw some names out to you that you'll want to target as we head into Week 6?
Cameron Meredith – Bears
Marcus Mariota (vs. Cleveland) – Titans
Sammie Coates (PPR more than Standard) – Steelers
Jeremy Kerley (PPR only) – 49ers
Jalen Richard – Raiders
Tennessee Titans defense (vs. Cleveland)
Philip Rivers – Chargers: The Chargers/Raiders rivalry is one that goes back to the November of 1960, so it was no surprise to me that both sides looked ready for their Week 5 meeting. In a game that finished with 65 total points, it was Rivers who came away a fantasy winner, despite losing in reality.
Rivers tallied up 349 yards, 4 touchdowns, and 2 interceptions for fantasy owners, numbers good enough to rank him #3 this week. Next week he takes on a Broncos team looking for revenge after losing to the Falcons on Sunday. And, to be honest, I want my fantasy QB on the other side of an angry Von Miller, DeMarcus Ware, Chris Harris, Aqib Talib, and T.J. Ward about as much as I want to have open heart surgery from a guy I found on Craigslist!
Brian Hoyer – Bears: For the virtually unowned quarterback of the Bears to make the winners list, it is a rare thing. Hoyer is much more of a game manager than a gun slinger like Jay Cutler, but that management style is allowing him to not make mistakes and keep the Bears in the game. For those reasons there is a very real possibility that when Jay Cutler is healthy and ready to play, he could hold a clipboard instead of a football on game day.
Hoyer helped his case to remain the starter this week by lighting up the Colts for 397 yards, 2 TDs, and no INTs. It's not hard to rack up the stats against the Colts defense, but it certainly helps when you are in a low-key quarterback battle. Hoyer is hard to own in standard formats, so be careful chasing this week's stats in the future.
Jordan Howard – Bears: What an amazing waiver wire pick-up Howard has been this season, racking up back-to-back 100-yard rushing games, with a touchdown, 6 catches, and 66 receiving yards mixed in for PPR players. Howard has people in Chicago breathing a little easier after losing Matt Forte in the offseason.
This week Howard put up 118 rushing yards, 45 receiving yards, and scored that touchdown I talked about earlier. Howard is an every-week starter regardless who the Bears are facing, so lock him into your RB slot and move on.
Tevin Coleman – Falcons: The Falcons shocked the world on Sunday when they were able to not just beat the Broncos, but do it on both sides of the ball. The defensive line continually got to Paxton Lynch for sacks, and Coleman accounted for 132 of Matt Ryan's 267 passing yards.
Coleman was able to get matched up with linebackers in the slot all game long, allowing him to finish with 31 rushing yards, 4 catches, 132 receiving yards, and a touchdown. With Julio Jones at WR and Devonta Freeman at RB, Coleman is shaping up to be a Dion Lewis-type of PPR play. He'll be boom-or-bust every week, and you'll have to pick and choose the right matchups.
Sammie Coates – Steelers: Coates came up huge against the Jets secondary this week, hauling in 6 of 11 targets for 139 yards and 2 touchdowns in place of Eli Rogers (turf toe). What is more astounding is the fact that Coates left a lot of stats on the field by dropping 4 passes, 3 of which would have been touchdowns.
Coates isn't going to all of a sudden unseat Antonio Brown as the go-to guy in Pittsburgh. This will go down as his best game of the season, and fantasy owners who pick him up will be chasing Week 5 stats the rest of the year. He will have some value in PPR leagues, but his hands of stone aren't to be trusted in standard formats.
Cameron Meredith – Bears: When Kevin White went down, it was Eddie Royal who came up big against the Lions with his 7/111/1 line. If you follow me on social media you would have heard me say Meredith was the guy to grab as the Bears love him. Well, hopefully you all listened.
The undrafted 2nd-year WR out of Illinois State lit the stat sheet on fire with his 9 catches (12 targets), 130 receiving yards, and 1 touchdown against the Colts. While it is true the Colts have a very burnable defense, Meredith showed he can handle the targets with Alshon Jeffery banged up. He's certainly worth owning, but shouldn't be considered more than a WR2/3 for the time being.
Martellus Bennett – Patriots: It's really no shock to hear that a Patriots TE scored 3 touchdowns against the Browns in Tom Brady's return. What is surprising is the name attached to the statistical wonder: Martellus Bennett. The Patriots' No. 2 TE was the go-to guy in the redzone for Brady, with 2 of his 3 TDs coming from 5 & 7 yards. His 3rd touchdown was a 37-yard catch in the 3rd quarter.
Rob Gronkowski is obviously the man in New England, but Bennett looks like a realistic TE2 filler during bye weeks.
Buffalo Bills defense: The Bills defense has definitely been reborn, ranking out as Fantasy Football's #2 defense after 5 weeks of the season. Had they not given up 37 points to the Jets in Week 2, they could very easily be ranked #1 heading into Week 6.
This week they put a hurt on the Rams offense, racking up 4 sacks, 2 INTs, 1 recovered fumble, and a defensive touchdown. And, by allowing just 19 points, they finished #2 (by a fraction of a point) this week behind the Vikings. They will continue to be an elite defensive option against the 49ers and Dolphins in Weeks 6 & 7, but you'll want to bench them for Week 8 against the Patriots.
Eli Manning – Giants: If one were to open the Book of Eli, all they would see is the word "inconsistent" over and over again. After the Giants upgraded his WR corps in the draft by taking Sterling Shephard, Manning has managed to throw for an average of 277.0 yards, 1.0 touchdown, and 0.8 interceptions per game this season. Outside of the first game of the season, Manning has to be looking for the endzone like people look for Bigfoot.
Manning managed to put up just 199 yards and a touchdown against the Packers' very average defense. With the Ravens and Rams coming up, then a bye, then the Eagles and Bengals, I wouldn't consider using him until Week 11.
Ryan Tannehill – Dolphins: Speaking of inconsistent, that brings us to Mr. Ryan Tannehill. The Dolphins 5th-year QB has struggled with consistency his whole career, but it isn't all his fault considering the coaching problems in the past. This year he gets QB guru Adam Gase to teach him, but it hasn't seemed to pay off just yet.
Despite having excellent games in Week 2 & 3 (387/2/2 and 319/3/2), Tannehill has had 3-of-5 games this year where he finished with fewer than 200 passing yards. Week 5 was one of those games, in which he finished with 191 yards, 0 TDs, and 2 INTs. If Gase can't make Tannehill look better than this, we may have to start comparing him to [Jay] Cutler soon.
Fozzy Whittaker – Panthers: After Jonathan Stewart went down, Fozzy "Waka Waka Waka" Whittaker went nuts and tuned up the 49ers for 131 total yards on 19 touches. Since then he hasn't been able to put up more than 22 yards on the ground, but has remained involved in the passing game enough to keep his PPR owners from dropping him.
Whittaker did manage to finish with 45 yards rushing, but added just a single catch for 9 yards, not even enough to get a point for receiving yards. With Stewart expected back in Week 6, you can cut Whittaker.
Lamar Miller – Texans: To say the Texans have problems is putting it mildly, with Brock Osweiler sporting a QB rating (70.6) slightly higher than Terrelle Pryor and Robert Griffin III, and the defense struggling to compensate for the loss of J.J. Watt. What they need right now is to be able to hand the ball off and trust that Miller can get the game going and open up the pass.
That didn't happen on Sunday as the Texans got punched in the mouth by perhaps the best defense in the NFL, the Minnesota Vikings. The Vikings jumped out to an early lead, relegating Miller to just 8 carries for 20 yards. With the problems at QB and on defense, next week's game against the Colts will be a telltale sign of things to come for him.
Julio Jones – Falcons: After Jones torched the Panthers for 300 yards and a touchdown last week, you could almost see this game coming from a mile away. The Broncos have an elite level defense, and they weren't about to let Jones put them on any highlight reels this season.
In the end, Jones finished with 2 catches and 29 empty yards. Games like these happen in the NFL. Wipe it from your memory and move on.
Will Fuller – Texans: As I mentioned earlier, the Texans have real QB problems with Osweiler. Those problems trickle down to the RBs, WRs, and TEs when it comes to stats. Fuller had two great games to open the season, posting a 5/107/1 line against the Bears in Week 1, then a 4/104/0 line against the Chiefs in Week 2. However, since then he has 116 receiving yards and 1 touchdown in 3 games.
Week 5 was hopefully rock bottom for Fuller, in which he finished with just 1 catch for 4 yards. What Fuller owners have to realize is he is behind DeAndre Hopkins for targets, and his QB is looking like one of the worst free agent signings of the offseason. He will be a rollercoaster for production all season long.
Zach Ertz – Eagles: Ertz had the perfect matchup this week, playing against a Lions defense that generously gives up 13.2 PPG to fantasy TEs this season. Coupled with the defensive shortcomings, Ertz has a QB in Carson Wentz that has the Rams wishing they had taken him 1st overall in the draft instead of Jared Goff.
Ertz was able to account for just 3 catches and 37 yards, nothing close to what his owners were hoping for. There will be better days for Ertz as he gets into the flow, so don't give up on playing him as a TE1 just yet.
Los Angeles Rams defense: On the other side of the ball in this game, the newly relocated Rams weren't able to harness the hometown advantage and give their fantasy owners something to be excited about in Week 5.
You can get away with giving up 24 points in fantasy football, and still finish as a Def1, IF you get some sacks, INTs, fumbles, or a touchdown. But the Rams managed just 2 sacks to go with their zeroes in the rest of the defensive categories. The Rams will look to get back in fantasy owners' good graces in Week 6 when they hit the road to take on the struggling Lions.