With Week 5 upon us the fantasy owners not only must deal with injuries and depth chart moves, but now we are in full swing with the bye weeks as well. The only real "good" news about this week is there are only a few fantasy players on a bye (Adrian Peterson, Brandon Marshall, Eric Decker, Chris Ivory, and perhaps Greg Olsen) that you will need fill-ins for.
With the waiver wire a virtual ghost town at this point of the season, only the truly cunning can decipher the difference between real gold and fool's gold. Let's take a look at a few players you should target before talking about the start/sit players this week.
Blake Bortles: Owned in just 20 percent of Yahoo leagues, and just 5.9 percent of NFL.com leagues, Bortles is someone you need to target if you drafted Tony Romo, Andrew Luck (I think he sits on Thursday night), or Colin Kaepernick as your starter. Even NFL.com's Adam Rank admitted this week that Bortles has been "pretty sweet" this year, something I've been saying since the preseason mind you. Hey Adam, welcome to 2015!
Allen Hurns: I told people about Hurns before the season, and now the rest of the fantasy websites are finally catching up to me. As the No. 2 WR for the Jaguars, Hurns is ranked 27th in the NFL for WRs in targets (30) this season, 23rd for receptions (22), 15th in yards (314), and has 2 touchdowns (tied for 4th). What more must Hurns do to earn the respect he deserves?
Willie Snead: Snead is to 2015 what Brandon Coleman was to 2014 for the Saints. With Brandin Cooks being very average this season, and defenses clued into Coleman, Snead is finding himself the forgotten man for defenses. Snead is not going to light the box score on fire, but for anyone needing a longer-term solution at WR3/4, Snead might be the best option you have on your waiver wire.
Kamar Aiken: Aiken is barely known in the fantasy world, but that might change after this week. The Ravens are likely, with Steve Smith hurt, to be making their starting WRs Aiken and Marlon Brown. While I want no part of Joe Flacco this season, I have to acknowledge that Aiken has made some great catches this season, and is set to play a predominant role in Week 5 (and possibly beyond). I'd take Snead over Aiken, but they are in the same general category.
Keith Mumphery: The Texans passing game is pretty much DeAndre Hopkins, and everyone else. But, with Cecil Shorts and Nate Washington expected to miss Thursday night's game, it leaves a big gap at WR where targets need to be filled. Step in Mr. Mumphery. Mumphery saw 7 targets in Week 4, which he turned into 56 yards on 4 catches. This week he should see closer to double-digit targets with the Texans severely hurting at the WR position. He is little more than bye-week filler, but someone that can be used in an emergency this week.
Christine Michael: With Lance Dunbar done for the season, fantasy owners have been scrambling to the waiver wire to grab Michaels in the hopes that he is the new PPR monster at RB for the Cowboys. Sorry to tell you, but Michael is more than likely going to sit on your bench and waste space. If you want to add him for your final bench spot, do so understanding that his "feel" for the game is still in question in his 3rd NFL season.
Coby Fleener: TE is probably the thinnest of all the fantasy positions given their all-or-nothing fantasy scoring. Once you get past the top 6-7 TEs, fantasy relevance gets sketchy. Step in Fleener to the fantasy TE conversation. The Colts offense is pass-heavy, and Andrew Luck should be back for Week 5 against the struggling Texans defense. Last week Fleener was able to be a security blanket for backup Matt Hasselbeck, hauling in 9 of 12 targets for 83 yards and a TD. He's on the TE1 map this week, and can be a plug-and-play guy if you need a TE.
Tyrod Taylor – Bills: The Bills are suddenly hurting at RB with LeSean McCoy dealing with a hamstring tweak and Karlos Williams in the NFL concussion protocol, making Taylor an even better option than normal. Even if Sammy Watkins (calf) is sidelined, Percy Harvin and Charles Clay can do damage against the 1-2 Titans.
Carson Palmer – Cardinals: Palmer has brought his career back to life this season, ranking out in the top 5-7 for fantasy QBs so far. This week he takes on a Lions team that is 1) a mess on offense, and 2) possibly at a low-point after a tough loss on Monday Night Football due to a missed call in the final seconds. Palmer is a legit QB1, but someone I would think about selling high within the next few weeks.
Blake Bortles – Jaguars: It has taken 5 weeks, but people around the world are finally starting to come around and realize that Jaguars players are worth owning and playing in fantasy leagues. Allen Robinson is a PPR monster, Allen Hurns is an undervalued dual-format WR, and T.J. Yeldon is looking like the RB they've been searching for to take pressure off the pass. The Bucs have been decent against the pass, ranking 11th in fantasy PPG allowed to QBs (18.7), but I'm expecting high-end QB2 stats from Bortles this week.
Todd Gurley – Rams: Gurley looked great in Week 4 against the Cardinals, running for 146 yards and adding another 15 yards on 2 receptions. Rookies are always risky to invest in, and a RB running behind the Rams' brutal offensive line is even more of a risk. Nevertheless, Gurley showed last week he has the skills to overcome the team's O-line. Treat him as a RB2 this week, with RB1 upside.
Ronnie Hillman – Broncos: Hillman and C.J. Anderson have been sharing touches, and this week looks similar with the exception of the tilt going to Hillman instead of Anderson. Hillman has out-rushed Anderson all season long (Hillman: 191 Yds and 2 TDs, Anderson: 117 Yds and 0 TDs), and it sounds like the Broncos coaching staff will no longer push Anderson over Hillman. I'd consider Hillman a low-end RB2 with upside against the Raiders.
Martavis Bryant – Steelers: Bryant returns from suspension at the best and worst time for the Steelers. On one hand you have Ben Roethlisberger out with an injury; on the other hand you add another weapon for Michael Vick to throw to. Bryant is going to start as the Steelers' No. 3 WR, but he could easily leapfrog an ineffective Markus Wheaton for No. 2 duties. Treat him as a WR3 in most formats.
Leonard Hankerson – Falcons: HankTime is a week-by-week play in fantasy terms because his role is consistent on the Falcons, but his numbers aren't. This week the Falcons take on the struggling Redskins, and I am looking for WR3 numbers from a guy that can still be had on many waiver wires out there. I think he topped out last week, but could reach similar heights this week if the Falcons don't get too far ahead.
Colby Fleener – Colts: Fleener excelled with Dwayne Allen out with an ankle injury, and you have to wonder how much longer the Colts can continue to put Allen in despite his lack of offensive output when Fleener shines. Those who need TE help can grab Fleener and see if he can find the endzone one more time before he is relegated back to a limited role.
New York Giants defense: This has much more to do with the state of the 49ers than it does the state of the Giants defense. The Niners lost players on both sides of the ball this offseason, as well as in the coaching ranks. All the moves have left them looking like a blind man, in a dark room, looking for a black cat, that isn't there! I'm sure the 49ers will score, but I also see the Giants as a solid defensive streaming option for Week 5.
Derek Carr – Raiders: Carr has been money early in the season with stud rookie Amari Cooper, but this week they hit a roadblock with the Broncos' elite defense coming to Oakland. This is more about the Broncos than the Raiders, as I love the Carr/Cooper duo for years to come. I'd give Bortles some real consideration if Carr is your QB1.
Matthew Stafford – Lions: The Lions are a mess, and neither Stafford nor Calvin Johnson look as good as they did a few years ago. I'm sure they will get it going and have a few elite level games this season, but I'm done waiting for it to happen. The Cardinals have one of the top defenses in the NFL, and the Lions don't have one of the top offenses to combat it.
Matt Jones – Redskins: Jones has to be one of the most over-owned fantasy RBs, thanks to one big game back in Week 2. Take out the fluke game, and Jones has totaled 77 yards on 24 carries (3.21 YPC). Jones is owned in over 55 percent of fantasy leagues, which is about 55 percent too many based on his production. His owners are hoping he can reproduce that Week 2 performance at some point this season, but even a blind squirrel finds a nut every now and then!
Rashad Jennings – Giants: Jennings has been a major disappointment this season, putting up just 225 total yards and 2 TDs through four games. To make matters worse for his owners, Andre Williams is starting to eat into his touches. With Jennings and Williams both getting carries, and Shane Vereen coming in for passing downs, this has all the makings of a RBBC mess that kills everyone's value.
Anquan Boldin – 49ers: Yahoo projected Boldin to be the 76th-best fantasy player this season, because apparently they didn't get an advanced copy of the team's offensive and defensive depth charts! Boldin has averaged just 31 yards receiving through four games, and catches just 58 percent of the passes thrown his way (26 targets: 15 catches). The Niners are going nowhere, and I wouldn't trust anyone on the team not named Carlos Hyde going forward (and even he is slipping).
Andre Johnson – Colts: Johnson was one of those players drafted on name value, and his owners are regretting the decision now. Johnson simply isn't the same WR that left his mark in Houston, totaling just 7 receptions for 51 yards on his 20 targets. The targets are there, but Johnson isn't catching them, which is what allowed Donte Moncrief to overtake the No. 2 WR role for the Colts. Johnson deserves to be on the waiver wire, and it's time his owners figured it out.
Ladarius Green – Chargers: Antonio Gates returns from suspension this week, putting Green's owners in a weird spot since the TE has been productive (14/174/2) throughout the first four games. Regardless of that production, the Chargers are going to insert their Hall of Fame TE into the lineup and see if that legendary redzone rapport with Philip Rivers is still there. Until we know more about the snaps and targets, it's best to sit Green.
St. Louis Rams defense: The Rams are owned in virtually all active leagues out there, but this is the week when you need to pick up a streamer defense and sit them down. They head to Green Bay to take on possibly the best QB in the league, in one of the toughest stadiums to play in, with Rodgers looking to rebound after putting up just 224 yards and 1 TD last week. If you are hurting for a defense, and want to be sneaky, give the Jaguars some serious consideration (3-out-of-4 games with 10-plus fantasy points).