[Editor’s note: fantasy guru Nicholas Ferris is back for his second guest post on the top-50 flex players, this time breaking down the Week 5 options. While his confidence in OBJ didn’t pay off last week, he sure hit on Julio and AJ Green. Let’s see what he has for us this week. Take it away, other Nick!]
Per usual, we’re dealing with the top-50 flex plays in standard scoring leagues for this week (Week 5).
This week, I have broken our assets into tiers to help differentiate fantasy prowess, singling out players who have moved up or down significantly since last week.
After 4 weeks of NFL action, we are starting to get a feel for how this season may unfold. Sure, there are still questions, like, “will Tom Brady come back with vengeance and attempt to stick a football where the sun don’t shine against every opponent until he reaches his final goal of Roger Goodell handing him the Lombardi?”
My guess is yes. He will at least attempt to anyway, which doesn’t please me, personally; I am far from a Pats fan. But never mind the questions. I’m here to provide answers! As a prelude to Week 5’s rankings, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Julio Jones; 12 catches for 300 yards after a one-catch, 12-yard performance!? He was amazing last week, but all the hype after the 300-yard performance is a bit much. (Best receiver in the NFL? Antonio Brown anyone?)
People overreact to exceptional performances on a weekly basis. One game should never change your overall outlook too much. Some days, everything just falls right. The chances of that happening two weeks in a row are pretty slim, no matter who you’re playing. When Denver is next on the schedule, it’s damn near impossible. (If the Falcons get 300 yards of total offense, I’ll be impressed.)
Coming into the year, we all knew the Julio Joneses and Antonio Browns of the fantasy world would get theirs. How about our assets with limited sample sizes? What have we learned? Those who made David Johnson a top-five pick this year can give themsleves a pat on the back. He is well on his way to being a perennial top-five RB.
However, those of us who were on the Blake Bortles or Kirk Cousins hype trains have been kicked down a notch; both QBs are putting forth their best Nick Foles impersonations.
But enough prelude. Let’s get into some more answers with this week’s top-50.
Top 50 Flex Players for Week 5
1. D. Johnson RB(1) @LA
2. A. Brown WR(1) vs NYJ
3. L. Bell RB(2) vs NYJ
4. E. Elliott RB(3) vs CIN
5. A.J. Green WR(2) @Dal
6. O. Beckham WR(3) @GB
David Johnson takes over top spot this week as the situation in Arizona – no Carson Palmer, no Chris Johnson – suggests he should ridden like a mule when they visit San Fran on Thursday night. Expect touches to come early and often for the second-year back. Add in that Navarro Bowman is on the shelf for the year for the Niners and you have a recipe for a big day.
Le’Veon Bell showed he’s still Le’Veon Bell with a ho-hum 178-yard debut.
Odell Beckham is off to a slow (and emotional) start with 22 catches for 303 yards and no TDs. He is reportedly not in a happy place about it. OBJ will be out to mend fences this week; I see a solid, well-behaved effort to go along with his first TD of the year against a vulnerable GB secondary. Or maybe he will show he’s just another diva wideout and I will be forced to drop him in next week’s rankings.
7. R. Gronkowski TE(1) @CLE
8. J. Jones WR(4) @Den
9. D. Murray RB(4) @Mia
10. M. Gordon RB(5) @Oak
11. T. Gurley RB(6) vs Buf
12. M. Forte RB(7) @PIT
13. M. Evans WR(5) @CAR
14. A. Jeffery WR(6) @Indy
15. J. Nelson WR(7) vs NYG
Rob Gronkowski and Julio Jones belong in the top tier most weeks. Not this one. Gronk gets Tom Brady back, but given his bad hammy, I’ll be put at ease when he visits the end zone this week in Cleveland. Julio resides in tier two for a completely different reason: the vaunted Denver Bronco defense that is only issuing 169 yards passing per game this year.
Demarco Murray moves up from RB(11) last week after strutting his stuff to the tune of 23 points (119 total yards, two rushing TDs) in a tough matchup with the Houston Texans. A soft matchup with the 28th-ranked Miami defense should see him put up some good numbers.
Jordy Nelson, coming off six catches, 101 yards, and two TDs in Week 3 and a bye in Week 4, will be looking to continue his ascension up the WR ranks as he works his way back into form facing a leaky Giants secondary.
16. C. Hyde RB(8) vs ARI
17. L. McCoy RB(9) @LA
18. J. Howard RB(10) @IND
19. C.J. Anderson RB(11) vs ATL
20. L. Miller RB(12) @MIN
21. K. Benjamin WR(8) vs TB
22. B. Marshall WR(9) @PIT
23. D. Hopkins WR(10) @MIN
24. T.Y. Hilton WR(11) vs CHI
25. F. Gore RB(13) vs CHI
26. J. Edelman WR(12) @CLE
27. J. Landry WR(13) vs TEN
Carlos Hyde provides the only real offense in San Fran. The Niners 32nd-rated passing attack let’s defenses key on the ground game, yet Hyde has persevered through the first four games at 75 yards per contest to go along with five TDs.
Jordan Howard’s first career start was a smashing success: 132 total yards. This week versus a Colts D giving up 31.2 points per game, don’t be surprised if he smashes his way to his first career touchdown.
Brandon Marshall moves up from WR(21) as “Fitzmagic” was still real when the embattled QB looked Marshall’s way in a tough matchup with Seattle. Against a weak Pittsburgh D (27th-ranked overall), Fitzy’s competence might even reach NFL levels, which would bode well for Marshall, especially with Eric Decker sidelined.
DeAndre Hopkins overcomes the obstacle of bad QB play most weeks, but it will be extra difficult this week facing a Vikings D that is arguably the best in the league (12.5 points against per game; 15 sacks).
Julian Edelman should be welcomed back to fantasy relevance with the Return of Tom Terrific. Edelman had 692 receiving yards and seven TDs in only nine games last season. He should prove to be a solid WR2 play going forward.
28. E. Sanders WR(14) vs ATL
29. Mar. Jones WR(15) vs PHI
30. E. Lacy RB(14) vs NYG
31. L. Blount RB(15) @CLE
32. A. Cooper WR(16) vs SD
33. D. Thomas WR(17) vs ATL
34. S. Shepard WR(18) @GB
35. J. Hill RB(16) @DAL
36. R. Cobb WR(19) vs NYG
Emmanuel Sanders passes teammate Demaryius Thomas as the usage through four weeks doesn’t warrant Thomas being ranked higher. With Sanders out targeting Thomas 42-27 through the first quarter of the season, I will take the high volume over the touchdown dependency. I’m not sure how many passing TDs the Broncos quarterbacks will be able to muster.
LeGarrette Blount takes a bit of a hit in the rankings due to Tom’s return. He will still have his days, but keep in mind that he hasn’t eclipsed 800 yards in a season since his rookie year (2010).
With Aaron Rodgers beginning to look his old self, it’s only a matter of time before Randall Cobb has his 2016 coming out party. But with only 12 catches for 132 yards in three games, who knows when that party will start.
37. Matt Jones RB(17) @BAL
38. L. Murray RB(18) vs SD
39. S. Smith WR(20) vs WAS
40. M. Crabtree WR(21) vs SD
41. I. Crowell RB(19) vs NE
42. C. Sims RB(20) @CAR
43. J. McKinnon RB(21) vs Hou
44. G. Olsen TE(2) vs TB
45. J. Reed TE(3) @BAL
46. J. Matthews WR(22) @DET
47. T. Pryor WR(23) vs NE
48. D. Freeman RB(22) @DEN
49. D. Sproles RB(23) @DET
50. T. Benjamin WR(24) @OAK
Let’s give some plaudits to the much-maligned Matt Jones. He salted away Washington’s Week 3 game at the Giants with a gutsy running effort. Then he pounded out 138 total yards and a TD against the Browns in Week 4. He has me intrigued, bt still not sold.
Steve Smith is back to fantasy relevance after back to back solid efforts (16 rec., 198 yds, one TD, combined). He should be viewed as a WR2 going forward.
Charles Sims and Jerick McKinnon, two erstwhile backups, are both enticing options since they’re getting the Lion’s share of their teams’ carries in the wake of injuries. Both backs are more dangerous receiving out of the backfield, though. While McKinnon is a phenomenal athlete and the better rusher, I give the nod to Sims as the Vikings tend to feed Matt Asiata when they get near the goal line.
Greg Olsen and Jordan Reed are two of the league’s most talented tight ends. They are first and third in fantasy points and first and second in targets for the position. Being the most consistent playmakers on their respective offenses will keep their high-volume usage a safe bet going forward. Through 4 weeks, Olsen has accumulated 39 targets to Reed’s 34. That kind of wide receiver-type usage means they are huge fantasy assets; along with Gronk, they give you a positional edge over league mates at the position.
Terrelle Pryor is making a name for himself with his sheer athletic ability after making a position switch from QB to WR. He’s still lining up at QB occasionally … and safety … and is making plays from every position. With 35 yards passing, 15 yards rushing, 290 yards receiving, and two total touchdowns, he sits 15th amongst fantasy wide receivers. Since Josh Gordon isn’t coming back and Corey Coleman remains out with a broken hand, Pryor should continue to be a jack-of-all-trades for the Browns offense.
Devonta Freeman ousts teammate Tevin Coleman on the coin flip this week. The coin actually had Freeman on both sides, though, since Coleman (sickle cell trait) might not suit up at Mile High and his usage will be closely monitored even if he does. With a tough day in Denver ahead, I don’t expect much fireworks from either back.
Darren Sproles led the Philadelphia Eagles in rushing in Week 2 (12 carries, 40 yards). Then, Week 3, he lead them in receiving (6 rec., 128 yards, one TD). Ryan Mathews workload has been cut back due to a bad ankle, so Sproles – and Sproles owners – will benefit from extra touches.
Travis Benjamin occupies the last spot on this list and for good reason. His deep speed offers something a little different than teammates Dontrelle Inman and Tyrell Williams. The Chargers continually find new ways to lose, but with Philip Rivers propensity to air it out, there should be no shortage of deep opportunities.
And there you have my top 50 for Week 5! If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to let me know in the comment section, below. Good luck and may the injury bug miss us all!