Week 5 of the fantasy football season is finally here, and the Rotoworld crew has everything you need to leave the weekend with a win. Patrick Daugherty answers your lineup questions with his Week 5 Rankings, Nick Mensio tells you who to start and who to fade in Start ‘Em or Sit ‘Em, Ian Hartitz dives into which receivers are destined for production in his WR/CB Matchups Analysis, Hayden Winks breaks down every matchup in his Fantasy Forecast Column, and I give leans to Week 4's most explosive performances in my Player Props Column.
I'm also here to shed some light on the most important injury situations facing fantasy owners heading into the weekend. The sister resource to this column is the Rotoworld News Page, which will have every single inactive and all the late-breaking news up to kickoff and beyond. I'll also join Josh Norris and a rotating member of the crew every Sunday morning at noon ET on the Rotoworld Fantasy Football Show to answer all of your pressing start/sit decisions.
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Jaguars @ Panthers
*With starting OL Greg Little (concussion) and Trai Turner (ankle) both out, coach Ron Rivera will either start sixth-round rookie Dennis Daley at left tackle or shift RG Daryl Williams there. That situation still pales in comparison to Carolina’s short-handed defense making stops without CB Donte Jackson (groin, out), DT Kawann Short (shoulder, IR), DE Brian Burns (wrist, questionable) and stud DT Gerald McCoy (knee, questionable).
Cardinals @ Bengals
*The logical approach without Christian Kirk (ankle, out) and Damiere Byrd (hamstring, doubtful) would be to play No. 62 overall pick Andy Isabella alongside Larry Fitzgerald in the slot, but coach Kliff Kingsbury sounds determined to bury the rookie as the No. 5 option on the team’s depth chart. Pharoh Cooper, who played 95.6 percent of Arizona’s slot snaps in the preseason before getting waived on final cuts and re-signing Tuesday, is instead expected to start in three-wide sets with KeeSean Johnson and Fitz. That helps...well, no one. An uptick in slot usage for David Johnson should be expected, with Fitzgerald the obvious choice to see 10-plus targets in this fantasy friendly matchup.
*John Ross’ (shoulder, out) extended absence puts seventh-rounder Auden Tate in prime position to soak up snaps and targets alongside Tyler Boyd. In the past two weeks alone, Tate’s ranked as fantasy’s WR36 and has nearly mirrored Boyd with 16 targets to the latter's 17 and 142 air yards to 145.
Falcons @ Texans
*It’s bad enough for Houston’s secondary that 35-year-old CB Johnathan Joseph is tasked in man-on-man coverage against Julio Jones, but incumbent No. 2 corner Lonnie Johnson (groin, questionable) may not even be available to oppose Calvin Ridley on the other side. Keke Coutee could experience a range of outcomes if Kenny Stills (hamstring, game-time decision) is ruled out, but the second-year slot wideout did average 10 targets in the five games he logged 60-plus percent of the team’s snaps last year, notably busting out for 11/114/1 in Houston’s Wild Card loss to the Colts back in January. I’d rank him as a high-floor WR3 and DFS cash game option if given the nod over Stills.
Buccaneers @ Saints
*It’s slightly concerning if the Bucs were to line up without RT Demar Dotson (calf, questionable), but the good news is stud sideline-to-sideline LB Devin White (knee) is slated to return just in time to square off against New Orleans’ horizontal offense.
*Tre’Quan Smith avoided New Orleans’ injury report after missing last week’s victory over the Cowboys with a hobbled leg.
Vikings @ Giants
*Stefon Diggs is reportedly traveling to New Jersey but coach Mike Zimmer was noncommittal about the receiver's participation. I fully expect Diggs to play, but Adam Thielen would obviously be upgraded for this cush matchup if the former's surprisingly scratched. Vikings No. 2 corner Mackensie Alexander (elbow, groin) was also downgraded mid-week and ultimately ruled out.
*Golden Tate is expected to return following his four-game suspension.
Bears @ Raiders (London)
*With Chase Daniel under center for Mitchell Trubisky (shoulder, out), we should fully expect the Bears to game-plan around Allen Robinson, David Montgomery, and Tarik Cohen as their centerpieces. In Daniels’ two starts for Trubisky last year, for example, only Blake Bortles and the Jaguars (41%) targeted running backs at a higher rate than Chicago (39%). Cohen’s receiving lines in those contests were 7/45/1 and 12/156. He and Montgomery’s value in this one are only increased by Taylor Gabriel’s (concussion) absence.
*Tyrell Williams (foot) and J.J. Nelson (knee) are both truly questionable for this tilt in London, potentially leaving Darren Waller, Hunter Renfrow, and Trevor Davis as Oakland’s top-three receiving options. Waller remains a matchup-proof TE1 despite the lack of ancillary pieces around him.
Jets @ Eagles
*Even with No. 3 overall pick Quinnen Williams (ankle, probable) back in their lineup, we shouldn’t expect the Jets to be competitive without Sam Darnold (mono, out), Chris Herndon (suspension), and C.J. Mosley (groin, doubtful).
*The Eagles don’t need DeSean Jackson (abdomen, out) to dominate this one in the trenches from kick-off. Still, it would help if default No. 1 corner Sidney Jones (hamstring, questionable) were available.
Ravens @ Steelers
*Mark Andrews (foot) got in a full practice and was promptly removed from the team’s injury report for the first time in the past two weeks. Start him with confidence.
*No team should build their offense around Vance McDonald (shoulder, questionable) and FB Roosevelt Nix (knee, out), but that was comically coach Mike Tomlin’s reasoning for featuring Jaylen Samuels across the board Monday night. If McDonald’s out, expect more of the same in an underrated matchup against Baltimore’s Swiss cheese defense that’s been scorched by LeSean McCoy/Darrel Williams (25/189/2) and Nick Chubb (20/165/3) in their last two games. Run back any Samuels/Steelers stacks with Marquise Brown in DFS for good measure.
Bills @ Titans
*With Josh Allen (concussion) suddenly expected to play after clearing the league's protocol Saturday morning, both John Brown and TE Dawson Knox are firmly in play in season-long formats. Albeit only a streaming option at this time, Knox should have no issues continuing his recent success following season-highs in snaps (54) and routes run (36) against the Patriots. Rookie RB Devin Singletary (hamstring, questionable) may suit up but isn't anything more than a deep league FLEX reach in his first game back.
Patriots @ Redskins
*Officially without Rex Burkhead (foot) on Sunday, early-down reps are projected to fall to Sony Michel, Damien Harris, and Brandon Bolden in some capacity. With Rex limited (but active) last week, Harris was healthy scratched while Michel notably logged 44 percent of New England’s offensive snaps behind James White (52%); that one, of course, included competitive game script. With the Patriots laying three scores (-15.5) to Washington on Sunday, it makes sense for White to get phased out for one (or two) of New England's three bruising runners. Michel’s a don’t-watch-the-game RB3 while Bolden and Harris slide in as vultures destined to skim off the top — perhaps just enough to sink Michel, but not enough to warrant playing even in dynasty leagues.
*Terry McLaurin (hamstring) is expected back, but he’ll have to fend for production with Colt McCoy under center. Jeremy Sprinkle will also be Washington’s lone tight end without both Jordan Reed (concussion, out) and Vernon Davis (concussion, out). Fire up Josh Gordon everywhere if starting corner Josh Norman (knee, probable) is declared active. Yes, you read that correctly.
Broncos @ Chargers
*Not only was second-year standout Bradley Chubb (knee) moved to injured reserve mid-week, the Broncos are likely to be without starting LB Josey Jewell (hamstring, questionable) after he was unable to muster through a single practice session.
*It’s not an injury, but all signs point to Melvin Gordon taking a backseat to Austin Ekeler for at least one more outing. Coach Anthony Lynn said the latter would play “a lot” against Denver while Gordon’s workload is limited in the veteran’s first game back. For those with any lingering doubts, here’s Lynn’s full quote: “I don’t want to put him in there and play him too much, and I really don’t have to. I like what Austin Ekeler has been doing.” Ekeler is a no-doubt RB1 whether Mike Williams (back, probable) and Travis Benjamin (quad, questionable) suit up or not.
Packers @ Cowboys
*With Davante Adams (toe) officially ruled out, Green Bay’s receiving pecking order dwindles. Marquez Valdes-Scantling stands out as the primary beneficiary with (in order) Jimmy Graham, Geronimo Allison, and Jake Kumerow falling in line. It’s admittedly a tough matchup for all on the perimeter versus a shutdown Cowboys Defense that’s allowed the fifth-fewest fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks and wideouts, but the hit-or-miss environment at the tight end position keeps Graham as a worthy Top 12 option. Reminder the 32-year-old averaged 4.5/45.5/1 in the two games he wasn’t listed on the team’s injury report this year and comes into this one with a full 10 days of rest since he most recently spiked 6/61/1 against the Eagles in Week 4. Aaron Jones also gets a small bump since he's fresh off logging 83.5 percent of Green Bay's offensive snaps without Jamaal Williams (concussion, out).
*It’s technically a smash spot on-paper for Ezekiel Elliott against a Packers rush defense that’s been pummeled for 142.3 ground yards per game, but the potential absences of starting tackles Tyron Smith (ankle, out) and La’el Collins (back, questionable) could throw a wrench into those plans. Michael Gallup’s (knee, probable) return, albeit in a limited fashion, could still open the offense for Zeke and Co. on the ground.
Colts @ Chiefs
*The Colts head into Arrowhead short defensive stalwarts Darius Leonard (concussion, out) and Malik Hooker (knee, out) for the second consecutive week. Even so, Indy’s offense should be able to function with T.Y. Hilton (quad, questionable) back. He’s a Top 20 option if/when active. It sounds like Marlon Mack’s (ankle, questionable) heading for a true game-time call, but with this one kicking off in the evening, the only pivot options are Nyheim Hines and, to a lesser extent, Jordan Wilkins. Hines is the value to chase sans Mack in this up-tempo matchup that slates the Colts in negative game script as 11-point road dogs in the highest projected total (56) of Week 5. Reminder the second-year scatback averaged 8.5 targets in the four games Mack missed just last year.
*Coach Andy Reid said Damien Williams will be “available” versus the Colts, an ominous sign he’ll ultimately play second fiddle to LeSean McCoy in a 70/30 or 60/40 timeshare. It’s a true guess how Darrel Williams is involved (if at all) but odds are he sticks in the two-minute drill and plays a similar number of snaps to Damien (at least in the trio’s first full game together). I consider McCoy a confident RB2/3 with Damien > Darrell both filing in as FLEX options. Sammy Watkins’ (hamstring, questionable) surprising downgrade on Friday is concerning, but he’s an obvious start if active. Mecole Hardman would become Kansas City’s full-time slot wideout if Watkins is scratched, allowing Byron Pringle and De’Anthony Thomas to split reps on the outside.
Browns @ 49ers
*Although both Jarvis Landry (concussion, questionable) and Rashard Higgins (ankle, questionable) could be cleared by kick-off, Cleveland’s expected to be missing corners Denzel Ward (hamstring, questionable) and Greedy Williams (hamstring, questionable) for the third straight game. It may not matter given San Francisco’s league-high 54 percent run play rate in one-score situations this year.
*Tevin Coleman’s (ankle) practiced since the Niners’ Week 4 bye and projects to return Monday night. Jury’s out on how backfield touches are dispersed, but he can’t be considered anything more than a lottery FLEX until coach Kyle Shanahan shows his cards. The Athletic’s Matt Barrows reported Coleman will likely take Jeff Wilson’s goal line role. A three-headed timeshare or healthy scratch is the likeliest outcome.