Before we launch into the picks for week 5 let’s look at some of the prominent pass catchers that may be limited with injuries and be sure to check out our INJURY REPORT for an update on where they stand for Sunday kickoffs.
Lance Moore (Hamstring), Hakeem Nicks (knee) and Greg Jennings (Groin) have been ruled out for week 5.
Despite the loss of Darrelle Revis (ACL) for the season, there remains multiple shutdown CBs that should be avoided if at all possible. Here are the most prominent lock down CBs for week 5: Nnamdi/DRC vs Pittsburgh, Jonathan Joseph vs NY Jets, Tramon Williams vs Indy, and Champ Bailey vs New England. Some of these CBs stick on one side while others are used to shadow the opponents #1 WR so the presence of a top CB is not a death-blow if you have WRs on a team facing one of them but its worth considering if you have some difficult WR dilemmas this week.
The following Defenses are allowing less than 200 passing YPG: Dallas, Houston, Pittsburgh, NY Jets, and San Francisco. Temper your expectations if you have WRs for the NY Jets (vs HOU), Indy (@ GB), Philly (@ PIT), Buffalo (@SF).
On the flip side, these defenses (Tampa Bay, Washington, Miami, Baltimore, Cleveland, Tennessee, Oakland and New England) have been shredded by passing games allowing 280+ YPG through the air. AJ Green (vs Miami), Victor Cruz (vs Cleveland), Percy Harvin (vs Tenn.), Demaryius/Decker (@ New England) and Julio/Roddy (vs Washington) could be in store for monster games this week.
Wide Receiver Upgrades
It remains to be seen which Charger WR benEfits from lining up against CB Patrick Robinson as opposed to more talented Jabari Greer. New Orleans 24th ranked pass defense (277 YPG) is allowing the 4th most fantasy PPG to opposing WRs (30 FPG). Meachem should be ultra motivated facing off against his old team and could very well produce his first productive performance (has just 6 catches for 92 yards on the season and yet to reach the end zone).
Eric Decker (@ New England) – The Golden Gopher alum is getting more comfortable with Peyton under center after posting pedestrian stats in weeks 1/2. Over the past two weeks, Decker has hauled in 15 catches for 215 yards and two TDs. In week, Denver will likely be forced to throw early and often to keep up with the Brady Bunch. The Pats defense ranks 25th in passing YPG (282 YPG) and have allowed 9 TDs via the pass through 4 games. Decker is WR2 with WR1 potential for week 5.
Dwayne Bowe (vs Baltimore) – On paper this might look like a daunting task but the Raven defense hasn’t been stout over the first month of the season. Baltimore is allowing the 11th most fantasy PPG (24 FPG) to opposing WRs and their pass defense as a whole ranks a surprising 29th in yards allowed (296 YPG). Bowe is in his 6th year in the NFL and has been a solid performer in a contract year. On the season, KC’s #1 WR is averaging 85 YPG and has reached the end zone 3 times. Bowe should be able to match his season averages this week as KC might be forced to take to the air more often against Ray Ray and the Ravens.
Wide Receiver Downgrades
Stevie Johnson (@ San Francisco) – Captain ‘Why so Serious’ could find tough sledding in week 5 against the 49ers 5th ranked pass defense (allowing just 198 YPG). Buffalo is employing more of a spread it around passing philosophy much to the detriment of SJ owners (Fitzpatrick completed passes to 9 different receivers in the week 4 loss to New England). Johnson was held to just 2 catches for 23 yards in week 4 and is on pace for just 60 catches for 780 yards. On the plus side he has 3 TDs on the young season despite not topping 65 yards in any week. Consider your alternatives for week 5, as San Fran’s ferocious defense will likely keep the Buffalo passing game in check.
They have allowed 8 passing TDs and are yielding the 12th most fantasy PPG to opposing WRs (23 FPG). The 33-year-old Wayne leads the NFL in targets (40) and is averaging 98 YPG through 3 games. Wayne has just one TD on the season and will likely face off with CB Tramon Williams in a difficult week 5 matchup. Temper your expectations.
Steve Smith (vs Seattle) – The 33-year-old WR from the University of Utah is having a productive season to date despite the up & down season from Cam Newton. Smith is averaging 87 YPG but has yet to find the end zone over the first four weeks of the season. In week 5, the Panthers host a very physical Seattle secondary that has only allowed just 3 passing TDs and have held opposing WRs to the 8th fewest fantasy PPG (18). The Seahawks have held Larry Fitzgerald, Dez Bryant and Jordy Nelson in check to date so don’t be afraid to sit Steve Smith if you have better week 5 options.
Wide Receiver Sleepers:
With Greg Jennings ruled out for week 5, we expect Cobb to be a bigger piece of the puzzle in week 5 against a mediocre Colts pass defense ranked 15th (allowing 231 YPG). The 2nd year WR from Kentucky has game breaking speed so can make a fantasy impact even with limited targets. He is well worth considering as a flex/WR3 play.
Sidney Rice (@ Carolina) – The former Viking signed a 5-year $41 million contract before the 2011 season and has failed to come anyway close to justifying his pay day amid multiple injuries and pedestrian production. Rice missed 7 games last season while dealing with shoulder injuries and a concussion. Through 4 games with Russ Wilson under center, Rice is averaging just 33 YPG with one TD. In week 5, he could be setup to surprise with Carolina’s best CB Chris Gamble expected to sit out with a shoulder injury. Don’t be afraid to roll the dice if your lineup is ravaged by injuries and you need a Bye week filler.
Leonard Hankerson (vs Atlanta) – Hankerson has topped 50 yards in each of the past three weeks and could play a big part in the passing game in week 5 as Pierre Garcon nursing his way back from a foot injury. People forget how productive Hankerson was becoming last year for Washington before his hip injury sidelined him for the rest of the season. Washington will host a solid Atlanta pass defense allowing the 8th fewest YPG (207) despite having lost top CB Brent Grimes to an early season injury. There is a very good chance the Shanny’s will forced to open the playbook in the 2nd half as Matt Ryan should have his way with Washington’s 31st ranked pass defense. In a game with shootout potential you could do worse than giving Hankerson a start this week as he has the confidence of RG3 (saw 11 targets in week 4) and could finish with solid stats as the skins are likely to be in catch up mode in the 2nd half.