NFL WEEK 5 FANTASY WINNERS AND LOSERS

by ANDREW HORN

Five weeks in, I am sitting at a perfect 5-0. My great start has come with some serious consequences. Jamaal Charles, my number 1 pick is now out for the years with a torn ACL. That now makes the remainder of my season significantly harder, but not impossible. You cannot win your season during the draft. Real champions are made in free agency after they read my Week 5 winners and losers.

Quarterbacks

Winners: Josh McCown (CLE)- 51.1 points

Courtesy of ESPN.com
Courtesy of ESPN.com

Cleveland has a quarterback and his name isn’t Johnny Football. The Browns appear to have found a competent quarterback after 22 failed attempts since 1999.  Ok, maybe it is unfair to categorize Brian Hoyer and Derek Anderson as failures, but they never replicated their best years. McCown, the second McCown to play for the Browns, bested his brother’s tenure in Cleveland by throwing for 457 yards and two touchdowns while rushing for another touchdown. McCown set a Browns franchise record for most passing yards in a three game stretch. He is also the first Browns quarterback to throw for 450 yards in a game. The 13-year vet didn’t come out unscathed and is listed as questionable for the Browns game against the Broncos. The Browns are about to enter a brutal 5-game stretch where four of the teams are in the top-10 for scoring defense, two of which are also top-5 in the NFL in takeaways. McCown should be on every roster as a solid backup. Track his progress very closely and start him only if you have to.

Blake Bortles (JAC)- 46.3 points

Courtesy of ESPN.com
Courtesy of ESPN.com

I am making special room for Bortles this week because of how dynamic he was against Tampa Bay. Bortles threw for 303 yards and four touchdowns, but also sustained a sprained shoulder. According to Foxsports.com, the sprain is a grade 1, the least severe. Since an abysmal Week 1 performance, Bortles has averaged 31.6 points in his last four games. With another favorable matchup against Houston, Bortles should be a start, but only if he is 100 percent healthy.

Loser: Brandon Weeden (DAL)- 9.2 points

Courtesy of fantasypros.com
Courtesy of fantasypros.com

Weeden wasn’t the worst quarterback of the day, but it appears it will be his last day as the Cowboys starting quarterback. When Weeden entered the league (with the Browns of course), there were high hopes for the ageless wonder to be a productive NFL quarterback. It seems he just killed any chance he had of becoming a starter again. In the four games since he took over for Tony Romo, Weeden failed to eclipse 20 points and the Cowboys went 1-3. Weeden should be dropped from your roster. If you are desperate to have a Cowboys quarterback, I would recommend Matt Cassel, the guy who will be replacing Weeden after the Week 6 bye.

Running Backs

Winner: Doug Martin (TB)- 37.8 points

Courtesy of ESPN.com
Courtesy of ESPN.com

Every rookie quarterback needs a steady running back to shoulder the load when needed. On Sunday, Martin shouldered the load for the entire Tampa team. Martin ran for 123 yards and two touchdowns and had 35 receiving yards and a touchdown. Martin now has 60 fantasy points in the past two weeks. His resurgence into the fantasy spotlight could mean huge rewards for owners who took the risk on him. Martin is not just a rushing threat, but a decent receiving threat out of the backfield. The only problem is that Tampa’s outstanding young tight end Jenkins will be out for a few more weeks. Without a third receiving option, defenses can afford to mark Martin with a safety and dare Winston to throw downfield. Start Martin in Week 7 against Washington. Start every player you have against Washington, always.

Loser: The Washington Redskins…again

Well clearly nothing has changed in the past four weeks to show that rookie Matt Jones or third-year back Alfred Morris want anything to do with the starting job in Washington. Matt Jones was injured during his 11 carry, 20 yard performance on Sunday against the Falcons. Alfred Morris countered that with an equally horrible 15-yard performance on eight carries. So what is the problem: is it personnel? Is it coaching? Is it offensive philosophy? The answer is yes. The offensive line is not quite there (although they are better), the coaching is clearly not teaching the rookie or the more veteran presence how to break this slump. Until there is a clear back in Washington, consider dropping all backs from that team. Start none of them.

Wide Receivers

Winner: AFC South receivers

Week 5 saw five receivers in the AFC South score more than 17 points, half of the total number of receivers who scored more than 17 points. The brothers Allen (Hurns and Robinson) of Jacksonville each had 70+ yards and a touchdown. Rookie Jaelen Strong of the Texans caught two passes for 53 yards and two touchdowns, making the most of his limited snaps. The Colts played defense-optional on DeAndre Hopkins as he caught 11 passes for 169 yards. The best performance of the week was for the former Texan Andre Johnson, who caught two touchdown passes. Johnson’s Thursday night performance set season highs in receptions, yards and touchdowns. Even after a great week, only Hopkins is a must-start every week. Jacksonville still has a young Blake Bortles and Andre Johnson cannot sustain these numbers.

Loser: Roddy White (ATL)- 2.3 points

Courtesy of ajc.com
Courtesy of ajc.com

There was a time when Roddy White was a great receiver. Then Julio Jones came in and made White’s fantasy value good instead of great. Now with the emergence of Leonard Hankerson and a surprise running game, White has no value in fantasy right now. Hankerson is questionable for Thursday night against the Saints. Week 6 will decide whether Roddy White still has a place in Atlanta. If he gets fewer than eight targets, look for the Falcons to trade the former superstar wide out. 31 yards in the past three games is not good enough form White. At this point, a trade would probably be best for White. The best fit for White would be with Drew Brees in New Orleans or, believe it or not, Arizona with Carson Palmer. Neither is bound to happen, making White’s value almost nothing. Bench him.

Tight Ends

Winner: Gary Barnidge (CLE)-20.9 points

Courtesy of ESPN.com
Courtesy of ESPN.com

If you didn’t know the name before, you do now. The tight end, now in his eighth season, has three consecutive weeks of scoring a touchdown and 70 or more yards. Sunday, Barnidge erupted for an eight catch, 139-yard performance. Barnidge has set career highs in receptions, yards, targets, touchdowns and first downs and it is only Week 6.  The McCown/Barnidge connection is working and working well. If you don’t have him on your team, get him now or someone else will.

Loser: Charles Clay (BUF)- 0.7 points

Courtesy of bleacherreport.com
Courtesy of bleacherreport.com

Charles Clay has always been an enigma as a fantasy tight end. On the one hand, Clay is a tight end capable of posting a consistent 80 yards per game. The fifth-year tight end is trying to get back to 2013 form when he had a career high six touchdowns in Miami. Now in Buffalo, Clay is still looking to figure out what his role will be. Weeks 2 and 3 netted Clay a touchdown, while Week 4 saw him go over 100 yards for the third time in his career. Clay will continue to be a tight end capable of putting up 10 or more points, but he will have games like this too. Sit him next week against Cincinnati if you can.

D/ST

Denver- 30.8 points

Denver relied on their defense again to maintain their perfect start. A Chris Harris INT for a touchdown gave Denver the win and a huge boost in points. Denver gets Cleveland in Week 6. The Browns will put up 17-24 points, but the amount of turnovers will decide if Denver is a top defense next week. Start them.

Cincinnati- 27 points

The Bengals were down 24-7 going into the fourth quarter. Then Andy Dalton and the Bengals channeled their inner ’93 Bills and came back to beat the Seahawks in overtime. A good performance kept the Bengals in the game and gave any owners of the Bengals defense a good chance at winning. A game against Buffalo stands between the Bengals and a bye week. Start them.

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