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2017 STATS Fantasy Football: Week 5 Tiers

By: STATS LLC

Before I dive into the Week 5 tiers, I want to quickly touch on a few things I get asked quite a bit after posting each week.

These rankings/tiers specifically reflect the projections I create. One of the reasons I feel my rankings are so accurate is due to the fact that I am not simply hand-ranking players off the top of my head or gut. All of my energy is put into making our projections while leaving no stone unturned. Therefore, they are factoring in the player’s talent, matchup, potential game plan/script, recent form, any injuries that player or teammate(s) are dealing with, impacts to workload, weather, etc.

Basically – everything!

This process itself reveals where I have players ranked for that week. I try to focus on general strategy and the landscape of the upcoming week as opposed to quickly saying I have Dak Prescott ranked fourth because he’s “good.” If I don’t discuss a specific player, it does not mean any less time/effort was put into his projection.

Lastly, this article is posted every Wednesday and reflects where my projections were on Tuesday night. With my intense projections process, I am using the entire week to get them right. Therefore, if you check on FantasyPros and notice the rank of a player has changed quite a bit, the most recent rank is always going to be the one to use. Players can sometimes go up/down quite a bit even if their projection doesn’t change much, and it can even be from other players around them moving around. That’s why it’s important to view players more as tiered groups, where there can be quite a bit of turnover in an eight-player set if there is only 0.5 projected points separating them all. The slightest change in projection can shuffle the order some, which is why I don’t give you exact rankings on Wednesdays.

Now on to the Week 5 tiers!

Quarterbacks

Week 5 brings us the first batch of byes, not counting the impromptu Miami-Tampa Bay Week 1 re-schedule). This means that Matt Ryan, Drew Brees, Kirk Cousins, and Trevor Siemian are unavailable, opening up the QB position considerably.

This also means we don’t have the Saints defense to pick on either. Jameis Winston gets the biggest matchup boost this week against an exposed Patriots pass defense. He should be locked in as an elite QB1 and started with confidence.

Deshaun Watson makes his debut as a QB1. I had touted his dual-threat abilities before the season started, which made him the perfect high-upside backup to roster heading into the season. He has exploded onto the scene even quicker than I had anticipated, though. The return of Will Fuller raises his ceiling even more, as we saw last week.

It’s also worth mentioning that we are without Derek Carr and potentially Marcus Mariota. This projections set is assuming Mariota plays, but with his rushing stats curbed a bit due to the hamstring injury.

A potential QB1 fill-in is Jacoby Brissett. He is not going to blow you away with his passing stats, but he has tremendous upside with his legs, as we’ve seen the past couple weeks. His matchup couldn’t be any better with a home game against the 49ers.

Big Ben is in a tricky spot since he faces the stingy Jaguars defense, but he’s at home where he is borderline matchup-proof. I’m cancelling the two out and he’s a low-end QB1 for me.

Jared Goff has been one of the biggest surprises in 2017, but don’t let the much-deserved hype lead you to plug him in against the Seahawks. I think his real-life value is much higher than his fantasy value, leading me to think people will overvalue him in fantasy going forward. You have to realize that he will rarely if ever get you rushing stats, and with Todd Gurley as his back he will have to compete for TD shares. I’m simply urging people to be cautious with him going forward, since he’s still a low-ceiling type of player with a 180 passing yard/0 TD/0 rush yards type of floor.

We get the highly anticipated Mitch Trubisky debut this week. He is of course not in play for fantasy purposes, but we will need to monitor his target distribution this week in order to evaluate his teammates’ rest-of-season prospects with him under center. I know rookie QBs with his playing style typically lean on safety valves like their RB or TE to dump it off once they quickly see their first read is covered. Tarik Cohen’s massive target share could stay intact or even rise as a result. I am viewing Zach Miller the same way – it’s the WRs that are all “avoids” for me this week until we see how this shakes out.

Tier 1

Tom Brady (@ TB)
Aaron Rodgers (@ DAL)

Tier 2

Jameis Winston (vs NE)
Dak Prescott (vs GB)
Russell Wilson (@ LAR)

Tier 3

Matthew Stafford (vs CAR)
Carson Wentz (vs ARI)
Deshaun Watson (vs KC)
Eli Manning (vs LAC)
Cam Newton (@ DET)

Tier 4

Ben Roethlisberger (vs JAX)
Jacoby Brissett (vs SF)

Tier 5

Alex Smith (@ HOU)
Philip Rivers (@ NYG)
Carson Palmer (@ PHI)
Case Keenum (@ CHI)
DeShone Kizer (vs NYJ)
Tyrod Taylor (@ CIN)
Andy Dalton (vs BUF)
Jared Goff (vs SEA)
Marcus Mariota (@ MIA)

Tier 6

Jay Cutler (vs TEN)
Josh McCown (@ CLE)
Brian Hoyer (@ IND)
EJ Manuel (vs BAL)
Blake Bortles (@ PIT)

Tier 7

Mitchell Trubisky (vs MIN)
Joe Flacco (@ OAK)

Running Backs

We lost two more RB1/2 last week as Dalvin Cook and Chris Carson suffered major injuries. The first batch of bye weeks leaves us without Devonta Freeman/Tevin Coleman, CJ Anderson, and all members of the New Orleans and Washington RBBC situations. This opens up RB2/3 considerably this week, so I am going to focus on them since we have a rock-solid RB1 group this week.

Starting with the main beneficiary of the Dalvin Cook season-ending ACL tear: Latavius Murray. He’s going to be thrusted into an every-down workhorse-type roll. His ankle is nearing 100 percent so the Vikings should be able to throw him in the fire right away – not to mention, he signed a huge contract with them before they decided to draft Cook. Jerick McKinnon is going to be more of a change-of-pace/third-down back who I don’t see as much of a threat. I’m treating Murray as a strong RB2 this week.

With Derek Carr out, I can see the Raiders leaning on Marshawn Lynch a bit more. The stout Ravens run defense is never an ideal matchup, but the volume should be there for Lynch as well as any goal-line opportunities, as I don’t think they’ll try to get cute with EJ Manuel in the red zone.

The other wide-open RB situation this week is a result of Chris Carson being on the shelf. Seattle could employ a three-headed RBBC this week if C.J. Prosise is active. This is a scenario where people may go out of their way to start Eddie Lacy simply because he is listed as their starting RB on paper. I think this is very dangerous if you are starting him over, say, a Jonathan Stewart or Frank Gore. You have to realize his floor is still very low due to the uncertainty of the situation. Yes, he could very well have a good game if he happens to get going early and they ride the hot hand. When it comes to just having to beat one other team in your fantasy league, it’s much more about avoiding duds verses trying to hit the lottery with every play.

Tier 1

Le’Veon Bell (vs JAX)

Tier 2

Ezekiel Elliott (vs GB)
Todd Gurley (vs SEA)
Kareem Hunt (@ HOU)

Tier 3

Carlos Hyde (@ IND)
Leonard Fournette (@ PIT)
LeSean McCoy (@ CIN)

Tier 4

Melvin Gordon (@ NYG)
Jay Ajayi (-1, vs TEN)
Jordan Howard (vs MIN)

Tier 5

Lamar Miller (vs KC)
Bilal Powell (@ CLE)
Joe Mixon (vs BUF)

Tier 6

Ameer Abdullah (vs CAR)
Latavius Murray (@ CHI)
Marshawn Lynch (-1, vs BAL)
Mike Gillislee (-1, @ TB)
DeMarco Murray (@ MIA)
Christian McCaffrey (+2, @ DET)
Frank Gore (vs SF)

Tier 7

Isaiah Crowell (-1, vs NYJ)
Jonathan Stewart (-2, @ DET)
Doug Martin (-1, vs NE)
LeGarrette Blount (-2, vs ARI)

Tier 8

Tarik Cohen (+2, vs MIN)
Ty Montgomery (@ DAL)
Alex Collins (-1, @ OAK)
Javorius Allen (+1, @ OAK)
Derrick Henry (-1, @ MIA)

Tier 9

Wendell Smallwood (vs ARI)
Duke Johnson Jr. (+2, vs NYJ)
Chris Johnson (@ PHI)
Jerick McKinnon (@ CHI)
James White (+2, @ TB)
Andre Ellington (+2, @ PHI)
Wayne Gallman (vs LAC)

Tier 10

Theo Riddick (+1, vs CAR)
Eddie Lacy (@ LAR)
Elijah McGuire (@ CLE)
D’Onta Foreman (vs KC)
Matt Breida (@ IND)

Wide Receivers

The WR position will be without Julio Jones, Emmanuel Sanders/Demaryius Thomas, Michael Thomas, and Terrell Pryor this week. Carr being out knocks Amari Cooper/Michael Crabtree out of even WR2 discussion this week. Having said this, we can’t be too shocked about some bizarre WR1’s this week in T.Y. Hilton (despite Jacoby Brissett under center) and Chris Hogan. Other than that, we still have our usual suspects locked in as WR2 plays that I don’t anticipate getting too many sit/start questions about.

It should be noted that Devin Funchess is in fact part of this group now. I think the Greg Olsen injury really opened the door for him considering his massive build really makes him more of a WR/TE hybrid who will continue to dominate red zone targets going forward.

The sneaky plays this week are Jets WRs Jermaine Kearse and Robby Anderson. They get the Browns in what should be a very tight contest. Both WRs are guaranteed a handful of targets and have sneaky big-play/TDs odds this week. You could certainly do worse than either.

Another matchup to exploit this year has been big-play WRs against the Eagles. Unfortunately, we have the Cardinals drawing that matchup this week when all four of their WRs are in play. If any one of them happened to be out it would have made it easier to key in on one of them (outside of Larry Fitz). I’m too scared to roll them out in season-long, but JJ Nelson makes for a fantastic DFS tournament option this week since his skill set/matchup gives him a sky-high ceiling in Week 5.

Tier 1

Antonio Brown (vs JAX)
Mike Evans (vs NE)
Odell Beckham Jr. (vs LAC)
A.J. Green (vs BUF)
DeAndre Hopkins (vs KC)
Jordy Nelson (@ DAL)

Tier 2

Dez Bryant (vs GB)
Stefon Diggs (@ CHI)
Tyreek Hill (@ HOU)

Tier 3

Brandin Cooks (@ TB)
T.Y. Hilton (vs SF)
Keenan Allen (+1, @ NYG)
Chris Hogan (@ TB)
Larry Fitzgerald (@ PHI)
Golden Tate (vs CAR)
DeVante Parker (vs TEN)
Adam Thielen (@ CHI)
Rishard Matthews (@ MIA)
Alshon Jeffery (vs ARI)
Doug Baldwin (@ LAR)
Jarvis Landry (vs TEN)

Tier 4

Devin Funchess (@ DET)
Pierre Garcon (@ IND)
Randall Cobb (@ DAL)
DeSean Jackson (vs NE)
Kelvin Benjamin (@ DET)
Davante Adams (@ DAL)
Amari Cooper (vs BAL)
Sammy Watkins (vs SEA)
Martavis Bryant (vs JAX)

Tier 5

Tyrell Williams (@ NYG)
Allen Hurns (@ PIT)
Jeremy Maclin (@ OAK)
Jermaine Kearse (@ CLE)
Robby Anderson (-1, @ CLE)
Will Fuller V (vs KC)

Tier 6

Sterling Shepard (vs LAC)
Danny Amendola (@ TB)
Brandon Marshall (vs LAC)
Marqise Lee (@ PIT)
Eric Decker (@ MIA)|
Robert Woods (vs SEA)
Cooper Kupp (vs SEA)
J.J. Nelson (@ PHI)
Kenny Stills (vs TEN)
Jaron Brown (@ PHI)
Paul Richardson (@ LAR)
Marvin Jones Jr. (-1, vs CAR)
Donte Moncrief (vs SF)
John Brown (@ PHI)
Tyler Lockett (@ LAR)
Nelson Agholor (vs ARI)
Kenny Britt (vs NYJ)
Kendall Wright (vs MIN)
Adam Humphries (vs NE)

Tight Ends

Tight end has been a dumpster fire in ’17. The reason why is simply due to it being a largely TD dependent position. Anyone past Tier 3 can put up a goose egg any week they don’t score, since we can’t bank on yardage totals from anyone. I have put a ridiculous amount of time and energy into these projections, so feel free to trust my raw rankings, and just know that Tiers 4 and on consists of basically betting on a TD. This also means you shouldn’t simply be looking at their past few games of data. Regression tends to be ignored all too often, which causes people to play whack-a-mole at TE all year. Do not be one of these people!

Tier 1

Rob Gronkowski (@ TB)

Tier 2

Zach Ertz (vs ARI)
Travis Kelce (@ HOU)

Tier 3

Charles Clay (@ CIN)
Delanie Walker (@ MIA)
Evan Engram (vs LAC)
Jimmy Graham (@ LAR)

Tier 4

Cameron Brate (vs NE)
Jason Witten (vs GB)
Martellus Bennett (@ DAL)
Jared Cook (vs BAL)
Jack Doyle (vs SF)
Kyle Rudolph (@ CHI)
Austin Seferian-Jenkins (@ CLE)

Tier 5

Tyler Kroft (vs BUF)
Jesse James (vs JAX)
Benjamin Watson (@ OAK)
Eric Ebron (vs CAR)
Zach Miller (vs MIN)
Hunter Henry (@ NYG)

Tier 6

Julius Thomas (vs TEN)
Ryan Griffin (vs KC)
Ed Dickson (@ DET)
George Kittle (@ IND)
Antonio Gates (@ NYG)
Jermaine Gresham (@ PHI)
O.J. Howard (vs NE)
David Njoku (vs NYJ)
Seth Devalve (vs NYJ)

Kickers

Tier 1

Stephen Gostkowski (@ TB)
Dan Bailey (vs GB)

Tier 2

Matt Prater (vs CAR)
Jake Elliott (vs ARI)
Mason Crosby (@ DAL)
Harrison Butker (@ HOU)
Adam Vinatieri (vs SF)
Greg Zuerlein (vs SEA)
Chris Boswell (vs JAX)
Nick Folk (vs NE)
Kai Forbath (@ CHI)
Ka’imi Fairbairn (vs KC)

Tier 3

Blair Walsh (@ LAR)
Aldrick Rosas (vs LAC)
Robbie Gould (@ IND)
Giorgio Tavecchio (vs BAL)
Ryan Succop (@ MIA)

Tier 4

Graham Gano (@ DET)
Justin Tucker (@ OAK)
Randy Bullock (vs BUF)
Younghoe Koo (@ NYG)
Cody Parkey (vs TEN)
Connor Barth (vs MIN)

Tier 5

Phil Dawson (@ PHI)
Chandler Catanzaro (@ CLE)
Zane Gonzalez (vs NYJ)
Stephen Hauschka (@ CIN)
Jason Myers (@ PIT)

Defenses

Tier 1

Pittsburgh Steelers (vs JAX)
Philadelphia Eagles (vs ARI)

Tier 2

New York Jets (@ CLE)
Oakland Raiders (vs BAL)
Cincinnati Bengals (vs BUF)
Minnesota Vikings (@ CHI)
Buffalo Bills (@ CIN)

Tier 3

Kansas City Chiefs (@ HOU)
Detroit Lions (vs CAR)
New York Giants (vs LAC)
Tennessee Titans (@ MIA)
Cleveland Browns (vs NYJ)
Indianapolis Colts (vs SF)

Tier 4

Baltimore Ravens (@ OAK)
Los Angeles Rams (vs SEA)
San Francisco 49ers (@ IND)
Jacksonville Jaguars (@ PIT)
Los Angeles Chargers (@ NYG)
Miami Dolphins (vs TEN)
Houston Texans (vs KC)
Carolina Panthers (@ DET)
Seattle Seahawks (@ LAR)
New England Patriots (@ TB)
Dallas Cowboys (vs GB)
Arizona Cardinals (@ PHI)
Chicago Bears (vs MIN)

Tier 5

Green Bay Packers (@ DAL)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (vs NE)