Written By: Toby Junker and Kamari Purcell
Top Ten Power Rankings
1: Kansas City Chiefs (5-0)
Last week: W @ Houston Texans
This Week: @ Pittsburgh Steelers
The hottest team in the NFL kept the ball rolling as they charged into NRG stadium and came away with a whopping 42 points. The Chiefs had a largely dominant win (minus the Texans scoring a couple of garbage time TDs) and Tyreek Hill reminded everyone who he was as he notched 68 yards on 4 catches and broke an 82 yard punt return touchdown giving the Chiefs a 3 possession lead midway through the 4th quarter. The Chiefs defense will need to improve however, as the team currently ranks in the bottom 10 in both passing yardage and total yardage at this point in the season. That being said, Kareem Hunt continues to dazzle (league-leading 122 rushing yards per game) and may run himself and the Chiefs to a ROY and the Super Bowl.
2: Green Bay Packers (4-1)
Last week: W @ Dallas Cowboys
This Week: vs. Minnesota Vikings
What can we say about Aaron Rodgers as he lead an improbable game winning drive of the final minutes of the Packers game against the Cowboys. He currently ranks 4th in passing yards and 1st in passing touchdowns as he has lead his team to comeback victories in 2 of the last 3 weeks. He leaned heavily on Davante Adams (7 catches, 66 yards, and 2 TDs) with his usual favorite target, Jordy Nelson, being limited to 2 catches, 24 yards and a TD. Going forward, they need to find a way to protect Rodgers as the Packers rank T-2nd in sacks allowed this season. While the Packers currently possess one of the bottom-half defenses in most statistical categories, timely turnovers and the play of Aaron Rodgers makes them a threat to win every week.
3: Philadelphia Eagles (4-1)
Last week: W vs. Arizona Cardinals
This Week: @ Carolina Panthers
What a start to the season for the Philadelphia Eagles as Carson Wentz and co have gotten off to a fast start. Their pass defense has struggled as they rank in the bottom 5 in passing yards allowed, but they have a top 5 rushing attack lead by a resurgent LeGarrette Blount (who is averaging nearly 6 yards per carry). Their dismantling of the Cardinals showed that this Eagles team is starting to hit their stride after struggling to beat the Giants (0-5) and the Chargers (1-4) the last two weeks. However, with their only loss on the season coming at the hands of the Kansas City Chiefs, the Philadelphia Eagles will look to extend their lead in the NFC East this week against the Panthers.
4: Denver Broncos (3-1)
Last week: Bye
This Week: vs. New York Giants
The Broncos had a bye last week, the first week teams were eligible for a bye (with the exception of the Hurricane Irma rescheduling), so they’ll finish the year off with 12 straight games. This is a team built for cold weather though as its defense currently ranks 1st in the NFL in yards per game allowed and is top 7 in scoring defense. The Broncos offense is currently a mixed bag, being one of the worst teams in terms of yardage per game, but scoring at an above average clip. The strength of this offense is definitely their running game (3rd in yards per game), lead by CJ Anderson (4th in rushing at 83 yards per game) as they try to ease the load of starting QB Trevor Siemian. With a trip to the winless Giants next on the schedule, the Broncos should pick up where they left off before the bye.
5: Carolina Panthers (4-1)
Last week: W @ Detroit Lions
This Week: vs. Philadelphia Eagles
Despite Cam Newton’s early struggles, he and the Panthers have managed to elevate their game the last couple of weeks as they beat the Patriot and the Lions in consecutive games. Even though Cam’s media faux pas earlier the week may have overshadowed how well he has played in recent weeks, the Panthers defense looks to have returned to its 2015 form. Christian McCaffrey, their top pick in this year’s draft, has yet to truly showcase his rushing talent (less than 100 yards on the season), he has been an asset in the passing game (27 catches for 237 yards) and he scored his first touchdown (receiving) this week. Their matchup against the Eagles this week is our Game of the Week.
6: Atlanta Falcons (3-1)
Last week: Bye
This Week: vs. Miami Dolphins
Which Falcons are the real Falcons, the one that, quite frankly, should have lost to the Bears, or the one that dismantled the Packers? Their play has belied their record, but you are as good as your record is. That being said, Atlanta and Matt Ryan (T-21st in QBR among players with at least 50 pass attempts) will need to play better as the season progresses. The bye week should help the Falcons, who entered after a loss to the Buffalo Bills, this coming week as Julio Jones (who is averaging over 70 yards receiving per game) is expected to suit up Sunday. The good thing for the Falcons is they have no glaring weaknesses, as they rank among the top half of teams offensively and defensively.
7: Detroit Lions (3-2)
Last week: L vs. Carolina Panthers
This Week: @ New Orleans Saints
Stafford has been hit early and often this season (sacked 18 times), yet he has managed to put up solid numbers. They are an overturned Golden Tate TD against the Falcons away from being 4-1. Going into the season not many would have predicted the Lions defense playing so well as they are top 10 in points per game allowed, thanks to a strong rush defense (4th in the nfl in rushing yards per game allowed). Detroit is also second in turnover differential at +8, doing a good job of creating turnovers (11) and protecting the ball (3 TOs). The Lions have to expect more from Eric Ebron as the former 10th overall pick of the Lions in the 2014 draft has failed to live up to the hype (less than 100 receiving yards and 1 TD). The Lions are coming off a tough loss to the Carolina Panthers and their offense should have much easier treading as they face a porous Saints defense (4th most yards per game allowed) this week.
8: Seattle Seahawks (3-2)
Last week: W @ Los Angeles Rams
This Week: Bye
The Seahawks again have one of the stingiest defenses in the league(5th in points per game allowed) and kept a hot Rams offense in check on the road. They were able to shut down Gurley, holding him to a dismal 43 yards on 14 carries and they forced 5 turnovers, including 2 INTs and a fumble on Goff. On the other hand, their offense has been fairly average throughout much of the season. With a bye week next on the schedule we’ll have to wait another week to see what adjustments HC Pete Carroll and OC Darrell Bevell make to improve Seattle’s league average offense.
9: New England Patriots (3-2)
Last week: W @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers
This Week: @ New York Jets
Wow, who thought the Patriots would be here before the season began. And it could be worse, much worse. The MVP for New England this week has to be the right leg of Nick Folk. The Buccaneers kicker missed 3 field goals from 31, 49 and 56 yards out. That being said New England’s defense showed much improvement and moved up from worst to 2nd-worst scoring defense after holding the listless Bucs to 14 points. Brady notched another 300 yard passing game and continues to lead the league in passing yards at 40 years young. The extended break from playing Thursday night should benefit the Pats in a pivotal matchup against the surprising New York Jets (3-2 and tied for the lead in the AFC East with the Buffalo Bills and New England Patriots) is on tap for next week.
10: Houston Texans (2-3)
Last week: L vs. Kansas City Chiefs
This Week: vs. Cleveland Browns
How about Deshaun Watson? The rookie 12th overall pick out of Clemson appears destined for superstardom. Since Taking over full time for Tom Savage midway through their week 1 game, he has been pretty special. Over the last 2 weeks he has recorded back-to-back 5 TD games utilizing both his arm and his mobility to make plays and add life to the Texans offense. Unfortunately, Houston faces the proposition of playing another season without 3x NFL DPOY JJ Watt. Watson has gone 2-2 since he began starting with his only losses coming against the Kansas City Chiefs and the New England Patriots, with the helpless Browns next on the schedule, expect the Texans to get back to .500 and they should be the favorites to win the AFC South.
Best of the Rest:
Buffalo Bills (3-2), Jacksonville Jaguars (3-2), Los Angeles Rams (3-2),
Baltimore Ravens (3-2), Pittsburgh Steelers (3-2)
Week 5 Hot Takes
Game of the Week:
Green Bay Packers @ Dallas Cowboys - The rematch of one of last year’s NFC divisional playoff games did not disappoint. Both offenses exposed the other defenses for large chunks of the game. The game was highlighted by an exchange of go-ahead touchdowns by Dak Prescott and Aaron Rodgers as each lead masterful late game drives in the final 2 minutes. Ultimately, Rodgers pass to Davante Adams on a repeat of the exact same play before that was successfully defended by the Cowboys, resulted in the game-winning touchdown and the Packers won 35-31.
Play of the Week:
Chicago Bears Fake Punt TD - There were lots of great plays this week, including Nelson Agholor’s marvelous footwork on a long touchdown from Carson Wentz and Tyreek Hill’s long punt return TD, but this week’s honor goes to the Chicago Bears for their creativity. In the 3rd quarter, trailing by 8, the Bears whipped out a little trick play on the punt. Bears punter Pat O’Donnell made a nice throw to Bennie Cunningham who made a couple Vikings’ defenders look silly en route to the end zone. This wasn’t enough as Trubisky failed to deliver a win in his NFL debut, with the Minnesota Vikings eventually winning 20-17.
Player of the Week:
Leonard Fournette - Welcome to the NFL, Mr. Fournette. The Jaguars 4th overall pick had a breakthrough game against the Pittsburgh Steelers as he amasses 181 yards at a 6.5 yard clip and 2 touchdowns running the football. This was his second career 100-plus yard game and first multi-touchdown game in the NFL.
(6 ppt, .5 ppr, % owned according to NFL.com)
Start: Deshaun Watson, HOU (vs CLE) - The rookie out of Clemson has been on fire thus far in his NFL career. While he had his doubters, myself included, coming out of college, since he has taken over as the starting QB, Houston has been the #1 scoring team in the NFL. Look for that to continue in what should be a lopsided game against the winless Browns.
Sit: Matt Ryan, ATL (vs MIA) - Yes the reigning NFL MVP had a magical season last year but this is a new season and unfortunately we’re getting the old Matt Ryan. Through 4 games, Ryan’s passer rating, yards per game, yards per attempt, tds per game and completion percentage are all down compared to last year. Additionally, he’s already thrown 5 interceptions, compared to the 7 he threw all of last year. To make matters worse, Ryan play the Dolphins who have been surprisingly stingy against QBs allowing the 23rd most points per game.
Stream: Jacoby Brissett, IND (@ TEN) (4.2% owned) - Over the past three weeks Jacoby Brissett had averaged just north of 19 ppg. This week he draws a matchup against the Titans, who give up the 3rd most ppg to opposing QBs. Look for Brissett to exploit their secondary and continue his hot streak.
Buy: Drew Brees, NO - I never want you to overpay for a QB but Brees is one of my favorite guys to own going forward. Through 4 games, Brees has already eclipsed 1,100 passing yards, has thrown 8 tds with 0 ints and has only taken 4 sacks. Despite his great play he is yet to have a great game, fantasy point wise, by his standards. The Saints should be behind in most of their game and Brees schedule is very favorable the rest of the way. Not only is his bye already out of the way, but if you look ahead to the fantasy playoffs he gets @ATL, NYJ, ATL in weeks 14-16. Look to give up a RB2 or WR2 packaged with a mid level QB to get Brees.
Sell: Alex Smith, KC - I think the Chiefs as a whole are a very good football team and they have easily been the most impressive team so far this season. However, I am yet to see Alex Smith play well in the colder months of the NFL season. He isn’t known to have a strong arm and has, historically, struggled in the colder months. His value will never be higher so look to upgrade to a true QB1 (Rodgers, Brady, Brees).
Stash: Jared Goff, LAR (12.1% owned) - Typically I don’t like having two QBs on my roster but if you’re looking for a little assurance under center look no further than Jared Goff. There was a reason that the Rams gave up all of those draft picks to move up and select Goff and under new HC Sean McVay, Goff is proving to be quite the selection. After lighting up the NFL in the first 4 weeks Goff came back down to earth last week against Seattle. While his statline (or fantasy point total) may not have inspired confidence, Goff was able to move the ball against one of the best defensive units in football throwing for 288 yards. He gets another tough opponent in Jacksonville this week but should be able to take advantage of some of his juicer matchups down the road.
Start: Mike Gillislee, NE (@ NYJ) - We haven’t seen much of Gillislee since he found the endzone 4 times in the opening 2 weeks but he should get back on track this week. Not only do the Jets give up the 5th most points to running backs but the Pats should be in a positive game script giving Gillislee all the goal line opportunities he needs to punch in a touchdown or two.
Sit: Marshawn Lynch, OAK (vs LAC) - Yes the Chargers give up the 6th most points to RBs, but don’t let that fool you, Beast Mode should be riding your bench this week. Simply put, Marshawn has been bad this year. Maybe it’s the o-line’s fault maybe it’s the offense’s fault but Lynch has only been fantasy relevant unless he gets a TD. More so, Lynch is averaging under 3.5 yards per carry on the season and has failed to break the 12 carry mark since week 1. With Derek Carr likely out another week the scoring potential of this offense is limited and Lynch should stay on your bench.
Stream: Andre Ellington, ARI (vs TB) (12.6% owned) - While Ellington has absolutely 0 chance at stepping in and replacing David Johnson, he can definitely help ease the passing burden that was lost with DJ. Over the past three weeks, Ellington has 23 receptions and has posted double digit fantasy points in each matchup. While some may worry about the arrival of Adrian Peterson, AP has never been much of a pass catcher and should take a little while to learn the playbook. With Chris Johnson being cut by the Cardinals, Ellington could be looking at a few extra carries in addition to his solid work in the passing game.
Buy: Alvin Kamara, NO - Through 4 games, Kamara has amassed 35 total touches. While Adrian Peterson didn’t play a ton during his time with the Saints, the departure of his 7 touches per game should cause Kamara to see a slight uptick in volume. Not only that, but Kamara has received more touches in each of the past three weeks. Look for the Saints to start to use Kamara as more and more of a weapon.
Sell: Duke Johnson, CLE - Right now, Duke Johnson is the 11th highest scoring running back in fantasy. While I liked the value you could get from him during draft season, I don’t think that he can keep up this RB1 production. At the end of the day, Cleveland won’t score enough TDs to keep Duke this high in scoring. He also has benefitted from matchups vs weak defenses like the Colts and Jets. Pair him with a solid player and point to the fact that Duke averaged 15+ over the past three weeks to trade him and upgrade to an elite player at another position.
Stash: Wendell Smallwood, PHI (8.2% owned) - Between the game where Darren Sproles got injured and the following week when Smallwood was active, Smallwood has averaged 12.2 ppg. In those two games, Smallwood has stepped into the pass catching role previously held by Sproles. What pushes his celling even higher is the fact that he’s been more efficient running the ball than LeGarrette Blount. Due to a short week, Smallwood could be slated to miss his second consecutive week due to a minor knee injury. Going forward, Smallwood should be able to contribute to your line up on a week to week basis.
Start: Larry Fitzgerald, ARI (vs TB) - Fitz has had his highs and lows so far this season but that’s been his M.O. for the past couple years, well that and fading in the second half of the season. Look for him to rebound against a Tampa team that concedes the most points to opposing wideouts and then maybe look to sell him before his production goes down the drain.
Sit: Sammy Watkins, LAR (@ JAC) - Watkins is always one deep ball away from having a monster game but this week that isn’t enough reason to justify starting him. We’ve seen a number of times this year that his floor his extraordinarily low and with a Jacksonville team that surrenders the third fewest points to opposing WRs coming off their performance in Pittsburgh, I’ll be starting lots of guys ahead of Sammy Watkins this week.
Stream: Devin Funchess, CAR (vs PHI) (44.2% owned) - This seems to be the year that Devin Funchess will finally breakout. We can see the evolution unfold before our eyes as Funchess has recorded 34 targets in the past four weeks. With Cam playing as hot as he is and looking Funchess’ way for touchdowns, not only is Funchess a great stream this week but he should be rostered in all formats.
Buy: Amari Cooper, OAK - I will be the first to admit it’s been bad this year. In fact, it’s been worse than bad. On the season, Cooper has just 24.4 fantasy points putting him outside the top 75; at his position. While this may all seem like total gloom, there is reason to hope. Cooper is an extremely talented player and is still creating separation on his routes. With Derek Carr returning in the next month or so, the Oakland offense should ascend to its scoring heights. It’s not often you can get a player that’s this talented on an offense with this much scoring potential for so cheap.
Sell: Terrelle Pryor, WSH - Pryor has struggled to become acclimated with this Washington offense. I know I just preached about buying low on talent, but you want to get Pryor off your roster. If you remove his 44 yrd TD catch against KC (it maybe, probably should’ve been called back for offensive pass interference), he’s posted 6 catches for 76 yards in his past three games, total. Try and argue that his 12 point outing prior to his bye is an indication of things to come and try to get anything that will help your roster in return.
Stash: Mike Williams, LAC (3.1% owned) - Generally speaking teams don’t select players, especially skill position players, in the first 10 picks of the NFL draft without the intention to use them, and use them heavily. While Williams has been sidelined thus far with a back injury he's questionable to play in week 6. With the draft capital that the Chargers had to give to get Williams, I wouldn’t be surprised if Williams immediately started in 2 WR sets. While it would be stupid to expect Odell-like numbers from Williams, I could definitely see a scenario where he is a big contributor the rest of the way for LA.
All Stats & Info Courtesy of nfl.com