Week four of the NFL season saw the 49ers establish their defensive prowess once again, the Jaguars put up a performance worthy of getting the number one selection, and the New York Giants did not show up for another week (this time in Kansas City). It also had the surprising comeback from the Seattle Seahawks in Houston after being dead in the water in the first half of the game.
Week four also meant a chance to establish your team at the top of your division in your fantasy football league. Also, another week of fantasy football means another week of hits and misses from this column. The hits: Alex Smith, Le’Veon Bell, the Arizona Cardinals defense, Coby Fleener, Danny Woodhead, and Denarius Moore. The rest are classified as misses.
Remember: This column is not designed to spotlight the top options at each position. If you are looking for advice on start/sit options or top players at a specific position, check out our rankings and other columns throughout the week. This is going to be a weekly spotlight of one player from each game this weekend that has a shot to be a nice flex or last starting option (a WR3 or RB3 for example). Will they all produce a large number of points? No. These are nice lottery tickets to fill in on your team and give you a chance to steal the win.
New Orleans Saints at Chicago Bears
Alshon Jeffery (Chicago Bears) – Jeffery has been targeted at least eight times in three of the four games so far this season. He finally converted those looks into a touchdown reception against the Lions last week and is on the uptick in an offense that is explosive. The Saints will be paying more attention to Brandon Marshall and this will allow Jeffery to see more one-on-one matchups. Five receptions for 70 yards and a score is my prediction for week five.
New England Patriots at Cincinnati Bengals
Kenbrell Thompkins (New England Patriots) – Mr. Preseason has finally shown up the past two weeks with outstanding games against the Bucs and the Falcons. Tom Brady likes this guy, as shown through the massive amounts of targets that he has been receiving (over seven each game). The Bengals have been struggling and the Patriots are likely not the answer to their problems. Thompkins should have another great outing with five catches for 60 yards and a score.
Detroit Lions at Green Bay Packers
Eddie Lacy (Green Bay Packers) – Lacy seems to be on track to return this week from a concussion. While he was out, James Starks ran for 132 yards against the Redskins and Johnathan Franklin ran for 103 yards at Cincinnati. So, the Packers have shown that they are willing and able to run the football. Lacy returns to the starting role against the Lions and their porous defense, both against the run and the pass. Lacy could be in line for a big game this week with 105 yards rushing and a score.
Kansas City Chiefs at Tennessee Titans
Dwayne Bowe (Kansas City Chiefs) – Bowe has been a bit disappointing in fantasy circles this season, with no more than four receptions in each game. Now, he faces a Titans defense that has not allowed a receiving touchdown since week two. So, it sounds bad for the former LSU product. But, I like this spot for him this week. He has performed well against Tennessee in the past and is due for a breakout game. It is going to be low scoring and Alex Smith will find his reliable veteran receiver for 55 yards on five catches and a score.
Seattle Seahawks at Indianapolis Colts
Coby Fleener (Indianapolis Colts) – I don’t like too many players in this game to produce a solid number of fantasy points, since it will most likely be a defensive struggle. Fleener has become a top target for Andrew Luck as the Stanford connection has two scores this season. Fleener will be the big red zone target against a great Seahawks secondary. Three catches for 30 yards and a score is what I see for Fleener.
Jacksonville Jaguars at St. Louis Rams
Chris Givens (St. Louis Rams) – Givens and the Rams get the matchup of the week … they get the Jaguars at home! This matchup has produced breakout performances from offensive players across the league so far and it will be no different this week. The Rams have been weak on offense and will find their rhythm against the weak Jags defense. Givens has had eight targets in each of the last three weeks and is due to convert a deep shot this week given the great matchup. Four receptions for 75 yards and a deep score are in line for week five.
Baltimore Ravens at Miami Dolphins
Marlon Brown (Baltimore Ravens) – Brown has returned to practice today and looks like he is in line to be active at the Dolphins this week. Brown has produced well so far this season by grabbing four balls and a touchdown in three of the four games. With his 6’5” frame, he has the ability to be a major red zone threat. Brown will continue to produce even with the return of Jacoby Jones and will grab four catches for 50 yards and a red zone score.
Philadelphia Eagles at New York Giants
David Wilson (New York Giants) – Wilson has been a very poor performer so far this season with his struggles in finding the end zone and holding onto the ball. This week he gets a very good matchup against a Philadelphia team that has struggled to stop anyone so far this season. If he can’t get a good performance this week, I don’t know when he will. Week five brings 100 yards and a score for Wilson.
Carolina Panthers at Arizona Cardinals
Andre Ellington (Arizona Cardinals) – Ellington has been a solid PPR player so far this season. He’s been getting a few rushes and a few receptions a game. With Rashard Mendenhall struggling, Ellington should be getting a few more looks in the offense, especially with his great performance so far this season. The former Clemson Tiger should get seven carries for 35 yards and five catches for 40 yards.
Denver Broncos at Dallas Cowboys
Julius Thomas (Denver Broncos) – Thomas and the high-powered Broncos go on the road to face the Cowboys, who have struggled to stop tight ends so far this season (see Antonio Gates against them last week). Manning will know this and will try to exploit this weakness throughout the whole game. Thomas has the skills to have a big game and will get six receptions for 80 yards and a score.
Houston Texans at San Francisco 49ers
Garrett Graham (Houston Texans) – Owen Daniels may be the number one tight end in Houston, but it is Graham that has scored a touchdown in three of four games so far this year. While he may not put up overly impressive numbers with the talented pass catchers around him, he has been a solid option each week. The 49ers are not going to target him as a major threat and he has a good chance to sneak under the radar on Sunday night. I like Graham to get 30 yards on three catches and a possible score.
San Diego Chargers at Oakland Raiders
Philip Rivers (San Diego Chargers) – This is just an excuse to give me a chance to talk up Rivers. He is a top five fantasy quarterback and will remain so for the rest of the year. While he will still have his “what are you thinking” moments, Rivers seems to have gelled well with Mike McCoy’s offensive philosophy and now gets a very poor Raiders defense. With his spotty running game, Rivers will throw and throw and throw some more. Rivers should get 350 yards and three scores in the late late Sunday night game.
New York Jets at Atlanta Falcons
Jacquizz Rodgers (Atlanta Falcons) – Rodgers has been a very productive player in both the running and receiving game in the absence of Steven Jackson. He gets a Jets team that is struggling under the direction of Geno Smith and is unlikely to put up points to keep up with the Falcons. So, I see some extra late game carries from Rodgers to give him a nice week. Rodgers gets 12 carries for 60 yards and five receptions for 35 yards with a score mixed in.
As you head out into the rest of week five in the NFL, take these suggestions with a grain of salt. This is all about filling that last flex spot in your starting lineup with a guy that has a good matchup or a solid chance of production. These guys are my best options for that to occur. I wish everyone luck in their fifth week of the season and hope you survive the first full wave of bye weeks with much success.