Week 5 of the 2012 NFL season featured big games by Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Reggie Wayne, New England Patriots running back Stevan Ridley, and New Orleans Saints wide receiver Marques Colston. With 12 games played on Sunday, October 7, here's a look at the most surprising fantasy performers from each Week 5 game on Sunday.
Miami Dolphins at Cincinnati Bengals
Dolphins RB Daniel Thomas - 10 carries, 29 rushing yards, 1 reception, 8 receiving yards, 1 touchdown
Thomas continued to play the role of short-yardage back with more goal-line touches in Week 5. While his role would be limited behind Reggie Bush, regular carries at the goal line could make Thomas a solid candidate for vulture touchdowns. With already two scores on the year, he at least has some value with the Dolphins rather than serving as just Bush's backup.
Cleveland Browns at New York Giants
Browns WR Josh Gordon - 2 receptions, 82 receiving yards, 2 touchdowns
The entire Browns offense had a solid showing against the Giants, but no player made a bigger impact than Gordon. Catching just two passes in the game, he made his first career start for Mohamed Massaquoi and scored the first two touchdowns of his career. With the Browns needing playmakers, Gordon could emerge from the pack as a viable wide receiver.
Green Bay Packers at Indianapolis Colts
Colts WR Reggie Wayne - 13 receptions, 212 receiving yards, 1 touchdown
Few wide receivers had a stronger performance in Week 5 than Wayne. From important grabs that resulted in first downs to spectacular catches all-around the field, he continued his dominance as Andrew Luck's primary target. Given his production all year long, Wayne is definitely a must-start every week.
Philadelphia Eagles at Pittsburgh Steelers
Steelers RB Rashard Mendenhall - 14 carries, 81 rushing yards, 2 receptions, 20 receiving yards, 1 touchdown
It was uncertain as to how Mendenhall would perform in his first action of the season. While his presence was surely needed for a running game that has struggled all year, he was very effective in his first start since tearing his ACL with over 100 total yards and a touchdown. As he continues to get healthier and more used to real-time action, Mendenhall's stock will rise.
Atlanta Falcons at Washington Redskins
Redskins QB Kirk Cousins - 5-for-9, 111 passing yards, 1 passing touchdown, 2 interceptions
After Robert Griffin III suffered a head injury in the third quarter, Cousins made his NFL debut against the Falcons. While he came up short and threw two picks in this emergency relief situation, he did gain most of his yards from a 77-yard touchdown pass to Santana Moss. If Griffin is not ready to start for Week 6, Cousins would play but is a very unproven and unworthy fantasy starter.
Baltimore Ravens at Kansas City Chiefs
Chiefs RB Jamaal Charles - 30 carries, 140 rushing yards, 3 receptions, 21 receiving yards
In a game with no touchdowns and mostly production on the ground, Charles was the key performer of the game. Coming off a solid Week 4 performance against the San Diego Chargers, he had his third straight great outing as the major workhorse of the offense. It's safe to say that there should be no concerns about Charles as an elite fantasy option for the rest of the season.
Chicago Bears at Jacksonville Jaguars
Bears RB Armando Allen - 5 carries, 59 rushing yards, 1 touchdown
In a blowout win by the Bears, Allen emerged as a surprising performer in garbage time. The fourth-string running back behind Matt Forte, Michael Bush and Kahlil Bell, Allen put up good numbers and the game's only rushing touchdown. With negative yardage on the season prior to this game and a healthier Forte in front of him, this was likely a one-time performance by Allen.
Seattle Seahawks at Carolina Panthers
Seahawks team defense - 4 points allowed, 4 sacks, 2 fumble recoveries
Up against a tougher opponent in the Panthers, the Seahawks' stout run defense effectively shut down Cam Newton and the running game. Only responsible for allowing a field goal and extra point, they continued their dominance as one of the more impressive defenses in the league. Moving forward, Seattle should continue to be a solid fantasy team defense.
Buffalo Bills at San Francisco 49ers
49ers WR Michael Crabtree - 6 receptions, 113 receiving yards, 1 touchdown
In a game filled with record-setting offensive production by the 49ers, Crabtree had one of the better individual performances of the game. Passing the 100-yard mark for the first time this season, he also had his first touchdown grab of the year against the Bills. Already Alex Smith's top target, more looks in the end zone could make Crabtree a more valuable fantasy option.
Denver Broncos at New England Patriots
Patriots RB Stevan Ridley - 28 carries, 151 rushing yards, 1 touchdown, 1 fumble lost
After an excellent breakout game in Week 4 by Brandon Bolden, Ridley solidified his presence as the primary running back with a huge game against the Broncos. While there wasn't much concern about him losing a majority of carries, he had 28 carries on the day and looked impressive by averaging 5.4 yards a carry. Carrying the load once again for New England, Ridley's value is at the highest point of his career.
Tennessee Titans at Minnesota Vikings
Titans WR Kendall Wright - 9 receptions, 66 receiving yards
While the game was dominated by the Vikings, Wright had a solid outing for the Titans. Productive particularly in PPR formats with nine catches, he has continued to look well with Kenny Britt slowed by ankle issues. However, with uncertainty at the quarterback position and a mess in the backfield with Chris Johnson, Wright's production is too inconsistent for most standard formats.
San Diego Chargers at New Orleans Saints
Saints WR Marques Colston - 9 receptions, 131 receiving yards, 3 touchdowns
After disappointing in his first three games of the season, Colston has exploded over the past two weeks with 18 catches for 284 yards and four touchdowns. With the slow start behind him and the Saints earning their first win of the season, New Orleans' offense may have finally found some stability. Thanks to his past few weeks of production, Colston looks to once again be a top fantasy wide receiver.
Week 5 Scoreboard, Yahoo! Sports
Kirk Cousins News & Notes, Yahoo! Sports
Michael Crabtree Game Log, Yahoo! Sports
Marques Colston Game Log, Yahoo! Sports
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Austin Chang is a lifelong football fan, San Francisco 49ers supporter, and fantasy football player since 2005. Follow him on Twitter @_austinchang.