Week 5 of the fantasy football season is finally here, and the Rotoworld crew has everything you need leave the weekend with a win. Patrick Daugherty answers your lineup questions with his Week 5 Rankings, Nick Mensio tells you who to start and who to fade in Start ‘Em or Sit ‘Em, and Evan Silva breaks down every matchup in his award-winning Matchups Column.
As for me, I am here to shed some light on the most important injury situations facing fantasy owners heading into the weekend. The sister resource to this column is the Rotoworld News Page, which will have every single inactive and all the late-breaking news up to kickoff and beyond. I also tweet about football (and wrestling) at @notJDaigle.
Broncos @ Jets
*Denver will have to make due without starting OT Jared Veldheer (knee), who’s already been ruled out, on Sunday. Fortunately for the rest of the offense, there are no other key injuries.
*Jets starting CB Trumaine Johnson (quad) was ruled out, leaving slot corner Buster Skrine, Juston Burris, and Perry Nickerson to defend opposite Morris Claiborne. Any other week, this would be worrisome. But Case Keenum has yet to show he can meaningfully impact and take advantage of any defense along the sidelines this season. Without Jake Butt (knee, I.R.) Monday night, note that Jeff Heuerman played 53-of-60 (88%) offensive snaps, tying both Emmanuel Sanders and Demaryius Thomas with a team-high seven targets.
Giants @ Panthers
*DT Damon Harrison (knee), LB Connor Barwin (knee), and CB Eli Apple (groin) were all limited Friday and thought to be going into Sunday with ‘questionable’ tags. That apparently isn’t the case as only Olivier Vernon’s (ankle, out) and Evan Engram’s (knee, out) long-standing ailments made the team’s final injury report. Engram is reportedly still a “few weeks away” from playing in a game. Backup TE Rhett Ellison expectedly saw his usage increase Sunday, accruing five targets on a season-high 34 routes and 54 (87%) snaps. He’s a viable streamer during bye weeks with Engram sidelined.
*Greg Olsen (foot) was ruled out but somehow practiced on a limited capacity well ahead of schedule Friday. If he’s available in your league, run out and stash him now. Starting RG Trai Turner (concussion) was removed from Carolina’s injury report, though, and appears ready to return for the first time since Week 1. It’s a major upgrade for Christian McCaffrey, who’s thrived with 5.89 YPC on 46 attempts without Turner thus far.
Dolphins @ Bengals
*Cincinnati is ailing on offense (see below), but it might not matter given Miami’s defensive question marks. CB Bobby McCain (knee) has already been ruled out, premier pass-rusher Cameron Wake (knee, doubtful) is close to the same fate, and safeties Reshad Jones (shoulder) and T.J. McDonald (foot) are leaning towards game-time decisions. You weren’t streaming them against Andy Dalton and the Bengals’ O, anyhow. With DeVante Parker (quad) questionable again, Albert Wilson enters WR4/FLEX territory given his 23 routes and six targets without DVP just last week.
*The Bengals have been one of the most explosive offenses so far, but enter Sunday with a plethora of injuries. Tyler Eifert (ankle) is looking at a 4 - 5 month recovery plan following surgery Monday to repair a fractured right ankle. Routes in his stead Sunday were ‘split’ between backup TEs C.J. Uzomah (29) and Tyler Kroft (4). Any other year, maybe you find a better option than Uzomah. But in 2018 the Year of Every Other Position Besides the Tight End, you blow FAAB and start him immediately. Giovani Bernard (knee) and John Ross (groin) were also ruled out, leaving only Joe Mixon (knee) and fourth-round rookie Mark Walton to run Cincy’s backfield. Reminder that Mixon was treated as a true bellcow even with Bernard behind him in Week 1, playing 42-of-55 (76.3%) offensive snaps and out-carrying the latter 17-1. Consider Mixon a confident usage-based RB2 immediately despite injury woes and the fact he’ll be without starting C Billy Price (foot) opening holes in the middle of the Bengals’ O-line.
Ravens @ Browns
*Alex Collins (knee) was absent Thursday but it was reportedly just “precautionary”. He was removed from Baltimore’s injury report and remains an RB2/3 option despite squaring off against Cleveland’s stout No. 7 rush defense DVOA. Hayden Hurst (foot) was slapped with the questionable tag but needs to be added (if available) ASAP. He led all Ravens tight ends in total routes (48) during the preseason, hauling in 5-of-7 targets for 41 yards and one score before being sidelined.
*Jarvis Landry (knee) and rookie Antonio Callaway (knee) gave the fantasy world a scare early in the week when both failed to practice. (It’s apparently contagious.) Both were full participants Friday, though Callaway will reportedly have his snaps reduced moving forward. As with everything coach Hue Jackson says, we’ll believe it when we see it.
Packers @ Lions
*The Packers could be hemorrhaged at wideout as Randall Cobb (hamstring) has been ruled out for the second consecutive week. Adding insult to injury (literally), Davante Adams (calf, questionable) and No. 2 Geronimo Allison (concussion, questionable) also didn’t practice Thursday. There’s reportedly “hope” Allison plays, but he still seems closer to doubtful than not. That potentially leaves an all-rookie trio of Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Equanimeous St. Brown, and J’Mon Moore in 3-WR sets. If Adams suits up, continue trusting him as a WR1. MVS would be the next most-trusted play if all three starters are ruled out.
*Aaron Rodgers has scored 37.2, 26.4, 26.6, 25.1, and 24.4 fantasy points in his last five games versus the Lions. In other words, it’s an awful week for Detroit to potentially be missing DE Ezekiel Ansah (shoulder), S Tavon Wilson (back), CB Quandre Diggs (hand), S Tracy Walker (ankle), and CB Nevin Lawson (illness), all who are questionable. Marvin Jones popped up on Friday's status report with an ankle injury, but note that he was questionable last week too before playing 93% of Detroit’s snaps. Fire him up.
Jaguars @ Chiefs
*Leonard Fournette (hamstring) was ruled out Tuesday and coach Doug Marrone reportedly remains “uncertain” when the team’s No. 1 back will return. Without Fournette in Weeks 2 and 3, T.J. Yeldon out-snapped (79-50) and out-touched (25-17) preseason standout Corey Grant. Profiling as a pass-catching back, Yeldon ran 16 more routes than Grant (48-32) in that span, too. Marrone will likely disperse both in a 60-40 split, with Yeldon leading in carries for the foreseeable future. Blake Bortles has recorded 26, 38, 29, 45, and 34 pass attempts in the five games Fournette’s missed since being drafted, his lone negative performance in those outings occurring in Week 3 (21-34-155-0-0) when OT Jeremy Parnell, G A.J. Cann, and C Brandon Linder had all been limited in practice with various injuries.
*Without Eric Berry (heel, doubtful) and potentially Dee Ford (groin), Bortles is just next in line among those that should benefit from facing Kansas City’s swiss-cheese secondary. Sammy Watkins (groin, questionable) was limited throughout the week, too, paving the way for Chris Conley to see extended opportunity if the former is deemed inactive. Conley played a season-high 73 (93.8%) snaps without Watkins eligible to return in the second half last week.
Titans @ Bills
*S Kenny Vaccaro (elbow) will be sidelined 2 - 4 weeks. Tackle Dennis Kelly (illness) is questionable, too, though he’s fully expected to play behind Jack Conklin.
*Rafael Bush (shoulder), Micah Hyde (groin) and Charles Clay (ankle) are all questionable for Sunday. Even if Clay suits up, you’re not starting him.
Falcons @ Steelers
*DT Grady Jarrett (ankle, knee) was spotted in a walking boot Thursday and promptly ruled out. The Falcons’ defense has been abysmal with Jarrett off the field, permitting an averaging 4.71 YPC without their defensive tackle manning the middle just last year. Sprinkle in the additional absences of MLB Deion Jones (foot), FS Ricardo Neal (heel), SS Keanu Neal (knee), DE Derrick Shelby (groin), and CB Justin Bethel (knee) and there’s real reason for concern. At least the Falcons get back Devonta Freeman Sunday.
*LB Vince Williams (hamstring) and S Morgan Burnett (groin) are both doubtful for the Steelers’ defense (or lack thereof). It's all systems go on the offensive side of the ball.
Raiders @ Chargers
*The Silver and Black limited several players in practice throughout the week but (fortunately) released a barren final injury report. Amari Cooper (foot) and Marshawn Lynch (abdomen) were notably among those limited, though both are fully expected to play. Start ‘em.
*The Chargers could be without starting tackles Joe Barksdale (knee, doubtful) and Russell Okung (groin, questionable) Sunday. You’re still starting Melvin Gordon, though, given his increased 8.4 targets on 23.7 routes run in Los Angeles’ passing game. Travis Benjamin (foot) was rushed back and played just five snaps against the Niners last week. He’s already been ruled out for Sunday. That’s great news for Mike Williams (and his owners), who’s averaged a 68.1% snap rate with Benjamin sporadically out the last three weeks. Williams played just 53.7% of the Chargers’ snaps in Week 1.
Vikings @ Eagles
*Dalvin Cook (hamstring, questionable) returned in Week 4 and rushed merely 10 times on 18 snaps. Even if he plays, he needs to be treated as an extremely volatile RB3/FLEX option. Unfortunately, Latavius Murray has little to no standalone value if Cook suits up.
*Darren Sproles (hamstring) has already been ruled out again. Corey Clement (quad) didn’t practice throughout the week and will likely be held out, too. The real story here is the absence of Philly’s premier pass-rusher DE Derek Barnett (shoulder) and potentially DT Haloti Ngata (calf, questionable). DE Josh Sweat, a 96th-percentile SPARQ athlete with lengthy 34 5/8-inch arms, has been historically plagued with knee injuries but could potentially boom on limited snaps in Barnett’s stead. It’s still a tall order against Minnesota’s pass pro, which should have C Pat Elflein back playing full-time. It goes without saying, but start Adam Thielen (and to a lesser extent Stefon Diggs) everywhere.
Cardinals @ 49ers
*Larry Fitzgerald (hamstring, back) was hit with another ‘questionable’ tag prior to Sunday. He’ll likely play, but he’s clearly been limited the last few weeks. He still recorded a team-high 26% target share in Josh Rosen’s first start. The Cardinals could be extremely thin in the trenches as DE Markus Golden (knee), DT Robert Nkemdiche (foot), and DT Corey Peters (elbow) are all questionable, as well.
*Matt Breida (shoulder, questionable) was a game-time decision last week then played a season-high 38-of-60 (63.3%) snaps, all the while running 10 more routes than hybrid RB/FB Kyle Juszczyk (22-12). He might have to do it without OT Joe Staley (knee, questionable), C Weston Richburg (knee, questionable), and OT Mike McGlinchey (knee, questionable) Sunday. Marquise Goodwin (hamstring, quad) is also shaping up to be a true game-time decision, though he only received only four targets (and 24 yards). Backup C.J. Beathard instead peppered collegiate teammate George Kittle with a team-high eight targets (6-125-1), including two red zone looks.
Rams @ Seahawks
*Mark Barron (ankle, questionable) is expected to make his 2018 debut, adding size to the interior of Los Angeles’ defense. Tyler Higbee (knee) is also questionable, but you’re not starting anyone outside of the Rams’ Big Four (Brandin Cooks, Robert Woods, Cooper Kupp, Todd Gurley). Higbee and teammate Gerald Everett have just five targets each all year.
*Chris Carson (hip) was removed from the injury report Friday and shouldn’t surprise you with an outta-nowhere scratch again. Even if he’s healthy, backup Mike Davis rushed for 21-101-2 Sunday — likely just enough to thrust himself into a sudden timeshare with both Carson and rookie Rashaad Penny moving forward. Unless Carson is out in the near future, both Davis and Carson are merely RB4 material. Will Dissly (torn patella), the TE11 through four weeks, was moved to injured reserve. Instead, Nick Vannett ran a season-high 24 routes on 54 snaps as the No. 2 tight end. Just mentioning him reinforces the fact that position this year is whatever word has a worse connotation than ‘bleak’. Desolate? Grim? Nick Vannett? The tight end position this year is Nick Vannett.
Cowboys @ Texans
*Dallas’ stout defensive line likely returns David Irving (suspension) just in time. He was absent from practice this week for “personal” reasons, but will probably get the Shane Falco treatment and play off the street immediately considering DTs Maliek Collins (knee) and Antwaun Woods (calf) are both questionable. Six-year pro Terrance Williams (undisclosed) has already been ruled out, potentially locking in rookie Michael Gallup for extended work for the second consecutive game. Gallup quietly played a season-high 40-of-69 (58%) snaps last week.
*Will Fuller (hamstring, questionable) squeezed in limited sessions to end the week and will reportedly play, though there haven’t been many positive case samples for burners who have suited up after injury yet this season. Cowboys CB Chidobe Awuzie (ankle, questionable) has been burned for 4-32 > 5-85 > 5-69-1 > 8-138-1 this season, making Fuller a must-play if he’s active. Coach Bill O'Brien said Lamar Miller (chest, questionable) will be a game-time decision after the incumbent starter was limited in practice throughout the week. It didn't sound like a hopeful 'game-time decision'. Keep backup Alfred Blue on standby, as he’ll immediately turn into a usage-based RB2 if Miller is ruled out.
Redskins @ Saints
*Adrian Peterson (ankle) was upgraded and removed from the team’s injury report Friday. He’s fully expected to play.
*Starting OTs Andrus Peat (ankle) and Terron Armstead (knee) were both limited to start the week but turned in full sessions on Friday.