Weekly Positional Rankings: Week Five

Michael Zingone

In this series, I’ll give you my top 30 quarterbacks, 60 running backs, 60 wide receivers, and 30 tight ends each week to help you with your start/sit decisions in your leagues. To generate this list each and every week, I examine team trends, Vegas over/unders, implied points, pace of play, among various other factors to build a projection for each player and subsequently adjust rankings for upside and more detailed matchup specifics.

Among the rankings, there will surely be some that surprise you or that you may disagree with. At the end of each position section, I’ll give you my thoughts on some players that perhaps are ranked higher/lower than you might expect and insights as to why they are a good/bad play this week. Ultimately, these rankings should help your start/sit dilemmas and ensure you have the requisite resources to make an informed decision. With bye weeks kicking into full gear, start/sit decisions are even more crucial to your team’s success.

Without further ado, let’s dive into Week Five’s positional rankings!


Pos Player Matchup Week 5 Rank
QB Patrick Mahomes IND 1
QB Carson Wentz NYJ 2
QB Deshaun Watson ATL 3
QB Lamar Jackson @PIT 4
QB Kyler Murray @CIN 5
QB Dak Prescott GB 6
QB Russell Wilson LAR 7
QB Tom Brady @WAS 8
QB Matt Ryan @HOU 9
QB Jared Goff @SEA 10
QB Jimmy Garoppolo CLE 11
QB Jacoby Brissett @KC 12
QB Aaron Rodgers @DAL 13
QB Kirk Cousins @NYG 14
QB Jameis Winston @NO 15
QB Baker Mayfield @SF 16
QB Andy Dalton ARI 17
QB Garnder Minshew @CAR 18
QB Philip Rivers DEN 19
QB Joe Flacco @LAC 20
QB Teddy Bridgewater TB 21
QB Daniel Jones MIN 22
QB Kyle Allen JAC 23
QB Marcus Mariota BUF 24
QB Chase Daniel @OAK 25
QB Derek Carr CHI 26
QB Luke Falk @PHI 27
QB Matt Barkley @TEN 28
QB Mason Rudolph BAL 29
QB Case Keenum NE 30

Start ‘em: Jacoby Brissett, QB IND

After star quarterback Andrew Luck retired, many expected the Colts to struggle with a backup quarterback leading the way for all of 2019. Fast-forward four weeks into the NFL season, and the Colts are a respectable 2-2, tied for first place in their division.

Brissett has played well above expectation up until now. In fact, he is tied for the league lead in passing touchdowns with Patrick Mahomes and Lamar Jackson. His 7.2% touchdown rate is likely not sustainable through a full season, but Brissett has also been throwing more as of late.

With back-to-back games of 35+ attempts, 250+ yards, and 2+ touchdowns, Brissett enters this matchup on a bit of a hot streak in the box score. The Chiefs have allowed just over 20 points per game to opposing quarterbacks, which ranks tenth-worst in the NFL. In this week’s largest over/under game of the week (57 points), Brissett makes for a solid play.

Sit ‘em: Philip Rivers, QB LAC

Rivers has been near the top of his game this season. The veteran signal-caller has registered 293 or more yards in every game this season and has just one game with fewer than two touchdowns. Rivers, week in and week out, provides a solid floor but a relatively low ceiling.

This week, the Chargers host the Denver Broncos, one of the stronger passing defenses in the league. This Broncos team held Aaron Rodgers to just 235 yards and haven’t allowed more than 260 passing yards to any quarterback this season. The strength of this defense is in its pass defense, led by Chris Harris. However, where the Broncos are very vulnerable is in the rushing game. We’ll get a bit more into that in the running backs part (spoiler alert).

The combination of a strong pass defense with a weak run defense makes this game risky for Rivers, as the team could simply rely on the running game more than they have been. Overall, this game has the makings of a low-ceiling game for Rivers, which for the quarterback position means a spot on the bench.

If you’re desperate: Kirk Cousins, QB MIN

The Vikings have completely abandoned trying to pass the ball at league average rates in 2019. Kirk Cousins has attempted just 99 passes so far, the fewest of any quarterback who has started four games. Further, Cousins ranks as just the QB25, not even good enough for a starting spot in superflex leagues.

Week five may bring some hope, though, as this matchup against the Giants is the ultimate get-right game for this passing offense. Before last week’s solid performance against the helpless Washington Redskins, the Giants ranked near the top of the NFL in passing yards allowed. Having given up big games to Dak Prescott and Jameis Winston, this Giants team is vulnerable through the air.

Moreover, the similarities between the Cowboys, Buccaneers, and Vikings passing offenses are clear. All three have a clear number one and two option on the team capable of winning in all areas of the field. It’s possible the Vikings stick to their run-first philosophy as usual on Sunday, but even 25 pass attempts is worthy of a desperation play against this Giants defense.

Running Backs

Pos Player Matchup Week 5 Rank
RB Christian McCaffrey JAC 1
RB Alvin Kamara TB 2
RB David Johnson @CIN 3
RB Ezekiel Elliott GB 4
RB Dalvin Cook @NYG 5
RB Nick Chubb @SF 6
RB Todd Gurley @SEA 7
RB Leonard Fournette @CAR 8
RB Joe Mixon ARI 9
RB James Conner BAL 10
RB Chris Carson LAR 11
RB Mark Ingram @PIT 12
RB Le’Veon Bell @PHI 13
RB Aaron Jones @DAL 14
RB Melvin Gordon DEN 15
RB Marlon Mack @KC 16
RB Devonta Freeman @HOU 17
RB Matt Breida CLE 18
RB David Montgomery @OAK 19
RB Phillip Lindsay @LAC 20
RB Derrick Henry BUF 21
RB Wayne Gallman MIN 22
RB Austin Ekeler DEN 23
RB Lesean McCoy IND 24
RB Chris Thompson NE 25
RB James White @WAS 26
RB Darrel Williams IND 27
RB Jordan Howard NYJ 28
RB Josh Jacobs CHI 29
RB Sony Michel @WAS 30
RB Carlos Hyde ATL 31
RB Ronald Jones @NO 32
RB Frank Gore @TEN 33
RB Miles Sanders NYJ 34
RB Tarik Cohen @OAK 35
RB Duke Johnson ATL 36
RB Jaylen Samuels BAL 37
RB Adrian Peterson NE 38
RB Peyton Barber @NO 39
RB Nyheim Hines @KC 40
RB Latavius Murray TB 41
RB Royce Freeman @LAC 42
RB Raheem Mostert CLE 43
RB Devin Singletary @TEN 44
RB Alexander Mattison @NYG 45
RB Rashaad Penny LAR 46
RB Ito Smith @HOU 47
RB Chase Edmonds @CIN 48
RB Dexter Williams @DAL 49
RB Malcolm Brown @SEA 50
RB Tony Pollard GB 51
RB Giovani Bernard ARI 52
RB Dion Lewis BUF 53
RB TJ Yeldon @TEN 54
RB Justice Hill @PIT 55
RB Mike Davis @OAK 56
RB Gus Edwards @PIT 57
RB Darren Sproles NYJ 58
RB Dare Ogunbowale @NO 59
RB Dontrell Hilliard @SF 60

Start ‘em: Melvin Gordon, RB LAC

It’s finally here; Melvin Gordon will be active and play for the Los Angeles Chargers. While last week was the dream matchup for Gordon’s return, this week stacks up nearly as well against a Denver defense that just allowed Leonard Fournette to run for 225 yards. That’s correct, 225 yards.

This wasn’t just a one-time thing for this Broncos defense either. Rookie Josh Jacobs ran for 85 yards and two touchdowns against this defense in week one, good for the RB7 performance on the week. Then, rookie David Montgomery beat them for 62 yards and a touchdown in week two. Finally, the duo of Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams combined for 78 yards and two touchdowns in week three.

Gordon will likely not get his “usual” workload in week five, which is why he’s not higher on the rankings list. However, expect about 15 touches for Gordon on Sunday, which will easily be good for high-end RB2 numbers against this Broncos run defense. Monitor his workload reports throughout the week, but barring anything unforeseen, Gordon is a confident start this week.

Sit ‘em: Josh Jacobs, RB OAK

Dynasty owners were hoping for more involvement in the passing game for Jacobs in week four. The good news is that happened… kind of. While Jacobs set a career high in catches and receiving yards, the rookie still only saw just two targets. It’s a start to hopefully better days, but Jacobs still has not carved out a clear role in the passing game.

In week five, this will hinder him if it continues, as the Raiders face the Chicago Bears. The Bears have allowed the most running back targets in the NFL through four weeks. This is a part opposing offenses have tried to utilize against this strong defense. Meanwhile, the Bears rank top five in the NFL in rushing yards allowed per game and have allowed just one rushing touchdown on the season.

If Jacobs was to be a high-end play this week, it would have to be because of his involvement through the air. There has not been anything to date to suggest that this will happen in week five. Thus, Jacobs is this week’s sit.

If you’re desperate: Miles Sanders, RB PHI

While Sanders has been a relative disappointment this season compared to what many had hoped, it’s encouraging that the rookie running back has carved out a solid role in the explosive Philadelphia offense. Sanders has logged at least ten carries in every game this season. While he’s yet to see more than 50% of total offensive snaps, his volume has been up there with many full-time backs.

With 45 carries on the season, Sanders ranks just behind Joe Mixon and just ahead of James Conner for total carries in 2019. As the national TV audience saw in week four, Jordan Howard is the running back to start in this backfield if you had to pick one. However, there’s plenty of quality work to go around, especially against the Jets in week five.

With the third-highest implied point total of week five, the Eagles offense should be rolling this week, and Sanders stands to benefit. Sanders ranks as a quality upside RB3 this week.

Wide Receivers

Pos Player Matchup Week 5 Rank
WR Julio Jones @HOU 1
WR DeAndre Hopkins ATL 2
WR Keenan Allen DEN 3
WR Amari Cooper GB 4
WR Chris Godwin @NO 5
WR Odell Beckham Jr @SF 6
WR Michael Thomas TB 7
WR Tyler Boyd ARI 8
WR Mike Evans @NO 9
WR Cooper Kupp @SEA 10
WR Adam Thielen @NYG 11
WR DJ Moore JAC 12
WR Larry Fitzgerald @CIN 13
WR Tyler Lockett LAR 14
WR Stefon Diggs @NYG 15
WR Robert Woods @SEA 16
WR Julian Edelman @WAS 17
WR TY Hilton @KC 18
WR Juju Smith-Schuster BAL 19
WR Sammy Watkins IND 20
WR Marquez Valdes-Scantling @DAL 21
WR Alshon Jeffery NYJ 22
WR Allen Robinson @OAK 23
WR Brandin Cooks @SEA 24
WR Will Fuller ATL 25
WR Courtland Sutton @LAC 26
WR Jarvis Landry @SF 27
WR Emmanuel Sanders @LAC 28
WR DJ Chark @CAR 29
WR Sterling Shepard MIN 30
WR Marquise Brown @PIT 31
WR Calvin Ridley @HOU 32
WR Tyrell Williams CHI 33
WR John Brown @TEN 34
WR Curtis Samuel JAC 35
WR Josh Gordon @WAS 36
WR Demarcus Robinson IND 37
WR Golden Tate MIN 38
WR Geronimo Allison @DAL 39
WR Robby Anderson @PHI 40
WR Mecole Hardman IND 41
WR Phillip Dorsett @WAS 42
WR Dionte Johnson BAL 43
WR Dede Westbrook @CAR 44
WR Corey Davis BUF 45
WR DK Metcalf LAR 46
WR Michael Gallup GB 47
WR Terry McLaurin NE 48
WR Mike Williams DEN 49
WR Mohamed Sanu @HOU 50
WR Deebo Samuel CLE 51
WR Marquise Goodwin CLE 52
WR Nelson Agholor NYJ 53
WR Auden Tate ARI 54
WR Jamison Crowder @PHI 55
WR AJ Brown BUF 56
WR Ted Ginn Jr TB 57
WR Cole Beasley @TEN 58
WR KeeSean Johnson @CIN 59
WR Paul Richardson NE 60

Start ‘em: Minnesota Vikings WRs

The Vikings receivers have been very up and down this season in terms of box score statistics. Adam Thielen had been playing well through three weeks while Diggs found himself outside the top 60 wide receivers. The reverse happened this past week, with Diggs recording a WR2 day and Thielen being a complete dud. Fantasy gamers, while drafting both Vikings wide receivers in the top 15 this off-season, expected a lot more.

This Sunday against the New York Giants, we should see what we expected from this duo all along: two top 20 performances. Even with a strong performance against a bad Washington team, this Giants defense still ranks fourth worst in fantasy points allowed per target to wide receivers as well as fourth worst in yards per reception allowed to wide receivers.

Despite low counting stats on the season, Thielen and Diggs have accounted for the vast majority of their team’s passing opportunity. They have combined for about a 40% target share and a whopping 80% market share of air yards. They will get every opportunity to produce like the wide receivers we all expected this week. Start them both with confidence.

Sit ‘em: Corey Davis, WR TEN

Corey Davis owners just can’t have nice things. After doing very little for the first three weeks of the season, Davis had a very good game in week four as finished as the WR9 on the day. After a bounce back game, however, it’s best to leave Davis on your bench in week five for better options.

The Titans host a formidable Bills defense this week, who have been outstanding against opposing wide receivers in 2019. The Bills rank second best in fantasy points allowed per target to wide receivers and limited the stout Patriots receiving core to just 9-86-0 on 23 targets.

This has the makings of a tough day for Davis and the other Titans wide receivers, and combined with the lowest Vegas over/under of week five, this is a matchup to avoid.

If you’re desperate: Robby Anderson, WR NYJ

The Jets come off their bye week to a difficult matchup on the road against a solid Eagles team. The Eagles, particularly their offense, have been rolling as of late, scoring at least 20 points in every game including a 34-point outing on Thursday night football in week four. The Jets, on the contrary, have yet to score more than 16 points in any of their three games in 2019.

The Eagles should have no problems against this Jets team, but that doesn’t mean all is lost for Jets skill position players. The Eagles have been one of the worst teams against opposing wide receivers in 2019. This has been especially the case with outside, big play wide receivers such as Calvin Ridley, Marvin Jones, and Davante Adams. Robby Anderson is the clear deep play threat on this Jets team. Anderson has seen 46% of his team’s air yards, which is the highest percentage for any player in the NFL.

The Jets will likely need to play catch-up early on in this game, and Anderson’s big pay potential against a bad Eagles secondary will be one they look to a lot. He’s a great desperation play with big play upside.

Tight Ends

Pos Player Matchup Week 5 Rank
TE Travis Kelce IND 1
TE George Kittle CLE 2
TE Austin Hooper @HOU 3
TE Mark Andrews @PIT 4
TE Evan Engram MIN 5
TE Zach Ertz NYJ 6
TE Darren Waller CHI 7
TE Greg Olsen JAC 8
TE Jimmy Graham @DAL 9
TE Will Dissly LAR 10
TE Jack Doyle @KC 11
TE Vance McDonald BAL 12
TE OJ Howard @NO 13
TE Tyler Eifert ARI 14
TE Jared Cook TB 15
TE Delanie Walker BUF 16
TE Eric Ebron @KC 17
TE James O’Shaughnessy @CAR 18
TE Noah Fant @LAC 19
TE Gerald Everett @SEA 20
TE Vernon Davis NE 21
TE Jason Witten GB 22
TE Cameron Brate @NO 23
TE Trey Burton @OAK 24
TE Blake Jarwin GB 25
TE Dawson Knox TEN 26
TE Kyle Rudolph @NYG 27
TE Ricky Seals-Jones @SF 28
TE Jordan Atkins ATL 29
TE Tyler Higbee @SEA 30

Start ‘em: Jimmy Graham, TE GB

Week four was a bounce back game for Graham after two weeks of middling usage. Graham saw a 17% target share which led a very solid 18.1 PPR points on the day. While in weeks two and three Graham saw only a 5% target share, his week four performance should be more indicative of the Graham we see in week five.

In particular, star receiver Davante Adams is very unlikely to play. With his absence, 20%-30% of Green Bay’s projected targets need to go elsewhere. This, combined with his matchup against the Cowboys defense who ranks eight worst in PPR points allowed per game to tight ends, makes Graham a solid TE1 option this week.

While he might not get nine targets again due to the projected passing volume in this game, five to seven targets will be more than enough for Graham to see a floor projection within the TE1 landscape.

Sit ‘em: Kyle Rudolph, TE MIN

Despite an appealing matchup against the bad Giants defense, Rudolph should be on your bench once again in week five. Rudolph has done nothing this season to spark confidence in the veteran tight end’s ability to put up a top-12 weekly performance. With just a 7% target share, Rudolph sees a small piece of a small target pie in Minnesota.

While the Vikings should pass more against this Giants defense, Rudolph has simply been ineffective at all points this season. He only has one more target on the year than rookie Irv Smith and has half of the receiving yards that Smith does. Having scored only 8.2 PPR points on the season, don’t let the matchup tempt you into starting Rudolph.

If you’re desperate: Tyler Eifert, TE CIN

The theme of 2019 will be to start your tight ends against the Arizona Cardinals. This defense has been absolutely atrocious against this position in 2019, allowing over 400 yards and six touchdowns to the position in only four weeks. Now, Eifert has not been nearly as good over the course of 2019 as some of the other tight ends the Cardinals have faced. The oft-injured veteran has seen a 10% target share while accumulating 25.1 PPR points so far this season.

Eifert, though has been more of a target in the red zone for the Bengals, recording a 28.6% target share of Cincinnati’s passes in the red zone. Eifert is a good bet for a touchdown in week five, which makes him an ideal desperation play. His overall volume, though, may still be low enough to keep him outside the TE1 range. I’d play him over many other options this week, but he’s just outside this week’s TE1 rankings.

That concludes this week’s rankings article! As this series is released on Thursdays, be sure to follow any lingering injuries and changing injury status updates for players as Sunday approaches. If you’re wondering about a player I didn’t dive into detail about, feel free to reach out to me @FFzinger on Twitter. Best of luck this week, and I’ll be back next week to give Week Six’s positional rankings.

michael zingone
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