Week 5 fantasy football matchups preview

Teams on bye: Chicago, Tampa Bay

Tennessee Titans at Buffalo Bills, 1:00 p.m. ET, CBS

Titans

Marcus Mariota: Start
Dion Lewis: Start
Derrick Henry: Sleeper
Corey Davis: Start
Taywan Taylor: Sleeper
Tajae Sharpe: Deep sleeper
Titans DST: Start

Tennessee's offensive performance last week against a once-formidable Eagles defense was encouraging. As Marcus Mariota goes, so goes the rest of the Titans offense. That should excite fantasy managers against a Bills defense that still has plenty of holes. Dion Lewis returned to relevance last week and Derrick Henry could be a hammer if the Titans take a lead into the fourth quarter. Corey Davis should follow up on last week's breakout performance while Taywan Taylor started to assert himself as Tennessee's No. 2 wideout. Don't sleep on the Titans defense, which has quietly put the clamps on every offense they've faced.

Bills

Josh Allen: Sit
LeSean McCoy: Sit
Chris Ivory: Sit
Kelvin Benjamin: Sit
Zay Jones: Sit
Charles Clay: Sit
Bills DST: Sit

If you somehow took advantage of the Bills offensive explosion in Week 3, congratulations. Weeks like this are going to be more of the norm. The Titans defense has proven to be a group you don't test unless you have top-tier skill position players. The Bills don't have any of those right now. Well, maybe LeSean McCoy but they've decided to ignore him in this offense for some strange reason. There's nothing to see here.

Atlanta Falcons at Pittsburgh Steelers, 1:00 p.m. ET, FOX

Falcons

Matt Ryan: Start
Devonta Freeman: Start
Tevin Coleman: Flex
Julio Jones: Start
Calvin Ridley: Start
Austin Hooper: Stream
Falcons DST: Sit

In Year 2 under Steve Sarkisian, the Falcons offense has come to life. Matt Ryan has played as well as any quarterback in the league and the Steelers defense doesn't figure to offer much resistance. Devonta Freeman's expected return is a welcome sight but it shouldn't eliminate Tevin Coleman from the offense. Julio Jones -- despite not scoring touchdowns -- will continue to be a star. Everyone can stop panicking. Calvin Ridley might not score multiple touchdowns but he should still be in your lineup. One of these days, Ryan will hopefully connect with Austin Hooper in the end zone. You can keep avoiding the Falcons defense.

Steelers

Ben Roethlisberger: Start
James Conner: Start
Antonio Brown: Start
JuJu Smith-Schuster: Start
Vance McDonald: Stream
Jesse James: Stream
Steelers DST: Sit

Don't worry about the "Big Ben at home" narrative ... the matchup is the only thing you need to pay attention to. The Falcons defense hasn't stopped anyone all season. James Conner should excel as a pass-catcher against a unit that has been beaten badly by running backs in the passing game. Don't let Antonio Brown's underwhelming start to the season deter you from starting him (you didn't need me to tell you that). The hardest part to decipher has been the tight ends. Both McDonald and James have seen their fair share of snaps but the former appears to be the preferred option in the passing game.

Denver Broncos at New York Jets, 1:00 p.m. ET, CBS

Broncos

Case Keenum: Sit
Phillip Lindsay: Start
Royce Freeman: Flex
Demaryius Thomas: Beware
Emmanuel Sanders: Flex
Jeff Heuerman: Sit
Broncos DST: Stream

We're starting to remember why Case Keenum has been a backup for most of his career. His numbers have been lackluster so far and don't figure to get any better against the Jets. Both Lindsay and Freeman are finding success and should at least earn flex starts. Demaryius Thomas has turned into a pass-catching running back without the upside of rushing yards. That's a bad thing. At least Emmanuel Sanders has kept a fairly safe floor and can be in your lineup most weeks. Jeff Heuerman has a bigger role with Jake Butt out for the year but not enough to make him stream worthy. The Broncos defense, however, is very stream-worthy against the turnover-prone Sam Darnold.

Jets

Sam Darnold: Sit
Isaiah Crowell: Flex
Bilal Powell: Flex
Quincy Enunwa: Flex
Robby Anderson: Sit
Jets DST: Start

You can't start Darnold most weeks but Crowell and Powell have proven to be worthwhile flex options with the latter having a decided PPR edge. The matchup isn't favorable but Enunwa's sheer volume of targets means he's worth flex consideration. All of our Robby Anderson dreams are being deferred since Darnold hasn't been able to connect with him downfield. Gang Green's defense has been one of fantasy's best and should be started against an inconsistent Broncos offense.

Jacksonville Jaguars at Kansas City Chiefs, 1:00 p.m. ET, CBS

Jaguars

Blake Bortles: Start
T.J. Yeldon: Start
Keelan Cole: Flex
Dede Westbrook: Start
Donte Moncrief: Flex
Austin Seferian-Jenkins: Sit
Jaguars DST: Beware

It continues to be true that you should start players against the Chiefs defense. That's especially true about a Jaguars attack that is more productive and diverse without Leonard Fournette in the lineup. Through the first months of the season, T.J. Yeldon has been a top 12 fantasy back. The law firm of Cole, Westbrook and Moncrief have started to come into their own and should find room to operate within the Chiefs secondary. But don't get carried away and try to start the painfully frustrating Austin Seferian-Jenkins. It's hard to sit the Jaguars defense but the Chiefs offense has made light work of every stop unit it has faced this season.

Chiefs

Patrick Mahomes: Start
Kareem Hunt: Start
Tyreek Hill: Start
Sammy Watkins: Beware
Travis Kelce: Start
Chiefs DST: Sit

Yes, it's the Jaguars defense but are you really thinking about sitting Patrick Mahomes? No. No, you are not. Kareem Hunt might struggle to repeat Week 4's 175-yard outing but it was encouraging to see him more involved in the passing game. Kansas City has too many ways to get Tyreek Hill the ball to be overly concerned with him. The outlook might not be so rosy for Sammy Watkins. Travis Kelce is the top tight end in fantasy -- a bad matchup shouldn't scare you away.

Green Bay Packers at Detroit Lions, 1:00 p.m. ET, FOX

Packers

Aaron Rodgers: Start
Aaron Jones: Flex
Jamaal Williams: Sleeper
Ty Montgomery: Deep sleeper
Davante Adams: Beware
Geronimo Allison: Beware
Marquez Valdes-Scantling: Deep sleeper
Jimmy Graham: Beware
Packers DST: Stream

Aaron Rodgers has yet to post one major statement game -- and this isn't likely to be one, either -- but he's still likely to explode at any time. The Lions are vulnerable on the ground, which bodes well for Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams. It would be better for us if Mike McCarthy would commit to one or the other. The matchup isn't great for the receivers but believing in target volume could keep Davante Adams afloat this week. It's getting harder to play Jimmy Graham but it's equally hard to sit him as well. The Lions have a habit of turning the ball over which makes the Packers defense streamable.

Lions

Matthew Stafford: Stream
Kerryon Johnson: Flex
LeGarrette Blount: Sit
Theo Riddick: Sit
Golden Tate: Start
Kenny Golladay: Flex
Marvin Jones: Flex
Lions DST: Sit

The Packers have been mostly good against opposing passing attacks but Kirk Cousins' big day in Week 2 offers hope that the Lions could have some success. It's certainly not fearful enough to consider sitting any of Stafford's top receiver targets. The running backs are a different story. Kerryon Johnson has played the best football in the past two weeks but there still appears to be a committee situation on tap. If there's one Lion rusher to play, it's the rookie.

Baltimore Ravens at Cleveland Browns, 1:00 p.m. ET, CBS

Ravens

Joe Flacco: Beware
Alex Collins: Flex
Javorius Allen: Beware
John Brown: Start
Michael Crabtree: Flex
Willie Snead: Sleeper
Mark Andrews: Stream
Maxx Williams: Deep sleeper
Nick Boyle: Deep sleeper
Ravens DST: Start

Joe Flacco has had a nice turnaround season but a road trip to face Myles Garrett and the Browns' front isn't one you want to take chances with if you have other options. If the offensive line can hold up, Flacco will be able to get the ball out to his wide receivers. John Brown deserves a WR2 spot in your lineup nearly every week. Michael Crabtree's floor makes him a flex option while Willie Snead has sleeper upside. Alex Collins has been the better back but his ball security issues have opened the door for Buck Allen to see more work. Baltimore's tight ends have been a cat's cradle of confusion, best of luck trying to untangle that one.

Browns

Baker Mayfield: Sit
Carlos Hyde: Beware
Nick Chubb: Deep sleeper
Duke Johnson: Sit
Jarvis Landry: Start
Antonio Callaway: Beware
Rashard Higgins: Sit
David Njoku: Stream
Browns DST: Beware

This Ravens defense will be the toughest test for Baker Mayfield and the Browns offense. It would be hard to start the rookie against Baltimore, which makes any of his non-Jarvis Landry receivers difficult to count on. With reports that Antonio Callaway could see fewer snaps, he is best left on the bench. David Njoku does see targets and in this current TE environment, that's enough to make him a streamer.

New York Giants at Carolina Panthers, 1:00 p.m. ET, FOX

Giants

Eli Manning: Sit
Saquon Barkley: Start
Odell Beckham, Jr.: Start
Sterling Shepard: Flex
Rhett Ellison: Sit
Giants DST: Sit

The Giants offense has become a fetid pool of shallow dump-offs and harder-then-they-need-to-be runs. But you're still starting Saquon Barkley and Odell Beckham Jr. Beyond that, most fantasy managers probably have better options on their bench or waiver wire. The only exception is Sterling Shepard, who could have some flex appeal in an offense that rarely challenges down the field. Big Blue's defense has been decent at times this year but the Panthers are a tough opponent -- especially with Christian McCaffrey playing so well early in the season.

Panthers

Cam Newton: Start
Christian McCaffrey: Start
C.J. Anderson: Sit
Devin Funchess: Beware
Torrey Smith: Sit
Ian Thomas: Sit
Panthers DST: Start

The Panthers offense runs through two people right now -- Cam Newton and Christian McCaffrey. Those two players are must-starts every week. Anything after that is up for debate. Devin Funchess is the most targeted wide receiver in the offense but he's averaging fewer than five targets per game and facing a Giants secondary that has been tough on opposing wideouts this year. New York's offensive line has given up a lot of sacks, which means the Panthers defense deserves a spot in your lineup.

Miami Dolphins at Cincinnati Bengals, 1:00 p.m. ET, CBS

Dolphins

Ryan Tannehill: Sit
Kenyan Drake: Sit
Frank Gore: Sit
Kenny Stills: Flex
Albert Wilson: Sit
Dolphins DST: Sit

The Dolphins offense has been a mirage this season, running fewer plays per game than any other offense. They've also stopped giving the ball to Kenyan Drake without any explanation, making him nearly impossible to use. Frank Gore keeps hanging around and taking touches but not really enough to make him a trustworthy option. Kenny Stills has a nice ceiling but the inconsistency of the Miami offense also makes it a very scary floor. As much as I enjoy sounding the #BertAlert, it's hard to actually recommend him. After a hot start to the season, the Dolphins defense fell apart last week and a hot Bengals offense won't be the thing that turns them around.

Bengals

Andy Dalton: Start
Joe Mixon: Start
Mark Walton: Deep sleeper
A.J. Green: Start
Tyler Boyd: Flex
C.J. Uzomah: Deep sleeper
Tyler Kroft: Deep sleeper
Bengals DST: Sit

Miami's passing defense has given up yards but their league-leading nine interceptions has limited opposing quarterbacks' fantasy production. Nonetheless, Andy Dalton and his receivers have found a rhythm. After a nice run in fill-in duty, Gio Bernard looks likely to miss this one. No matter, Joe Mixon returns to face a defense that has been torched by opposing running backs. With the loss of Tyler Eifert, there are more tight end snaps and targets to be had but the question remains whether they'll go to C.J. Uzomah or Tyler Kroft. So far this year, Uzomah has had the advantage in snaps and routes run.

Oakland Raiders at Los Angeles Chargers, 4:05 p.m. ET, CBS

Raiders

Derek Carr: Stream
Marshawn Lynch: Start
Amari Cooper: Flex
Jordy Nelson: Flex
Jared Cook: Start
Raiders DST: Sit

The Raiders defense has forced the Raiders offense to rely on Derek Carr's right arm much more heavily this. While the TD-to-INT ratio leaves something to be desired, Carr recently has abandoned his checkdown-happy ways and started pushing the ball downfield. That's good news for his receivers, who have some fantasy relevance against a Chargers secondary that has been less than advertised this year. It's also time to stop doubting Jared Cook, who's getting enough of a target share that he deserves weekly starting consideration. Through it all, Marshawn Lynch continues to be the most consistent option in the offense -- however, he hasn't been a factor late in games since the Raiders are so often playing catch-up. That could be the case again this week.

Chargers

Philip Rivers: Start
Melvin Gordon: Start
Austin Ekeler: Flex
Keenan Allen: Start
Mike Williams: Start
Antonio Gates: Beware
Chargers DST: Beware

The Chargers haven't earned the same level of praise as the Chiefs or Rams but they are a top 10 offense through the first month of the season. A date with the Raiders isn't likely to change that. Philip Rivers continues to be an unsung fantasy hero at quarterback, scoring 21 or more fantasy points in three of his first four games. Fantasy managers might take umbrage with the team's recent heavy use of the running backs as pass-catchers over top wideout Keenan Allen, but this week's game favors plenty of targets to the outside receiver. Antonio Gates isn't nearly the player he once was and is only startable in extremely desperate situations.

Arizona Cardinals at San Francisco 49ers, 4:25 p.m. ET, FOX

Cardinals

Josh Rosen: Sit
David Johnson: Start
Larry Fitzgerald: Beware
Christian Kirk: Deep sleeper
Ricky Seals-Jones: Stream
Cardinals DST: Stream

Josh Rosen brings a new, aggressive element to Arizona's lackluster passing game. But the quarterback himself is not trustworthy enough to put in your lineup. It does, however, mean good things for David Johnson. The star running back saw the beginnings of a resurrection last week and should see even more production against the Niners defense this week. Generally, a development like this would help Larry Fitzgerald as well, but the veteran is dealing with a hamstring injury that could limit him. That possibly opens up more opportunities for rookie Christian Kirk and sleeper tight end Ricky Seals-Jones. The Niners offense is somewhat slowed by C.J. Beathard at quarterback but the Cardinals defense isn't the must-start it once was.

49ers

C.J. Beathard: Sit
Matt Breida: Start
Alfred Morris: Sleeper
Marquise Goodwin: Beware
Pierre Garcon: Sit
George Kittle: Start
49ers DST: Sit

The Niners offense hasn't materialized as the fantasy gold mine we hoped it would be and Beathard's presence isn't going to change that. But it has provided a pretty safe floor for the likes of Matt Breida and George Kittle, who have taken on added significance in the San Francisco attack. The downside is that it's made Marquise Goodwin a difficult start. Similarly, Pierre Garcon has been a fantasy ghost for much of the season. Until he shows something, he's best left on the bench.

Minnesota Vikings at Philadelphia Eagles, 4:25 p.m. ET, FOX

Vikings

Kirk Cousins: Start
Dalvin Cook: Beware
Latavius Murray: Sleeper
Adam Thielen: Start
Stefon Diggs: Start
Kyle Rudolph: Start
Vikings DST: Beware

The Vikings offense has been what we thought it would be, save Dalvin Cook who is still dealing with his own injury issues. That hasn't hampered Kirk Cousins and the dynamic duo of Thielen and Diggs, who have been lights-out and deserve to start even in tough matchups. Kyle Rudolph remains a red zone target and offers some stability in an uncertain tight end world. The question remains: how good is this Vikings defense? It has left a lot to be desired and faces another tough challenge from Philly. They're a very cautious start this week.

Eagles

Carson Wentz: Start
Jay Ajayi: Flex
Wendell Smallwood: Sleeper
Alshon Jeffery: Start
Nelson Agholor: Flex
Zach Ertz: Start
Eagles DST: Beware

Now that the Eagles are getting all of their pieces back on offense, this group is more trustworthy in fantasy. The Vikings appear to be a formidable matchup on paper but the past two weeks have shown some cracks in the armor. Alshon Jeffery's successful return offers hope that both he and Carson Wentz are back to their productive ways. It also hopefully means good things for Nelson Agholor, who has disappointed recently. Through it all, Zach Ertz remains the Eagles' best receiving threat. Philly's defense has not been a great fantasy group and should be started with tempered expectations.

Los Angeles Rams at Seattle Seahawks, 4:25 p.m. ET, FOX

Rams

Jared Goff: Start
Todd Gurley: Start
Brandin Cooks: Start
Cooper Kupp: Flex
Robert Woods: Flex
Gerald Everett: Deep sleeper
Tyler Higbee: Deep sleeper
Rams DST: Start

After running through every defense they've faced thus far, there's no reason to consider fading any of the Rams players this week. Where once a trip to Seattle to face the Seahawks might give one reason to pause, that fear is severely mitigated now. The Legion of Boom is no more and the Seahawks look particularly vulnerable to this juggernaut.

Seahawks

Russell Wilson: Beware
Chris Carson: Beware
Mike Davis: Beware
Rashaad Penny: Sit
Doug Baldwin: Flex
Tyler Lockett: Sleeper
Nick Vannett: Stream Seahawks DST: Sit

It's getting hard to start Russell Wilson when he doesn't have consistent help around him or a protective offensive line in front of him. Doug Baldwin's increased health makes him worth a starting spot but his production could be muted. The Rams have been vulnerable to tight ends which makes Vannett a deep sleeper play if you're hurting at tight end. The once-formidable Seahawks defense looks to be in trouble against the high-powered Rams attack.

Dallas Cowboys at Houston Texans, 8:20 p.m. ET, NBC

Cowboys

Dak Prescott: Sit
Ezekiel Elliott: Start
Cole Beasley: Sit
Allen Hurns: Sit
Geoff Swaim: Stream
Cowboys DST: Beware

The Cowboys have offered no players of any fantasy relevance beyond Ezekiel Elliott. In fact, Elliott is the only Cowboy who is roster-able right now. Geoff Swaim might be an exception this week as a streaming option considering the number of snaps he's currently playing. Dallas' defense deserves more credit than its received this year but the red-hot Deshaun Watson makes the 'Boys a scary start.

Texans

Deshaun Watson: Start
Lamar Miller: Beware
Alfred Blue: Sleeper
DeAndre Hopkins: Start
Will Fuller: Start
Keke Coutee: Sleeper
Texans DST: Start

After a poor Week 1, Deshaun Watson has been on fire and his top receivers have benefited as a result. Enter Keke Coutee, who came on the scene as the underneath threat that the Texans need and Houston suddenly has an interesting trio at receiver. Keep tabs on Lamar Miller's status as game time approaches. If he can't go, Alfred Blue will see a huge workload. The Texans defense has disappointed but could redeem itself against a downtrodden Cowboys attack.

Washington Redskins at New Orleans Saints, 8:15 p.m. ET, ESPN

Redskins

Alex Smith: Stream
Adrian Peterson: Flex
Chris Thompson: Flex
Paul Richardson: Sleeper
Josh Doctson: Sit
Jamison Crowder: Flex
Jordan Reed: Start
Redskins DST: Sit

The Saints defense has looked like a good mark for fantasy managers looking to find quality starts. In this case, it makes Alex Smith a sleeper play at quarterback. Forget revenge, Adrian Peterson might be done in by game script if this turns into a high-scoring affair. Chris Thompson has value in a game that should feature a lot of passing. Paul Richardson is the deep threat in the offense and has potential as a sleeper this week. Jordan Reed's return from bye adds one more quality option back into the tight end pool. Beware starting Washington's defense against a productive Saints offense.

Saints

Drew Brees: Start
Alvin Kamara: Start
Mark Ingram: Flex
Michael Thomas: Start
Ted Ginn: Sleeper
Benjamin Watson: Stream
Saints DST: Sit

New Orleans offense really hasn't missed a beat this year and now they're getting Mark Ingram back from a four-game suspension. That could open up the play action, making Brees and Thomas even more deadly. Don't worry about Kamara -- he might lose a couple of touches but you'd have to dig deep to find any argument against starting him. Benjamin Watson has been hard to figure out but in what could be a higher-scoring contest, he's worth a streaming start. Avoid the Saints defense until further notice.

Marcas Grant is a fantasy editor for NFL.com and a man who is thinking blue. Tell him the hue of your current mental state via Twitter @MarcasG. If you read all of that, congrats. Follow him on Facebook, and Instagram.

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