Al Tielemans/SI
By Michael Beller
October 05, 2014

The Bears were beating the Panthers 21-7 in the first half on Sunday. The Panthers won 31-24.

The Titans held a 28-3 lead over the Browns in the first half. The Browns stormed back for a 29-28 victory.

Browns rally from 25 points down on Sunday full of remarkable comebacks

The Lions scored the first 14 points of their game with the Bills in Week 5. The Bills scored the final 17, including a field goal at the gun, to win 17-14.

The Falcons had a semi-comfortable 20-10 lead over the Giants late in the third quarter. Eli Manning and company then ripped off 20 straight points to win comfortably, 30-20.

After taking a 34-7 lead in the third quarter, the Eagles had to hold on for dear life and a 34-28 victory, making Austin Davis look like a future Hall of Famer in the process.

NFL Week 5: Complete coverage | Ranking surprising division leaders

The lesson? The NFL is crazy, and nothing is over until it’s over in the real-life or fantasy version.

Let’s get to the rest of the immediate reactions from Week 5 in the Fantasy Football Fast Forward.

• I’m still not concerned about LeSean McCoy, in a larger sense. After his fifth straight poor showing, however, he has to be downgraded for the rest of the season. Evan Mathis and Jason Kelce will both be out until at least mid-November, so the Eagles are going to have to figure out a way to make it work with three original starters on the line. The right side should improve as Lane Johnson gets back into the swing of things, but this line could be a real issue. Nick Foles threw for just 207 yards and 5.6 YPA. He hit on only one pass for more than 20 yards, and that’s a direct result of a line that won’t give him enough time to throw the ball down the field. McCoy is a low-end RB1 for the rest of the season.

• Austin Davis had a monster game against the Eagles, throwing for 375 yards, 7.7 YPA and three touchdowns against zero interceptions. Davis is definitely a viable option, especially in two-quarterback leagues, but this Philadelphia offense is simply bad. You’re always going to want your quarterbacks and receivers active against the Eagles. If you made sure of that this week, you were likely treated to an 87-yard, two-score effort from Brian Quick. The 6-foot-3, 218-pound receiver is a true weapon for Davis. He has WR2 upside, and will be a WR3 the rest of the year.

• Zac Stacy had 42 yards on 11 carries before leaving with a left calf injury. Benny Cunningham had 47 yards and a score on just seven totes. The mere fact that Cunningham outperformed Stacy on Sunday is not concerning. What is a bit troubling, however, is that Cunningham just won’t go away. Given that Stacy doesn’t really have the splash play in his DNA, he needs as much volume as possible to produce for his fantasy owners. The ceiling here is low.


• All too often, Jay Cutler remains his own worst enemy. He has the weapons and the talent to be an elite fantasy quarterback, and he continues to put up strong yardage and touchdown numbers most weeks. Unfortunately, he also continues to throw the kinds of interceptions that keep him from joining the elite class. He threw two more against the Panthers, the second of which was high across the middle, even if there was some contact that could have easily been called. Cutler finished with 24.78 points in standard-scoring leagues thanks to a rushing touchdown, but those interceptions prevent him from being a consistent top-five quarterback.

• Matt Forte hurt the Bears with a late fumble that led to the game-winning touchdown for the Panthers, but he had another huge fantasy day. He racked up 166 total yards, a touchdown and 12 receptions, showing why he was deserving of being the top overall pick in full PPR leagues. The Bears offense typically clicks when it runs through Forte. He’s poised to be the top overall fantasy back when they take on the Falcons next week.

• Brandon Marshall had just three catches for 44 yards. His ankle is clearly not 100 percent. It might not be until after the Bears’ Week 9 bye.

• Darrin Reaves had just 35 yards on 11 carries, while Chris Ogbonnaya ran eight times for 24 yards, managing a short touchdown. You can safely ignore the Carolina backfield for now.

• Kelvin Benjamin fell flat in a good matchup, catching just three of 11 targets for 38 yards. He had a few terrible drops, which hasn’t been a huge problem for him until this week.

• The limited upside of the non-rushing version of Cam Newton was on display on Sunday. He completed 19 of his 35 pass attempts for 255 yards, 7.3 yards per attempt, two touchdowns and one interception. If he isn’t running, he’s a borderline starter, at best, in 12-team leagues.


• Rashad Jennings was well on his way to a big game against the Falcons, running for 55 yards on 10 carries and catching two passes for 17 yards before leaving with a knee injury. Andre Williams finished with 65 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries, while adding 18 yards through the air on two receptions. If Williams is available in your league, he should be a high-priority waiver claim. He could flourish as the starter if Jennings has to miss time.

• Odell Beckham Jr. caught four passes for 44 yards and a touchdown in his first career game. Rueben Randle had four grabs for 33 yards, and also found the end zone. Meanwhile, Larry Donnell and his fantasy owners learned all about regression, as he had zero catches and got just one target. Still, fantasy owners should be confident in this group going forward.

• In their first game without center Joe Hawley, the Falcons had 397 total yards and 20 points. Matt Ryan threw for 7.02 YPA, his second-lowest total of the season. You have to downgrade everyone on this offense a bit, other than Julio Jones.

• Ben Tate returned from a knee injury he suffered Week 1 and ran for 123 yards on 22 carries. Terrance West and Isaiah Crowell combined for 13 carries and 50 yards. There’s no doubt who is in control of the Cleveland backfield. Tate is an RB2 for the rest of the season, while West and Crowell are no more than depth guys.

• Everyone who told you to be aggressive on Johnny Manziel back during draft season owes you a pizza or something. Brian Hoyer threw for 292 yards, 7.9 YPA and three touchdowns in a dramatic come-from-behind win over the Titans. He’s in no danger of losing the job.

• Jake Locker got off to a hot start, throwing for 79 yards, 7.2 YPA and a touchdown, while running for one more, but he left due to a hand injury. Nashville’s resident hunk quarterback Charlie Whitehurst then relieved him and threw for 194 yards, 9.2 YPA and two scores. The main takeaway here? This Cleveland defense can be exploited by passing games.

Two Deep: Titans' Charlie Whitehurst gets two TDs in first two throws

• Justin Hunter finally showed up on Sunday, catching three of his five targets for 99 yards, including a 75-yard touchdown. That’s why you drafted him.

• Bishop Sankey was supposed to take over as the primary runner in Tennessee this week, but he ended up getting just eight carries and running for 27 yards. Shonn Greene had 11 totes for 36 yards. Sankey is still a solid long-term option, but it’s hard to trust him as a starter when you have a full complement of starters.

• Pierre Thomas lives! He had 12 total touches -- including eight receptions -- for 112 yards and two touchdowns. Travaris Cadet had just three catches and five targets. Consider last week a fluke. Thomas is still the primary pass-catching back in New Orleans.

• Jimmy Graham left the game in the second half with a shoulder injury. Fantasy owners will have to keep a watchful eye over this situation. If he is forced to miss time, Ben Watson would be a low-priority waiver add this week.

• After another huge game for Khiry Robinson, Mark Ingram owners should be getting nervous. Robinson ran for 89 yards and a score on 21 carries in the Saints’ win over the Buccaneers. In three games as the primary runner, Robinson has 255 yards and a touchdown on 47 totes. Ingram may not exactly be Wally Pipp, but Robinson has certainly made a strong case to continue getting carries when Ingram returns.

• Doug Martin managed just 45 yards on 14 carries, and is still south of 100 rushing yards on the season. Martin cannot be thought of as anything more than a low-end RB2 with the overall environment in Tampa Bay. Mike Glennon will almost certainly remain the starter when Josh McCown returns, despite Lovie Smith’s “Rex is our quarterback,” past. The offense has looked so much better with Glennon under center, and that showed on Sunday. The Buccaneers scored 31 points, and Vincent Jackson had eight catches for 144 yards.

• If the MVP were selected this week, how high would DeMarco Murray finish in the voting? After another 100-yard game, he’d likely be third at worst, trailing only Philip Rivers and Andrew Luck. Murray ran for 136 yards on 31 carries, and also caught six passes for 56 yards in the Cowboys’ 20-17 overtime win against the Texans. He lost a fumble, his fourth of the season, but he’s up to a ridiculous 670 rushing yards this year.

• Hopefully you didn’t let Arian Foster’s game-time status scare you away from starting him. He racked up 157 yards and two touchdowns on 23 carries, while simultaneously looking like the only worthwhile person on the Houston offense. So long as Ryan Fitzpatrick is under center, this passing attack has a very low ceiling. Andre Johnson and DeAndre Hopkins combined for just 121 yards on 11 receptions, and Garrett Graham had one catch for three yards despite the Cowboys having allowed the most fantasy points to tight ends through the first four weeks of the season.


• Reggie Bush had a great opportunity on Sunday with the backfield all to himself, and then he ended up getting just 43 yards on eight touches, leaving the game in the second half with an ankle injury. George Winn ran for 48 yards on 11 carries in relief, but he’s not really worth chasing on the waiver wire. Even if Bush is out for an extended period, Joique Bell is likely to be back next week after missing Sunday’s game due to a concussion.

• Calvin Johnson was able to suit up on Sunday, but he managed just one catch for seven yards before leaving the game because of his ankle. The Lions may have to sit him down for a week or two, just to get him healthy. He just hasn’t looked like himself the last two weeks. Golden Tate had a monster game in his stead, catching seven passes for 134 yards and a touchdown. He’d get a short-term bump in value if Johnson does miss time.

• Add another chapter to the book that proves only one of C.J. Spiller or Fred Jackson is worth starting in a given week. This chapter again favors Jackson, who had 107 yards from scrimmage on 17 touches. Spiller, meanwhile, had 33 yards on 13 touches. At this point, Spiller is no more than an RB4. Jackson can be trusted as a flex play more often than not.

• The Bills offense looked a bit better with Kyle Orton under center, and Sammy Watkins was the main beneficiary. He had seven receptions for 87 yards, including a big one for 22 yards that set up the game-winning field goal. Orton had 308 yards, 7.2 YPA, one touchdown and one interception. He’s a low-end QB2 for the rest of the year.

• As expected, Justin Forsett led all Ravens running backs in carries, touches and yards on Sunday. He had six carries for 42 yards and a touchdown, and caught seven passes for 55 yards. Lorenzo Taliaferro and Bernard Pierce combined for 48 yards on nine carries. Neither of them caught a pass. Forsett is the only back in Baltimore who can be trusted.

• Steve Smith came down to earth for the first time this year, catching five passes for 34 yards. Don’t be discouraged. He’s still a strong WR2 for the rest of the season. Owen Daniels caught five of his seven targets for 70 yards, and can be trusted as a TE1.

• Ahmad Bradshaw had an impressive day on the ground, running for 68 yards on 15 carries. For the first time this season, he had more carries than Trent Richardson, who had 37 yards on just nine totes. It could be a one-game anomaly, but this is a great development for Bradshaw’s RB2 status. He wasn’t going to sustain the value he had over the first few weeks of the season on so few touches.

• Dwayne Allen nudged ahead of Coby Fleener on the Colts Tight End Power Rankings, catching four of his five targets for 59 yards and a touchdown. Fleener had just one catch for 30 yards. There will undoubtedly be games this year where Fleener outscores Allen, but the latter is the Colts’ tight end to own.


• Le’Veon Bell continues to rack up yards from scrimmage, going for a total of 118 yards in the Steelers’ 17-9 win over the Jaguars on Sunday. However, he has just one touchdown, and that came in the first game of the season. He gets plenty of touches and does damage with them, but he’s just not finding the end zone. At some point, that is going to change.

• The Jaguars had allowed the second-most points to receivers coming into the game, but Markus Wheaton managed just one catch for 17 yards. At some point, we have to bury our preseason hopes and wishes. Don’t trust Wheaton as more than a WR4.

• Blake Bortles really struggled on Sunday, going 22-for-36 with 191 yards, 5.3 YPA, zero touchdowns and two interceptions. He was victimized by drops, most notably by Allen Hurns, but this was still a very bad performance by the rookie. He cannot be thought of as anything more than a low-end QB2, and should not be owned in traditional one-quarterback leagues.

• The entire fantasy community should be done with Toby Gerhart. He deserves no more attention than these two sentences give him.

• You weren’t really worried about Demaryius Thomas, were you? He quieted all those who, for some reason, were nervous about one of the best receivers in the league with an eight-catch, 226-yard, two-touchdown performance. After his slow start, he’s now on pace for 84 catches, 1,468 yards and 12 touchdowns.

• Going up against a solid defense with a strong secondary, Peyton Manning threw for 479 yards, 10.2 YPA and four touchdowns, though, to be fair, he did throw two picks. I don’t think his fantasy owners mind those too much. Emmanuel Sanders continued to be a yardage beast, hauling in seven passes for 101 yards. More fun with on-pace stats: Sanders may not have a touchdown, but he’s on track for 128 receptions and 1,740 yards.

• Montee Ball suffered a groin injury, giving way to Ronnie Hillman, who ran for 64 yards on 15 carries. C.J. Anderson was inactive for Week 5, so we’d have to believe that Hillman would take over as the starter if Ball had to miss time. Hillman should be a high priority on the waiver wire this week.

• Michael Floyd and Larry Fitzgerald really need that nerve in Carson Palmer’s shoulder to start firing again. The duo combined for just four catches for 64 yards with Drew Stanton and Logan Thomas under center on Sunday. Palmer’s injury is killing their fantasy value. Stanton left with an injury of his own against the Broncos. It would be awfully hard to trust either Floyd or Fitzgerald next week if Thomas is starting.

• The Palmer injury is also keeping a lid on Andre Ellington. He put up a gaudy fantasy day thanks to a fluky 81-yard touchdown catch and a short run for a score. He still had just 32 yards on 16 carries. He’s a mid-to-low-end RB2.

• There’s no doubt that the 49ers offense is at its best when it’s going through Frank Gore. They’ve now won two straight games, largely because they’ve gotten back to feeding their workhorse back. He had 107 yards on 18 carries on Sunday, helping to lead the Niners to a 22-17 win over the Chiefs. Colin Kaepernick completed just 14 of his 26 pass attempts for 201 yards, 7.7 YPA and one touchdown. That’s the formula that the 49ers rode to the Super Bowl two years ago and NFC Championship Game last year. It’s also bad news for the fantasy value of Michael Crabtree and Anquan Boldin.

• Jamaal Charles didn’t have a huge fantasy day, but it was encouraging to see him rack up 80 yards on 15 carries one week after admitting his ankle was sore in his first game back from injury. Knile Davis only had two carries and one target on Sunday.

• We’re through about one-third of the NFL season, and at this point I’d give the MVP vote that I don’t have to Philip Rivers. He had another huge game on Sunday, going 20-for-28 for 288 yards, 10.3 YPA, three touchdowns and one interception in the Chargers’ dominant 31-0 victory over the Jets. The 2013 Rivers Resurgence has continued into this season, and he’s a surefire QB1 for the rest of the year.

• Donald Brown had a rough day, running for just 26 yards on nine carries before suffering a concussion. Branden Oliver ran all over the Jets in his stead, rambling for 114 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries. He also caught four passes for 68 yards and an additional score. However, Ryan Mathews is on pace to return in just a week or two from his sprained MCL, so don’t break the bank to get Oliver this week. He is worth adding, but keep your bids within reason.

• As a team, the Jets completed 12-of-31 passes for 60 yards, good for a robust 1.8 YPA, and a touchdown. Michael Vick made his first real appearance of the year, and went 8-for-19 for 47 yards. There is absolutely nothing to like about this passing attack. Even Eric Decker is a WR3 at best when healthy because of the quarterback situation.

• Eddie Royal had three catches for 40 yards, coming down from his two-touchdown game a week ago. Malcom Floyd had three catches for 72 yards, and Keenan Allen had three for 25. In addition to Oliver, Antonio Gates hogged Rivers’ attention, catching four balls for 60 yards and two scores. Rivers doesn’t necessarily have a go-to guy, so expect this sort of schizophrenic box score from the San Diego pass-catchers going forward.

• The ineffectiveness of the Jets’ quarterbacks trickled down to the running game, but Chris Ivory managed 44 yards on nine carries. Chris Johnson, on the other hand, ran seven times for 24 yards. Ivory is in complete command of the Jets’ backfield.

• It is oh so Patriots of the Patriots to come out and put a thumping on a previously undefeated team just when everyone was ready to write them off. It all started with Tom Brady, who threw for 292 yards, 8.3 YPA and two touchdowns. He should not be absolved of all he has -- or hasn't -- done through the first four games of the season, but he has a pretty favorable upcoming slate. The Patriots’ next three games are against the Bills, Jets and Bears.

Brady, Patriots silence critics in blowout win over Bengals

•​ Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen both showed up for their fantasy owners on Sunday. Ridley ran for 113 yards and a touchdown on 27 carries, while Vereen totaled 108 yards from scrimmage on 12 touches. Don’t get used to this, however. The Bengals entered the game ranked 32nd against the run by Football Outsiders’ DVOA.

• ​Rob Gronkowski caught six passes for 100 yards and a touchdown, while Tim Wright went for five receptions, 85 yards and a score. Wright seemed like an interesting acquisition for the Patriots during the offseason, but this was the first game in which he did much of anything statistically. That it came in Gronkowski’s best game of the season suggests that the Patriots could try to deploy more two-tight sets going forward. Wright is nowhere near the player Aaron Hernandez was, and isn’t going to bring the Patriots’ passing game back to its glory days. At the same time, the Patriots have really struggled to generate anything down the field, and deploying more sets with two tight ends could help Brady find a measure of consistency.

•​Andy Dalton had a fine statistical game, throwing for 204 yards, 8.5 YPA and two touchdowns against zero interceptions. However, he missed a number of receivers in the first half, and that helped the Patriots get out to a 20-3 lead in the first half. The game got away from the Bengals early, and that essentially knocked Giovani Bernard and Jeremy Hill out of the gameplan. A.J. Green and Mohamed Sanu each had useful games, with Green going for 81 yards and a touchdown, and Sanu racking up 70 yards and a score. They could have used Marvin Jones in this game, and they are likely to get him back next week. This whole unit will likely be in a much better spot next week when it hosts the Panthers.

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