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Quick Grades Week 5 (Fantasy Football Start or Sit Advice)

by Zachary Hanshew | @ZaktheMonster | Featured Writer
Oct 9, 2020

Who will play? Who’s in and who’s out? What night are those teams playing, again? These are the questions that have permeated the fabric of the NFL and fantasy football this season. In the age of COVID, it’s difficult to predict what we’re going to get from week to week.

In Week 4, the Chiefs and Patriots played on Monday night in an unexpected double-header. Now in Week 5, Tennessee/Buffalo has already been rescheduled for Tuesday, while Denver/New England has been rescheduled to Monday late afternoon. With all of that in mind, remember that keeping up with the latest news, injuries, inactives, and scheduling changes is more important than ever when setting your lineups.

After an exciting TNF game that saw Tom Brady and Nick Foles duel it out once again, we’re ready to dive into our Week 5 grades!

Once the season begins, the most difficult part of any fantasy manager’s week is start or sit decisions. These lineup choices can make or break a week, but unfortunately, not everyone has time to sit down and read lengthy fantasy advice articles. That’s where Quick Grades comes in. Each week of the football season, I’ll be providing a condensed and easily digestible chart of grades for over 250 fantasy-relevant players based on the following four criteria:

Fantasy Ability
Despite a tough matchup, Christian McCaffrey took a screen pass 90 yards to the house last week

Expected Volume
Zach Ertz is always heavily targeted as one of Philadelphia’s top pass-catching options

Tyreek Hill got loose for 200 yards against Cincinnati’s porous secondary

Surrounding Talent
Sam Darnold has one of the weakest receiving corps in the league

Each of those criteria will be graded on a scale of 1-25, with the cumulative total resulting in a final grade (A+ to F) and a recommendation based on that grade. The criteria are weighted differently based on position, so it’s not a direct 1-for-1 conversion. Surrounding talent refers to offensive line for RB, quarterback play for WR and TE, and skill-position talent for QB.

The players are sorted by grade in descending order with the highest grades at the top and the lowest at the bottom. The highest-graded players receive A+ (Must start), and the lowest receive F. However, there are varying degrees of the F grade, and some players with this grade are flex plays, desperation plays, Hail Mary plays, or should remain on your bench, depending on the grade and position.

I’ll also include D/ST grades, and just like the skill-position players, there will be four criteria used for grading on a scale from 1-25, and final grades will be from 1-100. The four criteria for a D/ST grade are: Matchup, Turnovers, Sacks, and Points Allowed.

The charts are screenshots of a spreadsheet, but the link to the original can be found below. Because players are not searchable within the sheets in this article, they’ve been added to the bottom of the page so that they can be searched and referenced quickly. In addition to the player grades, I’ll provide:

  • Start of the Week: A player outside of the elite, weekly must-starts who could have a big week
  • Stream of the Week: The best player who will likely be available on your waiver wire
  • Deep-League Stream of the Week: The best player who is less than 5% rostered in Yahoo leagues
  • Fade of the Week: A notable player who could be in for a let-down performance
  • Tough Calls: Two similarly valued players who may give fantasy managers difficult decisions

Link to Full Quick Grades Document

It’s easy to see that an ‘A+’ or ‘A’ grade makes a player a must-start, but it might not make sense at first glance why some players are rated ‘C’ or worse and still have ‘Start,’ ‘Strong Start,’ or ‘Flex’ attached to their names. Because of all the different variables that go into a player’s performance in any given week, only those players with the absolute highest potential, best matchup, and strongest talent get ‘A+’ or ‘A’ grades. Therefore, even solid plays will earn grades that may appear sub-optimal on the surface, but it’s all relative from position-to-position. The hard cutoff is 50 for every position, as grades lower than this will earn a ‘Desperation’ or ‘Hail Mary’ tag in every situation.

Now that I’ve covered the basics, let’s get to the grades. Best of luck in all your matchups this week, and if you have any questions, please hit me up on Twitter @ZaktheMonster.

Note: As always, remember to check back on FantasyPros ahead of kickoff to get the latest injury news. I’ll provide “what-if” grades in the event that an injured player doesn’t suit up, but otherwise, these grades assume full health at the time the article is published on Friday morning. 

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Running Backs

There are plenty of familiar names among the top-graded running backs this week, though there are a couple of risers here due to some excellent matchups. Squaring off with the lowly Las Vegas run defense, Clyde Edwards-Helaire is our highest-graded back of the week. Todd Gurley sees a significant boost against Carolina, and Kenyan Drake – yes, Kenyan Drake – is still a strong start this week, as he faces the Jets.

Start of the Week: Raheem Mostert

Stream of the Week: D’Ernest Johnson

Deep-League Stream of the Week: Jordan Wilkins 1% rostered

Fade of the Week: Myles Gaskin

Tough Calls: Josh Jacobs and Alvin Kamara are graded just fractions of a point apart this week. Despite Kamara’s historic start to the season, Jacobs gets the edge here. Kamara will lose some passing work with Michael Thomas likely returning, and his matchup is much tougher than Jacobs’.

* If Raheem Mostert is out, Jerick McKinnon becomes a ‘B Strong Start’
* If Zack Moss is out, Devin Singletary becomes a ‘C+ Start’
* If Cam Akers is out, Darrell Henderson becomes a ‘C+ Start’


Wide Receivers

No surprises here, as target hog DeAndre Hopkins earns the top spot in the Week 5 grades. Michael Thomas likely makes his return and is immediately a must-play option. Two Seahawks and two Falcons make regular appearances in the top-10, and despite a rocky early season showing, D.J. Moore is a strong play against Atlanta this week.

Start of the Week: Darius Slayton

Stream of the Week: Tim Patrick

Deep-League Stream of the Week: Zach Pascal 5% owned

Fade of the Week: Terry McLaurin

Tough Calls: Adam Thielen comes into Week 5 graded just a little better than Keenan Allen, and it all comes down to matchup. Allen has been a target machine as of late, though Thielen’s golden opportunity against the Seahawks gives him the edge over Allen here.

* If Calvin Ridley and/or Julio Jones are out, Russell Gage becomes a ‘C Start’ and Olamide Zaccheaus becomes a ‘D Flex’
* If Henry Ruggs is out, Hunter Renfrow and Nelson Agholor both become ‘F Desperation’
* If Michael Thomas is out, Emmanuel Sanders and Tre’Quan Smith both become ‘D Flex’
* If A.J. Brown is out, Adam Humphries joins the list as an ‘F Desperation’


Russell Wilson once again finds himself atop our weekly grades, as he’s been playing on another level this season. Patrick Mahomes, Lamar Jackson, and Josh Allen are easy must-starts nearly every week, while Deshaun Watson finds himself a top option in Week 5 even though his season has not gotten off on the best footing.

There is no reccomended deep-league stream of the week here, as the quarterbacks who are less than 5% rostered do not have grades higher than ‘F Desperation.’

Start & Stream of the Week: Kirk Cousins

Fade of the Week: Baker Mayfield

* If Drew Lock is out, Brett Rypien is an ‘F Hail Mary’
If Jimmy Garoppolo is out, Nick Mullens is a ‘C Start’

Tight Ends

After a monstrous 15-catch effort in Week 4, Kittle makes his triumphant return as the top-graded tight end of the week. The other names at the top of the list are all too familiar, while we’ve got a streamable option in Ian Thomas, who could find success in a very favorable matchup, despite his early-season struggles.

Start of the Week: Eric Ebron

Stream of the Week: Ian Thomas

Deep-League Stream of the Week: Drew Sample 4% rostered

Fade of the Week: Austin Hooper

Tough Calls: Despite the better matchup, Hunter Henry comes in graded just below Evan Engram here. Engram should be in line for more volume than Henry, and his tilt with Dallas is nothing to shy away from, either.

*If Jared Cook is out, Adam Trautman remains an ‘F Hail Mary’


Whether it’s Drew Lock or Brett Rypien under center, New England still grades out as the top DST of the week. Pittsburgh remains an elite option, while Arizona is elevated significantly due to the delicious matchup with the lowly Jets.

Start of the Week: Arizona Cardinals

Stream of the Week: Dallas Cowboys

Fade of the Week: Los Angeles Chargers

* If Cam Newton is out, Denver becomes a ‘D Start’

Player Search, Find

Running Back

Wide Receiver


Tight End


  • New England Patriots A Must Start
  • Pittsburgh Steelers B+ Must Start
  • Arizona Cardinals C+ Must Start
  • Los Angeles Rams C+ Must Start
  • Baltimore Ravens C+ Strong Start
  • Kansas City Chiefs C+ Strong Start
  • Seattle Seahawks C+ Strong Start
  • Indianapolis Colts C Strong Start
  • Cleveland Browns D+ Start
  • San Francisco 49ers D+ Start
  • Miami Dolphins D+ Start
  • Washington Football Team D Start
  • Tennessee Titans D Start
  • New Orleans Saints D Start
  • New York Giants D Desperation
  • Dallas Cowboys D Desperation
  • Jacksonville Jaguars D Desperation
  • Denver Broncos F Desperation
  • New York Jets F Desperation
  • Carolina Panthers F Bench
  • Atlanta Falcons F Bench
  • Philadelphia Eagles F Bench
  • Cincinnati Bengals F Bench
  • Buffalo Bills F Bench
  • Houston Texans F Bench
  • Las Vegas Raiders F Bench
  • Minnesota Vikings F Bench
  • Los Angeles Chargers F Bench

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Zachary Hanshew is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Zachary, check out his archive and follow him @zakthemonster.

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