Skip to main content

Fitz’s Week 5 Rankings, Tiers & Start/Sit Advice (2023 Fantasy Football)

Fitz’s Week 5 Rankings, Tiers & Start/Sit Advice (2023 Fantasy Football)

What an interesting week this is setting up to be.

Fantasy football is the ultimate game of strategy because every season has a vast galaxy of variables. How we assess, interpret and act on those variables is critical to our success.

Boy oh boy, Week 5 is chock full o’ variables.

The bye weeks are back to challenge our roster depth and our managerial acumen. Can you win with one hand tied behind your back? Two hands? Two hands and one foot? If you went heavy on Chargers, Browns and Seahawks in your draft, you might be feeling like the Black Knight at the end of the sword fight in “Monty Python and the Holy Grail.”

But there are some positive variables, too. Week 5 could bring the return of a pair of stars who spent the first four weeks of the season on injured reserve: Cooper Kupp and Jonathan Taylor. Kupp reportedly practiced with the Rams without limitation on Wednesday. Taylor also practiced in full, though it’s unclear whether he and the Colts have resolved their differences over Taylor’s contractual status. Also back in Week 5 is Lions WR Jameson Williams, whose six game gambling suspension was shortened to four games after a change to the NFL’s gambling policy.

And of course, we have to sift through all of the other variables: matchups, injuries, shifting depth charts, etc.

Buckle up, friends. It’s going to be a wild week.

As always, feel free to use these tiered rankings as a tiebreaker for your difficult lineup decisions. Beneath the tiers, I’ll offer a few brief thoughts on some of the borderline start/sit guys and some other interesting cases.

Check out the rest of our fantasy football content partner-arrow

Fitz’s Fantasy Football Week 5 Tiers & Rankings

QUARTERBACKS

Tier 1

Tier 2

Tier 3

Tier 4

Tier 5

Tier 6

Joe Burrow continues to pose a painful weekly dilemma to his investors. Burrow’s calf injury has obviously been hindering him, but we know that a healthy Burrow is one of the best quarterbacks in the game. The question is: When will Burrow be fully healthy, or even mostly healthy? Burrow is currently QB31 in fantasy scoring, trailing Zach Wilson, Kenny Pickett and Desmond Ridder, among others. Burrow is averaging 182 passing yards a game and has thrown two TD passes. There are some Burrow stakeholders who need to get a “show me” game from Burrow before they’ll consider reinserting him into their lineups, but I have Burrow ranked QB10 for Week 5. It’s a tough week for quarterbacks. There are four teams on bye, and a lot of quarterback either have major offensive line issues or are dealing with difficult matchups. Burrow has a relatively soft matchup against a Cardinals defense that ranks 30th in DVOA against the pass and has allowed the sixth-most fantasy points to opposing QBs. I can’t guarantee that we’ll finally get a good fantasy performance from Burrow this week, but I’m cautiously optimistic.

Last season, in Brock Purdy‘s first six starts (including the 49ers’ playoff win over Seattle), he didn’t face a defense that ranked better than 13th in DVOA against the pass. He averaged 238.3 passing yards in those six games and threw multiple TD passes in all of them. Then, Purdy ran into a very good Dallas pass defense in the playoffs and had 214 passing yards and zero touchdowns. Here’s where the four teams Purdy has faced this season rank in DVOA against the pass: 13th, 21st, 29th, 30th. Now he’s preparing to face the Cowboys, whose pass defense is No. 1 in DVOA (although the loss of CB Trevon Diggs to a torn ACL is problematic for the Cowboys). I’m not suggesting that Purdy is a mediocre quarterback who’s benefitted from soft matchups, but we have yet to see him have a good game in a difficult matchup. I have Purdy ranked QB15 this week.

It’s amazing how well Texans rookie C.J. Stroud has played this season, especially in light of all the offensive line injuries Houston has dealt with. There’s potential good news on that front: Starting tackles Laremy Tunsil and Tytus Howard, who both missed Week 4, have been practicing this week. I have Stroud ranked QB15 this week in a tricky matchup against a much-improved Falcons pass defense that’s yielding 5.6 yards per pass attempt.

Even with Daniel Jones likely to be getting RB Saquon Barkley back from a high-ankle sprain this week, and even with a potential shootout setup against the high-scoring Dolphins, I wouldn’t feel good about starting Jones this week when his offensive line is in such a sorry state. The Seahawks sacked Jones 10 times last week. Jones has taken 22 sacks in four games and has thrown four interceptions. He’s QB24 in fantasy scoring.

RUNNING BACKS

Tier 1

Tier 2

Tier 3

Tier 4

Tier 5

Tier 6

Tier 7

Saquon Barkley is expected to return from a high-ankle sprain this week. No doubt most of his stakeholders will be compelled to start him. But if you’re in a shallow league where every roster is star-laden, consider leaving Barkley on your bench for another week. Barkley probably won’t be 100% for a matchup against the Dolphins in Miami, and the Giants’ offensive line is in a state of utter disrepair.

David Montgomery‘s big performance against the Packers in Week 4 forced a reckoning among Jahmyr Gibbs advocates — and among fantasy analysts guilty of pie-in-the-sky weekly rankings for Gibbs early in the season (like me, for instance). Game scripts have been kind to Montgomery, with the Lions trailing by more than one score for only 4:56 of clock time so far this season. Even with the Monty-friendly game scripts, Gibbs has had at least seven carries in every game and is averaging 4.5 targets. Montgomery is averaging 23 carries per game — an unsustainable pace. Gibbs’ workload will go up as the Lions inevitably encounter some negative, less run-friendly game scripts. Even though the Lions probably aren’t getting a negative game script on Sunday as a 10-point home favorite against the Panthers, Gibbs is still going to get touches against a Carolina defense that has given up the fourth-most rushing yards to running backs.

So … how should we handle Jonathan Taylor in his first game back? My best guess is that the Colts don’t overwork JT, who might not be in “hitting shape,” and that we’ll see something close to a 50/50 split between Taylor and Zack Moss, who has performed well in Taylor’s absence. But Moss isn’t on the Taylor’s level, and if JT looks good right away, the Colts might not be overly judicious with his usage. The matchup vs. Tennessee this week is daunting. The Titans have allowed the fourth-fewest rushing yards and just 3.1 yards per carry to running backs. But every time Colts QB Anthony Richardson puts the ball in Taylor’s breadbasket, opposing linebackers will have to be certain that Richardson is actually handing the ball off rather than using play-action or keeping the ball and running himself. That defensive uncertainty could spike Taylor’s rushing efficiency. When QB Robert Griffin III was a rookie in 2012, the running threat he posed was a big reason Alfred Morris ran for 1,613 yards and 13 touchdowns that year. Alfred Morris was hamburger; Jonathan Taylor is steak. I’m ranking Taylor RB25 this week even with the workload uncertainty and the bad matchup. Moss checks in at RB36.

I have Miles Sanders ranked RB27 this week and worry that it’s too optimistic a ranking. Sanders has been dealing with a groin injury and will be facing a Lions run defense that has become fearsome. Detroit has allowed the fifth-fewest fantasy points and second-fewest rushing yards to running backs. Part of it is that the Lions have been putting opponents in negative game scripts, so they’ve faced the second-fewest rushing attempts by RBs this year. But Detroit is giving up only 2.9 yards per carry to RBs. The Lions are 10-point favorites against the Panthers, so the odds of Carolina getting a run-friendly game script aren’t great.

This week’s biggest waiver-wire darling at the RB position was Denver’s Jaleel McLaughlin, the NCAA’s all-time leading rusher. McLaughlin had 8,166 rushing yards and 79 TD runs during a five-year college career that took him from Notre Dame College in Cleveland to Youngstown State. Last week against the Bears, McLaughlin had 7-72-0 rushing and 3-32-1 receiving. With Javonte Williams expected to be out with a hip injury this week, McLaughlin is going to be splitting RB duties with Samaje Perine. I have McLaughlin ranked ahead of Perine mainly because I think McLaughlin has far more pass-catching potential. … But the record book doesn’t lie: McLaughlin is pretty good at running the ball, too. He’s a viable RB2 or flex play against the Jets.

In the three games since J.K. Dobbins tore his Achilles, Gus Edwards had had double-digit carries in every game. Last week, with the Ravens leading the Browns all game long, Gus Bus had a season-high 15 carries and a 69% snap share. He also had his first two catches of the season — an unexpected bonus (although those two receptions netted only 1 yard). Edwards is playable against a Steelers run defense that has allowed the second-most rushing yards to RBs. His playability wanes in full-point PPR formats, however.

I’m throwing up my hands in the air with the Pittsburgh running backs. The Steelers’ offense seems broken, and I don’t trust OC Matt Canada to pull out his toolbox and fix it. It seems as if the Steelers want to give Jaylen Warren more work, but he fumbled once last week, and another fumble that Houston’s Will Anderson ran back for a would-be touchdown was nullified when Warren was ruled down by contact. The ball-security issues make Warren a risky play this week, because some coaches take away playing time for that sort of thing. (Hello, Ron Rivera.) The Steelers have a tricky matchup against the Ravens in a game that has a Vegas total of only 38 points. Ideally, you can avoid starting either Pittsburgh RB this week, but that might not be possible in a week with four teams on bye.

WIDE RECEIVERS

Tier 1

Tier 2

Tier 3

Tier 4

Tier 5

Tier 6

Tier 7

My rankings for the Rams’ top three receivers this week: Puka Nacua WR9, Cooper Kupp WR23, Tutu Atwell WR34. Collectively, those rankings feel overly aggressive against an Eagles defense that’s usually tough against the pass. But Nacua and Kupp are must-starts, so the only Rams WR who poses a real dilemma is Atwell, who has 22-270-1 this season while averaging 8.8 targets a game. Atwell could feel the target squeeze with Kupp returning to action. It’s still worth at least considering Atwell for your lineup, however, since the Eagles have been much tougher against the run than the pass. Philadelphia has allowed the second-fewest rushing yards and the sixth-most passing yards this season.

DeAndre Hopkins hasn’t topped 65 yards in any game this season, but he’s a good play this week against an Indianapolis defense that’s playing two rookie cornerbacks on the outside in its nickel package. The Colts have given up the seventh-most receiving yards to wide receivers.

Christian Watson returned from a hamstring injury last week and played 46% of the Packers’ offensive snaps last week. His two-catch, 25-yard performance would have been a disaster for his fantasy managers had his second catch not been a 1-yard touchdown late in the game. The Packers have long been conservative in their handling of injured players, so I would expect a heartier snap share for Watson this week after he got the kid-gloves treatment in Week 4. But Romeo Doubs had 9-95-0 on 13 targets last week and has drawn 25 targets over the Packers’ past two games. Doubs’ presence could be a drain on Watson’s production. I have Doubs ranked WR29 and Watson WR30.

I’m way below consensus on Jakobi Meyers, who is generating rankings enthusiasm that, frankly, I can’t understand. Well, maybe I can understand it. Meyers had two touchdowns in Week 1, and he had 16 catches for 166 yards over his first two games. But people are forgetting that Meyers hasn’t ever been a big-play guy, and he famously had trouble finding the end zone early in his career, playing his first 38 regular-season games without scoring a touchdown. Meyers has a career average of 11.7 yards per catch, and he’s scored 10 touchdowns in 64 career games (playoffs included). With that sort of production profile, you need heavy target volume to be a useful fantasy asset. Meyers got that in the Raiders’ first two games, but he’s sharing a field with Davante Adams, one of the most prolific target hogs in the league. Other rankers seem to be viewing Meyers as a must-start for Week 5. I think he warrants consideration as a starter, but I don’t think he’s a no-brainer.

Courtland Sutton is going to be running most of his routes against either of the Jets’ starting outside cornerbacks, Sauce Gardner and D.J. Reed. PFF has Gardner and Reed both graded among the top 25 cornerbacks in the league so far this season. I’m fading Sutton a bit this week, ranking him as a low-end WR3.

Cardinals rookie Michael Wilson has been impressive so far, but he hasn’t quite earned a spot inside the circle of trust. Wilson had 7-76-2 last week against the 49ers, and he had 2-86-0 against the Cowboys in Week 3. But last week was the first time that Wilson has drawn more than four targets in a game, and while the Arizona passing game has been unexpectedly functional, it’s not yet trustworthy. I have Wilson ranked WR44.

Wait a week before plugging Jameson Williams into your lineup. The Lions were extremely conservative in their usage of Williams last year when he was a rookie coming off a torn ACL. Williams has been serving a gambling suspension, but he also sustained a hamstring injury in mid-August. It’s probably safe to assume that the hammy injury is no longer a major concern, but I don’t think we’ll see Williams play a full complement of snaps right away when Josh Reynold has been performing so well opposite Amon-Ra St. Brown in two-receiver sets.

FantasyPros Mobile Apps: Dominate your NFL, MLB and NBA fantasy leagues from anywhere

TIGHT ENDS

Tier 1

Tier 2

Tier 3

Tier 4

Tier 5

Tier 6

The 49ers gave up the second-fewest fantasy points to TEs in both 2020 and 2021, and the seventh-fewest fantasy points to TEs in 2022. San Francisco has given up the ninth-fewest fantasy points to TEs so far this year. Still, the Cowboys’ Jake Ferguson still looks like a decent play this week against the 49ers. Ferguson’s weekly reception totals so far: 2, 3, 5, 7. Things are trending in the right direction. Ferguson has a healthy 18.5% target share this season. And while the 49ers have been fairly tough against tight ends, they have seen 35 TE targets so far this season — the third-highest total in the league.

Dawson Knox had a season-low 50% snap share for the Bills in Week 4, which bodes ill for Knox but bodes well for rookie Dalton Kincaid. In the Bills’ convincing win over the Dolphins last week, Kincaid was targeted on five of Josh Allen‘s 25 pass attempts — a 20% target share. Kincaid has only 15-99-0 receiving so far this season, but his time is coming. Maybe it comes this week against a Jaguars defense that gave up 6-95-0 to Falcons TE Jonnu Smith last week.

Hayden Hurst could be a sneaky matchup play this week even though the Carolina passing game hasn’t exactly been firing on all cylinders. Hurst faces the Lions, who have given up 43 targets, 32 receptions and 303 receiving yards to tight ends — all of which are league highs.

Subscribe: Apple Podcasts | Spotify | Google Podcasts | SoundCloud | iHeartRadio

More Articles

2024 NFL Mock Draft: Full Seven Rounds Every Pick & Prediction

2024 NFL Mock Draft: Full Seven Rounds Every Pick & Prediction

fp-headshot by Scott Bogman | 15+ min read
Top 6 NFL Draft Burning Questions (2024 Fantasy Football)

Top 6 NFL Draft Burning Questions (2024 Fantasy Football)

fp-headshot by John Supowitz | 3 min read
2024 NFL Mock Draft With Trades: Mike Fanelli (6.0)

2024 NFL Mock Draft With Trades: Mike Fanelli (6.0)

fp-headshot by Mike Fanelli | 13 min read
Dynasty Draft Strategy, Rankings & Tiers: Tight Ends (2024 Fantasy Football)

Dynasty Draft Strategy, Rankings & Tiers: Tight Ends (2024 Fantasy Football)

fp-headshot by Pat Fitzmaurice | 4 min read

About Author

Hide

Current Article

8 min read

2024 NFL Mock Draft: Full Seven Rounds Every Pick & Prediction

Next Up - 2024 NFL Mock Draft: Full Seven Rounds Every Pick & Prediction

Next Article