RISERS AND FALLERS-AFTER WEEK 5

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After the season’s first official bye week, a look at who could be looked at as potential bye week replacements or who you should leave on the bench going forward.

Ah, bye weeks.  Every fantasy owner’s favorite part of the season.  I mean, who doesn’t just love it when you don’t get to play your starting quarterback in Matt Ryan? Or who can forget the ecstasy when you have to find a replacement for Drew Brees? Or Demaryius Thomas? Or better yet, when you only have the Redskins’ defense on your roster and you have to drop someone to pick up a replacement? In case you couldn’t tell, the sarcasm was flowing pretty heavily there.  Bye weeks are many a fantasy owner’s worst enemy.  So with that in mind let’s move forward and see who could make these times a little less painful.

RISER OF THE WEEK:

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Carson Wentz, QB, Philadelphia

For those owners of the above mentioned Ryan or Brees, or even owners of Kirk Cousins or Trevor Siemian, this week caused some scrambling, especially for those who didn’t draft a backup.  Wentz was one of the more popular options as a backup and definitely didn’t disappoint.  Wentz shredded a Cardinals’ defense that many expected to be one of the top in the league this year.  The second year man went 21 for 30 amassing 304 yards and four touchdowns.  Wentz was easily one of the top producers at the quarterback position for the week in the 34-7 thrashing of Arizona.  Up next for Wentz and the Eagles is a Thursday night showdown with Carolina in Charlotte.  The Panthers D has improved in recent weeks but still allowed Matthew Stafford some decent fantasy numbers with 229 yards and a couple touchdowns.  More importantly though, Stafford was without an interception which could bode very well for Wentz in Week 6.

RISERS:

Aaron Jones, RB, Green Bay

For a guy who started Week 1 fourth on the Packers’ depth chart, the fact that he was on the field at all on Sunday is a huge achievement, never mind the production that he rolled out for fantasy owners.  With the news that Ty Montgomery was out, owners were left scrambling for options and if Jones was available, he paid off.  Jones carried 19 times for 125 yards and a touchdown, which puts him in the top five running backs in terms of scoring this week.  With Jamaal Williams available, it says a lot that Jones still saw the bulk of the carries in Montgomery’s absence.  Owners should keep a close watch on Montgomery’s status and if he misses more time, Jones could make for a viable option.  Green Bay heads to Minnesota in Week 6 for a division showdown against a tough run defense that allows just over 70 yards per game on the ground.

Alex Smith, QB, Kansas City

While he’s not the flashiest quarterback in the league and definitely wasn’t drafted in the high rounds like a Tom Brady or Aaron Rodgers, Smith has largely flown under the radar and has to be mentioned here.  He’s a big reason that Kansas City is the last undefeated team in the league.  Smith leads the league in quarterback rating at 125.8, which is 13 points higher than Brady and 21 points higher than that of Rodgers.  He sits third in the league in yards and tied for second with touchdown passes.  And on top of that, he’s done all that without throwing a single interception this season.  In Sunday night’s offensive explosion, he was 29 for 37 for 324 yards and three scores.  Even with his favorite target in Travis Kelce leaving the game right before halftime.  Kansas City is home again for a Week 6 battle with Pittsburgh whose defense is looking much less formidable these days.  It’s worth keeping an eye on Kelce’s status but Smith continues to look like a terrific option for owners.

Melvin Gordon, RB, Los Angeles Chargers

After his breakout performance a couple of weeks ago, Gordon bounced back from a shaky performance in Week 4.  Gordon carried 16 times for 105 yards and caught six passes for another 58 yards and two touchdowns, giving him the second highest fantasy total of the week behind Jacksonville’s Leonard Fournette.  Gordon was instrumental in getting the Chargers their first win of the season and makes another very nice target for Philip Rivers out of the backfield.  Los Angeles has another favorable matchup next Sunday as they travel to Oakland to take on a Raiders team that looks to be in freefall mode.  The Raiders’ D has been roughed up all season long and the timing is definitely right for Gordon to have another big game.

Seahawks D/ST, Seattle

After a couple of shaky weeks early on, the vaunted Seattle defense looks to have righted the ship and moving in the right direction.  The Seahawks stuffed the potent Rams’ offense on Sunday, holding Todd Gurley to 43 yards on the ground and forcing five turnovers.  While Seattle’s offense was even more anemic than that of Los Angeles, the defense was up to the task in the Seahawks 16-10 victory.  Seattle has an early bye week next up but then has the hapless New York Giants in Week 7.  The near future could pay big dividends for the Seattle D.

TY Hilton, WR, Indianapolis

After having Hilton high up on my fallers list a few weeks back, he has made a big turnaround in recent weeks.  Hilton led the team in targets on Sunday and hauled in seven passes for 177 yards this comes on the heels of a 153 yard performance against Cleveland in Week 3 in which he also scored.  With the exception of the outing against the aforementioned Seahawks, Hilton has found success with Jacoby Brissett at quarterback.  This bodes well for Hilton as Andrew Luck is still a number of weeks out until returning from injury.  Hilton has a very favorable matchup in Week 6 as the Colts head to Tennessee for a Monday Night matchup against a struggling Titans’ defense.

DeAndre Hopkins/Will Fuller V, WRs, Houston

The emergence of Deshaun Watson has reaped huge benefits for everyone around him also.  We talked about Lamar Miller last week and this week Hopkins and Fuller produced some outstanding numbers, Hopkins especially.  No receiver was targeted more last season and Sunday he showed why.  Hopkins was targeted 12 times in the 42-34 loss on Sunday night.  He only caught four of those passes but managed 52 yards and scored on three of them.  Fuller also caught two of his three targets for 57 yards and scored on both receptions.  Going forward, against a defense not from Kansas City, this could pay huge rewards for owners.  Houston is home in Week 6 against a Cleveland team that is 22nd in the league against the pass this season.

Jaguars D/ST, Jacksonville

It’s difficult to heap too much praise on the Jacksonville defense, but they have to make this list based on their Week 5 performance at Pittsburgh.  I do so hesitantly, however, because the last time I had them on this list, they proceeded to fall flat the next week.  But on Sunday, the Jaguars were up to the task against one of the most potent offenses in the league.  The Jags did allow 312 yards in the air to Ben Roethlisberger in the 30-9 win, but did stuff Le’veon Bell, holding him to 47 yards.  The Jags sacked Roethlisberger twice and picked him off five times, returning two for touchdowns.  This scoring explosion isn’t typical of the Jags but their defense has proven to be one of the best in the league.  Week 6 sees the Jaguars taking on the Los Angeles Rams who showed this week that the better defenses in the league can have a big game against them.

AJ Green, WR, Cincinnati

With the Bengals’ recovery over the last two weeks, Green has been a big factor and rewarding fantasy owners who drafted him early.  Green leads the Bengals in targets and hauled in seven passes for 189 yards and a touchdown in Cincinnati’s 20-16 win over Buffalo on Sunday.  Over his last three games, Green has 363 receiving yards and three scores.  After his first two weeks, that’s a welcome change for owners.  Cincinnati’s offense seems to be back on the right track and moving forward, Green should see his production continue in this vein.  Cincinnati has a bye in Week 6 faces off against a Pittsburgh team that has been mentioned above that is less than formidable against the pass.

Rob Gronkowski, TE, New England

While Gronk was a late injury scratch for Week 5 against Tampa Bay, his value is still on the rise going forward.  Gronkowski remains Tom Brady’s top target in the passing game and a visit to the New York Jets next Sunday only helps his chances.  Brady has historically found loads of success against the division rival and next week should provide more of the same.  Look for Gronkowski to return to a normal workload and should see plenty of catches.

FALLER OF THE WEEK:

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Texans D/ST, Houston

 Houston’s defense takes this spot, not only because of its lackluster performance on Sunday but also because of two devastating injuries.  J.J. Watt suffered a tibial plateau fracture and will miss the remainder of the season.  This is a huge blow for the Texans’ defense as Watt is not only a leader for the defense, but for the whole team and the city of Houston as well.  Whitney Mercilus also left Sunday’s game against the Chiefs with an injury and didn’t return.  On the field, the Texans gave up 324 yards passing to Smith, and Kareem Hunt racked up another 107 on the ground.  Houston will get somewhat of a break in Week 6 as Cleveland comes to town with a question mark at the quarterback position.

Odell Beckham, Jr., WR, New York Giants

Beckham broke his left ankle during the Giants’ 27-22 loss to the Chargers on Sunday.  After having his leg pinned under a defender trying to catch a pass, Beckham was carted off the field Sunday and it was reported that he will need surgery on the ankle ending his season.  This is a huge blow for fantasy owners as Beckham was drafted in the first round of most leagues.  With Beckham’s season done, fantasy owners will have to look elsewhere for a WR1.

Eli Manning, QB, New York Giants

With the above mentioned injury to his number one receiver, Manning’s stock plummets drastically.  Not only did he lose Beckham on Sunday, but New York’s number 2 receiver, Brandon Marshall, also left the Week 5 contest with an injury.  ESPN is reporting that is just a sprained ankle for Marshall but if he is forced to miss any time, Manning will be without his top two targets going into Denver and taking on one of the toughest secondaries in the league.  While Manning didn’t have a horrible Week 5, his value takes a serious hit because of the two injuries.

Raiders D/ST, Oakland

While going into the week, the Raiders’ defense didn’t have much value, it has dropped to almost nothing at this point.  Going into Week 5, Baltimore’s offense could produce next to nothing on a weekly basis.  However on Sunday, Oakland’s defense gave up 133 yards to WR Mike Wallace and 222 total in the air to Joe Flacco.  While this isn’t a dreadful defensive stand, when your offense is missing its primary weapon in Derek Carr and simply moving the ball is a chore, you can’t rely on defense to give up 23 points (the other score came from a fumble recovery for Baltimore.)  Going forward the Raiders face a resurgent Chargers’ team in Week 6 and then a brutal Thursday night outing against the division leading Chiefs in Week 7.  If you have other options on the defensive side of the ball it would be worth going with them.

Carlos Hyde, RB, San Francisco

Many experts around the league had this as a breakout week for the 49ers’ Hyde, facing a Colts defense that has struggled with the run game to this point.  Hyde failed to impress, only managing eleven yards on eight carries.  Backup Matt Breida saw more targets in the passing game and more carries, which should be concerning to fantasy owners.  It is worth noting that Hyde has been nursing a hip injury in recent weeks so it may bear keeping an eye on.  San Francisco faces a tough Washington defense in Week 6 that will make the going even tougher on Hyde, even with a full workload.

Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Pittsburgh

With one of, if not the best, wideouts in the game at your disposal, as well as the running back many consider to be the best in the league, it’s rare that a quarterback would find himself in this position.  However, Roethlisberger’s performance on Sunday has to be mentioned here.  While he did throw for 312 yards in the air, Roethlisberger was picked off five times by the Jaguars defense in the 30-9 loss.  The Jaguars returned two for touchdowns giving the team the shot in the arm it needed to pull off the big win.  And even when he was completing passes to his own team, Roethlisberger looked less than spectacular, only converting on 33 of 55 pass attempts.  It doesn’t get any easier for the Steelers’ signal caller either as a visit to the undefeated Kansas City Chiefs is next on the schedule.  The Chiefs, while giving up five scores to Deshaun Watson on Sunday, harassed him all night long and the secondary is one of the best in the league.

Chris Johnson, RB, Arizona

This spot could go to any member of the Cardinals’ offense after David Johnson’s injury early on, as without him, the Cardinals haven’t had any kind of offensive identity and struggle to move the ball on any defense.  This was even more apparent during Sunday’s 34-7 beatdown at the hands of Philadelphia.  While Johnson did see the majority of the carries in the loss, he only managed 21 yards and has been ineffective in replacing Arizona’s injured star.  It will be tough for Arizona to move past this loss as Tampa Bay comes to town next week with a defense that held New England’s offense to only 19 points in Week 5, and virtually shut down the Pats’ run game.

Sammy Watkins, WR, Los Angeles Rams

In what has been an up and down season for the Rams’ wideout, he had another down week on Sunday, not catching a single pass in Los Angeles’ 16-10 loss.  It was only the second time in his career that Watkins was shut out completely and going forward it doesn’t bode well for fantasy owners who took a chance on him.  Watkins’ production in recent weeks led owners to look his way for bye week replacements, only to be disappointed.  Next week could see more rough sailing as the Rams travel to Jacksonville to face a brutal Jaguars’ defense that has been murder on opposing passing games this season.

Bilal Powell, RB, New York Jets

While Powell’s fantasy value was on the rise going into the week’s matchup against the Browns, it took a serious hit in Week 6.  With Matt Forte sidelined again due to injury, Powell was primed to have a huge week against the hapless Browns.  However, Powell only managed five yards on two carries before suffering a calf injury against Cleveland.  Powell didn’t see any carries in the second half and Jets’ coaches have indicated that Powell will need further testing to determine the severity of the injury.  With Matt Forte potentially missing more time due to a toe injury, fantasy owners could be scrambling for replacements

Travis Kelce, TE, Kansas City

Kelce had a monster first half Sunday night against the Texans and has been a huge part in the Chiefs’ 5-0 start to the season.  Kelce caught eight passes for 98 yards before leaving with a concussion late in the first half Sunday night.  Kelce will go through the league’s concussion protocol and his value could take a hit if he is forced to miss any time due to the injury.  Kansas City faces Pittsburgh next Sunday and would greatly benefit from Kelce’s return to the passing game.  Owners will want to keep a close eye on his status as he remains a must start if healthy.

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I'm 38 years old and was born and raised in Price, Utah, a small town about 120 miles south of Salt Lake City. Fantasy football has been a major hobby of mine for the past 15 years, and I compete in several leagues annually, having won a league championship numerous times over. While I am an avid follower of all sports, football is definitely my favorite.