Whether due to their own play, the play of others, or injuries, players' stock increases and decreases on a weekly basis. Perhaps more than any other, the NFL is a league that experiences ups and downs at a rapid pace. With only 16 games, there’s little room for error and seemingly endless opportunities for improvement. The same goes for fantasy football; managing rosters effectively is key to winning that championship.
Throughout the season, players get hot and see an increased role while others struggle and fight to stay relevant. Experienced fantasy players know this happens every year. In this weekly column, we’ll showcase those who have taken important steps forward and those who have taken steps back.
These are the key risers and fallers heading into Week 5 of the NFL season. Dynasty owners, check out our separate Dynasty Risers/Fallers segment as well.Editor's Note: Love the strategy of season-long fantasy sports? Live for the short term gratification of DFS? Try Weekly Fantasy Sports on OwnersBox - a new weekly DFS platform. Sign up today for a FREE $50 Deposit Match. Sign Up Now!
Week 5 Fantasy Football Risers
Justin Herbert (QB, LAC)
Anthony Lynn is not going back to Tyrod Taylor. There's just no way . Justin Herbert may not be winning games, but he looks all kinds of legit. He's still making mistakes, but they're correctable rookie mistakes. He's also making big time throws and showing poise under center. Herbert not only posted QB1 numbers against a tough Bucs defense, but he was extremely efficient, doing so on just 25 pass attempts. Now, the schedule really opens up for the rookie. The Chargers' next five games heading into their bye are against the Saints, Jets, Dolphins, Jaguars, and Raiders. With bye weeks, injuries to supporting casts, and coronavirus taking their toll, Herbert is a great guy to target as a replacement.
George Kittle (TE, SF)
When George Kittle missed two games, that was your opportunity to swoop in. He's back and proving he's the best tight end in football (which we knew) but a wide margin. Not only did Kittle rattle off 15 receptions for 183 yards last week, but he did so with two different backup quarterbacks and caught every single one of his targets. Jimmy Garoppolo's impending return can only be good news for Kittle. If you missed the buy window, rest assured it has slammed shut.
Odell Beckham Jr. (WR, CLE)
There's no way to deny the performance Odell Beckham put on against a familiar foe last week. It will increase his value, but I'm not entirely sure I buy him as "back." Beckham caught two touchdowns and rushed for a third, but the Cowboys' historically bad defense helped his cause. There still just isn't that much to go around in Cleveland due to Baker Mayfield being purely a game manager, throwing for over 200 yards just once in four games. Nevertheless, Beckham was the overall WR1 last week and it was nice to see him atop the scoreboard as we haven't seen it in quite some time. Weeks 5, 6, and 14 are the only difficult matchups remaining on his schedule.
CeeDee Lamb (WR, DAL)
Four weeks in and it's clear who the WR2 in Dallas is. It's CeeDee Lamb. The rookie has eclipsed double digit fantasy points in every game this season and although he's benefited from Dak Prescott having to throw more than any quarterback in the league, we have no reason to expect that to change. The Cowboys can't stop anyone and Prescott is on pace to shatter Peyton Manning's single season passing yards record. Lamb has a double digit floor without scoring. When he scores, or scores twice, like he did last week, he's a WR1. Michael Gallup has been sufficiently vanquished.
Antonio Gibson (RB, WAS)
As the season progresses, Antonio Gibson's role continues to grow. At this point, it's pretty much a two man backfield between Gibson and J.D. McKissic. With the Football Team part of the embarrassingly bad NFC East, the schedule is quite favorable over the remainder of the season. Gibson had his best day thus far against the best team he will face in the Ravens. That bodes extremely well for his outlook over the remainder of the season. With running backs going down left and right, Gibson has emerged as an every week RB2.
Joshua Kelley (RB, LAC)
With Austin Ekeler set to miss 4-6 weeks due to significant hamstring strain, Joshua Kelley is now the lead back for the Chargers. Kelley was already seeing about 12 touches a game. He is still going to split time with Justin Jackson, who will operate as the passing down back, but Kelley takes over as the primary early down back and goal line back, giving him, at worst, weekly RB2 value.
Week 5 Fantasy Football Fallers
Matt Ryan (QB, ATL)
I will never understand how Matt Ryan can just faceplant so spectacularly. This game was setup perfectly for Ryan to thrive from a fantasy perspective in negative game script. Instead, he put up his second consecutive stinker. Ryan didn't throw a touchdown last week, which gives him just one over his past two games. The remaining schedule is one of the most favorable in the league, but Ryan just isn't playing well. An injured Julio Jones is never good, but we've seen the best quarterbacks succeed without their best weapon (see: Rodgers, Aaron). I'd be very worried with Ryan going forward.
Tyler Higbee (TE, LAR)
We're a quarter of the way through the season so it's time to start drawing conclusions. The Tyler Higbee faders were correct. The snap count is fine - Higbee is clearly the primary tight end, playing over 80% of the snaps. The problem is he's not being targeted. Higbee's season high in targets is just five, which is not entirely his fault as Sean McVay has fallen so far from grace, at least in terms of my respect for his coaching abilities. Now firmly aboard team Establish the Run, the Rams' great passing offense is a thing of the past. Jared Goff is on pace for fewer than 500 pass attempts, so with high end options like Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp, there's just not enough to go around for Higbee.
D.J. Moore (WR, CAR)
As an avid Twitter-er, I know you are going to see a lot of analysts tell you that D.J. Moore is a great buy low and Robby Anderson is not the real #1 in Carolina. I'm here to tell you that's bad analysis. We all have eyes. We can all see what's going on. Robby Anderson is the #1 in Carolina. Robby Anderson > D.J. Moore. I still like Moore as a talent. He's not a super special talent, but he's definitely very good and will be a good NFL and fantasy receiver for the majority of his career. It's just not happening this year. Anderson has out-targeted Moore 34-32 this season, which isn't significant, but what is significant is Anderson outplaying Moore. Anderson's catch rate is 82.4% against Moore's 56.3% rate. Anderson is the guy with downfield splash play ability, while Moore is your "Michael Thomas lite" type guy who racks up his points on receptions. Moore may very well pop against the hapless Falcons this week, but the schedule is rocky going forward and there's little room for Teddy Bridgewater to support three viable pass catchers. With Anderson as the clear primary receiver and Mike Davis piling up receptions every week (which will eventually return to being Christian McCaffrey), Moore is nothing more than a weekly WR3.
T.Y. Hilton (WR, IND)
I'm taking a big time L on T.Y. Hilton. He was at the top of his game in 2019, derailed solely by injury, which led me to believe a healthy Hilton could thrive in 2020. Nope. A completely healthy Hilton has been the antithesis of a guy like CeeDee Lamb. Whereas Lamb hit double digits in each of his first four games, Hilton is still waiting for his first one. With the Colts' not interested in throwing the ball and not needing to due to their defense, Hilton has neither the volume nor the electric ability he once did to be the WR1 he could have been.
A.J. Green (WR, CIN)
A.J. Green is done.
Jonathan Taylor (RB, IND)
In his first game after Marlon Mack went down, it sure looked like Jonathan Taylor was on his way to a monster season. After two more games, it's clear that is not the plan. Taylor has played fewer than 50% of the snaps his past two games and is rotating with both Nyheim Hines and Jordan Wilkins. The Colts are experiencing positive game script and have an elite offensive line, but Taylor is just not on the field. In addition, when he's out there, he's not playing well. He's still explosive and has the talent, but he doesn't seem to be transitioning well to smaller NFL holes as opposed to the gaping holes he had at Wisconsin. Taylor is still a weekly start, but temper expectations for now.
Darrell Henderson (RB, LAR)
I never took the L on Darrell Henderson because I know the truth - the Rams hate Darrell Henderson. I know I sound like a broken record, but I don't know what it will take for people to understand this concept. It does not matter how well Henderson plays. The only reason he had two productive weeks is because he was the only man standing. The Rams had literally no choice with Cam Akers hurt and Malcolm Brown banged up. With Brown returning to full health in Week 4, Henderson went right back to the bench because Sean McVay's backfield plan is anyone other than Henderson. After a 21 touch Week 3, Henderson had just nine touches in Week 4 on 39% of the snaps. Akers is due back this week, which will relegate Henderson to something closer to his Week 1 role where he played 7% of the snaps. I anticipate seeing Henderson back on waiver wires after a couple weeks.