Start These 10 Players In Week 5

October 7 4:46pm
Joe Fortenbaugh

The first bye week of the NFL season is officially upon us.

If you find yourself scrambling for starters, I have some advice for you:  take a step back, breathe deep and realize that you are not alone.  Owners everywhere are feeling the pinch as six NFL teams go on vacation in Week 5.

And as you prepare to set your lineups for this weekend’s action, keep these ten names in mind.  I dug a bit deeper this week, meaning you may be able to find one or two of these recommendations on your waiver wire.

Mark Sanchez, QB, New York Jets: Try to forget about Mr. GQ’s abysmal performance against the Baltimore Ravens last Sunday night and focus on the positives:  The Patriots are surrendering an average of 27.7 fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks (3rd-most in NFL) and currently rank dead last in the NFL in pass defense (368.8 yds/gm).  In addition, Sanchez racked up six touchdown passes in three games against this defense in 2010, so it shouldn’t be impossible for the former USC standout to get something going this weekend up in Foxborough.  We fully expect Sanchez to bounce back statistically in Week 5.

Fred Jackson, RB, Buffalo Bills: Even though Jackson is currently a top-5 fantasy running back, I still get questions each week via twitter from owners wondering whether or not they should start him.  The short answer is a resounding YES.  F-Jax has already found the end zone four times in four outings and is averaging a healthy 129.0 total yards per game so far in 2011.  Look for the good times to continue Sunday against a Philadelphia defense that is giving up more fantasy points to opposing running backs than any other team in the league (30.1 pts/gm).

Julio Jones, WR, Atlanta Falcons: The rookie from Alabama has yet to find the end zone through four games, but he’s recorded an impressive 17 receptions for 242 yards over his last two starts, making him a viable and dependable WR2.  We’re predicting Jones will produce another big stat line Sunday night at the Georgia Dome against a Green Bay defense that A) Will most likely be preoccupied with Pro Bowl receiver Roddy White and B) is surrendering 30.2 fantasy points per week to opposing wideouts (3rd-most in NFL).  Don’t hesitate to start Jones this weekend.

Dallas Clark, TE, Indianapolis Colts: Clark has been a major bust this season due to quarterback Peyton Manning’s neck injury, having failed to eclipse 50 receiving yards in all four games this year.  But we have a feeling he and new quarterback Curtis Painter will be on the same page in Week 5 against a Kansas City defense that is surrendering an average of 11.0 fantasy points per week to opposing tight ends (7th-most in NFL).  This is a risky start, but we feel confident rolling the dice on the two-time All Pro selection.

Tennessee Titans, D/ST: This team is getting absolutely no love from the national media, but with a record of 3-1, it’s time everybody wakes up and starts showing some respect.  The Titans have been getting it done on both sides of the ball this season, but their defense is as underrated as they come.  The Tennessee D/ST currently ranks fifth in standard scoring formats and takes on a Pittsburgh Steelers team that is giving up an average of 14.0 fantasy points per week to opposing D/STs in 2011 (3rd-most in NFL).  Ben Roethlisberger is in for a long day.

Cam Newton, QB, Carolina Panthers: He’s only thrown five touchdown passes through four games, but the former Heisman Trophy winner has racked up 370+ passing yards in three of four starts this season and has amassed another 133 rushing yards and four scores on 33 carries.  Bottom line:  Cam Newton is a fantasy stud, so don’t hesitate to insert him into the starting lineup Sunday against a New Orleans Saints defense that is giving up an average of 22.0 fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks (11th-most in NFL).  Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams is going to bring the heat early and often, which will give Newton an opportunity to exploit the Saints’ suspect secondary.

Mark Ingram, RB, New Orleans Saints: Ingram is coming off a career-high 17 carries against an underrated Jacksonville Jaguars defense and heads to Carolina in Week 6 to play a Panthers defense that ranks 31st in the NFL against the run (143.8 yds/gm).  Not only that, but Carolina is giving up an average of 23.9 fantasy points per week to opposing running backs (5th-most in NFL).  If there was ever a week for the rookie from Alabama to break loose and post some big numbers, this would be it.  As it stands, we feel Ingram is a solid flex play for Week 5.

Jacoby Jones, WR, Houston Texans: With Pro Bowl wide receiver Andre Johnson battling a hamstring injury, Jones will be given an opportunity to step up and earn the $10+ million the Texans gave him this past offseason.  Week 5 provides a favorable opportunity for Jones to start paying dividends as he takes on an Oakland Raiders defense that ranks 22nd in the NFL against the pass (273.8 yds/gm) and is currently surrendering an average of 25.9 fantasy points per game to opposing wide receivers (10th-most in NFL).  Consider Jones a solid WR3 option.

Chris Johnson, RB, Tennessee Titans: It feels a bit ridiculous that we actually have to spend some time analyzing whether or not CJ2K is a viable fantasy option, but after a sluggish start to open the year, owners can’t afford to take any chances.  The upside is that Johnson finally flashed his brilliant form as the speedster from East Carolina posted 101 rushing yards on 23 carries against the Cleveland Browns in Week 4.  We expect the Pro Bowl running back to ride the momentum into Week 5 against a reeling Pittsburgh Steelers defense that is surrendering an average of 20.3 fantasy points per week to opposing running backs (11th-most in NFL).

Michael Crabtree, WR, San Francisco 49ers: Take a look at what Crabtree has done so far this season:

Week 1: 2 targets, 1 reception, 4 yards, 0 touchdowns
Week 2: Did not play.
Week 3: 6 targets, 3 receptions, 24 yards, 0 touchdowns
Week 4: 9 targets, 5 receptions, 68 yards, 0 touchdowns

Those numbers reflect a guy who is getting healthy while at the same time getting better.  We’d be willing to bank that Crabtree improves on his Week 4 stat line this Sunday against a Buccaneers defense that currently ranks 21st in the NFL in pass defense (267.0 yds/gm) and is giving up an average of 26.5 fantasy points per game to opposing wide receivers (8th-most in NFL).  There is some risk here, but we feel Crabtree makes for a solid WR3 in Week 5.

Joe Fortenbaugh wants you to know that if you ever have a fantasy question, you can hit him up at National Football or on Twitter:  @JoeFortenbaugh

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