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Answer Your Fantasy Start/Sit Questions With These Week 5 Rankings & Tiers

Answer Your Fantasy Start/Sit Questions With These Week 5 Rankings & Tiers article feature image

Ronald Martinez/Getty Images. Pictured: Ezekiel Elliott, Dak Prescott

  • Starting to make your fantasy start/sit decisions for Week 5 of the NFL season?
  • Sean Koerner -- the No. 1 in-season fantasy football ranker in three of the past five seasons -- has you covered.
  • Find his rankings for quarterbacks, running backs, wide receivers, tight ends, kickers and defenses outlined into tiers below.

Go to Sean Koerner’s updated Week 5 fantasy football rankings and tiers now.

If you want to contend for your fantasy football championship, you have to be diligent about in-season management. And a big part of that is making start/sit decisions.

To help you start strategizing for Week 5, I’ve outlined the early version of my fantasy football rankings into tiers so you can better visualize the drop-off in expected production at each position.

As always. there will be a ton of volatility in how I adjust my rankings up until kickoff, so be sure to check my updated rankings before making final decisions. I’ll also publish an updated version of these tiers on Saturday, but for now, let’s dive into the initial version of my Week 5 tiers!

Week 5 Fantasy Tiers

Jump To
QB | RB | WR | TE | K | DEF


Tier 1

Lamar Jackson (vs. CIN)
Russell Wilson (vs. MIN)
Dak Prescott (vs. NYG)
Patrick Mahomes (vs. LV)

Lamar Jackson popped up on the injury report after missing practice on Wednesday. It doesn’t appear to be serious, but we’ll need to monitor the situation — you can find daily updates with our injury tracker here.

Tier 2

Kyler Murray (@ NYJ)
Josh Allen (@ TEN)
Deshaun Watson (vs. JAX)

Deshaun Watson has yet to have a top-10 finish on the season. A considerable factor has been his lack of rushing stats so far — he’s recorded weekly totals of only 27, 17, 5 and 9 yards through the first four games — but he should get back on track this week against the Jaguars with a ceiling game.

Tier 3

Matt Ryan (vs. CAR)
Teddy Bridgewater (@ ATL)

The Panthers-Falcons matchup sports the third-highest total of the week at 54.5 points (find real-time odds here), and should offer plenty of fantasy points. It elevates the floor/ceiling for both QBs, who are each ranked inside my top 10.

Teddy Bridgewater’s fantasy stock is on the rise, though his rushing upside is still being overlooked: He was a pretty mobile QB before his career-threatening leg injury in 2016, rushing for 15 or more yards in 13-of-29 career starts. Now four games into the season, he’s rushed for 26 and 32 yards in two of them, flashing good burst whenever he has to scramble for a run.

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Tier 4

Gardner Minshew (@ HOU)
Daniel Jones (@ DAL)
Ben Roethlisberger (vs. PHI)
Drew Brees (vs. LAC)
Jared Goff (@ WAS)
Kirk Cousins (@ SEA)
Tom Brady (@ CHI)

Daniel Jones has gone three straight games without a touchdown pass. It’s becoming clear that the loss of Saquon Barkley and Sterling Shepard is having a massive impact, but a matchup against the Cowboys defense could inject some life into this Giants offense.

Jones is a risky high-end QB2 play this week.

Tier 5

Joe Burrow (@ BAL)
Jimmy Garoppolo (vs. MIA)
Jarrett Stidham (vs. DEN)
Justin Herbert (@ NO)
Ryan Fitzpatrick (@ SF)
Derek Carr (@ KC)
Ryan Tannehill (vs. BUF)

It’s hard to trust any of these QBs this week.

Joe Burrow and Justin Herbert have tough matchups against the Ravens and Saints, respectively. Jimmy Garoppolo is returning from an ankle injury — it’s unclear that he’s at or even near 100% health. Tua Tagovailoa Watch has officially started in Miami as Ryan Fitzpatrick’s chances of an in-game benching rise. And Ryan Tannehill has seen his receiving depth chart decimated by the Titans’ COVID-19 outbreak over the past two weeks.

Derek Carr may be the only safe bet from this Tier. He should get rookie wide receiver Henry Ruggs back this week, and will be forced into a pass-heavy game script as 13.5-point underdogs against the Chiefs.

Tier 6

Philip Rivers (@ CLE)
Nick Foles (vs. TB)
Carson Wentz (@ PIT)
Baker Mayfield (vs. IND)
Joe Flacco (vs. ARI)
Kyle Allen (vs. LAR)

In most formats, Carson Wentz is droppable.

eagles-vs-49ers-picks-how-were-betting-this-spread-total-on-sunday night football
Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Carson Wentz

That said, he could be a potential second-half sleeper: He’s unplayable over the next two weeks with the Steelers and Ravens on tap, so we can ignore him for now, but it’s possible that DeSean Jackson, Alshon Jeffery, Dallas Goedert and Jalen Reagor all return over the next two to four weeks.

Tier 7

Brett Rypien (@ NE)

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Tier 1

Ezekiel Elliott (vs. NYG)
Alvin Kamara (vs. LAC)

The Cowboys have averaged only 54 seconds in time of possession with the lead to dead-last in the NFL — it’s the primary reason Elliott has struggled. But now as 10-point favorites against the Giants, I expect Zeke to get back on track with a monster game.

Tier 2

Clyde Edwards-Helaire (vs. LV)
Dalvin Cook (@ SEA)
Derrick Henry (vs. BUF)

The Chiefs have turned into a more balanced offense with the lead this season, as evidenced by their 53% pass rate (13th). As 13-point favorites, I expect them to lean heavily on CEH against the Raiders. He’s now gone three straight games without a touchdown, which is unsustainable if he continues to see 20 or more touches in this offense.

Tier 3

Josh Jacobs (@ KC)
Mike Davis (@ ATL)
James Robinson (@ HOU)
Ronald Jones II (@ CHI)
Kareem Hunt (vs. IND)
Devin Singletary (@ TEN)
Jonathan Taylor (@ CLE)
Chris Carson (vs. MIN)

Congrats to anyone who spent a mid-round pick on Kareem Hunt! Hunt was the top RB in my Backup Upside Ratings heading into the season thanks to his top-five upside if Chubb were to ever miss time. Well, last week Chubb suffered an MCL injury that will likely knock him out for several games.

Hunt will be more of a low-end RB1 against the Colts and Steelers over the next two weeks, however, we could see him ranked as a top-five RB in Weeks 7 and 8 against the Bengals and Raiders.

Kareem Hunt
Nick Cammett/Diamond Images via Getty Images. Pictured: Kareem Hunt

Tier 4

James Conner (vs. PHI)
Joe Mixon (@ BAL)
David Johnson (vs. JAX)
David Montgomery (vs. TB)
Miles Sanders (@ PIT)

David Montgomery’s routes run per dropback rate rose from the 35-45% range to 80% last week following Tarik Cohen’s injury. Montgomery’s underlying usage suggests that he’ll be a true workhorse back from now on, albeit an unexciting one. Monty has a brutal matchup this week against Tampa Bay, but I would try to buy-low heading into his Week 6 matchup against the Panthers.

Tier 5

Todd Gurley (vs. CAR)
Kenyan Drake (@ NYJ)
Joshua Kelley (@ NO)
Melvin Gordon (@ NE)
Myles Gaskin (@ SF)

Kenyan Drake owners should be nervous about Chase Edmonds forcing more of a 50/50 timeshare soon — Drake is in a terrible position where Edmonds cuts into his receiving work, and Kyler Murray cuts into the goal-line chances. That said, I like Drake this week as the Cardinals are 7-point favorites against the Jets, which sets up nicely for his usage. If Drake has a big game this week, I would capitalize on your last chance to sell high on him while you can.

Tier 6

Antonio Gibson (vs. LAR)
Devonta Freeman (@ DAL)
Raheem Mostert (vs. MIA)
Darrell Henderson (@ WAS)
Damien Harris (vs. DEN)
Jerick McKinnon (vs. MIA)
Mark Ingram (vs. CIN)
Latavius Murray (vs. LAC)

WebMD should add fantasy football headaches to their ‘Types of Headaches’ section. One of the first symptom checks should be whether you’ve rostered any Giants, 49ers, Rams, Patriots or Ravens RBs. I would imagine a “yes” would be responsible for about 95% of fantasy football headaches this season — and every one of those backfields is represented in this Tier, so let’s address it.

My advice would be not to overthink it. Just accept that all of those backfields will be extremely volatile week-to-week.

Peter Aiken/Getty Images. Pictured: Mark Ingram

The 49ers, Rams and Ravens offer a ton of upside, but let’s be careful with them this week. Just because you might not start a Darrell Henderson or Mark Ingram does not mean you should drop them. I love the idea of stashing them for weeks when we have much more clarity on their situation.

Tier 7

Malcolm Brown (@ WAS)
James White (vs. DEN)
Rex Burkhead (vs. DEN)
Le’Veon Bell (vs. ARI)
Nyheim Hines (@ CLE)

As an extension of the Headache Tier, my advice remains the same for this group of RBs: You will drive yourself crazy if you are adding and dropping Henderson, Brown and Cam Akers every other week. If you have Brown, leave him on your bench this week. However, in the future, he has the potential to shoot up to RB2 value, as we saw in Week 1.

Tier 8

Justin Jackson (@ NO)
J.K. Dobbins (vs. CIN)
Chase Edmonds (@ NYJ)
Alexander Mattison (@ SEA)
Ke’Shawn Vaughn (@ CHI)
D’Ernest Johnson (vs. IND)
J.D. McKissic (vs. LAR)
Brian Hill (vs. CAR)

I love this Upside Backup Tier for bench stashes — not Week 5 plays.

All of these backs have been getting enough touches to be a Flex play in a pinch. However, they all have RB2+ potential if the starter were ever to miss time. Chase Edmonds is atop that list and needs to be owned in every single format.

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Tier 1

DeAndre Hopkins (@ NYJ)
Adam Thielen (@ SEA)
Tyler Lockett (vs. MIN)

The Vikings’ shootout potential against the Seahawks elevates Adam Thielen’s Week 5 outlook. There’s a non-zero chance he ends up being my No. 1 ranked WR by the end of the week.

Tier 2

Amari Cooper (vs. NYG)
Tyreek Hill (vs. LV)
Calvin Ridley (vs. CAR)
Keenan Allen (@ NO)
D.K. Metcalf (vs. MIN)
Stefon Diggs (@ TEN)
Mike Evans (@ CHI)
Allen Robinson (vs. TB)
Robby Anderson (@ ATL)

The Calvin Ridley hype train derailed, caught fire and exploded after a brutal zero-catch game in Week 4, but he should bounce back against the Panthers with a huge game this week.

Robby Anderson deserves to be treated as a low-end WR1 based on his strong play and cupcake matchup against the Falcons.

Calvin Ridley-Julio Jones
Todd Kirkland/Getty Images. Pictured (left to right): Calvin Ridley, Matt Ryan, Julio Jones

Tier 3

D.J. Moore (@ ATL)
Cooper Kupp (@ WAS)
Julian Edelman (vs. DEN)
Robert Woods (@ WAS)
Terry McLaurin (vs. LAR)
Julio Jones (vs. CAR)

D.J. Moore should break out his mini-slump with a big game this week.

Meanwhile, Julio Jones is dealing with a nagging hamstring injury that will make it difficult to trust him in starting lineups. Even if he does suit up this week, the chances of him having another in-game setback seem high. Let’s revisit him come Saturday with the final version of my tiers, once we have more clarity on his injury.

Tier 4

D.J. Chark (@ HOU)
Michael Thomas (vs. LAC)
Will Fuller V (vs. JAX)
Justin Jefferson (@ SEA)
Marquise Brown (vs. CIN)
Odell Beckham Jr. (vs. IND)
Tyler Boyd (@ BAL)
DeVante Parker (@ SF)

Michael Thomas is also going to be an interesting sit/start decision this week. He’s unlikely to be 100% if he does suit up, which means he’ll likely play limited snaps and could be used more as a decoy.

Let’s save that decision for when I roll out my updated tiers on Saturday.

Last week I sounded the alarm on Justin Jefferson becoming the Vikings’ clear No. 2 WR, now he has back-to-back games of 100-plus yards and gets the Seahawks and Falcons over the next two weeks. Jefferson has replaced Stefon Diggs perfectly in this offense, as seen by his 202 yards on pass attempts of 20 or more yards (second in the league behind only D.K. Metcalf).

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Tier 5

JuJu Smith-Schuster (vs. PHI)
CeeDee Lamb (vs. NYG)
Jamison Crowder (vs. ARI)
Diontae Johnson (vs. PHI)
Jerry Jeudy (@ NE)

I’m a bit worried about JuJu’s fantasy value and think he could develop into a touchdown-dependent option. Diontae Johnson, James Washington and Eric Ebron are all playing above expectations, allowing Ben Roethlisberger to spread the ball around more, which hurts Smith-Schuster’s value.

Chase Claypool is the Steelers WR we need to keep an eye on over the next few weeks. He’s loaded with upside, and I believe an in-season breakout for him is imminent, much like what we’ve seen from other rookies like Tee Higgins and Justin Jefferson over the past couple weeks.

Tier 6

Michael Gallup (vs. NYG)
John Brown (@ TEN)
Darius Slayton (@ DAL)
Golden Tate (@ DAL)
Jarvis Landry (vs. IND)
A.J. Brown (vs. BUF)
Sammy Watkins (vs. LV)
N’Keal Harry (vs. DEN)
T.Y. Hilton (@ CLE)
Tee Higgins (@ BAL)
Brandon Aiyuk (vs. MIA)
Russell Gage (vs. CAR)
Brandin Cooks (vs. JAX)

nfl-fantasy football-waiver wire-week 5
Andy Lyons/Getty Images. Pictured: Tee Higgins.

Tier 7

Laviska Shenault (@ HOU) (-)
Curtis Samuel (@ ATL) (-)
Tre’Quan Smith (vs. LAC) (+)
Scott Miller (@ CHI) (+)
Keelan Cole (@ HOU) (-)
Zach Pascal (@ CLE) (-)
Kalif Raymond (vs. BUF) (+)
Randall Cobb (vs. JAX)
Deebo Samuel (vs. MIA)
A.J. Green (@ BAL)
Hunter Renfrow (@ KC) (-)
Damiere Byrd (vs. DEN) (-)
Emmanuel Sanders (vs. LAC)
Preston Williams (@ SF)
Greg Ward Jr. (@ PIT) (-)
Henry Ruggs (@ KC) (+)
Breshad Perriman (vs. ARI) (+)

(-) = High Floor
(+) = High Ceiling

As always, when you’re making sit/start decisions in this range, it’s essential to either target a high floor or a high ceiling.

If you’re a big favorite in your matchup, go with a high-floor (i.e. safer) option and lock in a handful of points. If you’re a big underdog, it’s wise to go with a high-ceiling (i.e. riskier) option.

Tier 8

Tim Patrick (@ NE)
Cole Beasley (@ TEN)
Mecole Hardman (vs. LV)
Chase Claypool (vs. PHI)
James Washington (vs. PHI)
Mike Williams (@ NO)
Darnell Mooney (vs. TB)
Desean Jackson (@ PIT)
Christian Kirk (@ NYJ)

Mecole Hardman and Chase Claypool have league-winning upside. But neither can be trusted until we see consistent playing time and/or a WR above them on the depth chart goes down with an injury.

They’re must-own bench stashes in most formats.

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Tier 1

Travis Kelce (vs. LV)
George Kittle (vs. MIA)

I thought the 49ers would ease Kittle in after missing two games with a knee sprain. Nope — he decided to drop a monster 15/183/1 game in his return.

George Kittle is back!

MSA/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: George Kittle

Tier 2

Darren Waller (@ KC)
Mark Andrews (vs. CIN)

Mark Andrews broke out of his two-game slump with a 3/57/2 game. It’s what we’ve come to expect with Andrews, who will once again have a wide range of outcomes this week.

Tier 3

Hunter Henry (@ NO)
Jonnu Smith (vs. BUF)
Zach Ertz (@ PIT)
Evan Engram (@ DAL)

Don’t sleep on Evan Engram this week. With Saquon Barkley and Sterling Shepard out, Engram should become the most consistent target for Daniel Jones. Engram has run a route on 90% of dropbacks this season, which is an elite rate for a tight end.

I’m expecting a breakout game against the Cowboys.

[Get Real-Time Week 5 Fantasy Rankings Until Kickoff]

Tier 4

Dalton Schultz (vs. NYG)
Hayden Hurst (vs. CAR)
Tyler Higbee (@ WAS)
Mike Gesicki (@ SF)
Rob Gronkowski (@ CHI)
Greg Olsen (vs. MIN)

Rob Gronkowski is a viable TE1 option going forward with O.J. Howard out for the season. He’s coming off a disappointing game of 1/29/0, but his routes run jumped to 70%, so we can expect him to average closer to 3.5-4 receptions per game if he can maintain that type of usage.

Gronk is also more likely to become one of Brady’s red-zone targets now, just like the good old days.

Tier 5

Logan Thomas (vs. LAR)
Eric Ebron (vs. PHI)
Austin Hooper (vs. IND)
Chris Herndon (vs. ARI)
Jimmy Graham (vs. TB)
Jared Cook (vs. LAC)
Jordan Akins (vs. JAX)
Drew Sample (@ BAL)

Chris Herndon isn’t going to be fantasy viable as long as he’s averaging just 62% routes run per dropback a game.

It’s only a matter of time before the Jets fire head coach Adam Gase. Once that happens, we can reconsider Herndon as a potential streaming option.

nfl-prop-bet-pick-broncos-vs-jets-thursday night football-2020
Steven Ryan/Getty Images. Pictured: Chris Herndon

Tier 6

Darren Fells (vs. JAX)
Mo Alie-Cox (@ CLE)
Tyler Eifert (@ HOU)
Ian Thomas (@ ATL)
Dan Arnold (@ NYJ)
Kyle Rudolph (@ SEA)

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Tier 1

Harrison Butker (vs. LV)
Justin Tucker (vs. CIN)
Greg Zuerlein (vs. NYG)
Jason Myers (vs. MIN)

Tier 2

Ka’imi Fairbairn (vs. JAX)
Wil Lutz (vs. LAC)
Nick Folk (vs. DEN)
Robbie Gould (vs. MIA)
Elliott Fry (vs. CAR)
Joey Slye (@ ATL)
Tyler Bass (@ TEN)
Zane Gonzalez (@ NYJ)
Sam Sloman (@ WAS)

Tier 3

Chris Boswell (vs. PHI)
Dan Bailey (@ SEA)
Aldrick Rosas (@ HOU)
Ryan Succop (@ CHI)
Michael Badgley (@ NO)
Rodrigo Blankenship (@ CLE)
Stephen Gostkowski (vs. BUF)
Cody Parkey (vs. IND)
Graham Gano (@ DAL)
Daniel Carlson (@ KC)

Tier 4

Randy Bullock (@ BAL)
Jason Sanders (@ SF)
Dustin Hopkins (vs. LAR)
Cairo Santos (vs. TB)
Sam Ficken (vs. ARI)
Jake Elliott (@ PIT)
Brandon McManus (@ NE)

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Tier 1

Pittsburgh Steelers (vs. PHI)
Baltimore Ravens (vs. CIN)
San Francisco 49ers (vs. MIA)
New England Patriots (vs. DEN)
Los Angeles Rams (@ WAS)

Tier 2

Arizona Cardinals (@ NYJ)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (@ CHI)
Dallas Cowboys (vs. NYG)
New Orleans Saints (vs. LAC)
Buffalo Bills (@ TEN)
Indianapolis Colts (@ CLE)

Tier 3

Kansas City Chiefs (vs. LV)
Houston Texans (vs. JAX)
Seattle Seahawks (vs. MIN)
Cleveland Browns (vs. IND)
Atlanta Falcons (vs. CAR)
New York Jets (vs. ARI)
Chicago Bears (vs. TB)

Tier 4

Philadelphia Eagles (@ PIT)
Tennessee Titans (vs. BUF)
Miami Dolphins (@ SF)
Carolina Panthers (@ ATL)
Denver Broncos (@ NE)
Jacksonville Jaguars (@ HOU)
Washington Football Team (vs. LAR)

Tier 5

New York Giants (@ DAL)
Los Angeles Chargers (@ NO)
Minnesota Vikings (@ SEA)
Cincinnati Bengals (@ BAL)
Las Vegas Raiders (@ KC)

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