Fantasy Football Week 5 Sneaky Starts

Photo: Junfu Han via Imagn Content Services

We’ve got London games already? Bye weeks start next week? Sheesh… the 2021 regular season is moving fast. This is the last week for a while that you’ll have all 32 teams’ players available to you, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t several mostly-ignored players that can help you earn a victory this week.

Let’s take a look at some players flying under the radar who are sneaky starts in Week 5 (please note, all players below are currently rostered in fewer than 25% of leagues to qualify for this list):

Quarterbacks

Taylor Heinicke (QB - WSH)

Despite three consecutive 20-plus-point performances, fantasy managers seem quite reluctant to pick up and start Heinicke this week. While that’s understandable since he does not have a good matchup—the Saints have allowed the sixth-fewest FPPG to quarterbacks this season—Heinicke’s rushing potential (he has 12.4 fantasy points on the ground over the last two weeks) and never-say-die attitude gives him a fairly high floor for a player in the QB2 category. He’s performed more than admirably against tough defenses like the Chargers and Bills earlier this season, so I wouldn’t put it past him to put 20 points again this week against the Saints.

OwnersBox Price: $6000

Jared Goff (QB - DET)

Goff is always a risky play because, quite frankly, he isn’t very good. But what is good is his passing volume. Style points are worthless in fantasy—just put up actual points any way possible. Goff is averaging more than 40 pass attempts per game and gets a middle-of-the-road matchup against the Vikings this week. Honestly, any passer getting potentially 40 cracks at that Minnesota defense is fantasy-relevant. Don’t be surprised if Goff has his fourth multi-touchdown game of the season on Sunday.

OwnersBox Price: $5700

Deep Sleeper: Jacoby Brissett (QB - MIA)

Running Backs

Samaje Perine (RB - CIN)

Joe Mixon hobbled off the field in Week 4 and it doesn’t feel like he has a great chance to suit up this week. In that case, Perine appears to be the next man up in the Bengals’ backfield rotation just ahead of rookie Chris Evans. It is worth noting that the Bengals chose to throw more on neutral downs last season when Mixon was out of the lineup so Perine’s workload will not be equal to Mixon, but in a middle-of-the-road matchup he’s got a good chance to find the end zone. If you’re bargain-bin hunting on waivers or in DFS, Perine is worth a look.

OwnersBox Price: $4300

Jeremy McNichols (RB - TEN)

McNichols is completely flying under the radar right now as he resides in the massive shadow of Derrick Henry. However, it’s worth noting that he’s played on nearly one-third of Tennessee’s offensive snaps this season. He was averaging three targets per game to start the season before his massive 12-target, eight-catch game last week against the Jets. He’s a risky play assuming he’ll only get a handful of touches per week, but in full-PPR he needs to be on your radar as the Titans continue to figure out their passing game with their top wide receivers injured.

OwnersBox Price: $4300

Brandon Bolden (RB - NE)

Much to the chagrin of Bostonians, Bolden appears to be Bill Belichick’s choice to take on the majority of the “James White role” with White out for the season. More is being put on Damien Harris’ plate, but the Patriots are still looking for a complement and have chosen Bolden two weeks in a row over J.J. Taylor and Rhamondre Stevenson. Bolden is only really an option in full-PPR leagues—both because he has 10 targets over the last two weeks and negative rushing yards on four carries—but Mac Jones isn’t shying away from his check-downs right now regardless of their overall skill set.

OwnersBox Price: $4000

Deep Sleeper: Chris Evans (RB - CIN)

Wide Receivers

Zach Pascal (WR - IND)

Pascal hasn’t found the end zone over the past two weeks, so many have forgotten about his hot start and significant role in Indianapolis’ offense. Pascal has 23 targets through four weeks, never having fewer than five in any game. While the Monday night matchup against the Ravens isn’t great, I’m not running away from it either. Of wide receivers in his range—whether it be Week 5 ranking, DFS price, etc.—Pittman has as good of a chance to score as any of his counterparts. You may not think of Pascal as a potential boom candidate, but his path to 15+ points isn’t as arduous as his roster percentage indicates. 

OwnersBox Price: $3900

Kadarius Toney (WR - NYG)

Fully expecting both Sterling Shepard and Darius Slayton to miss another game, Toney should see a high volume of targets for the second straight week. Daniel Jones targeted the rookie nine times last week in the same scenario and it resulted in six catches for 78 yards (he also had a carry). While Dallas’ defense has taken a big step forward year over year, they’re still allowing fantasy wide receivers to score the third-most points in the league through four weeks. If Jones and the Giants want to keep up with a red-hot Dak Prescott, they’re going to have to throw early and often. That sets Toney up to be a target hog yet again.

OwnersBox Price: $3700

Quintez Cephus (WR - DET)

Starting any Lion not named T.J. Hockenson or D’Andre Swift isn’t necessarily a fun experience at first glance, but just because the real-life team is bad doesn’t mean there isn’t sneaky fantasy value to be had. Cephus has quietly put together a fairly solid start to the season. He’s scored at least a dozen PPR points in three of his four games this season, with the only exception being a one-target game against the Ravens in Week 3. He has 18 targets and found the end zone twice in the other three games combined as the Lions throw 40+ times per game. That volume will keep a couple of Lions wide receivers fantasy-relevant and Cephus has the opportunity to turn that workload into fantasy production against a Vikings defense allowing the 11th-most points to the position this year.

OwnersBox Price: $3600

Deep Sleeper: John Ross (WR - NYG)

Tight Ends

Cameron Brate (TE - TB)

With Rob Gronkowski likely out another week, Brate ascends into the top-20 tight end conversation for Week 5. Brate received six targets last week without Gronkowski in the lineup, catching two of them for 29 yards. However, what we’re banking on here is Tom Brady looking his way in the red zone against a Dolphins defense allowing the ninth-most fantasy points per game to tight ends this season. I expect the Buccaneers to look more comfortable in the red zone this week and for Brate to assume his old role as a red-zone monster from a few years back—plus, he should be more efficient with his targets in general.

OwnersBox Price: $3300

Ricky Seals-Jones (TE - WSH)

Logan Thomas was placed on IR, opening up a bigger role for Seals-Jones over the next few weeks. Washington quarterback Taylor Heinicke hasn’t been shy about getting his tight ends involved this year, as the top tight end on the roster has received an average of five targets per game over the last three weeks. Seals-Jones received four targets last week and should see heavy usage inside the 20-yard line in Week 5. The Saints aren’t a good matchup, but for as cheap as Seals-Jones is, given his fairly high potential to be a TE1 this week, he’s worth a flier.

OwnersBox Price: $3000

Deep Sleeper: Ian Thomas (TE - CAR)


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Written By:

Jaime Eisner

Managing Editor

Managing Editor of The Draft Network. He’s a former editor for Sports Illustrated, FanRag Sports and Arizona Sports. He’s the co-host of the TDN Fantasy Podcast and has an extensive background covering fantasy sports and sports betting.

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