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Fantasy Football Week 5: How to Overcome a ‘Giant’ Problem

RealClearLife expert Scott Gramling analyzes Week 5's highs and lows and looks forward to Week 6.

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We hate to be the bearers of more bad news, but fantasy football’s Week 5 was another tremendous letdown for owners. And it begins and ends with the lowly New York Giants.

Whereas in Week 4, key injuries were spread across the league—most notably with the season-ending injury to Minnesota Vikings’ rookie running back Dalvin Cook—this week’s onus fell almost entirely on the Giants, as top-drafted fantasy wideout Odell Beckham, Jr. was carted off the field with a broken his ankle (he’s done for the year); WRs Brandon Marshall and Sterling Shepard were both knocked out with ankle injuries; and to make matter even worse, WR Dwayne Harris fractured his foot. “If you look toward fantasy playoffs, I’m not sure you want any of these Giants on your team,” says Scott Gramling, who is the editor in chief of the Draft Engine Fantasy Football magazine and DraftEngine.com. The first glimmer of hope for Giants’ fantasy producers, says Gramling, might be as late as Nov. 5, when they take on the Los Angeles Rams. With a bye in Week 8, that means you’ll have to wait until Week 9 to see any production from any them. Yikes.

That said, if you’re a Manning fantasy owner—or own Pittsburgh Steelers’ QB Ben Roethlisberger, who threw five interceptions in Sunday’s blowout loss against the Jacksonville Jaguars—Houston Texans QB Deshaun Watson should be a must-add, if he’s still on your waiver wire. (If you didn’t pick him up in Week 4, like fantasy expert Tom Kessenich advised, you might be out of luck.) “The thing about Deshaun Watson,” says Gramling, who was at the game when the Texans lost in the final seconds to the New England Patriots, “is he makes the throws.” And though Gramling says some naysayers might be quick to cite all the “garbage time” yards he threw in Sunday’s loss to the undefeated Kansas City Chiefs, “[he] still [threw] five touchdowns … I just think he’s a guy who’s going to be a force week in and week out.”

Key Waiver-Wire Pickups + Analysis
San Francisco 49ers QB Brian Hoyer – “I think the ’49ers are gradually getting better,” says Gramling. “They’ve kind of been a victim of a tough schedule early on.” Target Hoyer as a future bye-week fill-in, he advises.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers RB Doug Martin – “I know he didn’t put up huge numbers in the Thursday night game, but I think it shows that he is the guy that [the Bucs are] going to ride; it’s not going to be a time-share situation,” notes Gramling. (He may still be available in some leagues.)

Green Bay Packers RB Aaron Jones – “He should be owned,” says Gramling, bluntly. Going with his gut, Gramling thinks that when Ty Montgomery returns to the fold, “he’s going to be a third-down back, and Jones is going to be first and second down.” Gramling even believes that the Packers could have the most exciting option in their backfield since Ahman Green—who had his best season with the Pack 14 years ago.

Indianapolis Colts RB Marlon Mack – Mack is a classic handcuffer, for sure, as aging Colts running back Frank Gore is getting less carries inside the 10, says Gramling. He also had a solid game on Sunday, logging 91 yards and a TD. So his stock could be on the rise.

Advice + Strategy Going Into Week 6
“You have to take stock and look at guys in the here and now,” advises Gramling. Using Oakland Raiders WR Amari Cooper as an example, Gramling says that he was drafted in Round 3 or 4 in most fantasy drafts and “owners just keep trotting him out there, even though they have better options on their bench.” The fear is that if you spent a high draft pick on a guy like Cooper and bench him—and then he has a huge week—you’ll have missed the boat. On Gramling’s DraftEngine.com, for example, which does weekly and rest-of-season projections for fantasy players, Cooper is ranked “No. 82 among wide receivers from here until the end of the season,” he explains. And given that we’re about one-third of the way through the NFL season, “there’s no reason to believe that Amari Cooper is going to suddenly start to turn things around and put up numbers.”