Fantasy Football Ride or Fade: James Conner and Other Week 5 Stars

Week 5 was a weird mashup of missed kicks, turnovers and wins by both the Bills and the Browns. However, there were some highlights including heroics for the Panthers, Steelers, Jets, Bengals and the aforementioned Browns. Hopefully, your fantasy week went well and you were able to get a few of the following top performers.

Whether you were in on these stars in Week 5 or not, should they be part of your future fantasy plans? Let’s take a look at some of the biggest stars and analyze whether you should ride or fade them in the coming weeks.


RB James Conner, PIT vs. ATL, $7,500 — 37.5 DKFP

USATSI_11216834_168381090_lowres The Steelers were intent on riding Conner hard from the opening kickoff and gave the RB 25 touches. He gained 110 yards and scored two touchdowns on 21 carries and added 75 more yards catching all four passes thrown his way. Conner has had two huge games while filling in for Le’Veon Bell as the Steelers’ top back.

Like the Steelers offense as a whole, though, Conner has been inconsistent week-to-week. He only managed 9.4 DKFP last week against the Ravens and had been held under 20 DKFP in each of the past three games before taking advantage of the Falcons’ weak run defense this week. Next week, he’ll have a much tougher matchup against the Bengals in Cincinnati, and Bell is expected to be back in Week 7. Even if Conner remains somewhat involved in a timeshare, matchups against the Browns and Ravens aren’t great. He has shown he has a high ceiling, but his inconsistency and very uncertain future keeps him from being an elite fantasy RB unless the Steelers trade Bell, which looks unlikely at this point.

Verdict: Fade


QB Aaron Rodgers, GB at DET, $6,300 — 33.68 DKFP

USATSI_11216834_168381090_lowres Rodgers is by no means a fantasy surprise, but he was able to put together an impressive week despite multiple obstacles stacked against him on Sunday. He had his best game of the season and threw for 442 yards and three touchdowns while adding 10 yards on the ground and almost leading his team to a comeback in Detroit. If it weren’t for some awful kicking from Mason Crosby, the Packers could have easily gotten the win.

Green Bay was playing without Randall Cobb (hamstring) and Geronimo Allison (concussion), which forced Rodgers to rely heavily on rookies Marquez Valdes-Scantling ($3,300) and Equanimeous St. Brown ($3,000). Rodgers still made it work and will have even more options when his receiving corps gets healthy. The Packers play the hapless 49ers next week before matchups with the Rams and Patriots after their Week 7 bye. However, Rodgers showed with this game that he is able to put up huge numbers in any matchup, regardless of the state of the team around him.

Verdict: Ride


RB Isaiah Crowell, NYJ vs. DEN, $4,100 — 33.1 DKFP

USATSI_11216834_168381090_lowres Crowell set a Jets record for rushing yards with 219 yards against the Broncos in Week 5, highlighted by a 77-yard scamper to the end zone. Crowell only needed 15 carries for his huge total and added a 12-yard catch on his only target. He has been the definition of boom-or-bust this year with three games over 19 DKFP and two games under 6 DKFP. Part of his wild fluctuation in production has to do with his timeshare with Bilal Powell ($4,400), who actually got more carries (20) and 99 yards of his own against Denver.

Next week, the Jets welcome in the Colts, who have struggled against the run this season. Crowell will remain high-risk, but has shown enough upside to be a solid value consideration in the right matchup. He has struggled in bad matchups, though, as he showed last week with zero yards on four carries against the Jaguars.

Verdict: Ride (in good matchups like next week’s)


WR Robby Anderson, NYJ vs. DEN, $3,800 — 30.3 DKFP

USATSI_11216834_168381090_lowres Crowell wasn’t the only Jets player to get a boost from a long touchdown, and Anderson found the end zone a second time with three catches for 123 yards. He was one of just four receivers over 30 DKFP on the main slate and by far the most affordable of the bunch.

Anderson was only targeted five times, so high-level production is likely unsustainable. Sam Darnold ($4,700) struggled to be consistently accurate and completed just 10-of-22 passes. Anderson is a home run threat, but he can’t be counted on every week. He typically shares targets fairly evenly with Quincy Enunwa ($5,200), Jermaine Kearse ($3,400) and Terrelle Pryor ($3,200), locking him into an inconsistent timeshare. Even next week against the Colts, he’s too unreliable to count on.

Verdict: Fade


WR Adam Thielen, MIN at PHI, $7,700 — 27.6 DKFP

USATSI_11216834_168381090_lowres On the other end of the reliability spectrum from Anderson, Thielen has been locked in all season as a top receiver and has quickly built a great rapport with Kirk Cousins ($6,000). Thielen had six catches for 110 yards and a touchdown in the Vikings’ big road win in Philadelphia. He has double-digit targets in each of his five games this season, and has at least 27 DKFP in each of his past four.

Thielen does share work with Stefon Diggs ($7,000), but he remains the more utilized of the Vikings’ two elite receivers. Thielen and the Vikings will need to avoid a slip-up like they had against Buffalo as they host the Cardinals this week before matchups with the Jets, Saints and Lions. Due to his heavy usage and consistently excellent numbers, Thielen is an elite play every week.

Verdict: Ride


TE Austin Hooper, ATL at PIT, $3,000 — 16.7 DKFP

USATSI_11216834_168381090_lowres Only Zach Ertz ($6,500) and Travis Kelce ($6,000) outscored Hooper at TE on the main slate, as the Falcons TE caught nine of his 12 targets for 77 yards. He set season highs in targets, catches and receiving yards, and led the team in each category as well.

Before this week, Hooper had been targeted five times or fewer in each of Atlanta’s first four games. Hooper did, however, have one other game over 15 DKFP in week 2 against the Panthers. He usually isn’t involved enough to be an elite fantasy tight end, and the Falcons don’t typically throw the ball as much as they had to while trying to come back against the Steelers. He is usually the team’s fifth or sixth option in the passing game, so don’t count on him moving forward. There is a takeaway from this performance, though, since it continues the trend of the Steelers giving up big games to opposing TE. When they face the Bengals, C.J. Uzomah could be set up for success.

Verdict: Fade


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