With a quarter of the fantasy football season behind us, we can now look back, take stock from what we've learned, and look ahead with some knowledge. During the preseason, we just look at the players and teams with what we think we know.
Now, for Week 5, we can actually look at real numbers for players and make educated decisions on who to start and who to sit. However, note that this column isn't a start/sit column. Rather, it's a look at the rankings and five guys who are ranked higher this week and five that are ranked lower compared to previous weeks.
Philip Rivers, QB, San Diego Chargers
Cracking the top 10 in our quarterback rankings, Rivers is finally making his way into QB1 territory. In Week 4, he passed for 358 yards and three touchdowns. He has eight touchdowns so far on the year and only four interceptions. He's found Keenan Allen and his tight ends and he's looked good. While Rivers is playing well, start him. He gets Antonio Gates back this week, and that will only help Rivers' value. He always looks to Gates and Pittsburgh has struggled at defending tight ends this year (a stat that is inflated by Rob Gronkowski in Week 1, admittedly). However, Pittsburgh has allowed seven passing touchdowns, and Rivers will likely add to that in Week 5.
Justin Forsett, RB, Baltimore Ravens
Fantasy owners were getting nervous about Forsett prior to Week 4. He didn't have a game with over 70 rushing yards and he wasn't even getting a lot of carries. Yet, in Week 4, he had 27 carries for 150 yards. He didn't have any receptions, but fantasy owners were happy with the 15 points. Fantasy owners should be even happier this week as Forsett faces the second-worst rush defense in the league. Cleveland has allowed 566 rushing yards and three touchdowns through four games. They've allowed the second-longest rushing play from scrimmage as well (54 yards). Forsett is poised for a big day, and he's the sixth-ranked running back this week.
Eddie Royal, WR, Chicago Bears
Owning Royal has been frustrating this year. He has one bad week followed by a good week, followed by a bad week, and then another good week. While it has been hard to follow what Chicago's offense will look like because of the absence of Alshon Jeffery and Jay Cutler, it does look like Royal will have a role moving forward. Cutler looked for him in Week 4, and he found the end zone. Kansas City's defense can be beat and if Jeffery does play, Royal will still have value. Keep in mind he is battling an ankle injury and his status for Sunday may be questionable. Currently, Royal is our 33rd-ranked wide reciever.
Roddy White, WR, Atlanta Falcons
I know. 12 targets. Six receptions. 84 yards in Week 1, eight in Week 4, nothing in between. White isn't a recommend start by any means. However, in deep leagues, with players on a bye, if you are looking for a possible lottery ticket for Week 5, go with White. The only basis for this is the fact that White took to the media and complained about his role on the team. When a player complains, the team usually tries to placate him the following week. Squeaky wheel gets the grease theory, if you will. While Leonard Hankerson has been the No. 2 receiver for Atlanta, look for White to find the end zone this week.
Antonio Gates, TE, San Diego Chargers
While it is a risky to recommend a tight end that has not played yet this season, it's hard to not recommend Gates. He wasn't playing because of suspension, not injury, so he should be in football shape and ready to go. He'll jump back into his TE1 spot and become one of Philip Rivers' favorite targets. With injuries to other San Diego pass catchers (Stevie Johnson, Malcom Floyd), there should be plenty of balls thrown Gates' way. Rivers has shown that he likes using his tight ends, and Pittsburgh is a good matchup for tight ends. Gates is our fifth-ranked tight end for Week 5.
Russell Wilson, QB, Seattle Seahawks
Wilson was drafted as a QB1, but he hasn't been playing like the guy you drafted. Through four games, Wilson has thrown five touchdowns and two interceptions. He lost two fumbles in Week 4 as well. He hasn't thrown more than 290 yards, and he only rushed for more than 40 yards once. The rushing numbers aren't as high as fantasy owners hoped for and the touchdowns aren't there. On a short week, Wilson heads to Cincinnati, who has actually played tough defense. He's only a QB2 for Week 5.
Todd Gurley, RB, St. Louis Rams
In Week 1, Green Bay allowed Matt Forte to run for 141 yards and a touchdown. However, in Week 2, Marshawn Lynch ran for 41 yards on Green Bay. Jamaal Charles rushed for 49 yards, but three touchdowns in Week 3 against the Packers. In Week 4, Carlos Hyde had 20 rushing yards against Green Bay. What will Gurley do? Our sample size for him is small; in Week 2 he was eased in. In Week 3, he struggled until the second half of the game. He ended with 146 rushing yards. Don't expect Gurley to put up those numbers in Week 5. While our ranks have him as a top-10 running back, he's really more of a RB2 with upside.
Carlos Hyde, RB, San Francisco 49ers
Hyde has been trending in the wrong direction since Week 1. He looked great to start the season, with 168 rushing yards and two touchdowns. In the three games following, he's totaled 114 yards and no touchdowns. What happened? Hyde blames stacked boxes against him, which is what Frank Gore struggled with last year. Hyde faces the Giants on Sunday night in Week 5. Surprisingly, the Giants have the best rush defense in the league, allowing only 279 yards and two touchdowns over four games. Hyde is barely a RB2 this week.
Brandin Cooks, WR, New Orleans Saints
Cooks made this list last week, and he came through with four receptions for 25 yards. He hasn't had more than seven receptions or 79 yards yet this season. He hasn't scored a touchdown and just hasn't done anything with the targets. He had a team-high seven targets in Week 2 and eight in Weeks 1, 3 and 4. At this point, Cooks is no longer a must-start, although with the bye weeks, he will likely still be in lineups. With Drew Brees back, his value increases slightly, but he is still a WR3.
Gary Barnidge, TE, Cleveland Browns
After Week 3, the fantasy community picked up on Barnidge. No one thought he'd repeat his performance, but in Week 4, he did secure all six of his targets for 75 yards and a touchdown. San Diego isn't terrible against tight ends, but they aren't great either. In Week 5, Barnidge faces the Ravens, which is a tougher matchup. While Josh McCown will look for him, fantasy owners need to realize that these double-digit fantasy days are not the norm. He is worth streaming if you are a Jordan Cameron or Greg Olsen owner, but don't rush to pick Barnidge up to save your season.
— Written by Sarah Lewis, who is part of the Athlon Contributor network and lives, eats, and breathes fantasy football. She also writes for SoCalledFantasyExperts.com among other sites. Have a fantasy football question? Send it to her on Twitter @Sarah_Lewis32.