1. Peyton Manning (IND) – He has now thrown for 300 plus yards in each of his four starts this season and Manning can easily be regarded as the NFL’s top fantasy signal caller through the first quarter of the season. Look for Mr. Consistency to continue the trend in a promising week 5 match up against a Tennessee defense that ranks dead last in the NFL against the pass. The Titans have been shredded through the air on a weekly basis and now it’s Manning’s turn. He is a no brainer for week 5 fantasy rosters.
2. Matt Schaub (HOU) – Sure, he was less than spectacular against Oakland, but through no fault of his own, Shaub’s services were hardly required in a second half in which the Texans were in complete control. Fortunately, a week 5 meeting with Arizona should inspire the exact opposite as this game is likely to turn into a shootout between two high powered passing attacks and come down to the wire. Even better, the Cardinals have a notoriously poor pass defense that ranks 30th in the NFL. Schaub is a must start for week 5 with one of his more promising match ups of the season.
3. Ben Roethlisberger (PIT) – He has progressively increased his fantasy production on a weekly basis and that trend should continue into a favorable week 5 match up against Detroit. The Lions currently rank 25th in the NFL against the pass and have allowed no less than 2 passing TD’s in a game all season. They have given up a league worst 12 passing TD’s in just 4 games. Roethlisberger should be penciled into fantasy line ups as an excellent week 5 starting option.
4. Kurt Warner (ARI) – He hasn’t been terrible to this point, but Warner hasn’t exactly played at a level we are accustomed to seeing him play either. That said, he has had an extra week of rest and preparation for the Texans and we like his chances for week 5. While Houston comes into this game ranked 9th in the NFL in pass defense, they have yet to face a passing attack anywhere near as potent as Arizona’s, and most of their opponents have chosen to rely heavily on the ground game against a generous Houston run defense. The Cardinals are not likely to follow suit (at least not to the same degree) and this game could easily turn into a shootout through the air which bodes well for Warner and his week 5 fantasy total.
5. Donovan McNabb (PHI) – He will make his return in week 5 and he could not have asked for a much better match up to return for. McNabb will face a mediocre Tampa Bay pass defense that has already given up 9 passing TD’s this season. In addition, the Bucs secondary has allowed 6 pass plays of 40 yards or more in 4 games, which is the most in the NFL. Barring any unexpected setbacks with his injury, McNabb should be golden in week 5. Check injury report: ribs (probable)
6. Tom Brady (NE) – He has yet to return to the consistent dominating force we saw in 2007, but things are looking up and we are still confident that he can return to form. That said, Brady will likely have his work cut out for him in week 5 against Denver. The Broncos currently rank 3rd in the NFL in pass defense and have yet to allow a single passing TD all season. In addition, the Broncos head coach, Josh McDaniels, served as New England’s offensive coordinator from 2006 to 2008 and Brady’s position coach from 2004-2008, so he knows Brady and the Patriots offense extremely well. This match up definitely has its share of risk factors, but it would be even riskier to bench Brady and we believe he will come out on top.
7. Joe Flacco (BAL) – Regarded as a shaky fantasy QB2 heading into his 2009 campaign, Flacco has responded by putting up solid QB1 numbers through his first 4 contests. He has thrown 2 or more TD passes in 3 of his 4 games to date while averaging 276 passing yards per game. Flacco should continue to play well in week 5 against Cincinnati’s 26th ranked pass defense. However, the Bengals are not as bad as that ranking suggests as they have allowed just 4 passing TD’s in 4 games this season in addition to having 12 sacks.
8. Brett Favre (MIN) – He is finally starting to open up the passing game and the results have been excellent over the last 2 weeks. Favre should have ample opportunity to continue his hot streak with a favorable week 5 match up against a suspect St. Louis pass defense. Our only concern with a match up against the Rams is that the Vikings will jump out to a huge lead, in which case Favre and the Minnesota passing attack could get shut down early as his services may no longer be required. Check injury report: foot (questionable)
9. David Garrard (JAC) – He is riding high off of a huge week 4 performance against Tennessee and hopefully he can carry that momentum into a favorable week 5 match up against the Seahawks. The Seattle pass defense has struggled mightily of late giving up 600 yards and 5 TD’s through the air in their last 2 games. Granted, those games came against Jay Cutler and Peyton Manning, but very poor none the less. You probably can’t expect Garrard to match Manning and Cutler against Seattle, especially having to travel all the way across the county, but we still like Garrard’s chances for a solidly productive week 5.
10. Tony Romo (DAL) – As much as we respect and appreciate Romo’s fantasy credentials over the last few years, we are seriously starting to doubt his ability to produce in 2009. He has always made the occasional poor decision or two, but to this point, Romo is making more poor decisions than good ones and his accuracy has been terrible, which has never been a problem in the past. Fortunately, he has a promising week 5 match up against a generous Kansas City pass defense. As poorly as he has played, Romo should not be able to screw this one up and if he does, you may want to consider looking for a new fantasy QB.
11. Matt Ryan (ATL) – While he has all the tools necessary to find fantasy success in week 5, the deck is slightly stacked against him. Ryan will face a 49ers secondary that has more interceptions than passing TD’s allowed. The Niners are also fairly stingy in the yardage department ranking 10th in the NFL in passing yards allowed. In addition, QB’s can sometimes struggle when having to travel long distances to play road games, which is the case for Ryan having to make the long trek to San Francisco. We wouldn’t bet against him, but this clearly isn’t one of his safer match ups.
12. Matt Hasselbeck (SEA) – It appears that he will be able to play on Sunday and he will return to a favorable week 5 match up at home. Hasselbeck will face a Jaguars pass defense that ranks just 31st in the NFL. Even with the makeshift offensive line that got him hurt in the first place, he should have plenty of time in the pocket against a Jacksonville pass rush that has an NFL worst 3 sacks on the season. We do have some concerns with regard to the lingering effects of his rib injury, but the potential reward probably outweighs the risk in this case. Check injury report: ribs (questionable)
13. Carson Palmer (CIN) – While the Ravens pass defense currently ranks a sub par 23rd in the NFL in terms of yards allowed, this is far from a cupcake match up for Palmer. Sure, Baltimore is giving up a lot of yards through the air which bodes well, but they also have more interceptions than TD’s allowed and their pass rush is first rate with 10 sacks in 4 games. Palmer is capable, but he may have a tough row to hoe on the road in Baltimore.
14. Kyle Orton (DEN) – He continues to play well in the role of field general for Denver, but his numbers still leave something to be desired in terms of fantasy production. While Orton should be adequate as a QB2 in week 5, we certainly aren’t expecting a monster performance from him against a very solid New England pass defense.
15. Shaun Hill (SF) – Things are looking up as Hill has now thrown for 4 TD’s in his last 2 games. That said, his yardage totals are still not up to par as he has failed to reach 200 passing yards in his last 3 games. He should go over 200 yards in a week 5 match up at home against an Atlanta pass defense that ranks just 27th in the NFL, but TD’s may be tougher to come by as Atlanta has given up just 3 passing TD’s in 3 games played.
16. Eli Manning (NYG) – We aren’t ready to count him out just yet, but after missing practice for the second straight day on Thursday, we are starting to wonder if Manning will play on Sunday. If he is able to go, Manning will face a pretty good Oakland pass defense that ranks 11th in the NFL. He has been one of the better fantasy QB’s so far this season, so we obviously like his chances if he can play, but under the circumstances, Manning is quite risky. The injury could adversely affect his play and /or he may have to shut it down early. Check injury report: foot (questionable: game time decision)
17. Matt Cassel (KC) – In spite of his lack luster yardage totals so far this season, Cassel has managed to throw 4 TD’s in his last 2 games and as we know, TD’s are the key element to fantasy success. A week 5 match up against Dallas’ 29th ranked pass defense is not unfavorable. The Chiefs will likely be playing from behind as usual which in turn should inspire a heavy dose of Cassel and the passing attack. The Kansas City offense still has its fair share of deficiencies, so Cassel is not an ideal fantasy option, but he does qualify as a decent QB2 and/or bye week replacement for week 5.
18. Derek Anderson (CLE) – He was solid in his first start of the season and a developing rapport with rookie wide out Mohamed Massaquoi appears promising, but he has a ways to go before he gets back into the good graces of fantasy owners. While Anderson makes for a serviceable bye week replacement or QB2 in 2 QB fantasy leagues against a very shaky Buffalo defense, he is not a failsafe fantasy option for week 5.
19. Trent Edwards (BUF) – Following a solid start to his 2009 campaign, Edwards has developed into a fantasy nightmare of late. In his last 2 games, Edwards has 5 turnovers with just 1 TD, he’s been sacked 10 times, and has thrown for just 156 and 192 yards. He does have a favorable week 5 match up against Cleveland’s 21st ranked pass defense, but it is difficult to be optimistic about his chances given his recent struggles. You might be best served going with a safer option until Edwards can turn things around, that is if he can get things turned around.
20. Mark Sanchez (NYJ) – Following a promising start to his rookie season, Sanchez has progressively gotten worse. Even with a favorable week 5 match up against Miami’s 24th ranked pass defense, you will be best served avoiding Sanchez.
21. Jason Campbell (WAS) – A week 5 match up against Carolina isn’t completely terrible, but Campbell still has more downside than upside.
22. Kerry Collins (TEN) – He will probably have to throw the ball a ton in week 5 which typically bodes well for fantasy production, but considering Collins is finding opposing DB’s more than he’s finding the end zone lately, we don’t like his chances very much. He is not highly recommended against a top flight Indianapolis pass defense.
23. Jake Delhomme (CAR) – With just 2 TD passes and 7 interceptions on the season, do you really want to trust this guy against Washington’s 4th ranked pass defense? Probably not.
24. Daunte Culpepper (DET) – He will likely start in place of the injured Matt Stafford, but after a week 5 match up against Pittsburgh, he may wish that he had not.
25. Chad Henne (MIA) – He wasn’t bad in week 4, but Henne’s numbers left plenty to be desired with regard to fantasy football. Brighter days may await, just not in week 5 against a very dangerous Jets pass defense.
* Updated QB rankings with comments will be posted on Friday. Any additional updates that are necessary will be posted no later than Saturday in the final week 5 rankings.