MELLENBRUCH: Week 5 fantasy favorites

I originally wrote a fantasy-football column for last week’s games.

Thankfully, it didn’t run in the paper. My top two sleeper picks were Washington quarterback Kirk Cousins and San Diego running back Donald Brown, both of which produced sub-projection point totals. Not my best judgments there.

Never fear. My fantasy teams all five of them enjoyed a successful Week 4, and with a good dose of favorable matchups to come, I present to you my Week 5 fantasy favorites.

RB Le’Veon Bell, Pittsburgh

I drafted Le’Veon Bell last month with admitted hesitation, particularly in the wake of sudden legal issues late in training camp. That, partnered with backup journeyman LeGarrette Blount entering the season as a potential touchdown vulture. In hindsight, it’s my best pick of the draft. Currently the league’s second-best producer at running back in standard formats, Bell gets the winless Jaguars on Sunday, a team that ranks 27th against the run through four games. Expect another double-digit performance from Pittsburgh’s bell cow.

You could also start New York running back Rashad Jennings at home against the Falcons who just gave up 255 rushing yards to the Peterson-less Vikes or Marshawn Lynch against Washington on Monday night. Jennings is the NFL’s third-leading rusher with 341 yards (and two touchdowns), while Lynch has already recorded two 24-point efforts in three games.

I’d bench Montee Ball. I know, I drafted him in the second round, too, but a clash with Arizona’s top-ranked run defense doesn’t really inspire confidence for a back that has yet to live up to the early-season hype. He might be your best option he is for me but sit him if you can. The Cardinals aren’t about to concede a Ball bounce-back.

WR Calvin Johnson, Detroit

Megatron is always an easy fantasy pick, but after his third single-digit start in as many weeks, Johnson needs a rebound performance. After an absurdly productive Week 1 seven receptions, 164 yards, two touchdowns Detroit’s target man has battled injuries and double coverage ever since, and his fantasy numbers stand as evidence. With just two receptions for 12 yards last weekend against the Jets, I’m guessing Johnson isn’t kept down for long. He has a good chance to reestablish his fantasy dominance against Buffalo’s 27th-ranked secondary at home Sunday.

Vincent Jackson has returned to fantasy relevance, people. Thank you, Mike Glennon. His late touchdown catch last week against the Steelers has me thinking the Glennon-to-Jackson combination is here to stay. Against a New Orleans defense ranked 29th against the pass, I’m hoping for at least one more from Jackson on Sunday.

I’m sitting Michael Crabtree against the Chiefs and Percy Harvin in Washington.

QB Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay

It pains me to highlight this guy. It absolutely pains me, but the fact is, Rodgers has made a habit of picking on a perennially weak Vikings secondary, especially at home. Minnesota’s defense is banged up. It also just gave up nearly 30 fantasy points to Matt Ryan at home, albeit in a winning effort. I bleed purple, and Mike Zimmer’s defense has certainly shown flashes of improvement, but Rodgers owners should enjoy substantial fantasy dividends from tonight’s matchup.

Feel free to also start Philly’s Nick Foles against the lowly Rams. Tony Romo is another good option against Houston’s bottom-half pass defense.

Despite a nagging ankle injury, Teddy Bridgewater could also be a sleeper against Green Bay’s 28th-ranked defense.

TE Jimmy Graham, New Orleans

I’m not predicting a whole lot of defense in Sunday’s NFC South contest between the Saints and Bucs, and Graham could be one of the prime beneficiaries. He’s shown flashes of his superb 2013 form including a nice 86-yard effort last weekend but he’s yet to become the world beater he was last season. Tampa Bay has been strict on opposing tight ends this season (11th overall), but Graham’s supernatural athletic ability puts him a class above the rest. He’s my top-ranked tight end this week.

Even against Arizona’s tough defense, Denver’s Julius Thomas has been an absolute touchdown machine this season, even against the Seahawks in Week 3. He’s a good start, as is Cleveland’s Jordan Cameron in Tennessee.

FLEX Jerrick McKinnon, Minnesota

There’s a reason the Packers have a below-average defense. Despite its ninth-ranked secondary, Green Bay ranks dead last in defending the run, and it’s not even close. Luckily for Mike McCarthy and Co., the Vikings are without Adrian Peterson. That being said, the combination of McKinnon and Matt Asiata who scored three touchdowns against Atlanta racked up a combined 252 yards on Sunday. McKinnon registered 135 of them on 18 carries. Expect more of the same tonight.

Another sleeper is Bishop Sankey, probably the most over-drafted player in 2013. While he didn’t begin as a starter, it seems Sankey’s workload will increase this week against the Browns. At least that’s what Tennessee coach Ken Whisenhunt is indicating. Sankey has led all Titans running backs in touches the last week. I’m expecting that trend to continue.

This is the opinion of Joe Mellenbruch, a staff writer for The Minot Daily News sports department. Agree? Disagree? Share your thoughts with him on Twitter @Mellenbruch_MDN.