Week 5 Rankings and Game Flowbotics
My rankings bounced back a bit last week, as I finished 34th in accuracy at FantasyPros to move up to 17th overall on the season. Of course, accuracy means different things to different people, and the purpose or goal of rankings will vary depending on who is slotting the players. My first aim is to provide a general evaluation of my confidence in players as starters in the Week 5 rankings you’ll find below. To finish well in FP’s accuracy competition, however, some contrarian or variance-based predictions on certain players are required. Essentially, it pays to be one of only a few rankers to predict a good week from a player who outperforms expectations, and vice versa.
My rankings hedge somewhere in the middle, as I believe a solid baseline of confidence rankings can only take you so far in any given week. Accuracy scores might overvalue the prediction of outlier performances, but strict confidence rankings probably undervalue such calls. For example, I don’t think it’s correct to blindly follow Matt Ryan into battle against the Denver Broncos based on the hurt he put on Carolina last week. My initial rankings have him buried at QB19. I’m willing to be wrong on Matt Ryan (again, to be honest) because his Week 5 match-up dictates a low ranking in my process.
Should I have more confidence in Matty Ice than Marcus Mariota, who I have one spot higher at QB18 than the Falcon’s signal caller? Maybe, but I’m taking a shot on Ryan landing close to his floor this week, while also putting a little stock in a decent week for Mariota, at least by his 2016 standards. Match-ups are most helpful reference in constructing these sorts of narratives, which admittedly makes the Matt Ryan example easy to cherrypick. If you tuned in last week, you might have clicked over to my Game Flowbotics spreadsheet, containing all sorts of match-up angles to prompt your fantasy analysis. Here is the spreadsheet for Week 5, with game- and player-specific notes forthcoming over the balance of the week:
All my rankings about a mouse-scroll away, but for the space between, here are a handful of interesting Week 5 rankings situations…
Rob Gronkowski, TE, NE
The return of Tom Brady has a lot of interesting implications this weekend, but let’s focus on the Sultan of Spike. There are a few ways this weekend’s tilt against the Browns could go for Gronk and his teammates. With Brady back under center, a presumed boost to New England’s passing attack is fair, and their prolific tight end heads the list of disappointments in that unit who should improve. Trouble is, we don’t know if Gronkowski is fully healthy. The Pats’ PR machine has further stirred this murky situation with Gronk “admitting” his hamstring continues to bother him. This report comes from the same team who claimed Martellus Bennett would be used primarily as a blocker before he exploded for five catches, 114 yards, and a touchdown in Week 2 against Miami.
I have Gronkowski at TE6 this week, one spot behind his teammate Bennett, so plot me in the lobe of the Venn diagram reserved for injury believers. Have the Patriots been waiting to unleash Gronk? Yes, I’m sure they have, but there’s no sense risking any sort of setback if Gronk is anywhere south of 100%. If New England needs receiving production from the tight end position, better to lean on Bennett against the nonthreatening Browns. Still, my ranking allows for the chance I’m wrong about Gronk’s health. It’s a hedge, but touchdown upside for Gronkowski in limited action makes it a half-decent hedge.
DeAndre Washington & Jalen Richard, RBs, OAK
News of Latavius Murray’s “doubtful” tag for Week 4 broke Wednesday evening as I was putting the ranks together. Some measure of backfield split is expected between DeAndre Washington and Jalen Richard if Murray is absent. With Washington ranked as my RB13, it’s safe to say I’m banking on a heavy usage slant his direction in an excellent match-up against San Diego. For reference, Richard slots in as my RB32, bunched with other second-banana backs like Bilal Powell, Darren Sproles, and Chris Thompson. I like those more known backs for their receiving upside in certain game scripts, and I wouldn’t normally bestow that sort of confidence to a relatively unproven player like Richard, but the ranking helps acknowledge how my “workhorse” read on Washington could be wrong.
Marvin Jones, WR, DET
This situation might only be interesting to me, but I was fairly shocked to see Jones as the consensus WR10 at FantasyPros, while I started him at WR18. Yes, he’s still a fantasy starter for most owners, but top-12 expectations seem unwarranted, even in spite of his stellar performance through four weeks. Are other rankers still sleeping on Philadelphia’s defense? Carson Wentz must be soaking up too much spotlight, or the bye has thrown folks off the Eagles’ scent after their Week 3 beatdown of Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers. Big Ben home/road splits aside, we can’t expect the Lion’s offense to fare particularly better against Philly, especially when the defense has had two weeks to prepare. And who do you think they’ve been preparing for? It’s not Golden Tate, I’ll tell you that much. Despite the tough opponent, Marvin Jones should get his based on volume, but temper your forecasts against assumptions of elite numbers.