Thursday - Jan 21, 2021

Home / Commentary / RED LIGHT, GREEN LIGHT: Week 5


Welcome back to this week’s edition of “Red Light, Green Light”, which is a matchup guide for all of this weekend’s (and Monday’s) NFL contests. While this piece is not intended to be solely a start/bench list, it can be used for some of those decisions as well.

In each of the NFL Week 5 game profiles below, players mentioned in the green light sections have a great matchup, and can be counted on as rock solid options for the week. Players mentioned in the yellow light sections have just an okay matchup and/or usage concerns, meaning they are passable fantasy options but don’t expect them to set the world on fire. Players in the red light sections have serious concerns, and need to have expectations lowered for the week, and/or should be avoided if possible. Remember, seeing your stud listed in the yellow or red light section isn’t necessarily grounds to bench them, but more of an indication they may not be the guy(s) carrying your team to victory this week.

Bye Week Teams: Washington, Denver, New Orleans, Atlanta

San Francisco 49ers at Indianapolis Colts

Tale of the Tape – Ranks for Average 2017 Fantasy Points Allowed
Position 49ers Colts
Quarterback 11th 5th
Running Back 7th 6th
Wide Receiver 6th 8th
Tight End 32nd 8th
Defense/Special Teams 11th (tied) 1st
Vegas Line: Colts -1.5
Vegas Over/Under: 44.5
Despite only allowing 3.7 yards-per-carry (YPC) to RBs this season, Colts have allowed 135.8 total yards per game and 5 scores to the position, meaning Carlos Hyde is a good bet to cross the goal line as the focal point of the 49ers’ offensive attack. After getting locked down by Patrick Peterson last Sunday, Pierre Garcon should be able to get loose against a Colts secondary that has given up the 4th-most receiving yardage to WRs. Likewise, T.Y. Hilton has shown that he can post big numbers in cushy matchups even with Jacoby Brissett under center, and the 49ers have allowed a 100-yard receiver in each of their last two games.
Those hurting for QB help could give Brian Hoyer a look, as the Colts have allowed the third-most passing yards per game this season, and Hoyer has shown he’s capable of posting a big game or two when the matchup is right (see Week 3 against the L.A. Rams). The 49ers’ D/ST has not exactly been a world beater this year, but they could be worth a spot-start after generating six QB sacks last week, and the Colts have been the most generous team in the NFL in terms of fantasy points allowed to the position.
Donte Moncrief scored a touchdown last week, but only has 8 receptions on the season, as the current state of the Colts’ offense can barely support one fantasy-worthy WR, let alone two. In addition to the tough matchup against the team allowing the fewest fantasy points to TEs this season, Jack Doyle is battling a concussion and could be limited if he even plays at all. The 49ers do allow 93.3 rushing yards per game to RBs, but Frank Gore is only averaging 47.8 yards per contest on the ground himself, and continues to lose goal line carries to Robert Turbin.

New York Jets at Cleveland Browns

Tale of the Tape – Ranks for Average 2017 Fantasy Points Allowed
Position Jets Browns
Quarterback 19th 4th
Running Back 4th 19th
Wide Receiver 13th 21st
Tight End 26th 2nd
Defense/Special Teams 8th 2nd
Vegas Line: Jets -1
Vegas Over/Under:
If you’ve been itching to stream Austin Seferian-Jenkins, this is the week to do it, as only the New York Giants have allowed more receptions and receiving touchdowns to TEs than the Browns.  Duke Johnson‘s offensive touches have increased with each passing game this season, culminating in 13 last Sunday, which he turned into 60 total yards and a score against the Bengals. Look for the Browns to continue to ramp up Johnson’s involvement against a Jets’ defense allowing 52.3 receiving yards to RBs, and perhaps give him some more carries too if Isaiah Crowell continues to struggle.
This week is the final test for Isaiah Crowell against a Jets defense allowing 108.3 yards per game to RBs. If Crowell can’t get it done this week, he probably won’t get it done all season. The Browns’ rush defense has been quietly solid this season, allowing just the 10th fewest rushing yards to RBs. Bilal Powell‘s versatility in the pass game should come in handy though, as Cleveland does give up an additional 42.3 receiving yards per game to opposing backfields, though expect the timeshare with Elijah McGuire to continue. DeShone Kizer has been a mess the past three weeks, committing 8 turnovers over that span, making the Jets D/ST worth spot start for those who need one. If you must start a Jets WR, go with Robby Anderson. Anderson checks in as the Jets’ leading WR at the season’s quarter pole mark, and has posted at least 59 receiving yards in two straight games.
Jermaine Kearse has done little since his two touchdown day against Oakland in Week 2, and the Jets offense cannot support two fantasy-relevant WRs. The Browns have turned into WR purgatory since Corey Coleman (hand) went down with injury and Rashard Higgins turned out to be fools gold. Avoid them all.

Jacksonville Jaguars at Pittsburgh Steelers

Tale of the Tape – Ranks for Average 2017 Fantasy Points Allowed
Position Jaguars Steelers
QB 32nd 30th
RB 3rd 14th
WR 32nd 31st
TE 6th 20th
D/ST 30th 27th
Vegas Line: Steelers -8.5
Vegas Over/Under:
Le’Veon Bell finally rounded into midseason form last week, and should keep good times rolling against a Jacksonville rush defense allowing 5.81 YPC to opposing backfields. Helping Bell’s cause is the Steelers’ position as 8.5 point Vegas favorites, which should provide him extra rushing opportunities during clock-killing mode in the fourth quarter. Pittsburgh’s weakness has been on the ground, as they’ve allowed big games to Alex Collins and Jordan Howard over the past two weeks, presenting an exploitable matchup for the Jaguars’ lone offensive weapon, Leonard Fournette.
Jacksonville CBs Jalen Ramsey and A.J. Bouye have limited opposing wideouts to an NFL-low 78.5 receiving yards per game, so Antonio Brown could be looking at a second sub-par outing in a row.
The Jaguars have had one of the best fantasy D/STs so far this season, but figures to struggle on the road against a potent Steelers offense that plays its best football at home. Allen Hurns could take on an expanded role if fellow WR Marqise Lee (ribs) sits, but Pittsburgh has been stellar against opposing WRs, permitting the second-fewest receiving yards to the position on the season. Likewise, the poor matchup against Jacksonville relegates Martavis Bryant as a bench candidate this week as well. Ben Roethlisberger‘s numbers have been a little lackluster so far this season, as he’s averaged just 239.3 passing yards and 1.5 touchdowns per game so far. Big Ben has little chance of showing any improvement on those aforementioned stats against the team allowing the fewest fantasy points to QBs. Jacksonville is exploitable via the middle of the field, however, Jesse James has been nursing a shoulder injury most of the year, and has only averaged 28.7 receving yards per game since busting out with a 6-41-2 line in Week 1.

Los Angeles Chargers at New York Giants

Tale of the Tape – Ranks for Average 2017 Fantasy Points Allowed
Position Chargers Giants
Quarterback 15th 8th
Running Back 8th 17th
Wide Receiver 12th 28th
Tight End 25th 1st
Defense/Special Teams 21st (tied) 11th
Vegas Line: Giants -3.5
Vegas Over/Under:
Odell Beckham was a little dinged up after last Sunday’s loss to Tampa Bay, but should be ready to rock versus a Chargers pass defense that has allowed their opponents’ number receiver to score in back-to-back weeks (Tyreek Hill in Week 3, Alshon Jeffery in Week 4). Despite being in what has amounted to a timeshare, Antonio Gates and Hunter Henry have their best shot at returning to the end zone this week, as the Giants have allowed at least one touchdown to a tight end in every game this season. Don’t start the Henry/Gates duo over your usual options, but if you’re shorthanded due to a bye or injury, give them a hard look.
Melvin Gordon has a good on-paper matchup against the Giants, who have allowed the 4th most rush yardage to RBs through four weeks. However, Gordon has been battling a knee injury the past few weeks, and has averaged 3.0 YPC or worse in three of his four games played this season. The Giants have allowed the 12th-fewest passing yards this season, but also given 7 passing scores. Philip Rivers could find himself with another pass-happy gameplan given the Chargers struggles rushing the ball, especially if Gordon’s knee injury ends up hindering him during the contest. Eli Manning has predictably upped his fantasy value since Odell Beckham‘s healthy return from an ankle injury, averaging 327 passing yards and  accounting for three touchdowns in each of his past two games. Mannings’ matchup against the Chargers isn’t great, but the Giants lack of a consistent run game will force their offense to be pass-heavy more weeks than not.
The fantasy position the Giants have been most stingiest against are WRs, making it highly unlikely either Keenan Allen or Tyrell Williams crack the century mark in receiving yardage this week, as both of them did against the Eagles last Sunday. Wayne Gallman made a case for himself to handle more of the Giants’ rushing load after Paul Perkins exited last week’s contest with an injury. However, the return of Giants’ coaching staff favorite Orleans Darkwa (back) makes it seem likely the team will continue their frustrating three-way RB committee along with Shane Vereen, thus negating any fantasy value this backfield could possibly have.

About Will Weiler

An NFL Red Zone addict and all-around data nerd, I've been obsessed with the NFL and stats ever since I started playing the virtual pigskin game in 2005.