2021 NFL season: Michael F. Florio's Week 5 fantasy football matchups

The Week 5 slate has the potential to be very fun. There are a lot of games with high powered offenses facing off, some of which are doing so in a favorable matchup against the defense. Those are the best games because it leads to lots of fantasy points.

There are also several big-name players in difficult matchups. There are some you should be concerned about and others that you can still start with confidence. This breaks down all the best and toughest matchups of the week!

Best QB matchups

Josh Allen vs. Chiefs: The Chiefs have allowed 25.98 fantasy PPG to QBs this season, the second most in the NFL. That includes giving up an average of 307 passing yards and 44 rushing yards per game. They’ve also allowed seven passing TDs and two rushing to signal-callers on the year. The last three QBs to face the Chiefs have topped 28 fantasy points. Allen is always a must start QB, but he is in a position for a huge game on Sunday Night Football. This also feels like a Stefon Diggs breakout game this week.

Daniel Jones at Cowboys: Dallas has given up 23.49 fantasy PPG, the fourth-most in the NFL. That includes a league-high 336 passing yards per game. They have also given up nine passing TDs and two rushing to the position. Jones has become a reliable fantasy piece scoring over 21 fantasy points in three of four games, and over 26 in two. His low game of the year is 16.5, which shows he has a safe floor as well. Jones has been rushing consistently with at least 27 rushing yards in every game and with a matchup as friendly as this, he should be considered a QB1 in Week 5.

Other favorable QB matchups: Jameis Winston at Washington, Zach Wilson at Falcons (London), Kyler Murray vs. 49ers.

Best RB matchups

Cordarrelle Patterson vs. Jets (London): The Jets have allowed 33.38 fantasy PPG to RBs, the most in the NFL. That includes 111.8 rushing yards per game and five rushing touchdowns. But the real reason to get excited for this matchup? The Jets have allowed eight catches per game to running backs, the second most in the NFL. Patterson has led the Falcons in receiving yards in each of the last two weeks. He also has five touchdowns in his last three games and has scored between 16 and nearly 35 fantasy points in each of those games. He has been unlocked in Atlanta and is thriving. He has reached must start status as a top 20 fantasy RB.

Dalvin Cook/Alexander Mattison vs. Lions: Detroit has given up the fourth-most fantasy PPG to RBs this season (29.73). They’re giving up just under 135 scrimmage yards per game to backs, but in classic Lions fashion they have allowed a league-high nine touchdowns to RBs. That’s after allowing the most touchdowns to running backs last season. Last week, Cook played 51 percent of the snaps to Mattison’s 32 percent, but Mattison saw more volume on the ground, having 10 carries to Cook’s nine. Cook was targeted six times. Cook is a must start RB1 in this great matchup. Mattison is a flex option, who could have a big day, even on limited volume. But, there is the risk of Cook fully taking back over and Mattison leaving you with a low point total. That’s the risk in playing him.

Other favorable RB matchups: Leonard Fournette vs. Dolphins, Zack Moss/Devin Singletary at Chiefs, Christian McCaffrey/Chuba Hubbard vs. Eagles.

Best WR matchups

Jaylen Waddle/DeVante Parker at Buccaneers: The Bucs have a reputation of being a tough defense, and that’s truest when it comes to the run. But they have been thrown all over this season. In fact, they have allowed the most fantasy PPG to receivers this season at 53.83 per game. In the first four weeks, they have allowed 229 yards per game to receivers, as well as seven touchdowns. Part of that is having played the Cowboys, Falcons, Rams and Patriots this season, but the Bucs will put up points, meaning teams will be throwing against them. That will likely be the case against the Dolphins, which benefits Waddle and Parker, especially with Will Fuller on injured reserve. Last week, Parker had nine targets to Waddle’s four, but the week before Waddle had 13 to Parker’s seven. The usage has been inconsistent, but in a good matchup the two remain flex options. Waddle is the higher ceiling play, while Parker has the safer floor.

Marvin Jones/Laviska Shenault. vs. Titans: Tennessee has given up 51.3 fantasy PPG to receivers, the second most in the NFL. That includes the most yards per game (236) and touchdowns (eight). Six receivers have topped 19 fantasy points against them. Ten have double-digit fantasy points against this secondary. They have allowed the fifth-most yards to receivers in the slot (407) and are tied for the most TDs allowed (five). They’ve also allowed the seventh-most yards to receivers out wide (537), but just three touchdowns. Both Jones and Shenault are in a good position this week, especially with D.J. Chark out. Jones is the preferred play and has more upside as a WR2. But Shenault is a WR3 or flex in this strong matchup.

Other favorable WR matchups: Saints WRs at Washington, Giants WRs at Cowboys, Jets WRs at Falcons (London).

Best TE matchups

Mike Gesicki at Buccaneers: Gesicki has 18 targets in his last two games combined and has topped 16 fantasy points in two straight. He found the end zone last week and had 10 catches the week before. Plus, the Bucs have struggled against tight ends. They’ve allowed 19.35 fantasy PPG this season, the second most in the league. That includes nearly 60 yards per game and three touchdowns. Gesicki is a favorite of Jacoby Brissett land can be trusted as a TE1 this week.

Jonnu Smith/Hunter Henry at Texans: The Texans have allowed 19.35 fantasy PPG, the second most in the NFL. They have given up 66.8 receiving yards per game and three touchdowns to the position. Smith sees a consistent five targets per game and found the end zone for the first time this season last week. Henry had his best game of the year last week with 32 yards and a touchdown. Smith is the preferred play of the two, but both are more TE2s that are in play in deeper formats.

Other favorable TE matchups: Mo Alie-Cox at Ravens, Dawson Knox at Chiefs, Dalton Schultz vs Giants.

Toughest QB matchups

Patrick Mahomes vs. Bills: While the Chiefs have allowed a ton of points to QBs this year, the Bills have done the exact opposite. They’ve allowed a league-low 8.79 fantasy PPG, which includes just 167.3 passing yards per game, the fewest in the league. That is partially cause the Bills have a strong secondary, but also because they have faced Ben Roethlisberger, Brissett after Tua Tagovailoa was injured, Taylor Heinicke and Davis Mills. Mahomes threw for 325 yards and three scores against the Bills last season. He is a must-start, in what could be a high scoring game, despite the matchup.

Ben Roethlisberger vs. Broncos: Things are getting ugly for Roethlisberger and this offense. He has not thrown more than one touchdown in any game this season and has four interceptions in his last three games. He provides no rushing upside and has yet to top 14 fantasy points in any game this season. Add in that the Broncos have allowed the third fewest fantasy PPG (12.56) to QBs. They have allowed just 215 passing yards per game and three total passing touchdowns this season. Get far away from Big Ben.

Other tough QB matchups: Davis Mills vs Patriots, Baker Mayfield at Chargers, Matt Ryan vs. Jets (London).

Toughest RB matchups

Najee Harris vs. Broncos: Denver has been stingy to running backs, allowing a league-low 10.18 fantasy PPG to the position. They have only allowed one touchdown, 2.5 catches and 61.8 scrimmage yards per game to the position. They have faced a limited Saquon Barkley in his first game back, James Robinson when the Jags were not using him much, then the Jets and Ravens backfields. So not the toughest competition, but still, they have had great results stopping running backs. Harris, however, has earned the status of matchup proof. He has played 92 percent of snaps this season, while the next closest back is Alvin Kamara at 82 percent. He has scored over 19 fantasy points in three straight games as he has largely been involved in the passing game and getting the goal line carries. Start him despite the tough matchup. In fact, he and Diontae Johnson are the only Steelers you can start right now.

Austin Ekeler vs. Browns: The Browns have allowed just 12.28 fantasy PPG to running backs, the second-fewest in the NFL. That includes just one touchdown and three catches per game. That’s been against some stiff competition facing the Chiefs, Texans, Bears and Vikings – three of the four have strong backfields. But Ekeler is a different beast. He is the RB2 in fantasy right now. He has been heavily used in the passing game, has been used in the red zone this season and has topped 22 fantasy points in three straight. Plus, if the Browns’ tough pass rush can get pressure on Justin Herbert it could lead to a lot of dump offs to Ekeler. He is a must start option each week.

Other tough RB matchups: Miles Sanders/Kenneth Gainwell at Panthers, Clyde Edwards-Helaire vs. Bills, Melvin Gordon/Javonte Williams at Steelers.

Toughest WR matchups

Tyreek Hill vs. Bills: Just like the Bills are tough against QBs, they are against receivers as well. They’ve allowed 21.68 fantasy PPG to the position, the fewest in the NFL. They’re the only team allowing less than 100 yards per game to the position (97.3) and have given up just one touchdown. But, Hill was listed as a tough matchup last week and scorched the Eagles for 11 catches, 186 yards and three scores. Last year in the playoffs against the Bills, Hill went off for 172 yards on nine catches. He is a must-start option despite the matchup.

Odell Beckham at Chargers: The Chargers have allowed the second fewest fantasy PPG to receivers (26.00). The 114.8 yards per game to the position is also the second fewest, and they have allowed just two touchdowns to the position. Only two receivers have topped 15 fantasy points and four have reached double-digits. They’ve held Terry McLaurin, Hill and Amari Cooper all in check. Not only does Beckham have to worry about the matchup, but he has to worry about Baker Mayfield missing him when he gets wide open. Especially on should-be long touchdowns. Just a little salty about that after declaring last Sunday — Odell day. Beckham is a boom-or-bust WR3 this week.

Other tough WR matchups: Brandin Cooks vs. Patriots, DeVonta Smith at Panthers, Keenan Allen/Mike Williams vs. Browns, Michael Pittman at Ravens.

Toughest TE matchups

George Kittle at Cardinals: The Cardinals have allowed just 5.58 fantasy PPG, the third-fewest in the NFL. That includes just 3.3 catches and 23.3 yards per game, as well as zero touchdowns. No tight end has topped eight fantasy points against them this season. Kittle is no ordinary tight end, but he has been off to a sluggish start and may be playing with a new QB. Kittle is still a start, but this matchup is not what you were hoping for if you have him.

Travis Kelce vs Bills: The Bills have allowed 7.38 fantasy PPG to tight ends, the fifth fewest in the NFL. It’s only the fifth toughest, but the teams that have been better against tight ends all face ones that aren’t being used in fantasy. Kelce is obviously a must-start, so consider this more of a beware than anything else. In the playoffs against the Bills last year, Kelce was targeted 15 times, catching 13 for 118 yards and two touchdowns.

Other tough TE matchups: Robert Tonyan at Bengals, Darren Waller vs. Bears, Kyle Pitts vs. Jets (London).

Notable receivers with the best WR/CB matchups (per PFF)

Notable receivers with the toughest WR/CB matchup (per PFF)

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