Week 5 is critical. We've gone through a month, and we have a pretty decent handle on what to expect from players and their opposing defenses. The handle is never that strong because unpredictability still reigns in general, but everyone has a somewhat focused idea of what to expect by now.
Week 5 is also the first real elimination week, in my opinion. I've made it to the playoffs after starting 0-4. Making it to the playofs after starting 0-5? Never. A loss for a winless team today pretty much signals the end of their season.
To help you get a win today, I'll be here all morning giving you the latest news on the actives and inactives from the six early games.
With only six games kicking off at 1 p.m., there aren't a bunch of big-name players who are question marks this morning. But if you're wondering about Coby Fleener , Pierre Garcon or anybody else, the info will be here.
Players already ruled out for Week 5 include Hakeem Nicks, Ramses Barden, Lance Moore, Greg Jennings, Julian Edelman, Jake Locker, Laurent Robinson, Santonio Holmes and Nate Kaeding. For a full rundown of who is banged up this week, click the link below to the NFL's official injury report.
-- Rashard Mendenhall is active, as expected, for the Steelers today. He's a flex option for me. I wouldn't expect much out of him in his first game back from the ACL tear against the Eagles' pretty good run defense. Jonathan Dwyer appears to be a healthy scratch, so Isaac Redman will back up Mendenhall.
-- Julio Jones is active. He was probable on the injury report because of his hand injury, but don't worry about that. He's a must-start against the Redskins' pass defense, which ranks as the second-worst in the league.
-- Pierre Garcon is active for the Redskins. He should be Robert Griffin's No. 1 target, but his foot is still not at 100 percent, and it's much easier to run on the Falcons than to throw on them. I think Garcon is pretty good WR3, but not much more.
-- More Redskins news: Josh Morgan will get the start today alongside Garcon, not Leonard Hankerson. Morgan has just 155 yards with no scores in four games. Both players involved here and not good fantasy options.
-- Running back Bernard Scott is active for the Bengals. He may see a few more touches if BenJarvus Green-Ellis keeps dropping the ball on the ground, but Scott doesn't get enough work right now to start.
Colts tight end Coby Fleener is active. He was listed as questionable with a head injury. He could get more targets as the Cotls play catch-up versus Green Bay, but he's a TE2.
-- Torrey Smith is active for the Ravens. His ankle injury from last Thursday's game is of no concern. He is a rock-solid WR2 versus Kansas City.
-- Reggie Bush and Ryan Tannehill are both active for the Dolphins, as expected. Bush is a clear RB1. My opinion of Tannehill is getting more and more positive by the week, but he's still a good distance away from being a starter in a 12-team league.
-- Ryan Grant is active for the Redskins and should make his debut today versus the Falcons. Shanahanigans?!?! No. Alfred Morris is a low-end RB1 entering this game.
-- Jon Baldwin is active despite a hamstring injury. He's a pure desperation play.
-- It's a late-game note, but ESPN is reporting that Aaron Hernandez is not expected to play against the Broncos. But Rob Gronkowski is expected to play despite a hip injury. It's what has been expected all along. Start Gronk.
-- James Starks is still inactive for the Packers. It's a little bit of a surprise since he was expected to play, but it doesn't have a lot of fantasy impact. Cedric Benson is a fine RB2 versus the Colts.
-- Dwight Freeney is active for the Colts for the first time since Week 1 due to a high ankle sprain. So, Aaron Rodgers may see a little more pressure today, but he and and his entire offense shouldn't have too many problems putting up big numbers.
-- Linebacker James Harrison and safety Troy Polamalu are both active for the Steelers, as expected. Michael Vick will be running for his life all day today.
I'm a big fan of Domenik Hixon today with the Giants missing Nicks and Barden. He put up more than 100 yards and had 11 targets with Barden active last week versus the Eagles. He should be extremely good versus a terrible Browns secondary.
I would guess that Jennings is going to miss more than just this game going foward. He's going to be out until his injured groin is at full strength again, whenever that will be. James Jones will start against a depleted Colts secondary and is a solid WR3. Randall Cobb is a little more risky, but he'll see an uptick in targets and you know his ceiling is very high.
Still no word on Edelman's hand injury, but it's telling that he hasn't been able to practice at all in the past two weeks. Wes Welker is a must-start.
Matt Hasselbeck will fill in for Locker, who is out with that shoulder injury. The Vikings don't have a great secondary, but I'm not sure what to expect from this Titans' passing game. If I had to pick a guy, I think Nate Washington is the best bet to have a nice game, but Hasselbeck will probably be under pressure all day from that Minnesota front.
Robinson has been a complete bust this year and now that he has suffered his third concussion of the year, he'll probably be out of action for a while. Justin Blackmon still has some upside, but MJD is the only Jaguar you should care about starting.
It just gets worse and worse for the Jets. The only reason I'm going to watch Monday's game is to see how badly the Texans pound them into submission. You're not starting any Jets against that defense.
Nick Novak will replace Kaeding, who is missing his second consecutive game with a groin injury. Novak is a fine option in a game against the Saints that should contain a lot of offense.