2021 Fantasy Football Sleepers Projections Week 5 | Start ‘Em Picks & Matchup Plays

Last Updated: Jul 14, 2023

It is time to get ready for Week 5 of the 2021 NFL season, which means it is time to begin toying with your fantasy football lineups for the upcoming slate.

In Week 4, we saw quite a few surprises. The Jets and Giants both won, while teams like the Cardinals and Cowboys said, “Hey, we are for real!"

The same could be said in the fantasy football realm. Sam Darnold and Taylor Heinicke both finished as top-five fantasy quarterbacks while Tom Brady and Kirk Cousins were utter disappointments in projected smash spots.

Both Darnold and Heinicke are regulars in this sleepers column, which is why I cannot stress this enough: When your studs fail you, you must hit on your sleepers on the mid-to-back end of your rosters to shoulder the load.

The best way to pick the best sleepers for the upcoming slate is to read my weekly Fantasy Football Sleepers and Predictions column. Not just because it is mine, but because you will find your fair share of hits.

You can find my hits and misses in the “Anthony’s Accountable" section at the bottom of the page.

Now, let’s go win your week.

Please note that all NFL Week 5 odds and lines below are current as of Tuesday, October 5.

2021 Fantasy Football Sleepers Projections for Week 5

2021 Fantasy Football Sleepers for Week 5: Quarterback

Daniel Jones, New York Giants @ Dallas Cowboys

  • Giants-Cowboys Total: 52 via DraftKings Sportsbook
  • Over 52 (-110), Under 52 (-110)

The 2021 version of Daniel Jones is the best we have seen since his rookie year. He’s also been one of the top fantasy quarterbacks this season (QB6), averaging 23.79 FPPG. Jones has scored 25.1+ points in three of four games, with his lone letdown coming in Week 3 against the Falcons, but he bounced back last week at the Saints and will once again be in a prime spot to pop in Dallas.

While Jones hasn’t always played great against the Cowboys, scoring 19.2+ points in two starts and fewer than 10.4 in his other two, he played well the last time he faced them. In Week 17 last season, Jones dropped a career-high 20.2 fantasy points on the Cowboys, throwing for 229 yards with two touchdowns and a pick while rushing nine times for seven yards.

Dallas should pummel the Giants, get off to an early lead, blow the game open and never look back. This is bad news for Giants fans but spectacular news for Jones’ fantasy managers. In a game with a 52-point total, one of the highest totals on the Week 5 slate, I expect Jones to have ample opportunities to produce fantasy points while playing from behind.

The Cowboys’ defense has played terrific football this season. Much better than projected. However, because they score so much on offense and often get out to big leads, their defense tends to allows yards and points in garbage time. We love garbage time in fantasy football. It allowed Blake Bortles to finish as a top-five quarterback once upon a time.

Dallas’ defense is surrendering the second-most FPPG (30.9) to enemy quarterbacks, including a league-high 1,344 yards through the air. The Cowboys have allowed Tom Brady, Justin Herbert, Jalen Hurts, and Sam Darnold to throw for 301+ yards on them while allowing those four signal-callers to combine for 11 total touchdowns (passing and rushing).

Jones will make his mistakes in this one — the Cowboys are the most opportunistic team in football with a league-best +7 turnover differential and second-most takeaways (10) — but Jones should still score north of 20 fantasy points in the matchup.

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Deep QB Week 5 Sleeper: Zach Wilson, New York Jets @ Atlanta Falcons

  • Jets-Falcons Total: 46.5 via DraftKings Sportsbook
  • Over 46.5 (-110), Under 46.5 (-110)

Last week, I went out on a limb and picked the Jets to win outright over the Titans at home. I know they were big dogs but sheesh, the Titans were missing two Pro Bowl receivers while fielding one of the worst defenses in the NFL. The writing was on the wall.

Now, I will go out on another limb and call Zach Wilson my deep sleeper quarterback of the week for the Week 5 slate.

Wilson has struggled this season against upper-echelon defenses like the Patriots and Broncos, but he played well against Carolina in the season opener (19.9 fantasy points) and the decrepit Titans defense last week (21.7 fantasy points). I’d say the Falcons’ defense —Wilson’s upcoming matchup— is a lot closer to the Titans’ defense than the Patriots’ (sense the sarcasm).

In Week 4, Wilson threw for 297 yards in two scores. He also threw for two touchdowns in Week 1. Wilson could be in line for a career game in Atlanta on Sunday.

Not only will he have another game with both Corey Davis and Jamison Crowder healthy— the latter missed the first three games of the season — but the Falcons are surrendering the fourth-most fantasy points to quarterbacks (28.4).

The Falcons’ defense has allowed a league-high 11 passing touchdowns with no picks. They have also yielded the second-most rushing yards to signal-callers (147). The Falcons have allowed three of the four quarterbacks they have faced (Tom Brady, Jalen Hurts, Taylor Heinicke) to throw for 3+ TDs, only stifling Daniel Jones, holding him to zero.

More QB Sleepers To Consider

  • Jameis Winston, New Orleans Saints @ Washington Football Team

2021 Fantasy Football Sleepers for Week 5: Running Back

Leonard Fournette, Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Miami Dolphins

  • Dolphins-Buccaneers Total: 48 via DraftKings Sportsbook
  • Over 48 (-110), Under 48 (-110)

Leonard Fournette has been a solid play in three of the first four games of 2021. With Ronald Jones an afterthought and Giovani Bernard possibly missing his second straight game with a knee injury, Fournette is in line for another outing with 10+ PPR points.

In Week 4’s win over the Patriots, Fournette had his best and most complete game of the year. He rushed 20 times for 91 yards and caught three of five targets for 47 yards. Fournette ended Week 4 with 16.8 PPR points.

Even if Bernard plays, I am still in on Fournette. Again, Jones is an afterthought. I can’t keep stressing this enough. With Bernard sidelined last week, Fournette played 63 snaps and ran 35 routes while Jones played just 13 snaps and ran four routes.

Since Fournette failed to disappoint against a solid Patriots’ run defense, he should continue to dominate snaps and touches in Tampa’s backfield just like he has in three of their first four games.

Look for Fournette to POP in Sunday’s matchup with the Dolphins. Miami’s defense is allowing 32.2 FPPG to enemy backs, good for third-most in the NFL, including a league-high nine total scores (rushing and receiving) to the position.

The Dolphins have allowed six different backs to drop 12.1+ PPR points on them this season. They have also surrendered 100+ rushing yards to three different RBs in three different games (Damien Harris, Peyton Barber, Jonathan Taylor).

The icing on the cake? The Dolphins have given up 26 receptions to the running back position in four games. Fournette has three-plus targets and three-plus receptions in all four games this season.

Fournette’s floor is there. This will be another game in which he flirts with his ceiling.

Cordarrelle Patterson, Atlanta Falcons vs. New York Jets

  • Jets-Falcons Total: 46.5 via DraftKings Sportsbook
  • Over 46.5 (-110), Under 46.5 (-110)

Cordarrelle Patterson, come on down.

Last week, Patterson went ballistic with 34.6 PPR points. Facing the Washington Football Team, Patterson carried the ball six times for 34 yards and caught five of six targets for 82 yards and three touchdowns.

Though Patterson only played 23 snaps — he was out-snapped by Mike Davis (51) — he garnered an opportunity on 11 of them. He is one of those players where if he is in the game, there is a good chance he is going to be utilized. Davis drew 15 opportunities on his 51 snaps. You do the math.

While Patterson went off last week, he’s been solid since Week 2. In his past three games, Patterson has finished with 16.2+ PPR points including two with 23.9+.

In that three-game period, Patterson has seen six-plus targets, five-plus receptions, and 58+ receiving yards. He’s also scored two-plus touchdowns in two of his past three outings.

Patterson could once again smash in Sunday’s matchup with the lowly Jets. The Jets are yielding the most FPPG to running backs (33.9), including a league-high five rushing scores. They are also conceding the second-most receptions (32) and receiving yards (288) to running backs. Patterson does both really, really well.

The Jets have allowed seven different backs to drop 13.4+ PPR points on them in four games.

Deep RB Week 5 Sleeper: James Conner, Arizona Cardinals vs. San Francisco 49ers

  • Cardinals-49ers Total: 49.5 via DraftKings Sportsbook
  • Over 49.5 (-110), Under 49.5 (-110)

James Conner has been one of the hottest fantasy running backs in recent weeks, finishing with 18.3 PPR points in each of his past two games (two TDs in each game). His usage and snaps have also been increasing.

Last week, Conner saw a season-high 18 carries while playing 33 snaps. Chase Edmonds is still dominating snaps (52 snaps in Week 4), but Conner out-touched him 20-to-18. Edmonds has been the constant, scoring 12.5+ PPR points in all four games this season, but they can both be utilized in fantasy in the right matchup.

In Week 5, the right matchup presents itself once again. This time, in the form of the 49ers, whose rush defense is a shell of its former self sans DC Robert Saleh. The 49ers are surrendering the 10th-most FPPG (26) to RBs this season.

This is a solid matchup for Conner. If the Cardinals continue to utilize Conner in the money zone, he should once again find the end zone while returning quality fantasy value at the FLEX spot.

More RB Sleepers To Consider

  • Jamaal Williams, Detroit Lions @ Minnesota Vikings
  • Zack Moss, Buffalo Bills @ Kansas City Chiefs

Corey Davis, WR, New York Jets

Look for Jets wideout Corey Davis to take advantage of a vulnerable Falcons secondary in Week 5. (Image: USA TODAY Sports)

2021 Fantasy Football Sleepers for Week 5: Wide Receiver

Corey Davis, New York Jets @ Atlanta Falcons

  • Jets-Falcons Total: 46.5 via DraftKings Sportsbook
  • Over 46.5 (-110), Under 46.5 (-110)

Corey Davis is the clear-cut No. 1 receiver on the Jets, which is what they paid him for this offseason. When Davis is heavily involved and productive, the offense as a whole is night and day different than when he is not.

Through four games, Davis has popped in two and faltered in his other two. In his two down games, Davis has scored fewer than 9.1 points. In the two games he was productive, Davis finished with 21.1+ PPR points, including a 5/97/2 stat line in Week 1 against the Panthers and a 4/111/1 line last week against the Titans.

While Davis has yet to surpass five targets in a game this season, he clearly does not need a lot of opportunities to return significant fantasy value.

Davis should string together his second straight big game in Sunday’s road matchup vs. the Falcons, one of the worst defensive teams in the NFL. While the Falcons are not giving up a ton of receptions or yards to receivers, they are allowing the second most touchdowns to the position (seven) and the ninth most FPPG (41.5).

Hunter Renfrow, Las Vegas Raiders vs. Chicago Bears

  • Bears-Raiders Total: 46 via DraftKings Sportsbook
  • Over 46 (-110), Under 46 (-110)

Out of nowhere, Hunter Renfrow has become one of the most consistent fantasy wideouts in 2021. He’s also been Derek Carr‘s safety blanket.

Renfrow has drawn six-plus targets with five-plus receptions and 57+ yards in all four games this season. He’s also scored 10.7+ PPR points in all four games as well. The shifty slot recover has found the end zone in each of his past two games, his two best fantasy outings of the year (18.7, 16.5).

Renfrow leads all Raiders wideouts in targets (30) and is second on the team to tight end Darren Waller‘s 40.

In Week 5, Renfrow will look to keep his good fortunes rolling against the Bears. Chicago’s defense is surrendering the fifth-most FPPG (44.4) to enemy receivers, feeling the losses of Kyle Fuller and Bryce Callahan in the secondary.

The Bears’ defense has given up the second most touchdowns (seven) to wide receivers. They have allowed 10 different wideouts to drop 12.3 PPR points on them in four games. Yikes.

Start Renfrow who has a double-digit PPR points floor in Week 5.

Deep WR Week 5 Sleeper: Marquez Callaway, New Orleans Saints @ Washington Football Team

  • Saints-Football Team Total: 45 via DraftKings Sportsbook
  • Over 45 (-110), Under 45 (-110)

Marquez Callaway entered 2021 with massive hype. Unfortunately, he’s been an utter disappointment. However, while he struggled to do anything in the first two games of the year, he’s sort of turned things around the last two weeks?

Callaway has scored 23.5 PPR points over his past two outings, including 14.1 in Week 3, where he hauled in four passes for 41 yards and a score. Still, Callaway has seen fewer than four targets in three of his first four games.

If it wasn’t for a matchup against Washington, Callaway would not be on my radar. However, the Football Team gives up the big play to wide receivers (see Cordarrelle Patterson last week) and Callaway is the big play deep threat for the Saints.

The Football Team is giving up the second most FPPG to wide receivers (54.1) including the second-most receptions (77), the third most yards (933), and the second-most scores (seven) to the position. They’ve also conceded 80+ receiving yards to seven different receivers in four games.

If Callaway is ever going to go off, it should be in this Week 5 matchup. This is a pure matchup play/dart throw pick.

More WR Sleepers To Consider

  • Jaylen Waddle, Miami Dolphins @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers
  • Sammy Watkins, Baltimore Ravens vs. Indianapolis Colts

2021 Fantasy Football Sleepers for Week 5: Tight End

Hunter Henry, New England Patriots @ Houston Texans

  • Patriots-Texans Total: 39.5 via DraftKings Sportsbook
  • Over 39.5 (-110), Under 39.5 (-110)

I was in on Hunter Henry last week and it paid off. Henry finished with 13.2 PPR points on a 4/32/1 line on five targets. While Jonnu Smith also found the end zone (10.4 points on a 3/15/1 line on five targets), Henry is beginning to separate in terms of usage.

Henry played 40 snaps and ran 29 routes while Smith played 28 snaps and ran 17 routes. Henry ran as many routes as Smith’s snap share. Let’s call it what it is. Henry is simply more reliable, much to the chagrin of the fantasy football community. The Patriots are beginning to see that.

In Sunday’s tilt at the Texans, Henry is in another prime spot to not only score a touchdown for the second straight game, but also finish with 10+ PPR points.

The Texans are yielding the fifth most FPPG (17.38) to enemy tight ends. They are allowing the third most receptions (27), the fourth most yards (275), and are tied for the second most touchdowns (3).

The Texans just let Dawson Knox — my other tight end sleeper from last week — drop a 5/32/2 line on them. They’ve also allowed a tight end to score a touchdown in three of the first four games of the year, including Panther TE Tommy Tremble‘s rushing score in Week 3. Yes, that counts.

Deep TE Week 5 Sleeper: Dalton Schultz, Dallas Cowboys vs. New York Giants

  • Giants-Cowboys Total: 52 via DraftKings Sportsbook
  • Over 52 (-110), Under 52 (-110)

I don’t know if Dalton Schultz is a sleeper, a deep sleeper, or neither. All I know is that he is rostered in fewer than 34% of leagues at ESPN and Yahoo!, a travesty for a player who has finished with 10.5+ PPR points in three of four games this season, including back-to-back outings with 17.8+.

While Schultz does have to contend with Blake Jarwin, Amari Cooper, CeeDee Lamb, and a slew of other weapons in the Cowboys’ passing attack, he is emerging as Dak Prescott‘s favorite tight end to target.

Schultz appears to be passing Jarwin in the tight end pecking order, too. In last week’s Week 4 win over the stingy Panthers, Schultz played 48 snaps and ran 18 routes while Jarwin played 32 snaps and ran just eight routes.

In the three games in which Schultz ended the week with at least 10.8 PPR points, he’s managed six-plus targets, six-plus receptions, and 45+ yards. He’s also scored a touchdown in consecutive games (three total TDs the last two weeks).

Expect Schultz’s run to continue in Week 5 against the Giants. New York’s defense is yielding the fourth-most PPR points to tight ends (17.4), including a league-worst four touchdowns.

Dalton once again brings TE1 upside in Week 5, especially if he scores.

Be sure to also find a sportsbook you like — go see all of my sportsbook reviews here at thegameday.com — and take the Schultz to score an anytime touchdown prop. Don’t leave money on the table. Just in case, take Jarwin to score too. One of them will hit and the payout will be terrific.

More TE Sleepers To Consider

  • Mo Alie-Cox, Indianapolis Colts @ Baltimore Ravens
  • C.J. Uzomah, Cincinnati Bengals vs. Green Bay Packers

2021 Fantasy Football Sleepers for Week 5: Kicker

Brandon McManus, Denver Broncos @ Pittsburgh Steelers

  • Washington-Falcons Total: 40 via DraftKings Sportsbook
  • Over 40 (-110), Under 40 (-110)

Brandon McManus is currently ranked as the sixth best kicker in fantasy football with 39 points. While he only recorded one point last week against the Ravens, he is still averaging 9.8 FPPG.

The Broncos employ one of those offenses that can move the football but are not exactly great at scoring touchdowns, which means ample opportunities for field goals. McManus is second in field goal tries (nine) and has made all of those attempts.

Now, McManus gets a terrific matchup with the Steelers. While the Pittsburgh defense is still one of the best in the NFL, they are no longer elite like they were last season. You can get into scoring position but they will hold slightly above average offenses out of the end zone.

The total in this game is a meager 40 for a reason. The Steelers and Broncos both have similar offensive struggles while their defenses are both bend but not break. Both kickers should be busy in this matchup. Look for a bounceback game from McManus. He should score right around his average if not more.

Also Consider: Younghoe Koo, Atlanta Falcons vs. New York Jets; Randy Bullock, Tennessee Titans @ Jacksonville Jaguars

2021 Fantasy Football Sleepers for Week 5: Defensive Team

Las Vegas Raiders vs. Chicago Bears

  • Bears-Raiders Total: 46 via DraftKings Sportsbook
  • Over 46 (-110), Under 46 (-110)

The Raiders are 3-1, dropping their first game of the year to the Chargers on Monday Night Football. Despite their record, their defense hasn’t exactly been their strong point. However, Las Vegas’ defense has a shot to shine in Sunday’s matchup with the Bears.

Not only is this matchup a home game for the Vegas D/ST, but the Bears are a mess on offense, even more so than usual.

Their quarterback situation is in continuous flux. Whether it is Justin Fields, Andy Dalton, or Nick Foles — they are all terrific signal-callers to deploy a D/ST against — arguably their best offensive asset, RB David Montgomery, is expected to miss some time with a knee injury.

We will see Damien Williams in an every-down role for the Bears. Williams is no slouch, but he also isn’t Montgomery.

The Bears are allowing the seventh-most FPPG (8.3) to enemy defenses. The Bears are also the No. 1 team in fewest yards per game (237) and third in fewest points per game (16), while surrendering the third most sacks (16).

Also Consider: New England Patriots @ Houston Texans; Dallas Cowboys vs. New York Giants

NFL Week 5 Injuries to Monitor

  • QB Teddy Bridgewater (concussion)
  • QB Jimmy Garoppolo (calf)
  • RB David Montgomery (knee)
  • RB Tony Jones Jr. (ankle)
  • WR Will Fuller (hand)
  • TE Logan Thomas (hamstring)

Anthony’s Accountable: Sleeper Pick Success Rate

This is a recap of my plays from last week (skill position players only). I consider a sleeper a hit if the player scores 10+ PPR points (15+ for QBs):

  • QB Taylor Heinicke (27.90)
  • QB Joe Burrow (22.32)
  • RB Javonte Williams (8.9)
  • RB Devin Singletary (9.6)
  • RB Zack Moss (12.1)
  • RB Chuba Hubbard (9.1)
  • WR Marvin Jones (5.4)
  • WR Jakobi Meyers (16.8)
  • WR Olamide Zaccheaus (2.5)
  • TE Hunter Henry (13.2)
  • TE Dawson Knox (20.7)


Anthony Cervino

Anthony Cervino is an NFL Writer and Betting Analyst for The Game Day. He is also a lifelong NFL savant and self-proclaimed league historian. In the industry, Anthony has excelled in both the fantasy football and sports betting space with fantasy his proverbial bread and butter. Anthony has made appearances on SiriusXM, amongst other publications. He is also the co-creator of the FF Faceoff (Faceoff Sports Network) and the FF Faceoff Mental Health Podathon partnered with the Hayden Hurst Foundation. Industry Clout: 15th most accurate ranker in the FantasyPros ECR for both draft and in-season accuracy (2019) | 8th most accurate ranker in the FantasyPros ECR for sleepers (2020) | 13th most accurate ranker in the FantasyPros ECR for in-season accuracy, including 2nd at quarterback and 3rd at tight end (2021).

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