It's never too early for rookie love.

You’re either in the basement, or on your way to the penthouse by now.

Yep, this is it, Week 5, the week that will begin to separate the winners from the losers in a real hurry in most leagues. Not to get all Brent Musberger on you here with a string of over-dramatized clichés, but often at this point in the fantasy season there are a slew of mediocre, but possibly good teams muddled in the middle of your standings.

What brings separation is the sheer ability to make decisions. Good ones of course, because bad decisions are, well, bad. The ability to see and pounce on hidden gems is paramount at this point, because in all likelihood your league may have one undefeated team, one winless team, and a bunch of 3-1′s and 1-3′s crowding the middle. With only four teams making playoffs in most formats, now is the time to create a gap.

And how do you do that? Well, with former nobodies and backups like Ryan Torain and Mike Tolbert, of course.

Week 5 Love/hate list


Love him: Since you don’t ever need me to tell you how important it is to start Peyton Manning (he’s playing a weak Kansas City secondary, you should probably start him), let’s roll out the first pivot in a week full of matchups with strong bye week or injury fill-ins. This time, it’s Sam Bradford.

After a shaky first week with three interceptions, Bradford has minimized his rookie mistakes. You’re still going to get the expected hiccups if you take a chance with Bradford–he has six picks through four weeks–but his overall pocket presence and ability to escape the rush is growing with each game. This has led to two straight wins, and Bradford’s highest NFL yardage total last week when he passed for 289 yards against the Seahawks.

Hate him: It was fun watching Donovan McNabb beat his former team last week. Sure, real swell. But the reality is that the game was ugly, and so was McNabb. The Eagle turned Redskin completed only eight of his 19 passes for just 125 yards. Nice job uping the ante for a big game, Donovan.

The Eagles secondary is tough, and so is the Packers’, McNabb’s next opponent. But it’s the Green Bay front seven that will really test McNabb and his mobility, or lack thereof. The Packers are tied for the league led with 16 sacks.

Sleeping on him: It’s painful that I’m about to suggest starting a Bills quarterback. Hell, most weeks I’d recommend going with Little Giants quarterback Junior Floyd over anyone under centre in Buffalo. But if you’re the proud owner of Tom Brady–who’s on his bye week–and are really thin elsewhere at quarterback, it’s worth taking a look at Ryan Fitzpatrick.

The Bills are home to Jacksonville, a defence that routinely coughs up points by the truckload, surrendering an average of 27.8 per game. One of the only defences worse than Jacksonville in this category is Buffalo. So please, don’t watch this game, but if you’re grasping at straws to replace Mr. Brady, Fitzpatrick is a fine option.

Running backs

Love him: After struggling with a groin injury, Michael Turner bounced back in Week 3 against the Saints, but regressed again in Week 4. This week he has the matchup to finally breakout and give fantasy owners a little dose of the

Don't ever bench this man. Just don't always expect a herculean performance.

Turner they grew to know and love way back in 2008.

Atlanta plays Cleveland, a run defence that has been surprising in the redzone–the Browns have yet to allow a running touchdown–but still rank 17th in yardage surrendered per game.

Hate him: Unless they’ve had one too many Flaming Moe’s, no fantasy pundit would ever tell

you to sit Adrian Peterson. Ever.

But they might tell you to lower your expectations an octave or two, as I am right now. Peterson is having another ProBowl year, and has rushed for at least 140 yards in each of his

past two games. The problem is he really hasn’t faced an elite rush defence yet, and that will end Monday night against the Jets.

The Jets haven’t exactly faced an elite running back of Peterson’s calibre yet either, but after having the top rush defence last year, and with Calvin Pace returning this week, New York still deserves your respect. The Jets also haven’t allowed a 100-yard rusher yet this season.

Sleeping on him: Ryan Torain is the trendy sleeper at running back this week, and so he should be. After an impressive cameo last week in which Torain ran for 70 yards and a touchdown in the Redskins win over Philadelphia, the second-year back becomes the featured runner in Washington for the next four-to-six weeks while Clinton Portis recovers from a groin injury.

Torain is in line to run over Green Bay this week. Hey, if the Packers can give up 53 yards to Shaun Hill, Torain should be just fine.

Wide receivers

Love him: Similar to Manning and Peterson, you don’t need me to tell you to start Calvin Johnson. I’ve never been too high on Megatron, but after a rough start he’s ever so slowly rounding into mid-season form.

In the week where you’re desperately seeking separation, it’s safe to count on Johnson to give you the No. 1 wideout numbers you expected on draft day. He faces a St. Louis secondary that has already allowed over 1,000 yards.

Hate him: Larry Fitzgerald is another case of great expectations that need to be downgraded for this week, and perhaps for the rest of the season. The Cardinals host New Orleans, a secondary that’s good, but not great (the Saints average less than 200 passing yards per game). But Fitzgerald has a far greater enemy than the Saints, and it’s his own offence.

The Cardinals are in turmoil at quarterback after going through Matt Leinart and Derek Anderson. Now, undrafted rookie Max Hall gets to start his first game against the defending Super Bowl champs. We’re in Week 5 and Fitzgerald is still looking for his first 100-yard game, and he might be looking for a while.

Sleeping on him: This one’s going really deep, but Mike Williams–the Tampa Bay Mike Williams–is starting to build some confidence after his first touchdown in Week 2, and two straight weeks of at least 50 yards receiving. If it wasn’t for the Chiefs and their triple-take inducing 3-0, we’d be talking about the Buccaneers as the NFL’s biggest surprise, and young talents like Williams have been a major factor.