Fantasy Football Week 5: Players to start or sit

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Sit and start is relative and league dependent, so consider some of these suggestions more “fliers” and “fades” (note that some are targeted for DFS).

Good luck with your Week 5 lineups.

Carolina Panthers @ Atlanta Falcons

Start: Teddy Bridgewater, Russell Gage

Bridgewater is getting 8.1 YPA, so his low TD production has been a fluke, and the Falcons have the 31st pass defense DVOA and have allowed the most fantasy points to quarterbacks this season. I have Bridgewater ranked as a top-10 QB this week.

With Julio Jones unlikely to play and Calvin Ridley so banged up he was held without a catch last week (despite Jones leaving), Gage should see an uptick in targets and rebound from a couple of quiet performances. The Falcons are at home in what should be a high-scoring game against the Panthers’ No. 28 ranked defense DVOA.

Las Vegas Raiders @ Kansas City Chiefs

Sit: Henry Ruggs

Start in DFS: Clyde Edwards-Helaire ($32)

Ruggs is fully expected to return this week, but hamstring injuries are particularly worrisome, and he’s up against a KC defense that’s allowed just one touchdown and the fewest fantasy points to wide receivers this season. Expect another heavy dose of Darren Waller.

[Week 5 Fantasy Rankings: QBs | RBs | WRs | TEs | FLEX | DST | Kickers]

Edwards-Helaire has disappointed having not scored since Week 1, but the volume has been there, and the Raiders have been gashed for the most fantasy points by running backs this year. CEH quietly has the fifth-most yards after contact and is ready to erupt, so make sure he’s in your DFS lineup.

Los Angeles Rams @ Washington Football Team

Sit: Rams running backs

Start: Antonio Gibson

Game script (and scheme) will likely result in the Rams having a nice rushing game, but it’s become impossible to predict which back will lead on a weekly basis. Cam Akers is now expected to join a three-man rotation in LA’s backfield.

Gibson’s targets keep going up and he saw three goal-line carries last week, so it’s time to get excited. The rookie gets a Rams run-funnel defense this week, and Kyle Allen should provide an upgrade while taking over at quarterback. I have Gibson ranked as a top-12 PPR fantasy back in Week 5.

Jacksonville Jaguars @ Houston Texans

Start: Gardner Minshew

Start in DFS: Will Fuller ($19)

Minshew is getting 7.7 YPA and is on pace to throw 32 touchdowns this season, and he should be in a high-scoring game Sunday. He looked much improved with DJ Chark back and should be started with confidence in Week 5.

Fuller is clearly an injury risk, but he’s also a borderline top-five fantasy wide receiver when playing (and without DeAndre Hopkins). The Texans have one of the highest implied point totals (29.5 points) this week and struggle running the ball, so Fuller should have a big game if his hamstrings cooperate.

Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Gardner Minshew
Gardner Minshew is back on track after DJ Chark's return. (AP Photo/Aaron Doster)

Arizona Cardinals @ New York Jets

Sit: Kenyan Drake

Start: Jamison Crowder

Arizona’s game script could be quite favorable playing a Jets team led by Adam Gase and Joe Flacco, and it certainly would be like Drake to have a monster game while on fantasy benches, but he’s been miserable this season, ranking #101 in fantasy points per opportunity and #48 in Juke Rate while failing to see a single target last week. The Jets rank #7 in run defense DVOA, and I’d rather have Chase Edmonds on my fantasy team in PPR leagues moving forward. I hate the Drake!

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The Cardinals have been stingy to outside fantasy receivers but vulnerable to ones in the slot like Jamison Crowder, who somehow ranks #8 in yards per route run this season despite the Gase stink, and he should see a ton of targets with so few alternatives in New York’s offense.

Philadelphia Eagles @ Pittsburgh Steelers

Sit: Carson Wentz

Start: Eric Ebron

Wentz gutted out a win last week for the Eagles and has rushed for a score in three straight games, but he’s gotten a hideous 5.8 YPA in a season with scoring off the charts and is up against a tough Pittsburgh defense that’s produced 12+ more QB pressures than any other team this season. Only Jeff Driskel (-8.9) and Dwayne Haskins (-6.6) have a worse CPAE than Wentz (-5.6) this season.

Ebron’s role has expanded each week with Pittsburgh, and he faces an Eagles defense that’s ceded the third-most fantasy points to tight ends. Ebron over Zach Ertz (RIP) in this game.

Cincinnati Bengals @ Baltimore Ravens

Start: Tee Higgins

Start in DFS: Marquise Brown ($15)

Higgins saw the ninth-most air yards last week and should continue to be heavily involved with A.J. Green looking more and more washed up. With the Bengals unlikely to have success running and likely to allow a bunch of points scored on defense, Joe Burrow should once again be throwing plenty in Week 5.

Brown quietly ranks #5 in WOPR this season and won’t be this cheap in a trade again for a long time. Assuming Lamar Jackson is good to go, I’m ranking Brown as a top-12 WR and as a DFS target in Week 5.

Miami Dolphins @ San Francisco 49ers

Sit: Myles Gaskin

Start: Jerick McKinnon

Gaskin has emerged as Miami’s feature back, but he loses goal-line work to Jordan Howard and will face a SF defense that’s allowed the fewest fantasy points to running backs this season, so he belongs on fantasy benches.

McKinnon actually led all NFL running backs in team snap percentage in Week 4, and he gets a highly favorable matchup at home against a Dolphins run defense that ranks #31 in DVOA. Although he becomes more of a flex option (rather than top-10) should Raheem Mostert return from his knee injury, as near double-digit home favorites and with Jimmy Garoppolo dealing with a high-ankle sprain, expect a run-heavy game plan by San Francisco, making McKinnon a must-start in a week with a ton of RB questions.

New York Giants @ Dallas Cowboys

Start: Daniel Jones, Michael Gallup

Facing the Cowboys has resulted in a ton of plays this year (Dak Prescott is on pace to shatter the record with 804 pass attempts), and the Giants’ ridiculously tough schedule has to be taken into account when looking at Jones’ ugly early numbers. Danny Dimes can run (while the Giants’ backs likely won’t be able to) and has actually played better away from home (he had 20 touchdowns over seven road games last year), so I have him ranked as a top-10 QB this week.

Gallup has been a disappointment, but he checks in 11th in air yards this season, suggesting bigger things to come. It should help in Week 5 with James Bradbury shadowing Amari Cooper and the Giants’ defense tougher to run against than pass. Gallup finished 10th in yards per route run last season, so he’s an excellent buy-low trade candidate right now.

Indianapolis Colts @ Cleveland Browns

Start: Zach Pascal

Sit: Jarvis Landry

With Michael Pittman Jr. and Parris Campbell out and T.Y. Hilton possibly washed up (#65 in yards per route run), Pascal has emerged as the Colts’ #1 wide receiver right now, as his 28.6% target share ranked top-10 last week. This year he’s lined up 58% of the time in the slot, where the Browns have been gashed for the most fantasy points this season. Trey Burton is a deep sleeper at tight end for Indy as well, but if you’re looking for cheap DFS ($14) help at wideout, I’m ranking Pascal as a top-25 fantasy WR in Week 5.

While the Colts’ injuries at linebacker may help, Landry has been slow to recover from offseason hip surgery, and he gets a Colts defense that’s ceded the fewest yards per play in the NFL by a significant margin. I don’t rank Landry as a top-40 WR in a game that also projects to be one of the slowest paced this week.

Minnesota Vikings @ Seattle Seahawks

Start: Justin Jefferson, Greg Olsen

Jefferson is PFF’s #1 graded wide receiver (Adam Thielen is #2) and ranks #1 (by a mile) in yards per route run, which is pretty impressive for a rookie. He faces a Seahawks secondary that’s allowed a whopping 500 more yards than any other team to wide receivers this season. Jefferson is the real deal, and I have him ranked as a top-10 wide receiver in Week 5.

Olsen finished sixth among tight ends in target share last week, as he continues to become more involved in Seattle’s pass-first offense (albeit with a low aDot). He saw three red-zone targets last week (two inside the 10) and gets a favorable matchup against a depleted Minnesota defense in a game that features this week’s highest over/under (56.5 points).

Denver Broncos @ New England Patriots

Start: Jerry Jeudy, Damiere Byrd

With Noah Fant and KJ Hamler injured and Stephon Gilmore also out, the volume should be there for Jeudy against a New England pass defense that ranks #27 in DVOA. The rookie wideout impressively ranks top-30 in yards per route run despite Denver’s QB situation this season.

Byrd was second in air yards last week, so he’s a sneaky DFS option ($12) despite the uncertainty at quarterback in New England. The Broncos have allowed the second-most fantasy points to left-side wide receivers (where he mostly lines up) this season.

Los Angeles Chargers @ New Orleans Saints

Sit: Joshua Kelley

Start: Drew Brees

Kelley’s fantasy value got a huge boost with Austin Ekeler going down, but he needs to improve ball security after losing a fumble in back-to-back games, and Justin Jackson will form something of a committee. Kelley will be a strong start some weeks, but he’s worth considering benching Monday night as big underdogs against New Orleans’ #4 ranked run defense DVOA.

Brees has looked decidedly unwashed when not facing Tampa Bay’s awesome defense this season (six touchdowns and 8.5 YPA over three games), and he should be treated as a borderline top-five QB at home Monday night versus a Chargers defense that’s yielded the fifth-most fantasy points to quarterbacks. Brees also might be getting Michael Thomas back, and Justin Herbert could easily make this game among the highest-scoring of the week.

Buffalo Bills @ Tennessee Titans

Sit: John Brown

Start: Jonnu Smith

Brown appears to be injured, and with the Bills not playing until Tuesday (if at all) this week, he belongs on fantasy benches (and treat Stefon Diggs as a top-five WR).

Smith tied a career-high with eight targets last week, ranks #3 among tight ends in yards per route run this season, and is looking at another heavy workload Sunday with Corey Davis on IR (and A.J. Brown likely won’t be 100% if he returns from his serious injury). Assuming the Titans play, Smith is an easy top-10 tight end in Week 5 against a Bills defense that’s yielded the sixth-most fantasy points to the position this year.

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