Welcome to week 5 of the fantasy football season. With 4 weeks gone, it seems as though we have more questions than we started the year with. We’ll try to help make sense of some of these situations with some start and sit recommendations. I’ll try to mostly go over players who aren’t completely obvious starts, so if you think a player like Zeke, CMC, Kamara, etc is missing, it should go without saying to start them. Side note: Byes this week are the Lions and Dolphins. I’m sorry to anyone who is missing their important Dolphins starters. Hopefully you can get by without them.
Start of the Week: Tom Brady vs Redskins: Despite dealing with new faces on the offensive line and an ever changing receiving corps, Brady had scored at least 20 points in each of his first 3 games. In his first real test of the year last week vs Buffalo, Brady had by far his worst game throwing for 150 yards, with 1 interception, and no touchdowns. Luckily for Brady, he doesn’t have to play Buffalo in Buffalo every week and he has the perfect opportunity to bounce back against a Redskins team that ranks 31st in points allowed, while giving up 251.8 yards through the air.
Jacoby Brissett at Chiefs: Guess who the only QB to throw multiple touchdowns through 4 weeks is. After Luck shocked the football world with his sudden retirement, many wondered how Brisett would fare in his new role as a starting QB. It turns out that so far, he’s doing just fine. Brissett comes into this matchup as the #10 ranked QB in 4 pt per passing TD leagues. The latest odds have this game at a huge 56.5 over/under with the Chiefs favored by 11. This should mean plenty of opportunity for Brissett to put up points, while likely playing catchup to a team that allows an average of 19 points per game to QBs. The health of T.Y. Hilton is a concern, but Brissett showed that he can still make it work without him, by posting his best game of the year thus far against the Raiders last week.
Matt Ryan vs Texans: While Matty Ice comes into this game as the #6 QB, it’s safe to say that anyone with him on their team hasn’t felt that way, especially while watching him play. Most of Ryan’s production has come at the end of games, barely saving his week. For our purposes, it doesn’t matter when points come, but we have to wonder how sustainable it is for him to do this. Ryan’s biggest problem by far this year is turning the ball over with a 8:6 touchdown to interception rate and 1 lost fumble. This is especially conerning, considering that Ryan is not only top 10 all-time as far as touchdown to interception rate, but he also only threw 7 interceptions all of last year. Enter the Texans who are ranked 21st against the pass, giving up 259 yards per game to opposing QBs. Look for Ryan to bounce back from his poor outing last week in what should be a high scoring game.
Kyler Murray vs Bengals: It’s been a bit of a shaky start to the season for Kyler Murray. Currently sitting at 62.7%, Murray will likely be among the league leaders in completion percentage by the end of the year. As impressive as this sounds, it’s more a product of Kingsbury’s system that allows for easy passes out to the flat. In fact, his average depth of target over the last two weeks is a measly 5 yards which ranks 31st both weeks. Murray came into the league as one of the best running quarterbacks out of college. He unfortunately has yet to show much of this side of his game outside of week 3 where he had 69 yards on 8 attempts vs the Panthers. The Bengals are terrible at pretty much everything, with their defense ranked 31st overall, giving up an average of 27.5 points per game. This is as good an opportunity as any for Kyler to prove his worth.
Daniel Jones vs Vikings: Danny Dimes was has been the darling in many’s eyes starting with his performance in preseason. While many wrote that off as meaningless as preseason often is, he followed it up by bringing the Giants back from 18 down for a win in his first career start. As impressive as this was, especially against a much improved Bucs D, he fell back down to earth in what should have been a prime matchup vs the Redskins in week 4. As fun as Jones has been to watch in his short career, his next two opponents are the Vikings and Patriots, who rank 9th and 2nd against the pass. Better days are likely ahead for Jones, but for now he belongs on your bench.
Jared Goff (At Seattle): It’s well known among fantasy players that Goff on the road is something to avoid whenever possible. His struggles on the road date back to last season, indicating this is more than just a fluke. Goff’s weekly finishes in away games, starting with last Week 1: QB15, QB20, QB26, QB18, QB2, QB27, QB39, QB14, QB29. As you can see, only one of these performances was worthy of a starting QB and it came vs the Saints in a shootout. While Goff is coming off of a 517 yard, 2 TD performance, it may very well go down as the worst 500+ yard performance of all time. It took Goff 68 attempts to reach that mark, which he followed up with 3 interceptions and a lost fumble. Add onto this that the Rams Oline is ranked last right now by PFF and I’m staying away from Goff outside of 2QB and Superflex.
Andy Dalton vs Cardinals: I’m not sure what’s harder to believe. That I’m recommending Andy Dalton or that I actually watched that entire debacle of a Monday night game between the Bengals and Steelers. While it’s extremely hard to believe in a QB whose turnstyle offensive line allowed him to be sacked 8 times, the Cardinals are so bad on defense that Dalton has to be on the radar of anyone needing a streamer this week. I would only start Dalton if you’re dealing with a QB injury such as Josh Allen or bye week problems from Matthew Stafford, but this is still as good of a matchup as Dalton will get, making him a risky start with high scoring potential.
Start of the Week: Marlon Mack vs Chiefs: This is obviously highly contingent upon Mack’s health going into this game. Early reports; however, indicate that Mack’s ankle injury wasn’t serious and he could have come back into the game if needed. It remains to be seen how true this is, but pay attention to reports leading up to this game to get a better idea before starting. Despite health concerns, Mack couldn’t ask for a better matchup as the Chiefs are the 31st ranked D against the run, giving up an average of 149.8 yards per game. Jonathan Wilkins will become a must-start if Mack is unable to go, making him a wise waiver pickup if you have the space to stash him. Nyheim Hines will likely be a viable flex play either way if you are desperate for someone to start, especially in deeper leagues as the Colts will likely play from behind at some point in this game.
LeSean Mccoy/D. Williams vs Colts: “Which D. Williams?” you might ask. To that I say, “is Damien healthy?” Has there ever been a more confusing pair of running back names? Coming from the same game as the start of week, the Chiefs have shown that they can support two fantasy viable RBs, with McCoy and either Williams splitting snaps almost evenly. This is another situation that depends on health. McCoy has been getting around 50% of the touches regardless of who the other starter is. What matters most,is the health of Damien Williams. The Chiefs thus far, have shown that they prefer to have Damien and McCoy splitting carries, with Darrell just behind them. If Damien is able to play, he should be a low-end RB2. If Damien is unable to go for a third straight week, Darrell stays a flex play, with McCoy being a solid RB2 regardless of the D.Williams he splits time with.
Austin Ekeler/Melvin Gordon vs Broncos: Another RB combination recommendation, I’m sensing a pattern. The unfortunate reality for fantasy players is that more teams are going to use RBBC, making things that much harder for us. The once vaunted Broncos D is in shambles, having lost multiple starters on defense to injury, the most recent being Bradley Chubb with a torn ACL. The Broncos are currently ranked 30th against the run, giving up 149.2 yards per game. This only figures to get worse with the loss of Chubb, making any RBs against them must-starts. The question here isn’t one of injury, but one of playing time. The Chargers activated Gordon last week, but didn’t need him, so he stayed on the sidelines for the entire game. Gordon will play in this game, but reports are mixed as to whether he’ll be the number 1 or be limited. As of right now, Gordon should be considered a high end RB2 and Ekeler a high end flex unless we are told definitively what the split will be. As long as either one is getting double digit touches in this game, they should be plenty efficient.
49ers RBs vs Browns: Speaking of RBBC, I’m not sure you can get a bigger committee than what we have going in San Francisco right now. With Coleman out, the 49ers have been using a Cerberus-like, 3-headed monster at the RB position with Jeff Wilson Jr. as the goal line back and Matt Breida sharing time between the 20s with Raheem (Colonel) Mostert. Interestingly, the 49ers RB conglomerate as a whole would be the number 1 fantasy scoring RB, if only it wasn’t split so many ways. With reports of Coleman possibly coming back and the Browns giving up an average of 10 points to RBs over the last 3 weeks, most notably against the run heavy Ravens, it’s best to wait on playing 49ers RBs until we get more clarity on the playing situation, as well as a better matchup.
Wayne Gallman vs Vikings: Congrats to anyone who won the Wayne Gallman waiver lottery last week. I saw many analysts mocking the amounts people paid for him, but for now, those who spent got what they paid for. With 63 yards and 1 TD on the ground and 6 receptions for 55 yards and a touchdown receiving, Gallman was everything we could have hoped for and more. Unfortunately, he can’t play the Redskins every week. Gallman gets an awful matchup vs the Vikings who are 9th vs the run and likely pissed off after an embarrassing loss to their division rival Bears.
David Montgomery vs Raiders (In London): The first recommendation on the bolder side, due to his less than stellar beginning to the season is Montgomery vs the Raiders. While Montgomery has yet to get going or even remotely live up to his ADP, what he does have going for him is an increase in snap % each week. Through 4 weeks, his snap % has been: 38%, 45%, 65%, 69%. The big problem is that the production isn’t there yet and the Bears offense seems to lack any kind of direction thus far. Montgomery should be able to inevitably start racking up yards and touchdowns at some point if these snap percentages continue.
Start of the Week: DeAndre Hopkins vs Falcons: Normally, I wouldn’t be recommending players like Hopkins who should be obvious enough starts that I shouldn’t have to tell you to start them. The problem though, is after exploding for 111 yards and two touchdowns in week 1, Hopkins slowed down immensely, failing to even get close to 100 yards or in the endzone over the past 3 weeks. This is not at all what we expected from the preseason consensus #1 overall WR, which has left Hopkins owners such as myself feeling dismayed. To add salt to the wound, he even threw an interception in Week 4 with his best 2019 Matt Ryan impression. Don’t panic just yet though. His down weeks have come at a time when he’s gone up against great CBs and a Panthers D that we now realize was very underrated coming into the season. There’s nothing like the Atlanta D to make things better again for Hopkins. In Week 4, the Falcons allowed the anemic Titans offense to gain 206 total yards receiving, mostly split amongst previously invisible A.J. Brown and the much maligned Corey Davis. If that duo can put up that kind of performance against the Falcons, just imagine what Hopkins can do.
Julian Edelman vs Redskins: Week 4 was a bad time for the Patriots offense as a whole and thus a good time for the rest of the world. Edelman is coming into week 5 as only WR #34 in PPR and #38 in standard. These numbers aren’t too surprising, even with the Patriots success and extremely soft schedule, because they haven’t been behind at any point this season and more importantly from a fantasy perspective, Edelman doesn’t score touchdowns often. What he does do though, is get targets and catches at a high rate. Edelman has been targeted 11, 4, 10, and 7 times so far this year. He came into last week with a chest injury, which combined with a tough Bills D in Buffalo, made for a hard outing. Look for him to bounce back easily against a Redskins defense giving out points to every position.
Larry Fitzgerald vs Bengals: If you made it through the entire monday night game, first of all, congratulations. Secondly, you’ve seen first hand why playing anyone against the Bengals is a good idea. Despite the Dolphins’ best efforts, teams like the Bengals are giving them a run for their money at the first overall pick in the draft next year. The Bengals are giving up an average of 19 points to opposing wide receivers, which along with an injury to Christian Kirk, makes Fitz a prime target to start in week 5.
Robert Woods at Seahawks: Welcome to the show Mr. Woods! After a quiet week 2 and 3, Woods came back into the fold with 164 yards off of 13 catches in Week 4. It was nice to see Woods be more involved much like he was last year. The problem though, is this came in a game where Goff threw the ball 68 times. This obviously won’t happen every week, which leaves much less opportunity for Woods to produce, especially if Goff keeps looking Kupp’s way more than anyone else. With Goff’s struggles on the road and the short week heading into a Thursday night game, it’s best to look elsewhere.
D.J. Moore vs Jacksonville: D.J. Moore hasn’t quite lived up to the preseason hype this year, although it isn’t entirely his fault. With Cam playing hurt and now a backup QB starting, Moore hasn’t had the best opportunity to produce this season. To make matters worse, Moore has seen his targets disappear from 10 and 14 with Newton under center, to 2 and 5 with Allen starting. The one positive going for Moore is that without Jalen Ramsey, the Jaguars have given up more production at the receiver position than usual. Until he sees more targets though, he can’t be trusted as a starter.
DeMarcus Robinson vs Colts: Anyone who is a part of the explosive Chiefs offense can be considered in fantasy lineups, so it should come as no surprise to see a Chiefs receiver in the sleeper section. The reason Robinson wasn’t listed as an obvious started is that outside of his 35.20 point eruption vs the Raiders, he’s had relatively quiet weeks of 1, 13.3, and 7.5 points. The encouraging part is he’s averaging 5 targets a week, having been targeted a team-high 9 times in week 4. Any target is incredibly valuable when it comes from the Chiefs offense, especially in what will be a high scoring game, featuring two bad defenses. Robinson should be considered a WR2 with WR1 upside if things can go his way in week 4.
Tyler Eifert vs Cardinals: Much like how 2019 is the year of start everyone vs the Dolphins, another rule to abide by is start any tight end against the Cardinals. Here are tight end stats vs the Cardinals so far: T.J. Hockenson: 6/131/1, Mark Andrews: 8/112/1 , Greg Olsen: 6/72/2, Will Dissly: 7/57/1. As you can see, words cannot describe just how awful the Cardinals are against tight ends. This along with Eifert’s 15.7% target share, along with A.J. Green and John Ross injuries, make Eifert this week’s chosen one amongst the wasteland that is the tight end position
Delanie Walker vs Bills: While Delanie has had an incredible start to the 2019 season as Mariota’s favorite target, there’s plenty of problems with his matchup this week. First, this should be one of the lowest scoring games of the week by far. The latest over/under is a miniscule 37.5 points. The Bills D is much more vulnerable on the ground than through the air, which just so happens to play right into the Titan’s strength on offense. On top of that, the Bills D are only allowing an average of 2 points per game to fantasy tight ends. The argument can be made that this is only because they’ve faced one good tight end week 2 in Engram. Until proven otherwise, I would sit any tight end vs the Bills.
Joey Slye vs Jaguars: Through 4 weeks, as expected, the number 1 kicker in fantasy is *checks notes* Joey Slye. Wait a minute, that’s not Butker or Zuerlein. In a surprise to many and probably another reason many leagues are doing away with the kicker position, Joey Slye is your guy at the number one position at kicker. If you’re unfortunate enough to still have kickers in your league, which I do as well in a few, make sure to pick up Slye if he’s still available. He’s now 19 of 20 on FGs for the year, including 4 from 50+ yards. What more can you ask for in a kicker?
Stephen Gostkowski vs Redskins: This one will come as a surprise to those who haven’t paid much attention to the kicker position. Going into the season, Gostkowski seemed like a lock to be a top kicker, playing for a high-powered offense and having been reliable in the past. In reality, Gostkowski is ranked as only the #12 kicker on the year and is struggling mightily. He has already missed 4 extra points this season, including 1 in week 4 that could have cost the Patriots the game if the Bills offense wasn’t awful. He has also missed 1 FG on the year. With Gostkowski struggling and much better options likely available, Gostkowski should be dropped to your waivers, much like he will be in real life if he doesn’t improve.
Eagles vs Jets
Titans vs Bills
Bills vs Titans
Panthers vs Jaguars
Rams vs Seahawks
Baltimore vs Steelers
Packers vs Cowboys