Week five was a strange one. All four starting rookie quarterbacks were victorious, Mason Crosby’s four missed field goals costed Green Bay the win in Detroit, and the Browns won their second game in three weeks. While unpredictability is the norm in the NFL, week five took things to another level.
Nonetheless, I can’t be upset with last week’s Start/Sit predictions. I foresaw big games out of James Conner and T.J. Yeldon and correctly recommended benching guys like Andy Dalton and Lamar Miller, even before his injury was reported. However, the tight end position remains a mystery, as neither Jared Cook nor Vance McDonald had the outings I expected them to. Alas, we must push forward by turning our attention to Week 6.
Let me remind you that these lists consist of players who aren’t obvious. I shouldn’t have to tell you to start the Antonio Browns, Aaron Rodgers and Todd Gurleys of the world. This article revolves around players who haven’t yet reached “stud” status, and thus require weekly consideration for your lineup.
I make these suggestions based on each player’s weekly matchups, surrounding talent and in-game usage. While predicting the future is anything but easy, using these tools can help us make better choices when determining which players we start or sit from week to week. For more help with your lineup check out The Wolf’s weekly rankings.
Ryan disappointed last week by committing just as many turnovers as touchdown passes (1). He’ll get back on track this week against the Buccaneers’ pathetic pass defense. Tampa Bay has allowed the most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks, the most passing yards per game (358), the highest completion percentage (77.1%) AND the most touchdown passes (13) despite having a bye last week.
While Winston does not come without risk, his upside is immense in what’s shaping up to be a shootout in Atlanta. The Falcons have surrendered the fourth-most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks, the second-most touchdown passes (12) and the fifth-highest completion percentage (69.8%). Coming off a bye week and equipped with an abundance of weapons, the tables are set for Winston to feast.
If Howard’s 11-carry 25-yard performance versus the Buccaneers didn’t give you blue balls nothing will. I trust he’ll get you off this week against a Miami defense that has allowed the fourth-most fantasy points (PPR) to opposing backfields. The Dolphins have given up the third-fewest touchdown passes (6) while also boasting the most interceptions (10) in the NFL. This should inspire Chicago to deploy a run-centric offensive attack.
Sony Michel was limited in practice Thursday which suggests White could have the running back workload all to himself. If healthy, both ‘backs should be started against a Chiefs defense that has allowed the second-most fantasy points (PPR) to opposing backfields. Kansas City has allowed the third-most rushing touchdowns (6) and has surrendered a league-high 5.8 yards per carry.
Carson has played 65.8% of the offensive snaps during his last two games and has seen 54 touches over that time. The result has been back to back 100-yard performances. This week he faces a Raiders defense that has given up the eighth-most fantasy points (PPR) to opposing backfields. Oakland has allowed the fifth-most yards per carry (4.9) and the third-most rushing touchdowns (6).
After racking up six touchdowns in three games, Ridley was held to just four catches for 38 yards last week in a 41-17 loss. He has a prime opportunity to bounce back against a Buccaneers defense that has surrendered the second-most fantasy points (PPR) to opposing wide receivers. For more details on how bad the Buccaneers defense is read the Matt Ryan portion above.
Andy Dalton has thrown just as many passes to Boyd this season as A.J. Green (43). The Bengals play at home this week against a Steelers defense that has allowed the fourth-most fantasy points (PPR) to opposing receivers. Pittsburgh has given up the most touchdowns passes (13) and the fourth-most passing yards per game (296.2) in the NFL.
In back to back weeks Rogers has made eight catches on eleven targets. With T.Y. Hilton expected to miss this Sunday’s game, Rogers will once again see an expanded role. This week the Colts take on a Jets defense that has allowed the fifth-most fantasy points (PPR) to opposing receivers.
Did I mention the Colts are shorthanded? Not only is T.Y. Hilton dealing with injuries, but Jack Doyle is expected to miss the game as well. With both Pro Bowlers out, Ebron saw 15 targets last week and hauled in nine of them for 105 yards and two scores. If he can fight through his injuries Ebron will be Andrew Luck’s top target once again in week six.
Winston loves him some Brate. Since the start of the 2016 season over 31% of Winston’s touchdown passes have gone to Brate. With a touchdown reception in back to back weeks and O.J. Howard battling a MCL sprain, I like Brate’s chances of finding the endzone again this week against a piss-poor Atlanta defense.
This is your weekly reminder to start whatever defense is facing the Bills. Houston is at home this week to play a Buffalo team that has scored the fewest points (12.6 PPG) and has mustered up the second-fewest yards from scrimmage per game (221.2).
Green Bay Packers:
The poor 49ers just can’t catch a break. First, Jerick McKinnon was lost for the season, then Jimmy Garoppolo tore his ACL and now Matt Breida is dealing with ankle issues. The remnants of what was once a promising offense has committed the second-most turnovers in the NFL (11). The Packers’ defense is more than capable of bullying the likes of C.J. Beathard and Alfred Morris in Green Bay.
I know Bears fans are ready to anoint Trubisky as the next Tom Brady, but a drunk Johnny Manziel could have put up big numbers against the nonexistent Buccaneers pass defense. The Dolphins present Trubisky his biggest challenge of the season by far. Miami’s defense has allowed the second-fewest fantasy points to opposing passers and leads the league in interceptions (10).
As if Prescott wasn’t suffering enough from a lack of quality pass-catchers, the third-year quarterback will receive a visit from Jacksonville’s daunting defense this weekend. The Jaguars have allowed the fewest fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks, the fewest passing yards per game (191) and the fewest touchdown passes (3).
Collins’ usage must be frustrating to fantasy owners as Baltimore has him playing second fiddle to the painfully inefficient Javorius Allen. After playing a season-low 31% of the offensive snaps last week, Collins now faces a Titans defense that has allowed the fifth-fewest fantasy points (PPR) to opposing backfields. On the road against a unit that has given up just one rushing touchdown all season, Collins belongs on your bench this week.
Another midround ‘back who is stuck in a brutal committee, Drake’s weekly production seems to be all or nothing. Despite coming off his best fantasy performance of the season, Drake’s outlook appears grim against a Bears defense that has surrendered the fewest fantasy points (PPR) to opposing running backs. Chicago has allowed the fewest rushing yards per game (64) and is the only team yet to allow a rushing touchdown.
Forget benching, it’s time to consider dropping Henry all together. The third-year ‘back is yet to eclipse 60 yards from scrimmage in any game this year and has just three catches all season. Don’t count on him breaking out against a Baltimore defense that has given up the second-fewest fantasy points (PPR) to opposing rushers.
Remove Robinson’s ridiculous 14-target game in week two and the wide-out is averaging three catches for 44.6 yards per game this season. He’s reached the endzone just once and has only two catches of 20 yards or more. Robinson faces an uphill battle against a Dolphins defense that has surrendered the sixth-fewest fantasy points (PPR) to opposing receivers.
After drawing 19 targets through the first two weeks, Fuller has seen eight total targets in the two games since Keke Coutee has arrived. This week he plays a Bills defense that has allowed the seventh-fewest fantasy points (PPR) to opposing wide receivers. While Fuller is always a threat to catch a long touchdown thanks to his elite speed, he’s a risky play this week at home.
Despite giving up 363 passing yards to the great Drew Brees last week, Washington has still allowed the seventh-fewest passing yards per game (227.8). Cam Newton is a gifted playmaker but nowhere near the passer Brees is. Making things more difficult for Funchess is the fact that Greg Olsen will attempt to return from injury this week. Funchess averages 1.75 less targets per game since the start of the 2017 season when Olsen is in the lineup.
In week one Olsen refractured the same foot he broke last season. The recovery time was not as long this year because a screw Olsen had surgically implanted a season ago prevented the bone from completely breaking again. Olsen needs surgery but will attempt to play through the pain for the rest of the year. It is best to wait and see how Olsen holds up before placing him in your lineups.
The tight end position is always a wildcard, but Burton has his work cut out for him against a strong Miami pass defense. The Dolphins have allowed the eighth-fewest fantasy points to opposing tight ends. Over the past four weeks the Dolphins have held opposing tight ends to just 3.75 receptions for 42 yards per game and have yet to surrender a touchdown to a tight end this season.
All you need to know is that the Broncos play the Rams.
New England Patriots:
Similar to Denver’s predicament, New England plays an elite offense. The Chiefs average .4 more points per game this season (35 PPG) than the Rams and aren’t far behind in yards per game (413).