Analysis Paralysis: Week 5 Start & Sit
If you feel like you’re in a football bizarro world, it’s because you are. The Chiefs are 4-0, the Giants are 0-4 and Philip Rivers has been a better fantasy quarterback than anyone not named Peyton Manning, Drew Brees or Michael Vick.
We’re still dealing with a relatively small sample size right now, but we are a quarter of the way through the season. I hate doing this through the first two or three weeks, but we can finally start looking at trends that indicate which teams give up fantasy points to certain positions and draw conclusions from those trends that can help with our start-sit decisions.
To that end, let’s get into Week 5 players who deserve to be in your lineup (or on your bench).
12-Pack of Goodness
(12 players who are primed to outplay their normal value this weekend)
Terrelle Pryor: Pryor has been cleared to start after missing last week’s game with a concussion and has the good fortune of facing a Chargers defense this weekend that is allowing over 25 fantasy points per game to quarterbacks (the most in the NFL). Combine that with the fact that Pryor is averaging almost 16 fantasy points per start, and you have a recipe for a fantasy monster this weekend.
Eli Manning: Manning has been bad this season and there’s really no way of sugarcoating that. He’s averaging only 12 points a game and is currently the 23rd-ranked quarterback. That said, he gets to play the Eagles this weekend and should be able to take advantage of the 22 fantasy points per game they’re allowing to quarterbacks. With that Eagles matchup, this won’t be the last Giant you read about in this article.
David Wilson: I told you Manning wouldn’t be the last Giant in here! Wilson has been an utter disappointment to anyone who selected him in the early rounds of their draft, but again, it’s the Eagles! Wilson’s carries have been increasing over the last few weeks, and the Giants release of Da’Rell Scott can only mean good things for Wilson. I’ll have him as a Top 10 running back in my rankings this week.
Maurice Jones-Drew: Speaking of early-round disappointments… Jones-Drew has yet to top 45 yards in any of his four games this season and still only has one touchdown. His fortunes for this weekend are looking promising, as he gets to face a Rams defense that is allowing over 23 fantasy points to running backs (the most in the NFL). It would be more than understandable if you’ve been wavering on starting Jones-Drew the last few weeks, but this is most definitely a week to start him.
Benny Cunningham/Isaiah Pead/Zac Stacy: I’m hedging my bets a bit here, but Daryl Richardson won’t be starting this weekend according to his Twitter feed. We’ll have to keep an eye on who actually starts for the Rams, but whoever it is deserves a start this week. The Rams play a Jaguars defense who has been burned on the ground this season (they’re currently last in the league in terms of rushing yards allowed).
Jeremy Kerley: I won’t argue with you if you want to say that Geno Smith is horribly inconsistent, but he has to throw to someone with Stephen Hill and Santonio Holmes likely out. Kerley should be the beneficiary of the Jets wide receiver issues and could be a PPR monster this weekend, as the Jets face an Atlanta secondary who has given up the fourth-most fantasy points to wide receivers to date.
Josh Gordon: Gordon is a no-brainer start in my opinion, but I know a lot of people worry about low-scoring Thursday night matchups, so I figured I’d include him on the list. Brian Hoyer has shown that he’s at least more capable than a third of the other starting quarterbacks in the NFL, and the Bills have allowed the second-most points to fantasy wide receivers this season (after Philadelphia). Gordon should be a Top 15 wide receiver play this week and could very well end up in the Top 10.
Justin Blackmon: Judging by his availability on too many waiver wires this week, it would seem that a lot of fantasy owners forgot about Justin Blackmon while he was serving a four-game suspension. He suffers from having Blaine Gabbert as his quarterback, but we’re also talking about a player who finished with more fantasy points than Larry Fitzgerald and Jordy Nelson last year. With a nice matchup against a Rams pass defense who has been giving up yards in chunks, Blackmon should make for a sneaky play this week.
Greg Olsen: When the Cardinals play a good tight end (Jared Cook and Jimmy Graham), they get torched. They allowed huge games to each of those players, and Mr. Olsen has the good fortune of attempting to join that list this weekend. Coming off a bye week, the Panthers should be ready to put up some points on a Cardinals defense that has had trouble covering the tight end position this year.
Charles Clay: Remember when Julius Thomas and Jordan Cameron had good games against the Ravens? Guess which tight end gets to play the defending champs this weekend. Clay has had at least five receptions in all four games he’s played this year and should be able to post another start-worthy performance against the Ravens this weekend.
St. Louis Rams: Whether they’re a good defense or not, is there ever a good reason not to play a defense that is facing the Jaguars? I didn’t think so.
Atlanta Falcons: The Falcons defense really isn’t all that good and is missing a few starters, but Geno Smith has been one of (if not the most) mistake-prone quarterbacks in the league this year. The Falcons should be hungry as they try to avoid a 1-4 start and should make for a good spot-start against the Jets this week.
6-Pack of Sorrow
(Six players you should think about benching if you have better options)
Andrew Luck: Luck is a player who you draft to leave in your quarterback spot for every week except his bye week, but this is a week to sit him if you can. The Seahawks have only allowed 10 fantasy points per game to quarterbacks this season, and I would start players like Terrelle Pryor and even Sam Bradford over Luck this week.
Lamar Miller: Miller is still an intriguing fantasy talent, but he’s still yet to receive more than 14 carries in a week so far this year (only 11 last week). The Dolphins also face the Ravens this week (who have allowed the second-least amount of fantasy points to running backs), so Miller is most definitely a “sit” for me unless you’re out of better options.
Stevan Ridley: This call might be rendered moot if the knee/thigh injury that kept Ridley out of practice yesterday keeps him from playing, but I’d probably sit him even if he does play. Ridley is stuck in a three-headed committee with Brandon Bolden and LaGarrette Blount, and that’s just not a situation I’d feel good for the foreseeable future. He’s a worthy flex play in deeper leagues, but owners in shallower leagues can do better.
Reggie Wayne: Wayne is still a must-start in deeper leagues, but a matchup against Richard Sherman would make me think twice about starting him if you have other options. The Seahawks defense has allowed the least amount of fantasy points to wide receivers so far this season, so while I wouldn’t automatically sit Wayne, I think this is one week where it might be smart to do so.
Owen Daniels: Daniels has been a Top 10 tight end to date, but the Texans face a tough San Francisco defense that has been quite stingy in terms of allowing fantasy points to tight ends this season. The Texans have been spreading the ball around quite a bit, and while Daniels will still get plenty of targets, I think there are 12-14 better tight ends to start this week, so I’d strongly consider sitting him if you have another option.
Chicago Bears: I’d normally cement the Bears defense into my Top 10 defenses every week, but this week is the exception. Home game or not, the Bears have to face a Drew Brees-led Saints offense that is running on all cylinders right now. I’d avoid the Bears defense this week if you can afford to.
Your Questions. My Answers.
@mgreenberg23: Ryan Mathews or Hakeem Nicks in Standard non ppr league?
Nick: Those are two very frustrating players fantasy-wise, but I’d have to lean toward Nicks this week with the Giants facing the Eagles.
@kevinflores24: I need to play two of these three this week. One point PPR – David Wilson, Joique Bell, or Pierre Thomas. Who's the best play? Thanks
Nick: I’d definitely go with Wilson, Kevin, and then I’d have to go with Bell over Thomas. I like Thomas a lot, but it seems like the Saints are just intent on keeping him from being a player who fantasy owners can rely on.
@WooBennyNMU: pick three this week, WR .75ppr pp10yds, TE 1.25ppr pp8yds: Jimmy Graham, A.J. Green, Tony Gonzalez, Jordan Cameron, Josh Gordon.
Nick: Graham and Green are must-starts each and every week for me, Benny, so don’t overthink that one. After them, I’d lean towards Josh Gordon over the two tight ends. I wouldn’t argue with you if you wanted to go with Cameron, but I’d feel better about Gordon this week.
@vivcola: pick 2, standard. Stevan Ridley, Fred Jackson, Justin Blackmon, Rashad Jennings? Thanks.
Nick: Ridley and Jennings are just too risky for me this week, so I’d slot Blackmon and Jackson into my lineup.
@thenicksheerin: need a TE for this week. Ppr: Brandon Pettigrew, Dallas Clark, Jermaine Gresham, Brent Celek. Pick one.
Nick: I can’t say I LOVE any of those options, but the Patriots got absolutely torched by Tony Gonzalez last week (and typically struggle to cover tight ends), so I’d roll with Gresham and hope he finds the end zone.
As always, I’ll be checking the comments section for start-sit questions all week, so drop them in there below this post and I’ll make sure I get back to you!