Week 5 Starts and Sits
Bye Weeks: Chicago Bears and Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Blake Bortles (at Kansas City)
Week 5 is a prime matchup for Blake Bortles. The Kansas City Chiefs will most likely be without Eric Berry and we don’t have to worry about the Chiefs acquiring Earl Thomas any time soon. Bortles has been solid in 2018, especially given the fact that Leonard Fournette has been MIA this year. Bortles has thrown for over 350 yards and 2 touchdowns 2 of the last 3 weeks against defenses that are way better against opposing passers (Patriots and Jets) than the Chiefs. While nobody will ever confuse Bortles with Drew Brees, he should have more than enough weapons to find his way to a top 10 finish this week.
Ben Roethlisberger (vs Atlanta)
Speaking of excellent matchups, it should go without saying that Ben Roethlisberger is due for a bounce back after an underwhelming Sunday night performance against the Ravens in week 4. This game has the makings of a shootout as both teams taut high powered offenses that struggle to play defense (Pittsburgh allows 29.2 fantasy points per game, Atlanta gives up 25.7). Adding to the benefit of Roethlisberger in week 5 is the fact that he plays at home and Vegas has this as the highest over/under in week 5, coming in at 57 points. Play him if you got him.
Alex Smith (at New Orleans), Ryan Tannehill (at Bengals), Matt Ryan (at Pittsburgh)
Coming off two weeks to prepare and playing against the worst fantasy defense against quarterbacks in the NFL (32.3 points per week), Alex Smith has the recipe for success in week 5. Despite having a better than average showing (for them) against the Giants, Smith has the tools to exploit them in week 5 and show up in the box score as a top 12 QB in week 5. After a hot start in the first 3 weeks, Ryan Tannehill was exploited by New England in week 4, completing 11 of 20 passes for 100 yards and 0 TDs to 1 INT. His life gets considerably easier in week 5, taking on a Bengals defense that allow an average of 22.5 fantasy points per week to opposing quarterbacks. While they haven’t been stellar against the pass, the Bengals have also struggled with quarterbacks on the run (a strength of Tannehill), allowing 16 carries for 57 yards and 2 touchdowns to QB’s on the ground as well. Last, but not least: Matt Ryan. As mentioned above, this game should be a shootout and Matt Ryan looks to be back into form, completing 68.3% of his passes for 1,316 yards and 10 touchdowns to 2 interceptions in 2018. The Steelers are not the defense to stifle his blazing hot start.
Kerryon Johnson (vs Green Bay)
Despite the fact that the Lions backfield is in a clear timeshare, Kerryon Johnson is seemingly the most consistent option in the backfield to this point. Johnson continued his strong start on the season, carrying the ball 9 times for 55 yards and a touchdown. Game script has been an issue so far for Detroit, as they have been forced to pass the ball and therefore utilizing Theo Riddick a lot more than they would have liked. If the Lions can keep it close against an ailing Green Bay offense, Kerryon should get more work and has the potential to have another big week.
Sony Michel (vs Indianapolis)
Sony Michel’s offensive explosion has officially happened. In week 4, he carried the ball 25 times for 112 yards (4.5 per carry) with a touchdown. Now that Rex Burkhead is out, there is a clear role and division of labor for Michel and James White. Given the fact that the Colts boast the 6th worst defense against the run for fantasy (29.9 points per week), Michel is poised to follow up his strong week 4 with an even stronger week 5 on Thursday Night Football.
James Conner (vs Atlanta), Aaron Jones (at Detroit), Matt Breida (vs Cardinals)
Now that Le’Veon Bell has announced his pending return in week 7, look for the Steelers to get their money’s worth out of James Conner’s legs. He draws an excellent matchup against the Falcons defense who is weak against running backs, especially those who can catch. The Falcons have allowed an average of 35.4 points per week to opposing running backs and are coming off a week where Giovani Bernard gouged them for 15 carries for 69 yards and 2 touchdowns. He also caught 4 balls for 27 yards. In his second week back from a suspension, Aaron Jones had a significant role increase (thanks no doubt to an endorsement from Aaron Rodgers). Jones rushed 11 times for 65 yards and a touchdown and also caught a pass for 17 yards in week 4. The Packers will face a defense in week 5 that struggles against the run, with Detroit allowing an average of 32.2 fantasy points per week to running backs. Look for Jones to play a significant role again for the Packers, especially with Randall Cobb going into the week with a questionable designation. If Matt Breida’s shoulder injury against the Chargers was minor enough for him to go in week 5, he should be in another must start position. He continued his excellent, efficient pace in week 4, averaging 4.3 yards per carry (9 for 39) and hauling in 3 more catches for 32 yards. The Cardinals are the 2nd worst defense against the run in 2018 (38.3 ppg) and Breida is the kind of back that can alleviate pressure on CJ Beathard.
Corey Davis (at Buffalo)
For maybe the first time in his career, we saw the prodigious talent of Corey Davis flash in a way that justifies his top 10 selection in the 2017 draft. Davis hauled in 9 of his 15 targets for 161 yards and a touchdown against the Eagles defense in week 4. While Buffalo is a solid team against the pass (14th in the NFL at 37.8 points per week) and boasts a top-tier young corner, Davis is a must-start given his absurd target rate this season. Davis has 39 targets in 4 games, which puts him in position to have monster weeks every week, regardless of matchup.
John Brown (at Cleveland)
Despite only converting on 3 of his 7 targets, John Brown had a monstrous week 4 against the Steelers. Those 3 catches went for 116 yards and a touchdown, giving him 3 TD’s in 4 weeks. Also worth noting, since week 1 Brown is averaging roughly 8 targets per game. The average air yardage per pass to Brown is 19.8 yards, which is actually higher than the air yardage to Tyreek Hill (19.3). Cleveland is strong against the pass, allowing only 35.6 fantasy points per week to receivers, but they will be unable to shadow Brown with Denzel Ward, meaning he will have room to exploit the Browns safeties on deep throws.
The Rams WR’s (at Seattle), Calvin Ridley (at Pittsburgh), Donte Moncrief (at Kansas City)
Let’s just get this out of the way, if you own a Rams wide receiver, they are a must start this season regardless of circumstance. Jared Goff does an excellent job sharing the wealth in the passing game with his receivers and the offense isn’t designed to use targets on the tight ends. This means we have an offensive system that will allow the perimeter players to flourish. Most people are going to automatically start Brandin Cooks, but any share of this offense is an automatic start, regardless of matchup. The Calvin Ridley rookie surge continued in week 4 as he reeled in 4 of 6 targets for 54 yards and 2 more touchdowns, which gives him 6 for the season. More importantly, it would seem that he has grown into a defined role, especially in the end zone. Given the shaky nature of the Steelers defense, he should be poised for another big week in week 5. Coming off his biggest week as a Jaguar, Donte Moncrief steps into another positive matchup against a porous Kansas City defense. Moncrief has been targeted at least 5 times in 3 out of 4 games this year, converting all 5 for 109 yards and a touchdown against the Jets in week 4. If Bortles is dealing, look for Moncrief to have plenty of chances to build upon those statistics in week 5.
Anyone Healthy (it truly doesn’t matter)
I’m only half joking right now. The tight end position has been absolutely decimated by injury in 2018, with another handful of players going down in week 4 (OJ Howard, Tyler Eifert, and Will Dissly). Literally, find yourself a tight end with a pulse and ride it out, because who knows when things are going to get better for this position.
Vance McDonald (vs Atlanta)
All things considered, the Falcons are an above average team against tight ends this season, allowing an average of 9.7 points per week. However, this number is deceiving since they are down Deion Jones and their two starting safeties from week 1. Before being carted off the field with a broken ankle, Tyler Eifert was able to exploit the Atlanta defense to the tune of 4 catches, 38 yards, and a touchdown. This bodes well for Vance McDonald, who has averaged 5 targets per week since returning to the Steelers lineup. Against a strong Ravens defense, McDonald caught 5 balls for 62 yards. He should be able to build upon these stats in week 5.
Jimmy Graham (vs Detroit)
While 3 catches for 21 yards is nothing to write home about, it is worth noting that Jimmy Graham did find the end zone for the first time this season against the Bills. While the matchup against the Lions isn’t the best for him, injuries to Randall Cobb and Geronimo Allison may force him to play more reps flexed out, increasing how much Aaron Rodgers will look his way in the short to intermediate passing game.
Antonio Gates (at Oakland), Ben Watson (at Washington), Austin Hooper (at Pittsburgh)
Antonio Gates is ancient by NFL standards, but he still has boom or bust upside in the red zone. Philip Rivers looked his way in week 4, connecting on a short score on route to a 2 catch, 27-yard performance. While that doesn’t scream top-tier production, between injuries and bye weeks Gates has appeal based on Rivers trust of him inside the 10-yard line. In a continuation of the geriatric tight end start column, Ben Watson enters week 5 as a viable candidate as a top 10 option given his role in the Saints passing game. He only caught 1 of 3 targets for 23 yards in week 4, but he draws a matchup against a Redskins defense allowing 10 points a week to tight ends. Finally, we are going back to the Austin Hooper well in week 5. Hooper was only targeted twice in week 4, catching one for 19 yards. But with the Steelers coming in as the 4th worst defense against tight ends in 2018 (20.7 points per game), he is poised to get a greater share of the game plan and has potential to finish as a TE1 this week.
Andrew Luck (at New England)
It may be strange to see Andrew Luck in the sit column a week after a 62 pass, 400+ yard, 4 TD performance, but here we are folks. However, Luck makes this list more as a victim of circumstance than anything in week 5. Playing on the road during a short week is already challenging, but once you add in the fact that the Colts run game has been abysmal and the fact that TY Hilton and Jack Doyle will probably miss this game, it becomes easy to see why it is difficult to get behind Luck in week 5. The Patriots typically allow only 16.8 fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks (19th in the NFL), and those guys had weapons that weren’t named Chester Rodgers, Ryan Grant, and Zach Pascal. It’s possible that Luck throws the ball 40 more times this week, but what seems to be more likely is that he struggles to generate a fantasy week nearly as impactful as his week 4 explosion.
Dak Prescott (at Houston)
For the first time in a long time, Dak Prescott mustered the ability to have a passing game over 200 yards, completing 17 of 27 passes for 255 yards and 2 touchdowns. While the Texans haven’t been stellar against the pass (21.4 fantasy points per game), the Dallas game plan has been heavily rooted in establishing the run with Zeke Elliott. Since the Houston offense has also struggled, this game script shouldn’t force a ton of passes out of Dak, which could limit his attempts and lead to an underwhelming fantasy stat line.
Baker Mayfield (vs Baltimore), DeShaun Watson (vs Dallas), Josh Allen (vs Tennessee)
As exciting as Baker Mayfield has been for Cleveland Browns fans, he reminded everybody that he was a rookie in week 4 against the Raiders defense. While Baker did throw for 295 yards and two touchdowns, the day was also marked by two interceptions and two fumbles. He draws a matchup against a much stronger Ravens defense in week 5, allowing only 12.4 (3rd fewest) fantasy points to quarterbacks. The Ravens also get Jimmy Smith back from suspension. All in all, Baker could have an uphill climb returning to fantasy relevance this week. DeShaun Watson has been getting tons of volume the past 3 weeks, throwing the ball 114 times for 1,070 yards and 6 touchdowns to 3 interceptions. He draws a daunting task this weekend with a revamped secondary and a corner who can stick with DeAndre Hopkins in the form of Byron Jones. Despite an easier matchup in week 4 against the Packers, Josh Allen came back to Earth. Allen was held to 151 yards and 2 interceptions with zero touchdowns against a much easier secondary than the Vikings the week before. The task doesn’t get any easier in week 5, as Allen is set to face a Titans defense allowing fantasy quarterbacks to score only 16.5 fantasy points per week.
Colts RB’s (at New England)
The Patriots are better than any defense in the NFL at forcing teams into situations they don’t want to be in on offense on a weekly basis. Given the fact that Andrew Luck is coming off a game where he threw the ball 62 times on Sunday and a short week, expect them to try and funnel the Colts into a situation where they have to put the ball on the ground. The Colts running backs have been underwhelming carrying the ball this year, and this shouldn’t be a matchup where you try to exploit any of them outside of Nyheim Hines, who figures to have a role as a receiver over a rusher.
Alex Collins (at Cleveland)
Alex Collins is a cautious play this week for fantasy owners. While his workload has continued to increase as the season has gone on, he is still firmly entrenched in a timeshare situation with Buck Allen. Not helping his case was a crucial goal line fumble in week 4 against Pittsburgh, which could very well cause Baltimore to turn back to Allen as the primary goal line back. Cleveland has been good, but not great against opposing running backs (27 points per week), but this may turn into a situation where Buck Allen gets a higher workload.
Kenyan Drake (at Cincinnati), Jay Ajayi (at Minnesota), Mark Ingram (at Washington)
It’s officially time to worry about Kenyan Drake’s role in the Miami backfield. It seems that Frank Gore gets more work every week, and the fact that Drake was so limited in week 4 despite a Patriots blowout is extremely concerning. Drake has combined for 8 carries for 8 yards in the past two weeks, while adding only 3 catches for 20 yards in the air. Adam Gase claims that they will do a better job getting Drake involved, but at this point, it feels like a “believe it when you see it” kind of situation. Jay Ajayi had a solid performance against the Titans, carrying the ball 15 times for 70 yards in a close, overtime game in week 4. He also added 3 catches for 11 yards. Like Drake, Ajayi finds himself in a difficult timeshare situation that should only get more confusing as more pieces of the run game become healthy. The Vikings will be looking to continue their strong start against opposing running backs, having allowed only 3.8 yards per carry and 0 touchdowns to opposing runners this season. It will be tempting to throw Mark Ingram back in the starting lineup now that he is healthy, but this matchup may be a little to risky to roll him out. For one, given Alvin Kamara’s effectiveness, it wouldn’t be shocking to see the Saints gradually work Ingram back into the fold (think 10-14 carries). Secondly, the Redskins have been strong against running backs, allowing only 23.9 points per game thus far in 2018.
Larry Fitzgerald (at 49ers)
Fitzgerald has had a rough start to his 2018 campaign, hauling in 15 of 24 targets for 141 yards and zero touchdowns amid an initially uncertain Cardinals QB situation. Making matters worse, Fitzgerald is ailed by a hamstring injury that puts his week 5 status in doubt. Even if he does play, he will be severely limited as evidenced by the 3 catches on 7 targets for 28 yards against a weak Seattle defense in week 4.
Doug Baldwin (vs LA Rams)
Baldwin came back well in his first game of the 2018 season, catching 5 of 7 targets for 41 yards in week 4 against the Cardinals. While it is clear the Seahawks will waste no time getting him integrated back into the offense, his balky knee and the Rams pass rush may limit his production on a weekly basis. Odds are you got Baldwin at a discount in the draft, so he should remain a FLEX only option in week 5.
Marquise Goodwin (vs Arizona), Quincy Enunwa (vs Denver), Michael Crabtree (at Cleveland)
We learned a lot about Marquise Goodwin’s upside potential with Jimmy Garroppolo injured and CJ Beathard at the helm. Goodwin was the recipient of 4 targets, converting them into 2 catches and 24 yards. While he will always have explosive upside on a weekly basis, he is probably closer to the waiver wire than the starting lineup at this point in a new look offense. Quincy Enunwa continues to be Sam Darnold’s favorite target this season, garnering another 8 targets and turning them into 4 catches for 66 yards against the Jaguars last week. He draws another tough matchup in week 5, figuring to get a healthy dose of Chris Harris on the outside. He is a solid FLEX play again this week, but there are definitely higher upside options available to plug into lineups this week as well. Michael Crabtree continues to be the leading target getter in the new look Baltimore receiving corp, drawing 8 more targets in week 4. He converted on 3 of them for 29 yards. Crabtree has had varying levels of success in 2018, but his upside is significantly limited as it seems Joe Flacco is content taking deep shots and red zone attempts at John Brown. It is also worth noting that his yards per catch have decreased each week, meaning he is settling into a move the chain’s role over a big play role thus far.
Charles Clay (vs Tennessee)
Charles Clay finally earned a spot in Josh Allen’s trust circle last week, getting 6 targets (as many as his first 3 games combined), catching 4 of them for 40 yards. The upside of this offense rests solely on the inconsistent shoulders of Josh Allen, and the gameplan will probably skew away from Clay this week as the Titans only allow opposing tight ends to score 9.6 fantasy points per week on the season.
Rams TEs (at Seattle)
At this point, it is clear that Sean McVay has no interest in consistently utilizing his tight ends in the passing game with Cooper Kupp, Brandin Cooks, and Robert Woods out wide. Tyler Higbee and Gerald Everett have combined for 6 catches on 9 targets for 71 yards and 1 touchdown in 4 weeks. Seattle’s defense will be hindered by the loss of Earl Thomas, but with Bobby Wagner working against the tight ends, it makes sense that Goff will once again look to his trusted receivers to carry the load.
Dallas Goedert (vs Minnesota), Jordan Reed (at New Orleans), Ian Thomas (at NY Giants)
One week after a breakout performance against the Colts (7/73/1), Dallas Goedert returned back to a secondary role catching both of his targets for 13 yards. While he is capable of big weeks, Zach Ertz is clearly the leader in the target share for this passing offense and should be treated as such. The Vikings have been solid against tight ends, holding them to 11.7 points per week. It would seem like you need to find your tight end streaming options elsewhere. Jordan Reed has been healthy so far in 2018 and the results show it as he has 14 catches for 168 yards and a touchdown thus far. However, he draws the 4th best team against tight ends in 2018, with the Saints averaging only 8.5 points by opposing tight ends and allowing no touchdowns thus far. While the Saints defense has been abysmal this season, it would seem the tight end position is the one thing they have figured out. Rookie tight end Ian Thomas has done an admirable job filling in for Greg Olsen during his foot injury, collecting 7 catches on 10 targets for 34 yards. Historically speaking, the Giants have been awful against the tight end. However, this year they are performing at a much higher level, giving up an average of only 8.7 points a week to tight ends. I know a lot of teams out there are desperate for tight end help, but don’t rush to the waiver wire for Thomas in week 5.