FANTASY PLAYS: Players to start and sit for NFL Week 5
Through four weeks of the 2020 season, games are averaging a record 51.3 points per game, the highest total in the Super Bowl era.
Week 5 has the potential to exceed that total with a handful of matchups (Vikings-Seahawks, Giants-Cowboys, Panthers-Falcons, Raiders-Chiefs) that will delight fantasy owners who stand to thrive in each high-scoring matchup.
This will be another week of solid fantasy play from the quarterback position, so much so that streaming options such as Teddy Bridgewater (Panthers), Daniel Jones (Giants) and Philip Rivers (Colts) project to outscore more established fantasy performers such as Deshaun Watson (Texans) and Carson Wentz (Eagles).
In short, this week’s start/sit group is abundant in surprises.
START: Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Panthers: He’s the best streaming option during the first week of byes as Bridgewater gets a matchup against an Atlanta defense that allows the most fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks by a considerable margin. Bridgewater has thrown for at least 269 yards in three of his first four games and could exceed that total while also adding to the Falcons’ league-worst 13 touchdown passes allowed.
SIT: Carson Wentz, QB, Eagles: Wentz is 29th out of 33 in percent of passes thrown on-target (73.5%). While his increased running ability (touchdown runs in three straight games) works in his favor, it’s hard to buy into Wentz breaking out against a Steelers defense that leads the league in blitz rate (51.2%), especially with the Eagles offensive line that could be without as many as four of their Week 1 starters.
START: James Robinson, RB, Jaguars: Injuries at the position, along with Robinson’s steady production, make the rookie an RB1 this week as he faces a Texans defense that allows a league-worst 182 rushing yards per game while allowing runners to average 5 yards per carry. Robinson has also become a reliable pass-catcher, which enhances his value in PPR formats.
SIT: Melvin Gordon, RB, Broncos: Timing isn’t on Gordon’s side after he had a season-high 107 yards and two touchdowns in the Week 4 win at the Jets. For starters, Phillip Lindsay is expected to return from injury, which will cut into Gordon’s workload. There’s also the fact he’ll be running against a Patriots defense that allows the seventh-fewest fantasy points per game to opposing RBs while allowing only one rushing touchdown.
START: Justin Jefferson, WR, Vikings: Jefferson has hauled in 11 of his 14 targets for 278 yards and a touchdown over the past two weeks, making a strong case that the rookie has now become QB Kirk Cousins’ go-to option. They could keep that run going into a Sunday night matchup at a Seahawks defense that allows the most fantasy points per game to opposing wideouts. Seattle has given up an average of 336.3 yards per game to opposing WRs, a number that could translate into a big night for Jefferson.
SIT: A.J. Brown, WR, Titans: The good news is that Brown (knee) should return to the lineup for the first time since Week 1. The bad news? Brown returns against a Bills defense ranked fifth in average depth allowed per target (7.0) and will see more than his share of Buffalo’s star CB Tre’Davious White. There are much better options available beyond Brown this week.
START: Hunter Henry, TE, Chargers: Don’t be discouraged by the mere three targets Henry had in Week 4. Expect a solid bounce back on Monday night as Henry squares off against a Saints defense that has struggled against opposing TEs thus far. Only the Falcons have allowed more fantasy points per game to opposing tight ends, so look for rookie QB Justin Herbert to re-establish a rapport with Henry.
SIT: Austin Hooper, TE, Browns: Although Hooper scored in Week 4, he seems to be a lower-tier option for QB Baker Mayfield. Cleveland’s league-leading ground game and the presence of WRs Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry certainly don’t help Hooper’s cause, nor does facing a Colts defense that allows the fewest fantasy points per game to opposing TEs.
START: Robby Anderson, WR, Panthers: Anderson has quietly averaged 94.2 receiving yards per game thus far and will be in line to record his third 100-yard game of the season at the expense of Atlanta’s woeful defense. The Falcons allow a league-high 744 yards after the catch, a number that plays into the hands of Anderson, who has already tied his 193 YAC from 2019.
SIT: Myles Gaskin, RB, Dolphins: Although Gaskin should continue to get a high number of touches from scrimmage, he has yet to get a rushing touchdown this season and he hasn’t rushed for more than 66 yards. Don’t count on Gaskin snapping that trend against a 49ers defense that’s first in fewest fantasy points allowed per game to opposing running backs and gives up just over 4 yards per carry.
START: Kyler Murray, QB, Cardinals: He’s overdue for a huge week. That might come on Sunday at the expense of a Jets defense that has allowed multiple touchdown passes three times this season. New York is also 23rd in rushing yards allowed, a deficiency the mobile Murray should exploit, especially with RB Kenyan Drake struggling.
SIT: Tom Brady, QB, Buccaneers: Brady’s fantasy owners were rewarded with a vintage TB12 outing in Week 4. An encore is unlikely in Week 5 as Brady gets a Thursday night date with a Bears defense that allows the second-fewest fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks. The health of WRs Mike Evans and Chris Godwin remains uncertain, all the more reason to find another option.
START: Tee Higgins, WR, Bengals: Over the past three games, Higgins has been targeted 22 times and is slowly easing veteran A.J. Green out of the picture. The Ravens have been just below league average in yards allowed to opposing receivers, and with QB Joe Burrow averaging 280 yards per game, count on Higgins to continue establishing himself as a solid WR3/Flex option.
SIT: Mo Alie-Cox, TE, Colts: The only reason Alie-Cox is here is because of Indy’s timeshare at the position. The presence of Trey Burton and Jack Doyle takes targets from Alie-Cox. Alie-Cox has just five targets the past two games, totals that aren’t enough to risk playing him even against a Browns defense ranked 27th in fantasy points per game allowed to opposing tight ends.
This column was provided to The Associated Press by SportsGrid Inc., www.sportsgrid.com