Start ‘Em Sit ‘Em Week 5
We witnessed noteworthy performances in week 4, and some owners might still be experiencing the euphoria that we all hope to attain when our lineup decisions result in a massive number of fantasy points. Unfortunately, some of you also endured emotions that are not as enjoyable. Which is true for owners who watched Dalvin Cook, Ty Montgomery, Chris Carson, Julio Jones, Devante Adams, Derek Carr, Marcus Mariota, and others depart their contests prematurely due to injuries. While there are varying degrees of severity in what each of those players suffered, it is obviously an unwanted situation when anyone is sidelined or has their season end abruptly. Even though injuries remain an accepted byproduct of the physical nature that is omnipresent in football.
Of course, this will force many owners to reconstruct their rosters, while also impacting which players will now be utilized as their starters Meanwhile, another unwanted development will also occur this week. As the often maddening intangible of bye weeks has now reemerged. If you own any Falcons, Broncos, Saints or Redskins, you should plan accordingly, as they won’t be capable of contributing to your point totals. While many of you will not be affected by this development in Week 5, you will soon be faced with Start‘Em and Sit‘Em decisions that include the absence of your preferred starters. To help facilitate your transition into this undesirable element of the fantasy season, and circumvent the potential of a sudden predicament from being unprepared, you can locate which teams are included in the most imminent bye weeks directly below:
- Week 5 Byes: Falcons, Saints, Broncos, Redskins
- Week 6 Byes: Bills, Bengals, Cowboys, Seahawks
- Week 7 Byes: Lions, Texans
Kickoffs are approaching, so let’s examine the players that are featured in this Gridiron Experts Week 5 Start’em Sit’em column. Enjoy the games, and good luck in Week 5.
Start’em Sit’em Podcast
Check out Phil Clark and Andrew Erickson (who writes Gridiron Exerts Waiver Wire article) in this week’s FINAL CALL podcast dedicated to Start’em Sit’em
Start Deshaun Watson
Texans vs. Chiefs
While there are veteran signal callers of high prominence that can also be started during their appealing Week 5 matchups, we will extend the discussion toward a rookie who has now firmly placed himself in the fantasy landscape. After attaining the first initial 300-yard passing performance of his professional career in Week 3, Watson exploded for four touchdowns, and 307 total yards during last Sunday’s matchup with Tennessee, including three scores and 283 yards through the air. He has also thrown for six touchdowns in his last two starts, as his rapid improvement on a weekly basis, coupled with his ability to both create and extend plays with his mobility, has significantly increased the potency of Houston’s offense. While also cementing Watson as a consistent threat to compile yardage as a passer and rusher. This automatically raises his statistical floor, to a level that should provide owners with sufficient rationale to elevate him into their lineups. As he has now ascended well beyond simply being an acceptable option in 2 QB leagues, to a legitimate alternative for anyone who does not currently possess a matchup-proof starter on their rosters. While you may not have been yearning to use a quarterback against what can be a troublesome Kansas City defense, this unit does currently rank 25th versus the pass and surrendered 388 total yards to the most mobile quarterback that they have encountered this season (Carson Wentz). They have accumulated 11 sacks, although Watson’s agility is one of the primary reasons to ponder his deployment into your lineups. While a team may eventually construct the blueprint to temporarily slow down Watson’s escalating production, that will not occur this week. If you are searching for a fresh starting option, who is rapidly becoming more proficient as he gains experience, Watson is worthy of your trust.
Also Start: Carson Wentz vs. Cardinals, Matthew Stafford vs. Panthers
Sit Ben Roethlisberger
Steelers vs. Jaguars
You may have become accustomed to seeing the word “at” incorporated into any recommendation concerning an impending matchup for Roethlisberger. Because his well-chronicled home/away splits have been a highly popular narrative. Even though this is certainly a viable topic, and genuine reason to temper expectations before his encounters on the road. Especially considering the unappealing nature of his 26:23 touchdown to interception ratio since the onset of the 2014 regular season. However, he will be a recommended sit on Sunday, even though this week’s contest will take place at Heinz Field. Where he built a far more appealing 62:17 ratio, which includes the 20:5 ratio that he assembled last season. Because he will be confronted by the NFL’s top-ranked pass defense, which includes the smothering coverage of imposing perimeter corners Jalen Ramsey and A. J. Bouye. Ramsey, in particular, has been widely unyielding when opponents attempt to generate yardage near his vicinity. Their collective efforts have helped the Jaguars limit opposing passing attacks to 147 YPG, while also permitting the fewest fantasy points to signal callers (12.3). It will behoove the Steelers to diminish their reliance on Roethlisberger’s arm, as this game is set up perfectly for Le’Veon Bell and the Pittsburgh ground game. He should consistently gash a Jaguar run defense that is far more hospitable. As this unit currently ranks dead last in that category, yields 165.5 YPG, and was just overrun by Bilal Powell (163 yards/7.8 YPC), and Elijah McGuire (92 yards/10.2 YPC). However, that shortcoming does not alter the fact that Jacksonville can take away the perimeter passing attack. That will limit Roethlisberger to less than 250 yards for a fourth straight game, and he will also fail to generate multiple touchdowns for a third consecutive week.
Also Sit: Philip Rivers at Giants, Andy Dalton vs. Bills
Start Duke Johnson
Browns vs. Jets
After receiving an alarmingly low two touches in Week 1, Johnson has been allotted 28 during Cleveland’s last three matchups. That includes the 13 that he garnered last Sunday against Cincinnati, which enabled Johnson to amass 60+ total yards and a touchdown for a third consecutive week. He also caught nine of his team-high ten targets for 47 yards, and now leads the Browns in each of those categories for the season (28/20/207).
Duke Johnson’s snap count, the recent surge in touches, and his overall effectiveness when provided with those opportunities, all bode well for his chances of remaining intricately involved in Hue Jackson’s attack. Johnson will also be the beneficiary of an outstanding matchup this week when he faces a vulnerable Jet run defense that currently ranks 29th, while allowing 144 YPG. New York also has the propensity to yield fantasy points to opposing rushers (fourth overall), and has been gashed for significant receiving yardage by LeSean McCoy (159 total yards/49 receiving yards), Jalen Richard 109 total yards/51 receiving yards), and Leonard Fournette (145 total yards/59 receiving yards). Johnson can assemble a season high in total yards against this unit and should be utilized as an RB3, or flex this week without hesitation. Plus, he can even provide relief for owners who are desperately searching for a bye week fill-in at their RB2 slot.
Start Andre Ellington
Cardinals at Eagles
Also Start: Carlos Hyde at Colts, Bilal Powell at Browns
Sit Joe Mixon
Bengals vs. Bills
Marvin Lewis’ self-defeating aversion toward elevating the talented rookie into an undisputed feature back role initially stalled Mixon’s on-field development until Week 3. When he received an expanded snap count (21 touches), and performed with adequate effectiveness to warrant a presence among Week 4 starts (18 carries/62 yards). But even though he was allotted 21 touches once again in Week 4, his output was discouraging (17 carries/29 yards/1.7 YPC). Plus, Jeremy Hill pilfered seven touches, while Giovani Bernard captured six, as Bernard also parlayed his opportunities into a 61-yard touchdown. However, the larger concern for Mixon owners should be the ongoing workload that is being poached by the chronically ineffective Hill. Who averages 3.3 YPC, and does not provide Cincinnati’s often struggling attack with any semblance of a boost. A continuation of this unwanted and questionable timeshare seems likely, which should compel owners to reassess Mixon’s short-lived status as a must-start option. As should the challenging matchup that awaits Mixon on Sunday. Buffalo leads the NFL in scoring defense (13.5 PPG) and has also yielded the third-fewest fantasy points to opposing running backs (10.7 PPG). As Bilal Powell (22), Christian McCaffrey (10), Jonathan Stewart (40), C.J. Anderson (36), Jamaal Charles (56), and Devonta Freeman (58) have each failed to attain 60 yards when they faced this unit. The concept of reducing your expectations for Mixon may initially be disconcerting. But if your Week 5 fantasy opponent will be operating with a lineup that is loaded with consistent point producers, there are backs with more favorable matchups. Making it worth your time and energy to at least consider a temporary alternative.
Sit Ameer Abdullah
Lions vs. Panthers
Anyone who drafted the third-year RB did so with the intent of utilizing him as their RB3/flex or were sufficiently optimistic to project him as an intermittent RB2 option. But this decision was made with full knowledge that pass-catching specialist Theo Riddick would perpetually lurk as a realistic threat to confiscate targets. After Detroit’s first three contests, their vastly similar snap counts (Abdullah 46% – Riddick 40%) revealed that this had materialized. However, Abdullah generated a season-best 94 yards on 20 attempts (4.7 YPC), along with his first touchdown of the year. Owners should be more satisfied with their decision to draft him, than at any previous point of the season. As there is finally less reason to be wary of the ceiling that was being placed on Abdullah’s opportunities. But that does not make it wise to pursue last week’s success. As he will be unable to replicate that level or production during this week‘s difficult matchup with Carolina. The Panthers have yielded the sixth-fewest fantasy points to opposing backs while permitting just two touchdowns on the ground. They have allowed just one back to run for 50 yards, while limiting Carlos Hyde (45), LeSean McCoy (9), and Mike Gillislee (49) in the process. They have yielded 30+ receiving yards to Carlos Hyde (32), LeSean McCoy (34), Mark Ingram (30), and James White (47), although that could easily compel the Lions to increase Riddick’s opportunities this week. Which in turn creates another reason to temper expectations for Abdullah during this contest. Owners can be more confident about utilizing him in upcoming weeks, when his matchups will be more appealing. But they also need to sidestep this potential headache in waiting.
Also Sit: Marshawn Lynch vs. Ravens, Christian McCaffery at Lions
Start Pierre Garcon
49ers vs. Colts
Garson’s standing as San Francisco’s primary receiving option certainly cannot be questioned. As he leads the team in targets by a considerable margin (25), has garnered 10 in two different contests, and has accumulated the most receptions (16), and yardage (249). All of which should perpetuate throughout the regular season. However, his recent production has been highly dependent upon his matchup. He assembled 13 catches for 223 yards in Weeks 1 and 3, including a whopping 142 against the Rams during the latter contest. But his output that was substantially reduced in Weeks 2 and 4, when he only managed five catches for 26 yards versus Seattle in Week 2, then could not prohibit his numbers from being squelched again last Sunday. When Garcon was forced to deal with the relentless shadow coverage of Patrick Peterson in Arizona (4 receptions/36 yards). But this week, the 10-year veteran is primed to thrive against an overmatched pass defense, that currently ranks a lowly 29th overall, and has yielded the ninth most fantasy points to wide receivers. They were just burned for 177 yards by Seattle wideouts last Sunday night, and have also been scorched for six touchdowns through the air. Garcon should prevail during many of his one-on-one matchups with cornerbacks Vontae Davis and Rashaan Melvin throughout much of this game. As a result, owners who opted to keep him in their week for lineups in Week 4, then absorbed the pain the resulting pain of his paltry numbers, will experience far better results this week.
Start Cole Beasley
Cowboys vs. Packers
We will expand the discussion beyond WR1 and WR2 options, to include a bold prediction for those of you who either are confronted with weekly decisions regarding your WR3 or flex dilemmas, or are now experiencing depleted options due to the reemergence of bye weeks. As a receiver whose numbers have been disappointing, nevertheless has a legitimate opportunity to generate high-quality production this week. During his first four games of the 2016 regular season, Beasley was targeted 29 times which enabled him to collect 23 receptions for 279 yards. But heading into Week 5 this season, he has received 20 targets, while catching just 11 passes for a paltry 86 yards. However, if you had avoided the temptation to drop him, his usage and production could elevate considerably as Dallas should exploit an enticing matchup. As he will be running routes in the slot, where Doug Baldwin (63 yards) and Mohamed Sanu (85 yards) flourished against coverage from Green Bay’s cornerbacks, and Kendall Wright even manufactured 51 yards and a touchdown. Beasley should successfully create space during this matchup, and Dak Prescott will locate him when he does. Starting Beasley does require a degree of courage, considering his target total and output that can only be characterized as underwhelming. But this week’s matchup is built for him to succeed.
Also Start: Golden Tate vs. Panthers, Larry Fitzgerald at Eagles
Sit Alshon Jeffery
Eagles vs. Cardinals
This section should probably be renamed “Alshon Jeffery vs. Patrick Peterson”, as the Arizona cornerback has been assigned shadow coverage to opposing wide receivers in escalating fashion this season. But the results have been consistent, and highly unfavorable for the wideouts that have attempted to run routes within the vicinity of his presence, along with anyone who started them. The statistical scorched earth that resides on his 2017 resume now includes Marvin Jones (2 receptions/37 yards), T.Y. Hilton (4 receptions/49 yards), Dez Bryant (2 receptions/12 yards/1 touchdown), and Pierre Garcon (4 receptions/36 yards). While Jones and Bryant managed to each squeeze a touchdown into their output that was otherwise restricted due to miniscule yardage totals. However, that is largely a very gifted cluster of opponents and an assemblage of unimpressive numbers. While this should supply owners with adequate justification to consider other options, Jeffery’s production has primarily been inadequate. As he has failed to surpass 56 yards in three of Philadelphia’s four games, and could not even reach 30 yards in two different games. Carson Wentz can eschew the potential tribulations of challenging Peterson, and simply locate his other options who will be lining up against the significantly more vulnerable Justin Bethel, and the inconsistent Tyrann Mathieu. Torrey Smith, in particular, is a candidate to deliver a big play, as opposed to Jeffery. Who will struggle to amass 50 yards once again. Despite the investment that you made during your draft process, you should successfully pinpoint an alternative, who has the potential to exceed the modest output that Jeffery is destined to provide.
Sit Martavis Bryant
Steelers vs. Jaguars
If you are examining the latest receiving stats, and attempting to locate Bryant’s name, he can certainly be found. You simply need to scroll down from the top. Then, keep scrolling. Then, scroll even further. As he has managed 10 receptions during Pittsburgh’s first four games, which ties him with Albert Wilson, Bennie Fowler, and Josh Bellamy. His 23 targets are second only to Antonio Brown among all Steelers, and he did deliver 91 yards and a touchdown in Week 2, Otherwise, he has averaged an anemic 30.6 YPG, and failed to discover the end zone. There are still many games to be played, during which he could assemble production that is far superior to what has occurred to this point of the season. But any owner who remains steadfast in keeping him affixed to their lineups, should strongly reconsider this week. As he will contend with Jacksonville’s stellar cornerback tandem of Ramsey and Bouye, who were cited earlier as primary reasons to sidestep the utilization of Roethlisberger this week. Wide receivers are accumulating fewer fantasy points against the Jaguars than any other team, as Ramsey and Bouye’s restrictive coverage has become a genuine deterrent to opposing wideouts who run routes against them. You can’t sit Antonio Brown. But even though you may be faced with a depleted lineup due to this week’s byes, it would be advantageous for Bryant owners to explore other options. As the big plays that you anticipated on draft day are highly unlikely during this contest.
Also Sit: Amari Cooper at Ravens, Tyrell Williams at Giants
Start Evan Engram
Giants vs. Chargers
Engram has been targeted 25 times by Eli Manning in New York’s last three contests, including 11 in Week 4, which has enabled him to collect at least four receptions in each of those games (4/4/5/6), while also accumulating 44+ yards in every matchup during that span (44/49/45/62). This week, Engram will draw coverage from a Charger unit that wasn’t challenged in Week 1 and 2 matchups with Denver and Miami tight ends. Although they did contribute to Travis Kelce receiving just one target in Week 3, by devoting sufficient resources to containing him. But they just surrendered 81 yards to Zach Ertz last Sunday, and cannot afford to be overly focused on Engram to such a degree that they risk being scorched by Odell Beckham Jr. and (to a lesser degree) Sterling Shepard during this matchup. Engram appears to be operating with a more secure floor than the most other options at the position, and should remain highly involved in the Giant passing attack once again. Allowing owners to be confident in utilizing him this week.
Also Start: Hunter Henry at Giants, Ben Watson at Raiders
Sit Jason Witten
Cowboys vs. Packers
For the majority of owners, locating a comfortable tight end option, then being able to rely upon him to remain in the lineup, has become a seemingly gargantuan task. Which makes it difficult to sit one of the few healthy tight ends who is also essentially unchallenged for targets on his own team. But even though owning Witten enables you to avoid a large percentage of anguish that is being experienced by others who contend with more maintenance with their rostered tight ends, it is unlikely that he will supply you with an adequate number of fantasy points if you deploy him this week.
Green Bay has smothered the tight ends that they have faced during their first four contests, although it should be noted that they have not been forced to deal with anyone who resides in the top or middle tiers at the position – other than Jimmy Graham in Week 1. Their proficiency held him to eight yards during that matchup, while the Packers also kept Austin Hooper’s yardage total in single digits the following week (seven yards). This unit has also limited Tyler Kroft to 24 yards when Cincinnati returned to a Tyler Eifert-less existence, before yielding 45 yards (on two receptions) to Zach Miller in Week 4. Witten has now delivered abysmal output in two consecutive games. After managing three yards on one catch when he faced Arizona in Week 3, he only collected one reception for nine yards last Sunday against the Rams. While he will be targeted more frequently in upcoming weeks, Dak Prescott is more likely to utilize his other receiving options on Sunday. Making the risk of yet another week with disappointing production too great for you to start him.
Also Sit: Jack Doyle vs. 49ers, Eric Ebron vs. Panthers
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