Start ‘Em Sit ‘Em Week 5
Yet another high-scoring weekend mixed with some unfortunate injuries for Week 4. As we now enter the first week of official byes for some teams, fantasy football owners will find themselves scouring the waiver wire and their benches to fill in their starting lineup. So I take a look at the matchups to exploit for this weekend and who is worthy of starting for your team and those who are best left on the bench. Let’s get into Week 5.
Recapping last week
In recapping last week’s picks, it was another mixed bag with some strong performances and some disappointing outcomes. Matthew Stafford came through with a top-12 performance, Ryan Fitzpatrick had a top-15 showing but Tom Brady had a top-five effort. Mike Davis had a top-12 game but Ronald Jones finished inside the top-15 and Darrell Henderson fell flat finishing outside the top-40. DeVante Parker came through with a top-18 performance while T.Y. Hilton did indeed struggle as he finished outside the top-60 but Marquez Valdes-Scantling didn’t finish inside the top-50. T.J. Hockenson had a top-10 performance and Hayden Hurst finished just inside the top-15. With that, on to Week 5!
Teams on bye: Detroit Lions, Green Bay Packers
Start ‘Em Sit ‘Em Quarterbacks
Chargers vs Saints
ESPN Starting Percentage: 2.3%
Herbert has been a pleasant surprise in an otherwise disappointing and injury-riddled season for the Chargers. He has at least 290 yards passing and one touchdown in each of his first three games, including his best yet in Week 4 with 330 yards and three touchdowns on an 80% completion percentage. He now faces a Saints defense that has given up at least 200 yards passing and three passing touchdowns to opposing quarterbacks in three straight games. The Saints have only forced one interception combined in the last three games as well. Herbert seems to be getting better with each start and now faces a surprisingly plus matchup this weekend.
Panthers vs Falcons
ESPN Starting Percentage: 2.3%
Bridgewater hasn’t necessarily been fantasy relevant too much in his first season with the Panthers with only one game with 20+ fantasy points. That performance though happens to be his most recent game with 276 yards, two touchdowns, and 32 yards rushing with a touchdown on the ground. Despite not having one of the best weapons in Christian McCaffrey, Bridgewater has provided a steady performance and now gets an extremely soft matchup in Week 5 against the Falcons. They have given up at least 300 yards passing combined in every game this season and has given up four passing touchdowns in three of their four games this season. He has a chance to sneak in a top-12 performance this weekend.
Dolphins vs 49ers
ESPN Starting Percentage: 19.6%
While Fitzpatrick has scored at least 21 fantasy points in three straight games, it hasn’t come conventionally. He is coming off a 315 passing yard performance but with zero touchdowns and two interceptions against one of the weakest defenses in football in the Seahawks. He does have at least 38 yards rushing and a rushing touchdown in each of the last two games but has a tough matchup this weekend with the 49ers. San Francisco hasn’t given up more than one passing touchdown in a game this season and only allowed one quarterback to throw for more than 200 yards in a game. It’s unrealistic to expect the 37-year old FitzMagic to keep putting up rushing numbers like he has the past couple of games and he now faces a really tough pass defense this weekend.
Start ‘Em Sit ‘Em Running Backs
49ers vs Dolphins
ESPN Starting Percentage: 47.7%
In the absence of Raheem Mostert, McKinnon has been a stud for fantasy football owners. He actually has double-digit performances in all four games this season in half points-per-reception scoring. He’s had at least 75 yards from scrimmage and one touchdown in each of the last three games. Even if Mostert returns in Week 5, McKinnon is expected to continue seeing work in a 49ers offense that relies so heavily on the run game. They face a Dolphins defense that has given up at least 100 yards from scrimmage and two touchdowns to an opposing running back in each of the last two games. So even if McKinnon is forced into a 1A/1B situation with a returning Mostert, he still has plenty of fantasy appeal this weekend.
Ravens vs Bengals
ESPN Starting Percentage: 34.2%
The Ravens running back rotation has been a mess to figure out this season between Ingram, J.K. Dobbins, and Gus Edwards. Ingram has been the most disappointing after having such a strong 2019 season as he has single-digit offensive touches over the last two games and no more than 11 in a single game this season. However, the Ravens face a vulnerable Bengals defense that has allowed four different opposing running backs to go for 100+ scrimmage yards in the last three games. This game could get out of hand early and allow the Ravens to run the ball even more than usual. Ingram has still managed to get two rushing touchdowns over the last three games and could be in for his best performance of the season in Week 5.
Melvin Gordon III
Broncos vs Patriots
ESPN Starting Percentage: 75.4%
With Phillip Lindsay’s injury keeping him out, Gordon has been a workhorse for the Broncos over the past couple of games with at least 18 offensive touches in three of his four games this season. He is also coming off his best game of the season with 107 yards rushing and two touchdowns against the Jets. He does, however, face the Patriots this weekend. New England has been a tough matchup for opposing running backs in only allowing two total touchdowns scored by them and none in the last two games. Lindsay could also return in Week 5, which will cut into Gordon’s workload. Plus, Gordon’s lack of production in the passing game (11 receptions, 45 yards, one touchdown) doesn’t help his cause either if the Broncos find themselves playing from behind. With the Broncos dealing with poor quarterback play lately, the Patriots will be able to focus even more attention on their run game this weekend.
Start ‘Em Sit ‘Em Wide Receivers
Vikings vs Seahawks
ESPN Starting Percentage: 27.3%
Despite being the number two wide receiver in a predominantly run-heavy offense, Jefferson has two straight 100+ yard performances and has 11 receptions on 14 targets during that time. He now goes into Week 5 against the atrocious Seahawks defense which has given up seven (yes, seven!) 100+ receiving yards stat-lines to opposing wide receivers this season. They’re giving up an average of 23.5 receptions, 336.25 yards, and 1.25 touchdowns to opposing wide receivers this season. In a match-up against two very weak defenses, this game has shootout potential. In a week where fantasy owners will have to find replacements for Kenny Golladay and Davante Adams, Jefferson represents a perfect bye week filler who could easily have a top-24 week.
Saints vs Chargers
ESPN Starting Percentage: 7.9%
In Michael Thomas’ absence, Smith has stepped up as the Saints’ de-facto number one wide receiver. He is averaging just under six targets a game and has at least four receptions for 42 yards over the last three games. That’s including a two-touchdown performance this past weekend in the Saints’ comeback victory. Even if Thomas does return this weekend, the Saints still will need someone to step up beside him and Alvin Kamara with Jared Cook dealing with a potential multi-week absence. The Saints now face a Chargers defense that just gave up five passing touchdowns to Tom Brady and the Buccaneers despite not having Chris Godwin. Smith is clearly one of Drew Brees’ favorite red-zone targets and he’ll be a touchdown threat again this weekend.
Browns vs Colts
ESPN Starting Percentage: 34.5%
There’s no easy way to put it – Landry has been a disappointment this season. He has only two games with five receptions, one game with 50+ yards receiving, and zero receiving touchdowns through four games. The Browns has become one of the run-heaviest teams in the league and has been able to be 3-1 even with a wide receiver duo like Odell Beckham and Landry. Even with Nick Chubb’s injury, the Browns still continued to run the ball to the tune of over 300 yards against the Cowboys. They are expected to stay with that philosophy going forward and now face an extremely tough Colts defense that has only given up two receiving touchdowns to opposing wide receivers over the last three weeks. Landry has barely been startable and now has one of the toughest defenses in the league. He deserves to be on the bench this week.
Start ‘Em Sit ‘Em Tight Ends
Steelers vs Eagles
ESPN Starting Percentage: 1.0%
Outside of a Week 3 matchup with the Bengals laughable tight end group with Drew Sample and Cethan Carter combining for two receptions in two yards, the Eagles have given up five touchdowns to tight ends in the other three weeks. That includes Tyler Higbee’s three-touchdown performance in Week 2 and George Kittle’s 15 reception, 183 yards, and one touchdown explosion in Week 4. Ebron and the Steelers now face them this weekend. Ebron is coming off his best game as a Steeler with five receptions, 52 yards, and a touchdown. He’s in a smash spot to put up strong numbers again this week even with many other playmakers to contend for targets with. It won’t take much for Ebron to have a top-12 week and he’s in line for a potential top-six performance this weekend.
Dolphins vs 49ers
ESPN Starting Percentage: 45.4%
Gesicki has been extremely frustrating for fantasy owners as he has three games with no more than three receptions or 30 yards (including two straight weeks of one reception for 15 yards). But he also has an eight reception, 130 yards and, a one-touchdown performance in Week 2 and also scored a touchdown on his only reception in Week 3. He now faces a 49ers defense that has only given up more than 22 yards to an opposing tight end once this season and no touchdowns. Even in a game that the Dolphins should be expected to pass a lot, Gesicki has a tough match-up and simply can’t be trusted right now as he has only seen three targets in each of the last two games. He needs to be benched until he can prove that he’s a larger part of their offense.
Doug Moore is a fantasy football writer for Gridiron Experts. He has previously written for sites such as ESPN, SBNation, FFToday & Inside The Pylon. He also was the co-host for the highly-rated fantasy football podcast Overtime Ireland for several years. You can find him on Twitter at @DMooreNFL