Start ‘Em Sit ‘ Em Week 5
Football is in full swing as we now approach week five. That means another week for fantasy football and to look at the best (and worst matchups). With that, let’s dive in and look at the players to start and sit for this weekend.
Recapping last week
Matt Ryan had a top-five week with a four-touchdown performance while Kirk Cousins and Ryan Tannehill both finished outside the top-15 in week four. Zack Moss had a top-25 week while Melvin Gordon unfortunately finished outside RB3 territory and only Latavius Murray had any fantasy relevance with a top-30 game. Jakobi Meyers finished just outside the top-24 while Odell Beckham had a lousy week outside the top-50 and only Hunter Renfrow had a top-50 performance for the Raiders’ wide receivers. Dawson Knox had another terrific week inside the top-two while Pat Freiermuth only had one catch but Robert Tonyan had another stinker with two catches for scoreless yards. With that, we are on to week five!
Start ‘Em Sit ‘Em Week 5 QB’s
Giants vs. Cowboys
ESPN Starting Percentage: 6.7%
Even without both Sterling Shepard and Darius Slayton, Jones had a terrific game against a strong Saints’ defense. He completed 70% of his passes with over 400 yards passing, two touchdowns, and 27 rushing yards with one interception. Outside his fluke week three performance, Jones has at least two touchdowns and 27 yards rushing in every game this season. With the Giants’ defense not playing anywhere near the level they did in 2020, Jones and their offense are being relied on more to keep them in games. Jones now faces a Cowboys’ defense that just gave up over 300 yards passing and four total touchdowns to Sam Darnold in week four. They’ve given up the fourth-most points to opposing quarterbacks so far and this has all the makings of a high-scoring game. Jones is a fringe top-12 option due to his rushing floor.
Panthers vs. Eagles
ESPN Starting Percentage: 6.0%
Speaking of Darnold, he has the most rushing touchdowns (five) in the entire NFL entering week five. While scoring two rushing scores is sustainable, it’s clear Darnold is having a strong fantasy football season thus far. Christian McCaffrey has an outside shot of returning in week five and his status benefits Darnold whether McCaffrey plays or not. If he sits, Darnold could continue to run more near the goal-line. But if he plays, Darnold can continue to target him heavily in the run game. Darnold has a strong connection with stud wide receiver D.J. Moore and continues taking chances down the field. The Eagles just got shredded by Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs’ offense and now face another strong offense. Darnold has earned weekly top 12-14 status at the least in fantasy football.
Titans vs. Jaguars
ESPN Starting Percentage: 26.0%
As a whole, this matchup against the Jaguars is favorable on paper for Tannehill. Unfortunately, his offensive line is continuing to struggle in protecting him and he is seeing constant pressure. On top of that, Tannehill was without his two top wide receivers in A.J. Brown and Julio Jones. Neither practiced in any capacity leading up to week four, which bodes poorly for their status in week five. Tannehill deserves credit for the performance he had without them (298 passing yards and one touchdown) but Tannehill was struggling even before Brown and Jones got hurt. With quarterbacks like Darnold, Jones, Trey Lance, and even Taylor Heinecke providing higher ceilings, Tannehill needs to be sat on benches in fantasy for the time being even in a plus matchup.
Start ‘Em Sit ‘Em Week 5 RB’s
Falcons vs. Jets
ESPN Starting Percentage: 30.6%
Patterson is a thing and isn’t going away in this Falcons’ offense. He has received at least six carries in every game this season and has at least five receptions and 58+ receiving yards in three straight games. His three-touchdown performance week four isn’t in any way sustainable but he was a frequent target in the red zone and is making the most of his low snap share (34.4% through four games). There is no reason to see why he can’t maintain that snap share if not improve upon it moving forward. He and the Falcons now get the Jets in London on Sunday. The Jets have given up the most fantasy points to opposing running backs so far this season and Patterson is creeping towards weekly low-end RB2 status. He has top-20 potential for week four after being the RB3 so far this season.
Buccaneers vs. Dolphins
ESPN Starting Percentage: 36.4%
Fournette has taken control of this Buccaneers’ backfield from Ronald Jones after out snapping him 64-13 in week four and out-touching him 23-6. With Giovani Bernard out, Fournette is operating as the team’s lone third-down back and his play suggests that won’t change anytime soon. He almost doubled his carries in week four (20) versus his weeks one-three total (24) and set a season-high with 47 receiving yards. While the Buccaneers will continue to pass the ball at a healthy clip, the Dolphins don’t represent much of a challenge with how their defense (and offense) is struggling this season. They have given up the fourth-most fantasy points to opposing running backs this season and Fournette has top 18-20 potential as Tampa Bay’s clear top running back.
Eagles vs. Panthers
ESPN Starting Percentage: 75.7%
This one hurts. Admittedly, I was a big fan of Sanders coming into this season after seeing what he was able to do with Jalen Hurts under center. Unfortunately, it’s a different story this season. After seeing a ridiculously low five touches in week three, Sanders did get back to double digits with 10 (seven carries, three catches), he garnered a measly 47 scoreless yards from scrimmage. Meanwhile, Kenneth Gainwell had 89 scrimmage yards with a touchdown on one less touch. Gainwell had an 18.2% target share in week four compared to Sanders’ paltry 6.8%. Already losing rushing opportunities to Hurts, Sanders is now losing receiving looks to Gainwell, who was known for pass-catching ability after being drafted in this past NFL Draft. On top of that, the Eagles face the Panthers in week five, who have given up the third-fewest fantasy points per game to opposing running backs. Sanders won’t be more than a mid-tier RB3/FLEX.
Start ‘Em Sit ‘Em Week 5 WR’s
Jaguars vs. Titans
ESPN Starting Percentage: 6.1%
Shenault was a breakout candidate heading into this season but had been overshadowed by veteran Marvin Jones’ arrival for the first few weeks. Once D.J. Chark went down with a season-ending ankle injury at the beginning of week four’s game, Shenault was the main target of rookie quarterback Trevor Lawrence. He saw a 31.8% target share and had a season-high 99 receiving yards. Tavon Austin is expected to take Chark’s place in three-wide receiver sets but Shenault should see a healthy target share going forward. He had seven or more targets in three of four games and now faces a Titans’ offense that is uninspiring in the passing game but still has Derrick Henry. Odds are that the Jaguars will be in catch-up mode for most of the night and force a pass-heavy game script. The Titans are giving up the second-most fantasy points per game to opposing wide receivers entering week five. Shenault has top-30 potential with a ceiling for much more.
Bills vs. Chiefs
ESPN Starting Percentage: 15.1%
Sanders has been a surprise star in the Bills’ strong passing offense. He has seen at least six targets in every game this season and has actually been on the field for one more snap than Stefon Diggs this season (243 to 242). Sanders also has at least five receptions 74 yards in the past two games with his two-touchdown performance also in week three. He’s also averaging a healthy 16.8 yards-per-reception, which would be a career-high in his 12-year career. Sanders now faces the Chiefs’ laughable pass defense that has given up the ninth-most fantasy points per game to opposing wide receivers. He will once again be on the WR3 radar with a chance to finish with high-WR3/FLEX numbers in what is shaping up to be a terrific game.
Texans vs. Patriots
ESPN Starting Percentage: 60.5%
There is no denying Cooks’ talent. He is by far the most skilled offensive player on the entire Texans’ roster. His biggest issue isn’t his own play or even his health but rather the person throwing him the ball. In Tyrod Taylor’s absence, rookie Davis Mills has been downright awful with a combined 255 passing yards, one touchdown, and five interceptions in his two starts. No matter how talented Cooks is, he isn’t going to be able to sustainably overcome that week over week. He still has 39 targets in four games this season but now faces a Patriots’ defense that for the most part shut down Tom Brady and the high-powered Buccaneers’ passing offense in week four. The Texans just stand no chance against one of the best secondaries in the league even without Stephon Gilmore. Cooks won’t be more than a high-floor WR3/FLEX who should be on the bench this week.
Start ‘Em Sit ‘Em Week 5 TE’s
Cowboys vs. Giants
ESPN Starting Percentage: 8.8%
Even with Blake Jarwin’s return, Schultz has been clearly operating as the Cowboys’ top passing option at tight end. He has two straight games with at least a 28% target share despite having to contend with Ceedee Lamb, Amari Cooper, and Ezekiel Elliott. Schultz has out-snapped Jarwin 101-77 in the past two games and Schultz is actually third amongst all tight ends in fantasy with 2.69 fantasy points per target. Schultz has six receptions and at least 58 receiving yards in three of four games this season and has three touchdowns scored in the last two games. The Giants are also a strong matchup as they’ve given up the 4th most fantasy points per tight ends. Schultz is just on a tear right now and has top-five upside for the time being.
Dolphins vs. Buccaneers
ESPN Starting Percentage: 25.3%
In Tua Tagavailoa’s absence, Jacoby Brissett has been serviceable at best. But he has been targeting Gesicki quite a bit in the passing game with a 25.5% target share in week three and a 20% share in week four. His 91 snaps over the last two weeks outpace Durham Smythe (55) and Adam Shaheen (48) by quite a bit. Gesicki has 18 targets in his two games with Brissett at starter and has at least 86 yards or a touchdown in both contests. His 199 air yards are also fourth amongst all tight ends. He now faces a Buccaneers’ defense that just got roasted by Jonnu Smith and Hunter Henry in week four, giving up a touchdown to each. The Dolphins should be play catch-up most of the game, so expect to see a healthy dose of passing out of Brissett and to one of his top targets in Gesicki.
Packers vs. Bengals
ESPN Starting Percentage: 36.7%
Another week, another game to sit Tonyan. He just hasn’t been good despite the Packers’ offense firing on all cylinders over the past three straight games. Tonyan saw seven targets in week four but had his third performance this season of two or fewer receptions and under 10 yards receiving. He’s just not performing and despite appearing to be one of the most viable options in their passing offense, Tonyan isn’t delivering and has no business being in fantasy football lineups. The Bengals are a tough matchup as they’ve given up the sixth-fewest fantasy points per game to opposing tight ends but Tonyan has done exactly nothing to make a case for being a fantasy starter even at such a desolate position.
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