Start’em Sit’em Week 5
Last Sunday was not for the faint of heart. If you’re looking for some examples of the madness that was last Sunday, look no further than Marcus Mariota and Joe Flacco. Both are quarterbacks who have been shunned by the fantasy football community and started in a combined 3.4% of ESPN leagues. They are also two players who finished Week 4 as top 10 quarterbacks. Then there was Keenan Allen. Prior to Sunday’s action, Allen was leading wide receivers in targets and had a prime matchup against the Dolphins. He finished the week outside the top thirty wide receivers. Hopefully, you were able to sift your way through all of the irregularity and if not, this is the Gridiron Experts Start’em Sit’em column and we will guide you towards redemption in Week 5. A friendly reminder worth noting is that the Lions and the Dolphins are on bye this week.
Recapping Week 4, this column fell victim to some of the madness that I was alluding to earlier. The brightest spots that this column had to offer last week was suggesting you start players like Will Dissly and Sterling Shepard, and also suggesting that you sit Stefon Diggs. Despite having a prime matchup, start’em selection, Case Keenum fell completely short of my expectations. There is no time to waste, and I’m fully prepared to wipe the slate clean and deliver you some great suggestions. As always, if you any other start or sit questions that are not answered here, please feel free to reach me on twitter.
- Scoring and stats are based on half-point per reception scoring and come from fantasydata.com
- Start percentages originate from ESPN.com
- Start options range from 0-60%
- Sit options range from 50-100%
The following are my Start’em Sit’em Week 5 recommendations:
Start’em Sit’em Quarterbacks
Patriots vs. Redskins
ESPN Start Percentage: 57.4%
In each of the first three weeks this season, Tom Brady was a top 12 quarterback in fantasy. Week 4, however, presented a tougher opponent, and the results reflected that as Brady wound up finishing outside the top 25. Feel free to hop back on that Brady bandwagon in Week 5 as the Patriots will welcome in the Washington Redskins. While Jay Gruden’s job could be hanging by a thread, the Redskins defense is allowing the fourth-most points to the position and they are one of just three teams to allow double-digit passing touchdowns this season. With the exception of their Week 4 matchup with the Giants, the Redskins have been in the top 12, each week, in most points allowed to the position. Even with the Dolphins supposedly tanking, the Redskins might be just as bad, and Brady is going to pick them apart on Sunday.
Bengals vs. Cardinals
ESPN Start Percentage: 5.8%
There is no denying that Kyler Murray has brought a spark to this Cardinals offense. At the same time, though, there isn’t much Murray can do to help his defense. This is a Cardinals defense that has allowed double-digit touchdowns and has yet to intercept opposing quarterbacks. With the exception of last week, the Cardinals have allowed opposing quarterbacks to finish no worse than the sixth-best signal-caller in a given week. All of this should sound intriguing for Andy Dalton who is the next quarterback to take on the Cardinals. I get it; it won’t be easy buying into Dalton after the Bengals performance on Monday Night Football. In that Monday night matchup, Dalton had only 171 yards passing, and it was the first game that Dalton has failed to throw a touchdown pass since Week 15 in 2017. Let’s not forget that this is the same quarterback who started this season as a top 15 quarterback in each of the first two weeks and also averaged 326 passing yards in his first three games. Knowing just how bad the Cardinals defense has played and digesting that horrible Monday night performance, I still feel confident in nominating Dalton as a start candidate.
Packers @ Cowboys
ESPN Start Percentage: 66.7%
Generally, you do not expect to see a name like Aaron Rodgers as a sit’em suggestion. Dealing with these percentages sometimes puts this writer in a position to make an unpopular nomination such as Rodgers. That being said though, I do think that Rodgers could be in line for a disappointing outing against a Dallas Cowboys team that is coming off of a tough loss. Last week would finally mark the first week in this early season that Rodgers managed to finish inside the top 15, but that was against a bad Eagles secondary. Prior to that Thursday night thrashing of the Eagles secondary, Rodgers had been averaging just 215 passing yards per game. Then there is the Cowboys secondary that is allowing an average of 241 passing yards per game and is also tied for second in allowing the fewest passing touchdowns with just three. While Rodgers had a very good Week 4 outing, I still think that this Packers offense is going to need a few more weeks before their quarterback can consistently produce for fantasy.
Start’em Sit’em Running Backs
Patriots vs. Redskins
ESPN Start Percentage: 45.6%
Personally, I feel like Sony Michel is a touchdown-dependent running back. That being said though, I expect a touchdown or two to come this weekend when the Patriots take on the Washington Redskins. As previously mentioned, this is a Redskins team that, to say the least, is struggling. Even though a majority of Michel’s production has come in the first half of the Patriots games this season, I still say that this is a game where the game script will work in favor of Michel and the running game. Make no mistake, owning Michel has not been easy as he has had just one game inside the top twenty at his position. The encouraging thing, despite those tough outings, is that Michel is tied for tenth in the NFL in carries. The volume is there and now, the Patriots have the right opponent. At this point of the season, the Redskins are allowing the fifth-most rushing yards to opposing backs. The Patriots will be in the redzone more often than not this weekend and so far this season, Michel leads a crowded backfield in redzone touches. Consistency might be hard to find with the sophomore back, but this is a week to cash-in.
Chargers vs. Broncos
ESPN Start Percentage: 13.6%
As everyone knows, last week, Melvin Gordon would end his holdout and would return to the Chargers. Head Coach, Anthony Lynn had toyed with our emotions as he wound up activating his star running back for their matchup against the Miami Dolphins. While Gordon being activated was really a precautionary measure, it was just a reaffirmation that the Chargers back is ready to help your fantasy team. As of this writing, it is expected that Gordon will be well prepared to take on a hefty workload in a Week 5 matchup against the Denver Broncos. While I initially had expectations of the Broncos being a solid run defense in 2019, the first four weeks of this season have not worked out that way. Currently, the Broncos are allowing the third-most points to running backs. As if that matchup isn’t enough, the Broncos will now be without one of their best defensive players as it was announced that Bradley Chubb will miss the remainder of the season. This is a key loss on the Broncos run defense as Chubb was leading Broncos defensive players with five tackles for a loss on the season and also had the most solo tackles on the team. For what it is worth, I also think that Austin Ekeler will still have fantasy relevance, even with Gordon back in the fold.
Raiders vs. Bears
ESPN Start Percentage: 78.8%
I’m just going to come out say this now, I think that this Raiders and Bears matchup will be one of the worst matchups for fantasy in the entire Week 5 slate. One aspect of this game being a dud is the Raiders’ rushing attack going up against the Chicago Bears front seven. Since the start of the 2018 season, the Chicago Bears have allowed just four rushing touchdowns. While only one of those touchdowns has come this season, the Bears are also allowing an average of 58.7 rushing yards per game to opposing backs. All of this makes Josh Jacobs an unpopular start for me. So far this season, Jacobs is going up against a stacked box 31.1% of the time, and that should carry on through this Sunday as the Bears will dare Raiders quarterback, Derek Carr to throw. Between the way the Bears have controlled the run this season and Jacobs ineffectiveness in the passing game, I think the Bears will control Jacobs.
Start’em Sit’em Wide Receivers
Packers @ Cowboys
ESPN Start Percentage: 26.9%
While I’m well aware that Aaron Rodgers a sit candidate, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the entire Packers offense will be useless for fantasy. One Packers’ weapon that I think will still hold value is wide receiver, Marquez Valdes-Scantling. The first part of this is the injury to Davante Adams. In last week’s Thursday night game, Adams had a phenomenal game cut short due to turf toe. As of Monday, Adams has not practiced, and most folks do not seem optimistic about his playing status for Week 5. Even if Adams does play, he will be slowed down, and I think that is where Scantling steps in. Geronimo Allison has managed to score more touchdowns than Scantling but for me, it is about volume. After four weeks, Scantling has 28 targets while Allison only has 11. With the Cowboys allowing the seventh-fewest points to wide receivers, on paper, this is not an ideal matchup. That being said though, this Packers offense still holds value and I expect Scantling to take full advantage of Adams’ injury.
Texans vs. Falcons
ESPN Start Percentage: 9.8%
Currently, the Falcons secondary is eighteenth in yards allowed to wide receivers. Then again, the Falcons are also tied for second in most touchdowns allowed to wide receivers with seven. Falling victim to big plays, I like the chances for each of the Houston Texans wide receivers to have a nice fantasy outing in Week 5, and that includes Kenny Stills. Speaking specifically about Will Fuller though, perhaps it was the inclusion of Stills, but Fuller has to score a touchdown this season. In typical Fuller fashion though, he is averaging 13.1 yards per reception and is still a big play waiting to happen. Circling back to the lack of touchdowns for Fuller, I do not pin that on Fuller as much as I do the Texans offense as a whole. His quarterback, DeShaun Watson, has had two games with multiple touchdowns passes, and two games with no touchdowns. That being said, consistency is on the horizon and Falcons defense is susceptible to the big play for that to not shine through. Will Fuller is a player that deserves flex consideration.
Bengals vs. Cardinals
ESPN Start Percentage: 0.6%
Given the fact that John Ross is now out for at least eight weeks, this selection should seem like a slam dunk. That being said, with Auden Tate currently being rostered in just 3.1% of ESPN leagues, I feel compelled to tell you that you should not only pick him up, but you should also start him as well. In the Bengals miserable outing against the Steelers in Week 4, this might be saying much given the final score but Tate was the Bengals leading wide receiver. In that matchup, Tate hauled in four of six targets for 50 yards receiving. In Ross’ absence, and until A.J. Green returns, I believe that there will be enough volume for Tate to be fantasy relevant. In regards to the Bengals opponent, the Cardinals are just outside the top 10 in fewest points allowed to the wide receiver position. Looking a little closer at that ranking though, in two of the Cardinals four games thus far, they finish in the top 15 in most points allowed to the position. This tells me that while their ranking might seem intimiadating on paper, wide receivers can still be productive against this defense. I know that the Bengals offense looked horrific on Monday. The offensive line played poorly and Andy Dalton had his first game without a touchdown pass since December of 2017. All of that being said, let’s not forget that Dalton was very productive for fantasy in the first few weeks this season and a game script against the Cardinals offense will be much different than that of the Steelers. Have no fear, production from Tate is near.
Redskins @ Patriots
ESPN Start Percentage: 15.3%
Yes, I’m well aware of my percentage rules but prior to the hamstring injury to Terry McLaurin, the Redskins pass-catcher was bordering on must start. Following that hamstring injury late in the week, McLaurin would test his hamstring in pregame warmups but would ultimately be ruled out. Lucky for him McLaurin and his fantasy owners as the Redskins quarterbacks would self-implode in a losing effort to the Giants. Now, I’m not saying that McLaurin is suddenly a player that you cannot rely on. He still holds value and will be the leading Redskins receiver this season. As far as Week 5 is concerned though, I’m recommending that you sit McLaurin against the Patriots. The Patriots defense is the only defense in football that has yet to allow a touchdown to wide receivers. Along with that, and allowing an average of 126.7 receiving yards per game, the Patriots are allowing the second-fewest points to the position. There will be weeks going forward that McLaurin is a slam-dunk, but this is not one of those weeks.
— Michael Hauff (@TheFFRealist) October 1, 2019
Start’em Sit’em Tight Ends
Falcons vs. Texans
ESPN Start Percentage: 57.2%
On paper, this is not the best matchup in the world for Austin Hooper. After four weeks this season, the Texans are one of just seven defenses to not allow a touchdown to tight ends and they are also one of five teams that have yet to allow 100-yards or more to the position. All of that being said, I love how Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons have been utilizing Hooper. The Falcons tight end is currently the second most targeted player in Atlanta and is also tied with Travis Kelce for fourth in targets at the tight end position. On the year, Hooper has two touchdowns on the year, both coming against the Indianapolis Colts in Week 3. The Falcons tight end is far from touchdown dependant as he went without scoring in Week 4 but still finished as the number one tight end. That number one finish would be due in large part to his 130 yards receiveing, off of nine receptions. For those who frequent this column, I’m well aware that I went with this same sort of logic last week when Greg Olsen took on this same Texans defense. That being said, Austin Hooper is one of the most underrated tight ends in football and he needs to be in your lineup every week.
Bengals vs. Cardinals
ESPN Start Percentage: 9.1%
I know what your thinking, is this really as easy as selecting tight ends that are playing the Cardinals. The answer is an emphatic yes and I’m all about the value of Tyler Eifert going up against this Cardinals defense. In half-point scoring formats, on the season, the Cardinals are allowing 95.1 points to the tight end position. The team that ranks second in points allowed, the Buccaneers, have allowed 63.5 points. That is how bad this defense is against the position. On Monday night, Eifert had just two receptions for 27 yards but he did lose a touchdown off his fingertips in the first quarter. I nominated Andy Dalton as a start at quarterback, I think that Eifert will be a part of that success. On the season, Tyler Eifert has just one top 10 performance this season and has 11 receptions for 81 yards and a touchdown.
Panthers vs. Jaguars
ESPN Start Percentage: 60.9%
Plenty of people, myself included, had Greg Olsen pegged as a player who was going to shine in Week 5. The Panther’s tight end was coming off of three straight games with seven targets or more. Olsen was also coming off of a Week 3 performance against the Cardinals where he would finish the week as the number tight end in fantasy. That Week performance, in particular, had people thinking that even with Kyle Allen as the quarterback, perhaps the veteran tight end is quarterback proof. That theory was debunked in Week 4 as Olsen would finish the game with just four targets and five yards receiving. Up next for Olsen is a Jacksonville Jaguars defense that has allowed just one touchdown and an average of 61 yards per game to tight ends. I’m not suggesting that you completely cut bait on Olsen as I feel he will still hold value in the 2019 season. As far as Week 5 is concerned though, I think that you would be better off looking for other options.
Start’em Sit’em Defense
49ers vs. Browns
ESPN Start Percentage: 2.4%
While Week 5 will be yet another week in which you will have to endure Booger McFarland, it will also serve as a nice matchup between the 49ers and the visiting Cleveland Browns. The 49ers will be coming off of their Week 4 bye and even while playing in one less game than everyone else, the 49ers are still fifth among DST’s in scoring. When evaluating the 49ers defense, given their offense’s Week 3 outing, it would probably be best to disregard their turnover differential. After recording just two interceptions all of last season, this 49ers defense is second among defenses with five interceptions. On top of the interceptions, they have managed to turn those interceptions into even more points as they are tied for second with two defensive touchdowns on the season. This is a Cleveland Browns offense that has had pass protecting issues that will be going up against a 49ers defense line that has one of the better pass rushes in all of football. The opportunity will be there for sacks, hurries, and some turnovers. As I mentioned earlier, this 49ers defense is coming off of their bye week so it is very possible that they were dropped in a variety of leagues.
Titans vs. Bills
ESPN Start Percentage: 32.2%
Yes, this is the second week in a row that I’m nominating the Titans DST as a start candidate. On the season, the Titans DST is fourth in scoring. They are also a DST that has been consistent as they have finished inside the top ten in scoring in three out of their four games this season. They have also allowed 62 points on the season which is the sixth-fewest in football. Coming off of their 12 quarterback hurries in Week 4, I expect the Titans will give the Buffalo Bills all that they can handle in Week 5. As of this writing, Josh Allen is still in concussion protocol and if that doesn’t have you gravitating towards the Titans DST, I don’t know what will. Eventually, people will start paying attention of this Titans DST, but for now, you should get ahead of the curve and start them in Week 5.
Vikings vs. Giants
ESPN Start Percentage: 77.1%
It is kind of surprising that the Vikings defense is being started in as many ESPN leagues as it is. Perhaps it is more about reputation than anything else as their defense has had just one game this season inside the top 15 of scoring defenses. This week, the Vikings will be going up against the Giants and with Daniel Jones under center, opposing defenses have not been doing as well for fantasy. In weeks 3 and 4, defenses opposing the Giants have finished no better than fifteenth in DST scoring. I will grant you, those defenses were the Buccaneers and Redskins, but if I’m circling back to the beginning of this blurb, the Vikings DST hasn’t been a standout performer either. I think the previously mentioned 49ers will do much better for you.