Fantasy Football Start/Sit Week 5: Start Chris Olave, Damien Harris; Sit D.J. Moore, Tony Pollard

Fantasy Football Start/Sit Week 5: Start Chris Olave, Damien Harris; Sit D.J. Moore, Tony Pollard article feature image

Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images. Pictured: D.J. Moore.

A number of shocking things have happened over the first four weeks of the NFL season, and setting fantasy lineups might be a serious chore with the sheer number of injuries and befuddling situations.

Whether you're 4-0 or 0-4, stay diligent on the waiver wire, send trade offers and make savvy start/sit decisions. There's way too much football left to get complacent or give up.

Below are some players at each position you should start in Week 5, as well as some players you should consider sitting based on matchups, injuries and trends.

Week 5 Start 'Em

Quarterbacks to Start

Derek Carr, Raiders (at Chiefs)

Carr has been a bit erratic this season. He was the QB12 though the first three weeks after facing the Chargers, Cardinals and Titans — all easy matchups. He hit a wall against the Broncos in Week 4, throwing for 188 yards and no touchdowns for a QB25 finish.

Carr is a start for me this week with another mouthwatering matchup against the Chiefs, who have allowed the sixth-most passing yards per game and fifth-most fantasy points to quarterbacks. Consider Carr a low-end QB1, especially with Hunter Renfrow trending toward a return.

Tom Brady, Buccaneers (vs. Falcons)

Brady is back in my good graces after finally showing up in Week 4. The veteran signal-caller was the QB28 in fantasy from Weeks 1-3. He turned it around against the Chiefs and completed 39-of-52 attempts for 385 yards, three touchdowns and zero interceptions.

He finished as the QB4 for Week 4 — his first top-12 finish of the year — and should perform well against Atlanta's bottom-of-the-barrel defense in Week 5.

The Falcons are allowing the 10th-most fantasy points to the quarterback position and eighth-most passing yards per game. Brady is dealing with shoulder and finger ailments, but he was a full go in practice on Thursday. He is back in the mid-QB1 conversation once again.

Wide Receivers to Start

Chris Olave, Saints (vs. Seahawks)

Olave is making a convincing case for Offensive Rookie of the Year. The Ohio State product — who is the 5/1 betting favorite to win OROY — has been stellar through four games and is the WR16 in half PPR. He caught 4-of-7 targets for 67 yards and scored his first NFL touchdown in London last week.

I expect him to feast on Seattle's defense, which ranks 32nd in pass DVOA (according to Football Outsiders) and has allowed the fifth-most receiving yards this year. Olave is a WR2 with upside moving forward.

Robert Woods, Titans (at Commanders)

Woods is quietly creeping back into favor among fantasy managers. The veteran wideout has back-to-back double-digit fantasy performances in half-PPR scoring and found the end zone for the first time this year in Week 4.

He and the Titans get a juicy matchup this week against the Commanders, whose defense has allowed the fourth-most receiving yards this year and ranks 31st against fantasy wide receivers. Woods could also see increased targets with rookie wideout Treylon Burks out. He is a WR3/flex play with upside in this positive matchup. 

Curtis Samuel, Commanders (vs. Titans)

Samuel had a blazing hot start to the season with new quarterback Carson Wentz under center. He was the WR10 through three weeks, but he is coming off of his worst game in Dallas in which he caught 4-of-7 targets for 38 yards and finished as the WR54 in half PPR.

I love his chances to bounce back here for two reasons:

1) Jahan Dotson isn't practicing at this time due to a hamstring injury.

2) The Titans' pass defense ranks 29th against fantasy wide receivers and has allowed the fourth-most receiving yards.

Samuel is on the injury report with a non-COVID-19 illness, so I would definitely monitor the Commanders' injury reports going into Sunday. If he plays, he should be considered a WR3/flex with a high floor in PPR formats.

Romeo Doubs, Packers (vs. Giants)

Doubs posted yet another solid, eight-target day against the Patriots in Week 4. He reeled in his second touchdown and is the WR13 over the past two weeks in half PPR. Doubs has a legitimate opportunity to surpass Allen Lazard on the Packers' depth chart and become the team's No. 1 option — an attractive prospect opposite four-time MVP Aaron Rodgers.

Lazard and Doubs were tied with 70 snaps and eight targets each in Week 4, though Lazard finished with the better day from a yardage perspective.

The Giants have been fairly tough against the pass on paper, though that may have something to do with facing the Bears, a Cooper Rush-led Cowboys team, the Panthers, and the Titans to start the season. Doubs and Lazard are both WR3/flex plays against the G-Men.

Running Backs to Start

Dameon Pierce, Texans (at Jaguars)

I am 100% okay with eating crow on Pierce. He has dominated the Texans' backfield since Week 2 and has back-to-back games inside the top 10 in half PPR. The rookie running back is averaging 17.5 touches per game and his snap counts have increased since Week 1.

Conversely, Rex Burkhead's usage has decreased significantly, as the veteran saw a season-low 18 snaps and zero rushes in Week 4 against the Chargers.

Pierce is well-positioned to be the Texans' workhorse for the rest of the year. He offers borderline top-12 upside against the Jaguars, who have allowed the eighth-most fantasy points to running backs.

Damien Harris, Patriots (vs. Lions)

I was concerned about Harris heading into last week with the switch at quarterback from Mac Jones to Brian Hoyer, which I expected would lead to more negative/run-unfriendly game scripts. For the record, Vegas did too, and had the Patriots as 10-point underdogs against the Packers. They kept it close until the very end, but ultimately lost by way of a game-winning Mason Crosby field goal at the end of overtime.

Harris was able to pick up a ton of work with New England staying competitive in this game. He tallied 18 carries for 86 yards and a touchdown and finished as the RB14 in half PPR for Week 4. I expect him to eat against the Lions, whose defense ranks last in rush DVOA (per Football Outsiders) and has allowed the second-most fantasy points to running backs. Harris should be considered a strong RB2 with upside.

J.K. Dobbins, Ravens (vs. Bengals)

Despite a brutal Week 4 matchup against the Bills, Dobbins exploded and logged 13 carries for 41 yards and a touchdown and caught four passes for 22 yards and a touchdown. Dobbins out-touched Justice Hill 17 to 10 and out-snapped him 35 to 25.

Hill was banged up in the game and might not even play this weekend based on his absences from practice. Regardless, Dobbins should be considered the Ravens' workhorse moving forward and is a low-end RB2 this week and beyond based on talent and lack of competition.

Devin Singletary, Bills (vs. Steelers)

Buffalo's backfield has been a fantasy headache for the first couple of weeks, though it seems like Singletary has distinguished himself from James Cook and Zack Moss.

Singletary somehow ranks fifth in snap count this season behind only Saquon Barkley, Joe Mixon, Jonathan Taylor and Leonard Fournette. He had a strong Week 4 against the Ravens and had 11 carries for 49 yards and caught four passes for 47 yards; Moss saw three carries for six yards and Cook was a non-factor. Singletary also out-snapped the duo of Moss and Cook 56 to eight.

I expect the Bills to jump ahead pretty early in a game in which they are favored by two touchdowns, which should create a run-friendly game script. Singletary should be considered a RB2/3 against the Steelers, who have allowed the seventh-most fantasy points to running backs this year.

Tight Ends to Start

Gerald Everett, Chargers (at Browns)

Everett bounced back from a rancid Week 3 in which he recorded two catches for 25 yards. He reeled in 5-of-6 targets for 61 yards and a touchdown in Week 4 and finished as the TE4 in half PPR for the second time this year.

The waiver wire snag has been clutch for fantasy managers thus far and should continue that streak in Week 5 against the Browns — especially with quarterback Justin Herbert looking healthy once again. Everett is a must-start this week and beyond.

Tyler Conklin, Jets (vs. Dolphins)

The Jets are coming off of Zach Wilson's first game of the season, and incidentally, a few of their players' worst game of the year.

Conklin has been averaging a whopping eight targets per game, which is quite impressive at a position known to be touchdown-dependent. He caught 3-of-5 targets for 52 yards against the Steelers and finished as the TE17 with seven points in half PPR. He is top-nine at the position on the season and gets a sweet matchup this week against the Dolphins, who rank second-to-last in pass DVOA (per Football Outsiders) and have allowed the eighth-most fantasy points to tight ends.

Conklin should bounce back nicely and is a decent streaming option as a fringe TE1 in Week 5.

Defense to Start

Cowboys D/ST (at Rams)

The Cowboys rank as the DST8 and have finished top-nine at the position in each of the last two weeks. The unit recorded five sacks and an interception against the Giants in Week 3, and recorded two interceptions, two sacks and allowed just 10 points to the Commanders in Week 4.

I expect them to be a top play this week against the Rams, whose offensive line has looked horrendous this season. Quarterback Matthew Stafford was sacked seven times for a loss of 54 yards on Monday against the 49ers. He has been sacked second-most in the NFL — behind Carson Wentz — and has tossed just four touchdowns to an NFL-high six interceptions this season.

Week 5 Sit 'Em

Quarterbacks to Sit

Marcus Mariota, Falcons (at Buccaneers)

Surprisingly fun through the first three weeks of the season, Marcus Mariota turned back into a pumpkin in Week 4 against the Browns. He completed just 7-of-19 passes for 139 yards, zero touchdowns and one interception, yielding a QB32 finish (remind me how many teams there are?).

I am out on Mariota except for the juiciest of matchups, which will not come this week against the Buccaneers. Tampa Bay was just carved up by Patrick Mahomes, but its defense still ranks top three in pass DVOA. I expect Mariota to be on a very short leash and the Falcons to lean on their run game. Mariota is a QB2 with downside in Week 5.

Matthew Stafford, Rams (vs. Cowboys)

Stafford (and the Rams as a whole) may be one of the more disappointing situations in fantasy thus far. He was the QB6 in his inaugural season for Los Angeles and led the team to a Super Bowl victory. This season, Stafford is the QB25 and has thrown four touchdowns and six interceptions through four games.

To make matters worse, Stafford's struggles have negatively impacted everyone else's fantasy production — except for Cooper Kupp's. The Rams' hapless offensive line has done Stafford no favors; they looked rancid in primetime against the 49ers and have allowed the second-most sacks this year.

The Cowboys could prolong Stafford's two-game dry spell without a touchdown, as their defense has been stingy against the pass — Football Outsiders ranks Dallas' pass defense in the top five — just one spot behind the 49ers. Stafford falls outside the top 12 threshold in this difficult matchup.

Wide Receivers to Sit

Diontae Johnson, Steelers (at Bills)

Johnson's targets fell off a cliff in Week 4. From Weeks 1-3, the Steelers' star wideout saw an average of 11 target per game. He was targeted four times in Week 4 and caught two passes for 11 yards, finishing as the WR75 in what should have been a positive matchup against the Jets.

Overall, I think the switch to Kenny Pickett — the lone quarterback selected in the first round of this year's draft — should benefit Pittsburgh's offense. However, I could definitely envision him struggling against the Bills in his first NFL start.

Buffalo has the highest rated pass defense according to Football Outsiders' pass DVOA metric. They are allowing the fifth-fewest fantasy points per game and an NFL-low 150.8 passing yards per game. Johnson is a risky WR2 with downside.

D.J. Moore, Panthers (vs. 49ers)

It has finally come to this.

Moore's talent is undeniable, but his quarterback situation is undeniably bad with Baker Mayfield. He is coming off a game in which he was targeted a season-high 11 times, which does give reason for hope. In the week prior, however, he caught just one pass for two yards and was the WR93 in half PPR.

Moore is the overall WR50 and has to face a 49ers defense that is top four in pass DVOA and has given up the sixth-fewest fantasy points to wide receivers. The matchup is tough and until I see better quarterback play (which may not be this season), Moore is a risky WR3 with a near-zero floor. You may not be in a position to sit him, but you probably wish you were.

Allen Robinson II, Rams (vs. Cowboys)

I'm officially done with Robinson. I've spent too much of the last two years defending this supposedly quarterback-proof wide receiver.

Robinson was the WR88 in half PPR last year and is trending toward a similar finish as the WR72 through four games. He has caugh two passes in each of the last two games and is a major stay-away this week with the Cowboys on deck.

Dallas ranks fifth in pass DVOA and is allowing the ninth-fewest fantasy points to receivers. You can sit (or drop Robinson) until further notice.

Brandon Aiyuk, 49ers (at Panthers)

Aiyuk has been largely unremarkable this season save one touchdown against the Broncos in Week 3. He caught all four of his targets for 37 yards and finished as the WR55 in half PPR last week against the Rams.

I have little faith in him to produce against the Panthers, who have actually been above average against the pass. Aiyuk is a low-volume and risky WR3/flex play.

Running Backs to Sit

Antonio Gibson, Commanders (vs. Titans)

I'm already pushing the panic button on Gibson. He is the RB20 through four weeks in half PPR, though that does not tell the whole story.

His production has been on the decline, as have his snaps. He saw 49 snaps in Week 1, 40 in Week 2, 34 in Week 3 and 30 in Week 4. Toss in the fact that rookie Brian Robinson Jr. is trending toward making his NFL debut just over a month after being shot, it's not looking great for Gibson.

Heading into the season (before Robinson's injury), Gibson had clearly fallen out of favor with head coach Ron Rivera due in part to ball-security issues. Gibson, who was returning punts during training camp, fumbled an NFL-high six times last season and also fumbled during the preseason.

Meanwhile, Robinson ascended quickly and was trending toward becoming Washington's feature back. I don't like the situation at all for Gibson, and I do not like the matchup against the Titans as their defense ranks top eight in rush DVOA. Gibson is a risky RB3/flex with serious downside.

Cam Akers, Rams (vs. Cowboys)

You may be noticing a trend here: I am fading the entire Rams offense.

Akers has been a complete bust in 50% of games this season, including last week against the 49ers. He rushed eight times for 13 yards and finished as a not-so-nice RB69 in half-PPR scoring. Though in fairness, Darrell Henderson Jr. did nothing as well and was the RB48.

Perhaps a more worrisome trend is in the snap counts: Akers was out-snapped by Henderson in this contest (44 to 28) and is being out-snapped on the season (158 to 91). Henderson is also out-producing Akers and is the RB36 through four weeks.

My takeaway from this is that neither one is trustworthy and I want no part of this backfield until further notice. Akers is barely a RB3 and has a near-zero floor, even in an easier matchup against Dallas' run defense.

Michael Carter, Jets (vs. Dolphins)

Carter had a fantastic Week 1 against the Ravens in which he recorded 17 touches for 100 all-purpose yards and finished as the RB19 in half PPR. His production has been trending down, however, as has his snaps.

He saw 50 snaps in Week 1, 43 in Week 2, 38 in Week 3 and 31 in Week 4. Moreover, he was out-snapped by rookie Breece Hall, who is currently looking like the preferred back for Gang Green, for the second week in a row. Carter is a firm sit for me going up against a very solid Miami team that ranks fourth in rush DVOA and is allowing the fifth-fewest fantasy points to running backs.

Tony Pollard, Cowboys (at Rams)

During the offseason, the fantasy community waxed poetic about which Cowboys running back to roster. The correct answer was apparently neither, as both were complete duds against the Commanders in Week 4.

Pollard logged eight carries for six yards (0.75 yards per carry) while Ezekiel Elliott rushed 19 times for 49 yards (2.58 yards per carry) during the contest. Elliott at least tacked on two catches for 32 yards; Pollard was held to one catch for two yards and finished as the RB70 for the week.

This situation is too volatile to trust — at least until Dak Prescott returns. I also hate the matchup against the Rams, who haven't done much well this season but do rate top three in rush DVOA behind only the Colts and 49ers.

Los Angeles is allowing the fewest fantasy points to running backs all season and could completely quell Dallas' rushing attack. Both Pollard and Elliott are risky RB3s with downside.

Tight End to Sit

Dalton Schultz, Cowboys (at Rams)

I don't like much about this game, which has a point total of 43 (as of  Thursday). That includes Schultz, who was held catchless last week against the Commanders and has really only had one good game this season, which came in Week 1 against the Buccaneers.

This could be the game that backup quarterback Cooper Rush — who seems to only have eyes for CeeDee Lamb — is exposed by a veteran Rams defense. Los Angeles has been permeable to the pass, but has been particularly tough against tight ends. The unit has allowed the fewest fantasy points to the position all year, having kept Dawson Knox, Kyle Pitts, Zach Ertz and George Kittle — all top-12 tight ends entering the season — in check thus far.

I expect this streak to continue with Schultz, who falls outside of the top 12 for me in Week 5.

Defense to Sit

Browns D/ST (vs. Chargers)

The Browns defense has struggled more often than not this season. They logged one sack, allowed 23 points and recorded just three fantasy points against an anemic, Marcus Mariota-led Falcons offense in Week 4. In fairness, the unit played without both of their top edge rushers, Myles Garrett and Jadeveon Clowney, and Atlanta was able to pivot and capitalize on the ground.

This could easily be the fourth game this year falling outside of the top 12 at the position against a healthy Justin Herbert. Cleveland is a sit for me in this tough matchup. 

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