Fantasy Start/Sit For Week 5: Start Laviska Shenault Jr. & Robert Woods, Bench Justin Herbert & Miles Sanders
Getty Images. Pictured: Laviska Shenault Jr. and Justin Herbert.
Week 5 comes in like a lion with a fantastic, fantasy-friendly Rams–Seahawks game on Thursday night. We also get Chiefs–Bills on Sunday night, which should be the bonanza game of the week and yield a ton of fantasy points.
Aside from those two games, there’s no shortage of matchups to avoid in Week 5: Patriots–Texans, Jets–Falcons, Saints–Washington, Broncos–Steelers and Colts–Ravens should all be low-scoring affairs and tough for fantasy.
Below are players at each position you should definitely start as well as others you should consider sitting based on matchups, injuries and trends.
Week 5 Start ‘Em
Quarterbacks to Start
Kirk Cousins, Vikings vs. Lions
After looking near-perfect in the first three games of the year, Cousins had an underwhelming Week 4 and completed 20 of 38 attempts for 203 yards, one touchdown and one interception, finishing as QB27. I think he can be forgiven for struggling against the Browns defense, which has been tough all year. He is still a solid, low-end QB1 streaming option in the right matchups, which should come as soon as this week against the Lions.
Daniel Jones, Giants at Cowboys
Jones didn’t deliver in a prime Week 3 matchup against the Falcons, but came back strong in Week 4 against the Saints. He completed 28 of 40 attempts for a whopping 402 yards, two touchdowns, one interception and rushed four times for 27 yards, finishing as QB6 for the week. He has the chance to make it two in a row against the Cowboys defense, which has allowed the third-most fantasy points to quarterbacks this year.
Sam Darnold, Panthers vs. Eagles
It wasn’t always pretty, but Darnold finished as the No. 1 quarterback for fantasy in Week 4. He completed 26 of 39 attempts for 301 yards, two touchdowns, two interceptions, and tallied six rushes for 35 yards and two rushing touchdowns against Dallas. He has a nice schedule ahead against the Eagles, Vikings, Giants and Falcons and should be a low-end QB1 with upside in those matchups.
Wide Receivers to Start
Corey Davis, Jets at Falcons
After starting the season strong with a pair of touchdowns against the Panthers, Davis struggled in Weeks 2 and 3 against the Patriots and Broncos and finished as WR94 and WR58 in half PPR (and by “Davis struggled,” I really mean Zach Wilson struggled). He bounced back in Week 4 against the Titans and caught four of seven passes for 111 yards and a touchdown. He gets an even softer matchup this week across the pond against Atlanta, which has allowed a league-worst 32 points per game this year.
Jakobi Meyers, Patriots at Texans
Meyers has quietly finished as WR20 and WR25 over the last two weeks against the Saints and Buccaneers. The Patriots’ slot receiver clearly has chemistry with Mac Jones, who favors the checkdown passes and ranks 29th in air yards per attempts this season. Meyers has tallied 17 catches on 26 targets for 164 yards in that span and should perform well against the Texans’ subpar pass defense.
Laviska Shenault Jr., Jaguars vs. Titans
It was Shenault — not Marvin Jones — who benefitted after D.J. Chark went down with a fractured ankle. He posted his best game of the year and caught six of seven passes for 99 yards and tacked on a rush for 11 yards, finishing as WR23 in half PPR for the week; Jones caught three passes for 24 yards. Chark is out for the season, meaning there will be more targets to go around for both Jones and Shenault. He is a great start this week against Tennessee’s sieve-like secondary that has allowed the second-most fantasy points to wide receivers this year.
Robert Woods, Rams at Seahawks
Woods was drafted as a top-24 wideout, but is currently WR39 through four weeks in half PPR. He’s been an afterthought with Cooper Kupp receiving 50% of Matthew Stafford’s targets this year. He has scored twice, and head coach Sean McVay told the media this week he wants to get Woods the ball more. Take that, of course, with a grain of salt, but this should be a good game for all the Rams’ pass catchers: The Seahawks rank fifth-worst in passing yards allowed per game.
DeVante Parker, Dolphins at Buccaneers
Parker had a nice afternoon against the Colts in Week 4 and caught four of nine passes for 77 yards and scored his first touchdown of the year. He will have less competition on the field with Will Fuller on injured reserve with a broken finger and gets a sweetheart matchup against the Buccaneers this week. Tampa Bay is allowing an NFL-worst 327.5 passing yards per game and have given up the most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers. Start both Parker and Jaylen Waddle this week as high-ceiling flex options.
Running Backs to Start
Cordarrelle Patterson, Falcons vs. Jets
Patterson’s breakout was not on my bingo card this season, but it sure has been fun to watch. The former Vikings’ first-round pick began his career as a receiver and now has dual eligibility as a running back and receiver. He has been targeted at least six times in each of the last three games and has scored five touchdowns in that span. Last week, he finished as the top running back for fantasy against Washington after tacking on a hat trick of touchdowns. He is an RB2 with RB1 upside this week in London against the Jets.
Damien Williams, Bears at Raiders
Williams was the top waiver add of the cycle after David Montgomery went down with a knee injury in Week 4 (his rostership went from 10% to 74%). He performed well against the Lions and saw 10 touches for 70 scrimmage yards and a touchdown. Now he gets another nice matchup against the Raiders’ exploitable run defense. Las Vegas has given up the seventh-most fantasy points to running backs this year, making Williams a solid RB2 with upside.
Damien Harris, Patriots at Texans
The Patriots’ run game was brutal on Sunday night against the Buccaneers’ shutdown front seven. Harris tallied four rushes for -4 yards, though he did pick up two catches for 30 yards. The team clearly abandoned the run early on, which I don’t think will be a normal occurrence. The team faces the Texans and Cowboys next, both of which should be great get-right games for Harris. He should be considered a solid RB2 moving forward.
Darrell Henderson Jr., Rams at Seahawks
Henderson has quietly had a very nice season thus far aside from missing one week with a rib injury. He has finished as RB15, RB13 and RB19 in half PPR in the three games he has played and gets a really nice matchup this week. The Seahawks have allowed an NFL-worst 152 rushing yards per game and have given up the third-most fantasy points to running backs this year. Henderson is a borderline top-12 play this week.
Zack Moss, Bills at Chiefs
I am once again asking you to start Zack Moss this week. After missing Week 1 as a healthy scratch, he has finished as RB16, RB14 and RB24 in half PPR. Perhaps even more encouraging is his usage on the goal line. He has scored four times already this year and should have ample opportunities this week against the Chiefs, whose defense has allowed 146 rushing yards per game and has given up the fifth-most fantasy points to running backs this year.
Tight Ends to Start
Dawson Knox, Bills at Chiefs
Kansas City’s defense isn’t much better against receivers. The unit is allowing the sixth-most passing yards per game this year and won’t hold up well against Knox, who is on fire of late. He has scored four times in the last three games and is currently TE2 in that span in half PPR scoring. He is a mid-tier TE1 with upside in what should be a shootout against the Chiefs.
Mike Gesicki, Dolphins at Buccaneers
I may have been too hasty to write Gesicki off as fool’s gold. He has exactly 14 fantasy points in half PPR in each of the last two games and gets the Buccaneers this week, whose defense has allowed the third-most points to opposing tight ends. He is a borderline must-start in a positive Week 5 matchup.
Defenses to Start
The Cardinals fell apart in Week 2 against the Vikings, but have been a top-12 unit in every other game this year. They held up well in Week 4 against the Rams, who have been their toughest opponent thus far, and have a better matchup on deck this week against the 49ers, especially with San Francisco’s quarterback situation still up in the air.
Dallas Cowboys vs. Giants
The Cowboys have been a top-12 team defense every week this year, and have been in the top five in each of the last two games. They face the Giants this week, who may be shorthanded once again on the receiver front, making Dallas a top-12 play once again.
Week 5 Sit ‘Em
Quarterbacks to Sit
Justin Herbert, Chargers vs. Browns
It might be tough to sit Herbert, especially on the heels of two solid performances for fantasy. He finished as QB2 against the Chiefs and QB12 against the Raiders. I expect him to finish outside the top 12 this week against the Browns, who have allowed the third-fewest passing yards per game this year behind only the Bills and Panthers. The team has also managed to keep their games low-scoring with an average of 16.8 points allowed. I would prefer to start guys like Kirk Cousins and maybe even Sam Darnold over Herbert this week.
Derek Carr, Raiders vs. Bears
Carr was a serviceable streamer in Weeks 1 through 3 and had been QB9 in that span, throwing for at least 382 yards in each game. He came back down to earth against the Chargers and completed 21 of 34 attempts for 196 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. The next two weeks are bad matchups for Carr, who you can leave on your bench (or on waivers) for now.
Trevor Lawrence, Jaguars vs. Titans
Lawrence has been pretty lackluster over the past three weeks and hasn’t thrown more than one touchdown in any game. His one good game this year came against the Texans, and he still threw three picks against them. Tennessee isn’t a tough matchup for the Jaguars in theory, but with Urban Meyer’s coaching and extracurricular struggles, I can see this being another disappointing game for the No. 1 overall pick.
Wide Receivers to Sit
Tyler Boyd, Bengals vs. Packers
Boyd has been solid over the past two weeks with Tee Higgins sidelined. He finished as WR28 and WR12 in half PPR with a significant uptick in targets. With Higgins trending toward playing, however, I think Boyd ends up as the No. 3 behind Ja’Marr Chase and Higgins — and outside the top 24.
DeVonta Smith, Eagles at Panthers
Smith carved up the Chiefs in Week 4 and caught seven of 10 targets for 122 yards, finishing as WR14 in half PPR. Kansas City has been abysmal against the pass, however, and he gets a difficult Week 5 matchup against the Panthers, who have given up the fifth-fewest fantasy points to receivers this year. I could see the Eagles’ vertical game struggling overall this week.
Brandin Cooks, Texans vs. Patriots
Cooks has been very solid through four weeks against some tough opponents (Browns, Panthers, Bills) and is currently WR13 in half PPR. That said, he and Davis Mills face the Patriots this week, which is the least optimal matchup for rookie quarterbacks. Zach Wilson was held to six fantasy points in Week 2 and I fully expect Bill Belichick to shut down Mills and this unimpressive Texans squad.
Brandon Aiyuk, 49ers at Cardinals
Aiyuk is looking like one of the biggest non-injury bust candidates of the season. The 49ers’ wideout finished as WR33 last year in half PPR and was drafted as a low-end WR2 in most leagues. He’s currently WR86 with a paltry 58 receiving yards across four games. He needs to ride your bench until further notice and is borderline droppable in shallower leagues.
JuJu Smith-Schuster, Steelers vs. Broncos
Smith-Schuster and Chase Claypool have been collateral damage from quarterback Ben Roethlisberger’s decline this season. He is WR66 this year in half PPR and caught just two of eight targets for 11 yards in Week 4. Unlike Claypool, I do think Smith-Schuster is a buy-low candidate longer term given his skillset still aligns well with short slant routes, but this matchup is a tough one, as Denver is allowing the sixth-fewest passing yards per game. I would hang onto Smith-Schuster if you have him, but he’s bench fodder until I see improvement from the Steelers’ vertical game.
Running Backs to Sit
Miles Sanders, Eagles at Panthers
Sanders was unable to capitalize on two easy matchups in Weeks 4 and 5 against Dallas and Kansas City, respectively. He finished as RB38 and RB46 in half PPR and was slightly out-touched last week by rookie Kenneth Gainwell, who was the more effective runner in that game. This is trending toward a split backfield situation, and it’s a tough Week 5 matchup against the Panthers’ run defense, which has given up the third-fewest fantasy points per game all year. His workload and opponent make him a risky RB3/flex play.
Chris Carson, Seahawks vs. Rams
Carson is heading into Week 5 as questionable with a neck injury and will be a game-time decision. He finished as RB50 last week in half PPR while splitting carries with Alex Collins. The Rams aren’t nearly as tough against the run as they once were, but his waning health and time share makes him very risky this week.
Josh Jacobs, Raiders vs. Bears
Jacobs returned from injury in Week 5 and reclaimed his role as the team’s top rusher. He wasn’t able to do much with the workload, however, and saw 13 carries for 40 yards and caught five passes for 17 yards. He has a much tougher matchup this week against the Bears, who are above average against the run.
Myles Gaskin, Dolphins at Buccaneers
Gaskin bageled in Week 4 with just two carries for three yards. It’s certainly concerning he was out-touched by Malcolm Brown, though neither Brown nor Gaskin have looked particularly impressive. This week, the Dolphins face the Buccaneers, who are allowing an NFL-best 47.5 rushing yards per game. Leave him off your rosters this week — and likely moving forward.
Javonte Williams, Broncos at Steelers
Both Williams and Melvin Gordon were unimpressive in Week 4, finishing as RB39 and RB38, respectively. The pair split touches, which seems like the arrangement for the time being. The Broncos face the Steelers, who are allowing the fifth-fewest fantasy points to running backs. Neither Williams nor Gordon are attractive starts this week in light of volume and matchup.
Tight Ends to Sit
Robert Tonyan, Packers at Bengals
Tonyan has had exactly one good game this year in Week 2 against the Lions. It’s looking more and more like Tonyan’s 11 touchdowns last year were an anomaly. He is a touchdown-dependent tight end with a nonexistent floor this week against the Bengals, who have been tough against tight ends thus far.
Jared Cook, Chargers vs. Browns
Cook saw a season-high six catches for 70 yards and a touchdown in Week 4 against the Raiders. With the numerous mouths to feed in this offense — Austin Ekeler, Keenan Allen and Mike Williams — it doesn’t feel like this will be a sustainable pace. The Chargers face the Browns’ stout defense this week, which feels like a letdown game for Cook.
Defenses to Sit
Buffalo Bills at Chiefs
The Bills D/ST is currently the top unit for fantasy through four weeks and have looked phenomenal thus far. That said, they’ve faced the Steelers, Dolphins, Washington and Texans — none of which inspire fear on offense. The team faces the Chiefs this week on the road in Arrowhead Stadium and I fully expect this game to be a shootout.
Chicago Bears at Raiders
The Bears are sixth among team defenses thus far, having faced two strong teams and two not-so-great teams. As predicted, they performed well against the Bengals and Lions and struggled against the Rams and Browns. Leave them on your bench in a bad matchup this week against the Raiders, who have tallied the fifth-most yards per game.
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