Fantasy Football Week 5: 10 Superb Starts, 10 Subpar Sits
Fantasy football success is a pursuit in fluidity. Last year’s biggest stars aren’t guaranteed to be this year’s biggest stars. Players we’ve never heard of like Andre Brown, Ramses Barden and Brian Hartline have emerged from the darkness this season to post huge numbers and drive the waiver wire insane.
The only way to survive is to swim with the current. If you want to hang on defiantly to your Matthew Stafford-to-Calvin Johnson connection, be my guest. But know that you’ve already wasted nearly one-third of the regular season waiting on them, and 2011 is so last year. Adjust, tweak and trade if you want to reach the postseason in 2012. Here's Week 5’s Start ‘Ems and Sit ‘Ems to get you moving:
Start 'Em: TE Owen Daniels
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Daniels was emerging as one of the top young TEs in the NFL until an injury in 2009. Now, three years later, Daniels appears to be making that claim once more. Matt Schaub’s go-to guy (sorry, Andre Johnson owners) already has 19 grabs for 232 yards and a pair of touchdowns for what might be the league’s best overall squad. He’s a steadying influence on the Texans offense, much like Jason Witten was in his prime for the Cowboys. Houston is at the Jets on Monday night, and with the train wreck they’ve become, Daniels remains a solid start at TE.
Sit 'Em: K Mason Crosby
Crosby's been a cold 2012 play so far, with only 23 points.
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Crosby, a longtime fantasy kicker favorite, simply isn’t getting the chances to score thus far in 2012. He’s 5-for-5 in field-goal attempts, but that’s barely one three-pointer a game. The Packers are scoring touchdowns, and Crosby’s getting the extra points. But that’s just not going to cut it. Let Crosby (23 points) have a two or three field-goal game before putting him back in your lineup.
Start 'Em: QB Joe Flacco
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This is a Start ‘Em based more on the disarray of the opponent than the roll the starter is on. Flacco’s thrown five TDs and three interceptions the last three games, but his Ravens are at Kansas City on Sunday. If the Chiefs were a ship, they’d be listing at sea and missing a propeller. They’ve allowed the second-most scoring passes in the league (10), which would be enough for me to start Flacco if I owned him.
Sit 'Em: RB Shonn Greene
Greene's tenure with the Jets is coming to an ugly close.
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Here are Greene’s numbers the last three weeks: 11 carries for 23 yards, 19 carries for 40 yards, and 11 carries for 34 yards. That’s 41 carries for 97 yards, no touchdowns and no run longer than nine yards. I wouldn’t trust him to run to the store for me right now. Blame Mark Sanchez for the Jets’ ailments if you want, but know that he’s got absolutely no threat of a ground game to take the pressure off. Greene is a few more poor starts from losing his starting job, being waived after the season, and unless he rebounds somewhere else, rolling toward the end of an NFL career that once held so much potential.
Start 'Em: QB Philip Rivers
Gun-shy Rivers owners should give him a start Sunday against Drew Brees and the Saints.
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Just when it looked like Rivers was returning to 2011 form in a blowout loss to Atlanta, he lit up the Chiefs on the road (18-of-23, 209, 2 TDs, 1 INT). He’ll stay on the road this week at New Orleans, home of the NFL’s 24th-rated pass defense. Rivers may not throw four touchdowns and get into a haymaker-for-haymaker throwdown with Drew Brees, but he should be good for at least a pair of touchdowns.
Sit 'Em: QB Ryan Fitzpatrick
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If you enjoy high-risk, high-return fantasy players, then Fitzpatrick is your starting QB. The guy throws touchdowns and interceptions with equal fervor and often in equal supply. He leads the NFL in pass TDs, is second only to Tony Romo in interceptions and is nearly identical in home and away statistics. But this Sunday he’s at San Francisco, which mauled Mark Sanchez into a QB controversy in front of his own fans. Avert your eyes…
Start 'Em: K Greg Zuerlein
Zuerlein's made all 12 of his FG attempts this season, and has nearly double the points of Green Bay's Mason Crosby.
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He’s 12-for-12 on his field-goal attempts and has already totaled 41 actual points. But in leagues that add points for distance, Zuerlein’s a killer. Eight of his 12 field goals have come from 40 yards or beyond, including three from beyond 50 yards. He’s particularly effective indoors, and the Rams host Arizona Thursday night. Proceed accordingly.
Sit 'Em: WR Malcom Floyd
San Diego's attempts to establish a run game the last two weeks have lowered Floyd's numbers.
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The Chargers’ early-season receiving star has seen his productivity fall substantially in the last two games. After catching 10 balls for 175 yards and a score the first two weeks, Floyd has only hauled in five receptions for 75 yards the last two. Though he’s still the team’s No. 1 receiving target, the emphasis on Jackie Battle, Ryan Mathews and the ground game has hurt his potential. Floyd could rebound against the poor Saints in Week 5, but Philip Rivers is spreading the ball around enough to make me bench him.
Start 'Em: WR Mike Wallace
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Wallace already totaled 234 yards receiving and three touchdowns before the Steelers were on their bye last weekend. Over his four-year career Wallace has averaged more than one touchdown catch every two games, and Pittsburgh’s Week 5 opponent, Philadelphia, ranks in the middle of the league in allowing TD passes. He’s a strong start.
Sit 'Em: Jets Defense
One week without Revis has shown how different the Jets defense is without him.
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I know this one’s a no-brainer based on the 34-0 ambush the 49ers put on them at home in Week 4. But the Jets’ D was putting up solid fantasy numbers prior to that game (four INTs, five sacks, two defensive scores). They’re home again Monday night against the powerful Houston Texans. And with the New York media clamoring for the meltdown that’s already begun, a nationally-televised repeat of the 49ers game is possible.
Start 'Em: QB Jay Cutler
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Perhaps Cutler is finally ready to shed his inconsistent history. His line at Dallas on Monday night was superb: 18-of-24 for 275 yards, two scores and zero picks. That came against the No. 1 ranked defense in the league at the time. The Bears remain on the road this week at Jacksonville. The Jags rank 20th against the pass defensively and are on their way to another long season. Cutler should stay hot and productive for fantasy owners.
Sit 'Em: QB Michael Vick
Vick's spending way too much time on the ground.
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Four games into the season, it’s time to come to grips with a fantasy reality: The Eagles’ offense is not what we thought it was. LeSean McCoy is getting yards but not touchdowns. DeSean Jackson looks like the second coming of Chris Johnson in terms of getting the payday and not earning it. And Vick is the cornerstone. His five fumbles and six interceptions haven’t just killed his fantasy stock...they’ve taken everyone else down by proxy. Sunday is a road trip to Pittsburgh. Yay!
Start 'Em: WR A.J. Green
Three TDs in three games, and the Bengals are 3-0. I'd keep riding the A.J. Green Express if I were you.
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Talk about keeping a hot thing going: Green has a TD catch in each of his last three games. Cincinnati, perhaps not coincidentally, has won all three games. The last two weeks Green’s scored from 73 and 42 yards out, so his value looms even larger in PPR leagues. The Bengals are home Sunday against a Miami team that couldn’t keep Kevin Kolb from lighting it up late. I see Andy Dalton doing the same thing, with Green landing a Best Supporting Receiver fantasy academy award.
Sit 'Em: TE Scott Chandler
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If you started Chandler last Sunday (4 grabs for 62 yards and 2 TDs), congratulations and well done. However, if you’re thinking about starting him this weekend at San Francisco, schedule yourself for a CAT scan. The Niners’ D is on a mother of a roll after pasting the Jets, and we still remember what they did to the Packers on the road in Week 1. They’ll be at home this week and ready to turn Ryan Fitzpatrick into a sock puppet. Chandler will be a victim by association.
Start 'Em: RB Jamaal Charles
If the Chiefs score against the Ravens Sunday, Charles will be involved.
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Yes, the Ravens are coming to town. Yes, they still have an ominous run defense that’s littered with terrifying personnel. But Baltimore has been giving up rushing touchdowns; in fact, only the Jets (seven) have surrendered more than the Ravens’ six. And if Kansas City is going to score at home Sunday, you can bet that Charles (three TDs, more than 500 total yards) is going to be involved.
Sit 'Em: RB Chris Johnson
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Owners saddled with Johnson’s lack of production the first three games were rewarded in Week 4 with a breakout 141-yard rushing day. However, even with that number, CJ is still only averaging 3.2 yards per carry with a long gain of 19. And he hasn’t scored. Tennessee is at Minnesota this weekend, and the Vikings defense is vastly improved compared to a year ago. If you’ve got other plays at RB, let Johnson score and prove to you he’s back.
Start 'Em: QB Alex Smith
Alex Smith at home is almost always a good fantasy thing for owners.
Smith’s been struggling of late, throwing just one touchdown pass in his last two games. That’s one of the big reasons I like him to regain his form Sunday. The 49ers return to San Francisco after two weeks on the road. They’ll face Buffalo’s defense that was scorched into cinders by Tom Brady in Week 4. Stat You Won’t Find Anywhere Else: Smith has thrown 25 TDs at home since 2010 and just 11 on the road.
Sit 'Em: WR DeSean Jackson
So far, the Eagles have one touchdown to show for their new $51 million deal with Jackson.
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Jackson scored a touchdown last week, his first of the season. He’s caught 20 passes for 333 yards so far. That’s not bad, but it’s certainly short of what you want out of a guy you signed to a five-year, $51 million deal in March. Facing the Steel Curtain and its No. 3 ranked pass defense in Week 5 feels to me like a game where Jackson curls up into a statistical ball and disappears. Oh, and then there’s the Philly offense’s issues with turnovers…
Start 'Em: RB Adrian Peterson
Peterson and his 3-1 Vikings return home to face a weary Tennessee defense.
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I’ve been soft on starting “All Day” as he has continued to work himself back into game-day shape early in 2012. Now I’m going all in—hard. The Vikings are an unexpected 3-1, and the Metrodome will be in full ground-shaking mode when the lowly Titans (27th in run defense) come to town. A.P.’s rushed for 332 yards and averaged 4.2 per carry while rounding himself into shape. Sunday feels like one of those days where Peterson throws up a number that turns heads league-wide.
Sit 'Em: Chargers Defense
It could be another long day defensively for the Chargers against the Saints.
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San Diego has been a pleasant fantasy surprise to date, allowing just 17.8 points a game while ranking 12th overall. Norv Turner’s D is sixth against the run and 17th against the pass, and the latter is the concern in Week 5 at New Orleans. The Saints are 0-4 and backed completely into the corner. They’re going to throw early, often and in front of a home crowd frothing at the mouth for a victory. I think they’ll get it, and it’ll likely be a shootout. That hurts owners who’ve been living high on the Chargers’ D.