Start 'Em, Sit 'Em Week 5: Early Advice for Your Fantasy Football Rosters
Week 5 marks the beginning of the bye-week gauntlet, when fantasy teams have to deal missing key players due to byes in addition to injuries, not to mention a waiver-wire pool that is diminished by an eighth of the league each week.
Having fewer choices can make lineup calls easier, but the difficulty in putting together a quality lineup during bye weeks makes each lineup choice more important. By looking at matchups and trends, we can identify the best moves for your team this week.
Who are some of the best bets to outproduce and underachieve in Week 5?
START: Matt Ryan, QB, Atlanta
Ryan has elevated his game to a no-brainer, every-week-start level, but this is a week that you might want to start him over the likes of Tom Brady, Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers because of his matchup.
Ryan gets the Washington Redskins, whose defense hasn't been the same since they lost Adam Carriker and Brian Orakpo for the season.
The Redskins have given up at least 299 yards passing to every quarterback they've faced this year. That includes duds like Sam Bradford and Josh Freeman, who have struggled against just about every other team.
Ryan is a must-start this week, no matter who your other quarterback is.
SIT: Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB, Buffalo
Ryan Fitzpatrick leads the NFL in touchdown passes, but you probably shouldn't have him in your lineup this week.
A lot of his production in Week 1 came in garbage time, and he had the luxury of facing the weak Kansas City defense and Cleveland secondary in Weeks 2 and 3, respectively.
Last week, he threw four touchdown passes, but he threw four interceptions too. He might throw as many interceptions against the 49ers this week, but don't look for him to have nearly that kind of success moving the ball on the road against one of the elite defenses in the NFL.
START: Andrew Luck, QB, Indianapolis
Robert Griffin III is getting most of the attention in the fantasy football world, but Andrew Luck has also been surprisingly productive for a rookie. His fantasy points and rushing yards have gone up every week, and he seems to be very comfortable with his new targets, Reggie Wayne, Donnie Avery and T.Y. Hilton.
Coming out of the bye, Luck should be even more at ease, and the Colts play at home against Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers. Luck should have to throw the ball a lot to keep up with Rodgers, and the Green Bay secondary can be vulnerable to good passers.
Luck is worth playing this week ahead of a lot of quarterbacks who went earlier than him in fantasy drafts this summer.
SIT: Kevin Kolb, QB, Arizona
Kolb had another heroic fourth-quarter comeback versus Miami, piling up great fantasy numbers in the process. Because Ryan Tannehill played well enough to put the Cardinals in a hole throughout the game, the Cardinals abandoned the run and Kolb threw 48 times.
This week against the St. Louis Rams, on a short week of rest for both teams, the Cardinals can count on a more balanced, conservative game plan because the Rams are an anemic passing offense.
Kolb was also sacked eight times against the Dolphins, and the Cardinals don't want see him taking that many hits after he had concussion problems last year. Look for Kolb to come back to Earth this week.
START: Cedric Benson, RB, Green Bay
Cedric Benson is experiencing a career resurrection in one of the most unlikely places—Green Bay.
After a lackluster Week 1 against the stout San Francisco 49ers defense, Benson has had three straight productive games. The Packers have been a pass-heavy team in years past, but this year, they have a true lead back, and they want to increase his role in the offense.
According to Mike Vandermause of the Green Bay Press-Gazette, Packers running backs coach Tom Clements said, "He’s a workhorse and when he touches the ball, the more he touches it, the better he gets."
More touches equals what we want in a fantasy running back.
SIT: Michael Turner, RB, Atlanta
Michael Turner finally looked like the Turner of old last week against the Panthers, but that had more to do with the deficiencies of the Carolina run defense than Turner finding the fountain of youth.
The Washington Redskins run defense is in the Top 10 in the league, and they've only allowed one rushing touchdown this year. Robert Griffin III could also stake the Redskins to a lead and force the Falcons to be less patient on offense. The weakness of the Redskins pass defense also makes it a lot more likely that they'll score via the pass than the run.
Enjoy Turner's renaissance, but know it will only last one week.
START: Darren Sproles, RB, New Orleans
Sometimes, you have to give credence to emotional factors when you set your fantasy football lineup.
This week, the revenge factor looms large over the Sunday night matchup when the San Diego Chargers travel to New Orleans to play the Saints. While he was with the Chargers, Darren Sproles was underutilized on offense while general manager A.J. Smith held him hostage via the franchise tag.
Smith and head coach Norv Turner didn't know what they had in Sproles, but he will be eager to show them what they are missing now on the fast track in the Superdome.
SIT: Chris Johnson, RB, Tennessee
Owners who have been saddled with Chris Johnson this year had to be excited about his 141-yard game against the Texans last week. While it is enticing to believe that he is back, a close examination reveals that almost half of his yardage came when the game was out of hand.
The Texans seemed to be less concerned with the run for the whole game, and Minnesota has a tough run defense that shut down Mikel Leshoure the week after he ran for 100 yards against Johnson's Titans.
Unfortunately for Johnson's owners, Week 5 will look a lot more like Weeks 1 through 3 than Week 4.
START: Julio Jones, WR, Atlanta
Jones let his owners down for the second time in four weeks, but at least he had a reason. According to D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter said Jones' hand was "not 100 percent."
Ledbetter reported from practice earlier this week that Jones "looked well catching the football." With his explosive upside (especially in the red zone) and Matt Ryan throwing the ball against the Redskins' poor secondary and pass rush, Jones should be in for a huge week.
SIT: Stevie Johnson, WR, Buffalo
Johnson wasn't able to catch a touchdown when Fitzpatrick threw four of them last week; how is he going to fare against the much tougher 49ers defense this week?
It wasn't that Johnson wasn't open; twice, he did get open downfield, and both times, Fitzpatrick missed him. Even if Johnson can shake the 49ers' hard-nosed corners, will Fitzpatrick have the time to find him or the accuracy to actually connect with Johnson?
This is a good week to leave Johnson on your bench after he couldn't produce in what was Fitzpatrick's best fantasy line of the year.
START: Andre Johnson, WR, Houston
Johnson hasn't been putting up the kind of numbers we've come to expect from him, but he's coming closer than you think. Johnson is still at the top of his game, and even in limited opportunities, he's had numerous near-misses on deep balls.
Against the disintegrating Jets defense on Monday night, the odds are those will connect. Last week, he had two long catches at the beginning of the first drive, but the Texans were able to pull away easily after that.
If the Jets can hang in at all or if Matt Schaub looks to Johnson just a little more early in the game, anyone who benches Johnson will be sorry.
SIT: Danny Amendola, WR, St. Louis
Amendola had one sensational half against the Redskins; otherwise, he has been a middling fantasy wide receiver.
Last week, he caught his touchdown on a fake field-goal attempt and never really threatened to make any big plays in the flow of the game. This week, he gets an Arizona defense that can generate a ton of pressure and keep an offense from getting comfortable.
Sam Bradford's security blanket is Amendola, but because no other Rams receivers have broken out yet this year, good defenses can focus on taking Amendola away. Arizona is a good defense, so expect Amendola's numbers to be unimpressive this week.
START: Brian Hartline, WR, Miami
It's easy to recommend you start a wide receiver coming off of one of the biggest games of the year, but it's the foundation of that performance that makes it even easier to endorse Hartline going forward.
In addition to the timing routes outside of the numbers that have been Hartline and rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill's bread and butter so far, the two hooked up on plays that Tannehill extended with his movement in the pocket. Hartline correctly anticipated Tannehill's direction by heading downfield and being ready to reel in perfectly placed long passes twice.
The potential is there for this pairing, and that's a great thing for fantasy football. They'll have another good day against Cincinnati's banged-up cornerbacks.
SIT: Andre Roberts, WR, Arizona
Roberts had terrific numbers last week, but some of them were generated in the Cardinals' furious comeback attempt, and you can't expect Kevin Kolb to throw 48 passes again this week.
In fact, you can expect a tightly-contested game plan from both the Cardinals and the St. Louis Rams because that is becoming the hallmark of NFC West football. The Rams have a terrific rookie kicker in Greg Zuerlein who can make 60-yard field goals look routine, and the Cardinals are content to let their defense carry them.
Roberts only had nine catches for 111 yards (although two were for scores) in the previous three games, so he just hasn't had consistent enough production yet to trust him in your lineup.
START: Kyle Rudolph, TE, Minnesota
"Rudolph the Red-Zone Reindeer" was held down last week because the Vikings went hyperconservative after they were staked to a lead by two return touchdowns against the Lions. The Lions gave up two return touchdowns the week before to the Tennessee Titans, Minnesota's opponent this week.
Not only should this game require more downfield passing from quarterback Christian Ponder, but the Titans are a dream matchup for tight ends, having allowed seven touchdowns in four games and eight catches to the starting tight end in the game that they didn't allow a touchdown.
SIT: Scott Chandler, TE, Buffalo
As tough as it is to bench a player coming off of a two-touchdown week, that's the smart move with Chandler this week.
The Bills have the ultra-fierce 49ers defense on the schedule, and Chandler came out of last week's game versus the Patriots with a head injury. Chandler was a full participant in practice on Wednesday, though, so it might not have been a concussion.
Still, the Bills offense will likely have to drive into the red zone to get Chandler's abilities into play, and that is a tall order against the 49ers.