Start 'Em, Sit 'Em Week 5: Final Verdicts on Fantasy's Biggest Question Marks

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistOctober 3, 2013

You know what? You might as well go ahead and start Adrian Peterson.

If only fantasy football decisions could be that easy. Instead, we live in a world full of grays, where it's difficult to determine this week's fantasy studs from the fantasy duds.

In order to win your league, you have to ensure you're keeping track of your players every week. You can't just sit back after the draft and think the job is done.

To help bring some clarity to Week 5's more difficult decisions, here's some players you'll want to either start or sit in your fantasy lineup.



Start: Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions

Pretty much every quarterback who's faced the Green Bay Packers has had a nice fantasy performance—even Andy Dalton. Football Outsiders ranks the Packers dead last in pass defense. Even with a week to prepare for Matthew Stafford, don't bet on the Packers finding a solution to their defensive issues.

Stafford is probably starting in almost every league anyway. For those in deeper leagues or loaded at quarterback, make sure you get the Detroit Lions QB in your lineup.

He's been very good this season, and Week 5 could well be his best performance of the season.


Sit: Colin Kaepernick, San Francisco 49ers

The Houston Texans have yet to surrender 200 yards passing to an opposing quarterback this season. Colin Kaepernick has eclipsed that mark just once this season, Week 1 against the Packers.

It's been a disappointing first quarter of the season for the star signal-caller. He's not running the ball as well and is only completing 58.1 percent of his passes. It's quite a shift from where he was last year. While not having Michael Crabtree hurts, it alone can't explain Kaepernick's problems.

Don't be expecting a turnaround from him against a very motivated Houston defense. For those doubting the Texans secondary, just remember one thing: Matt Schaub can't play cornerback.


Running Backs

Start: Ryan Mathews, San Diego Chargers

It's been yet another frustrating year for fantasy owners of Ryan Mathews. The 25-year-old has yet to score a rushing touchdown or come close to eclipsing 100 yards in a game.

If you've stuck with him, your patience should pay off this week.

The Oakland Raiders have a terrible defense, but that shouldn't really come as a surprise. While they're much worse against the pass, the run defense isn't demonstrably better.

The most encouraging thing about Mathews this season is the way he's running the ball. He's hitting the holes hard. His low numbers aren't for a lack of trying.

Against a suspect front seven, Mathews should be able to have a breakout game.


Sit: Fred Jackson, Buffalo Bills

The one thing that has been working for the Cleveland Browns all season is their defense. Last week they surrendered only 50 rushing yards to BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Giovani Bernard combined.

Fred Jackson is a fringe starter in most leagues. He's the kind of guy who isn't an automatic starter every week. You just have to be mindful of his matchups and determine when he might be in a position to struggle.

This is one of those cases. Jackson will find yards hard to come by. The Browns defense is too good, and it won't be afraid to load up the box at times and make EJ Manuel beat it over the top.


Wide Receivers

Start: Kenbrell Thompkins, New England Patriots

For those owners who have Kenbrell Thompkins, enjoy these next couple of weeks. They could be the last before Danny Amendola and Rob Gronkowski return and steal touches from Thompkins.

For now, though, the wideout still has plenty of value.

The Cincinnati Bengals defense has not been great through four games. It's often stretched too thin, and the pass rush isn't doing enough to disrupt opposing quarterbacks.

Leon Hall's return to the secondary could be a boost, but it will mean Julian Edelman gets blanketed. When you throw that in with the inconsistency of the Bengals offense and its failure to move the ball, Tom Brady should have plenty of opportunities to find Thompkins over the top and in the red zone.


Sit: Josh Gordon, Cleveland Browns

Brian Hoyer can't possibly keep this up, right?

I've been burned by Hoyer before, when I predicted Jordan Cameron would have a terrible game in Week 3. He only managed to have three touchdowns and make me look like an idiot.

However, sooner or later there has to be some regression to the mean. Hoyer can't keep playing like he has, and it's going to have a knock-on fantasy effect.

Gordon has been great in his first two games of 2013, but he's going against a talented Buffalo Bills defense that is fifth against the pass in Football Outsiders' rankings. Although the secondary has been hit with injuries, it will be able to limit at least Gordon's impact.

The longer Hoyer is in the league, the more opposing teams have opportunities to game-plan for him. When Hoyer starts to come back down to earth, it's really going to hurt Gordon. The wideout isn't the kind of security blanket Cameron is, and it's easier for a corner to take Gordon out of the game.


Tight Ends

Start: Martellus Bennett, Chicago Bears

The New Orleans Saints have been great defensively through the first four weeks. While they're a little spotty against the rush, their pass defense is one of the best in the league.

That's not good news for Jay Cutler owners. However, it could be very good news for Martellus Bennett owners.

Matt Forte will probably get a lot of carries, but the Chicago Bears have to pass the ball sometime. Bennett will offer a great security blanket for Cutler when his receivers downfield are all covered.

New Orleans is also 20th in the league in preventing touchdowns in the red zone, per Team Rankings. Bennett will be a great target for Cutler when the Bears get inside the 20-yard line.


Sit: Vernon Davis, San Francisco 49ers

Much of what was side about Kaepernick applies here. As long as the quarterback is struggling, Vernon Davis won't become an elite fantasy tight end again. He's not getting enough targets to make an impact.

In his last two games, Davis has combined for five catches, 38 yards and a touchdown. In Week 1, he was great, but that could have had more to do with how bad the Packers are defensively.

There's also the hamstring problem that's been limiting his time on the field as well.

The Texans have the talent and personnel to be able to handle Davis. Houston knows no lead is safe from Schaub, and it will be doing everything to ensure the team doesn't lose its third game in a row.


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