Fantasy Football Week 5 Start 'Em, Sit 'Em
We have said it all week, even for weeks in the early going of the fantasy football season: Our running backs are letting us down.
Now, we will get a chance to look at some others in our fantasy lineups.
Stevan Ridley (knee) is out, so he cannot let us down. Doug Martin and Alfred Morris are on bye, so they cannot either. Unfortunately, we have to make do without Adrian Peterson and Le'Veon Bell on bye, too.
We attempt to help you fill the gaps with the Week 5 Start 'Em, Sit 'Em, giving you the position-by-position players to use and avoid.
We are jumping on the David Wilson bandwagon with two feet, but it will be up to the Giants to realize he is their best chance to win with an error-prone Eli Manning behind a patchwork offensive line.
Get all of your starts and sits in this six-part slideshow.
Quarterbacks: Start Philip Rivers, Sit Andrew Luck
Philip Rivers, San Diego Chargers
Rivers is now owned in all leagues, but he is active in merely 51 percent of CBS Sports formats. He is a top-12 fantasy starter amid his hot start, and a game on the road at Oakland should not be considered imposing. Rivers' receivers, Antonio Gates, Eddie Royal, Danny Woodhead and Vincent Brown, should all be considered solid plays too.
Michael Vick, Philadelphia Eagles
We received some backlash for calling Vick a start and yet a "dud" in our Week 5 top plays Friday. The matchup against the Giants is juicy. The Giants have allowed the sixth-most points to quarterbacks, yet Vick is still on the bench in one-third of CBS Sports leagues. Apparently, Vick is not the home run some think he should be. He will still be good enough to be top 12 this week. Say, 250 yards, two touchdowns passing and one rushing.
Terrelle Pryor, Oakland Raiders
Pryor (concussion) is probable just in time to face a Chargers defense that has given up the most points to quarterbacks, especially on the ground. Pryor will have to pick up the slack for Darren McFadden (hamstring), and this is the right matchup to expect his best numbers of the season, with fantasy points in the 20s.
One-week sleeper: Sam Bradford, St. Louis Rams
He has had his moments this season, but this Sunday against the lowly Jacksonville Jaguars should be his best yet. The Jags are in the bottom 10 of fantasy against quarterbacks, and the Rams' running game hasn't gotten anything consistent going. The Rams will blow this game out and do it on the shoulders of Bradford.
Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts
He is the most deactivated (non-bye) quarterback in CBS Sports leagues for good reason. That Seahawks defense, even away from Seattle, is not to be messed with in fantasy. It has allowed the sixth-fewest points to quarterbacks to date, and Luck's offense hasn't been as pass-happy under new offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton. Luck came into the season as a fringe starter, and this matchup is an obvious one to go to your backup in.
Jay Cutler, Chicago Bears
You might have drafted Robert Griffin III or Ben Roethlisberger in fantasy and circled Week 5 against the Saints as a perfect time to have Cutler as a bye-week replacement for them. Not so much. Rob Ryan has transformed that defense in a hurry, and the Saints have allowed the fifth-fewest points to quarterbacks through four games. We consider Cutler a bad play here now.
Eli Manning, New York Giants
This one is not based on the matchup, because the Eagles have been the fourth worst in fantasy against quarterbacks. The Giants offensive line is too banged up, and the running game is too nonexistent to trust the error- and sack-prone Manning outside of being a low-end No. 2 quarterback in two-quarterback formats. Seriously.
One-week bust: Colin Kaepernick, San Francisco 49ers
You have hitched your wagon to Kaepernick because of where you had to draft him coming off his great postseason, so you have to start him. The problem, in addition to a dearth of receivers, is the Houston Texans have been the fourth-toughest team in fantasy against quarterbacks. Start Kaepernick, but lower your expectations to a reasonable level in this tough matchup.
Three salary-cap sleepers (with their DraftDay.com price)
- Terrelle Pryor ($12,300): Concussion questions left him a bargain, but he is probable now.
- Sam Bradford ($13,400): The matchup is as tasty as the price.
- Colin Kaepernick ($12,100): This might be his lowest price the rest of the season.
|1||Peyton Manning||Den||at Dal||1||0|
|2||Aaron Rodgers||GB||vs. Det||2||0|
|3||Matthew Stafford||Det||at GB||4||+1|
|4||Drew Brees||NO||at Chi||3||-1|
|5||Cam Newton||Car||at Ari||9||+4|
|6||Tom Brady||NE||at Cin||7||+1|
|7||Matt Ryan||Atl||vs. NYJ||10||+3|
|8||Tony Romo||Dal||vs. Den||8||0|
|9||Colin Kaepernick||SF||vs. Hou||13||+4|
|10||Russell Wilson||Sea||at Ind||14||+4|
|11||Philip Rivers||SD||at Oak||6||-5|
|12||Michael Vick||Phi||at NYG||5||-7|
|13||Terrelle Pryor||Oak||vs. SD||12||-1|
|14||Sam Bradford||StL||vs. Jac||15||+1|
|15||Jay Cutler||Chi||vs. NO||17||+2|
|16||Brian Hoyer||Cle||vs. Buf||18||+2|
|17||Andrew Luck||Ind||vs. Sea||16||-1|
|18||Alex Smith||KC||at Ten||19||+1|
|19||Andy Dalton||Cin||vs. NE||21||+2|
|20||Eli Manning||NYG||vs. Phi||11||-9|
|21||Joe Flacco||Bal||at Mia||22||+1|
|22||Matt Schaub||Hou||at SF||23||+1|
|23||Carson Palmer||Ari||vs. Car||25||+2|
|24||Ryan Tannehill||Mia||vs. Bal||20||-4|
|25||EJ Manuel||Buf||at Cle||26||+1|
|26||Geno Smith||NYJ||at Atl||24||-2|
|27||Ryan Fitzpatrick||Ten||vs. KC||27||0|
|28||Blaine Gabbert||Jac||at StL||28||0|
Running Backs: It Is Now or Never for David Wilson, Maurice Jones-Drew
David Wilson, New York Giants
Everyone is jumping on the Wilson bandwagon now, almost to the point that it should scare you. The Giants have rid Wilson of Da'Rel Scott (waived) as a passing-down vulture, even if Brandon Jacobs remains on the roster to steal the short touchdowns. Wilson is the Giants' one real chance at respectability, so it is time to unshackle him against an Eagles defense that is the 11th worst against running backs.
Maurice Jones-Drew, Jacksonville Jaguars
It hasn't been the Lisfranc injury that has held MJD back to date as much as the Jags' ineffective offense all around. Well, the Rams should help get him started. They are the worst team in fantasy against running backs, making DeMarco Murray and Frank Gore fantasy monsters in past weeks. You own MJD, and if you can't start him here, you cannot start him anywhere.
Eddie Lacy, Green Bay Packers
When he went down with a concussion before the bye, it looked like James Starks (knee) and Johnathan Franklin were going to steal his fantasy thunder. Nope. It is Lacy's feature-back job in Green Bay. Starks is out and Franklin fumbled away the Bengals victory, so Lacy will get a full workload against a Lions defense that has given up the third-most points to running backs to date. Get Lacy active for his 80 yards and two touchdowns.
Finally out of purgatory: Ray Rice, Baltimore Ravens
The Ravens learned a painful lesson against the Bills last Sunday: They cannot get away from Rice and a power-running game. They traded for Eugene Monroe to be their new left tackle, and Rice should rise back up for fantasy owners against a Dolphins defense that has given up the seventh-most points to fantasy backs. Rice should be a big part of the passing game in this one, like Darren Sproles was against Miami on Monday night.
BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Cincinnati Bengals
The timeshare with Giovani Bernard is bad enough, but the Pats run defense will still be stout, even after the loss of Vince Wilfork (Achilles) for the season. BGE is a bad play now, and he should see fewer and fewer carries in lieu of Bernard as the season progresses.
Daryl Richardson, St. Louis Rams
The Rams have a mess at running back, and it comes when we thought we might finally get big numbers out of Richardson. The Jags are on the schedule, and they have allowed the most rushing yards in the NFL to date. Richardson is no longer considered the sure starter, and Isaiah Pead and Zac Stacy might get the start now, although Jeff Fisher isn't tipping his hand. Where there is smoke, there is fire, so sit Richardson this week. You cannot trust this situation from any angle.
Darren McFadden, Marcel Reece and Rashad Jennings, Oakland Raiders
Run DMC did not practice all week with a hamstring strain, but don't buy into any of Dennis Allen's talk about McFadden being a possibility to play without practice. McFadden is on the wrong side of doubtful, and none of the Raiders backs are viable options against a Chargers defense that is fifth best in fantasy against running backs. Read: Don't trust Jennings either.
Three salary-cap sleepers (with their DraftDay.com price)
- David Wilson ($7,650): The Giants have to go to him sometime. It is now or never.
- Eddie Lacy ($10,000): The injury and running back competition leaves him below true value.
- Maurice Jones-Drew ($7,250): We don't know if the Jags will use him in the passing game too, but they should in this favorable matchup.
|Rank||Running Backs||Team||Opponent||ECR||vs. ECR|
|1||LeSean McCoy||Phi||at NYG||1||0|
|2||Jamaal Charles||KC||at Ten||2||0|
|3||Arian Foster||Hou||at SF||6||+3|
|4||Marshawn Lynch||Sea||at Ind||4||0|
|5||Reggie Bush||Det||at GB||5||0|
|6||Matt Forte||Chi||vs. NO||3||-3|
|7||Ray Rice||Bal||at Mia||9||+2|
|8||Frank Gore||SF||vs. Hou||8||0|
|9||Chris Johnson||Ten||vs. KC||13||+4|
|10||David Wilson||NYG||vs. Phi||16||+6|
|11||DeMarco Murray||Dal||vs. Den||7||-4|
|12||Eddie Lacy||GB||vs. Det||11||-1|
|13||Knowshon Moreno||Den||at Dal||20||+7|
|14||Maurice Jones-Drew||Jac||at StL||15||+1|
|15||Trent Richardson||Ind||vs. Sea||10||-5|
|16||DeAngelo Williams||Car||at Ari||19||+3|
|17||Bilal Powell||NYJ||at Atl||14||-3|
|18||Ryan Mathews||SD||at Oak||21||+3|
|19||Danny Woodhead||SD||at Oak||24||+5|
|20||Darren Sproles||NO||at Chi||12||-8|
|21||Willis McGahee||Cle||vs. Buf||28||+7|
|22||Lamar Miller||Mia||vs. Bal||17||-5|
|23||Giovani Bernard||Cin||vs. NE||18||-5|
|24||Fred Jackson||Buf||at Cle||22||-2|
|25||Joique Bell||Det||at GB||25||0|
|26||LeGarrette Blount||NE||at Cin||29||+3|
|27||Rashard Mendenhall||Ari||vs. Car||30||+3|
|28||BenJarvus Green-Ellis||Cin||vs. NE||35||+7|
|29||Jacquizz Rodgers||Atl||vs. NYJ||27||-2|
|30||Pierre Thomas||NO||at Chi||31||+1|
|31||C.J. Spiller||Buf||at Cle||23||-8|
|32||Isaiah Pead||StL||vs. Jac||42||+10|
|33||Zac Stacy||StL||vs. Jac||45||+12|
|34||Daryl Richardson||StL||vs. Jac||34||0|
|35||Robert Turbin||Sea||at Ind||62||+27|
|36||Bryce Brown||Phi||at NYG||49||+13|
|37||Ronnie Hillman||Den||at Dal||43||+6|
|38||Bernard Pierce||Bal||at Mia||38||0|
|39||Rashad Jennings||Oak||vs. SD||26||-13|
|40||Ben Tate||Hou||at SF||36||-4|
|41||Brandon Jacobs||NYG||vs. Phi||50||+9|
|42||Kendall Hunter||SF||vs. Hou||53||+11|
|43||Daniel Thomas||Mia||vs. Bal||48||+5|
|44||Brandon Bolden||NE||at Cin||40||-4|
|45||Jason Snelling||Atl||vs. NYJ||32||-13|
|46||Michael Bush||Chi||vs. NO||52||+6|
|47||Andre Ellington||Ari||vs. Car||39||-8|
|48||Benny Cunningham||StL||vs. Jac||47||-1|
|49||Montee Ball||Den||at Dal||46||-3|
|50||Johnathan Franklin||GB||vs. Det||41||-9|
|51||Christine Michael||Sea||at Ind||67||+16|
|52||Tashard Choice||Buf||at Cle||60||+8|
|53||Mike Goodson||NYJ||at Atl||59||+6|
|54||Chris Ogbonnaya||Cle||vs. Buf||44||-10|
|55||Jackie Battle||Ten||vs. KC||57||+2|
|56||Ronnie Brown||SD||at Oak||61||+5|
|57||Knile Davis||KC||at Ten||81||+24|
|58||Alfonso Smith||Ari||vs. Car||76||+18|
|59||Jordan Todman||Jac||at StL||74||+15|
|60||Bobby Rainey||Cle||vs. Buf||70||+10|
|61||Anthony Dixon||SF||vs. Hou||86||+25|
|62||Stepfan Taylor||Ari||vs. Car||89||+27|
|63||Chris Polk||Phi||at NYG||68||+5|
|64||Donald Brown||Ind||vs. Sea||56||-8|
|65||Darren McFadden||Oak||vs. SD||37||-28|
Wide Receivers: Start Hakeem Nicks, Say Uncle (Er, Ankle) on Roddy White
Hakeem Nicks, New York Giants
Yes, we listed Eli Manning as a bust this week despite the matchup. It doesn't have to apply to his receivers necessarily. Victor Cruz has been good in fantasy to date, while Manning has stunk. It is Nicks' turn to rise up against an Eagles defense that given up the most points to receivers in fantasy. Ride Nicks through thick and thin.
Denarius Moore, Oakland Raiders
He wasn't quite as good with Matt Flynn a week ago, but the return of Terrelle Pryor should mean much better fantasy numbers for the Raiders' clear go-to receiver. Moore also gets the benefit of a Chargers defense that has given up the sixth-most points to wide receivers in fantasy. The Chargers offense should push the pace and leave Moore with 100-plus yards and a touchdown, even if it comes in garbage time.
Cecil Shorts and Justin Blackmon, Jacksonville Jaguars
Yes, we get it: Blaine Gabbert is terrible and struggles to get the ball downfield. The good news is Blackmon is back from his four-game suspension, and the Rams are the seventh-worst team in fantasy against receivers. Both Shorts and Blackmon are good enough to start during the thick of the bye season. Heck, you can even hope the Rams run it up early and the Jags are forced to go back to Chad Henne, who made Shorts and Blackmon both fantasy starters at the end of last season playing off each other.
Tavon Austin, St. Louis Rams
Austin couldn't get started against the 49ers defense in Week 4, but the Jags are clearly a more favorable matchup for the rookie slot receiver. The Rams are determined to get him started, and Austin will be get high-volume work out of the slot and potentially break some long ones against a Jags defense that cannot stop anything or anyone.
Play him if he plays: Danny Amendola (groin), New England Patriots
The Pats added Austin Collie off the street, but Amendola is still looking forward to a return Sunday, according to ESPN's Mike Reiss. Amendola is the type of receiver you force back into fantasy lineups if he plays. He will be Tom Brady's most frequent target.
Roddy White, Atlanta Falcons
He has been gutting it through his high-ankle sprain, but a looming Monday night blowout of the Jets precedes the bye week. After watching White struggle through 97 percent of the snaps last Sunday night against the Patriots, per D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, we probably should expect a light workload against the Jets. White's ankle needs a couple of weeks off right now. He hasn't been good anyway. You won't be missing much.
Nate Washington, Tennessee Titans
Washington was a popular pickup off waivers, but you probably wasted your pick. Before Kenny Britt (ribs) was in the Titans' doghouse, it was reserved for Washington. Couple Britt's return from injury Sunday with the Titans having to go to their backup quarterback, Ryan Fitzpatrick, and you have a bad situation for fantasy. The Titans just have too many interchangeable receivers, including Kendall Wright, Damian Williams and rookie Justin Hunter, who has vultured touchdowns each of the past two weeks. Washington is not a good start with so many variables.
Reggie Wayne and T.Y. Hilton, Indianapolis Colts
They haven't produced consistent starter-quality numbers, and they are facing that irresistible force in the Seahawks secondary. Seattle is No. 1 against fantasy wide receivers, and Pep Hamilton hasn't done as much good for Andrew Luck and the passing game as Bruce Arians did a year ago. It is a bad week to have any Colts receiver in your starting lineup, even if you think they will eventually get it going.
DeAndre Hopkins, Houston Texans
He has had his moments as a rookie, but you should fully expect Andre Johnson, Owen Daniels and even Garrett Graham to be Matt Schaub's leading targets in this matchup. The 49ers defense is a lot better than it has shown. Hopkins just doesn't make the cut in most leagues for his pending four catches for 45 yards.
One-week disappointment: Alshon Jeffery, Chicago Bears
Jeffery is emerging as an added weapon for Jay Cutler in Marc Trestman's West Coast offense, but Rob Ryan has the Saints playing better defense than anyone expected, especially against the pass. The Saints are the fifth-toughest team against wide receivers to date. Jeffery isn't quite starter-worthy, even if he was a must-add option off waivers this week.
Three salary-cap sleepers (with their DraftDay.com price)
- Tavon Austin ($6,550): The best part about this price is DraftDay.com uses a PPR format. Austin should be good for seven catches for 80 yards and a touchdown, making him a steal at this price.
- Hakeem Nicks ($8,600): His slow start isn't on him. It is on Eli Manning, who just cannot be this bad against that Eagles secondary, right?
- Eddie Royal ($6,450): Apparently, the salary-setter is not sold on Royal. We are sold on the resurgent Philip Rivers and as sour on the Raiders as ever. Royal is a steal here.
|Rank||Wide Receivers||Team||Opponent||ECR||vs. ECR|
|1||Calvin Johnson||Det||at GB||1||0|
|2||A.J. Green||Cin||vs. NE||7||+5|
|3||Dez Bryant||Dal||vs. Den||2||-1|
|4||Brandon Marshall||Chi||vs. NO||6||+2|
|5||Demaryius Thomas||Den||at Dal||3||-2|
|6||Julio Jones||Atl||vs. NYJ||5||-1|
|7||Victor Cruz||NYG||vs. Phi||4||-3|
|8||Wes Welker||Den||at Dal||8||0|
|9||Jordy Nelson||GB||vs. Det||10||+1|
|10||Randall Cobb||GB||vs. Det||9||-1|
|11||Larry Fitzgerald||Ari||vs. Car||13||+2|
|12||DeSean Jackson||Phi||at NYG||11||-1|
|13||Josh Gordon||Cle||vs. Buf||16||+3|
|14||Andre Johnson||Hou||at SF||12||-2|
|15||Torrey Smith||Bal||at Mia||14||-1|
|16||Hakeem Nicks||NYG||vs. Phi||19||+3|
|17||Mike Wallace||Mia||vs. Bal||23||+6|
|18||Anquan Boldin||SF||vs. Hou||18||0|
|19||Marques Colston||NO||at Chi||17||-2|
|20||Eric Decker||Den||at Dal||15||-5|
|21||James Jones||GB||vs. Det||22||+1|
|22||Dwayne Bowe||KC||at Ten||28||+6|
|23||Steve Smith||Car||at Ari||20||-3|
|24||Julian Edelman||NE||at Cin||26||+2|
|25||Steve Johnson||Buf||at Cle||32||+7|
|26||Danny Amendola||NE||at Cin||31||+5|
|27||Reggie Wayne||Ind||vs. Sea||21||-6|
|28||Eddie Royal||SD||at Oak||39||+11|
|29||Tavon Austin||StL||vs. Jac||36||+7|
|30||Denarius Moore||Oak||vs. SD||35||+5|
|31||Kenbrell Thompkins||NE||at Cin||27||-4|
|32||Sidney Rice||Sea||at Ind||52||+20|
|33||Kenny Britt||Ten||vs. KC||74||+41|
|34||Justin Blackmon||Jac||at StL||29||-5|
|35||Cecil Shorts||Jac||at StL||25||-10|
|36||Roddy White||Atl||vs. NYJ||30||-6|
|37||DeAndre Hopkins||Hou||at SF||34||-3|
|38||Brian Hartline||Mia||vs. Bal||24||-14|
|39||T.Y. Hilton||Ind||vs. Sea||37||-2|
|40||Golden Tate||Sea||at Ind||45||+5|
|41||Nate Washington||Ten||vs. KC||38||-3|
|42||Alshon Jeffery||Chi||vs. NO||33||-9|
|43||Rueben Randle||NYG||vs. Phi||47||+4|
|44||Vincent Brown||SD||at Oak||44||0|
|45||Miles Austin||Dal||vs. Den||48||+3|
|46||Kendall Wright||Ten||vs. KC||49||+3|
|47||Mohamed Sanu||Cin||vs. NE||59||+12|
|48||Robert Woods||Buf||at Cle||43||-5|
|49||Donnie Avery||KC||at Ten||56||+7|
|50||Keenan Allen||SD||at Oak||60||+10|
|51||Michael Floyd||Ari||vs. Car||41||-10|
|52||Andre Roberts||Ari||vs. Car||57||+5|
|53||Chris Givens||StL||vs. Jac||40||-13|
|54||Riley Cooper||Phi||at NYG||62||+8|
|55||Ryan Broyles||Det||at GB||53||-2|
|56||Doug Baldwin||Sea||at Ind||70||+14|
|57||Rod Streater||Oak||vs. SD||55||-2|
|58||Stephen Hill||NYJ||at Atl||54||-4|
|59||Lance Moore||NO||at Chi||68||+9|
|60||Brandon LaFell||Car||at Ari||61||+1|
|61||Jeremy Kerley||NYJ||at Atl||42||-19|
|62||Marlon Brown||Bal||at Mia||46||-16|
|63||Jason Avant||Phi||at NYG||67||+4|
|64||Austin Pettis||StL||vs. Jac||51||-13|
|65||Brandon Gibson||Mia||vs. Bal||69||+4|
|66||Justin Hunter||Ten||vs. KC||77||+11|
|67||Harry Douglas||Atl||vs. NYJ||71||+4|
|68||Davone Bess||Cle||vs. Buf||63||-5|
|69||Jon Baldwin||SF||vs. Hou||79||+10|
|70||Kyle Williams||SF||vs. Hou||78||+8|
|71||Marvin Jones||Cin||vs. NE||91||+20|
|72||Damian Williams||Ten||vs. KC||103||+31|
|73||Ted Ginn||Car||at Ari||64||-9|
|74||Darrius Heyward-Bey||Ind||vs. Sea||66||-8|
|75||Brandon Stokley||Bal||at Mia||89||+14|
|76||Dexter McCluster||KC||at Ten||84||+8|
|77||Terrance Williams||Dal||vs. Den||50||-27|
|78||Kenny Stills||NO||at Chi||73||-5|
|79||Earl Bennett||Chi||vs. NO||80||+1|
|80||Jacoby Ford||Oak||vs. SD||90||+10|
|81||Kris Durham||Det||at GB||72||-9|
|82||Dwayne Harris||Dal||vs. Den||82||0|
|83||Brian Quick||StL||vs. Jac||96||+13|
|84||Aaron Dobson||NE||at Cin||65||-19|
|85||Greg Little||Cle||vs. Buf||83||-2|
|86||Ace Sanders||Jac||at StL||81||-5|
|87||Seyi Ajirotutu||SD||at Oak||117||+30|
|88||Stephen Williams||Sea||at Ind||116||+28|
|89||Austin Collie||NE||at Cin||119||+30|
|90||Brice Butler||Oak||vs. SD||93||+3|
Tight Ends: Go Back to Greg Olsen, Jared Cook, and Move Away from Brandon Myers
Greg Olsen, Carolina Panthers
There have been a number of breakthroughs that have pushed Olsen down in fantasy value, but this move is no fault of his own. Olsen still rates among the best tight ends in fantasy, particularly since he rates as one of his elite quarterback's (Cam Newton) top offensive weapons. The matchup against the Cardinals, who have been the worst team in fantasy against tight ends, is one too good to ignore.
Jason Witten, Dallas Cowboys
Ordinarily, we wouldn't have to even mention this. Witten tends to be as steady as they come at the roller-coaster tight end position. But Witten hasn't been great since the opener against the Giants, so we have to give him a fantasy vote of confidence here. Denver has given up the fifth-most yards to tight ends to date, and Witten will be the first tight end to get in the end zone against the Broncos this year.
Jared Cook, St. Louis Rams
If you have followed this writer since the preseason, you will know the ranking on Cook hasn't been that optimistic. It looked bad in Week 1 but justified since. Well, this is a week to jump on the Cook bandwagon. The Jags are the ninth-best matchup for fantasy tight ends to date, and Cook should be able to get into the end zone in a game that figures to be a blowout in St. Louis.
You have to play him: Vernon Davis, San Francisco 49ers
Davis doesn't have a great matchup—Houston is third against tight ends—and he is dealing with a hamstring issue, but he played in Week 4 and had 10 days to rest up for the Texans. You have to keep him active, especially because of the stress of having four teams on bye puts on your fantasy roster.
Brandon Myers, New York Giants
The Eagles haven't allowed a touchdown to a tight end through four weeks, and they are in the top 10 of fantasy against the position. Myers was also shut out in Week 4, and the Eli Manning-led Giants offense is a mess. Myers is a bad fringe play in any matchup right now.
Coby Fleener, Indianapolis Colts
You were right to pick him up off waivers. He is a legit top-12 tight end in fantasy now that Dwayne Allen (hip) is out for the season. You will probably be wrong to play him against that Seahawks secondary. You might want to stick with the tight end you had been using before you picked up Fleener—just for this one week.
Jermaine Gresham and Tyler Eifert, Cincinnati Bengals
They will have better weeks ahead, but if there is any team that knows how to handle two pass-receiving tight ends at a time, it would be Bill Belichick's Patriots. The Pats are middle of the pack against tight ends, but Belichick likes to take what you want to do away and make someone else beat him. They won't be beat by A.J. Green or either of these guys Sunday.
Three salary-cap sleepers (with their DraftDay.com price)
- Rob Housler ($5,650): He is not yet a fantasy household name, but his high-ankle sprain has been given time to heal. Carson Palmer is going to incorporate him more and more into the offense.
- Jermichael Finley ($8,950): A concussion has kept his price down to a reasonable level. He is probable now, though.
- Jared Cook ($9,000): We expect numbers closer to his season opener than what he has put up the past few weeks.
|Rank||Tight Ends||Team||Opponent||ECR||vs. ECR|
|1||Jimmy Graham||NO||at Chi||1||0|
|2||Jordan Cameron||Cle||vs. Buf||2||0|
|3||Tony Gonzalez||Atl||vs. NYJ||6||+3|
|4||Antonio Gates||SD||at Oak||3||-1|
|5||Jason Witten||Dal||vs. Den||5||0|
|6||Vernon Davis||SF||vs. Hou||8||+2|
|7||Greg Olsen||Car||at Ari||7||0|
|8||Julius Thomas||Den||at Dal||4||-4|
|9||Jermichael Finley||GB||vs. Det||11||+2|
|10||Rob Gronkowski||NE||at Cin||12||+2|
|11||Martellus Bennett||Chi||vs. NO||9||-2|
|12||Owen Daniels||Hou||at SF||13||+1|
|13||Jared Cook||StL||vs. Jac||10||-3|
|14||Coby Fleener||Ind||vs. Sea||16||+2|
|15||Brandon Myers||NYG||vs. Phi||15||0|
|16||Rob Housler||Ari||vs. Car||26||+10|
|17||Charles Clay||Mia||vs. Bal||14||-3|
|18||Garrett Graham||Hou||at SF||24||+6|
|19||Brent Celek||Phi||at NYG||20||+1|
|20||Scott Chandler||Buf||at Cle||29||+9|
|21||Jermaine Gresham||Cin||vs. NE||21||0|
|22||Tyler Eifert||Cin||vs. NE||22||0|
|23||Zach Miller||Sea||at Ind||23||0|
|24||Kellen Winslow||NYJ||at Atl||17||-7|
|25||Joseph Fauria||Det||at GB||32||+7|
|26||Lance Kendricks||StL||vs. Jac||45||+19|
|27||Dallas Clark||Bal||at Mia||18||-9|
|28||Brandon Pettigrew||Det||at GB||19||-9|
|29||Mychal Rivera||Oak||vs. SD||30||+1|
|30||Zach Ertz||Phi||at NYG||36||+6|
Defensive/Special Teams: Streaming Options Abound, Avoid Patriots-Bengals Here
St. Louis Rams
Any time you can line up a fantasy defense against Blaine Gabbert, you have to try. The Rams haven't stopped anyone, but they can get after the quarterback and should be able to force Gabbert into mistakes. The Rams might be the best defensive unit on the board this week. The Jags are third worst in fantasy against opposing defense/special teams.
You might not like the Falcons' individual defensive players, but you have to like the fact that they are going to get healthy against the Jets at home on Monday Night Football. You are going to be thankful you had them active against the shaky recent play of Geno Smith, especially on the road.
They are coming off that rout of the Giants and a bye week, and they get another error-prone quarterback this week in Carson Palmer. The only reason you might not like the Panthers over the Rams or Falcons is because their game is on the road. The Panthers are a lot better defensively than anyone gave them credit for coming into the season, though. Ron Rivera is a defensive coach, and he is finally changing the culture there.
San Diego Chargers
The Chargers are active in just 12 percent of CBS Sports leagues, but you have to like their run defense and the fact that they can blow out the Raiders in this one. We list the Chargers as a top-10 defensive/special teams play this week.
The Giants have been the best matchup for D/STs thus far this season, so you might get some use out of the Eagles if you are into streaming defenses. This might be the only week to trust this rag-tag group, particularly with the stress Chip Kelly's uptempo scheme puts on a defense and time-of-possession numbers.
This isn't a bad defense to run out there in most weeks, but the Patriots are not a mistake-prone offense. They figure to get more productive with the maturation of their young receivers and the potential return of Danny Amendola (groin). Use one of the streaming options above if you have been running the Bengals out there and have room on your roster for a second defense.
New England Patriots
The Pats are in the same boat as the Bengals. They are generally a matchup play in fantasy, and the Bengals are one of the teams that generally don't make a lot of mistakes in the way of turnovers or sacks. Also, the loss of Vince Wilfork (Achilles) won't help. You are justified even cutting the Pats defense and becoming a streaming fantasy owner when it comes to your defense now.
Dallas Cowboys and Indianapolis Colts
They shouldn't be owned in most leagues anyway, but you cannot like these units against the likes of the Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks. They are two of the most benched units in fantasy at CBS Sports for very good reasons this week. Send them back to the waiver pool.
Three salary-cap sleepers (with the DraftDay.com price)
- Philadelphia Eagles ($5,000): This unit is mostly garbage, but like we said above, so too are the Giants and Manning right now.
- New Orleans Saints ($5,200): You probably shouldn't trust them coming off that big Monday night performance and having to go on the road, but the Bears have allowed the seventh-most points to opposing defense/special teams.
- San Diego Chargers ($5,500): They are a better defensive team than this price suggests, and that Raiders team shouldn't be able to keep up.
|Rank||Defenses and Special Teams||Team||Opponent||ECR||vs. ECR|
|1||Seattle Seahawks||Sea||at Ind||2||+1|
|2||St. Louis Rams||StL||vs. Jac||1||-1|
|3||Atlanta Falcons||Atl||vs. NYJ||3||0|
|4||San Francisco 49ers||SF||vs. Hou||6||+2|
|5||Carolina Panthers||Car||at Ari||5||0|
|6||Denver Broncos||Den||at Dal||12||+6|
|7||Kansas City Chiefs||KC||at Ten||4||-3|
|8||Chicago Bears||Chi||vs. NO||11||+3|
|9||San Diego Chargers||SD||at Oak||16||+7|
|10||Houston Texans||Hou||at SF||10||0|
|11||Philadelphia Eagles||Phi||at NYG||17||+6|
|12||Baltimore Ravens||Bal||at Mia||8||-4|
|13||New Orleans Saints||NO||at Chi||20||+7|
|14||Cleveland Browns||Cle||vs. Buf||7||-7|
|15||Green Bay Packers||GB||vs. Det||24||+9|
|16||Cincinnati Bengals||Cin||vs. NE||14||-2|
|17||New England Patriots||NE||at Cin||9||-8|
|18||Miami Dolphins||Mia||vs. Bal||15||-3|
|19||Arizona Cardinals||Ari||vs. Car||19||0|
|20||Tennessee Titans||Ten||vs. KC||21||+1|
Kickers: You Should Stick with the Kickers from the Best Offenses
Mason Crosby, Green Bay Packers
The best things you can say about a kicker in fantasy, particularly in the middle of a season, is that he has a potent offense getting him chances and he has his bye week out of the way. That is Crosby, who will finish among the top 12 kickers this season. Set him and forget him now.
Garrett Hartley, New Orleans Saints
The Bears have tied with the Eagles for the most points allowed to kickers through four games, and you shouldn't own that scrub Josh Brown, much less start him. Hartley is the best matchup play of the week, and that ignores the fact that Drew Brees is scorching and might merely leave his kicker doing the extra points.
Alex Henery, Philadelphia Eagles
The Giants defense is atrocious. giving up a league-high 17 touchdowns. Even if you believe the Giants will finally play better defensively, that will only mean Henery gets the benefit of more field goals. The Eagles are going to score plenty of points, and Henery will be the beneficiary.
Robbie Gould, Chicago Bears
The Saints have allowed the least field-goal attempts through four games this season, a true sign Rob Ryan has turned that defense around. The Saints just are not giving up much right now. The Bears kicker is not a great play in most weeks anyway. Go with one of those above.
Steven Hauschka, Seattle Seahawks
He has bounced on and off of waivers in fantasy, and this looks like a bad time to use him. The Colts have allowed the second-fewest points to kickers to date.
Adam Vinatieri, Indianapolis Colts
There is little reason to mess with the Seahawks defense. Vinatieri hasn't been a great fantasy option to date, and this might be his toughest matchup of all.
Three salary-cap sleepers (with the DraftDay.com price)
- Mason Crosby ($5,500): A bye last week and a disappointing 2012 season have him undervalued in all fantasy leagues right now.
- Matt Bryant ($5,400): One of the top preseason options is now one of the cheapest for you. The Falcons are going to blow out the Jets in prime time, and Bryant gives you a shot at some late points on the cheap. The Falcons have also had red-zone issues (see video above).
- Josh Brown ($5,000): We said don't do it, but the Eagles have allowed the most points to kickers to date, and Brown is the cheapest kicker on the board. If you want to punt the position, you could do it with Brown.
|1||Stephen Gostkowski||NE||at Cin||3||+2|
|2||Matt Prater||Den||at Dal||2||0|
|3||Matt Bryant||Atl||vs. NYJ||1||-2|
|4||Justin Tucker||Bal||at Mia||6||+2|
|5||Dan Bailey||Dal||vs. Den||10||+5|
|6||Mason Crosby||GB||vs. Det||12||+6|
|7||Greg Zuerlein||StL||vs. Jac||5||-2|
|8||Phil Dawson||SF||vs. Hou||8||0|
|9||Alex Henery||Phi||at NYG||4||-5|
|10||Nick Novak||SD||at Oak||7||-3|
|11||Sebastian Janikowski||Oak||vs. SD||18||+7|
|12||Steven Hauschka||Sea||at Ind||15||+3|
|13||Mike Nugent||Cin||vs. NE||24||+11|
|14||Ryan Succop||KC||at Ten||19||+5|
|15||Randy Bullock||Hou||at SF||16||+1|
|16||Garrett Hartley||NO||at Chi||9||-7|
|17||Adam Vinatieri||Ind||vs. Sea||21||+4|
|18||David Akers||Det||at GB||14||-4|
|19||Robbie Gould||Chi||vs. NO||11||-8|
|20||Caleb Sturgis||Mia||vs. Bal||17||-3|
Eric Mack, one of the giants among fantasy writers, is the Fantasy Football Lead Writer for Bleacher Report this season. Follow him on Twitter, where you can ask him endless questions about your team, rip him for his content and even challenge him to a head-to-head fantasy game. You can also listen to him on his podcast that he deprecatingly dubbed the Fantasy FatCast.
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