Week 5 Start 'Em, Sit 'Em: Play or Bench Tips for Fantasy Football Owners

Chris Roling@@Chris_RolingFeatured ColumnistOctober 5, 2017

CARSON, CA - AUGUST 20:  Melvin Gordon #28 of the Los Angeles Chargers runs the ball down field during the game between the Los Angeles Chargers and the New Orleans Saints at the StubHub Center on August 20, 2017 in Carson, California.  (Photo by Josh Lefkowitz/Getty Images)
Josh Lefkowitz/Getty Images

It should go without saying, but fantasy football start 'em, sit 'em decisions haven't been easy through the quarter-season mark of the 2017 NFL season, with a third-round rookie one of the top-scoring names.  

Said rookie is Kareem Hunt of the Kansas City Chiefs, of course, the latest breakout running back a year removed from the likes of Ezekiel Elliott and Jordan Howard. 

Otherwise, little has gone as expected in the scoring department, which is what happens when a season starts with teams like the Los Angeles Rams and Jacksonville Jaguars surging. 

Things have to turn for the better at some point, though, so let's compare some of the top matchups of the week to find the best values and break down some important start-sit designations. 

           

QB

Matchup ComparisonVerdict
Aaron Rodgers (at DAL) vs. Deshaun Watson (vs. KC)Aaron Rodgers
Carson Palmer (at PHI) vs. Jay Cutler (vs. TEN)Carson Palmer
Andy Dalton (vs. BUF) vs. Jameis Winston (vs. NE)Andy Dalton
Alex Smith (at HOU) vs. Matthew Stafford (vs. CAR)Matthew Stafford
Ben Roethlisberger (vs. JAC) vs. Cam Newton (at DET)Ben Roethlisberger
Author's opinion

Star to Know: Carson Palmer (at PHI)

GLENDALE, AZ - OCTOBER 01:  Quarterback Carson Palmer #3 of the Arizona Cardinals throws a pass during the NFL game against the San Francisco 49ers at the University of Phoenix Stadium on October 1, 2017 in Glendale, Arizona. The Cardinals defeated the 49
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Arizona Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer hasn't exactly been trustworthy this year. 

Sans David Johnson in the backfield, he's only surpassed the 20-point mark once this year, which also happens to be the only game he's thrown multiple touchdowns in—though another such occurrence should be on the way in Week 5. 

The Philadelphia Eagles currently allow the eighth-most points to signal-callers on average and have coughed up five passing scores over the past two weeks alone and seven overall. 

With Larry Fitzgerald and other weapons in the passing game ready to go, Palmer should be good for one of the bigger games of the week. 

         

Star to Sit: Russell Wilson (at LAR)

SEATTLE, WA - OCTOBER 01:  Quarterback Russell Wilson #3 of the Seattle Seahawks takes the field prior to the game against the Indianapolis Colts at CenturyLink Field on October 1, 2017 in Seattle, Washington.  (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

Those who have benefited from Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson lately will balk at the idea of sitting him. 

Do it anyway. 

Yes, Wilson tallied 33.53 points in Week 3, then followed with 29.6. But expect him to look more like his Week 2, 15.32 form against a Rams defense finally backed by a competent offense, thanks to the emergence of Jared Goff. 

The Seahawks are notorious for struggling on the road, an example Wilson showed plainly enough on the road against these Rams a year ago in a 9-3 loss, where he didn't do much of anything. 

This one has the feel of another defensive battle. It'd be a different conversation if the game took place in Seattle, but that comes later in the season. 

      

RB

Matchup ComparisonVerdict
Le'Veon Bell (vs. JAC) vs. LeSean McCoy (at CIN)Le'Veon Bell
Todd Gurley (vs. SEA) vs. DeMarco Murray (at MIA)Todd Gurley
Leonard Fournette (at PIT) vs. Ezekiel Elliott (vs. GB)Ezekiel Elliott
Joe Mixon (vs. BUF) vs. Carlos Hyde (at IND)Carlos Hyde
Latavius Murray (at CHI) vs. Marshawn Lynch (vs. BAL)Marshawn Lynch
Author's opinion

Star to Know: Melvin Gordon (at NYG)

CARSON, CA - OCTOBER 01:  Melvin Gordon #28 of the Los Angeles Chargers walks off the field after being defeated by the Philadelphia Eagles 26-24 in a game at StubHub Center on October 1, 2017 in Carson, California.  (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

Unlike Wilson above, owners might pause at the idea of Los Angeles Chargers running back Melvin Gordon due to his slow start. 

Slow, meaning no performance breaking the 14-point mark and only two touchdowns. Viewed another way, he's only received more than 10 carries in two games so far. 

However, as the cliche says, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. The New York Giants provide this via a blinding spotlight considering they sit winless, miserable and having surrendered north of 60 yards to five different backs. 

Gordon, normal work rate or not, will have a big day as the Giants continue the downward spiral. 

       

Star to Sit: Giovani Bernard (vs. BUF) 

GREEN BAY, WI - SEPTEMBER 24:  Giovani Bernard #25 of the Cincinnati Bengals celebrates after scoring a touchdown in the second quarter against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field on September 24, 2017 in Green Bay, Wisconsin.  (Photo by Dylan Buell/Ge
Dylan Buell/Getty Images

It's time to wave goodbye to Giovani Bernard. 

As expected, the Cincinnati Bengals have moved to rookie Joe Mixon as the workhorse, leaving Bernard with seven or fewer carries in every game so far. He hit double-digit production for the first time in Week 4, though a giant receiving touchdown against the Cleveland Browns isn't something to get excited about. 

Bernard is an afterthought behind a terrible offensive line going into a game against a Buffalo Bills defense surrendering the 10th-fewest points to opposing backs on average, meaning even his versatility as a receiver on limited snaps should get stifled. 

While Bernard is still a bigger name, it's time to start putting him on the bench. 

        

WR

Matchup ComparisonVerdict
Mike Evans (vs. NE) vs. Randall Cobb (at DAL)Randall Cobb
Dez Bryant (vs. GB) vs. Antonio Brown (vs. JAC) Antonio Brown
Larry Fitzgerald (at PHI) vs. Odell Beckham (vs. LAC)Odell Beckham
Stefon Diggs (at CHI) vs. A.J. Green (vs. BUF)A.J. Green
Amari Cooper (vs. BAL) vs. Keenan Allen (at NYG)Keenan Allen
Author's opinion

Star to Know: Randall Cobb (at DAL) 

GREEN BAY, WI - SEPTEMBER 28:  Randall Cobb #18 of the Green Bay Packers makes a catch while being guarded by Kyle Fuller #23 of the Chicago Bears in the fourth quarter at Lambeau Field on September 28, 2017 in Green Bay, Wisconsin.  (Photo by Stacy Rever
Stacy Revere/Getty Images

Time to go all-in on Randall Cobb. 

This doesn't happen often, but the Green Bay Packers should look to Cobb more than usual in Week 5 with Davante Adams down. 

Adams is practicing limited, but we're talking about a guy who suffered a concussion on an illegal hit that got a player suspended. 

Meaning, Cobb and his 26 targets over the course of three appearances should see an even bigger uptick in usage against a Dallas Cowboys team allowing the 11th-most points to wideouts. With names like Emmanuel Sanders and Fitzgerald scoring at least 18 points on the unit, Cobb should have a huge day considering the guy throwing him the ball. 

      

Star to Sit: Alshon Jeffery (vs. ARI)

CARSON, CA - OCTOBER 01:  Alshon Jeffery #17 of the Philadelphia Eagles scores a touchdown during the game against the Los Angeles Chargers at StubHub Center on October 1, 2017 in Carson, California.  (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

As most should've guessed, Alshon Jeffery has been a hit-or-miss fantasy option with his new team. 

It's not that the Eagles haven't used Jeffery—he's seen at least six targets in every game so far. But Jeffery has caught more than three passes in a game twice and hit double-digit production once. 

Outside of a random two-touchdown day from Kenny Golladay, the Cardinals have been strong against opposing wideouts, and Jeffery figures to find himself blanketed by Patrick Peterson for most of the day. 

Home game or not, Jeffery doesn't have the feel of a guy who should have a big day given the circumstances. 

       

TE

Matchup ComparisonVerdict
Rob Gronkowski (at TB) vs. Jimmy Graham (at LAR)Rob Gronkowski
Cameron Brate (vs. NE) vs. Travis Kelce (at HOU)Travis Kelce
Hunter Henry (at NYG) vs. Charles Clay (at CIN)Hunter Henry
Zach Ertz (vs. ARI) vs. Delanie Walker (at MIA)Delanie Walker
Kyle Rudolph (at CHI) vs. Jared Cook (vs. BAL)Jared Cook
Author's opinion

Star to Know: Jared Cook (vs. BAL)

OAKLAND, CA - SEPTEMBER 17:  Jared Cook #87 of the Oakland Raiders runs with the ball after catching a pass against the New York Jets during the first quarter of their NFL football game at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on September 17, 2017 in Oakland,
Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

Jared Cook is one of the better bets in Week 5 at a mostly miserable position. 

Cook is a workhorse for the Oakland Raiders, at least in the targets department. He's seen at least five targets in every game and eight alone in Week 4, which tied him for the team lead. 

While Cook hasn't always done much with his usage yet, the fact it's there on a consistent basis is a big deal in the right matchup. The struggling Baltimore Ravens provide said matchup considering they cough up the fourth-most points to opposing tight ends. 

With Derek Carr out, Cook might see even more usage than usual as he looks to make life easy on backup EJ Manuel

             

Star to Sit: Jason Witten (vs. GB) 

ARLINGTON, TX - OCTOBER 01:  Jason Witten #82 of the Dallas Cowboys stands on the field during warmups before the game against the Los Angeles Rams at AT&T Stadium on October 1, 2017 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
Tom Pennington/Getty Images

As stressed with Bernard above, name doesn't always mean something. 

Such is the case with Cowboys tight end Jason Witten, who after a pair of double-digit outings to start the season has gone for 0.3 and 0.9 over his last two games. 

Witten might not struggle in such a manner against the Packers in a game perhaps capable of featuring plenty of scoring, but Green Bay stands tall while allowing the second-fewest points to tight ends. 

With a downtick in usage over the past two weeks (six total targets compared to 22 over the first two games) and a terrible matchup, Witten needs to ride the pine. 

             

All scoring info, points-against info and ownership stats courtesy of Yahoo standard leagues. 

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