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

Chris Roling@@Chris_RolingFeatured ColumnistOctober 4, 2018

Arizona Cardinals running back David Johnson (31) runs as Seattle Seahawks defensive back Earl Thomas (29) defends during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 30, 2018, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)
Rick Scuteri/Associated Press

Mitchell Trubisky and Jared Goff are two of the hottest names in the NFL fantasy football landscape entering Week 5, so it is rather apparent fantasy owners aren't completely out of the unpredictable storm yet. 

This time most years we have a good idea of the whos-who when it comes to the various categories, ranging from must-start stars to matchup-based plays and beyond. 

But this year is a little stranger, especially with defenses still trying to adapt to new rules, not to mention innovative new looks from the Sean McVays and Andy Reids of the world. 

We're here to help, so let's compare some of the top matchups to know before diving into some tough start-sit decisions. 



Matchup ComparisonVerdict
Andrew Luck (at NE) vs. Tom Brady (vs. IND)Tom Brady
Matt Ryan (at PIT) vs. Cam Newton (vs. NYG)Matt Ryan
Ryan Tannehill (at CIN) vs. Deshaun Watson (vs. DAL)Deshaun Watson
Ben Roethlisberger (vs. ATL) vs. Marcus Mariota (at BUF)Ben Roethlisberger
Carson Wentz (vs. MIN) vs. Aaron Rodgers (at DET)Carson Wentz
Author's opinion

Start: Blake Bortles, JAX (at KC)

Here is one that owners a few years ago probably didn't think they would be hearing in 2018. 

Blake Bortles is a good move against the Kansas City Chiefs as he has best-of-week potential. Don't laugh—he looked good in Week 2 against New England and posted 33.54 points with four touchdowns. 

This one is all about the matchup, as the Chiefs allow the fifth-most points to opposing passers on average this year, a number that would be even worse if they hadn't played Case Keenum in Week 4. 

To date, Bortles has 25.32 or more points in two of his four outings, which aligns pretty well with the strength of the opponent. He's using his mobility and spreading it around well, especially against poor defenses. 


Sit: Jared Goff, LAR (at SEA)

Goff is making some throws many probably didn't think was possible from him, but that doesn't make him a lock as a week-to-week starter. 

Case in point, his Los Angeles Rams have to hit the road and play the Seattle Seahawks in Week 5. While Richard Sherman and the Legion of Boom aren't around anymore, it's still a tough environment and divisional matchup. 

Those Seahawks also happen to still allow the eighth-fewest points to the position.  

Goff is coming off a five-touchdown performance, so he's due for a regression anyway heading into what looks like could be a low-scoring game. 



Matchup ComparisonVerdict
Saquon Barkley (at CAR) vs. Christian McCaffrey (vs. NYG)Saquon Barkley
David Johnson (at SF) vs. Melvin Gordon (vs. OAK)David Johnson
Ezekiel Elliott (at HOU) vs. James Conner (vs. ATL)Ezekiel Elliott
Todd Gurley (at SEA) vs. Alvin Kamara (vs. WAS)Alvin Kamara
Adrian Peterson (at NO) vs. Aaron Jones (at DET)Aaron Jones
Author's opinion

Start: David Johnson, ARI (at SF)

It's fine to start believing in David Johnson, fantasy owners. 

Johnson was never the problem anyway, as Arizona Cardinals coaches stunningly never gave him more than 13 carries in a game until Week 4 and hardly used him as a receiver while also messing around with Sam Bradford under center. 

Now first-round rookie Josh Rosen is starting, everything predictably looks better and Johnson is coming off a 22-carry performance in which he gained 71 yards and a score, good for 16.7 points. 

It's just in time, too, as Johnson next gets the San Francisco 49ers—the defense letting up the eighth-most points to backs coming out of a week in which Los Angeles Chargers backs scored 27.4 and 12.6. 


Sit: Adrian Peterson, WAS (at NO)

Adrian Peterson might have revenge on the mind when his Washington Redskins visit the New Orleans Saints, but he's a sit. 

Coming out of a bye, Peterson is still working back from a sprained ankle. Those Saints also spend so much time allowing yardage through the air that they allow the seventh-fewest points to backs so far. 

Game flow has to be considered here as well. This is probably going to be a shootout in a dome, meaning more work for Chris Thompson than Peterson himself. 

It's a long way of saying Peterson looks good at face value, but there are plenty of other factors suggesting he's in for a slow week. 



Matchup ComparisonVerdict
Julio Jones (at PIT) vs. Keenan Allen (vs. OAK)Julio Jones
DeAndre Hopkins (vs. DAL) vs. JuJu Smith-Schuster (vs. ATL)DeAndre Hopkins
A.J. Green (vs. MIA) vs. Michael Thomas (vs. WAS)Michael Thomas
Antonio Brown (vs. ATL) vs. Corey Davis, (at BUF)Antonio Brown
Adam Thielen (at PHI) vs. Tyler Boyd (vs. MIA)Adam Thielen
Author's opinion

Start: Alshon Jeffery, PHI (vs. MIN)

Starting Alshon Jeffery buys into a series of good factors. 

One is simply Jeffery getting back on the field, which he did for the first time this season in Week 4, catching eight of his nine targets for 105 yards and a score, good for 20.5 points. Two is the fact Carson Wentz is still rounding back into form after a return of his own. 

Three is the Minnesota Vikings, which goes against everything owners thought they knew for the past five years or more. The Vikings are suddenly a mess defensively and are allowing the 10th-most points to wideouts with no end in sight. 

A week ago, three Rams receivers tallied minimums of 18.6 points against the unit. Even if Wentz is spreading it around well, Jeffery figures to produce more than enough to flirt with top-earner status. 


Sit: Doug Baldwin, SEA (vs. LAR)

Despite normally being extremely reliable, Doug Baldwin has had a false start to 2018, scoring no points in Week 1 before exiting with a knee injury after spending the preseason rehabbing an injury to the opposite knee. 

Baldwin returned in Week 4 and caught five of his seven targets for 41 yards, planting him with all of 6.6 points—a season high. 

Now Baldwin has to deal with a Rams defense allowing the eighth-fewest points to his position. With Russell Wilson struggling and not even throwing a touchdown pass in a sloppy win over Arizona the week prior, it isn't wise to bank on a Baldwin breakout in Week 5. 

Make no mistake, the Baldwin breakout will happen—but it's hard to see it this week. 



Matchup ComparisonVerdict
Rob Gronkowski (vs. IND) vs. Zach Ertz (vs. MIN)Rob Gronkowski
Eric Ebron (at NE) vs. Jimmy Graham (at DET)Jimmy Graham
Jordan Reed (at NO) vs. Travis Kelce (vs. JAX)Jordan Reed
Vance McDonald (at ATL) vs. Jared Cook (at LAC)Jared Cook
Austin Seferian-Jenkins (at KC) vs. Charles Clay (vs. TEN)Charles Clay
Author's opinion

Start: Jared Cook, OAK (at LAC)

This is a really, really bad week for tight ends, with non-factors like Austin Hooper, Eric Tomlinson and A.J. Derby in some of the top matchup-based plays. 

Taking a leap of faith on a guy like Jared Cook of the Oakland Raiders is a must, then. Cook is a boom-or-bust guy with outbursts of 22.5 and 27 points this year, failing to score even seven in his other two appearances. 

Cook dropped the 27-point bomb on Cleveland in Week 4, catching eight of his 13 targets for 110 yards and two scores. His big outbursts came on his only double-digit target days, so the hope here is Derek Carr uses him as a safety net in Week 5 again. 

The Chargers, who rank in the middle of the pack against tight ends, are great at rushing the passer, so Cook could see a high-usage day. 


Sit: Eric Ebron, IND (at NE)

AJ Mast/Associated Press

Indianapolis Colts tight end Eric Ebron has seen double-digit targets in three of four games, yet he is still somehow a touchdown-based producer at this point. 

Ebron has benefited from the return of Andrew Luck and has 22 total targets over his last two games, yet he only had 5.8 and 12.5 points. 

Now Ebron's spotty production encounters the New England Patriots, the team allowing the fewest points to tight ends on average. New England is at home and hasn't allowed a tight end to reach the 10-point mark yet, so expect those around Ebron to produce while he flirts with decoy status. 


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


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