Start/Sit: Week Five
Welcome to the weekly Start/Sit column! Each week I’ll aim to analyze upcoming games, research team injury reports, and check-in on any depth chart movement – all to offer you weekly start/sit recommendations.
The starts will feature players that may be on your bench or even on the waiver wire that need to be in your starting lineup. The sits feature more popular players that I think will underperform this week. I’ll list a must start/sit for each position, then briefly touch on some other options that I like/dislike. While this is useful when setting your weekly lineups in your season long leagues, it can also be a valuable tool if you’re playing daily fantasy sports (DFS).
First, in the name of accountability, here’s a look back at my Must Sit/Starts from last week. It was mostly mediocrity for me in week four. While none of my must-starts lost you a week, none of them won it for you either. Derek Carr made me look bad by going off against the Browns after I labeled him a must sit, but I was able to save face by suggesting you bench Benjamin Watson and the Dolphins DST.
Onto week five.
Blake Bortles, QB, Jacksonville Jaguars
Don’t look now, but Blake Bortles is a QB1 after four weeks. He’s averaging 19.8 fantasy points per game, even with a season-low 8.9 points in week three against a tough Tennessee team. This week he matches up with the porous Kansas City Chiefs defense, who are giving up an average of 24.5 fantasy points to quarterbacks through the first quarter of the season. Bortles has spread the ball around nicely, as Keelan Cole, Dede Westbrook, and Donte Moncrief have all had big performances this season with Bortles. With Leonard Fournette set to miss another week, look for the better receiving backs TJ Yeldon and Corey Grant to play a role as well. Given his weapons and the matchup, Bortles is poised for a big week; Jason Mendoza rejoice.
Aaron Jones, RB, Green Bay Packers
The time has come for Aaron Jones to take over the backfield in Green Bay. He’s looked electric in his two games back from suspension, averaging an impressive 6.3 yards per carry. Meanwhile, his counterpart Jamaal Williams has a mediocre 3.4 yards per carry and hasn’t found the end zone yet this season. Williams has seen his snap percentage drop every week this season, starting at a healthy 62% in week one and dropping to a meager 37% last week. Jones, on the other hand, has jumped from 25% to 63% in just two weeks. Jones is getting more snaps and has more big play and scoring potential, making him a must-start this week.
Kenny Golladay, WR, Detroit Lions
If you haven’t noticed, Kenny Golladay has surpassed Marvin Jones as Detroit’s top outside receiver. Golladay has played just two fewer snaps than Jones, has two more targets, and has nine more receptions to go along with 97 more yards. The Packers defense against receivers looks good on paper, allowing the twelfth fewest fantasy points to receivers so far this year, but half of those games this year were against Mitch Trubisky (before he blew up last week) and Josh Allen. Both Kirk Cousins and Alex Smith shredded the Packers secondary, and I think there’s a good chance Matthew Stafford does the same at home this week. In that case, Kenny Golladay is poised to have a big day and needs to be started in all fantasy leagues.
Nick Vannett, TE, Seattle Seahawks
The feel-good story that was Will Dissly came to an end after he suffered a season-ending knee injury last week, leaving Nick Vannett as the last tight end standing in Seattle. There was plenty of fantasy hype buzzing for Vannett before Dissly’s unexpected week one breakout, and he has the third most targets and receptions on the team after four weeks. There’s a good chance that Russell Wilson will have to air it out this week when the Seahawks take on the high powered Rams, a team that allowed 57 yards to Kyle Rudolf, 45 to Antonio Gates, and a ridiculous 180 yards to Jared Cook.
Defense/Special Teams: Tennessee Titans
One of the themes of the young season is to start whatever defense is going up against the Buffalo Bills. This week that honor belongs to the Tennessee Titans, who have a top ten fantasy defense under new head coach Mike Vrabel. Any team that plays Buffalo should be considered a good fantasy start, this week the Titans solid defense makes them a must-start.
Other Good Starts
Marcus Mariota’s elbow looked healthy as he attempted 43 passes last week. His running ability and the emergence of Corey Davis make him a startable quarterback moving forward.
Matt Ryan has been on fire lately. Look for him to stay hot with another plus matchup against the Steelers.
Expect Ben Roethlisberger to use his bevy of offensive weapons to exploit a reeling Falcons defense.
With the Patriots playing on short rest against the Colts Thursday night, they should continue to feed rookie Sony Michel in the ground game.
Phillip Lindsay has been the Broncos best fantasy running back through four games, but given his performance lately, we may be on the verge of a Royce Freeman breakout.
A high scoring game is expected when the Redskins visit the Saints Monday night. The pace of play and game script should favor pass-catching specialist Chris Thompson.
You’re definitely starting Corey Davis after his huge week four breakout, but you can’t ignore the fact that Taywan Taylor has quietly seen his snap count and production go up four straight weeks.
Hot take alert: Until proven otherwise, JuJu Smith-Schuster is the fantasy receiver to own on the Steelers.
Doug Baldwin returned last week and immediately saw seven targets on 76% of offensive snaps. Russell Wilson will have to air it out this week, and Baldwin should be the number one beneficiary.
With Tyler Eifert once again finished for the season, you can expect Tyler Kroft to step in as the Bengals top tight end target.
If Jack Doyle and T.Y. Hilton are unable to go Thursday night Eric Ebron should see a high target count.
Austin Hooper is a useable tight end option given how red-hot Matt Ryan has been lately.
The New York Giants have set the NFL record, going 36 straight games without scoring 30 points or more. Look for them to extend that record when they visit the Carolina Panthers Sunday.
Case Keenum, QB, Denver Broncos
Case Keenum is surrounded by a good mix of veteran talent and explosive rookies, and he still hasn’t been able to get much done this season. He hasn’t passed for over 250 yards or thrown a touchdown pass since week one. Even with a home matchup against the Chiefs he only managed 7.8 points. Now he travels to New York to take on a Jets defense that ranks tenth against opposing quarterbacks in fantasy points allowed. With so many other streaming options available it’s tough to have any confidence in Keenum right now.
Alex Collins, RB, Baltimore Ravens
Alex Collins’ performance last week is a near perfect reflection of his season so far. He started out strong, catching a touchdown pass in the first quarter. It looked like he was about to break it open in the second quarter when he was given a carry at the opponent’s two-yard line, only to fumble it away. It was his second fumble in four games and was arguably the turning point of the game, so it’s fair to think that the Ravens will shift the goalline carries even more to Javorius Allen, who has more fantasy points than Collins this season. The Ravens take on the Browns this week, who have been solid against running backs for the season. Given the choice, it’s probably safer to start Allen or Collins this week.
Nelson Agholor, WR, Philadelphia Eagles
The past two weeks the Eagles have seen the return of Carson Wentz and Alshon Jeffrey. Since Wentz has returned Agholor hasn’t topped 25 yards receiving, and even though he saw 12 targets last week, he only converted five of them into catches. Look for Wentz to focus his attention on Ertz and Jeffrey, leaving Agholor as the odd man out in the NFC Championship rematch with the Vikings this week.
Charles Clay, TE, Buffalo Bills
Charles Clay used to be one of the most dependable, if not flashy, tight end options in fantasy football. That hasn’t been the story this year. Even with the tight end landscape as barren as ever, Clay is only ranked as the 35th overall tight end in PPR scoring. He had his best performance of the year with an uninspiring 40 yards on four catches last week, and now takes on Titans team that’s ranked eighth against tight ends in fantasy scoring. The tight end position is thin, but there are better dart throws than Clay this week.
Defense/Special Teams: Green Bay Packers
The Packers were the number one fantasy defense last week against the dreadful Buffalo Bills, so it might be tempting to keep them in your lineup this week. The problem is that Green Bay travels to Detroit this week to take on the high powered Lions offense led by Matthew Stafford, a trio of talented wide receivers, and a rookie running back that could be on the verge of a big breakout. Before shutting out the lowly Bills, Green Bay was torched by Vikings and Redskins offense. Play the matchups, find a better defense this week.
Others to Avoid if Possible
If Eli Manning wasn’t able to put up a good fantasy day at home against the Saints, there’s no reason to believe he’ll be able to on the road against the Panthers.
Russell Wilson may be out of the autostart role he’s enjoyed the past few seasons, and he has a tough matchup with the Rams this Sunday.
We may have to continue to wait for a truly great fantasy game from Baker Mayfield, as the Ravens come to town with corner Jimmy Smith returning from suspension
Dalvin Cook says his hamstring still isn’t 100% and that he might be on another “pitch count” this week. It might be best to make him prove he’s back before trusting him in your lineup.
The Eagles have been doing their best Patriots impression lately when it comes to running backs, so you never really know what you’re going to get with Jay Ajayi
Nyheim Hines might be startable in full PPR formats, but I don’t trust the rookie to see many carries, and the chances of his scoring two more touchdowns this week are slim.
Demaryius Thomas has looked like the third best receiver on the Broncos behind Emmanuel Sanders and Courtland Sutton, and Case Keenum hasn’t been putting up the numbers to support three fantasy receivers.
Sammy Watkins suffered a hamstring injury last week and given his history will be tough to trust even if he does suit up.
You never know when Marquise Goodwin might break off a long touchdown, but his floor is extremely low with CJ Beathard at quarterback.
So far this season Jonnu Smith has turned 225 snaps into two catches on nine targets, for a grand total of 21 yards. Needless to say, you can do better at tight end.
I hope you find this useful and I’m always happy to interact on Twitter @aalarson if you have any start/sit questions. Be sure to check out the rest of our weekly in-season content right here as we give you the tools and content to win every week of the season. Good luck this weekend!