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Fantasy Football Starts and Sits: Matchups Analysis for Week 5


Welcome to our Week 5 matchup analysis and start/sit column for fantasy football. We'll be covering every single contest from the Sunday slate in one convenient location, helping you make the best decisions for your fantasy lineups. Be sure to check back regularly because this article will be updated as news comes in regarding injuries and other important information.

Chris O'Reilly will start off by covering the first set of games that begin at 1:00 PM ET on Sunday, and Spencer Aguiar will take you home with his analysis of the late afternoon and evening games.

If you have any additional lineup questions, follow us on Twitter @Teeoffsports and @cjoreillyCLE and feel free to ask away! Without further ado, let's get started.

Editor's Note: Get any full-season NFL Premium Pass for 50% off. Our exclusive In-Season Lineup Tools, Lineup Optimizer and over 150 days of Premium DFS Research. Sign Up Now!

 

Matchups Analysis - 1:00 PM ET Games

New York Jets at Philadelphia Eagles

Matchups We Love:

Robby Anderson / Jamison Crowder (WR, NYJ)

Philly is allowing 15 receptions and 221.5 yards per game to opposing receivers. They've also permitted seven touchdowns to the position. The Eagles are terrible enough against the pass that while I'm not sure I believe in Luke Falk, I can envision enough volume sent the way of Robby Anderson and Jamison Crowder for solid fantasy output. I like Crowder better based on his 30.1% target share. Anderson has just a 19.3% target share and a 55.6% catch rate, so you'll be hoping for more efficiency out of him, but he's the downfield option in the Jets passing game with 11.5 yards per reception.

Matchups We Hate:

None

Other Matchups:

Le'Veon Bell (RB, NYJ)

Le'Veon Bell is averaging under three yards per carry despite owning a disproportionate majority of New York's rushing workload over Ty Montgomery. The Eagles are allowing under 50 rushing yards per game to opposing backs on 2.85 yards per carry. What keeps Bell in the high-end fantasy range this week is his passing game involvement. He's averaging 7.7 targets per game with an 87% catch rate for 121 yards and a receiving touchdown. The Eagles have allowed 27 receptions to opposing backs (just under seven per game) for 212 yards. Start the Jets running back with the expectation of continued usage in the pass offense, but hold off on anticipating lofty rushing totals.

Luke Falk / Sam Darnold (QB, NYJ)

There's plenty to hate about the Jets offense. They've scored one offensive touchdown, and it came all the way back in Week 1. Their likely starting QB for Week 5 is third-stringer Luke Falk, who has thrown for 296 yards in a game and a half. But let us not completely dismiss just how bad the Eagles have been against the pass. Philly is permitting a league-high 323.8 passing yards per game, and have recorded a sack on a league-low 1.7% of drop-backs. If Falk has anything going for him individually it's that he's completed 68.1% of his throws against two pretty good defenses in the Browns and Patriots, and he's had a bye week to prepare for this very beatable Eagles pass defense. There is no cause to start him in any season-long format outside of two-QB leagues, but for anyone crafting a ton of DFS lineups, he's not the worst low-ownership play out there. If Sam Darnold plays, I'm avoiding him due simply to his lack of football activity over the last four weeks.

UPDATE: Darnold has officially been ruled out for Week 5.

Ty Montgomery (RB, NYJ)

I'd list Ty Montgomery among the hates, but he doesn't have enough touches to qualify for fantasy consideration in the first place. He's attempted seven rushes and been targeted just four times in three games. It stands to reason that an 0-3 start with one offensive touchdown would cause the Jets to have spent their bye week coming up with ways to get the most of their offense, but they don't have much to work with. Montgomery can't be started based on the evidence at hand.

Jordan Howard / Miles Sanders (RB, PHI)

After the way Jordan Howard bulldozed the Packers in Week 4, I'm inclined to lean toward him as Philly's new RB to own and start. The snap counts are leaning that way as well, as Howard out-snapped Miles Sanders 33-22 last Thursday. Howard was also the only one of the two to see any passing-game work against Green Bay. What both Sanders and Howard have working against them is that the Jets are permitting just 3.72 yards per carry to opposing backs. Working in their favor is that the Jets have allowed a touchdown on five of seven red zone possessions. Howard has the edge in red zone carries with 11, while Sanders has attempted seven. Howard has converted three of his four rushing attempts inside the five-yard line for touchdowns, while Sanders has totaled negative yardage on two opportunities. The overall split in touches after three games suggests this is still a two-pronged backfield, but Howard is the first and only one to make any real noise with his chances. I have to lean toward him as a touchdown-dependent flex considering the matchup, and I'm very concerned if I have to start Sanders in any capacity.

Carson Wentz (QB, PHI)

Carson Wentz hasn't been incredibly efficient, completing under 60% of his passes in three straight games. He has thrown multiple touchdowns in three of his first four, however, and is about to face a Jets Defense allowing 286.7 yards per game (fifth-worst in the league). While such a number shouts that the Jets are exploitable through the air, it should be noted that they boast the 11th-lowest adjusted yards per pass attempt in the league at 6.8. The most inviting aspect of this matchup for Wentz is that the Jets have given up a score on five of seven red zone chances, and Wentz has thrown five of his nine touchdowns inside the 10-yard line.

Eagles Pass-Catchers (WR/TE, PHI)

The target share of Zach Ertz (25.5%) keeps him in the high-end TE1 conversation despite the fact that the Jets have allowed just five receptions to the position. Simply put, the Jets haven't faced a tight end of his caliber. He leads the team in red zone targets with six, though he's only seen one ball thrown his way inside the 10. Nelson Agholor and Alshon Jeffery are tied for the team lead in targets inside the 10 at three, and both have converted two such opportunities into touchdowns. Agholor leads all Eagles wide receivers in overall targets, though it is worth noting Jeffery is averaging a team-high (among WRs) 7.5 per game in the two full games he's played. Both can be started in fantasy as volume-dependent flex plays with touchdown upside. Mack Hollins saw 15 total targets between Week 2 (when Jeffery left with an injury) and Week 3 (when Jeffery was inactive), but drifted into the background upon Jeffery's return in Week 4. He can't be started with confidence in any format, even if DeSean Jackson sits again. Dallas Goedert has seen seven total targets, and just so happens to have converted one of his two red zone opportunities into a score. Avoid him as well. DeSean Jackson remains questionable to play in Week 5 after missing each of Philly's last two games entirely. A clean bill of health puts him back on the map as a flex play, but it's best to plan for the instance he's unavailable.

UPDATE: Jackson will not play on Sunday.

 

Minnesota Vikings at New York Giants

Matchups We Love:

Dalvin Cook (RB, MIN)

The Vikings are tied for the third-most rushing attempts in the league, and they've attempted the third-fewest passes. That isn't poised to change as long as Kirk Cousins continues to look like a fringe NFL starter. Dalvin Cook is averaging 5.8 yards per carry, the highest-such mark among running backs with at least 55 attempts. I'm not worried about the Giants allowing 3.86 yards per rushing attempt to opposing backs, because the only legitimate running game they've faced was Ezekiel Elliott on a pitch-count in a blowout Week 1 loss where the Cowboys barely needed him. Cook is one of the league's most clear-cut RB1's.

Evan Engram (TE, NYG)

Evan Engram's 23.9% target share will play well in any offense, even if New York's leaves something to be desired. The Vikings are tied for the third-most receptions allowed (28) to opposing tight ends. Engram leads the Giants in red zone targets with five, and targets inside the 10 with three. Engram is going to be somewhat volume-dependent in a game where I don't think the Giants will score many points, but that volume has most certainly been there, as is the featured role in scoring position.

Matchups We Hate:

Daniel Jones (QB, NYG)

The Vikings are allowing just 218.5 yards per game through the air, and they've been even tougher against the run. With no Saquon Barkley to worry about, Minnesota should be able to control what the Giants are able to do on offense. Despite playing well enough to win against the Redskins in Week 4, Daniel Jones wasn't overly impressive. He threw two interceptions in his own territory that a more competent opponent would have converted into more than three points. Where Minnesota is relatively exploitable in terms of defending the pass is efficiency; the Vikings have allowed opposing QBs a 72.1% completion rate. Still, I don't want my fantasy hopes for Week 5 depending on Jones' ability to dink-and-dunk his way down the field.

Wayne Gallman (RB, NYG)

Wayne Gallman's Week 4 performance was definitely more than I expected from him, but I'm not expecting an encore. The Vikings are giving up 3.76 yards per carry to opposing backs, and have allowed the position the fourth-lowest receiving total in the league. There is some promise to be found in that Minnesota is one of five teams to have given up multiple receiving touchdowns to running backs, and Gallman did score one in Week 4. I'm just not comfortable betting on the Giants to have success moving the ball deep into Vikings territory on Sunday, and thus I'm looking at Gallman as a risky flex.

Other Matchups:

Kirk Cousins (QB, MIN)

If not for how bad the Giants have been against the pass (until they faced a terrible Redskins offense), I'd list Kirk Cousins among the hates. He hasn't thrown for more than 233 yards in any game this season, and has maxed out at one touchdown per contest until Week 4's big zero. If there's any redeeming quality in his play, it's that he's completed over 70% of his passes the last two weeks. Even after shutting down the hapless Redskins in Week 4, the Giants are still giving up 295.5 passing yards per game, and have surrendered eight passing touchdowns. If Cousins is going to resurrect his fantasy value--or, perhaps more importantly, the fantasy value of Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen--this is the week.

Stefon Diggs / Adam Thielen (WR, MIN)

Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen have both fallen victim to an ineffective passing attack, as well as the Vikings' tendency to lean on the run. While Cook has been as effective on the ground as anyone has the right to ask of him, Minnesota's 2-2 start--along with its 0-2 record against divisional foes--demands that the team becomes more versatile on offense. Until a shift in offensive philosophy manifests itself on the field, however, we can't just make assumptions based on what the Vikings should do. Thielen and Diggs do maintain the advantage of being the only options in Minnesota's vertical passing attack to have even a remotely fantasy-relevant role through four games. They lead the team in targets at 23 and 19, respectively, while Cook ranks third with 18. No other player has even seen double digits. Look for these target shares to finally translate into fantasy production against a Giants secondary permitting 208.75 yard per game to opposing receivers.

UPDATE: Diggs has evidently ruffled the feathers of his employers, as he has been fined for skipping meetings and practices earlier in the week. Additionally, head coach Mike Zimmer would not officially declare him active for Sunday's game on account of Diggs' lack of participation. This sounds more like a stubborn coach trying to make an example of his player in the media than anything else, but it's worth having a backup plan if this situation materializes into an actual benching for Diggs.

Kyle Rudolph (TE, MIN)

As mentioned above, Diggs and Thielen are the only pass-catchers in Minnesota who are worth fantasy consideration. Kyle Rudolph has dropped off the map with a 7.6% target share. Even if your tight end spot has come down to a blind dart throw, there are better directions to aim.

Giants Wide Receivers (WR, NYG)

I'm going to continue to maintain a grim outlook for New York's receiving corps outside of Sterling Shepard, though it is worth noting Golden Tate has finished serving his suspension and will be available in Week 5. Shepard has an impressive 80% catch rate on 25 targets, and has thrived with Jones as the starter. In Weeks 3-4, he's caught 14 of 18 targets for 176 yards and a touchdown. His matchup is dicey, as the Vikings have allowed the fourth-most receptions to the position, but only 152 yards per game. Still, his target share keeps him very much in PPR flex territory. I do worry that Tate will cut into that volume, but the rapport is clearly there between Jones and Shepard, and I don't see Jones suddenly abandoning what works. I would not be comfortable starting Tate until we see what kind of role he has, and I'm avoiding all other Giants WRs in this matchup.

 

Baltimore Ravens at Pittsburgh Steelers

Matchups We Love:

Lamar Jackson (QB, BAL)

Forget what Pittsburgh did against the Bengals on Monday night. It was, after all, the Bengals. Coming into that game, the Steelers had allowed at least 277 passing yards to all three quarterbacks they faced, and multiple passing touchdowns to two of them. Lamar Jackson has thrown multiple touchdowns in three of his first four games, and the one game in which he failed to throw for one, he found the endzone with his legs. He's simply too versatile to bet against.

Matchups We Hate:

JuJu Smith-Schuster (WR, PIT)

Look, you have to start him, but JuJu Smith-Schuster's season-long outlook is beginning to look bleaker by the day. He's been targeted 11 times in Pittsburgh's last two games, hauling in six catches for 96 yards and a touchdown. I'll let you do the math on what his fantasy output would be over the last two weeks if not for his 76-yard touchdown in Week 3. If there's hope here, it's that the Ravens have allowed the third-most yards to opposing receivers (846) and 16.26 yards per reception. They've been successful at directing that production away from opponents' number-ones, however, as Sammy Watkins and Odell Beckham Jr. have combined for seven catches and 84 yards on 13 targets in Baltimore's last two games.

UPDATE: Smith-Schuster carries a questionable tag into the weekend due to a toe injury that kept him out of practice earlier in the week. He practiced with the Steelers on Friday, but the injury designation remains. Monitor his status closely going into Sunday afternoon.

Other Matchups:

Mark Ingram (RB, BAL)

The one area of the field in which I'm curious to see who can enforce their will in this matchup is the red zone. The Steelers are tied for the second-lowest red zone scoring rate allowed to opposing offenses; only New England and San Francisco have been tougher to deal with. This is Mark Ingram territory, as only Ezekiel Elliott and Christian McCaffrey have more carries inside the 20 than Ingram's 13. Only Sony Michel has more carries inside the 10 than Ingram's five. The Ravens rank among the league's better teams in terms of scoring on their own red zone opportunities with a 66.7% success rate. Considering Ingram's six yards per carry rank second in the NFL among running backs, it's at least worth bringing up that three of his first four opponents rank inside the bottom 10 (in the bad way) in yards allowed per rushing attempt (Chiefs, Dolphins, Cardinals). The Steelers aren't quite as fantasy-friendly a run defense, and Ingram doesn't have a dependable enough role in the passing game to take advantage of the fact that Pittsburgh has allowed the third-most receptions in the league to the position. He's an obvious starter, but we're hoping Baltimore can break Pittsburgh's stout red zone defense and get Ingram into the endzone.

Mark Andrews (TE, BAL)

Mark Andrews has a touchdown reception in three of Baltimore's first four games, and he might need one to return high-end fantasy value against a Steelers team that has permitted just 15 total catches to the position. There's plenty to like about his target share and his red zone role, but Pittsburgh's defensive success in the red zone is concerning. He's among the strongest options at tight end in terms of volume, just don't be surprised to see the Steelers make him a focal point in scoring position.

Marquise Brown / Willie Snead (WR, BAL)

There'd be more to like about Marquise Brown if his 25% target share had produced better than a 52.9% catch rate to date. There'd be more to like about Willie Snead if his 19.3 yards per catch were the result of more than eight receptions or an 8% target share. Snead is being out-targeted by one backup tight end, and he's tied with another. There's certainly promise in the matchup, as the Steelers are permitting 13.25 catches and 185.75 yards per game to opposing wide receivers, along with five total touchdowns. It's just difficult to get on board with Snead's volume, and thus Brown is the only Ravens WR that can be started with much confidence.

James Conner / Jaylen Samuels (RB, PIT)

I'd list James Conner among matchups we love based on what Nick Chubb just did to this Ravens run defense, but his ankle injury sustained Monday night is concerning. If Conner gets the green light, he'll face a Baltimore team that has given up 333 rushing yards and five total rushing touchdowns in its last two games. Conner finally got going on Monday against the Bengals, racking up 125 scrimmage yards and a receiving touchdown against the Bengals. He still has yet to exceed 43 rushing yards in a single game this year, and a potentially less-than-100% health designation heading into Sunday doesn't bode well regardless of the matchup. Jaylen Samuels is the next man up in his potential absence, and he's similarly dependent on work in the passing game for fantasy production. The Ravens are giving up 4.75 catches and 40.25 receiving yards per game to opposing backs.

UPDATE: Conner will be active on Sunday. Proceed as planned.

Mason Rudolph (QB, PIT)

The Ravens have allowed three consecutive quarterbacks to burn them for 340-plus yards through the air, but one of them was Patrick Mahomes; another was the eventually-destined-for-a-breakout Baker Mayfield; and the third was Kyler Murray in an extremely pass-heavy offense. I'm not sure a game plan centered on Mason Rudolph airing it out is the best formula for a Steelers victory on Sunday, so that streak likely ends in Week 5. Of Rudolph's 229 passing yards on Monday, 167 (or 73%) of them came after the catch. Look for a similar attack this week, with Rudolph hitting his pass-catchers in short range and giving them a chance to do the bulk of the work with the ball in their hands. If successful, this does lend itself to the possibility of a solid fantasy day, but the only teams on bye this week are Miami and Detroit, meaning you shouldn't be scrambling at QB.

Diontae Johnson / James Washington (WR, PIT)

Diontae Johnson is sneakily emerging as (sadly enough for Smith-Schuster owners) the WR you want in Pittsburgh's offense. In Rudolph's two starts, he's reeled in nine of 12 targets for 129 yards and two touchdowns. He already ranks second on the team with a 15.3% target share despite only starting two games. Secondary receiving options like Jarvis Landry, Mecole Hardman, and Christian Kirk have threaded this Ravens Defense in recent weeks, making Johnson a fine flex play. James Washington has caught just six of his 15 targets through four games for 88 yards. I just don't know that there's enough to go around here to count on anyone other than Johnson among the Steelers' secondary pass-catchers.

Vance McDonald / Nick Vannett (TE, PIT)

Vance McDonald appears as though he has a chance to play on Sunday after missing Week 4 with a shoulder injury. If he does, he's the Steelers tight end to start in fantasy lineups. There's a reasonable amount of upside in his range of outcomes against a Ravens team permitting 15.5 yards per reception to tight ends, though it's worth noting they've only allowed 16 catches in the first place. Moreover, after hauling in two touchdowns from Rudolph in Week 2, McDonald disappeared from the Steelers offense in Week 3. If you're hamstrung at the position, there are worse options. Nick Vannett only enters the equation if McDonald is once again inactive, as he was targeted just twice on Monday night as the starter.

UPDATE: McDonald remains questionable with the shoulder injury despite his participation in practice on Friday. He's a dicey fantasy play to begin with, so have a contingency in place to account for a potential last-minute inactive.

 

Atlanta Falcons at Houston Texans

Matchups We Love:

Deshaun Watson (QB, HOU)

Atlanta's production allowed to opposing QBs (222.5 yards per game) looks better than it is. For one thing, Kirk Cousins attempted all of 10 passes for 98 yards against the Falcons in Week 1, drastically pulling down their numbers over a relatively short four-game sample size. In Week 2, they took advantage of an Eagles team that lost DeSean Jackson and Alshon Jeffery in the first half. Since then, they've allowed the likes of Marcus Mariota and Jacoby Brissett to burn them for 268.5 yards per game and five total passing touchdowns. Also, their 3.9% sack rate is the fourth-lowest in the league. Deshaun Watson's Week 4 dud came against a Panthers team allowing a league-low 156.8 passing yards per game to much better competition than what the Falcons have faced this season. He's not due for a repeat of that week-loser of a performance. If Brissett and Mariota can light Atlanta's pass defense up, so can the best QB in the AFC South.

DeAndre Hopkins (WR, HOU)

I know you're likely getting frustrated with DeAndre Hopkins, but there is hope on the horizon. Let's focus on the positives. He ranks inside the top 15 league-wide in targets with 36, and has a whopping 29% target share on his own team. The Falcons are one of three teams to have allowed seven or more touchdowns to opposing wide receivers. In their first full game without Keanu Neal last week, they allowed Corey Davis and A.J. Brown to combine for 185 yards and three touchdowns on eight receptions. Hopkins remains a WR1.

Julio Jones (WR, ATL)

The Texans were getting bullied by opposing wide receivers before last week's low-scoring slugfest with Carolina. Instead of airing it out in Houston, however, the Panthers elected to run the offense through Christian McCaffrey, who saw 37 total touches including 10 receptions. I'd be surprised to see the Falcons employ a similar attack given their abundance of long-range weapons. Even after holding Carolina's receivers in check in Week 4, the Texans are still permitting 15 catches and 193.25 yards per game to the position. Neither of these offenses threw for a touchdown in Week 4. I'm expecting multiple such scores from both this Sunday.

Matt Ryan (QB, ATL)

It's not often any quarterback throws 53 times without a single touchdown, let alone Matt Ryan. That was the story of Atlanta's Week 4 as they dropped a disappointing home game to Tennessee. Up next for Ryan is the Texans, who are giving up 283.25 passing yards per game to opposing QBs. Ryan ranks behind only Patrick Mahomes in passing yards per game at 331.3 and has eight touchdowns despite not finding the endzone last week. He's attempted the most passes of any QB, and ranks fifth in completion percentage. He'll return to his post as a solid fantasy starter in what figures to be a high-scoring Week 5 game.

Matchups We Hate:

None

Other Matchups:

Will Fuller / Kenny Stills (WR, HOU)

Kenny Stills left last Sunday's game against the Panthers with a hamstring injury, so his situation will need to be monitored before he's considered for fantasy purposes. The soft matchup offers optimism for both Stills and Will Fuller, but their involvement in Houston's passing game hasn't been heavy. Fuller hasn't caught more than five passes in any game this season and has yet to score a touchdown. Stills found the endzone in Week 1, but not again since, and has caught just 11 passes in four games. The two have combined for just one more target than Hopkins has all by himself. If I'm starting either one, I'm doing so because of the matchup that has been friendly to opposing WRs recently.

UPDATE: Stills is listed as a game-time decision for Week 5. If he's a part of your weekend plans, have a backup in place. Fuller stands to benefit if Stills is ruled out, and Keke Coutee would be in line for more snaps.

Duke Johnson Jr. / Carlos Hyde (RB, HOU)

Duke Johnson continues to ride pine in favor of Carlos Hyde. Hyde even out-touched Johnson in the passing game last week, hauling in four catches on five targets--both season-highs. Hyde has averaged at least 4.5 yards per carry in three of four games, so if the volume is there he's not a terrible low-end flex for Week 5. He has only one touchdown, however, and the Falcons are giving up just 3.97 yards per carry to opposing backs. Atlanta has also allowed just 18 receptions to RBs, along with a league-low 83 total receiving yards. I wouldn't count on either Hyde or Johnson to return much PPR value, and you're hoping Hyde doesn't cede any goal line carries to his quarterback.

Darren Fells / Jordan Akins (TE, HOU)

The Falcons have been middle-of-the-pack against tight ends, permitting 4.75 catches and 49.75 yards per game. They're also one of seven teams that has yet to allow a tight end to score a touchdown. There was a market for both Darren Fells and Jordan Akins after they accounted for all three of Watson's touchdown passes in Week 3, but both faded into anonymity in last week's tough matchup against Carolina. They've both been featured in the red zone enough to garner touchdown-dependent fantasy potential, but their general lack of usage elsewhere leaves them at that.

Devonta Freeman / Ito Smith (RB, ATL)

With Houston surrendering 4.49 yards per carry to opposing backs, Devonta Freeman doesn't come into this matchup without his fair share of upside. He's got a stranglehold on the backfield work for the Falcons, having out-touched Ito Smith 64-18. Unfortunately for Freeman's fantasy owners, he's averaged under 2.4 yards per carry in three of four games, and it wasn't until Week 4 that he turned in a solid day in the passing game. If his eight receptions on nine targets in last Sunday's loss is any indication of a shift in how the Falcons plan to utilize him going forward, his value will most certainly be on the rise. Complicating matters for Freeman is that Smith has been Atlanta's goal line back, having handled three of four rushing attempts inside the 10 and both of their two attempts inside the five. Considering Smith's lack of opportunity elsewhere on the field, he can't be relied upon in fantasy. Freeman is a low-end RB2.

Austin Hooper (TE, ATL)

I'd be inclined to list most tight ends among the hates in this matchup. The Texans have surrendered 13 receptions to tight ends for a total of 95 yards, and have yet to give up a touchdown. Austin Hooper gets a vote of confidence here based on his involvement in the offense. He's got a 19.3% target share--second only to Jones--on the team attempting the most passes in the NFL. His 84.8% catch rate is the second-best among tight ends with at least 30 targets. He and Jones are Ryan's go-to options in the red zone, as they lead the Falcons with four targets each in such field position. Temper expectations in an unfavorable matchup, but if Hooper is your best guy, go with him.

Calvin Ridley / Mohamed Sanu (WR, ATL)

Over the last two weeks, Mohamed Sanu has out-targeted Calvin Ridley 18-7, and he's hauled in 15 passes for 166 yards. This seems like reason enough to favor Sanu over Ridley in fantasy lineups. Ridley came through on the touchdown front in both of Atlanta's first two games, but he has seen just one red zone target this season. I'm comfortable benching Ridley if I have a more reliable option. Sanu is a decent PPR flex based on recent evidence.

 

Oakland Raiders vs. Chicago Bears (London)

Matchups We Love:

Darren Waller (TE, OAK)

Darren Waller ranks second in the league in receptions among all players. He's had to share enough of Oakland's red zone work that his touchdown potential has been capped, but those will come too. I don't envision Derek Carr having a ton of time to rocket the ball downfield with Chicago's pass rush in his face all day, and the Raiders haven't been among the league's more vertical passing attacks to begin with. Look for Waller's target share to yield results in the intermediate passing game, even against a Bears team that hasn't allowed a great deal of production to the position.

Matchups We Hate:

Josh Jacobs (RB, OAK)

I like Josh Jacobs, but the Bears are allowing just barely over three yards per carry to opposing backs. Dalvin Cook scored the only rushing touchdown they've permitted all season. Jacobs is dealing with an elbow injury, though it's worth noting he wasn't held out of practice Wednesday. Given the matchup, the health concern, the lack of involvement in the passing game, and the Transatlantic venue in which this game will be played, I'd downgrade Jacobs to a flex play.

Tarik Cohen (RB, CHI)

After catching eight of 10 targets for 49 yards in Week 1, Tarik Cohen has hauled in six of 14 for 40 yards since. He's a volume-dependent PPR option to begin with, and that usage rate isn't cutting it. There's reason to believe he could return to a featured role with Chase Daniel at the helm for Chicago, but I'm in the "I'll believe it when I see it" camp. If you are in a tough spot with your flex position, the Raiders are allowing 5.75 catches and 39.75 yards to running backs.

Other Matchups:

David Montgomery (RB, CHI)

David Montgomery's fantasy investors have had the first part of their wish granted, as Montgomery has very much taken over the lion's share of Chicago's rushing workload. Now if he could just do something with it. He has a death-grip on the Bears' red zone opportunities with a 66.7% carry share, and he's attempted all four of their rushes inside the five. Yet he sits at 3.4 yards per carry and one touchdown on the season. The Raiders haven't been the worst defense against the run, surrendering 4.27 yards per carry and under 100 yards per game to opposing backs. The volume is prevalent enough to believe Montgomery will continue to see opportunities, but his lack of production renders him little more than a flex play in Week 5.

Chase Daniel (QB, CHI)

There are a handful of QB situations in which I don't think the drop-off from starter to backup is that significant, and the Bears are one of them. Chase Daniel did a fine job holding things together for Chicago against a solid Minnesota defense, completing 73.3% of his passes for 195 yards and a touchdown. His matchup across the pond is an Oakland team with the second-lowest sack rate in the league. The Raiders have allowed 287.5 yards per game to opposing QBs and nine touchdowns, and they're tied for the second-fewest turnovers forced among all teams. I'm not anticipating an air-it-out approach from Daniel in London, but he could be looking at a high-floor outing for those in two-QB leagues.

Allen Robinson / Taylor Gabriel (WR, CHI)

If Allen Robinson could just get into the endzone, his fantasy value would soar. He ranks inside the top 20 league-wide in targets and receptions, and is averaging 70 yards per game. The Raiders might be the defense against which he finally breaks out. Oakland is giving up 178.5 yards per game and 14.57 yards per catch to opposing wideouts, and have permitted six touchdowns. Robinson has yet to see fewer than seven targets in a game, and has a 25.2% overall target share that will play well even in Chicago's relatively low-octane offense. Taylor Gabriel remains on Chicago's injury report with a concussion that sidelined him in Week 4, and has yet to provide fantasy owners with an opportunity to invest in his three-touchdown performance two games ago.

UPDATE: Gabriel has been ruled out for Sunday.

Trey Burton (TE, CHI)

Trey Burton has yet to see more than four targets or total above 20 yards in a game this season. Oakland is stingy in terms of allowing receptions to tight ends, but opposing TEs have made it count when they get the ball in their hands. The Raiders have surrendered 15.38 yards per catch and three total touchdowns to the position. If Burton had a more prominent role in the offense, I'd suggest streaming him.

Derek Carr (QB, OAK)

The Bears rank fourth in the league in sack percentage at 9.7%, and are the first of Oakland's opponents inside the top 10. I'm expecting Derek Carr to have considerably less time to make decisions in the pocket than he has, as his offensive line has done only a half-decent job protecting him to this point against less fearsome pass rushes. What Carr has working for him is accuracy, as his 72.1% completion rate is the third-best in the NFL. I'm a Carr apologist, but there are more favorable matchups out there even for two-QB leagues.

Tyrell Williams (WR, OAK)

There are ups and downs to being a Tyrell Williams owner in 2019. The pros are that he is the clear-cut number-one wideout in Oakland, and that he's scored a touchdown in each of his first four games. The con is that those touchdowns aren't necessarily reason enough to automatically start him in fantasy. He's got 11 catches for 111 yards in his last three games, which would amount to a miserable per-game fantasy output without the TDs. You like that he's been targeted seven times in three of his four games, but if ever there was a defense that could put a swift end to his touchdown streak, it's the Bears. Further detracting from Williams' fantasy outlook for Week 5 is a foot injury that has kept him out of practice this week.

UPDATE: Williams remains questionable, casting further doubt on his ceiling for Week 5 in a tough matchup. For those owners with the Raiders WR lined up as a flex, have a backup ready to roll.

 

New England Patriots at Washington Redskins

Matchups We Love:

Tom Brady (QB, NE)

After having to deal with the upstart Bills last weekend, the Redskins pass defense will be a welcome change of pace for Tom Brady. Washington did do well to neutralize Daniel Jones for most of Week 4, but that was Daniel Jones. They've allowed 10 passing touchdowns on the season, and own the third-lowest sack rate in the league. Brady will carve this unit up in the first half before the Patriots presumably resort to a more run-heavy approach in the second. He's a high-floor fantasy QB.

Julian Edelman / Phillip Dorsett / Josh Gordon (WR, NE)

All three of the Patriots' top three wideouts predictably struggled against a Bills Defense rapidly establishing itself as one of the league's best. Much like their quarterback, they won't run into a similar fate this week. Edelman should see enough work to return WR2 value in PPR leagues, while Gordon and Dorsett both come in as flex plays against a Washington defense that has allowed a league-high eight touchdowns to opposing receivers.

Sony Michel / James White / Rex Burkhead (RB, NE)

It's telling that Rex Burkhead touched the football one time in the first game where the Patriots actually met with any resistance. While I expect them to return to business as usual by blowing the Redskins out in their own house, I'm not sure I'd trust Burkhead in my fantasy lineup after that puzzling (yet in some ways, totally predictable) usage rate. He's also working his way through a foot injury, so perhaps that played a role. As for Sony Michel, he continues to be ineffective on the ground, averaging under three yards per carry despite maintaining an overwhelming share of New England's rushing workload. The Redskins are allowing a respectable 4.16 yards per carry to opposing backs, so given what we've seen from Michel, I'm banking on his volume to return flex value if anything. James White should be fine in his customary pass-catching role, as even Buffalo couldn't keep him from eclipsing double-digit PPR points.

UPDATE: Burkhead practiced sparingly this week due to the foot injury he's been dealing with, and remains questionable heading into Sunday. Favorable matchup or not, the health concern and last week's lack of touches render Burkhead a risky fantasy play.

Matchups We Hate:

Washington Redskins (All Positions)

Terry McLaurin continues to deal with a hamstring injury that rendered him inactive for Week 4, and the rest of his teammates just scored three points against a Giants team that hadn't given up fewer than 28 to its previous three opponents. I don't care if Case Keenum, Dwayne Haskins, Colt McCoy, or 1983 Joe Theismann suits up at quarterback for the Redskins on Sunday. I'm avoiding every facet of this offense against the Patriots.

UPDATE: McLaurin has been given a "50-50" chance to play by his head coach. He'll be a game-time decision. McCoy will start at quarterback, and tight end Vernon Davis joins Jordan Reed among Washington's inactives.

Other Matchups:

None

 

Jacksonville Jaguars at Carolina Panthers

Matchups We Love:

Leonard Fournette (RB, JAX)

Where Carolina is most beatable is on the ground, where they're giving up 4.8 yards per carry to opposing backs. It's hard to envision Jacksonville getting anything going through the air this week, so look for the Jags to lean very heavily on Leonard Fournette. Fournette has seen at least 17 touches in every game this season, maxing out at 31 in Week 4. His role in the passing game is just as valuable as his white-knuckle grip on Jacksonville's rushing attack, as he has the second-highest target share on the team. He's averaging 5.6 yards per rushing attempt and has caught 16 passes. Fournette is a strong RB1.

Christian McCaffrey (RB, CAR)

Christian McCaffrey has 111 touches on the season. The next-highest total is 92. He has 629 all-purpose yards. The second-best is 524. The Jaguars have been middle-of-the-pack at defending the run, allowing 4.2 yards per carry to opposing backs, and haven't been beaten much by the position in the receiving game. Against McCaffrey, none of this matters. He's averaging over 27 touches a game.

Matchups We Hate:

Gardner Minshew (QB, JAX)

Gardner Minshew might honestly be my favorite player in the NFL right now, but I can't justify rolling the dice on him against a Panthers team holding opponents under 160 passing yards per game. Carolina just kept Deshaun Watson from throwing a touchdown in Week 4, and their sack rate of 11.4% leads the league. Minshew is also dealing with a knee injury he evidently sustained late last Sunday, so keep an eye on that. I'm holding onto him if I own him, but there are better starting options this week.

UPDATE: Minshew goes into the weekend without an injury designation. His matchup is among the tougher ones on the slate for quarterbacks.

Other Matchups:

Dede Westbrook / D.J. Chark / Chris Conley (WR, JAX)

The Panthers have given up the second-most receptions in the league to opposing wide receivers, so there's PPR appeal here specifically for D.J. Chark. The problem lies in what Carolina allows (or doesn't allow) once the ball is in the receiver's hands: 9.06 yards per catch, two total touchdowns. You can roll with Chark in your flex spot as the team leader in every meaningful receiving category, but Chris Conley doesn't have a trustworthy target share, and Dede Westbrook's hasn't yielded reliable fantasy output.

Geoff Swaim / James O'Shaughnessy (TE, JAX)

Minshew has attempted 11 passes in the red zone (21st in NFL), which is the only area of the field I'd be willing to bank on one of Jacksonville's tight ends producing fantasy-friendly numbers against Carolina. The Panthers have allowed an average of three receptions and 19.75 yards to opposing tight ends. James O'Shaughnessy is the guy to roll the dice on if you must, as he has the Jaguars' highest target share of any player in scoring position. Elsewhere on the field this is a relatively even split, and not one I'm comfortable with in fantasy lineups.

Kyle Allen (QB, CAR)

Kyle Allen's lack of touchdowns against a beatable Houston pass defense last week was compounded by three fumbles. I'm not sure he's in line for an emphatic bounce-back in Week 5. The Jaguars have held two of their opponents without a passing touchdown, and outside of Week 1's game against the high-flying Chiefs, they're permitting just 229.7 passing yards per game. Jacksonville also ranks sixth in the league in sack rate at 8.4%. I'm not enthused about Allen as a fantasy asset in Week 5.

D.J. Moore / Curtis Samuel / Jarius Wright (WR, CAR)

As Allen went in Week 4, so went D.J. Moore and Curtis Samuel. The two combined for six catches on 12 targets for 76 yards. It was actually Jarius Wright who led the Panthers in receiving, though his overall 10.4% target share through four games suggests that won't happen very often. I'll allow for one bad game out of Moore and Samuel, as they're locked in a three-way tie for the team lead in targets at 31. Jacksonville has given up 52 receptions to WRs, which hovers near the middle of the league, but its 781 yards surrendered to the position is sixth-highest, and amounts to just south of 200 per game. I'd give a slight edge to Moore, but I'd be comfortable with both him and Samuel as flex options in PPR.

Greg Olsen (TE, CAR)

Greg Olsen suffered more than anyone in Carolina's passing game last week, totaling five yards on two receptions. Look for a regression back to his normal output against a Jags defense that has given up the ninth-highest receiving total to tight ends. Olsen isn't far behind Samuel, Moore, and McCaffrey in target share, so when the Panthers aren't force-feeding their running back, he's a fine bet to see PPR-friendly volume.

 

Buffalo Bills at Tennessee Titans

Matchups We Love:

None

Matchups We Hate:

Marcus Mariota (QB, TEN)

It's frustrating when a guy tosses three touchdown passes and the smart play the following week is to leave him on the waiver wire or bench. Buffalo just gave the Patriots all they could handle, holding Tom Brady under a 50% completion rate for 150 yards, a pick, and no passing touchdowns. The Bills are one of four teams giving up fewer than 200 passing yards per game. They're tied for the second-fewest passing touchdowns allowed with three. No team has been worse at protecting its quarterback than Tennessee's 12.4% sack rate against. Marcus Mariota is not a fantasy option.

A.J. Brown / Corey Davis (WR, TEN)

In some cases I'll allow for high-floor PPR outings from wide receivers even if I don't like their quarterback's matchup. This is not one of those cases, and again, it's frustrating to have this outlook after both A.J. Brown and Corey Davis went off last week. The Bills have allowed 59 receptions to WRs, which is admittedly among the league's highest. It's also a number inflated by Jamison Crowder's 14-catch Week 1 outing; Buffalo hasn't allowed a receiver to catch more than six passes since. The production of Brown and Davis through four games has simply been far too sporadic, and perhaps more importantly, it has not been of the high-floor variety. Brown hasn't caught more than three passes in a game, and his yardage totals have either been above 90 or below 30. Davis nearly tied his season total in catches going into Week 4 (six) with five receptions last Sunday. I have a renewed faith in this offense's ability to exploit the right matchup after what I saw last week, but this is not the right matchup.

Other Matchups:

Derrick Henry (RB, TEN)

The interesting part about this game is that as good as the Bills defense is, they might be on the field a lot. Buffalo ranks in the bottom tier of the league in plays per offensive possession, and whether you believe in Josh Allen or not, Matt Barkley isn't a significant upgrade. The Bills aren't a good third-down offense, and Tennesee has held opponents to a 30.6% conversion rate--sixth-lowest in the league. The Titans are one of the run-heaviest teams in the NFL, and they've committed one turnover all year. If Buffalo can't sustain drives on offense, I like the Titans to try to wear down this Bills defense over the course of the game and give themselves a chance to win late. Derrick Henry--who is tied for the second-most rushing attempts in the NFL--is looking at another RB2 workload.

Delanie Walker (TE, TEN)

You like Delanie Walker's target share in his own offense, but the matchup worries me. The Bills have allowed 11 total receptions for 84 total yards to tight ends. What you'd love to see here is a couple of red zone opportunities, as the Bills have surrendered a touchdown on five of seven opposing chances. Mariota has attempted just 10 passes inside the 20, and just two inside the 10. The closer the Titans get to the goal line, the more likely they are to feed Henry.

Josh Allen / Matt Barkley (QB, BUF)

We'll have to see what happens with Josh Allen in practice this week, but I'd be at least a little bit shocked if he's out there on Sunday. Even if he is, I wonder how willing he'll be to run the ball after taking a brutal helmet-to-helmet hit last week. His upside as a fantasy starter does depend heavily on his legs, after all. The Titans have been easier to run against than to pass, so if for some reason Matt Barkley is on your radar this week as Buffalo's potential starter, it's a false reading.

UPDATE: Allen has surprisingly been given the green light to play after clearing concussion protocol. He's still a risky fantasy option in a game that doesn't figure to feature a great deal of scoring.

Devin Singletary / Frank Gore (RB, BUF)

Frank Gore's yards-per-carry average has increased with each passing week, topping out at an impressive 6.41 in Week 4 against the Patriots of all teams. Tennessee is permitting 4.52 yards per attempt to opposing backs, and has allowed seven enemy touchdowns on 10 red zone attempts. Gore's only competition for red zone carries has been his quarterback, so if Allen is sidelined, they're all his. You'd obviously have to downgrade him a tick if Devin Singletary returns, but the scoring position workload should still belong to Gore even in that event. As for Singletary, he'd be a flex play at best if he finally returns from the hamstring injury that's kept him out of the Bills' last two games.

UPDATE: Singletary heads into Sunday as a likely game-time decision. Gore remains a decent flex play if Singletary sits, while he may become touchdown-dependent if the rookie plays.

John Brown / Cole Beasley (WR, BUF)

John Brown and Cole Beasley returned decent PPR flex value against a stout Patriots Defense, and their outputs could've been even better based on their 54.5% combined target share. In an offense with more scoring potential, I'd have an easier time considering both on a weekly basis. But the Bills have thrown for just three touchdowns, and they prefer to run the ball when they get close to the goal line. Brown and Beasley have just a pair of red zone targets between the two of them. As such, they're both volume-dependent PPR plays at best with a backup quarterback likely to suit up in Week 5.

Dawson Knox (TE, BUF)

Dawson Knox is sneaking his way into sleeper territory among tight ends, but the target share in a less-than-stellar pass offense isn't quite there yet. You like that he's made the most of his chances in recent weeks, hauling in six catches for 125 yards and a touchdown over his last two games. The problem lies in that he's seen just seven targets in the same span. His reliability when the ball is thrown his way lends itself to the possibility of an increased role, but we'll want to see it happen before locking him in as a fantasy starter. If you're totally lacking in better options, it's worth noting the Titans are one of six teams to have given up at least three touchdowns to tight ends.

 

Arizona Cardinals at Cincinnati Bengals

Matchups We Love:

Tyler Eifert (TE, CIN)

The Cardinals have allowed the most receptions (32), yards (431), and touchdowns (six) to opposing tight ends. You'd like for Tyler Eifert to have a more consistent role in Cincinnati's offense, but with John Ross staring down a lengthy stay on the shelf, that could happen this week. Eifert leads the Bengals with a 28.6% red zone target share, and a 50% share inside the 10. Neither Arizona nor Cincinnati have played well defensively, so expect this to be a high-scoring affair with tons of opportunities for aerial touchdowns.

Kyler Murray (QB, ARI)

The fact that the Bengals are allowing a middling 243.3 passing yards per game is slightly misleading. Two of their opponents (Seahawks, 49ers) rank in the bottom 10 in passes attempted per game. Their other two opponents (Bills, Mason Rudolph-led Steelers) are not high-octane aerial offenses. Cincinnati has yet to face a team that lives and dies by the pass, but that ends in Week 5. Arizona has attempted the third-most passes in the league while attempting the seventh-fewest rushes. Kyler Murray hasn't been a model of efficiency or consistency, with a 2.4% touchdown rate that is impressively low considering the number of opportunities he's had. I like that opportunity to finally translate into a big fantasy day against the Bengals. I'm not as worried as I'd normally be about the fact that Murray has been sacked on 10.6% of his drop-backs, as Cincinnati is one of the league's least intimidating pass rushes.

Larry Fitzgerald (WR, ARI)

With Christian Kirk unlikely to play on Sunday, look for target vacuum Larry Fitzgerald to see even more work than normal. Again, I'm not all that concerned about the fact that the Bengals are giving up under 10 catches per game to opposing receivers. They aren't actually a good pass defense, and against a team that throws as often as Arizona, that will be on full display.

David Johnson (RB, ARI)

David Johnson's relative ineffectiveness on the ground is likely to come to an end against the Bengals. They're allowing 4.78 yards per carry to opposing backs and 120.75 yards per game. Cincinnati is also one of seven teams to have allowed five or more rushing touchdowns to RBs. They've given up the second-most receptions to the position (31), the most receiving yards (291), and three receiving touchdowns. Johnson has maintained steady involvement in both the ground and passing game for the Cardinals, and I like him to have his 2019 breakout in Week 5.

Matchups We Hate:

None

Other Matchups:

Tyler Boyd / Auden Tate (WR, CIN)

For as bad as Arizona has been defensively, they've played relatively well against opposing WRs. Their 10.5 receptions allowed per game to the position is the fifth-lowest average in the league. There's opportunity here for Auden Tate to step up in the absence of John Ross, but Tyler Boyd is the only receiver I'm confident in. His 24.2% target share is by far the highest of any Bengals pass-catcher who will be active this week.

Joe Mixon / Giovani Bernard (RB, CIN)

Joe Mixon's first month of the season has crippled fantasy lineups the world over. He's averaging 3.2 yards per carry on the ground and has only caught 11 passes. The Cardinals won't provide much relief in the pass-catching department, as their 16 receptions allowed to the position are among the NFL's lowest. Arizona is allowing 4.35 yards per rushing attempt to opposing backs, so there is modest hope for a resurgence on the ground from Mixon this week. In any case, his fantasy value is more dependent on his overwhelming share of the Bengals' rushing workload than it is on what he's done with it. Giovani Bernard has produced even worse numbers than Mixon in his limited rushing opportunities, and has caught nine of 14 targets. He can't be trusted in any capacity.

Andy Dalton (QB, CIN)

The Cardinals are allowing 289.5 yards per game to opposing QBs, and are tied for the second-most passing touchdowns surrendered at 10. I'd like Andy Dalton better if he had his full complement of receivers available, but Boyd has been his only consistent option among those who will play on Sunday. His offensive line has also routinely hung him out to dry, as Dalton has been sacked on 10.3% of his drop-backs. Because of the shootout potential inherent in a game featuring two poor defenses, I'll allow for the possibility of a huge week from Dalton. He's a fine second quarterback in two-QB leagues, though I'm looking for a safer option in one-QB formats.

Keesean Johnson (WR, ARI)

With Christian Kirk and Damiere Byrd unlikely to play Sunday, the Cardinals can't quite throw all the passes in Larry Fitzgerald's direction. This situation is admittedly murky, as KeeSean Johnson didn't see much work last week even without Byrd in the fold. Based on Johnson's third-highest target share among players who will suit up for Week 5, he would figure to be the guy to benefit from a depleted WR corps. I don't consider him a safe option, but if you're of the mind that the Cardinals will once again chuck it 40-plus times in a high-scoring game, those non-Fitzgerald targets have to go somewhere.

UPDATE: Kirk has been ruled out and Byrd has not practiced this week. Johnson heads into the weekend as an upside play if and when Byrd is officially declared inactive.

 

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New Orleans Saints

Matchups We Love:

Chris Godwin / Mike Evans (WR, TB)

Only three teams have allowed more yards to receivers than the Saints, and they're allowing 16.08 yards per reception. Chris Godwin and Mike Evans have emerged as one of the most lethal dual receiving threats in the NFL, as both are averaging over 90 yards per game with four touchdowns each. I think the Saints will do a better job against Jameis Winston than either of Tampa Bay's previous two opponents, but the target shares and performances of Evans and Godwin present us with the rare instance in which two wideouts on the same team can produce WR1 numbers.

Michael Thomas (WR, NO)

The Buccaneers have given up the most receptions to wide receivers (65) and the second-most yards (857). While this is largely due to the fact that the Rams completed 28 of 39 attempts to their big three WRs last Sunday (in a game where they threw 68 total passes), the skewed sample isn't enough to make me question Michael Thomas this week. He is tied with Keenan Allen for the league lead in catches, and has not experienced any drop-off in volume with Teddy Bridgewater at the helm. Start him with the same confidence you would on any other day.

Matchups We Hate:

Peyton Barber / Ronald Jones II (RB, TB)

There remains an even split in carries between Ronald Jones and Peyton Barber, with Jones having been the more effective rusher at 4.7 yards per carry compared to Barber's 3.4. Neither is utilized heavily in the passing game. Jones has paced the Bucs in carries in three of four games, but it's worth noting Barber saw the lion's share in Tampa Bay's lone low-scoring affair back in Week 2. The Saints are giving up a middling 4.26 yards per carry to opposing backs, and well under 100 yards per game. They've surrendered just two rushing touchdowns to the position. If I have to lean on anyone in this dicey backfield split, it'd be Jones based on his effectiveness.

O.J. Howard / Cameron Brate (TE, TB)

If for some reason O.J. Howard is still in your starting lineup after averaging three targets per game for a full month, get him out of there. It'll sting if and when he goes off on your bench, but you just can't keep putting up with his lack of involvement. Cameron Brate has seen nine total targets in four games, with the only upside being that three of those have come in the red zone and he's caught all nine of them.

Teddy Bridgewater (QB, NO)

Tampa Bay's numbers against the pass are misleading, as 517 of the 1,352 passing yards they've allowed to opposing QBs came from Jared Goff last Sunday when he threw the ball a ludicrous 68 times. Coming into that game, the Bucs were surrendering 278.3 yards per game (which still isn't great), and had given up just three passing touchdowns. The common thread in the two games in which this pass defense has bent or broken is that the Bucs' opponents were playing from behind by multiple touchdowns. I'm expecting a far more structured formula from the Saints, built around a heavy dose of Alvin Kamara and a better defensive effort than the Rams or Giants put up against the Bucs the last two weeks. In other words, Teddy Bridgewater is not a fantasy option for Week 5.

Other Matchups:

Jameis Winston (QB, TB)

After what Jameis Winston did on the road against a supposedly tough Rams Defense, I'm inclined to list him among the loves. I'm also inclined to believe what I saw the Saints do to the Cowboys on Sunday night. New Orleans held Ezekiel Elliott to 35 yards on 18 carries, which in turn kept Dak Prescott from taking off in the passing game. It's fair to say Elliott is a better running back than Peyton Barber or Ronald Jones, so the Bucs are fighting an uphill battle if they want to implement the run--which shouldn't be overlooked for a team that has surprisingly attempted the third-most rushes in the league. You have to start Winston after what he's done the last two weeks, just bear in mind that the Saints have been pretty effective against the pass with the exception of Week 3's game in which a three-score deficit forced Russell Wilson to air it out in the second half.


Alvin Kamara (RB, NO)

The Buccaneers are the league's best run defense in terms of yards per game (59.3) and yards per carry (2.9). They also haven't given up much to the position in the passing game: four catches, 32.5 yards per game. Alvin Kamara falls in as an RB1 based on his volume, but he's facing one of his most difficult tests of the early season in Week 5.

Jared Cook (TE, NO)

The Buccaneers have given up the second-most yards and receptions to opposing tight ends, so if Jared Cook had a more prominent role in the Saints offense, he'd be among the loves. He did see six targets last week, but he hasn't hauled in more than three receptions or gone above 37 yards in a game yet. He also has zero touchdowns, and has only been targeted once in the red zone. I can get on board with starting him given the favorable matchup, but I'm doing so with bated breath.

 

Matchups Analysis - 4:05 PM ET Games

Denver Broncos at Los Angeles Chargers

Matchups We Love:

Austin Ekeler (RB, LAC)

Cue the Austin Ekeler air-guitar solo. The show goes on!!! While most people are selling Ekeler for pennies on the dollar after Melvin Gordon ended his holdout, I am buying him at his discounted price. We are most likely a few weeks away from Gordon getting his legs fully under him, and even when he does reach that point, the Chargers are in desperate need of playmakers. Going forward, Ekeler is more in the RB2 range for me, but a matchup against the Broncos has me treating the current second-ranked running back in PPR leagues as an RB1 for another week.

Keenan Allen (WR, LAC)

Volume is king in fantasy football, and perhaps no wideout will be instore for more work than Keenan Allen in Week 5. Before we look at the positives, let's at least touch on the negatives. In eight career games against Denver, Allen is averaging just five receptions and an insignificant 49 receiving yards per contest. That is less than ideal, but the Chargers are desperate for playmakers, and Allen's target share should remain astronomically high. Through four games this season, the 27-year-old has garnered 48 total targets - the most in the NFL.

Courtland Sutton (WR, DEN)

With CB Casey Heyward presumably locked up on Emmanuel Sanders, Courtland Sanders has an opening against a suspect Los Angeles Chargers secondary that has allowed 52% of passes to grade out successfully - fourth-worst in the NFL. Sutton is currently averaging just under eight targets per game and has upside to well exceed his projections in Week 5.

Matchups We Hate:

Melvin Gordon (RB, LAC)

Hopefully you read the article last weekend and avoided inserting Melvin Gordon into your starting lineup. We know that getting back your shiny new toys can be exciting, but patience is a virtue if we want to be able to play with them when it matters most in the fantasy playoffs. Gordon is going to have a role this week and might be forced into lineups based on bye weeks and injuries ravishing your squad, but I can't safely say we see him acquire more than 10-12 carries on the day, and that might even be on the high-end of expectations. The matchup is promising against a weak Denver run unit, but I'd prefer to wait one more week to unleash my stud RB if I can avoid playing him.

Dontrelle Inman (WR, LAC)

Dontrelle Inman was placed on injured reserve Wednesday. That leaves the Chargers with only Keenan Allen, Geremy Davis and Andre Patton as the only healthy wideouts left available on the squad. Other than Allen and Mike Williams, who is currently dealing with a back injury, there isn't a reason to add any other WR from this team to your fantasy unit.

Other Matchups:

Joe Flacco (QB, DEN)

I think we were slightly ahead of the curve last weekend in stating that Joe Flacco was a reasonable play in two-QB leagues against the Jacksonville Jaguars, and while a road test against the Los Angeles Chargers isn't exactly ideal, I believe the Denver QB is once again an option for those that need to play multiple quarterbacks per week. The Chargers have been extremely subpar on the season against the pass, ranking 30th in efficiency, 29th in success rate and 21st in explosive plays allowed. Head Coach Vic Fangio's job appears to be on the line if the Broncos are unable to stay competitive on Sunday and look for the team to bring out the full bag of tricks to get the job done. Flacco is a QB2 option that does have a safer floor than many realize.

Philip Rivers (QB, LAC)

I want to be careful in pigeonholing Denver's defense into a certain classification. Yes, they enter the week ranked just 30th in defensive adjusted sack rate, but those numbers are a little skewed from the first three weeks of the season. Before their five-sack performance against the Jaguars, the Broncos had failed to record a quarterback takedown during the year, which is currently swaying their defensive ratings negatively. I'm more so interested in the positives when it comes to this unit. Denver has yet to allow a QB to throw for over 260 yards, and they have only given up four passing TDs on the year. There is an opening for Rivers to find success, but this isn't some must-start situation against an 0-4 Broncos squad. I'd proceed cautiously.

Phillip Lindsay / Royce Freeman (RB, DEN)

The Denver Broncos weren't kidding during the offseason when they said Phillip Lindsay and Royce Freeman would be in a virtual dead-heat with their workload in 2019. Lindsay has averaged 2.75 more touches per game than Freeman, but whoever shows the hot-hand early is capable of leading the backfield on any given Sunday. Both players have a high enough floor to warrant low-end RB2 value on a weekly basis, but their upsides are somewhat limited because of the fact that both men take food off of each other's plates.

Mike Williams (WR, LAC)

If you made me guess, I would anticipate we see Mike Williams in action this week after missing Week 4 with a back injury. Unfortunately, the Broncos are allowing just 125 receiving yards per game to receivers, second-fewest in the league. There is flex potential available, but he is a risky play given all the uncertainty.

UPDATE: Williams has yet to be officially declared active, but he has declared on his own that he will play. Make sure he is actually given the green light by his team before locking him into your lineup.

Emmanuel Sanders (WR, DEN)

I'd anticipate CB Casey Heyward to shadow Emmanuel Sanders on Sunday, which does take away some upside for the 32-year-old. Sanders leads all receivers in red-zone targets on the season and is tied for the team lead in targets. The Chargers have not been as good as advertised on defense against the pass, making Sanders a startable option on the road.

 

Green Bay Packers at Dallas Cowboys

Matchups We Love:

Ezekiel Elliott (RB, DAL)

A matchup against the Green Bay Packers' weak front four against the run appears to be just what the doctor ordered to get Ezekiel Elliott back on track. Entering the week, the Packers rank dead last in the NFL in success rate against the run, conceding a whopping 59% of plays to grade out successfully. Last Sunday's game against the New Orleans Saints got out of hand in every facet of the imagination for Elliott and the Cowboys, but fantasy owners might have the best bet on the board for production against a vulnerable Packers run squad.

Jimmy Graham (TE, GB)

The TE position is a wasteland if you don't have one of the options that is worth starting every week. Assuming you are in that position, let me try to sell you on Jimmy Graham. Yes, the same Jimmy Graham that had just one target and zero receptions in Weeks 2 and 3. If Davante Adams plays, everything changes. But Aaron Rodgers has a better connection with Graham than any other person on the team. It doesn't hurt that the Cowboys have yielded 26 catches to the position on the year, even if those numbers are being slightly enhanced by the 12 receptions they gave up to the Giants in Week 1. Someone has to take center stage on Sunday for the team, and Graham provides TE1 potential.

Matchups We Hate:

Michael Gallup (WR, DAL)

We are progressing closer to Michael Gallups's return to the lineup from his knee injury, but I don't believe we quite see him get there this weekend. With the Cowboys playing one of the late games on Sunday, it is straight Russian Roulette if you keep him in your starting lineups without an alternate option on hand.

UPDATE: Gallup carries the questionable tag into the weekend. There might be more than one round in the chamber if you're still banking on him in your lineup.

Jason Witten (TE, DAL)

Touchdowns aside, we have seen Jason Witten provide four nearly identical stat lines. He has seen four targets in each game, caught either three of four passes and scored between seven to 12.5 PPR fantasy points. Unfortunately for Witten, it seems likely that LB Blake Martinez will be shadowing the 37-year-old around during Sunday afternoon, which makes an already difficult matchup even more challenging.

Other Matchups:

Aaron Rodgers (QB, GB)

We finally saw a little life from Aaron Rodgers during Week 4s loss to the Philadelphia Eagles. After failing to eclipse 235 yards through the air in the first three weeks, Rodgers exploded with 422 yards and two scores, but it was his two costly errors late that held the team back from having a shot to win the game. The 35-year-old has found success against the Dallas Cowboys throughout his career, but Sunday's game could be an uphill battle if Davante Adams is unable to give it a go. As things currently stand, Adams appears to be a longshot for Week 5, which would downgrade Rodgers to back-end QB1 status against a feisty Cowboys unit.

Dak Prescott (QB, DAL)

Even though the Green Bay Packers allowed Carson Wentz to throw for three touchdowns last weekend, the team was able to hold him in check at 160 passing yards. That would make four straight weeks where the Packers have held opposing QBs to 230 yards or less passing, and Dak Prescott will have his hands full against a squad that has allowed only 39% of throwing plays to grade out successfully. Like Aaron Rodgers, this isn't a must-start matchup if you have other options, but Prescott's legs should be able to keep him within QB1 status on the day.

Aaron Jones (RB, GB)

The Green Bay Packers might be forced to lean on Aaron Jones Sunday if Davante Adams is unable to go, but that isn't necessarily the worst-case scenario for the team. Dallas' defensive unit has been effective in preventing fantasy production to the position, but they haven't been entirely efficient. Dallas is ranked 23rd in success rate against the run and 18th in explosive scampers allowed. Backup Jamaal Williams is highly unlikely to suit up on Sunday, making Jones even a little more intriguing than he would otherwise have been.

UPDATE: Williams is officially inactive. Jones is in line for workhorse volume.

Amari Cooper (WR, DAL)

I wouldn't be surprised to see the Green Bay Packers employ a very similar strategy as the New Orleans Saints did in Week 4 of locking Amari Cooper up. Cooper had his worst fantasy game of the season against the Saints, as New Orleans CB Marshon Lattimore shadowed him most of the night. The Packers have been the most challenging WR fantasy matchup in the league, allowing just 21.5 points per game, but Cooper is still a mid-to-high-end WR2 for Week 5 because of his big-play ability and target share.

Randall CobbDevin Smith (WR, DAL)

It is difficult to be too encouraged by either Randall Cobb or Devin Smith this weekend. The Packers rank 10th in the league in preventing explosive passing plays, and the game script could turn into a spot where the Cowboys lean heavily on Ezekiel Elliott. If you are desperate at flex, you could do worse, but both should be viewed as nothing more than flex gambles. I prefer Cobb because of his Green Bay revenge factor narrative.

Davante Adams (WR, GB)

If Davante Adams plays, you aren't benching him, but keep a close eye on his status as the contest draws closer. With most of the games this week being played early on Sunday, it might put some fantasy owners in a bind if his situation isn't further clarified by the start of the first games. I don't think we see him suit up, but his role in practice this week will help clarify the situation.

UPDATE: Adams will not play in Week 5.

 Geronimo Allison / Marquez Valdes-Scantling (WR, GB)

With Davante Adams potentially out with a toe injury, there could be a big opportunity for both Marques Valdes-Scantling and Geronimo Allison to see increased roles. Valdes-Scantling would most likely become the No. 1 option in the passing game for the Packers, and he has shown more than capable when given opportunities this season. Consider him a WR2 if the aforementioned Adams is unable to go. Allison, on the other hand, becomes a WR3/flex option in the absence of the 26-year-old wideout. The Cowboys rank fifth in fantasy points given up to WRs, but just 26th in success rate against the pass. There is more of an opening there than meets the eye.

 

Matchups Analysis - Sunday Night, 8:20 PM ET

Indianapolis Colts at Kansas City Chiefs

Matchups We Love:

Patrick Mahomes (QB, KC)

I think it is safe to say that Patrick Mahomes might be instore for some positive touchdown regression against the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday night. During Week 4, Mahomes failed to throw a TD for just the second time in his young career - even though he was able to lead the team to a 34-30 victory behind his 315 yards passing. This exact sentiment could be said nearly every week, but the 24-year-old is my top option on the board at the quarterback position.

Damien Williams / LeSean McCoy (RB, KC)

The Indianapolis Colts seem like the perfect matchup that can support two running backs on the day. Linebacker Darius Leonard is questionable and still in the concussion protocol, while safeties Malik Hooker and Clayton Geathers are both on the wrong side of the line for being able to suit up on Sunday. The Colts have allowed 19 receptions on 25 targets to RBs this season, placing them as the second-worst team in the league with a 120 passer rating to the position. There is more than enough volume to go around for both men to produce against an injury-riddled Colts squad.

Travis Kelce (TE, KC)

Seven receptions in three straight games might mean that Travis Kelce is about to pay out a jackpot. With Malik Hooker and Clayton Geathers both highly questionable, a team that has been poor against the TE is about to get even worse. The Colts have given up 28 receptions on 34 tight end targets - good for three touchdowns and a 116 QB passer rating. Kelce is one of my favorite players on the board at any position.

Eric Ebron / Jack Doyle (TE, IND)

Both Eric Ebron and Jack Doyle have struggled to begin the year, but a battle against a generous Kansas City defense might be the perfect prescription to fix their early-season woes. The Chiefs have conceded a league-high 32 receptions to the position, and it has been the one point of vulnerability that the team has shown against the pass on the year.

Matchups We Hate:

Darrel Williams (RB, KC)

Darrel Williams filled in admirably for Damien Williams during his two-game absence, but his run seems to be coming to an end with Damien looking healthy and ready to go for Week 5. I wouldn't advise dropping Darrel Williams quite yet until we get a better account of how the Chiefs plan on using their three-headed attack, but it seems likely that the 24-year-old will be the odd-man-out.

Other Matchups:

Jacoby Brissett (QB, IND)

If you are desperate for help at the quarterback position, Jacoby Brissett is one of the best streaming options you will find. He is the only QB in the league that has thrown for multiple scores in every game, and he is currently performing like a top-10 fantasy QB in 2019. While all of those points might make him one of the better finds on the waiver wire as a plug-and-play option, Brissett will just miss the love column for a few reasons. Indianapolis' game script will most likely lead to some extra passing down work, but if the Colts want to remain competitive, milking the clock behind their run game will be a much better route to take for team success. Brissett is a back-end QB1 for me, but I don't believe his upside is nearly as high as some other members of the industry have him pegged to produce.

Marlon Mack (RB, IND)

Marlon Mack's questionable notation ever so slightly bumps him down from a potential "love" to a step below that. The matchup is mouthwatering, as not only do the two teams feature the highest total on the board, but the Chiefs enter the contest with one of the worst run defenses in the league. Kansas City is currently ranked 30th in explosive rushing plays given up and 31st in success rate - allowing 58% of attempts to grade out favorably. The upside is there for Mack to explode during the primetime game, but fantasy owners will need to keep a close eye on his status. With the game being played late on Sunday, it wouldn't hurt to grab Jordan Wilkins for an insurance policy.

UPDATE: Mack practiced Friday, casting optimism on his outlook for Sunday. An official verdict on his status has yet to be rendered, however, so proceed with caution.

Nyheim Hines (RB, IND)

Nyheim Hines enjoyed a season-high nine touches Sunday after Marlon Mack exited the game early and did not return. The extent of Mack's injury is still unclear, but Hines provides a low-ceiling opening for owners in deeper leagues that are desperate for potential production.

Sammy Watkins (WR, KC)

It is difficult to be overly optimistic about any Kansas City receiver on a weekly basis. Patrick Mahomes likes to spread the ball around and any player is capable of going off in a given matchup. Watkins' targets have steadily declined after his Week 1 explosion, but there is still enough upside available to treat him as a WR2 that could lead your team to a fantasy victory if everything clicks.

Mecole Hardman / Demarcus Robinson (WR, KC)

You aren't going to hear me talk you out of starting Mecole Hardman or Demarcus Robinson as potential flex choices. As is the case with Sammy Watkins, there is volatility to be had with every pass-catcher on this week's team not named Travis Kelce. However, if you are in need of a swing for the fence bet, you could do a lot worse than Hardman and Robinson. Both are in the WR3 mix and could be game-changers to lineups that need a little extra boost.

T.Y. Hilton (WR, IND)

T.Y. Hilton missed Week 4s game and returned to a limited practice on Thursday. That upgrade should bode well to his availability come Sunday night, but I am not as excited for his potential as most. Yes, the Chiefs have allowed wideouts to post nearly 16 yards per reception on the year, but the same Kansas City defense is also ranked ninth in passing efficiency - coming against the third-most difficult schedule. Hilton deserves WR2 consideration and possesses upside for more, but this isn't the cupcake matchup that many are trying to sell. Hilton will have to work for his yards on Sunday night.

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