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Start ‘Em or Sit ‘Em

Week 5 Start 'Em or Sit 'Em

by Nick Mensio
Updated On: October 10, 2020, 12:43 pm ET

Start ‘Em or Sit ‘Em is geared toward season-long leagues but can also be used for daily fantasy purposes.

 

QUARTERBACK

 

Start of the Week: Ben Roethlisberger vs. Eagles -- Fantasy’s overall QB11 in points per game and coming off an unexpected bye thanks to the Titans’ COVID-19 outbreak, Big Ben is well rested and draws an Eagles unit that is 25th in opponent plays per game and 16th in pass-defense DVOA. Jim Schwartz’s group shut down Nick Mullens and C.J. Beathard for the most part last week but did surrender 312 yards and a pair of scores to Joe Burrow in Week 3 after getting shellacked for 267 yards and three scores at the hands of Jared Goff the previous week. All things considered, this might be the best quarterback/pass offense combo to face the Eagles through five weeks. Both the Steelers and Eagles are top eight in offensive plays. Pittsburgh is a solid seven-point home favorite and implied to score 25.5 points, 11th-most of Week 5. Big Ben doesn’t have the upside of years past, but he’s a very solid back-end QB1.

 

Starts

 

Teddy Bridgewater at Falcons -- Coming off the QB4 score last week against the Cardinals where he threw for 267 yards and a pair of touchdowns while running in a third, Bridgewater gets another cupcake draw under the Mercedes-Benz Stadium roof in Atlanta. The Falcons are getting their doors blown off by quarterbacks, surrendering the most fantasy points and touchdowns to the position and coming in at 31st in pass-defense DVOA and 26th in adjusted sack rate. Bridgewater is unlikely to light up the stat sheet for huge pass-game numbers, but he’s more than capable of taking advantage of a plus matchup for a top-eight week. Atlanta coughed up 327 yards and four touchdowns to Aaron Rodgers last Monday night, and he was playing without his Nos. 1 and 2 receivers. Nick Foles engineered a Week 3 Bears comeback with three second-half touchdowns in Atlanta. And Russell Wilson and Dak Prescott combined for 819 yards and eight touchdowns Weeks 1-2 against the Falcons. Atlanta is 26th in opponent plays per game, and this game’s 53.5-point total is the week’s fifth-highest. Carolina’s implied team total of 26.25 points is the 10th-highest of Week 5. Bridgewater is a solid streaming option.

Gardner Minshew at Texans -- Fantasy’s QB14 in points per game, Minshew has multiple touchdown passes in 3-of-4 games and is coming off a season-high 351 yards and 8.78 yards per attempt as the QB13 last week against the Bengals. He now gets a Texans Defense that is 19th in pass-defense DVOA and the only team yet to intercept a pass. Kirk Cousins tagged Houston for 11.8 YPA last week. Houston has yet to allow a 300-yard passer, but teams have simply been drilling the Texans on the scoreboard and haven’t had to throw the ball. In a potential shootout of bad teams, Minshew should threaten 40 passing attempts, a number he’s cleared three straight weeks after throwing the ball just 20 times in Week 1. The Texans are 24th in opponent plays per game. This game’s 54-point total is the third-highest on the board.

Kirk Cousins at Seahawks -- Cousins drilled the Texans for 11.8 yards per attempt last week and is No. 3 in yards per attempt among all quarterbacks. The fantasy numbers haven’t been there as the overall QB27 in points per game in a low-volume pass offense, but Cousins gets arguably the best matchup he’s going to see all season this Sunday. Seattle is 31st in fantasy points allowed to quarterback, 29th in pass-defense DVOA, and 28th in adjusted sack rate. Ryan Fitzpatrick put 315 yards on the Seahawks last week after Dak Prescott hung 472 yards and three touchdowns on them in Week 3. Cam Newton had his best passing output of the season in Seattle in Week 2 with 397 yards and one score to go along with two rushing scores. Matt Ryan posted 450 yards and two touchdowns in Week 1. With Justin Jefferson emerging as a legitimate threat alongside Adam Thielen, Cousins has enough of a pass-game arsenal to hang a big number on the board as a streaming option in a game with a 56.5-point total.

 

Sits

 

Matt Ryan vs. Panthers -- Ryan was the overall QB6 following Week 2 after combining for 723 yards and six touchdowns against the Seahawks and Cowboys. But Julio Jones (hamstring) and Calvin Ridley (ankle) have both played through injuries or missed games the last two weeks, and Ryan has struggled to QB27 and QB25 weeks against the Bears and Packers. Jones doesn’t appear to be anywhere near 100%, and Ridley went catch-less on five targets in Green Bay last Monday night. Despite checking in at 26th in pass-defense DVOA thanks to zero pass rush, the Panthers are No. 5 in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks and No. 6 in opponent plays per game. With Julio out or playing at far less than full health coupled with Ryan bringing a zero in the rushing department, I wouldn’t be all that excited to play him despite this game’s potential high-scoring nature with a 53.5-point total. Kyler Murray did throw for three touchdowns last week against Carolina, but he averaged a horrendous 4.29 YPA and finished with 133 yards on 31 attempts. Weeks 1-3, Derek Carr, Tom Brady, and Justin Herbert combined for three passing touchdowns against the Panthers. Ryan is a strong QB2, but his ceiling may not be as high as one would think in this spot considering the injuries around him.

Carson Wentz at Steelers -- Wentz has tossed multiple interceptions and 0-1 touchdowns in three of his four games this season. He’s the overall QB20 in fantasy points per game while playing with a decimated skill-position group that has already lost Jalen Reagor (thumb) and Dallas Goedert (ankle) to I.R. while DeSean Jackson (hamstring) and Alshon Jeffery (foot) try to rush back into the lineup. Wentz has also lost key OL members LT Jason Peters and RG Brandon Brooks to long-term I.R. injuries. The Steelers are just 16th in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks but check in at No. 2 in adjusted sack rate and No. 8 in pass-defense DVOA. The Steelers’ D/ST unit is a better one-for-one play than Wentz in a game with a 44-point total. Philly’s implied team total of 18.5 points is the lowest of the week as seven-point road ‘dogs.

Jared Goff at Washington -- Fantasy’s overall QB19 in points per game, Goff is coming off a total dud against the Giants where he threw for just 200 yards and one touchdown in a narrow eight-point home win. Goff is being hidden by coach Sean McVay, who is running the ball at the highest clip in the NFC. Goff is averaging just 30.5 pass attempts per game. Washington is 27th in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks, but a large chunk of that production lies in three rushing touchdowns to the position. The Football Team is No. 1 in adjusted sack rate and No. 3 in pass-defense DVOA. Stud DE Chase Young (groin) also returned to practice Thursday. The Rams should win this game, but it’ll likely be on the back of its three-man running back committee. Goff could easily finish off the drives with touchdowns, but I wouldn’t actively be looking to start Goff outside of two-quarterback leagues in a game with a 47-point total.

 

RUNNING BACK

 

Start of the Week: Mike Davis at Falcons -- In the Panthers’ first game without Christian McCaffrey (ankle, I.R.) two weeks back, Davis played 76% of the snaps to Reggie Bonnafon’s 4% rate. Last week against the Cardinals, Davis got in on 71% of the downs and scored a one-yard touchdown on 20 carries and targets. Bonnafon was in on roughly a fifth of the snaps and scored a touchdown while Teddy Bridgewater also ran in a touchdown. Davis could have had a much bigger afternoon. Bonnafon has since been placed on I.R. Davis has seen a combined 23 targets in roughly two and a half games of action after McCaffrey’s injury. Davis is a weekly threat for 20-plus touches in an offense that likes to use one back. McCaffrey has to spend at least one more week on I.R. Davis gets a juicy date with a Falcons Defense that has yielded the second-most catches to running backs through 25% of the season. Chase Edmonds (5-24-1), Austin Ekeler (11-84), LeSean McCoy (5-26), and Josh Jacobs (4-46) have all exceeded expectations as pass catchers against Atlanta. This game’s 53.5-point total is the week’s fifth-highest, and Carolina’s implied team total of 26.25 is the 11th-highest.

 

Starts

 

Kenyan Drake at Jets -- Drake’s 13 carries and zero targets last week against the Panthers were new season-lows. He’s been targeted just five times on the season, way down from his 4.4 per-game average last season in Arizona. And after averaging a robust 5.2 yards per carry in 2019 with the Cardinals, Drake is at a pitiful 3.8 mark through four games. Drake’s counting stats leave a lot to be desired, especially after another disappointing Week 4. Some have wondered if Drake is healthy after spending the last part of training camp in a walking boot. His snap rate remains strong, though, playing 67% of the Cardinals’ downs. Drake does draw the Jets, Cowboys, and Seahawks Weeks 5-7, but we need to start seeing some production. I’m willing to keep betting on Drake in an offense that is No. 2 in pace and No. 9 in total plays facing a horrendous Jets team that has all but laid down and given up on the 2020 campaign. Gang Green just got run over by Melvin Gordon for the RB3 week last Thursday night. Arizona’s implied team total of 27 points is the 10th-highest of the week. Drake needs to stay in lineups until we see Chase Edmonds start commanding more of the snap share.

Antonio Gibson vs. Rams -- If the Football Team is chasing points, then Gibson is the play. If for some reason Washington is in the game or leading, Peyton Barber will steal more of the looks, especially at the goal line. But Barber's snap rates have been 2% > 11% > 7% over the last three weeks following his big Week 1. Gibson has found the end zone on the ground in three straight games and settled in as an RB2 in an offense that projects to play from behind quite a bit. Perhaps new starter Kyle Allen will steadily pepper Gibson with targets in the old Allen-Christian McCaffrey situation Allen was in last year with Carolina. Going from Dwayne Haskins to Allen is more of a lateral move for D.C. and shouldn’t have major effects on the offense as a whole. There’s really nowhere to go but upward. With Gibson coming off a season-best 18 combined carries and targets last week, I feel confident plugging him into season-long lineups as a FLEX at the very worst. The Rams are 17th in fantasy points allowed to running backs and 28th in run-defense DVOA. This game isn’t all that attractive, but Gibson belongs in lineups despite Washington heading into it as 8.5-point home underdogs.

Damien Harris vs. Broncos -- Sony Michel has been sent to I.R., and Harris was activated from the list in time for Week 4 against the Chiefs. Rex Burkhead’s snaps dipped to 35% with Harris getting in on 31% of the plays and handling 17 carries for 100 yards with no targets in the pass game. Harris looks to be the early-down guy now with more skill than Michel. Burkhead and White will mix in on pass downs and important blocking situations. Harris is now the back to own in New England moving forward. Denver has played strong run defense to this point, checking in at No. 5 in fantasy points allowed to running backs and 15th in run-defense DVOA, but the Patriots run the ball at the fourth-highest rate in the NFL. Harris belongs in lineups as an RB3/FLEX play. Broncos-Patriots is currently scheduled to kick off early Monday night.

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Sits

 

Darrell Henderson at Washington -- Henderson was a Week 4 bust, as Malcolm Brown played a season-high 61% of the snaps against the Giants and handled 16 combined carries and targets to Henderson’s nine. Henderson is still the back to own in L.A. if forced to pick one, but Brown is definitely going to be a thorn in the side all season. And with rookie Cam Akers expected back this week, things could get even hairier in the L.A. backfield. The good news is the Rams run the ball at an incredibly high clip, but for now we need to take a wait-and-see approach to this three-pronged committee. Washington is a middling 12th in fantasy points allowed to running backs and 18th in run-defense DVOA. Rams-Washington has a low-ish 47-point total. The Rams’ running back situation figures to be a weekly puzzle.

Le’Veon Bell vs. Cardinals -- Bell has missed the last three weeks with pulled hamstrings after a miserable Week 1 that saw him rush six times for 14 yards (2.33 YPC) against the Bills. The Jets still employ Frank Gore, claimed Ty Johnson off waivers from the Lions, and also have rookie Lamical Perine. Bell is unlikely to be a workhorse under coach Adam Gase. The Cardinals have been ripped by running backs, giving up the seventh-most fantasy points to the position, but we just can’t project Bell for a big enough workload in his first game back from a soft-tissue injury. The 47-point total for Cardinals-Jets is the weekend’s third-lowest. This game is now in question, too, after the Jets had a “presumptive positive” COVID-19 test on Friday.

Devonta Freeman at Cowboys -- In Freeman's second game with the team, he played 54% of the snaps and handled 15 touches but totaled just 68 scoreless yards on them against the Rams last week. Lewis was right behind him at just over 30% of the playing time while it was actually Wayne Gallman who led the G-Men in rushing despite seeing just six carries. Playing in a bad offense, none of these backs are all that attractive from a fantasy angle, especially when all three are seeing playing time. Freeman looks washed up at 28 years old after a few years of big workloads in Atlanta. Dallas has been horrendous defensively, but run defense has actually been its “strongest” part. The Cowboys are 21st in fantasy points allowed to running backs and 23rd in run-defense DVOA. The way to attack Dallas is through the air on the perimeter.

 

WIDE RECEIVER

 

Start of the Week: D.J. Moore at Falcons -- A frustrating fantasy asset through the first month of the season, Moore has seen just 10 targets over the last two weeks and has yet to find the end zone. While Robby Anderson has taken over as Teddy Bridgewater’s favorite target and Carolina’s leading wideout, Moore is the current WR44 in half-PPR points per game. If there’s any week to bust his slump, this is it. The Falcons have been annihilated by opposing pass offenses, checking in at 23rd in fantasy points allowed to wideouts and 31st in pass-defense DVOA. Allen Robinson (10-123-1), Anthony Miller (2-41-1), CeeDee Lamb (6-106), Amari Cooper (6-100), DK Metcalf (4-95-1), and Tyler Lockett (8-92) have all met or exceeded expectations against Atlanta. Anderson is the better play, but Moore should be fired up as a WR2/3 with upside in a game with a 53.5-point total played in a friendly dome environment.

 

Starts

 

Darius Slayton at Cowboys -- Slayton hung a 6-102-2 night on the Steelers in Week 1 but has since been quieted by the Bears, 49ers, and Rams in a string of difficult matchups. He failed to clear three catches or 53 yards in any of those dates and hasn’t scored since Week 1. This Sunday presents a huge rebound opportunity for Slayton, who now draws a Dallas defense that is 31st in fantasy points allowed to wideouts and 25th in pass-defense DVOA. Starting CBs Anthony Brown and Chidobe Awuzie are still on I.R., and the Cowboys just released veteran Brandon Carr this week. Answers have yet to be found on Dallas’ back end. Odell Beckham (5-81-2) busted his slump in a big way against Dallas last week. DK Metcalf (4-110-1), Tyler Lockett (9-100-3), Calvin Ridley (7-109-2), Russell Gage (6-46-1), and Robert Woods (6-105) have already crushed expectations against Dallas this season. Slayton is seeing 7.25 targets per game. Giants-Cowboys has a juicy 54-point total. It’s a rare “boom” spot for Daniel Jones.

CeeDee Lamb vs. Giants -- After playing just 60% of the snaps Week 3 against Seattle, Lamb’s snap share was back where we wanted it last week against Cleveland, getting in on 76% of the plays. He reeled in the first two touchdowns of his career last week and is playing 92% of his snaps from the slot where he’ll draw Giants rookie Darnay Holmes’ coverage. Slot WRs Cooper Kupp (5-69-1) and JuJu Smith-Schuster (6-69-2) have already shredded the G-Men through the first four weeks. The Cowboys play at the league’s fastest offensive pace and are No. 1 in plays per game while the Giants are 21st in fantasy points allowed to wideouts and 24th in pass-defense DVOA. Dallas’ implied team total of 31.75 points is the week’s second-highest. Lamb is already a rising star and should be treated as an every-week WR2.

Justin Jefferson at Seahawks -- Jefferson is coming off back-to-back 100-yard games on 78% and 77% of the Vikings’ snaps against the Titans and Texans. He’s seen a combined 14 targets over the last two weeks and is fantasy’s overall WR4 in that span. The Vikings have finally realized they need to get Jefferson more involved if they want to compete. Jefferson now draws a Seahawks Defense that is dead last in fantasy points allowed to wideouts and 29th in pass-defense DVOA. DeVante Parker (10-110), Michael Gallup (6-138-1), Cedrick Wilson (5-107-2), Amari Cooper (9-86), CeeDee Lamb (5-65), Julian Edelman (8-179), N’Keal Harry (8-72), Damiere Byrd (6-72), Julio Jones (9-157), Calvin Ridley (9-130-2), and Russell Gage (9-114) have all had big games against Seattle. Jefferson leads the NFL in yards per route run, a big indicator of elite receiver output. Jefferson belongs in the WR2 conversation this week with obvious upside in a game with a whopping 56.5-point total.

 

Sits

 

Christian Kirk at Jets -- Kyler Murray has apparently regressed as a passer and is coming off a pitiful passing performance last week against the Panthers when he averaged 4.29 yards per pass. Horrendous. The Jets aren’t any good, but Murray is just peppering DeAndre Hopkins with targets and taking off as a runner if that’s not there. Kirk caught his first touchdown last week but is at the bottom of the league in yards per route and has failed to top 19 yards in 2-of-3 games, missing another with a groin injury. He simply just may not be very good. Murray needs to start showing more as a passer before we can trust any of these wideouts not named Hopkins.

A.J. Green at Ravens -- Green has turned 33 targets into a pitiful 14-119-0 line as the overall WR81 in half-PPR formats. He’s still playing over 70% of the snaps, but rookie Tee Higgins has come on in recent weeks and is out-producing the veteran. Green looks 100% washed up after not playing last season and again battling injuries over the summer. A date with Marcus Peters doesn’t look like one that will suddenly free Green from his slump. The Ravens are 12th in fantasy points allowed to wideouts and 14th in pass-defense DVOA. Joe Burrow is finding more success throwing the ball to Tyler Boyd, Higgins, and anyone not named Green.

Jarvis Landry vs. Colts -- Landry has yet to find the end zone this season and is on pace for just 76 targets after being thrown to 138 times a year ago. This offense seems to be capable of supporting one pass-catching option, and so far it’s been Odell Beckham, who busted his slump in a big way last week with three touchdowns against Dallas. Landry just doesn’t look like he’s fully over his offseason hip operation, and the Browns run the ball at such a high rate. A date with the Colts isn’t one to attack, especially after Landry was unable to deliver against the Bengals, Washington, and the Cowboys in consecutive weeks. Indy is No. 9 in fantasy points allowed to wideouts and No. 2 in pass-defense DVOA. The 46.5-point total for Colts-Browns is the second-lowest of the weekend. Landry is the current WR49 in half-PPR, and that’s mainly because he threw a touchdown to Beckham last week. Landry is a WR4/5 until further notice.

 

TIGHT END

 

Start of the Week: Evan Engram at Cowboys -- While the production hasn’t been there yet, Engram is seeing solid volume -- 7.5 targets per game -- and remains healthy off foot surgery. He’s playing heavy snaps and is second to only Zach Ertz in total routes among tight ends. He now gets a Dallas defense that continues to hemorrhage points and yards in a big way. Leighton Vander Esch is still hurt, leaving slow-footed Jaylon Smith on too many islands in coverage. Dallas is 24th in fantasy points allowed to tight ends. Austin Hooper (5-34-1), Greg Olsen (5-61), Hayden Hurst (5-72-1), and Tyler Higbee (3-40) have all met or exceeded expectations against the Cowboys. We want to attack this game that features a 54-point total, second-highest of the week. Engram should be started confidently in season-long and as a popular DFS play.

 

Starts

 

Ian Thomas at Falcons -- Thomas has been targeted on just 8-of-109 routes, but he did find the end zone last week against Arizona, posting a 2-5-1 line on a season-best five targets. Thomas has been held to 16 yards or less in all four games, so the floor is scary-low for him as a streaming option. He’s deep down the target totem pole in Carolina. But this matchup with the Falcons is probably his best individual spot all season. The Falcons are dead last in fantasy points allowed to tight ends, having already coughed up seven touchdowns to the position. Robert Tonyan went nuclear with 6-98-3 last Monday night against Atlanta. Jimmy Graham went 6-60-2 the previous week. Dalton Schultz (9-88-1) and Greg Olsen (4-24-1) have also found the end zone versus Atlanta. Thomas is in play for managers desperate for a tight end.

Eric Ebron vs. Eagles -- After a slow Week 1, Ebron has come on in recent weeks, playing 77% and 75% of the snaps Weeks 2 and 3 against the Broncos and Texans, turning in 3-43 and 5-52-1 receiving lines on a combined 12 targets. Now coming off a bye, Ebron gets an Eagles team that has been creamed by tight ends, giving up the third-most fantasy points to the position. George Kittle was possessed last week and went 15-183-1 versus Philly. Tyler Higbee hung a 5-54-3 line on the Eagles in Week 2 after Logan Thomas went 4-37-1 in the opener. Ebron is a featured player in the red zone and should be more comfortable in the offense.

Dalton Schultz vs. Giants -- Nobody expected Schultz to be this productive in the wake of Blake Jarwin’s season-ending torn ACL in Week 1, but Weeks 2-4, Schultz has posted the overall TE3 numbers behind Robert Tonyan and Travis Kelce. He’s averaging eight targets per game in that span, and even if he’s not the Nos. 1 or 2 options in the Dallas passing offense, this team throws the ball so much and fires off so many plays that it can support a handful of skill players in fantasy. The Giants are No. 10 in fantasy points allowed to tight ends but haven’t faced many of note. This game has a 54-point total, so we want pieces from both sides.

 

Sits

 

While tight end is deeper than it’s been in recent years, it’s hard for me to argue against anyone at the position. It’s a crapshoot, and all we’re looking for are tight ends who can find the end zone and/or see volume in terms of targets. Predicting touchdowns is the hardest thing to do in football. Just finding a tight end who is on the field enough and runs plenty of routes is difficult enough. It’s why having Travis Kelce, George Kittle, or Mark Andrews is such an advantage.

Nick Mensio

Nick Mensio has been covering the NFL for Rotoworld since 2012. He can be found on Twitter at @NickMensio.