Two teams (the New York Jets and the San Francisco 49ers) went on a bye last weekend, and in Week 5 both the Miami Dolphins and Detroit Lions will do such thing. You might have some Lions on your rosters, but I’m pretty confident you have zero shares of the Dolphins offense, so this is an easy weekend for you. Don’t sleep though, as this is the last time until Week 8 when only two teams go on a short vacation. With almost every player available to choose from and posing decisions, it’s time to make the right choices to start potential studs and bench all of the duds.
Whether you’re playing in an 8-, 10- or 12-team league, you must have doubts about who to put in that widely open flex position, who to stream at quarterback, or how you could address all of the uncertainty surrounding the tight end slot. Let’s take a look at some of the best and worst options you should consider.
Jameis Winston, TB (at NO) - START
The Saints have allowed the second-most fantasy points to QBs, just one shy of Miami. They only have two interceptions (Winston’s kryptonite) in two weeks, and they have also surrendered the fifth-most yards rushing to quarterbacks. Jameis Winston looks like the perfect fit for the situation. He is coming off a season-best performance in Week 4—completed 28 of 41 passes for 385 yards and four touchdowns—and both Mike Evans and Chris Godwin have 350-plus yards already and four touchdowns each. This would mark Winston’s third 30-plus points game in a row, but New Orleans should be an easy victim in a great matchup with an O/U total of 47.5 points in which Tampa comes as the underdog.
Tom Brady, NE (at WAS) - START
Don’t let Brady’s last outing against Buffalo scare you into considering alternatives. In his last 16 games, Brady has only two fantasy performances outside of the top-24 quarterbacks. One came in 2018 and the other against the Bills last weekend. He’s already past that, so keep calm. Without being a fantasy-darling, Brady constantly racks up points and has a floor of around 20 points per game with upside to reach as many as 30 if things work out. Washington is this week’s Miami. They have allowed the second-most touchdowns in four games and their pass defense ranks 29th by DVOA. With Julian Edelman healthy again and Ben Watson back from suspension there is no reason to believe Brady can’t provide a good performance against a franchise lost on all fronts.
Dak Prescott, DAL (vs GB) - SIT
If you play in a 2QB league and/or for some reason you have Prescott and a couple of extra quarterbacks on your bench, this might be the week to sit Dak. Prescott comes from a bad performance against New Orleans’ cupcake defense. He could only pass for a season-low 223 yards on 22 completions and scored no touchdowns while throwing up an interception — he finished with an ugly 11.9 fantasy points. Is he regressing to his actual self and coming back to earth? Probably. On top of that, Green Bay has a stout defense against the pass — fourth-best against QB in fantasy points allowed — but they’re shaky at stopping the run. Turns out, Dallas has a monster running back in Ezekiel Elliott and they will surely use him this week. Fade Dak, bet on Zeke.
Philip Rivers, LAC (vs DEN) - SIT
The case against Rivers is pretty similar to that against Prescott. Although he didn’t have a good start against Miami, Rivers was able to finish Week 4 with a healthy 310 yards and two touchdowns, pretty much his season averages. The problem for the Chargers and most of all Rivers is that they have yet to face a serious, above-average defense. The Broncos D will be the first one they’ll have to go against. Actually, Denver ranks second in fewest fantasy points allowed to QBs, only behind the otherworldly Patriots. They have just surrendered a ridiculous 74 completions for 827 yards in four games. The last time Rivers faced the Broncos in 2018 he finished with 176 yards on 14-of-24 attempts to go with two interceptions. Add to this that Denver is bad at stopping running backs (look what Leonard Fournette just did to them) and that Melvin Gordon is back and the Chargers should be better off rushing the ball than going through the air.
David Johnson, ARI (at CIN) - START
As you know, I try not to repeat names week-to-week in this column. There are a ton of players to consider including here worth a spot, but sometimes you have to do right. Johnson’s 2018 season was one to forget. He could only finish two weeks with RB1 points, and he had up to five RB3 performances. This season, although Johnson put on a dud in Week 2 against Baltimore, he has logged 25.7, 18.5, and 21.9 points the other three games. Look no further than last weekend to see what Johnson is capable of: 40 yards rushing on 11 attempts, and 99 through the air on eight receptions. That last bit of information is the most encouraging entering this weekend’s contest. Not only is Cincinnati the worst team at stopping running backs from scoring fantasy points overall, but it’s also the team that has given up more receiving yards to tailbacks (285 on 30 receptions for three touchdowns in four games). And who fits that profile better than David Johnson?
David Montgomery, CHI (at OAK) - START
After a couple of weird backfield-usage decisions taken by the Bears in the first two games of the season, Chicago finally came to their senses. Montgomery started the year seeing the fewest snaps of all running backs in the team, then saw a balanced count, and finally in Weeks 3 and 4 he led the backfield leaving Mike Davis in the dust (he played one snap in Week 3 and none last week). With Tarik Cohen playing more the role of a hybrid-receiver, Montgomery explosion may be just around the corner. He hasn’t yet reached 14 fantasy points in any game, but his expected production is higher than his actual one (his opportunities should have yielded around 52 fantasy points instead of his actual 40 through four games). Dalvin Cook torched Oakland’s defense and the game script should favor a running game from Chicago, which enters the match as the favorite to get the win and with a solid margin.
Josh Jacobs, OAK (vs CHI) - SIT
The good old flip side of the coin. Just above, I told you to start Montgomery against the Raiders. And now, I’m telling you to sit his counterpart and fellow rookie, Josh Jacobs, against those very Bears. The difference between Oakland’s and Chicago’s defenses against the run can’t be bigger. Chicago has faced three elite backfields (Packers, Broncos, and Vikings) and limited them to 90 yards at most. On Jacobs’ side, there is only one good performance (24.3 fantasy points against Denver in Week 1), with three mediocre ones following it. When he faced Minnesota (eighth-best defense against RBs) back in Week 3, he finished the day with a paltry 4.4 points. Chicago’s defense ranks seventh in points given up to the position, you know what to expect. It’s been said that Jacobs will feature in a heavier role going forward, and more opportunities will give him more chances of racking up points. This week, though, that might only help him pile up bad rushes.
Wayne Gallman, NYG (vs MIN) - SIT
Hold your horses with Gallman, son. I’m impressed, you’re impressed, we all are impressed. Things couldn’t have gone worse for the Giants: they started a rookie at quarterback over his long-used veteran QB and they also saw stud running back Saquon Barkley fall injured losing him for two months. So they turned to Wayne Gallman and oh boy did he ball. Indeed he played great, but he (most probably) also outperformed his true ability—against not-close-to-mighty Washington’s defense. If you think Gallman can go out this weekend and put up 30 points again, I doubt you’ll be right. If you think he can do it against the Vikings, I definitely will put you in the crazies corner. Only Aaron Jones has run for more than 81 yards (and received passes for more than 21 yards) on Minnesota’s defense this season. They have given up one touchdown on the ground, also to the aforementioned Jones. Let’s wait a bit before selling the house for Gallman. His Week 4 performance might be a fluke more than a real outcome.
Larry Fitzgerald, ARI (at CIN) - START
The Bengals aren’t bad against wide receivers, let’s be clear here. They are much worse against the run (read about why you should start David Johnson above), but this decision comes down to the volume Fitzgerald could see this weekend and the fact that Arizona might find themselves in a bit of a shootout. About the first thing, Christian Kirk will be out injured for some time and Damiere Byrd is questionable for Sunday’s game. That means that 30 percent of the targets could be off the field this weekend, leaving Fitzgerald (who already has 36 in four games, second-most in Arizona only one behind Kirk) as the clear winner of opportunities and the—even more—go-to option for Kyler Murray. Second, this matchup has the second-highest O/U total of the slate at 47.5 and 22 implied points going the Cardinals’ way. It looks like a great scenario for Fitzgerald to come back to scoring high-end WR2 or even low-end WR1 fantasy numbers.
Julian Edelman, NE (at WAS) - START
While the matchup might not favor Edelman in that New England could get the lead early and just rush for the remainder of the game, Washington will hand a great chance to Edelman to get to his fully-healthy ways this weekend. Per Pro Football Focus, Edelman will line up against Jimmy Moreland and the latter’s grade ranks 79th among cornerbacks. Against Miami, in a very lopsided game, Edelman was targeted just four times but even with that, he put up 51 yards. One week later facing another bad team in the New York Jets he was targeted 10 times and finished with 62 yards and a touchdown. I don’t expect a huge fantasy performance from him this weekend as Washington will probably be shredded to pieces by New England, but I count on a floor of around 15 to 20 points from Edelman without much trouble. He could end with more than 50 yards and a score without trying and has the upside to eat Washington’s defense alive if given the chance.
Adam Humphries, TEN (vs BUF) - SIT
When Humphries signed with Tennessee it was all cheers and high expectations. Then the season arrived and well, it looks like Humphries doesn’t mean that much to the Titans. Through four weeks, Humphries (15) is the fourth-most targeted receiver of the team behind TE Delanie Walker (23), Corey Davis (18), and rookie A.J. Brown (17). Of course, Humphries has the fewest yards of the four with just 112 on 11 receptions, also with the lowest yards per reception among the group of receivers. Just this past week in Atlanta he put together his third dud of the season hauling in two receptions (three targets) for 15 mediocre yards. Humphries has played more than 50 percent of the offense’s snaps, yet Mariota doesn’t seem to look his way. With A.J. Brown raving and Corey Davis gearing up, it can’t look worse for Humphries right now. Well, actually, it can. Tennessee hosts Buffalo this weekend and you know what the Bills did Brady and the Patriots in Week 4. Buffalo has given up just one receiving touchdown all season long and are the seventh-best team in points surrendered to WRs. The lowest O/U of the slate (38.5 points) won’t help either.
Jimmy Graham, GB (at DAL) - START
In this the year 2019, believe it or not, Jimmy Graham could be penciled in as the best receiver in Green Bay other than Davante Adams. And Adams suffered a toe injury last week, making him questionable for Week 5 and leaving Graham as the most probable go-to option for Rodgers. How the world works sometimes. You know the risky game you’re playing when you opt to put Graham in your lineup. It’s no secret. Graham can finish the week producing as a TE1 (Weeks 1 and 4), or laying a goose egg (Weeks 2 and 3). While those two zeros look bad, that is not normal in Graham’s career. Even last season he never had a single nil performance while averaging 8.2 points per game. This week, though, we might be in for the first back-to-back good outings coming from him in 2019. Dallas ranks ninth-worst at points surrendered to tight ends and Evan Engram torched them with 124 yards on 12 receptions. Graham is not Engram, but Aaron Rodgers is not Eli Manning either. Expect a good weekend from the veteran.
Tyler Eifert, CIN (vs ARI) - START
The same as you play whoever goes against Miami, you play the tight end that faces Arizona each weekend. It’s becoming a rule of the thumb in fantasy football this year. The Cardinals are allowing 27.8 points per game to tight ends. The second-worst team (Tampa Bay) is allowing 19.6! Those 27.8 points include six touchdowns, and 431 yards on 32 receptions, all three marks leading the league in the wrong way. It is not that Eifert is a great tight end; he’s not. Eifert is just a borderline TE2 through four weeks and he’s yet to reach 10 fantasy points in a game this year. The matchup against Arizona looks good on all fronts, though. John Ross has been ruled out for a month and A.J. Green is still recovering. Arizona’s defense will probably focus on Tyler Boyd and the volume of targets Eifert will see is bound to increase in comparison to past weeks. If only for the matchup and Cincinnati’s bare-bones offense you should stream Eifert against the Cardinals this weekend.
O.J. Howard, TB (at NO) - SIT
Enough is enough. It’s been four games already — a quarter of the season. And it is not that Howard hasn’t had chances to prove himself in Tampa Bay. He’s played 238 snaps (83 percent of the total offensive plays), which are 139 more than Cameron Brate’s. He’s run a route on 80 percent of those snaps. He’s been targeted 12 times. And all O.J. Howard has amounted to are a putrid 131 yards on 10 receptions for no touchdowns. That would give Howard 23.1 fantasy points in the PPR format. What Howard has done in four games, Evan Engram, T.J. Hockenson, and Mark Andrews did in Week 1. At this point, it is clear that Howard doesn’t count for HC Bruce Arians, nor Jameis Winston, nor for anybody related in any way to the peninsula of Florida. If you haven’t dropped Howard already, you should, but if he somehow remains part of your roster, just fade him this weekend and look for some other option. You won’t do much worse than playing him.
Delanie Walker, TEN (vs BUF) - SIT
Nobody profiled Walker as a potential TE1 with tons of volume going his way at the start of the season. We were wrong, and the veteran tight end rewarded his lucky owners with a great performance to start the year (one of only four tight ends to score more than 20 fantasy points). The problem is that playing time is starting to pile up a bit, and Walker’s performance has decreased a bit over the past few weeks. Although Week 3 saw Walker put up 13.4 points (64 yards on seven receptions), last weekend’s outing against Atlanta was mediocre at best. He was targeted only twice and caught one pass for four yards. The Falcons defense ranked ninth in points allowed to TEs. This week it will be Buffalo who visits Tennessee, and the Bills have one of the best defenses in the NFL and the second-best against TEs. It is hard to say Walker carries a zero-floor, but I think we see something close we will be far from seeing such a low-quality performance from him in Week 5.
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