Week 4 is over and with it, the first bye week of the year. Here’s hoping that it didn’t hurt you last week. As usual, we had some completely unexpected performances, some duds and everything in between. Here are some of my expectations for Week 5 in Fantasy Football, including some Hot Starts and some Hesitations.
Week 5 Fantasy Football Hot Starts And Hesitations
Lamar Jackson, Ravens (@ Steelers)
He’s come back down to earth lately, hasn’t he? After passing for 596 yards with seven touchdowns and no interceptions in Baltimore’s first two games, Jackson has passed for 514 yards with three touchdowns and two interceptions over his last two. Also, after rushing 16 times for 120 yards in Week 2, Jackson has totaled 17 carries in Weeks 3 and 4 combined. Nobody’s complaining when their quarterback averages 6.59 yards per carry, however.
In Week 5, the Ravens will take on a Pittsburgh defense that has disappointed for the most part in 2019. Though the Steelers defeated the Bengals 27-3 in Week 4, they allowed an average of 28.3 points per game in Weeks 1-3 to New England, Seattle and San Francisco. I think Lamar gets back on track against a Pittsburgh defense that’s vulnerable against the pass and is allowing 122.8 yards per game on the ground.
Carson Wentz, Eagles (vs. Jets)
The Jets have only given up four passing touchdowns in three games but are allowing an average of 286.7 yards through the air, 5th-worst in the NFL. They’ve allowed this against Josh Allen, Baker Mayfield, and Tom Brady. Of this Trio, only Mayfield ranks in the top-10 in terms of passing yards per game. Wentz is tied for 2nd in the league with nine touchdown passes and has thrown just two interceptions. He also has one rushing score on just 17 attempts (which itself is tied for 5th-most among quarterbacks). Simply put, Wentz has a high floor against a bad Jets team and is worth starting with confidence.
Jameis Winston, Bucs (@ Saints)
The Saints may have just held an explosive Dallas offense in check, but I like this matchup for Winston. Despite holding Dak Prescott to just 223 passing yards last week, the Saints still rank in the bottom-10 in terms of passing yards allowed per game. They’ve also allowed five passes of 40+ yards, which is tied for the 2nd-worst in the NFL.
Meanwhile, Winston has rebounded from a horrible opening day. Over his last two starts, the 25-year-old is averaging 382.5 passing yards and 9.81 yards per completion, while throwing seven touchdowns and two interceptions. He’s always a good bet to throw a pick and you never know when Bad Jameis will show up. However, Good Jameis is really good and my prediction is that Good Jameis shows up this week in the Superdome. There are much worse starting options out there.
Dak Prescott, Cowboys (vs. Packers)
Prescott finished as the QB24 in Week 4, passing for 223 yards with no touchdowns and an interception. He only carried the ball once for seven yards. This result came as a bit of a surprise, as the Saints had allowed an average of 319 passing yards and two passing touchdowns per game heading into the matchup.
This week, the Cowboys host a Packers team that is giving up 188 passing yards per game (3rd in the NFL). The Packers have tallied four interceptions and have given up only four passing touchdowns, with three of them coming against Carson Wentz last week. It’s tough to go against the Dallas offense at home, so I understand if you start Prescott. However, if you have safer options this week, roll with them.
Marcus Mariota, Titans (vs. Bills)
Through four weeks, the QB8 is none other than Marcus Mariota. The former Heisman Trophy winner has thrown for 933 yards with seven touchdowns and no interceptions while adding 112 yards on the ground. Mariota may be a popular Waiver Wire add following a gutsy Week 4 performance in a victory over Atlanta, in which he tossed three touchdowns. However, if you’re considering starting him in a Week 5 tilt against the Bills. I’d advise caution. The Bills have held Tom Brady and Sam Darnold to less than 200 yards passing. They did allow Eli Manning and Andy Dalton to pass for 500 yards combined, however, this was on 81 pass attempts. I think Buffalo has their way with the Tennessee offense in a low-scoring affair. If you were considering streaming Mariota, look for safer options.
Baker Mayfield, Browns (@ 49ers)
Mayfield turned in his best performance of the year in a Week 4 victory over the Baltimore Ravens. In the 40-25 win, Mayfield passed for 342 yards on 30 attempts, with one touchdown and one interception. On Monday Night Football, the Browns will travel to take on the San Francisco 49ers. The 49ers boast a much-improved defense in 2019. They’ve given up only 208.3 passing yards per game (6th in the NFL) and are tied for 2nd with five interceptions (in only three games). Mayfield may post decent numbers, but I’m worried that the Baker Bandwagon will take off too much after his best game of the season. Temper your expectations at the very least and consider starting other options if you have any.
Austin Ekeler, Chargers (vs. Broncos)
I know that Melvin Gordon is expected to play a sizable role this week, but he may be on a limited snap count. Ekeler has six touchdowns in four games and ranks third in the NFL in scrimmage yards. The Chargers will host a Broncos defense that just allowed Leonard Fournette to rush for 225 yards. The Broncos are allowing an average of 149.2 yards per game on the ground (3rd-worst). Even if Gordon has a big role, there’s enough room in this one for both players to explode. I’m not penciling in Ekeler as an RB1, but he still has major upside this week.
Marlon Mack, Colts (@ Chiefs)
This recommendation is obviously dependent on health, but if Mack plays, he’s a must-start. The Chiefs are allowing an average of 149.8 rushing yards per game (2nd-worst) while surrendering a league-worst 5.9 yards per carry. No other team is all that close (the Colts are a half-yard better). Mack doesn’t provide much value in the passing game, but when healthy, he’s averaging about 20 carries per game. Given the volume and the matchup, plug him in if he’s active.
Chris Thompson, Redskins (Vs. Patriots)
I know, I know. The New England defense has been a juggernaut this year, limiting opponents to a mere 61.2 rushing yards per game. They’ve only given up one touchdown on the ground. So why Chris Thompson? Well, I don’t expect Adrian Peterson to get much going on the ground. Additionally, I expect Case Keenum, Colt McCoy, or Dwayne Haskins to have little time to throw. This, coupled with the expected lopsided loss could mean a heavy dosage of check downs for Thompson. From volume alone, he should provide you with a solid floor. There are worse Flex options out there when you consider the four or five receptions that he’s a near-lock to grab on a weekly basis. In a blowout loss, is eight, nine, or more out of the question?
Josh Jacobs, Raiders (vs. Bears)
The volume is questionable, the matchup is poor, and he’s hurt. If you’re playing Jacobs as a Flex and are 4-0, take the risk of starting him. Otherwise, I want no part of a Bears defense that has given up 61.5 rushing yards per game (3rd-best), 3.0 yards per carry (2nd-best) and just one rushing score all year. To this point, Jacobs hasn’t offered much in the passing game (three catches in four games), so his ceiling this week might be limited. There are safer options for you out there.
Le’Veon Bell, Jets (@ Eagles)
DISCLAIMER: I am not saying to bench him. I am saying to temper your expectations. With the kind of volume Bell gets, it’s tough to sit him. However, the Jets may be without Sam Darnold and the Eagles boast the leagues 4th-best rush defense in terms of yards allowed (about 62 per game) and are 3rd-best in yards per carry allowed (3.2). Additionally, Philadelphia has only allowed two rushing scores. If Darnold is out, the Jets offense is a good bet to get bogged down early and often. Don’t necessarily bench Bell, but don’t consider him to be a surefire RB1, and you may have a more favorable Flex play for this week.
Peyton Barber, Bucs (@ Saints)
As mentioned, I think Winston and the pass catchers for Tampa have a good week against the Saints. On the flip side, I expect it to be tough sledding for the Tampa running game. Overall in 2019, the Saints haven’t had a great rush defense. However, they did just hold Ezekiel Elliott to 35 yards on 18 carries. Barber is rostered in almost 70% of leagues but his usage is so difficult to predict on a weekly basis. In Week 2 he totaled 23 carries and in Weeks 3-4, he carried the football 22 times combined. He racked up just nine carries in last week’s 55-40 victory. The New Orleans run defense will keep it going in Week 5. Look for safer options.
Allen Robinson, Bears (@ Raiders)
Robinson looks healthy, and he’s been a main focal point of a somewhat lackluster Chicago passing game. Through four games, he’s been targeted 34 times and has hauled in 24 catches for 280 yards. The injury to Mitchell Trubisky doesn’t help, but Robinson’s production in Week 4 didn’t suffer. This week, he gets an inviting matchup with an Oakland pass defense that has allowed 281 passing yards per game (6th-worst) and nine touchdowns (tied for 3rd-worst). The lack of touchdowns is somewhat concerning, but Robinson is a good bet to get double digit targets in this one.
Larry Fitzgerald, Cardinals (@ Bengals)
The Cincinnati pass defense has been middle of the road from a yards allowed perspective but has allowed opponents to complete 72.6% of their passes (4th-worst) for eight touchdowns (also 4th-worst). I believe that Kyler Murray will have a big day and in turn, I believe that Larry Fitzgerald will have a big day. He has a healthy 36 targets through four games and even hauled in a touchdown pass against the top-ranked Carolina pass defense. Don’t slot him in as a WR1, but he’s a viable starting option this week.
Tyler Boyd, Bengals (vs. Cardinals)
Bengals Vs. Cardinals may not be a sexy matchup, but Arizona’s pass defense has been even worse than Cincinnati’s. The Cardinals are allowing an average of 271 passing yards per game (10th-worst) but have given up 10 touchdowns through the air (tied for 2nd-worst). Boyd has double-digit targets in three of four games and is likely to be leaned on in this one. With a terrible Bengals offensive line, there’s always a risk involved in starting anyone on that offense. However, I like Boyd to put up good numbers this week.
DJ Chark Jr, Jaguars (@ Panthers)
Chark has had an outstanding year, ranking 10th at the position heading into a Week 5 tilt at Carolina. Gardner Minshew has been nothing short of remarkable this season, however, the matchup doesn’t inspire any confidence, as the Panthers have allowed a league-best 156.8 passing yards per game and only four passing touchdowns. To me, Chark is a risky play, and since he has burst onto the scene this year as a “sleeper surprise,” you should have some depth that you can swap him out for this week.
Tyrell Williams, Raiders (vs. Bears)
Williams is listed as questionable due to a foot injury, so this review is obviously dependent on him being active on Sunday as the Raiders “host” the Bears in London. Even if he does play, he may be on a limited snap count. The travel from Oakland to London sure doesn’t help matters. Neither does a matchup against a Bears defense that’s only allowed four scores through the air while approaching the top-10 in terms of passing yards allowed. London games are not usually high-scoring affairs, so to me, there’s too much risk involved in starting Williams.
Terry McLaurin, Redskins (vs. Patriots)
McLaurin is also listed as questionable, but limited practice sessions suggest that he is a good bet to suit up on Sunday. Even if he does though, how can you trust him? “Scary Terry” has been scary good this year, but who will be throwing to him? The Washington QB situation is currently one of the most unsteady positions in the NFL. Furthermore, the Patriots have allowed only 181.8 passing yards per game, good for 2nd in the NFL. Nobody has thrown a touchdown pass against New England yet. Yes, the Patriots have played against poor offenses in the Dolphins, Luke Falk-led Jets, and Bills. However, you don’t keep opponents out of the end zone through a quarter of the season and rack up 10 interceptions (twice as many as the next-closest team) by accident. Bench Terry this week.
Darren Waller, Raiders (vs. Bears)
Yes, everything that I just said for Tyrell Williams holds true for Waller, aside from the injury. However, Waller’s volume is too great to consider benching him. He has 37 targets in four games and could see even more if Williams is ruled out. Waller has gone up against two top-10 pass defenses in the Vikings and Broncos and put up 20 catches for 204 yards in those games combined. He’s yet to find the end zone this year, but it’s only a matter of time. Don’t overthink this one.
Austin Hooper, Falcons (@ Texans)
He’s now a must-start on a weekly basis. Hooper enters Week 5 as the No. 2 Tight End. The boom or bust nature of his past seems to be gone, as Hooper has racked up 33 targets in four games. The Texans have a below-average pass defense and only have one interception on the year. Matt Ryan leads the NFL in pass attempts, and I expect him to have a big game in this one. When Ryan has a big game, all Atlanta pass-catching options are worthy of a start. Don’t bench Hooper.
George Kittle, 49ers (vs. Browns)
This one might seem obvious but Kittle is only the No. 10 Tight End in terms of average fantasy points per game. The Browns have a solid pass defense, but they have been extremely vulnerable to Tight Ends. Cleveland has given up three touchdowns to the position in four games. Kittle is averaging seven targets per game and remains a favorite weapon for Jimmy Garoppolo. Plug him in this week.
Jimmy Graham, Packers (@ Cowboys)
He had a good Week 4, but you still can’t trust him in any given week. Dallas has only allowed three passing touchdowns in four games and is a top-10 defense in terms of average passing yards allowed. Graham is the 17th ranked Tight End heading into Week 5, but that’s largely due to a fluky touchdown reception in Week 1. He was targeted once in Weeks 2-3 combined. Don’t rely on him, there are sure to be better options out there.
Delanie Walker, Titans (vs. Bills)
I already mentioned the reasons that I’m reluctant to trust the Tennessee passing game in this one. The Bills are slightly more vulnerable against the run and I think we see a heavy dosage of Derrick Henry in this one. Last week, when the Titans went with a run-focused approach on offense, Walker was targeted twice. He is always a possibility to find the end zone, but if you have another viable option at Tight End, plug them in. It’s a much safer bet.
Eagles (vs. Jets)
The Jets offense without Sam Darnold is one of the weakest units in the NFL. Darnold has been ruled out, which means Luke Falk will get the start. The Eagles will stack the box (with a top-5 run defense) against Le’Veon Bell in an attempt to make Luke Falk try to beat them. Not a likely scenario. The Eagles will fly all over the Jets this week. It doesn’t matter that Philadelphia has been a bottom-10 fantasy option to this point. They’re arguably the top defensive option for the week.
Panthers (vs. Jaguars)
The Panthers are allowing 156.8 passing yards per game. 156.8! Even with Minshew’s success in the win column, he’s a middle of the road fantasy option. The Panthers are also tied with New England for the league lead in sacks (18). Carolina is one of the strongest streaming options this week and is a great start if you don’t have one of the top defenses (or great value in DFS).
Titans (vs. Bills)
Part of this ranking is due to Josh Allen‘s injury. If he sits, the Titans are a must-start. Even if Allen plays, he hasn’t exactly set the world on fire from a statistical standpoint. He’s thrown for 903 yards with three touchdowns and six interceptions. If Allen sits, give me a Tennessee defense at home against the Matt Barkley-led Bills. Even if Allen plays, I still like the matchup.
Washington Redskins (vs. Patriots)
The Redskins enter Week 5 as the No. 27 fantasy defense and have a terrible matchup against an undefeated (surprise) Patriots team. Washington has given up 10 passing touchdowns (tied for 2nd-worst) to go along with 147.5 rushing yards per game (4th-worst). This one has all the makings of a blowout and be sure to stay far, far away from the Redskins D/ST in this one.
Indianapolis Colts (@ Chiefs)
The Colts have given up nine passing touchdowns (4th-worst in the NFL). They’re traveling to take on Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs on the road. Indy’s rush defense has been poor as well, as they’re giving up 132.5 yards per game, 8th-worst in the league. At 2-2, the Colts have exceeded expectations to begin the year, but they’ll drop to below .500 in this one. I expect Kansas City to win big which means you don’t want to go anywhere near the Colts defense this week.
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