If a pick here is ruled out due to COVID between now and game time, do what every good NFL fan ought to do in a situation like this: blame Goodell.
Week 5 is off to a rough start with the outbreak in Tennessee, and cases in New England. With games now re-worked and pending test results on the way, Week 5 is full of electric starts, cold sits, and promising sleepers. But first, a look back at Week 4’s predictions.
Matt Ryan, the new Agent Zero?
If Calvin Ridley goes an entire football game without a single catch and you’re the NFL quarterback throwing to him, my local high school is looking for a head coach. Matt Ryan’s Week 4 start became a bit regretful after throwing for zero touchdowns and 285 passing yards. With a limping Julio Jones, Todd Gurley who is no longer worth more than a 1-year contract, and an offensive scheme that cannot get the ball in Calvin Ridley’s hands, Matt Ryan may be looking more like a low-end QB2 for the rest of the season. At 35 years old (relevant for an upcoming quarterback), Matt Ryan may be looking at his dog days in Atlanta with Dan Quinn on the way out and the team’s projected play for the no. 1 overall pick. If I’m Arthur Blank, I would steer the team toward the Trevor Lawrence era.
Joe Burrow led the Bengals to their first win of the season against the Jacksonville Jaguars and the no. 1 overall pick posted his third consecutive 300-yard passing performance. The touchdowns may be an area for Burrow to improve upon, but a 6:2 TD-INT ratio and 1,121 yards passing through four weeks is a great start for the rookie. Elevating the play of Tyler Boyd, Tee Higgins, and even Joe Mixon, Burrow can be a matchup-based, high end QB2 and is certainly more promising than the aforementioned Matt Ryan.
Brandon Aiyuk’s TD is Best of the Weekend
More like Brandon AiJuke.
The sleeper starter at wide receiver for Week 4 was the physical monster that is San Francisco 49ers rookie WR Brandon Aiyuk. Totaling 101 total yards from scrimmage and a touchdown, the appeal to feature the talented receiver out of the backfield or as a staple in the Shanahan offense has significantly increased. Mirroring Deebo Samuel’s freakish athleticism, it may be the type of season where more than half of the games see a limit on snaps, but four or five contests will see the player have a freakish performance similar to this latest game against the Eagles. Gotta call it like it is, but the horizons look bright for Aiyuk.
Saints A Fraud?
Surrendering 29 points to the Detroit Lions and showing a water pistol performance from Drew Brees, the Saints have been lucky to be at a .500 record. Their Week 1 win against the Buccaneers does not feel solidified now that the offense is without Michael Thomas and the Saints are having to rely on the greatness of Alvin Kamara rather than the formerly elite play of Drew Brees. The secondary allowed the Lions to move down the field, letting Matthew Stafford complete three touchdowns while barely completing half his throws. It’s a team masqueraded by the talent of several star players; once one of those players is omitted from the game plan, the team is capable of losing more games than winning.
This article will not be delayed until Tuesday, here are the Week 5 starts, sits, and sleepers fit to beat COVID itself.
Week 5 Fantasy Football Starts, Sits, and Sleepers
QB Start – Ryan Tannehill vs. Buffalo Bills
It may feel like the undefeated Buffalo Bills are one of those sneaky good teams built on a solid defense and decent offense like the 2017 Jaguars or 2012 Seahawks. The reality is, the Bills are winning games because of Josh Allen and Stefon Diggs’s MVP performances through the air. Diggs is leading the league in receiving yards and Allen is joining conversations that compare the likes of Russell Wilson and Aaron Rodgers.
Thanks to the offense, many have overlooked how poorly the Bills defense has played. Surrendering 17 points to the Jets, 28 to the Dolphins, 23 to the Raiders, and 32 to the Rams, they are facing a Ryan Tannehill Titans team that is continuing their dark horse run to the AFC Championship game last year. With A.J. Brown hoping to return this week, Tannehill will be feeding his no. 1 receiver and tight end Jonnu Smith.
Another QB Start — Dak Prescott vs. New York Giants
RB Start — David Johnson vs. Jacksonville Jaguars
Admittedly there will always be a slight faith in David Johnson to return to form after watching his 2016 season. After all, a bad Cardinals offensive line and wrist injury are no longer in play. Going against the Jacksonville Jaguars, who have been average at stopping the run, DJ’s Texans are looking like a team fit to have a breakout day after the recent firing of Bill O’Brien and the team’s frustration with being too talented to boast zero wins.
While Myles Jack is finally gaining notoriety as an elite linebacker, Johnson’s ability to catch out of the backfield may lead to his best stat on Sunday. Expect good rushing but better receiving against the Jacksonville defense.
Another RB Start – Chris Carson vs. Minnesota Vikings
WR Start – Tyler Lockett vs. Minnesota Vikings
Tyler Lockett’s two receptions in Week 4 against the Miami Dolphins became a rude awakening for fantasy owners after his 3-TD performance in Week 3. However, the Xavien Howard-led secondary in Miami is not a bad unit. Lockett averaged eight receptions in the first three weeks of the season and Russell Wilson does not appear to be slowing down.
With Xavier Rhodes no longer giving the Vikings a credible threat to the secondary, a now far-too-young roster of cornerbacks, Minnesota looks to be in for a rough day against Lockett and D.K. Metcalf on Sunday. While Metcalf is also a good play, some owners need to remember not to panic or trade Lockett after Week 4’s performance.
Another WR Start — Robert Woods vs. Washington Football Team
TE Start – Hunter Henry vs. New Orleans Saints
Another player coming off of a cold performance after a hot start, Hunter Henry’s two catches for 39 yards in Week 4 may be more of a Todd Bowles schematic for the Bucs defense rather than a Hunter Henry problem. With Justin Herbert slinging the ball as a Rookie of the Year candidate, Henry will have a solid matchup going against Demario Davis and the New Orleans Saints.
Demario Davis has displayed decent playmaking over the middle, but the porous Saints defense will open the door for Herbert to start hitting Henry and Keenan Allen. If Joshua Kelley and Justin Jackson create momentum in place of the injured Austin Ekeler out of the Chargers backfield, Henry should see more options to evade Davis and be the trusty target magnet.
Another TE Start – Greg Olsen vs. Minnesota Vikings
D/ST Start – Indianapolis Colts vs. Cleveland Browns
Xavier Rhodes and Darius Leonard are creating the most formidable defense in the league and have propelled the Colts to a 3-1 record. As mentioned, Kevin Stefansky’s Browns have solidified their identity as a Baker-last offense. Featuring Odell Beckham Jr. as an option out of the backfield and Jarvis Landry throwing Hail Mary’s to the endzone aren’t the kind of schemes that get past defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus. With the league’s 4th-ranked rushing defense matching up against the best rushing offense in the league without Nick Chubb, the Browns will likely go back to Baker for more passing schemes — a strategy the Browns prayed to avoid and the Colts prayed for.
Another D/ST Start – Pittsburgh Steelers vs. New York Jets
QB Sit – Drew Brees vs. Los Angeles Chargers
It’s been a long time coming for Drew Brees to end up on the Sit list. Despite retaining his status as the king of completions without Michael Thomas, Drew Brees has been noticeably playing a more conservative, slow type of QB playbook compared to the methodical, effective version of the past decade. Only eclipsing 300+ yards throwing (312) in Week 2 against the Las Vegas Raiders, Brees no longer appears to be this team’s saving grace and if not for an early MVP performance by Alvin Kamara, the overall yardage by Brees would surely take a big dip. Fans are beginning to wonder if the absence of Michael Thomas is enough to justify the lackluster performances by Brees. While he is undoubtedly one of the league’s best quarterbacks in terms of acumen and vision across the field, let’s not forget that before Tom Brady, quarterbacks over 40 were not as depended upon due to the physical deterioration that comes with playing nearly two decades of football.
The topic of how effective quarterbacks can remain after the age of 35 or 40 remains a discussion with the evolution of physical care that the modern athlete has available, but in the case of Brees, you would not be daft in thinking that it’s finally catching up to the New Orleans staple. Against a stout Chargers secondary led by Casey Hayward and a sustainable offense that is able to stay in competitions unlike the Tyrod Taylor Chargers team, the Saints are due for an upset if Kamara is limited and Brees is unable to elevate the team with the other pieces on offense.
Another QB Sit — Gardner Minshew vs. Houston Texans
RB Sit – James Robinson vs. Houston Texans
Consider this the boom-or-bust play we’re calling a bust.
James Robinson’s hot streak after Leonard Fournette’s departure from the team is beginning to encourage fantasy owners to pick up the Jacksonville running back. Averaging 4.8 yards a carry and going 100+ yards rushing against the Tennessee Titans (league-worst rushing defense), Robinson is shaping up to be a steady replacement and is facing the 0-4 Houston Texans.
Under interim head coach Romeo Crennel, the Houston Texans defense can be the best part of the ailing team’s performance this upcoming Sunday — desperate to find a win with an elite quarterback running their offense. After giving up 100+ rushing yards to lead running backs in the last four games, Houston may be poised to give up a big day to Robinson. With a defensive-minded head coach at the helm of the Texans’ game plan and Jacksonville’s mess of an offense, the promise for an overwhelmingly productive for Robinson may be rose-colored. Unless he ends up being the second coming of MJD.
Another RB Sit – Justin Jackson vs. New Orleans Saints
WR Sit — Jarvis Landy vs. Indianapolis Colts
Allen Robinson may have gotten the best out of our prediction in his matchup against Indianapolis, but the Colts defense continues to play great football and ultimately won the war, — not the battle. With the surprisingly stable Browns offense under Kevin Stefansky leading Cleveland to a winning record and a fantastic upset against the Cowboys, the offense appears to go through Kareem Hunt (now that Nick Chubb is hurt) and will continue to do so against Indy. While the Browns managed to put several touchdowns on the board, three came from Odell Beckham Jr., whose athleticism has groomed him into a featured player on the offense. Jarvis is a talented option who can perform in a passing offense, but that’s no longer the Browns scheme. Diluted importance for getting the ball downfield via passing is diminishing Landry’s appeal and does not appear as a recipe for production this week.
Another WR Sit – Julian Edelman vs. Denver Broncos
TE Sit – Dalton Schultz vs. New York Giants
The Giants may be an irredeemable team alongside its other New York team, but the additions of linebacker Blake Martinez and cornerback James Bradberry have been the only remnants of a pulse for this team. Second in the league in tackles, Martinez has been a firm barrier for running backs and tight ends. While the high-flying Dallas offense looks to be a good matchup against the Giants, we say it’s more of a day for receivers to take over rather than tight ends, especially after letting Gerald Everett eat their lunch last week.
Another TE Sit – Drew Sample vs. Baltimore Ravens
D/ST Sit – Miami Dolphins vs. San Francisco 49ers
Byron Jones, Xavien Howard, and the Miami Dolphins defense has been playing good football for a team waiting on its starting quarterback to finally take the field. With Jimmy Garoppolo and George Kittle looking to shake off some rust this week now that the previously injured duo appears to be fully healthy, the Dolphins will be in a difficult matchup against a 49ers offense set on redemption. With Fitzpatrick’s magic starting to cool off, the Dolphins may be playing from behind all Sunday.
Another D/ST Sit – Philadelphia Eagles vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
QB Sleeper Start — Ben Roethlisberger vs. Philadelphia Eagles
Coming off of an early-season bye week courtesy of the Tennessee Titans COVID cases, Ben Roethlisberger has been quick to resume his elite play after his missed time last season. Helping JuJu Smith-Schuster also return to form, Ben Roethlisberger’s surprise of the year has been Diontae Johnson’s great start to the season after 680 yards last year in a promising outing without Big Ben. Trying to establish Johnson as a no. 2 receiver, the Steelers remain undefeated thanks to a working offense led by Roethlisberger. Going against Darius Slay and a regressing Nickell Robey-Coleman, the Pittsburgh receiving corps will be able to have a day on the porous secondary.
Another QB Sleeper — Derek Carr vs. Kansas City Chiefs
RB Sleeper Start – Chase Edmonds vs. New York Jets
I’ve had an easier time watching ACL repair surgeries on YouTube when compared to watching a Jets game. Both New York teams and the Atlanta Falcons have found ways to collapse on their own performances no matter the advantages, strategies, or lead. Despite being a team that every opposing offense wants to throw on, Chase Edmonds and the Arizona Cardinals are in for a solid matchup that could poise the running back for an RB2 kind of day. Leading into this matchup is the lingering injury to lead back Kenyan Drake and the atrocious play by the Jets defense. Edmonds is likely to see an elevated number of snaps and continue being their best option at the goal line. If you are in the unfortunate group of fantasy owners to lose a player to injury or COVID, consider Edmonds who is widely available in leagues.
Another RB Sleeper – Melvin Gordon III vs. New England Patriots
WR Sleeper Start – Robby Anderson vs. Atlanta Falcons
The best thing about the lukewarm play of Teddy Bridgewater is his willingness to cling to a no. 1 receiver once he identifies that player. After Drew Brees went down due to injury last year, I grew concerned over Michael Thomas’s viability as my first-round pick in fantasy. His production remained elite once the quarterback role was taken over by Teddy Bridgewater. While Bridgewater arguably plays the safest football in the league, his high percentage play has been the foundation of Robby Anderson’s standout debut with the Panthers. Eclipsing D.J. Moore as the lead receiver, Anderson is showcasing appeal as a fantasy option similar to Will Fuller sans the injuries. He’s a big-play receiver that makes it easy for even the safest of quarterbacks to keep Anderson in high usage.
Another WR Sleeper – Michael Gallup vs. New York Giants
TE Sleeper Start – Jonnu Smith vs. Buffalo Bills
After several false-positive COVID tests and tentative scheduling of the game for Tuesday, this pick is a true sleeper. Jonnu Smith’s elevated role in this offense post-Delanie Walker is what helped fuel the Titans offense to the AFC Championship Game. Derrick Henry continues to put the defense on their toes, and with A.J. Brown’s hopeful return, the offense should surely find its groove against a mediocre-at-best Buffalo Bills defense that gave up 23 points to the Raiders. With Tannehill as a tandem starting recommendation, you’re going all-in on a performance that could be among the best for the week or land a goose egg. Close your eyes and roll the dice.
Another TE Sleeper – Eric Ebron vs. Philadelphia Eagles
D/ST Sleeper Start – Seattle Seahawks vs. Minnesota Vikings
Kirk Cousins and the Vikings have yet to rebound from the loss of Stefon Diggs. For this 1-4 squad, they’ll need a Calvin Johnson/Larry Fitzgerald type of receiver to depend on rather than the best complementary receiver in the league Adam Thielen. Without a true receiving threat, Cousins has yet to eclipse 300 yards passing after four weeks and the Wilson-led Seattle offense may be too quick to catch up to. With quick scores by Wilson, time of possession will teeter toward the Viking offense, which is prone to interceptions with Cousins as quarterback and sacks thanks to the low tier Vikings offensive line.
Another D/ST Sleeper — Denver Broncos vs. New England Patriots