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Fantasy Football start ‘ems and sit ‘ems: Week five

NFL is back in full swing and fantasy managers have a better idea about who to start and bench. Let’s discuss the not-so-obvious players in week five.


Another week down in the NFL and at this point, you maybe have a better idea about who you can rely on, who’s going to be unpredictable each week, and who you need to just plain cut. But each week, there are still some question marks, even with really great players - depending on who they’re up against and their style of play, they may or may not be a good start in week five. So, let’s analyze. Who to start and who to sit in week five of fantasy football?

Quarterback Start ‘ems:

Sam Darnold (Panthers) vs Eagles
Sam Darnold is the real deal - especially in fantasy (…the real fantasy, if you will). In the first four weeks of the season, Darnold has had five rushing touchdowns, thrown for at least 279 yards in every game, and more than 300 for three in a row. He’s had only five passing TDs, but those rushing ones will do your team well. This week, he plays the Eagles, whose defense gave up 42 points to Dallas and 41 to Kansas City. Darnold will do just fine against them.

Kirk Cousins (Vikings) vs Lions
I think I said this once before, but I would pretty much start any QB against the Lions. Cousins was a consistently decent fantasy start for the first three weeks and then last week, he started off well with a TD on the opening drive…but then it was all downhill from there. He was sacked twice, threw one interception, and had an overall underwhelming and lackluster performance. But this was the first time we’ve seen such a game from Cousins, so I’m calling it a fluke and I certainly don’t expect to see it again against the Lions defense.

Kirk Cousins #8 of the Minnesota Vikings throws a pass during the first quarter in the game against the Cleveland Browns at U.S. Bank Stadium on October 03, 2021 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
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Kirk Cousins #8 of the Minnesota Vikings throws a pass during the first quarter in the game against the Cleveland Browns at U.S. Bank Stadium on October 03, 2021 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Jalen Hurts (Eagles) at Panthers
Hurts’ touchdown to interception ratio is currently 7:2 after week four. He has proved to be a consistent fantasy starter, putting up at least 20 points in every game so far. Thanks to his rushing yards, fantasy managers can count on Hurts even when the Eagles as a team can’t seem to get it together. On Sunday, he completed 32 of 48 pass attempts for 387 yards and two TDs plus 47 rushing yards on eight attempts.

Justin Herbert (Chargers) vs Browns
Herbert has had two very impressive games in a row now. He has been dominating the game, with seven total TDs in those last two games alone. He will have a tough time against the Browns, but he’s shown he can hold his own and provides a lot of the work in getting the Chargers (and your fantasy team) those points.

Quarterback Sit ‘ems:

Baker Mayfield (Browns) at Chargers
So far, Mayfield has passed for just 935 yards and two touchdowns in the last four games - not too helpful if he’s your fantasy QB. This week, the Browns are on the road to take on the Chargers in Los Angeles, who are ranked fifth in passing yards allowed per game and the seventh-fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks, so it’s not looking like this week is going to be Mayfield’s breakout game. I wouldn’t drop him from your lineup, but for now, I’d keep him on the bench until he can prove himself worthy.

Jameis Winston (Saints) at Washington
Winston is just inconsistent. He had a pretty good game on Sunday against the Giants. He had a season high of pass attempts…with just 23, which is a bit sad. But what is really costing Winston in these games is that he’s getting swapped out in the end zone for Taysom Hill. If you have no other options, you have at least the poor Washington defense on your side. But I don’t recommend him as a start anyway.

Jared Goff (Lions) at Vikings
Goff started off the season strong, but had an unfortunate last couple weeks. Against the Bears, he actually played decently but just had some unlucky plays including a strip sack and a botched snap that bounced off his knee. The Lions will travel to Minnesota to take on the Vikings in week five - not the most favorable of matchups for Goff. Considering his lack of offensive weapons, I wouldn’t start him in general, but definitely not against the Vikings.

Carson Wentz (Colts) at Ravens
Wentz is doing pretty well considering he’s playing on two bad ankles, but I wouldn’t want to rely on him in a road battle against Baltimore. Wentz has yet to notch his first 300-yard effort and I don’t see it happening in week five nor do I like his odds.

Running Back Start ‘ems:

Cordarrelle Patterson (Falcons) vs Jets
Patterson has more than proved himself as a fantasy starter by now. If you started him in week four, you ought to be thanking yourself now as he put up 34.60 fantasy points! Patterson scored three TDs, rushed for 36 yards on six carries, and had five catches for 82 yards. Not only does he fill the role in the back field, but Patterson also gives you the opportunity for receiving yards as a WR as well. He has carried the ball at least six times in every game this season. He’s a must-start in week five against the Jets in London.

Dalvin Cook (Vikings) at Lions
After leaving the game in week three with an ankle injury, Cook returned last week against the Browns. He rushed nine times for 34 yards and caught two if six targets for 10 yards. Not surprisingly, he was limited, sharing the snaps with Alexander Mattison. Six targets isn’t terrible, but two catches isn’t great. However, Cook was likely not playing at his best after coming off the injury. He should be getting back to his old self by the Sunday game against easier Lions defense.

Alvin Kamara (Saints) at Washington
The Saints will be on the road to take on Washington in week five whose defense has quite frankly been a dumpster fire so far this season. Kamara started out this season with only one game. He now has played all four games and tripled his carries from last season. On Sunday’s game against the Giants, Kamra rushed 26 times for 120 yards. He’s not likely to stop being targeted with his teammate Tony Jones out with an ankle injury, so he’s a safe start against the Washington Football Team.

Chuba Hubbard (Panthers) vs Eagles
Obviously in the first two games, Hubbard didn’t do much. But now with Christian McCaffrey out (this is assuming he stays out in week five - keep an eye on it), he’s seeing a lot more action. In Sunday’s game against the Cowboys, Hubbard saw 13 rushes for 57 yards and two receptions for 14 yards. He was the clear leader in the backfield with McCaffrey out. As long as he stays out, I’d expect more plays and more points from Hubbard against the Eagles.

Running Back Sit ‘ems:

Myles Gaskin (Dolphins) at Buccaneers
Gaskin played only 12 snaps against the Colts in week four and didn’t even put up a whole point for fantasy owners. He’s not seeing the volume anymore, and thus there’s really no reason to start him anymore either. Not to mention, he’s up against the Tampa Bay Bucs in week five…they have allowed less than 20 fantasy points per game to running backs. You could give it another week before dropping him completely, but I don’t expect to see his usage increase much.

Mark Ingram (Texans) vs Patriots
Ingram has been disappointing three weeks in a row now. Do you really want to take your chances on a fourth disappointment? He’s splitting time with teammates (yes, plural) David Johnson, Phillip Lindsay, and Rex Burkhead. Add that to the fact that Houston can’t seem to get the ball up the field, and it’s really not worth it to start Ingram.

Nyheim Hines (Colts) at Ravens
Hines is a reliable passing RB, so wait for a game in which the Colts really need to rely on that - AKA not in week five against the Ravens. He is splitting his time amongst the other RBs and played a season low of 22 snaps in Sunday’s game against Miami. The Colts were doing just fine without Hines, relying heavily on Jonathan Taylor to run the ball.

Devin Singletary (Bills) at Chiefs
‘Ol unreliable. He is splitting carries with Zach Moss and they seem to have an average of 15 touches per game each. Not terrible, but not good for fantasy if you’re looking to win. It looks like they’ll continue to split time as they go on the road to Kansas City.

Wide Receiver Start ‘ems:

Emmanuel Sanders (Bills) at Chiefs
Sanders has been the consistent WR2 for the Bills and has been targeted exactly six times in six three games in a row (eight times in week one). In week five, Sanders is up against the Chiefs, who have allowed over 40 fantasy points per game to WRs. FOURTY. That is significant! This matchup should be a high-scoring one too, so expect to see an entertaining game and lots of points.

Curtis Samuel (Washington) vs Saints
Samuel made his debut in week four against the Falcons, and he didn’t see a ton of action. Coming off an injury (groin), that’s not shocking. But when he WAS on the field, he was targeted plenty and caught all four of his targets. Now that he’s healthy, Samuel should see more time on the field and even more targets. He is a versatile player and in week five, he’s a high risk/high reward player, but we’ve seen in the past that he can put up big numbers and so could be worth it.

Adam Thielen (Vikings) vs Lions
Though he had a rough game against the Browns, Thielen has been targeted more than any other Viking player. Week four’s game was the first in which Thielen didn’t score a touchdown. It was definitely his overall worst game of the season so far. But I think he’ll bounce back against a poor Lions secondary.

Oct 3, 2021; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen (19) congratulates wide receiver Justin Jefferson (18) who is celebrating a touchdown reception from quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) against the Cleveland Browns in the fi
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Oct 3, 2021; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen (19) congratulates wide receiver Justin Jefferson (18) who is celebrating a touchdown reception from quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) against the Cleveland Browns in the fiMatt BlewettUSA TODAY Sports

Deebo Samuel (49ers) at Cardinals
If you had any doubts about starting Samuel, I hope they were resolved with his performance in week four. He caught 12 targets for 156 yards and two TDs. And it doesn’t seem to matter who throws him the ball. When Garoppolo left and Lance came in, Samuel still showed the ability to grab the ball and put it in the endzone. Throughout the first four games, he has snagged 28 balls for 490 yards and three TDs.

Wide Receiver Sit ‘ems:

Robert Woods (Rams) at Seahawks
Woods has not caught more than five balls in a game since the season started and the most receiving yards he’s managed is 64. With Cooper Kupp taking the majority of the targets, Woods has not had much opportunity to impress and his target share before week four was just 20.4%. Woods is one of those players you can bench no matter who he’s up against, as it’s unlikely he’ll be targeted much either way.

Sterling Shepard (Giants) at Cowboys
At the moment, it’s still too early to know if Shepard will be active against the Cowboys, but even if he is, he’s not going to be at his best. He left week three with a hamstring issue and didn’t play last week against the Saints, so now he’ll be a bit rusty and in recovery. And after watching the Cowboys defense last week, I wouldn’t chance him against them anyway.

Courtland Sutton (Broncos) at Steelers
So far, Sutton has had just one really explosive game, in week two. Before and after that, it’s been pretty uneventful for the receiver. In Sunday’s game against the Ravens he had just three receptions for 47 yards. Sutton will likely be the target against the Steelers in week five, but he also could be playing with Drew Lock since Bridgewater could be out still (concussion).

CeeDee Lamb (Cowboys) vs Giants
Lamb hasn’t done much worthy of talk since week two. In the Cowboys game against the Panthers, he was targeted five times for two receptions and 13 yards giving a whopping 3.3 points to fantasy owners. And in the last two weeks, he has only recorded eight targets for five receptions and 79 yards total. I wouldn’t take my chances on hoping he’s targeted more against the Giants.

NFL News:

Tight End Start ‘ems:

T.J. Hockenson (Lions) at Vikings
Hockenson may have gotten a bit off track the last few weeks, but even with that in mind, he is still the TE with the most targets on average per game (nine) besides Darren Waller and Travis Kelce. Besides the sad performance in week three, Hockenson has seen consistent work and performed.

Dawson Knox (Bills) at Chiefs
Knox just kind of snuck up on us with his targets and receptions. In the last three weeks, he’s scored four touchdowns. In week four, he recorded five receptions on eight targets for 37 yards and two TDs. He has been consistent in the last three games and even if he doesn’t continue to get into the end zone, he’ll still get you lots of receiving yards.

Mike Gesicki (Dolphins) at Buccaneers
A complete dud week one, Gesicki has come back to prove himself worthy after all. In the last three weeks, he’s recorded 24 catches, 194 yards, and one TD. He will look to continue this streak and improve his connection with Dolphins QB Jacoby Brissett in week five on the road against the Bucks.

Dalton Schultz (Cowboys) vs Giants
Though he makes me nervous when he bobbles the ball, I think you can count on him to get you the fantasy points. He is starting to emerge as the preferred target over Blake Jarwin. Prescott only threw 22 passes on Sunday’s game against the Panthers, and yet Schultz received eight targets and caught six of those for 58 yards and a TD. His track record is looking good to start him on at home against the Giants.

Tight End Sit ‘ems:

Noah Fant (Broncos) at Steelers
Here is one of those players who is dependent on opponent. In week three, he was barely a part of the game plan and saw only three targets. In week four, however, he caught six out of ten targets for 46 yards and had one TD. However, his longest catch was only 14 yards and going into week five, Broncos QB Teddy Bridgewater is struggling with a concussion, so who knows how they’ll use the pass game without him. The Broncos will be up against the Steelers in week five, and they have allowed only one single TD to TEs this season. So is Fant a definite no-start? No. This totally depends on who else you have on your roster. But it won’t be his best game, so it would be wise to see if you have a good backup to replace him in week five.

Jonnu Smith (Patriots) at Texans
His time split with Hunter Henry continues to hinder his spot on the start ‘em list for me. He did get a touchdown against the Buccaneers, but Henry did, too and got one more catch and more yards. He continues to see just slightly more points than Smith so if it’s between the two, Henry is the better choice, though neither will see many points as they’re constantly sharing the time.

Pat Freiermuth (Steelers) vs Broncos
Freiermuth really hasn’t done a whole lot worthy of talking about for the Steelers. In their last matchup against the Packers he was targeted only once, which he at least caught, for 11 yards. He had scored his first TD the week before, and was unable to repeat it against the Packers. He’ll be at home against the Broncos, but I’m not convinced by him and his previous performances.

Jack Doyle (Colts) at Ravens
Doyle was only targeted once last week which he caught, for 24 yards. He had missed practices with back issues and though he was able to play, didn’t do much during the game. On the other hand, the Colts’ other TE, Mo Alie-Cox had two TDs and it’s looking like he might be more of the go-to TE for now rather than Doyle.


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