Fantasy football sit-and-start advice should always be relative and league-dependent. Note that some players are targeted for DFS. Good luck with your Week 5 lineups!
Sit: All Giants but Saquon Barkley
Start: Romeo Doubs
The Giants are dealing with a ton of injuries, including Daniel Jones limited by an ankle sprain. Most of the QB’s fantasy value has come from his rushing ability, so Barkley is the only viable NYG player this week. Green Bay’s defense will be focused on him, but they enter with the 28th-ranked run defense in DVOA.
Doubs couldn’t pull down a long touchdown last week, but the rookie has acted as Green Bay’s No. 1 receiver over the last two games. There’s upside for more moving forward.
Start in deeper leagues: George Pickens, Khalil Shakir
Pickens has seen his target share increase each week during his rookie season and was Kenny Pickett’s clear preferred target once the QB took over last week. Buffalo isn’t exactly an easy opponent, but Pickens could see double-digit targets this week with Pittsburgh likely playing from behind the moment they step off the bus.
Jamison Crowder is out with a fractured ankle and Isaiah McKenzie remains in concussion protocol as of Friday, so Shakir could suddenly be Buffalo’s starting slot receiver. With Jake Kumerow dealing with a high-ankle sprain as well, Shakir could be looking at a healthy number of targets in a pass-happy Bills offense. The rookie WR is a good athlete and faces a Steelers defense allowing the eighth-most fantasy points to slot receivers this season.
As for Gabe Davis, there’s renewed confidence to put him back in fantasy lineups after returning to a full practice this week.
Start in DFS: Austin Ekeler ($27), Amari Cooper ($19)
Ekeler is coming off an eruption game, but you’re not overpaying for last week’s stats with his reasonable salary here. He gets yet another favorable matchup against a Browns defense allowing the second-most EPA/rush this season. He should remain plenty busy as a receiver with Keenan Allen still out and Josh Palmer questionable. These teams combined for 89 points during last season’s matchup, and this week’s over/under is one of the highest on the slate.
Cooper has remained as inconsistent as ever in Cleveland, sandwiching two top-10 finishes with two bust performances over the first month of the season. However, his tendency to perform far better at home (101.0 ypg, 2 TDs) than on the road (13.0 ypg, 0 TD) hasn’t changed with his new team. He’ll get a matchup Sunday in Cleveland against a Chargers defense that’s allowed the 10th most fantasy points to wide receivers. Nick Chubb should have another big day, but the Browns are going to pass more than usual facing the Chargers’ offense.
Sit: Jared Goff
Start: Rhamondre Stevenson & Damien Harris
Goff is the No. 5 fantasy QB after the first month of the season — and it’s certainly good news that Amon-Ra St. Brown was able to return to practice Friday — but he belongs on benches this week. Goff will be playing his first game of the season outdoors Sunday against a Patriots defense that’s yet to allow 275 passing yards from a QB this season (they’ve faced Tua Tagovailoa, Lamar Jackson and Aaron Rodgers) despite playing just one home game.
Expect Bill Belichick to slow it down while leaning heavily on NE’s running backs this week with fourth-round rookie Bailey Zappe making his first career start.
Facing a Lions defense allowing a league-worst 5.6 YPC and an NFL-high 10 rushing touchdowns as well as the second-most fantasy points to running backs, there’s no need to debate New England’s RB usage this week. Both Stevenson and Harris can finish as top-12 fantasy backs. Detroit is somehow on pace to allow the most points in NFL history while scoring the second-most points. They have become the perfect fantasy matchup. New England figures to be even run-heavier than usual this week as home favorites.
Seattle Seahawks @ New Orleans Saints
Start: Geno Smith, Chris Olave
It doesn’t have to make sense, but Smith is cooking while taking over as Seattle’s quarterback. Despite facing two of the NFL’s toughest defenses to open the season, Smith has gotten 7.9 YPA and has been a top-10 fantasy QB. With an increased pass rate and suddenly a much faster pace over recent weeks, Smith is in a nice situation in Seattle while throwing to a healthy DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett. This week the Seahawks play indoors against a Saints defense that’s stingy against the run, so Smith can once again be started in fantasy lineups.
Olave didn’t see as many air yards last week with Andy Dalton at QB, but he once again led New Orleans in receiving and brought down the first TD of his career. This week the Saints should have to pass more, and while Alvin Kamara should return Sunday, Michael Thomas looks likely to miss another game. Olave has been 26 percent more likely to be targeted without Thomas on the field. The Seahawks have also been gashed for a league-worst 0.31 EPA/pass this season.
Miami Dolphins @ New York Jets
Sit: Chase Edmonds
Start in DFS: Zach Wilson ($23)
Edmonds saw a 28% snap share, a 22.7% carry share and an 8.3% target share last week and has taken a complete backseat to Raheem Mostert. New York’s defense has also performed far better against the run (-0.12 EPA/rush) than pass (0.20 EPA/pass). Edmonds shouldn’t be anywhere near fantasy starting lineups.
Wilson balled out in the fourth quarter last week during his season debut, and he now gets a pass-funnel Dolphins defense allowing the third-most fantasy points to quarterbacks. Miami’s defense ranks bottom-three in EPA/pass (0.26) yet top-five in EPA/rush (-0.23), so it doesn’t get much more funnel than that. Moreover, the Dolphins have yielded the second-most YPA (7.8) with an 8:1 TD:INT ratio and possess the second-lowest pressure rate in football.
Wilson remains a major work in progress, but he has sneaky rushing upside and is loaded with weapons in Garrett Wilson, Elijah Moore, Corey Davis and Breece Hall (Dolphins corner Xavien Howard is questionable too).
Houston Texans @ Jacksonville Jaguars
Sit: All Texans but Brandin Cooks & Dameon Pierce
Start: Jaguars D/ST
Jacksonville should be fired up coming off a tough loss to the Eagles and enter with a defense allowing the third-fewest EPA/play (-0.18) in the NFL. Over eight games on the road during his career, Davis Mills has gotten 5.5 YPA with five TD passes and 17 interceptions/fumbles. It’s not a great setup for Houston’s fantasy players this week, while Jacksonville’s D/ST and both Travis Etienne and James Robinson should be started with confidence.
Atlanta Falcons @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Start: Drake London
Start in DFS: Tom Brady ($28)
The Falcons have been extremely run-heavy with Marcus Mariota being incredibly loose with the ball. But as near double-digit road underdogs Sunday facing a Tampa Bay team coming off two losses, game script is likely to demand more passing. With no Cordarrelle Patterson or Kyle Pitts this week, London should see all the targets. The rookie ranks second behind only Cooper Kupp in target share, so start London in fantasy lineups Sunday despite a tough Bucs secondary looking to stop him.
Brady matched his previous season total with three TD passes last week with his receivers finally close to full strength, and he figures to be plenty motivated Sunday coming off back-to-back home losses. With a depleted offensive line, Tampa Bay has struggled badly when trying to run (fourth-worst EPA/rush), and Brady’s at home facing a Falcons defense that ranks third worst in pressure rate and has allowed the 10th-most fantasy points to quarterbacks.
With no Lamar Jackson or Patrick Mahomes on the slate and with Josh Allen possibly not having to do as much as usual (with Buffalo favored by two touchdowns), Brady is an intriguing DFS option this week.
Tennessee Titans @ Washington Commanders
Start: Robert Woods, Terry McLaurin
Woods’ slow start gets a pass considering he was coming off a torn ACL and learning a new system. He’s become more involved over the last two weeks, however, and will see increased targets with rookie Treylon Burks out. The Titans have arguably the worst WR group behind him, and while Derrick Henry has put up bigger receiving numbers recently, we must realize that’s a bit misleading with him running just 16 routes over two games.
Woods moves around, but for what it’s worth, Washington has allowed the most fantasy points in the NFL this season to his primary side thanks to William Jackson. Woods can be treated as a top-30 fantasy WR this week.
It’s been an incredibly disappointing year for McLaurin, but his arrow is pointing up with rookie Jahan Dotson out, Logan Thomas battling a calf injury and Curtis Samuel dealing with an illness that cost him practice most of the week. Tennessee has been tough against the run but has ceded the fourth-most fantasy points to wide receivers, so McLaurin can be treated as a top-20 fantasy WR this week.
San Francisco 49ers @ Carolina Panthers
Start: Jeff Wilson
Sit: DJ Moore
Don’t be surprised when there’s a Tevin Coleman sighting this week, but Wilson has become San Francisco’s undisputed No. 1 back. No other SF RB saw a carry last week, and Wilson is the team’s preferred passing-down back as well. Carolina’s defense is solid, but game script should once again call for 20+ touches from Wilson.
Moore managed just 50 scoreless yards on 11 targets against an Arizona defense allowing the most EPA/pass last week, so he belongs firmly on fantasy benches during this week’s biggest offense/defense mismatch.
No one is benching Christian McCaffrey, but his expectations need to be tempered this week as well.
Philadelphia Eagles @ Arizona Cardinals
Start: DeVonta Smith, Zach Ertz
The biggest challenge with the Eagles in fantasy this season has been their lack of needing to pass in the second half of games. That doesn’t exactly appear likely to change this week facing a Cardinals team that’s been outscored 31-0 in the first quarter this year. Still, this matchup is indoors with the second-highest total of the week against a pass-funnel Arizona defense; the Cardinals have yielded an NFL-low -0.28 EPA/rush yet are close to bottom-five in EPA/pass (0.17). It’s a favorable setup for Philadelphia’s passing attack Sunday.
Marquise Brown, A.J. Green and Rondale Moore are all banged up and have missed practice throughout the week, while James Conner is getting 3.2 YPC. Expect a bunch of targets Ertz’s way in what should be a high-scoring game Sunday.
Dallas Cowboys @ Los Angeles Rams
Start in DFS: CeeDee Lamb ($26)
Start: Tyler Higbee
Lamb is top-five in targets this year and has actually put up his biggest games with Cooper Rush dating back to last season. The Cowboys are unlikely to have any success rushing against LA’s funnel defense that ranks top-seven in EPA/rush (-0.20) but bottom-five in EPA/pass (0.21). Lamb is listed on the injury report with a groin issue but is fully expected to be fine Sunday. He’s my WR4 this week.
Higbee leads all tight ends in targets, and while most have occurred around the line of scrimmage, it’s still a money role in PPR leagues. It’s also a role that may not change any time soon with the Rams’ inability to run the ball and Allen Robinson looking done like dinner. The defending Super Bowl champ Rams legit could have a bottom-three offense in the NFL if Cooper Kupp went down.
Cincinnati Bengals @ Baltimore Ravens
Start: Tyler Boyd, J.K. Dobbins
Boyd could see extra work this week with Tee Higgins and Hayden Hurst battling injuries while facing a Baltimore defense far easier to pass against. Moreover, Boyd has run 86% of his routes from the slot this season, where the Ravens have been gashed for the most fantasy points this year.
With Rashod Bateman out, Baltimore enters Sunday night with one of the thinnest WR groups in the league. Justice Hill is also out, so Dobbins should see an increased workload. During just his second game of the year last week, Dobbins tied for the league lead in carries/targets inside the five-yard line.
Editor’s Note: You’ll notice there are no picks for Chiefs/Raiders and Bears/Vikings. The stars to start and the non-productive names to avoid/leave on the waiver wire in these two matchups are obvious, so, in an effort to avoid redundancy, we’ve left these games off Dalton’s list.