Fantasy Football Week 5: Start and Sit

Injuries happen.

Like many disappointed fantasy owners, I lost David Johnson — on multiple teams — Week 1. On one particular team, I felt fortunate to have rookie sensation Dalvin Cook.

I was able to add Chris Carson, who by Week 3, had locked up the Seattle running back gig. Heading into last weekend, I was feeling prett-ay, prett-ay, prett-ay, pretty good (Larry David voice).

However, like on any episode of “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” anything that can go wrong, will go wrong.

Cook tears his ACL and Carson breaks his leg, while I barely lose my matchup to fall to 2-2.

I could feel bad for myself, but where’s the fun in that? Injuries happen.

My injuries left me with Tarik Cohen, Jacquizz Rodgers, D’Onta Foreman and Doug Martin — fresh off his four-game suspension — to help pick up the pieces. Cohen and Foreman were picked up off the waiver wire — a place I will continue to mine throughout the season. The combination of Martin and Rodgers give me at least the guarantee of one starting running back (hopefully Martin).

Injuries happen and all you can do is push forward.

Here's my best bets for Week 5:

NEW ENGLAND AT TAMPA BAY

Obvious starters: Tom Brady (Patriots), Rob Gronkowski (Patriots), Brandin Cooks (Patriots), Jameis Winston (Buccaneers), Mike Evans (Buccaneers).

Who to start: Chris Hogan (Patriots) has proven himself a solid WR2 with four touchdowns in the last three weeks. Both Danny Amendola (Patriots) and James White (Patriots) deserve flex consideration in PPR in this very favorable matchup. Despite his boom-or-bust tendencies, DeSean Jackson (Buccaneers) receives too many targets for him to be on your bench, especially against the Patriots weak secondary. Cameron Brate (Buccaneers) has scored two straight weeks, giving him TE1 upside.

Who to sit: Until The Emperor (Bill Belichick) figures out what ails the Patriots D/ST, keep them benched or on the wire. Mike Gillislee (Patriots) is touchdown dependent for his fantasy value. This game could easily turn into a passing affair, limiting the production of Doug Martin (Buccaneers) in his return from suspension.

Sleeper: Jacquizz Rodgers (Buccaneers) should still be involved heavily in the passing game, giving him PPR relevance this week.

BUFFALO AT CINCINNATI

Obvious starters: LeSean McCoy (Bills), A.J. Green (Bengals).

Who to start: Tyrod Taylor (Bills) makes a solid streaming option thanks to the high floor he produces each week. Charles Clay (Bills) has been a top-five fantasy tight end since Week 12 last season, but you should temper your expectations against a Bengals defense that has been very tough on the position this season. Speaking of, both the Bengals D/ST and Bills D/ST deserve streaming consideration this week.

Who to sit: Rookie wide receiver Zay Jones (Bills) should see more targets with Jordan Matthews out, but he’s still behind McCoy and Clay on a team that doesn’t pass that much anyways. Andy Dalton (Bengals) has looked significantly better the past two weeks, but this is a really tough matchup. Rookie running back Joe Mixon (Bengals) will eventually turn his usage into production, and fulfill his potential as a flex option. Tyler Kroft (Bengals) has earned streaming consideration at tight end the past two weeks, but faces a stingy Buffalo secondary.

Sleeper: PPR specialist Giovani Bernard (Bengals) has shown a knack for big plays so far.

N.Y. JETS AT CLEVELAND

Obvious starters: None.

Who to start: Bilal Powell (Jets) is a RB2 if turf toe keeps Matt Forte sidelined again. The Cleveland defense has given up multiple touchdowns or over 100 yards in three of four games to tight ends this season, making Austin Seferian-Jenkins (Jets) a borderline TE1 this week. This is the week Isaiah Crowell (Browns) might actually return value for those brave souls who drafted him as a RB2. Duke Johnson (Browns) has actually led Cleveland in targets, receptions and yards the past two games, supporting his RB2 upside in PPR leagues.

Who to sit: Elijah McGuire (Jets) deserves to be stashed in your league after last week’s production, but he’s a ways away from earning a spot in your lineup. Consistency has alluded Jermaine Kearse (Jets) and Robby Anderson (Jets) so far, which means I’d keep them benched or on the waiver wire unless you are absolutely desperate at your flex position.

Sleeper: Cleveland’s offensive line has yet to prove it can protect rookie quarterback DeShone Kizer, who is getting sacked and pressured at an alarming rate. The Jets D/ST could surprise as a streaming option this week.

CAROLINA AT DETROIT

Obvious starters: None.

Who to start: Jonathan Stewart (Panthers) and Christian McCaffrey (Panthers) are both flex options with RB2 upside considering their usage — both will see double-digit touches — but temper expectations against a very tough Detroit defense. You could do much worse at QB than Matthew Stafford (Lions) at home — he’s thrown 18 touchdowns against only five interceptions in his last 10 games at Ford Field. Carolina’s secondary struggles against a short passing game — it has allowed over 70 percent of short passes to be completed — meaning both Golden Tate (Lions) and Theo Riddick (Lions) could shine in PPR leagues this week.

Who to sit: You no longer have to worry about dropping Cam Newton (Panthers) after his vintage performance versus the Patriots, but I don’t recommend starting him on the road against a very opportunistic secondary. I’d fade a hobbled Kelvin Benjamin (Panthers) and Devin Funchess (Panthers) at receiver as well. This is a difficult matchup to trust a banged up Ameer Abdullah (Lions) — monitor his ankle injury. It appears Darren Fells (Lions) may have passed Eric Ebron (Lions) on the tight end depth chart. Neither are a good option this week.

Sleeper: The Lions D/ST has quietly turned into a bonafide starting unit in fantasy.

SAN FRANCISCO AT INDIANAPOLIS

Obvious starters: T.Y. Hilton (Colts)

Who to start: Carlos Hyde (49ers) is a top five running back this week if he doesn’t have a setback with his hip injury. Pierre Garcon (49ers) leads San Francisco in routes run, targets, receptions and receiving yards, giving him WR2 upside this week. Frank Gore (Colts) gets too many touches for you to sit him, especially in a “revenge” game like this. He has solid flex value with RB2 upside.

Who to sit: There’s some upside because Jacoby Brissett (Colts) can make plays with his legs, but he’s facing a San Francisco pass rush fresh off a six-sack performance. You simply can’t trust Donte Moncrief (Colts) until Andrew Luck returns. Jack Doyle (Colts) is working his way through the NFL’s concussion protocol and faces a defense that has only allowed 77 receiving yards on 10 receptions to tight ends in four games.

Sleeper: Brian Hoyer (49ers) has averaged 355 passing yards and two touchdowns his last two starts against Indianapolis. He’s a good option if you need to stream quarterback this week.

TENNESSEE AT MIAMI

Obvious starters: DeMarco Murray (Titans), Delanie Walker (Titans), Jay Ajayi (Dolphins).

Who to start: Even if Tennessee is forced to start Matt Cassel, Rishard Matthews (Titans) should be able to take advantage of Miami’s shoddy secondary, earning flex value with WR3 upside. Jarvis Landry (Dolphins) is once again a PPR stud — he’s on pace for 133 receptions — and DeVante Parker (Dolphins) is on pace for 1,227 receiving yards, mostly thanks to garbage time production. Both are solid WR2 options.

Who to sit: Marcus Mariota (Titans) is a coin flip to start this week, plus hamstrings are notoriously easy to re-injure. Dip into the quarterback streaming pool. Sadly, Derrick Henry (Titans) is still an underutilized insurance policy. Jay Cutler (Dolphins) is another poor performance away from potentially being benched.

Sleeper: Third on Tennessee in targets, it’s only a matter of time before Eric Decker (Titans) finds the end zone.

L.A. CHARGERS AT N.Y. GIANTS

Obvious starters: Melvin Gordon (Chargers), Keenan Allen (Chargers).

Who to start: Philip Rivers (Chargers) has thrown for three touchdowns in each of his previous two starts against the G-Men. Tyrell Williams (Chargers) deserves PPR flex recognition this week. The Giants can’t cover tight ends — they’ve allowed five touchdowns in four games to the position — giving both Hunter Henry (Chargers) and Antonio Gates (Chargers) value this week. Eli Manning (Giants) is a borderline QB1. You’ll start Odell Beckham (Giants) if he’s available, but make sure to monitor his injuries (finger, ankle). Sterling Shepard (Giants) and Evan Engram (Giants) have proven valuable in PPR leagues. Engram is a borderline TE1.

Who to sit: Deep-threat Travis Benjamin (Chargers) is only a flex option if you’re desperate enough. Otherwise, he’s too inconsistent. The Giants D/ST is operating on reputation only. Brandon Marshall (Giants) is dealing with a toe injury that could limit him.

Sleeper: Paul Perkins (ribs) and Orleans Darkwa (back) are both ailing, while rookie running back Wayne Gallman (Giants) filled in nicely against the Buccaneers. Another solid performance could help him lock down the gig full-time.

ARIZONA AT PHILADELPHIA

Obvious starters: Larry Fitzgerald (Cardinals), Zach Ertz (Eagles), Alshon Jeffery (Eagles).

Who to start: Carson Palmer (Cardinals) projects nicely against Philadelphia’s weak secondary. In three starts against the Eagles, Palmer has averaged 302 passing yards and two scores. Palmer targeted Andre Ellington (Cardinals) 14 times last weekend. That type of workload earns him legit flex consideration in PPR. Carson Wentz (Eagles) has developed into a borderline QB1 and is a perfect streaming option if your quarterback is on a bye this week. LeGarrette Blount (Eagles) is a solid flex play with RB2 upside after three-of-four good games.

Who to sit: It’s hard to trust John Brown (Cardinals) considering his health issues. Unfortunately, Brown’s presence could cut into Jaron Brown’s (Cardinals) targets. There’s a chance J.J. Nelson (Cardinals) gets lost in the shuffle as well. Chris Johnson (Cardinals) has yet to do anything worthwhile in his role as lead back. Wendell Smallwood (Eagles) is nursing a knee injury after two productive weeks.

Sleeper: If Smallwood misses the game, Corey Clement (Eagles) will be in line for double-digit touches.

JACKSONVILLE AT PITTSBURGH

Obvious starters: Leonard Fournette (Jaguars), Le’Veon Bell (Steelers), Antonio Brown (Steelers), Steelers D/ST.

Who to start: Vertical threat du jour, Martavis Bryant (Steelers) — like his QB — plays better at home.

Who to sit: You can only trust Blake Bortles (Jaguars) if plays on foreign soil. The Jaguars D/ST have had issues against running backs this season. Marqise Lee (Jaguars) and Allen Hurns (Jaguars) are the most desperate of flex plays against a solid Pittsburgh secondary. There are plenty of QBs I’d start over Ben Roethlisberger (Steelers) this week, but if you’re desperate, he’s a streaming option.

Sleeper: Rookie wideout Juju Smith-Schuster (Steelers) has surpassed Eli Rogers for Pittsburgh’s slot position. If Jacksonville focuses on Brown and Bryant, the rook could have a big day.

BALTIMORE AT OAKLAND

Obvious starters: None.

Who to start: The Ravens D/ST is a solid matchup play in EJ Manuel’s first start. Javorius Allen (Ravens) has had at least five catches in three straight games, supporting flex play in most PPR leagues. Jared Cook (Raiders) is a borderline TE1 against a Baltimore defense that has allowed tight ends to score four touchdowns in four games.

Who to sit: Baltimore’s passing game is simply too conservative for me to recommend any of the principals — Joe Flacco (Ravens), Jeremy Maclin (Ravens) and Mike Wallace (Ravens). I’m downgrading the entire Oakland offense with EJ Manuel (Raiders) under center, with one exception.

Sleeper: Despite losing two fumbles the past three weeks, Alex Collins (Ravens) is expected to receive more playing time due to his play-making ability, something that is lacking in the Baltimore offense.

SEATTLE AT L.A. RAMS

Obvious starters: Russell Wilson (Seahawks), Doug Baldwin (Seahawks), Jimmy Graham (Seahawks), Seahawks D/ST, Todd Gurley (Rams), Sammy Watkins (Rams).

Who to start: Cooper Kupp (Rams) is Los Angeles’ best underneath target, making him a good flex option in PPR leagues.

Who to sit: Seattle’s running back situation is back to being muddled so stay away from Eddie Lacy (Seahawks), Thomas Rawls (Seahawks) or C.J. Prosise (Seahawks) until we have a clue of what they plan on doing going forward. Jared Goff (Rams) is still a streaming option in deeper leagues at best.

Sleeper: Paul Richardson (Seahawks) is second on the team in receiving yards (173) and tied for first with two touchdowns. If Baldwin is still limited by his groin injury, Richardson could have a breakout game.

GREEN BAY AT DALLAS

Obvious starters: Aaron Rodgers (Packers), Jordy Nelson (Packers), Randall Cobb (Packers), Dak Prescott (Cowboys), Ezekiel Elliott (Cowboys).

Who to start: Martellus Bennett (Packers) leads Green Bay with 27 targets. It’s a matter of time before the borderline TE1 finds the end zone. Dez Bryant (Cowboys) torched Green Bay in the playoffs last season, catching nine balls for 132 yards and two touchdowns. He’s also scored in three of five games he’s faced the Packers. Cole Beasley (Cowboys) is still relevant in PPR leagues, especially with bye weeks beginning.

Who to sit: If Davante Adams (Packers) is available, you’ll likely start him. I’d give a week or so after the hit he received. Make sure to monitor his advancement through the NFL’s concussion protocol. Although both are practicing, I’d stay from injured running backs Ty Montgomery (Packers) and Jamaal Williams (Packers) this week. This is a bad matchup for future Hall of Fame tight end Jason Witten (Cowboys).

Sleeper: Rookie running back Aaron Jones (Packers) is capable of providing RB2 production if he gets the touches Sunday.

KANSAS CITY AT HOUSTON

Obvious starters: Kareem Hunt (Chiefs), Travis Kelce (Chiefs), Chiefs D/ST, DeAndre Hopkins (Texans), Lamar Miller (Texans), Texans D/ST.

Who to start: The tough matchup might lower my expectations, but Alex Smith (Chiefs) is still a top streaming option this week. Deshaun Watson (Texans) is approaching “obvious starter” territory.

Who to sit: I know it’s difficult to sit Tyreek Hill (Chiefs) with such a high ceiling, but Houston’s secondary has been dominant outside of its performance in New England two weeks ago. Like Hill, the big-play ability of Will Fuller (Texans) normally makes him a lock for your lineup, but this is a terrible matchup.

Sleeper: Kansas City has been hit-or-miss against tight ends this season. Ryan Griffin (Texans) is a top streaming option if your regular tight end is on a bye.

MINNESOTA AT CHICAGO

Obvious starters: Stefon Diggs (Vikings), Vikings D/ST, Jordan Howard (Bears).

Who to start: Sam Bradford (Vikings) is a worthy streaming option against a mediocre Chicago defense. Adam Thielen (Vikings) is a borderline WR2 and could finally find the end zone with Bradford back. Tarik Cohen (Bears) still has RB2 upside in PPR leagues.

Who to sit: Latavius Murray (Vikings) will be touchdown-dependent for fantasy value. Chicago’s passing game with Mitchell Trubisky (Bears) is a complete unknown so stay away from Kendall Wright (Bears) and Markus Wheaton (Bears).

Sleeper: Of course, everyone knows rookie QBs and tight ends are mighty fond of one another. Zach Miller (Bears) is a borderline TE1.

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