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NFL Fantasy Football: Start 'Em/Sit 'Em - Week Five

Week five NFL matchups and how they'll affect your fantasy football team.

Michael B. Thomas

If you had a bad week in fantasy football, feel free to live vicariously through me because my three teams went a combined 3-0!  A great fantasy week like that can ease the pain of another demoralizing Redskins loss if only a little bit.  So now I'm sitting at 4-0, 2-2, and 3-1 for a combined 9-3.  That's pretty good.  My 4-0 team was led by Stafford, Cobb, and a bittersweet performance by DeMarco Murray on Monday night.  Thought I didn't want the Cowboys to win that game, I was losing my fantasy game and Murray won it for me to keep me 4-0.  Like I said... bittersweet.  I was able to even things up at 2-2 in the Hogs Haven league thanks in large part to Stafford and Delanie Walker.  My 3-1 team probably had the most impressive week.  I started Aaron Rodgers, Larry Donnell, and Steve Smith.  Huge.

Did you all take my advice last week?

  • OK, I said to start Kirk Cousins and sit Eli Manning.  I meant to reverse that...  Oops.
  • At least the Matt Stafford call was spot on.  Glad I followed my own advice there after starting him on two of my three teams.  Stafford is off to a pretty good start this year.  I'm glad I drafted him.
  • Starting Cobb and/or Nelson paid off as expected.  It was only a matter of time before Rodgers had a game like that and the Bears defense didn't stand a chance.
  • I majorly whiffed on the Donald Brown start.  Big mistake on my part.  I guess not every player in the NFL has a career day against Jacksonville.  Still, 95% of them do...
  • Nice to see Keenan Allen come back to life.  I started him for the fourth week in a row just hoping he'd look a little something like last year and he finally did.  Hopefully you didn't give up on him too early, because he's in for some more good games.
  • Ditto for DeAndre Hopkins.  The kid is good.  I drafted him as a late-round flier with upside and he has not disappointed.  The only disappointing thing has been me being to stubborn to start him.  I'll correct that moving forward because people are talking seriously about him being better than Andre Johnson and it's making sense.  Hopefully you started him...
  • I didn't see Riley Cooper do anything... again.  That was an easy one to see coming.  He's just bad this year.  Stay away.
  • I said to start Niles Paul, Martellus Bennett, and Delanie Walker.  I had the right idea on all three.  Paul had a decent day even with the concussion and likely would have done a lot more.  The other two were beasts as expected.

So, let's put that Giants debacle behind us and look forward to week five.


Start 'Em

Colin Kaepernick, SF (vs Kansas City Chiefs) - Kaepernick has been consistent this year.  His legs always give him that added edge in fantasy and he's produced even when the 49ers haven't been their best.  Last week they seemed to find their way a little bit and could be on the upswing.  That's a good thing for Kaep owners.  Aside from what the Chiefs did to the Patriots on Monday, they've been a relatively good matchup for opposing QB's in fantasy, especially away from Arrowhead.  Looking for Kaepernick, and his legs, to continue a very nice fantasy season this week.  40-50 rushing yards, 225+ passing yards, and 2 TD's.

Andrew Luck, IND (vs Baltimore Ravens) - You don't see me put guys like Peyton, Rodgers, and Brees on this start 'em list much at all.  The reason is because they're always a start 'em.  Well, this'll probably be the last time I do it with Luck because in the fantasy world, he's officially entered their territory.  He went nuts again last week throwing for almost 400 yards and 4 TD's.  He'll throw some picks, but they don't matter compared to the monster yardage and scores he puts up on a regular basis.  Two weeks ago he had the same line.  That's nearly 800 yards and 8 TD's over the last two weeks.  How can you not start that?  20-30 rushing yards, 300 passing yards, and 2+ TD's.

Jay Cutler, CHI (@ Carolina Panthers) - Jay Cutler has been reborn in Trestman's offense and the team has an incredible passing attack.  Not only do they have weapons galore (Marshall, Jeffery, Bennett, Forte), but they throw it more than just about anyone.  On top of that, the Panthers defense was exposed a bit against Flacco last week and he had a stellar day (327-3).  I like Cutler for 10-20 rushing yards, 300 passing yards, and 2+ TD's.

Sit 'Em

Tom Brady, NE (vs Cincinnati Bengals) - You probably didn't need me to tell you this one.  Brady's had a miserable year and things look to be unraveling a bit in New England.  Throw onto that the fact that the Bengals defense has been stellar and I don't see it turning around for the Pats this week.  Julian Edelman is Brady's #1 WR.  Think about that.  There is no one else except an occasional Gronk sighting.  Their offense is in shambles.  275 passing yards, 1 TD, and 1 INT.

Geno Smith, NYJ (@ San Diego Chargers) - Hopefully I'm not being too obvious with these, but Geno Smith is really bad.  Nobody in the fantasy world should be starting him.  Hell, the Jets probably shouldn't be starting him and very well may not very soon.  He's a turnover machine that looks way to hesitant and consistently makes bad choices on the football field.  Everyone should drop him right now.  20-30 rushing yards, 200 passing yards, 1 TD, 1+ INT(s).

Eli Manning, NYG (vs Atlanta Falcons) - I know what he did last week.  I know Donnell is the new greatest TE and their offense has "found itself" and all is good in NY.  Manning is on top of the world... until he's not.  That's how Manning does.  He's up and down, just like the Giants team.  The Falcons have been good with their passing defense this year and I can see them scoring points, the Giants trying to keep up, and Manningface making an appearance with INT's.  He'll probably get throwing opportunities, but I don't believe that offense is for real, yet.  Besides, they only throw it short.  225 passing yards, 1 TD, and 1 INT (maybe more).

Running Backs

Start 'Em

DeMarco Murray, DAL (vs Houston Texans) - Listen, I don't like the Cowboys as much as the next Redskin fan, but Murray has been on point.  He might be the best fantasy asset there is right now and I need to make sure you all know it.  I'm thrilled that I drafted him, and as long as he's healthy, he's a beast.  The Cowboys OL is enough to make 'Skins fans green with envy and Murray is benefiting.  There's no way you can sit him.  None.  10-20 receiving yards, 120+ rushing yards, 1 TD.

LeSean McCoy, PHI (vs St. Louis Rams) - I never thought I'd have to put McCoy on here.  I also never thought I'd put the Cowboys RB and the Eagles RB back-to-back to start off the "Start 'Em" segment.  The NFCE can run the ball this year.  DO NOT GIVE UP ON MCCOY!  Don't do it.  You will regret it.  You likely drafted him with one of the top three picks in the draft and a couple of bad games does not justify jumping ship.  In fact, if you can get him from someone for a steal, maybe do that.  McCoy is too good to not get things going and Chip Kelly is too smart not to help him.  They're going to get an OL or two back in the next week or two and that'll help his cause.  Also, they're going to be beating the Rams by quite a bit and they'll run the ball.  This is the bounce-back game.  Don't forget I told you so.  20-30 receiving yards, 110+ rushing yards, 1 TD.

Zac Stacy, STL (@ Philadelphia Eagles) - The Rams need to run the ball to keep it away from the Eagles high-powered offense.  I'm not saying it'll work, but I'm saying they're likely to try.  The Eagles defense (especially run defense) isn't good and I think Stacy can have a good game here.  He's fresh off the bye and has looked pretty good this year.  10-20 receiving yards and 70+ rushing yards.

Alfred Morris, WAS (vs Seattle Seahawks) - Here it is.  I'm putting his name on here.  Even against Seattle.  That means Jay has to run him to death, right?  We're running the ball this week.  70+ rushing yards and 1 TD.

Sit 'Em

Donald Brown, SD (vs New York Jets) - I learned some things last week.  One of them is that Donald Brown isn't that good of a RB or SD doesn't know how to use him.  I also continued to learn that the Jets run D is legit.  I won't make the Donald Brown mistake twice.  70 total yards.

Darren Sproles, PHI (vs St. Louis Rams) - Read what I wrote about why you should start McCoy.  Think about it.  Sproles is much more of a danger when the Eagles are throwing the ball.  They're going to run more.  Also, if McCoy is getting so much work, that likely means Sproles is getting less work.  The Rams are much better against the pass than the run and I don't think Sproles will see his normal snap-count.  40-50 total yards.

Colts RB's (vs Baltimore Ravens) - The Ravens run D is stout and the Colts are a throwing team.  I expect a lot of Andrew Luck and a split backfield without a whole lot of work.  It's hard for me to see either of these RB's (Richardson or Bradshaw) getting 50 rushing yards.

Wide Receivers

Start 'Em

Antonio Brown, PIT (@ Jacksonville Jaguars) - They're still the Jaguars.  90+ receiving yards and 1 TD.

Steve Smith, BAL (@ Indianapolis Colts) - You saw what he did to his old team last week, right?  But have you seen what he's been doing all year?  Steve Smith is for real this year.  I'm sold.  The man is dangerous, physical, and downright scary.  I've shaken his hand before and he has the biggest, strongest hands I've ever seen in my life.  I wouldn't bet against him for anything.  He's far-and-away the #1 WR there and Baltimore will have to throw to keep up with Luck in Indy.  And why wouldn't they?  Smith has been torching folks all year and is on pace for 100 receptions, 1,716 yards, and 12 TD's.  Wow.  80+ receiving yards and 1 TD.

Keenan Allen, SD (vs New York Jets) - The Jets secondary/pass defense is as bad as their run defense is good.  Both equal good things for Keenan Allen who found his way last week and broke the 100 yards mark.  I think he's back now and I'm rolling with him.  Rivers and the Chargers passing attack is lethal.  Gates has gotten his.  Royal has gotten his.  Keenan Allen is about to go back-to-back with big games against the hapless Jets.  70+ receiving yards.

Sit 'Em

Any NE WR (vs Cincinnati Bengals) - The Patriots offense along with Tom Brady is dead.  They have no good WR's and Brady doesn't appear to be able to work his magic and make no-names into household names right now.  Stay away from them all, especially against a great Bengals defense.  In fact, you can drop all of them except Edelman.

Philly WR's (vs St. Louis Rams) - Read what I wrote about McCoy and Sproles.  This is going to be a running week for Philly.  Maclin may do a little something, but don't expect production from Cooper or Matthews.  I've figured Chip Kelly out!  He just switches is up from week to week.  Throw to the RB's.  Then throw to the TE's.  Then throw to the WR's.  Then run a lot.  And round and round we go.  The wheel stopped on running this week for them.

Larry Fitzgerald, ARI (@ Denver Broncos) - Fitz has lost a step and Drew Stanton is throwing the ball.  He's not getting the targets, catches, yards, or TD's this year.  I think the Broncos defense will be too much for the AZ offense and will really expose them this week.  Their perfect start is a mirage and it ends a mile up.  50 yards.

Tight Ends

Start 'Em

Martellus Bennett, CHI (@ Carolina Panthers) - Keep starting him and don't stop!  Ride the train!  I have and it's been going very smoothly this year.  Bennett is a major part of that air attack in Chicago and as I said before, the Ravens exposed the Panthers through the air last week.  Bennett is as hot as they come at the TE spot now and you'd be crazy to bench him.  60+ yards and 1 TD.

Larry Donnell, NYG (vs Atlanta Falcons) - I don't believe in Eli or the Giants offense yet, but Donnell is a matchup nightmare.  I think we have to start believing after four straight weeks of him being a major part of the offense.  When they struggled, he got his.  When their offense was on fire, he got his again.  Looks like Donnell will continue to get his and he thrives as Manning's security blanket in that short throwing WCO.  Plus, he's a handful in the red-zone.  60+ yards and 1 TD.

Sit 'Em

Zach Ertz, PHI (vs St. Louis Rams) - Just read everything I've written about the other Eagles in this article and you'll get it.  He's been terrible the past two weeks and the Rams D is good against TE's, too.  20 yards.

Jason Witten, DAL (vs Houston Texans) - Witten has not been productive this season.  Simple as that.  The Cowboys are clearly a running team this year and Romo has been mediocre and with a bad back.  The Texans are very good against TE's and I believe the Cowboys will continue to ask Witten to block.  His time as an elite TE may be ending before our very eyes.  40 yards.

Please leave any fantasy related questions you might have in the comments section and I'll try to answer as many and as quickly as I can.  It's fun to get everyone's perspectives on this week's matchups floating around down there and I'm always interested to see what kind of decisions different fantasy players have to make.  These are just general ideas for standard leagues, but we can all give and receive advice for unique situations as they come up.  Good luck!