We are now at the quarter-mark of the NFL season, believe it or not! We’re now starting to get a better feel for who we should be starting and sitting on a week-to-week basis, and which matchups are actually ones to target, rather than matchups that look good because of a small sample size.
There are some very interesting matchups on deck for Week 5, so let’s talk about some.
It’s hard to imagine that through 4 weeks of the regular season, Wentz is the #5 QB in fantasy. In a early start to the season plagued by receiver drops and injuries, Wentz has still strung together some very good performances to remain a QB1 in fantasy. After a few extra days of rest after playing last Thursday, Wentz will get to face the Jets at home. While they’re rested as well, coming off of their bye week, their secondary has been god-awful to start the year. They currently rank 22nd in passing success rate allowed, and 26th in explosive passing allowed. He will still miss DeSean Jackson, but Wentz is in a great spot at home, and has immense top-5 upside this week.
The narrative in Arizona through 4 weeks has been one of confusion. On one hand, Murray has been very solid through his first four starts of his career. He’s had tough outings against Baltimore and Seattle, yet he’s finished with 300+ passing yards in two of his four starts, and threw for 2 TD’s against both Detroit and Carolina, which aren’t easy defenses to navigate. On the other hand, it seems like we could be seeing more from both Kyler and Kliff Kingsbury, who has shown flashes of brilliance in some cases, yet has left us feeling confused when he does things like go for a field goal on the opposing 4 yard line… down by multiple scores. I have a feeling that this Cardinals offense will hit their stride this week against Cincinnati. They’ll be without Christian Kirk, but this passing game has a few weapons to fill that gap. The matchup is a great one for the rookie QB, as the Bengals defense 31st in pass defense DVOA, and 30th in explosive passing rate allowed. If there is a time for Murray to absolutely go off, it’ll happen this Sunday.
Winston and the Bucs completely shocked the NFL world last week, as the Bucs hung up 55 points against the defending NFC champions behind Winston’s 385 yards and 4 TD’s. The Bucs have looked so much better on both sides of the ball compared to last year, and it’s unfortunate that Matt Gay missed the game-winning FG in Week 3, cause if he made it, we’d be looking at the 3-1 Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Regardless, they’ll look to continue this momentum heading into the Superdome tomorrow to face the Saints. Considering how they played against the Rams, it’s a much easier opponent for Jameis, as the Saints rank 26th in pass defense DVOA, and 22nd in explosive passing rate allowed. This should be a shootout in the dome, and once again, Winston is a firm QB1 this Sunday.
Mayfield proved both me and Rex Ryan wrong last week, as he threw for 342 yards and a score last week on the road against Baltimore, although Nick Chubb had far the more productive fantasy day. While Mayfield did play well, he has yet to have a multi-TD game this season. It is early, but the 49ers secondary looks pretty legit, ranking 2nd in pass defense DVOA, 2nd in pass success rate allowed, and 6th in explosive passing allowed. While last week’s performance is an encouraging sign, I think he should remain on most fantasy benches this week, on the road against San Francisco.
It was very encouraging to see Brissett play well last week despite not having T.Y. Hilton, as the QB threw for 265 yards, 3 TD’s, and 1 INT. Most of his production came from the fact that the Colts saw themselves down early and often last week against Oakland. The same could be predicted this week, on the road against Kansas City, but it’s a much tougher matchup. The Chiefs defense is much better against the pass than they are against the run, ranking 9th in pass defense DVOA, but 31st in rush defense DVOA (more on that later). Hilton will probably be a game-time decision, but even if he does suit up, I’m not confident at all this week in Brissett, who is projected outside of the top-20, according to Rudy’s tools.
Mariota took advantage of a very bad Falcons defense last Sunday, and put together a very fine passing day, throwing for 227 yards, 3 TD’s, and 0 picks. While they are at home, I don’t have any confidence in Mariota keeping that momentum against a very good Bills secondary. We saw what they did to Tom Brady last week (despite losing), and it reflects how good they have been on that side of the ball, ranking 3rd in the league in pass defense DVOA. Mariota is only an option in the deepest of leagues.
Before last Sunday’s performance, Fournette was the 27th RB in standard leagues. Now? He’s the 12th RB in standard leagues. That’s what happens when you rush for 225 yards. While I do think that there is a little reason to be concerned that he still hasn’t found the endzone, he’s doing enough for the time being. In fact, if I were to bet on the week he’ll finally find the endzone, I’d bet it on this one against Carolina. They are on the road, but like last week, that might not matter, and the matchup is a good one. Through 4 weeks, Carolina ranks 4th in pass defense DVOA, yet 29th in rush defense DVOA, and 31st in explosive rush rate allowed. If Jacksonville is going to be successful on offense tomorrow, it’ll have to be because of Fournette. And I think Fournette will continue to roll.
As I mentioned a few days ago on Ambulance Chasers, Mack is currently questionable for Week 5 with an ankle injury, but he did resume practicing on Friday, which is a very good sign. We’ll have to monitor it up to kickoff Sunday night, but if Mack is able to start, he immediately carries Top-10 upside, thanks to the matchup. He’ll face a KC rush defense that ranks 31st in rushing success rate allowed, and 30th in explosive rush rate allowed, and just gave up 125 rushing yards to Kerryon Johnson. Mack is a must-start if he starts.
It’s been a frustrating start to the season for the Sony Michel owners, as he’s currently the #34 RB in standard leagues. However, a lot of Michel’s early season woes has been due to injuries to the Patriots O-Line, the departure of Rob Gronkowski (and how he affected the run game last season), and the injury to James Devlin, their FB. However, Michel has still averaged close to 16 rushing attempts per game, so it isn’t for a lack of trying. I think he’ll get out of his funk this week against Washington, a defense that ranks 28th in rushing success rate allowed, and 20th in explosive rush rate allowed. The Patriots are huge road favorites, and Michel should have a great dose of work once again. There is a reason why he’s projected as the #10 RB. I’m expecting a great game from the young back.
On the other side of the ball between Washington and New England, we have AP. He’s struggled even more than Michel has, ranking 55th in standard leagues. It’s just been a season to forget in Washington for everyone besides Terry McLaurin (more on him later). The Patriots defense has been one of the best units in the NFL so far, and there is no way AP has any starting value in any league.
The rookie back has been very impressive to start the year, ranking just outside of the top-12 at the position. He’s been a very dependable starter week-to-week, but I don’t have much faith in him to produce this week. The Raiders will be traveling to London on Sunday to face off against the Bears. It’s an insanely tough matchup, as Chicago ranks 3rd in rush defense DVOA, 5th in rushing success rate allowed, and 2nd in explosive rush rate allowed. If you have other options at the RB position, feel free to use them, as it’s very likely that he’ll finish outside of the top 25 at the position this week. However, if he’s the best you got, you can start him, just really lower your expectations.
Two things are really hurting Gallman’s fantasy stock right now. First, he’s facing a really stout Minnesota Vikings rush defense, a unit that ranks 4th in rush defense DVOA. While the volume will be there this week, it’s not a matchup that warrants his use as an RB2/FLEX option this week. The second thing that hurts Gallman is that Saquon is healing at superhero levels right now, and looks like he could return next week. Gallman is still a must-own for the Barkley owners as a handcuff, but his weekly and ROS fantasy stock is taking a huge dive for the rest of us.
It’s a very risky recommendation, but I think Thielen is going to have a very productive Sunday tomorrow against the Giants. This is a Giants secondary 24th in passing success rate allowed, and 28th in explosive passing rate allowed. In coverage, he’ll get to face Deandre Baker, who has allowed 2.64 fantasy points per target, 15.13 yards per target, and a catch rate of 75%. Not a lot of things are going well for the Vikings passing game, but if you’re a subscriber of the squeaky wheel theory, then this is the week where Thielen is going to finally put it all together.
Thanks to the fact that John Ross will miss at least 8 games with a shoulder injury, Boyd steps into a great matchup in Week 5 with immense upside. He’ll likely get a bunch of targets against a Cardinals secondary that ranks 28th in passing success rate allowed. He’ll draw Tramaine Brock in coverage, who has allowed 1.97 fantasy points per target and 10.31 yards per target. Boyd is a great WR3/flex option.
Like Thielen, Gordon has had an underwhelming start to the season, as he’s currently the #46 WR through 4 weeks. While the Pats do a great job of spreading the ball around, it seems like Gordon is going to have a game any day now. Well, this could be the any day now, as Gordon will face off against Josh Norman in the Washington secondary, who is allowing 2.5 fantasy points per target, 3 TD’s, and a 64% catch rate. Gordon is a great WR3/FLEX option with upside.
Like I mentioned earlier with Fournette, the way the Jaguars will have success on offense will be on the ground. Both Chark and Westbrook will face off against a Panthers secondary that ranks 4th in pass defense DVOA. If you drafted Chark or Westbrook (or picked them up on waivers), then you probably have a better option available. I would look elsewhere, as our projections have both of them outside of the Top-30 at the position.
This matchup is just too tough for both McLaurin and Colt McCoy to have any success this Sunday. It doesn’t help when his coach publicly admits they don’t know what they’re doing at the QB position. Just bench F1, and hope for a better opportunity next Sunday.
Davis has been struggling to start the year, and it doesn’t help that rookie A.J. Brown absolutely went off last week against the Dirty Birds. This Buffalo secondary is a tough one, and Davis has little starting value in most leagues on Sunday.
Not only is it a great matchup against a Dallas defense that hasn’t played well against opposing TE’s so far, more targets will be up for grabs thanks to the injury to Davante Adams. Graham is a solid starting option this week.
He hasn’t cracked double-digit targets so far this season, and with Doyle’s emergence in the passing game, in addition to the tough matchup, Ebron is far from a recommended start.
Kickers and D/ST
Matt Gay (@ NO) – Razzball Projection: #18 K
In the dome in what is likely to be a shootout, Gay is a great streaming option for those looking for a kicker.
Mike Nugent (@ WAS) – Razzball Projection: #3 K
He’s likely un-owned in most leagues, but Nugent is an excellent starting option at the position with the injury to Gostkowski, and this week, he should get plenty of XP and FG attempts against Washington.
At home against Luke Falk? Sign me up!
Cairo Santos (vs. BUF) – Razzball Projection: #21 K
I don’t see Tennessee moving the ball easily against this defense, and Santos, while he has been pretty productive recently, doesn’t carry much value with him tomorrow.
They haven’t been great this season, and should continue to struggle on the road against Deshaun Watson and Co.
Good luck to everyone in Week 5, and I will be back on Thursday for another edition of Ambulance Chasers!
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