Week 5: the National Football League embarks on the month of October. Spooky Szn. May your fantasy football matchup be filled with ghosts of Aaron Rodgers’ past and freshly carved Jack-Buck-o-Lanterns. This week, we’ll be diving into some particularly scary decisions, such as whether to throw Jonathan Taylor immediately into your lineup and whether or not you should wear fishnets as part of your Halloween costume this year.
We’ll also run through crucial decisions regarding Jahmyr Gibbs and Romeo Doubs: are they starts or sits this week? Is it finally time to believe in Darren Waller? I’m no warlock or witch, but all the analysis and insight you need can be found in the words to follow. Week 5 Start vs. Sit begins right now.
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START: C.J. Stroud. At this point, Stroud and his fellow breakout Houston receivers are must-starts at home. But after Stroud’s performance the last three weeks, coupled with the Week 5 matchup at Atlanta, he’s a bonafide QB1 for fantasy. In each of his first four NFL games, Stroud has thrown for over 240 yards without throwing an interception and now has 280-plus yards with multiple passing touchdowns in three consecutive contests. Although the Falcons have been respectable against the pass thus far, the potential returns of Laremy Tunsil and Tytus Howard to the O-Line will provide a much-needed boost to Stroud and the passing attack.
SIT: Jared Goff. Although I’m a huge fan of what Dan Campbell is building in Detroit, my gut tells me the offense will run through the ground game this week against Carolina. The Panthers are allowing the second-fewest passing yards per attempt (5.4) while only allowing four total passing touchdowns through four games, which is tied for the seventh-best in the league. Goff will provide serviceable QB2 production, but I do not have him ranked as a top-12 option in Week 5.
START: Jahmyr Gibbs. It can be dangerous to put too much stock into the game script, but I see the Lions handling the Panthers with relative ease and the offense stockpiling ground yards. Detroit is a 10-point home favorite against Carolina, who has given up the fourth-most rushing yards to running backs. Gibbs saw 19 touches two weeks ago against Atlanta and 13 last week at Green Bay. He should see somewhere above the aggregate of that volume in Week 5, and if the Lions pull away early, there’s RB1 potential with Gibbs, who ranks seventh in explosive run rate and fifth in missed tackles forced per attempt.
HAT TIP: Jonathan Taylor. Wait and see mode? Why? This is the best running back in the NFL we’re talking about. He’s fully healthy and finally in line to suit up alongside Anthony Richardson. I’m not sure how long it will last, but this is a dream tandem for fantasy managers. As long as he’s playing, he should be in your lineup.
SIT: Rhamondre Stevenson. In order to avoid going Miles Sanders in consecutive weeks, Stevenson gets the nod here. And to be honest, this was a relatively easy call as well. Stevenson has finished as RB32 and RB40 the last two weeks despite seeing 23 and 17 touches, respectively. He has yet to eclipse more than 14 half-PPR points this season. On top of that, he has been limited in practice with a thigh injury. I do not want any part of the New England backfield, and this week’s matchup against New Orleans does not get me excited. The Sants are allowing the sixth-fewest yards per carry (3.5) and have allowed just two rushing touchdowns this season. Some of the other numbers may be middling, but this is a potentially elite defense against a below-average back. Avoid.
START: Romeo Doubs. Nothing about the Las Vegas Raiders should scare you. They have allowed five touchdowns to opposing wide receivers while allowing 10.8 yards per reception and 7.1 per attempt. That isn’t horrible, but it’s enough to let Doubs cook. He has garnered 25 targets in the last two weeks alone, turning in back-to-back WR13 overall finishes in half-PPR. I don’t see him as a WR3, but rather a safe WR2 with upside.
HAT TIP: Zay Flowers. Although the Steelers have been solid against the pass this season, they work primarily in man coverage. That will allow Flowers to excel, as he is arguably the Raven’s top pass catcher against man and a player capable of separating with relative ease. Flowers has been targeted 29 times in his first four NFL games, and it is time for something to finally give. He finds the end zone this week and returns WR2 value with WR1 upside.
SIT: Marquise Brown. The Bengals have surrendered just two passing touchdowns while being tied for the fewest yards per reception allowed (8.4) in the NFL and ranking second with just 728 total passing yards allowed. Despite being the WR19 in fantasy and having a Week 5 ECR of WR20, brown is a hit-or-miss option that is better suited for your bench in this matchup against Cincinnati.
START: Dalton Schultz. Despite having the fifth-best passing defense in 2023, the Falcons have been abysmal against tight ends allowing 13.7 PPR points per game thus far. We’ve already seen Sam LaPorta and Evan Engram have big games versus Atlanta. Now, it’s Schultz’s turn.
SIT: Darren Waller. The Dolphins have allowed an average of 9.3 PPR points per game to tight ends so far this season. Daniel Jones and Darren Waller are yet to hit stride together. With a Saquon Barkley return, the Giants should take the ball out of Daniel Jones’ hands as much as possible against the 21st-worst run defense in the NFL.