Start ‘Em or Sit ‘Em is geared toward season-long leagues but can also be used for daily fantasy purposes.
Start of the Week: Tom Brady vs. Falcons – Fantasy’s QB18 on the season, Brady finally got all his receivers back last week against the Chiefs after Mike Evans served a one-game suspension and Chris Godwin (hamstring) and Julio Jones (knee) missed multiple weeks. The Bucs were playing catch-up most of the night, but Brady still answered with easily his best box score of the season’s first month, completing 75% of his passes for 385 yards and three touchdowns. It was Brady’s first multi-touchdown game of the year en route to the overall QB4 week. Brady now gets a date with a Falcons team he’s gone 9-0 in his career against with a sparkling 26:3 TD:INT mark. His 117.4 passer rating versus Atlanta is Brady’s best against any single opponent. This year’s Falcons are 22nd in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks, 17th in pass-defense DVOA, 29th in opponent completion percentage, 20th in yards per attempt against, 24th in opponent yards per play, and 27th in adjusted sack rate. With as healthy a supporting cast as he’s had all year, Brady is a shoo-in QB1 play. Tampa Bay’s implied team total of 28 points is the second-highest on the Sunday slate, trailing only the Bills.
Kirk Cousins vs. Bears – The overall QB16 on the young season, Cousins has alternated multi-touchdown weeks with clunkers. He’s coming off the QB21 week in London last Sunday against the Saints but now gets a Chicago defense that looks likely to be without top CB Jaylon Johnson (quad) after he missed practice Wednesday and Thursday. The Bears have played middling pass defense through four weeks, checking in at 15th in pass-defense DVOA, 14th in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks, and 19th in adjusted sack rate, but they’ve also faced Trey Lance in a monsoon, Aaron Rodgers without any WRs, Davis Mills, and Daniel Jones/Tyrod Taylor. Cousins isn’t a world-beater by any means, but he’s shown he can put up numbers against mediocre opponents, especially at home and at 1 PM ET. This just feels like a spot Cousins is going to produce, especially with Johnson likely out, and the Vikings’ WRs having the upper hand in individual matchups across the board. Minnesota’s implied team total of 25.75 points is tied for the fifth-highest of Week 5 as 7.5-point home favorites.
Trevor Lawrence vs. Texans – Lawrence is very much in the early stages of a second-year leap under new coach Doug Pederson. He enters Week 5 sixth amongst all quarterbacks in QBR and EPA. Lawrence is coming off a bad Week 4 in Philadelphia where he completed just 11-of-23 passes for 174 yards, two touchdowns, and one interception while absorbing a season-high four sacks, but the two teams played in rainy and windy conditions. The Jaguars now get to head back home as seven-point favorites versus a Houston defense that has actually played pretty well on paper against the pass, coming in at 16th in pass-defense DVOA, seventh in opponent completion percentage, and 10th in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks. But the Texans have faced Matt Ryan‘s corpse, Russell Wilson‘s corpse, the anti-throwing Bears, and an injured Justin Herbert. Herbert actually flamed them for 340 yards and two touchdowns at 8.7 yards per attempt. Lawrence also looks likely to get Zay Jones (ankle) back this week. Implied to score 25.25 points against a Texans defense that is 31st in opponent plays per game, Lawrence is very much on the back end of the QB1 map as a quality streaming option.
Teddy Bridgewater at Jets – I certainly don’t love this one, but for fantasy players looking for a plug-and-play option, preferably in two-QB or Superflex leagues, Bridgewater makes some sense. In relief of Tua Tagovailoa (brain) last week, Bridgewater completed 14-of-23 passes for 193 yards (8.39 YPA) and a 1:1 TD:INT mark against the Benga;s. He really showed a strong rapport with Tyreek Hill. Bridgewater isn’t going to challenge defenses deep very often, but he knows how to get the ball in the hands of his best playmakers. That’s all Hill and Waddle need, and the matchup couldn’t get much better on paper. The Jets are 29th in pass-defense DVOA, 23rd in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks, 21st in opponent completion rate, and 24th in yards per attempt against. Playing for a coach who knows how to put his players in a position to succeed, Bridgewater has top-12 upside. Miami is implied to score a healthy 24.75 points.
Matthew Stafford vs. Cowboys – Super Bowl hangover? Stafford spent the offseason barely even throwing a football, watched two of his offensive line starters walk in free agency and into retirement, lost several more OL starters and fill-in starters to injuries, and now leads the NFL in interceptions. The overall QB25 on the year, Stafford has failed to throw a touchdown pass in back-to-back games for just the fourth time in his career and first time since 2016. Prior to Week 3, Stafford had tossed at least one touchdown in every start with the Rams. The rag-tag offensive line and Stafford’s inability to connect with Allen Robinson has left the Rams as an unexciting dink-and-dunk pass offense that also can’t run the ball. This week’s trench battle between the Dallas defensive front and Los Angeles’ offensive line has to be the biggest mismatch on the board. The Cowboys are No. 1 in adjusted sack rate, and the Rams’ offensive line is 29th in sack rate against, having allowed 16 Stafford takedowns. The Cowboys are fifth in pass-defense DVOA, 11th in opponent completion rate, first in yards per attempt against, second in passing touchdowns allowed, third in sacks, and fourth in opponent yards per play. This is another recipe for disaster for Stafford. The Rams are 31st in yards per play on offense. Dallas’ weakness is against the run, but L.A. can’t run-block either. Stafford is barely a QB2.
Jared Goff at Patriots – Fantasy’s overall QB5 on the season, Goff is top-10 in both QBR and EPA and has the Lions No. 1 in yards per play and points per game. He’s tied for the league lead with 11 touchdown passes, fifth in passing yards per game, and 10th in yards per attempt. However, three of the Lion’ four games have been played at fantasy-friendly Ford Field with the other also in a dome at Minnesota. This will be Goff’s first outdoor game of the year and against a tougher opponent. New England is 10th in pass-defense DVOA, 13th in opponent yards per attempt, and has faced the ninth-fewest pass attempts against. Goff also appears likely to again be without No. 1 receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown (ankle) and D’Andre Swift (ankle) after both missed practice Wednesday and Thursday. Goff also brings nothing to the table with his legs. This game’s middling 45.5-point total and Goff’s first test outdoors has him as more of a QB2.
Carson Wentz vs. Titans – Wentz got off to a ripping start, tossing seven touchdowns and averaging 325 yards per game over the season’s first two weeks as fantasy’s QB4. But Wentz has since fallen flat on his face in back-to-back dates with the Eagles and Cowboys, completing less than 60% of his passes with a 1:2 TD:INT mark while absorbing 11 sacks. He’s the QB27 in that span. The Commanders’ offensive line has been wrecked by injuries. RT Sam Cosmi (finger) is expected to miss multiple games, and C Chase Roullier and OG Wes Schweitzer are already on injured reserve. Stud LT Charles Leno is banged up with a shoulder issue. The Titans have surrendered a league-high 10 touchdown passes and are 26th in pass-defense DVOA, but Washington has been equally as bad on offense, coming into this one dead last in yards per play. Wentz might soon be in danger of getting benched for Taylor Heinicke or rookie Sam Howell. This game’s 43-point total is one of the lowest on the Week 5 slate, and the Commanders’ implied team total of 20.75 points is the 10th-lowest on the board.
Start of the Week: James Robinson vs. Texans – Fantasy’s overall RB3 across Weeks 1-3, Robinson rushed for at least 60 yards and a touchdown in three straight games to open the season before getting planted for a scoreless 8/29/0 rushing line and no targets last week in Philadelphia. The Jaguars ran just 47 plays in Week 4. Travis Etienne continues to do nothing with his touches, and Robinson has easily distanced himself as the Jaguars’ RB1. After a tough Week 4 spot in the wind and rain, Robinson now comes back home to face a Texans unit that is 29th in run-defense DVOA, 32nd in fantasy points allowed to running backs, 26th in yards per carry against, and 31st in opponent plays per game. Houston also profiles as a bit of a run-funnel defense, coming in at 16th in DVOA versus the pass. Austin Ekeler (13/60/2), Khalil Herbert (20/157/2), Javonte Williams (15/75), and Jonathan Taylor (31/161/1) have all found success on the ground against Houston. Robinson is a surefire top-end RB2 with RB1 upside as a significant home favorite (-7) and the Jaguars implied to score a healthy 25.25 points.
Damien Harris vs. Lions – Ty Montgomery getting injured in Week 1 was the best thing that could’ve happened to this backfield, as we’ve been granted every-week RB2 status for both Harris and Rhamondre Stevenson. Harris has found the end zone on the ground in three straight games and is fantasy’s overall RB14 on the year. He and Stevenson are essentially splitting things right down the middle in the New England backfield, and the two almost helped stun the Packers in Week 4. The Patriots are either going to start an injured Mac Jones (ankle) or rookie Bailey Zappe against Detroit this week. It’s a prime spot to again lean on Harris and Stevenson. The Lions are 32nd in run-defense DVOA, 31st in fantasy points allowed to running backs, 32nd in opponent yards per carry, 32nd in rushing touchdowns allowed (10), and 29th in opponent plays per game. Harris could flirt with 20 carries in this one. Rashaad Penny just decked Detroit for 17/151/2 on the ground last week. Dalvin Cook (17/96/1), Alexander Mattison (7/28/1), Antonio Gibson (14/28/1), Miles Sanders (13/96/1), Kenneth Gainwell (5/20/1), and Boston Scott (4/10/1) have all also found the end zone against the Lions. Harris is an easy RB1.
Devin Singletary vs. Steelers – Singletary has thoroughly dominated the playing time in Buffalo’s backfield the last two weeks, playing 73% and 88% of the snaps against the Dolphins and Ravens. He averaged 18 carries plus targets per contest in those two outings while Zack Moss (8) and James Cook (7) combined for 15 in the same span. Perhaps it had something to do with the Bills being involved in two competitive games for the first time this season, but it’s clear Singletary has distanced himself as Buffalo’s lead back. The only downside to Singletary is he doesn’t get too many goal-line looks with Josh Allen still the team’s best touchdown-scorer. But with the Bills dealing with multiple injuries at wide receiver – Jamison Crowder (ankle), Jake Kumerow (ankle), and Isaiah McKenzie (concussion) – Singletary’s pass-game acumen has given the team a lift. Singletary has 16 targets the last two weeks. This week, the Bills are heavy 14-point home favorites and should rout the Steelers, but there’s still enough here to like Singletary as an RB2 play. Pittsburgh is 31st in rushing attempts against, 26th in fantasy points allowed to running backs, 22nd in receiving yards surrendered to the position, and 32nd in opponent plays per game. Meanwhile, the Bills are sixth in yards per play and seventh in total plays per game. Buffalo is implied to score a Week 5-high 30 points.
AJ Dillon vs. Giants – Dillon hasn’t found the end zone since Week 1 and is fantasy’s RB28 through four contests. But he’s played 55% of the offensive snaps and is averaging a hearty 17.75 carries plus targets per game while also leading the Packers in red-zone carries, seeing both of the team’s inside-the-five attempts. The coaches clearly prefer Dillon when the offense gets close to the goal line. I like Dillon to find the paint this week in London against a Giants defense that is 22nd in run-defense DVOA, 21st in fantasy points allowed to running backs, 28th in rushing yards allowed, and 29th in opponent yards per carry. Khalil Herbert (19/77), Tony Pollard (13/105), Ezekiel Elliott (15/73/1), Christian McCaffrey (15/102), and Derrick Henry (21/80) have all found moderate levels of success against New York on the ground. Dillon is a rock-solid RB2 on volume alone and could see a spiked week with the Packers favored by eight.
Tony Pollard at Rams – Pollard has seen single-digit touches in 2-of-4 games and has sandwiched two spiked weeks with a couple total duds in Weeks 1 and 4. Pollard’s rushing lines in chronological order are 6/8/0, 9/43/1, 13/105, and 8/6/0. His fantasy finishes in those games are RB59, RB3, RB24, and RB68. Pollard’s range of outcomes are clearly wide. The Rams are third in run-defense DVOA, first in fantasy points allowed to running backs, sixth in rushing yards allowed, and ninth in yards per carry against. On the 40 side of a 60/40 split between he and Ezekiel Elliott, Pollard has the appearance of a low-floor RB3 in a game with a 43-point total and Dallas implied to score just 18.75 points, the sixth-lowest team total on the Week 5 slate.
Antonio Gibson vs. Titans – Gibson’s playing time has been trending in the wrong direction. After playing 64% of the Week 1 snaps, Gibson’s snap share has decreased (54%, 44%, and 41%) each week since. He’s averaging a pitiful 3.3 yards per carry on the year but has gotten by with a couple touchdowns on the ground and a 7/72 receiving day in the opener. Gibson is the overall RB20 on the year but is a screaming sell-high or sell-while-you-can candidate with rookie Brian Robinson (leg) nearing his debut after the Commanders designated him for return from NFI earlier this week, opening his 21-day activation window. Gibson could soon find himself as Washington’s RB3. With his playing time drying up and the Titans checking in at eighth in run-defense DVOA and fifth in fantasy points allowed to running backs, Gibson is a TD-dependent RB2/3 in a game with an ugly 43-point total, Week 5’s third-lowest.
Cam Akers vs. Cowboys – Akers had a productive 12/61/1 day in Week 3 against the Cardinals with the Rams nursing a lead throughout. Outside of that game, Akers has turned in a pitiful 26/57/0 (2.19 YPC) in three contests. It’s gotten so bad that the Rams signed dusty 29-year-old Malcolm Brown last week and played him on the team’s two lone goal-line snaps against the Niners in Week 4. Already a non-factor in the passing game, if Akers is going to lose playing time at the goal line, he’s impossible to like for fantasy. The Rams can’t run-block after so many injuries, coming in at 23rd in adjusted line yards created, but Akers’ explosion looks nonexistent after his 2021 torn Achilles. Dallas is 25th in run-defense DVOA but 12th in fantasy points allowed to running backs, having surrendered just one rushing score to the position. It’s hard to see how the Rams create offense in this one outside of Cooper Kupp and Tyler Higbee.
Start of the Week: Chris Godwin vs. Falcons – After getting hurt in Week 1 and missing Weeks 2 and 3, Godwin returned last week against the Chiefs and played 83% of the snaps. His 10 targets tied Mike Evans for the team lead and a 19.2% share. Evans (49) only ran four more routes than Godwin, who escaped the loss without setbacks and should be freed up to play even closer to 100% of the downs against Atlanta. The Falcons are a middling 17th in pass-defense DVOA but 27th in fantasy points allowed to wide receivers, surrendering the second-most touchdowns to the position. Fellow slot receivers Tyler Lockett (9/76), Cooper Kupp (11/108/2), and Jarvis Landry (7/114) have shredded the Falcons inside. Godwin is a must-start WR2 with upside in a game the Bucs are implied to score a robust 28 points.
DeVonta Smith at Cardinals – From Louisiana and playing his college ball at Alabama, Smith didn’t fare too well in the cold, wind, and rain last week against the Jaguars, catching 3-of-4 targets for 17 scoreless yards. Playing 92% of the snaps this season, Smith and the Eagles now head to warmer temperatures for a road date with the Cardinals. Leading the team in routes run and second in targets, Smith gets a juicy on-paper matchup with an Arizona unit that has been shredded via the air. The Cardinals are 28th in pass-defense DVOA, 25th in yards per attempt against, and 32nd in Pro Football Focus’ coverage grades. It’s a prime spot for Jalen Hurts and the Eagles’ passing game to pop back up for a big game. Smith is a high-upside WR2 play.
Adam Thielen vs. Bears – Thielen’s tank is running out of gas at 32 years old, but he’s playing a career-high 97% of the snaps and is 13th in the NFL in red-zone targets. Kirk Cousins still likes to look for Thielen in the scoring area. Thielen’s box-score results have also improved each week, seeing four targets in Week 1, seven in Week 2, eight in Week 3, and nine last Sunday. He has at least 50 yards in three-straight games. The Bears have allowed the third-fewest fantasy points to wide receivers, but they’ve faced Trey Lance, Aaron Rodgers without WRs, Davis Mills, and Daniel Jones/Tyrod Taylor. This defense has yet to be tested. Minnesota’s implied team total of 25.75 points is the fifth-highest of Week 5. Thielen is a rock-solid WR3.
Robert Woods at Commanders – Treylon Burks is week-to-week with turf toe after leaving last week’s game early. Woods leads the Titans in every meaningful receiving category, including routes (94), targets (20), catches (13), and yards (167), and he scored his first touchdown of the year last Sunday with a 4/30/1 outing. The Titans don’t throw the ball with volume, but Woods is the clear-cut primary option with Burks now sidelined. Washington is 30th in pass-defense DVOA, 31st in fantasy points allowed to wideouts, and 32nd in passing touchdowns allowed. Woods should be considered the favorite to pace Tennessee in targets in this one, and this is probably his best on-paper matchup of the season. Woods doesn’t possess much upside, but his floor is raised in this one. He looks like a startable WR3 despite this game’s 43-point total.
D.J. Moore vs. 49ers – Moore hasn’t suddenly become bad at football, but his quarterback, Baker Mayfield, is easily the worst starting quarterback in the sport. Mayfield is dead last in QBR and EPA at the position. Moore has been able to survive bad quarterback play in the past, but this is a new low. Moore set season-highs with 11 targets and a 6/50 receiving line last week, but he has just one touchdown on the year and has yet to top 50 yards in a game. Mayfield was unable to do anything against the Cardinals’ horrendous pass defense last week, so there’s no hope he’s going to suddenly find it against San Francisco’s elite pass defense. The 49ers are fourth in pass-defense DVOA, sixth in fantasy points allowed to wide receivers, and first in opponent yards per play. On the Carolina side, the Panthers are dead last in plays per game and 26th in yards per play. You’re on your own playing Moore with Carolina implied to score 16.25 points, the second-lowest team total of the week. Mayfield needs to find the bench.
Allen Robinson vs. Cowboys – Signed to a three-year, $45 million deal in free agency, Robinson is 10th among all wide receivers with 164 routes run through four weeks, but he’s 92nd out of 95 qualifiers in yards per route. Matthew Stafford refuses to look Robinson’s away unless it’s on a low-percentage end-zone fade. After a 4/53/1 day in Week 2, Robinson has gone 2/23 and 2/7 on 11 targets. Cooper Kupp, meanwhile, is on pace to shatter the single-season receptions record. The Rams can’t block long enough for Robinson to get downfield, and Robinson’s separation skills may be deteriorating. He’s now likely to see a whole of Cowboys No. 1 CB Trevon Diggs in this one. Dallas is fifth in pass-defense DVOA and seventh in fantasy points allowed to wide receivers. Robinson was likely dropped in a lot of leagues following Week 4. It doesn’t look like a good spot to bet on a bounce-back.
Josh Palmer at Browns – Keenan Allen (hamstring) remains out after apparently suffering a setback in practice last week. Palmer has been playing an every-down role in Allen’s absence, but Palmer suffered an injury of his own in Week 4, playing just 56% of the snaps due to an ankle issue. He’s been limited in practice all week, suggesting Palmer will play Sunday, but he still hasn’t been all that productive on increased snaps Weeks 2-4. Palmer is fantasy’s overall WR43 over the last three weeks and is 75th among 95 qualifying wideouts in yards per route. Cleveland is a middling 18th in pass-defense DVOA and 16th in fantasy points allowed to wideouts. Palmer has just one red-zone grab on the year, a garbage-time seven-yard score in the final minute in Week 2 against the Chiefs. Palmer has settled in as more of a WR4.
Start of the Week: Tyler Higbee vs. Cowboys – Higbee leads all tight ends in targets and catches and is top-five in red-zone looks and top-three in routes run, but Higbee’s average depth of target (3.9) is 37th among 45 qualifying tight ends. Higbee has basically been an extension of the Rams’ nonexistent running game. But he’s very clearly been Matthew Stafford‘s No. 2 option when the ball isn’t going to Cooper Kupp. The Cowboys are sixth in fantasy points allowed to tight ends but have faced Cameron Brate, Hayden Hurst, Daniel Bellinger, and Logan Thomas to date. At a shallow tight end position, Higbee is a locked-in TE1 in PPR formats.
Zach Ertz vs. Eagles – After being limited in the season opener due to a calf injury, Ertz has played 84%, 93%, and 82% of the Cardinals’ offensive snaps the last three weeks. He’s caught at least six passes in three straight contests and leads all tight ends with 10 red-zone targets. Especially with DeAndre Hopkins still out serving his six-game suspension, Ertz is Kyler Murray‘s go-to guy in the scoring area. Ertz is the overall TE4 in half-PPR points per game and now gets a #revenge date with the Eagles after spending the first 8.5 years of his career in Philly. The Eagles are 12th in fantasy points allowed to tight ends, but Ertz’s playing time and target floor make him an easy TE1. One would think the Cardinals will feed Ertz a little more and try to get him into the end zone against his former team. This game also sports a 49-point total.
Pat Freiermuth at Bills – Freiermuth is playing 80% of the offensive snaps and is tied for fifth among tight ends in targets. Kenny Pickett seemed to be looking Freiermuth’s way often after coming on for a benched Mitch Trubisky last Sunday. The Bills are third in fantasy points allowed to tight ends but are missing starting safeties Jordan Poyer and Micah Hyde to injuries. As 14-point underdogs, the Steelers are likely to be chasing points all afternoon. Freiermuth could flirt with double-digit targets in this one. His playing time and targets make him a TE1.
David Njoku vs. Chargers – After playing just 64% of the offensive snaps last season, Njoku’s playing time has spiked to an elite 90% this year. Following 1/7 and 3/32 lines to open the year, Njoku has posted back-to-back TE1 weeks with 9/89/1 and 5/73 days as the TE4 in that span. The Chargers are 13th in fantasy points allowed to tight ends. Njoku’s mix of elite playing time and standing as the Browns’ No. 2 option in the pass game make him an easy top-12 play.