Posted: Friday, October 3, 2014
This is the Fantasy Football Nerd's look at the best and worst fantasy football matchups for Week 5 of the 2014 NFL season. Decisions are based upon the FFN rankings and matchup analysis. Given the known conditions, these matchups are the ones to watch and/or avoid.
This list does not generally include the elite players that you are going to start regardless of matchup. You don't need us to tell you to start Peyton Manning, Jimmy Graham, or LeSean McCoy. Instead, we take a look at other players on your team that we believe either have great matchups or should be avoided for multiple reasons. Factors like opposing defense, performance trending, and peer comparisons may influence our decisions.
Start 'em - Ben Roethlisberger (PIT, QB)
If you're playing matchups, there's no greater matchup for a QB this week than Ben Roethlisberger versus the Jaguars. Nobody has given up more fantasy points to opposing QB's than Jacksonville and Big Ben is going to come out swinging after last week's loss to Tampa Bay. Roethlisberger was drafted in most leagues as a backup, but after just 4 weeks, he's the 11th-highest scoring QB overall. Expect that trend to continue.
Start 'em - Philip Rivers (SD, QB)
Without a legitimate running game in San Diego, Philip Rivers has picked up the slack and made a lot of fantasy owners awfully happy as of late. He is currently the 3rd-best fantasy QB in the NFL and he'll hold onto that spot this week when he faces the Jets who are giving up the 3rd-most fantasy points to opposing QB's. Start Rivers with confidence.
Start 'em - Russell Wilson (SEA, QB)
The trend of starting QB's that were drafted as backups continues with Russell Wilson who is coming off a bye to face the Redskins. Washington made Eli Manning look like brother Peyton last week. In fact, the Redskins are giving up the 5th-most fantasy points to opposing QB's and Wilson should light them up on Monday night.
Start 'em - Doug Martin (TB, RB)
Go ahead and do a double-take if you like, but we like Doug Martin this week. We don't like his anemic 2.1 yards per carry, but it's not really the run game that makes Martin a decent start. It's the passing game. Nobody's expecting a repeat of last week's comeback performance from the Bucs nor is anyone expecting New Orleans to tank. Brees and company will put up big numbers this week, and the Bucs will have to pass to try to catch up. Expect a healthier Martin to be more involved making him a starting PPR option.
Start 'em - Rashad Jennings (NYG, RB)
Ranked 4th among all running backs on FFN this week is Rashad Jennings who has exploded as of late. The matchup is particularly sweet as the Falcons give up more fantasy points to opposing RB's than anyone else. Jennings clearly has the workload and we watched both Matt Asiata and Gio Bernard rip the Falcons for 31 pts and 28 points respectively (ppr). Surely Jennings can see 20+ points in this matchup.
Start 'em - Andre Ellington (ARI, RB)
Ranked 14th this week is Andre Ellington who is fresh off a bye week. Denver is giving up the 3rd-most fantasy points to opposing running backs and Ellington is the only option in Arizona. He should get some volume on Sunday afternoon. He's averaging a respectable 4.5 yards per carry and should see the endzone for the first time this year.
Start 'em - T.Y. Hilton (IND, WR)
The Colts offense is firing on all cylinders right now, and the Ravens aren't going to be able to keep both T.Y. Hilton and Reggie Wayne under wraps this week. Jericho Cotchery, Kelvin Benjamin, Miles Austin, and Andrew Hawkins have all hit double digit fantasy points against Baltimore. Hilton and Wayne should have no problem doing the same.
Start 'em - Kelvin Benjamin (CAR, WR)
If you were to look up the word 'sleeper' in the dictionary, Kelvin Benjamin's picture would be listed next to it. With 329 yards and 3 scores, here's a guy who is performing way above expectations. He's a top-10 receiver facing a Bears defense that is giving up the 3rd-most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers. Benjamin is a lock this week.
Start 'em - Brandin Cooks (NO, WR)
If you've got a Saints receiver, this is the week to play them. The matchup this week for Brandin Cooks is beautiful. No other defense gives up more fantasy points to opposing wide receivers than Tampa Bay. Cooks should see the endzone this week and make fantasy owners happy before he heads into his bye week.
Start 'em - Travis Kelce (KC, TE)
Travel Kelce has quickly become the go-to guy for Alex Smith. He's big; he's fast; he's a great endzone target. We saw him really emerge last week against New England where he went 8 for 93 yards and a score. Bowe is back but is not the best option in that offense. Donnie Avery will miss the game this week, so we expect Kelce's role to expand.
Start 'em - Larry Donnell (NYG, TE)
Looking at the FFN rankings this week, you'll see some familiar names like Jimmy Graham, Julius Thomas, and Larry Donnell. Wait - what? Larry Donnell? Yes, it's official. After his 3-TD performance last week, Donnell has become a must start in fantasy land, particularly because the TE position has been depleted so severely this year. There just aren't a lot of great tight ends. Donnell has emerged as Eli's new favorite target as shown in his average of 8 targets per game. Start him.
Start 'em - Cincinnati Bengals (CIN, DEF)
Fresh off their bye week, the Cincinnati Bengals will face a Patriots team that frankly looks like a shell of its former self. The Chiefs just dominated the Pats taking Brady down twice and picking him off twice as well. The Bengals D should show up on Sunday.
Start 'em - Cody Parkey (PHI, K)
Even though Cody Parkey didn't impress last week, he's averaging roughly 10 fantasy points a game. The Rams are giving up nearly that amount each game, so for Parkey to hit double digits is not that far of a stretch. Double digits from a fantasy kicker is great!
Sit 'em - Tom Brady (NE, QB)
Think back to August. Who would have guessed that Brian Hoyer would have more fantasy points than Tom Brady at this point? The Bengals are tough on D giving up the 4th-fewest fantasy points to QB's and held Matt Ryan and Joe Flacco both to only one score. If Bill Belichek won't do it, we will. It's time to sit Tom Brady.
Sit 'em - Kirk Cousins (WAS, QB)
When RGIII went down, Kirk Cousins came in and looked like a fantasy god in Week 3 throwing for 427 yards and 3 scores. Don't expect that this week. With the exception of Philip Rivers, the Seahawks haven't allowed a fantasy QB to hit 20 points, and that included Peyton Manning and Aaron Rodgers. Expect a lot of pressure on Cousins this week. There are safer options for your lineup.
Sit 'em - Donald Brown (SD, RB)
With nobody challenging him for carries, we expected a lot more out of Donald Brown last week than what he delivered. Even if he gets more of a workload, the Jets haven't allowed any RB to score on them this year and they give up the fewest fantasy points to them. It's hard to trust him this week.
Sit 'em - Joique Bell (DET, RB)
As of this writing, Joique Bell hadn't been cleared yet from the concussion protocol. There's still a chance that he plays; however, even if he suits up, he's not a great option this week. Buffalo hasn't allowed a single running back into the endzone. With Bell sputtering as of late, a timeshare situation with Reggie Bush, a tough Bills D, and a concussion, Bell should be safely tucked away on your bench.
Sit 'em - Larry Fitzgerald (ARI, WR)
No Carson Palmer equals a bad fantasy day for Larry Fitzgerald. In fact, Fitzgerald has had a bad fantasy season coming in 82nd overall at the position. The talent is there with Fitz and it always has been, but the production just isn't what it should be. Fitz is wasting away in Arizona and Drew Stanton is not going to help that situation. Fitz will face a Broncos defense that is giving up the 6th-fewest fantasy points to WR's. Time to sit him.
Sit 'em - Kendall Wright (TEN, WR)
Any memories of Kendall Wright being a PPR monster are quickly vanishing. With a revolving door of QB's under center, Wright has performed poorly over the past three weeks. Even if Locker plays, the Browns are very tough on wide receivers giving up a measly average of 8 fantasy points to them in PPR formats. Until Wright can regain his former production levels, it's hard to expect much from him anymore.
Sit 'em - Torrey Smith (BAL, WR)
Even with a slight uptick in production last week, Torrey Smith is still averaging only 7.2 fantasy points per game (ppr). Steve Smith has become the #1 WR in Baltimore. Even if Smith were at the top of the food chain there, he's facing a Colts defense that is giving up the 5th-fewest fantasy points per game to WR's. It's hard to see Torrey Smith doing much on Sunday.
Sit 'em - Jason Witten (DAL, TE)
Sadly, Jason Witten is no longer a starting option in fantasy. He has yet to see the endzone and we're not expecting that streak to come to an end against Houston who is giving up the 5th-fewest fantasy points to tight ends this year. Historically, Witten has been a great TE, particularly in PPR formats, but with his paltry 7.7 average fantasy points per game (ppr), he's just not the same guy.
Sit 'em - New York Jets (NYJ, DEF)
It's true that it's terribly difficult to run on the Jets, but it is certainly feasible to throw on them. That's exactly what the red hot Philip Rivers and the Chargers are going to do. With Gates, Allen, Green, Royal, and Floyd as targets, Rivers will toss his way around the Jets.
Sit 'em - Dan Carpenter (BUF, K)
For a guy who was averaging 15 points a game for the first two weeks, Dan Carpenter has gone cold. This week he'll face a Lions defense that gives up the 5th-fewest fantasy points to kickers.