Ranking the Week Five defensive matchups
The Bears and Buccaneers are on bye in Week Five, meaning we lose a top defense in the Bears and a defense we love to pick on in the Bucs. I tend not to worry much when it comes to what defense to start, unless the matchup is terrible. The bye weeks have started and I’m going to be to busy dropping players who aren’t playing in order to replace them with ones that are. I’m never going to spend FAAB money on a DST. In most leagues they just don’t score enough points. If I do need a DST, I’ll wait until FCFS to see what’s available.
As always, the top of this list are teams to make sure you start players against, while the bottom are defenses you want to start.
- Indianapolis Colts (against New England): Tight end has been a problem this season, as injuries have taken down several of the Top 10. We are being told that the injury to the ankle of Rob Gronkowski is not serious, but he has yet to practice this week. He’s active, but is a risk to not finish the game. Julian Edelman returns from his suspension and starts for Fantasy owners. Josh Gordon only played 18 snaps last week. I would expect more this week, but he’s still a boom-or-bust start.
- Pittsburgh Steelers (against Atlanta): Devonta Freeman looks like he will play this week. The question is, if he does play, will he get his normal workload, or will he be eased back in with Tevin Coleman and Ito Smith? It’s a tasty matchup, so you’re going to start him if he’s active. Coleman would go back to being a Flex play. I don’t see how you’re not starting Calvin Ridley and Mohamed Sanu here.
- San Francisco 49ers (against Arizona): You’re always starting David Johnson, but the same can’t be said for Larry Fitzgerald anymore. It’s a great matchup for Fitz, but I still want to see what else you have on your roster before starting him. I would also like to see him put up one solid game first.
- Buffalo Bills (against Tennessee): Marcus Mariota had a big game last week, putting aside worries about his elbow injury. Mariota is still not a Top 12 QB this week, but he’s also no longer way out of the discussion either. This Titans’ offense works much better with Dion Lewis on the field than it does with Derrick Henry. In PPR leagues, you’re starting Lewis over Henry pretty easily. Henry is a Flex play but will likely need to hit the end zone to be Fantasy worthy, even in this matchup.
- Washington Redskins (against New Orleans): Yes, Mark Ingram is back for Week Five. No, I’m not starting him this week. We don’t know how the Saints will work him into the offense and they may not fully do so until after their bye next week. The guessing game with who starts at WR other than Michael Thomas is still open for discussion. Cam Meredith is the best long-term answer as Ted Ginn remains boom or bust, but in that dome it’s hard not to start Ginn.
- Miami Dolphins (against Cincinnati): Andy Dalton is another start this week and may continue to be so with his upcoming schedule; he may just finish the season as a Top 12 Fantasy QB. Joe Mixon will likely be a game-time decision Sunday. If he plays, Giovani Bernard goes back to being a Flex play in PPR leagues. If not, Bernard is a high end RB2 once again. Tyler Boyd is a must-claim if he’s somehow still available on your waiver wire and pretty much a must-start also. Those who are desperate for a tight end may want to take a look at C.J. Uzomah.
- Atlanta Falcons (against Pittsburgh): James Conner has been quiet the past two weeks, and his value is limited now that we know Le’Veon Bell will return after the Week Seven bye. With TE being such a desolate position, Vance McDonald has been a popular pickup, but there will be games in which Jesse James is the better play.
- Seattle Seahawks (against Los Angeles Rams): All of your usual suspects go for the Rams here.
- Kansas City Chiefs (against Jacksonville): Leonard Fournette is out this week after re-aggravating his hamstring injury. This makes T.J. Yeldon a must-pick-up if available and a must-start. Blake Bortles could also be a start, depending upon who else you have. The receivers are more of a mixed bag, as it can be hard to tell which one will have the big game each week. One game it’s Keelan Cole, the next Dede Westbrook, then Donte Moncrief. It’s a great matchup, but none are anything more than a low-end WR3.
- Green Bay Packers (against Detroit): The Lions’ run game is slowly starting to take shape. However, the shape is a problem, Fantasy-wise. LeGarrette Blount looks like the short-yardage/goal line guy, Theo Riddick the pass catcher and Kerryon Johnson everything in between. This limits the upside for Johnson, but he’s still the RB you want here. The emergence of Kenny Golladay has lowered Marvin Jones to a WR3/Flex play.
- Oakland Raiders (against Los Angeles Chargers): Speaking of TEs, Antonio Gates is once again on your Fantasy radar, as pretty much any healthy and somewhat productive TE should be. I still prefer Mike Williams over Tyrell Williams, but both can be rostered, but neither one is more than a WR3 currently.
- Dallas Cowboys (against Houston): The Texans stated after last week’s game that Will Fuller’s hamstring injury was minor, and he could’ve returned to the game. Really? The game was a close one. It seems to be that if it was a minor injury then he would’ve returned. What I’m trying to say is that although you want to start him week in and week out, he’s a gamble this week and the Texans play Sunday night.
- Arizona Cardinals (against San Francisco): C.J. Beathard was pretty good versus the Chargers last week. Listen, you’re never going to start him, but at least Marquise Goodwin and Pierre Garcon may retain some value and George Kittle is a TE1 for the ROS. Alfred Morris and Matt Breida are both banged up, with Breida still holding more value but not as anything more than a RB3.
- Detroit Lions (against Green Bay): Aaron Rodgers is not the same player due to his knee injury. The high upside just isn’t there right now. Still, you’re starting him. His pass catchers are also beat up as we’re still waiting to hear whether or not Geronimo Allison clears concussion protocol and if Randall Cobb is over his hamstring injury. One has to think that Aaron Jones will become the lead ball carrier, but this is a passing team and Jamaal Williams is much better at pass protection than Jones is.
- New England Patriots (against Indianapolis): T.Y. Hilton and Jack Doyle will not play for the Colts Thursday night. This may be too much for Andrew Luck to overcome, and he isn’t a QB1 for me this week. As for everyone’s darling right now, Nyheim Hines, he’s a definite claim and probably a start, but I still wonder what his role will be when Marlon Mack is ready to play.
- New York Giants (against Carolina): We saw last week that Janoris Jenkins can shut down or at least keep a top WR in check as he did with Michael Thomas. This week, he might follow Devin Funchess all over the field. Funchess drops to a Flex play for me as my only definite starters here are Cam Newton and Christian McCaffrey.
- Los Angeles Chargers (against Oakland): The Raiders’ offense is actually pretty solid. Derek Carr is having a bounce-back season under Jon Gruden, Marshawn Lynch seems to score every week and although Amari Cooper has been up and down, he’s had his opportunities. It’s safe to say the chances will be there in Week Five because Oakland’s defense is so bad that the Raiders have to throw the ball early and often. Jordy Nelson is also worth a look.
- New York Jets (against Denver): We are starting to see why the Vikings didn’t make much of an effort at retaining Case Keenum, he’s just not very good. Phillip Lindsay, however, does seem to be very good, which is concerning for Royce Freeman owners. Freeman is the type of ball carrier that needs to get the rock more than a handful of times. Freeman needs to wear down defenses, but with Lindsay playing so well, he isn’t going to get that kind of volume. This will limit his value as he will need to score to have a good Fantasy day.
- Philadelphia Eagles (against Minnesota): We know the Vikings can pass the ball. The question is, can they run it? Dalvin Cook has admitted that he’s still not 100 percent and still isn’t sure he can handle a full load this week. That’s enough for me to hope I have a better option to start over him this week.
- New Orleans Saints (against Washington): Alex Smith has gone back to his dink-and-dunk ways in the early going this season, and neither the dinks nor the dunks have gone to Jamison Crowder. The Redskins will try to control the clock with Adrian Peterson. If you can’t start Crowder or Josh Doctson in this game, then it’s time to say goodbye to them unless you are just using them for depth.
- Houston (against Dallas): Well, you can think about starting Dak Prescott in a league that starts two QBs, but in any other league, it’s just Ezekiel Elliott, like always.
- Cleveland Browns (against Baltimore): Alex Collins fumbled at the goal line last week. This is cause for concern as his fumble problems at the goal line last season did see him lose some opportunities. You’re still starting him, but if he were to lose some touches to Javorius Allen, now you know why. I prefer John Brown over Michael Crabtree also, but Crabtree is still in Flex consideration.
- Minnesota Vikings (against Philadelphia): Carson Wentz is still rusty, and this may not be the game he shakes that off. Sure, the Vikings pass defense was deplorable against the Rams, but they have had 10 days to work on the problem. Should you start Alshon Jeffery? That depends on what else you have, but I’m not against it. Same goes for Jay Ajayi, but I’m not seeing big Fantasy days for any of the Eagles this week.
- Jacksonville Jaguars (against Kansas City): We will find out just how good Patrick Mahomes is this week. Mahomes is damn good, but big numbers aren’t likely coming in this game. With Sammy Watkins dealing with a hamstring injury, it’s not probable that I will start him Sunday.
- Baltimore Ravens (against Cleveland): Yes, Nick Chubb had a monster game Sunday. But he had only had three carries. Let’s not break the bank on him just yet. Head coach Hue Jackson stated that Antonio Callaway may see reduced snaps this week after several drops in Week Four. This is not a great matchup anyway, Callaway sits.
- Cincinnati Bengals (against Miami): How quick Kenyan Drake has fallen from grace in Miami. You can’t start him right now. Frank Gore is getting more touches but is no prize either. Truth is, there is no one on Miami that is a must for your lineup.
- Carolina Panthers (against New York Giants): A game on the road against a Carolina team coming off a bye doesn’t seem like the place where the Giants’ offense will fix what ails them. There just aren’t any big plays. You’re starting Odell Beckham and Saquon Barkley, maybe even Sterling Shepard, but keep your expectations in check.
- Denver Broncos against (New York Jets): The Broncos’ defense kept Mahomes in check until the last two drives, and they won’t have as many problems against the Jets. Quincy Enunwa can still be useful, but only in a PPR.
- Los Angeles Rams (against Seattle): Am I worried about Russell Wilson? Sure, but he’s gotten off to slow starts before. That said, I’m hesitant about starting him here and would consider a waiver wire QB. As for Doug Baldwin, he’s a WR/Flex, but I’m not dying to get him in my lineup either. The run game could be a split between Chris Carson and Mike Davis. There just isn’t any Fantasy goodness here.
- Tennessee Titans (against Buffalo): It’s LeSean McCoy or bust here, and “bust” is seemingly the choice every week.
As always feel free to follow me on Twitter and ask any questions you, @georgekurtz.