By Cole Banker and Chris Blake
Week 5 is here, and we’re back to give our takes on who to start and who to sit as the NFL season starts to ramp up. To clarify, when we say we “love” a player, we mean that we expect him to outperform his projections for that week, and the opposite for players we “hate.” We are using PPR scoring when we refer to players’ fantasy points and rankings. With that in mind, let’s get to it. Enjoy.
Quarterbacks we love this week
Cole: Teddy Bridgewater (CAR) @ Atlanta
It’s been an up-and-down start for Bridgewater’s first year in a Panther uniform, but the former Saint is coming off of his best game of the young season in a win against the Cardinals. Bridgewater had an unsettling two touchdowns and three turnovers coming into Week 4, but he doubled that total last week and added a rushing touchdown as well. It appears the first-year QB is starting to settle in with his new team, and his passing yards are sufficient enough that an uptick in scores would make him an every-week start. Bridgewater has a choice matchup in Week 5 against a Falcons defense that is the worst in the league in defending opposing quarterbacks, allowing over 30 fantasy points per game.
Chris: Drew Brees (NO) vs. Los Angeles Chargers
Brees has been anything but phenomenal this season, however the stars are aligning for him this week. Michael Thomas is expected to return to the field on Monday night after suffering a high ankle sprain in New Orleans’ season opener. Additionally, the Chargers have allowed the fourth-most fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks this season, a promising sign for Brees. Finally, and perhaps the most important, the Saints are playing this game at home, where, over his entire career, Brees has posted a passer rating that is 11.1 points higher than his rating on the road.
Quarterbacks we hate this week
Cole: Matt Ryan (ATL) vs. Carolina
It’s been a disastrous start to 2020 for the Atlanta Falcons, especially on the defensive side of the ball, but the offense has struggled in the last couple of weeks as well. Ryan looked like his old self in the first two weeks, averaging over 25 fantasy points per game and tossing six touchdowns. However, the last two weeks have told a much different story, as the veteran quarterback was unable to top 12 fantasy points in both Week 3 and 4. It’s clear Ryan misses Julio Jones, who has been sidelined with a hamstring injury and is looking likely to miss Week 5 after tweaking the injury last week. The Panthers have been stout against the pass thus far and are a top-5 defense against opposing fantasy QBs, so it’s tough to trust Ryan in this matchup.
Chris: Ryan Fitzpatrick (MIA) @ San Francisco
Yes, “Fitzmagic” is the 11th-highest scoring quarterback in fantasy football this year, but his early fantasy success could run dry this weekend in San Francisco. Fitzpatrick has scored a rushing touchdown in each of his last two games, but that raises consistency concerns in my eyes. San Francisco presents an arduous matchup, as the defense is allowing just 184 passing yards per game and 17.8 points per game. While Fitzpatrick is certainly a joy to watch, there are better options for your fantasy team this week.
Running backs we love this week
Cole: James Robinson @ Houston
An undrafted rookie, James Robinson has come out of nowhere and emerged as the clear RB1 in Jacksonville. His usage and efficiency in both the running and passing game are strong indicators of Robinson’s value to the offense, and his volume alone should keep him in fantasy lineups. Robinson is poised for a huge day against a porous Texans defense that let Dalvin Cook run for 130 yards and two touchdowns a week ago. Houston also ranks among the bottom three in stopping the run, allowing nearly 28 fantasy points per game to opposing backs.
Chris: Chris Carson (SEA) vs. Minnesota
This may seem like somewhat of an obvious choice, as Carson has looked every bit as good this season as he did last year prior to getting injured, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he finished as the top-scoring running back in fantasy this week. Quarterback Russell Wilson is leading the MVP race through four weeks of the season, but he’s had his struggles playing in the rain, which is on the forecast this Sunday in Seattle (shocker, right?). Seattle could rely more heavily on Carson this game than usual, and facing a Minnesota defense allowing 134.8 rushing yards per game, he is set up to thrive.
Running backs we hate this week
Cole: Miles Sanders (PHI) @ Pittsburgh
Sorry Eagles fans, but Miles Sanders is back on my hate list for the second straight week. Sanders was held in check for just 46 yards against the 49ers last week and has just one touchdown thus far in 2020. The second-year back still holds a lion’s share of the backfield duties for Philadelphia and maintains a solid presence in the passing game, but we have yet to see him breakout the way many predicted he would. Week 5 brings about another troubling matchup for Sanders, as he’ll face a Steelers defense that has allowed just over 40 rushing yards per game and has held opposing running backs to an average of just under 12 fantasy points per game.
Chris: Joshua Kelley (LAC) @ New Orleans
Austin Ekeler’s injury makes room for Kelley in the Chargers’ offense, but I’m pumping the breaks on him this week. Kelley has averaged just 3.3 yards per attempt, and after carrying the ball 35 times in the first two weeks of the season, he accumulated just 17 carries in weeks three and four. Justin Jackson also looks to have a big role in the offense after Ekeler’s injury, and until after this week, the workload split between Jackson and Kelley will be difficult to project. New Orleans’ defense has also been successful in limiting the run, allowing 97.5 rushing yards per game this year, tied for the sixth-fewest in football. Until there is more clarity in that backfield, I’m staying away from both Kelley and Jackson.
Wide receivers we love this week
Cole: Robby Anderson (CAR) @ Atlanta
Robby Anderson is having the best four-week stretch in his career in his first year in Carolina, and it’s clear his rapport with Teddy Bridgewater is a strong one. It appears he has passed up DJ Moore as the #1 receiver in the Panthers’ offense, easily leading the team in both receiving yards and receptions. While he has just one touchdown on the year, Anderson’s big-play ability always makes him a threat to score. The former Jet draws a tasty matchup against a struggling Falcons defense that has allowed a league-high 13 passing touchdowns and the second most passing yards through the first four weeks of the season.
Chris: Justin Jefferson (MIN) @ Seattle
Jefferson has burst onto the scene over the last two weeks, combining for 278 yards and a touchdown on 11 receptions and 13 targets.. The Vikings are going to need more of the same from him in week five if they want to keep pace with Seattle’s offense, which is a tall task. Picking apart the Seahawks’ defense shouldn’t be too difficult, however. Seattle is allowing a whopping 401 passing yards per game, easily the most in the league. Not surprisingly, Seattle has also allowed the most fantasy points per game to opposing receivers this season. Further, Jamal Adams is expected to be sidelined again this week with a groin injury. Make room for Jefferson in your lineup this Sunday.
Wide receivers we hate this week
Cole: Jamison Crowder (NYJ) vs. Arizona
Crowder returned from injury last week with a solid performance against the Broncos, and marks the second time in as many games in which he has recorded seven receptions and more than 100 yards. It won’t be as easy for him in Week 5, however, as Crowder will face a stiff Cardinals secondary that ranks among the top 3 in defending opposing WRs in terms of fantasy production. He’ll likely receive extra attention from Patrick Peterson that will make his job even harder, and considering the Jets’ inconsistency on offense, I’m not sold on Crowder in Week 5.
Chris: Hunter Renfrow (LV) @ Kansas City
What if I told you that the defending Super Bowl champions, who have Patrick Mahomes, Tyreek Hill, Travis Kelce, and plenty of other playmakers on offense, also boast a defense that has allowed the second-fewest points and third-fewest passing yards per game? Well, that’s the case with the Kansas City Chiefs. Kansas City’s secondary has been spectacular this year, which is bad news for Hunter Renfrow and the rest of the Raiders’ offense besides Josh Jacobs. Frankly, Renfrow only qualifies for the hate list because he’s put together a couple good weeks in a row, but curb your enthusiasm for him this Sunday.
Tight ends we love this week
Cole: Tyler Higbee (LAR) @ Washington
Aside from a three-touchdown performance in Week 2, Higbee has been a bit of a letdown early on in 2020. Aside from that game, the fifth-year tight end has yet to exceed three receptions or 40 receiving yards. While Higbee is still searching for some consistency, his red-zone threat makes him a touchdown candidate is just about every game. The Rams like to run the ball, but that may be hard to do against a strong Washington front seven, so I would expect Higbee to get more opportunities in Week 5. More intriguing for Higbee, The Football Team ranks as a top 5 matchup for tight ends, allowing over 13 fantasy points per game to opposing players of that position.
Chris: Hunter Henry (LAC) @ New Orleans
Henry should benefit from two things this week: a favorable matchup and a pass-heavy game script. The Saints are allowing the second-most fantasy points per game to opposing tight ends this season, and have allowed a touchdown to an opposing tight end in each of their four games. Game script should also help out Henry this week. New Orleans should put up plenty of points in this game (see: “Drew Brees” under “Quarterbacks we love this week”), and the Chargers will have to pass the ball to keep up. This could turn into somewhat of a shootout, which should be music to the ears of fantasy managers.
Tight ends we hate this week
Cole: Mike Gesicki (MIA) @ San Francisco
Gesicki has been a fantasy football “sleeper” for a couple of years now, and he has never been able to put it all together. Gesicki is too much of a boom-bust player to trust week-in week-out, and the third-year tight end has exceeded three receptions just once this year. A tough matchup against the 49ers’ defense that just held Zach Ertz to under seven fantasy points almost certainly spells bust for Gesicki.
Chris: Austin Hooper (CLE) vs. Indianapolis
Hooper put together a good stat line last week in Cleveland’s big win over Dallas, but he’ll have a tough time replicating that success against a quickly-emerging Indianapolis defense. The Colts have allowed the fewest fantasy points to opposing tight ends this season on a per game basis, and have also allowed the fewest points and passing yards per game. Meanwhile, the Browns have found their offensive identity, and it entails running the ball more often than they throw it, which caps the fantasy production of Hooper.
Defenses we love this week
Cole: Los Angeles Rams (@ WSH)
Chris: New England Patriots (vs. DEN)
Defenses we hate this week
Cole: Los Angeles Chargers (@ NO)
Chris: Buffalo Bills (@ TEN)
Spreads we love this week
Cole: Seahawks -7, Chargers +9, Cardinals -7.5
Chris: Vikings +7, Panthers +1.5, Colts EVEN
Edited by Emma Moloney