By Cole Banker and Chris Blake
As we turn the page to Week 5, here is our list of players to be confident in and be skeptical of. 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’ rankings. Enjoy.
Quarterbacks we love this week
Cole: Jameis Winston (TB) @ New Orleans
Winston led the Bucs to a 55 point outpouring last week in LA, tossing four touchdowns and 385 yards in a winning effort against the Rams. Inconsistency has plagued Jameis ever since his rookie year, but last week was his second straight game with at least 25 fantasy points and may be a sign that he is finally turning the corner. He’ll have another nice opportunity to continue this production against the Saints, who are giving opponent QBs almost 25 points a game. It will be a tough test on the road in the Superdome, but points should be aplenty in New Orleans.
Chris: Kirk Cousins (MIN) @ New York Giants
Yes, I love Kirk Cousins this week. I know he`s been brutal, but the Giants defense has been worse. The Giants are allowing 279.5 passing yards per game this year, ranking 25th in the league. New York has also been the eighth-friendliest fantasy matchup for opposing quarterbacks in 2019. Following a week of drama between Cousins and the Minnesota wide receivers, there should be an emphasis on passing the ball this week, even if the Vikings find themselves up big. Additionally, a return to the 1 p.m. time slot should benefit Cousins.
Quarterbacks we hate this week
Cole: Philip Rivers (LAC) vs. Denver
You never really know what you’re going to get from Philip Rivers. He is yet to play a top-15 defense this season but has only managed one game over 20 fantasy points. He’ll get his first real defensive test at home this Sunday against the Broncos, who despite the 0-4 start, have been effective defensively, at least in fantasy terms, limiting opposing QBs to 12.5 FPG. Don’t expect much from Rivers this week.
Chris: Baker Mayfield (CLE) @ San Francisco
After having a parade of hype travel with him into his sophomore season, Baker Mayfield ranks 23rd at the quarterback position in fantasy football. Mayfield has thrown four touchdowns and six interceptions through a quarter of the 2019 season and is averaging just 12.5 fantasy points per game. We saw the Browns offense have success last week after leaning more heavily on Nick Chubb and the run game, so they will likely try to replicate that success again in week five. The San Francisco defense poses a tough challenge, however, allowing just 283.3 total yards per game and 18.0 points per game this year.
Running backs we love this week
Cole: James Conner (PIT) vs. Baltimore
Conner finally exploded for a 26 point game Monday night at home against the Bengals, most of that coming through the air. If Conner can continue to be a presence in Mike Tomlin’s passing game, his inefficiency on the ground will be much less of a concern. He only had 10 carries last week in a game that quickly got out of hand, so expect more of a rushing role against the Ravens on Sunday. It helps Conner’s case that Baltimore’s run defense is not what it used to be, yielding more than 5 yards per carry in 2019.
Chris: Mark Ingram II (BAL) @ Pittsburgh
To the surprise of no one, the Baltimore Ravens lead the NFL in rushing yards with 823, more than 200 yards above the next closest team. While some of that has come from the legs of Lamar Jackson, Ingram`s performance cannot be ignored. After signing a three-year deal with Baltimore in the offseason, Ingram has established himself as the feature back in this offense, averaging 6.0 yards per attempt. Ingram draws a favorable matchup as the Steelers find themselves in the bottom half of the league in rushing defense through four weeks this year. If the Ravens stick to their identity, Ingram is set up to have a good day at the office.
Running backs we hate this week
Cole: Le`Veon Bell (NYJ) @Philadelphia
It’s been a relatively quiet start Le`Veon in his return to football, ranking as the 17th best runningback coming into Week 5, largely due to New York’s QB injuries and inability to move the football. The Eagles have held the #1 RB on their first four opponents to just 98 yards… total, just 1.8 yards per carry. With Sam Darnold still out and Luke Falk struggling, Bell will surely be staring into stacked boxes against an already talented Philly front seven, translating into a frustrating day for the Jets RB.
Chris: Josh Jacobs (OAK) vs. Chicago (London)
Playing in London against the best defensive unit in the NFL? No thank you. Jacobs has been solid in his rookie year, but playing against the Bears` defense is enough to merit putting any player on the hate list. While he has been getting solid work through the run game, Jacobs has been underwhelming through the air, totaling just three receptions, limiting his floor in PPR scoring. I think the Raiders offense struggles in this game, part of which comes from the fact that they are overseas, and Jacobs isn`t likely to be the lone shining star.
Wide receivers we love this week
Cole: Stefon Diggs (MIN) @ NY Giants
A frustrated Vikings offense was shut down last week in Chicago, largely in part to Kirk Cousins’ lack of ball security and downfield inaccuracy. Mike Zimmer has refused to let Kirk air the ball out, which has limited Diggs’ opportunities. This is likely to change, however, as the Giants’ secondary is one of the worst in the NFL and has given up the fourth-most points to WR thus far. Look for the Vikings to take to the air in an attempt to exploit the vulnerable Giants’ secondary and get Cousins back into a rhythm, allowing for more opportunities downfield for Diggs.
Chris: Josh Gordon (NE) @ Washington
The ultra-talented wide receiver for the Patriots has found himself a sizeable role in Josh McDaniels` offense in 2019. Now in his second year with the team, Gordon has seen the second most targets, trailing only Julian Edelman, including 18 in the previous two weeks combined. Washington has been terrible this year, and the secondary has been no exception, allowing the second most fantasy points per game to opposing wide receivers in 2019. The Patriots are coming off a poor offensive performance in Buffalo, but expect them to put up big numbers through the air in a week five blowout in the nation`s capital.
Wide receivers we hate this week
Cole: Terry McLaurin (WAS) vs. New England
Terry’s impressive start to the season was halted by injury last week, and he’s listed as questionable going into this weekend’s matchup with the Patriots. Even if he does play, you’re going to want to keep him on your bench. The Redskins are down to their 3rd string QB in Colt McCoy, who had a QBR of just 35.8 in 3 starts in 2018. To top it off, the Patriots and their elite secondary are in town, who boast a top-5 passing defense and have yielded the second-fewest yards to opposing receivers.
Chris: Tyrell Williams (OAK) vs. Chicago (London)
Williams is questionable to play this Sunday with a foot injury, but he has not been ruled out yet. However, if he does play for the Raiders, he should not crack the lineup for your fantasy team. Not only will he be hindered by a foot injury, but Williams will have to face Chicago`s defense. The Bears have been the sixth-toughest opponent for opposing fantasy wide receivers this year, and have allowed just 290.8 total yards per game. Additionally, Williams has been very touchdown dependant this season, gaining more than 46 yards just once in four games.
Tight ends we love this week
Cole: Eric Ebron (IND) @ Kansas City
You always have to be careful starting a Colts TE, as they run a virtual split between Ebron and Jack Doyle, but against the brutal Chiefs’ secondary that concedes 17 fantasy points per game, there should be more than enough to go around, especially if TY Hilton is unable to go. Ebron is the guy for the Colts in the redzone and already has a pair of touchdowns, so don’t be surprised if he finds his way across the goal line at least once in primetime Sunday night.
Chris: George Kittle (SF) vs. Cleveland
So far in 2019, Kittle has not been as advertised. The University of Iowa product is yet to eclipse 60 yards in a game, but brighter days are ahead for Kittle. The tight end leads the team in targets with 21 (the 49ers have only played three games), seven more than the next highest total. Additionally, Kittle has already had multiple touchdowns called back due to penalty this season. Cleveland has been a fairly generous fantasy matchup for opposing tight ends this year, so look for Kittle to have his first big game of the season this week.
Tight ends we hate this week
Cole: Delanie Walker (TEN) vs. Buffalo
Walker was nowhere to be seen last week against Atlanta, finishing the game with just one reception for 4 yards. The veteran has an even tougher test against the Bills on Sunday, who are holding opposing tight ends to just 4.5 points per game. Don’t be surprised if the Titans rely heavily on the run against the stingy Bills secondary in what should be a low-scoring contest.
Chris: Austin Hooper (ATL) @ Houston
Austin Hooper has quietly had a very impressive start to the 2019 season, even though the Falcons offense has struggled to put up points. However, Hooper will be put to the test in week five against the Texans, as Houston has been the second-stingiest defense to opposing tight ends this year. The Texans have allowed just 95 yards and 0 touchdowns to opposing tight ends this year. Look for a better option in week five.
Defenses to Stream
Cole: Tennessee Titans (vs. BUF)
Chris: Philadelphia Eagles (vs. NYJ)
Defenses to Avoid
Cole: New Orleans Saints (vs. TB)
Chris: Tampa Bay Buccaneers (@ NO)
Edited by Emma Moloney | firstname.lastname@example.org