This is the Week 5 “Fire or Flop” series, highlighting my favorite and not-so favorite fantasy football plays of the week. I am not going to mention elite players because you will usually be starting them every week anyways (Def/ST, the exception). I will list five players from each position group (excluding K) that I feel good about each week, followed by others that I don’t. As always, my thoughts are with PPR in mind.
This is a pretty rough week when it comes to injuries (Derek Carr, Marcus Mariota, Ty Montgomery, Dalvin Cook) and bye weeks (Atlanta Falcons, New Orleans Saints, Denver Broncos and Washington Redskins), so keep that in mind.
Jameis Winston vs. New England Patriots — It’s weird to say but most QB’s are going to be a good play against the Patriots’ Def/ST right now. Winston is among the top 25 QB’s right now despite playing one less game than everyone else. Plus, he’s got a deep cast of characters. New England is giving up the most FPPG to QB’s right now (27.36), so this is an easy call.
Deshaun Watson vs. Kansas City Chiefs — At this point, I’m rolling with Watson until he makes me regret it. He’s gotten better each week (Week 2—17 points, Week 3—24 points, Week 4—41 points), and Bill O’Brien seems to have opened up the offense for Watson. Watson is wisely getting the ball into the hands of DeAndre Hopkins, whom he has targeted 33 times over the last three weeks. Watson also has 148 yards and 2 TD on the ground this year.
Jacoby Brissett vs. San Francisco 49ers — Unsurprisingly, Brissett has performed better at home (19.3 FPPG) than on the road (11.58 FPPG) this year, and now he gets a good matchup with the 49ers, who give up the 10th-most FPPG to QB’s (17.61). The last time Brissett had a good matchup, he put up 29.76 fantasy points on the Browns.
Carson Wentz vs. Arizona Cardinals — Wentz is reaching the point where he’s fairly consistent. He is averaging 21.01 FPPG and hasn’t scored any fewer than 15 so far. He has a decent matchup this week against the Cardinals, who give up the 13th-most FPPG to QB’s.
Eli Manning vs. Los Angeles Chargers — There’s not much that makes me cringe more than relying on Manning, but many of you may be facing that reality with Carr, Mariota, Drew Brees and Matt Ryan out/possibly out this week. While he’s incredibly inconsistent, Manning has averaged 30.18 FPPG over the last two weeks. He’s also thrown the ball more (166) than anybody except Carson Palmer (183) this year.
Cam Newton @ Detroit Lions — Newton finally had a big game (39.04 points) against one of the league’s worst Def/ST last week. However, I’m not on board yet. It doesn’t make up for the fact that he averaged 12.41 FPPG against the 49ers, Bills and Saints the three weeks prior. Has he finally shaken off the slow start, or did he just capitalize on a great matchup? Let’s not forget that Newton also has a bad matchup this week against Detroit, who is among the stingiest Def/ST’s against QB’s (12.48 FPPG).
Bilal Powell @ Cleveland Browns — It’s about time that we saw the Bilal Powell that we all wanted to see when we drafted him. Last week, he finally had his 2017 breakout, putting up 29 fantasy points on the Jaguars. He gets a relatively similar matchup this week against the Browns, who give up 17.48 FPPG to RB’s.
Duke Johnson vs. New York Jets — Johnson has been a pleasant surprise this year. If you’re an Isaiah Crowell owner, you know that Cleveland’s run game has been awful so far. However, since Johnson is a huge factor in the passing game, he has gone over 20 fantasy points each of the last two weeks. He had 11 points the week before that. Browns - Jets could be a game where we see a lot of RB involvement.
Frank Gore vs. San Francisco 49ers — Gore will be facing his old team for the very first time this week. The 10-year 49er and team’s all-time leading rusher has received the bulk of the Colts’ RB snaps and carries this year. He’s averaged 11.43 FPPG the last three weeks, and with how highly-regarded he is in the Colts’ organization, I can’t imagine them not feeding him this week. It also helps that starting C Ryan Kelly makes his return this week.
Doug Martin vs. New England Patriots — Martin returns from his suspension this week and gets the Def/ST that gives up the second-most FPPG to RB’s (New England, 24.98). Who knows what his workload will be, but the Doug Martin fanboy in me says to start him.
Joe Mixon vs. Buffalo Bills — Since the Bengals went to Bill Lazor as offensive coordinator after Week 2, Mixon’s touches have tripled. To put it in perspective, Mixon had 21 total touches in the first two weeks, and he had 21 touches alone in Week 4. It’s now just a matter of time until he has that first huge game.
Carlos Hyde @ Indianapolis Colts — On average, the Colts give up the sixth-most points to RB’s. However, if you actually contextualize that, Hyde’s matchup isn’t that great. The most yards that the Colts have surrendered to any individual RB is 52. When a RB has a big game against the Colts, it’s because of big-play TD’s, which can’t be predicted. Todd Gurley only averaged 2.1 YPC against Indy but had a goal-line TD and 56 receiving yards. Duke Johnson had a 19-yard TD run and 81 receiving yards. J.D. McKissic scored on plays of 30 and 27 yards, respectively. These things can’t be predicted.
Lamar Miller vs. Kansas City Chiefs — I highly doubt we see Miller put up two big games in a row (29.1 points last week). In his tenure in Houston, pedestrian statistics are much more common than big games for him. He actually averaged 10.2 FPPG before last week, but for those clinging to his Week 4 performance, don’t count on it.
Marshawn Lynch vs. Baltimore Ravens — Lynch hasn’t lived up to the optimist’s expectations this year (6.73 FPPG) and that’s definitely not going to get better now that Carr isn’t back there to keep defenses honest.
DeSean Jackson vs. New England Patriots — New England has been pretty bad against WR’s (26.98 FPPG). However, the trademark of a Bill Belichick game plan is to take away your top weapon, which, for Tampa Bay, would be Mike Evans. That means that there should be opportunity for Jackson to make some deep plays this week.
Keenan Allen @ New York Giants — In PPR formats, Allen is a must-start pretty much every week. There’s only been one week (Week 3) where he didn’t have at least 10 targets, and he still had 9 that week. He’s also hit the 100-yard mark in two of the last three weeks.
T.Y. Hilton vs. San Francisco 49ers — Week 3 at home against the Browns had the makings of a big game for Hilton, and so does this week. He answered the call to the tune of 7 catches for 153 yards and 1 TD then, so what might he do this week? The 49ers give up the sixth-most FPPG to WR’s (24.2), and Hilton does some of his best work at home (37.2 points in two games).
DeVante Parker vs. Tennessee Titans — Parker has had at least 12 points in all three games this year, but QB Jay Cutler and Miami’s struggles have some people ignoring Miami’s offense altogether. Parker has a great matchup this week against the second-worst Def/ST against WR’s (29.75 FPPG). Tennessee allowed Hopkins and Will Fuller to combine for 14 catches for 142 yards and 3 TD’s last week.
Chris Hogan @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers — Yes, the Patriots’ Def/ST is bad against WR’s but the Buccaneers’ is actually the worst (30.53 FPPG). Hogan has been performing like many hoped he would when Julian Edelman went down, as Hogan is averaging a legit 19.53 FPPG Since Week 2.
Kelvin Benjamin @ Detroit Lions — This doesn’t play into my stance at all this week, but it’s interesting that Benjamin has done poorly on odd weeks (6.3 total points in Weeks 1 and 3) and well on even weeks (28.1 total points in Weeks 2 and 4). Carolina’s offense has a tough matchup this week against fantasy’s top Def/ST, and Benjamin (knee) has been missing some practice time.
Amari Cooper vs. Baltimore Ravens — I feel like there’s a Backstreet Boys song that many of us would like to dedicate to Cooper. The sad truth is that Cooper is not excelling whatsoever after Week 1. Not in good matchups (7.3 FPPG) and definitely not in bad matchups (2.3 FPPG). Now, Carr is out. I do not expect this Sunday to go well for Cooper and the Raiders against Baltimore.
Charles Clay @ Cincinnati Bengals — Clay has been a very reliable option lately, ranking as fantasy’s TE4 and scoring at least 15 FPPG every week but one. The Bengals do a good job against TE’s (3.9 FPPG) but Clay is arguably Buffalo’s main passing target.
Cameron Brate vs. New England Patriots — Guess what? The Patriots are also bad when it comes to surrendering points to TE’s (11.15). Brate has averaged 15.65 FPPG the last two weeks.
Evan Engram vs. Los Angeles Chargers — Engram surprised me and has quickly become a reliable fantasy go-to. He has been targeted 7.5 times per game and is averaging 50 YPG.
Hunter Henry @ New York Giants — The Giants are the worst team in the league against TE’s (14.73 PPG). Henry’s owners have been very, very frustrated this year, as he has put up goose eggs in two of the four weeks. However, in the other two games, he’s averaged 12.3 points. It makes no sense for Henry to have a bad game this week.
Austin Seferian-Jenkins @ Cleveland Browns — It’s finally ASJ szn! I’ve told you to keep an eye on him for a couple of weeks now and he’s rewarded you with 8 points each in his two games. QB Josh McCown likes throwing Jenkins’ way (5 times per week), and now Jenkins faces the second-worst Def/ST against TE’s (Cleveland, 12.7 FPPG).
Jason Witten vs. Green Bay Packers — Judging from his first two weeks (22.3 FPPG), I thought Witten was rebounding from his disappointing 2016 campaign. However, he has totaled just 3.2 points in the last two weeks, only catching 2 passes for 12 yards on 6 targets. That’s way too little of production to be in your lineups. Witten faces Green Bay’s No. 2-ranked Def/ST against TE’s this week (2.65 FPPG).
Eric Ebron vs. Carolina Panthers — I’m not sure why you’d still be starting Ebron but if you’re into getting hurt, he’s your guy. He flashed in Week 2 (15.2 points), then has totaled 10.5 points the other three weeks. Things don’t look any better for him this week when he takes on Luke Kuechly and a Panthers defense giving up just 3.85 FPPG to TE’s.
Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Jacksonville Jaguars — Outside of the run game, Jacksonville’s offense doesn’t have anything to offer. QB Blake Bortles struggles when not playing in London, averaging just 12.51 FPPG in games played in the United States. Pittsburgh is currently fantasy’s Def/ST3.
Minnesota Vikings @ Chicago Bears — This one’s actually tricky because Minnesota’s Def/ST has underachieved this year and Mitchell Trubisky can’t be much less productive than Mike Glennon. Regardless, I favor the defense loaded with talent over the rookie QB making his first career start.
New York Jets @ Cleveland Browns — It’s hard to digest that this is actually going to be a game that’s played this week. I give the Jets Def/ST a nod because Cleveland has turned the ball over a lot — a league-worst 10 times to be exact. And, if any team is going to run away with this game, I don’t see it being the Browns.
Baltimore Ravens @ Oakland Raiders — E.J. Manuel isn’t an awful QB but if the Baltimore Def/ST plays like it did the first couple of weeks of the season, they could look like a dominant group again.
Indianapolis Colts vs. San Francisco 49ers — This Colts Def/ST is a lot better than given credit for. For starters, yes, they have been on the wrong end of two 46-point games and another 31-pointer. However, the Colts’ offense contributed mightily to those games, including four turnovers returned for TD’s. The Colts’ Def/ST has actually put up 9 sacks and 7 takeaways this year. They’re a sneaky group.
Seattle Seahawks @ Los Angeles Rams — Fresh off of a 20-point performance last week, you might want to start the Seattle Def/ST again this week against the Rams. However, consider the fact that Jared Goff and Gurley have been playing exceptionally well all season. This isn’t your older brother’s Rams team.
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