With only the Oakland Raiders and Miami Dolphins on Byes, fantasy football owners don’t have to deal with the amount of roster gaps that decreased their options for Week 4. Week 5 brings with it several intriguing match-ups for those who play in weekly fantasy football contests. Those of you looking to get top value in such leagues should be able to do so at the quarterback and tight end positions.
I won’t doubt you again, Mr. Donnell.
Here are our picks for who you should start and who to sit for week 5 of the 2014 NFL season.
10. Start ‘Em: QB Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers
Roethlisberger is the top value fantasy football quarterback for Week 5. While the Steelers were stunned at home by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the fourth quarter of last Sunday’s game, Big Ben completed 29 of 40 pass attempts for 314 yards and 3 touchdowns in the losing effort. He and the Pittsburgh passing attack will head south this weekend to take on the pass defense of the Jacksonville Jaguars that has been absolutely awful in 2014.
Jacksonville’s pass defense is ranked last in the NFL, giving up over 320 yards per game. The Jags have surrendered 11 passing touchdowns. There is no reason to believe that the Jacksonville secondary can handle Pittsburgh wide receiver Antonio Brown.
Luck is not on your side if Roethlisberger doesn’t light it up on Sunday.
9. Sit ‘Em: QB Tom Brady, New England Patriots
The all-time great headed to the Hall of Fame continues to be a fantasy football liability. Brady appears to be suffering from arm fatigue, as his passes are lacking the zip they’ve had throughout his NFL career. The 37-year-old is making poor reads. Brady is being hung out to dry by a lackluster offensive line.
The Cincinnati Bengals have the best overall defense in the AFC. They’ve allowed the second-fewest opposing QB fantasy points in 2014. You are hoping against hope and against logic that Brady will have a big day if you start him in Week 5.
8. Start ‘Em: RB Ahmad Bradshaw, Indianapolis Colts
Do not, do not, do not freak out about Bradshaw getting only 18 carries combined over the past two weeks. Indianapolis blew out the Jacksonville Jaguars and Tennessee Titans in those contests, and the Colts chose to instead try to get fellow running back Trent Richardson going rather than feature Bradshaw. The former Giants running back happens to be averaging 6.6 yards per touch, and he has been good for over one receiving touchdown a game over the past three weeks.
The 3-1 Baltimore Ravens should keep things close in Indy, meaning that Bradshaw should see more volume in Week 5. Yes, the Ravens have a defense that must be respected, but remember that Bradshaw can get you points as an RB and as a target for quarterback Andrew Luck.
Bradshaw is a solid RB2/flex option until his production falls.
7. Sit ‘Em: RB Knile Davis, Kansas City Chiefs
Davis has been a fantasy football darling over the past two weeks with teammate Jamaal Charles slowed down due to an ankle injury. He rushed for a total of 239 yards over the past two weeks, and he found the end zone once against the Miami Dolphins on September 21. KC was more than happy to utilize both Charles and Davis this past Monday night against the New England Patriots, and that could again be the case this coming Sunday.
Avoid the trap.
A healthy Charles will take carries away from Davis. It is unlikely that KC will blow the San Francisco 49ers away on the road, so owners shouldn’t look for Davis to pick up garbage-time carries.
Still not sold? Here are some stats:
Chicago Bears running back Matt Forte went for 21 yards and zero touchdowns on 12 carries at San Francisco back in Week 2.
A banged up Andre Ellington was held to 62 yards at home against the Niners in Week 3.
Philadelphia Eagles superstar RB LeSean McCoy rushed for 1.7 yards per carry – 10 yards on 17 attempts – at the 49ers last Sunday.
6. Start ‘Em: WR Keenan Allen, San Diego Chargers
Week 4 was a do-or-die fantasy football week for the San Diego wide receiver. Allen had a total of 12 receptions and no scores in the first three weeks of the campaign, and he was facing the lowly Jacksonville Jaguars pass defense last Sunday.
The must-start WR rewarded owners who kept the faith.
While Allen was kept out of the end zone, he exploded for 10 receptions (12 targets) and 135 receiving yards versus Jacksonville. Both of those values are career highs for the second-year pro.
Don’t fear riding with Allen once again. Philip Rivers has been the best quarterback in the NFL over the past three weeks, and he will get to pick on a terrible New York Jets secondary at home this coming Sunday.
Your biggest worry here is that the Jets may be out of the game halfway through the third quarter, limiting the amount of passes Rivers launches in the final 30 minutes of play.
5. Sit ‘Em: Washington Wide Receivers
Anybody can have an off day, most notably a guy who has been a backup quarterback for the bulk of his NFL career. Those panicking about Washington QB Kirk Cousins after he was dreadful against the New York Giants on Thursday Night Football are jumping the gun and forgetting how well he played against the Jacksonville Jaguars and Philadelphia Eagles.
That said, you can’t trust Washington targets for Week 5.
Washington will play hosts to the Seattle Seahawks for a Monday Night Football showdown. While the Seattle defense has given up a fair share of fantasy football points, those games featured Philip Rivers and Peyton Manning as opposing quarterbacks.
Cousins is neither Rivers nor Manning, and going with him against the Legion of Boom is a risk you shouldn’t be willing to take.
4. Start ‘Em: TE Larry Donnell, New York Giants
Benching Donnell for Week 4 made so much sense. He was guilty of a lost fumble, close to an unforgivable sin in the eyes of New York head coach Tom Coughlin, during the team’s Week 3 contest against the Houston Texans. The Giants had just three days of prep before being away to division rivals the Washington Redskins on Thursday night.
Donnell reeled in seven of eight targets against Washington. Three of those receptions were touchdowns.
That Donnell remains unowned in a high percentage of fantasy football platforms such as ESPN, Yahoo and NFL.com is baffling, especially considering the overall weakness at the position. Donnell is seeing roughly eight targets a game, and he has had no fewer than six catches per contest over the past three weeks.
Donnell will likely fall off at some point, but he has a decent match-up at home against the Atlanta Falcons. Go get Donnell right now if he is somehow available in your league.
3. Sit ‘Em: TE Jordan Cameron, Cleveland Browns
Cameron, like Donnell, has a favorable match-up this coming weekend when the Browns will be at the Tennessee Titans. Tennessee surrendered two touchdowns to tight ends last week, and Cameron is, when healthy, one of the best offensive TEs in the NFL.
The problem is that Cameron isn’t healthy. He hasn’t been since the summer.
Cameron has been dealing with a shoulder injury for months, and one Bye week won’t be enough for him to get to 100 percent. The Cleveland tight end addressed the issue when speaking with reporters earlier in the week:
“You can’t really protect (the shoulder). I can’t tell a guy not to hit me over here. It’s just one of those things. … You can’t be thinking about it because it’ll affect the way you play.”
It’s on you to decide if the risk is worth the potential reward.
2. Start ‘Em: San Diego Chargers Defense
I’m a big fan of going week-by-week on team defenses. Quarterback Geno Smith of the Jets was a turnover machine in the opening month of the campaign, throwing five interceptions and losing a fumble in September. That he played well in the season opener against the Oakland Raiders, the worst team in the NFL, is no longer a reason to defend Smith.
New York head coach Rex Ryan has backed Smith as his starter, and thus fantasy football owners who don’t already possess a top-tier defense could do worse than picking up San Diego’s for this week.
1. Sit ‘Em: Baltimore Ravens Defense
The Ravens are a middle-of-the-road fantasy football defense for Week 5. Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck had eight touchdowns in Weeks 3 and 4 – four touchdown passes in each of those two games. While Luck was facing the Jacksonville Jaguars and Tennessee Titans in those games, his finding momentum and getting on a roll is worrisome as it pertains to starting the Baltimore defense; as is the fact that the Colts will be hosting the Ravens on Sunday.
San Diego is the safer play this time around.