Fantasy Football Start/Sit: Week 5 (2020)
We’re getting to the time of year where fantasy football players run out of patience.
Even a restless manager can tolerate one sluggish outing in September. Two, well maybe it’s time to express some mild concern. Now already a quarter through the fantasy season, a 1-3 or 0-4 squad can’t afford to keep waiting for an early dud to turn the corner.
How should gamers handle these early disappointments? In some cases highlighted below, a lethal cocktail of limited opportunities, poor production, and a difficult Week 5 matchup make some big names players to bench (or even drop) until they show a pulse. In some other instances, however, the talent, upside, and/or opponent are too tantalizing to sit them just yet.
As always, the Expert Consensus Rankings (ECR) noted below are from half-PPR leagues, taken as of Tuesday evening.
Start: Drew Brees (NO) vs. LAC: QB10 ECR
Telling everyone to sit a legendary quarterback against the Chargers didn’t end well last week. Tom Brady tossed five touchdowns against the Chargers, who plummeted to 29th in fantasy points allowed to the position. Could they also lead Brees to the Fountain of Youth? Having only played one game with Michael Thomas this season, the 41-year-old is 20th in fantasy scoring among quarterbacks. He’s nevertheless averaged 282 passing yards in those contests without his top receiver. And even with limited fans, the Saints star should continue to leverage his home-field advantage. Since the start of 2018, Brees has thrown 43 touchdowns to just five interceptions inside the Superdome. This could be an easier call if Thomas returns from a foot injury that’s sidelined him since Week 1.
Start: Teddy Bridgewater (CAR) at ATL: QB11 ECR
Opposing quarterbacks have a 118.0 passer rating against the Falcons, which equates to them making their opponents look like a slightly better Patrick Mahomes. They’ve relinquished at least 30 points in all four losses, and Aaron Rodgers just gutted them with ease without Davante Adams and Allen Lazard. While they’ve faced a murderer’s row of MVP candidates including Rodgers, Russell Wilson, and Dak Prescott, the Falcons also ceded a combined 307 passing yards and four touchdowns to Mitchell Trubisky and Nick Foles in Week 3. This matchup makes Bridgewater an ideal Week 5 streamer to replace Rodgers or Matthew Stafford during their bye week. He has completed over 70% of his passes in each of the last three games and should hit or exceed his average of 35.25 pass attempts per contest inside the Georgia Dome.
Sit: Jared Goff (LAR) at WAS: QB12 ECR
Likely fueling Goff’s high ECR, Washington has allowed the eighth-most fantasy points to quarterbacks. However, this team ranks sixth in passing defense with the eight-lowest opposing quarterback rating. Kyler Murray and Lamar Jackson used their legs for heavy lifting against Washington. That’s not Goff’s game. He’ll need to produce fantasy points through the air after amassing just 200 passing yards and one touchdown against the Giants. Once again favored heavily over a feeble NFC East foe, the Rams won’t need much more from Goff to complete a season sweep over the dreadful division. You’ll be in trouble if this year’s QB15 doesn’t collect multiple touchdowns. Bridgewater and Kirk Cousins (at SEA) offer more upside in far better matchups.
Sit: Ryan Fitzpatrick (MIA) at SF: QB19 ECR
Fitzpatrick has reached 20 fantasy points in each of his last three games and has tallied only five fewer points than Jackson this season. Despite throwing two interceptions and falling short of expectations in a sloppy Week 4 loss at Seattle, he salvaged his fantasy outing with a late rushing touchdown. Playing the easy matchup worked well, but now it’s time to swap him for Bridgewater, Cousins, or Justin Herbert. The 49ers have permitted just three passing touchdowns and an NFL-low 5.9 yards per pass attempt. The 1-3 Dolphins are 8.5-point road underdogs, but Fitzpatrick may not get another chance to pad his numbers late. Another multi-turnover outing would put him in jeopardy of getting benched for rookie Tua Tagovailoa.
Start: Kenyan Drake (ARI) at NYJ: RB11 ECR
When conducting a Reddit AMA on Tuesday, Drake’s name appeared frequently from commentators wondering if they can keep playing Drake. The early ECR offers a resounding yes, continuing to treat him as a low-level RB1 despite placing one spot ahead of Arizona teammate Chase Edmonds as the RB35. They’re too optimistic on Drake, as it’s advisable to sit him for most others in the top 20. Most managers, however, likely won’t have a better backfield alternative. Drake is once again presented a golden opportunity, as the Cardinals are seven-point favorites over a Jets defense that just ceded 107 rushing yards and two touchdowns to Melvin Gordon. Despite his troubling five targets all season, Drake is averaging 18 touches per contest and three per game inside the red zone. Everything aligns perfectly for a rebound, so managers can press the panic button if that doesn’t come to fruition.
Start: Antonio Gibson (WAS) vs. LAR: RB21 ECR
Even if the snap rate is low, Gibson is making his mark when on the field. The rookie only needed 31 snaps last Sunday to register 128 total yards (46 rushing, 82 receiving) on 13 rushes and four receptions. It was particularly reassuring to see him flourish in all facets during a 14-point loss, as Washington will likely trail again against the Rams. Having deposited a touchdown inside the red zone in each of the last three games, Gibson has earned his place in the fantasy circle of trust.
Start: Mark Ingram (BAL) vs. CIN: RB23 ECR
If the Ravens had one featured back, he’d be a top-10 RB and popular DFS play in this cushy matchup against the Bengals. Instead, nobody can feel good about starting any member of their three-headed monster. Ingram has played just 32 snaps over the last two games, leading to 16 touches for 67 yards. He at least salvaged Week 4 with a goal-line score in Baltimore’s 31-17 win over Washington; investors likely need the same situation to unfold again. Fantasy gamers typically don’t want to chase touchdowns. However, if there was ever a time to do it, it’s with a 13.5-point home favorite facing the NFL’s 27th-ranked rushing defense.
Sit: David Montgomery (CHI) vs. TB: RB24 ECR
Better days are ahead for Montgomery, who played 85% of Chicago’s snaps in Week 4’s 19-11 loss to the Colts. That day isn’t this Sunday. After recording just 57 total yards in spite of the playing time, the second-year back gets another brutal matchup in Tampa Bay. Only the Steelers have allowed fewer yards than the Buccaneers, who tie Pittsburgh for an NFL-low 2.7 yards given up per carry. For anyone wondering how 10 defenses have then ceded fewer fantasy points to running backs, they opened 2020 against Alvin Kamara and Christian McCaffrey. Montgomery, who has reached double-digit points just once this season, is nowhere near that matchup-proof level.
Sit: Darrell Henderson (LAR) and Malcolm Brown (LAR) at WAS: RB25 and RB28 ECR
As Michael Scott once eloquently said, “Fool me once, strike one. But fool me twice? Strike three.” Sean McVay fooled us once by featuring Brown heavily in Week 1, only to steer to Henderson the following two weeks. With Henderson gracing last week’s Start section in a smash spot against the Giants, he was suddenly nowhere to be found. Someone could have a huge game against Washington. It could even be Cam Akers, who is expected to return in Week 5. Without any possible clue as to who gets their name on the marquee, avoid the headache wherever possible.
Sit: Joshua Kelley (LAC) at NO: RB26 ECR
With Austin Ekeler out of commission, Kelley is poised to headline the Chargers’ backfield for the foreseeable future. That is, unless, Justin Jackson slides into a two-man committee. Following a promising start, Kelley collected just 52 total yards against a vulnerable Panthers run defense before turning nine carries into seven rushing yards at Tampa Bay. The Saints have surrendered just 3.6 yards per carry, so take a wait-and-see approach with Kelley and Jackson.
Start: Marquise Brown (BAL) vs. CIN: WR21 ECR
The experts don’t seem to be bothered much by Brown’s slugging start. He has just 16 catches on the year, none of which resulted in six points for the Ravens. Perhaps the rankers had their fears assuaged by Week 4’s 86-yard effort on eight targets at Washington. Or maybe they realize the sky-high ceiling remains. Per NFL Next Gen Stats, Hollywood leads all receivers in average targeted air yards (17.7). A soft Cincinnati defense could be the perfect time to strike.
Start: Justin Jefferson (MIN) at SEA: WR26 ECR
Thought Jefferson’s 175 receiving yards in Week 3 was a fluke? He followed it up with another 103 yards last weekend. He has more receiving yards in those two contests than Odell Beckham Jr. or Mike Evans have compiled all season. The first-round pick may very well hit triple digits again, as the Seahawks have forfeited a gargantuan 401.0 passing yards per game. They have served up 41.6 fantasy points per game to wide receivers, 5.2 more than the runner-up Cowboys. The Vikings only have two viable receivers in Jefferson and Adam Thielen, so both should light up the scoreboard Sunday night.
Start: Russell Gage (ATL) vs. CAR: WR37 ECR
After missing Week 3 with a hamstring injury, Julio Jones left Monday night’s contest early due to the same ailment. Calvin Ridley, who was listed as questionable, suited up but was held without a catch. In light of these setbacks, it was surprising to see Gage settle for two catches on three targets for the second week in a row. Yet he was recovering from a concussion, so don’t dismiss him as a WR3 if Jones and/or Ridley can’t play against Carolina. Prior to Week 3, he caught 15 of 21 targets for 160 yards and a touchdown
Sit: T.Y. Hilton (IND) at CLE: WR28 ECR
I don’t want to keep picking on Hilton, but what’s it going to take for the experts to stop ranking him as a viable starter? He has three catches in each of the last three games, which is a problem since they have totaled just 109 yards and no touchdowns. The Colts are 26th in passing attempts, and the Browns’ 30th-ranked passing defense is inflated by Joe Burrow and Dak Prescott attempting 61 and 58 passes against them, respectively. At this rate, Hilton is barely a better play than teammate Zach Pascal, who’s trapped all the way down at WR60.
Sit: Jarvis Landry (CLE) vs. IND: WR30 ECR
On the other side of that matchup, Cleveland’s skill-position players (excluding Kareem Hunt) appear to be ranked too high coming off a shootout at Dallas. This is still the NFL’s third-worst passing offense going up against the league’s premier pass-prevention unit. Landry had his best game of the year, but only because he threw a 37-yard touchdown pass to Beckham. Otherwise, managers would have been disappointed by his 48 receiving yards. He now has a greater opportunity of repairing his long-term stock in an offense missing Nick Chubb, but don’t hold out hope of him topping Week 1’s modest highs of five catches and 61 yards against a lockdown Colts defense.
Sit: A.J. Green (CIN) at BAL: WR38 ECR
Everyone might be finally be accepting the inevitable, as Green’s ECR rapidly decayed from WR31 on Tuesday morning. This ranking still might be too high. Green turned five targets into three yards last Sunday, giving him an anemic 29.8 yards per game and 3.6 yards per target. He is now Cincinnati’s third-best fantasy wide receiver behind Tyler Boyd and Tee Higgins, but the rookie is one spot lower on the ECR. If searching this far down the rankings, add and start Higgins, Hunter Renfrow (WR41), Mecole Hardman (WR50), or Scotty Miller (WR53) instead.
Start: Evan Engram (NYG) at DAL: TE10 ECR
Give Engram one more chance before abandoning ship. The Giants have endured a brutal schedule consisting of four top-12 passing defenses, three of whom rank among the top five of opposing completion percentage. They finally get an advantageous matchup in the Cowboys, who rank 23rd in passing defense and 27th in fantasy points allowed to tight ends. Despite his middling production, Engram places third in targets (30) and second in routes run (159) among all tight ends. He recorded 17 receptions for 164 yards and a touchdown in two tries against Dallas last year, so Engram should finally get off the snide this week. If he delivers another dud, managers may have no choice but to look elsewhere.
Start: Greg Olsen (SEA) vs. MIN: TE16 ECR
Olsen has snagged five catches in back-to-back games on 13 targets. He’s playing with an MVP front-runner in a matchup with the week’s highest over/under line (57.5). While he hasn’t scored a touchdown since Week 1, he saw three red-zone targets last Sunday. Olsen is not a particularly pretty play, but he’s a bit safer than Logan Thomas (TE15 ECR) and the two tight ends below.
Sit: Austin Hooper (CLE) vs. IND: TE13 ECR
Hooper finally found the end zone against the Cowboys, but he mustered just 34 yards in a 49-38 victory. Although there’s hope of Cleveland passing more without Chubb, Week 5 isn’t the time to find out. The Colts, with help from an easy schedule, lead the NFL in passing defense and fantasy points relinquished to tight ends. Hooper is averaging three catches for 24 yards per game this season, so don’t test your luck in a difficult matchup.
Sit: Rob Gronkowski (TB) at CHI: TE14 ECR
O.J. Howard’s ACL injury and byes for T.J. Hockenson and Monday night breakout Robert Tonyan have bumped Gronkowski up the ECR. It’s still a hard pass. The un-retired star has nine catches for 88 yards all season with a goose-egg on the ledger. He’s seeing the field regularly, but often in blocking duty. Perhaps this is the week he finally rediscovers the end zone, but you’d have to be desperate to take that chance.
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