The Primer: Week 5 Edition (2020 Fantasy Football)
If you were to ask any of my family members or friends to name a possession of mine I couldn’t live without, there’d probably be a consensus opinion: My phone.
Seriously, when my wife decided to throw a surprise birthday party for me a few years back, she had no way of getting ahold of my friends’ numbers in my phone. Why? Because it’s always with me, usually in my hand with the screen lit up to my face. She said that even when I got up to go to the washroom, I’d have my phone with me.
But here’s something they don’t know: I hate the damn thing. I hate that I ever got a smartphone. I hate that I’m addicted to it.
I actually fought against the smartphone movement to begin with, as I had my RAZR phone that did everything I needed it to, text or call people. But when I was 27 years old, my phone’s battery was on its last leg and I needed a new phone. I gave in and bought a used iPhone 4. I remember looking at it and not even knowing how to unlock the screen. It just had a stupid little square on it.
I didn’t even use many of the features it had to begin with but soon realized that it was convenient to be able to look up things on the internet while on the go. Fast forward a few years and I have countless apps that I’m refreshing like crazy.
I’d go to work and look at my phone throughout the day, even though I wasn’t really supposed to. I’d spend my entire break looking at my phone, cramming in everything I could possibly fit in during that hour. I’d get home from work to write some fantasy football content, which I had my computer for. Once that was completed, I’d come upstairs and sit on the couch with my wife at the end of the night… on my phone, refreshing Twitter over and over to make sure I wasn’t missing any news or questions that followers had.
How can someone who’s on his phone all the time saying he hates it? It’s a great question. I wish I didn’t look at it as much as I do, but when you’re addicted to something, you’re continually drawn back to it, even if you know it’s bad for you. My career now depends on up-to-date information, which is the built-in excuse I have to keep looking at it.
I miss the days where you had to go on a road trip and follow a map. I miss the days when you took a vacation, there was nothing that could take you away from it. I miss the days that once you walked away from your computer, you were free for time with family and friends.
I’m going to make it my personal goal to take one vacation a year where I don’t look at my cell phone throughout the day. It seems harmful enough to check your email and voicemail at the end of the day, but it would be nice to just unplug from technology. Maybe go to the beach and read a book. Go out to dinner and not worry about if you’re getting a notification from Ian Rapoport or Adam Schefter about a player missing practice. Just turn your phone off and leave it behind.
I’m sure I’m not the only one who struggles with this but keep taking steps – even if they’re small – away from that dependency. Instead of looking for a reason to bring your phone, start looking for a reason to leave it behind.
So, what does The Primer offer? Anything you could ever want. Seriously, it’ll have wide receiver/cornerback matchups, recent history against each team, comparable player performances, unique stats, and most importantly, how they should be played that particular week. The idea here is to give you as much information and confidence as possible when you hit that ‘Submit Lineup’ button each week.
On top of all that, I’ll come back by Saturday morning to update once practice participation reports are posted. Still want more? We’ll be doing a livestream on our YouTube channel every Sunday morning from 11-12 EST, breaking down the inactives and letting you know which players benefit the most from them.
Jacksonville Jaguars at Houston Texans
Line: HOU by 6.5
Gardner Minshew: He bounced back in Week 4 while compiling 351 yards and two touchdowns against the Bengals. The Bengals hadn’t allowed a quarterback more than 225 passing yards coming into that game, which is significant because his Week 5 opponent – the Texans – haven’t allowed more than 260 passing yards. What’s even more impressive is that they’ve done that while playing against Patrick Mahomes, Lamar Jackson, Ben Roethlisberger, and Kirk Cousins. Those quarterbacks have combined to average 8.0 yards per attempt, so it’s not due to them being an amazing secondary that shuts everyone down, but rather one that’s seen just 28.5 pass attempts per game. Meanwhile, the Jaguars have averaged 36.8 pass attempts per game, which is one of the higher marks in the league. How is it that the Texans opponents have averaged 68.2 plays per game, but they’ve only faced 28.5 pass attempts per game? Well, because teams are throwing just 45 percent of the time against them, which is a league-low. This contradicts with what the Jaguars do, as they throw the ball 64 percent of the time, which is the sixth-most in the NFL. Another fun fact is that the Texans are the only team in the league without at least one interception. The matchup with the Texans isn’t as daunting as it seems on paper, making Minshew a semi-decent streamer in Week 5.
Deshaun Watson: He hit 300 yards for the first time this year, but Week 4 was hardly something we’d consider a massive success for Watson. He’s thrown just six touchdowns through the first four games, which is mediocre, but what was supposed to prop up his fantasy numbers this year is what he brought to the ground. He’s rushed just 17 times for 58 yards and a touchdown through four games, which is nowhere near enough. Will the light come back on against the Jaguars in Week 5? They’ve allowed every quarterback they’ve played to average at least 7.9 yards per attempt, and it wasn’t the most impressive list of quarterbacks (Philip Rivers, Ryan Tannehill, Ryan Fitzpatrick, and Joe Burrow). From a fantasy points per actual pass attempt standpoint, the Jaguars have allowed the second-most points per throw. It certainly helps when quarterbacks are completing a league-high 77.0 percent of passes against them. We also watched Ryan Fitzpatrick gallop for 38 yards and a touchdown on the ground, which certainly looks good for Watson. The last three opponents for the Jaguars have run the ball with their running backs at least 27 times, which is something that’s not likely to happen with the Texans. Watson should drop back and throw more than most have against this team, so get him back into fantasy lineups as a sturdy QB1 this week.
James Robinson: He’s now totaled 74 of the 88 running back touches available in this backfield, including four of the five targets available last week. That’s rare air and something we don’t see anymore. The only running back who’s averaged more yards per route run than Robinson on the season is Alvin Kamara. I mentioned a few weeks ago that there’s no difference between him and 2019 Leonard Fournette, a running back we were starting as a borderline RB1 most weeks. The Texans are a team you want to start running backs against. They’ve now allowed four straight running backs to score at least 15.7 PPR points against them, including 295 total yards and three touchdowns to the combination of James Conner and Dalvin Cook the last two weeks. The only starting running back who failed to rush for 100-plus yards against them was Mark Ingram, who carried the ball just nine times but for 55 yards and a touchdown. Teams have chosen to run the ball 55 percent of the time against the Texans, which is the highest percentage in the league. While I don’t expect the Jaguars to hit that number, Robinson is gamescript-proof workhorse who’s going against a bottom-five defense against running backs. He should be in lineups as a low-end RB1 this week.
David Johnson and Duke Johnson: David ranked second among all running backs with 97 routes run through three weeks and lined up out wide twice as much as any other running back (30 snaps). Naturally, Duke was going to cut into that, but David still finished Week 4 with 18 touches. The Texans offense hasn’t quite been able to get on track, but a matchup with the Jaguars should help. They’ve now allowed at least 31 points to each of their last three opponents, and it’s not like they played offensive juggernauts (Titans, Dolphins, Bengals). With that being said, the Bengals were the first team of running backs to rush for more than 100 yards against them. Coming into that game against Joe Mixon, they’d allowed just 3.17 yards per carry, which ranked as the fourth-lowest mark in football. Knowing David has averaged just 3.86 yards per carry, you don’t have an automatic must-start situation. On top of that, Johnson can’t blame stacked boxes for the reason for his struggles, as he’s seen them on just 5.9 percent of his carries. We do know the Jaguars aren’t blowing anyone out, which means David’s floor should be 15-plus touches and makes him a top-24 running back play almost by default. But again, knowing this team held Derrick Henry outside of the top-30 running backs for the week is worrisome. It took Mixon a few long runs to have his massive fantasy day, something David hasn’t done in quite some time. I’m expecting a somewhat boring low-end RB2-type performance. There have been five running backs who’ve totaled at least 29 yards through the air, which should give Duke some room to operate as a last-minute RB4/5-type replacement through a bye week. He does have 15 opportunities in the two games he’s played.
D.J. Chark: Welcome back to the lineup, Mr. Chark. It was good to see him out there, but it was better to see him get a season-high nine targets. He’s now caught 15-of-16 targets for 204 yards and three touchdowns. You can’t do any better than that. He’ll be going against a Texans secondary that just allowed the combination of Adam Thielen and Justin Jefferson go for 12 catches for 217 yards and a touchdown while Kirk Cousins threw the ball just 22 times. The Texans secondary has allowed a league-high 71.4 percent of passes to wide receivers be completed, which bodes well for the efficient Chark. He plays most of his snaps at LWR, though the Texans have used Bradley Roby in a shadow role through four weeks. That’s resulted in 13-of-19 passing for 132 yards and two touchdowns in his coverage. Going back to the days he was in Denver, he was better when not asked to be “the guy” in the secondary. He shouldn’t be the reason you move off Chark who appears to be healthy. It is worth noting that Chark totaled 7/55/1 and 4/32/0 in the two meetings between these two teams, so he’s not a locked-in stud or anything, but you’ll still want to start him as a low-end WR2/high-end WR3 this week.
Laviska Shenault: The opportunities are trending up for the talented rookie, as he saw four targets in each of the first two games, and then six targets in each of the last two games. When you add in a few carries per game, you have enough opportunities to consider plugging him in with all the bye weeks and injuries we have. With Bradley Roby likely tied to Chark, we should see Shenault match up with Vernon Hargreaves. There are not many cornerbacks in the league who you get excited to face more than him, as he’s struggled since he came into the NFL. He got every opportunity to succeed as a first-round pick, too. Over the course of his five-year career, he’s allowed a 69.8 percent completion-rate, 13.0 yards per reception, and a touchdown every 27.4 targets in his coverage. Shenault is far from a guarantee but this matchup calls for a boom-or-bust WR4 start where he might pay off. *News* Shenault did have a limited practice on Wednesday due to a hamstring, so we’ll want to pay attention to that.
Keelan Cole: He’s still seen at least five targets in every game, though it doesn’t really feel like it. That’s likely because he’s still yet to finish a game with more than 58 yards. He’s starting to feel like the Cole Beasley of the Jaguars offense, playing that slot role that presents a solid floor but a lack of ceiling unless he finds the end zone. The Texans are mixing and matching who’s covering the slot, though safety Eric Murray has spent the most snaps in coverage. He’s allowed 6-of-8 passing for 57 yards, so nothing special. Of the 12 receptions and 217 yards the Texans allowed to Adam Thielen and Justin Jefferson last week, just four receptions for 49 yards came in the slot. Knowing he’s seen those five targets in every game, he can be considered as a solid floor WR5 with bye weeks starting, but don’t expect a massive game out of him.
Will Fuller: Outside of his zero-target game in Week 2, Fuller has performed like a borderline WR1 in 2020. He’s finished with 15.2, 13.4, and 19.8 half-PPR points in those other three games while seeing at least 22 targets in them. As mentioned before, if Fuller is active, you must deal with the ups and downs of his performances, as you don’t want to miss it when he has one of those big games. The Jaguars haven’t allowed a 100-yard receiver through four weeks, and oddly enough, haven’t allowed one with more than 16.0 PPR points. They’re allowing a rather-high 71-percent completion rate to receivers, but they’re keeping the play in front of them while allowing just 11.63 yards per reception. They did, however, lose two starting cornerbacks during the game against the Bengals last week. First-round pick C.J. Henderson suffered a shoulder injury while slot cornerback D.J. Hayden had to leave with a hamstring injury. That’s a lot of question marks for a defense that’s struggling to generate a lot of pressure. If Henderson is out, that would leave seventh-round rookie Chris Claybrooks as a starter. He’s only seen six targets in his coverage to this point, and they’ve netted five catches for 42 yards and a touchdown. Fuller is a starter no matter what, but his matchup would certainly be upgraded. Slot him in as a WR2 this week.
Brandin Cooks: What a swing and a miss Cooks was last week against an inexperienced Vikings secondary. Cooks only saw three targets – which was bad enough – but didn’t catch any of them (one was a drop). It seemed like he was headed in the right direction, but it appears he’s still struggling to get on the same page with Watson in the new offense. Going back to his concussion last year, he’s played in 10 games since then, but has totaled more than 46 yards just once. Maybe it’s best to keep him on the bench until we see some sort of consistency. The Jaguars haven’t allowed a receiver more than 16.0 PPR points on the year, so it’s not a smash spot or anything, though the Jaguars might be without two of their three starting cornerbacks. If C.J. Henderson is ruled out, I’m scared to completely fade Cooks because he would be the one who saw seventh-round rookie Chris Claybrooks the most in coverage, which is a mismatch in Cooks’ favor, but it’s tough to trust him as anything more than a boom-or-bust WR4.
Randall Cobb: It seems Cobb has settled into his role as a guy who’ll get 3-6 targets in the Texans offense. He’s made them count, totaling 213 yards and a touchdown on just 18 targets, but that’s not enough targets to start someone confidently in fantasy. On top of that, the Jaguars have only seen 69 targets to the wide receiver position through four games, or 17.3 times per game. It does help that their slot cornerback D.J. Hayden suffered a hamstring injury in last week’s game against the Bengals, which puts him in serious doubt for this week. They’d likely move Tre Herndon back to the slot, which isn’t a massive upgrade, but it’s something. Cobb is nothing more than a low-floor WR5 who likely needs a touchdown to finish as anything more than that with the targets he’s been getting.
Tyler Eifert: Despite playing a lot more than backup tight end James O’Shaughnessy, Eifert doesn’t have much to show for it. He’s actually trailing O’Shaughnessy in receptions and yards, but Eifert did catch the only Jaguars tight end touchdown, so he remains ahead in fantasy points. The two have combined for 27 targets through four games, so they have a role, but when it’s close to a 50/50 split on production, it’s going to be hard to recommend either of them. The Texans haven’t been a matchup you need to attack, as both Travis Kelce and Mark Andrews were both held to 50 yards or less earlier this year. The matchup wasn’t an obvious start for tight ends against them last year, as there were just three tight ends all year who topped 60 yards in their matchup. If one of these two were to miss time, the other might be a viable streamer, but as of now, they’re both just touchdown-or-bust TE2 options.
Jordan Akins and Darren Fells: We watched Akins take a scary hit last week; one that gave him a concussion and knocked him out of the game. He doesn’t have a long history with them, so playing in Week 5 in certainly on the table but stay tuned for updates later in the week. Through four games, these two tight ends have combined for 25 targets, so if Akins were to miss this game, you should give consideration to Fells. The Jaguars have been a matchup to target with tight ends, too. They haven’t allowed the most fantasy points to tight ends, but from an efficiency standpoint, you can’t ask for much more. They’ve allowed a massive 11.13 yards per target to the tight end position, which is among the highest marks in the league. The 2.61 PPR points per target they’ve allowed thus far is actually more than the Cardinals defense against tight ends in 2019 (they allowed 2.39 PPR points per target). If Akins is active, he’s clearly the preferred option, though he’s still seen three or less targets in six of his last eight games, meaning he’s a risky streamer. If Akins is out, Fells moves into the streaming conversation, as he’d likely be locked into five targets against a highly inefficient defense. I’ll post an update here later in the week.
Cincinnati Bengals at Baltimore Ravens
Line: BAL by 13.5
Joe Burrow: After knocking the cobwebs and nerves off in his first NFL game against the tough Chargers defense, Burrow has now thrown for 300-plus yards in three straight games. He’s thrown the ball at least 36 times in every game, and that’s going to be the case for much of the season given the state of their defense. Unfortunately, a lot of pass attempts may not save his fantasy day against the Ravens defense. Just because Patrick Mahomes dissected their defense on national television in Week 3 doesn’t mean every quarterback should be considered. Outside of Mahomes – both this year and last year – the Ravens haven’t allowed a top-12 performance to a quarterback. Oddly enough, the 18.86 fantasy points they allowed to Dwayne Haskins last week was the best non-Mahomes performance they’ve allowed since 2018. In the 18 non-Mahomes games since the start of last season, they’ve allowed 14 passing touchdowns. We all know the biggest issue Burrow has right now is his offensive line, and the Ravens can bring the pressure, as Deshaun Watson found out in Week 2 when he was pressured on 40 percent of his dropbacks against the Ravens. They may not be the same defense without Earl Thomas, but they’re still a tough matchup. Burrow is just a low-end QB2 this week with a minimal ceiling.
Lamar Jackson: Week 4 was more of what Jackson managers were expecting when they drafted him in the early rounds, though it wasn’t all pretty. His 50-yard touchdown saved what was an underwhelming passing performance against a Chase Young-less Washington defense. He was only pressured on 29 percent of his dropbacks, so it wasn’t that, but he just missed a few passes that he would’ve made in 2019. The Bengals have failed to generate more than a 26.7 percent pressure-rate over the last two weeks, as defensive tackles Geno Atkins and Mike Daniels being out hasn’t helped. In two games against a similar defense last year, Jackson crushed this defense for 30.6 fantasy points in the first matchup, and then 33.4 fantasy points in the second one. He threw for 236 and 223 yards in those games, but the fantasy points came from both ends, as he rushed for 152 yards and a touchdown in the first game, and then threw for three touchdowns the next time around. Despite playing against two struggling quarterbacks the last three weeks, Gardner Minshew, Carson Wentz, and Baker Mayfield were all able to eclipse 15.2 fantasy points against them. There have now been six different occasions where they’ve allowed 46 or more rushing yards to the opposing quarterback since the start of 2019. It’s also not a bad thing that their opponents are averaging 69.5 plays per game, as the Ravens play-count has been down, averaging just 58.0 plays per game, which ranks as the third-fewest in the league. Last year, they averaged 68.0 plays per game, which ranked as the third-most in the league. You should be starting Jackson as a high-end QB1 every week. He should be safe enough for cash game lineups this week, should you choose to pay up.
Joe Mixon: I hope you used last week as a reason to buy Mixon on the cheap because after his 181-yard, three-touchdown outburst, you won’t be able to. It’s not smooth sailing from here on out, though, so don’t automatically assume he’s the top-12 pick you spent to acquire him in drafts. The Bengals were in a positive gamescript, which is something we can’t expect for many games, including his Week 5 matchup against the Ravens. There hasn’t been a running back who’s topped 72 yards on the ground against them this year, which includes games against Nick Chubb/Kareem Hunt, David Johnson, and Clyde Edwards-Helaire. A large part of that is because they’re only seeing 19.5 carries per game, which is one of the lower marks in the league. The 3.96 yards per carry they’ve allowed is slightly below the league average but knowing the 13.5-point spread on this game, we need Mixon to be used in the passing game, something that hasn’t been consistent this year. He did run 24 routes last week and saw a season-high six targets, which was a step in the right direction, but what happens if they fall behind? Giovani Bernard ran just four routes last week, so maybe the coaching staff has realized Mixon needs to be fed? Three running backs have amassed 40-plus receiving yards through four games, including 152 to the combination of Antonio Gibson and Clyde Edwards-Helaire the last two weeks, so that’s where you need him to make his mark. It’s not a foregone conclusion, so he’s not a cash-game play this week, but he should remain in season-long lineups as a middling RB2 this week.
Mark Ingram, JK Dobbins, and Gus Edwards: What is the difference between Ingram and someone like Latavius Murray at this point? Ingram hasn’t topped 10 carries in any game this year and has averaged 0.76 fewer yards per carry than he should’ve, according to NFL’s NextGenStats. That number is worse than everyone but Kerryon Johnson and Peyton Barber. This backfield is a mess right now. Here is the weighted opportunity (targets are worth roughly 2.5 as much as carries in PPR formats) between them through four games:
To give you an idea of how bad this is, there were 30 different running backs who totaled at least a 16.5 weighted opportunities in Week 4 alone, which is Ingram’s highest mark on the season. Keep in mind that these three are also competing with Lamar Jackson for carries, too. The Bengals are a team you run the ball against, as they’ve allowed 2,322 yards and 16 touchdowns on 495 carries in 20 games since Lou Anarumo took over as the defensive coordinator. That’s 24.8 carries, 116.1 yards, and 0.8 touchdowns on the ground alone to running backs, and that’s not even including the 583 yards and five touchdowns they’ve allowed to quarterbacks during that time. Ingram scored in both matchups against the Bengals last year, totaling 13/52/1 in the first game and then 9/34/1 in the second game. Those are reasonable expectations, which leave you hurting without a touchdown. Ingram has received three of the six carries the running backs have had inside the 10-yard-line, so he’s the favorite but he’s far from a guarantee. Treat him as a mediocre RB3 who needs to score twice to outperform that range with his lack of work. Dobbins should be worth more in games they fall behind, though oddsmakers don’t expect this to be one of them, making him a touchdown-dependent RB4.
A.J. Green: You wouldn’t know it by looking at the production, but Green has seen 33 targets through four games, which ranks 10th among wide receivers. That’s the reason to hold out hope, but that’s about it. On those targets, he’s totaled a minuscule 119 yards and not a single touchdown. Every other player who has seen at least 27 targets has totaled at least 234 yards, while D.J. Moore is the only other one without a touchdown. With Joe Burrow throwing for 300-plus yards in each of the last three games, you want to hang onto Green, but I wouldn’t recommend playing him until he gets it together. That’s unlikely to happen this week against the tough Ravens secondary. They haven’t been as dominant as they were towards the end of last year, but they’ve still allowed the seventh-fewest points per target (1.64) to wide receivers. They’ve seen a lot of volume, as 10 different wide receivers have already seen five targets, and that’s why they’ve allowed the 16th-most fantasy points to receivers, though the Chiefs receivers accounted for a lot of that. Green will play most of his snaps against Anthony Averett, a third-year cornerback who’s been on the field for 54 targets in his career to this point. He’s allowed just a 57.4 percent catch-rate and one touchdown on them, so he’s not a pushover. It’s worth noting that Terry McLaurin and the Washington pass catchers caught 7-of-8 targets for 91 yards against him last week. Still, it’s probably best sit Green on the bench until he shows he can regain his old form.
Tyler Boyd: After a lackluster Week 1, Boyd has bounced back strong and has now totaled at least seven catches and 72 yards in each of the last three games. He’s quickly becoming Joe Burrow‘s favorite target. He may have trouble finding a lot of space this week, however. The Ravens are a team that slowed him in his tracks last year, limiting him to 3/10/0 in their first meeting and then 6/62/0 in the second one. Sure, he’s gotten an upgrade at quarterback, but the Ravens will have Marlon Humphrey cover him in the slot. That’s a problem considering Humphrey is one of the best slot cornerbacks in the game, allowing just a 55.3 percent catch-rate and 10.8 yards per reception in his coverage over his career, which includes a touchdown every 34.4 targets. You really don’t want to sit Boyd considering the consistency he’s offered recently, but he’s more of a mediocre WR3 this week.
Tee Higgins: Is he becoming a favorite of Burrow? Since taking over the starting role two weeks ago, Higgins has racked up 16 targets over the last two weeks, and he made the most of them while totaling nine receptions for 117 yards and two touchdowns. It helped that A.J. Green was dealing with a few bumps and bruises last week, but that seems to be a recurring theme with him. If the Ravens stick to what they’ve been doing, it would leave Marlon Humphrey on Tyler Boyd while A.J. Green would see Anthony Averett, and that would leave Higgins with Marcus Peters. There’s been a knock on Peters for some time that he just disappears at times, but he’s played so much better when he’s asked to stay on one side of the field, like the Ravens have done this year. Peters was torched by the Chiefs in Week 3, but outside of that game, he’s been the shutdown cornerback they traded for. Higgins should be considered a big-play or bust WR4/5 option this week, though there will be much brighter days ahead.
Marquise Brown: The beginning of the season hasn’t been the breakout fantasy managers were hoping for, and what might be the saddest part of it all is that Brown is getting opportunity. He’s accounted for 44.9 percent of the Ravens air yards, which ranks as the fourth-highest mark in the league. His target share is 26 percent, which is really all you can ask for, as only a handful of receivers hit that mark every year. The matchup with the Bengals back in Week 10 of last year was one of the best games of Brown’s young career, as he caught all four targets for 80 yards and a touchdown. William Jackson is their best cornerback on the roster and he’s been at RCB almost all the time, so the Ravens can move Brown to get the matchup they want. It’s worth noting that Brown was playing on the other side of the field the first three games, but they had him move to Jackson’s side last week. It was likely a one-week thing to take advantage of matchups, so Brown should see plenty of Darius Phillips as well, a backup cornerback who took Trae Waynes‘ place when he was hurt. Phillips has played well since being inserted into the lineup, but his 4.54-second speed can get burned by Brown. The Bengals have allowed 15 plays of 20-plus yards through four weeks, which ranks as the fifth-most in the league. Brown is an upside WR3 who’s not lived up to expectations, but when he does go off, you won’t want to miss it.
Drew Sample: It wasn’t a great game for Sample last week even though he did see five targets. There was a pass early in the second quarter that Sample should’ve caught for a touchdown, but the ball was ripped out of his hands for an interception. That’s not going to help the confidence in him moving forward, though he is the sole tight end, and that’s why he saw three more targets after that drop/interception, including another one in the end zone (that he probably could’ve caught, though it would’ve been an impressive grab). The Ravens have not been great against tight ends this year, allowing the 11th-most fantasy points to them, though it does hurt your overall numbers when Travis Kelce is included. The linebacker who has seen the most targets in coverage is rookie Patrick Queen, who’s seen 24 targets, allowing 20 to be completed for 236 yards and a touchdown. Knowing Tyler Boyd has a tough matchup, we might see Sample targeted more than some think, though he also could be in the doghouse. Consider him a mediocre TE2 who you shouldn’t feel the need to stream with his recent performances.
Mark Andrews: Remember when the loss of Hayden Hurst was supposed to mean more routes for Andrews? Well, he has averaged 23.8 routes per game this year and is currently outside the top-20 in routes run among tight ends. It doesn’t help that the Ravens have thrown the ball just 100 times through four games, but that’s the offense they run. That will certainly lead to some volatility for Andrews (as we’ve seen), but he has the ability to turn three targets into 57 yards and two touchdowns like he did last week. The Bengals have already allowed two tight ends to eclipse 70 yards against them through the first four games, which is certainly a good sign. There were just six tight ends last year who finished as top-12 tight ends against the Bengals, but Andrews accounted for two of those performances, as he combined for 12/152/2 in the two games while seeing 16 targets. He finished as the TE1 and TE4 during those weeks. It’s likely something teams see when attacking the Bengals scheme, as 26.4 percent of all targets have gone to tight ends against them this year, which ranks as the second-most in the NFL. Start Andrews as you normally would.