Welcome to this week’s, Week 5 Fantasy Rankings! Here we review each game for the week, outline possible starters and streamers, and give you the low-down to make your fantasy life easier. Along with our outstanding football minds, we’ve included the projected weather forecast for the game.
With that, let’s dive in!
Thursday Night Football (FOX, NFL Network)
Los Angeles Rams (3-1) @ Seattle Seahawks (2-2)
Weather forecast: 59° and cloudy, 3mph winds
Coming off a disappointing loss to fellow-NFC West rival Arizona last Sunday, the Rams head to Seattle for another divisional battle. QB Matthew Stafford faces a Seattle defense that is dead last in the league in total yards allowed and fifth-worst against the pass. It was considered a poor game from Stafford last week, but the good news is that despite the real life struggles the Rams had, Stafford has been very consistent from a fantasy perspective. He’s currently the QB5, he still topped 20 fantasy points last week, and has scored 17 or more points in every game so far this season.
WR Cooper Kupp and WR Robert Woods continue to be used as the top two wide receivers in the offense, both playing 65 snaps last week and both nearly identical in terms of number of routes run (42-41, Kupp). The difference, of course, is that when Stafford drops back, it’s clearly Kupp who he is looking for far more often. Kupp had 13 targets on Sunday and has 46 targets in four games, tops in the NFL. Woods did find the endzone last week, and Seattle is awful on defense right now, so I think both Rams wideouts can be deployed this week. Even WR Van Jefferson is a decent flex option. He ran 33 routes himself last week.
If there was any question about a timeshare in the Rams backfield with RB Darrell Henderson and RB Sony Michel, Week 4 dispelled that notion, with Henderson on the field for 61 snaps to Michel’s seven and just three touches all game. This is Henderson’s backfield when healthy. Have him in your lineups this week, and keep Michel on the bench.
For Seattle, WR D.K. Metcalf and WR Tyler Lockett remain the only two trustworthy targets in the Seahawks passing attack. The duo were virtually identical in terms of snaps and routes last week. Metcalf was targeted more often between the two for the second consecutive week (8 to 5) and has scored in consecutive weeks now. The Rams are seventh-worst in the league against the pass, so both Metcalf and Lockett should be starting for you if you have them as should QB Russell Wilson, of course.
RB Alex Collins was probably the biggest Seahawks-related surprise of the week. He nearly took as many snaps and carries as RB Chris Carson (25-22 in snaps, 13-10 in carries). Collins was the more productive back of the two as well with 78 total yards and a touchdown last week. Monitor how the two will be used this week, but it’s possible Collins has managed to carve out a role for himself going forward. Carson is now questionable due to a neck injury, but even if he can play, we should monitor Collins’ usage to see if this is going to be a trend.
TE Will Dissly and TE Colby Parkinson split snaps in the absence of TE Gerald Everett (Covid-19). This is noteworthy because there were some people who believed Dissly might have a chance to emerge with Everett out. It turns out Seattle didn’t really give him the chance. Dissly and Parkinson split snaps and the two combined for two two targets. Everett’s role is safe for now.
- QB Russell Wilson
- QB Matthew Stafford
- WR Cooper Kupp
- WR D.K. Metcalf
- WR Tyler Lockett
- RB Darrell Henderson
- TE Tyler Higbee
- TE Gerald Everett
- RB Chris Carson (if healthy)
- WR Robert Woods
- WR Van Jefferson
- TE Will Dissly
- WR D’Wayne Eskridge
- RB Sony Michel
- WR DeSean Jackson
Sunday Noon Games
New York Jets (1-3) @ Atlanta Falcons (1-3) (NFLN)
Weather forecast: Indoors
QB Zach Wilson had a decent showing last week versus the Titans, throwing for 297 yards, two touchdowns and “only” one interception (after throwing six picks in the previous two games, we will take that). Wilson has thrown at least one interception every week so far, but the Falcons defense has yet to record an interception, so something must give this week.
RB Michael Carter seems to have started to take hold of this Jets backfield. Carter led all Jets RBs in Week 4 with 31 snaps, 13 routes-run and 13 carries. RB Ty Johnson played on 20 snaps and took only two carries. Last week versus the Titans was the first week that Carter has led the Jets runners in snap percentage (Johnson out-snapped Carter in Week 3, 31-23). Keep all Jets running backs on your bench, probably all season long, but at least keep an eye on Carter.
The Falcons have allowed the most points in the NFL so far this season, so WR Corey Davis is a fine option this week regardless of the injury status of WR Elijah Moore. WR Jamison Crowder is interesting because Week 4 was Crowder’s first week back from injury and, of course, Moore missed last week. We shall see how the snaps are divided among the Jets’ receivers (aside from Davis) when everyone is healthy. If I had to, I guess I’d be okay with throwing Moore and/or Crowder into my flex spots just based on the opponent. It’ll be indoors too, which could help Wilson and the passing game for New York.
For the Falcons, not surprisingly, WR Calvin Ridley and TE Kyle Pitts led the team in targets with 13 and 9 targets respectively. That should be the norm moving forward, so keep those two in your lineups.
RB/WR Cordarrelle Patterson is a strange case. He just keeps making big plays from the backfield. Incredibly, Patterson is the RB2 in most formats by virtue of his receiving yardage and five total touchdowns, but is this at all sustainable? Patterson has played in just (roughly) a third of the Falcons’ offensive snaps this season, and last week, he only ran 12 routes, seventh-most on the team. Keep him in your lineups though if you need him, and we will all watch together to see how long he can keep this up.
RB Mike Davis was dreadful last week, taking 13 carries for 14 yards and two catches for 12 yards. He did add a receiving touchdown to somewhat salvage an otherwise horrible fantasy outing for Davis. The RB position is so shallow that you perhaps can’t afford to outright bench Davis, but he is becoming a very uninspiring option week to week.
- WR Calvin Ridley
- TE Kyle Pitts
- WR Corey Davis
- RB Mike Davis
- WR Cordarrelle Patterson
- QB Zach Wilson
- WR Elijah Moore
- WR Jamison Crowder
- QB Matt Ryan
- WR Olamide Zaccheaus
- WR Russell Gage
- TE Hayden Hurst
- RB Michael Carter
- RB Ty Johnson
- RB Tevin Coleman
Philadelphia Eagles (1-3) @ Carolina Panthers (3-1) (FOX)
Weather forecast: 75° and cloudy, 7mph winds
QB Jalen Hurts is currently the QB3 in fantasy, get over it. Start him every week until he gives us a reason not to, and try to ignore the opposing narrative surrounding Hurts’ role in the Eagles 1-3 start this season. We don’t have to care about that. This is fantasy, and Hurts is scoring points at a very high rate, thanks in large part to his rushing floor. Hurts is the 18th-leading rusher in the NFL currently with 226 yards on the ground so far this year.
RB Miles Sanders, on the other hand, is starting to worry me. RB Kenneth Gainwell saw the highest percentage of snaps all season in Week 4 with 39 percent, and Gainwell had six targets in the passing game to Sanders’ three. Most alarming for Sanders is that he has a combined nine carries over the last two games, and if Gainwell is going to have a passing game role, Sanders needs to make his hay on the ground. Bench Sanders if you can until we see improvement, especially against the Panthers and their No. 3-ranked defense.
Before we talk about the wide receivers in Philadelphia, let’s discuss the tight end situation. TE Zach Ertz continues to eat into TE Dallas Goedert’s opportunities. Ertz has received more targets than Goedert for the past two consecutive weeks (7-4 and 8-5) and is almost identical in terms of yardage over those two games. Goedert is still the Eagles tight end you want to have on your rosters, but just be aware that Ertz is still a very big piece of this offense.
WR DeVonta Smith is the unquestioned top target on this team. He leads all Eagles pass catchers in snaps, routes, receptions and receiving yards. The Panthers offer a tough test as the second-ranked pass defense in addition to being second in the league in terms of fewest total yards allowed, but Smith is probably usable as the top target in this offense.
For the Panthers, they go up against an Eagles defense that is statistically horrible against the run (31st in the NFL) but also a top-seven defense against the pass.
Still, the Eagles defense isn’t elite enough to sit QB Sam “Michael Vick” Darnold and WR D.J. Moore, both of whom are playing very well lately. Darnold leads the entire NFL with five rushing scores. Both are easy starts, but WR Robby Anderson and WR Terrace Marshall — while both are playing plenty of snaps in Carolina’s three-wide-heavy passing game — seem to just be victims of the stellar connection between Darnold and Moore at the moment. Moore has already been targeted 43 times, fourth-most in the NFL and only three targets behind league leader Cooper Kupp. He’s obviously a high-end start every week going forward.
In the absence of RB Christian McCaffrey, rookie RB Chuba Hubbard was solid, but the surprise from the Panthers backfield in Week 4 was RB Rodney Smith. Out of nowhere, Smith got 26 snaps (37 percent) and despite not recording a carry, he saw five targets (caught all five) and ran 19 routes, fourth-best on the team and tops amongst the Panthers’ running backs. Don’t put Smith into lineups yet, but let’s monitor the situation this week.
A lot was made of the opportunity TE Tommy Tremble had in front of him once TE Dan Arnold was traded to Jacksonville last week — and there’s obviously time for the talented youngster — but TE Ian Thomas was easily the TE1 for the Panthers last week with a 44-27 snap advantage over Tremble. Regardless of who is in at tight end for the Panthers, right now, their passing game is centered around the three receivers and, of course, McCaffrey when he’s healthy.
- QB Jalen Hurts
- WR D.J. Moore
- QB Sam Darnold
- TE Dallas Goedert
- WR Robby Anderson
- WR Terrace Marshall
- RB Chuba Hubbard
- RB Miles Sanders
- RB Kenneth Gainwell
- TE Zach Ertz
- RB Rodney Smith
- TE Tommy Tremble
Green Bay Packers (3-1) @ Cincinnati Bengals (3-1) (FOX)
Weather forecast: 82° and cloudy, 6mph winds
QB Aaron Rodgers has been good so far in 2021, but those who predicted some natural regression after last year’s 51 touchdown explosion are looking correct so far this season. Rodgers has yet to record a 300-yard game, and his 8-2 touchdown to interception ratio is very good through four weeks but a bit subdued compared to what we are used to out of Rodgers. The Bengals are a top ten defense against the run so far this season but are middling against the pass, so keep Rodgers in your lineups. The Bengals offer enough firepower themselves to make a shootout possible, although some precipitation is possible. Regardless, you aren’t benching Rodgers unless you have another elite option.
RB Aaron Jones continues to be a must-start regardless of opponent as well. The Bengals did give up a great day to RB James Robinson last Thursday, so Jones might be able to get something going this week. Interestingly, RB AJ Dillon saw a spike in usage from the previous three weeks, handling 40 percent of snaps against the Steelers. Keep an eye on Dillon’s involvement this weekend.
Start WR Davante Adams. WR Allen Lazard, WR Marquez Valdez-Scantling, and most recently, WR Randall Cobb all vie for the leftovers behind Adams. You probably aren’t starting any of the non-Adams Packers receivers with any real confidence, but the potential is there if you need them in your flex spot.
For Cincinnati, the main story is RB Joe Mixon’s ankle injury. He is officially day-to-day, so that will be something to watch on Sunday morning, likely. RB Samaje Perine would step in for Mixon if he can’t go, and perhaps some of RB Chris Evans in a pass catching role as well. Best to leave both on the bench if Mixon is out against the Packers’ top six defense.
QB Joe Burrow will need to lead this offense if the Bengals are to have a chance in this one. The Packers are eighth-best in the NFL versus the pass so far this season, but Cincy will get a boost with WR Tee Higgins likely being ready to play this week. Burrow is a fine start this week in a game that could see a lot of points.
WR Ja’Marr Chase and WR Tyler Boyd were both solid in Higgins’ absence. You can continue to use all three Bengals wideouts, but just know that the presence of all three likely limits the production for at least one of them each week.
The Packers are currently ranked in the bottom eight in the league in terms of most fantasy points allowed to opposing tight ends, so TE C.J. Uzomah might have some success this week after exploding last week against the Jags. He’s an okay option this week given how shallow the position is in general.
- QB Aaron Rodgers
- WR Davante Adams
- RB Aaron Jones
- TE Robert Tonyan
- QB Joe Burrow
- WR Ja’Marr Chase
- WR Marquez Valdez-Scantling
- WR Tee Higgins
- WR Tyler Boyd
- TE C.J. Uzomah
- RB Joe Mixon
- WR Allen Lazard
- RB A.J. Dillon
- RB Samaje Perine
New England Patriots (1-3) @ Houston Texans (1-3) (CBS)
Weather forecast: Indoors
The Texans lost 40-0 to Buffalo last week, so that’s not great.
QB Davis Mills threw four interceptions with just 87 passing yards last week, so no need to worry about him from a fantasy perspective outside of deep dynasty leagues.
WR Brandin Cooks had another seven targets last week and remains top ten in the NFL in that category, but Week 4 marked the first game this season where Cooks’ production was capped by the ineptitude at quarterback. Cooks had just 47 receiving yards. Against the Patriots’ top four pass defense, Mills is likely to have another tough game, and that could in turn hurt Cooks this week. He’s startable but temper expectations. No other Texans should be considered for your lineups.
For the Patriots, last week’s eight-rush, -1 yard performance on the ground was rough, especially for a team with a rookie quarterback, but QB Mac Jones played admirably last week in a marquee matchup with QB Tom Brady. Against the Texans and their 28th-ranked defense, Jones is usable this week if you need him.
RB Damien Harris was completely shut down last week, but this week’s opponent offers a much kinder matchup. Houston is ranked 19th in the league in fantasy points allowed to running backs, so Harris is startable this week. RB Brandon Bolden is worthy of a flex spot start too if you’re desperate. He caught all six targets last week filling in for the injured James White.
Out wide, WR Jakobi Meyers leads this receiving group with 41 targets through four games, eighth in the NFL currently. He is a very good starting option this week. WR Nelson Agholor and WR Kendrick Bourne might be decent flex starters too if you’re desperate.
At tight end, this is a juicy matchup because Houston is allowing the most fantasy points to tight ends in the entire league. The problem is that both TE Hunter Henry and TE Jonnu Smith receive plenty of opportunities, and it’s sometimes difficult to predict which of the two will be the big producer that week. Henry out-snapped Smith 40-28 last week and had the advantage in routes-run as well at 29-17, so it appears as though Henry is the better option this week.
- WR Jakobi Meyers
- RB Damien Harris
- TE Hunter Henry
- QB Mac Jones
- RB Brandon Bolden
- WR Nelson Agholor
- WR Brandin Cooks
- QB Davis Mills
- All Houston Texans RBs
- TE Pharoah Brown
- WR Kendrick Bourne
- TE Jonnu Smith
Tennessee Titans (2-2) @ Jacksonville Jaguars (0-4) (CBS)
Weather forecast: 79° and cloudy, 7mph winds
The Urban Meyer Clown Show continues this week.
Meyer sure has had a lot fall into his lap this week. Not sure if he will continue to be able to dance around the issue or keep up with all the grinding of an NFL season. His style is starting to rub his players the wrong way. Not sure if the Meyer experiment is ultimately going twerk.
The Titans are top ten in the NFL against the run, and depending on the status of some of Tennessee’s star players, it’s always possible the Titans run off to an early lead and RB James Robinson’s opportunities wither in the wake of a negative game script. At best, Robinson seemed to separate himself (finally) from RB Carlos Hyde last week with Robinson taking 95 percent of the snaps last Thursday night. Start him if you need to, but nothing about the Jaguars should make fantasy managers feel good at the moment.
At wide receiver, the headline is that WR D.J. Chark will miss the season with a broken ankle. In his absence last Thursday, WR Laviska Shenault finally provided the type of fantasy performance we have been waiting for with six catches for 99 yards (but zero scores). On the surface it appears as though Shenault will take on D.J. Chark’s role as a starting receiver for Jacksonville, but a deeper look into the peripheral stats tells us that, actually, Shenault’s role remained largely the same after Chark went down.
Chark only logged three snaps before he was injured, and after that point, WR Tavon Austin took Chark’s literal spot on the outside, logging 73 percent of the snaps after seeing zero snaps prior to Week 4. Shenault remained in his same role, predominantly out of the slot and was on the field the same amount of time as Austin, and both Austin and Shenault ran an (almost) identical number of routes (22-21). Now, that’s not to say Shenault will not benefit from Chark’s absence in the form of targets (he saw seven targets to lead the Jags in Week 4), but just be aware that Shenault did not suddenly see any more usage last week despite his uptick in production. WR Marvin Jones remains the WR1 on this team as he led all pass catchers in snaps and routes in every game this season. He and Shenault are acceptable starting options. Leave Austin on the bench.
TE Dan Arnold is interesting to me as well. He was only acquired a few days prior to the game last week, and he stepped right in to lead the Jags tight ends in routes-run and targets. The production (two catches for 29 yards) doesn’t warrant you putting him into lineups this week — Tennessee also ranks No. 1 in the league in fewest fantasy points allowed to tight ends — but definitely keep an eye on Arnold moving forward.
For Tennessee, we don’t need to talk much about RB Derrick Henry. He is dominant, and is actually catching passes this year. Henry already has caught 14 passes in four games this season, matching his entire season total from 2020. His career high for catches in a season is 19.
Both WR A.J. Brown and WR Julio Jones are “wait and see” situations. If they are healthy enough to go this week, they should be in your lineups as Jacksonville ranks 30th in the NFL in total defense so far this season. If they miss this week, I would not necessarily start their replacements.
QB Ryan Tannehill has struggled thus far this season with just five passing touchdowns in four games, but if there’s any opponent to offer a “get right” week for a struggling quarterback it’s the Jaguars. Get Tannehill into your lineups.
- RB Derrick Henry
- WR Julio Jones (if Brown is out)
- WR A.J. Brown (if Jones is out)
- QB Ryan Tannehill
- TE Anthony Firkser
- RB James Robinson
- WR Laviska Shenault
- WR Marvin Jones
- TE Dan Arnold
- RB Carlos Hyde
- WR Tavon Austin
- WR Nick Westbrook-Ikhine
Detroit Lions (0-4) @ Minnesota Vikings (1-3) (FOX)
Weather forecast: 72° and cloudy, 10mph winds
The Vikings, despite their 1-3 record, should win this game at home, especially since their two losses have come by a combined 11 points.
QB Kirk Cousins is a solid start this week. He was a Top 8 quarterback option before last week’s tough fantasy outing against a very good Cleveland Browns defense (203 yards passing, one touchdown, one interception) dropped him to the current QB14. The winless Lions are giving up the third-most points in the league thus far, so go ahead and put Cousins into your lineups.
WR Justin Jefferson and WR Adam Thielen are no-brainer starts this week against the Lions. So far this season, both Vikings receivers are top twenty in the league in targets. Detroit just gave up relatively productive days to both WR Darnell Mooney and WR Allen Robinson versus the Bears last week. Jefferson and Thielen should have a field day inside the friendly confines of US Bank Stadium.
RB Dalvin Cook is reportedly still dealing with his ankle injury but will continue to try to play through the pain. This makes decision-making for fantasy managers tough because if Cook is playing, you want him in your lineups just due to his sheer talent level, but if he is limited and again splits carries with RB Alexander Mattison, Cook might be better served on the bench. What is encouraging for those with Cook on their roster is that Cook was heavily used in the passing game in comparison to Mattison, leading in routes-run (21-8) and targets (3-0).
TE Tyler Conklin continues to dominate the tight end snaps with 85 percent. TE Chris Herndon has not yet been a factor, and the Vikings have run way less 12-personnel than recent years with TE Irv Smith out due to injury. Conklin was third on the team in routes-run and targets, so he is getting involved. There are worse tight ends to deploy this week.
On the Lions’ side, the Vikings come into this week as the seventh-worst defense in total yards allowed, and are bottom-twelve in terms of fantasy points allowed to running backs, so RB D’Andre Swift is a great play this week. You aren’t benching Swift regardless of opponent right now, but this week’s matchup in particular should yield some nice production. The Vikings have allowed nice fantasy performances from Joe Mixon, , Chase Edmonds, Chris Carson, Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt, so start Swift with confidence this week. Bench RB Jamaal Williams for now, as he has ceded receiving work to Swift and fallen into the negative side of a 70/30 split in snaps as well.
At wide receiver, it’s anyone’s guess which player(s) to start from week-to-week. In Week 4, WR Kalif Raymond stole the show with 46 yards and two touchdowns. WR Amon-Ra St. Brown chipped in 70 receiving yards (on eight targets), and WR Quintez Cephus recorded 83 yards receiving. Last week, Cephus and St. Brown were invisible, so it’s hard to trust any of the Lions receivers.
Defenses have learned that TE T.J. Hockenson is one of the only dangerous pass catchers on this team and have begun to totally focus on shutting him down after a monstrous first two weeks of the season (16 catches, 20 targets, 163 yards and two touchdowns over the first two games). Combined over Weeks 3 and 4, Hockenson has just six catches for 52 yards and no touchdowns. Hockenson is so good that you can’t bench him, and if the Vikings jump out to a lead in this one at home, Hockenson might be able to feast in garbage time.
- QB Kirk Cousins
- WR Justin Jefferson
- RB D’Andre Swift
- WR Adam Thielen
- RB Dalvin Cook
- QB Jared Goff
- TE T.J. Hockenson
- TE Tyler Conklin
- WR K.J. Osborn
- WR Kalif Raymond
- RB Alexander Mattison
- RB Jamaal Williams
- WR Amon-Ra St. Brown
- WR Quintez Cephus
Denver Broncos (3-1) @ Pittsburgh Steelers (1-3) (FOX)
Weather forecast: 75°, overcast, 5mph winds
QB Teddy Bridgewater’s status is still up in the air for Sunday as he was not at practice on Wednesday. Keep an eye on his status because QB Drew Lock is not good at football.
WR Courtland Sutton has been disappointing since his nine-catch, 159 yard explosion in Week 2. He and WR Tim Patrick are still dominating snaps, and both are passable options this week — more so if Bridgewater is able to play — as Pittsburgh is allowing the fourth-most fantasy points to wide receivers in the NFL so far this season.
The 50/50 timeshare in the Denver backfield continues between RB Melvin Gordon (30 snaps last week) and RB Javonte Williams (31 snaps). Both backs are being deployed in the passing game about the same amount as well, as Williams only slightly edged out Gordon in terms of routes-run on Sunday (17-16). Gordon has been the more productive fantasy back so far due to his 4.9 ypc (Williams is at 4.0). Start Gordon if you need to, but Pittsburgh is a top ten run defense so far this season, so temper expectations accordingly.
TE Noah Fant is just one target behind Sutton (28-27) for the team lead in targets and is the fifth-most targeted tight end in the NFL right now. The four names ahead of Fant are Kelce, Waller, Kittle and Hockenson… good company. Fant is an every-week play regardless of opponent.
For the Steelers skill position players, this could be a tough week. Denver sports the fourth-best defense in terms of total yards, the second-best scoring defense, and have allowed the fewest fantasy points to running backs in the league so far in 2021. RB Najee Harris will probably touch the ball enough to be a decent starting option this week — Harris leads all RBs in the NFL in targets and is fourth in total touches — but expect it to be tough sledding on the ground for Harris and the Steelers.
WR Chase Claypool missed Week 4 with an injury, but he is expected to practice this week. In his absence, WR Diontae Johnson led the Steelers in targets, although WR Juju Smith-Schuster was right there with him along with WR James Washington. The Steelers ran three-wideouts over 80 percent of the time last week, so there will be opportunities for all three of Johnson, Smith-Schuster and Claypool, but the trouble is that Denver is also a top six unit against the pass.
TE Eric Ebron continued to split snaps and opportunities with TE Pat Freiermuth as they have done all season, limiting the fantasy potential of both. Keep both on the bench this week in what should be a low-output week for the Steelers.
- TE Noah Fant
- RB Najee Harris
- WR Diontae Johnson
- WR Courtland Sutton
- WR Chase Claypool
- WR JuJu Smith-Schuster
- WR Tim Patrick
- RB Melvin Gordon
- RB Javonte Williams
- QB Ben Roethlisberger
- TE Eric Ebron
- TE Pat Freiermuth
Miami Dolphins (1-3) @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-1) (CBS)
Weather forecast: 86°, clear and humid, 9mph winds
A week after limiting the Patriots to -1 yards (yes, that’s right, negative-one) rushing on eight carries last week, the idea of starting any of the Dolphins running backs against the Tampa Bay Bucs’ run defense is not very appealing. Tampa has allowed just 190 rushing yards total this season (best in the NFL), has allowed just one rushing touchdown (best in the NFL) and has allowed just 2.7 yards per carry (best in the NFL).
RB Myles Gaskin has been one of the biggest disappointments of the season so far. Seemingly healthy, Gaskin was only on the field for 23 percent of the Dolphins’ offensive snaps last week, finishing with three yards on two carries and no targets in the passing game. He is currently RB47 in standard scoring, RB42 in half-PPR and RB39 in full-PPR. However you slice it, you should keep Gaskin and the rest of the Miami backs on your bench this week.
Interestingly, Malcolm Brown out-snapped Gaskin last week, 35-12, which marked the first time Gaskin did not lead the team in snaps. Keep an eye on this split moving forward.
WR Davante Parker and WR Jaylen Waddle operated as “starters” grabbing 90 and 79 percent of snaps, respectively, last week. Parker dominated targets this week with nine to Waddle’s four. Parker also scored his first touchdown of the season. Parker and Waddle represent the only two receivers for Miami worth considering this week. Will Fuller is (gasp) injured and will be placed on I.R. by Miami.
TE Mike Gesicki was the third option in the passing game last week, a far cry from his catchless Week 1 performance that had fantasy managers worrying. Since then, Gesicki has seen 24 targets. He is a fine start this week as Tampa Bay is third-worst in the league in 2021 at allowing fantasy points by tight ends.
For the champs, you’re starting QB Tom Brady and all three of his wide receivers. Miami is the eighth-worst total defense so far this season, although you’re starting your Bucs anyway as they are the No. 1 team in the NFL in passing yardage and passing attempts. Start TE Rob Gronkowski if he’s healthy too. TE Cameron Brate saw a season-high number of routes (31) and targets (6) last week with Gronkowski injured.
At running back, RB Leonard Fournette dominated the Tampa backfield last week, out-snapping RB Ronald Jones by a 63-17 margin. Fournette also ran 35 routes, third on the team. Miami is currently giving up the third-most fantasy points to running backs in the league, so feel good about Fournette again this week.
- QB Tom Brady
- WR Mike Evans
- WR Chris Godwin
- TE Rob Gronkowski
- WR Antonio Brown
- RB Leonard Fournette
- TE Mike Gesicki
- WR Jaylen Waddle
- WR DeVante Parker
- RB Myles Gaskin
- RB Malcolm Brown
- RB Salvon Ahmed
- WR Albert Wilson
- RB Ronald Jones
New Orleans Saints (2-2) @ Washington Football Team (2-2) (CBS)
Weather forecast: 70° with rain and 7mph winds
Don’t look now, but QB Taylor Heinicke has finished as QB11, QB8 and QB4 the past three weeks. This week, he faces the Saints’ 26th-ranked passing defense.
WR Terry McLaurin is a must-start, of course. He has 25 targets in four games as is currently the WR7 in standard leagues (WR6 in PPR). Keep an eye on WR Curtis Samuel, who was eased back into action last week. He did not practice on Wednesday and remains questionable with a groin injury. Keep him on the bench even if he plays until we see more out of him.
RB J.D. McKissic continues to have an every-week role much to the dismay of those who have RB Antonio Gibson on their fantasy teams. McKissic ran just two fewer routes than Gibson (17-15), and McKissic was second on the entire Football Team with five targets and a receiving touchdown in the passing game. He added seven carries. McKissic is worthy of a flex start if you need him.
Gibson is playing well too. He’s got a healthy 4.3 ypc and is seventh in the NFL in carries. The fact that he loses receiving work to McKissic isn’t ideal, but by no means is it backbreaking to Gibson as a fantasy asset this season, at least not so far in 2021. The Saints are the second-best defense in the league against the run so far this season, so keep that in mind when deciding on Gibson for your lineups this week.
TE Logan Thomas is out for multiple weeks with a hamstring injury. TE Ricky Seals-Jones took over for Thomas last week, playing 62 snaps (93 percent) and was second on the Football Team in routes-run with 29. Don’t start him against the Saints, who are top ten at allowing the fewest fantasy points to tight ends so far in 2021, but he is someone to monitor over the next few games while Thomas is out.
For New Orleans, they go up against a Washington defense that is surprisingly poor so far this season. They’ve allowed the fourth-most total yardage in the league and are allowing the third-most points in the league. RB Alvin Kamara should, of course, be in your lineup.
WFT has given up the most fantasy points in the entire league to quarterbacks this year, but QB Jameis Winston probably still belongs on your bench.
WR Marquez Callaway, however, might be a decent start if he can break free for some big plays this week. The Football Team is allowing the third most fantasy points to wide receivers, and Callaway is coming off his best game (yardage-wise) of the season. WR Deonte Harris was the most targeted Saint last week with eight, and he ran almost as many routes as Callaway (19-17). Either way, this just isn’t a very high volume passing attack right now as Sean Payton is clearly trying to limit the number of throws Winston needs to make in order to minimize mistakes.
- RB Alvin Kamara
- WR Terry McLaurin
- RB Antonio Gibson
- QB Taylor Heinicke
- RB J.D. McKissic
- WR Marquez Callaway
- QB Jameis Winston
- RB Tony Jones
- WR Deonte Harris
- TE Adam Trautman
- TE Ricky Seals-Jones
- WR Curtis Samuel
Sunday Late Afternoon Games
Chicago Bears (2-2) @ Las Vegas Raiders (3-1) (CBS)
Weather forecast: Indoors
Matt Nagy announced Wednesday that QB Justin Fields will be the starting quarterback moving forward, and now Nagy must tailor the offense to fit his prized rookie. The Raiders aren’t a horrible defense, but they aren’t great either, so Fields should have an opportunity to succeed if Nagy allows him to.
Fields will need to operate without the luxury of RB David Montgomery who will miss multiple weeks with a knee injury. RB Damien Williams is the hot waiver wire pickup this week, and he will be the primary ball-carrier this week with rookie RB Khalil Herbert mixing in as well. Ideally, I’d love to wait a week to see how the split between Williams and Herbert looks, but if you’re desperate, you could gamble on Williams this week, especially if you unloaded your FAAB on Williams this week.
WR Darnell Mooney has out-snapped WR Allen Robinson in every game this season, albeit only slightly (212-195 snaps). Mooney also has the most targets, receptions and receiving yards on the team, including a breakout seven-catch, 125 yard effort last week versus the Lions. I don’t know if I’m ready to officially declare Mooney the new No. 1 receiver for Chicago, but it’s trending in that direction. If Fields can provide a spark to the Bears’ offense, perhaps we will get a better idea about which receiver is the top dog moving forward. My money is still on A-Rob.
You can’t start any other Bears at this point until Fields shows he can elevate the offense. TE Cole Kmet has just eight catches for 59 yards on the season, and believe it or not, Kmet is the third-most productive pass-catcher on the Bears this year.
For the Raiders, obviously TE Darren Waller is in your lineups. Enough said.
QB Derek Carr came back down to earth last week against a dynamite Chargers defense. Chicago is middle-of-the-pack in terms of their passing defense, so I’d be okay putting Carr into my lineups this week if you don’t have a better option, especially indoors in Vegas.
RB Josh Jacobs came back and was vintage Josh Jacobs with a 13-carry, 40-yard day on the ground. He did add five mostly-fruitless receptions, somewhat salvaging the day in PPR situations. Jacobs is tough because it appears as though he is going to have healthy volume as long as he’s on the field. RB Kenyan Drake had one carry for two yards and zero targets last week.
I want to believe in the Raiders wide receivers, WR Bryan Edwards and WR Henry Ruggs. I really do. Ruggs, in particular, has been solid lately, but he and Edwards remain maddeningly inconsistent from game to game, mostly due to the presence of target hogs Waller and WR Hunter Renfrow in the Raiders offense. Carr has been well known from favoring the middle of the field with his targets, and this season is no different. I’m sitting Edwards until he proves more consistent. Ruggs and Renfrow are decent flex plays this week.
- TE Darren Waller
- QB Derek Carr
- RB Josh Jacobs
- WR Henry Ruggs
- WR Hunter Renfrow
- QB Justin Fields
- RB Damien Williams
- WR Darnell Mooney
- WR Allen Robinson
- RB Khalil Herbert
- TE Cole Kmet
- RB Kenyan Drake
Cleveland Browns (3-1) @ Los Angeles Chargers (3-1) (CBS)
Weather forecast: 78°, clear, 5mph winds
Cleveland came up with a big win last week against the Vikings with RB Nick Chubb and RB Kareem Hunt leading the way. Both Browns backs are top seven fantasy RBs, made possible by Cleveland’s top-ranked rushing attack in yardage, attempts and touchdowns. Both Chubb and Hunt are must-starts right now. The Chargers defense is talented, but statistically, they have struggled to stop the run so far in 2021, ranking fourth-worst in the league in rushing yards allowed.
The Chargers do possess a stellar pass defense (fifth-best), so QB Baker Mayfield might not have a very productive fantasy day, and that will cap the potential for big days from WR Odell Beckham Jr. and the rest of the receivers. Beckham can maybe be a desperation start this week, but I’d opt for a different option if you have one.
Roll with Chubb and Hunt and sit tight with everyone else.
For the Chargers, this is a tough matchup as well. Cleveland is currently the second-ranked defense in the NFL, allowing the fourth-fewest points as well. QB Justin Herbert stays in your lineups as do RB Austin Ekeler, WR Keenan Allen and WR Mike Williams. That quartet is virtually matchup-proof.
TE Jared Cook was very productive, catching six of seven targets for 70 yards and a score. He’s probably fine to start as well given the dearth of good options at tight end.
- RB Nick Chubb
- RB Kareem Hunt
- QB Justin Herbert
- RB Austin Ekeler
- WR Keenan Allen
- WR Mike Williams
- TE Jared Cook
- WR Odell Beckham
- TE Austin Hooper
- RB Larry Rountree
- WR Jalen Guyton
- QB Baker Mayfield
- WR Donovan Peoples-Jones
- WR Rashard Higgins
San Francisco 49ers (2-2) @ Arizona Cardinals (4-0) (FOX)
Weather forecast: Indoors
After being otherworldly in Week 1 and Week 2, QB Kyler Murray has come back to earth a little bit the last two weeks. The 49ers are currently giving up the fifth-most fantasy points to quarterbacks in the NFL, so an elite performance from Murray is widely possible.
San Fran is also bottom-eight in terms of allowing fantasy points to running backs, so RB Chase Edmonds and RB James Conner could be nice plays this week. Edmonds is coming off a 12-carry, 120 yard performance on the ground. Edmonds has the big slice of Arizona’s 60/40 backfield snap split with Conner.
The snaps at receiver continue to be dominated by the trio of WR DeAndre Hopkins, WR A.J. Green and WR Christian Kirk. The three of them ran 39, 36 and 34 routes, respectively. WR Rondale Moore, clearly the Cardinals’ No. 4 option (fifth if you count the tight end), only ran 15 routes.
TE Maxx Williams has been solid recently, coming in third in targets for Arizona last week and totaling 66 yards receiving and a touchdown. He’s a sneaky play this week against a 49ers defense that will be stretched thin trying to account for the Cards’ weaponry on the outside.
Over on the Niners’ side, all eyes are on QB Jimmy Garoppolo’s calf, not because they are particularly nice calves (I bet they are), but because we might see QB Trey Lance make his first NFL start. Lance was exciting in mop up duty last week against Seattle, throwing two touchdowns and rushing for 41 yards. If he starts, that rushing ability might be enticing enough to actually start him this week.
RB Trey Sermon took 19 carries for 89 yards on the ground last week, but I expect RB Elijah Mitchell to split the work with Sermon this week and moving forward. Keep both on the bench until we see.
WR Deebo Samuel and TE George Kittle should be starting as well. Samuel is WR3 in most formats, ranking fifth in the NFL in targets. Kittle has seen 20 targets over the past two weeks after a slow start to 2021.
WR Brandon Aiyuk still hasn’t broken out with a productive game, but his usage at least is up. He’s second on the team to Samuel in snaps and routes. Keep everyone who isn’t Deebo or Kittle on the bench this week.
- QB Kyler Murray
- WR Deandre Hopkins
- WR Deebo Samuel
- WR Christian Kirk
- TE George Kittle
- RB Chase Edmonds
- RB James Conner
- WR A.J. Green
- QB Trey Lance
- RB Trey Sermon
- RB Elijah Mitchell
- WR Rondale Moore
- WR Brandon Aiyuk
- WR Trent Scherfield
New York Giants (1-3) @ Dallas Cowboys (3-1) (FOX)
Weather forecast: Indoors
WR CeeDee Lamb was disappointing last week, recording just two catches on five targets for 13 yards. I’m not alarmed yet. The Cowboys were particularly run-heavy last week, attempting just 22 passes. Both Lamb and WR Amari Cooper will be fine going forward. This offense will throw the ball plenty.
RB Ezekiel Elliott ran 14 routes to RB Tony Pollard’s four. Pollard is still a nice piece to this Dallas offense, but the worries that this was going to turn into a 50/50 split were a bit premature. Zeke also out-snapped Pollard 45-18 last week.
The most interesting storyline continues to be TE Dalton Schultz. His 18 routes-run paced the Cowboys tight ends. He has clearly overtaken TE Blake Jarwin in this passing game. He’s becoming an every-week start.
For New York, QB Daniel Jones had something of a coming out party last week, throwing for 402 yards and a couple of touchdowns in a surprising upset of the New Orleans Saints. The Cowboys have the 31st-ranked pass defense so far this season, so Jones, especially with his rushing upside (he has more rushing yards than Josh Allen and Kyler Murray), is a nice starting option this week.
RB Saquon Barkley had to remind everyone of his powers last week. He racked up 126 total yards and two score, including a walk-off shot in overtime to beat the Saints. After a slow start to 2021, Barkley has now had great outings in consecutive weeks.
WR Kenny Golladay finally had his breakout game as well, totaling 116 yards through the air last week. As of Wednesday, he was questionable to play with a groin injury, though. With WR Darius Slayton and WR Sterling Shepard out due to injury last week, WR Kadarius Toney took on a significant role for the first time in his career, looking explosive to the tune of 78 receiving yards from six catches on nine targets. Both Shepard and Slayton were still not practicing on Wednesday, so stay up to date leading into Sunday on all the Giants wideouts.
TE Evan Engram improved his snap count and share this week, taking 68 percent of snaps last week. He caught five passes last week as well, even if they only went for 27 yards. With Jones and the passing game showing signs of life, perhaps Engram can get things going this week. I wouldn’t feel great about it, but there are probably worse desperation TE plays this week.
- QB Dak Prescott
- WR CeeDee Lamb
- RB Ezekiel Elliott
- WR Amari Cooper
- RB Saquon Barkley
- QB Daniel Jones
- TE Dalton Schultz
- TE Evan Engram
- RB Tony Pollard
- WR Kenny Golladay
- WR Sterling Shepard (if healthy)
- TE Blake Jarwin
- RB Devontae Booker
- WR Kadarius Toney
Sunday Night Football (NBC)
Buffalo Bills (3-1) @ Kansas City Chiefs (2-2)
Weather forecast: 82° with rain and 11mph winds
The Bills have been participating in a lot of “garbage time” recently, and because of that, it’s hard to know if RB Zach Moss’ resurgence to fantasy relevance is a trend or mirage. He’s scored in back to back weeks and out-snapped RB Devin Singletary in those two games as well. Will a more neutral or negative game script mean more production for Singletary? Kansas City provides the possibility for such a game script this week. We shall see. The Chiefs are currently the 30th-ranked run defense, allowing the second-most rushing touchdowns in the league and the fifth-most fantasy points to running backs. Moss and Singletary are passable flex options given the Chiefs’ futility against the run so far this year.
At receiver, you know the drill when it comes to the Bills: WR Stefon Diggs, WR Emmanuel Sanders and WR Cole Beasley should be in your lineups. WR Gabriel Davis, the clear-cut fourth receiver, is a touchdown dependent dart throw.
TE Dawson Knox has caught fire, scoring in three straight weeks, elevating himself to TE3 in standard leagues. Kansas City has allowed the fourth-most fantasy points to tight ends in the league so far this season. Continue to pencil Knox into your starting lineups this week.
Regarding Kansas City’s passing game, similar to Buffalo, it’s pretty straight forward: QB Patrick Mahomes, WR Tyreek Hill and TE Travis Kelce are starting for you every week.
RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire has back-to-back 100 rushing yard games, although he still has not scored a touchdown and still has not recorded more than three catches in any game so far this season. CEH did run more routes than fellow RB Darrel Williams (16-11), but so far this season, the receiving production just hasn’t been there for Edwards-Helaire. He’s still a low-level RB2 most weeks, but it might be time to accept that that’s all he is.
- QB Patrick Mahomes
- WR Tyreek Hill
- TE Travis Kelce
- QB Josh Allen
- WR Stefon Diggs
- WR Emmanuel Sanders
- WR Cole Beasley
- TE Dawson Knox
- RB Zack Moss
- RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire
- RB Devin Singletary
- WR Josh Gordon
- WR Byron Pringle
- WR Demarcus Robinson
- WR Gabriel Davis
- RB Darrel Williams
Monday Night Football (ESPN)
Indianapolis Colts (1-3) @ Baltimore Ravens (3-1) (FOX)
Weather forecast: 73° with possible rain, 9mph winds
Gone are the days of the Ravens’ dominant defense. Ray Lewis, Ed Reed and Terrell Suggs are not walking onto that field with them on Sunday. Baltimore currently ranks in the bottom ten in the league in pass defense, something that sounds outlandish to anyone who has followed the Ravens organization over the past few decades.
That being said, QB Carson Wentz has yet to show why Indianapolis traded for him. He’s currently QB22 and has thrown just five touchdowns in four games. I’d sit Wentz if I could afford to, as I expect John Harbaugh to get his defense organized sooner or later this season.
WR Michael Pittman has established himself as the WR1 in Indy, totaling 32 targets over the past three games. He’s startable this week, but I’d leave Zach Pascal and Parris Campbell on the bench.
Interestingly, no team in the NFL has given up more fantasy points to tight ends this season than Baltimore, so TE Jack Doyle or TE Mo Alie-Cox could be good options this week. The problem is that you have to predict which tight end will be the “lead guy.” Doyle and Alie-Cox both have two games each this season where they have led the TE group in snaps. Most recently, Alie-Cox received 70 percent of snaps and had five targets, two catches, 42 yards and two touchdowns. In that same game, TE Kylen Granson ran more routes than both Doyle and Alie-Cox. The moral of the story? Don’t rely on any of these tight ends.
At running back, game script is the main factor, it seems, in deciding which of the two Colts RBs will produce more any given week. If the Colts play from behind, RB Nyheim Hines tends to be the back to play for the Colts. In neutral or positive game script situations, RB Jonathan Taylor is the back fantasy managers want to start. Hard to predict what will happen versus the Ravens in prime time. I’d start Taylor.
For Baltimore, QB Lamar Jackson remains an elite option by virtue of his rushing ability. Jackson is currently ninth in the league in rushing yards (not just QBs). He’s coming off his first 300-yard passing game since Week 1 of 2019.
WR Rashod Bateman could make his debut on Monday, but you should sit him until we see how the rookie takes to the NFL, especially coming back from a major groin injury.
WR Marquise Brown has been solid, scoring touchdowns in three of four weeks for Baltimore. Brown is currently the WR12. It remains to be seen how Brown will be affected once Bateman comes back, but for now, keep him in your starting lineups. The Colts have already given up 11 passing touchdowns, third-most in the NFL at this point.
At running back, RB Ty’Son Williams really must be in Harbaugh’s doghouse. Williams led all Ravens running backs in snaps for the first three weeks of the season before being a healthy scratch in Week 4 out of nowhere while RB Le’Veon Bell took 20 snaps behind RB Latavius Murray. Hard to figure out what’s happening here without another data point this weekend. I would feel relatively confident Murray will get the most work this week. He’s startable against a Colts run defense that is middling.
TE Mark Andrews is TE8 right now and an every-week play, although he has yet to find the endzone this year. Expect that to change, maybe even this week.
- QB Lamar Jackson
- TE Mark Andrews
- RB Jonathan Taylor
- WR Michael Pittman
- WR Marquise Brown
- RB Latavius Murray
- QB Carson Wentz
- RB Nyheim Hines
- TE Jack Doyle
- RB Ty’Son Williams
- RB Le’Veon Bell
- WR Sammy Watkins
- WR Parris Campbell
- WR Zach Pascal
- TE Mo Alie-Cox
- TE Kylen Granson
Check back next week for continued coverage. Also, let us know your thoughts, join the conversation and drop us a comment!
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Your typical know-nothing wannabe who never played American football growing up, Andrew grew up playing the REAL football, dreaming of being the next Ronaldo (the Brazilian one).
One fateful day in 1998, Andrew was introduced to one, Randy Moss, who would almost singlehandedly vault American football to the forefront of a young twelve-year-old’s flimsy attention span.
Twenty-some years later, Andrew, now a father, coach and rabid Tottenham supporter, still loves both footballs.