Week 5 offers a test of whether several of the surprising performers in the first quarter of the regular season will have staying power.
It also could show whether some slow starters are ready to get off the deck.
Fantasy owners should be prepared to move away from players whose fortunes are changing for the worse.
START: Aaron Jones, RB, Packers: He’s ready to snatch the lead role from Jamaal Williams after averaging 6.3 yards on his first 17 carries while also recording the team’s first run of better than 20 yards during last week’s win over the Bills. Jones’ breakout performance will come at the expense of a Lions run defense that is last in rushing yards allowed per game (157.8) and 30th in fantasy points allowed to opposing running backs. Expect the Packers to give Jones at least 16-18 touches at the low end, which will translate into a big afternoon for users who plug him into lineups.
SIT: Russell Wilson, QB, Seahawks: There is nothing to like about the prospect of Wilson facing a Rams defense that is tied for fifth in fewest points allowed and seventh in fewest fantasy points allowed to opposing quarterbacks. Since throwing for 298 yards against the Broncos in the regular season opener, Wilson’s yardage totals have dipped with each game. More unnerving is the fact Wilson - who has rushed for at least 489 yards in five of his first six seasons - has only 42 rushing yards on 11 carries. If Wilson doesn’t provide the threat of running, his fantasy value takes a huge hit.
START: Dede Westbrook, WR, Jaguars: Coming off a season-high 13 targets against the Jets, Westbrook can put up massive numbers if given a similar workload against the Chiefs, who are 31st in passing yards allowed and have given up 20 completions of better than 20 yards. Westbrook had nine catches for 130 yards last week and will also get the occasional run via the jet sweep. With Leonard Fournette sidelined, an aggressive Jacksonville passing game will produce fantasy gold if Blake Bortles is given the chance to exploit Kansas City’s weak secondary.
SIT: Patrick Mahomes, QB, Chiefs: Yes, sit the story of the first quarter of the season. Mahomes has made it look easy at times, but he hasn’t faced a defense the caliber of the Jaguars, who allow a league-low 164 passing yards per game with only three touchdown passes. Jacksonville also limits foes to a mere 14 points per contest, and while it may sound crazy to bench Mahomes, his fantasy owners must realize he’ll come back to earth at some point. That “some point” will be Sunday, so Mahomes owners would be wise to either use a backup with an obviously better matchup or hit the waiver wire to find a streaming option.
START: Matt Breida, RB, 49ers: Only the Lions defense is more run-friendly than the Cardinals, who give up 141.3 yards per game on the ground and a league-high seven touchdowns. Breida had only 61 total yards on 12 touches in last week’s loss to the Chargers, and a shoulder injury has limited him in practice this week, but Breida is still on point to get the start. He probably won’t need more than 15-17 touches to justify his spot in lineups.
SIT: Lamar Miller, RB, Texans: The Texans are quietly awaiting the return of D’Onta Foreman to spark their run game because Miller hasn’t been up to the task. Miller is averaging just 3.9 yards per carry and no longer gets enough targets to make him viable in PPR formats. The Cowboys are fifth in fewest yards per carry (3.6) and a respectable 12th overall in rushing yards allowed, translating into Miller - who has just one touchdown thus far - sitting on the fantasy bench.
START: Austin Hooper, TE, Falcons: Silent for much of the season, Hooper is a high-risk, high-reward play against a Steelers defense that is 31st in fantasy points allowed to opposing tight ends. Pittsburgh has given up 30 completions in 42 targets at the position for 339 yards with three touchdowns and in a game that shapes up to be high-scoring, Hooper is the type of show stealer that will make fantasy owners look smart for playing him.
SIT: Dalvin Cook, RB, Vikings: The Eagles are downright stingy against the run, and with Cook’s hamstring continuing to be an issue, now is not the time to risky empty numbers from him against the league’s top-ranked run defense. Cook had just 20 yards on 10 carries against the Rams last week and could be just as limited, provided he even suits up. His owners should concede that Cook is maybe two to three weeks away from being capable of being effective.
START: Austin Ekeler, RB, Chargers: One of the most intriguing players of the first quarter of the season, Ekeler’s quick-strike skills are well-suited for facing a Raiders defense that allows 5.6 yards per carry. Melvin Gordon will get his touches, but Ekeler’s numbers suggest he’s worth strong RB2 consideration in PPR formats. He won’t need a lot of touches to make starting him worthwhile.
SIT: Quincy Enunwa, WR, Jets: After a promising start to the season, Enunwa has caught just half of his 16 targets for 123 yards in the last two games. Rookie Sam Darnold will continue tossing the ball in Enunwa’s direction, but New York welcomes a Denver pass defense that is sixth in fantasy points allowed to opposing receivers. There’s good reason to believe Enunwa will stretch his touchdown drought to four straight games, making it a good reason not to play him.
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