My claim to fame is winning my $100 dollar money league fantasy football championship against nine other guys over the age of 45 the semester before I started college. I used my $232 dollars of earnings to buy all my college textbooks that semester.
This is my 13th season playing fantasy, and if you’re like me, you over obsess over who you should start each week. Do I know everything there is to know about the players you should start? Absolutely not. But, I know enough that many people throughout the week come asking me for advice, and follow it.
Now, while I’ll still be reading Jamey Eisenberg’s “Start Em, Sit Em” every week, probably more than once, I was talked into making my own predictions and giving it a shot.
I’ll do my best to keep to just three starts, three sits, one sleeper and one bust alert per position weekly (aside from kickers and defensive units), unless the matchup is just too good. My predictions will be based off of 10 team, No PPR leagues. But let’s be honest, if a receiver has a top-ten matchup, they’re going to be catching balls anyway. Might as well still read whether this is your exact set up or not.
Here are my top three starters by offensive position for week five:
1) Jacoby Brissett, Indianapolis @ Kansas City
Brissett is the QB that has surprised me the most this season; I thought there was no way the Colts would be successful, especially early on in the year, with Andrew Luck retiring so close to the season. Brissett is playing against the Chiefs, who just got a scare from Matthew Stafford and the Lions. While Indy will most likely have to play catch-up, but Brissett has the most touchdown passes of any QB in the NFL through the first four weeks (10), so that shouldn’t be a problem. Brissett and the tight ends started clicking a little more last week also, which is the key in the pass game whether or not wide receiver T.Y. Hilton is in the lineup or not. Additionally, if running back Marlon Mack misses any time or isn’t 100-percent, the addition of Nyheim Hines as the pass-down back gives him more options. Brissett has also increased his pass attempts in each week of the season.
2) Kyler Murray, Arizona @ Cincinnati
I didn’t think there was a team that was as bad as the Miami Dolphins, but here we are. The Bengals are struggling without top WR A.J. Green and now have put WR John Ross III on injured reserve. With RB Joe Mixon unable to move the chains consistently, Cincinnati should have its defense on the field a lot. Murray should be able to burn the Bengals with his feet, as well as in the air. RB David Johnson should have a great day on the ground, but I expect Murray to be able to pick apart the defense with QB option calls. Murray does have Christian Kirk out and Damiere Byrd likely out, but Larry Fitzgerald is his favorite target anyway. Andy Isabella should also slide into the pass game, as should KeeSean Johnson in his first career start. The uncertainty of those WRs play could make the Bengals struggle. Arizona should win big.
3) Russell Wilson, Seattle vs Los Angeles Rams
Seattle is passing the ball a lot more than expected. Wilson could lose a few touches to RB Rashad Penny, but the confidence the Seahawks have in the pass, especially with tight end Will Dissly and WR Tyler Lockett. Penny could also help in the passing game as a pass-down back. I expect this to be another shootout on TNF and Wilson should have a great chance through the air after the Rams got dismantled and embarrassed by a mediocre Jameis Winston. I think the LA defense will be upset about that and come more ready to play, but the success of Wilson is in a whole different tier than Winston.
1) Marcus Mariota, Tennessee vs Buffalo
Tom Brady was held between 5-10 points in most fantasy league last week and didn’t throw a single TD. Buffalo’s defense is for real and does a tremendous job keeping teams limited in scoring. The only person that can make a factor on Sunday is RB Derrick Henry. There’s no consistency in the Titan receiving core and TE Delanie Walker, the best receiver on the team, could miss the game or be limited.
2) Kirk Cousins, Minnesota @ New York Giants
Although the Giants defense is more favorable for Cousins, I expect RB Dalvin Cook to steal the show again. Cousins is showing no interest at all in TE Kyle Rudolph who used to be a sheer lock for multiple seasons in the passing game. WR Stefon Diggs had his first respectable game of the season last week, but he didn’t practice and hasn’t spoken to the media in two weeks. There are rumors that he wants to be traded, which puts the connection between him and Cousins in turmoil on and off the field. WR Adam Thielen is the best bet for Cousins, but he gets the opponent’s top defenders each week. The entire Minnesota offense aside from Cook has had a very disappointing season.
3) Teddy Bridgewater, New Orleans vs Tampa Bay
It scares me that Bridgewater hasn’t eclipsed 200 yards in either of his two starts this season. While New Orleans has won, this turns into an intriguing matchup against a Tampa team that shocked everyone when it went to LA and put up 55 points on the Rams. The Saints’ defense is the main reason why they’ve won the last two weeks and there are much better options on the waiver wire, even in a banged up QB year.
Bust Alert: Dak Prescott, Dallas vs Green Bay
I’m not sold on Prescott, especially after he struggled at home until midway through the third quarter against a lifeless Miami Dolphin team in week three. Prescott has played better at home, statistic wise, after the low scoring affair in New Orleans, but RB Ezekiel Elliott should have a better day on the ground than Prescott should have through the air. Green Bay did struggle last week and dropped a surprising contest against the Eagles that it should’ve won, so if the Packers’ defense breaks down again, Prescott should have a better day than a bust. However, there are too many factors that make him a clear start for me.
Sleeper: Matt Ryan, Atlanta @ Houston
Ryan had 397 yards in a game that the Falcons scored 10 points in last week. How is that possible? Anyway, this could be a shootout, and on paper Atlanta should have no problems keeping up. However, it needs to show up in order to do that. Its defense is very rocky and will most likely cause Ryan to have to play from behind again. He has the receivers to play catchup, and if RBs Devonta Freeman and Ito Smith can be more involved, Atlanta should get the win it desperately needs.
1) Melvin Gordon and Austin Ekeler, Los Angeles Chargers vs Denver
Gordon is listed as the starter and will ease back into the starting duties, however Ekeler’s career success against Denver cannot be ignored. Jacksonville RBs Leonard Fournette and Ryquell Armstead had 294 total yards against the Broncos last week and they’re nowhere near as dominant as Gordon and Ekeler. Denver has allowed a RB to score a TD in each game this season and Ekeler has scored one twice in three meetings in the past two seasons. Ekeler also can now be more of a pass-down back in an offense with many WR injuries. Denver will start 0-5 because of this pairing alone.
2) James Conner/Jaylen Samuels, Pittsburgh vs Baltimore
Conner is banged up, so it’ll be important to monitor his status as the week progresses. But whether Conner of Samuels plays, you have to play them against Baltimore. The Ravens got embarrassed by Cleveland RB Nick Chubb at home and also allowed more than a few catches to multiple RBs through the air. Conner and Samuels have proven to be pass-catching backs as well, and with the uncertainty looming on the Pittsburgh WRs, whoever plays will be used heavily.
3) Ronald Jones, Tampa Bay @ New Orleans
Jones does his best in games where Tampa’s offense has to throw a lot. While the math doesn’t make sense on this one, the statistics don’t lie. Against the Rams last week in the air shootout, Jones had his highest number of carries on the season (19) and had 70 yards and a TD. The week prior in the shootout with the Giants, he had his previous season-high in carries (14) and season-high for yards (80). While the Saints’ defense knows it is the staple of creating points with Drew Brees out, I expect Jameis Winston to turn the ball over before Jones does.
1) Josh Jacobs, Oakland vs Chicago in London
Jacobs has been disappointing since week one and hasn’t been given the same amount of volume. Oakland is making the trek across the pond to London to take on the best defense in the NFL. The Raiders could also be without No. 1 WR Tyrell Williams (foot) who has already been reported to miss practice all week for maintenance and the hope to suit up on Sunday. This leave Oakland with its best receiver being TE Darren Waller who will draw the most attention from the Chicago defense. Oakland will have no choice but to give Jacobs the ball more, but I don’t expect him to perform well in any capacity against the Bears.
2) Le’Veon Bell, New York Jets vs Philadelphia
Bell was stupid to sign with New York. Even if QB Sam Darnold comes back to play, he had just 3.5 yards per carry in week one with him in the lineup. If Darnold is out (which I believe he will be) the Jets’ offense is a joke. QB Luke Falk is utilizing him in the passing game, because he’s the only guy who can consistently catch passes. So where will the Eagles’ defense focus its attention? On Bell the entire time. The Jets have very little chance to do remotely anything against Philadelphia, even though the Eagles are in the middle of the pack this season in NFL teams.
3) Aaron Jones, Green Bay @ Dallas
Dallas held the best RB in the NFL to just 69 yards on the ground and out of the end zone last week. Jones is getting six-plus less attempts per game than Kamara and wasn’t able to take advantage of the disastrous helmet-to-helmet hit that knocked fellow RB Jamaal Williams out of the contest in the first quarter. A TD saved his 1.6 YPC day and it doesn’t get easier when he faces the seventh best rush defense.
Bust Alert: Wayne Gallman, New York Giants @ Minnesota
Minnesota allows the sixth fewest points to RBs and has the ninth best rush defense overall. Gallman also showed up as a limited participant in Wednesday’s practice with a neck injury. He’s expected to play, as it is reported as neck soreness, but with the return of WR Golden Tate it adds another veteran option into an offense that could use it. Tate, along with WR Sterling Shepard and TE Evan Engram have a chance to get some of the TDs given to Gallman this week.
Sleeper: David Johnson, Arizona @ Cincinnati
Pittsburgh just had a field day against the Bengals with both James Conner and Jaylen Samuels as each scored a TD and had volumness carries and catches. Johnson had 99 yards in the air last week and is going against the 31st ranked rush defense. He could be the best RB of the week if he handles the TDs in the air/on the ground, but the new WRs coming in for their first game for AZ could be left wide open alongside Larry Fitzgerald and steal the show. I think his volume of carries and matchup sets him up for a lot of yards, but the bust could be on the TDs.
1) Allen Robinson, Chicago vs Oakland in London
QB Mitchell Trubisky being out actually helps Robinson. In Daniels’ starts last season his favorite receiver was Robinson and the two had solid production because of it. Chicago should win big in London and I don’t trust Oakland’s defense. Robinson is the most reliable receiver for Chicago and with nagging injuries to other receivers in the core, Robinson should have no problem reaching his consistent seven target threshold and go beyond it.
2) Courtland Sutton, Denver @ Los Angeles Chargers
QB Joe Flacco is finally using Sutton’s play-making ability throughout the field and in the end zone. Sutton is also inching up on Emmanuel Sanders in targets and production, and with Sanders (quadriceps) likely going at less than 100-percent against the Chargers on Sunday, Sutton should be the leading receiver. LA is notorious for giving up generous yards in the air to opponents, which adds even more value to Sutton. He has at least seven targets in every game he will be leaned on in the game.
3) DeAndre Hopkins, Houston vs Atlanta
Aside from his 111-yard performance in week one, Hopkins has had two games in the 40-yard range and another in the 60’s. The first round fantasy draft pick has been nothing but disappointing, but this week is his chance to showcase his talent. Atlanta’s only win came against a rocky Eagles team and the Falcons’ defense has big play and lots of yardage written all over them.
1) Tyrell Williams, Oakland vs Chicago in London
Williams is officially questionable with some sort of foot injury and he’s going up against a top-10 pass defense and top three overall defense. If he plays, he won’t be 100-percent and aside from TE Darren Waller, the Bears don’t have to worry about anyone else in the Raiders’ receiving core. London games always seem to be a blow out and Oakland is in trouble.
2) D.J. Moore, Carolina vs Jacksonville
Thank God Cam Newton is out of there, who couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn if he tried. However, Kyle Allen took a dip in production last week after his somewhat surprising showing cross-country in Arizona. Additionally, he didn’t use Moore too much in the Cardinals game and only increased Moore’s targets by three last game. Newton may have made Moore look the best out of the two QBs, but let’s not forget how many times Newton didn’t connect with him also. Moore has been targeted just seven times in the past two games; two against Arizona and five against Houston. He has hauled in four of those catches and is more of a big play option. I like that the Jaguars defense is worse off than it has been in recent seasons, but I don’t believe it’s pass defense is 24th. Hopefully Allen is more on it this week and can utilize Moore, but the small sample size doesn’t convince me.
3) JuJu Smith-Schuster, Pittsburgh vs Baltimore
No this is not because of his bad game last week, although very frustrating. Smith-Schuster hasn’t practiced this week because he has some sort of toe injury. He’ll most likely enter Sunday’s game with a questionable tag and not an inactive, but monitor it. With that being said, there’s no way he’ll be at 100-percent and his snap count should be limited, maybe even cut in half. Baltimore got destroyed last week at home in an embarrassment, but most of those troubles came on the ground. The Steelers also didn’t need Smith-Schuster in their domination of the Bengals.
Sleeper: Auden Tate, Cincinnati vs Arizona
Who? Exactly. Tate has been the most targeted receiver over the past two weeks for the Bengals (16). He did this with both WRs Tyler Boyd and John Ross stealing the media coverage. But now, Ross is on IR and A.J. Green is still out for a few more weeks. Yes, Cincinnati is borderline horrible, but that hasn’t stopped QB Andy Dalton from utilizing him all over the field, especially in the red zone. The Cardinals’ corners are bad enough that the Bengals should find a few trips there. Most people also most likely don’t have Tate on their radar, go pick him up. He also has three favorable matchups in a row coming up with bottom feeder pass defenses.
Bust Alert: Odell Beckham Jr., Cleveland @ San Francisco
Beckham’s targets have decreased in every game this season and he hasn’t had double digit targets or more than six catches in a game since week two. His week two game against the Jets and his stat line was saved by his career-long TD in the fourth quarter. Without it he would’ve had five catches for roughly 70 yards, while not horrible, it’s not a must start. And come on, that was against New York and its third string QB. The 49ers are surprisingly 3-0 without having much of a passing game, which tells me their defense and rush offense gets their wins. We’ll see if Cleveland head coach Freddie Kitchens attacks San Fran’s defense in hopes of exposing them, but with the way the ball is distributed in odd ways for the Browns, OBJ scares me.
1) Will Dissly, Seattle vs Los Angeles Rams
Dissly once again only had one drop again and scored his fourth TD in three games against Arizona. Even though the Rams held O.J. Howard last week in a crazy loss against Tampa Bay, Howard hasn’t been a top receiver for his team. Dissly is borderline the No. 2 in Seattle and he should continue to see a lot of yards at home. Seattle is 7-1 on Thursday Night Football with Russell Wilson, and if the Seahawks are going to take the lead in the division he’ll need Dissly’s help.
2) Austin Hooper, Atlanta @ Houston
Hooper has 196 and two TDs in the Falcons’ last two games. Atlanta needs all the help it can get to begin winning and Hooper is the most reliable offensive weapon for QB Matt Ryan as of late. Even though Houston’s defense is third in the league against TEs, its focus will be on WRs Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley. According to Jamey Eisenberg of CBSSports, Hooper’s start rate is only 68-percent, which means he’s likely not owned or is a backup TE. Go get him.
3) Jimmy Graham, Green Bay @ Dallas
It looks like WR Davante Adams will be out with a toe injury and I don’t trust WRs Marquez Valdes-Scantling or Geronimo Allison to be reliable wideouts. Graham’s success has significantly declined since he left New Orleans, but history could show as the Packers should use him as their top threat. In the Cowboys’ only game against a significant TE, they allowed Evan Engram 116 yards and a TD.
1) Evan Engram, New York Giants vs Minnesota
I think the Giants are going to struggle getting anything going against Minnesota. WR Golden Tate is also back after serving his (wrongful) four-game suspension. RB Wayne Gallman in place of starter Saquon Barkley no longer has an injury designation and he stole two scores from receivers last week. I think Engram could be more of a bust candidate, but he needs a TD to save his stat line in my eyes. Too many factors worry me as him as a clear starter.
2) O.J. Howard, Tampa Bay @ New Orleans
Saints QB Teddy Bridgewater is going to have to eclipse 200 yards this week and go well beyond that if New Orleans doesn’t want to be upset at home with the way Tampa Bay is playing. Goff had 514 yards last week and attempted 68 passes and still lost. Howard has barely been used as a factor in this Jeckyll and Hyde offense and nothing to me suggests that it changes this week. WRs Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, paired with RB Ronald Jones don’t need Howard more than a safety gauge. He doesn’t have more than four catches in a game, and he isn’t like Will Dissly where minimal catches result in lots of yards and TDs.
3) Trey Burton, Chicago vs Oakland in London
This is a trap game and you should not take Burton as a flier even with the matchup. Burton is likely not rostered in your league, but him not having more than 20 yards in any game this year is a problem. Chicago is better when they significantly utilize Burton, but this matchup in London will showcase Burton as simply a blocker. Other key offensive players will have their time to shine against a beaten up Oakland team.
Sleeper: Delanie Walker, Tennessee vs Buffalo
Walker is Tennessee’s best receiver plain and simple. In a tough matchup in likely a low scoring game, I like Walker’s in-game adjustments enough to think he could find the end zone or get open against a talented defense. Walker was disappointing to say the least last week with one catch for four yards, but he no longer carriers his injury designation. Buffalo was exposed early last week against New England’s receivers, but aside from Evan Engram, who was being thrown to by Eli Manning, Buffalo has yet to face a good TE.
Bust Alert: Dawson Knox, Buffalo @ Tennessee
Buffalo will rely on its defense and RB Frank Gore in this game, with the hopes of John Brown doing more than wear a jersey on the field. Knox hasn’t caught more than three passes in a game, despite a TD in week three. However, that came against Cincinnati, and that team beats themselves. Did you see James Conner catch a TD between six guys last week untouched? It’s that bad. While there’s talk about him being the most trustworthy guy in the pass game for Buffalo, the stat’s don’t support it. QB Kyle Allen is still in concussion protocol and is also likely out, so the Bills will turn to Matt Barkley whom Knox has never played with.