Week 5 of the NFL season brings the start of the bye weeks, which means it’s the point in the fantasy football season where depth gets challenged and roster management becomes even more important. With Atlanta, Denver, New Orleans and Washington on byes this week, that creates a dilemma for many fantasy football owners.
So what’s an owner to do with no Drew Brees, Matt Ryan, Kirk Cousins or Trevor Siemian? Here are some quarterbacks you can trust and some you should probably not.
Good Calls in Week 4...
Start Philip Rivers (19.88 fantasy points) – The Chargers are a bad team, and bad teams get down early and have to throw the ball a lot. That’s good news for Rivers fantasy owners.
I said to might be worth the risk to start Deshaun Watson (33.72 FP) and I hoped you listened as threw four touchdown passes and ran for another score last week.
Sit Matthew Stafford (10.06 FP) – A win is a win, but Stafford threw for only 209 yards and zero touchdowns against a tough Vikings defense in Minnesota.
Bad Calls in Week 4...
Sit Cam Newton (33.04 FP) – I guess all that it takes to get a struggling QB back on track is to play the pathetic New England Patriots defense.
Sit Jameis Winston (26.48 FP) – It looks like we should no longer fear the Giants’ defense. Winston threw for more than 300 yards and three touchdowns against them.
Teams on bye: Atlanta, Denver, New Orleans, Washington
START THESE QBs...
Matthew Stafford, DET (vs. CAR)
Stafford has already faced Arizona, Minnesota and the New York Giants. All three defenses are at least middle-of-the-road, statistically speaking, against the pass, so he shouldn't be intimidated by Carolina's defense. And while the Panthers have fared well against the pass, they’re still being propped up with early returns against Buffalo and San Francisco. In the last two weeks, Carolina has allowed five touchdown passes, garnered zero interceptions and allowed more than 500 yards through the air. This team is still susceptible to the pass, much like last year. Sometimes statistics don’t always tell the full story.
Carson Wentz, PHI (vs. ARI)
The Cardinals have a decent enough secondary, but their pass rush isn't good enough to force quarterbacks into quick decisions. The Cardinals have long been ball hawks, but that's not happening this year with the lack of pressure. Arizona only has three interceptions on the season and is allowing more than 210 passing yards per game. Wentz continues to see plenty of volume and has looked good against above-average pass defenses. The most important part of Wentz's game is the fact he's taking care of the ball, so that works well once again in Week 5 at home against the Cardinals.
Carson Palmer, ARI (at PHI)
The Eagles are giving up 285 passing yards per game. That’s third worst in the league, and the Cardinals aren’t good enough to not be losing, so they will pass, especially because of their terrible offensive line. Palmer will be a worthy waiver wire add or bye-week replacement if you can snag him. It may not be pretty, but he’ll get you some points.
MIGHT BE WORTH THE RISK...
Jacoby Brissett, IND (vs. SF)
If you don't have a good backup, then Brissett can offer a nice streaming option for Week 5. San Francisco can't make stops when necessary and has been carved up in recent weeks. Even with solid efforts in Weeks 1 and 2 against a rusty Cam Newton and a lost Seattle passing offense, the 49ers rank near the bottom of the league against the pass, allowing 240 yards per game. They're not creating turnovers and with the way Brissett has looked at times this season, I feel confident in his ability to put up points against a porous San Francisco pass defense.
SIT THESE QBs...
Andy Dalton, CIN (vs. BUF)
Buffalo has been dominant against the pass this year and that won't stop in Week 5, even with an improved Dalton at the helm. Dalton has looked good in the last two weeks after such a bad start. He hasn't thrown an interception since that disastrous Week 1 and he's progressively looked more comfortable. Maybe it's the change in the offensive coordinator. Or maybe it's the opponents. The Bengals have faced Green Bay and Cleveland in the last two weeks, compared with Houston and Baltimore in the first two weeks. The Bengals return to the gauntlet against a Buffalo team that is harassing opposing quarterbacks and turning them over. Buffalo has six interceptions against just one TD pass allowed this year.
Philip Rivers, LAC (at NYG)
Even though Rivers has finished as a top-12 fantasy quarterback in three of four games, he has yet to finish with 20-plus fantasy points in any of those. After three consecutive home games, Rivers and the Chargers take their show on the road to face the Giants. The Giants have surrendered seven TD passes in four games with no interceptions, but they have allowed just 224.5 passing yards per game over that stretch and Rivers historically doesn’t play well on the East Coast.
Jared Goff, LAR (vs. SEA)
He’s a sexy, sneaky play for some, but what if this high-octane Rams offense comes crashing down? They are the Rams, after all, and Todd Gurley could score all of the touchdowns. I’d rather play Eli Manning or Carson Wentz than Goff against Seattle. He’s looked good, but it seems risky.
YOU’VE BEEN WARNED...
Cam Newton, CAR (at DET)
His shoulder looked great against the worst defense in the league, but now he has to travel to Detroit, who has given up the fifth-fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks. It’s nice to see him run again, but how much running will he really be doing?
Defense/Special Teams (DSTs)
START THESE DSTs...
Philadelphia Eagles (vs. ARI)
The Eagles are a great streaming option this week against a Cardinals offensive line that is a mess thanks to injuries. Last week the 49ers sacked Carson Palmer six times, so look for the Eagles to continue to apply tons of pressure on the veteran signal-caller, resulting in a few interceptions.
Oakland Raiders (vs. BAL)
The Raiders’ defense isn’t that great, but this week against the Ravens, they’re worth a start. Over the last two weeks, DSTs that have faced Joe Flacco and the Ravens have recorded a combined six sacks, allowed a total of 16 points and averaged 13 fantasy points.
SIT THESE DSTs...
Houston Texans (vs. KC)
The Texans’ defense crushed it last week scoring an awesome 19 fantasy points. This week is a different story against a Chiefs team that doesn’t turn the ball over and so far DSTs are averaging just 3.33 fantasy points per game against them.
Jacksonville Jaguars (vs. PIT)
The Jaguars are an elite defense, ranking second in total fantasy points among DSTs so far this season. But this week’s matchup is in Pittsburgh, where the Steelers average the third-most points (29.2 ppg) and the third-most yards (402.8 ypg) among home teams.
— Written by Michael Horvath, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Horvath is a Canadian who also happens to be a fantasy football (not to be confused with CFL) and fitness nut. Follow him on Twitter @realmikehorvath.