Before we get to start/sit quarterback and defense/special teams (DST) fantasy advice, I know you are really interested to see how last week’s tips fared.
Start Drew Brees (16.3 fantasy points) — As long as the Saints can’t play defense Brees is going to put up huge fantasy numbers.
Start Philip Rivers (21.6 FP) — The Rivers-to-Antonio Gates combo was back in full effect Monday night and will probably keep on going.
Start Sam Bradford (19.62 FP) — Bradford is finally playing well and spreading the ball around.
Sit Matthew Stafford (8.72 FP) — Has there been a worse starting quarterback this season?
Sit Andy Dalton (28.04 FP) — Who knew Dalton could lead the Bengals back in the fourth quarter against the “Legion of Boom?”
So I had a pretty good week last week. Let’s keep it rolling.
Teams on bye: Dallas, Oakland, St. Louis, Tampa Bay
START THESE QBS…
Matt Ryan, ATL (vs. NO, Thurs.)
Thursday night games are usually gigantic, terrible messes and normally should be avoided if possible. But when a quarterback as good as Ryan gets a shot at the New Orleans Saints’ defense, it changes things. It’s true that thanks to Devonta Freeman the Falcons are a more well-balanced offense than had envisioned four weeks ago, but the Saints have been terrible against the pass. New Orleans has given up nine touchdown passes already and four times this defense has allowed opposing QBs to score 17 or more fantasy points. Start Ryan and enjoy the jumpstart your fantasy team gets for Week 6.
Blake Bortles, JAC (vs. HOU)
Bortles is coming off perhaps his best-ever fantasy game in last week’s loss to Tampa Bay. He had an outstanding 29.22 fantasy points thanks to 303 yards passing and four touchdowns, although he did throw one interception. Bortles has really good receiving options in the double Allen’s (Allen Hurns and Allen Robinson) and tight end Julius Thomas is back, so that should open up more space in the passing game. The Jaguars travel to Houston this week to play a horrible Texans defense, which is giving up the sixth-most fantasy points to QBs this season. Bortles is dealing with a sprained shoulder, but he should be fine to start and continue to produce. He may even still be available on your waiver wire.
Philip Rivers, SD (at GB)
You might think that you should sit Rivers this week since so far this season he’s been terrible on the road. He scored 15.4 fantasy points in a Week 2 loss in Cincinnati and only 10.84 in a Week 3 loss in Cleveland. But Rivers now has his favorite weapon back in tight end Antonio Gates, which will revitalize the Chargers’ passing game on the road. The matchup isn’t great this week in Green Bay, but the Chargers’ defense is terrible, so the odds of Rivers playing from behind are very likely. Look for Rivers to have another 300-yard passing game with two TD tosses.
MIGHT BE WORTH THE RISK…
Eli Manning, NYG (at PHI, Mon.)
This all depends on whether or not Odell Beckham Jr. is good to go for the Monday night game in Philadelphia. If ODB is a go, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to get Manning into your starting lineup. The Eagles currently rank 26th in the league against the pass and are middle of the road (15th) in fantasy points allowed to opposing QBs. The real reason to start Manning would be because this game should be a very high-scoring affair. The way the game script appears to play out, it should be an old-fashioned QB duel between Manning and Sam Bradford.
SIT THESE QBs…
Cam Newton, CAR (at SEA)
Last week I told you to sit Andy Dalton against the Seahawks and that wasn’t such a good idea. This week though, you should sit Newton and hear me out. So Newton has scored 27-plus fantasy points in two of his last three games before his bye week, but history does repeat itself and Newton has been historically awful against the Seahawks. He’s averaged just 145.6 passing yards with one touchdown in three career games against them. Plus, this game is in Seattle, and that’s never easy.
Josh McCown, CLE (vs. DEN)
You might be inclined to start McCown because he has put up some pretty good fantasy numbers so far this season. Like last week when he went off for 457 yards and two touchdowns – that’s good for 35.48 fantasy points. And the week before he scored 22.24 fantasy points thanks to 356 yards passing and two touchdowns. Don’t expect gaudy fantasy numbers this week though. The Browns play host to the Denver Broncos and the league’s best defense. How good are the Broncos? They’re allowing an average of just 7.86 fantasy points per game to opposing QBs in 2015.
Ryan Tannehill, MIA (vs. TEN)
With four teams on their bye this week, you might be looking at different starting quarterback options this week. One of those options could be Tannehill. We’ll if so, move on. Tannehill has been a complete disappointment in real football and in fantasy football. However, because he is playing the historically awful Tennessee Titans, you might think that he’s worth a spot start. But the Titans are getting better. Last week the only allowed 8.36 fantasy points to Tyrod Taylor as a passer (the rest of Taylor’s 22.36 fantasy points were thanks to his running ability and Tannehill can’t run like Taylor). This is a winnable game for the Titans and they will stifle Tannehill all game.
YOU’VE BEEN WARNED…
Peyton Manning, DEN (at CLE)
There was a time, like last season, when you wouldn’t ever consider if you should or shouldn’t start Manning. He was easily a top-three, if not the top fantasy quarterback week in and week out. The winds of change have caught up to Manning and they are not good for his duck balls. Manning looked bad last week against a poor Raiders secondary and didn’t even throw a touchdown. This week however, Manning will get back on track. The Broncos travel to Cleveland to face a team that has given up the seventh-most fantasy points to QBs this season. The Broncos can’t run the ball and are going to need Manning to connect with Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders if they are going to win this one.
Defense/Special Teams (DSTs)
START THESE DSTs…
New York Jets (vs. WAS)
The Jets are coming off their bye week have been one of the best fantasy defenses so far this season and should really be able to do some statistical damage to Kirk Cousins and the rest of the Washington offensive attack. The Jets have scored eight or more fantasy points in three of their first four games, which is excellent consistency for a DST. Oh and remember that Cousins is among the league leaders in interceptions with six in five games.
Minnesota Vikings (vs. KC)
If you are into streaming defenses, this is the defense that you want this week. The poor Chiefs are struggling mightily this year and they just lost their Jamaal Charles, their best offensive weapon, for the year thanks to a torn ACL. This makes the Chiefs a great matchup for the Vikings, as the Chiefs are going to have to rely on Alex Smith to keep the chains moving. That’s even more great news for Minnesota’s defense because the Chiefs’ offensive line is terrible, having allowed a whopping 22 sacks so far, which is tied for most in the league.
SIT THESE DSTs...
Buffalo Bills (vs. CIN)
Heading into the season the Bills were projected to have one of the best, if not the best, defense in all of football. So far this unit has been hot and cold. While the Bills do play opponents very tough at home, this week they match up against one the hottest offenses in all of football in the Cincinnati Bengals. The Bengals, thanks to Andy Dalton, have been averaging 29.6 points per game (fourth in the NFL) and 421.4 yards per game (second). The Bills won’t be able to stop the Bengals’ offense, they can only hope to slow them down.
Philadelphia Eagles (vs. NYG, Mon.)
The Eagles’ defense was very impressive last week against Drew Brees and the Saints, even though the score might lead you to think otherwise. Philadelphia’s DST produced an impressive 14 fantasy points in Week 5. But don’t get your hopes up and think a repeat performance is in store. The Giants have allowed just four sacks so far this year, that’s the second fewest in the NFL. This means Eli Manning has had plenty of time to operate, so it should be no surprise he is off to a great start and has thrown just two interceptions so far. The Giants’ offense will keep rolling this week, so keep the Eagles DST away from your starting lineup.
— 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.