It’s Week 5 and one certain quarterback will make his long-awaited season debut, but I don’t need to tell fantasy owners they need to start him. As for which signal-callers and defense/special teams (DSTs) should you start and sit, I’ll get to that shortly. But first, let’s see how on target or off the mark I was with my Week 4 advice.
Start Kirk Cousins (17.32 fantasy points) – Cousins had a great day against a generous Cleveland defense.
Sit Eli Manning (8.44 FP) – Manning looked totally out of sync Monday night in Minnesota, but that’s been a common theme for any quarterbacks facing the Vikings.
Sit Jameis Winston (11.06 FP) – Winston just couldn’t get anything going at home against the Broncos
Sit Matt Ryan (33.52 FP) – Hey, Ryan would have only thrown for 200 yards if he didn’t connect with Julio Jones last week.
Start Carson Palmer (11.52 FP) – Palmer looks like he’s 70 years old out there and he missed the Thursday night game in San Francisco because of a concussion.
I warned you against sitting Russell Wilson (23.86 FP). It looks like his ankle and knee are just fine.
Teams on bye: Jacksonville, Kansas City, New Orleans, Seattle
START THESE QBS...
Ben Roethlisberger, PIT (vs. NYJ)
Big Ben is at home this week where he usually puts up big fantasy numbers. On Sunday, the Jets and the NFL’s 27th-ranked pass defense come to Heinz Field. New York is allowing quarterbacks to complete 71.4 percent of their throws and top cornerback Darrelle Revis is hurt. Big Ben and the Steelers should march up and down the field with plays to just about everybody, not just Antonio Brown.
Philip Rivers, SD (at OAK)
The Chargers aren’t a very good team and have been playing in a lot of shootouts so far this season, which has been fantasy gold for Rivers’ owners. This week he faces the worst pass defense in the league in Oakland, and even if his pass catchers are difficult to predict right now, we know that he’ll be slinging it up to 40 times in what will likely become another high-scoring affair. Rivers is a must-play until noted otherwise (those weeks are coming, as the Chargers have Denver in Weeks 6 and 8).
Derek Carr, OAK (vs. SD)
With each week that passes, you can tell Carr is coming into his own. Even if the Oakland running game offers no real threat it doesn’t really matter — Carr’s currently the third-highest scoring QB in fantasy. He’s been on fire to start the season, scoring 23-plus fantasy points in three of his first four games. Even if you drafted Carr as your QB2, you should continue to lean on him against the Chargers this week, who have surrendered the fifth-most passing yards (1,230) and an average of 18 fantasy points per game to quarterbacks.
MIGHT BE WORTH THE RISK...
Eli Manning, NYG (at GB)
In standard scoring leagues, Manning has finished as the QB13, QB24, QB15 and QB28. Combine that with his brutal showing on Monday night, and a lot of owners will be ready to bench him. But give him one more chance. Thus far this season, the Packers have been elite against the run (1.8 yards per carry allowed, best in the league) and shaky against the pass (8.7 yards per attempt allowed, 31st), forcing teams to attack them through the air with both volume and success. Opposing signal-callers are averaging 37.0 pass attempts, 330.3 yards and 2.0 touchdowns per game against the Pack, making this an ideal spot for Manning to get back on track.
SIT THESE QBs...
Matt Ryan, ATL (at DEN)
Ryan has been absolutely lights out through the first four weeks, leading the NFL in yards (1,473), touchdowns (11), touchdown percentage (7.9) and yards per attempt (10.5). That's usually the recipe for a must-start player, but this Broncos defense is no joke. Through four weeks, Denver has held Cam Newton, Andrew Luck, Andy Dalton and Jameis Winston to an average of 194.0 passing yards and a 2:5 TD:INT ratio. Newton's ability to run helped him finish as the QB9 in Week 1, but the other three all finished as the QB23 or worse. It'd be hard to recommend starting anyone against this defense right now.
Brock Osweiler, HOU (at MIN)
You might not be starting him unless you’re in a deep league, but with four teams on bye, it needs to be said that you cannot start Osweiler. The Texans are traveling to Minnesota to play against a Vikings defense that hasn’t allowed a single TD pass TD since Week 2. Anything can happen when you have the talent of DeAndre Hopkins and Will Fuller on your team, but playing Osweiler will most likely end up in disaster.
Tyrod Taylor, BUF (at LA)
Taylor has scored a serviceable 33 combined fantasy points in his last two starts, but he's not lighting the world on fire with Robert Woods, Marquise Goodwin and Justin Hunter as his top three WRs. With a limited ceiling moving forward, the versatile quarterback is a tough sell for fantasy fans in what is a difficult matchup versus the Rams, who have allowed just 19 points per game. Keep Taylor on the fantasy sidelines.
YOU’VE BEEN WARNED...
Matthew Stafford, DET (vs. PHI)
Stafford had been excellent to start the season, throwing for 985 yards, seven touchdowns and only two interceptions until last week’s debacle against the Bears. Stafford couldn’t get anything going against a poor Chicago defense that was missing multiple starters and he managed to score only 10.22 fantasy points. If Stafford can be that bad against the Bears, imagine what is going to happen this week against an Eagles defense that has yet to give up a single TD pass and is only surrendering 203 passing yards per game.
Defense/Special Teams (DSTs)
START THESE DSTs...
Pittsburgh Steelers (vs. NYJ)
The Steelers’ defense hasn't been great on the stat sheet overall, but an upcoming matchup against Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Jets makes the Pittsburgh DST a viable streamer. The Amish rifle has been throwing interceptions (10) at a ridiculous rate, which explains why the Jets have become the best matchup for opposing defenses in 2016.
New England Patriots (at CLE)
Tom Brady is back! While his return makes the Patriots more fantasy friendly on the offensive side of the football, owners also should consider their DST a starting option this week. Head coach Bill Belichick will do everything he can to confuse rookie quarterback Cody Kessler, so I wouldn't be shocked if the Patriots DST found success this week.
SIT THESE DSTs...
New York Jets (at PIT)
The Jets' defense has been a massive disappointment for fantasy owners this season, scoring two fantasy points in two of the first four games. Things aren't going to get better for the Gang Green this week either, as a road matchup against Antonio Brown and the Steelers awaits. Fans should pass on New York this week.
New York Giants (at GB)
From one New York team to another, the Giants spent a ton of cash in the offseason to improve its defense. It hasn't worked in the fantasy world though, as the G-Men are tied for 29th in fantasy points among DSTs. If that weren't enough to keep them on the bench, then consider this week’s matchup on Sunday night on the road against Aaron Rodgers.
— 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.