As the Thursday Night Football game has already passed, we’ll need to adjust the starts and sits accordingly. Heading into week five, the first quarter of the season has passed, giving us enough of a sample size to make more accurate predictions.
Let’s jump into it:
Arizona Cardinals QB Kyler Murray versus Cincinnati Bengals
Kyler Murray has put together a season which most probably envisioned thus far, ranking 15th-overall in the quarterback standings through four games. This week, Murray gets a weak Bengals’ defense that ranks 29th in yards per pass attempt allowed. The Cardinals aren’t very good, particularly along their offensive line, though Murray will have every chance to make plays against the Bengals, and the past few weeks suggest he will.
Minnesota Vikings QB Kirk Cousins versus New York Giants
The 2019 season has been a disaster for Kirk Cousins as he currently ranks 25th among quarterbacks, has been lambasted in the media, and now has teammates — namely wide receiver Stefon Diggs — highly upset. Cousins’ highest scoring week was week one, when he scored 14.32 points, and though he’s shown no reason to trust him at all, I believe he could put together a solid performance against a weak Giants defense. The Giants’ defense is ranked 31st in passing yards per attempt allowed.
Other potential starts: Jameis Winston versus New Orleans Saints, Tom Brady versus Washington Redskins
Jacksonville Jaguars QB Gardner Minshew II versus Carolina Panthers
The rookie sensation known as the “jock strap king” is one of the best storylines in the league this year, though he lands as a sit for me this week as he’ll face the best performing secondary in the league in the Panthers, ranking 1st in both passing yards per game allowed and yards per pass attempt allowed.
Tennessee Titans QB Marcus Mariota versus Buffalo Bills
Even though the results in real life have been ugly at times, Marcus Mariota finds himself 9th among quarterbacks in scoring, though he’ll face an incredibly tough matchup with the Bills coming to town. The Bills are currently ranked 4th in passing yards per game allowed and 3rd in passing yards per attempt allowed. The Bills’ secondary just stifled the New England Patriots’ offense, in addition to nearly every other offense they’ve faced.
Other potential sits: Washington Redskins QB’s versus New England Patriots, Derek Carr versus Chicago Bears
Jacksonville Jaguars RB Leonard Fournette versus Carolina Panthers
The Panthers may be the best secondary in the league this year, yet their rush defense isn’t nearly as strong, ranking 28th in the league in rushing yards per attempt allowed. Leonard Fournette is coming off his best week of the season, scoring 26.50 points against the Denver Broncos in week four. Fournette should perform well in this contest, especially with how difficult it will be for the Jaguars to move the ball in the air, forcing them to feed Fournette early and often.
Los Angeles Chargers RB Austin Ekeler versus Denver Broncos
Running back Melvin Gordon is officially back as he ended his holdout a week ago. Gordon will play this week, though Austin Ekeler will still receive a ton of work. The Broncos are currently 30th in rushing yards per attempt allowed and just lost one of their best players in edge Bradley Chubb. The timeshare between Ekeler and Gordon will be a headache to deal with, but this matchup is just too good and Ekeler is far too productive to worry about it this week.
Other potential starts: Joe Mixon versus Arizona Cardinals, Marlon Mack versus Kansas City Chiefs
Oakland Raiders RB Josh Jacobs versus Chicago Bears
You may have no choice but to start Josh Jacobs, even if the matchup he faces is incredibly tough as the Bears currently rank 3rd in rushing yards per game allowed and 2nd in rushing yards per attempt allowed. Jacobs has struggled outside of a fantastic performance in week one, making him a prime candidate to sit if possible.
Washington Redskins RB Adrian Peterson versus New England Patriots
The Patriots’ defense is incredible on all levels, and that’s no different for their ability to stop the run. The Patriots rank 2nd in rushing yards per game allowed and 5th in rushing yards per attempt allowed. Adrian Peterson has struggled mightily this season, and could face a negative gamescript as the Redskins are likely to fall far behind on the scoreboard in this one, meaning even less work for Peterson and more snaps for receiving back Chris Thompson.
Other potential sits: Jordan Howard versus New York Jets, Wayne Gallman versus Minnesota Vikings
Minnesota Vikings WR Stefon Diggs versus New York Giants
Stefon Diggs has arguably been the most disappointing fantasy football player through four games, giving him the potential to be one of the best bounce back stories. Diggs’ name has been surrounded by all kinds of trade rumors, with him potentially not being active this week due to a missed practice for non-injury reasons. Be aware of his status, because if he does get the chance to play, he faces a cupcake defense and likely has the attention of his quarterback after all the public attention surrounding the Vikings.
Denver Broncos WR Emmanuel Sanders versus Los Angeles Chargers
I’m not sure why you wouldn’t be starting Emmanuel Sanders at this point, as he’s one of the most quiet-yet-consistent producers in the league. Outside of a rough week three, Sanders has scored over 15.30 points every week, and now gets a weak Chargers’ pass defense.
Other potential starts: Phillip Dorsett versus Washington Redskins, Carolina Panthers WR Curtis Samuel versus Jacksonville Jaguars, Adam Thielen versus New York Giants
Jacksonville Jaguars WR D.J. Chark versus Carolina Panthers
D.J. Chark has been outstanding in his first four games, however, he — and the Jaguars’ pass offense — have an incredibly tough matchup in week five as the Panthers are incredibly productive versus the pass. Benching Chark is a tough endeavor, yet I’d suggest you look elsewhere at the receiver spot this week.
Tennessee Titans WR A.J. Brown versus Buffalo Bills
A.J. Brown is coming off an incredible week against the Atlanta Falcons where he secured three receptions for 94 yards and scored two touchdowns, yet, I’m suggesting you leave him on your bench. The first reason is that the Bills’ defense is fantastic. If that’s not enough, Brown’s lack of targets (4, 5, 5, 3) and snaps (26 snaps, 42% in week four) scream inconsistency and regression.
Other potential sits: Terry McLaurin versus New England Patriots, Michael Gallup versus Green Bay Packers
Atlanta Falcons TE Austin Hooper versus Houston Texans
Austin Hooper is currently the 4th ranked tight end, showing a propensity to be involved in the Falcons’ passing attack. There’s no reason to believe Hooper will suddenly be forgotten, as his targets suggest he’s firmly on quarterback Matt Ryan’s radar.
Green Bay Packers TE Jimmy Graham versus Dallas Cowboys
If you’re afraid of inconsistency, Jimmy Graham will be a tough “play” for you, yet I’d still suggest you put him in your lineups. Wide receiver Davante Adams (foot) has already been ruled out again. Due to the loss of Adams, Graham received a ton of work in week four (nine targets, six receptions), leading us to believe he’ll be heavily included once again.
Other potential starts: Mark Andrews versus Pittsburgh Steelers, Dawson Knox versus Tennessee Titans
Chicago Bears TE Trey Burton versus Oakland Raiders
Trey Burton has hardly been used in the Bears’ offense, and things don’t look much different with backup quarterback Chase Daniels now handling starting duties. Burton’s lack of production is alarming, and he should be benched until something changes because of it.
Minnesota Vikings TE Kyle Rudolph versus New York Giants
If Kyle Rudolph becomes any less involved in the Vikings’ offense, his face will begin to go up on milk cartons. Rudolph has seven (!) targets this entire season, receiving only one target in three out of those four games. Rudolph is the forgotten man in a struggling passing offense, giving you every reason to leave him on the bench.
Other potential sits: James O’Shaughnessy versus Carolina Panthers, Delanie Walker versus Buffalo Bills
New England Patriots versus Washington Redskins
The Patriots’ defense is an elite unit, topping the second-placed defense by 32 points through four games. The Redskins are giving quarterback Colt McCoy his first start of the season, providing the Patriots with a dream matchup.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers versus New Orleans Saints
The Saints are currently averaging 21.0 points per game, landing at 19th in the league. The Buccaneers’ defense is a solid unit who have the potential to force quarterback Teddy Bridgewater into mistakes. A player to look out for is edge rusher Shaq Barrett, as he’s been one of the best players in the league.
Other potential starts: Chicago Bears versus Oakland Raiders, Baltimore Ravens defense versus Pittsburgh Steelers
New York Jets defense versus Philadelphia Eagles
The Jets’ defense is actually a quality unit that’s currently 6th in the league in scoring, but I’d urge you to leave them on the bench as the Eagles’ offense has the ability to score a lot of points. The Eagles are 7th in the league in points per game. The lack of a quality quarterback for the Jets (Luke Falk) could lead to a lot of time of possession for the Eagles, giving them even more opportunities to score.
Pittsburgh Steelers versus Baltimore Ravens
The Steelers’ defense is an opportunistic one, ranking 8th in points. The divisional matchup with the Ravens is a terrible one though, as the Ravens lead the league in points per game, averaging 33.8 points per game.
Other potential sits: Green Bay Packers versus Dallas Cowboys