As we head into Week 5 of the NFL season, the bye weeks begin. Keep in mind that we will not have players from Atlanta, Denver, New Orleans, and Washington available. With a quarter of the NFL season in the rearview mirror the IDP landscape has begun to take shape.
A lot of big name players have begun to shine such as Luke Kuechly and his 14-tackle performance last week. There are of course other big-name players such as J.J. Watt (see below) and Muhammad Wilkerson who have yet to make a splash. Just keep in mind that the season is a marathon and not a sprint.
Let’s take a look at the Week 5 start and sit options.
It seems a bit strange to list Watt here, but owners are panicking as he has yet to register a sack and is coming off a goose egg performance in Week 4. It’s all good. This is a dominant player and water always finds it’s level. This is a great matchup for Watt to break out as the Chiefs have allowed 12 sacks to defensive linemen through the first month of the season. On the season Watt has been credited with 10 quarterback hurries and five hits and will have a big Week 5.
Graham was a Week 1 start suggestion and rewarded his owners with a pair of sacks and a forced fumble as well as four total tackles. He’s posted just half a sack since that game, but the matchup with the Cardinals is just the thing to jump start Graham’s production. Arizona’s offensive line is among the worst in pass-blocking according to PFF and has allowed 11 sacks to defensive linemen. Offensive tackles John Wetzel and Jared Veldheer have given up a combined 34 quarterback pressures and five sacks.
Hughes has definitely benefited from returning to a defensive lineman designation this season and has quietly put up top-20 fantasy numbers through four games. In the Bills’ upset of the Falcons last week Hughes posted three solo tackles along with his third sack of the season and a forced fumble. Even without first-round draft pick Myles Garrett, the Browns defensive line put up three sacks last week against Cincinnati and Andy Dalton has been sacked 14 times on the season. This is not a strong offensive line and Hughes will add to his sack total in Week 5.
Heyward is coming off a huge game against the Ravens, having racked up two sacks as well as a forced and recovered fumble. Heyward has three sacks on the season and has put up solid DL2 numbers in 2017 but faces a negative matchup this week. Through the first four weeks, Jacksonville has allowed just a single sack to the position with no forced fumbles or fumble recoveries. Don’t get caught chasing Heyward’s Week 4 stat line against a solid offensive line as there are better options available.
The injury to Cliff Avril (severe stinger) may open up more snaps for Clark, but until he proves he can do something with them I’m advising steering clear of starting him. After putting up 1.5 sacks in the first two games, Clark has failed to get to the quarterback while posting just five total tackles in the last two weeks. This is not a favorable matchup for Clark to turn things around as the Rams have allowed just a total of four sacks in the first four games.
Let’s start out with a twofer. Both Smith and Jack have posted 25 solo tackles along with a combined four big plays (one sack, two fumble recoveries, and an interception). Both are currently top-10 fantasy scorers and play on the 32nd-ranked defense against the run. Look for the Steelers to feature a heavy dose of Le’Veon Bell this week and for both Jaguars linebackers to put up double-digit tackles.
Since returning to the Jets, Davis has had a career resurgence and has posted 40 total tackles through the first quarter of the season. He’s reached double-digit stops twice this season and is poised to do so again this week. The Browns are among the most generous offenses in handing out fantasy points to linebackers having given up an average of 22 tackles per game to the position. In each of the past three games a linebacker has put up 10 or more tackles against Cleveland, and Davis will make it four.
There is a strong chance that both Kwon Alexander (hamstring) and Lavonte David (ankle) will miss the Thursday night game against the Patriots, leaving Beckwith as the last linebacker standing. The rookie is coming off a nine-solo-tackle performance against the Giants and faces a Patriot offense that has been friendly to linebackers for fantasy purposes. Last week, Luke Kuechly and Shaq Thompson combined to rack up 21 total tackles against the Patriots.
This is the second time Goodson has landed on the “sit” list. While the first time was more of a health issue (lower leg injury) this time it’s more of a role- and matchup-based decision. Goodson played just 45 snaps in his return last week and faces an offense that hasn’t been handing out a lot of production to linebackers. The Chargers have allowed just one linebacker to reach double-digit tackles this season. Until we see Goodson back in a full-time role and with a better matchup he can safely be benched.
Things are trending in the wrong direction for the veteran Panthers linebacker. After playing every defensive snap in the first two games, Davis saw just 37 snaps last week. It appears that he is no longer a three-down player and that the youngster Shaq Thompson is taking on a larger role in the defense. The sun seems to be setting on Davis’ career, and there is no reason to have him in fantasy lineups moving forward.
Sendejo is actually outperforming fellow Vikings safety Harrison Smith this season and is currently a top-10 fantasy defensive back. He’s produced double-digit tackles twice in the first four games and has a positive matchup this week. The Bears have allowed 97 solo tackles and seven turnovers to defensive backs and will be starting rookie quarterback Mitch Trubisky on Monday night. That bodes well for another big week for Sendejo.
Malcolm Jenkins, Philadelphia Eagles (vs. Arizona)
It’s been a middling start to the season for Jenkins, but he has turned it on a bit more over the past two weeks. In those games he’s posted nine solo and 12 total tackles as well as being credited with missing just a single tackle. Jenkins has been lining up within eight yards of the line of scrimmage roughly 80 percent of the time in run defense. That should lead to some fine production against an Arizona offense that’s allowed 108 total tackles to defensive backs.
Jamal Adams, New York Jets, (at Cleveland)
The rookie safety is off to a rocky start, having failed to post more than five tackles in any single game. With linebackers Darron Lee and Demario Davis eating up tackles, Adams has struggled to get involved and continues to miss tackles. Last week against the Jaguars, Adams missed three tackles, bringing his season total to five. I do believe that Adams will eventually turn into a viable starting DB but will take a wait-and-see approach until he cleans up some of the rookie mistakes.
It’s been a boom-or-bust start to the season for McCourty. He has put up double-digit tackles twice but tallied just 10 combined in the other two weeks. I feel another bust week coming on against a Buccaneers offense that has yet to allow a defensive back to put up more than eight tackles in any game.