News & Analysis

Sunday morning fantasy football decisions: Rankings, start/sit, sleepers, and busts for Week 5

By Daniel Kelley
Oct 7, 2018

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(It’s Week 5 of the NFL season. This and every Sunday morning, we’ll wrap up the week in fantasy football content with our Study Session, a last-minute guide to our top advice of the week, featuring the highlights of that week’s analysis.)

I work from my living room because I have no office space in my home, and I have twin baby boys. The upshot of all this is that there are infant-themed TV shows on in my space all the time. I can sing you so many awful songs, you have no idea.

One of them I see a lot is a short called Albert & Junior. In it, a little boy named Albert thinks he knows better than everyone else, until his smartphone (Junior) teaches him a lesson about various things. It’s actually not that bad — there’s enough education to it. But as I write this, the bit on is Albert insisting rain is awful, and it includes the following line:

“But I already know why it rains! It rains because the sky is crying, and nobody likes things that make you cry!”

So here I go, making a fantasy football point.

We can convince ourselves of something far earlier than we probably should. No one is immune from this, me included. Do you remember Jerrel Jernigan? (Probably not.) Years ago, I decided he was good. He ended the 2013 season with 227 yards and 3 touchdowns over the final two weeks, second among wide receivers in fantasy production behind only Demaryius Thomas. He was my preferred sleeper heading into 2014.

He played two games in 2014. But I maintained he’d be fine. Then he left the NFL and played in Canada, and I got mad that no team would pick up a guy with obvious potential. Even as I wrote this, I checked Wikipedia to see if the now-29-year-old might still have a shot. He’s a WR coach at a high school in Alabama. Logically, I’m pretty sure it’s over, but I still believe he could have been something, even as every last bit of evidence says I’m wrong.

People decide things all the time. Julio Jones will never score a touchdown, or James Conner is a perfectly fine Le’Veon Bell replacement, or, I don’t know, Andrew Luck’s arm is irreparably gone. Some of them will probably turn out to be true! But we as a people get so attached to certain beliefs that they can’t be shaken, even as evidence builds up to the contrary.

(Yes, I still think Julio Jones will have 6-plus touchdowns this year. Maybe I’m just as guilty as the people who are fervent the other way.)

Make your beliefs. Firm up your decisions. But always be aware that you might be firmly believing that it rains because the sky is crying.

Check out our Week 5 advice!

This week on PFF Fantasy

Live chats

We’ve added live chats to our weekly repertoire of advice Maybe your questions were answered, or maybe you can just use this resource to find answers to questions you had but never got to ask. We hold four each week — Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday. Tuesday’s through Saturday’s chat are linked below, and Sunday’s will be live two hours before gametime.

Rankings and start/sit

These are the big-ticket items. Our overall look at what we’re doing and how we make those decisions. On Tuesday, Jeff Ratcliffe breaks down the best waiver claims of the week. Wednesday, he publishes his top 150 for that week. Thursday, Scott Barrett attempts to solve some of the top start-or-sit questions. Tuesdays also feature Mike Castiglione and Walton Spurlin offering advice for the key streamers (QB and DST, respectively). And Friday is the big blowout, where Jeff Ratcliffe highlights all the key lessons of the week and prepares fantasy players for the weekend to come. If you only read one piece of fantasy advice a week, it’s that.

Previewing the weekend in fantasy

There’s no good blurb to pull from this, because the whole thing is gold. Just click. Trust me on this.

A snapshot of the flex rankings

9.Julio Jones, ATL @ PIT (WR3)—Calvin Ridley is scoring all the touchdowns, but Jones is leading the league in receiving yards and is on pace to top 2,000.
10.David Johnson, ARI @ SF (RB7)—The Cardinals finally woke up and started using Johnson last week.
11.DeAndre Hopkins, HOU vs DAL (WR4)—He’s a target monster and should see even more work if Will Fuller is unable to go.
12.James Conner, PIT vs ATL (RB8)—Conner’s days as the feature back could be numbered, but he’s a good bet to go off in this favorable matchup.

Two starts, two sits

START Carson Wentz in medium-sized leagues: Wentz shook off the last of his rust and returned to QB1 status in Week 4 against the Titans. I’m expecting another big game from him this week against a Vikings defense that ranks worst in schedule-adjusted fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks.
START Aaron Jones in deep leagues: Jones, in his second game back from suspension, led the team in touches last week. Still, the number was low at 12 – just one ahead of Jamaal Williams. The concern with Jones is low usage but he’s certainly deserving of more. He averages 5.66 yards per carry for his career, while Williams averages 3.59.
SIT Amari Cooper in shallow leagues: Last year Cooper was our single most inconsistent player and that trend has continued this year. Cooper has two games with more than 100 yards and two games under 20 yards.
SIT Dalvin Cook in medium-sized leagues: Cook saw zero touches in the second half of last week’s game, is self-assessed to be less than 100%, did not practice on Wednesday, and has the toughest matchup a running back can get (against the Eagles).

Sleepers and busts for the week

SLEEPER: Jamison Crowder — Crowder has been quiet this year, but his breakout week has finally arrived, as he will primarily draw the burnable P.J. Williams in coverage against the Saints.
BUST: Kirk Cousins — Cousins draws the Eagles in Week 5, who have been an up-and-down passing defense this year. The common thread: The Eagles stymied passing attacks at home in Philly, which is where this contest takes place.

Waiver claims to make

ADD Vance McDonald in shallow leagues: He followed up his strong Week 3 performance with five catches for 62 yards Sunday night.
ADD Jameis Winston in medium-sized leagues: The Fitzmagic era appears to have ended just as suddenly as it started, and Winston will be the starter when the Bucs return from bye in Week 6.
ADD C.J. Uzomah in deep leagues: With Tyler Eifert headed to injured reserve, Uzomah is the next man up at tight end for the Bengals.

QB streamers

Dak Prescott, Dallas Cowboys: The Cowboys, aka the Rams of the South, will take on a Houston defense that owns our second-worst coverage grade and No. 21 pass-rush grade through four games. And while Prescott didn’t exactly morph into Uncle Rico last week, he did complete 3-of-4 intermediate attempts (10-20 yards) along with 2-of-4 deep throws.

DST streamers

Denver Broncos: Chances are the Broncos DST is available as owners definitely weren’t going to use a bottom-ranked fantasy performing unit against the high-flying Kansas Chiefs offense. Let’s absolutely stream this sleeper DST against another starting rookie quarterback.

Deeper dives

You come to use for more than the surface material. Our writers go deeper with thoughts on situations down the road and looking deeper into each week’s games.

Long-term sleepers

Nick Chubb, Cleveland Browns: Chubb has carries of 63, 41, and 17 yards on just 10 tries so far this year, and so he is unsurprisingly annihilating the field with 50 Yards Added. That total in of itself doesn’t mean a whole lot, but Chubb looks like the freakish power/speed back he was advertised to be coming out of Georgia.

Snaps, Pace, and Stats

Falcons at Steelers: Jamming enough exposure to this matchup into fantasy lineups will look something like Ben Roethlisberger squeezing his helmet on. The Falcons score the sixth-most points per game and allow the fourth-most.

Trade value chart

Alvin Kamara, RB, New Orleans Saints: This week’s biggest riser was Kamara. On a related note, Mark Ingram was one of the biggest fallers despite the fact he returns from suspension this week. Kamara won’t touch the ball 23 times per game with Ingram back, but we do like him to stay in the 18-20 range, while Ingram will be in the 10-12 range.

Weather and venue adjustments

Baltimore Ravens: Cleveland has a chance for rain on Sunday, but rain isn’t a necessary factor to fade the Ravens passing game. Joe Flacco (-2.6) shows some of the biggest home/road splits at the position. Among fantasy-relevant players, Michael Crabtree (-1.3) and John Brown (-1.1) are the biggest losers.

RB committee report

Frank Gore trending UP: That’s now four straight weeks with a dip in production and volume for Kenyan Drake. We’ve previously broken down Drake trending down in this space, and a lot of that has to do with game flow. Given Gore’s history in this league and continued comments by Dolphins coaches about wanting to keep him involved, he is worth a look.
Phillip Lindsay tending DOWN: This won’t be a popular take, considering Lindsay has seen 12 or more carries in three of Denver’s four games and is averaging a robust 5.9 YPC with a couple of touchdowns. However, Lindsay also failed to evade any tacklers in his 14 touches this past week. In fact, he’s slipped just one tackle over the last two games and has averaged 1.81 yards after contact in that span, which ranks 44th out of 49 backs.

DFS advice

We hit weekly DFS from all angles — bargains, stacks, fades, locks. We also look at the best ways to build a DFS lineup on DraftKings (tournament or cash game) and FanDuel (tournament or cash game). And Scott Barrett offers up his favorite tournament plays of the week on both primary sites.

Favorite tournament plays

Joe Mixon on DraftKings: In Week 1, Mixon played on 79% of the snaps, drawing 17 carries, seven targets, and totaling 56% of the team’s touches. In Week 2, he totaled 21 carries and one target, despite exiting early due to injury. Now, he appears locked into a massive workload with Giovani Bernard out with a sprained MCL.
Blake Bortles on FanDuel: Over his last 10 games, Bortles is actually third among all quarterbacks in fantasy points, averaging 20.1. He also has an ideal matchup this week, against a Kansas City defense that ranks second-worst in both total passing yards allowed and points allowed per drive (3.03).

Bargains

Marquez Valdes-Scantling, WR, Green Bay Packers: The Packers are dealing with injuries to their top three wide receivers, none of whom practiced on Thursday. That’s never a good sign for their Sunday status. Valdes-Scantling is the only other receiver on the roster with more than 10 offensive snaps on the 2018 regular season.
Mohamed Sanu, WR, Atlanta Falcons: Sanu draws an excellent individual matchup in a game Vegas is projecting to be the highest-scoring on the slate. Add in Sanu’s cheap price tag and you have the perfect makings of a cash game look.

Locks

Brandin Cooks, WR, Los Angeles Rams: Cooks sits atop our WR/CB matchup chart this week against Seattle’s Tre Flowers, whose PFF grade of 36.4 ranks 89th out of this week’s 90 starting corners.
Christian McCaffrey, RB, Carolina Panthers: McCaffrey has 68 total touches through three games this year (22.7 per game), making him the third-most-utilized player in the entire league so far this year behind Todd Gurley (23.5 per game) and Alvin Kamara (22.8 per game).

Stacks

Russell Wilson, QB; Doug Baldwin and Tyler Lockett, WRs, Seattle Seahawks: The Rams are 7.5-point favorites and Wilson has a history of struggling mightily against this defense. Of course, that history dates a long time, even before the current defensive coordinator and roster was in place, but let’s not kill that narrative. If we keep it alive, you’ll be able to stack Wilson cheaper than he’s been all season and with a lower ownership total.

Fades/Contrarian Plays

Antonio Brown, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers: I’m not sure there’s another player this week with more upside than Brown. Still, he’s also easily our (projected) highest-owned player on both sites, and one of the most expensive. JuJu Smith-Schuster also projects to be very highly owned, but significantly less so than Brown, despite seeing comparable volume.

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