Thumbs Up of the Week: Jared Goff (@ SEA)
Goff has struggled so far this season and seemed to be lacking some confidence in last week’s loss to the Buccaneers, but a potential shootout against the Seahawks could be the remedy for LA’s offensive woes. Last year, the Rams put up 34.5 points per game in two meetings, and Goff had at least 318 passing yards in both games despite missing Brandin Cooks for one and Cooper Kupp for the other. A short week may allow the simplified game plan to get everyone back on track for a probable shootout. Goff is a high-end QB1 for me.
Thumbs Up: Kyler Murray (@ CIN)
The passing numbers have dipped after a hot start, but overall, Murray has been very steady for fantasy owners with a stable floor (16.3+ fantasy points in every game) and increased rushing production over the past two weeks. Arizona was never expected to compete for a playoff spot in 2019, but they still need a win at 0-3-1, and a trip to Cincinnati will be their best shot yet. Look for Kliff Kingsbury to pull out all the stops and for Murray to potentially have a ceiling game in Week 5.
Thumbs Up: Jacoby Brissett (@ KC)
Brissett has started the year with multiple touchdown passes in every game, and there’s a good chance he keeps the streak going as the Colts try to outscore the Chiefs on Sunday Night Football. Kansas City’s defense—while not terrible—has allowed big performances to Gardner Minshew (off the bench in Week 1) and Matthew Stafford (at less than 100%) so far this season. Especially if T.Y. Hilton (quad) plays, Brissett is a low-end QB1 option.
Thumbs Up: Andy Dalton (v ARI)
I knocked Dalton down a couple of spots with John Ross (shoulder) out, but he is still a usable fantasy option in a great spot, and Cincinnati may be getting too much heat for struggling against the Bills and Steelers (both on the road) over the past two weeks. Before that, Dalton had thrown for 364.5 yards per game with a 4:1 touchdown-interception ratio, and the Cardinals will continue to have some serious problems in the secondary until Patrick Peterson (suspension) returns.
Others: Jimmy Garoppolo (v CLE), Kirk Cousins (@ NYG)
Thumbs Down of the Week: Jameis Winston (@ NO)
A lot of people will be watching spooky movies this month, and if there’s anything I know about the horror genre (which isn’t much), it’s that the bad guy is never really dead when you think he’s dead. Perhaps Bruce Arians was able to eliminate the “bad Jameis” after one month, but doesn’t October seem like a good time for the turnover demons to return? Over his past two starts against the Saints, Winston has tossed four interceptions; I wouldn’t trust him in what could be a pivotal week for fantasy owners.
Thumbs Down: Daniel Jones (v MIN)
We’ve called Jones a QB1 that you need to pick spots for, and this week against Minnesota isn’t one of them. Despite facing Matt Ryan and Aaron Rodgers already this season, the Vikings have allowed 15.2 fantasy points per game to the position, and a lot of the production has come in garbage time. Jones can always boost his fantasy day with rushing numbers, but that’s probably not something to rely on with guys like Jacoby Brissett and Jimmy Garoppolo potentially available on the wire.
Thumbs Down: Marcus Mariota (v BUF)
Mariota is very quietly a top-eight fantasy quarterback at the season’s quarter-mark, but a matchup with the Bills—who are allowing the third-fewest fantasy points per game to the position—makes him someone to avoid in Week 5. Last week, Buffalo held Tom Brady to one of the worst performances of his career (3.7 fantasy points), and I don’t anticipate Sean McDermott’s defense having a letdown following a close loss. Look elsewhere for a streamer.
Thumbs Down: Baker Mayfield (@ SF)
Mayfield is coming off his best game of the year, but it didn’t lead to a huge fantasy day, and the Browns’ formula—feeding Nick Chubb—created fewer opportunities to air it out (season-low 30 pass attempts). Now, I actually think the balance will be beneficial to Mayfield’s fantasy stock in the long run because it will set up play-action passes, but he’s not the QB1 he was drafted as. The 49ers are allowing the eighth-fewest fantasy points per game to opposing signal-callers.
Others: Derek Carr (v CHI), Kyle Allen (v JAX)
Thumbs Up of the Week: Sony Michel (@ WAS)
He only finished with 63 scoreless yards on 17 attempts, but Michel looked good in last week’s win over Buffalo, and Sunday projects to be the ultimate get-right game for New England’s 2018 first-round pick, as the 0-4 Redskins just allowed the Saquon Barkley-less Giants to rush for 164 yards against them. Michel is going to explode with a multi-score game very soon, and anyone crediting him with zero broken tackles this season is falling for “fake news” on social media.
Thumbs Up: Miles Sanders (v NYJ)
We were the only site to have Jordan Howard (RB27) ranked in the top-30 at the position last week in 0.5 PPR leagues, but everyone missing on him has led to a complete overcompensation when it comes to ranking Sanders, who averaged 6.6 yards per carry last week and is expected get plenty of opportunities in a game the Eagles should handle. Howard is the preferred play and a borderline top-20 option, but Sanders is an upside FLEX.
Thumbs Up: Tevin Coleman (v CLE)
Ideally, fantasy owners will be able to wait and see how the San Francisco backfield shakes out with Coleman (ankle) likely returning on Monday night, but if you are short on options, the 26-year-old can be inserted into lineups. If I had to guess, the Niners will make Coleman their lead back for early-down and goal-line touches, and he always has additional value as a big-play threat in the passing game.
Thumbs Up: Marlon Mack (@ KC)
Mack was a disappointment last week in a game the Colts surprisingly trailed throughout, but that shouldn’t dissuade you from keeping him locked in as an RB1 for Week 5. The Chiefs have allowed 5.9 yards per carry through four games, and only the Dolphins have ceded more rushing yards this season. To keep Patrick Mahomes off the field, Indianapolis should let their offensive line go to work by featuring Mack. I wouldn’t be concerned about game flow limiting him.
Others: Melvin Gordon (v DEN), Jordan Howard (v NYJ)
Thumbs Down of the Week: Le’Veon Bell (@ PHI)
Fantasy owners should know by now that the Eagles have one of the stingiest run defenses in the league, and for all their struggles getting after the passer this year, Philly’s defensive line should be able to dominate the Jets’ sub-par group up front. Bell is a dynamic player that can single-handedly keep the New York offense moving, but Jim Schwartz will surely be keying on No. 26, and it’d probably be unwise to view him as an RB1 play this weekend.
Thumbs Down: Wayne Gallman (v MIN)
Minnesota isn’t too far behind Philadelphia in terms of stinginess against the run, as they’ve allowed 3.7 yards per carry and zero rushes of 20+ yards so far this season. Fantasy owners may want to ride the Gallman train while they can with Saquon Barkley (ankle) making superhuman progress, but he’s more of a low-end RB2/FLEX option than solid RB2 play despite a 24.8-point performance in his first start.
Thumbs Down: Josh Jacobs (v CHI)
Jon Gruden changes his offensive game plan from week-to-week as much as anyone, and he didn’t need to watch Chicago’s performance against Dalvin Cook and the Vikings to know they aren’t very forgiving against the run. Jacobs may be able to fall in for a goal-line score like Cook did to save his fantasy day, but limited usage in the passing game and the return of Roquan Smith makes him a significant risk in Week 5.
Thumbs Down: Ronald Jones II (@ NO)
Jones went for 82 yards and a score last week while playing a season-high 49% of the team’s offensive snaps, and more importantly, he also passed the eye test by running with toughness, vision, and burst. That said, the Saints just limited Ezekiel Elliott to 18 attempts for 35 yards (1.9 YPC), and their run defense has improved every week to start the year. Jones is best viewed as a decent FLEX play.
Others: Matt Breida (v CLE), Jaylen Samuels (v BAL)
Thumbs Up of the Week: Chris Godwin (@ NO)
I shouldn’t have to put Godwin here because he’s an elite WR1 that should be in lineups every week, but it was shocking to see how many people benched him in Week 4 (and the first three games, for that matter). Godwin was actually contained against the Saints last season as he caught just four-of-14 targets for 54 yards and a touchdown in two games, but this is a different offensive system, and the Saints have been shredded by slot receivers. The Penn State product in a no-doubt top-five play.
Thumbs Up: Josh Gordon (@ WAS)
He is on pace for a modest season-long pace of 56 receptions for 884 yards and four touchdowns, but Gordon’s slow start is a little misleading. He went for a 3/73/1 line in the opener, became an afterthought in Week 2 as Antonio Brown joined the team in a 43-0 win, caught six passes for 83 yards in Week 3, and then was unsurprisingly contained by Tre’Davious White last week. Fantasy owners need to keep Gordon in lineups as a high-upside WR1/WR2 for this Sunday’s matchup against the burnable Redskins.
Thumbs Up: Allen Robinson (@ OAK)
Robinson is another player that fantasy owners should stop worrying about, as he’s on pace for 96 receptions and 1,120 despite plenty of production being left on the field via a poor throw or missed read. I believe Mitchell Trubisky (shoulder) can bring out the best of him down the stretch, but for now, getting Chase Daniel under center may allow the offense to operate more smoothly and Robinson to hit on more big plays. Look for him to get his first touchdown of the year against an Oakland defense that has been beaten by big-bodied vertical threats Courtland Sutton (7/120) and Demarcus Robinson (6/172/2).
Thumbs Up: Marquez Valdes-Scantling (@ DAL)
With Davante Adams (toe) unlikely to suit up this weekend, Valdes-Scantling will be tasked with stepping up as Green Bay’s No. 1 wideout in a possible shootout. MVS went for a 6/99/1 line in his lone game with double-digit targets this season, while Dallas hasn’t really been tested having faced Eli Manning, Case Keenum, Josh Rosen, and Teddy Bridgewater. I have Valdes-Scantling as a top-25 option at the position.
Others: Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs (@ NYG)
Thumbs Down of the Week: JuJu Smith-Schuster (v BAL)
I’m not downgrading Smith-Schuster too far based off one game, but he’s no longer an unquestioned WR1, and the Ravens just showed what they can do to star receivers after holding Odell Beckham Jr. to two receptions (on seven targets) for 20 scoreless yards. JuJu actually has had success against Baltimore in the past (at least 8.0 fantasy points in all three meetings), but the ceiling and floor are significantly lowered for their first 2019 matchup.
Thumbs Down: D.J. Chark (@ CAR)
Panthers cornerback James Bradbury has limited Robert Woods (8/70), Mike Evans (4/61), and DeAndre Hopkins (5/41) so far this season, and Chark figures to be next to draw shadow coverage on the outside. Through the first month of the season, Carolina has allowed the fewest passing yards per game in the league, and it isn’t particularly close (156.8 YPG allowed, which would be the best mark in a decade). I’d recommended getting Chark out of lineups.
Thumbs Down: Emmanuel Sanders (@ LAC)
In four meetings against the Chargers since Casey Hayward signed with them in 2016, Sanders has been limited to receiving lines of 4/40, 4/68, 3/26, and 4/56—and the emergence of Courtland Sutton isn’t expected to draw coverage away from the veteran, who is a better matchup for LA’s shutdown defender. Maybe Joe Flacco at quarterback will be the difference this time, but I wouldn’t get my hopes up. Sanders doesn’t make the top-35 receivers for Week 5.
Thumbs Down: Mike Evans (@ NO)
Evans actually got the better of Marshon Lattimore and the Saints last year, but I think this individual rivalry will swing back in the cornerback’s direction in 2019. Aside from Lattimore’s confidence being extremely high after he helped lead a great defensive effort in a primetime victory over Dallas, the Buccaneers may keep targets slanted towards Chris Godwin in a more favorable matchup. Evans is more of a WR2 than WR1.
Others: Tyrell Williams (v CHI), Will Fuller (v ATL)
Thumbs Up of the Week: Tyler Eifert (v ARI)
Until they are stopped, tight ends facing the Cardinals will probably appear here every week. Overall, Eifert has been pretty quiet this season with just one touchdown (in a blowout loss), but no A.J. Green (ankle) or John Ross (shoulder) should get him more involved, and this would be the week where he cashes in with at least one trip to the end zone. I have Eifert as a top-ten option.
Thumbs Up: Jimmy Graham (@ DAL)
Marquez Valdes-Scantling was discussed as the biggest beneficiary if Davante Adams (toe) misses time, but when the Packers get into scoring territory, it’ll be Graham that gets the boost. While the six-foot-seven tight end has a couple of zero-point performances, he’s also capitalized with two scores on five targets in the red zone, and Dallas has shown some vulnerability to the position.
Thumbs Up: Gerald Everett (@ SEA)
When in doubt, chase talented players in games with shootout potential; this week, Everett—coming off a 5/44/1 line—fits the billing for the Rams’ TNF matchup against Seattle. Sean McVay’s offense seemed to get going a bit when they got the former second-round pick more involved in last week’s loss, so targeting him more may add some needed unpredictability to the offense. Everett is a top-15 option for me.
Other: Jason Witten (v GB)
Thumbs Down of the Week: Benjamin Watson (@ WAS)
Watson is coming off a four-game suspension to make his season debut this weekend, but fantasy owners should see the kind of role he has before picking him up and getting him in lineups. New England already has three receivers and three running backs that need touches, so Watson may be no better than the seventh option for a team that probably won’t need to throw much against Washington.
Thumbs Down: Trey Burton (@ OAK)
I almost feel bad having Burton here so often, but since his 9/126/1 breakout against the Patriots last October, he’s been held to 40 or fewer yards in 13 consecutive games—with just two scores over that span. It’s tough to get on board with him as a TE2 option ahead of guys like Gerald Everett or Dallas Goedert at this point.
Thumbs Down: Ricky Seals-Jones (@ SF)
Seals-Jones caught three passes for 82 yards and a touchdown last week against the Ravens, but he was left alone for two of them, and he still played just 30% of the team’s offensive snaps. Even desperate fantasy owners can probably find a better option for Week 5, as the Niners are allowing the sixth-fewest fantasy points per game to opposing tight ends.
Others: Cameron Brate (@ NO)