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Week 5 Fantasy: Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down

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Thumbs Up of the Week: Derek Carr (@ KC)

The Raiders did not perform well against the Chiefs in 2021 with a couple of blowout losses, but it was just two years ago that they split the season matchups (both shootouts). I’m expecting Carr to play closer to how he did in 2020 when he averaged 311.0 passing yards per game with a 6:2 touchdown-interception ratio, and his rushing—after seven carries for 40 yards last week—could be a factor again if that’s what the defense dictates. Getting Hunter Renfrow (concussion) back in the lineup would strengthen Carr’s outlook as a top-eight option.


Thumbs Up: Aaron Rodgers (v NYG)

While some might think this is a difficult matchup for Rodgers with the Giants allowing just 13.8 fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks, the schedule has been very favorable for them, and Green Bay’s passing attack will only improve as Romeo Doubs and others become more comfortable. Rodgers notably threw for 268 yards and three touchdowns against Wink Martindale’s defense last December (when he was in Baltimore), and I could see the four-time NFL MVP—with his Peaky Blinders haircut—putting up huge numbers in London.


Thumbs Up: Carson Wentz (v TEN)

The hot start for Wentz has quickly faded (15.94 combined fantasy points over the past two weeks), but Sunday can be a get-right spot against a Tennessee defense allowing the second-most passing yards per attempt (8.2), the fourth-most passing yards per game (274.0), and the most passing touchdowns (ten) in the league through four weeks. Although not having Jahan Dotson (hamstring) will hurt, Wentz has enough firepower to put up numbers if pass protection holds up and he gets the ball out of his hands.


Thumbs Up: Jameis Winston (v SEA)

The only team allowing more passing yards per attempt than the Titans is the Seahawks (9.0), so Winston—if active as he deals with a back and ankle injury—should be in position to have a ceiling game as the Saints hope to get back on track. New Orleans needs their starter to cut down on the interceptions (five in three games), but Winston is averaging 286.0 passing yards per game versus a schedule that hasn’t been easy. Consider him an upside streaming option in Week 5.


Thumbs Down of the Week: Matthew Stafford (v DAL)

Stafford has also thrown costly interceptions this season, and he’s not in a great spot to turn things around versus an opportunistic Cowboys defense that’s limited opponents to a 3:4 touchdown-interception ratio to begin the season. Plus, Dallas is allowing a league-low 5.5 passing yards per attempt, and the game-wrecking potential of Micah Parsons could make it a long day for Stafford behind a shaky offensive line. I’m keeping him out of the QB1 ranks due to the floor.


Thumbs Down: Jared Goff (@ NE)

Based on the combination of how Goff has played and the effectiveness of offensive coordinator Ben Johnson, a tough matchup—on the road versus a 1-3 team coached by Bill Belichick—might not matter for Detroit’s offense. However, the history for Goff against the Patriots hasn’t been great (175.7 passing yards per game with a 2:4 touchdown-interception ratio, including Super Bowl LIII), and maybe facing Brian Hoyer (concussion) or Bailey Zappe will lead to the Lions finally not getting into a shootout. It might be best to view Goff as a high-end QB2 on Sunday.


Thumbs Down: Geno Smith (@ NO)

Smith is in a similar position to Goff in that his play—particularly since Seattle opened up the offense over the past two weeks—could make it unwise to fade him. That said, Smith also happens to be facing a desperate, playoff-hopeful squad on the road, and Geno had just 167 yards and a touchdown in last year’s start versus New Orleans. I’d give it another week before considering Smith a stable option in the top 20 at the position.


Thumbs Down: Daniel Jones (@ GB)

This is an obvious one with Jones dealing with an ankle injury that could keep him from playing this weekend, but it’s important to not chase the points after he rushed for 68 yards and two scores in Week 4. At less than full health versus a very good defense, Jones possibly getting playmakers Kadarius Toney (hamstring) and Wan’Dale Robinson (knee) back in the lineup to join Saquon Barkley isn’t enough to make him a confident option to repeat last week’s fantasy success.


Running back


Thumbs Up of the Week: Damien Harris (v DET)

Rashaad Penny paid off last week in this slot versus the Lions, and now Harris is the one to get the dream matchup with Detroit allowing an NFL-high 5.6 yards per carry and ten rushing touchdowns on the season. Coming off 19 touches against the Packers, Harris is primed to see another hefty workload and has the vision and decisiveness to find any holes that lead to chunk gains. With a touchdown in three consecutive games, Harris is a borderline RB1/RB2.


Thumbs Up: AJ Dillon (v NYG)

The touchdown drought for Dillon (none since the opener) could make fantasy owners worried about starting him, but he’s played over 50% of the offensive snaps for Green Bay in every game, handled 18 touches last week, and now gets a matchup versus a New York defense allowing 5.1 yards per carry. Excluding an expectedly difficult matchup against the Bucs in Week 3, Dillon has gone for yardage totals of 91, 67, and 84 to begin the year. Start him as a solid RB2 option.


Thumbs Up: Travis Etienne (v HOU)

Etienne was held below 53 total yards for the first time of the season last week (eight carries for 32 yards), but you could see the explosiveness provide a jolt to the Jacksonville offense, and the team only ran 47 offensive plays after 70+ snaps in each of the first three games. The Texans are allowing the most fantasy points per game to opposing running backs—including 33.3+ points in three-of-four weeks. I’ll have Etienne locked into my DFS lineup for this weekend.


Thumbs Up: Nyheim Hines (@ DEN)

The involvement for Hines fell off last week as he handled three touches (despite Indy facing an early deficit versus the Titans), but I’m hopeful that a short week will lead to a simplified game plan in which Hines is featured with Jonathan Taylor (ankle) ruled out. The dynamic back caught 15 passes over his first three games and obviously gets a boosted outlook in all formats on Thursday night as a low-end RB2/FLEX play.


Thumbs Down of the Week: Rashaad Penny (@ NO)

As previously stated, you shouldn’t chase points from previous weeks, and Penny will find the running more difficult in Week 5 versus a New Orleans run defense that’s been one of the best in football over the past few years. On the season, the Saints have yet to allow a rush of 20+ yards, and Penny couldn’t find any room in last year’s matchup with six carries for nine yards. If you can, sit Penny for this week and consider him again when the schedule lightens up for the rest of the month (v ARI, @ LAC, v NYG).


Thumbs Down: Antonio Gibson (v TEN)

I have Gibson here under the assumption that Brian Robinson Jr. (leg) will make his season debut, as the Commanders have no time to mess around at 1-3 and could immediately start the rookie on Sunday. If so, Gibson—averaging 3.3 yards per carry—will be more reliant on production in the passing game, which hasn’t been something to count on with Carson Wentz under center (29 scoreless receiving yards for Gibson since Week 1).


Thumbs Down: Latavius Murray (v IND)

From a long-term perspective, I’d be picking up Murray and hoping for FLEX production from him with a tremendous opportunity to see significant work with the Broncos. On a short week with a new team, though, Murray could be the No. 3 back behind Melvin Gordon III and Mike Boone—especially seeing as the short week is compounded by returning from London.


Thumbs Down: Falcons RBs (@ TB)

The Atlanta running backs—namely rookie Tyler Allgeier and Caleb Huntley—were popular waiver additions this week, and fantasy owners might be eager to get them in lineups on Sunday. Unfortunately, the matchup is one to shy away from with Tampa Bay too good to not correct the run defense after a poor showing against the Chiefs, and I’d be looking to roster Damien Williams (rib) over both Allgeier and Huntley with the veteran—who drew the start in Week 1—being eligible to return next week.


Wide receiver


Thumbs Up of the Week: Chris Godwin (v ATL)

Godwin is probably too good to need a listing here, but he’s currently ranked as a low-end WR2 by much of the industry—while we have him as a top-ten option at wide receiver. For his career, Godwin has averaged a 5.4/84/8/1.0 receiving line in nine games versus the Falcons, and he was immediately a full-time player in his return last Sunday night with the second-most routes of any NFL wideout in Week 4. Look for the Bucs to feature Godwin to get back to their winning ways.


Thumbs Up: Terry McLaurin (v TEN)

McLaurin was contained along with the rest of the Washington offense last week, but he’s averaging a career-high 17.9 yards per reception, and I love his big-play potential this weekend versus a vulnerable Tennessee secondary. The likely absence of Jahan Dotson (hamstring) should only lead to more targets and a increased touchdown opportunities for the Commanders’ No. 1 wideout, and I have him as a borderline top-15 option for Week 5.


Thumbs Up: Romeo Doubs (v NYG)

In two games since Sammy Watkins (hamstring) was placed on injured reserve, Doubs has gone for a 13/120/2 line on 16 targets while playing 89% and 96% of Green Bay’s offensive snaps. The rookie would probably be viewed more favorably by fantasy “experts” at this point if he wasn’t a fourth-round pick, but I have him as a top-24 option based on the deniable talent shown through four weeks.


Thumbs Up: Gabe Davis (v PIT)

The inclusion of Davis here is more about him being a buy-low target than anything specifically about the matchup, but he’s scored in both career games versus the Steelers and has seen snap percentages of 98%, 96%, and 98% to open the year—so the production will soon come in a Josh Allen-led offense. After this week, it’s worth pointing out that Davis and the Bills will face the Chiefs in a huge playoff rematch, and we know what the talented wide receiver did against them in January.


Others: Chris Olave (v SEA), Elijah Moore (v MIA)


Thumbs Down of the Week: D.J. Moore (v SF)

Moore seeing increased action last week with 11 targets and an 11-yard carry provides a glimmer of optimism about his rest-of-season outlook—but not for a matchup versus a top-tier San Francisco defense. Through four weeks, Moore is averaging just 4.8 yards per target, and the Niners have limited opposing wideouts Darnell Mooney (1/8), DK Metcalf (4/35), Jerry Jeudy (2/17), and Allen Robinson (2/7) so far this year.


Thumbs Down: Garrett Wilson (v MIA)

The encouraging part of Wilson’s stock is that he played a season-high 77% of the team’s offensive snaps last week, but the connection with Zach Wilson didn’t get off to a great start with season-lows in targets (six), receptions (two), and yards (41). I would prefer Elijah Moore—who torched Miami with an 8/141/1 line last season against Miami—as the guy New York needs to get more involved to build on their 2-2 start, and a big game could be bubbling for him with at least 41 yards but no more than 53 yards in all four games. If so, Wilson could be a shakier FLEX option as Corey Davis (5/74/1 in Wilson’s debut) remains a trusted target.


Thumbs Down: Michael Gallup (@ LAR)

Gallup was quick to find the end zone in his season debut, and it’s a tremendous sign that he played 64% of the team’s offensive snaps—a number that should only grow in the coming weeks. But for a matchup against the Rams, Gallup could often face coverage from Jalen Ramsey on the perimeter, and the upside for Dallas will remain lowered until Dak Prescott (hand) is back. I’d look elsewhere for Week 5.


Thumbs Down: Amari Cooper (v LAC)

The boom-or-bust nature of Cooper has remained with a new team, as he has two games with 101 yards and a touchdown, but a combined 26 scoreless yards in his other two games. Against the Chargers this week, Cooper could be headed for another low-floor game versus J.C. Jackson and Asante Samuel Jr.—and Los Angeles notably limited him to three receptions for 24 yards last season. Unless Brandon Staley changes his defensive philosophy to consistently stack the box versus Nick Chubb, Cooper will be the guy they want to take away.


Others: George Pickens (@ BUF), Chase Claypool (@ BUF)


Tight end


Thumbs Up of the Week: Kyle Pitts (@ TB)

Pitts is far too talented to not breakout soon, and he needs to be a significant part of the game plan if Atlanta is going to have any shot of upsetting the Buccaneers on Sunday. The playing time for Pitts should jump after it was at 67% and 62% over the past two weeks with the Falcons needing to throw the ball against Tampa Bay’s stout run defense, and I’m keeping him as a top-five option with most downgrading him to the low-end TE1 ranks.


Thumbs Up: David Njoku (v LAC)

A lost fumble cost Njoku a couple of points last week, but he had another solid day through the air with five receptions (on seven targets) for 73 yards. In three games versus the Chargers, the former first-round pick has gone for lines of 4/74/1, 7/55/1, and 7/149/1 (which happened last year in a career day), and we could get another shootout between Cleveland and Los Angeles after the 47-42 finish in 2021.


Thumbs Up: Taysom Hill (v SEA)

Hill appeared to be fully healthy last week after not playing in Week 3 to heal up, and the Saints didn’t keep him on ice as Andy Dalton’s backup with the 32-year-old rushing five times for 21 yards and a score. At 1-3, the Saints need to get Hill involved to provide a spark offensively, as he was a major reason for the win over Atlanta in Week 1 and should be at least a strong TE2 if given a handful of weekly carries.


Thumbs Down of the Week: Pat Freiermuth (@ BUF)

The Bills were finally able to slow down Mark Andrews last week in Baltimore, and now they’ll be looking to do the same to Freiermuth as the security blanket for Kenny Pickett in the rookie’s first career start. In the matchup versus Buffalo last year, Freiermuth was limited to one reception on 50% of the snaps played (his career debut), and Sean McDermott’s defense will only be more focused on stopping him in Year 2.


Thumbs Down: Dalton Schultz (@ LAR)

Schultz has caught just two passes for 18 yards in two full games with Cooper Rush at quarterback this season—and the lack of production can even be tracked back to Rush’s start in 2021 with the tight end catching two-of-seven targets for 11 yards. The Dallas offensive line likely needing help up front versus Aaron Donald and company could lead to fewer routes for Schultz, so he gets downgraded from the TE1 ranks until Prescott hopefully returns next Sunday night.


Thumbs Down: Albert Okwuegbunam (v IND)

Okwuegbunam played just one snap last week, and he’s in danger of falling out of the lineup entirely when rookie Greg Dulcich (hamstring) is activated from IR—which could be as early as Week 5. The Colts are allowing the fifth-most fantasy points per game to opposing tight ends, but a good matchup isn’t enough to get Albert O in lineups right now.