Thumbs Up of the Week: Kirk Cousins (v KC)
A shootout will probably be needed for the Vikings to take down the Chiefs this weekend, so Cousins is in a great spot to put up numbers—at home—following a sub-par outing against the Panthers. Before last week, Cousins had 25.0+ fantasy points in two straight games, and he is a borderline top-five option having begun the season playing some of the best football of his career (despite an 0-3 start). Kansas City has an excellent defense, but I think Cousins and his weapons will overcome it.
Thumbs Up: Anthony Richardson (v TEN)
Richardson needed just 11 completions to put up 29.6 fantasy points in last week’s comeback effort against the Rams, and he should carry weekly QB1 appeal based on the pure upside/ceiling. Tennessee just shut down a wounded Joe Burrow, but they’ve allowed the sixth-most passing yards per attempt (7.8) and the tenth-most passing yards per game (241.3) in the league, so Richardson is a comfortable top-ten play with the ability to do damage both through the air and on the ground.
Thumbs Up: Jordan Love (@ LV)
The overall QB4 through four weeks, Love has been very consistent from a fantasy perspective—showing an ability to make plays and put up points even amidst some struggles. Now, he should get Aaron Jones and Christian Watson looking more like themselves after a few extra days to heal/rest, and the Raiders seem close to completely imploding on both sides of the ball. Consider Love a borderline QB1/QB2 on Monday night.
Thumbs Up: Sam Howell (v CHI)
Howell is coming off his best game as a pro with the Commanders nearly knocking off the Eagles last week, and he gets a quick turnaround to stay hot against a Chicago defense allowing the second-most fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks. Further boosting Howell’s outlook is the Bears getting almost no pressure with two sacks on the year, and a clean pocket will be a welcome change for the second-year quarterback. Thursday nights can be crazy, but hopefully Justin Fields plays like he did last week to make it a higher-scoring game.
Thumbs Down of the Week: Russell Wilson (v NYJ)
Wilson already has two games with three touchdowns to begin 2023, and he’s clearly been revived by Sean Payton coming to Denver. However, this week won’t be easy with the Jets coming to town, and New York—despite a loss—might have a bit of a revival of their own with Zach Wilson balling out and the defense making things difficult on Patrick Mahomes last Sunday night. Wilson is more of a mid-to-low QB2 option.
Thumbs Down: Dak Prescott (@ SF)
It sounds like the Cowboys have had Sunday night’s matchup circled on the calendar, and coming out with a strong offensive game plan is very possible for a huge NFC clash. Prescott simply hasn’t put up big-time numbers to begin the season, though, as he’s averaging 227.0 passing yards per game with a 4:1 touchdown-interception ratio, and San Francisco has limited enemy passers to 12.8 fantasy points per game. I’d leave Dak on the bench with options such as Jordan Love, Sam Howell, or C.J. Stroud potentially available to stream.
Thumbs Down: Derek Carr (@ NE)
A matchup versus New England didn’t appear as challenging based on injuries to Matthew Judon (biceps) and rookie Christian Gonzalez (shoulder), but Foxborough is still tough—and now the Patriots have brought back cornerback J.C. Jackson in a trade with the Chargers. That makes Carr a shaky option on the road with New Orleans struggling offensively, and Bill Belichick’s defense has held all three of Jalen Hurts, Tua Tagovailoa, and Dak Prescott below 15.0 fantasy points.
Thumbs Down: Trevor Lawrence (@ BUF)
The general weakness at quarterback for this week keeps Lawrence as a low-end QB1 option, and Buffalo losing star cornerback Tre’Davious White (Achilles) makes the matchup less of a challenge. But things haven’t clicked so far in Jacksonville, and the Bills—even with White’s injury—are still very stout on the backend with Sean McDermott taking over as the play-caller. If he doesn’t do damage as a runner, Lawrence might have another low-ceiling performance.
Thumbs Up of the Week: Aaron Jones (@ LV)
Jones is an RB1 option that I don’t typically like giving as a recommendation, but fantasy owners might be upset about the 1.9 fantasy points from Week 4—potentially holding it against Green Bay’s starter for Week 5 lineups. We’ll see what kind of practice participation he gets, but I’d assume Jones will handle close to a full workload on Monday night, and Las Vegas is allowing the seventh-most rushing yards per game in the league (134.3). Don’t hesitate to start him.
Thumbs Up: Brian Robinson Jr. (v CHI)
A touchdown saved Robinson’s day last week, and he’s only combined for 24 carries over the past two weeks after 40 combined touches over the first two games. The Bears are a tremendous matchup to give Washington a positive game script, though, which makes Robinson at least a high-end RB2 option at home with the Commanders as touchdown 5.5-point favorites and Chicago allowing the second-most fantasy points per game (30.3) to the position.
Thumbs Up: Isiah Pacheco (@ MIN)
Pacheco is also rising towards high-end RB2 territory, and he’s seen his weekly touch total increase every game to begin the season (12 > 13 > 17 > 23). In addition to being the clear lead runner, Pacheco has seen a nice uptick in receiving work with ten receptions for 90 yards, and he’s found the end zone in back-to-back games. As the Chiefs continue to find their groove through the air, Pacheco should be a huge part of the game plan on Sunday.
Thumbs Up: Rhamondre Stevenson (v NO)
The touches haven’t been an issue for Stevenson with 16-20 opportunities in all four games this season, but New England’s overall offensive struggles have held him back. I could see last week’s low point of the Bill Belichick era resulting in the pendulum swinging in the opposite direction, and playing through Stevenson (including as a pass-catcher) is the best way to control the game and establish an offensive identity. Stevenson should be a solid RB2 option.
Thumbs Down of the Week: Miles Sanders (@ DET)
The top run defense in the NFL through four weeks quietly belongs to the Lions (60.8 yards per game allowed), but it shouldn’t be a surprise for anyone that has watched the aggressiveness the unit has in flying up to make tackles. Sanders has struggled with 2.9 yards per carry to begin his time with the Panthers, and opponents are able to load up against the run because of the inability to create open space in the passing game. Involvement as a receiver and around the goal-line needs to be there for Sanders to avoid disappointment.
Thumbs Down: Alexander Mattison (v KC)
Mattison has shown well in back-to-back weeks with 94.0 rushing yards per game since the team acquired Cam Akers, but he’s yet to score a touchdown on the ground and could be in danger of falling off this week if Minnesota feels they need to throw to keep up and/or wants to work in Akers more. There is also a chance the game script gets completely slanted by the Chiefs finding their groove, so Mattison is more of a FLEX option than RB2 play for Week 5.
Thumbs Down: Matt Breida (@ MIA)
Work in the passing game helped Breida have another quality start in place of Saquon Barkley (ankle), but he’s been limited to 18 carries for 47 yards over the past two weeks—and things could get ugly for New York if the offensive line doesn’t quickly improve. Assuming Barkley is out again after not even being a game-time decision in Week 4, Breida will be an RB3 option with a limited floor and ceiling as Miami is determined to rebound from last week’s blowout loss.
Thumbs Down: Dalvin Cook (@ DEN)
Denver is by far allowing the most fantasy points per game to opposing running backs (41.0), and the play of Zach Wilson should take the pressure off Breece Hall and Cook. That said, now would be the time for New York to unleash Hall to avoid a 1-4 start, and Cook—averaging 2.5 yards per carry—has looked sluggish through four games (since writing this, head coach Robert Saleh said Hall has no limitations); hopefully that is due to sub-par run blocking and knocking off the rust after missing most of the offseason, but Cook is tough to trust right now.
Thumbs Up of the Week: Jahan Dotson (v CHI)
Dotson is still working to get on the same page with Sam Howell, but maybe the game-tying touchdown will spark the connection—and he did see a season-high nine targets last week. With the Bears likely being without top cornerback Jaylon Johnson (hamstring) for the second game in a row, Dotson and Terry McLaurin are both in a great spot to build on last week, so I like both as upside WR2 plays with Chicago being one of two teams to allow double-digit passing touchdowns through four games.
Thumbs Up: Romeo Doubs (@ LV)
Doubs is mentioned all the time because he’s still being severely undervalued, with the latest example being ESPN ranking him in the mid-30s at wide receiver—and that comes a week after he was ranked in the mid-50s. The upside of Christian Watson probably makes him the preferred fantasy option most weeks, but Doubs is arguably the No. 1 wideout for Green Bay from a real-life perspective, and he’s a top target in scoring territory. Get or keep him in lineups.
Thumbs Up: Jordan Addison (v KC)
Held without a catch last week as the Minnesota passing attack struggled behind Justin Jefferson, Addison is expected to be leaned on more in a shootout against the Chiefs—and the rookie was steady with lines of 4/61/1, 3/72/1, and 6/52 in September. Remember, it’s unwise to hold getting burnt by a poor performance against guys in the future, and Addison is primed for at least a solid day with Vikings-Chiefs having the highest over/under of the week (52.5).
Thumbs Up: Chiefs WRs (@ MIN)
On the other side of that matchup, I especially like the trio of Rashee Rice, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, and Kadarius Toney to step up as the primary wideouts for Kansas City. Rice probably brings the best combination of floor, ceiling, and touchdown upside, but Valdes-Scantling can be used as a boom-or-bust FLEX with lines of 4/96/1 and 4/123/1 in the previous two matchups against the Vikings in Minnesota.
Others: Christian Watson (@ LV), Wan’Dale Robinson (@ MIA)
Thumbs Down of the Week: Garrett Wilson (@ DEN)
The talent of Wilson makes him someone to start every week, and it was encouraging that New York seemed to move him around a bit more on Sunday night—which could help him avoid Patrick Surtain II this weekend. At the same, time, he will have to contend with Surtain for much of the day, and Robert Saleh has discussed getting others more involved. So, it might be best to view Wilson as a low-end WR2 based on the matchup.
Thumbs Down: Nico Collins (@ ATL)
Collins was a “Thumbs Down” a couple of weeks ago following a game in which he exploded for a 7/146/1 line, and he was limited to two receptions for 34 yards the following week. We now find ourselves in a similar situation with Collins coming off a career day (7/168/2), but you don’t retroactively get fantasy points from previous games, and he’s again a “Thumbs Down” based on a matchup with A.J. Terrell and the Falcons.
Thumbs Down: Courtland Sutton (v NYJ)
He might be moved around the formation enough to avoid him, but Sutton also gets a tough draw when on the perimeter this week for a matchup against Sauce Gardner, and the Jets as a whole will be a challenge for Sean Payton’s offense. With a touchdown in three-of-four games so far this year, Sutton probably needs to find the end zone again to build on a strong start, and I’d rather look elsewhere.
Thumbs Down: Skyy Moore (@ MIN)
I didn’t mention Moore when the Chiefs wideouts were discussed earlier, but he’s now been held without a catch twice in four games, and a key incompletion on Sunday night drew the ire of Patrick Mahomes with Moore drifting on a route around the first-down marker. Perhaps the Vikings struggling in coverage will allow Moore to reemerge, but he’s not a confident play, and Kadarius Toney should eventually be more of a factor to push the second-year wideout further down the pecking order.
Others: DeVante Parker (v NO), Michael Wilson (v CIN)
Thumbs Up of the Week: Dalton Kincaid (v JAX)
Kincaid has been quiet from a statistical perspective, but he’s a high-level talent that should soon breakout—especially with Stefon Diggs and Gabe Davis roasting opponents to maybe draw increased attention on the backend. Last week in London, the Jaguars allowed Jonnu Smith to catch six passes for 95 yards, and a similar performance from Kincaid is very possible across the pond. We have the first-rounder as our overall TE9 for Week 5.
Thumbs Up: Cole Kmet (@ WAS)
Washington is allowing the fewest fantasy points per game to opposing tight ends, but Kmet had a 7/85/2 breakout last week and should carry the momentum into a short week. Despite generally being tough for tight ends, the Commanders have allowed some big games to the position, and Kmet should at least be a big factor in scoring territory to make him a low-end TE1.
Thumbs Up: Irv Smith Jr. (@ ARI)
Smith (hamstring) might be out again after not participating at all in practice last week, but if he plays and Tee Higgins (ribs) doesn’t, there should be increased fantasy appeal for the former Alabama standout. Although Arizona didn’t allow George Kittle to do much last week, it was the Christian McCaffrey show, and the Cardinals previously had allowed at least five receptions and 50 yards to the position in all three games. Smith could be a quality flier.
Thumbs Down of the Week: Hunter Henry (v NO)
New Orleans allowed a somewhat fluky touchdown to Cade Otton last week with Baker Mayfield firing it into his gut around the line of scrimmage, but they are still allowing the fourth-fewest fantasy points per game to the position. Henry being a steady part of the offense through four weeks might not be enough to feel confident about him on Sunday, as the Patriots might attack with other matchups for the running backs and wideouts.
Thumbs Down: Chigoziem Okonkwo (@ IND)
Not having Treylon Burks (knee) in the lineup wasn’t enough for Okonkwo to emerge last week, and he’s now been held to 71 scoreless yards on 13 targets so far this season. As a rookie, Okonkwo was held without a catch in the second meeting against Indy (after scoring in the first), and the Year 2 breakout has yet to come to fruition for the 24-year-old.
Thumbs Down: Foster Moreau (@ NE)
Moreau (ankle) should be good to go with weekend after missing a couple of games, and he’s in line for increased snaps with Juwan Johnson (hamstring) likely out. Unfortunately, the spot isn’t a good one against the Patriots, and New Orleans simply isn’t operating at a high level on offense. Look for a solution to come by playing more through Alvin Kamara, Chris Olave, and Michael Thomas rather than Moreau and others suddenly becoming a priority.