Observer Fantasy Football Corner — Week 5
It’s time for another rendition of the Observer Fantasy Football Corner. No time for chitchat. Let’s get to it.
Must Start: Kyler Murray, QB, Arizona Cardinals
The Arizona Cardinals have had a shaky last two games as a team against the Carolina Panthers and Detroit Lions, but luckily for them, they get to face arguably the worst team in the NFL, the New York Jets. The Jets have been atrocious this season and show no signs of getting better. Murray had been argued to be an early MVP candidate, but the two-game losing streak does not help his case. Currently, the Jets are giving up an average of 16.88 points to opposing quarterbacks, but outside of Buffalo QB Josh Allen (28.18 points) they have faced average-to-below-average quarterbacks. It should also be noted that Sam Darnold is not expected to play at quarterback for the Jets, meaning Murray will presumably be on the field longer, which gives him more opportunities to score points. I expect Murray to have a big day against a terrible Jets team and put his name back into the MVP conversation.
Must Sit: Brandin Cooks, WR, Houston Texans
It is clear Watson and Cooks are not working out through four games. I understand it is still early on in the season but Cooks is off to a terrible start with only 138 receiving yards total. Cooks is averaging just under six points per game which ranks him as WR84 in fantasy. The reason I am talking about Cooks at is the point is due to the firing of Bill O’Brien. What was a long time overdue, the firing of BOB brings hope to the Texans for the foreseeable future, but this is not going to translate to this season nor Cooks’ play. The Texans have already dug themselves into an 0-4 hole which is hard to come back from especially with how the Colts have been playing. Cooks is not even the number one receiver he once was with that going to Notre Dame’s finest, Will Fuller V, who even disappears at times too. The Texans are set to face the Jacksonville Jaguars who have struggled in the passing game, but it is not enough to convince me to give Cooks the start this week.
Who to pick up:
Justin Jackson, RB, Los Angeles Chargers (owned in 9.8% of leagues)
Must Start: Joe Burrow, QB, Cincinnati Bengals
Burrow has put up pretty solid numbers ever since a pretty miserable start to his NFL career against the Chargers, totaling over 300 yards in all of his last three games. However, a big struggle for him has been an incredibly leaky offensive line, one that has let him get sacked 15 times already in just his first four games. Enter the Baltimore Ravens, a team that has been pretty awful both at getting to the quarterback (20th in the league in sack rate) and against QBs in general in terms of fantasy (seventh most fantasy points given up to QBs). Combine this with an explosive Ravens offense that will keep Burrow throwing, and you have a QB who’s going to get both efficiency and volume this weekend.
Must Sit: Darrell Henderson, RB, Los Angeles Rams
It’s been an up and down year for the University of Memphis alum so far, with two near 20-point performances bookended by atrocious week one and four outings, where he totaled a combined five points between the two. However, his prospects going forward don’t look any sunnier, as his workload has recently been cut into by veteran Malcolm Brown, who looks to be the preferred receiving back. While the Washington Football team’s defense is horrid, they’ve been surprisingly stout against the run game, giving up the eighth least fantasy points to RBs in the league. Acknowledging this, I think we’re more likely to see the Rams’ passing game shine this week, which leads to less touches for Henderson.
Who to pick up:
Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Carolina Panthers (owned in 12.6% of leagues)
Dalton Schultz, TE, Dallas Cowboys (owned in 46.0% of leagues)
Must Start: Robby Anderson, WR, Carolina Panthers
Anderson has had a phenomenal start to the year, having at least five receptions every week and seeing double-digit targets in two of those weeks. Excluding a low-yardage performance in week three, he has at least 99 receiving yards in every game. He has averaged double-digit points in standard PPR leagues despite not having caught a touchdown since week one. Additionally, Carolina QB Teddy Bridgewater has stepped up recently, leading the Panthers to two straight victories, a trend that should excite Anderson owners. A week five matchup with the Falcons makes for an appealing matchup for Anderson, as they rank second to last in opponent passing yards per game and dead last in opponent passer rating. This, combined with the shootout potential of the matchup given Atlanta’s talented offense, makes Anderson a lock to start this week.
Must Sit: Miles Sanders, RB, Philadelphia Eagles
Sanders has struggled since a week two outburst, and these struggles are mostly due to his being a part of the dreadful Eagles offense. Philadelphia somehow finds itself in first place in the NFC East with a record of 1-2-1, but anyone who has watched the NFL this season knows that they are not a good team. This week the Eagles visit Pittsburgh, who boasts the best defense in the league against the run by several metrics. The Steelers offense also has the potential to put up some points, so expect the Eagles to be playing from behind and meaningless carries for Sanders. He should be on your bench in week five.
Who to pick up:
Scotty Miller, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (owned in 15.4% of leagues)
Chase Edmonds, RB, Arizona Cardinals (owned in 33.6% of leagues)
Must Start: George Kittle, TE, San Francisco 49ers
After coming off of a sprained knee which forced him to sit for weeks two and three, 49ers tight end George Kittle put on a stellar performance in San Francisco’s loss to the Eagles on Sunday. Kittle snagged a perfect 15 of his 15 targets for a total of 183 yards and one touchdown. For the All-Pro TE, Sunday’s game marked his career high in both receptions and yards as he put up an outstanding 25.1 fantasy points (and 40.1 in PPR leagues). Especially with Jimmy Garoppolo’s return to the field after a high-ankle sprain suffered in week two in the near future, Kittle should continue to be the Niners’ main target in the end zone. After Sunday’s performance, it’s safe to say that Kittle has recovered nicely and should continue to dominate this week as San Francisco takes on the Dolphins.
Must Sit: Mark Ingram II, RB, Baltimore Ravens
Though Mark Ingram had a decent 34 yards on eight carries and one touchdown for the Ravens this past week against the Washington Football Team, I wouldn’t rely on him heavily in the weeks ahead. While still listed as RB1 on the Ravens’ depth chart, Ingram has been sharing the workload with fellow RBs JK Dobbins and Gus Edwards and hasn’t yet proved to be a player this season who can consistently bring in points. In week three, Ingram was outscored in fantasy 4.4 to 3 by rookie Dobbins in Baltimore’s loss to the Chiefs. Don’t be fooled by his RB1 status on a decent offense. Even as the Ravens take on the Bengals this Sunday, I’m convinced there are much better, more consistent options at running back instead of Ingram.
Who to pick up:
Damien Harris, RB, New England Patriots (owned in 23.1% of leagues)
Must Start: Mike Davis, RB, Carolina Panthers
Mike Davis has done an outstanding job filling in for Christian McCaffrey with over 20 points in each of the last two weeks. The Panthers’ offense has been great at continuing to give their running backs targets in the passing game, which is great news for Davis owners in PPR leagues. He should be locked into lineups due to the volume he receives alone, at least until McCaffrey returns.
Must Sit: Matt Ryan, QB, Atlanta Falcons
Matt Ryan has played terribly in the last two weeks, with less than 13 points in both games. The Panthers are allowing the third least points to quarterbacks this season, and Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley have been dealing with lingering injuries. Ryan will still be worth rostering but is not a safe enough bet this week, and a quarterback on the waiver wire may be a better streaming option.
Who to pick up:
Tee Higgins, WR, Cincinnati Bengals (owned in 36.6% of leagues)
Laviska Shenault Jr., WR, Jacksonville Jaguars (owned in 35.7% of leagues)
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.