Nick Mensio

Start ‘Em or Sit ‘Em

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Week 5 Start 'Em or Sit 'Em

Friday, October 5, 2018


Start ‘Em or Sit ‘Em is geared toward season-long leagues but can also be used for daily fantasy purposes.

QUARTERBACK


Start of the Week: Matthew Stafford vs. Packers: Stafford had a really solid Week 4 in Dallas, completing a sterling 80% of his passes for 307 yards and two touchdowns. However, he still has just one top-12 week this season, a QB9 afternoon Week 2 in San Francisco. Outside of that, he’s been the QB26 (Week 1 vs. NYJ), QB14 (Week 3 vs. NE), and QB14 (last week at DAL). To this point, Stafford has been a fringe QB1 but has been pretty consistent since the opener. Stafford has enjoyed big success against the Packers in recent meetings, but those were against stale, overmatched DC Dom Capers. Anyway, it’s still worth noting Stafford has averaged 354 yards passing with a cumulative 10:2 TD:INT mark in four meeting with Green Bay since the start of 2016. The Packers are a different unit with more secondary talent under new DC Mike Pettine. They’re currently 13th in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks and 10th in pass-defense DVOA. But they faced Mitchell Trubisky in Week 1 and Josh Allen in Week 4. In between, Kirk Cousins threw for 425 yards and 4 TDs (QB3) and Alex Smith averaged 11.0 YPA with 2 TDs (QB16). Green Bay CBs Jaire Alexander and Kevin King are both battling groin injuries. Alexander was limited in practice Wednesday, while King was full after missing the previous 2.5 games. Fellow CB Davon House was recently lost to injured reserve with a shoulder injury. Stafford has also been sacked just six times through four games. This game has a 51-point total, fifth-highest of the week and will be played in a dome environment in Detroit. Stafford is a legitimate top-10 fantasy passer.

Starts

Blake Bortles at Chiefs: Bortles has alternated lackluster and stellar weeks through the first four games, being his normal unpredictable self. He flamed the Patriots for 377 yards and four touchdowns in Week 2 (QB4) and went for 388 yards and two scores last week against the Jets as the QB10. In Weeks 1 and 3 versus the Giants and Titans, Bortles averaged 165.5 yards passing with one total touchdown. This week sets up great for Bortles on paper; the only way it could be better is if it was being played in Jacksonville. But the 4-0 Chiefs are on a short week after a come-from-behind, emotional divisional win in Denver on Monday night. Arrowhead is one of the toughest places to play, but it’s too hard to ignore this awful Kansas City defense. The Chiefs have allowed the seventh-most fantasy points to quarterbacks and are 30th in pass-defense DVOA. They actually improved those numbers after Case Keenum was a total flop against them in Week 4. Keenum didn’t throw a single touchdown, missing a wide-open Demaryius Thomas for a would-be game-winning 28-yard score on the final drive. Keenum is the worst starter in the league right now. Bortles isn’t al lthat much better as a passer, but he has shown an ability to summon big games and has rushed for at least 25 yards in all four starts to raise his floor. Without Leonard Fournette (hamstring), the Jaguars could ask more from their quarterback. In two games without Fournette already this year, Bortles has averaged 39.5 attempts compared to 35.5 with Fournette in the lineup. Bortles is a solid streaming option that I’d prefer over hot Week 5 pickup Marcus Mariota in Buffalo or Russell Wilson at home against L.A.

Alex Smith at Saints: Smith is the current QB20 in fantasy points per game, as he and Cam Newton are the only two quarterbacks who have already had their bye. Smith lit up the Cardinals in Week 1 for the QB11 day, face-planted at home against the Colts in Week 2, and then averaged a voluminous 11.0 YPA with two touchdowns against the Packers in Week 3 as the QB16 before having Week 4 off. As we all know, Smith is by no means sexy, but he has the ability to be a serviceable fantasy starter and can produce in primo spots. Monday night under the roof at the Superdome against the Saints is one of those. The Saints have allowed the third-most fantasy points to quarterbacks and the third-most passing touchdowns while checking in at 20th in sacks. Ryan Fitzpatrick hung 453 total yards and five touchdowns on the Saints at the Superdome Week 1, and Matt Ryan threw for 374 yards and five touchdowns against New Orleans in Week 3. Eli Manning was completely incapable of taking advantage of this defense last week at the MetLife Stadium, missing a wide-open Odell Beckham on a number of occasions and throwing only one touchdown as the Giants got stomped in their own backyard. Manning is confirmed washed at this point. With Adrian Peterson (ankle) looking unlikely to play this one after missing practice Wednesday, Smith could be forced to carry this offense through the air, using short passes to Chris Thompson as the Redskins’ “running” game. Smith doesn’t get to play in domes often, but he had two games in one last year, throwing for 324 yards and 3 TDs in Houston and then 263 yards and 2 TDs in Dallas. The 52.5-point total for Redskins-Saints is the third-highest on the board for Week 5, and New Orleans being 6.5-point favorites could lead to plenty of points-chasing for the Washington pass group.

Kirk Cousins at Eagles: Cousins is currently the overall QB6, so this may be an obvious start to some or most, but I’ve seen Cousins scooped up off the waiver wire in some leagues I’m in this week. That shows fantasy owners aren’t yet treating him as a set-and-forget QB1. The Eagles’ defensive line hasn’t been quite as dominant as it was a year ago and is probably feeling the loss of DT Timmy Jernigan (back, NFI) inside a bit. They’re a respectable t-9th in sacks with 11, but the secondary isn’t holding up its end of the bargain. Outside CBs Ronald Darby and Jalen Mills are getting torched too often, with Mills grading out as Pro Football Focus’ No. 109 cover corner out of 110 qualifiers after a quarter of the season. Darby checks in at No. 91. Philly has surrendered the 10th-most fantasy points to quarterbacks and just got worked last week by Marcus Mariota for 390 total yards and three touchdowns, while giving up a career day to Corey Davis. Things should have been worse, too, as backup WR Darius Jennings dropped a LONG touchdown late, and Taywan Taylor couldn’t hold onto a deep ball earlier in the game. Mariota also missed Davis on a potential 55-yard score. Cousins is fresh off 422 yards and three touchdowns against the Rams last Thursday night and has had 10 days to prepare for this one. He also has plenty of experience against DC Jim Schwartz’s defense after playing in the division for the Redskins. On top of all that, the Eagles are coming off a long overtime game on the road, and teams coming off long OT contests the previous week tend to play much worse their next game. I like the Vikings to win this game outright.

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Sits

Carson Wentz vs. Vikings: Wentz has been sacked nine times in two starts since returning from his ACL surgery and is the QB23 in fantasy points per game. The counting numbers were very solid last week in Tennessee with Wentz throwing for 348 yards and two touchdowns, but he needed 50 attempts and an overtime period to get there. Wentz looks all the way back on tape, but there are just so many good fantasy quarterback options each and every week. Coming off a long overtime game on the road and facing a Vikings defense that has had 10 days of rest after getting called out by coach Mike Zimmer following a shredding at the hands of Jared Goff, this just doesn’t look like a spot I want to go all in on Wentz. I’ll bet on the Vikings talent with CB Xavier Rhodes likely to shadow Alshon Jeffery and Harrison Smith tracking Zach Ertz. As the Rams showed last week, the guy to pick on is LB Anthony Barr, who was beat for three touchdowns in coverage. You can bet the Vikings spent a lot of time trying to fix that black hole in the defense since last Thursday night. Wentz is a surefire two-QB league start, but he’s more a mid-to-high QB2 in one-QB leagues.

Marcus Mariota at Bills: Mariota was the talk of the town after his big-time Week 4 performance taking down the defending Super Bowl champions with 390 total yards and three touchdowns. It was one of the best games we’ve seen from Mariota in his four-year career. He was dropping dimes over the top of the defense and should have had an even bigger afternoon if not for a dropped long touchdown by Darius Jennings, a misfire on a would-be 55-yard TD to Corey Davis, and an earlier deep ball that Taywan Taylor was unable to snag. Mariota was one of the hottest waiver-wire adds of the week and is even being talked about by some as a rest-of-season QB1. I’m not ready to go there. Prior to Week 4, Mariota had truly been one of the biggest disappointments in the league. He’d failed to top 103 passing yards in Weeks 1-3 and continued to be injury-prone. I believe in Mariota’s talent; I just want to see him replicate it before diving back in for fantasy. And going on the road to Buffalo after a long overtime game and emotional win over the Eagles screams big letdown spot to me. We saw it with these same Bills against the Vikings in Week 3 when Minnesota was coming off a full-OT tie against the Packers the previous week. The Vikings were asleep on the field and got boat-raced by Josh Allen’s group. And Buffalo’s defense isn’t the team’s problem. The Bills are 20th in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks, 15th in pass-defense DVOA, and 12th in sacks. Tre’Davious White is Pro Football Focus’ No. 6 cover corner out of 110 qualifiers and figures to shadow Corey Davis much of the game, clamping down Mariota’s No. 1 option. The 39-point total for Titans-Bills is easily the lowest of the week. Mariota is more of a QB2 for me.

Patrick Mahomes vs. Jaguars: Okay, this isn’t a straight-up “sit” from me at all. It’s just an alert to significantly lower expectations. We all know Mahomes has set the league on fire as the game’s next big star. He’s the overall QB1 and the front-runner for the MVP after 25% of the season. Last week was Mahomes’ worst statistical game of the season, and he still finished as the QB11 in Denver on Monday night while throwing for 304 yards and a score while adding a second touchdown on the ground. Mahomes lit the Broncos’ defense up in the second half after going into the break with 65 scoreless passing yards. His 192 passing yards outside the pocket were the most in the last decade. But the Chiefs are on a short week off a road game and will be welcomed back home by a Jacksonville pass defense that has allowed the fewest passing touchdowns, fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks, and ranks No. 6 in pass-defense DVOA. Tom Brady is the only quarterback to throw multiple touchdowns against this group through four weeks, and he needed comeback mode to do it while finishing as the QB17 in Week 2. Mahomes owners are likely going to need the rest of their fantasy lineup to carry more of the load this week.


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Nick Mensio is a football writer for Rotoworld.com. The 2014 NFL season marks his third with Rotoworld. He can be found on Twitter at @NickMensio.
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