Bye Week: Denver Broncos, New Orleans Saints, Washington Redskins, Atlanta Falcons
Start – Jameis Winston, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Buccaneers offense and Jameis Winston started the season off slow after their week one bye, but have improved each week against tougher defenses. Fortunately for them, the Patriots defense has struggled to slow down any quarterback this season, giving up over 300 passing yards and 3 touchdowns per game. Make sure to set your lineup early for this Thursday night matchup because it is sure to be a high scoring affair.
After one of the greatest performances for a rookie quarterback in NFL history, many fantasy teams are going to try and chase those points. Week five’s matchup with the Chiefs defense is definitely going to be a challenge for the Texans’ offense. If Watson is able to have another huge game against a top defense he will then be in the every week starter conversation.
Start – Carlos Hyde, San Francisco 49ers
Kyle Shannahan has turned Carlos Hyde into the workhorse of his offense, giving him the ball an average over 20 times per game. The 49ers have been playing well and keeping in games late so far this season and they get a favorable matchup week five in the Colts. Indianapolis’s defense has struggled to start the season, especially against the run, so look for Hyde’s production to be increased even further.
Although Ameer Abdullah has been getting more playing time and set his personal highs in both rushing attempts and yards last week, the Lions are going up against a great run defense in the Panthers. The Panthers have not allowed a 60-yard rusher in their first four weeks and have only given up two touchdowns. Abdullah might be a safer play in PPR leagues because the Lions will have to look to the air more than usual.
Start – Brandin Cooks, New England Patriots
Brandin Cooks has been a boom or bust to start the campaign with his new team, which has been frustrating for many fantasy owners who expected him to be the lead receiver in New England. Although it is tempting to put someone more reliable in the lineup, Cooks has an excellent matchup this week against the Buccaneers who have given up the most fantasy points to receivers this year, including three receivers topping 90 yards. Keep Cooks in your lineup this week and then possibly use it as trade bait for someone who believes he is the real deal.
The Jacksonville Jaguars and their improved defense head to Pittsburgh this week to take on an offense that has not been living up to expectations. Ben Roethlisberger doesn’t look like the elite quarterback that we are accustomed to and the team has been struggling to put points on the board. Bryant has only had one game over 50 yards this season and is quickly losing targets to rookie Juju Smith-Schuster. All of these factors combine to make him an easy bench for the week if possible.
Start – Jared Cook, Oakland Raiders
Jared Cook still is not the explosive we all had hoped he would be over his career, but is still a serviceable starter. Cook lead the Raiders with eight targets last week against the Broncos but could only collect three catches for 46 yards. E.J. Manuel looked comfortable passing to his tight end, even throwing a perfectly catchable touchdown pass that Cook dropped in fear of being hit. Since Derek Carr is going to be forced to miss some time, Cook’s targets will rise and hopefully his receptions and yards as well.
There is a changing of the guard in Los Angeles at the tight end position. One of the most reliable connections over the past decade has been Phillip Rivers to Antonio Gates, but 2nd year player Hunter Henry has taken over the starting role. Gates caught a season high three passes in the Chargers loss to the Eagles and only has one touchdown on the season. It is safe to bench or drop the all-time touchdown leader for tight ends in you league now, and look for someone who is seeing more targets.
Start – Greg Zuerlein, Los Angeles Rams
What an incredible week for Greg Zuerlein. Against the Cowboys, Zuerlein made all seven of his attempts, including four kicks from over 40 yards. This production is definitely not going to be repeated, but the Rams offense looks like the real deal. There have been plenty of opportunities for Zuerlein to score over the first four weeks and his matchup against the Seahawks will likely produce similar results. The Seahawks have one of the best red zone defenses in the league, meaning that even though this might be a low scoring game, most points will come from kickers.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, the Steelers offense has not been scoring as much as expected. Boswell has only made seven field goals and has missed two kicks in the last two weeks. The Jaguars defense has been looking up and down so far this year, so it is possible that the Steelers might have a great week, or they might struggle to put points on the board, making Boswell too risky of a play for a kicker.
Start – Buffalo Bills
The Bills defense held the defending NFC champions and leading scoring offense to just 17 points, while also getting three turnovers, a sack, and a touchdown. That was their worst outing of the year so far as well, allowing only 12, 9, and 16 points in their first three weeks. The Bills go up against a Bengals offense that just fired their coordinator and have only beaten the Browns.
Houston has scored a defensive touchdown in two consecutive games, but that streak won’t continue this week against the Chiefs. Kansas City’s offense is explosive through the air and ground, but they don’t make many mistakes. Defenses have struggled to get Alex Smith to turn the ball over and the offense has been steadily taking control of the games. The Texans’ defense will have a hard time causing turnovers this week, so make sure to leave them on your bench.