Week 5 fantasy football start 'em or sit 'em

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Julian Edelman, WR, New England Patriots (@ WAS)

Through four weeks, Edelman is averaging 8.0 targets per game – an incredible figure once more context is added. Three of Edelman’s four games have come in massive blowout victories where the Patriots were never forced to pass. In one of those games (Week 3), Edelman saw 10 targets despite playing in just two quarters. On top of all this, Edelman has had a near-league-high six targets negated due to penalty (second-most). Though we should see another blowout in New England’s favor this week, expect similarly good volume and even better production for Edelman, against a Redskins defense that is giving up the most fantasy points to wide receivers on short passes and the fifth-most fantasy points to opposing slot wide receivers.

JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers (vs. BAL)

Smith-Schuster has underwhelmed to start the season, averaging just 6.8 targets and 12.2 fantasy points per game. Of course, poor quarterback play is still a concern, but this does look like a get-right spot for Smith-Schuster, who runs 63% of his routes from the slot. For the second straight season, Baltimore ranks bottom-five in fantasy points allowed to opposing slot wide receivers, and bottom-five in percentage of total receiving fantasy points allowed to opposing slot wide receivers.

Damien Williams, RB, Kansas City Chiefs (vs. IND)

Williams practiced in full Wednesday and should be started with confidence if he’s active Sunday. Williams was seeing terrific usage before his injury, averaging 17.2 expected fantasy points per game through the first two weeks of the season, which ranked fifth-most among running backs. He’ll get a favorable matchup this week, against a Colts defense that ranks fourth-worst in yards allowed per carry and 10th-worst in schedule-adjusted fantasy points per game allowed.


Melvin Gordon, RB, Los Angeles Chargers (vs. DEN)

Congratulations Gordon drafters, your day has finally arrived, and sooner that most of us expected. Per head coach Antony Lynn, Gordon is still the “starter” and the team’s “No. 1 running back.” That means, at a bare minimum, Gordon will be the team’s primary early-down workhorse. That will be enough for Gordon to come away with a fantasy RB1 performance this week. The Chargers are playing at home, favored by 6.5 points, against a Denver defense that is giving up the third-most rushing fantasy points per game to enemy running backs.


Sit


Josh Jacobs, RB, Oakland Raiders (vs. CHI, in London)

Jacobs ranks 11th in carries per game (15.5), but just 34th among running backs in XFP per game (9.6). Though Jon Gruden promised more passing-down work for Jacobs heading into Week 4, he saw just two targets on the day, bringing his season-long total to five. With Jacobs so overlooked in the passing game, he’s too risky to start this week, as 5.0-point underdogs against a ferocious Chicago run defense.

Amari Cooper, WR, Dallas Cowboys (vs. GB)

Cooper might not be an outright “sit,” but he is worth bumping down to the mid-WR2 range this week. The Packers are giving up the fewest fantasy points per game to opposing wide receivers, due in a large part to top-10-graded cornerback Jaire Alexander. Through four weeks, Alexander has been thrown at 27 times in coverage but has surrendered just 125 yards. With Alexander expected to shadow Cooper in Week 5, we could be in line for another one of Cooper’s infamous milk carton games (where he goes missing).

Terry McLaurin, WR, Washington Redskins (vs. NE)

McLaurin has been phenomenal to start the season, but he’s banged up and expected to draw a worst-possible matchup against Stephon Gilmore in shadow coverage. In nine of Gilmore’s last 10 shadow games, he’s held the receiver he’s covered to under 50 yards receiving. McLaurin is just a low-end WR3 this week.

Ronald Jones, RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (@ NO)

Jones stole the show Sunday, finally seeing a starter’s workload, drawing 20 touches and turning that into 82 yards and a score. He now, perhaps somewhat shockingly, ranks as our single-highest-graded running back. That’s all fine and good, but he’s seen just three targets all year. That means he’s too risky to start this week, up against a New Orleans Saints defense that ranks best in rushing fantasy points per game allowed over the past two seasons.

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