It’s time for the weekly tradition we live for: panicking that we made the wrong decision on who to start before we’re mercifully bailed out by a garbage time score, validating all our opinions. This week, we take a look at some questionable start or sit options and help you figure out who should make it into your starting lineup. Let’s take a look at some start or sit questions for week five!
Trevor Lawrence versus Houston
After three games wherein Trevor Lawrence increased his fantasy points every week, Lawrence cratered down to 5.66 fantasy points last week against the Eagles. There were two factors at play there that won’t be a problem this weekend in Jacksonville: the rain and the Eagles. First, the rain. This led to sloppy play all around and was the major contributing factor in Trevor Lawrence finishing this game with five turnovers. Those turnovers crushed what was otherwise an okay fantasy day (174 passing yards, two touchdowns, and 26 rushing yards) all the way down to “good God man, what are you doing?!” The second factor, the Eagles, won’t be a problem this week, either. Out of the four games this season, the Eagles have held three quarterbacks below 9 fantasy points. While the Texans have done a good job of stymying quarterbacks, they don’t hold a candle to the Eagles.
This is going to be a season-defining game for the Jaguars, and we are going to go back to Trevor Lawrence who took a buzzsaw to the Chargers in week three. You can start Trevor Lawrence this week, as he’s set to end up with three total touchdowns against Houston.
Matthew Stafford versus Dallas
Things are bad for Matthew Stafford right now. He’s averaging just 250 passing yards per game and has four touchdowns to six interceptions. The real concerning stat so far, however? Stafford has two games with seven sacks, the first in week one against the Bills, and the second in week four against San Francisco. Both teams rank inside the top ten in quarterback pressure rate, and the two teams who only put Stafford in the dirt once (Atlanta and Arizona) both rank inside the bottom seven in pressure rate this season. Unfortunately, this offensive line gets chewed up and spit out when facing good pass rushers, and they get the Cowboys and their third-ranked pressure rate this week. Stafford won’t have enough time to think, let alone have a good fantasy day. You can go ahead and sit Matthew Stafford this week.
Derek Carr at Kansas City
Derek Carr is going to Arrowhead, which means that he’ll play terribly! Well, this isn’t exactly the best narrative, as most teams play poorly in Arrowhead. However, Carr is coming off of a bad game against the Broncos last week, wherein he had 188 passing yards and zero touchdowns. That’s what happens when your running back has multiple scores, and your defense recovers a fumble for a touchdown: you don’t really need to do much to win. This week, however, the Raiders will need a lot more from Carr, who averages over 38 pass attempts this season. The Chiefs allow the seventh-most fantasy points to quarterbacks and have yielded the fifth-most passing yards to the position. If you’re in a bind, you can start Derek Carr in what should turn into a shoot-out (at least if the Vegas defense has anything to say about it).
Devin Singletary versus Pittsburgh
I was out on the Buffalo Bills’ backfield before the season started. After all, they used a second-round pick to add James Cook to a running back corps that already had Devin Singletary and Zack Moss. We all thought it was going to become a muddled mess, as the Bills looked to mix & match running backs based on the situation. It turns out that we are big dummies who missed that the Bills instead decided to turn Devin Singletary into a bell cow running back. This happened over the last two games, as the Bills went from playing Singletary about 55%-60% of the time before vaulting him up to 79% of snaps over the last two games. There are no two ways about this: Devin Singletary is the Bills’ bell cow running back, and the only reason his snap count would go down in this game would be because the Bills absolutely smash the Steelers and Buffalo throws Zack Moss out there to soak up garbage time.
Luckily, if the Bills smash Pittsburgh, then Devin Singletary will be a part of that show: Singletary has 41 touches over the last three games, averaging 9 carries and 5 receptions for 50 yards per game. That gives him a 12-point floor, and given that he had more touches inside the ten in the last two weeks than the other running backs on the roster had in total, I would say that you can count on him for a touchdown, as well. You can start Devin Singletary this week against a Steelers team that has given up a big game to every running back to get at least 15 touches against them this year.
J.K. Dobbins versus Cincinnati
J.K. Dobbins stretched his legs last week, scoring twice en route to a 22.3 PPR point day. He did this against one of the best defenses in the league (Buffalo) in a game that wasn’t as back-and-forth as many thought might happen. Also, since that game happened, the Ravens’ running back room took hits in Justice Hill likely out “for a bit” according to John Harbaugh, and Gus Edwards just barely opening his eligibility to return, it’s likely that Dobbins gets a big increase on his 45% snap share from week four. On paper, the Bengals seem like a questionable matchup, as they yield the tenth-fewest fantasy points to running backs. In actuality, they’ve given up five 10+ PPR days to running backs in four games, so on Sunday you can go ahead and start J.K. Dobbins with confidence.
James Conner versus Philadelphia
James Conner was supposed to be the bell cow back for a potent offense. While he’s getting the majority of the running back touches, the entire offense is stuck in the mud, which means he has just one touchdown in four games, leading to just one 11+ PPR day all season long, despite touching the ball plenty. You can usually justify starting Conner because of his guaranteed touch volume. This week, however, he gets the Philadelphia Eagles, and I am fully hands-off. Philadelphia is middle-of-the-pack in running back scoring, but that’s mostly because D’Andre Swift and Jamaal Williams cooked them in week one. Since then, they’ve had Dalvin Cook, Antonio Gibson, J.D. McKissic, James Robinson and Travis Etienne all top out at 11 PPR points, with Robinson performing so poorly last week that people are actually considering sitting him (don’t do that). You can, however, sit James Conner this week if you need upside in that spot, instead.
Robert Woods at Washington
When the Titans traded for Robert Woods, they likely had machinations to make him their WR1, as they made it clear that they weren’t going to even try to pay stud receiver A.J. Brown his worth. But, Tennessee found Treylon Burks in the draft and tried to make him the WR1, to no avail. Burks is now gone for a while, and that means that it will be the Robert Woods show for the Titans on Sunday. And honestly, given this matchup, that’s good enough for me to start Robert Woods in anything as deep or deeper than a 12-team 3WR league as he leads the team in routes and targets per route run, meaning that he’s the #1 receiver there. The Commanders give up the third-most fantasy points to wide receivers, with an eye-popping nine receivers scoring at least 9 PPR points against them in the last four games, with seven of those topping 12.5 PPR points for the week. This matchup is going to be so juicy that not even Ryan Tannehill can screw it up.
Josh Reynolds at New England
With DJ Chark suffering a midweek setback with his ankle injury, it looks like the deep threat in the Lions’ #1 scoring offense falls to Josh Reynolds once again. He has had 18 targets in the last 2 games, which he’s turned into 13 catches for 177 yards and a score. The Patriots haven’t done much to stop anyone lately, giving up big games to six wide receivers already this year. You can start Josh Reynolds if DJ Chark is out in this one, since it’s likely to be a track meet, and you want to find as many parts of this game as possible.
D.J. Moore versus San Francisco
I don’t know how many points the Panthers will score Sunday, but given how terrible the Panthers’ offense has looked lately, and how great the Niners’ defense looked last week against the Rams, I am going to bet that it’s somewhere near single-digits. Moore finally came through last week for a 6/50 line, which marks the first time he had more than 3 catches and 43 yards (a line he pulled off twice). Mooney (Charvarius) Ward has absolutely demolished opposing receivers this season, holding Darnell Mooney, Tyler Lockett, Courtland Sutton, and Allen Robinson to a combined 69 yards in four games this season. It’s highly like that Baker Mayfield has more sacks than D.J. Moore completions, as the 49ers and their top-ranked pass rush come to town to make life miserable. If you can help it, you probably want to sit D.J. Moore this week.
Gerald Everett at Cleveland
Going into the season, I pegged Gerald Everett as a sleeper. After all, he was a more efficient back than Jared Cook, and Jared Cook had much more work than Everett last year for these Chargers. It seemed fairly straightforward. Even I didn’t expect something this good, as Everett is currently TE6 in PPR, as he ranks inside the top ten in both routes run as well as targets per route run among full-time tight ends. He’s just… the guy there at tight end, a role that has been inadequately filled by Jared Cook over recent seasons. This week, however, he gets a difficult test against the Browns. Cleveland allows the sixth-fewest fantasy points to tight ends on the year, and they’ve played some quality tight ends this season (Tyler Conklin, Pat Freiermuth, and Kyle Pitts) and only Tyler Conklin managed a decent fantasy day.
Another way to look at that, however, is: every tight end with at least five targets against them scored double-digit fantasy points. With Keenan Allen still struggling to practice, I am going to trust the volume and say that Everett gets at least six targets for the third straight game, which means he will get double-digit fantasy points, and that means that you should start Gerald Everett this week.
Pat Freiermuth at Buffalo
Pat Freiermuth has been mostly good this season, with Trubisky and Freiermuth connecting for three double-digit PPR games (and his bad game was four targets against the aforementioned Cleveland Browns). But, things have changed in Pittsburgh, as the Kenny Pickett Era has begun for the Steelers. With Pickett throwing three picks in his career debut, I’m not too bullish on this offense, at least not yet. I fear that this means that the defensive matchup will overtake anything else: the Steelers and their terrible OL get the Buffalo Bills and their top-ten pass rush (in terms of pressure rate). I anticipate a rough day for Kenny Pickett, which means a rough day for Pat Freiermuth. I would sit Pat Freiermuth if you can, but unless Tyler Conklin is on your waiver wire, then don’t go out of your way to sit him. He’s not the greatest play, but he’s also likely to get enough volume to help you.
Tyler Conklin versus Miami
Through four weeks, Conklin ranks as a top-five tight end, and he’s done it on the back of consistent targets and receptions. It’s rare for a tight end to stack multiple games in a row of double-digit fantasy points without a touchdown, but that’s what he did in weeks two and three. That’s very good and portends good things in the future. The Jets struggled last week in Zach Wilson’s first game of 2022, but Conklin still had enough targets (5) to turn in a decent fantasy day (3 receptions for 52 yards). This week, Conklin gets a Miami team that has allowed two touchdowns to tight ends in the last three games, and the seventh-most fantasy points on the year. You can go ahead and continue to start Tyler Conklin, especially considering the injuries to Kyle Pitts and Dawson Knox this week.