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Play Em’ or Bench Em’: Week 5

Hello owners,
Welcome to another week of fantasy football. At this point of the season you have a pretty good indication on how your team will perform. Fear not, regardless if you’re struggling or succeeding I’m here to help you. One thing to address is that week 5 is the first wave of bye weeks. Teams with bye weeks this week are: Atlanta Falcons, Denver Broncos, New Orleans Saints and Washington Redskins. So, do you need a spot filler or advice on who to start this week? Sure you do! Let’s jump into this week’s list of players get a ‘W’ in that win column

Play Em’


-Jameis Winston v. New England Patriots (Thursday Night)

  • Jameis Winston plays well at home and has a date with the worst defense in the NFL come Thursday night. Factor in the short week on the road and it spells disaster for the New England Patriots defense. Winston has a plethora of weapons at his disposal and gets his #1 running back in Doug Martin back from suspension this week as well. The Buccs offense should feast on this Patriots defense in what should be a shootout. Expect a lot of points in this game.

-Tyrod Taylor at Cincinnati Bengals

  • Tyrod Taylor is having a sneaky good campaign so far. Everyone overlooks this Bills offense because they don’t have many star players, but that’s why it’s thriving. No one is demanding the ball and all the players are buying into the scheme while doing their job. The Bills are one of the more surprising teams in the NFL and it starts with the quarterback. The Bengals defense struggled to contain Deshaun Watson and they’ll get a player with a similar style and more experience. I expect to see Tyrod Taylor continue his solid 2017 season and have his best fantasy day this season.

-Jay Cutler v. Tennessee Titans

  • Did Jay Cutler burn you last week? Outside of this column, he didn’t affect me at all. Keep your head up though; this game will be the Dolphins first true home game. Miami is going to be fired up for this game and they’ll be facing a team that just let rookie Deshaun Watson and the Texans offense score 57 points. If Titans quarterbacking Marcus Mariota has to miss any time with an injured hamstring, Matt Cassel will get the start which could give the Dolphins offense more opportunities to score. Couple weeks ago Adam Gase called his offense “garbage” and last week didn’t look much improved. However, I fully intend to see this Dolphins team get back on track this week and show the NFL just what they’re made of.


-Josh McCown at Cleveland Browns

  • The Cleveland Browns have struggled to stop anyone this season. Next on the calendar is a surprising Jets team on a 2 game win streak. Josh McCown isn’t an ideal option most weeks, but he’s been in the league long enough to have his solid performances when needed. Let’s not forget that Josh McCown recently played for the Browns and he’ll have a chip on his shoulder. McCown has never had a 3 game winning streak in his career, but I like his chances this time around.

-Brian Hoyer at Indianapolis Colts

  • If you think the Browns secondary is bad, check out the Colts. Brian Hoyer isn’t a bad spot start if you need a player this week. Hoyer is going to make sure Pierre Garcon gets his sweet revenge on one of his former teams this weekend. Last week was a bit disappointing, but the week prior his put on a show Thursday night racking up 3 touchdowns. I can see a similar stat line against the Colts.

Running Back

-Frank Gore v. San Francisco 49ers

  • Speaking of a revenge game, Frank Gore will face his former longtime team. Gore is not what he used to be, but he still runs with purpose and is a solid weekly start in fantasy any given week. This week though is different. The 49ers have one the worst run defenses in the league and will face a player determined to show them up. With Marlon Mack still out Gore will continue to be used in the passing game as well as the main workhorse running the ball. I can see the future hall of famer being a low end RB1 play this week.

-Carlos Hyde at Indianapolis Colts

  • On the opposite side of the field is Frank Gore’s replacement. Carlos Hyde is having a good season despite the 49ers 0-4 record. Hyde is the lone bright spot on the offense and he’ll continue to show why he’s a #1 running back against a Colts defense struggling to keep any offense off the field. Hyde is going to feast in this game in what could be a high scoring affair.

-Leonard Fournette at Pittsburgh Steelers

  • Fournette isn’t getting enough love as he’s been overshadowed by Kareem Hunt and Dalvin Cook. Well, sadly Dalvin Cook went down with an ACL tear and is out for the year. Kareem Hunt is just a beautiful human being that has rewarded owners all year. However, Leonard Fournette has been consistently solid all year long and is used in both the running and passing game. I can see Fournette finding the end-zone multiple times in this one.


-Duke Johnson v. New York Jets

  • We all though Isaiah Crowell would take a step forward this season, but that hasn’t been the case. Duke Johnson is considered a “Swiss-Army Knife” to coaches in Cleveland and it shows. Johnson is by far the best offensive play-maker for the Browns this season. As if his do-it-all abilities weren’t enough for you, the Jets bottom 5 defense against the run should. Start Duke Johnson folks.

-Andre Ellington at the Philadelphia Eagles

  • Andre Ellington appears to be the best play-making running back in Arizona right now. He’s getting a lot of touches in both the running game and passing game. The Eagles have also given up a lot of points to pass-catching backs in the first quarter of the season and I can see them giving up another good game to Ellington.

Wide Receiver

-Jordy Nelson at Dallas Cowboys

  • The Cowboys have been terrible against the pass. This week they’ll have to defend Aaron Rodgers and the Packers offense. An offense that is down two running backs and a wide receiver. Someone is going to pick up some work and seeing how Jordy Nelson is Rodgers favorite target, he’ll probably benefit.

-Jarvis Landry v. Tennessee Titans

  • The Titans give up the most amount of points to the opposing team’s #1 wide receiver. The Dolphins have struggled the last two weeks, but date with a team struggling and might not have their franchise quarterback is just what the doctor ordered. Look for Landry and the Dolphins offense to bounce back this week.

-Mike Evans v. New England Patriots (Thursday Night)

  • Are we double stacking Florida quarterbacks and receivers? We sure are. Mike Evans is one of the league’s best and he’ll face a Patriots defense that allows the most of passing yards. Add in the fact that Winston will throw it to his big wide out at least 10 times in this contest, Evans is going to be the best fantasy receiver this week. Start him in your lineups.


-Allen Hurns at Pittsburgh Steelers

  • After the season-ending injury to Allen Robinson, Hurns has been the one receiver to benefit. He’s returned to fantasy glory after his year hiatus. The wide out is getting almost all the receiving touchdowns from Blake Bortles, minus Mercedes Lewis’ 3 in London. Hurns and his Teammate Marquise Lee should be a good start this week from a volume of targets or touchdown potential.

-Zay Jones at Cincinnati Bengals

  • With Jordan Matthews being out some time for the Bills someone has to step up. Zay Jones has yet to step up and be the receiver everyone thought he’d be. This week is he has to step up or it’ll be next man up to take his job. The ECU product will show why he was a second round pick and a glowing prospect for the Bills to do well this season.

Tight End

-Charles Clay at Cincinnati Bengals

  • Speaking of players stepping up for the Buffalo Bills offense, Charles Clay is getting close to must start status in weekly leagues. He’s Tyrod Taylor’s #1 target and isn’t disappearing every other game (at least not yet). I like him a lot in this match up not only because he’s the best pass-catcher for the Bills, but a dear friend of mine, a Bengals fan mind you, recently told me that the Bengals new defensive scheme exposes their linebackers in coverage. I’ll take Charles Clay in this mismatch all day as should you.

-Jack Doyle v. San Francisco 49ers

  • Jacoby Brissett is coming into his own for the Colts. With an improved offensive attack Jack Doyle should see more opportunities and this week he’ll play a defensive team that is one of the worst. I see Doyle getting finding the end-zone this week in a game that could decide who could be a top 3 draft selection next year.

-Kyle Rudolph at Chicago Bears (Monday Night)

  • The Bears have some injuries on the defensive side of the ball and now a suspension to linebacker Danny Trevathan. Oh and first round pick Mitchell Trubisky will be starting his first game against a tough Vikings defense. I see a lot of chances for the Vikings offense to score and Kyle Rudolph is most utilized in the red-zone. I can see him having his first breakout game of the season.


-Austin Seferian-Jenkins at Cleveland Browns

  • ASJ had to wait 2 games during his suspension to hit the field and he has been solid thus far. Josh McCown loves his tight ends and the Jets passing attack is actually pretty respectable. It also wasn’t too long ago when ASJ was a fantasy stud in Tampa Bay either, so I can see him having a good game versus a bad Cleveland Browns team.

-Tyler Kroft v. Buffalo Bills

  • If Tyler Eifert is out again you can get his back up who just had 6 receptions and 2 touchdowns. Not a bad stat line while filling in. The Bills defense is tough, but Andy Dalton and the Bengals offense seemingly is back on track and should score a few points in this contest. AJ Green and whoever the tight end is are normally the best options for Dalton every week.


-Philadelphia Eagles v. Arizona Cardinals

  • The Eagles defense is solid, but this is more of the Cardinals offense simply being bad. The offensive line has allowed 17 sacks on the year so far, 6 in back-to-back games. They’ve also turned the ball over 6 times in the first 4 games. Carson Palmer is not what he once was and the offensive line doesn’t give him enough time to make smart choices. That doesn’t bode well when they’re playing a defense that’s one of the best at pressuring the quarterback.

-Minnesota Vikings at Chicago Bears (Monday Night)

  • Mitchell Trubisky is getting his first start as a professional. Kudos to you sir, you’re reward is facing a Vikings defense that’ll look to destroy you. If I were Trubisky I’d ask if Mike Glennon could have one more week, but that’s not how it works. Fact is rookies don’t normally have the best time against top tier defenses and I expect the same for this week.


-New York Jets at Cleveland Browns

  • Browns offense turns the ball over a lot. The Jets defense has been surprisingly decent and has held some good players to minimal points. I can see them blowing up the Browns offense and improving to 3-2 for the year. Wow the New York Jets above .500 in 2017. No one saw that coming…

-Oakland Raiders v. Baltimore Ravens

  • The Ravens offense is not that good. The line can’t hold a block, Joe Flacco is average and the skilled players can’t make plays. Also look at the numbers, this Oakland defense is actually better than what people think. I’ll take my chances with the team actually going to playoffs this year. Get pumped black hole!

Bench Em’


-Jared Goff v. Seattle Seahawks

  • Jared Goff and the Rams offense has looked light out this season. Sean McVay should be one of the favorites for coach of the year if he can keep this up. However, this week he’ll face a Seahawks team who starts peaking around this time. The Rams can win this game, but it won’t be high scoring nor will Goff continue to rack up an obscene amount of yards in this contest.

-Joe Flacco at Oakland Raiders

  • Joe Flacco has had one game for more than 11 points this season. ONE GAME. Now he travels to the black hole which is a tough environment to play in. Flacco should be on your bench or depending on the size of you league, the waiver wire. Find a back-up elsewhere.

-Andy Dalton v. Buffalo Bills

  • The Buffalo Bills defense is no fluke. They’ve stopped some of the better play-makers in the league and this week they’ll get an improved offense over the last two weeks, but that offensive line is still shaky. Andy Dalton will get pressured consistently and won’t have time in the pocket like he did a week ago versus the Browns. Bench him this week if you can.

-Alex Smith at Houston Texans (Sunday Night)

  • We’re starting to see glimpses of the old Alex Smith and this week he’s on prime-time football against a tough Texans front seven who dominated the Titans. I can see the Chiefs falling in this one for their first loss of the season and it’ll be because Alex smith wasn’t able to do much. Please Avoid.

Running Back

-LeGarrette Blount v. Arizona Cardinals

  • The bulldozer as people are calling him now had an inspiring game last week for owners, but this week don’t expect the same results. The Cardinals are great at stopping the run and this doesn’t seem like a Blount scripted game. Not to mention the Eagles are running a three-headed rushing attack and they’ll go with whomever the hot hand is that afternoon. Do you really want to take a chance on that being Blount?

-Lamar Miller v. Kansas City Chiefs (Sunday Night)

  • Lamar Miller gave owners a breath of fresh air last week with a solid day. This week I would expect the same as the Chiefs have given up one of the least amount of points to running backs this season. The Chiefs defensive unit is stout and I don’t see them giving up much running room to Miller in this one. I can actually see a heavy dosage of D’Onta Foreman in this one as his skills could be better suited for the tough grind.

-Ameer Abdullah v. Carolina Panthers

  • I see a theme here. Abdullah came in clutch for his owners as well last week giving them his best point total thus far. Although the Panthers defense is legit and haven’t been too kind to opposing running backs. Factor in that Theo Riddick handles majority of the passing downs for the Lions, it limits Abdullahs ceiling this week.

-Melvin Gordon at New York Giants

  • Gordon didn’t play at 100% last week and it showed. This week he’ll have another tough defense and still isn’t quite 100%. I can see another game in which he splits carries with Branden Oliver again. I would wait another week to start the star running back.

Wide Receiver

-Kendall Wright v. Minnesota Vikings (Monday Night)

  • Quarterback change + Xavier Rhodes = bench. Kendall Wright on paper is the #1 wide receiver for the Bears, but until we find out who Mitchell Trubisky favors in the rotation no one is a safe start in this game. Especially against the Vikings.

-Sammy Watkins v. Seattle Seahawks

  • Inconsistent play has been Sammy Watkins unfortunate knock against him. He can be a dominate receiver when he’s healthy and getting the ball, but on the Rams he’s not the main focal point. Watkins is more of a match-up based player this year and this week that match-up doesn’t say start me.

-Will Fuller v. Kansas City Chiefs (Sunday Night)

  • Will Fuller came back from his collarbone injury and hauled in 2 touchdowns! That’s great for him, but unless the Texans score 50+ each week I want to see how he fits in the offense in games where the offense isn’t completely dominating. Fuller is too touchdown reliant for me as of right now.

-Kelvin Benjamin at Detroit Lions

  • The Detroit Lions defense is better than you think. They lead the league in takeaways and it’s actually won them a few games themselves this year. Kelvin Benjamin hasn’t been the player we all hoped despite a good game against the Patriots (but who hasn’t). This week he’ll match up against Darius “Big Play” Slay and I don’t see him doing much damage for the Panthers this week. Let’s see if the Panthers offense is coming back into form or if they just took advantage of a good matchup.

Tight End

-Jared Cook v. Baltimore Ravens

  • The Raiders offense has taken a hit the last two weeks losing Michael Crabtree and Derek Carr to injuries. Jared Cook on paper appears to see an increase in production, but the Ravens defense is still one not to sleep on despite allowing 60+ combined points the last two weeks. I also don’t see EJ Manuel helping Jared Cook’s chances in this game.

-Eric Ebron v. Carolina Panthers

  • The game plan for the Lions while facing tough defense has been ball control and time of possession. Eric Ebron has had one good game thus far this season and might be a match up only based starter this season. Kurt Coleman is out for the Panthers, but I don’t think that helps Ebron in this game. If anything it’ll help someone else streak down the field for a long touchdown.

-Jesse James v. Jacksonville Jaguars

  • Seems like Jesse James is the only offensive skilled position that has drawn attention to himself this year. Unfortunately that doesn’t help in fantasy. The Jaguars boast a tough secondary and haven’t allowed many points to tight ends this year. Oh and you know the Steelers will try to keep their star wide receiver happy and feed him the ball in this game. Hopefully no more Gatorade jugs will be harmed.

-Hunter Henry at New York Giants

  • Head coach Anthony Lynn said that Hunter Henry is the Chargers most complete offensive player. So, why isn’t he utilizing him then? I was high on double H coming into this year, but until I see more production and more offensive snaps he’s staying out of my starting lineup. I advise you do the same. Maybe you can trade him to the Antonio Gates owner who’s also been disappointed.


-Dallas Cowboys v. Green Bay Packers

  • I’ll admit, the Cowboys defense has been A LOT better than I assumed, but this week they play the Packers. Did you read that? Aaron Rodgers is coming to town and he’s had 3 extra days to game plan against them. I don’t care if 2 of his running backs and a wide receiver got hurt. Rodgers can use a random fan, the water and a cripple and still make them look like super stars! That’s just what the best quarterbacks do. Bench the Cowboys defense please. I don’t care how many sacks they’ve gotten this season.

-Jacksonville Jaguars at Pittsburgh Steelers

  • I think the Jaguars defense is legit, but they can’t contain the Steelers offense that is starting to peak. Factor in that the Steelers are home which automatically adds an additional 10 points (at least) to the score board and you’re looking at a long day for the defense.

-Tampa Bay Buccaneers v. New England Patriots (Thursday Night)

  • The Buccaneers give up the second most passing yards in the NFL. Their opponent is Tom Brady. Tom Brady can score a lot of touchdowns in a game. Tom Brady has a lot of weapons to pass for a lot of yards. Moral of the story, don’t start the Buccs defense against Tom Brady.

-Miami Dolphins v. Tennessee Titans

  • The Dolphins defense is missing something from last year’s team. Aggressiveness. What do the Titans do best on offense? Use their aggressiveness in the trenches. Mariota or no Mariota, the Titans will be able to use their one-two punch at running back to rack up some yardage and scores. Until the defense wakes up from their slumber they’re a sit em.
That’s it for this week’s Play Em’ or Bench Em’. As always I hope this helps you win your game(s) and keeps you relevant in the playoff race. Don’t forget to like Straight Football Talk on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and connect with us on LinkedIn! Until next time, have a great day!
Austin Thomas

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