It looks like Week 5 will be the first of the season where all five first-round rookie QBs – and Davis Mills – will start. Trey Lance will be the last, though it is due to an injury to Jimmy Garoppolo, and the Bears officially made Justin Fields the starter for the rest of the season on Wednesday.
How do we view the QBs in fantasy? Trevor Lawrence probably has to remain atop these “rankings,” considering his prospect pedigree and his steady improvement. Fields is a razor-thin second, as he flashed serious arm talent against Detroit (four completions of 20+ air yards) to go with his rushing. Lance might have the highest upside of them all, but he looked the least ready for the big leagues when thrust into action in the second half against Seattle. Wilson needs to string together multiple good games before he’s on the fantasy radar. Jones is a dink-and-dunker with no rushing upside, so hard pass on him.
And their weapons? We need to keep an eye on George Kittle, who caught four passes on Sunday – all from Garoppolo before his injury. It’s been a disappointing start for Kittle, and Lance only targeted him three times on 18 attempts (zero completions), though one was arguably dropped in the end zone (the throw was late, too). Allen Robinson has also yet to find a rapport with Fields, who has preferred Darnell Mooney, a guy very much on the FLEX radar now. Be patient with Robinson, though. His track record is too strong.
Anyway, here are your starts, sits, DFS plays and bets for NFL’s Week 5:
Start: Damien Harris, Patriots (@ HOU)
I understand the hesitancy to start a guy who had four rushes for -4 yards last week. But that was against the Bucs, who are allowing less than 50 rushing yards per game. This week the Patriots face the Texans, who, not sure if you have noticed, stink. Since Mills took over, the Texans have scored nine total points in two games. They’re also allowing the fifth-most rushing yards per game on defense, and the Patriots should run the ball plenty in a game they are expected to win (Bill Belichick is 22-6 against rookie QBs, and Mills is a third-rounder only starting due to Tyrod Taylor’s injury). And there aren’t a lot of warm bodies in this RB room, especially after J.J. Taylor’s untimely fumble in Week 4. Harris is an RB2 this week.
Other starts: Chase Edmonds (ARI), Damien Williams (CHI), Laviska Shenault (JAX), Corey Davis (NYJ)
Sit: Chase Claypool, Steelers (vs. DEN)
Two excellent defenses and two miserable offenses, especially with Drew Lock in for the concussed Teddy Bridgewater. This game is going to be a slopfest, and Vegas is not sugarcoating it – the over/under is a measly 39.5. Claypool is questionable to play with an injury that cost him his Week 4, and while he has returned to practice in a limited capacity, we haven’t seen anything out of Ben Roethlisberger suggesting he could be productive if he suits up. He’s already competing for targets with Diontae Johnson and Juju Smith-Schuster, and competing for an increasingly un-appetizing piece of pie within this Steelers offense. You’re best avoiding every Steelers skill position player other than Johnson and Najee Harris, especially in PPR as they continue to eat targets.
Other sits: Courtland Sutton (DEN), Miles Sanders (PHI), Myles Gaskin (MIA)
DraftKings play: Jaylen Waddle, Dolphins ($4,800)
Harris is the rookie receptions leader. In second place? Not Ja’Marr Chase, not Devonta Smith, but Waddle, whose 25 catches are tied for 13th in the NFL. He hasn’t done much with those catches – his 8.0 yards per reception ranks 128th – but it’s obvious Miami’s two offensive coordinators (which, by the way, is a silly setup for an NFL team) want to get him the ball. Why they’re using the best deep threat from the 2021 NFL Draft like a glorified J.D. McKissic is a good question, but this week, the Dolphins get the Bucs, the single best matchup in fantasy for wide receivers. Tampa lost arguably their best cornerback, Carlton Davis, to injury, and were already thin in the secondary. If Waddle can get loose behind the defense for a deep ball, he has the chance to provide a ceiling for his already-decent target floor.
Bet(s): Saints -2 at Washington, Packers -3 at Bengals
A two-fer for you here, since I’m hot: the last three picks I gave you were underdogs, and not only did they cover, they each won outright. (Now that I’m getting cocky, feel free to fade me.) Anyway, here are two favorites. Washington and New Orleans have similarly mediocre offenses: they are 17th and 18th, respectively, in EPA/play. The difference is defense, where the Saints have been a top-five unit (DVOA has them second) and the Football Team have been a massive disappointment (28th in DVOA and 29th in yards per game). In Green Bay’s case, Cincinnati is 3-1, but the Packers win the coach and QB battles by a mile. Both teams are on the road, but when you think of the best home-field advantages in the NFL, Cincinnati and Landover, Md. are nowhere near the top of the list.