The degree of difficulty in whether to start or sit players isn’t wavering as owners charge toward Week 5.
This star-sleeper tightrope act owners have to walk continues in Week 5. Below, let’s look at some great matchups for stars and sleepers, and compare who has the better value among some of fantasy‘s top players at each position.
Top Matchup Play: Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts (at HOU)
This isn’t a great week for quarterback matchups specifically, but one that sticks out is Andrew Luck on Thursday Night Football against the Houston Texans.
Owners may pause here for the obvious reason: Luck missed this past weekend with a shoulder issue. NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport provided some reassurance, though:
If Luck is all systems go, he’s the top matchup play of the week. He’s only scored in double digits twice so far, but Houston ranked as the fifth-worst defense against quarterbacks on average entering this past weekend.
There, Eli Manning threw for one score and 14 points, making it seven touchdowns allowed to quarterbacks over four games. Luck might be in for his biggest performance of the season against a familiar opponent.
Sleeper: Marcus Mariota, Tennessee Titans (vs. BUF)
Owners should have pause for thought with Tennessee Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota, both because he’s a rookie and because the Buffalo Bills seem like a potent squad.
However, for one reason or another, Buffalo cannot seem to stop quarterbacks this year. The unit has allowed 10 touchdowns to signal-callers already this season. On the flip side, Mariota has eight in just three games, showing an accelerated development for a rookie.
Still not sold? If Buffalo comes out strong, the Titans will have to play from behind. Meaning, of course, Mariota gets to throw the ball more often than usual.
At 65.9 percent owned, Mariota might be a sleeper owners can still grab. He’s set to improve on his already impressive total of 57 points through three games.
Top Matchup Play: Le’Veon Bell, Pittsburgh Steelers (at SD)
It hasn’t taken long for Le’Veon Bell to blow up for owners who had to remain afloat while he sat out the first two games of the season.
In his Week 3 debut, Bell went for 19 points, then followed in Week 4 with 20 by way of 22 carries for 129 yards and a score. ESPN Stats & Info points out his consistency compared to his peers:
Next up for Bell is the San Diego Chargers, also a consistent fantasy producer—for all the wrong reasons.
The Chargers let up 27, 12 and 32 points to backs through their first three games, then just let Duke Johnson Jr. of the Cleveland Browns go for 17 points on his own this past weekend.
That 17 almost seems like the floor for Bell against the Chargers.
Sleeper: T.J. Yeldon, Jacksonville Jaguars (at TB)
Owners who took the gamble on Jacksonville Jaguars rookie back T.J. Yeldon saw their first big return this past weekend with his 22 carries for 105 yards and 10 points.
If anything, it’s a sign the Jacksonville coaching staff isn’t afraid to ride the rookie in the right situation.
The right situation figures to be next weekend in Tampa Bay. The Buccaneers haven’t been able to clog gaps and stop opposing runners, allowing 65 points to backs over the course of their first three games.
Provided Yeldon acts as Jacksonville’s every-down back, owners looking for a sleeper can count on him in a game that figures to be close throughout.
Top Matchup Play: Jeremy Maclin, Kansas City Chiefs (vs. CHI)
Over the course of the past two weeks, the Kansas City Chiefs decided to increase Jeremy Maclin‘s usage, probably a good thing considering he was perhaps the team’s biggest addition this past offseason.
Maclin has responded with at least eight catches in his last two outings, going for 20 and 14 points in the process.
It’s a good sign for the once-dormant offense when it comes to wideouts, as ESPN Stats & Info illustrated:
Maclin might wind up as the highest scorer of Week 5 thanks to an encounter with the Chicago Bears, too. Chicago allowed seven touchdowns to wideouts over three games and 31, 39 and 18 points before Oakland’s Amari Cooper scored 10 and Michael Crabtree eight this past weekend.
With a newfound presence in the offense and a perfect matchup, Maclin is in for a big day.
Sleeper: Travis Benjamin, Cleveland Browns (at BAL)
Owners either gave up on Cleveland’s Travis Benjamin or never believed because he’s only owned in 72.6 percent of leagues despite four touchdowns to his name.
Benjamin exploded for the 29-point performance in Week 2, but he has since failed to reach double digits.
The situation makes him a smart sleeper play as he heads into an AFC North clash with the Baltimore Ravens. Baltimore gave up 14, 45 and 51 points over the team’s first three outings.
With the aforementioned McCown under center and playing well from a fantasy standpoint, Benjamin figures to have a major day against the weak defense.
Top Matchup Play: Charles Clay, Buffalo Bills (at TEN)
It took a few weeks, but Charles Clay has finally emerged as the top target for the Buffalo Bills passing attack.
After just 11 total points over his first two games with the team, Clay went off for 14 and 11 points in the past two weeks, scoring a touchdown in the process. Last week, he caught nine passes for 111 yards but had a touchdown called back due to a flag.
The Titans won’t be able to stop Clay. Through three games, the Titans haven’t stopped teams with quality weapons at the position, letting up two scores and 32 total points.
Clay is one of the better tight ends in the league with a budding role, so owners would be smart to take advantage.
Sleeper: Owen Daniels, Denver Broncos (at OAK)
One would think Peyton Manning‘s starting tight end would have a higher ownership percentage than 44.8, but so it goes at a fickle position.
Owen Daniels has a touchdown to his name in each of the last two games. While he’s a touchdown-reliant fantasy producer, the veteran figures to explode against the Oakland Raiders in Week 5.
After all, the Raiders are comically bad against tight ends, letting up 22, 20 and 16 points to the position before last week’s disaster of a performance in which Chicago’s Martellus Bennett scored and worked his way to 14 points.
Rest assured Manning and Daniels will target the weakness early and often.
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