One can look at the state of fantasy football in one of two ways: much easier than past years or much more difficult.
The presence of experts around the globe using social media and traditional means to help owners plays a major factor in this. When it comes to something like daily fantasy sports, so many knowledgeable sources can make it harder to stand out.
In traditional leagues, though, the presence of so many voices helps owners make tough decisions. This logic reigns true as owners head into Week 5.
Below, let’s round up some of the top voices from the industry and analyze some of their most interesting verdicts as it pertains to Week 5 start ’em, sit ’em scenarios.
Notable Start: Jay Cutler, QB, Chicago Bears (at KC)
JJ Zachariason of numberFire wrote the book titled The Late Round Quarterback, so it’s clear he knows a thing or two about how and when to find value when it comes to the players who line up under center.
This weekend, Zachariason likes Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler on the road against the Kansas City Chiefs. It’s certainly a contrarian play, but it’s not hard to see why: Cutler posted 17 points last week in a surprise appearance and did so without Alshon Jeffery.
Jeffery or not this week, Cutler’s going to post similar numbers. The Chiefs allow the most points to quarterbacks on average. Many figured the return of Sean Smith last week would help, but instead, the defense still allowed 321 yards and a score to Andy Dalton.
As an underdog, Cutler’s going to throw a lot against a porous defense.
Notable Sit: Gary Barnidge, TE, Cleveland Browns (at BAL)
Owners have every right to be high on Cleveland Browns tight end Gary Barnidge.
It turned out Barnidge‘s 16-point outburst in Week 3 wasn’t just a fluke against the iffy Oakland Raiders, because he followed in the week after with six more grabs, another score and 13 points.
Despite the obvious role in Cleveland’s offense, Zachariason suggests owners fade the trendy pick thanks to the matchup:
But Barnidge isn’t in a great spot in Week 5. While Baltimore’s been porous against the pass this year, they’ve actually defended the tight end better than any team in football. Heath Miller caught just one pass against them last week, Tyler Eifert put together a goose egg (thanks to some penalties, to be transparent) the week before, and in Week 1, Denver’s tight ends caught just two passes for five yards.
For those counting, the Baltimore Ravens give up the fewest points per game to tight ends this year. In total, the unit has allowed eight catches and one point.
Notable Start: Sam Bradford, QB, Philadelphia Eagles (vs. NO)
Was a 23-point outburst from Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Sam Bradford a sign of things to come?
Rotoworld‘s Nick Mensio thinks so, crediting the favorable matchup for the starting nod: “He now gets a Saints pass defense that has allowed the second-most fantasy points to quarterbacks. Bradford and the Eagles are also at home. New Orleans is allowing 9.77 YPA and has yet to pick off a pass.”
It’s hard to argue. Bradford has two outings in single digits this year, but it’s clear the matchup and coach Chip Kelly’s willingness to change what doesn’t work will have an impact on Bradford’s play.
Through four games, the Saints have allowed 25, 18, 29 and 13 points. In what should be a shootout, Bradford at home looks impossible to ignore after a shaky start.
Notable Sit: Jeremy Hill, RB, Cincinnati Bengals (vs. SEA)
Here’s an idea owners who took a high gamble on Jeremy Hill won’t like: he needs to ride the pine in Week 5.
Again, it’s hard to argue. Hill put up 24 points last week, but only because he received the ball in short-yardage scenarios and turned them into three touchdowns. Carrying the ball just nine times while complement Giovani Bernard sees 13 carries is never a good sign.
To make matters worse, Bernard has carried the ball more than Hill in three consecutive games. Cincinnati has fully switched to a committee approach without warning, which crushes owners who took Hill in the first round of drafts.
As Mensio notes, a matchup against the Seattle Seahawks isn’t favorable either way. The unit allows the second-fewest points to backs so far, has yet to surrender a touchdown or give up a double-digit outing to an entire backfield.
Notable Start: Terrance Williams, WR, Dallas Cowboys (vs. NE)
The Dallas Cowboys, at least at face value, look like a fantasy wasteland without Tony Romo and Dez Bryant.
Owners might flock to the idea of new No. 1 wideout Terrance Williams, though, and it’s something CBS Sports’ Jamey Eisenberg encourages due to opportunities and the matchup:
He’s played three games since Dez Bryant (foot) got hurt, and he’s responded with two touchdowns in those outings. He’s also had at least seven targets in three games this year, and the Patriots have allowed four receivers to catch a touchdown with at least 60 receiving yards.
On paper, Dallas figures to get blown out of the water by the New England Patriots. But the usage for Williams is there and he has two double-digit outings in three weeks, although the performance in the middle was a fat goose egg.
Still, through three games, New England surrenders the fourth-most points to wideouts. Even Buffalo and Jacksonville receivers found room for 22 or more points, so Williams should produce respectable numbers.
Notable Sit: Amari Cooper, WR, Oakland Raiders (vs. DEN)
There’s no debate Oakland’s Amari Cooper is a WR1 this year—but only when the matchup is right.
As Eisenberg notes, the Denver Broncos tout an elite defense in all facets this year. The unit has allowed the second-fewest points to wideouts despite matchups against Steve Smith, Jeremy Maclin and Calvin Johnson.
The way Cooper has exploded out of the gates as a rookie, he’s on par with all of those names from a fantasy standpoint. He has three consecutive trips to double digits when quarterback Derek Carr is healthy for a full game.
Home or not, though, Eisenberg and most will always weigh in favor of an elite defense against a rookie. Owners should, too.
All scoring info courtesy of ESPN standard leagues, as is points-against info and ownership stats as of October 10. Statistics courtesy of ESPN.com. Miami, Minnesota, Carolina and the New York Jets are on bye.
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