Smart matchup plays and sleepers continue to rule the day when it comes to start ’em, sit ’em decisions.
Want proof? Look at the top scorers at each position in Week 5 before Monday Night Football: Josh McCown, Doug Martin, Andre Johnson and Tyler Eifert.
Translated: Sleeper, sleeper, sleeper and smart matchup.
This year seems more unpredictable than prior campaigns, but owners can still sift through the overwhelming amount of details to make smart decisions. Let’s do so below by identifying some of the best values in table format before looking at smart plays and sleepers.
Top Matchup Play: Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons (at NO)
More often than not, it’s wise to ignore oft-sloppy Thursday Night Football contests, but not when someone such as Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan gets a shot at the New Orleans Saints.
Ryan has yet to make a major impact thanks to the breakout season from Devonta Freeman, but playing in the most balanced offense of his last five years isn’t a reason to turn away.
The miserable Saints secondary has already allowed nine touchdowns to quarterbacks this season with four allowances of 17 or more points to signal-callers.
On a short turnaround against an exploitable defense, Ryan looks like a surefire stud this week.
Sleeper: Teddy Bridgewater, Minnesota Vikings (vs. KC)
The Teddy Bridgewater breakout game is on its way.
In Week 4, Bridgewater suffered a ridiculous seven sacks, but otherwise stood tall against an elite Denver Broncos defense, throwing for 269 yards and 14 points.
After a week off spent prepping for a matchup with the Kansas City Chiefs, Bridgewater is set to explode. The Chiefs allowed the most points to quarterbacks on average entering the weekend thanks to 11 touchdowns allowed, then let Chicago Bears QB Jay Cutler throw two more on his way to 17 points.
As a streaming play or outright starter, Bridgewater will do right by owners this weekend.
Top Matchup Play: Marshawn Lynch, Seattle Seahawks (vs. CAR)
Owners cannot be too pleased with Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch based on how high they drafted him, but this is the risk that comes with a top-flight back.
By the sounds of it, Lynch missing this past weekend was more precautionary than anything. It’s great news, because if Lynch returns in Week 6, he’s in by far the best matchup of the week against the Carolina Panthers.
Through four games, the Panthers have allowed three scores and a pair of 30-point outbursts to running backs. A healthy Lynch can hit that number on his own, especially after the way Seattle’s offensive line opened things up for Thomas Rawls to rush for 169 yards and a score in Week 5.
Bye to prepare or not, Carolina won’t be able to stop Beast Mode.
Sleeper: T.J. Yeldon, Jacksonville Jaguars (vs. HOU)
It’s rare to see an every-down back in the NFL these days, but Jacksonville Jaguars rookie T.J. Yeldon continues to act as such.
Yeldon has at least 11 carries per game in each of his five starts and has breached double-digit production in each of his past two outings.
A third seems inevitable. The Houston Texans can’t seem to stop the run this year, having allowed five rushing touchdowns to backs and allowances of 17, 9, 15, and 46 points before Frank Gore found his way to 15 points this past weekend.
With so many snaps to work with, Yeldon has an incredibly high ceiling against a struggling unit.
Top Matchup Play: A.J. Green, Cincinnati Bengals (at BUF)
It doesn’t get much easier than this.
Cincinnati Bengals star wideout A.J. Green wasn’t a major part of the game plan this past week against the Seattle Seahawks, yet still came away with seven fantasy points. He only has two double-digit outings on the season, but when he’s the focal point he explodes, as evidenced by his 34-point outburst in Week 3.
Green figures to be the game plan against the Buffalo Bills. Over the unit’s first four games, the Bills allowed a minimum of 22 points to wideouts while surrendering seven scores to the position.
The Bills sound formidable on paper, but teams love to throw against the unit. Green’s going to have a major day as arguably the best wideout the unit has faced to date.
Sleeper: Kendall Wright, Tennessee Titans (vs. MIA)
It’s easy to forget Kendall Wright in Tennessee. He’s 81.5 percent owned, has a rookie quarterback throwing him the ball and had an odd Week 4 bye before a sluggish two-point outing in Week 5.
Owners will want to invest in a bounce-back performance.
Wright has two double-digit performances this year, and the Miami Dolphins seem to yield those to the position left and right. Three of four opponents’ wideout corps have scored at least 23 points against the unit to go along with four touchdowns.
Marcus Mariota’s favorite target has a massive ceiling in Week 6.
Top Matchup Play: Martellus Bennett, Chicago Bears (at DET)
Martellus Bennett has had a tough go of it this year thanks to injuries to Jay Cutler, but he’s still managed a pair of double-digit outings, doing especially well against units that struggle to contain his position, which is what owners want to hear when looking at matchups to exploit.
The Detroit Lions allowed three touchdowns to the position over their first four games before letting up another to Arizona’s Darren Fells this past weekend.
It’s almost a sure thing Bennett will find paydirt against the league’s worst team.
Sleeper: Richard Rodgers, Green Bay Packers (vs. SD)
Shocker—a tight end catching passes from Aaron Rodgers continues to play well.
Richard Rodgers has at least three catches in four of five games this season and has scored twice, both times helping him to reach double digits.
The opposition is the San Diego Chargers, a team that over its first four games let up three scores to the position and as many double-digit outings. In what should be a high-scoring affair, Rodgers will have plenty of chances to make it three scores on the year.
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