This feels like a survival week for a lot of Fantasy owners. We have a slew of injuries, and there are four teams on a bye. It might be a struggle filling out a quality starting lineup in competitive 12-team leagues or larger.
Atlanta, Denver, New Orleans and Washington are off this week, and you know the stars who are missing from those teams. And we have to find replacement options for injured guys like
(torn ACL) and
(broken ankle), among others, which isn’t exactly easy.
If you’re 0-4 or 1-3 in your league, you likely can’t afford another loss if you want to make the playoffs. And those owners at 2-2 or better don’t want to slip in the standings.
The good news could be some struggling stars have the chance for a bounce-back game in Week 5, including our Start of the Week in
. I also have confidence in disappointing players like
, T.Y. Hilton and several more.
Maybe if those players turn things around then it might not be so bleak after all. And that would make all of us happy heading into Week 5.
Editor’s Note: Projections are provided by CBS Sports and not Jamey Eisenberg.
Start of the Week
Ajayi has been awful this season. You can make a case that he’s been the biggest Fantasy bust through four weeks given his draft stock compared to his production.
But now is not the time to give up on Ajayi. He’s still going to be an elite Fantasy running back, starting this week against the Titans.
Ajayi opened the season with a solid first outing in Week 2 at the Chargers with 28 carries for 122 yards and two catches for 4 yards. But things have been messy since. In two games that were considered plus matchups against the Jets and Saints, Ajayi combined for just 23 carries for 62 yards and three catches for 17 yards.
He’s missed practice time with a knee issue, and the Dolphins offense has been a mess with only six points scored the past two weeks. However, that will change in Week 5 against Tennessee.
The Dolphins will finally play their first official home game against the Titans – Week 1 vs. Tampa Bay was postponed due to Hurricane Irma, and the Dolphins have played in Los Angeles, New York and London in the past three weeks – and that should help their outlook. The Titans are also playing their second road game in a row, and
(hamstring) is likely out.
under center, the Titans offense should struggle, which should allow the Dolphins to control time of possession and lean on their ground game. And Tennessee has allowed a running back to score or gain at least 90 total yards in every game this season.
Ajayi should follow suit. And this matchup in Week 5 last year was the game when Ajayi got going in his breakout campaign.
He wasn’t dominant against the Titans then with just 13 carries for 42 yards and a touchdown, but he scored 10 Fantasy points in a standard league. And he followed that up with three games in a row with at least 100 rushing yards and a touchdown, including two games with at least 200 yards.
I’m not suggesting the same thing will happen after this game. I’m just focused on this week.
And while Ajayi has been a Fantasy disappointment thus far, this should be his breakout game of 2017. Don’t give up on him yet.
I’m starting Ajayi over:
(at MIA) and
(at PHI): I don’t love Palmer on the East Coast for a 1 p.m. start, but he should be good for at least 18 Fantasy points. He’s done that in consecutive games, and he’s passed for at least 300 yards in three games in a row. The Eagles also have struggled in the past three games against Smith, Manning and Philip Rivers and are allowing 20.5 Fantasy points on average to opposing quarterbacks this year.
(vs. TEN): I’m expecting Cutler to benefit this week from being home and facing a terrible defense for the Titans. After three games on the road, Cutler gets his first official game in Miami, and Tennessee should help him rebound from two awful starts against the Jets and Saints. The Titans are allowing an average of 29 Fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks, and I consider Cutler a low-end starting option this week.
(vs. SF): The last time Brissett was at home in a favorable matchup was against the Browns in Week 3, and he scored 29 Fantasy points. We hope he follows suit this week against the 49ers. Now, San Francisco has only allowed one quarterback to score 20 Fantasy points this year, which was Jared Goff in Week 4, but the 49ers are averaging 19.5 points on average to quarterbacks. Brissett, like
, is a good streaming option in Week 5.
For what it’s worth, I’ve been wrong about Newton the past two weeks. He was bad as the Start of the Week in Week 3 against New Orleans and awesome at New England in Week 4. But did Newton do enough in last week’s 38-point performance against the Patriots, who have been the worst defense in the NFL through four games, to warrant being a must-start quarterback again? This is a tougher defense he’s facing against the Lions, who are allowing just 12.5 Fantasy points on average to opposing quarterbacks, including matchups with Palmer, Manning and Ryan. This is the second consecutive road game for Newton, and he combined for just 33 Fantasy points in his first three games against San Francisco, Buffalo and New Orleans. I certainly understand keeping Newton in your starting lineup with the hope he can build off what he did last week. But I expect a letdown game for him this week on the road.
Running back sleepers
(at OAK): He’s averaging 8.2 yards per carry on just 25 carries in the past three games, and he deserves more work, especially ahead of
. This is a game where the Ravens can control time of possession, which should lend to Baltimore running the ball more, and the Raiders have allowed a running back to gain at least 90 total yards in three games in a row.
(at PHI): Ellington looks like a must-start running back in PPR leagues with his performance over the past two games, and that shouldn’t change this week. He has 14 catches for 145 yards on 22 targets against Dallas and San Francisco, and Ellington should get more work than
(ribs) could play this week, which would ruin the upside for Gallman after a strong showing in Week 4 against the Buccaneers when he had 11 carries for 42 yards and two catches for 8 yards and a touchdown on two targets. Even if Perkins plays, the Giants should lean on Gallman in a positive matchup against the Chargers. Four running backs have scored at least 12 Fantasy points against the Chargers in the past three games.
(at TB): The Buccaneers have struggled with pass-catching running backs this year, and three guys have already scored at least five Fantasy points in standard leagues with their production in the passing game against Tampa Bay with
, Cook and Gallman. White is obviously better in PPR leagues, and he has two games with at least eight catches in the past three weeks. I’m expecting Tom Brady to lean on White a lot in this matchup, and he’s a flex option in standard leagues and a solid starting option in PPR.
Blount has done a nice job the past two games with 27 Fantasy points combined in a standard league against the Giants and Chargers, and he’s run for 203 yards and a touchdown on 27 carries, with one catch for 20 yards, over that span. But this is a tough matchup against the Cardinals, and only Ezekiel Elliott has run for more than 70 yards against this defense. The Cardinals have allowed just two rushing touchdowns, and running backs are averaging just 2.97 yards per carry. If Blount doesn’t score a touchdown this week then his Fantasy production will be limited, and I would only consider Blount and
, who is dealing with a knee injury, as flex options this week.
Wide receiver sleepers
(at CHI): Thielen’s done a nice job for owners in PPR leagues with five catches in every game this season, but he’s still looking for his first touchdown. That could happen this week since the Bears have allowed six touchdowns to receivers and four to score double digits in Fantasy points in a standard league.
(at PHI): Brown has done a nice job each of the past three games with at least seven Fantasy points in a standard league in each outing. He has 29 targets over that span, and Palmer is leaning on him as the No. 2 receiver behind
. Brown is facing an Eagles defense this week that has allowed four receivers to score at least 13 Fantasy points in a standard league.
(at TB): Amendola has played in three games this season, and he has seven targets in two of them. In those games, he has six catches and has scored 10 Fantasy points in both outings. This could be a game where Tom Brady leans on guys like Amendola, White and
, and Amedola is worth using as a low-end starting option in every format.
(vs. SEA): Kupp has three games this season with at least six targets, and he’s scored at least 12 Fantasy points in two of them, including Week 4 at Dallas with five catches for 60 yards and a touchdown on seven targets. Seattle has been vulnerable to slot receivers this year, and cornerback Jeremy Lane (groin) is banged up. It could be another solid outing for Kupp in Week 5.
(at CLE): Kearse has cooled off recently following a hot start, but he remains the No. 1 receiver for the Jets. And the No. 1 receiver opposite Cleveland has done well this year, with Antonio Brown, Jeremy Maclin, Hilton and A.J. Green all scoring at least nine Fantasy points in a standard league. Kearse is a No. 3 Fantasy receiver in Week 5.
As you can see, I’m not expecting a big game from the
this week, and Benjamin is another player who could let you down given the matchup with the Lions. He’s expected to see plenty of coverage from Detroit standout cornerback Darius Slay, and no No. 1 receiver has scored against the Lions this year, including matchups with Fitzgerald, Beckham, Julio Jones and Stefon Diggs. Now, Jones and Diggs both had at least 91 receiving yards, but Benjamin has one game this season above that total, which was last week against the Patriots. And he’s also still looking for his first touchdown this year. Benjamin is only a No. 3 Fantasy receiver this week.
Tight end sleepers
(vs. LAC): Engram hasn’t had a big game yet, but he’s on the verge of that happening given his targets. He has 25 targets in his past three games, and he’s come down with 15 catches for 156 yards and a touchdown over that span. He faces a Chargers defense this week that hasn’t allowed a touchdown to a tight end this season, but Engram still has top-10 potential, especially in PPR.
- Benjamin Watson (at OAK): Watson didn’t have a great game in Week 4 against Pittsburgh with five catches for 43 yards on six targets, but he’s still been heavily involved in the offense, which shouldn’t change this week. And he’s facing a Raiders defense that has allowed a tight end to score at least seven Fantasy points in a standard league in three of four games this year.
- Hunter Henry (at NYG): Henry and Antonio Gates are both sleeper options this week given the matchup with the Giants, who have allowed five touchdowns to tight ends this year and at least one in each game. Henry finally scored his first touchdown of the season last week against the Eagles.
Rudolph definitely misses
(knee). In Week 1 with Bradford on the field, Rudolph had three catches for 26 yards and a touchdown on three targets. Unfortunately, that was his best game of the season. Since then, in three games with
, Rudolph has combined for seven catches for 83 yards and no touchdowns on 12 targets. He should struggle again this week against the Bears, who gave up two big catches to Austin Hooper in Week 1 but have been tough against opposing tight ends since. We would avoid Rudolph if possible this week.
Jets (at CLE) – 14.5 Projected points
This is a play against Kizer and the Browns offense as much as trusting the Jets DST, but they’ve played well the past two weeks and are worth using as a streaming option in Week 5. In the past two games against Miami and Jacksonville, the Jets have allowed a late garbage-time touchdown to the Dolphins at the end of regulation and just one offensive touchdown to the Jaguars. Now, they only have three turnovers and six sacks for the year, but Kizer already has eight interceptions, one fumble and has been sacked 11 times. Cleveland has scored fewer than 20 points in three of four games, and the Jets DST has a good chance to finish as a No. 1 unit this week.
- Eagles (vs. ARI): Palmer has been hit a lot, and he’s been sacked 16 times in the past three games. Arizona has also scored fewer than 20 points in three games in a row. The Eagles DST has only averaged 6.0 Fantasy points per game over the past three weeks, but this is a good week to trust them in a home matchup with the Cardinals.
- Giants (vs. LAC): The Giants DST has yet to score 10 Fantasy points in a game this year, and they’ve generated just two fumbles with no interceptions through four games, along with only eight sacks. Rivers has only thrown four interceptions and been sacked six times, but I’m expecting him to struggle this week on the road. The Giants DST has the chance to be a solid top-10 unit in this matchup.
- Lions (vs. CAR): The Panthers turned things around last week against the Patriots, but in the three previous games against the 49ers, Bills and Saints, the opposing DSTs combined for 40 Fantasy points. Newton has been sacked 12 times and has six interceptions on the season, and the Lions DST has scored at least 14 Fantasy points in four games in a row. It’s time for you to buy into the Lions DST as a weekly starter in all leagues.
Jaguars (at PIT) – 10.0 Projected points
The Jaguars DST has been phenomenal this year, and they come into this game with at least 17 Fantasy points in three of four games, with two games scoring at least 20 points. But the Steelers allow the sixth-fewest Fantasy points to opposing DSTs, and the Bears in Week 3 are the only DST to score more than seven Fantasy points against the Steelers. If this game was in Jacksonville then I would consider using the Jaguars DST, but in Pittsburgh you should expect the Steelers offense to play at a high level as always.
Elliott needs to be owned in all leagues because he’s been amazing the past three weeks. Sure, a letdown is coming, but Elliott is averaging nearly 12 Fantasy points a game since becoming the Eagles kicker in Week 2. He’s 8-of-10 on field goals, including two from 50-plus yards, and he’s made all seven of his extra points. The Cardinals have already allowed two kickers to make multiple field goals this year, including Phil Dawson last week when he made five field goals. Elliott should continue to be a difference maker for Fantasy owners in Week 5.
(vs. SEA): The Seahawks have allowed two kickers to make at least three field goals already and score at least nine Fantasy points, and Zuerlein has been awesome this season with 14-of-14 field goals and 14-of-14 made extra points. He’s scored at least 11 Fantasy points in three of four games this year.
(at HOU): Butker did well in his first game for the Chiefs in Week 4 against Washington with 3-of-4 made field goals and two made extra points. The Texans haven’t allowed a field goal in the past two games against New England and Tennessee, but in their first two games, Jason Myers and Randy Bullock combined for six field goals and two extra points. Butker should be a solid Fantasy kicker this week.
(vs. KC): Fairbairn has been great for the past two games with 32 combined Fantasy points against the Patriots and Titans. And he’s made seven field goals and nine extra points over that span. The Chiefs have allowed multiple field goals in three games already this year, and Fairbairn should once again finish as a No. 1 Fantasy kicker this week.
Gano has been solid so far this year, and he’s scored at least nine Fantasy points in three of four games. But I’m expecting him to have minimal production this week against the Lions stingy defense. Only
in Week 3 made multiple field goals against Detroit, and Bryant is the lone kicker with more than five Fantasy points. Gano will likely score single digits in Fantasy points this week and is not worth starting in this matchup on the road.