NFL Start 'Em, Sit 'Em: Week 5
Joe Flacco and the Ravens may thrive against the Chiefs' struggling pass defense
Cleveland's defense has been the worst in fantasy versus quarterbacks this year
A potential shootout could lead to big stats for Matt Ryan and Robert Griffin III
The first-quarter pole has passed in fantasy, which is where the real fun begins with lineups and waiver movement. Four teams are on bye in Week 5, which might be one of the costliest weeks on the schedule.
Tony Romo has done little to help the Cowboys' fantasy numbers, but Dallas' bye will rob the NFL of Romo, DeMarco Murray, Miles Austin, Dez Bryant, Jason Witten and the Cowboys D/ST anyway. Also, Matthew Stafford, Calvin Johnson, Mikel Leshoure, Darren McFadden, Vincent Jackson and Doug Martin will post goose eggs with the Lions, Raiders and Buccaneers also on a bye.
We help you find the replacement options and answer your questions in SI.com's weekly Start 'Em, Sit 'Em:
Cardinals -- Ryan Williams, Larry Fitzgerald, Cardinals D/ST: As good as the 4-0 start has been, this might be the best week for the Cardinals' offensive players as they are on the road against a Rams defense that isn't quite scary. Williams takes over as the feature back full-time, and the Rams are in the bottom half vs. running backs in fantasy. In addition to must-starts Fitzgerald and the D/ST, consider recently hot quarterback Kevin Kolb and receiver Andre Roberts as sleeper bye-week replacements.
Rams -- Steven Jackson, Danny Amendola, Greg Zuerlein: This isn't a great matchup for Jackson, but if you don't have better options, consider him among the top 24 running backs this week. Amendola gets a defense that made similar possession receivers Brian Hartline and Davone Bess look like fantasy stars, while Zuerlein is benefiting from an offense that can move the ball but struggles to punch it in the end zone.
Cardinals -- La'Rod Stephens-Howling, Early Doucet, Michael Floyd, Todd Heap, Jay Feely: Only the Seahawks and Ravens have allowed as few as two touchdown passes through four weeks. This is a quietly capable Rams secondary. None of these guys are trustworthy in this matchup.
Rams -- Sam Bradford, Daryl Richardson, Brandon Gibson, Chris Givens, Lance Kendricks, Rams D/ST: The Cardinals have an underrated defense and few of the Rams have been consistent enough to trust in fantasy yet.
Dolphins -- Reggie Bush, Brian Hartline: Don't get sucked in entirely by the surprising performance in Arizona last Sunday. Bush is the only trustworthy Dolphin against a Bengals defense bound to improve on its slow start this season. You can start Hartline, too, until he proves too inconsistent.
Bengals -- Andy Dalton, A.J. Green, Jermaine Gresham, Mike Nugent, Bengals D/ST: This is a great week to use most of your Bengals, especially at home. The Dolphins defense hasn't been poor, but Dalton is hot and the Dolphins have been seventh-worst in fantasy vs. receivers. Gresham is the best tight end they have faced, so consider this a good week to see him break out.
Dolphins -- Ryan Tannehill, Daniel Thomas, Lamar Miller, Davone Bess, Anthony Fasano, Dan Carpenter, Dolphins D/ST: There are some sleepers here, but there are no certainties with them week to week. This Bengals defense at home (despite what they have shown) is not one to test with a team as unproven as the Fins.
Bengals -- BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Andrew Hawkins, Armon Binns: BGE is a regular starter in most leagues, but this not a good matchup. The Dolphins, somewhat quietly, have one of the best run defenses in the NFL. Only the Seahawks have given up fewer rushing yards to date. Hawkins or Binns aren't in bad matchups, but coming off their quiet Week 4, there's little to feel confident about.
Packers -- Aaron Rodgers, Cedric Benson, Jordy Nelson, James Jones, Jermichael Finley, Mason Crosby, Packers D/ST: There is no reason to be wary of any Packers this week. In fact, it might even be better than Week 4 for all of the above. The Colts are eighth-worst in fantasy against running backs and receivers.
Colts -- Andrew Luck, Reggie Wayne: This has the makings of a potential. shootout as the Packers will be tough for the Colts to stop. That could force Luck to crank-up the passing game, which would be good news for Wayne. Donnie Avery is a decent sleeper option if you need a third receiver, and Adam Vinatieri could fill-in if you're missing your kicker.
Packers -- Greg Jennings, Randall Cobb: Jennings is a big risk due to his groin, if he even plays at all, and Cobb just hasn't gotten a big enough piece of the targets since Week 1.
Colts -- Donald Brown, Coby Fleener, Dwayne Allen, Colts D/ST: Brown has gotten off to a bad start, but expecting him to have a breakthrough against the Packers' run defense isn't advisable. Indy's tight ends are question marks right now and the defense isn't worth owning.
Ravens -- Joe Flacco, Ray Rice, Torrey Smith, Anquan Boldin, Dennis Pitta, Justin Tucker, Ravens D/ST: The extra rest provided by a Thursday night Week 4 makes this a start-all game for the Ravens. Flacco gets the eighth-worst team in fantasy vs. quarterbacks, which makes Boldin and Pitta sleepers as needed. Heck, if you're desperate, you might even give receiver Jacoby Jones and running back Bernard Pierce some consideration.
Chiefs -- Jamaal Charles, Dwayne Bowe: These are the only Chiefs immune to bad matchups, and only because they are hot right now.
Ravens -- Ed Dickson: Pitta's rise has cost Dickson all of his fantasy value . Don't own him, much less start him.
Chiefs -- Matt Cassel, Peyton Hillis, Shaun Draughn, Steve Breaston, Jon Baldwin, Tony Moeaki, Ryan Succop, Chiefs D/ST: Despite their decline, this is still a Ravens defense to avoid.
Browns -- Trent Richardson, Greg Little: This is easily the best matchup the Browns offense has faced, especially for the receivers. The Giants are badly banged up in the secondary -- currently sixth-worst in fantasy vs. receivers -- so consider the drop-prone Little a viable start in deeper leagues. Little would be more questionable if Cleveland's other receivers weren't banged up.
Giants -- Eli Manning, Victor Cruz, Giants D/ST: This is not a great week for the Giants, despite coming off a loss. They tend to play down to their competition, and the Browns' defense is a lot better than anyone gives them credit for being, especially against the run. However, the Browns have been the worst team in fantasy vs. quarterbacks and second-worst against wide receivers, so Manning and Cruz remain no-brainer starts, while Domenik Hixon is a nice sleeper possibility if Hakeem Nicks (knee, foot) does not play.
Browns -- Brandon Weeden, Mohamed Massaquoi, Travis Benjamin, Josh Gordon, Ben Watson, Jordan Cameron, Phil Dawson, Browns D/ST: Only deep-league owners need pay attention. Weeden has shown some flashes, but he is still a huge risk against a team that can apply pressure like the Giants.
Giants -- Ahmad Bradshaw, Andre Brown, David Wilson, Ramses Barden, Rueben Randle, Martellus Bennett, Bear Pascoe, Lawrence Tynes: The Browns are one of four teams yet to allow a rushing score to a running back, and they are fourth-best in fantasy vs. tight ends. Only the Saints have allowed fewer tight end receptions through four games. Bennett was blanked a week ago, and Manning hit Pascoe for a short touchdown. Don't start either if you can avoid it.
Eagles -- LeSean McCoy, DeSean Jackson, Eagles D/ST: The Eagles are coming off a big division victory and are due for a letdown against a rested and prepared Steelers (1-2) team coming off a bye. But this trio is fairly immune to tough matchups, so keep them active in all leagues.
Steelers -- Ben Roethlisberger, Mike Wallace, Antonio Brown, Steelers D/ST: The Eagles are fourth-best in fantasy vs. quarterbacks, but Big Ben has earned must-start status along with Wallace and Brown. As for the maligned Steelers defense, expect a rebound against an Eagles team that is third-worst in fantasy vs. D/STs.
Eagles -- Michael Vick, Jeremy Maclin, Brent Celek, Alex Henery: It isn't often one should consider sitting Vick, but it's a good idea against a brutal Steelers defense that could knock him out. Vick takes more hits than anyone, and the Steelers deliver more crushing blows than anyone. Maclin is banged up; Celek disappeared a week ago and the Eagles offense cannot be certain to give Henery enough attempts to be useful this week.
Steelers -- Rashard Mendenhall, Isaac Redman, Jonathan Dwyer, Heath Miller, Shaun Suisham: The backfield is cloudy with the expected return of Mendenhall. Making matters worse, the Eagles have been sixth-best in fantasy vs. running backs. Mendenhall will take charge here, but he is a risk sight unseen. Miller has gotten off to a great start with three scores in three games, but the Eagles are third-best in fantasy vs. tight ends.
Falcons -- Matt Ryan, Michael Turner, Roddy White, Julio Jones, Tony Gonzalez, Matt Bryant: This is a Falcons "start-all" game, which could wind up a shootout. Jones has dealt with a hand issue, but sitting him while he is playing is a dangerous move. Don't do it.
Redskins -- Robert Griffin III, Alfred Morris, Pierre Garcon, Fred Davis: Garcon is the question mark here, but he came out of last week's game healthy and should get more snaps and targets. Davis is a viable start against a Falcons team that ranks in the bottom half against tight ends.
Falcons -- Jacquizz Rodgers, Falcons D/ST: Rodgers isn't a great option against a Redskins team that is in the top-10 against running backs. Like most teams this year, the Falcons figure to give up a lot of yards and points to RGIII at home in Washington.
Redskins -- Evan Royster, Ryan Grant, Leonard Hankerson, Santana Moss, Billy Cundiff, Redskins D/ST: Outside of Morris, the running backs just don't move the needle -- most of them shouldn't be owned. Hankerson should be, though, but it's best to sit him against a Falcons team that has been fifth-best in fantasy vs. receivers to date.
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