6 Fantasy Players To Start or Sit, Week 5
Rams and Cardinals and Broncos, oh my! OK, so maybe Dorothy was picked up and dropped somewhere a little bit more awkward than Oz, this time. But paying attention to the Rams and Cardinals and Broncos can help; there are some sleepers who can gain you big fantasy points this week and some big names that I just wouldn't trust so quickly.
As if you needed another reason to trust numberFire, our projections were ranked in the top five of the entire Internets (well, 96 sites on the Internets) once again this week according to Fantasy Pros. That places numberFire as the only ratings system in the world to be in the top five in back-to-back weeks, and one of the few in the top 30% each of the past three weeks (which is when Fantasy Pros starting rating numberFire's system). But hey, we don't like to brag too much. We just like to give the facts. And if you're looking to set your fantasy team for tonight's game, here are some more facts to chew on.
Fantasy Football Best Starts/Must Sits Week 5
Steven Jackson - St. Louis Rams
Week 4: 10.77 Projected Points (#19 Ranked RB)
Percent Started: 63.1%
Verdict: Start Him
It couldn't be enough for Jackson that he's going into this game listed as questionable. That's just expected at this point; he has been a game-time decision in each of the past three weeks. But no, he had to do it against a top defense, with the Cardinals sitting at #2 in numberFire's opponent-adjusted rankings. That makes this one even harder: am I really going to advocate for an injured back against the #2 defense when that back has not gotten over eight fantasy points the entire season? Yes, yes I am.
Contextually, it's important to look at the two games where Jackson was considered the healthiest: week 1 against Detroit and week 4 against Seattle. In those game, the numbers don't lie: Jackson had two of his most solid rushing outputs (53 yards and 55 yards, respectively) of the season. Those numbers won't wow anybody, especially when you consider that Jackson was 19th in the NFL in rushing yards last week. I am impressed, however, by the Rams' commitment to giving Jackson the ball in those games. In week 1, the Rams couldn't wait to get the ball out of Sam Bradford's hands, as Jackson's 21 carries and four receptions represented 49% of the Rams' total offensive plays run. In week 4, Jackson had a slightly reduced but similar role; even while injured, 35% of all plays were run through S-Jax. At this point, he is still far and away the featured back in St. Louis, and as long as he's healthy, Jackson is worth the start on quantity over quality. numberFire likes him more than Ryan Mathews, Shonn Greene, either Buffalo back, or Michael Turner, at least.
Ryan Williams - Arizona Cardinals
Week 4: 11.39 Projected Points (#17 Ranked RB)
Percent Started: 28.0%
Verdict: Start Him
Start everybody, it's a running back's delight! Well, maybe not exactly. Ryan Williams has not shown much this season; his 10 total fantasy points (FP) places him a whopping 56th among all running backs this year. And in his first game as the full-time starter after Beanie Wells's injury, Williams rushed for only 26 yards on 13 carries against the Miami Dolphins. The Dolphins! (numberFire's #12 opponent-adjusted defense, that is.)
But that game still provides some solid reasons to start Williams on your team this week. For one, look at the rushing attempts disparity. He received 13 of the Cardinals' 15 rushing attempts on the game, while William Powell received his first two carries on the season. Powell is not likely to be poaching carries any time from Williams any time soon. The Cardinals as a team have averaged just over 25 rushing attempts per game this season, and if the same proportion held throughout the game, Williams would have received about 21 carries. That's not a bad number, especially when you consider that the Cardinals have run the ball on 43% of offensive plays this season.
Even better for Williams, though, is the matchup. The Rams have been absolutely pitiful against the run recently. All the Marshawn Lynch managed to do last week was a 5.7 yards per carry average, 118 rushing yards, a rushing touchdown, and four receptions. The week before, Michael Bush and Kahlil Bell combined for a slightly worse day at 75 yards rushing and 1 TD, while also catching three passes. And before that, Alfred Morris managed to run all over this defense to the tune of 89 yards. If Williams can't break out against the Rams, he won't break out against anybody. It's worth your flex spot to find out.
Danny Amendola - St. Louis Rams
Week 4: 8.15 Projected Points (#29 Ranked WR)
Percent Started: 55.8%
Verdict: Sit Him
You don't trust this guy yet? Is it the targets? He has those: his 44 targets place him 4th in the NFL, and he has reached nine targets in every single game so far this season. Is it the catch rate? No, it can't be that: his 70.4% catch rate is more similar to a top-flight tight end and is absolutely exceptional for a wide receiver. Is his big play ability? I guess it could be that, seeing as he only has two catches of 20+ yards on the season, but he still gets throws in the red zone (and he has two of St. Louis's five TDs on the year).
Is it the opponent? Finally, you've hit the nail on the head. As I've already mentioned, the Cardinals do indeed have numberFire's #2 opponent-adjusted defense on the season. But Brian Hartline! He did indeed go off last week, even if it took him 19 targets to get there. But in Time BH (Before Hartline), the Cardinals defense was extraordinarily adept at stopping opposing receivers, especially in vaunted passing attacks. DeSean Jackson in week 3? No sweat, they only allowed him three receptions and 43 yards on 10 targets. Brandon Lloyd in week 2? Not much better, at eight catches and 60 yards on 13 targets? Sidney Rice in week 1? Don't make me laugh, he only had four catches and 36 yards (and the only TD by a receiver in the first three weeks) on nine targets. I think it's safe to say that Hartline's week last week was an outlier, especially when a QB who has added -1.47 NEP of value to his team on the season is throwing him the ball.
Andre Roberts - Arizona Cardinals
Week 4: 6.17 Projected Points (#42 Ranked WR)
Percent Started: 7.4%
Verdict: Sit Him
I know, I argued for him to be a waiver pickup this week, but as I mentioned in the article, I would not fully trust him yet. He has been second on the Cardinals in targets the past two weeks, but not by much. His nine looks last week only barely beat out Michael Floyd (eight) and Early Doucet (seven). He is now officially listed as a starting wide receiver on the Cardinals' depth chart, which is a step up from the "backup" role he had officially been listed at, but it still remains to be seen whether that name-only promotion will mean anything on the football field.
In addition, the Rams defense has been surprisingly good against opponents' #2 wide receivers this year. Here, presented without further comment, as the second receivers of the teams they have faced.
Week 4: Golden Tate, 1 reception, 7 yards
Week 3: Alshon Jeffery, 5 receptions, 45 yards
Week 2: Santana Moss, 3 receptions, 14 yards
Week 1: Nate Burleson, 6 receptions, 69 yards
Eric Decker - Denver Broncos
Week 4: 10.50 Projected Points (#8 Ranked WR)
Percent Started: 45.9%
Verdict: Start Him
Well, you were nice enough to visit numberFire.com, and what kind of host leaves you without a single wide receiver to start this week? That would just be rude. And if there's one thing that I can't stand, it's a rude host. So sit down and have some nice statistical analysis of some Eric Decker. I promise, it's made fresh.
At least, it's as fresh as the Renaissance Decker has undergone over the past two weeks. In weeks 1 and 2, Decker saw the targets (15 combined), but not the stats; a 60% catch rate, a yards per catch at 12.3, and no touchdowns make a sad fantasy owner. But then, as the Broncos passing game has surged over the past two weeks, Decker has been right there with them. A team-high 11 targets in week 3 led directly to a career high 136 receiving yards against Houston's #1 opponent-adjusted defense, still the only 100+ yard receiving game Houston has given up all season. Then, in week 4, Decker led the team in both receptions (seven ) and targets (nine) again en route to his first touchdown of the season and his second-straight 13 FP day.
And going against the Patriots, numberFire's #14 opponent-adjusted defense, will likely do nothing to knock him off his course. In a game that could very well turn into a shootout, the Patriots enter with a secondary that has struggled at times this season. New England has given up a combined 732 passing yards and seven passing TDs to Joe Flacco and Ryan Fitzpatrick in the past two weeks.
Jacob Tamme - Denver Broncos
Week 4: 2.25 Projected Points (#30 Ranked TE)
Percent Started: 39.2%
Verdict: Sit Him
But just because I like Decker does not mean that the rest of the Broncos' passing attack is fine to play. If you need proof, just look at Jacob Tamme. Last week, Tamme scored three fantasy points by catching five balls for 38 yards. He finished tied for second on the team with Demaryius Thomas and Willis McGahee with six targets as well. The only problem is, in the past three weeks, that's been his best day. It hasn't really even been close.
In week 3, a game where Manning threw 52 passes, Tamme only came down with three catches and 31 yards due to an absolutely atrocious 30% catch rate. Meanwhile, his tight end counterpart, Joel Dreessen, had nine fantasy points en route to his best fantasy day of the season. Week 2 was even worse for Tamme, with only two catches, four targets, and 13 yards, while Dreessen caught both of his targets for 16 yards. Tell me why this trend is likely to change, again?
Out of all tight ends who are being started in at least 5% of ESPN fantasy leagues, Tamme is one of only three who has less than 17 FP on the season. The other two? You may have heard a little bit about them: Antonio Gates and Aaron Hernandez, both of whom have missed at least one game due to injury so far this season. They both deserve to still start on your fantasy team moving forward. Tamme, however, should not even sniff the starting lineup.