Week 5 Fantasy Football Start or Sit: Should We Be Worried About Nick Chubb's Role?

Some backfields are changing, and some are solidifying. What does it mean for Week 5's start-sit decisions?

The start-or-sit dilemma is virtually synonymous with managing a fantasy football team.

Having the foresight to start the wide receiver who erupts for 100 yards and a touchdown in a cakewalk matchup while sitting a receiver against a shutdown cornerback feels so good.

And that's why hundreds of fantasy articles each week are dedicated to start-or-sit scenarios. But answering the question of, "Should I start Player X?" is hard. Context matters.

Mostly, when it comes to answering the question of, "Who do I start?," the real answer is, "Well, who else is available?"

That's why for this version of a start-or-sit column, I'm going to be listing out all relevant fantasy football players each week and bucketing them into tiers.

No player is ever a must-sit. I mean, sure, your tight end might have a terrible matchup and be playing in a game with a low over/under, but what if the only option left is second-stringers who see no run?

However, we also know that, yes, there are players you should want to sit if you have any other viable options. That's my overall goal with this start-or-sit column.

And to take some of the guesswork out of it, I'll be leveraging thousands of slate simulations that are based on numberFire's player projections with dynamic measures for variance, such as quarterback rushing, running back receiving, and receiver target depth.

The results will boil down to three tiers: players we should be confident about starting, players we can consider starting whenever we don't have better alternatives but who aren't must-plays, and players we should try to bench whenever we do have better alternatives (i.e. players listed above them on the list).

These players are listed in order of frequency of hitting the stated threshold (i.e. QB12, RB24, WR24, and TE12 performances and higher on the list means more startable).

The groupings reflect a 12-team, single-quarterback league with the following hypothetical in mind: if I had other viable options on my bench or the waiver wire, should I start this player this week?

Players not listed should be presumed sit-worthy in a shallow or standard-sized league, and all fantasy points references and rankings reflect half-PPR scoring.


Start With Confidence: These players are at least 50% likely to finish the week as a top-12 quarterback, according to the slate simulations.

- Patrick Mahomes vs. BUF (66%)
- Josh Allen at KC (64%)
- Kyler Murray vs. SF (62%)
- Lamar Jackson vs. IND (58%)
- Dak Prescott vs. NYG (52%)
- Matthew Stafford at SEA (52%)
- Russell Wilson vs. LA (50%)

Consider If Needed: This tier has odds between 35% and 49% to post a top-12 week.

- Jalen Hurts at CAR (48%)
- Tom Brady vs. MIA (48%)
- Kirk Cousins vs. DET (48%)
- Aaron Rodgers at CIN (47%)
- Joe Burrow vs. GB (47%)
- Justin Herbert vs. CLE (47%)
- Ryan Tannehill at JAC (44%)
- Derek Carr vs. CHI (43%)
- Sam Darnold vs. PHI (41%)
- Daniel Jones at DAL (40%)
- Trevor Lawrence vs. TEN (36%)
- Matt Ryan vs. NYJ (35%)

The Carolina Panthers' defense started the season hot but were a little less scary last week against Dak Prescott and the Dallas Cowboys. That sets up well for Jalen Hurts to continue his fantasy success. Hurts has played to opponent expectation as a passer but has run 8.5 times for 56.5 yards per game.

On the flip side of that game, we have Sam Darnold, who can't run for multiple touchdowns every week. But that's okay. He's aggressive and has averaged a 9.0-yard average depth of target (compared to the position average of 7.6) with 6.0 downfield attempts per game (16-plus air yards). The Philadelphia Eagles rank 22nd against the pass, by our metrics, and they're 29th in yards per target allowed on downfield passes.

Daniel Jones has been running plenty -- 6.8 times per game for 47.0 yards -- and has a 27.8% red zone rushing share. His matchup with Dallas means a matchup with numberFire's 27th-ranked pass defense.

Bench If Possible: These quarterbacks are under 35% likely (17th or worse) to net a top-12 result and likely aren't in the one-quarterback-league conversation.

- Mac Jones at HOU (32%)
- Zach Wilson at ATL (31%)
- Justin Fields at LV (28%)
- Jared Goff at MIN (27%)
- Taylor Heinicke vs. NO (24%)
- Baker Mayfield at LAC (24%)
- Jacoby Brissett at TB (21%)
- Carson Wentz at BAL (21%)
- Ben Roethlisberger vs. DEN (19%)
- Jameis Winston at WSH (17%)
- Davis Mills vs. NE (14%)
- Trey Lance at ARI (06%)*
- Jimmy Garoppolo at ARI (04%)

*If Trey Lance gets the start, his top-12 odds would vault up. He ran 7 times for 41 yards in Week 4 in half a game and sets up to be a fantasy football cheat code.

Running Back

Start With Confidence: These running backs are at least 60% likely to finish the week inside the top 24, according to the slate simulations. You're starting them.

- Derrick Henry at JAC (84%)
- Dalvin Cook vs. DET (81%)
- Ezekiel Elliott vs. NYG (79%)
- Alvin Kamara at WSH (77%)
- Aaron Jones at CIN (75%)
- Najee Harris vs. DEN (73%)
- Austin Ekeler vs. CLE (71%)
- Saquon Barkley at DAL (70%)
- D'Andre Swift at MIN (65%)
- James Robinson vs. TEN (65%)

Consider If Needed - This tier is sitting between 40% and 59% for an RB2 week, and you're probably starting some of them even if they're shy of that top tier.

- Darrell Henderson at SEA (59%)
- Antonio Gibson vs. NO (59%)
- Damien Williams at LV (59%)
- Jonathan Taylor at BAL (59%)
- Clyde Edwards-Helaire vs. BUF (58%)
- Nick Chubb at LAC (57%)
- Chuba Hubbard vs. PHI (57%)
- Chris Carson vs. LA (54%)**
- Leonard Fournette vs. MIA (53%)
- Josh Jacobs vs. CHI (47%)
- Chase Edmonds vs. SF (47%)
- Mike Davis vs. NYJ (45%)
- Miles Sanders at CAR (43%)
- Kareem Hunt at LAC (43%)
- Michael Carter at ATL (43%)
- Damien Harris at HOU (40%)

Darrell Henderson has one of the best workloads in football. He has averaged 22.3 adjusted opportunities per game (carries plus doubled targets), which ranks him 10th among all running backs. He ended up playing 89.1% of the Los Angeles Rams' snaps in Week 4, giving him two games with at least that high a snap rate (94.0% in Week 1).

Nick Chubb has bounced from insta-lock territory, but I get it. Odds are that you don't have a better option if you invested early capital in Chubb. He could be a trendy sit candidate after his role decline in recent weeks. Chubb was outsnapped by Kareem Hunt 54.1% to 45.9% in Week 4, the first time this season Hunt actually led. The Cleveland Browns are 2.0-point underdogs on the road against the Los Angeles Chargers, so there's a chance Chubb returns a sub-50% snap rate again if the Browns fall behind.

**Chris Carson's Week 5 status is up in the air, so you'll want to try to be adding Alex Collins where he's available.

Bench If Possible: These backs are under 40% likely to net a top-24 result.

- Jamaal Williams at MIN (39%)
- Cordarrelle Patterson vs. NYJ (35%)
- Latavius Murray vs. IND (34%)
- James Conner vs. SF (34%)
- Javonte Williams at PIT (34%)
- Melvin Gordon at PIT (34%)
- Tony Pollard vs. NYG (34%)
- Myles Gaskin at TB (33%)
- Joe Mixon vs. GB (31%)
- Devin Singletary at KC (29%)
- Trey Sermon at ARI (26%)
- Kenneth Gainwell at CAR (25%)
- Mark Ingram vs. NE (25%)
- Samaje Perine vs. GB (24%)
- Kenyan Drake vs. CHI (22%)
- Ronald Jones vs. MIA (21%)
- J.D. McKissic vs. NO (20%)
- Zack Moss at KC (19%)

I know it's weird to consider benching Cordarrelle Patterson off of a three-touchdown game, and it's very possible he earned himself a bigger workload, but the reality is that he is yet to crack a 45.0% snap rate and actually played on just 29.6% of the Atlanta Falcons' snaps in his breakout game in Week 4. Assuming another huge game on such a limited role is a risky proposition.

Wide Receiver

Start With Confidence: You're starting these guys in a 12-team league.

- Davante Adams at CIN (70%)
- Tyreek Hill vs. BUF (69%)
- Cooper Kupp at SEA (66%)
- Justin Jefferson vs. DET (65%)
- Stefon Diggs at KC (63%)
- Calvin Ridley vs. NYJ (60%)
- DeAndre Hopkins vs. SF (59%)
- D.J. Moore vs. PHI (59%)
- D.K. Metcalf vs. LA (58%)
- CeeDee Lamb vs. NYG (57%)
- Amari Cooper vs. NYG (55%)
- Keenan Allen vs. CLE (54%)
- Deebo Samuel at ARI (52%)
- Tyler Lockett vs. LA (52%)
- Chris Godwin vs. MIA (51%)

Consider If Needed: These players are more matchup dependent for Week 1 than the tier above but are likely where we are looking for a lot of our WR2, WR3, and FLEX plays this week.

- Brandin Cooks vs. NE (47%)
- Mike Evans vs. MIA (47%)
- Terry McLaurin vs. NO (47%)
- Tee Higgins vs. GB (46%)
- Ja'Marr Chase vs. GB (44%)
- Mike Williams vs. CLE (42%)
- Kenny Golladay at DAL (41%)
- Marvin Jones vs. TEN (39%)
- Adam Thielen vs. DET (39%)
- Diontae Johnson vs. DEN (38%)
- DeVonta Smith at CAR (38%)
- Courtland Sutton at PIT (36%)
- Jakobi Meyers at HOU (36%)
- Allen Robinson at LV (36%)
- Corey Davis at ATL (35%)
- Robert Woods at SEA (33%)
- Tyler Boyd vs. GB (33%)
- Michael Pittman Jr. at BAL (31%)
- Emmanuel Sanders at KC (30%)
- Odell Beckham at LAC (30%)

It's hard to get excited about a receiver in a bad offense, but Brandin Cooks' role is incredible right now. Cooks ranks top-three in air yards per game (124.9) and leads in target market share (37.1%) among all receivers. He's also the only receiver to account for more than half of his team's air yards (55.7%).

Kenny Golladay will be in an uptempo game against the Cowboys, and last week with the New York Giants' injuries, Golladay carved out a team-high 116 yards and had 7 targets on a 13.5-yard average depth of target. That came from two downfield targets, high-leverage work that should be there once more given their injuries.

I know the production isn't there for Odell Beckham yet, but his 7.7 half-PPR points per game should be 14.5 based on the underlying data. He has had 9 downfield targets and a red zone target since returning, and that adds up to an 18.6-yard average depth of target. That's a high-risk proposition, but you could do way worse this week, so consider looking past the production and more at the underlying numbers with OBJ.

Bench If Possible: These players finished as a WR2 or better under 30% of the time.

- Antonio Brown vs. MIA (28%)
- Robby Anderson vs. PHI (28%)
- Marquise Brown vs. IND (28%)
- DeVante Parker at TB (27%)
- Cole Beasley at KC (26%)
- Laviska Shenault vs. TEN (26%)
- Darnell Mooney at LV (26%)
- Henry Ruggs vs. CHI (26%)
- Chase Claypool vs. DEN (25%)
- Jaylen Waddle at TB (23%)
- Curtis Samuel vs. NO (23%)
- Tim Patrick at PIT (21%)
- Kalif Raymond at MIN (19%)
- Rashard Higgins at LAC (18%)
- A.J. Green vs. SF (18%)
- Amon-Ra St. Brown at MIN (17%)
- Hunter Renfrow vs. CHI (17%)
- A.J. Brown at JAC (17%)***
- Christian Kirk vs. SF (17%)
- Jamison Crowder at ATL (17%)
- Brandon Aiyuk at ARI (16%)
- JuJu Smith-Schuster vs. DEN (15%)
- Nelson Agholor at HOU (15%)

Tight End

Start With Confidence: These guys are the Big Five now.

- Travis Kelce vs. BUF (80%)
- Darren Waller vs. CHI (75%)
- George Kittle at ARI (60%)
- Mark Andrews vs. IND (60%)
- T.J. Hockenson at MIN (54%)

Consider If Needed: You'll likely be starting these options if you don't have a top-tier tight end.

- Kyle Pitts vs. NYJ (45%)
- Jared Cook vs. CLE (39%)
- Evan Engram at DAL (38%)
- Dalton Schultz vs. NYG (38%)
- Tyler Higbee at SEA (37%)
- Noah Fant at PIT (36%)
- Mike Gesicki at TB (35%)
- Dan Arnold vs. TEN (34%)
- Austin Hooper at LAC (33%)
- Dallas Goedert at CAR (31%)
- Robert Tonyan at CIN (31%)

I know it's a bit tiresome with Kyle Pitts, but he is averaging 6.5 targets per game, a low 16.7% target share within the Falcons' offense. But adjusting his targets for leverage (downfield and red zone work), he has averaged 7.4 targets' worth of expected fantasy production, a rate that ranks him 7th among tight ends.

Dalton Schultz leads the Cowboys in target share (23.0%) since Week 2. He's moved way up the list.

Mike Gesicki has a 20.2% target share in games with Jacoby Brissett, which leads to 9.0 weighted targets per game, trailing just Darren Waller (9.5) and Travis Kelce (9.3) in that span. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are also just 27th in adjusted fantasy points per target allowed to the position.

Bench If Possible: These tight ends aren't in the starting conversation in 12-team leagues unless you're desperate.

- Dawson Knox at KC (29%)
- Cole Kmet at LV (28%)
- Zach Ertz at CAR (27%)
- Tyler Conklin vs. DET (27%)
- Hunter Henry at HOU (27%)
- Jonnu Smith at HOU (25%)
- Anthony Firkser at JAC (23%)
- Jordan Akins vs. NE (20%)
- Ricky Seals-Jones vs. NO (19%)
- Cameron Brate vs. MIA (19%)
- Gerald Everett vs. LA (19%)
- Jack Doyle at BAL (18%)
- Blake Jarwin vs. NYG (18%)
- C.J. Uzomah vs. GB (17%)
- O.J. Howard vs. MIA (17%)
- Maxx Williams vs. SF (15%)