By Chance Smith
In a weird Week Four with Indianapolis Colts Andrew Luck sidelined, still no Alshon Jeffery in the Bears’ passing game, and a returning Arian Foster for the Houston Texans, a couple of different names stood out on the fantasy scoreboards. Kansas City Chiefs’ placekicker Cairo Santos blew up the fantasy world with an astounding 27 points, a surprisingly high number for a kicker. New York Jets running back Chris Ivory returned to exploit the Dolphins’ defense in London with 166 yards which made for a total of 22 fantasy points. The Colts squeaked one out against the Jaguars no thanks to Gore’s mediocre production. And Jackson came up huge for the Buccaneers in a loss that featured four interceptions by quarterback Jameis Winston. So who is going to step up in Week Five?
Who to Start:
Devonta Freeman, Atlanta Falcons RB: vs. Washington Redskins at home. Freeman was the only player to best the Chiefs’ Santos in fantasy points this week. So, if you aren’t familiar with the young second-year running back out of Florida State, get to know him. The 23-year-old ran the ball 14 times for 68 yards and three touchdowns while also reeling in five receptions for 81 yards in a 48-21 romping of the Houston Texans. The Texans’ rush defense was ranked eighth in the league against fantasy running backs entering the game. Freeman has been the leading fantasy scorer the past two weeks with 37 and 32 points respectively since taking over for the injured Tevin Coleman and looks to continue his success against a stout Redskins’ rush defense in week five. The Redskins are currently second in the league in allowing points to fantasy running backs, but with the deep-threat capabilities of receivers Julio Jones and Roddy White, expect Freeman to continue to shine.
Jeremy Maclin, Kansas City Chiefs WR: at Chicago Bears. I know what you’re thinking. How can you start a receiver for the Kansas City Chiefs who has shown little to no consistency in the receiving core this year? The answer is simple: Da Bears. They just haven’t shown that they can stop the pass. The Chiefs lost this weekend to the Bengals 21-36 in a game that featured zero touchdowns from the Kansas City side. However, Maclin definitely proved that he is quarterback Alex Smith’s favorite weapon. He was targeted 13 times this Sunday─ twice as many times as any other Chiefs receiver─ and finished the game with 11 receptions for 148 yards. Maclin also reeled in a 44-yard reception that showed he still has that big play capability he displayed when he played for the Eagles. Look for Maclin to dominate outside on a Bears defense that has allowed 10 touchdowns on the season─the second most of any team in the league.
Sam Bradford, Philadelphia Eagles QB vs. New Orleans Saints. After looking at his performances in the Eagles’ first three games of the season, fantasy owners would have no reason to start Bradford. The struggling quarterback is currently ranked 30th among all players at the position with a QB rating of 32.3. However, in a close loss to a stout Redskins defense this Sunday, Bradford showed that he has the fight necessary to put up some solid numbers. After a scoreless first half, Bradford came back to finish with 270 yards and three touchdowns which produced 23 points─ the second most among all fantasy quarterbacks through Sunday. He matches up against a New Orleans Saints defense that has given up the second most fantasy points to quarterbacks this season. Currently, Bradford is only owned in 50.1 percent of all ESPN fantasy leagues, so if you’re having some problems with the play caller spot on your team, then give Bradford a try this week.
Who to Sit:
Isaiah Crowell, Cleveland Browns RB at Baltimore Ravens. Consistency is key at the running back slot for producing points and the Browns simply don’t have that at this point. The Browns are 25th in the league in rush offense, producing an average of only 89.8 yards per game. To make matters worse, the attempts are distributed evenly among Crowell and rookie running back Duke Johnson Jr. The Browns have often been in a position where they have to throw the ball to make a comeback, and Johnson Jr. has shown that he is the better flex option with the third most targets of any player on the team. Leave Crowell on the bench until the Browns find a defined starter.
Kirk Cousins, Washington Redskins QB at Atlanta Falcons. Don’t let Cousins’ solid play in week four fool you. He’s not your guy in week five. The Redskins face off against a 4-0 Falcons team that has allowed the eighth fewest amount of fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks this season. The Redskins have also proved that running the ball is going to be their first priority with a league-leading 558 rush yards on the season. The ‘Skins also lead the league in yards per attempt and are second overall in rushing attempts. Look for them to try to exploit a Falcons rush defense that has allowed the most fantasy points to opposing team’s running backs since the start of the season.
Golden Tate, Detroit Lions WR vs. Arizona Cardinals. Golden Tate was the savior for a lot of fantasy teams last year with the injury of star receiver Calvin Johnson. However, with the all-pro receiver back on the field, Tate’s production has been miniscule this season. He is averaging just five fantasy points a game and has yet to score a touchdown. While he is seeing the targets, which would be good for a league with a points-per-reception (PPR) format, he just hasn’t shown that he is a main option for scoring drives. The Lions will have their hands full against a Cardinals defense that has allowed the fourth fewest points to receivers this season.