I need to give credit to my radio partner Adam Ronis who said that this article should be renamed perform/underperform. The truth is that even though I don't like some of the matchups I can't tell you to sit certain players. What I can tell you is that some players listed here are going to perform better than expected while others are going to perform worse than expected. So, as you read this article, I want you to look at it with that critical lens.
Andy Dalton, Cincinnati Bengals
I know many of you will think that I'm crazy for telling you to start Andy Dalton this week after his horrific performance on Monday night, but Dalton gets to play the Cardinals this week and that should remedy everything. The Cardinals defense is absolutely one of the worst I've ever seen in all my years of covering fantasy football and even Dalton should throw for two or three touchdowns. Sometimes you must look at the matchup and this one dictates that Dalton needs to be started.
Kirk Cousins, Minnesota Vikings
It's rather embarrassing at this point that the Vikings have no semblance of a passing attack. The players are angry, and the coaches are frustrated. It's a good thing that the Vikings get to play the Giants this week because the Giants have one of the worst pass defenses in the NFL. If there was ever a week for Cousins to have a good game, this is it.
Marcus Mariota, Tennessee Titans
I know that Mariota was exceptional on the road last week against the Falcons, but this week he gets the very pesky Bills defense. I think that this is going to be a very low-scoring battle which will concentrate on the run and not the pass. Mariota is not a player who we usually target to start but some might take a chance and start him after last week’s big game. Sadly, I think he will go back to underperforming in Week 5.
Melvin Gordon, Los Angeles Chargers
Denver has one of the worst run defenses around, (they are the fourth-worst in the NFL this season) and I think this is a week that we can take advantage of that fact by starting Gordon. I know that many people feel that Gordon won't get a full load of carries right away, but I think he should see at least 15 to 20 touches in this game. With Denver's defense being as bad as it is, I fully expect him to have close to 100 rushing yards in his first game back.
Mark Ingram, Baltimore Ravens
The Ravens seem to have abandoned the running game recently and I think this game on Sunday against Pittsburgh will be a good time for them to get back to doing what they do best. Ingram was brought in to play games like this where he should get 20 touches and ram the ball down the Steelers throats. Don’t be discouraged by his 13 touches and lack of a touchdown last week. I think he has at least 80 yards rushing and a touchdown this week.
Sony Michel, New England Patriots
There is little doubt in my mind that Patriots will dominate the Redskins this week, but I think they will dominate through the air and not on the ground. Tom Brady only threw for 150 yards and zero TDs vs. Buffalo so this looks like a week to get Brady back on track. Additionally, Michel has not been a part of the passing game at all, so there are no points to be found for him that way. With Burkhead, White and Michel all sharing carries, this could be another week where Michel scores fewer than eight fantasy points if he doesn't find the end zone.
Josh Gordon, New England Patriots
Everybody seems to do well against the Washington Redskins, and after last week's tough outing by the Patriots offense, I think this is a week that Tom Brady and the passing attack steps up and busts out. It also doesn’t hurt that the Redskins have the second-worst points against opposing wide receivers. Gordon should be able to make at least one big play, and possibly two.
Adam Thielen, Minnesota Vikings
Thielen was one of the Vikings who expressed frustration at the fact that the passing game has been so putrid this season. When a player complains, the coaching staff usually makes sure to get that player involved in the game plan the following week. I think Thielen gets an awful lot of targets against a bad Giants secondary (third-worst against opposing wide receivers) and fantasy owners need to take advantage of that.
Terry McLaurin, Washington Redskins
The Patriots love to shut down the one thing their opponent does well and the truth here is that the only thing that the Redskins do well is throw the ball to Terry McLaurin. I fully expect that Patriots CB Stephon Gilmore will cover him all game long and make the Redskins pass the ball to their other receivers. The bigger question is who will be the quarterback for the Redskins. McCoy? Keenum? Haskins? Regardless of whoever starts, it will be a mess.
Tyler Eifert, Cincinnati Bengals
Simply put, every tight end seems to score a touchdown against the Arizona Cardinals, and this week it's Eifert’s turn. The Cardinals are the worst in the NFL at covering opposing tight ends, so expect Dalton to go to Eifert a lot, especially with John Ross out. Eifert almost found the end zone on Monday night in Pittsburgh and it seems like a lock that he will find it against the Cardinals.
Jared Cook, New Orleans Saints
The Buccaneers have had an exceptional run defense all season long, but they have been susceptible to the pass. In fact, they are the second-worst team in the NFL against opposing tight ends. Fantasy owners have heard very little from Jared Cook thus far this season, but this game might be the perfect storm where he plays well.
Delanie Walker, Tennessee Titans
Do you know the number one defense in the NFL against opposing tight ends? It's the Buffalo Bills. The Bills will do everything they can to stop Walker this week as they know that he is Mariota’s security blanket. As much as I like Walker in general, I think this matchup needs to be avoided and I cannot recommend him in Week 5.
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