Bye weeks are usually the trickiest part for fantasy football owners to tackle. But some are easier to spell than others, and in the 2014 season Week 5 is by far the easiest for owners this year. Following their trip across the pond to London, the Miami Dolphins and Oakland Raiders will rest up this week, and only the former has certifiable starters that could affect owners.
Miami running back Lamar Miller, receiver Mike Wallace and the Dolphins DST are really the only consistent starters that owners will miss this week. That is unless an owner banked way too much on quarterback Ryan Tannehill to reach another level in this third season.
With arguably the worst offense in the NFL, not a single Raider is currently worthy of a start in the coming weeks unless there’s a big turnaround from running backs Darren McFadden and Maurice Jones-Drew or receiver James Jones.
Week 5 has earned the distinction as the easiest bye week simply by the players owners will miss during every other bye this season. In Week 6 running back Jamaal Charles and the Chiefs DST are out, as is Saints quarterback Drew Brees and tight end Jimmy Graham. In Week 7 we’ll miss the Eagles’ LeSean McCoy, Jeremy Maclin and Nick Foles, along with Tampa Bay receiver Vincent Jackson and running back Doug Martin. In Week 8 San Francisco’s Colin Kaepernick, Frank Gore, Michael Crabtree and Vernon Davis will sit, along with Giants receiver Victor Cruz, running back Rashad Jennings and tight end Larry Donnell.
Week 9 figures to be a biggest, longest nightmare for many owners. Atlanta’s Matt Ryan, Roddy White and Julio Jones; Buffalo’s C.J. Spiller, Fred Jackson and DST; Chicago’s Matt Forte, Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery; Detroit’s Matthew Stafford, Reggie Bush, Calvin Johnson and DST; and Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers, Jordy Nelson and Eddie Lacy will all watch games at home in Week 9.
We could go on and on until the end of byes in Week 12, but clearly Week 5 isn’t nearly as daunting as every other week this season.
Despite the benefit of a bigger, better pool of players to start, that still leaves owners with tough decisions just like the first two weeks of the season.
Let’s breakdown some of Week 5’s running backs and wide receivers who could be started and those owners should think about sitting. There are also a few sleepers for owners to study before setting their line ups. Remember, always start and sit players at your own discretion.
RBs To Start/Sit
Frank Gore, San Francisco 49ers
Gore ripped off his first 100-yard game of the year against Philly, but there’s some uncertainty about him this week. He’ll face the Chiefs in Week 5, and he’s only averaged 75.6 yards in six games against an Andy Reid-led team. Gore picked up three 100-yard games and scored one touchdown against Reid’s Eagles, but underperformed in the other three games. The lack of touchdowns is a concern, and the Chiefs still have a punishing group of defensive lineman and linebackers that can limit Gore. He’s a better start than say Buffalo’s C.J. Spiller vs. Detroit, but if you have Baltimore’s Justin Forsett consider sitting Gore.
Alfred Morris, Washington Redskins
With the quarterback situation in Washington a complete mess, logic dictates that Morris will get more touches. And he probably will in Week 5, but he likely won’t be effective against Seattle’s No. 5 rushing defense. The Seahawks will probably dare the Redskins to throw and stuff the box against Morris.
Doug Martin, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Martin’s scored only one touchdown against NFC South rival New Orleans, but he’s put up 245 yards in three career games. Even though he’s battled injuries over the last year, Martin should continue to dominate the Saints, who own the No. 21 rushing defense in the league.
Reggie Bush, Detroit Lions
Bush hasn’t exactly put up incredible numbers through four games, with 148 rushing yards with one touchdown. But he’s made up some ground in PPR leagues with 18 catches for 112 yards. In Week 5 he’ll play the Bills No. 3 rushing defense, which should be a red flag, but with partner Joique Bell’s status still in question after a concussion, Bush will get the majority of carries and looks out of the backfield.
WRs To Start/Sit
Keenan Allen, San Diego Chargers
Allen owners were very frustrated until his 10-reception, 135 yard day against Jacksonville last week. But they were also a little miffed that Eddie Royal picked up two touchdowns. Still Allen should get his first touchdown of the year against a Jets secondary that’s No. 10 in passing yards allowed, but has surrendered nine touchdowns this season, tied for the third-worst in the NFL.
Vincent Jackson, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Jackson’s scored a touchdown in two straight games, and with rookie Mike Evans down he should get most of the Bucs receiving targets in Week 5. He’s a much better start than Arizona’s Michael Floyd or Washington’s Pierre Garcon, both of whom face tougher defenses in Denver and Seattle, respectively.
Reggie Wayne, Indianapolis Colts
In a PPR league Wayne might be worth a start, but in standard leagues there are some better options. Running back Ahmad Bradshaw leads the Colts with four receiving touchdowns, and tight ends Dwayne Allen and Coby Fleener, along with T.Y. Hilton, offer quarterback Andrew Luck too many options across the field. The matchup against the Ravens No. 24 pass defense seems tempting, but they’ve only let up three passing touchdowns this season.
Eric Decker, New York Jets
Right now he’s questionable with a hamstring injury, but even if Decker plays its best to keep him on your bench. It’s not Decker’s fault that his numbers have fluctuated from week-to-week, with the Jets passing offense in complete disarray. The entire Jets offense might struggle against a San Diego defense ranked No. 11 versus the pass, and ninth against the run.
Week 5 Sleepers
Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
A hulking, 6-foot-5 pass catcher who will also benefit from Mike Evans absence over the next few weeks. He totaled seven targets in the comeback road win against Pittsburgh, hauling three for 44 yards. Seferian-Jenkins figures to be a big red zone target in Week 5.
Zac Stacy, RB, St. Louis Rams
Since he’s a starting RB Stacy shouldn’t really be considered a sleeper, but for owners looking for a Lamar Miller replacement Stacy is worth a start. He’s picking up 4.3 yards per carry and facing an Eagles defense that’s No. 26 against the run. It all hinges on whether the Rams defense can keep the game close against high-flying Philly, but Stacy’s proven that if he gets 20 or more carries he’s spectacular. Last season, in four of five games with 20-plus attempts, he averaged 124.5 yards.
Darrin Reaves, RB, Carolina Panthers
The undrafted RB takes the No. 1 reins with DeAngelo Williams, Johnathan Stewart, Mike Tolbert and Fozzy Whitaker all down with injuries. He has a friendly matchup against Chicago’s No. 20 rushing defense, even though he picked up 26 yards on 12 attempts versus Baltimore after Williams went down in Week 4. It might be a stretch, but the Panthers are a rush-first team and Reaves will get plenty of opportunities in Week 5. We’ve already seen some top performances from back up RBs in Minnesota’s Matt Asiata and K.C.’s Knile Davis, and Reaves could be next up.