ETHAN POLAK | STAFF REPORTER | firstname.lastname@example.org
Picture of: Kenyan Drake Arizona Cardinals running back
The bye weeks across the NFL have decided to start earlier than intended. Last week, the Steelers and Titans were forced to change their schedules after Titans players tested positive for COVID-19. This week, it continues as the Bills and Titans are in jeopardy along with the Lions and Packers who are already scheduled to have their bye week this week.
With all these teams likely having to miss another week, fantasy owners have to be ready to find another option for some of their players on the teams that are threatening to reschedule. Lucky for the owners who have been affected by these events, there are plenty of sleeper players to pick up for this week. Here are some key players to start and sit for Week 5.
Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers. Big Ben is back. After missing the entire season last year, he has come back with vengeance leading the Steelers to an undefeated record of 3-0 through four weeks. They are also coming off an extra week of rest after they were forced to move their bye week up to Week 4 when the Titans’ players began testing positive for COVID-19. Now that they are back, the Steelers get to be welcomed back by a struggling Eagles team that has let opposing teams put up 26.8 points per game. With the Steelers wide receivers now healthy and rested, Roethlisberger will need to be moved into the starting lineup position immediately.
Baker Mayfield, Cleveland Browns. Let’s all just take a moment to appreciate the fact that the Cleveland Browns are 3-1. This has been due in part to their unlimited amount of talent and big names like Odell Beckham Jr. and Kareem Hunt finally living up to their expectations so far at least. However, there has been one stale spot on the Browns offense and that has been Mayfield’s production. The Browns have been having success just when Mayfield is not throwing the ball as often as some may have expected him to do. This means that the Browns will now continue to limit Mayfield’s passing attempts especially now that they will be going up against the number one defense in the NFL in the Colts. The Colts have held opponents to a league leading 14.0 points per game including only 159.6 passing yards per game. Yes, the Browns are coming to a game where they put up 49 points, but this week, Mayfield and the Browns are going in for a rude awakening.
Kenyan Drake, Arizona Cardinals. Arguably the biggest disappointment in fantasy football so far this season has to be Drake. After all the hype and many fantasy owners picking him up in the first or early second round of drafts, he has not surpassed 15 points once through the first four weeks. With all the fantasy owners beginning to become fed up with Drake, it would be a smart idea to at least hold him for one more week. Drake is going up against a Jets defense that has allowed opposing teams to score 32.6 points per game. Even though Drake is returning from a chest injury in the previous game, this week’s matchup is too perfect for fantasy owners to miss out on.
Joe Mixon, Cincinnati Bengals. After many weeks of waiting for Mixon to have his breakout game, he finally showed up last Sunday where he ended up destroying the Jaguars defense. Mixon ran for 151 yards and two touchdowns. Mixon fantasy owners must be pleased with his game, but they should hold their horses for this week. Mixon is now going to face the Ravens who have allowed the fifth-least rushing yards in the league to opposing running backs. As great as Mixon was last week, fantasy owners should beware of Mixon this week.
Will Fuller, Houston Texans. When Fuller is able to stay healthy, the Texan’s wideout begins to go off. The Texans have had the hardest schedule through the first four games than any other team, but they are now lucky enough to be greeted by a team that is actually not in Super Bowl contention in the Jaguars. Fuller has already averaged 15 points per game in fantasy through the first four games, and this will likely increase against a Jags team that has given up 261 receiving yards per game. This week, Fuller needs to be in every fantasy owner’s lineups.
Terry McLaurin, Washington Football Team. Despite the quarterback carousel going on in Washington, McLaurin has actually had himself a start to the 2020 season. He is fifth in receiving yards in the league with 387 yards through the first four games. However, McLaurin will have a tough matchup as he will be up against elite Rams’ corner Jalen Ramsey, who last week held Giants receiver Golden Tate to just 20 receiving yards. McLaurin’s sophomore year has looked pretty bright, but for this week, he should stay on the bench.
Dalton Schultz, Dallas Cowboys. The second-string tight end for the Cowboys has fit into the high-powered offense surprisingly well. Ever since the starter Blake Jarwin went down with a knee injury in Week 1, Schultz has been able to fill the void and become one of quarterback Dak Prescott’s favorite targets. Schultz has put up 208 receiving yards and two touchdowns in his last three games and that will likely continue to go up as he will be up against an 0-4 Giants team. Schultz is a major waiver wire worth pickup worth grabbing for this week’s matchup.
Jonnu Smith, Tennessee Titans. After his team was forced to move their bye week up to Week 4, Smith has had plenty of time to get ready for this week. Only problem is, the Titans have not been allowed to be inside their facility all week due to players continuing to test positive. The Titans are now going into a game extremely unprepared against a strong Bills defense. Smith may have had great performances in earlier games, but the unknown factor around how the Titans will play with such limited in-person contact forces me to wish to stay away from him this week.
Jason Sanders, Miami Dolphins. Out of the 32 kickers in the NFL only six kickers remain perfect and Sanders just happens to be one of them. Through the first four games, Sanders has made nine field goals and six extra points. Sanders has been this busy because the Dolphins have been failing to score in the red zone forcing Sanders to come out and make the big kicks. The Dolphins are up against a 49ers team that is banged up, but has a strong enough defense that will be able to stop the Dolphins in the red zone often. This means that Sanders is looking to have another great performance and is a must-start in most fantasy leagues.
Cairo Santos, Chicago Bears. Through three weeks, the Bears have been in the bottom half in points scored as they are ranked 23rd in the league. The struggles offensively have caused Succop to have less chances to have a chance at scoring points. Succop’s limited opportunities will only get worse as this week they are up against a Buccaneers defense ranked 4th in yards allowed per game. This rank is enough to scare fantasy owners away from starting Succop this week.
New England Patriots Defense. The Patriots may continue to struggle on offense, but at least their defense has stood up well against opposing offenses only giving up 92 points through four weeks against teams with above average offenses. This week, the Patriots are going to be treated to a Broncos’ young offense that has been riddled with injuries that is also starting their third-string quarterback in Brett Rypien. Even though Patriots will be missing Stephon Gilmore due to him testing positive for COVID-19, they are still likely to wreak havoc within the Broncos inexperienced offense.
New York Giants Defense. The Giants may be 0-4 and have looked pretty awful through the first four weeks, but on paper, their defense has been their one and only bright spot. They are ranked fifth in total yards allowed per game. However this week, they are up against a Cowboys quarterback in Dak Prescott who is coming off a game where he torched the Browns secondary for 502 passing yards and four touchdowns. The Giants defense may be a surprise so far, but for this week, they should stay on the bench.