How has the start of the season treated you? Week 5 will present its own set of challenges. Whether you’re looking to stay undefeated, stay alive in the fantasy playoff race, or just tread water after losing your star players last week, this column is for you. Let’s take a look at some players flying under the radar who are sneaky starts in Week 5 (please note, all players below are currently starting in fewer than 20% of leagues):
Justin Herbert (QB - LAC)
I’ve been incredibly impressed by Herbert’s success thus far. We all knew about the arm, but his toughness and ability to absorb contact and get the ball downfield unbothered has been nothing short of amazing. He carved up a more-talented-than-most-give-them-credit for Tampa Bay defense with no running game to support him. Herbert was 10 yards shy of his third straight 300-yard game and will take his talents to prime time this week against the Saints. While that used to be a matchup to worry about, New Orleans is tied for the sixth-most fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks this season. He won’t have running back Austin Ekeler to dump off to, but it’s possible he’ll have wide receiver Mike Williams back. He’s a top-15 quarterback play this week on Monday Night Football.
Teddy Bridgewater (QB - CAR)
If you read my start/sit column this week, you would’ve seen under the Kirk Cousins section that you should “start anyone and everyone involved in the passing game against the Seahawks.” Well, that also applies against Atlanta, the defense giving up the third-most fantasy points to quarterbacks this season, fresh off a shellacking by the Packers on Monday Night Football. While Bridgewater hasn’t been terribly successful from a fantasy perspective on the road so far this season, he has beaten up on two bad defenses at home. I’m banking on him finding success against another bad defense, this time on the road, this week in a divisional matchup. Bridgewater is coming off his best game of the season and his only multi-score performance. I think he has a good chance to have another multi-score game, and he made it just inside my top 16 quarterbacks for Week 5.
Devonta Freeman (RB - NYG)
In just his second game with New York, Freeman got 15 touches and managed to eke out a double-digit fantasy point performance (10.8) against the Rams. If he gets 15 touches in Dallas on Sunday, he has a chance to double that total. The Cowboys allow the 12th-most points to fantasy running backs this season, but what I have my eye on is a lot of garbage time dump-off throws against a porous Cowboys defense. Dak Prescott and Co. are going to get theirs and could put up 50 at home against this Giants defense, but as long as Freeman can be the checkdown option in the second half, fantasy managers will be thrilled. Freeman is a low-end RB2 this week.
J.D. McKissic (RB - WSH)
McKissic is starting to find a little bit of a role in the Washington backfield. Over the last three weeks he has 8, 8, and 9 touches, respectively. He caught seven passes on eight targets, both season highs, and was used frequently in Washington’s failed comeback efforts against Baltimore in Week 4. It’s reasonable to assume Washington will have to play catchup against the Rams this week as well, making McKissic an intriguing full-PPR option for those in a bind. He’s a borderline top-30 running back in Week 5.
Laviska Shenault Jr. (WR - JAX)
Guaranteed touches aren’t easy to come by for players starting in fewer than 20% of leagues, but Shenault is a near lock to get 5-6 touches per game. Offensive coordinator Jay Gruden schemes up different ways to get the ball in Shenault’s hands. With D.J. Chark back healthy and causing issues for opposing defenses, Gruden can get even more creative with Shenualt. He’s more of a fairly-high-floor option than some one who is likely to spike, but there’s value in that.
Tee Higgins (WR - CIN)
Some may run away from Higgins in Week 5 because of the matchup, but I think that’s exactly why he’s a sneaky start. The Ravens defense is damn good, but they’ll have their hands full covering Tyler Boyd, what’s left of A.J. Green, and Higgins. The rookie is averaging more than seven targets per game in his last three and is coming off a career-high game with 90 total yards. There should also be some garbage time for Higgins and quarterback Joe Burrow to take advantage of for fantasy purposes.
Sammy Watkins (WR - KC)
Those who were not paying close attention to the bonus Monday Night Football game this past week will see “6.3” listed next to Watkins’ Week 4 total and move on. However, he led the Chiefs in targets, tied for the team lead in receptions and was a fumble away from having an OK fantasy game, all things considered. With two 13-plus point games in his previous three contests leading into that game and a solid matchup with the Raiders secondary on tap, Watkins could be a high-floor option for your lineup if you’re in a pinch.
Greg Ward (WR - PHI)
It’s not a secret who Carson Wentz’s favorite receiver is right now. With the litany of injuries affecting Philadelphia pass-catchers, Ward has been a steady presence for Wentz in the slot. After getting a team-high 11 targets in Week 3, Ward had a team-high seven targets on Sunday Night Football in Week 4. He’ll continue to get a ton of looks and you’re banking on volume to get you by in a tough matchup against the Steelers on the road. However, you almost never see a team’s No. 1 receiver starting in only 11% of leagues.
Greg Olsen (TE - SEA)
With 13 targets and 10 catches over the last two weeks, Olsen is firmly back on the fantasy radar. The Seahawks-Vikings matchup could turn into a bit of a shootout, so if I’m looking to the waiver wire to grab a tight end, Olsen has a great chance at another five-catch day. I’m not banking on a touchdown like the next guy on this list, but 5/50/0 is well within reach.
Mo Alie-Cox (TE - IND)
I mean, if the dude is going to keep catching touchdowns, you’ve got to consider playing him, right? Alie-Cox has scored in each of the last two games and the Browns have struggles guarding tight ends this season—they’ve allowed the fourth-most fantasy points to the position this season. You’re touchdown-hunting, but Alie-Cox gives you as good of a chance at scoring as any of the non-elite tight ends.
- Dec 08, 2022
- Dec 08, 2022