Fantasy Football: Melvin Gordon, Delanie Walker Among Risky Plays in Week 5
If you drafted wisely and have a strong bench you will likely face lineup decisions on a weekly basis. Those decisions can often make or break fantasy seasons. For example, owners who started Jameis Winston over Deshaun Watson or Dak Prescott may have won their fantasy matchup because of it in Week 4. However, if you decided to play Odell Beckham Jr. or JuJu Smith-Schuster over Robert Woods, the decision may have cost you a victory. It’s small lineup decisions like those that can leave fantasy owners saying the dreaded words “my bench outscored my starters.”
Well in order for that not to happen, it’s vital to be aware of players drawing tough matchups who pose a significant risk to your fantasy success. Let’s take a look at several players who check that box in Week 5.
Derek Carr, Oakland Raiders (vs CHI) (London)
Carr (owned in more than 60% of leagues) led the Raiders to one of the biggest upsets in the NFL in Week 4, going into Indianapolis and beating the Colts as more than a touchdown underdog. Carr has thrown multiple touchdowns in two straight games, but expect that streak to end Sunday when the Raiders travel across the pond to take on the Bears in London. The Bears’ defense is once again stout against the pass, allowing just four touchdowns in the air through the first four weeks. My model suggests that just about every member of the Silver and Black should be benched in Week 5 (perhaps outside of Darren Waller).
Daniel Jones, New York Giants (vs MIN)
Coming off a monster performance in his first career start in Week 3 against Tampa Bay, Jones (owned in more than 90% of leagues) was a popular add off the waiver wire heading into Week 4. However, Jones failed to live up to lofty expectations in a favorable matchup at home against the Redskins. He tossed more interceptions (two) than touchdowns (one). This week, Jones faces a Vikings defense that ranks sixth in the NFL and already held Aaron Rodgers in check in Week 2. Expect Jones to struggle for a second straight week at home in Week 5.
Baker Mayfield, Cleveland Browns (at SF)
Mayfield (owned in more than 95% of leagues) had his second 300-plus passing effort of the season last week against Baltimore. However, if we dive deeper into the numbers, we discover that Mayfield had his two best games against the Jets and Ravens (two teams who rank among the worst in pass defense through four games). Mayfield has also failed to throw multiple touchdowns in any game this season. The second-year quarterback now gears up for a Monday night tilt with an underrated San Francisco defense that has allowed the seventh-fewest passing yards to opposing quarterbacks through three games. Put Baker on the pine in Week 5.
Josh Jacobs, Oakland Raiders (vs CHI)
Jacobs (owned in 100% of leagues) put up his second double-digit PPR scoring effort of the season in Week 4 against the Colts. The more touches, the better the outcome is a rule of thumb in fantasy football. The rookie’s best outings came in Week 1 against the Broncos on 24 touches, and last week on 19 touches. However, this Sunday in London, the game flow could prevent Jacobs from the volume he needs to be successful. In addition, he will be facing a Bears defense that is giving up the second-fewest points per game (11.2) and the fourth-fewest rushing yards (246) through four games. Jacobs lands as the riskiest play among all running backs in Week 5.
Melvin Gordon, LA Chargers (vs DEN)
Many fantasy owners are excited to finally have the ability to insert Melvin Gordon (owned in 100% of leagues) into their starting lineups for the first time in 2019. However, owners need to temper expectations as the Chargers could limit the workload and ease Gordon back into the offense. It’s also important for owners to be aware that Los Angeles will continue to give Austin Ekeler touches based upon his production through the first four weeks. Ekeler (27.25 PPR points per game) ranks as the overall RB2 in PPR formats, only behind Carolina’s Christian McCaffery. That incredible production suggests Gordon may not see the volume his fantasy owners are expecting.
Emmanuel Sanders, Denver Broncos (at LAC)
Sanders (owned in more than 97% of leagues) has performed at an elite level this season and rewarded fantasy owners who believed in his ability to come back from Achilles surgery. This may be tough to hear for his owners, but Sanders lands atop the risky wide receivers list in Week 5 thanks in part to a brutal matchup with premier cornerback Casey Hayward. In addition, Sanders is now nursing a quad injury that he sustained near the end of last week’s game against Jacksonville. Sanders is a player who owners need to be wary of using as a WR3/flex start in Week 5.
Terry McLaurin, Washington Redskins (vs NE)
McLaurin (owned in more than 95% of leagues) had a record-setting start to his career, becoming the first player in league history to have at least five receptions, 60 yards and a touchdown in each of his first three games. However, McLaurin was forced to miss Week 4 with a hamstring injury and draws a difficult matchup with Patriots CB Stephon Gilmore this week. The Patriots are the only defense that has yet to allow a passing touchdown on the season while recording 10 interceptions. This is not the week for fantasy owners to trust the talented rookie.
O.J. Howard, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (at NO)
Howard (owned in nearly 95% of leagues) was drafted among the top five tight ends off the board in every league this summer. In addition to getting zero targets in Week 2, Howard has less than 33 receiving yards in two other contests, and has failed to catch a touchdown in any game this season. There is major risk potential in trusting Howard, who has been a total non-factor in Tampa Bay’s recent offensive success. The model downgrades him outside of the top 12 tight ends for the second straight week.
Delanie Walker, Tennessee Titans (vs BUF)
After a solid first three weeks, Walker (owned in more than 90% of leagues) disappointed his owners immensely in Week 4 with just one reception for four yards. In Week 5, Walker now faces a Buffalo defense that has held opposing tight ends out of the end zone while surrendering the fewest yards (84) through four games (21 yards per game). In Week 2, the Bills’ defense held Giants TE Evan Engram (fantasy’s top tight end through four weeks) in check. Find another option in Week 5 and do not trust Walker.
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