FANTASY PLAYS: Sweating more tough decisions given bye weeks
There are more bye week and injury issues to deal with in Week 5 of the fantasy football season. You're going to have to sweat out more tough decisions as you attempt to earn another victory.
Don't overthink it or second-guess yourself like crazy, though. All you can do is make the most informed decisions, set your lineup, and hope for the best. We help you come to some of those optimum conclusions. First, let's start with the good news:
TOM BRADY RETURNS
Brady's return from suspension should instantly revive a New England offense that was blanked by Buffalo last week. The Browns have allowed an AFC-high 10 TD passes. Julian Edelman (foot) should be started as long as he is cleared to play and now Chris Hogan becomes an interesting add and play, with a shot at a larger role if Edelman is limited. Brady was developing a good on-field relationship with Hogan in the preseason, so if you have a WR on a bye like Doug Baldwin or Jeremy Maclin, consider Hogan a quality filler in point-per-reception leagues. Rob Gronkowski is battling a hamstring issue, so Brady may work to secondary playmakers such as Hogan and Martellus Bennett this week. Pass-catching RB James White also sees a boost in appeal in PPR formats.
Russell Wilson and Drew Brees are on byes, and Cam Newton (concussion) is iffy for Monday night. Eagles rookie Carson Wentz is the top QB sub of the week and a top-8 start overall against a Lions pass defense that has surrendered 12 TD passes, the second highest total in the league. Brian Hoyer is coming off a pair of 300-yard games for the Bears, and is a good one week play vs. Indianapolis. Joe Flacco is also a decent streamer against Washington. If your alternatives for Newton are not too attractive, pick up his backup, Derek Anderson, and start either Carolina QB that gets the call against Tampa Bay, which has allowed nine TD passes.
Oakland running back Latavius Murray has a foot injury and is out for this week's game against the Chargers. Rookie DeAndre Washington should get the start and has some upside against a Chargers defense that allows 26 fantasy points per game in PPR formats to running backs, according to FantasyPros.com. He is a viable flex play, but Jalen Richard may also see some work and fullback Jamize Olawale could get some goal-line work. Richard is a deeper league option.
The Lions continue to deal with injuries at running back, as Ameer Abdullah is already on IR with a foot injury and now rookie Dwayne Washington could be out this week with a sprained foot and ankle. Theo Riddick has rushed for 40 yards on 21 carries in the past two games. If you are digging for some RB help, Zach Zenner may be the next man up for the Lions as a ball carrier. He has shown some potential in the preseason before and certainly has some promise as a goal-line runner, as he is a strong, physical runner who can grind out some yardage and battles hard after initial contact. Definitely add him if he is available and he could be a desperation starter.
Matt Ryan is the best QB in fantasy so far, with 105 points in standard leagues. Julio Jones is coming off a historic performance and Devonta Freeman has scored in each of the past two games. But the Falcons draw the Denver defense this week, a matchup which often leads fantasy owners to consider benching their top performers. Jones cannot be reserved regardless of opposition, but Ryan has a very stern test and it appears safer to use other choices such as Wentz or Hoyer. Jones could still catch a TD, but that scoring catch could conceivably be Ryan's only TD connection of the day. The Broncos are allowing 15.6 fantasy points per game to opposing running backs, so Freeman should give you a decent floor statistically.
DeAndre Hopkins has not returned his first round value recently, with five catches for 60 yards in his past two games, including a one-catch, 4-yard outing against the Titans last week. The Vikings are allowing 13.6 FFPG to opposing WRs, second-lowest in the league. So do you bench Hopkins? In many cases, you won't have a more proven option with more upside. Fantasy superstars often earn such a label by producing in even the most challenging of matchups. Hopkins may relish such a matchup and the Texans will want to get him involved early and often, so maintain your confidence in him and keep him active.
SAME QUESTION FOR BECKHAM
The Giants' offense sputtered last week at Minnesota, and Odell Beckham Jr. endured the worst statistical performance of his career. Look for a rebound performance at Green Bay, as the Packers have allowed 307.3 passing yards per game, second-highest in the NFC. Beckham should calm down some of the negative talk about him, and Eli Manning will be good for at least two TD passes. Sterling Shepard should remain in your starting lineup and Victor Cruz can be used as a quality bye week replacement.
The Panthers were embarrassed by Ryan and Jones last week, but don't expect a repeat performance and assume you should start Jameis Winston. After such a poor defensive outing, the Panthers will likely want to recapture their pride in a Monday Night game against a divisional opponent. Winston already has eight interceptions and has not progressed as hoped so far this year. Mike Evans will get his numbers, but Carolina may take its frustrations out from last week on Winston.
This column was provided to The Associated Press by the Fantasy Sports Network, http://FNTSY.com