Thomason: Start 'Em, Sit 'Em For Week 5

Kyler Murray and Austin Ekeler have favorable matchups this week.

Jack Thomason
October 04, 2019 - 11:38 am

(670 The Score) "Sit ‘Em, Start ‘Em" is a breakdown of some of the best and worst fantasy football matchups to help you navigate setting your lineups for the week.

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My goal with this article is to provide you with a player to start who may not be the most obvious of starts and to share a player to sit whom you normally wouldn't consider shying away from regardless of matchup. 

Let's get to it.


START – Kyler Murray Cardinals (at Bengals) Murray has been consistent with his fantasy production, but we haven’t seen that monster game many were hoping for when drafting him. This could be the week, as the Bengals' pass defense ranks 31st in Football Outsiders’ DVOA metric and 23rd in 4for4’s schedule-adjusted fantasy points allowed (aFPA). We’ve also seen Murray start running more over the last couple of weeks, as he has tallied a combined 96 yards and a score on the ground in the past two games. The Cardinals are currently three-point underdogs on the road, but the line has moved toward Arizona since opening. Add all of this to the fact that Murray has the third-most passing attempts in the NFL through four weeks and the Cardinals' quick offensive pace of play, and Murray should be in line for a great week.

SIT – Baker Mayfield, Browns (at 49ers) The 49ers have been one of the best defensive units in their first three games. They rank second in defensive pass DVOA and eighth in aFPA to opposing quarterbacks. This has the looks of a low-scoring game and another one in which the Browns feed Nick Chubb. The Browns have an implied team total of 21.25 points and they’re four-point road underdogs. This isn’t a week I’d feel great about starting Mayfield, especially considering he hasn’t finished as a QB1 yet this season. 

Running back

START – Austin Ekeler, Chargers (at Broncos) Some folks may be hesitant to start Ekeler due to Melvin Gordon’s return, but you shouldn’t be. Ekeler had standalone value last year when Gordon was healthy, averaging 68 yards per game and doing plenty of damage through the air. Ekeler isn't going to fade into the background with Gordon back, and he’s proved his worth as a full-time player. Look for Ekeler to still be heavily involved as Gordon is eased into action after his holdout. 

SIT – Josh Jacobs, Raiders (vs. Bears) It’s always tough sledding against the Bears' defense no matter who you are. Dalvin Cook got lucky with a garbage-time touchdown last week on an otherwise bad day, and the Vikings' running game is significantly better than the Raiders'. Chicago ranks third in both DVOA and aFPA to opposing running backs and is favored. The Raiders have a paltry team total of 18.25 points in a contest taking place in London. Jacobs is going to need a heavy amount of pass receiving work to bring value back in this game.


START – Auden Tate, Bengals (vs. Cardinals) In a game with sneaky shootout potential, Tate should be a significant factor. John Ross is now on injured reserve, and Tate has the second-most targets (16) on the team over the last two weeks. He has caught 10 balls for 138 yards in that span and will be starting opposite Tyler Boyd against a Cardinals defense that ranks 22nd in defensive pass DVOA. 

SIT – Terry McLaurin, Redskins (vs. Patriots) After a hamstring injury sidelined him last week, McLaurin is on track to play this week. Unfortunately for fantasy owners, he gets a brutal matchup against Stephon Gilmore and the Patriots. The Redskins have few weapons, and the Patriots defense has been superb. New England should easily be able to take away Washington's best receiver and force the offense to go elsewhere to beat them. With the Redskins having the second-lowest team total of the week (15.75 points), this is a week to let McLaurin ride the pine.

Tight end

START – Tyler Eifert, Bengals (vs. Cardinals) There really isn’t too much to write here. These Cardinals remind of the 2017 Giants in that you simply start your every tight end against them every time. The Cardinals are far and away the worst team in the NFL covering the tight end position. They’ve allowed more than 20 PPR points to every tight end whom they’ve faced this season. While C.J. Uzomah has outsnapped Eifert this season, Eifert is the clear leader in targets (17-5).

SIT – Delanie Walker, Titans (vs. Bills) On the opposite end of the Cardinals are the Bills, who are the third-strongest defense against opposing tight ends via aFPA for PPR and the strongest against tight ends in standard leagues. Walker leads the Titans in targets but saw only two last week as Corey Davis and A.J. Brown did most of the work in the passing game. In a stout matchup against the pass, look for the Titans to establish the run with left tackle Taylor Lewan back from suspension.

Other starts: Chase Daniel (at Raiders), Sony Michel (at Redskins), Will Fuller (vs. Falcons) and Jimmy Graham (at Cowboys).

Other sits: Dak Prescott (vs. Packers), Matt Breida (vs. Browns), John Brown (at Titans) and O.J. Howard (at Saints).

Jack Thomason is 670 The Score’s fantasy football expert. Follow him on Twitter @jthomason77 and feel free to ask fantasy questions.​