Each week, Neil Greenberg will give you three players to start and three to sit in your fantasy football league.
Week 5 is where your roster starts to get tested. Atlanta, New Orleans, Denver and Washington are all enjoying the bye week, requiring you to find replacements for guys like Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, Drew Brees, C.J. Anderson and surprise fantasy producer Chris Thompson.
Plus, there is some injury uncertainty around running backs Melvin Gordon (knee), Paul Perkins (ribs) and Matt Forte (toe), perhaps forcing you to go deeper in your roster than you feel comfortable with.
Read on to find out who is or isn’t worth one of those roster spots.
Carlos Hyde, RB, San Francisco 49ers
Hyde is averaging over 80 yards per game, a career-high, and is also on pace for a career year as a pass-catcher, hauling in 12 of 16 targets for 61 yards. He ranks sixth in yards per carry after contact (2.74), per the game-charters at Pro Football Focus, and should be able to break through an Indianapolis Colts’ defensive front that is stopping rushers at or behind the line of scrimmage just 18 percent of the time.
Hunter Henry, TE, Los Angeles Chargers
Henry caught two of his three targets for 16 yards and a touchdown on Sunday — including an incredible one-handed catch in the back of the end zone — and could be in for another productive day in Week 5 against the Giants.
The Giants are allowing a 139.1 passer rating when opposing quarterbacks target their tight ends — only the Baltimore Ravens (151) are worse — with a touchdown rate (13.2 percent) that is almost triple the league average (5.3 percent).
Jameis Winston, QB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The 23-year-old quarterback completed 22 of 38 passes for 332 yards and three touchdowns in the Week 4 win over the Giants, moving him to the sixth-most valuable passer, per Pro Football Focus. In Week 5 he will face a New England Patriots’ defense that is allowing the most net passing yards per game (8.6).
Expect most of the yardage to come on passes to his No. 1 receiver, Mike Evans, and Adam Humphries in the slot — the Patriots are allowing 106.9 yards per game to an opponent’s top wideout, and all four of New England’s slot corners are allowing at least two yards per coverage snap, giving them four of the nine worst cover corners in this regard.
Martavis Bryant, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers
Bryant caught three of his five targets for 48 yards on Sunday against the Baltimore Ravens, but his next opponent, the Jacksonville Jaguars, have the No. 1-rated pass defense in the league, per Football Outsiders’ Defense-adjusted Value Over Average, which measures a team’s efficiency by comparing success on every single play to a league average based on situation and opponent.
Jacksonville is allowing a mere 4.8 yards per pass attempt to wideouts this season (league average is 7.4) with just 24.7 yards per game to a team’s No. 2 receiver.
Jordan Howard, RB, Chicago Bears
Howard is losing some opportunities to rookie Tarik Cohen and Benny Cunningham, but even if he wasn’t, going up against the Minnesota Vikings, the league’s eighth-best run defense per Football Outsiders, is not a recipe for success.
The Vikings are allowing just 3.1 yards per carry, one yard less than the league average, and have surrendered just one rush of 20 yards or more.
Plus, the Bears are starting rookie quarterback Mitch Trubisky, who is sure to have a learning curve against one of the best pass-rushing teams in the NFL (66 total sacks, hits and hurries this season).
Ameer Abdullah, RB, Detroit Lions
Abdullah appears to be the No. 1 back for Detroit, playing 21 rushing snaps compared to just four for Theo Riddick. And his 94-yard performance against the Vikings last week (with a touchdown) is certainly noteworthy. However, this week’s opponent, the Carolina Panthers, have an even better run defense than Minnesota.
The Panthers’ defensive front is allowing a league-low 17 percent of runs on third or fourth down, two yards or less to go, to convert into a first down or touchdown. Plus, they stop 24 percent of rushers at or behind the line of scrimmage, the 10th-best rate in the NFL this season.
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