Week 5: Fantasy Football PPR Love/Hate

What’s up! You have officially made your way to the 2nd edition of my Love/Hate column. What a week it was! Injuries, comebacks, team implosions— last week had it all. Before we get started, let’s take a look at how my picks last week panned out.

Some of the “Loves” that worked out: Philip Rivers, Deshaun Watson, Carlos Hyde, Tevin Coleman, DeAndre Hopkins, Ben Watson.

Some of the “Hates” that worked out: Matt Stafford, Buck Allen, Marshawn Lynch, Chris Thompson, Pierre Garcon, Jason Witten.

…but I also missed a few. Some notable misses: Cam Newton (hate) went off, Tyrod Taylor and Carson Wentz (love) were mediocre at best, Joe Mixon (love) didn’t impress and two of my “stud most likely to bust” picks (Gurley and Evans) both cashed in on nice fantasy days. Can’t win ’em all. Hopefully you won your game last week, but more importantly: Week 5 is upon us. Bye weeks have now begun — — which makes decisions all the more interesting. Welcome back.

Quarterbacks I Love This Week

Jameis Winston, home vs. NE: This is sort of cheap, as Winston is a consensus top-5 play this week on ESPN. But this goes out to anyone who still thinks that the Patriots defense is anything close to mediocre. They’re not. They can’t stop a nosebleed. Especially with a healthy Doug Martin back in the mix, I can see plenty of scenarios in which Winston finishes as a top-3 QB this week. You heard me. Carson Palmer @ PHI: Let’s give this another go! Ageless Mr. Palmer is back on the Love List this week, navigating his way through the 49ers defense last week for over 350 yards and a score. On tap this week is the Eagles, who have the worst secondary in the league against perimeter WRs. Add that to a Cardinal backfield that the coaching staff has zero faith in, and Palmer’s in a great spot to keep his hot start going. Tyrod Taylor, @ CIN: The reason why it’s so hard to keep Tyrod off of the Love List is because he will almost never lose your week for you. According to Tristan Cockroft’s Consistency Ratings, only 3 other quarterbacks have been more consistent on a per-game basis since 2015. Taylor has averaged 18.2 fantasy points per game during this stretch — and it’s not like the Bills have been particularly stacked on offense these past few seasons. I’m siding with Father Time on this one, who suggests that Tyrod gets back on track this week.

Other QB’s I Love This Week:

Brian Hoyer, @ IND: This is a gutsy call, even against the Colts. Hoyer has thrown an interception each game of the year so far, and was held without a touchdown in 3 of 4…the dude has been brutal. But look closer. He’s had to play 4 quality defenses (CAR, SEA, ARI, LAR) so far this year, and performed well (300+ yds, 2TD) against Los Angeles. I don’t think Hoyer is anything to write home about, but I like his chances to have 16+ points this week, which is more than enough to ask from a bye week fill-in. Josh McCown, @ CLE: McCown has looked very similar to Hoyer in that they’ve both struggled against above-average defensive fronts so far this year. Lucky for McCown, he plays the Browns this week. And lets be honest — the Jets have been surprisingly decent on offense! They’re finding ways to move the ball and keep their defense off the field more than most expected. I like McCown’s chances to throw a lot this week in a competitive game against a below-average defense. He’s in the QB2 conversation (14–18 pts) this week.

High Risk/High Reward This Week

Jacoby Brissett, home vs. SF: The 49ers pass rush isn’t terrible, but this defense is far from stingy. JB7 has shown us that he can go off against bad defenses, posting 27.8 points against Cleveland in Week 3 (ESPN Standard Scoring). If you’re looking to spice it up, I like Brissett this week.

Quarterbacks I Hate This Week

Ben Roethlisberger, home vs. JAX: Big Ben has not looked like himself through the first 4 games of the season. He’s excellent at Heinz Field, and makes for an interesting buy-low candidate with 7 of his final 12 games at home this year. The problem is: Antonio Brown and Martavis Bryant have been open. A lot. And Ben is straight up missing them. Jacksonville has been fantastic against quarterbacks this year (#1 against QBs in fantasy through Week 4), and I don’t see that changing anytime soon. I’m benching Big Ben this week. Jared Goff home vs. SEA: Love how Goff has looked so far this year. But don’t get cute. Matt Stafford home vs. CAR: Staffdaddy makes the list for the 2nd straight week. He’s one of my favorite NFL QBs, but this offense has a clear desire to control the ball. He’s going to dink and dunk his way to a serviceable fantasy weekend, and Carolina gives up TONS of underneath yardage but Stafford will need a big play from Golladay or Marvin Jones to get the sort of points he’s projected to get.

Other Quarterbacks I Hate This Week

EJ Manuel, home vs. BAL: Ravens may be somewhat of a joke, but if they can hang their hat on one aspect of their team, it’s the defense. See Goff, Jared. Mitch Trubisky, home vs. MIN: I think this Bears offense looked exciting with Trubisky in preseason and I like his mobility, but this is the motherf*%ing Vikings. Nah, son.

QB Stud Most Likely To Bust

Carson Wentz, home vs. ARI: I’m surprised to see Wentz in the top-10 of QB projections this week. As you know, i’m a big fan of Wentz and his fantasy ceiling this year. I just think this matchup is tougher than it’s getting credit for, and wouldn’t be surprised if Wentz finished in the 11–15 range for points this week.

Running Backs I Love This Week

Christian McCaffrey, @ DET: He’s on turf, the Lions have a nice pass defense, and the game should stay close. Run CMC has a concrete role in this offense which limits his upside, and Jonathan Stewart will vulture any close touchdowns, but he’s about as high-floor as RBs get in PPR. Duke Johnson Jr., home vs. NYJ: He’s got good hands, plays out of the slot quite a bit, and is closing the gap on Crowell as the featured tailback. He’s never going to be an every-down back but I think he’s going to get a lot of total touches this week against a bad defense. Joe Mixon, home vs. BUF: I’m not giving up on Mixon yet. Last week was tough to watch, but it’s not like he didn’t get the work. Mixon is coming off back-to-back weeks carrying the brunt of the load for the Bengals and I think he bounces back nicely here.

High Risk/High Reward This Week

Alex Collins, @ OAK: Why not? He’s going up against a team with a bad defense and an offense in disarray. I could see this game being close throughout, which would suggest Collins gets at least 12–15 touches. Definitely a roll of the dice, but one i’m fine with taking.

Running Backs I Hate This Week

Marshawn Lynch, home vs. BAL: I hate to see it too, but don’t be blinded by his glory days. He’s not even the Raiders RB with the most fantasy points this season. Beastmode looks like he’ll be Bustmode again this week. Isaiah Crowell, home vs. NYJ: This dude got talked up all offseason and I bit my tongue: Volume, they said. Goal-line touches, they said. Better efficiency, they said. Well guess what? “They” were wrong. He looks like an old, tired Alfred Morris out there. Peace.

Other RB’s I Hate This Week

Ameer Abdullah, home vs. CAR: The workload last week was promising, but his injury history and small sample size makes me want to see more before I hop on the wagon. This is a wait-and-see week with Abdullah. Mike Gillislee, @ TB: I think this is a high-scoring, James White/Dion Lewis type of game. I could be wrong, but still: Gillislee is far from a sure thing. Even as a bye-week fill in, I don’t love the gamescript this week and I think there are better options to choose from.

RB Stud Most Likely To Bust This Week

Jordan Howard, home vs. MIN: He’s shown tremendous pain tolerance and toughness this year, but J-How has a rookie QB under center and a gauntlet of doom waiting for him in the Minnesota defense. Expect stacked boxes and for the Vikings defense to triple-dog-dare Trubisky to air it out. A double-digit outing isn’t a sure thing for Howard this week.

Wide Receivers I Love This Week

Chris Hogan, @ TB: Gimme some Chris Hogan. He’s in the Edelman role, which this offense runs through, and he’s out-targeted Brandin Cooks up to this point. Since Week 1, in PPR Standard Scoring, Hogan has posted 18.8, 22.8 and 17. I’m buying in. Larry Fitzgerald, @ PHI: The first-ballot Hall of Famer is averaging over 10 targets per game and has the most red zone targets in all of football. I’ve given the Eagles secondary plenty of flak, but you get it. Fitz is a lineup lock this week.

Other Receivers I Love This Week

Pierre Garcon, @ IND: Garcon has shown through 4 weeks that he’s a target-monster, but incapable of creating separation against top-tier corners. Lucky for him, the Colts don’t have those. I think Garcon has 10+ targets and over 85 yards this week. Dez Bryant, home vs. GB: Another top-10 starter this week but I know a handful of Dez owners who are panicking. I know I mentioned it last week but Dez has had one of the most difficult opening schedules of any NFL wideout so far. He’s a stud and a consistent lock for plenty of end-zone targets. Start him with confidence. Jarvis Landry, home vs. TEN: He’s tied for the 4th most receptions among any WR this year and that’s a half the battle in PPR. He’s still carrying plenty of value on an offense that frankly can’t look much worse. There’s nowhere to go but up.

High Risk/High Reward WR This Week

Jaron Brown, @ PHI: The risk comes from John Brown coming back from injury and taking 53 snaps last week. He’s coming off 3 solid weeks in a row — let it fly if it feels right. I also like Robby Anderson’s (@ CLE) chances to get behind the Browns for a big play/score this week.

Wide Receivers I Hate This Week

Kelvin Benjamin @ DET: Slay (top-7 cover corner) should shadow Benjamin for the most part. He’s a bit banged up and Cam’s looked unreliable more times than not this year. All it takes is one with Benjamin, but i’m not feeling too good about it. Los Angeles Rams WRs, home vs. SEA: Nothing would make me happier than the Rams being legit this year. This is the first big week for them to prove it. It’s already been a huge turnaround from their dismal offensive showing last season, but I have my money on the LOB holding down the F-O-R-T. Kendall Wright, home vs. MIN: Xavier Rhodes is a filthy corner and the rest of this defense is a menacing as it gets. Wright will get plenty of looks from Trubisky, but I don’t see him hauling in more than 3 or 4 grabs on Monday Night. Alshon Jeffery, home vs. ARI: Patrick Peterson. He’s not even Carson Wentz’s favorite target. It’s like a less-skilled Dez Bryant going up against the best CB in football-not too much to read into here.

Wide Receiver Stud Most Likely to Bust This Week

Brandin Cooks, @ TB: I had Cooks in two leagues last year, and this year has looked remarkably similar. In my book, he’s a DeSean Jackson type of boom-or-bust with a handful of extra targets per game. Look for Cooks to bounce back and forth, unforgivingly, between elite and pedestrian. Again, if I have to pick a stud to bust this week, i’m fine going with Cooks.

Tight Ends I Love This Week

Austin Seferian-Jenkins, @ CLE: Cleveland gives up a ridiculous amount of points to TE’s. ASJ is a massive target down the middle of the field, and Josh McCown is going to be throwing plenty in the red zone with a weak backfield behind him. I’m bullish on him this week, and think he could have a 5/70/1 stat-line if all goes right. Charles Clay, @ CIN: You’re starting him if you own him, but just a reminder that he’s a stud. Despite being a lesser-known player on a historically bad team, he’s a high-end TE1… end of story. Kyle Rudolph @ CHI: I like Rudolph only if Bradford plays this week. Keep an eye on how he practices…I have a hunch he’ll play. Also, I like Evan Engram and Ben Watson quite a bit this week.

Tight Ends I Hate This Week

Eric Ebron, home vs. CAR: Matthew Berry said it best: He’s just not particularly good at football. He’s always had trouble finding the end zone, and with TE flyers, that’s what you like to go for. Tyler Kroft, home vs. BUF: Come on back down to earth, Ty. When guys go from zero to hero overnight, I like to wait and see. Show me some more, young fella. Jack Doyle, home vs. SF: I like Doyle a lot but he’s banged up and I think Hilton and Moncrief are the go-to pass catchers this week. Brissett doesn’t throw the ball enough in this offense for more than two receivers to be fantasy relevant.

High Risk/High Reward:

Hunter Henry, @ NYG: The Giants have a solid defense and even better secondary, but not against tight ends, for whatever reason. They are ranked 32nd in the league against TEs through 4 weeks. I expect that to change, but if you think it’s a true weakness in their defense and not a fluke, start Henry. If it pays off, it’ll pay off in BIG ways.

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