So Week 5 is here. By now, you should have a good feel for who is for real and who is a bust this fantasy season. But there is that one anomaly out there that we all despise: the inconsistent fantasy player. He puts us in turmoil each week as we agonize over whether to start him. And he leaves us lamenting the choice afterwards, no matter which way we went with it. Think of players like Eli Manning, DeMarco Murray, Mike Wallace, and Jermichael Finley.
How should fantasy owners deal with inconsistent players? First of all, avoid them. Owners should build a team of players who consistently perform at or above their expected level of play. Second, use them as trade bait after their good weeks to get someone you can count on. Third, study their matchups carefully. Knowledge of how well an upcoming opponent defends that position or how poorly your inconsistent player tends to perform on the road or against a certain team will go a long way in helping you make an educated decision about when to start or sit these troublesome members of your roster.
Onto my thoughts on Week 5…. I like the Giants’ matchup at home against the Eagles. Eli Manning (yes, I know I just called him out!) could be in for a big day at home against a very porous defense. Consider him a QB2 with upside this week. And for fantasy owners struggling to find a fit at RB this week, this would be the time to take a chance on David Wilson. His spot as the lead back has finally been re-secured. Yes, Brandon Jacobs is likely to steal some scores near the end zone. But Wilson has an explosiveness that allows him to score from anywhere on the field. I like his chances for a long score against Philly this week.
Other players to start if you are looking for a decent Week 5 fill on your roster: Justin Blackmon, who returns to the Jaguars this week following the completion of his suspension. He is a WR2 with some upside this week. Terrelle Pryor returns to the lineup in Oakland. He is worth a start as a QB2 with lots of upside at home against a suspect San Diego defense. Finally, don’t forget that St. Louis is the lucky winner in the Jacksonville Jaguars sweepstakes this week. So use the St. Louis DEF/ST if you are in search of a defense. Also consider Rams QB Sam Bradford a potential starter in deeper leagues.
Players to avoid in Week 5: Matt Schaub in San Francisco. Schaub is not as anywhere near as bad as his haters would make him out to be (unless your league penalizes you monster points for Pick 6’s), but this is a bad road matchup for him. This is where you go with Terrelle Pryor instead. Next on the list is Dwayne Bowe. In general, he should not be played as a WR1 or anything better than a low-end WR2 going forward. Alex Smith just doesn’t throw down the field that way. Fantasy owners should also steer clear of Russell Wilson in Indy today. His offensive line is still being ravaged by injuries and 1pm EST starts just aren’t kind to him.
Finally, be careful about your expectations for Tom Brady in Week 5. He is on the road against an underrated Cincinnati defense. And his offense is once again in flux as the Pats bring back Danny Amendola and work around the loss of Stevan Ridley to injury. Brady should be viewed as a low-end QB1 with downside in Week 5. I wouldn’t replace him with Terrelle Pryor, but if you have another QB1 or a high-end QB2 on your roster (think Michael Vick), I would consider starting him instead of Brady this week.
There you have it folks. I’ll be available throughout the morning here and on Twitter (@murphysguide) to answer your questions leading up to today’s games. Best of luck to you and your fantasy teams!