Photo by Roy K. Miller/Icon Sportswire
Welcome to Week Five, dear reader, I am Brennen Gorman and I will be in charge of our On the Bubble column. These articles will focus on bubble and bench players that could make an impact this week, even if they might not make an impact every week, and on bubble and bench players that might not make an impact this week.
Alex Smith, Washington Redskins [ESPN Own: 63% / Start: 17%]: Washington is facing the league’s worst passing defense in New Orlean’s this week and Alex Smith has demonstrated the level of consistent play he has exhibited over the past thirteen years. Smith is a high ceiling play in Week Five boosted by the likelihood that this could, like most New Orlean’s games, turn into a shootout.
Blake Bortles, Jacksonville Jaguars [ESPN Own: 34% / Start: 14%]: Blake Bortles has kept his turnovers in check this season and has seen modest success as a result. Bortles has been just shy of 400 yards twice this season and will now play a Kansas City team that has let up 1,372 yards in four weeks. Most notably the gains he made in 2017 seem to have stuck – keeping him as a dark horse to finish in the top-10 quarterbacks in 2018.
Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs [ESPN Own: 98% / 74%]: Through Four Weeks, Kansas City has played four of the league’s worst defenses and Patrick Mahomes has reaped the rewards, currently sitting at the top of the quarterback rankings. Jacksonville presents Mahomes toughest challenge yet and if fantasy football is about making safe plays for consistent wins – there are plenty of great, safer streaming options in Week Five.
Start: Running Backs
Nyheim Hines, Indianapolis Colts [ESPN Own: 43% / Start: 14%]: While Nyheim Hines does not get carries associated with a top back, he does get a WR1 share of targets and was on the field for 69% of the snaps in Week Four (and should remain stable in Week Five with Marlon Mack still out). Hines is trending up as a fantasy back and is a good play in Week Five.
Kerryon Johnson, Detroit Lions [ESPN Own: 29% / Start: 78%]: Kerryon Johnson is averaging 5.6 yards per carry and is second to only Theo Riddick in snap counts for Detroit running backs. Johnson is again a strong play against Green Bay and should maintain a useable share of the carries on a team featuring three running backs.
Sit: Running Backs
Kenyan Drake, Miami Dolphins [ESPN Own: 90% / Start: 35%]: I would prefer to extend this to all Miami backs as Kenyan Drake only has six yards in the past two weeks. While this means that Frank Gore should see more carries, neither has been effective this season and short of a touchdown will be fantasy irrelevant. Time to start keeping an eye on Kalen Ballage.
Start: Wide Receivers
John Brown, Baltimore Ravens [ESPN Own: 69% / Start: 36%]: For the second straight week, John Brown is a great bubble play against a Cleveland defense that has been torn up by every team except the New York Jets. Although Michael Crabtree is the defacto top receiver in Baltimore, Brown has excelled through a high target share and stretching the field for large gains.
Tyler Boyd, Cincinnati Bengals [ESPN Own: 74% / Start: 44%]: Tyler Boyd saw a league-high 15 targets in Week Four for which he brought in 11 for 100 yards. Boyd is now the most targeted receiver in Cincinnati and should be a useful complement to A.J. Green as Green takes the top coverage each week – even against a tough Miami defense in Week Five.
Sit: Wide Receivers
Corey Davis, Tennesee Titans [ESPN Own: 85% / Start: 46%]: Like Tyler Boyd, Corey Davis saw 15 targets in Week Four and thoroughly capitalized on the targets, bringing in nine for 161 yards and a touchdown. Unlike Boyd, however, Davis has seen inconsistent targets and even in games where he has seen double digits has otherwise been unable to do anything relevant. Until Davis can prove more consistent, he is best left on the bench in Week Five.
Start: Tight Ends
Vance McDonald, Pittsburgh Steelers [ESPN Own: 82% / Start: 59%]: Vance McDonald asserted himself as the go-to receiving tight end in Pittsburgh in Week Four. McDonald has seen five targets each week that he has played this season and has seen enough red zone looks to be worthy of a start in Week Five against Atlanta.
Sit: Tight Ends
Austin Hooper, Atlanta Falcons [ESPN Ownership: 44% / Start: 27%]: Even against a beatable Pittsburgh defense, Matt Ryan will have three looks before he gets to Austin Hooper. While Hooper could wind up with a touchdown, there are better plays in Week Five with more receiving upside in addition to the traditional tight end boom/bust.
Carolina Panthers D/ST [ESPN Own: 66% / Start: 50%]: Saquon Barkley, despite his success, has not been able to gain traction on the ground and Eli Manning has not had a return to form as New York had hoped. Carolina’s D/ST has a great chance for success as New York will again post modest offensive numbers.
Green Bay Packers D/ST [ESPN Own: 46% / Start: 33%]: Other than a shutout of Buffalo and a defensive touchdown in Week Two, Green Bay’s defense has struggled this season. Detroit, for its faults, still has an offense-first mentality and should force a shootout in Detroit in Week Five.