Fantasy football: Week 5 starters, benchwarmers

Ladd Biro
Special to Packer Plus
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Wondering whether or not to start Aaron Rodgers and Jordy Nelson, or to bench E.J. Manuel and Tavon Austin? The network bozos specialize in that kind of advice. If you’re looking for help with your real starting lineup conundrums, read on.

Here are my picks to roll, and get rolled, in Week 5 of the 2017 season.

Watch ‘em roll

Jacoby Brissett, QB, Colts vs. 49ers: With so many QBs unavailable this weekend, many of us will be digging deep for a viable starter. Don’t ignore Brissett, who is maturing quickly and will be facing a 49ers defense that just got lit up by Jared Goff. Brissett has talented receivers at his disposal, and when the opportunity strikes, he can run.

LeGarrette Blount, RB, Eagles vs. Cardinals: Just when we thought Blount was kaput, he rises like a phoenix to prove that he can still be the pounding back we remember from New England. Philly is leaning more on Blount to take the pressure off Carson Wentz, and he should continue grinding out the yards against the visitors from Arizona.

Carlos Hyde, RB, 49ers at Colts: Hyde appears to have put his hip injury to rest, and he is finding his groove in Kyle Shanahan’s new offense. The 49ers are leaning on Hyde to offset their obvious weaknesses in the passing game. Indy’s run defense is above average, but they were exposed last week against the struggling Seattle rushing attack.

Randall Cobb, WR, Packers at Cowboys: Though optimism abounds that Davante Adams will clear the concussion protocol in time for Sunday’s game, his snaps could very well be limited if he suits up. That opens the door widely for Cobb to shine alongside Jordy Nelson as Aaron Rodgers carves up the Cowboys’ generous secondary.

Jaron Brown, WR, Cardinals at Eagles: This is a great matchup for Carson Palmer and his squadron of receivers. Jaron Brown has been a target hog in recent weeks, and that should continue as Arizona struggles with its ground game. John Brown’s Week 4 return went well, so look for him to get in on the action in this contest as well.

More thumbs up (excluding the no-brainers): QBs Russell Wilson, Carson Palmer; RBs Jordan Howard, DeMarco Murray, Lamar Miller, Leonard Fournette, Bilal Powell; WRs Jarvis Landry, Larry Fitzgerald, T.Y. Hilton, Adam Thielen, Golden Tate, Kelvin Benjamin, Tyreek Hill, Sterling Shepard, Will Fuller.

Roll ‘em back

Carson Wentz, QB, Eagles vs. Cardinals: Now that Philly has rediscovered its running game, Wentz’s passing has taken a back seat. That trend should continue against the stifling Cardinals secondary led by shutdown corner Patrick Peterson. I’m not worried about turnovers from Wentz; just mediocre yardage and a ceiling of one TD pass.

Latavius Murray, RB, Vikings at Bears: Murray has admitted that his ankle is not yet fully healed, so don’t be surprised if he is eased into his new starting gig. Jerick McKinnon will remain the passing-down back, further limiting Murray’s receiving touches. Meanwhile, the Bears are defending the run very well thus far.

Joe Mixon, RB, Bengals vs. Bills: Mixon is slowly separating himself from his backfield mates, but he’s still a work in progress. Buffalo’s run defense coughed up chunks of yards to the Falcons’ talented RB duo, but they’ve played much better against weaker rushing attacks. Like Cincinnati’s.

Devin Funchess, WR, Panthers at Lions: Like those two TDs by Funchess last week? I’ll bet you a buck he’ll still have just two TDs for the season by Sunday evening. Not only don’t I trust Cam Newton despite his stellar outing against the pathetic Patriots secondary, but Funchess has a long way to go before he can be trusted in any starting fantasy lineup.

Martavis Bryant, WR, Steelers vs. Jaguars: Even though Big Ben will be playing in the comfortable confines of Heinz Field, he’s in for a tough test against Jacksonville’s elite corners and ferocious pass rush. Bryant has only had one strong fantasy showing all season, so we’ll have to wait another week to see his next one.

More thumbs down: QBs Cam Newton, Philip Rivers, Ben Roethlisberger, Jared Goff, Tyrod Taylor, Joe Flacco, Blake Bortles; RBs Jonathan Stewart, Ameer Abdullah, Theo Riddick, Chris Johnson, Derrick Henry, Javorius Allen, Aaron Jones, Paul Perkins; WRs Amari Cooper, Rishard Matthews, Marvin Jones, Zay Jones, Kenny Britt, Tyrell Williams, Travis Benjamin, Cooper Kupp, Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffery, Mike Wallace, Jeremy Maclin, Allen Hurns.


Josh McCown, QB, Jets at Browns: No Drew Brees. No Matt Ryan. No Kirk Cousins or Trevor Siemian or Derek Carr or Andrew Luck or Marcus Mariota (probably). So whatcha gonna do? Consider taking a flier on McCown, who is the definition of mediocre, but he’s playing a defense that has surrendered two or more TDs to Brissett, Flacco, Dalton and Roethlisberger already this season.

DON’T BE THE BONEHEAD WHO…makes a desperation trade that you’ll soon regret in an attempt to jumpstart your underperforming team. There’s still a lot of football to be played. Even if you’re sitting at 1-3 or 0-4, it’s not over. Savvy waiver-wire moves can boost your prospects and, yes, a wise trade or two can help address weaknesses. Just don’t allow yourself to be exploited by preying competitors who can sense your panic.

Ladd Biro is a two-time winner and five-time finalist of the Football Writer of the Year Award by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association. Follow all his advice daily at the Fantasy Fools blog (, on Facebook and via Twitter (@ladd_biro).

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