Thursday - Jan 17, 2019

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START/BENCH: Week 5

If you’ve been reading this column all season, then you know I’ve been reluctant to make big changes to the “Studs” lists at each position early in the year. If you haven’t been reading this column all season, then welcome and scee-roo you—in equal measure.

I’m complicated. A misunderstood genius in my own mind.

There’s a couple reasons why I wanted to avoid knee-jerk changes. The first is that the fine folks at MyFantasyLeague use the “Studs” list in this piece as the “Can’t Cut” list at the site. Personally I dislike can’t cut lists on general principle (much like league votes on trades, if you need one to prevent shenanigans then your league has bigger issues), but I take the responsibility of crafting one seriously.

The second is that the only thing fantasy owners love more than a big game is over-reacting to one—or freaking out about a slump. There’s a reason why players started the year on (or off) the “Studs” list. One or two games shouldn’t change that.

There were exceptions (see Mahomes, Patrick), but for the most part the lists have been the same over the season’s first month. No yo-yo from this yahoo.

Now, however, it’s time to make some changes. Russell Wilson of the Seahawks is coming off his worst fantasy outing of the year and ranks outside the Top 20 fantasy quarterbacks on an offense that’s not going to magically get better.

He gone.

Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen, on the other hand, is clearly Kirk Cousins‘ top target and has over 20 PPR fantasy points in three of four games. Only two wideouts have more fantasy points.

If that’s not a stud, then what is?

I’m still going to try to endeavor not to be pulling handfuls of players on and off the list each week. It should be an exclusive club, and it takes more than one bad week to get kicked out of it.

But there’s a player or two hanging on by the proverbial thread.

Looking at you, David Johnson. Looking right…at…you.

It’s the second of the bye weeks in Week 5. The Chicago Bears and Tampa Bay Buccaneers are off, so no Jordan Howard or Mike Evans.

QUARTERBACKS

STUDS

OFF THE LIST: Russell Wilson (vs. LAR): Maybe getting Doug Baldwin back will jump-start the Seattle offense. But going against the red-hot Rams Sunday isn’t a matchup that inspires a lot of confidence.

SPOT-START OF THE WEEK

Blake Bortles, JAX (at KCC)

After his second huge outing over the last three weeks against the New York Jets, All-Pro defensive end Calais Campbell told ESPN’s Michael DiRocco that he continues to be blown away by Bortles’ improvement and development.

“Just seeing Blake command the troops and get everybody lined up and focused and ready and just … he’s out there like a surgeon, just precisely throwing great passes, leading the troops, making the right calls,” Campbell said. “It’s amazing see him maturing into this incredible quarterback.”

I hate myself for falling for this—it never fails that every time I recommend and/or start Bortles that he turns back into “Bad Blake.” But in two of the last three games Bortles has topped 375 passing yards, the Jags are going to need a lot of points against the Chiefs and KC can’t defend a lick.

Not…a…lick.

ROLL THEM OUT

Andrew Luck, IND (at NEP)

Yes, it looks like Luck will be without T.Y. Hilton (hamstring) this week for the Thursday night trip to Gillette Stadium. But Luck’s coming off easily his best game of the season and the Pats are not a good defensive football team. Here comes garbage time!

Ben Roethlisberger, PIT (vs. ATL)

Roethlisberger hasn’t been quite good enough to merit promotion to the “Studs” list, but Pittsburgh can’t run the ball at all or play defense right now. Luckily, Atlanta’s defense might even be worse—this game is going to be a shootout.

Alex Smith , WAS (at NOS)

Alex Smith is the Rodney Dangerfield of NFL quarterbacks—he gets next to no respect from NFL fans or fantasy owners. However, the veteran’s been quietly solid so far for the Redskins, and he’s going to have to throw the ball to keep up with Drew Brees and the Saints.

SIT THEM DOWN

Andy Dalton, CIN (vs. MIA)

Dalton’s off to a good start this season—he’s inside QB1 territory in 12-team leagues through four weeks. But after a month we’re getting a feel for good/bad matchups, and Miami’s been the latter for quarterbacks—26th in fantasy points allowed to the position.

Patrick Mahomes, KCC (vs. JAX)

There’s exactly zero chance after his Monday night heroics that any fantasy owners are going to sit Mahomes in Week 5. But the reality is that the second-year pro hasn’t seen a defense near the caliber of the one coming to Arrowhead Sunday.

Russell Wilson, SEA (vs. LAR)

I’ll confess that there’s a part of me that envisions Wilson pulling a great game from his backside this week at home and leading the Seahawks to an upset win over the Rams. I’ve seen enough of both teams playing this season to know that part of me is drunk.

About Gary Davenport

A member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association and Pro Football Writers of America who resides in Columbus, Ohio, Gary has been featured on a number of fantasy websites and in nationally circulated publications. These publications include the USA Today Fantasy Football Preview and the magazines distributed by Fantasy Sports Publications Inc., for whom Gary is a both a contributing author and associate editor. Gary is a seven-time FSWA Award finalist and two-time winner who was named the organization's Fantasy Football Writer of the Year for 2017. Gary also appears regularly on Sirius XM Radio (including live from Radio Row at Super Bowl XLIX) and over-the-air stations across the country. Gary was one of the co-founders of, and Head Writer at, Fantasy Football Oasis before joining Fantasy Sharks as an IDP Senior Staff Writer in 2011. He knows football. Or so he's heard.