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START/BENCH: Week 5

We’ve made it a month into the 2017 NFL season. That means this year’s fantasy campaign is a quarter of the way over. In some formats as much as one-third of the fantasy regular season has come and gone.

Now that we’re a ways in, there are three main groups of fantasy owners. There are the fortunate few sitting at 4-0 or 3-1 thanks to the likes of Kansas City Chiefs tailback Kareem Hunt. For them life is one big happy dance right now.

Then there are the 2-2 crowd, owners for whom some things have gone right while others not so much. Still, they’re doing their best to stay calm. All is well. No need to come unglued,

Nope, the panic is reserved for the 1-3 and 0-4 crowd, a group who are watching their season slip away before we even hit Halloween.

However, no matter the status of your season to date, it’s vital that you don’t freak out. No ill-advised trades or panic drops. It isn’t too late for losing teams to reverse their fortunes – or for winning teams to take a turn for the worse.

Just ask the folks who lost Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook for the season last week.

Whether you’re sitting pretty of trying to get back on track, it’s vitally important that all fantasy owners put their best foot forward each and every week.

And that’s where the Start/Bench column comes in each week here at Fantasy Sharks. Not by offering an ironclad blueprint on who to plug into lineups, but by providing you some matchup information that can aid you in making an educated decision for your team.

The rest is up to you.

BYE WEEKS

NOTE: It’s the first of the bye weeks. The Atlanta Falcons, Denver Broncos, New Orleans Saints and Washington Redskins are all off in Week 5.

QUARTERBACKS

STUDS

Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay (at Dallas)

Tom Brady, New England (at Tampa Bay)

Drew Brees, New Orleans (BYE)

Matt Ryan, Atlanta (BYE)

Russell Wilson, Seattle (at Los Angeles Rams)

 

SPOT START OF THE WEEK

Jay Cutler, Miami (vs. Tennessee)

Dolphins head coach Adam Gase told Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald it’s not all Cutler’s fault the Dolphins have struggled so badly offensively. “If we protect him and give him a second to throw the ball,” Gase said, “we’ll be all right. If he is going to get hit from start to finish, I don’t care who you put back there. We need to do a better job of protecting him and being where we’re supposed to be.”

Make no mistake – Cutler and the Miami offense have looked terrible pretty much the entire season. But if they’re ever going to right the ship this is the week. Only one team in the NFL have allowed more fantasy points to quarterbacks in Sharks League Scoring than a Titans defense that was just shredded by Deshaun Watson, and Tennessee is surrendering 2.75 passing touchdowns per game.

 

ROLL THEM OUT

Carson Palmer, Arizona (at Philadelphia)

At the rate Carson Palmer is taking sacks, he may not survive the season. Heck he may not survive the weekend. But Palmer topped 350 passing yards last week against the San Francisco 49ers, the Redbirds can’t run the ball even a little bit right now and the Eagles can be thrown on – they are sixth in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks in 2017.

Deshaun Watson, Houston (vs. Kansas City)

Per Heath Cummings of CBS Sports, Watson is now an every-week starter under center. “He’s now the No. 4 Fantasy quarterback for the season,” Cummings said, “and he didn’t even start Week 1. He’s also still just 50 percent owned. In a week in which we lost Marcus Mariota and Derek Carr, we gained a long-term No. 1 quarterback. Start Watson with confidence moving forward.”

 

SIT THEM DOWN

Andy Dalton, Cincinnati (vs. Buffalo)

Dalton’s coming off a monster effort against the hapless Cleveland Browns, who the Red Rifle lit up for four touchdowns – twice as many as he threw in the first three games of the 2017 season combined. However, looking for a repeat this week at home against the Bills is ill-advised and then some – Buffalo’s defense most assuredly ain’t Cleveland.

Cam Newton, Carolina (at Detroit)

Like Dalton, Newton’s coming off his best game of the season by far. He threw for three scores and over 300 yards against the Patriots a week ago and added another 40 yards and a touchdown on the ground. But like Dalton smart fantasy owners won’t get carried away – the Detroit Lions are giving up the fourth-fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks through four games this season.

Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh (vs. Jacksonville)

The Pittsburgh Steelers got a big AFC North win over the Baltimore Ravens in Week 4, but it came without a big day from Big Ben. In fact, he hasn’t really had a big game to date this season. This week he gets a Jacksonville defense surrendering the fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks in 2017, and Roethlisberger’s No. 1 wide receiver is mad at him to boot.

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 an nine-time FSWA Award finalist and three-time winner who has been a finalist for that organization's Fantasy Football Writer of the Year award each of the last four years. He won the honor in 2017 and 2019. 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.