Start ‘Em or Sit ‘Em is geared toward redraft leagues but can also be used for setting DFS lineups, as these are the players I’ll likely have exposure to on Sunday.
Start of the Week: Derek Carr vs. Chargers: Pro Football Focus’ No. 1 quarterback at the season’s quarter pole, Carr is coming off a Week 4 win where he threw four touchdowns and displayed some intestinal fortitude in a very tough road spot at the previously 3-0 Ravens. Carr dominated in the red zone, finding sure-handed Michael Crabtree for three touchdowns and Seth Roberts on another. He’s attempted at least 35 passes in all four starts and has been sacked a league-low two times behind Football Outsiders’ No. 1 pass-blocking offensive line in DVOA. When re-watching Raiders games on NFL Game Pass, it’s amazing to see the clean pockets Carr gets week in and week out. As a defense, the Chargers are 21st in adjusted sack rate, so Carr should be working in a comfortable pocket once again on Sunday, at home, in a game with the highest over-under of the week at 50.5 points. The Chargers also just lost No. 1 cover man Jason Verrett to a season-ending ACL tear on Wednesday. Verrett had been playing the past two games with the injury. Even with Verrett in the lineup, the Chargers have allowed the fifth-most pass yards and fourth-most fantasy points to quarterbacks. With Latavius Murray (toe) doubtful, it could be a reason to lean even more on Carr and the passing game. Replacement RBs DeAndre Washington and Jalen Richard are both very capable receivers. This also looks like a spot for Amari Cooper to break out.
Brian Hoyer at Colts: Jay Cutler (thumb) remains sidelined and isn’t going to play this week. Even if he was healthy, coach John Fox has hinted Hoyer can keep the starting job. It’s not hard to see the offense has ran much smoother and under control with Hoyer under center the past two games against the Cowboys and Lions. Across the two starts, Hoyer has fired off 51 and 38 pass attempts, eclipsing 300 yards in each game, and tossing a total of four touchdowns to no interceptions. He now gets a Colts team that just played in London last Sunday and is probably dealing with a serious case of jet lag this week. They’ll be on tired legs in an up-tempo game that features two teams — CHI (8th) and IND (13th) — that are top-13 in offensive pace. Indianapolis is the first team that has played in London and not had its bye the following week. The Colts were a defense to pick on the first couple weeks of the season, but they’re now healthy on the back end with Vontae Davis (ankle), Patrick Robinson (concussion), and nickel corner Darius Butler (hamstring, ankle) all healthy. Still, Indy gets no pass rush (24th in adjusted sack rate) and the Bears’ remade offensive line has started to come together after a tough first couple games. The Colts are 29th in pass-defense DVOA and 20th in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks. The emergence of rookie Jordan Howard at running back has taken a bit off Hoyer’s plate, but there’s still enough here to provide a QB1 week. The loss of Kevin White (ankle, I.R.) may only help make the offense more explosive if it means getting the ball to Alshon Jeffery more. Bears-Colts has some shootout potential with a 48-point over-under that is tied for second-highest of the week.
Carson Wentz at Lions: Prior to going on the Week 4 bye, Wentz was arguably the most impressive quarterback in the league the first three weeks. His 103.5 passer rating is tied for sixth-best, and coach Doug Pederson and OC Frank Reich have designed an offense that puts the No. 2 overall pick in position to succeed. Wentz has yet to turn the ball over, though he has fumbled three times only to see the Eagles recover each one, and we’ve yet to really see his dual-threat ability. He’s rushed for just 21 yards on nine scrambles, but the coaches say more designed runs could be coming as long as Wentz shows an ability to protect himself. Coming off the open week, Wentz couldn’t ask for a much better matchup. The Lions are 32nd in total defense DVOA, 32nd in pass defense, and 31st against the run. Only the Falcons have allowed more fantasy points to quarterbacks. Andrew Luck, Marcus Mariota, Aaron Rodgers, and Brian Hoyer have carved the Lions up for a 12:1 TD:INT ratio, 271.8 yards per game, and an 8.1 YPA average. The Eagles are three-point favorites in a game with a 46-point over-under and one Philadelphia will be considerably up in pace. Philly runs the league’s slowest-paced offense, while the Lions are fourth-fastest when the score is within six.
Eli Manning at Packers: Manning is coming off back-to-back mediocre outings against the Redskins at home and the Vikings on the road this past Monday night. His Week 4 performance in Minnesota was particularly dreadful, but the Vikings defense has been stymying opposing offenses every week. Things should loosen back up Sunday. The Packers field an elite run defense, but they’re 22nd in Football Outsiders’ pass-defense DVOA. No. 1 corner Sam Shields (concussion) also remains sidelined after visiting a specialist this past week. Green bay is allowing the fifth-most fantasy points to quarterbacks and 330 passing yards per game to the position. The Giants can’t expect to get much of anything going on the ground Sunday night, leaving the offense in Manning’s hands. This is a prime spot for him to get Odell Beckham back on track after a miserable Week 4 and emotionally-challenging Week 3 against Josh Norman. The Packers have been unable to contain opposing No. 1 receivers thus far. They’re 31st in DVOA against top pass-catchers, and Stefon Diggs (9-182-1) and Marvin Jones (6-205-2) had monstrous stat lines Weeks 2 and 3 before Green Bay’s bye.
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Matt Ryan at Broncos: Admittedly, advising Ryan as a “sit” last week completely backfired. He lit up the Panthers for 503 yards and four touchdowns in a shootout at the Georgia Dome. Fantasy football’s overall QB1 by more than 20 fantasy points over QB2 Drew Brees, Ryan has been white hot through the season’s first month. The train is bound to come to a screeching halt at some point. Ryan can’t keep this pace up, and a road date with the Broncos’ No. 3 pass-defense in DVOA might just be the kryptonite. Denver has only allowed two touchdown passes all season, while picking off five balls and surrendering the seventh-fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks. Among teams that have played four games, only the Texans and Ravens have yielded fewer passing yards. Aqib Talib (fifth) and Chris Harris (third) are both top-five cover corners at Pro Football Focus out of 114 qualifiers, and Talib figures to draw Julio Jones most of the time on Sunday. Quarterbacks have a 22.9 passer rating when throwing at Talib this season. If Talib and some safety help is able to take away Jones, Ryan doesn’t stand much of a chance. In his career, Ryan has also fared much worse on the road. And unlike Carolina, the Broncos have been harassing quarterbacks with a league-best 17 sacks.
Matthew Stafford vs. Eagles: True to what has seemed to be his career form, Stafford has been alternating strong weeks with duds through four games. He’s carved up the Colts and Packers, while face-planting against the Titans and Bears. Stafford now gets a rested Eagles team coming off their bye. New DC Jim Schwartz’s unit is allowing the fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks, and the Eagles are the only team yet to allow a passing touchdown. Robert Griffin III, Jay Cutler/Brian Hoyer, and Ben Roethlisberger have combined to go 57-of-99 (57.6 percent) passing for 682 yards (6.89 YPA) and a 0:3 TD:INT ratio. The Eagles are No. 1 in Football Outsiders’ pass-defense DVOA. A year after facing the most plays in the league on defense, the Eagles have faced the fewest plays per game through four weeks. Philly’s offense is also 32nd in pace. There simply may not be enough volume here to lift Stafford to a top-12 finish. Schwartz also knows Stafford really well after he was the Lions’ head coach from 2009-2013 and drafted Stafford. The Lions’ implied total of 21.5 points is one of the lower totals of the week. Philadelphia is three-point road favorites.
Kirk Cousins at Ravens: Playing on the one-year franchise tag tender, Cousins has yet to really get his play off the ground this season. He threw three touchdowns in an A-plus home matchup with the Browns last week, but Cousins only managed to total 183 yards and 6.8 YPA. He also tossed an interception and has been picked off in 3-of-4 games. Heading back out on the road against a Ravens defense that is No. 4 in Football Outsiders’ DVOA and ninth against the pass, Cousins isn’t stepping into a situation that figures to offer him much success. While LCB Shareece Wright has been an obvious sore spot for the Ravens’ pass defense, the unit as a whole has mostly been clicking on all cylinders. They did allow four touchdowns at home to Derek Carr last week, but Carr picked Baltimore apart in the red zone and still failed to top 200 yards. Cousins’ home-road splits have been pretty drastic. His passer rating is 14 points lower away from home, and he averages more than a full yard less per attempt with a 25:20 TD:INT ratio. The Ravens are eighth in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks. Washington’s 20.75 implied team total is the seventh-lowest of Week 5.
Start of the Week: Todd Gurley vs. Bills: Fantasy owners have probably “had it up to here” with Gurley after four weeks. A top-three running back selection and first- or second-round fantasy pick in the summer, Gurley is currently overall RB23. He’s rushed for 51 yards or fewer and zero touchdowns in 3-of-4 games. His 2.6 YPC average is 45th among 51 running backs. But this isn’t Gurley’s fault. The Rams’ offensive line is 27th in Football Outsiders’ run-blocking DVOA, 31st at the second level, and 30th in open field rank. The blockers simply aren’t opening any holes at the line or stringing blocks together, as evidenced by 193 of Gurley’s 217 rushing yards coming after contact. As soon as he gets the ball, Gurley has defenders in his face. A breakout game is coming, though, and against a Bills team that is traveling cross-country off a Rex Ryan Super Bowl win over the Patriots on the road in Week 4, this presents a perfect letdown spot for Buffalo. The Bills have allowed the fourth-most rushing touchdowns to running backs. In Week 2, Matt Forte rushed for 100 yards and three scores on 30 carries against the Bills. Week 3, David Johnson hung a 19-83-2 rushing line, and last week LeGarrette Blount averaged 4.2 YPC on 13 totes. Gurley is an elite runner in the same class as Johnson and Forte. As an added bonus, Gurley caught a career-high five passes last week against Arizona and could be in line for extra pass-game work moving forward. On FanDuel, Gurley’s price has dropped $1,300 since Week 1. He’s in play over there at $7,600.
LeGarrette Blount at Browns: Blount was limited in Wednesday’s practice with a hip issue. He landed on injured reserve late last season with a hip injury, so this bears watching, but being that it’s the Patriots, we’re unlikely to learn anything before Sunday. New England routinely lists its injured players as “limited” practice participants and questionable on the final injury report. We’re assuming he plays against Cleveland. While the talk around Patriots land has been about Tom Brady coming off suspension, Blount has gone to the back of peoples’ minds. Most are expecting “Angry Tom” to come out firing on every play and trying to throw for eight touchdowns. That may be true, but Blount is also in a phenomenal spot should he be healthy. The Browns have been getting killed on the ground. They’re 28th in run-defense DVOA and have allowed the eighth-most fantasy points to running backs. Cleveland is surrendering over 4.31 YPC, and Matt Jones just piled up 117 yards and a score on 22 carries against the Browns last week. It was Jones’ second career 100-yard rushing game. The Patriots are 10.5-point road favorites and sport the week’s highest implied team total at 29 points. In games the Patriots won by 10-plus points last season, Blount averaged 17.4 carries for 81.2 yards (4.67 YPC) and scored four touchdowns. If he plays Sunday, Blount will be an elite RB1.
Jerick McKinnon vs. Texans: After averaging just 51 rushing yards per game the first three weeks, the Vikings finally got their running game off the mat last Monday night against the Giants. McKinnon turned in a superb 18-85-1 rushing line, while Matt Asiata added a one-yard touchdown plunge. In two games without Adrian Peterson (knee, I.R.), McKinnon has dominated both the snaps (82 to 48) and touches (38 to 15) over Asiata. After facing the Panthers and Giants in Weeks 3 and 4, McKinnon now gets a Texans defense that has been getting rocked on the ground. Especially after losing J.J. Watt (back, I.R.) for the season, this unit is far less scary. Weeks 1-4, Houston has yielded rushing lines of 17-57-1 (Jeremy Langford), 16-118 (Spencer Ware/Charcandrick West), 24-105-2 (LeGarrette Blount), and 25-95-2 (DeMarco Murray). The Texans are allowing over 4.49 YPC to running backs and check in at 30th in run-defense DVOA. Only seven teams run the ball at a higher clip than the Vikings. Not wanting to put too much on Sam Bradford’s plate, Minnesota remains a run-oriented offense. McKinnon has a floor of 15 carries and upside for more as a home run hitter.
DeAndre Washington vs. Chargers: As mentioned previously, Latavius Murray (toe) is considered doubtful for Sunday. Murray hasn’t looked the same this season, and rookies Washington and Jalen Richard have taken turns running circles around him. Washington is averaging a robust 6.4 YPC on 21 totes and has also reeled in all six of his pass-game targets for 37 yards. Richard has been just as impressive with an 8.5 YPC average on 17 carries to go along with a 5-37 receiving line on seven targets. They’ve played equal snaps. Both should be owned in 12-team leagues in the event Murray misses more time or one of the youngsters runs away with the lead-back job. Washington is considered the likely starter this week, and it was reported last Sunday that the Raiders already had wanted to increase his role. Look for the two to split Murray’s duties, with Washington looking at a probable floor of 12-15 touches. The Chargers are 21st in run-defense DVOA and have allowed the third-most fantasy points and third-most rushing touchdowns to running backs. Not only are the Bolts giving up touchdowns on the ground, they’ve also surrendered the second-most catches for the third-most yards and most receiving touchdowns to opposing backs. Washington and Richard have every-down skill sets and are likely to be featured in this one. Chargers-Raiders has the highest over-under of the week at 50.5 points.
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Matt Jones at Ravens: It’s tough to truly sit a running back with Jones’ potential workload. He carried the ball 22 times last week against Cleveland, and it looks as if the Redskins are trying to make a concerted effort to feature Jones and the running game with Kirk Cousins struggling a bit out of the gates. But it’s just so hard to see Jones replicating last week’s numbers in a much stiffer matchup on the road. While the Browns are bringing up the rear in most run-defense categories, the Ravens are leading the pack as the league’s top run-stuffing unit. Baltimore is No. 1 in run-defense DVOA, fourth in fantasy points allowed to running backs, and fifth in rushing yards allowed per game at just 80. Last week’s 117-yard effort was Jones’ second-career 100-yard game. The Ravens’ defense is loaded with elite run stoppers. Both 3-4 ends Timmy Jernigan and Lawrence Guy are top-six against the run at their position at Pro Football Focus. NT Brandon Williams was No. 3 against the run among 69 qualifying interior linemen last season. ILB C.J. Mosley is PFF’s No. 6 player at his position. And SS Eric Weddle is No. 1 among safeties. Baltimore has top-end talent at all three levels of the defense. Jones is highly unlikely to find much running room Sunday.
Jeremy Hill at Cowboys: To this point, Hill has yet to show his 2014 rookie form after a down sophomore season. Through four games, Hill’s 3.8 YPC mark is 28th among running backs, and a large chunk of his production came in one game — and one run in particular — against the Broncos in Week 3. Hill had a long run of 51 yards against Denver, and 43.9 percent of his yards and 2-of-3 touchdowns came in that game. Much like last season, Hill has been very boom-or-bust. His schedule has admittedly been tough, but it doesn’t lighten up much this week. The Cowboys are 16th in run-defense DVOA and 12th in fantasy points allowed to running backs. Due to Dallas’ slow pace on offense, among teams that have played four games, the Cowboys have faced the fewest rushing attempts against them. Hill needs volume and/or goal-line plunges to produce fantasy stats because he isn’t a home run hitter. Bengals-Cowboys figures to be a slow game with the Bengals wanting to attack the boundaries with A.J. Green. Hill is a low-floor RB2/flex play.
Tevin Coleman at Broncos: Coleman is off to a terrific start as fantasy’s overall RB12. Teammate Devonta Freeman is RB13, and the two form arguably the league’s most dynamic backfield. But Coleman has the sickle cell trait that can cause serious problems at high altitudes like Denver. Coleman has never played in Denver, but has said he’s going to give it a go on Sunday. Back in 2007, Steelers FS Ryan Clark, who also has the sickle cell trait, had to be rushed to the hospital to have his spleen and gall bladder removed. It ended his season, and he lost 30 pounds as a result. While Coleman plans to play, and the Falcons will let him, the team is obviously going to keep a close eye on the situation. It makes sense for Atlanta to reduce Coleman’s work a bit and let Freeman carry more of the load to not put Coleman at risk. Coleman is shaping up as a shy-away RB3.
Start of the Week: DeVante Parker vs. Titans: Parker has become a bit of a forgotten man in fantasy over the past two weeks with the Dolphins having not played since last Thursday night and Parker only producing a 2-20-0 line on three targets in that game. He has a chance to bust back out in a big way Sunday. Parker runs the bulk of his routes at left cornerbacks, and Titans LCB Perrish Cox is Pro Football Focus’ No. 113 cover corner out of 114 qualifiers. Cox has been getting flamed by receivers but has also been getting extremely lucky at the same time. Golden Tate roasted Cox for a would-be 58-yard touchdown in Week 2, but Matthew Stafford over-threw him. The following week, Michael Crabtree walked Cox all over the field. Last Sunday, Will Fuller had Cox spinning in circles on his touchdown catch. It’s now Parker’s turn. Ryan Tannehill has been extremely disappointing, but this is still one of the more pass-happy offenses in the league. Parker is a big-play waiting to happen. He has arguably the best one-on-one matchup of the weekend.
Sammie Coates vs. Jets: A summer hype-piece All Pro, Coates’ light flickered off and on after a rough preseason. With Markus Wheaton missing the first couple games of the year with a shoulder injury, Coates took hold of the No. 2 job as the Steelers’ top deep threat. He’s played 57.1 percent of the offensive snaps and saw a season-high eight targets last week. His catch totals have also increased each week from two to two to three to six. Among receivers with at least 10 catches, Coates’ 21.69 YPR average is second only to Julio Jones (22.18). Coates leads the league with five grabs of 40-plus yards. The Jets have allowed the third-most (17) catches of 20-plus yards and most (7) of 40-plus. Should LCB Darrelle Revis (hamstring) play Sunday, Coates will see a lot of the former shutdown cover man. Revis was roasted by A.J. Green in Week 1 and allowed speedster Bills WR Marquise Goodwin to get loose for an 84-yard touchdown bomb in Week 2. New York is surrendered the seventh-most passing yards per game and the highest YPA. The Jets are 31st in pass-defense DVOA at Football Outsiders. Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown will be the reliable, sexy plays, but Coates is also on the WR3 map.
DeSean Jackson at Ravens: Jackson is coming off a disappointing one-catch game against Joe Haden and the Browns. As a whole, the Ravens field the league’s top defense. Baltimore is No. 1 in total yards allowed, third in pass defense, and fifth against the run. But if there’s one glaring weakness, it’s LCB Shareece Wright. He’s Pro Football Focus’ No. 100 cover corner out of 114 qualifiers and has allowed a position-high five touchdown passes in his coverage. No other cornerback has allowed more than three. Quarterbacks are completing 69 percent of their passes with a 130.5 passer rating when throwing at Wright. Jackson runs a bunch of his routes at left cornerbacks and figures to see the most of Wright’s coverage on Sunday.
Quincy Enunwa at Steelers: In the Jets’ first game without Eric Decker (shoulder), Enunwa got the start and played 67-of-71 offensive snaps against the Seahawks. He reeled in 6-of-7 targets for 60 yards in as tough of a matchup possible. Things should be a bit easier on Sunday. Steelers rookie nickel CB Sean Davis is Pro Football Focus’ No. 104 cover corner out of 114 qualifiers, and quarterbacks are completing over 80 percent of their passes when throwing at him. Jets-Steelers has the second-highest over-under of the week at 48 points, and Decker is fully expected to miss it. Enunwa will be a near-every snap player in a game the Jets are seven-point ‘dogs where they’ll likely be forced to play catch-up in the second half. Enunwa was averaging over eight targets per game with Decker in the lineup and should flirt with double-digit looks while Decker is sidelined.
Golden Tate vs. Eagles: Drafted as a WR2 in the summer, Tate has likely been dropped in some leagues. There are owners still holding on, but Tate is unlikely to find the light this weekend. Nothing has gone right for him through four weeks. Matthew Stafford has a 49.4 passer rating when throwing to Tate. He overshot Tate on a would-be long touchdown in Week 2 against the Titans, and then Tate ran the wrong route on a Stafford interception just before halftime last week against the Bears. The Lions benched Tate for most of the second half in favor of Andre Roberts. Tate’s 0.68 yards per pass route run is dead last among 48 receivers who have played at least 50 percent of the snaps. And his 7.4 YPR mark is second-worst, ahead of only Chiefs WR Albert Wilson. Not only is Tate near the bottom of every statistical category, this week’s matchup is nightmarish. The Eagles are No. 1 in Football Outsiders’ pass-defense DVOA and have allowed the fifth-fewest fantasy points to receivers. They’re the only team yet to allow a touchdown to a wide receiver.
Mike Wallace vs. Redskins: “New Mike Wallace” is leading the Ravens in red-zone targets with four, and he converted two of those into touchdowns Week 2 against the Browns. Since then, Wallace has posted receiving lines of 3-34-0 and 4-44-0 against the Jaguars and Raiders, respectively. His drop in production has coincided with Steve Smith Sr.’s rise. And this figures to be another Smith game. Smith has run almost 45 percent of his routes out of the slot, while Wallace is running 75 percent of his on the outside. Redskins shutdown CB Josh Norman doesn’t travel into the slot, so he figures to see the most of Wallace on Sunday. Norman is Pro Football Focus’ No. 8 cover corner out of 114 qualifiers. On top of the likelihood he sees Norman, Wallace and Joe Flacco aren’t connecting on deep balls after the two hooked up for a 66-yard bomb Week 1. Flacco is 30th in yards per attempt and has completed just two passes of 40-plus yards downfield.
Phillip Dorsett vs. Bears: In the two games since Donte Moncrief (shoulder blade) went down, Dorsett has mostly been a complete non-factor. Against the Chargers and Jaguars, Dorsett has been targeted a total of seven times. If not for a 64-yard touchdown late in the London loss to the Jaguars last week, Dorsett wouldn’t even be on the fantasy map for Week 5. Take that catch away, and Dorsett has managed a 3-27 receiving line since Moncrief got hurt. It’s been all T.Y. Hilton for the Colts. Bears DC Vic Fangio is doing a tremendous job with very little talent on the back end of his defense. Chicago is 12th in pass-defense DVOA and has allowed the sixth-fewest fantasy points to receivers. Bears LCB Jacoby Glenn has yet to allow a touchdown in his coverage.
Start of the Week: Zach Ertz at Lions: Ertz missed Weeks 2 and 3 with a displaced rib but is ready to rock out of the bye week and is practicing in full. He couldn’t dream of a better matchup out of the chute. The Lions have allowed the seventh-most catches for the ninth-most yards and most touchdowns to tight ends. Only the Falcons have surrendered more fantasy points to the position. Detroit WLB DeAndre Levy (knee, quad) and SS Tavon Wilson (neck) still aren’t practicing. These are the tight ends the Lions have faced with their receiving lines: Jack Doyle (3-35-1), Dwayne Allen (4-53-1), Delanie Walker (6-83-1), Richard Rodgers (2-9-1), and Zach Miller (3-31-1). It’s up to Ertz to continue the touchdown streak. He’s an elite TE1 with Julius Thomas, Travis Kelce, Coby Fleener, and Jimmy Graham all on their bye weeks.
Zach Miller at Colts: Miller missed practice with a ribs injury Wednesday, so it will be important to monitor him the remainder of the week. The Bears aren’t very forthcoming on injuries, but if Miller gets in a limited practice Thursday and Friday, he should be fine for Sunday. With Brian Hoyer at quarterback, Miller’s production has spiked. He’s become Hoyer’s go-to target in the red zone and has three touchdowns in Hoyer’s two starts. In total, Miller has caught 11-of-12 passes from Hoyer for 109 yards and the three scores. The Colts are coming back home after a long London trip and are sure to be a bit tired from the air travel. They’ve really struggled to cover tight ends through four weeks, checking in at No. 32 in Football Outsiders’ DVOA against the position. With the Bears also losing Kevin White (ankle) and his team-high 34 targets to injured reserve on Wednesday, Miller will likely be asked to take on an even bigger role behind Alshon Jeffery.
Cameron Brate at Panthers: In the two games since Austin Seferian-Jenkins was cut, Brate has played 132-of-166 (79.5 percent) offensive snaps and been targeted 16 times. His six red-zone targets over that span are easily most in the league, and Brate has turned them into two touchdowns. The former UDFA out of Harvard is more of a catch-and-fall tight end, but his presence in the scoring area is hard to ignore. Meanwhile, the Panthers have really found it tough to cover tight ends. They’ve allowed the third-most touchdowns and fourth-most fantasy points to the position. With Vincent Jackson in the twilight of his career, Brate has emerged as Jameis Winston’s No. 2 target.
Will Tye at Packers: Larry Donnell got knocked into next week by Vikings SLB Anthony Barr this past Monday night and suffered a concussion. He’s highly unlikely to get cleared in time for Sunday on a short week. Tye will handle tight-end duties by himself for the most part. In eight games without Donnell last season, Tye averaged just under six targets per game for 48.4 yards with three touchdowns. The Giants have obviously upgraded their supporting cast since last year by drafting Sterling Shepard and getting a return to health by Victor Cruz, but the Packers are giving up numbers to tight ends this season. Tight ends are averaging over five catches for 75 yards per game with two touchdowns against Green Bay. There are worse streamers than Tye in a potential shootout.
Kyle Rudolph vs. Texans: Rudolph has been incredible in three games with Sam Bradford at quarterback, scoring a touchdown in three-straight weeks. He’s clearly Bradford’s favorite target, particularly in the red zone. But a regression to the mean seems to be in order, as Rudolph obviously isn’t going to score every week. The Texans have allowed a total of 12 catches for 92 scoreless yards to tight ends this season, a group that includes Zach Miller, Travis Kelce, Martellus Bennett/Rob Gronkowski, and Delanie Walker. Houston is No. 1 in tight end defense DVOA and has given up the third-fewest fantasy points to the position. The Texans-Vikings over-under of 40 points isn’t a game to target.
Jacob Tamme at Broncos: Tamme saw a combined 15 targets Weeks 1 and 2 to lead the Falcons, but that seems to be a thing of the past with Tamme drawing a total of six targets the past two games. He scored on a one-yard touchdown against the Panthers last week, but Tamme’s ceding looks to the running backs, and Julio Jones is taking over as alpha dog again. The Broncos have yet to allow a tight end to catch a touchdown after one month of the season.
Dwayne Allen vs. Bears: Allen had a big Week 1 with a 4-53-1 line against the Lions, but it’s been all downhill from there. In the three games since, Allen has caught just seven total passes for 80 scoreless yards on 11 targets. The Colts are running more two-tight end sets with Allen and Jack Doyle, but Doyle has become Andrew Luck’s favorite target over the middle when he needs a first down. Neither player has scored since the opener. The Bears are allowing just 4.25 catches for 41 yards per game to the tight end position. Neither Allen nor Doyle is an attractive streaming option.