The San Francisco 49ers square off Thursday against the Arizona Cardinals at 5:25 p.m. PST. The Kansas City Chiefs, New Orleans Saints, Seattle Seahawks, and Jacksonville Jaguars will all be on bye this week so fantasy owners will be looking to replace some key starters. We have completed the first quarter of the season and it is evident that Carlos Hyde remains the 49ers lone fantasy stud. Last week showed fantasy players that Julio Jones is still a beast and the Steelers offense will, once again, run through Le’Veon Bell.
We’re back with some start/sit advice as you set your lineups for week 5.
49ers-Cardinals: Blaine Gabbert has been consistently mediocre and should continue riding the pine, even in deeper leagues. The Cardinals have an elite defense and should have no problem bottling up the beleaguered 49ers passing attack. With the injury to Carson Palmer, Drew Stanton will be taking over the reins this week. The 49ers passing defense has been middle of the road so far but has yielded eight touchdowns through the air to this point. I expect Bruce Arians to protect Stanton by pounding the rock and giving him some easy reads and play-actions.
Start: None; Sit: Blaine Gabbert, Drew Stanton
Other Starts: Derek Carr is off to a solid start, posting nine touchdowns to only one interception, and he has a tasty matchup against a Chargers team that is giving up nearly 300 yards per game to quarterbacks. On the other side of the ball, Philip Rivers should have no problem finding open receivers against a Raiders defense that has given up more passing yards than any other team this year. If your signal-caller is on bye this week, consider starting rookie quarterback Carson Wentz. He faces a Lions defense that has given up 12 touchdowns through the air and he continues his impressive streak of passes without an interception.
Other Sits: Matthew Stafford is coming off a brutal two-pick game and has a tough home game against an Eagles defense that has yet to yield a passing touchdown this year. Likewise, Ryan Tannehill is coming off an uninspiring performance and plays against a Titans defense that has recorded four interceptions and only given up four touchdowns through the air. Don’t expect a lights-out performance from Kirk Cousins either as the Ravens are only allowing quarterbacks to throw for 176 yards per game.
49ers-Cardinals: Carlos Hyde threw up a stinker against the Panthers but has 177 yards and three touchdowns over the past two weeks. Despite a tough matchup against the Cardinals and a short week he should continue seeing plenty of touches and, most importantly, goal line carries. Hyde is a top ten fantasy running back and should continue starting for your team. David Johnson has 300 yards and three touchdowns on the ground but boasts an impressive 210 receiving yards. Look for the Cardinals to hand it off to him early and often. Johnson should have no trouble finding holes in the 49ers front seven and will be a contributor in the passing game with Stanton at the helm. Start: Carlos Hyde, David Johnson; Sit: Everybody else.
Other Starts: After a disappointing rookie campaign where he was unable to find paydirt all year, Melvin Gordon is off to a hot start logging six touchdowns over the past four weeks. The last two weeks have seen him more involved in the passing game and against a porous Raiders defense he should continue his prolific season. LeGarrette Blount had a difficult time finding running room last week facing stacked boxes, but with Tom Brady returning from his suspension Bill Belichick may look to run up the score against a soft Browns defense. Terrance West got his first start of the season after Justin Forsett was handed his walking papers. West racked up over 100 yards on the ground and one touchdown. He next faces a Washington team that has yielded an NFL-worst eight touchdowns on the ground to this point. If your running back is on bye this week take a flier on Jordan Howard, who took over the Bears backfield last week and logged 132 yards from scrimmage.
Other Sits: DeAngelo Williams has fallen into fantasy irrelevancy and should be dropped in all formats with the return on Le’Veon Bell. For those of you waiting for Matt Jones to have his breakout game he didn’t disappoint last week, but that elation will be short-lived with a difficult road game against a tough Ravens defense. Theo Riddick continues to be an integral past of the Lions air attack but he still has not managed more than 45 yards on the ground. With the Eagles up next on the schedule I would not expect his yardage totals to move up much. Until Giovani Bernard is able to carve out a greater role in the Bengals offense he should continue to keep your bench warm.
49ers-Cardinals: Jeremy Kerley was able to log his first touchdown in the red and gold last week and looks to be on pace to play against the Cardinals. Unless you are in a PPR league it is too risky to start Kerley given the 49ers lethargic passing attack. With Blaine Gabbert at the helm, Torrey Smith has become an afterthought in an offense that cannot utilize his downfield-threat capabilities. With Drew Stanton leading the Cardinals their passing attack will be a shadow of its former self. Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Floyd, and John Brown should all be owned in your league but their production with Drew Stanton will be difficult to assess. The 49ers passing defense has been capable and with David Johnson tearing up the 49ers defense Drew Stanton may not have to pass much in this contest. Start: None; Maybe Start: Jeremy Kerley, Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Floyd, John Brown Sit: Everybody else.
Other Starts: After watching Julio Jones absolutely dominate the Panthers last week, owners should expect Mike Evans to return to form after a week where he was held out of the endzone for the first time this season. Emmanuel Sanders has finally gotten on track this year and when rookie signal-caller Paxton Lynch entered the game Sanders saw an uptick in his targets. Even if Trevor Siemian starts this week, Sander should continue receiving targets against a Falcons defense that has given up an NFL-worst 13 touchdowns through the air. The Packers are giving up over 300 yards per game to quarterbacks and owners should expect Sterling Shepard to have a bounceback game with Morgan Burnett and Sam Shields watching from the sidelines.
Other Sits: DeAndre Hopkins clearly does not have the same rapport with Brock Osweiler as rookie sensation Will Fuller. The Vikings have intercepted more passes (six) than passing touchdowns they have allowed (three) and will give Osweiler fits in the passing game. The main threat on the other side of the ball is Stefon Diggs, who has been quiet the past two weeks. The Texans boast the NFL’s best defense in terms of passing yards per game and has only surrendered one touchdown through the air this year. With Brian Hoyer under center and the return of Vontae Davis to the Colts defense, owners should sit Alshon Jeffery whose receiving numbers have declined each week this season. With Kevin White being placed on IR, Jeffery could see more targets this week but I suspect Eddie Royal will be the main beneficiary.
49ers-Cardinals: Vance McDonald’s status is still questionable and if he doesn’t suit up Garrett Celek should see the bulk of the snaps. Last week Celek hauled in five catches for 79 yards but draws a terrible matchup against a Cardinals defense that has stymied tight ends to this point. Darren Fells has been ruled out for Thursday’s game so owners should expect Jermaine Gresham to be slotted in as the number one tight end. With Troy Niklas also being placed on IR Gresham should see a lot of snaps in this game. So far the Cardinals tight ends have been mostly non-existent but perhaps Gresham see more targets as a safety valve for Drew Stanton. Start: None; Maybe Start: Garrett Celek; Jermaine Gresham Sit: Everybody else.
Other Starts: With the return on Tom Brady and a still-limited Rob Gronkowski, Martellus Bennett should see plenty of opportunities against a feeble Browns defense. Ex-49er Delanie Walker should get back on track this week against the Dolphins and will be a week healthier after his injury in week 3. Another tight end that should see plenty of work this week is Hunter Henry. The Raiders still have issues on defense and I’m expecting the Chargers to put up plenty of yards and points in that game.
Other Sits: The Ravens have been generally difficult to pass on this year and despite Jordan Reed’s reemergence last week I don’t expect him to repeat his two touchdown performance. With Jacob Tamme limited in practice and a battle in the high altitude, owners should not expect much from him this week. Dwayne Allen has been a disappointment this season even with the departure of Coby Fleener. His loss of redzone looks to Jack Doyle and a struggling Colts offense is enough to be wary of his production on Sunday.
If you have other start/sit questions drop them in the comments below!