NFL Fantasy: Week 5 start ‘em sit ‘em defense/special teams

Buffalo and Detroit have top-ten finishes every week so far. Who will join them this week if we choose to start 'em?


Week 5 sees some solid defenses on their bye week while injuries might affect a few other teams’ outlooks. Who does that leave to start? And who should you definitely sit? Here are my thoughts.

Start these guys: New York Jets (vs Cleveland)

Being from New York, there is one cardinal rule I have followed all my football life: never, ever count on the Jets for anything. But recently, owner Woody Johnson was named the ambassador to England and had to hand control of the Jets over to his brother, Christopher. Christopher is a polar opposite to his aloof brother. He mingles with the players, has lunch with them when he can, and talks to fans and the press. He quickly announced there would be no questions or conversation about tanking the season.

The Jets have won two games in a row. The whole environment of the Jets community has changed. They will not pass up the opportunity to beat up on the hapless Browns. The Jets will crush Cleveland. The defense won’t be pleased with anything less than a shutout and the offense will run up the statistics. Their schedule gets much more difficult after the Browns. Reality may hit soon enough, but I will step out on a limb just this once and recommend the Jets D/ST this week.

Sit these guys: Cleveland Browns (vs New York Jets)

There are many prognosticators selling the Cleveland defense as a worthy streaming option against the Jets. Don’t believe it. For the same reasons I am streaming the Jets D/ST, I am avoiding Cleveland. There is a new attitude in New York. They are not tanking, although they have plenty of challenges on their schedule. Cleveland’s strengths are offset by the Jets’ strengths and the offense can pass if they need to with multiple new weapons brought on since opening day. Avoid anything Cleveland this week.

Start these guys: Oakland Raiders (vs Baltimore Ravens)

When an offense faces diversity, a team’s well-coached defense will stand up and fight harder. That is the case in Oakland as quarterback Derek Carr is out and wide receiver Michael Crabtree is limited if he plays at all this week. Oakland is not a terrible defense despite their DST-20 fantasy rating. The Raiders will rally and scheme to stop Baltimore’s running game. Having already recovered four fumbles this season, Raider defenders will attack butter-fingered rookie Alex Collins. If the Ravens open things up in the passing game, they will see that is the strength of the Raiders defense. The Raiders will hold the score down, add to their ten sacks, and grab a turnover or two against the bland offense of Baltimore.

Sit these guys: Tennessee Titans (vs Miami Dolphins)

There have been a few times since Adam Gase took over the Miami Dolphins when his team looked completely done and demoralized. Each time, the Dolphins rallied with a vengeance. It would not surprise me if Miami laid 500 yards of offense on the Titans in Week 5, rekindling the NFL fantasy spirit of all who hold Dolphin stars on their rosters.

Start these guys: Buffalo Bills (vs Cincinnati Bengals)

There is a lot to be said for momentum and Andy Dalton, AJ Green and the Bengals have it. There is also a lot to be said for a good defense and the Bills have the best Cincinnati has seen this year. The Bills come off an impressive game against the high-powered Atlanta Falcons on the road. Dalton is enjoying a bit of a renaissance these past two weeks, but the Bengals are not the Falcons. The Bills will take care of business in Ohio and return to New York still leading the AFC East in Week 6.

Sit these guys: Seattle Seahawks at (Los Angeles Rams)

Todd Gurley is begging Rams fans to show up in LA this Sunday, but even if there is a wealth of Seahawk fans making the trip, it will not be the vaunted 12th man of Seattle. The Seahawks will face the top-ranked offense (by points) without Cliff Avril (neck and back injury) and possibly without cornerback Jeremy Lane, who is nursing a groin injury.

Reborn Rams quarterback Jared Goff has shown patience and fearlessness standing against some good pass rushes. Even if Seattle can slow down the Todd Gurley show, Goff will take whatever else is open, from his top deep threat to the slot or even his tight ends. Pete Carroll is left shrugging his shoulders again this week as Jared Goff proves he is for real.

Week 5 flash-in-the-pan prediction:

San Francisco throws blitz after blitz at Jacoby Brissett and the Indianapolis Colts, forcing four turnovers on the way to their first victory of 2017.

Full disclosure: Didn’t see that coming

The good news is that I started the top defense of the week in Seattle, but it was all downhill after that. Baltimore (24) and Tennessee (30) were a little further down than I expected. I hit two of three sits to split the week. It will be better this week!

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Pat Opperman

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Pat recently retired from real life to watch sports and write. Look for references to games and events from ancient times as memories of an earlier Age of Sport tend to pop into his head.

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