The 2023 NFL season has already given us a handful of fantasy football surprises, and we aren’t even officially through the first four weeks of action yet. Need proof? In PPR formats, Raheem Mostert, De’Von Achane, and Kyren Williams currently sit as the RB2, RB3, and RB4, respectively, in all of fantasy football.
Let’s take a closer look at some of my surprise start and sit candidates for Week 5 of NFL action.
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Start ‘Em Picks for Week 5
Jordan Love, QB, Green Bay Packers
Jordan Love experienced his toughest game of the 2023 season against the Detroit Lions and still managed to produce 246 yards through the air and two total scores.
He should be in line for a bounce-back performance against a Las Vegas Raiders defense that has given up 10 total touchdowns to opposing quarterbacks through the first four games of the season.
Not to mention, a healthier version of Christian Watson and Aaron Jones should help this offense get closer to performing at its highest potential in a favorable matchup this week.
David Montgomery, RB, Detroit Lions
David Montgomery continues to prove that he is the preferred leading ball carrier in this Detroit backfield when healthy.
Despite missing a game, Montgomery currently has 30 more carries, 83 more rushing yards, and five more rushing touchdowns than his rookie counterpart — Jahmyr Gibbs — through the first four games of the season.
Montgomery is someone that needs to be in your lineup until we get a drastic change in the usage rate out of this backfield.
De’Von Achane, RB, Miami Dolphins
For those of you who doubted or dismissed De’Von Achane’s Week 3 performance, he thoroughly out-touched and outproduced fellow back Raheem Mostert last week against the Buffalo Bills.
Achane generated 120 total yards and two scores on just 11 touches in Week 4. In comparison, Mostert registered just 45 yards on 10 touches while fumbling twice in the same game.
I’m not suggesting that Achane is the guy moving forward, but his usage, efficiency, and production all suggest he is going to have a big role in an explosive offense moving forward. He is firmly planted in the RB2 conversation until further notice.
Isiah Pacheco, RB, Kansas City Chiefs
We had been waiting for the explosive game from Isiah Pacheco for a while now.
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Well, that game finally took place against the New York Jets in Week 4. Pacheco was heavily involved — if not featured — in this Kansas City offense, generating 158 total yards and a score on 23 touches.
His yardage output was a career high and his total touches tied his career high.
If Pacheco continues to see this type of volume against the Minnesota Vikings — which could turn into a shootout — he could easily be a top-10 play at the running back position this week.
Nico Collins, WR, Houston Texans
Nico Collins has given us a pair of 7+ receptions with a TD performance through the first four weeks of the season.
Doubters will likely point to his Week 3 dud against the Jacksonville Jaguars, but his usage and production continue to scream that he is firmly planted in the WR2 conversation moving forward.
The offense simply continues to throw the ball on a consistent basis in 2023. C.J. Stroud is currently tied for third-most pass attempts in the league (151) and has thrown the ball a minimum of 30 times each game.
Not to mention, Stroud is just one of four quarterbacks to average over 300 yards passing per game in 2023.
As long as Collins continues to see this type of volume, he should be in your starting lineup.
Zay Flowers, WR, Baltimore Ravens
It finally took until Week 4 for rookie wide receiver Zay Flowers to post a game with under 10 fantasy points in PPR formats. Sure, his production last week was disappointing, but his worst game came against the league’s best pass defense.
The task gets much easier against the Pittsburgh Steelers, who just gave up 168 yards to the aforementioned Collins this past Sunday.
With both Rashod Bateman and Odell Beckham Jr. dealing with injuries, start Flowers with confidence in Week 5.
Christian Watson, WR, Green Bay Packers
The 2023 debut for Christian Watson was mostly underwhelming outside of the touchdown that saved his fantasy day.
The silver lining here would be the fact that the Green Bay Packers clearly had Watson on a pitch count, seeing that he only played 46% of the offensive snaps.
The Raiders’ defense is one that can be exploited vertically down the field, which is one of the many tools Watson has in his bag to produce fantasy points for your squad.
Evan Engram, TE, Jacksonville Jaguars
The Jacksonville Jaguars’ offense as a whole may be off to a slow start, but the same can’t be said for tight end Evan Engram.
Engram is yet to finish outside of the top 10 at TE in PPR formats to start the season. This is because he has caught a minimum of five passes every game while seeing eight targets for three straight weeks.
Jacksonville’s WRs have been a bit more volatile this season, but Engram has been a consistent producer on a weekly basis and should continue to be a reliable starting option against the Buffalo Bills in Week 5.
Sit ‘Em Options
Trevor Lawrence, QB, Jacksonville Jaguars
Speaking of the Jags’ offense, Trevor Lawrence continues to post QB2-type numbers but has just one top-10 finish at the quarterback position this season.
The Bills’ defense has been stingy against opposing quarterbacks this season, and even managed to keep the high-powered Dolphins passing offense mostly in check in Week 4.
With Lawrence continuing to post middle-of-the-road numbers heading into a tough matchup, it may be time to consider going another direction at QB for Week 5.
Zack Moss, RB, Indianapolis Colts
It is going to be difficult to write a fantasy football article this week that doesn’t mention the name Jonathan Taylor.
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The Indianapolis Colts’ star running back is eligible to come off of the PUP list this week, which means the fantasy value of Zack Moss is currently in limbo.
Even if Taylor doesn’t return to the Colts lineup in Week 5, you should probably fade Moss out of your lineup against the Tennessee Titans’ defense.
The Titans’ defense hasn’t allowed a running back to post a 70-yard rushing performance this season, and they have only allowed one rushing touchdown all season long.
The ceiling just isn’t there this week for Moss, whether Taylor gets back into the fold or not.
Jahmyr Gibbs, RB, Detroit Lions
For those of you who steered clear of drafting Gibbs with the fear that the Lions could deploy him in a similar fashion to D’Andre Swift from last season, you are probably feeling pretty good right now.
For those of you who bet on Gibbs’ dynamic playmaking talent and NFL draft capital changing that narrative from last season with your second or third-round fantasy pick this draft season, you are probably starting to get very concerned about his usage through the first four weeks of the season.
While Gibbs is a dynamic player and should have a great NFL career, the Lions simply aren’t using him in a feature role.
As long as Montgomery continues to dominate the touches out of this backfield, Gibbs feels like a risky Flex play with limited touchdown upside because of Montgomery’s role with the team.
DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Tennessee Titans
DeAndre Hopkins is proving he can still be productive on an NFL field, but this Titans offense simply doesn’t look capable of producing a top-25 fantasy wide receiver at the moment.
DHop hasn’t topped the 70-yard mark or found the end zone through the first four games of the NFL season. And while he did see 13 targets in Week 1, he has only seen 18 over the last three games combined.
He is still a capable talent, but the opportunities in a run-heavy offense just aren’t giving him enough chances to deliver the breakout fantasy performances we have become accustomed to over his NFL career.
Drake London & Kyle Pitts, Atlanta Falcons
The Atlanta Falcons’ passing offense is one that feels like it is holding back the likes of Drake London and Kyle Pitts on a weekly basis.
These two players are dynamic options that most teams would love to feature in their passing attack.
Yet, through the first weeks of the season, it is Jonnu Smith who leads the Falcons in receiving yards.
To make matters worse, Smith has 15 receptions on the season, while London and Pitts both have 11 each.
That doesn’t even address the fact that running back Bijan Robinson also has more receptions and receiving yards than London and Pitts up to this point of the season, too.
I know the quarterback play has a lot to do with these disappointing numbers, but unless the team makes a change under center or Desmond Ridder’s play drastically improves swiftly, we simply have to accept the fact these two talented players will be touchdown-dependent fantasy plays moving forward.
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