Week 5 of the fantasy football season is upon us. This week on Amazon Prime, we get an AFC showdown in Week 5 as the Indianapolis Colts head west to take on the Denver Broncos. With no time to waste, here are the top start/sit plays for Week 5 Thursday Night Football.
Thursday Night Football | Fantasy Football Start/Sit for Week 5
Start: Russell Wilson, QB, Denver Broncos
Last week, we were spoiled for starting options, but Week 5’s Thursday Night Football tilt is quite the opposite (just wait until next week). With that said, there are a few players who fantasy managers should feel comfortable starting.
The lone QB I would advise starting tonight is Russell Wilson. Sure, he’s been cooking with an Easy Bake oven, but Wilson is coming off his best game of the year with 26 fantasy points after combining for 21 PPR in the previous two.
Indianapolis is 13th vs. the position, but with Javonte Williams out for the year, now is the time for Denver to put its trust in the arm of Wilson who was brought in to take them to the promised land. Wilison is a low-end QB1 for Week 5 but lacks supreme upside in what could be a lower-scoring matchup of strength vs. strength.
Start: Nyheim Hines, RB, Indianapolis Colts
The draw of this game was significantly reduced following the somewhat expected news that Jonathan Taylor will miss Thursday Night Football due to an ankle injury he sustained last Sunday. While this is less than ideal, at least fantasy managers can take solace in Indy playing the long game.
In his place steps Nyheim Hines. Known as one of the better pass-catching backs, Hines can get it done on the ground as well. He’s been quiet so far due to a lack of touches, rushing just eight times on the year for a combined 11 yards. That’s not just a Hines issue – it’s a team issue. The Colts enter Week 5 ranked 27th in rushing yards per game (87.8) and per carry (3.5).
His expected receiving role is where he has made his money and where his value comes for fantasy in Week 5. Hines has a 12.3% target share (19) and is second on the team in receptions (17) with 113 yards. In PPR formats, he does get a boost but stays in the low-end RB3/high-end RB3 range due to issues with the Colts’ OL.
Start: Melvin Gordon III, RB, Denver Broncos
Melvin Gordon III stated in the offseason that he wanted to be a lead back. That’s why it was somewhat surprising he returned to Denver. But this is precisely why Denver wanted him back, as the last thing you want when you have championship aspirations is to be held back by an injury.
Where Denver used Gordon with Williams in a 1a/1b role, I don’t think that carries over with Williams out. Broncos’ OC Justin Outten stated that Gordon would carry the load, which matches my initial assumptions. Gordon is a reliable starter and would be a lead back on a majority of teams. He’s seen a 42% rush share this year and has seen double-digit opportunities in three of his four outings.
Make that four of five, as he’ll see the vast majority of touches against a Colts defense that ranks No. 2 in yards allowed but is 27th in EPA/rush. To me, his 53.5 rushing yards projection is too low. Start Gordon as an RB2 in Week 5 on Thursday Night with touchdown upside.
Start: Michael Pittman Jr., WR, Indianapolis Colts
Sure, complementary players may step up, but teams rely on their stars. With Taylor out, it’s up to Michael Pittman Jr. to be that shining light in what has been a dark season for the preseason division favorite.
Despite the volume, Pittman’s upside has been held back by the offense and an injury that kept him out of Week 2. Still, Pittman has a 23% target share (28) while averaging 9.3 targets, 6.7 receptions, and 74.7 yards per game. He has a tough assignment against Patrick Surtain, but given the expected volume, Pittman Jr. should be a comfortable WR2. I’m taking the higher on his 65.5 yards projection on Underdog Pick’em as well.
Start: Courtland Sutton, WR, Denver Broncos
Have I been wrong on several guys? Unquestionably (looking at you, Allen Robinson). But saying this was Courtland Sutton’s team from the get-go was dead-on accurate. Sutton is No. 8 in the NFL in target share (28.7%) and is sixth in air yard share at 40.25%. His per-game average of 8.8 targets, six receptions, 85.8 yards, and 0.3 TDs has him on pace for over 1,450 yards and 102 receptions on 140 targets. He is THE guy.
He’ll also need to be the guy for a Broncos offense that desperately needs to find its groove. He’s posted double-digit fantasy points in three straight, and, on a short week, faces a Colts defense that is No. 4 in points allowed (25.5). Sutton is a high-end WR2 and should also clear his 64.5 receiving yardage prop on Underdog Pick’em contests.
Start: Jerry Jeudy, WR, Denver Broncos
Jerry Jeudy is playing second fiddle to Sutton, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Jeudy is talented and can take any play and turn it into a big game. He was a significant portion of the offense last week against the Raiders, too, recording four receptions on five targets in a game with only 25 attempts.
Jeudy needs a big game this week. He’s currently averaging 10.4 PPR as the WR45 in PPR formats as Russ has only been able to sustain one top-tier target at a time. Jeudy had 102 yards in Week 1 thanks to a deep completion but followed it with 11, 17, and 53 yards in the next three. I like this as a bounce-back opportunity for Jeudy, as he takes on Kenny Moore II in the slot who has allowed a 75% competition percentage and nearly 1.3 yards per route covered.
Sit: Matt Ryan, QB, Indianapolis Colts
Outside of Superflex or 2QB leagues, Matt Ryan shouldn’t even be rostered. He’s coming off a massive game in Week 4 where he completed 27 of 37 pass attempts for 356 yards, two touchdowns, and one interception while also losing one fumble, but even that only netted him a QB12 finish.
The offensive line is an issue, and when Ryan sees pressure, well, he sees nothing else. He is fourth in the NFL in sacks (15), leads the league in fumbles (9), and has just as many picks (five) as TDs (five). Facing a Broncos defense that is fifth in passing yards allowed (170.8) and points allowed to QBs (11.4) makes Ryan a firm sit in Week 5.
Sit: Mike Boone, RB, Denver Broncos
But wait, I just dumped all of my FAAB on him? Look, I hear you. I’m not even saying spending up on Mike Boone was a bad idea. I just have my reservations. As I noted earlier, I do not expect Boone to step into the Gordon role. There are different levels of talent here. Boone carried the ball three times for 20 yards in Week 4 which isn’t exactly encouraging.
Denver also added Latavius Murray to their roster and promoted Devine Ozigbo from the practice squad. If anything, this feels like it ends up as a platoon for the RB2 role with the primary backup changing based on the situation.
The under is very much in play here at 43.5, and when points are at a premium, it’s hard to trust secondary position players. This also applies to Murray and Ozibgo. Just stay away outside of variance plays in DFS tourneys, at best.
In deeper leagues, I can see Boone as a low-end Flex you hope finds the end zone. Ideally, I would sit him in Week 5 if at all possible, as I don’t see him being the D’Ernest Johnson of a year ago.
Sit: Alec Pierce, WR, Indianapolis Colts
I liked Alec Pierce coming into the league. I also liked his landing spot in the draft, as the Colts needed a No. 2 option. But you never know when that “ah-ha” moment will happen, and the game slows down. I think that might have occurred for Pierce.
Pierce now sits fourth amongst rookies in receiving yards (141) and is No. 6 in the NFL in air yards per reception (17.3). Over his last two games, Pierce has caught seven of 11 targets for 141 yards but carries a near non-existent floor. I’d stay away from him in 10-12-team leagues in Week 5, given the matchup. But I might take a shot on his 34.5-yardage projection on Underdog or anywhere else you are feeling frisky.
Sit: Albert Okwuegbunam, TE, Denver Broncos
A top breakout candidate before the season, Albert Okwuegbunam, has been droppable for the last few weeks. His Week 1 outing with 33 yards and five receptions was his high point. What came next was a donut in Week 2, 3.2 PPR points in Week 3, and he played just a single snap in Week 4.
Meanwhile, frustrated fantasy managers have watched Eric Saubert (1) score more touchdowns than Albert O. Okwuegbunam has watched his snap count decrease all year. Meanwhile, Saubert led the Broncos tight end room with 41 offensive snaps against Las Vegas, while Eric Tomlinson (21) and Andrew Beck (12) both saw work. Add in a looming return of rookie Greg Dulcich, and it doesn’t look as if things will get better for Albert O anytime soon.
Sit: Mo Alie-Cox, TE, Indianapolis Colts
A wild Mo Alie-Cox appeared. He used surprise. It was super effective.
Yes, I managed to weave in a Pokèmon joke into a start-sit article. But really, Alie-Cox was a one-man wrecking crew on Sunday, catching all six of his targets for 85 yards and two touchdowns, finishing with 26.5 PPR points as the TE2 on the week.
But what are the odds Alie-Cox does this again? Heck, when will he be a top-12 again? In his last three seasons (36 games), Alie-Cox has been inside the top 12 just 14% of the time while finishing outside the top 24 64% of the time. Just over the last two, where he has increased his role, he’s averaged just 5.5 PPR points.
Ryan does have a history of using his tight ends, but even this year, Alie-Cox has a 9.75% target share (which is the same as Jonathan Taylor) and has just as many touchdowns as rookie Jelani Woods (2). Starting Alie-Cox feels too much like chasing points. I’m not discounting a decent game, but it’s difficult to trust him against a defense that held George Kittle and Darren Waller to a combined 8.7 PPR points.