Not all Thursday Night Football start/sit situations are a matter of winning your matchup. In Week 5, we have a game that projects to be underwhelming for fantasy football managers, but it remains critical that you evaluate the game properly and don’t start the week with a mishap. Who can you trust in this Chicago Bears vs. Washington Commanders game?
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TNF Start’ Em, Sit’ Em: Chicago Bears at Washington Commanders
- Spread: Commanders -6
- Total: 44.5
- Bears implied points: 19.3
- Commanders implied points: 25.3
Justin Fields, QB, Chicago Bears
There we go! Sure, the Bears blew the big lead, but Justin Fields paid off for the loyal fantasy managers who stood by him after a rough start to the season.
- Weeks 1-3: 3 TD passes on 88 attempts
- Week 4: 4 TD passes on 35 attempts
- Weeks 1-3: 58% completion percentage
- Week 4: 80% completion percentage
- Weeks 1-3: Longest rush of 17 yards
- Week 4: Longest rush of 20 yards
He was electric, accurate, and creative – he was everything we thought he’d be from the hop this season, and it was glorious (27.9 fantasy points, his first game with 15+ this season). But it should be noted that it came against a Denver Broncos defense that is a mess of historical proportions.
This week they get a Commanders defense that is far from elite, but one that is significantly more formidable than the unit Fields picked apart on Sunday. Over the past two weeks, Josh Allen and Jalen Hurts combined to throw just three touchdown passes on 69 attempts despite having strong weapons and more arm talent.
Thanks to the rushing upside, Fields sneaks into my top 12 at the position this week, though counting on a repeat of Week 4 or shifting your expectations to the 2022 version of Fields is dangerous.
Sam Howell, QB, Washington Commanders
With bye weeks now upon us, if you play in a deeper league looking to piece together the QB position, you could do worse than Howell against a very iffy Bears defense.
Don’t laugh, I mean it.
Howell has cleared 15 fantasy points in three of four games this season and offers a high floor in a seemingly sustainable fashion. In each of the past three games, he has a 10+ yard rush and has completed over 65% of his passes.
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Is he going to win you the week? Unlikely, but it was good to see him connect with Jahan Dotson to send the game to overtime last week, along with getting Logan Thomas back in the mix. Combine those two pass catchers with the ever-consistent Terry McLaurin, and Howell has enough support to serve as a fantasy spot starter.
He is my QB17 this week in a more favorable spot than he’s been in over the past two weeks (vs. BUF, at PHI).
Khalil Herbert, RB, Chicago Bears
Were we bamboozled with the Roschon Johnson hype over the past few weeks? Herbert out-snapped the rookie 56-16 and was their exclusive option on short-yardage situations. After not reaching double figures in rush attempts in any of the first three games this season, Herbert ran 18 times for 103 yards against the Broncos.
Fields to Kmet a second time
They've allowed points on 18 of 24 drives (17 touchdowns) https://t.co/lRtu7DjWU2
— Kyle Soppe (@KyleSoppePFN) October 1, 2023
The rushing production isn’t a surprise — we are talking about a player who owns a carry rate of 10 yards or more north of 13% for his career. What has me optimistic about Herbert with a low-end RB2 ranking this week was his touchdown catch last Sunday. His viability in the passing game was a knock on him entering the season, but he has multiple catches in three of four games.
The TD reception came one play after Johnson failed to convert from the two-yard line. He had a 63-yard burst in this matchup last season, and if the touch count stabilizes to complement his per-carry upside, Herbert could earn back fantasy value that appeared lost just two weeks ago.
Roschon Johnson, RB, Chicago Bears
The rookie ranked fourth on this team in rushing yards during the Week 4 loss (five carries for 13 yards), much to the display of zero-RB managers hoping to have struck gold with Johnson. While I believe in the potential for him to win the lead role, the fact that Herbert ran for 103 yards during the Fields breakout game certainly delays the expansion of Johnson’s role.
MORE: PFN Consensus Rankings
It’s worth noting that Johnson got the first two dangerous RB touches (10-yard line or closer) in this game but failed to cash in. If he scores, does this backfield battle flip? It’s hard to say. The volatility of this backfield requires Johnson to be rostered, but I’m not comfortable starting him, even with four teams on a bye this week.
Brian Robinson Jr., RB, Washington Commanders
It’s not always pretty, but Robinson runs hard in an offense that needs to establish the ground game. That’s more than enough to earn him a starting grade in this plus matchup.
Last week, he scored and saw multiple targets for the third time in four games, giving him a solid floor. His 12.1-point Week 4 should have been 18.2 points as he lost a fumble at the goal line that McLaurin fell on top of. He has yet to lose a fumble in his NFL career, so there’s no reason to think of this as a major concern.
I would like to see the snap gap between him and Antonio Gibson widen a bit more (43-30), but his role as the lead back in this offense isn’t going anywhere. He ran for 60 yards and a touchdown in this matchup last season, which is reasonable production to expect again this time around.
For me, Robinson is Isiah Pacheco but on a lesser offense. He’s just inside my top 20 in half-PPR rankings this week.
Antonio Gibson, RB, Washington Commanders
Despite being out-snapped by Robinson, Gibson did run one more route than the starter, which suggests he could eventually carve out a PPR-friendly role that many thought he might own coming into this season.
Gibson is yet to rush for 20 yards in a game or score a touchdown this season, putting his floor below my comfort level. If we see him earn four to six targets in consecutive weeks, then we can consider him roster-worthy, but until then, he deserves to be on waiver wires.
DJ Moore, WR, Chicago Bears
Moore produced his best game of the season against the Broncos last week, looking great doing so.
I wonder how many times that exact sentence is going to be written this season. Denver’s defense has been a turnstile through four weeks, making the Moore explosion (eight catches on nine targets for 131 yards and a touchdown) difficult to evaluate.
After a brutal opener against the Green Bay Packers, Chicago’s top receiver has rattled off three straight games with more than 11.5 fantasy points, and with Fields potentially finding his form, there is certainly optimism here.
I’m still not sold on Fields being able to sustain a receiver in my top 25, but I’m coming around to the idea. I have Moore ranked just outside of the top 30, understanding that he can produce well above that mark if he gets anything close to the 46.2% target share that Darnell Mooney saw as the WR1 in this matchup last season.
Terry McLaurin, WR, Washington Commanders
Is it possible that no WR1 goes through a tougher stretch of three games this season than what McLaurin just went through? Against the Broncos (Patrick Surtain II), Bills (Tre’Davious White), and Philadelphia Eagles (Darius Slay), McLaurin managed to average 11.2 fantasy points. Things get easier this week against a Bears defense that has allowed a pass catcher to clear 15 fantasy points in three of four games.
The Bears held McLaurin to 41 yards when they met last season, but that was with a struggling Carson Wentz under center. He should be good for at least the 11.2 fantasy points he averaged during those tough matchups, with the ceiling for much more. He’s a top-20 receiver for me this week that can be started with confidence.
Jahan Dotson, WR, Washington Commanders
He gutted through last week’s loss in Philadelphia and forced overtime with his first touchdown of the season. The score was great, but I’m reading more into him earning nine targets despite getting hurt.
The concern with Dotson isn’t his potential but his volume (nine total targets in Weeks 2-3). Until he proves he can consistently earn targets, he will remain outside of my top 35 at the position. Should he display the ability to get six to eight targets weekly, he can turn into a weekly Flex option.
Cole Kmet, TE, Chicago Bears
The Fields’ breakout performance against Denver didn’t elevate anyone more than it did Kmet. The fourth-year tight end scored more fantasy points in Week 4 (seven catches for 85 yards and two scores) than he did in the first three weeks combined (11 catches for 104 yards), showcasing some of the non-verbal communication with Fields that we saw last season (seven touchdowns on 50 receptions).
No, this one big game doesn’t mean Kmet should be viewed as a locked-in top-10 option moving forward. However, his lack of target competition is enticing and elevates his floor if Fields continues to build on what we saw last week. Kmet is a fine option this week and comes in as my TE12.
Logan Thomas, TE, Washington Commanders
It was good to see Thomas back to full health, and while the fantasy production wasn’t there, his 79.5% snap share is encouraging. McLaurin was the only Commanders target to run more routes than the TE in Week 4, making his role one to monitor.
At the moment, Thomas ranks outside of my top 15 at the position, though I admit the difference between him and Kmet is minimal.
Who Should You Start in Week 5?
Should I Start Justin Fields or Jared Goff?
As good as Fields was last week, this is a different matchup. The Commanders are a ball-control team with a respectable defense, two traits that I believe will make it difficult for Fields to recreate the success he had against the Broncos.
As for Jared Goff, he’s playing at home, and that is the equivalent to earning star power when playing Super Mario — there’s nothing that can stop him! Goff posted a silly 23:3 TD:INT ratio at home last season, and his top two performances this season have come in front of the faithful Detroit fans.
I think Fields lands somewhere in the middle of what he was in Weeks 1-3 and Week 4, a projection that isn’t nearly enough to keep pace with a home Goff, who sits atop my list of Week 5 QB streamers.
Should I Start Khalil Herbert or Jahmyr Gibbs?
I’m not 100% sold on the staying power for Herbert as the alpha option in this backfield, and I am sold on Jahmyr Gibbs as a player.
That said, this is a Week 5 decision, and those two statements may not matter. Herbert projects as the lead back in Chicago after a nice week, and Gibbs’ next game with double-digit carries when David Montgomery is active will be his first. I prefer Gibbs for the rest of the season, but I have Herbert ranked higher for this specific week.