Week 5 may be our most challenging slate to date with a lot of moving parts due to injuries and some key players returning to potentially make their season debuts. One of the drawbacks of writing this article on Friday night and Saturday morning is that there is more guessing involved on these issues than there would be if we waited until Sunday morning. To that end, there will be a Sunday morning update to this article so check back in before locking in your lineups.
Sunday Morning Update
Updating assumptions on Sunday morning did not require as many changes as expected since most of our assumptions noted below ended up being confirmed by late-breaking news. Here are a few of the key things we were watching and how they impacted our analysis:
- Tee Higgins is confirmed out, which is what we assumed 24 hours ago. Ja'Marr Chase and Tyler Boyd probably each see an extra target. Trenton Irwin and Andrei Iosivas are longshot tournament plays with the two expected to help fill in for Higgins.
- Jonathan Taylor signed a long-term extension in the last 24 hours and is going to be on the field but there has been further reporting that we should expect a split in opportunities between Taylor and Zach Moss in Taylor's first action in almost a year, which was the assumption we were working with. It is hard to play either this week against a tough Tennessee run defense.
- The one big absence we were not fully accounting for in yesterday's write up was Jahmyr Gibbs, who has gone from questionable to doubtful. With Gibbs out (in addition to Amon-Ra St. Brown), David Montgomery becomes the top play on the slate in my simulations. He was already going to get a heavy rushing workload but I think we can also pencil him in for at least a 10% share of the Lions receiving fantasy points, as well.
- Kalif Raymond is also on my radar for the Lions with so many of their other top pass catching options banged up. Our resident Lions fan Bob Henry likes Raymond in Week 5, which is enough for me to want to grab a few shares at $4,800.
Injury and Player Return Note
The toughest aspects of this slate are uncertainty about player availability and lack of clarity on how big a role some players who will be making their 2023 debuts will have. Let’s walk through some of these key injury and player return spots and talk through how to deal with them.
Amon-Ra St. Brown Listed as doubtful. I am assuming he is out for purposes of this Main Slate breakdown. The biggest beneficiary for me is Sam LaPorta. I bumped his share of team receiving points from 22% to 30%. St. Brown would be projected for about 30% if healthy, so there is a lot of production to be spread around. Allocating the rest of that 30% is difficult because there are so many moving parts for the Lions.
Jameson Williams Due to return from a four-game gambling suspension and the timing is ideal with St. Brown out. That being said, Williams missed much of camp with an injury and was ineffective as a rookie. It is extremely difficult to know what to expect from him in his 2023 debut. I am allocating him just 10% of the Lions receiving points but factoring in a high level of variance in that number.
Jahmyr Gibbs Questionable with a hamstring injury. It seems like he is trending towards playing but this is a situation we have to monitor. I am treating it as if he is playing but dialing back his share of both rushing and receiving production just slightly while factoring in a higher-than normal level of variance.
Josh Reynolds While he is listed as questionable with a groin injury, a full practice on Friday makes me confident he will play. His team share gets a boost with St. Brown out but less than if he was 100% healthy.
St. Louis Rams
Cooper Kupp Kupp is set to return from his hamstring injury and judging how big his role will be in his first game back is one of the keys to the slate. I am projecting him with a 23% share of receiving production and assuming that eats into the shares of everyone else but especially Van Jefferson, who I think ends up being the odd man out amongst the three guys starting while Kupp was out.
Jonathan Taylor Taylor returned to practice this week after being activated from the PUP list. He says he is healthy but practiced for the first time in 290 days. His role on Sunday is a complete unknown. The team may take things slow with Taylor and give him a few snaps while continuing to heavily utilize Zach Moss. Or Taylor could instantly assume the lead role in the backfield. Or it could be a full-blown committee between the two until Taylor works himself back into playing shape. Any of those three scenarios is possible but for now, I am assuming the two end up sharing opportunities relatively equally, which makes both backs unattractive against a tough Titans run defense.
Tee Higgins Higgins was knocked out of last week’s game with a broken rib. He practiced on Friday but Bengals head coach Zac Taylor was non-committal about his availability for Sunday. Reading between the lines, it feels like he is slightly on the doubtful side so I am assuming he is out, which gives Ja’Marr Chase, Trenton Irwin, and Tyler Boyd a slight boost (though rookie Andrei Iosivas may also enter the mix).
Javonte Williams Questionable with a quad injury. Early in the week, it looked like he would miss the game but returned to practice on Friday. Jaleel McLaughlin will be a solid upside play in tournaments if Williams misses but for now, I am assuming Williams plays and there is a three-man committee with Williams, McLaughlin, and Perine.
New York Giants
Saquon Barkley Barkley is listed as questionable with an ankle injury. The practice reports on Friday indicated he was moving gingerly and did not look like a guy ready to play on Sunday. I am assuming he is out with Matt Breida in the lead role while Gary Brightwell rotates in.
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