These players don’t have to be benched. Each individual team is different and league context matters. The matchups are more difficult than usual and if possible, seeking a better start is recommended.
QB Carson Wentz vs. MIN
Wentz has yet to have a QB1 performance in his two games back. While 348 yards, two touchdowns and one interception is usually good for one of the better QB games of the week, it put Wentz just outside QB1 territory with offensive numbers way up. Those numbers came in overtime and Wentz has taken a beating, getting sacked nine times in two games. The Vikings defense hasn’t been good, but are coming off an embarrassing performance on national television and have ten days to prepare.
RB Dalvin Cook @PHI
Cook returned last week from a hamstring injury, but said he still isn’t right. He played 18 snaps, all in the first half, and had 10 carries for 20 yards as the Vikings offensive line is not run blocking well. Cook didn’t practice Wednesday and the Eagles have been difficult to run against. They allowed a rushing touchdown to Tevin Coleman in Week 1 and nothing since. The Eagles have held running backs to 55 rushing yards or fewer against the Falcons, Buccaneers, Colts and Titans. It’s risky to use Cook until he’s not on a pitch count and healthy.
RB Lamar Miller vs. DAL
Miller was banged up in Week 4 and missed time with a chest injury. He was limited in Wednesday practice, but is expected to play. Miller is dependent on volume and while he’s getting the ball, he isn’t producing. Over the last two games, Miller has 24 carries for 59 yards and caught five passes for 41 yards. He is averaging 3.9 yards per carry and has one receiving touchdown. Without Sean Lee last week, the Cowboys allowed 74 rushing yards on 17 carries and a touchdown.
WR Devin Funchess vs. NYG
Funchess produces better when Greg Olsen is out of the lineup as he gets more targets. In the two games this season without Olsen, Funchess has seven catches for 77 yards on nine targets and four catches for 67 yards with a touchdown on seven targets. Funchess will have a difficult time this week against cornerback Janoris Jenkins, who is back to playing well after struggling last season. Jenkins held DeAndre Hopkins and Michael Thomas in check the last two weeks.
WR Demaryius Thomas @NYJ
People can often get enamored with name value and where a player was drafted and have more patience. Don’t do it with Thomas. The connection isn’t there with Case Keenum, who has struggled and missed an open Thomas on the go-ahead touchdown late in the fourth quarter against the Chiefs. Keenum hasn’t thrown a touchdown in three straight games. Thomas hasn’t helped with drops, too. Thomas opened the season with six catches for 63 yards with a touchdown and followed with five catches for 18 yards. He had five catches for 63 yards on seven targets in Week 3 and caught four passes for 24 yards on seven targets against a Chiefs secondary that was getting shredded.
TE Antonio Gates vs. OAK
Tight end is a brutal position. Injuries have made it a shallow position, so some might chase the touchdown from Gates last week and see the Raiders allowed 101 yards to tight ends last week. Gates is only playing 34 percent of the snaps and has a low floor without scoring a touchdown. He has five targets in each of the last two games, but only 88 yards in four games.