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Key NFL Week 5 matchups to leverage in fantasy football start/sit decisions

Foxboro, MA, USA; New England Patriots running back Damien Harris (37) runs with he ball against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the first quarter at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

Football is a game of matchups. There is a saying in fantasy football to “start your studs,” but we really want to rely on the players who will score the most fantasy points. Talent plays a large factor in which players score the most, but matchups also heavily contribute.

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Digging deep into the PFF database, here are four cases where the combination of how the two teams play or use their players will lead to bigger games by the offenses involved.

Damien Harris will bounce back this week

Harris had a great start to the season, handing 39 carries for 162 yards and a touchdown over the first two weeks. He then faced two teams that were top-seven in preventing fantasy points to running backs last year and top 10 in 2021 at the time. Luckily, the Patriots face the Texans this week.

Houston has allowed the sixth-most rushing yards to running backs so far this season. The Patriots shouldn’t have much of a problem building a lead and using Harris to close out the game.

Harris has found the most success in his career on outside zone and man runs. That is what the Patriots have used the most with him on the field. These are also the concepts that have given the Texans the most trouble. Nine out of 48 runs have gone for 15-plus yards, and they’ve missed 17 tackles on those plays this year. Not only will Harris have the quantity of carries, but also quality.

Related content for you: Week 5 WR/CB mismatches and shadow coverages to leverage in DFS & fantasy football leagues via Ian Hartitz

To make his situation even better, his role increased this year and grew further with James White out. Harris should see numbers much closer to the first two weeks than the last two. The following table shows his snap share on first and second downs outside of two minute drills.

Damien Harris 1st/2nd down (non-2-minute drill)
2020 2021 Pre-White Injury 2021 Post-White Injury
Snap share 42.7% 59.0% 63.4%

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