Fantasy Football Advice: How to Adjust Your Lineup for Returning Players

By Bill Pivetz
Rob Gronkowski
Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

Week 5 of the fantasy football season is a pivotal one. Not because you need to keep winning or to avoid losing your fifth straight game, but because there are a lot of players returning to the game whether from injury or suspension. Danny Amendola, Eddie Lacy and Justin Blackmon are the top names coming back to fantasy relevance.

With these players returning, you may need to make adjustments to your lineup. But is it worth benching a hot waiver-wire pickup or late-round sleeper? You may have done just fine without them in your starting lineup, but can they make your team that much better? Well, it depends.

If the returning player will automatically be the No. 1 option in their respective positions (Amendola or Lacy), then start him. If the player has a decent matchup, take the risk. And if you are in desperation mode and need this player immediately, you probably have no other choice.

However, if the player can put up anywhere from zero to 10 points (Blackmon), I’d keep him on my bench for the first week. I would be okay missing a good game from that player just to make sure he’s healthy and can perform at the NFL level.

Let’s start with Amendola. His first game with the New England Patriots was what many expected. He had 10 receptions for 104 yards. He has missed the last three with a groin injury. Tom Brady had to find other weapons to catch all of his passes. Now, it looks like Amendola will take the field against the Cincinnati Bengals.

If nothing changes, Amendola should be in the lineups of every owner who has him. He will get right back into the swing of things with Brady. Amendola will rack up 10-12 catches for over 100 yards, possibly in the first half. With the other stars Brady made — Julian Edelman and Kenbrell Thompkins — the Bengals’ defense will have their hands full.

The strategy is a little different with Lacy. There’s no question that the Green Bay Packers are a passing team, and Lacy is there just to keep defenses honest. However, Lacy is the No. 1 back in Green Bay. James Starks is hurt and the No. 2 guy is Jonathan Franklin. Against the Detroit Lions, Lacy is a nice play this week, especially with the list of running backs injured and on a bye.

Blackmon is returning to the Jacksonville Jaguars after serving a four-game suspension. He is looking to pick up where he ended his rookie season last year when he caught 64 passes for 865 yards and five touchdowns. However, head coach Gus Bradley has not named Blackmon a starter.

This is a case of wait-and-see. He is coming back to a team with Blaine Gabbert at quarterback. Blackmon’s value was much higher with Chad Henne under center. The Jaguars also play an iffy St. Louis Rams defense, but even that matchup isn’t too exciting to start Blackmon. You most likely have other options at this position, so I would start any one of those players over Blackmon.

Fantasy football isn’t just about scoring the most points every week. Yes, that determines your win-loss record, but lineup management is a big part of it as well. Keep these tips in mind when Rob Gronkowski returns next week and if Dennis Pitta and Michael Crabtree return late in the season, which could help you in the playoffs.

Bill Pivetz is a fantasy football writer for Rant Sports. Follow him on Twitter @Mr_Piv1127.

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