Fantasy Football Recap and Takeaways: Week 5
For all of Week 5’s usual fantasy glory and heartbreak, Odell Beckham Jr.‘s devastating injury will dominate the headlines.
After three Giants wide receivers already exited Sunday’s battle of 0-4 squads, Beckham left the fourth quarter with a gruesome ankle ailment. The team later confirmed that he suffered a fracture, which could require surgery.
The NFL loses one of its liveliest superstars, who performed CPR on a football after scoring a 48-yard touchdown earlier in the final period. Fantasy investors will need a resuscitator after losing their building block. Not every Week 5 development is as grim, so let’s scour the league for noteworthy developments.
New England Patriots 19, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 14
- Doug Martin quickly reclaimed his territory during his season debut, gaining 74 yards on 13 carries. Although Charles Sims led the Tampa Bay backfield in snaps, the Muscle Hamster dominated the rushing workload, as Jacquizz Rodgers recorded just two yards on three handoffs. Martin averaged 19.75 touches per game in half a season last year, so throw him back into the lineup as a high-volume RB No. 2. But temper expectations during a tough upcoming stretch against Arizona, Buffalo, and Carolina.
- With Rob Gronkowski inactive, Tom Brady did not find a tight end on any of his 30 completions. Brandin Cooks, Danny Amendola, Chris Hogan, and James White instead all received an extra serving, with Hogan given a team-high 11 targets and New England’s only touchdown. After a one-catch Week 1, he has procured at least six targets, 60 yards, and a touchdown in every game. His target share, including nine red-zone looks and five targets inside the 10, has increased each week. Even if Gronkowski returns, Hogan should now be a starting mainstay.
- Although Jameis Winston produced his third straight 300-yard game, he subverted expectations by throwing one touchdown and averaging 7.3 yards per pass attempt. Yet he found Cameron Brate in the end zone for the third game in the row, and he should have secured another score earlier in the bout. As they have every week, the tight end’s targets climbed from the previous contest. He warrants top-10 respect at a position quickly weakened by injuries and floundering breakout candidates.
- Let’s hope readers had a better week than Nick Folk, who missed all three field-goal attempts in a five-point loss. Somewhere someone who started him is furiously campaigning to remove kickers from fantasy football.
Jacksonville Jaguars 30, Pittsburgh Steelers 9
- But Ben Roethlisberger was at home! The 35-year-old quarterback sunk to a new nadir by throwing five interceptions – two went the other way for scores – and no touchdowns on 55 pass attempts. While a stout Jaguars secondary deserves credit for the meltdown, he is now averaging a meager 6.5 yards per pass attempt with just six touchdowns this season. His last multi-touchdown game came in Week 2. Anyone in one-quarterback leagues would have to be truly desperate to stick with him for a tough Week 6 matchup at Kansas City.
- The game’s other studs had better days. Le’Veon Bell made up for 47 rushing yards with 46 receiving yards on 10 catches. Following a rare down week, Antonio Brown caught 10 of a week-high 19 targets for 157 yards. While Blake Bortles tallied 95 yards on 14 passes, Leonard Fournette carried Jacksonville’s offense for 181 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 28 handoffs. Shaky quarterback play won’t derail any of them from fantasy stardom.
- Perhaps the same can’t be said for Martavis Bryant, who converted eight targets into 21 yards. With 99 yards and no scores in his last three games, investors have little choice but to sit the big-play threat against a stingy Chiefs secondary.
Miami Dolphins 16, Tennessee Titans 10
- Dolphins fans can’t be the only ones calling for Matt Moore to take over at quarterback. Facing a Titans team that entered the week No. 28 in passing defense, Jay Cutler went a dismal 12-of-26 for 92 yards, a touchdown, and a pick. He made Matt Cassel, who replaced the injured Marcus Mariota with 141 passing yards and a touchdown pass to Phillip Supernaw, look like a star in comparison. Miami mustered two offensive touchdowns in an incredibly friendly three-game stretch against the Jets, Saints, and Titans, so a change under center might be best for their position players.
- The stumbling offense suffered a setback when DeVante Parker left with six yards. Per ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the initial diagnosis is an ankle sprain. He was having the breakout campaign many pundits anticipated in September. Kenny Stills would benefit more if he had a better passer, but Parker was overcoming lackadaisical play from Cutler and remains a viable starter when healthy.
- DeMarco Murray managed 69 yards on 18 touches and 49 snaps, per Pro Football Focus’ Nathan Jahnke, to Derrick Henry‘s nine yards on four carries and 11 snaps. With fleeting touches and 16 yards over his last two games, Henry’s Week 2 breakout against a problematic Jaguars rushing defense appears to have been a false alarm. While Murray has not done much outside of Week 3’s 75-yard touchdown run against Seattle, he remains the Titans back to start.
Philadelphia Eagles 34, Arizona Cardinals 7
- Carson Wentz threw touchdowns to four different players, none of whom were Alshon Jeffery. Torrey Smith and Nelson Agholor both burned Arizona’s secondary deep with long scores, and Zach Ertz secured his second touchdown this season while receiving double-digit targets for the third time. Wentz has multiple options who guide him to top-10 quarterback consideration in most weeks, but Ertz remains the most reliable on a week-to-week basis. Although Agholor is out-producing Jeffery with 53.2 receiving yards per game and three touchdowns, he needs a big downfield strike to carry his weight in the starting lineup.
- With Wendell Smallwood a late scratch, LeGarrette Blount led the way with 14 rushes for 74 yards despite playing 26 of 67 snaps, per Jahnke. A limited play count has not prevented him from handling at least a dozen handoffs in every game except for his mysterious Week 2 absence, and the 30-year-old looks fresh when on the field with a stellar 5.8 yards per rush. A tough matchup against Carolina might not be reason enough to sit him in standard-scoring leagues.
- Having totaled 31 rushing yards against Philadelphia, no Arizona running back has come close to filling David Johnson‘s shoes. Andre Ellington, who caught nine passes for the second straight game, is at least replicating the injured star’s pass-catching prowess. He now has 210 receiving yards in the last three weeks, and Carson Palmer is on pace to throw 726 passes this season. Even in a game where he lost two yards on his only carry, Ellington flourished as an expert PPR compiler.
- Palmer, on the other hand, tossed one touchdown for the fourth time in 2017. Last week’s hero, Jaron Brown, saw his targets cut in half from 12 to six while John Brown scooped up the lone score. The Buccaneers have allowed 309 passing yards per game, so Palmer is improbably a strong matchup play for the sixth straight week. Either J.J. Nelson or one of the J. Brown’s is likely to have a big game alongside the trustworthy Larry Fitzgerald, but good luck guessing which one.
New York Jets 17, Cleveland Browns 14
- Raise your hand if you opened the season with Bilal Powell in the starting lineup, benched him before Week 4’s breakout, and tossed him back into the fold to watch him register 33 yards against the feeble Browns before leaving with a calf injury. Turns out it’s hard to type with one hand. Per ESPN’s Rich Cimini, Powell will undergo tests to determine the injury’s severity. Elijah McGuire mustered 30 yards in the expanded role, but he merits waiver-wire appeal as the lead back if both Powell and Matt Forte are sidelined.
- Everyone’s favorite DFS tight end for Sunday’s slate justified the hype. Although he recorded just 29 yards, Austin Seferian-Jenkins caught six of eight targets and secured a two-yard touchdown from Josh McCown. He has a 21.4 percent target share through three games, but this was nonetheless a matchup-based recommendation that panned out after a quiet first half. Then again, the Patriots have allowed 323 passing yards per game and four touchdowns to tight ends. Fire him up one more time.
- Cleveland benched the struggling DeShone Kizer for Kevin Hogan, who promptly went 16-of-19 for 194 yards, two touchdowns, and an interception. Big day aside, he’s only worth considering in two-quarterback formats. David Njoku, however, is rising to fantasy relevance sooner than anticipated with three touchdowns. The rookie tight end also has yet to receive more than four targets in a game, but at least dynasty investors have found a future fixture.
Carolina Panthers 27, Detroit Lions 24
- Cam Newton from Weeks 1-3: 51-of-83, 566 passing yards, two passing touchdowns, one rushing touchdowns, four interceptions. Newton in Weeks 4 and 5: 48-of-62, 671 passing yards, six passing touchdowns, one rushing touchdown, one interception. Per ESPN Stats & Info, he recorded consecutive 300-yard passing performances for the first time since the opening two games of his career. It’s safe to say he’s healthy, and thus once again a stable starting option despite getting stuck with this week’s Thursday-night shift.
- Kelvin Benjamin found the end zone for the first time this season. Devin Funchess has led the team in targets for two consecutive weeks while scoring three touchdowns. Both are emerging as valuable starters, but Ed Dickson stole the show with 175 yards. He had 134 last season. The Panthers are not going to look like the Patriots every week, and Dickson is no Gronkowski (or Greg Olson). Don’t get carried away over a one-week wonder.
- Another tight end flourished in the game. No, not Eric Ebron. He caught one pass for six yards. Daniel Fells ended both of his receptions with six points, accounting for both of Matthew Stafford‘s touchdowns. That’s more of a reason to drop Ebron – a colossal disappointment with 12 catches for 93 yards all season – than add Fells, who produced one score in his previous 24 games.
Cincinnati Bengals 20, Buffalo Bills 16
- In a tougher matchup than the previous two weeks, A.J. Green scored for the third straight game. After torching the Bills for 189 yards, his 504-yard season output places second to Brown. Week 4’s seven targets, five catches, and 63 yards all marked season lows. If re-drafting today, he’s the No. 2 or 3 wide receiver and a possible top-five pick.
- Charles Clay left the game with an injured knee and did not return. The Bills receivers still combined for three catches and 34 yards. Nick O’Leary immediately became Tyrod Taylor‘s preferred target, leading the team with five catches and 54 yards. Clay’s understudy could slide into his high-volume role if the burgeoning fantasy star misses time. Yet the list of trustworthy Bills starts would shrink solely to LeSean McCoy.
- Taylor’s rushing yards by game: 38, 55, 13, 12, and 3. He accumulated 166 passing yards despite attempting a season-high 37 passes. Taylor needs to run to remain fantasy solvent, especially if he loses Clay.
Los Angeles Chargers 27, New York Giants 22
- Before losing Beckham, Brandon Marshall and Sterling Shepard both left with ankle injuries. Wideout and special-teams star Dwayne Harris suffered a fractured foot. Literally, the only wide receiver left for their final possession, Roger Lewis scored a 29-yard touchdown on his only catch. He may have to play a bigger role by default, but Evan Engram could become a top-10 fantasy tight end despite his poorly timed goose egg against the Chargers. Without Beckham, everyone can cut Eli Manning in one-quarterback leagues.
- The Giants’ nightmare day was not limited to their receivers. After becoming their first running back to cross the pylons this season, Orleans Darkwa left the game with an injured calf. Wayne Gallman, originally expected to serve as Big Blue’s featured back, tallied 82 yards (57 rushing, 25 receiving) on 16 touches. If not sold last week, a landslide of injuries makes him a top waiver priority. If Marshall and/or Shepard are out for an extended time, Shane Vereen could also regain some PPR appeal during bye weeks. Their season-high 152 rushing yards speaks volumes about a Chargers defense that entered Sunday with the second-worst rushing defense after the Jaguars.
- Philip Rivers had an inefficient, but effective 258 passing yards on 44 throws. He directed two touchdown passes to Melvin Gordon, who also ran for 105 yards in addition to his 58 receiving yards. Entering the game with 3.1 yards per rush, the Chargers running back looked like a legitimate first-round investment for the first time this season. Rivers has completed 63 of 122 passes over his last three games, but he gets a favorable Week 6 matchup against the Raiders.
- Following Hunter Henry‘s 25-yard score, the Giants have relinquished a touchdown to a tight end in all five games. A.J. Derby could be worth a roll of the dice when the Giants play the Broncos this Sunday night.
Indianapolis Colts 26, San Francisco 49ers 23 (OT)
- Brian Hoyer (353) and Jacoby Brissett (314) were among the six quarterbacks who surpassed 300 passing yards on Sunday. While the Colts won in overtime, the 49ers passer made more of his matchup with touchdown throws to George Kittle and Kyle Juszczyk. It’s safe to say neither of those two were in any fantasy lineups. That’s not the case for Carlos Hyde, who finished with fewer carries, yards, and snaps than rookie Matt Breida, courtesy of Jahnke. Per the San Francisco Chronicle‘s Eric Branch, Kyle Shanahan said that he was going with the “hot hand” rather than mitigating his star rusher because of a hip injury. Treat this as a weird week between two bad teams, meaning Hyde and Pierre Garcon are the 49ers to start. Hoyer is no more than a Hail Mary play most weeks.
- Frank Gore rushed for 48 yards on 14 carries and coughed up two fumbles against his former team. Marlon Mack, who had not played since Week 2, posted 91 yards and a touchdown on his nine carries. It’s time to give the rookie more opportunities at the veteran’s expense, so make sure he’s owned in case the Colts come to this realization.
- Averaging 93.2 receiving yards per game, T.Y. Hilton is on pace to narrowly eclipse last year’s 1,448 total. Brandishing a 24.2 percent target share in Brissett’s four starts, the wideout does not need Andrew Luck to make a dent. (Luck returning would still be nice though.)
Baltimore Ravens 30, Oakland Raiders 17
- Baltimore’s ground game must take pleasure in confounding fantasy players. Javorius Allen went from receiving two carries against Pittsburgh to 21 versus Oakland. He endured his worst receiving performance (four catches for 12 yards) since Week 1, but produced 73 rushing yards and a score. The other rushing touchdown went to Vince Mayle, a tight end who went two yards on his only career touch. That left an underwhelming 12 handoffs and 55 yards for Alex Collins. While a Week 6 home game against the Bears could produce a favorable game script, they have yielded just 3.5 yards per rush. Allen has accrued 65 touches in Baltimore’s three wins, so give him another shot.
- This week “Where in the World is Amari Cooper?” update: He caught one of his two targets for eight yards. That’s now three consecutive games with single-digit yards and 118 on the season. He recorded 138 yards in Week 5 last year. Observe him from the bench in a friendly Week 6 matchup against the Chargers, potentially with Derek Car back under center. Another bad week may be the final straw before dropping him.
- At least Michael Crabtree bounced back from vanishing in Week 3 and missing Week 4 with a chest injury. He has now secured six catches for 80-83 yards in the other three games. Yet he also requires a healthy Carr to fully restore his value as a reliable No. 2 option.
Seattle Seahawks 16, Los Angeles Rams 10
- Who will replace Chris Carson in Seattle’s backfield? The preliminary answer was inconclusive. Thomas Rawls and Eddie Lacy split the workload but were equally ineffective with 20 and 19 rushing yards, respectively. J.D. McKissic again served as the primary backfield receiver with 36 yards on three catches. Following a Week 6 bye, Seattle’s offense should have a much better showing against the Giants’ reeling defense. Although that’s a potential breakout opportunity for Rawls or Lacy, it’s understandable if any of their owners need to reallocate the roster spot to someone playing this weekend.
- Following Week 3’s breakout against the Titans, Doug Baldwin has gone backward with 35 and 37 yards over the past two bouts. His 21.9 percent target share is right on par with last year’s 22.2 clip, but the seven-year pro is averaging a career-low 10.5 yards per catch. Opposing every NFC East team could repair his value, but his weekly floor is lower than one would prefer from a second-round pick.
- Sammy Watkins owners entered Week 5 thinking it couldn’t get any worse than the previous weekend’s 17-yard bust. Well, zero catches are worse. This came during a game in which Jared Goff threw 47 times with 22 completions distributed to eight different players. Don’t bet on a rebound against Jacksonville cornerbacks Jalen Ramsey and A.J. Buoye, so sit all Rams except Todd Gurley in Week 6.
Green Bay Packers 35, Dallas Cowboys 31
- Replacing an injured running back went much smoother for the Packers. With Ty Montgomery out, Aaron Jones partook in 52 of 58 snaps, according to Jahnke. He registered 125 yards and a touchdown on 19 of the team’s 21 carries. (Jamaal Williams appeared for a one-yard run.) The Packers are the rare modern offense that leans on one running back, so start with Jones as long as Montgomery is sidelined. But don’t count on a timeshare if both are active.
- Aaron Rodgers orchestrated a game-winning drive without Jordy Nelson. According to Packers News’ Aaron Nagler, the Packers did not clarify his status beyond saying the star receiver was being “evaluated.” Before the undisclosed injury, he scored his 20th touchdown in 21 games. Davante Adams, returning from a vicious Week 4 hit, seized the spotlight with two scores, giving him 16 since the start of 2016. Rodgers and Adams are premium options regardless of Nelson’s status, but his health is crucial for Green Bay and many fantasy squads.
- After tossing three passing scores for the second straight week, Dak Prescott has posted 11 passing touchdowns and two more from the ground. He has finished as a top-12 quarterback each week, topping the Week 5 leaderboard before Deshaun Watson‘s epic Sunday night. Despite averaging 238.4 passing yards per contest, Prescott’s 25.2 rushing yards push him closer to weekly-start territory. Dallas will return from a Week 6 bye with a mouth-watering matchup against San Francisco.
- Jason Witten‘s receptions by game: 7, 10, 1, 1, and 8. For a PPR gamer, he still beats using a tight end reliant on reaching the end zone.
Kansas City Chiefs 42, Houston Texans 34
- How did Watson follow Week 4’s five-touchdown bash? By throwing five more, three to DeAndre Hopkins and another two to Will Fuller. He garnered 16.3 yards per completion and added 31 rushing yards. Now he gets the Browns in Week 6? Yes, please. The rookie probably won’t deliver another five touchdowns, but he’s a must-start after consecutive week as the top-scoring fantasy quarterback.
- Kareem Hunt‘s owners are the last people who can complain. Yet after four magical weeks, the rookie running back recorded only 107 rushing yards with no 50-yard runs. Making matters worse, Charcandrick West caught two touchdowns while De’Anthony Thomas snagged a score on his only touch. The fact that Hunt’s fifth 100-yard effort of the season represents his worst game shows how elite he is.
- For the first time in his career, Alex Smith has exceeded 300 passing yards twice in a season. His 324-yard, three-touchdown game gives him 278.2 yards per game, putting him on pace to obliterate last year’s career high of 3,502 yards accrued over 15 games. He also has a 76.6 completion percentage and has yet to permit a turnover. The Steelers have surrendered a minuscule 142.2 yards per game through the air, but they have faced Kizer, Case Keenum, Mike Glennon, Joe Flacco, and Bortles. It’s time to leave him in the starting lineup without a second thought.