Fantasy Football Studs & Duds: Week 5

Aaron Rodgers looked back to good in Week 5’s loss

Here’s a look at the studs and duds of Week 5. We’ll look at one stud and one dud from each of the quarterback, running back, wide receiver, and tight end positions. The purpose of this exercise is not simply to identify the best and worst at each position but to find players who had over- or underwhelming performances that warrant discussion.

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Stud: Aaron Rodgers (GB)
32/52; 442 Yards; Three Touchdowns

Green Bay was remarkably depleted at wide receiver for their Week 5 divisional bout against the Lions. Aaron Rodgers had his favorite target, Davante Adams, but after that, it was a bunch of rookies with confusing names. If you only look at the box score you’d think this was another brilliant performance by Rodgers, making it work with a bunch of nobodies, but in fact, nearly all of these big numbers were built up after the game was practically out of reach. Rodgers looked extremely sloppy in the first half, where he was stripped sacked twice. The first of these fumbles was a real head-scratcher: Rodgers was scrambling outside of the pocket, rolling to his right, when the defender in pursuit kind of… just… caught up? It was a shocking lack of awareness and athleticism for Rodgers, who has been taken off of the injury report by the way. If you didn’t get a chance to see this game, just know that the impressive numbers don’t necessarily indicate that all is well with the Green Bay offense.

Dud: Marcus Mariota (TEN)
14/26; 129 Yards; One INT; Two Carries for 10 Yards

Let’s make one thing clear right now: being the team that “seems to find a way to win” isn’t necessarily a good thing. That was the story of the Tennessee Titans through a quarter of the season, but really it was just a kind way for analysts to say “they aren’t that good, but their record is.” Yes, the victory over the Eagles was as impressive as it was ballsy, but you need to be able to follow that up with a W over one of the league’s bottom feeders.

Mariota has been the poster child of Tennessee’s problems, and deservedly so: his 129 passing yards against the Bills here are the second highest he’s posted yet this year. To be clear, injuries played a major role in the other two ~100 yard games, but this time he put up those numbers without any excuses. It’s probably fair to say that the Buffalo defense has a layer of explosiveness that nobody gave them credit for going into 2018, but their offense spends such little time on the field that there’s really no excuse for them to be able to take over a game. Mariota now has to face the Ravens, who have been a great defense all year, followed by the Chargers, who could be getting Joey Bosa back. Considering how well quarterbacks are playing in general this year, there’s really no reason to waste your time with Mariota.

Running Back

Stud: David Johnson (ARI)
18 Carries for 55 Yards and Two Touchdowns; Two Receptions for 16 Yards

David Johnson owners have gotten a raw deal. Not only has Johnson fallen short of the lofty expectations set by his third-overall ADP, but he’d be disappointing for a second or third round pick too. Even in hindsight, it’s almost hard to believe just how bad Sam Bradford was, and just how soon a completely unprepared Josh Rosen would be called upon to lead this offense. Great fantasy running backs need to be in good offenses. Even Todd Gurley couldn’t produce in Jeff Fisher’s final year with the Rams, and he’s probably the most complete offensive weapon in the NFL right now.

Johnson has been trending upward the past couple of weeks, which owners have obviously been patiently waiting for. But even today’s “breakout” performance was the product of two fortunate goal-line opportunities, and doesn’t seem like something that can be replicated by this offense. DJ’s owners have had to deal with buy-low trade offers for a while, so now might be a good time to try and flip the script and attempt to sell high.

Dud: Latavius Murray (MIN)
11 Carries for 42 Yards; Two Receptions for 14 Yards

Minnesota has garnered a reputation as the league’s worst rushing attack, and they failed to change any minds in Week 5. Sure, not having star back Dalvin Cook hurts, but their offensive line is the primary culprit. This is a team that’s been dealing with O-line issues for years now, and for whatever reason is incapable of rectifying the situation. Suffice to say that it will take someone with Cook’s talent at the very least to get anything done, and Latavius Murray does not have Cook’s talent. At 28 years old, Murray should be in the prime of his career, but instead, he’s losing carries to Roc Thomas for the role of second-string fill-in. Maybe the Vikings coaching staff is just desperate to throw anything at the wall to see what sticks, but this is not a good indication of Murray’s place on this team going forward.

Wide Receiver

Stud: Robby Anderson (NYJ)
3 Receptions for 123 Yards; Two Touchdowns

Rookie quarterback Sam Darnold is not a player who has taken many chances throughout his short tenure at the pro level. Many analysts believe the team would start to encourage him to loosen up a bit and take some shots after the team dropped three straight games, and those analysts appear to have been correct. Sure, Darnold completed fewer than half of his passes and finished with fewer than 200 yards, which in most cases would amount to a bad day at the office for your average NFL QB. But in return Darnold got to hook up with the explosive Robby Anderson for two electric, home run, momentum-swinging plays. That the rookie QB is such an accurate deep thrower is quite shocking considering how reluctant he was to do so up to this point, but it does mean that Anderson deserves consideration in all leagues now, whereas he was basically drop-able before Week 5.

Dud: Amari Cooper (OAK)
One Reception for 10 Yards

The point of this feature is not to pick on the same players every week; in fact, efforts are made to deliberately avoid repeat entries. But Amari Cooper could have a column like this dedicated entirely to his performances each week, and that’s not a good thing. Cooper has shown up on film the past few weeks for some of the wrong reasons, but there’s still no reason he should be getting just one target in the first quarter and then ignored for the rest of the game.

Frankly, it’s come to the point where we have to start looking at the Raiders as a whole, and it’s an ugly sight. Jon Gruden has proved only one thing since making his long-awaited return to coaching, and it is that he’s in way over his head. More surprising and/or disappointing however has been the progression, or lack thereof, of Derek Carr. Carr led the Raiders in a two-minute drill at the end of the first half against the Chargers, and to be blunt it was one of the most baffling exhibits of incompetence these eyes have ever seen. Trailing 17-3 with no timeouts and after the two-minute warning, Carr completed four dump off passes in the middle of the field, each of which was for fewer than 10 yards. How does Carr run the two-minute offense like this after being in the league for five years? How has Jon Gruden coached an offense this bad? Whatever the answers are, they won’t be coming in time to make Cooper a consistent player.  If you’re playing him, you’re doing so out of necessity, and just hoping for the best.

Tight End

Stud: Zach Ertz (PHI)
10 Receptions for 110 Yards; One Touchdown

Ertz was having a pedestrian outing before the Eagles took the field for their final desperation drive, and what a drive it was for the tight end. He almost single-handedly brought the team down the field, accruing 52 yards, a touchdown, and drawing an unnecessary roughness penalty in the end zone. It was a dominant drive pioneered by an elite player. Sure, it’s a bit unnerving to see that the difference between a great day and an average one was one drive, but the timing and circumstances only cement the fact that he’s one of if not the most trusted target(s) on this team.

Dud: Ricky Seals-Jones (ARI)
Zero Receptions on Six Targets

Seals-Jones has steadily crept out of sleeper territory into streamer status as the year has carried on and tight ends have been dropping like flies. The logic was sound: he’s a super athletic player who showed flashes last year, and is playing with a rookie quarterback, a category of player that tends to favor tight ends. But as low as the ceiling is for the tight end position (and it’s easily the lowest), nobody should have to put up with a goose egg, especially on six targets. And there’s nothing to suggest that things will improve going forward – not Steve Wilks, nor Mike McCoy, nor Josh Rosen has given any indication that this offense is capable of turning into anything even resembling competent. Tight end might be shallow, but it’s still time to move on from Seals-Jones.

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Shane McCormack is a correspondent at FantasyPros. For more from Shane, check out his archive and follow him @ShaneMcCormack_.

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