Fantasy Football Weekly Recap: Week 5
The coronavirus pandemic continues to create headaches for fantasy managers, and this week was no exception. We got a last-minute postponement for Denver and New England this week, so managers of those players had to make last-second adjustments. Not fun.
For as long as we’ve got a season, I’ll be here on Sundays to give you some instant stat-based insight into NFL offenses. I try to focus on the numbers, but I’ll also break down some of the significant injuries of the day as well.
And as always, come back on Monday morning for the fallout from Week 5’s late afternoon games and Sunday Night Football!
Story #1: Chase Claypool scored four touchdowns.
Wow. Claypool looked incredible on Sunday, and he scored three receiving touchdowns and one rushing touchdown.
CHASE CLAYPOOL NOW HAS 4 TDS ?
116 total yards
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) October 11, 2020
You can’t put the cat back in the bag here. While Claypool’s opportunities came after Diontae Johnson left with an injury, Claypool will continue to be a high-upside receiving option over the rest of the season.
I wasn’t sold on Claypool after his big day back in Week 2 because he only earned three targets, but he proved me wrong this week. He has 99th-percentile speed and 92nd-percentile burst, which gives him the ability to crack a huge play every time he’s on the field. He won’t need tons of volume to be fantasy relevant.
While Johnson should get much of the volume back next week, Claypool’s talent is undeniable at this point, and Pittsburgh will find ways to keep him involved. He’ll be a boom-or-bust play moving forward.
Story #2: Travis Fulgham caught 10 passes for 152 yards and a score.
Fulgham came out of (almost) nowhere to lead this Philadelphia team in targets (13), receptions (10), receiving yards (152), and touchdowns (1). He earned a 36.1% target share this week, which is absurd! No one came close to his team-leading 13 targets — not Greg Ward (5), not Zach Ertz (6), and not John Hightower (6).
The Philadelphia offense has been incredibly inefficient thus far. Carson Wentz is leading the league in interceptions (9), but as we saw with Jameis Winston last season, that’s not always a bad thing for a team’s wideouts in fantasy. He’s not a fade because the Eagles are bad.
Instead, he’s a fade due to the impending returns of DeSean Jackson and Alshon Jeffery, both of whom could see the field as soon as next week. First-rounder Jalen Reagor will tap into this workload as well.
But until all of them get back, Fulgham will be a high-upside option at wide receiver. He’s not a bad one-week fill-in off waivers, but don’t expect this kind of production every week.
Story #3: Welcome back, Alex Smith!
What a story. After an injury two seasons ago, Smith went through 17 surgeries, a life-threatening infection, and intense physical therapy. Now he’s back on the field. This man is the comeback player of the decade.
Smith is an inspiration, but unfortunately, the rest of the Washington Football Team is not. The Rams ended with eight total sacks (Aaron Donald got four), which was their most in a single game since 2014.
An injury to Kyle Allen allowed Smith to see action under center, but Allen was healthy enough to play in the second half — Ron Rivera just chose to leave Smith in the game. Neither of these quarterbacks will be fantasy-relevant barring wholesale changes to Washington’s offense, but it was great to see Smith back in action.
Story #4-6 Injuries.
#4. Watkins went down with a hamstring injury early against the Raiders. He was initially designated as questionable to return, but the Chiefs ruled him out before the end of the game. Fantasy-wise, Mecole Hardman and Demarcus Robinson are the names to know with Watkins out. I don’t think he’ll be able to play for another week or two.
Hardman logged three targets to Robinson’s four. Hardman’s speed gives him boom-or-bust upside, but Watkins’ absence won’t increase his floor that much because he isn’t often targeted in the middle of the field. Instead, Travis Kelce should inherit Watkins’ mid-range targets. If he’s on waivers, Robinson could be worth an add in deeper leagues.
#5. Johnson took a hard hit to the back in the first quarter of Pittsburgh’s game against Philadelphia. Head coach Mike Tomlin expects that he’ll be available for Week 6, however, so don’t fade him quite yet. He’s an exceptionally talented receiver who has earned the trust of Ben Roethlisberger; he just needs to stay healthy.
If Johnson is your WR3, I would leave him in your lineup for next week. Yes, Claypool looked fantastic in his breakout, but Johnson is still the WR1 in Pittsburgh. Don’t bench him just because of two freak injuries.
#6. Green suffered a hamstring injury against the Ravens and was deemed doubtful to return. But that’s only part of the story — he was clearly phoning it in on the field.
What was A.J. Green doing on this Joe Burrow INT?pic.twitter.com/eTSmLc8Mxb
— Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) October 11, 2020
I think that Green can tell that he’s being phased out of Cincinnati’s offense. You shouldn’t expect any positive efficiency regression out of him, and this injury just confirms that Tee Higgins is the better receiver to roster. While we don’t know much about the extent of Green’s injury, you shouldn’t be starting him next week anyway. Instead, you should find a trade partner ASAP — even if the Bengals shop Green, receivers rarely benefit from mid-season trades.
Story #7: Chase Edmonds looked like a strong flex option.
I recommended Edmonds as a waiver pickup earlier in the week, and I hope you got him if you could. Edmonds didn’t touch the ball a ton — he earned only three rushing attempts and five receptions — but he turned his opportunities into 92 yards and a score. That’s 11.5 yards per touch!
Edmonds scored 20.20 PPR points. That’s fantastic production for a flex (or an RB2, honestly), so you should feel comfortable about keeping him in your lineup when the Cardinals take on the Cowboys’ disastrous defense next week.
To be clear, there’s no indication that the Cardinals are phasing out Kenyan Drake. Their starting running back got 19 touches (18 carries and one reception), but he hasn’t been nearly as efficient as Edmonds. That said, Edmonds doesn’t need much volume to post fantasy-relevant numbers, and I’m a big fan of him moving forward.
Story #8: Joe Flacco and Jamison Crowder connected deep.
I’ll take a victory lap on this one. The Jets made it clear in the offseason that they wanted to get the ball to Crowder downfield, so when I heard that Flacco would start this week, I chalked the tandem up for some big plays.
Lo and behold, they delivered.
— The Checkdown (@thecheckdown) October 11, 2020
Flacco has a big arm, and he’s been more willing to attempt passes downfield than Sam Darnold. As long as he’s in control of this offense, New York’s speedy receivers like Crowder and Breshad Perriman will have high-end ceilings. Crowder’s volume makes him the better play, of course, and he’s a mid-tier WR2 in PPR formats with Flacco around.
Story #9: Robby Anderson continued to look like the Panthers’ WR1.
I wrote about this shift in last week’s recap, so let’s talk about what we saw from him against the Falcons. Anderson earned 13 targets to Moore’s five, so even though Moore had the better fantasy showing this week, Anderson has the stabler role in the offense.
Most of Moore’s fantasy points came on one play:
You can’t catch D.J. Moore ? pic.twitter.com/kKF5PGVoD5
— PFF Fantasy Football (@PFF_Fantasy) October 11, 2020
If you drafted Moore, this would be a fantastic week to sell high on him. The Falcons have one of the worst secondaries in the league, and Moore won’t be able to take a route like that to the house against most teams.
Story #10: Joe Mixon’s passing-down role has expanded.
Between Weeks 1 and 3, Joe Mixon earned just six catches on nine targets. Since then, he’s totaled 12 catches and 14 targets! My biggest concern with Mixon thus far was his lack of receptions, but if he continues to get seven targets per game, he’s a much better option than I had expected him to be.
As Mixon has trended upward, Giovani Bernard has trended down. Bernard earned just two targets and one reception over the last two weeks of action, so concerns about him supplanting Mixon in the passing game may have been premature.
To be clear, Mixon doesn’t have much value as a runner. Cincinnati’s offensive line is one of the worst, and this week, Mixon totaled just 59 yards on 24 attempts (2.5 YPC). He was much more effective as a receiver, as he turned his six receptions into 35 yards (5.83 YPC). He’ll need to stay involved in the passing game to remain a viable RB1.
Story #11: Derek Carr is making some deep throws this season.
No, Derek Carr has not entered the QB1 conversation. Yet. He has looked very good, however, and he’s remained accurate despite attempting numerous long-range throws.
Derek Carr has completed 3 of 4 deep passes for 177 yards with 2 TD in the first half, including this 72-yard TD pass to Henry Ruggs.
— Next Gen Stats (@NextGenStats) October 11, 2020
Need I remind you about his impressive toss to Hunter Renfrow from a few weeks back? Jon Gruden is trusting his quarterback to take advantage of his speedy receivers’ skills, and it’s worked out fantastically thus far. Carr is completing 73.1% of his passes despite the longer-range looks.
Carr now has three 20-plus point performances this season. Of his two misses, one came against the Panthers’ run-funnel defense (Josh Jacobs ran for three touchdowns), and the other came against New England without either Henry Ruggs or Bryan Edwards.
Carr has looked like a low-end QB1 this season, and he’s a fantastic option in 2QB/superflex formats.
Story #12: Cam Akers returned, but Darrell Henderson remained the lead back.
Akers returned from a multi-week absence caused by a rib injury, and he looked good! The rookie ran for 61 yards on nine carries.
That said, sophomore Darrell Henderson saw far more touches. He logged 15 carries and three receptions, and he turned them into 68 all-purpose yards and two scores. Worse, Akers was a distant third in snaps. Most of Akers’ usage came after halftime when the game was well in hand.
#Rams Week 5 RB Usage
-Darrell Henderson, 44% snaps, 15 carries, 4 targets
– Malcolm Brown, 38% snaps, 8 carries, 2 targets
– Cam Akers, 18% snaps, 9 carries, 0 targets
It’s a committee but Henderson is the top option
— Michael F. Florio (@MichaelFFlorio) October 11, 2020
After Henderson’s bad showing last week, it was a pleasant surprise to see him score twice this week. His two-touchdown performance is a fantastic opportunity for you to sell high. As I mentioned last week, McVay has designed this backfield as a committee, and it’s tough to see Henderson getting more than 20 touches in a game. And as we have seen over the past two weeks, he won’t post counting stats necessary to be a successful RB2 if he doesn’t score.
Story #13-15: Injuries, Pt. II
#13. Prescott is done for the year after a severe ankle injury. Prescott chose to bet on himself this season, and through no fault of his own, his opportunity has been cut short. I hope he can still secure the contract he’s looking for.
Without Prescott, the Cowboys will feature Andy Dalton under center. He led them on a game-winning drive after Prescott’s injury, and he’s a serviceable journeyman. He’s got arguably the best receiving corps in the league with Amari Cooper, CeeDee Lamb, and Michael Gallup, and due to their talent, he immediately enters the low-end QB1/high-end QB2 conversation. I’m cautiously optimistic that the three receivers will continue to post fantasy numbers similar to those posted with Prescott.
#14. Cook went down with a groin injury and was deemed questionable to return. Although he came back, it wasn’t for very long.
Dalvin Cook will get an MRI tomorrow on his injured groin. Cook came back in for 1 play in the 3rd quarter after sustaining injury but spent the rest of the game on the sideline. Why did he come back in?
“Because he wanted to try to get in there and play again," Zimmer said.
— Courtney Cronin (@CourtneyRCronin) October 12, 2020
You have to appreciate the grit, though. You’ll want to follow reports of Cook’s MRI, as they’ll determine how long he’ll sit out. Alexander Mattison will be a high-end RB2 until Cook returns, and Mike Boone is the next man up behind him.
#15. Mayfield suffered a rib injury late in the Browns’ Week 5 victory over the Colts. Following the game, he downplayed its severity by telling reporters that he expects to play in Week 6.
“Momma didn’t raise no wuss,” said Mayfield.
Somewhat surprisingly, the Browns shifted to a more pass-oriented offense to beat the Colts. They still ran the ball 33 times, but Mayfield threw 37 times, close to his season-high of 39. He’s nothing more than a QB2 next week against Pittsburgh, and it’s hard to get excited about him or his receivers in such a tough matchup.
Story #16: It’s time to start fading wide receivers against James Bradberry.
Amari Cooper caught two of four targets for 23 yards this week. Entering Week 5, he was averaging 12.67 targets per game, so I’m chalking up his disappearance to tight coverage. Take a look at Bradberry’s efficiency through his first four games:
Some NGS-based outside cornerback metrics as nearest defender this season.
Target rate (x) by completion percentage over expectation allowed (y), colored by success rate.
Ojemudia: good start!
Flowers (+Griffin): yikes!
Bradberry: sneaky good!? pic.twitter.com/cYRIxduEpf
— Seth Walder (@SethWalder) October 10, 2020
Nice. That’s some lockdown stuff, Bradberry. The Giants will play Washington (WR1: Terry McLaurin), Philadelphia (WR1: TBD), and Tampa Bay (WR1: Mike Evans) over the next three weeks. You should expect some dropoffs in their production accordingly.
Story #17: T.Y. Hilton and Trey Burton led the Colts in targets.
Just as we all expected, right? Hilton finally got things sorted out and caught six of his 10 targets for 69 yards, while Burton caught five of his six targets for 33. Neither player scored a touchdown, although Philip Rivers didn’t pass for one anyway.
Hilton’s recovery is bad news for Zach Pascal, who had been trending up in this offense. If Hilton can keep this up, he’ll return to WR3 value, although Rivers’ decreased arm strength means that Hilton won’t have the same long-ball upside he had with Andrew Luck.
Meanwhile, Burton has supplanted both Jack Doyle and Mo Alie-Cox as the TE1 in this offense. Burton actually beat out Alie-Cox and Doyle for targets last week, too, although Alie-Cox’s touchdown obscured his decreased usage. That said, Burton’s emergence isn’t a reason to add him; instead, it’s a reason to avoid every Colts tight end — there are too many mouths to feed on too few targets.
Story #18: Jordan Howard was a healthy scratch.
This story is a big deal for one simple reason: red-zone touches. Before Week 5, I didn’t think Myles Gaskin had value outside of PPR leagues. But if the Dolphins don’t feel like they need Howard active each week, then it’ll be up to Gaskin to cross the goal line.
He proved that he could do that this week.
— QB List (@TheQBlist) October 11, 2020
Moving forward, Gaskin is a low-end RB2 in all formats. He’ll suffer a bit when the Dolphins are in pass-heavy game scripts, but he’s getting enough targets from Ryan Fitzpatrick to not disappear from the box score in such a scenario.
Story #19: Is Russ Still Cooking?
Wilson posted season-lows in completions (20) and passing yards (217) against the Vikings this week. However, he didn’t post a season-low in passing attempts (32) as he threw the ball only 28 times against New England.
So what’s the story here? Time of possession. The Minnesota Vikings had the ball for almost 40 minutes of Sunday’s game, and they featured both Dalvin Cook and Alexander Mattison in hopes of running out the clock.
The Seahawks won’t get pinned down by run-heavy offenses like this every week, so this game feels like an outlier. That said, we can’t expect Wilson to sustain his outrageous start to the year. He played two of the league’s worst secondaries (Atlanta and Dallas), which explains a good chunk of his fantasy performance thus far.
Story #20: Jimmy Garoppolo got benched.
Yes, we knew that Jimmy G wasn’t a fantasy QB1. But we couldn’t have expected such a miserable showing from him against the Dolphins. Garoppolo completed just seven of his 17 passes, and he threw two picks in the Week 5 loss.
Jimmy Garoppolo keeps throwing INTs. 15.7 QB Rating.
Ryan Fitzpatrick is outplaying him badly, 150 QB Rating at halftime.pic.twitter.com/4Cf4RcBKE1
— Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) October 11, 2020
Head coach Kyle Shanahan put C.J. Beathard in at halftime. It’s too early to expect a quarterback change in San Francisco, especially with Garoppolo’s $137.5 million contract on the books, but it could be in the cards this offseason.
In 2QB leagues, Garoppolo managers should consider picking up Andy Dalton for depth. Garoppolo may continue to start, but with the way he’s played so far, Dalton could be an upgrade over him.
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