Last week was an injury spectacular, but the New York Giants alone in Week 5 take the cake.
The obvious news-making moment was Odell Beckham‘s fractured ankle, but prior to that the Giants lost Brandon Marshall (ankle), Sterling Shepard (ankle) and Dwayne Harris (broken foot). Life won’t get any easier with Denver and Seattle next on the docket. Look for WR Roger Lewis to see an increased role, and rookie tight end Evan Engram‘s involvement is sure to spike.
A quick note before we look ahead: Deshaun Watson is a monster. I said last week to pump the brakes on the hype train and see what KC’s defense did to him … if you recall that writeup, I noted that the game isn’t too big for Watson. Boy, was that the understatement of 2017. He is officially a fine start anywhere, anytime in fantasy at this stage.
Week 6 brings several enticing matchups, starting with Thursday’s battle for between Philadelphia and Carolina. Fantasy owners may find sneaky plays when Kyle Shanahan’s 49ers head to Washington, and against the Patriots, several Jets receivers may soar. The Steelers and Chiefs could entertain, depending on which version of Pittsburgh shows up. It is hard coming to grips with the Rams vs. Jaguars being in the mix for showdown of the week. It feels a little disappointing to think the Monday Night Football contest between Indy and Tennessee could feature Jacoby Brissett against Matt Cassel.
27 carries, 91 yards, 1 TD: This is Leonard Fournette‘s total when his 90-yard TD is removed. It breaks down to 3.3 yards per carry.
Takeaway: “Why do you gotta be like that, man? Taking away his highlight-reel TD is a low blow.” … Not the point. The stat line of 28-181-2 looks super impressive, as it should, but the nuance of the performance is being down 23-9, with 2:00 on the clock, Pittsburgh didn’t have any interest in playing run defense. Fournette was untouched going through the line as the Steelers either completely blew the formation or had given up on the game. A realistic upshot: Fournette scored for the fifth straight game but also would have averaged less than 3.8 yards per carry for the same span. I bring this up only to remind in fantasy, much like in golf, the final number on the card is more important than how it looked getting there.
17 touches per game: Despite all of the running back touches that have been doled out in Baltimore, Javorius Allen has managed to erratically average 17 per game in a three-way committee.
Takeaway: Terrance West aggravated his calf injury and did not return. Alex Collins rushed 12 times in an uptick over the nine per game he has logged each of the past two weeks. The Ravens’ offensive line still stinks, so there’s going to be this aspect working against Allen. Even still, he has seen at least four receptions in each of the last four games. Receiving 35 totes in the first two weeks inflates his average, sure, but seeing the Ravens commit to him again this weekend is quite encouraging. Aiming to the middle for safety purposes says he’s a flex play most weeks. Some games will be better, others assuredly worse. Bank on the touch volume in PPR formats.
Also see: Week 5 fantasy recap
24.9 standard fantasy points allowed: This is what the Buffalo Bills allowed to Cincinnati Bengals WR A.J. Green in Week 5. Green went for 189 yards and a touchdown, which created a fantasy day that dwarfed the previous high of 9.8 points allowed (Demaryius Thomas).
Takeaway: As discussed in this spot, it usually takes a month or so for trends to develop with any sense of accuracy. Buffalo’s defense against the pass, wide receivers specifically, has been a compelling story. They lost their two best defensive backs in the offseason and entered Week 5 as the No. 6-ranked defense at stopping the position. Their opponents: NYJ, CAR, DEN, ATL. Cam Newton was awful in Week 2, and Julio Jones exited early in Week 4. It is still hard to pinpoint if this is a good defense that had a bad day or if Green showed their true colors.
19 carries, 125 yards, 1 TD: Green Bay Packers rookie running back Aaron Jones ran quite well in Week 5 with Ty Montgomery sidelined.
Takeaway: It is somewhat odd that all of the offseason buzz surrounded Jamaal Williams — the higher draft pick of the two rookies — and yet Jones gets all of the work even after Williams was deemed healthy following last week’s early exit. He fully practiced all week and was removed from the injury report, so it’s not a matter of being ill-prepared. Obviously Jones is the preferred choice by Mike McCarthy, and it is also pretty obvious as to why. So, the biggest question that needs to be answered is if Jones has earned himself a large share of the workload once Montgomery is healthy. As long as the fifth-rounder is running well, there is no incentive to rushing Montgomery back. My best guesstimate is Montgomery handles most of the change-of-pace and receiving chores while Jones continues to chug along between the 20s and near the stripe. This scenario would make Jones a weekly consideration in non-PPR and Montgomery one in its reception-rewarding counterpart.
20-126-1: This is the combined rushing stat line for Giants RBs Orleans Darkwa and Wayne Gallman in Week 5.
Takeaway: If only fantasy owners could blend these guys into one package! Look for this kind of headache to come every week. Darkwa scored the touchdown and went for 69 yards on his eight attempts. Gallman outpaced him in carries and managed a healthy 57 yards (5.2 average). Now that New York is without OBJ and possibly every other wideout in the five boroughs, it is fair to assume the running game will be emphasized.
12: The number of times Detroit Lions QB Matthew Stafford has been sacked in the last two weeks after being taken down only six times in the first three games combined.
Takeaway: Detroit’s offensive line has been dealing with injuries and inconsistent play inside. The stat to come away with from this is that he threw seven TDs in the first three games and only two in the last two. It goes to show how important pressuring a quarterback truly is in the NFL. It also should serve as a harbinger for upcoming matchups. Minnesota had tallied only five sacks before downing Stafford a half-dozen times, while Carolina had amassed 11 quarterback takedowns in four games before Week 5. Up next: A trip to New Orleans to face a defense with — you guessed it — 11 sacks in four games. Plus, the Saints have a bye week to prepare and have seen Detroit each of the past two seasons. Use this game as a barometer. Detroit goes on vacation in Week 7 and then returns to host Pittsburgh, travel to Green Bay and then welcome a Cleveland defense that displayed what its No. 1 overall pick is capable of doing at this level.
Carolina Panthers tight end Ed Dickson‘s monstrous stat line of 5-175-0 in Week 5 against the Lions.
Takeaway: In four of his NFL seasons, he failed to match Sunday’s performance. He played 16 games in three of those four years and 15 in the other. Dickson had not topped 100 yards in any of his previous 112 pro games. Additionally, the last year and into this season, Detroit hasn’t fared so well versus the position. Fantasy gamers can consider him in deep leagues due to bye weeks, but expectations should be low.
4-93-1: The stats posted by Philadelphia Eagles wideout Nelson Agholor. In his last three games, Agholor has combined for 87 yards and a touchdown. In five games, he has scored three times, which ties his career total from the 25 games entering this season.
Takeaway: It appears after two good fantasy days and three forgettable appearances, Agholor is only capable of contributing via big plays. If you’ll remember back to Week 1, Carson Wentz kept a play alive that led to a 58-yard TD to the developing receiver. A 72-yarder in one-on-one coverage against an Arizona rookie rewarded gamers who were oddly brave enough to start him. Remove these two plays and he looks like the same version of Agholor we’ve seen in most of his career. For his career, he has caught TDs of at least 40 yards in each of his three pro seasons.
Los Angeles Rams tight end Tyler Higbee has been more involved the last two games, finishing Week 5 with four grabs for 98 yards on eight targets.
Takeaway: He was one of my favorite sleeper targets in the offseason and my homework convinced me of his inevitable breakout. After three silent games to start the year, I had to accept how dead wrong I was and move on. It happens. Can’t beat yourself up. I dismissed last week’s flash (3-47-0) versus Dallas. Sunday’s showing made me start to wonder if perhaps I had given up too early. Upon closer examination, I don’t believe so. Seattle is so strong on the outside that Jared Goff had to work the middle of the field. Higbee’s quality showing was merely a product of the situation.
Gut check: OK, I was a tad overzealous in last week’s love for Seattle Seahawks running back J.D. McKissic. I’m not totally abandoning the idea he will lead this backfield the rest of the way. Touching the ball more would be a helpful way to make it happen. Eddie Lacy has proven to be useless. Thomas Rawls isn’t far behind. I digress.
Here’s a thought: Darren Fells should overtake starting Eric Ebron, although it wouldn’t make him a fantasy commodity. Detroit’s former first-round tight end cannot be relied on and isn’t in the ballpark of Fells’ blocking talents. Fells has shown to be sure-handed in his career and as recently as Sunday’s two-TD performance. Ebron dropped a sure score and appeared to have forgotten at one point he was blocking on a running play … or even was playing football. He can be cut in all formats, if he hasn’t been already.
I want to believe: Hue Jackson knows what he is doing in Cleveland, but it is becoming increasingly difficult to give him the benefit of the doubt. How does a coach get to Week 5 with a rookie quarterback — whom most prognosticators felt wasn’t ready in Year 1 — only to ping pong him from the starting lineup to the bench? What is the goal? Cleveland doesn’t offer much for fantasy purposes, luckily. For the sake of any little bit of hope, if Kevin Hogan is better than DeShone Kizer at this point in time, stick with him.
Also see: Week 5 Tunnel Vision
Book it: The Giants will have an early draft choice in 2018’s selection process and choose a quarterback. At this point, the No. 1 pick is certainly in contention for the G-Men. I’m not saying all of the problems fall on Eli Manning‘s shoulders, but he’ll be the scapegoat a year after his current head coach is canned. His contract gives an out after 2018, which buys a little time to groom a rookie, and Manning will be 38 years old. Everything about the Ben McAdoo experiment has been an abject failure; it is time to blow it all up with a new coach and a quarterback of their choosing.
It sure seems like: Jacoby Brissett will be a sound fantasy play in Week 6. The Titans have allowed a cargo ship worth of fantasy points to quarterbacks in 2017. The numbers will be skewed once the Week 5 stats are compiled, because of Jay Cutler. Thanks, Jay. Through the first four weeks, Tennessee was fantasy’s second-easiest matchup to exploit. Brissett has a live arm and just enough ability with his legs to add the possibility for bonus points on the ground. Week 6 isn’t all that punitive for quarterbacks on bye (BUF, CIN, DAL, SEA), but daily gamers, or those of us possibly facing life without Derek Carr, Marcus Mariota, Andrew Luck, etc., could be in the market for Mr. Brissett’s services.
I feel: Cooper Kupp must be sick to his stomach. The only person sicker over that play is David Dorey. Teasing aside, the lesson learned is a dropped game-winner can be used as a sign of how much confidence Goff has in Kupp with the game on the line. The rookie will have plenty of chances to redeem himself in coming weeks and belongs in fantasy lineups.