Ten Things We Learned in Week 5 (Fantasy Football)
Week 5 of the NFL season was filled with a myriad of surprises, from unexpected team wins to unfortunate injuries. Even the tight end position put up respectable numbers as a group for the first time this season. It also welcomed the return of established fantasy football stars Cooper Kupp and Jonathan Taylor, the latter fresh off a new contract extension. There’s a lot of information to take in from the weekend, including the following storylines.
1. Rookie RB Roundup – The Good
A handful of rookie running backs seemingly established their roles in Week 5, for better or for worse. First the positive: De’Von Achane is that dude. He might have the highest ceiling of any fantasy player and has the potential to be the RB1 each and every week. Kendre Miller saw 16 opportunities (12 carries, four targets) even with fellow RB Alvin Kamara getting 25 opportunities himself. Miller is a top insurance back and can be flexed in the right matchup. Tyjae Spears must be rostered and can be started in a pinch. He’s on the field constantly, the Titans are designing plays for him, and he’s got home run hitting speed. It’s no longer solely the Derrick Henry show. Bears running back Khalil Herbert suffered a high ankle sprain on Thursday and will miss several weeks. Roschon Johnson also left Thursday’s game with a concussion but might be able to return next week, or perhaps miss just one game. The Bears’ upcoming schedule is great for running backs, with matchups against the Vikings, Raiders, and Chargers. Johnson has serious RB2 potential as long as he can remain healthy with Herbert out. Denver head coach Sean Payton loves him some Jaleel McLaughlin and it’s been proven over the course of the season. With Javonte Williams out in Week 5, McLaughlin saw three more carries than Samaje Perine and caught a touchdown pass. With the Broncos’ season looking bleak, the team might take things slow with Williams and ramp up McLaughlin’s workload, making him a sneaky flex play moving forward. Lastly, Arizona’s undrafted RB Emari Demercado emerged as the go-to back when James Conner injured his knee in Sunday’s game. He rushed the ball 10 times for 45 yards and a touchdown and also caught one of three targets for 12 yards. He looked solid in the fill-in role and could be a valuable fantasy asset for the next few weeks depending on the severity of Conner’s injury.
2. Rookie RB Roundup – The Bad
There was hype surrounding Tank Bigsby going into the season and the thought was that he might take some valuable carries away from Travis Etienne. That’s hardly been the case, as he continues to see just a small number of touches each week. Bigsby offers no fantasy value unless Etienne were to get hurt. If you roster Etienne, feel free to keep Bigsby as a backup plan, otherwise, he belongs on waivers. Eric Gray got his first NFL action in Week 5 and led the Giants with 12 carries. The problem is he didn’t get much on those 12 carries – just 25 yards total. With Saquon Barkley close to returning, Gray probably won’t see the field again for a while. But at least Gray saw action, unlike Rams rookie Zach Evans. When Los Angeles traded Cam Akers, it propelled Evans to the third running back on the depth chart. However, he has not even gotten into a game yet, as Kyren Williams has firmly taken over this backfield himself. Dynasty managers might want to move on from Evans if he doesn’t get a chance soon.
3. Breece Hall Is Back
Earlier this week Jets head coach Robert Saleh said that Breece Hall was going to return to a full workload. He kept his promise. Hall dominated the rushing attempts on Sunday, carrying the ball 22 times for 172 yards and a touchdown. He looked like the Breece Lightning fantasy managers fell in love with on a 72-yard run he took to the house. His counterpart Dalvin Cook saw just six carries. Cook can hit waivers because it’s Hall to the moon for the rest of the season.
4. Cooper Kupp and Puka Nacua Can Coexist
Fantasy managers were thrilled to see Cooper Kupp back in action and looking like his old self on Sunday, but Puka Nacua truthers were a little nervous. Could Kupp and Nacua both be fantasy-relevant when on the field together? From what we saw on Sunday, the answer is a resounding yes. Kupp saw 12 targets and Nacua received 11 targets. Kupp caught eight passes for 118 yards and Nacua caught seven passes for 71 yards and a touchdown. As of Sunday night, Nacua and Kupp rank as the WR10 and WR11, respectively. The player who took the biggest hit is Tutu Atwell. He caught just two of five targets for nine yards, although he scored a touchdown, salvaging his day for fantasy managers who still started him. Kupp and Nacua can both be started with confidence, but Atwell should be relegated to the bench.
5. Too Many Mouths to Feed in Philly
The Eagles have too many great offensive players. It’s a great problem to have for them, but a sticky situation for fantasy managers who roster those players. Between A.J. Brown, DeVonta Smith, Dallas Goedert, and D’Andre Swift, one of those four players will likely be left out on a week-by-week basis. For the first four games, it was Goedert who suffered this fate, but he exploded onto the scene in Week 5 with eight catches for 117 yards and a touchdown. Smith took the backseat, catching just one pass for six yards. A.J. Brown is the most secure of the offensive weapons and managers who roster him should have no qualms about starting him every week. But Smith and Goedert could easily rotate good and bad games between them. And while Swift has solidified his position as the main running back, Jalen Hurts has the potential to vulture his rushing touchdowns every week, much like he did to Miles Sanders last year.
6. Baltimore’s Backfield Is a Mess
On Thursday’s show, Andy brought up the fact that the running back situation in Baltimore isn’t favorable for fantasy. What he described essentially played out on Sunday, with Gus Edwards getting almost twice as many carries as Justice Hill, yet it was Hill who got the targets (four) and the touchdown. And it’s not like Edwards was inefficient with the ball either, he averaged four yards per rush. Factor in Lamar Jackson‘s rushing prowess and undrafted rookie Keaton Mitchell coming off IR and it’s hard to predict who will have consistent value at the RB position. I think there will be weeks where Edwards and Hill will be viable borderline RB2 options, the problem is we won’t know who it will be.
7. Fire Up Justin Fields
The Bears finally got back into the win column on Thursday, thanks to a stellar performance from Justin Fields and D.J. Moore. Fields is the QB1 for the week (before the Monday Night game) and was the QB2 last week. It’s time to jump back on the bandwagon and put Fields in lineups. He’s got a delectable schedule against the Vikings, Raiders, and Chargers over the next three weeks and could easily finish as a top-three QB for the rest of the month.
8. Brock Purdy, the Unsung Hero
To all those who completely punted the QB position in redraft leagues and selected Brock Purdy with one of the final picks, or picked him up off the waiver wire, bravo. Purdy is the QB7 so far on the season and is one of only two starting quarterbacks without an interception. He’s even got two rushing touchdowns to boot. He torched the Cowboys’ vaunted defense Sunday night to the tune of 252 passing yards and four touchdowns. Burdy is not just a streaming option anymore, he is a top-12 option at the position.
9. Does the Risk Outweigh the Reward With Anthony Richardson?
This one is tough because Anthony Richardson is so exciting to watch with the football in his hands. He has the ideal skillset for fantasy football but was proving he could win games, too. When Richardson plays a full game, he is a top-five option, make no mistake about it. Unfortunately, he’s already had to leave two games early because of injury, and the latest setback could land him on the IR, meaning you probably won’t see his return until Week 11.
Mechanism looked consistent with a sprained AC joint. X-rays (-) for collarbone fracture https://t.co/4C2pRHftfi
— Matthew Betz (@TheFantasyPT) October 8, 2023
Richardson remains an elite option for dynasty rosters, but for redraft leagues, he might not help you get to the fantasy playoffs this year as originally planned.
10. The TE Studs Return, for Now
Can’t believe it took until Week 5 to say this, but we finally got good games from George Kittle, Dallas Goedert, and Darren Waller. Even Dalton Schultz and Kyle Pitts had respectable fantasy outings. It was great to see, but don’t get used to it. The tight end spot remains the most unpredictable position in fantasy football unless you are the lucky Travis Kelce manager. There will be great games from Kittle, Goedert, and Waller again down the road, but it’s so difficult to forecast when those will occur. We have to keep starting these players because the TE choices are just not great, but don’t think these players have turned a corner because of one good game.