Welcome to Week 5 of Lessons Learned! In this article, we break down ten important takeaways from the prior week in fantasy football, and what they could mean for your lineups moving forward.
If you learned anything from Week 5 that you think we should know, send us a comment or shoot me a tweet @FantasySensei! Without further ado, let’s dive into the fantasy classroom.
1. Andrew Luck Will Not Stop Throwing
Last week, we touched on Nyheim Hines and his rising value in this Colts offense, and he delivered on Thursday Night Football. One of the primary reasons: Andrew Luck has apparently become a human JUGS machine. After multiple years of NFL dormancy due to a lingering shoulder injury, the 29-year-old QB is making up for all that missed time by throwing 50 times every single game.
With 59 pass attempts on Thursday night, Luck raised his NFL-leading total to 245, a pace that would smash the NFL record of 727 in a season, held by Matthew Stafford. This phenomenon has served to make Luck a QB1 despite the 4th-lowest yards per attempt among all qualified quarterbacks. With an awful defense and a steadily improving level of health, Luck shows no signs of slowing any time soon, so start him up in all but the worst matchups.
2. Odell Beckham Jr. Should Be the Giants QB Coach
Okay, this is a slight exaggeration … but only slight. Beckham’s glorious 57-yard touchdown pass to Saquon Barkley on Sunday was the longest pass play of the year for New York, and even traveled further in the air than any throw by Eli Manning this season.
More importantly, it galvanized Manning and the team, who put up 30+ points in a game for the first time since January 2016. Manning himself managed to throw a pair of TD passes later in the game, including the first to OBJ this season. While they lost (to a 63-yard game winning FG by Graham Gano), the Giants offense took a step forward, which should be good news for the already-elite Beckham and Barkley moving forward.
3. Dolphins Coach Adam Gase is a Stubborn Man
In a game where Kenyan Drake finally broke out for 21 fantasy points, you would think the trumpets would be blaring and I’d be rolling out a red carpet for Drake and his future fantasy value. Unfortunately, “Coach Butthole” as he’s been labeled by the brilliant nicknaming mind of Mike Wright, still refuses to give Drake even an equal share of the carries.
Frank Gore out-carried Drake 12 to 6 in this game, and while he managed a healthy 5.3 yards per carry, he still fell short of the explosive Drake’s 7.7 yards per carry. Drake ripped off a 25-yard run and a 22-yard reception in this game, showing exactly why he needs more touches. Sadly, until Gase pulls his head out of himself (deep level joke there), Drake will continue to be a highly unreliable fantasy asset dependent on a big-play touchdown.
4. Sadly for Kerryon, Matt Patricia is the Wayward Son
Sticking with the theme of coaches ruining the fantasy upside of talented running backs, we find Matt Patricia refusing to feature Kerryon Johnson. He split the carries right down the middle with LeGarrette Blount in a win over the Packers, and Blount managed to steal both goal-line touchdowns, tilting Kerryon owners beyond belief.
This situation might even be more painful than that of the Dolphins, because of how ineffective Blount has been. He totaled 22 rushing yards on his 12 carries, while Kerryon totaled 70, bringing their seasonal yards per carry to 2.5 and 5.7 respectively. Yes, you read that correctly. Good luck getting a Kerryon owner to cry no more, as I assure you they’ll be sobbing uncontrollably until Patricia lays this weary trend to rest. (Pun level 9000 has been reached).
5. Mariota and the Titans Are … Bad
Sorry Titans fans (if there are any of you), but your former 2nd overall draft pick has expedited his disappointing journey towards Bustville. Mariota was atrocious (again) in a disappointing loss to the Bills in Week 5, completing 54% of his passes for 129 yards, no TDs, and an interception. Of 35 qualified QBs in the league, Mariota now ranks 32nd in yards per game, 32nd in passer rating, and tied for 32nd with a 0.5 TD-INT ratio (2 TDs, 4 INTs).
The former Oregon Duck is throwing ducks left, right, and center, and it has not only removed him from streamer consideration in fantasy, but it has also affected his fellow Titans as well. Corey Davis, who we labeled “probably” good at football last week, can be as good as he pleases — it won’t help for fantasy if his QB can’t produce any semblance of consistency. And the touted RB duo of Derrick Henry and Dion Lewis have been incapable of contributing in an overall anemic offense. Especially in Week 6 against the Ravens, and possibly until further notice, all Titans are on fantasy alert.
6. The Jets Running Backs Are … Something
Wow. In one of the most surprising performances in recent memory, we were graced on Sunday with 219 rushing yards by Isaiah Crowell and another 99 from Bilal Powell to boot. Crowell had a 77-yard TD run and another rip for 54 yards, and Powell actually logged more carries (20) en route to a combined 318 rushing yards.
This one is a bit difficult to parse because of how unpredictable the workload split is for Crowell and Powell. They’ve essentially alternated from game to game in volume and productivity, making it tough to pin down who to start in a given week. That said, they’ve both been relatively good in both Jets wins this season, as well as a close loss to the Browns. Essentially, if it looks like the Jets will compete in a game, consider starting both. If not, lean Powell for the heavier usage in the passing game.
7. Patrick Mahomes is (Kind of) Mortal
While 313 passing yards and another rushing TD saved the day for Mahomes’ fantasy owners, we saw that the superhuman QB can bleed (not literally). The Jaguars defense picked him off twice, held him without a passing touchdown, and might have even pulled off a win if Blake Bortles had thrown the ball towards his receivers instead of his linemen’s helmets.
Of course, this is also the best pass defense in football. Realistically, you’re still not benching Mahomes, ever. But it’s a good reminder that he’s not yet 2007 Tom Brady or 2013 Peyton Manning, and shouldn’t be expected to average 35 fantasy points a week. Additionally, it’s another reminder that you should sit quarterbacks against the Jags unless they’re a legitimate top 5 option.
8. Keenan Allen‘s Buy-Low Window is Closing
One of the best buy-low candidates for multiple weeks now, Keenan Allen had his strongest performance since Week 1, with 8 catches on 9 targets for 90 yards. Fortunately for prospective buyers, Allen failed to score for the fourth straight week. Fortunately for those who own him already and are holding on to hope, Allen posted his fifth straight game of 7+ targets, his best catch rate of the season, and his first 75+ yard performance since opening week.
The touchdowns will come, and the increased yardage will hold for Allen. He is undeniably one of the best receivers in the game and has already shown a prevalence to explode in the second half of the season. Last year, Allen had 596 yards and 1 score through 9 games. In the final 7, he logged 797 yards and 5 TDs, winning fantasy championships across the board. If you can still get him for a low-end WR2 price tag, do it now.
9. Adam Thielen is Super-Elite
At this point, it should be fairly obvious, but it has to be officially captured in the lessons learned: Adam Thielen is an elite wide receiver. With 7 catches for 116 yards and a TD on Sunday, Thielen became the first player to log five straight games of 100+ receiving yards to start a season in the Super Bowl era. He is tied for the league lead in targets with Antonio Brown (66), and is second to only DeAndre Hopkins in yards, with 589.
While Stefon Diggs remains an equally elite NFL receiver on the other side of the field, Thielen’s massive target share have him squarely at the top of the fantasy rankings for the foreseeable future. If we were drafting over again, he would be a potential first-round pick, and if you could potentially get trade value by trading a more respected name like Beckham or Hopkins for Thielen-plus, I would absolutely do it.
10. Mark Ingram Does Affect Alvin Kamara
Kamara makes the Lessons Learned for the second straight week, but this time it’s not as rosy a picture. While the young back is just as talented and dominant for NFL purposes as we outlined last week, the return of fellow Saints RB Mark Ingram puts a legitimate ceiling on Kamara’s fantasy value that we didn’t see through the first four weeks.
Don’t get me wrong, Kamara is still an RB1, and probably a top 12 overall fantasy asset. But Ingram out-carried Kamara 16-to-6 and snagged a pair of rushing TDs in his return on Monday Night Football. Both are trends we’ll have to get used to moving forward. If Kamara’s owner is nervous enough to trade him for sub-RB1 value, go and get him, but don’t expect the No. 1 fantasy player we saw to start the season with Ingram back in town.