Fantasy Football: 5 Things to Watch for in Week 5
Week 4 proved to be another exciting week of the 2018 season. The high scoring continued and many leagues may have seen their historical high scoring records broken, perhaps by multiple teams. If you play in a Superflex league and employ the late-round QB by committee approach and just happened to start both Jared Goff and Mitchell Trubisky, like one if my league mates, you could have won your matchup without much additional assistance. Ryan Fitzpatrick‘s early season Cinderella story quickly turned into a horror show for anyone who started him (don’t say you weren’t warned!).
But that was last week. What are we looking forward to in Week 5?
1. Record Breakers and Record-setting Paces
We’ve already witnessed Adam Vinatieri and Drew Brees break career record totals. Last night, Tom Brady broke into the 500 passing TD club and is likely to surpass Peyton Mannings record 539 TDs sometime early next season. Hot on his heels is Drew Brees, who’s 496 TDs puts him in a similar position. In addition to those records, Ryan Fitzpatrick set the record of three consecutive games with 400+ passing yards while Patrick Mahomes set the record for most passing TDs through the first three games of the year. Michael Thomas set a record for most receptions in the first three weeks of a season.
My fellow writer, Keaton Denlay, just wrote a great article digging into each of the major statistical categories records and compared players in 2018 on pace to break them. You should read the article for the full picture, but key info from that article leads me to my point: We are in the midst of a record-breaking, dare I say shattering, season. In his article, he highlights that not 1, not 2, but 4 QBs are currently on a pace that would break Peyton Manning’s single-season passing yardage record of 5,477 yards.
While extrapolating current production for the full season is often wrought with pitfalls, one thing is exceedingly clear: 2018 is pacing to be one of the highest scoring seasons in the history of the NFL. Over the past two seasons, there were two weeks in each where total weekly passing and rushing TDs exceeded 80, (Including an epic Week 16 in 2016 with 95 TDs!). Through 4 Weeks of 2018, we have three consecutive weeks scoring over 80 TDs with no slowdown in sight. The average week for the past two years is 45 passing TDs. The highest four week average across the past two seasons was 50. This year, we have an average of 57 passing TDs. The four week total of 228 passing TDs is an astounding 23 ahead of the next highest season, 2013’s 205 passing TDs.
2. The Return of the Suspended
Week 5 brings two exciting players back into the fantasy fold after serving suspensions. In New Orleans, Mark Ingram returns after his ban just-in-time to make owners riding the Alvin Kamara-high start to sweat. Mark Ingram must have been at home licking his chops thinking about what impact the 2018 season will have on his future. An Unrestricted Free Agent after this year, Ingram is hoping to get a new contract to be a lead back, likely with a new team. There is no better way to get paid in the NFL than to post video game numbers in your contract year and the Saints are doing just that. Ingram was reportedly so excited to rejoin the team that he met them at the airport in New Orleans just hours after his suspension had technically ended.
In New England, Tom Brady will be getting one of his favorite targets back when Julian Edelman returns from his four-game ban. With Chris Hogan being a major disappointment for both real and fantasy football, Edelman should step right back into his target monster role.
While it’s highly unlikely, it’s worth scouring your waiver wire to see if someone dropped these two players in the first few weeks of the season.
Over the course of time, fantasy football scoring evolves to try and level scoring or increase demand for certain positions that were deemed less important by drafters. Recently, TE Premium scoring, where TEs are awarded more points for their receptions than other pass catchers, has been popping up in more leagues. The goal is to put a premium on a onesie position that many owners have been streaming more and more often. The idea is to push owners to draft TEs earlier based on the extra point scoring opportunities. However, 2018 is proving to be even more reason to punt the TE position in your draft, even in TE premium leagues. TEs continue to drop like flies, with Week 4 claiming three more fantasy-relevant TEs: O.J. Howard, Tyler Eifert, and Will Dissly. Through just four weeks, 7 of the pre-season top 15 TEs (47%!) are currently injured and missing time.
4. Patrick Mahomes First Real Test?
Week 5 is the week that Patrick Mahomes owners have been both looking forward too and dreading at the same time. Last weeks victory in a hostile prime-time environment was an impressive game and gave many fans and owners the confidence that Mahomes is for real. But the Jacksonville Jaguars are still fielding one of the best secondaries in the league, and this will be the most challenging match-up, likely of the entire season. However, most analysts, myself included, will say “don’t get cute” and lock him into your line-up.
5. Where are the Stud WRs?
In my fellow writer Nate Hamilton’s 20 Noteworthy Statistics Through Week 4 article, he highlighted the point differentials between the #1 and #12 ranked RBs and WRs. That little blurb in his article generated a good bit of commentary on Twitter focused on why RB was the better early draft pick. A little backstory… Nate and I have a friendly rivalry between our very different philosophies when it comes to drafting RBs early (Nate) versus WRs early (me). We have plenty of fun with our polar opposite styles and enjoy the discussions of trying to convince the other that one is correct. Ultimately, we both make our strategies work for our teams. But of course, I went looking to find a counterpoint to his position.
I believe that drafting WRs in the early rounds is far safer when compared to RBs. Once I saw his point differentials, I immediately went to see who was scoring these points and where they were drafted. When looking at the top 24 RBs drafted, only ten are currently scoring in the top 24. To date, that is a 42% chance of drafting a top 24 RB and having him perform to that level. At the WR position, 15 WRs (62.5%) selected in the top 24 are currently ranked in the top 24 in points.
With the above info out of the way, what stood out to me was the slow starts for some of the top WRs. Many owners will be hoping Week 5 is the return to Studsville for a few of the top WRs. As I highlighted at the top, scoring is way up this year, yet a few of our top WRs (Antonio Brown, Odell Beckham, and Keenan Allen) haven’t exactly been part of that party. We all want to see these top-flight WRs start scoring some more points!
Good luck in Week 5!