Ten Things We Learned in Week 5 (Fantasy Football)
The roller coaster ride continues in the NFL, and we had more positive tests, and more postponed games which hopefully means extra football on Monday night. The roller coaster in our fantasy lineups is just as turbulent, as another week passed with boom or bust production across the board. Joe Mixon fell back down to earth, Brandin cooks took off, and the entire RB position continued to be a genuine coin flip. Thankfully there were a fair amount of concrete, actionable things to take from this week, and this article will get more and more direct with my personal recommendations. For example…. number one comes out swinging:
It’s Time to Drop Matt Ryan
I was a huge Matt Ryan fan going into the season, particularly because of the passing volume he would be required to produce week in and week out to keep Atlanta in games. The Falcons defense is truly horrendous, and that part of the equation has stuck to the plan. Unfortunately for those of us that went all-in on Ryan, the volume hasn’t equated to fantasy production in the way we had hoped. The last touchdown pass he threw was in the third quarter of Week three, and the past two weeks he’s been an absolute killer for your fantasy team. At this point, there’s a strong argument in favor of dropping him, especially when so many players are lighting it up in similar matchups. He’s a high-end streamer going forward, and I think you’re safe to move on if someone else is available in your league.
The Panthers Offense is Ascending
When Matt Rhule and Joe Brady teamed up in Carolina, I was excited from a fantasy perspective – but the quarterback decision took a bit of the wind out of my sails. With Teddy Bridgewater at the helm, I knew things would be a bit less explosive since his tendencies typically lean towards throwing underneath and trying to move the chains, not necessarily push the ball down the field. After three straight wins in pretty convincing fashion offensively, the Carolina Cats are firing on all cylinders and it’s been fun to watch. Christian McCaffrey has been out of the lineup since week two, but Mike Davis has slid right in and produced at a near CMC level. The people saying the team is better off without him shouldn’t be taken seriously, but what should be taken seriously is how fun this offense will be once he gets back. If you can somehow pull CMC off of someone at this point, definitely try to do it – but that will be a tall task. Robby Anderson is the WR1 in Carolina for the very short term, but it was great to see DJ Moore bounce back. Speaking of which….
Redemption Day Hits Someone New Every Week
Last week it was Joe Mixon and George Kittle, this week it was Miles Sanders and DJ Moore. The funny thing about the redemption narrative is…. it’s usually an overreaction on both ends. Joe Mixon was getting the volume we expected, just not in the passing game. Miles Sanders has workhorse metrics, but he hasn’t exploded yet. DJ Moore had plenty of targets and air yards, but he hadn’t found the end zone. Players you give up on usually only ‘finally produce’ because they finally find the end zone. Moore was panicking everyone (including myself), but if you were scared last week…. one missed tackle this week that led to a touchdown shouldn’t completely eradicate your fears. Mixon still doesn’t see much work in the passing game, and Sanders is still on a team with a questionable offensive line. Long story short, stay calm, and if you panic for a reason…. don’t let a touchdown make you feel like an idiot. If you think a player is great because of his volume, don’t panic because they haven’t scored yet. Both will probably regress in an accurate direction, so keep a level head.
Lamar Jackson is Proving a lot of People Right
I don’t mean that in a good way. Jackson was an incredible fantasy asset in 2019, one of the best I have ever seen. I don’t mean to discount him as a player, just discount his ADP. In 2018 it was Deshaun Watson that was over-drafted, last season it was Patrick Mahomes, and this season – it appears to be Lamar Jackson. Late round quarterback strategy is effective because it helps you identify those guys the year they break out, as opposed to paying for their breakout the next year. I can already guarantee you that Kyler Murray will be over-drafted in 2021, this happens like clockwork. Taking a QB as early as Jackson was going is almost never a good idea, and this year appears to continue that trend. He is an amazing quarterback, and he will have some huge games before the season ends…. but his draft price was outrageous.
Chase Edmonds is Right on Kenyan Drake‘s Heels
I think the Arizona Cardinals may feed cement to their lead backs because both David Johnson and Kenyan Drake appear to have forgotten how to run once they were the top dog in Arizona. Chase Edmonds continued to show more explosiveness, better efficiency, and most importantly – an ascending snap share behind Kenyan Drake. A touchdown saved Drake’s terrible day from being back-breaking, but the writing on the wall is there. I would be prioritizing Edmonds in your leagues this week because Kingsbury is too smart to let this go on the same way it has for much longer. I dread the thought of a 50/50 backfield completely, but if that happens, Edmonds has a lot of value.
Zach Ertz is Washed, It’s Waller Time
Zach Ertz is another guy who appears to have lost a step (or twelve) in 2020, which is sad to see. Dallas Goedert has been on the rise for a few years now, but Ertz has still managed to be a fantasy stud during that time. Goedert has been missing from the lineup for two weeks now and Zach Ertz has been completely irrelevant and extremely tilting for fantasy owners. His reign in the top tier of the tight end conversation appears to be over, which means Darren Waller can take his spot. Waller is an absolute monster who was undervalued in drafts this year, and his career progression is still on the rise. I’d be targeting Waller in dynasty leagues, regardless of the fact you have to ‘buy high’. He will be a stud for years to come at the tight end position, so it’s time we treat him as such. If you have Ertz, you need to find a new tight end until he shows you he’s worth a start. If you have Waller, just set him and forget him and maniacally laugh at your opponents.
I Was Wrong About Tyler Higbee
I have to take the opposite of a victory lap here and own my miss. Tyler Higbee was one of my favorite targets in drafts this year, but his ADP crept up into a territory I wasn’t comfortable with by the time most drafts happened. I still thought he’d have a great year, but things have gotten ugly. His snap percentage is fine, but his route percentage is ugly. He appears to have been delegated to a blocking role primarily, and most of his routes have been run near the end zone. That bodes well for his chances at a touchdown during big weeks, but the target share isn’t reliable enough to stroll out with confidence. Tight end is a wasteland, but Higbee isn’t the savior I hoped he would be. I missed on that one, and I own it.
The Cowboys Fantasy Assets are in Trouble
Dak Prescott suffered a truly gruesome and emotionally resonating injury on Sunday, which will likely leave him sidelined for a long time. Andy Dalton is a quality backup, but Dak has controlled that offense in an impressive way this season. The Cowboy fantasy assets have already been a bit disappointing this year, and obviously this isn’t going to do much to turn that around. If you have Zeke, you may see a slight increase in volume and some goal-line work funnel to him with Dalton at the helm, but the pass catchers are going to struggle. I wouldn’t be shocked for Dalton to hone in on a specific player like he did AJ Green, and if one quarter of play is any indication – this may salvage Michael Gallup. You can’t do much but hope at this point, but it’s worth entertaining offers for all of the Cowboys if people come knocking.
Trade For (or add) Austin Hooper
Similar to last week, these final two are going to be trade targets based on the usage I saw this week. Austin Hooper continues my odd, unplanned run on tight end analysis here – but it’s worth it. Hooper had been completely worthless in fantasy lineups through the first three weeks, but he’s had back to back games with five receptions and caught a touchdown in week four. His usage in the Cleveland offense has grown a lot in the past eight quarters, and the Browns offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski is notorious for using his tight ends in his scheme. Hooper and Mayfield talked about their early-season connection during training camp, and it appears to be coming to fruition slowly but surely during the regular season. His target share has ascended the last three weeks, with this past week reaching an astounding 27%. It’s not just a one-week thing, every metric including his actual production is on the rise. He won’t blow the doors off many fantasy matchups, but he’s never been that guy (and frankly, not many people are at the tight end position). If you don’t have Kelce, Kittle, Andrews, or Waller…. you’re likely struggling at tight end. Hooper is a prime target for teams who roster Ertz, Gronk, or someone else who’s been awful in your lineup. It’s a sneaky move, but one that could pay dividends if this continues.
Trade for Raheem Mostert
The Niners looked TERRIBLE on Sunday, and I don’t use caps lock lightly. They couldn’t hit water from a boat, and they couldn’t get a single thing going on either side of the ball. This is precisely the reason you should take advantage of the output and target Raheem Mostert. While he was out, Jerick Mckinnon lit up the box score and looked solid doing it. The second Mostert returned, Mckinnon was sent to the corner store to get everyone coffee. Mostert tallied 14 touches for 119 yards but failed to find the end zone so his box score doesn’t reflect his opportunity. Mckinnon had a whopping 3 touches for 5 yards and was simply there to give Mostert a water break. Raheem the dream is the bonafide top dog on a rushing offense that will be just fine, which is a hard combination to find in the modern fantasy league. The person who has Mostert may think something along the lines of ‘I just don’t know which guy it will be this week’, or ‘the offense looks terrible’, and I promise you – it will be easier than you think to deal for him. Mostert will finish the year as an RB2 if he can stay on the field, and now is the time to go get him.