Fantasy Football Realities and Illusions: Week Five
Week Five was a weird one. The Bills won a bizarre game again, the Broncos’ defense disappeared, Graham Gano out-kicked his career-long field goal by four yards in his 10th year in the league and the Browns played their third overtime game. I’m here to help you parse through the craziness and figure out what is real, and what was an illusion.
The T.J. Stands For “Totally Justified”
As in T.J. “Totally Justified in using your high waiver position/a chunk of FAAB on him” Yeldon. He was only moderately successful on the ground—10 carries for 53 yards—but Blake Bortles looked his way a lot, leading to eight catches for 69 yards and a touchdown. Leonard Fournette has struggled with injuries so far in his young career, and has only played in two games thus far in 2018. Plus, he hasn’t looked particularly good when he does play. For as long as Fournette is out, Yeldon is a safe bet to start as low, volume-based RB1 or high RB2, and he may still have value even when Fournette comes back.
Lamar Miller Might Be Feeling a Little Blue
Lamar Miller had his ups and downs earlier this year, eclipsing 100 yards from scrimmage just once, when he had 109 total yards in Week One against the Patriots. Miller had back-to-back disappointing games before missing Week Five with a chest injury, and Alfred Blue seems to have used the opportunity to stake a claim for more touches. While he was incredibly inefficient on the ground—just 46 yards and no scores on 20 carries—he did a lot of damage catching passes out of the backfield, picking up 73 yards on eight receptions. While the YPC aren’t much of a threat to Miller, the general success of Blue should scare Miller and his owners, too. Blue may not have the skill to be worth a top waiver-slot or a lot of FAAB, but he is worth a speculative add, even with Miller possibly returning next week.
Bortles Gonna Bortles
On the topic of the Jaguars, part of the reason why T.J. Yeldon is a safe start is his quarterback ‘s play. Specifically, we are talking about his bad decision-making. Blake Bortles was slinging it on Sunday against one of the league’s worst passing defenses, accumulating 430 yards and a touchdown vs. the Chiefs. But he also tossed four interceptions. It was a typical frustrating Bortles day, where he threw his team both into and out of trouble. He was a popular streaming option this week thanks to his matchup, but he let you down by costing you eight points with the interceptions. The yards salvaged his day, but let this serve as a reminder to be wary of starting him, regardless of matchup.
This Is What Pete Carroll Wants
The Seahawks had 32 rushes to 21 pass attempts (23 drop backs) on Sunday. Russell Wilson made most of his passes count, completing just 13 passes for just 198 yards but he had three touchdowns. Meanwhile, the combo of Chris Carson (19 carries, 118 yards) and Mike Davis (12, 68) averaged almost six yards per carry. This is the type of offense Pete Carroll said he wanted in the beginning of the season. The team seems to have finally figured out the running game after three successful weeks, which means Carson and maybe even Davis should work paths into your lineup. As for the passing game, Wilson may become a more volatile scorer, while the receiver to start is clearly Tyler Lockett.
Eagles Are Better at Flying
The Eagles’ rushing attack has continued to struggle, particularly Jay Ajayi, who had just 29 yards on eight carries in Week Five against the Vikings. While the Eagles were forced to throw a lot (Wentz had 35 attempts), this was the second time the Eagles’ rushers were held under 100 yards. They have eclipsed 150 as a unit just once, against the Colts in Week Three. After the game, Ajayi actually complained to reporters about the lack of rushing attempts, but he might want to look inwardly before complaining about the coaches. It doesn’t help that he is playing with a back injury. You should stay away from this backfield for awhile.
Frank Gore is an Eternal Being
Last week, in my Flexpert column, I mentioned Frank Gore as a deep-league play if you were desperate. While the production didn’t really pan out (j61 yards, no touchdowns), he did have 12 carries, twice as many as Kenyan Drake. While fears of Drake being fully phased out of the offense and/or forgotten by Adam Gase may be exaggerated—he had 46 yards on his six carries (7.7 yards per carry) and another 69 yards and a touchdown on seven catches—Gore looks poised to steal yet another young running back’s soul to remain eternal…I meant touches, not soul.
Isaiah Crowell Broke the Jets’ Single Game Rushing Record, But…
There is not going to be anything dependable about Isaiah Crowell this season. After a Week Four where he had just four carries for literally zero yards, Crowell set the Jets’ single-game rushing record with 219 yards (and a touchdown) on just 15 carries in Week Five. He ripped off multiple big gains, including a wild 77-yard touchdown on the Jets’ first play of the second quarter. However, it’s just the second time this season he has averaged over even three yards per carry, and the first since Week One. Plus, he did it against a matchup that should have been horrible for him. In other words, this was about as fluky as it can get; if you’re lucky, you can use this to sell high on him.
Nothing Against the Bills is Real
I think it’s time to officially declare all Bills games unglued from reality. When they lose, the performances against them are hard to believe or trust because of how bad they look. And when they win, truly nothing makes sense in the world. Their defense is not good enough to hold the Titans to 12 points more than one out of 100 times, considering the other point totals the unit has allowed this season. Week Five was an aberration for the Titans, and it shouldn’t scare you off from their main Fantasy assets like Marcus Mariota, Dion Lewis and Corey Davis.
Jon Gruden Didn’t Learn From Pete Carroll’s Mistake
Marshawn Lynch did not have a good Week Five against the Chargers. He had just nine carries for 31 yards (plus two receptions for another 10), for one. Also, he watched his team through another interception on the one-yard line while he was on the field, a la Super Bowl XLIX. However, Sunday should not totally sour you on Lynch, who will have these games from time to time. He’s been a dependable RB2 this season, picking up either a touchdown or 100 yards every week prior to this one. Hopefully Gruden learns after replicating Pete Carroll’s mistake.
The Cardinals Defense Begs Even C.J. Beathard to Throw
If it were almost any other matchup, Kyle Shanahan probably wouldn’t have asked C.J. Beathard to throw 54 passes (of which he completed 34 for 349 yards and two touchdowns, plus two interceptions). The 49ers’ offense in Week Five was much more about game plan and situation than confidence in Beathard. Going forward, you would be better off expecting more out of Alfred Morris (and Matt Breida if his injury is minor) than the 49ers’ passing game. On the flip side, start your passing game options against the Cardinals.
Will Fuller is Not Going Away
The rise of Keke Coutee and Fuller’s continued injury problems certainly have owners worried, but it’s not time to fully panic just yet. As mentioned above, the Texans’ running game is all kinds of a mess, and Bill O’Brien is certainly comfortable just letting Deshaun Watson fling the ball around. I’d lean towards this being a one week aberration for Fuller, as Ryan Griffin probably isn’t going to see nine targets again any time soon. Fuller is still worth starting (when healthy), though Coutee is also playing his way into Fantasy lineups.
No, Don’t Drop Mason Crosby
But woof, that was an ugly one. Crosby missed four field goals and an extra point in Week Five, the worst game for a kicker (non-Scott Norwood division) since 1980. But you should take the same tact that Crosby had after that game— “an anomaly in life”—when it comes to whether to trust him going forward. This is the same Crosby who made five field goals in Week Two. He’s one of the best kickers of all time. There is obviously a chance that this leads to a spiral, considering how mental kicking is, but Crosby will have the benefit of the doubt from the Packers, and he should for you, too.