Week 5 Risers and Fallers
October 15, 2015 | Chet
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It’s Week 6 and there are still six dominant teams in real life NFL football; the Packers, Falcons, Broncos, Bengals, Patriots and Panthers have laid waste to their competition, combining for a 28-0 record. But we don’t care how they’ve managed to stay on top of the mountain unless it regards ours or our opponents’ fantasy roster. Here’s a look at some of the players that have helped the rising and falling tides of the fake football ocean. If you have any questions or comments about specific players feel free to drop something in the comments box below or hit me up on Twitter!
The ownership percentages are a median between Yahoo! and ESPN own%.
Dion Lewis (90.0%) is creating a low-end RB1 floor through his first four games of the season, needing an average of only 45 rushing yards a game to get there. He garners an obvious PPR boost with his 23 receptions but they’re not exactly a litany of screen passes as he has totaled 238 yards through the air and this ridiculous touchdown. For Dion and his owners’ sake we’ll hope that Andrew Luck is back to normal so we can see a bit of a shoot-out which will bolster Lewis’ worth in Week 6.
Antonio Gates (88.9%) wasted little time coming off suspension to prove that at 35 years old, he can still produce. On the first drive of the Chargers’ night Rivers hit him on three passes including this, his 100th career touchdown. He ended the evening with 11 total targets, 9 of which were catches, 92 yards and 2 touchdowns. As you can tell by the catch-to-yards ratio he was not targeted downfield at all, instead catching most of the balls as a 3rd down plug-in. Nevertheless that is a lot of action for only playing a little more than half of the snaps and he should see more playing time as the season goes on. Gates had 2 of Philip Rivers’ 3 red zone targets (Keenan Allen had the other) and that should go to show that he will be the go-to big guy around the goal line, as Ladarius Green only has 3 red zone targets through five weeks.
Anquan Boldin (68.4%) has proven to be quite useful when his team scores more than 7 damn points, scoring a touchdown in every game the 49ers have scored more than 7. Granted, that has only been 2-of-5 games but hey, 40% is reasonable! Of course it’s been nearly impossible to trust Kaepernick and throws like this are few and far between; nevertheless when Boldin gets his big body into open field it’s difficult for anyone to bring him down. Even if you want to ignore narrative street (49ers’ Super Bowl loss, Anquan’s former team) you can still look to the 278 yards/game and 9 passing touchdowns through the air that Baltimore has allowed thus far to see that the veteran wide out should be in for another decent-to-great game as his team’s no. 1 receiving option.
Shane Vereen (57.1%) is simply the only part of the Giants’ backfield that is worth a sh…shoot. With rushing attempts of 3, 6, 6, 5, and 5 through the first five weeks it’s apparent that they’re not excited to give him the ball out of the backfield, but going 8-86-1 is a boost that we’ll take in standard leagues and drool at the mouth in PPR leagues. We’re going to have to treat Shane just as we did in New England; try to figure out the games where he’s going to blossom and wait until then to plug him in. The only difference here is the stark lack of talent with New York’s ball carriers. Week 6 against Philadelphia should be the exact type of opponent we’d want to attack: a team that is top-10 in rushing defense yet bottom-10 in passing defense. Hopefully Vereen will get a lot of playing time once again and carry the success into future usage.
Blake Bortles (34.1%) threw four touchdowns in a game for the first time in his career Sunday, putting a cherry on top of it with 303 yards spread effectively between his two Allens (Hurns and Robinson). The return of Julius Thomas wasn’t much of a help but Thomas hasn’t played with his new team in nearly two months so there is sure to be some getting used to. He’s another big body for the sophomore QB to look for in the open field. Bortles has a 10:4 INT:TD ratio through these first five weeks while airing the ball out very often; he is actually leading the league in pass plays of 20+ air yards. Hopefully his shoulder is feeling well enough to face off against a Texans’ defense that is in the bottom third of the NFL in fantasy points allowed to opposing quarterbacks, and if he is, he’s certainly worth a look to stream.
Josh McCown (13.2%) retook the “best McCown in the league” title from little brother Luke (jk, he’s always had it) Sunday after throwing a Cleveland franchise record 457 yards in an OT win over Baltimore. The QB controversy should be all but wrapped up for the Browns now as it’s obvious they want to go with a pass-heavy offensive attack, one which Manziel is probably not well suited for. The 36-year old vet is an every week 2-QB starter and will be worth a look as a QB1 streamer against teams not named the Denver Broncos from here on out if he’s going to continue to average 47 pass attempts a game as he has the last three weeks (385 yards/gm over that span). Josh shouldn’t miss week 6 after tweaking an ankle in OT, but he can’t be recommended against Denver’s no. 5 pass defense and no. 1 overall defense. If you want him for the rest of the season you made need to pick him up soon though. Also look for short yardage guys Gary Barnidge (8-139-1), Duke Johnson (6-55) and Andrew Hawkins (7-49) to stay in the mix as long as this pass happy attack continues.
Jamison Crowder (7.0%) has now garnered 26 targets in his last three games while catching 21 of them for 197 yards and a 2 pt conversion. In week 5 alone he caught each of his 8 targets for 87 yards; leading Washington receivers in each of the categories in their OT loss against Atlanta. I sure would like to reel in all of my Hankerson stock in DFS last week and replace all of it with Crowder, but it’s a little too late for all of that. Jordan Reed is likely out again week 6 and while DeSean Jackson could return he will be sure to lineup across from Darrelle Revis all day long. Crowder could be a risky Flex play depending on how many targets you think D-Jax will steal away, but he’s still dirt cheap over on Draft Kings.
Eddie Lacy (99.9%) has yet to shine through as a bonafide Round 1 fantasy pick thus far, and added another stinker to his 2015 resume against the St Louis Rams. For the second time this year Lacy failed to produce more than 35 total yards and has accumulated only 257 rushing yards and a single touchdown in the entire season. The two games against the haphazard Chicago Bears and the completely lost San Francisco 49ers combined for 175 yards, showing that Eddie might only be a sure thing against a terrible defense that the Packers can beat early to allow for plenty of handoff-and-drain-the-clock time. Luckily for us this week’s competition is the San Diego Chargers who have allowed the second most fantasy points to opposing running backs on the way to ranking 30th in the league according to Football Outsiders’ rush defense DVOA. Through five weeks in 2014 Eddie had nearly identical rushing yards (257 to 266) and ended up as fantasy football’s no. 6 running back. I could see this week catapulting his season back to proper must startability.
Travis Kelce (99.0%) had another meh game, bringing in 3 of his 6 targets for 35 yards – the third time this season he has failed to reach 60 yards. It will be very interesting to see how well, or terrible, this offense will look without top-3 running back Jamaal Charles who is out for the season. It could correlate to a lot more targets for Kelce and even Jeremy Maclin now that 30 targets have left the field with Charles’ torn ACL, but it’s very doubtful that Kansas City’s playbook will suddenly open up to 40-yard tight end seam passes being that it’s still dink and dunker Alex Smith behind center. I would be doing you a disservice by telling you to bench him this week, even if he is facing a pretty good Vikings defense. He’s still a TE1, just expect the ups and downs that we all experience from the position.
Ameer Abdullah (87.3%) rode the pine for almost the entirety of Sunday’s game after fumbling for the second time near the beginning of the 2nd quarter. After taking his first career rush for a touchdown way back in Week 1 he has accrued 39 more carries for 108 yards; a whopping 2.77 yards per carry while tacking on 10 catches for 92 yards. There’s a glimmer of hope that the rookie could be a PPR play if Detroit’s offense wasn’t a pile of crap right now, but that glimmer is closing as Theo Riddick was targeted 13 times; 2 before the benching and 11 afterwards. Joique Bell returned to practice Wednesday and figures to return to his role as “featured” back this week, assuredly crushing all fantasy relevance to Abdullah and Zach Zenner. Ameer is worth a bench stash in deeper leagues, but if you are looking for somebody to drop I wouldn’t be opposed.
C.J. Spiller (70.9%) out targeted Mark Ingram for the first time this season, but that’s pretty much where the fun stops. CJ had a wonderful 80-yard wheel route to win the game in OT against the Cowboys in Week 4, but if you look at his stats on the year without that one play he is sitting at 31 yards on 9 rushes and 52 yards receiving on 10 catches. That 5.2 yards per catch were mighty negatively affected by catching 3 passes for negative 8 yards in Week 5. Again, worth a bench stash in deep-deep leagues, but the odds are his game-changing week-winning 65 yard run or catch will happen when you have him snug on the bench and his typical 25 total-yard game will happen when he’s taking up space in your Flex spot. If you need some help off the waiver wire, ya know, like a backup kicker, I would go ahead and give Spiller the boot.
Terrance Williams (60.2%) now has a 28% (5-of-18) catch rate since Tony Romo went down; totaling 79 yards and a lone TD in the last three weeks. Cole Beasley hasn’t fared all that much better, with lines of 4-49, 6-62, and 4-40 it’s clear that no wide receiver is going to have a boxscore breaking game under 53 year-old Brandon Weeden. But wait, help is on the way! The Cowboys have reactivated Tony Rom….wait. Nope, that’s just Matt Cassel. The Matt Cassel that has thrown for over 300 yards twice since the beginning of 2011. So Weeden is out of the way but he’s been replaced by what is essentially another Brandon Weeden. Without another receiver out there to help him stretch the field Williams can’t even offer us a boom-or-bust play until the Romo/Dez tandum come back and this offense comes alive. The Giants do have a bottom third passing defense and a top-5 rushing defense according to DVOA so maybe after a Bye Week spent catching balls from Cassel Terrance can be a serviceable desperation play in Week 7.
Percy Harvin (52.6%) is second on the Buffalo Bills in targets (30), catches (19) and yards (218), yet no one who owns him cares all that much right now after he gave us a goose egg (or negative points, depending on your league) in Week 5. Sammy Watkins has missed the last two weeks and all Harvin has been able to do with it is muster 3 catches on 12 targets for all of 26 yards. While the return of Watkins and Karlos Williams should bolster the offense in Week 6, they could be without rookie sensation Tyrod Taylor, which would leave EJ Manuel – a man who hasn’t been able to take over the QB job in his first three seasons – as the starter. Regardless of who is behind center, Harvin will be taking on a Bengals’ secondary that has done admirably against opposing wide receivers not named Steve Smith this year, allowing most production in garbage time. Garbage time points are still points, but it’s a fickle mistress to bet on. Look elsewhere this week if you can.
Dorial Green-Beckham (15.0%) got no love against Buffalo. Not a hug, not a kiss, not a tip-touch, nothing. Over 19 snaps fellow rookie Marcus Mariota elected to target the 6’5” Dorial exactly zero times, keeping his target total on the year at a lowly 5. As someone who has absolutely no stock in DGB, I’d actually prefer to have at least a little bit of him as the season progresses as the likes of Harry Douglas and Justin Hunter don’t exactly scare me away from eventual playing time. Although he is nothing more than a goal line look for a very inconsistent offense as of now, I’d expect Tennessee to incorporate him more and more, especially if the running game featuring Bishop Sankey begins (continues) to get stale. The upcoming schedule could be a perfect time to look for the rookie-to-rookie connection as they’re mostly facing the bottom half of pass defenses over the upcoming weeks: Miami (15th), Atlanta (29th), Houston (10th only because nobody needs to pass on them), New Orleans (23rd), Carolina (16th), Jacksonville (21st) and Oakland (31st). This is the guy I want on my bench in leagues where I am already stacked as a 4-1 or 5-0 team and if he never pans out, hey, drop him.