On pace for 6,760 yards and fresh off becoming the first quarterback in NFL history with three straight 450-yard performances, Dak Prescott entered Week 5 in the midst of a signature season. Cruelly, he exited with a signature injury, with the compound fracture of Prescott’s ankle immediately joining the likes of Joe Theismann and Alex Smith in the annals of the sport's most horrifying impairments.
Theismann and Smith were never the same. That will hopefully not be the case for Prescott, who has a number of things working in his favor. Much younger than either Theismann or Smith at the time of their injuries, 27-year-old Prescott has youth on his side. He also avoided as serious of a break as Theismann. He should dodge the infections that turned Smith’s injury from serious to nearly career-ending. It was only three years ago when then 25-year-old Tyler Lockett returned from a compound fracture.
This can be done, and quickly if everything goes smoothly. Prescott’s initial timetable is a modest 4-6 months. That, of course, will be subject to setbacks, both physical and mental. Lockett said the latter was probably the most difficult part of his recovery. Prescott also has a complicating factor beyond his leg: His contract. Unsigned for 2021, Prescott would be due $37.69 million under a second franchise tag. That’s a ruinous price under the salary cap, one that will surely encourage the Cowboys to try to get a “discount” with Prescott coming off major injury. Prescott will have to decide if he wants to bet on his health and play continued hardball.
For fantasy, the 2020 implications are devastating. Making like 2013 Peyton Manning, Prescott was supporting three top 24-30 receivers. That is not something Andy Dalton is capable of. In fact, it’s not a guarantee Dalton will even support two top-24 wideouts. Dalton’s insertion under center will almost certainly coincide with the resurgence of an “inconsistent” narrative for Amari Cooper. Cooper is now a back-end WR1. CeeDee Lamb a boom/bust WR24-30. Michael Gallup is basically “off the board” until we see how Mike McCarthy wants to run this offense. Dalton and Gallup’s skill-sets do not gel on paper. Dalton Schultz’s odds of maintaining TE1 relevance as the Cowboys’ No. 5 passing game weapon are on life support. Everything is changed. Hopefully it is a temporary state of being instead of Prescott’s bleak future.
Five Week 5 Storylines
Chase Claypool burns the Eagles down for four scores. With Diontae Johnson (back) hurt for the second time in three games, No. 49 overall pick Claypool took it upon himself to go full Calvin Johnson, blowing by JuJu Smith-Schuster in the targets department to post a 7/110/3 line, adding a two-yard touchdown run for good measure. Incredibly, Claypool had another 42-yard score called back by (a weak) OPI. A mountainous 6-foot-4, 238 pounds, Claypool has tight end size but top one percentile athleticism, checking in with 4.42 wheels and a 40.5-inch vertical. He had already been flashing those attributes before they completely took over against the Eagles. One game is one game. Claypool entered Week 5 with six total catches. Of course, he turned them into 151 yards (25.2 YPC). Even if Johnson is declared ready for Week 6 on Monday, Claypool is a no-brainer add. At worst, he will max out as a bye week/COVID punt play.
“Travis Fulgham” explodes for Eagles. The No. 184 overall pick of last year’s draft, Fulgham entered Sunday’s game with two career catches. He bettered that by 400 percent, snagging a ridiculous 10 balls for 152 yards and a score. This, against a Steelers Defense that’s supposed to be one of the NFL’s best. Where did this come from? Already 25, 6-foot-3 Fulgham went from walk-on to three-year starter at Old Dominion before turning in 61st-percentile SPARQ results at last year’s Combine. He ran a middling 4.58 40-yard dash but flashed short-area explosion with a 10-foot-6 broad jump. We have seen this before in an offense that can’t keep a wideout healthy. Greg Ward went off down the stretch last year before generally being invisible in 2020. Fulgham is probably just in the right palace at the right time, but with scores each of the past two weeks, fantasy managers need to find out. The Ravens are a stiff Week 6 test.
Lamar Jackson remains stuck in neutral for fantasy purposes. Lost beneath the surface of the Ravens’ weekly beatdowns — save for when they played the Chiefs — has been an offense that isn’t clicking like it was last offseason. Game flow is obviously playing a part, but Jackson is averaging a lowly 169 yards passing since Week 1, completing 60 percent of his throws and averaging 6.13 yards per attempt. Jackson isn’t making as much magic outside the pocket, sometimes struggling to advance beyond his first read. He keeps narrowly missing Marquise Brown for big plays. That will slide vs. the Bengals and Washington. His next four opponents, the Eagles, Steelers, Colts and Patriots? Not so much. L-Jax especially needs to take advantage of next week’s Eagles date before the real tests begin.
A.J. Green bottoms all the way out vs. Ravens. Green had one target before departing with a hamstring injury. To call it a “target” is a bit misleading since it was a Joe Burrow air mail interception, but it was instructive what AJG did both before and after: Nothing. Green had little interest in either breaking up the pass or bringing the interceptor down. It was soon after where we learned of his supposed hamstring aggravation despite no obvious evidence of injury. The owner of one catch over his past two games and only 14 on the year, Green is an absurd 99th in yards per route run amongst receivers. Either he doesn’t want to make this happen or he can’t. Both possibilities are equally ominous. With Tyler Boyd and Tee Higgins established ahead of Green on the depth chart, he is not a must hold in 12-team leagues entering into bye week season.
Clyde Edwards-Helaire has another disappointing day on the ground. Facing a Raiders Defense that entered Week 5 surrendering the most running back fantasy points, this was supposed to be the spot where CEH got his season on track. Instead, he continued to provide more questions than answers about his ability to be the early-down back for a Super Bowl-or-bust team. The No. 32 overall pick is averaging just 52 yards per game and 3.7 yards per carry since his explosive Week 1. As Pro Football Focus points out, seven of CEH’s 16 broken tackles came against the Texans. CEH isn’t busting long runs or doing his part to sustain drives. Thankfully for fantasy managers, his competition remains limited. A Bills run defense that has run hot and cold is on tap for Week 6. CEH will be a low-end RB1.
Five More Week 5 Storylines
Falcons clean house, firing coach Dan Quinn and removing GM Thomas Dimitroff after 13 seasons. Quinn’s ouster was long overdue. Dimitroff’s removal was stunning but not surprising. The question now is what comes next. Dimitroff’s first draft pick Matt Ryan hasn’t looked the same since his 2019 high-ankle sprain. Ryan was completing 70.9 percent of his passes with a 7.6 YPA and 15:8 TD:INT ratio in seven starts before the injury last season. In the 13 games since, he's down to 62.6 and 7.0 with an 18:9 TD:INT total. How much of this is Ryan’s age, and how much of it is his supporting cast injuries? Despite his best efforts, Dimitroff has comprehensively failed at keeping Ryan upright in recent years. Might it be time for a team with one of the league’s thinnest rosters to move on in the offseason? With the Vikings, Lions and Panthers’ soft defenses up next for the Falcons, it’s not time for fantasy managers to move on, especially with Julio Jones (hamstring) hopefully back soon.
Jimmy Garoppolo benched following atrocious first half. Garoppolo completed just 7-of-17 passes for 77 yards, zero touchdowns and two picks as the 49ers fell behind *checks notes* 30-7 to the Miami Dolphins? Coach Kyle Shanahan claimed it was to “protect” Garoppolo as he returned from his ankle ailment — both of Garoppolo’s interceptions were awful air mails where he seemed to have trouble planting his back, injured foot — but if Jimmy G was hurt enough to be pulled halftime, why was he not even on the final injury report? I digress. It happened, and it will be hard to unsee, especially in the face of Garoppolo’s increasingly-escalating struggles going back to last season. We don’t know how good Garoppolo is, though the past two weeks have certainly reminded he is better than Nick Mullens and C.J. Beathard. Garoppolo won’t be losing his job. He won’t be saving it, either, with a supporting cast that injury won’t let settle.
Sammy Watkins pops a hamstring in stunning loss to Raiders. It has been a sadly familiar Sammy season, right down to him exploding in Week 1 and then struggling for fantasy relevance in the league’s most explosive offense thereafter. Watkins’ latest soft-tissue injury ensures he will not appear in all 16 games for the first time since his rookie year in 2014. Despite Watkins’ uneven play, it was the rest of the Chiefs’ offense that looked shaky after Watkins departed Sunday. Struggling to turn in 60-minute performances, Patrick Mahomes and company will have their hands full with the Bills in Week 6. If you’re trying to decide whether or not to hold onto Watkins, Sunday’s injury certainly appeared to be a multi-week affair. Watkins will be 100 percent rostered upon his return, but dropping him for bye week and COVID crunches in 12-team leagues wouldn’t be a decision that costs you the season.
Philip Rivers continues to look decrepit in loss to Browns. Yet to provide more than one touchdown in a game, Rivers has managed to toss a pick six in both Colts losses. Rivers appears entirely unthreatening, something the coaching staff clearly agrees with. The entire offensive attack is oriented around hiding the quarterback. That wasn’t supposed to be the case when the Colts signed Rivers to “upgrade” noted game manager Jacoby Brissett. The frustration is building. T.Y. Hilton, who is either the chicken or the egg of Rivers’ struggles, strongly hinted he would like more deep passes to be called. "We run the plays called,” Hilton said in response to the question of more aggressive play-calling. “What else do you want us to do?" If Rivers isn’t even going to manage games well — his rookie mistakes were the difference in each Colts loss — how much longer can the Colts ride this train?
Daniel Jones remains without a touchdown since Week 1. Nothing can get “Danny Dimes” into the end zone. Not garbage time, not a shootout with the Cowboys. He hasn’t stopped making big plays, of course. Not a week goes by where he doesn’t commit at least one turnover. Sunday was his first INT-free start, but he made sure to get in a lost fumble. Unable to consistently support any fantasy weapons, Jones has rendered Golden Tate irrelevant. Evan Engram is trending that way. Darius Slayton can only be trusted for spots like Sunday’s Cowboys showdown. Even with a tough schedule, this was not the way things were supposed to go for the Giants’ sophomore quarterback. Supposedly big-play Jones is a bottom-five weekly option with zero streaming appeal.
1. Was it Ryan Fitzpatrick’s Harvard education that taught him to target the practice-squad cornerback every play?
2. When did targeting (a now injured again) D.J. Chark become the hardest thing in the world?
3. Does nature punish old school coaches like Mike Zimmer even when they make the right decision to go for it because deep down everyone knows they don’t actually want to?
Early Waiver Look (Players rostered in less than 50 percent of Yahoo leagues)
QB: Andy Dalton (vs. AZ), Ryan Fitzpatrick (vs. NYJ), Ryan Tannehill (vs. HOU), Kirk Cousins (vs. ATL), Nick Foles (@CAR)
RB: Alexander Mattison, Justin Jackson, Matt Breida, Darrel Williams
WR: Chase Claypool, Henry Ruggs, Brandin Cooks, Laviska Shenault, Travis Fulgham, Christian Kirk, Preston Williams, Tre’Quan Smith, Curtis Samuel, Darnell Mooney
TE: Jimmy Graham (lol), Irv Smith, Gerald Everett, Trey Burton
DEF: Dolphins (vs. NYJ), Bengals (@IND), Giants (vs. WSH), Packers (vs. TB), Washington (@NYG), Panthers (vs. CHI)
Stats of the Week
Mark Ingram’s 11 carries were the most by any Ravens running back this season. This remains a fantasy dead zone.
Darrell Henderson rebounded to lead the Rams’ backfield in snaps and touches. A returning Cam Akers handled the ball nine times. It was essentially a worst-case scenario when it came to forecasting this group going forward. Henderson won’t be a recommended RB2 vs. the 49ers.
Via the NFL: “The Seahawks are the only team in the Super Bowl era to start 5-0 despite being outgained by an average of 50-plus total yards per game.”
Via Pro Football Reference: The Jets became the first team since at least 1994 to punt twice on 4th-and-1 in the first five minutes of a game
Tweet of the Week, from Aaron Campeau: The Seahawks are going to go 16-0 and still somehow be outscored by their opponents.
Tweet of the Week II, from Jonathan Jones: Ryan Fitzpatrick is the driver in the other lane who, just as you're ready to merge, speeds up just to sit in your blindspot.