Fantasy Football Fades & Busts: Will Kyren Williams disappoint in Week 5?

Kyren Williams #23 of the Los Angeles Rams
Will Week 5 be an uphill battle for Kyren Williams? (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

Just because a player is listed as a “fade” doesn’t mean they are automatic sits. As the adage goes, “Always start your stars.” What a “bust” designation does mean, however, is that you’ll want to consider higher upside options in the flex.

Welcome to Week 5 of the 2023 NFL season! The injuries are piling up, bye weeks are in full swing and some fantasy managers are struggling to fill their lineups. As always, several key fantasy assets will face difficult matchups that might limit their upside, but you might not have the luxury to sit them.

Planning for down weeks, however, can help inform other start/sit decisions in your lineups. Here are six busts and fades to plan for in Week 5 of the fantasy football season.

Bust: Brock Purdy, QB, San Francisco 49ers

San Francisco 49ers QB Brock Purdy has silenced doubters in a big way to start the 2023 season. He's been as productive as ever coming off a season-ending elbow injury suffered just this January. Incredibly, that efficiency has even translated to fantasy production, despite his utter lack of rushing upside; he's sitting as the overall QB11 on the season. He’s been the pinnacle of efficiency, completing 72.3% of passes while leading the league with a 115.1 passer rating.

Fantasy managers should not expect that level of efficiency against the Dallas Cowboys, however.

This Cowboys defense has held opposing quarterbacks to a 57.4% completion rate and 55.2 NFL passer rating through the first four weeks of the season. Specifically, those 767 total passing yards allowed, two touchdowns and seven interceptions have translated to a total of 33.14 total fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks through four weeks.

Expect this to be as significant a struggle as we’ve seen from Purdy so far this season, severely limiting his upside for fantasy managers.

Bust: Dameon Pierce, RB, Houston Texans

Houston Texans RB Dameon Pierce hasn’t been off to the same hot start as his rookie quarterback, unfortunately. Despite being tied for the eighth most touches among running backs, Pierce sits as the RB25 in fantasy, averaging an abysmal 2.83 yards per attempt and having scored just a single touchdown on the season. It’s not all his fault, to be fair, as he's played with an offensive line that’s starting second (and even third) string assets due to some awful injury luck.

Though they’ve played well, all things considered, it’s less than ideal when making an effort to establish the run. Even worse, the team announced another season-ending injury on the offensive line, this time to LG Kendrick Green.

This week, the Texans face the Atlanta Falcons, whose rushing defense ranks top-12 in rushing yards per attempt (3.9), explosive run percentage allowed (10.6%) and yards after contact per attempt (2.5). For a running back who’s already been struggling to achieve efficiency behind an offensive line that’s been decimated by injury, this is a nightmare matchup.

Fade: Kyren Williams, RB, Los Angeles Rams

Following the release of Cam Akers, Kyren Williams immediately stepped into a workhorse role. Through the first four weeks of the season, Williams has racked up the seventh-most touches among running backs as the overall RB4 on the season. However, he’s generally been pretty inefficient, averaging just 3.83 yards per carry and 25 touches per big play (most among any top-15 fantasy RB so far this season). This inefficiency seems very likely to continue this week, as he'll face one of the league’s top rushing defenses: the Philadelphia Eagles.

Williams’ potential for volume makes him a difficult player to sit, but fantasy managers should very much temper expectations against this defensive line. Through four weeks, the Eagles are allowing a league-low 1.6 yards after contact per attempt, holding opponents to just 3.1 yards per attempt (fifth) and the sixth-lowest explosive run rate (7.3%) in the league.

Don’t expect much from Williams, even if he does see significant volume once again in Week 5.

Bust: Calvin Ridley, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars

Jacksonville Jaguars WR Calvin Ridley has felt like the odd man out in the offense over the past several weeks, taking a backseat to teammates Christian Kirk and Evan Engram after a breakout Week 1 performance. Since Week 1, when he finished as the overall WR6, he has yet to rank inside the top 30 with a declining target share each of the last three games. In Week 5, the Jaguars will play their second London game of the season against the Buffalo Bills, who sit with PFF’s third-best coverage grade over the first four weeks.

Though this secondary lost CB Tre’Davious White to a season-ending Achilles injury, their depth in the secondary with safety Micah Hyde, CB Taron Johnson and skilled LB Matt Milano in coverage isn’t the ideal matchup against to expect a bounce-back week. The Bills could also see the return of starting safety Jordan Poyer who missed Week 4 with a knee injury, having started the week with a limited practice session Wednesday. Though there’s plenty of reason to believe the Jaguars will make a concerted effort to get Ridley back involved, this isn’t necessarily the matchup to target for fantasy managers.

Bust: Drake London, WR, Atlanta Falcons

With QB Desmond Ridder under center, the Atlanta Falcons passing attack hasn’t exactly been up to snuff considering the talent the team has surrounded him with. Luckily, London saved fantasy managers’ days with a couple of touchdowns, but all in all, this has been a disappointing season. Now, with a matchup against the Houston Texans in Week 5, this team should temper expectations even further.

While much of the spotlight has been upfront on the defensive line since the Texans drafted EDGE Will Anderson, it’s the secondary that seems to have gone a bit under the radar to start the year.

The Texans secondary, even as it has managed several injuries between Derek Stingley Jr. and Tavierre Thomas, has played well to start the year. Houston has allowed the 10th-fewest passing yards so far this season, tied with the Dallas Cowboys for the fewest passing touchdowns in the league. That impact has been felt for fantasy managers, too, as the Texans rank 31st in fantasy points allowed to the wide receiver position — one of just five teams to allow fewer than two touchdowns to opposing wideouts this season. If there are other options available to plug in your lineup, it’s worth considering them, as the upside for London in Week 5 is quite limited.

Bust: Jake Ferguson, TE, Dallas Cowboys

Second-year Dallas Cowboys TE Jake Ferguson enters Week 5 as the overall TE8 on the season, sliding in seamlessly to take over the role of his former teammate, Dalton Schultz. He’s outpacing him in terms of opportunity, too, averaging 6.3 targets per game to Schultz’s 5.9 average through the 2020-22 seasons. However, all of the opportunity Ferguson has seen to this point in the year isn’t likely to be enough to overcome a tough matchup against the San Francisco 49ers.

Through four weeks, the 49ers have allowed the eighth-fewest receiving yards per game to the tight end position for just 6.43 fantasy points per game. Where this strong 49ers defense has been more susceptible is by targeting the outside of the field, which could limit Ferguson’s involvement in the game plan in an effort to avoid LB Fred Warner over the middle of the field.