Week 5 Fantasy Football Lessons: Hard to trust Giants' offensive eruption

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Even with Odell Beckham coming off his best game of 2018, one sizable factor makes the Giants skill-position eruption from Week 5 tough to trust. (Getty Images)
Even with Odell Beckham coming off his best game of 2018, one sizable factor makes the Giants skill-position eruption from Week 5 tough to trust. (Getty Images)

The Sunday action of Week 5 is in the books. Let’s take a spin around the league to look at every team from all the games that took place and see what we can learn from a fantasy football perspective.

New York Giants (31) at Carolina Panthers (33)

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Unbelievably, an offensive unit that’s annually inhabited by strong skill position talent had not posted a 30-point outing in well over two years. Odell Beckham threw a touchdown, caught his first of 2018 and collected 131 yards. Saquon Barkley went for just 48 yards on 15 carries but smashed as a receiver with four catches for 81 yards and a pair of scores. Even Sterling Shepard turned in 75 yards. Of course, the reason it’s hard to trust this offensive eruption is the same common denominator between all those middling prior season offenses that couldn’t score 30 points. Despite all of his pass-catchers doing work, Eli Manning still offered up more than a few pieces of evidence in this game to those who believe he’s almost totally cooked. The volume for this skill-position trio is secure while Evan Engram is on the shelf but you have to at least consider selling high while Manning still looks utterly uninspiring.

In the first half, the Carolina Panthers offense moved with ease but made far too many mistakes in the second half to let New York hang around in a game they had no business winning. The most intriguing note in the early showing was the open field work of both D.J. Moore and Curtis Samuel. The pair of athletic marvels made dazzling plays with the ball in their hands. Neither saw more than four targets — though Moore took a carry for 18 yards — but it’s time the Panthers find a way to feature these two players along with their mainstays on offense. Samuel was particularly impressive in his first game of 2018 with an incredible touchdown reception. He has the juice.

Tennessee Titans (12) at Buffalo Bills (13)

The Titans offense returned to their moribund ways after surging against the Eagles in their Week 4 overtime win. Tennessee could not sustain drives, losing the time of possession battle to Buffalo 26:11 to 33:49. While the passing game was a letdown today, the one consistent dud this season has been Derrick Henry. Expected to be a hammer-back for the ascendant offense, Henry has either been game scripted out or ineffective even when he does see bulk touches. He’s been on the fringe for several weeks but Henry is officially no longer a priority hold. Even if the Titans offense does get rolling consistently, Henry has a role that comes with too thin a margin for error to ever be started confidently.

Easily the most frustrating early-round fantasy pick, LeSean McCoy finally turned in a usable stat line for the first time all season. He posted 85 yards rushing and led the team with 23 receiving yards. It’s still a stretch to say he’s back in our good graces as an every-week starter. The Bills managed just 3.5 yards per play and went 4/13 on third down. This is still not a good offense. McCoy is a pure minor-boom or major-bust RB2 fantasy play.

Miami Dolphins (17) at Cincinnati Bengals (27)

Kenyan Drake likely drew enough venom from furious fantasy owners to get dropped headed into this week. While that would have been an extreme decision, it was hard to see a performance like this coming based on his usage heading into Week 5. Almost all of Drake’s scoring came as a receiver and he didn’t exactly have a locked-in passing game role prior to this contest. Drake cleared three catches just once and ran 61 routes heading into Week 5; outside the top-30 at the running back position. Drake should be on rosters in the hopes that his noticeable talent keeps him involved in the game plan, but he’s not suddenly back in the circle of trust.

Joe Mixon had no rust to shake off as he walked right back into a workhorse RB1 role. No other Bengals running back carried the ball in this spot and Mixon chipped in with three catches and a touchdown through the air. Giovani Bernard is likely out for a few more weeks but was a non-factor when Mixon was healthy during the Bengals first two games anyway. Mixon has cleared 85 total yards in all three games he’s started this season.

Baltimore Ravens (9) at Cleveland Browns (12)

Joe Flacco is having a nice bounce-back season but his performance today, with 5.3 yards per attempt and a 51.8 percent completion rate, looked more like the underwhelming passer of the last few years. His theoretical lead receiver, Michael Crabtree, has left far too many plays on the field. Crabtree had managed just 184 yards on 34 targets going into this game. Drops and mistakes were an issue again in Week 5, with just six catches for 66 yards on 12 looks. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see the veteran begin losing playing time and/or opportunity as the weeks go on.

Nick Chubb busted multiple big plays on route to a 40-plus point outing for the Browns in Week 4. Naturally, the always blustering Hue Jackson eluded to an expanded role for Chubb after his three-carry, 105-yard, two-score game against Oakland. Not even close. Chubb once again saw three totes and went for just two yards on the ground. Don’t buy into change unless we see something other than Jackson’s words to indicate it’s coming. Chubb might well be one of the best stashes in fantasy but that’s all he is for now.

Green Bay Packers (23) at Detroit Lions (31)

While the fantasy community continues to bemoan the lack of work for Aaron Jones, the Packers show no inclination that they’re looking for a change. Jones led the team in touches but not by any sort of wide gap. Jamaal Williams took his six carries for 5.5 a pop, so he didn’t provide the coaching staff much reason to make changes. With the Packers constantly trailing, this really wasn’t the script for running. As the run game was out of the mix, some of the young receivers got a chance to shine in relief of injured starters. Marquez Valdes-Scantling got a good amount of work for the second-week in a row, handling 10 targets and scored a touchdown. The ultra-gifted Equanimeous St. Brown got to bite at the apple too, amassing 89 yards (second-highest on the team) on just five targets.

Kerryon Johnson looks every bit like the real deal. Unfortunately, he injured his ankle after his twelfth carry and never returned. Johnson said after the game he’s “fine,” but of course, it’s never wise to just take the players at their word. The Lions have their bye in Week 6, so Johnson has plenty of time to heal up before their next contest. We’ll also keep our fingers crossed that Detroit’s week off comes with more ways to feature him as their backfield focal point.

Jacksonville Jaguars (14) at Kansas City Chiefs (30)

Blake Bortles made this Kansas City Chiefs defense look like it had channeled their 2014/2015 era units. The Jaguars didn’t get on the board until there was 3:10 left in the third quarter. Keelan Cole and Donte Moncrief were both able to clear 70 yards with Bortles’ garbage time dealing after inhaling 25 combined targets. Dede Westbrook, the most popular sleeper pick coming into this matchup, flopped with three catches for 55 yards on five measly targets. Despite the offense’s struggles, T.J. Yeldon posted RB1 numbers. Leonard Fournette didn’t appear likely at all to play in this game and may miss next week, as well. Now that Corey Grant is out of the season, Yeldon will hold the ultra-juicy passing down role and had eight catches for 69 yards and a score through the air this week.

The Jacksonville Jaguars defense showed up, allowing the Chiefs to convert just four of 12 third-down chances and giving up zero passing touchdowns. However, the Kansas City pass catchers certainly didn’t leave fantasy owners out in the cold. Patrick Mahomes cleared 300 yards passing and popped in a rushing score to save his stat line. Travis Kelce hit 100 yards, while Sammy Watkins (6-78) and Tyreek Hill (4-61 with 2-26 on the ground) provided solid floor days. This offense is just too good to totally blank.

Denver Broncos (16) at New York Jets (34)

The Broncos passing game got to feast in a negative game script. The air yards signals were all pointing to Courtland Sutton heading into this game, while the raw volume was on the side of Emmanuel Sanders. Both of those players hit, with Sutton scoring a touchdown and Sanders corralling nine passes. However, Demaryius Thomas will come out with the prettiest overall stat line, as he managed to haul in a 42-yard deep pass from Keenum with just 3:18 left in the game. It’s tough to buy this as a sustainable reality. If you can sell based off name value and recency bias, go for it.

Robby Anderson led the Jets with 93 air yards in Week 4. The signals were there for a big Week 5 line and the 2017 breakout star delivered. Seeing Sam Darnold uncork aggressive deep shots for the streaking vertical wideout was a much-needed signal. Anderson was likely dropped by disappointed fantasy owners in the first month of the season. He is without question worth an add after this performance, simply because we now know it’s within his range of possible 2018 outcomes.

Atlanta Falcons (17) at Pittsburgh Steelers (41)

Coming into Week 5, Calvin Ridley dominated in the touchdown column but trailed both Julio Jones and Mohamed Sanu in snaps played, routes run and target share. Those issues were real concerns and reared their ugly head against the Steelrs. You can still play Ridley every week as a high-upside flex because he’s a good player in a hot offense, but if you thought you had anything more than a volatile asset, you were wrong.

James Conner turned in a dominant performance with 21 carries for 110 yards and two scores. While he had a solid floor play due to his receiving ability (another four catches today), he had not busted the rushing column. While many were quick to declare the Steelers’ need for Le’Veon Bell to ride in on his white horse, the real issue lay on the other side of the ball. The Steelers defense was far too quick to cede big leads, taking Pittsburgh out of any type of script to run the football. The Steelers gained the first lead and held it in Week 5, and sure enough, Conner’s big game followed.

Oakland Raiders (10) at Los Angeles Chargers (26)

The Raiders offense put up much better numbers in Weeks 3 and 4 but this unit is still not one we can confidently project week-to-week. Jordy Nelson scored another touchdown but had just four targets, snapping a two-game streak with solid volume. Amari Cooper offered up his second one-catch game of the season. Marshawn Lynch was game-scripted out of the contest with the Raiders falling behind early. The two best stat lines of the game came from Martavis Bryant (3-91) and Jalen Richard (6-53) through the air, as they caught all of their targets. Neither player offers any sort of predictable usage to go on.

Austin Ekeler is in flex consideration every week but will, at some point, crush your team. It could have been this week had the electric back not taken his lone catch 44 yards for a catch-and-run score. Proceed with caution, although his play continues to impress.

Minnesota Vikings (23) at Philadelphia Eagles (21)

The Vikings give Dalvin Cook the off week we could all see he needed, despite having 10 days to get healthy after their Thursday night loss in Week 4. We can only hope that Cook will get healthy soon, although the Vikings could give him another week of rest with the Cardinals coming to town in a soft-landing spot next week. Of course, the last time Minnesota penciled in a win over a weak opponent, they paid the price. With Cook out, Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen (17-207-TD combined) became just the latest receiver group to rip up the Eagles secondary.

Adam Thielen had a historical performance in Week 5 against the Philadelphia Eagles. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
Adam Thielen had a historical performance in Week 5 against the Philadelphia Eagles. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

The Eagles offense remains disjointed. The running game was totally absent, while wide receivers Nelson Agholor (4-45) and Alshon Jeffery (2-39) wilted. Zach Ertz remains the rock of this team. Wendell Smallwood continues to flash. He averaged nine yards per carry with Jay Ajayi taking time off during the game and hauled in three passes for 44 yards and a score. He may be gaining some momentum in this committee backfield.

Arizona Cardinals (28) at San Francisco 49ers (18)

With Josh Rosen at the helm over the last two games, David Johnson has scored three times and cleared 20 touches in both contests. We still don’t have efficient rushing lines or quite enough work in the passing game but Johnson looks like he won’t completely bottom out in 2018. The Cardinals could be on the upswing with Rosen looking comfortable and the team securing its first win.

It’s been a shame to watch Matt Breida sustain multiple injuries throughout the 2018 season. This week, it was an ankle that removed him from the game. X-rays came back negative, which prevents the worst-case scenario. However, Breida should miss some time. The second-year back is clearly having a breakout season even as the offense around him crumbles, but it’s looking like injuries will keep us from seeing the full bloom.

Los Angeles Rams (33) at Seattle Seahawks (31)

Before the Rams traded for Brandin Cooks, many were ready to slot Josh Reynolds into their sleeper lists with Sammy Watkins vacating the X-receiver spot from the 2017 offense. Reynolds has legit ability, with chops in the deep game and on contested catches. Think of him as a Marvin Jones-type player. He produced when Robert Woods missed time last season. Reynolds will be on our radar if Cooks or Cooper Kupp, who both left with concussions, have to miss any time.

The Seahawks will continue to involve every one of their running backs outside of their first-round pick Rashaad Penny. While that’s confusing, it is the reality. Chris Carson remains the favorite to lead the team in touches every week, while Mike Davis is a thin upside dart throw. The Seahawks are committed to running, which can give you hope of using either of these backs as a bye week filler.

Dallas Cowboys (16) at Houston Texans (19)

The Cowboys passing offense is still mostly damaged goods, though they cleared the 200-yard barrier for the second week in a row. It’s awful that 200 yards is a legitimate benchmark for them. Ezekiel Elliott has a cemented role through the air and caught all seven of his targets. That helps buoy his floor when he has these types of poor rushing days, with 20 carries for sub-60 yards. Do not mess around with any other pass-catcher.

Alfred Blue filled in as the starter for Lamar Miller and while he didn’t turn in an efficient rushing day with just 2.3 yards per carry, he did withstand a massive workload. As long as he starts, he’s on the RB2 radar. The Houston offense is still moving well enough that we’re in on any workhorse in their backfield. Keke Coutee came into this spot as a true game time decision but made it out there and caught six passes, including a glorified handoff for a score.

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