Stars of the Week
QB: Justin Herbert, LAC: 26-43, 398 yards, 4 TDs, 0 INTs
RB: Derrick Henry, TEN: 29 carries, 130 yards, 3 TDs
WR: Mike Williams, LAC: 8 catches, 165 yards, 2 TDs
TE: David Njoku, CLE: 7 catches, 149 yards, 1 TD
In what was considered to be a tough matchup for QB Justin Herbert and the Chargers, the second year gunslinger lit the Browns on fire, with just under 400 passing yards and four passing TDs, while also adding a fifth TD via the ground. Herbert has indisputably become a top-five QB, both in fantasy and real life.
Derrick Henry finds his name on the leaderboard once again with the top rushing performance of the week. If redrafting today, Henry should be the No. 1 overall pick. The Titans’ reincarnation of Marshawn Lynch is on pace for 2,176 yards and 24 TDs via the ground. Yup, that’s the overall RB1.
Also making his second appearance on the leaderboard is emerging fifth-year WR Mike Williams. Herbert caught 165 yards worth of Herbert’s passes, including two of his four TDs. As mentioned a few weeks back, Williams has become a WR1 weekly must start. The question to ponder now is whether Williams has or soon will eclipse teammate Keenan Allen as the top receiver on the Chargers.
Three-fourths of our honor roll played at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood this past Sunday. Tight end David Njoku participated in the fireworks on behalf of the Cleveland Browns with seven catches for 149 yards, while finding the end zone once. Unlike Herbert and Williams, Njoku has less fantasy staying power. Given that Njoku had seven receptions for 111 receiving yards and 0 TDs combined in his other three 2021 games, you should consider this a random spike for Njoku, rather than a sign of future performance. He remains a low end TE2 for deep leagues.
Week 5 Takeaways – A Closer Look
Each week we take a closer look at a handful of performances and sort out what such performances mean going forward.
Trey Lance, QB – SF: 15-29, 192 yards, 0 TDs, 1 INT (16 carries, 89 yards, 0 TDs)
Analysis: Similar to the Chicago Bears and the Dalton/Fields saga, the San Francisco 49ers have had to sort out when prized rookie QB Trey Lance will take over starting QB duties from incumbent starter Jimmy Garappolo. While the Bears have finally made the switch to Fields, the 49ers have yet to make the same declaration for Lance. That being said, we’ve now got 1.5 games with Lance as the QB, covering for Jimmy G’s injury. Watching Lance, he’s got immense arm talent, with flashes of accuracy, albeit very inconsistent on that front. He still needs to improve at moving through his progressions more quickly, but that’s to be expected given his experience level. Whether or not Lance has a good day with his arm, the good news here is that he will amass significant rushing yards for you. Case in point, this week versus the Cardinals – Lance threw for only 189 yards and no TDs (which translates to less than eight fantasy points), but rushed for 89 yards (which translates to approximately nine additional fantasy points). That’s approximately 17 fantasy points without a passing or rushing TD. And therein lies his upside – in games where Lance has a more productive passing game, Lance can post top-5 QB numbers. For those of you debating whom to start between Lance and a more established, traditional QB, consider what you’re looking in your matchup. Lance comes with higher risk, but he does have a solid floor due to his rushing ability. In most weeks (i.e neutral matchup scripts), I’m inclined to take Lance over options such as Tannehill, Darnold and Lawrence, but would start Burrows, Stafford and Hurts over him. Of course it’s never a neutral script, but hopefully this helps provide you with an idea as to where to slot Lance in games that he starts.
Miles Sanders, RB – CIN: 11 carries, 44 yards, 0 TDs
Analysis: Philadelphia Eagles RB Miles Sanders came into the season as a comfortable RB2 option, as the undisputed lead back for the team. While he remains the team’s leading rusher, Sanders has reasonably worried folks who deploy him on their fantasy teams. Through five games, Sanders has yet to score a TD or even flirt with the 100-yard rushing mark in a game. In fact, Sanders’ averages the following on a per game basis: 9.6 carries, 42.8 yards and 0 TDs. While Sanders also factors into the passing game, he has yet to hit 40 yards receiving in any game. So, the passing game hasn’t provided a lifeline. Kenneth Gainwell serves as the Eagles’ second most used RB, and he only has six rushing attempts in the last three weeks combined. So this isn’t a matter of the backup threatening to take the job away from the starter. Instead, you have to look over at the QB position to identify the issue. Jalen Hurts has 8.6 carries per game, which has salted away at Sanders’ touches. Expect this type of game flow to continue for the Eagles, as Hurts is dynamic with the ball in his hands. As such, you should downgrade Sanders to an RB3/flex option, and he should no longer be an automatic weekly start. And in case you receive a trade offer for Sanders valuing him as an RB2, make the deal.
Myles Gaskin, RB – MIA: 5 carries, 25 yards, 0 TDs (10 catches, 74 yards, 2 TDs)
Analysis: We move from one RB disappointment to another, albeit one who has at least found the end zone. Similar to Miles Sanders, fantasy managers also targeted Dolphins RB Myles Gaskin in their drafts as a back end RB2, based on the strength of his 2020 season. Unfortunately, Gaskin had been quiet entering the matchup with the Bucs, with only 142 rushing yards via 29 carries through four games. On the receiving side, similar story – Gaskin had only 57 total yards. Gaskin had yet to find the end zone in any manner in 2021. So what happened this past Sunday? His 25 rushing yards remain consistent with previous rushing performances, but 10 catches for 74 yards and two TDs – where did that come from? I can’t answer that, but given all the other data points, you should know where this is going. Don’t let outlier stats with no supporting basis lead you to the wrong conclusion. Despite this strong receiving performance, Gaskin’s stats remain very concerning for fantasy purposes. On a macro level, the Dolphins are an offensive mess, with QB uncertainty, a mediocre passing game and inconsistent use of the run game. In case you’re able to sell high on Gaskin here, make the move now. Otherwise, Gaskin should be considered a RB3/RB4 straddler, remaining on the bench except for the most favorable matchups.
Kadarius Toney, WR – NYG: 10 catches, 189 yards, 0 TDs
Analysis: The Giants went into their divisional matchup with the Cowboys shorthanded, as both WRs Sterling Shepard and Darius Slayton were unavailable. To make matters MUCH worse, the team lost fellow WR Kenny Golliday, along with starting QB Daniel Jones and RB Saquon Barkley mid-game. In other words, the team’s top QB, RB and top three WRs were all out of commission midway through the matchup. So that led to a last man standing scenario, who was none other than rookie WR Kadarius Toney. The Giants were panned for selecting the WR from Florida with their first-round pick, as more popular receivers such as Rashod Bateman, Elijah Moore and Rondale Moore remained available. Toney has a smaller frame, but he’s quick and possesses superior athleticism. Toney showed off those exact skills against the Cowboys, with 10 catches for 189 yards. By way of comparison, the rest of the Giants had only 105 receiving yards combined. What should you do with Toney’s performance? Well, while Toney remains talented, these statistics also required circumstance (i.e. several injuries) in order to come to fruition. So for Toney to have fantasy relevance, at least two of the three WRs mentioned above need to remain out. The Giants don’t have a dynamic enough passing game to support multiple receiving threats. It doesn’t appear that the injured WRs will be back right away though, so Toney should be a helpful short term add as a flex option.
Rapid Fire Pickups
Each week we throw out potential free-agent pickups from each position for deeper leagues, in each case a player 1) who has NOT been featured above, and 2) remains available in more than 50% of leagues.
QB: Taylor Heinicke, WAS (vs KC)
RB: Darrel Williams, KC (@ WAS) – next in line with CEH out
RB: JD McKissic, WAS (vs KC)
WR: Rondale Moore, ARI (@ CLE)
WR: DeVante Parker, MIA (@ JAC)
TE: Ricky Seals-Jones, WAS (vs KC)