Fantasy Football Quick Hits

  • Week 5 Yays: Jimmy Garoppolo (QB15), Breece Hall (RB14), Chris Godwin (WR8), Rondale Moore (WR29)
  • Week 5 Nays: Trevor Lawrence (QB19), Ezekiel Elliott (RB36), Amari Cooper (WR30), Rashod Bateman (WR49)
  • Fantasy Trivia: The only team in the NFL with a top-seven player in PPR points at all four offensive positions – quarterback, running back, wide receiver and tight end – through the first four weeks of the season is? Keep reading to find out.

We often allude to the idea of “fun” in this space.

Usually, it’s when we’re referring to a player that fantasy managers will start, almost irrationally, despite the data suggesting otherwise (looking at you this season Kyle Pitts). But when we talk about teams that are fun to watch, that connotation is usually developed because they play in high scoring games.

However, here’s the critical distinction: You want players on “fun” teams!

It’s simple, but if your roster is filled with players on “fun”, or in other words, high scoring teams, you will almost certainly have a good fantasy team. It’s why the Kansas City Chiefs have been such a profitable fantasy offense since Patrick Mahomes took over. Ditto with the Los Angeles Chargers and Justin Herbert. Great offense plus a mediocre defense equals an excellent recipe for high scoring games.

It’s also why teams like the New England Patriots and Denver Broncos have recently been challenging fantasy offenses for fantasy managers. When those teams win, it’s 17-14, like the Pats did in their only victory so far this season. They almost won last week against Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers, but that required the help of a defensive touchdown.

Russell Wilson’s new team? In the Denver Broncos’ two wins, they’ve scored two touchdowns – combined. In their two losses (to Geno Smith’s Seattle Seahawks and Derek Carr and the Las Vegas Raiders), they couldn’t even reach 24 points.

To that end, there is only one team in the NFL with a top-seven player in PPR points at all four offensive positions – quarterback, running back, wide receiver and tight end – through the first four weeks of the season.

The only reason you might know the answer is because they’ve played some ridiculously fun games. They played in the highest scoring game in Week 1. The second-highest scoring game in Weeks 2 and 3. And they played in the highest scoring game of the week, and season, in Week 4. It’s not the Chiefs, or Josh Allen’s Buffalo Bills, or even the last remaining unbeaten team, the Philadelphia Eagles – who are the only other team with at least one player in the top 10 at each of those positions.

Nope. It’s the 1-3 Detroit Lions.

Highest scoring team in the NFL? Check. Most points allowed in the NFL? Check. Best fantasy offense through four weeks? Check. Defense ranked 32nd in fantasy points scored through four weeks? Check.

Jared Goff, the same player who the Los Angeles Rams were so desperate to move away from, currently sits as QB5.

top five fantasy quarterbacks

Has he been the fifth-best quarterback in the NFL? No! In fact, among quarterbacks with at least 100 passing attempts, he has the third-worst pickable pass percentage – which measures how often a quarterback should have been intercepted by the defense, regardless of if the pass actually was – at 5.52%.

That’s not all. Among the top 25 quarterbacks in passing yards, Goff’s 60.9% completion rate is the second worst, behind only the New York Jets’ Joe Flacco. But that doesn’t matter when you’re passing the ball so much just to try and keep up with your opponent. Goff has been a fantasy revelation, and he might still be sitting on your waiver wire.

By the way, Matthew Stafford is QB25. Yikes.

The Lions running back in the top seven? That would not be D’Andre Swift, but rather, Jamaal Williams, currently sitting as RB6. He is the exact reason why you draft handcuff running backs that could potentially see large amounts of volume should something happen to the starter. Williams has seen 20 or more touches in each of the last two weeks and has recorded a top-10 finish at the position for each of those weeks.

So, for those of you currently holding on to players like Tyler Allgeier or Melvin Gordon, or even Mike Boone should he be the Bronco to step in and see a heavy load, they can quickly transition from sleeper to starter on your roster.

The wide receiver in the top seven? That would be Amon-Ra St. Brown as WR7, despite missing Week 4. T.J. Hockenson was TE12 through three games. But after he was the highest scoring fantasy player in Week 4, he moved all the way up to TE3.

This has been an excellent fantasy offense, in large part, because of how horrendous the Lions defense has performed.

So, here’s the point: Always take into consideration the other team’s offense when making your lineup decisions, not just their defense. Too often, you’ll see a matchup that seems to be unfavorable because the defense might be particularly suited to stop a certain player or position and immediately decide to sit that player.

But if the other team is also likely to score, that means that your player’s offense will likely speed up their tempo and throw more passes throughout the game, creating an ideal environment to score fantasy points.

As always, let’s jump around and evaluate some Week 5 projections gathered from some of the top data-driven projections available using several of our AI-powered models. Refer back to our fantasy football rankings for any questionable waiver wire or lineup decisions.

Week 5 Fantasy Yays

Note: We’re comparing our rankings to the expert consensus rankings (ECR) from FantasyPros. These rankings update throughout the week (We pulled these numbers from Thursday.). Once again, we are using PPR unless noted otherwise.   

Jimmy Garoppolo, QB (SF) vs. CAR (ECR: 23, Our Rank: 15, Projected Points: 16.26)

Yes, we did just explain how a bad defense can be good for a quarterback’s fantasy output. But our main reason for optimism with Garoppolo this week is because of how good his defense has been.

The 49ers rank first in yards allowed per play (3.81) by an outrageous margin over the rest of the league – more than 1.5 yards better than league average. Meanwhile, the Carolina Panthers rank dead last in yards per game and offensive time of possession. All indications are that when Baker Mayfield and the Panthers have the ball, they’ll be at a severe disadvantage.

Garoppolo, and that perfect jawline of his, will be the primary recipient. Despite being our model’s second most likely quarterback to throw an interception this week, the pure discrepancy in time of possession in favor of the Niners should provide Garoppolo plenty of time to accumulate respectable fantasy totals tossing the ball to star wide receiver Deebo Samuel and tight end George Kittle.

He’s a solid QB2 this week, ahead of the likes of Ryan Tannehill of the Tennessee Titans and Matt Ryan of the Indianapolis Colts.

Breece Hall, RB (NYJ) vs. MIA (ECR: 25, Our Rank: 14, PP: 14.70)

Do you know which running back leads the NFL in targets? It’s Austin Ekeler. Do you know who’s second? That would be Hall, who over the last few weeks has seen his involvement in the offense skyrocket, culminating in the game-winning touchdown against fellow rookie Kenny Pickett’s Pittsburgh Steelers last week.

Top five running backs in targets

Hall has had 17 targets in his last two games – the same number as A.J. Brown – and has seen his number of carries increase with each week. More of the same can be expected this week as the Miami Dolphins allow 25 rushes per game and have allowed 25 receptions to running backs through four weeks.

The rookie out of Iowa State is the Jets running back you want to play. Facing backup QB Teddy Bridgewater, look for the Jets to continue to feed the rookie. And if he continues to receive a larger portion of the Jets offense, he has the potential for top-10 status over the rest of season.

For now, he’s a strong RB2 option.

Chris Godwin, WR (TB) vs. ATL (ECR: 18, Our Rank: 8, PP: 17.33)

Godwin is coming off a torn ACL towards the end of last season and a hamstring injury early in Week 1 at Dallas. But that didn’t stop Brady from targeting Godwin 10 times in his return to the lineup in Week 4.

Better yet, when Godwin is on the field, Brady consistently looks for him. He’s seen an average of 8.75 targets per contest in his last 16 games and has caught 77.1% of those targets. Essentially, he’s averaging 6.75 receptions and 74.8 receiving yards per game, which is nearly identical to the output our algorithms are projecting for him this week against the Atlanta Falcons.

Despite his recent injuries, Godwin is unequivocally deserving of being in your lineup. At worst, he is the No. 2 option on a Tom Brady-led offense against a team that’s in the bottom eight in the NFL in passing yards allowed. Start him with confidence, just like the Tampa Bay Buccaneers do.

Our model thinks he’s got a real chance at a top-10 week.

Rondale Moore, WR (ARI) vs. PHI (ECR: 69, Our Rank: 29, PP: 11.94)

The honor of our biggest discrepancy between how our model calculates a player’s prospects versus his ECR belongs to Moore, the diminutive dynamo in Arizona. After sitting out the first three weeks due to injury, he came back and had a modest showing in his first game of the season.

Looking at his usage from last season is more instructive and Moore finished dead last by a laughable margin in average depth of target. Seriously, he averaged 1.4 yards per target, meaning that passes his way averaged just over 1 yard beyond the line of scrimmage. The league average last year among wide receivers was 10.1 and the next closest player to him was at 4.1. The Arizona Cardinals just got the ball in his hands as fast as they could and let him use his athleticism to gain as many yards as possible.

While such a poor depth of target is not a great fantasy attribute, it’s actually going to be very useful this week. The Eagles rank first in the NFL in sacks, so Kyler Murray and the offense will likely counteract that by throwing quick and short. Moore will definitely be the recipient of some of those passes.

He should be in strong consideration for your Flex position this week.

Week 5 Fantasy Nays

Trevor Lawrence, QB (JAX) vs. HOU (ECR: 13, Our Rank: 19, PP: 14.95)

The Jacksonville Jaguars got off to a roaring start this season, and through one quarter against the last remaining unbeaten team in Week 4, the Jags were up 14-0 and had the ball on the Philadelphia 41-yard line. However, that drive ended in a Lawrence fumble, Jalen Hurts and the Eagles scored touchdowns on their next three possessions and the game had completely flipped by halftime.

That was Lawrence’s first of four (!!!) fumbles that he lost as the Jags succumbed to the excellent Eagles defensive line. While the Houston Texans are definitively not as talented on defense as the Eagles, they are strong in two areas. The Texans are limiting opposing quarterbacks to less than 15 rushing yards per game – a number Lawrence has yet to surpass – and they’ve been an elite goal-to-go defense, allowing touchdowns on a miniscule 28.6% rate in such instances – the only NFL team under the 50% mark.

One area where they haven’t been as strong is limiting running backs. Houston allows the second most rushing yards per game (172.0) and since we’ve just proven that those totals don’t usually come from the quarterback position, it’s a strong James Robinson game.

Lawrence is just inside our model’s top 20 for the week.

Ezekiel Elliott, RB (DAL) vs. LAR (ECR: 29, Our Rank: 36, PP: 10.20)

Fourteen running backs received at least 20 touches in Week 4. Zeke was one of them! The average finish of the other 13 running backs? RB14. And the only reason it was that low was because the Indianapolis Colts’ Jonathan Taylor had his worst week in the NFL, finishing as RB57. Take his number out, and the other 12 running backs finished on average as RB11.

Zeke finished Week 4 as RB29. It was also his second highest weekly finish of the early season. Worse yet? His 3.85 yards per carry pale in comparison to Tony Pollard’s 4.50. Facing a defense that has only allowed one touchdown to a running back all season, Zeke isn’t even likely to fall into the end zone to salvage his fantasy day.

Cooper Rush, meanwhile, has been hugely impressive this season in leading the Dallas Cowboys to a 3-1 record despite missing Dak Prescott. With that said, the Cowboys have only scored two offensive touchdowns in each of his three starts, relying instead on their fantastic defense to carry them to victory.

Add it all up, and our model thinks Zeke is a borderline benching candidate for this week.

Amari Cooper, WR (CLE) vs. LAC (ECR: 24, Our Rank: 30, PP: 11.80)

Through four weeks, here’s Cooper’s fantasy outputs: 4.7, 25.1, 23.1, 1.9. If you started him in Weeks 2 and 3, chances are your team won. Weeks 1 and 4? Chances are you lost. That’s a lot of variance for the No. 1 wide receiver on the Cleveland Browns.

There are reasons to be concerned that Cooper may not be on the right end of the spectrum for this week either. For starters, the Chargers are second-to-last in the NFL at rushing yards allowed per carry on first down. The Browns, meanwhile, have the most rushing attempts on first down.

number of rushes on first down

And here’s the kicker, if you start letting the Browns get into a rhythm on the ground, they won’t stop. They rank fourth in the NFL in rushes on second down and are second in overall rushing plays and rushing yards. This game is set up for Nick Chubb, the NFL’s second leading rusher behind the New York Giants’ Saquon Barkley.

And our model is skeptical that Cooper will receive enough volume to be anything more than a touchdown-dependent Flex play.

Rashod Bateman, WR (BAL) vs. CIN (ECR: 37, Our Rank: 49, PP: 9.54)

Bateman is averaging 4.12 fantasy points per touch. That number is elite. By comparison, Cooper Kupp is averaging 2.47 points per touch, Stefon Diggs is averaging 3.08 points per touch and Tyreek Hill is averaging 2.76 points per touch. And those are currently the top three wide receivers.

The problem, as I’m sure all you Bateman fantasy managers can attest, is that he just doesn’t get many touches. He has 11 touches – all receptions – in four games. Diggs and Hill each have one game with at least that many receptions, and Kupp has remarkably reached that total in three of his four games. Bateman has three games with three or fewer receptions. And 59.6% of his fantasy points have come on his two touchdown catches, each of which were longer than 50 yards.

So, what the model sees is a player who needs a 50-yard touchdown to have any real shot at returning WR2 value. Now, it’s certainly possible (he and Lamar Jackson have already combined for two such monster plays). But with J.K. Dobbins back and Mark Andrews still entrenched as the top option, Bateman is not nearly as high in the Baltimore Ravens’ offensive hierarchy as his fantasy managers desire.

He is the definition of a risk-reward play versus Joe Burrow the Cincinnati Bengals this week.

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