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Fantasy Football: Week 5 game-by-game wrap

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Cleveland Browns @ Los Angeles Chargers

This matchup saw 89 total points scored and combined for the most yards (1,024) in any game this season. A whopping six touchdowns were scored in the fourth quarter alone — one week after the Browns came way under their total in a 14-7 defensive struggle in Minnesota … Justin Herbert had another big game (and his first rushing score on the year) while recording the second-most passing yards through 20 games in NFL history. It’s convenient for me to say it now, but taking Tua Tagovailoa over him looks like a franchise-altering mistake for Miami.

Only health can stop Austin Ekeler from finishing as a top-five fantasy PPR back. He stopped short of scoring a touchdown like Frank Costanza but was carried into the end zone by Browns defenders on the next play. Ekeler has shown no concerns over the hamstring injury he suffered right before the season … Mike Williams would demand a mid-second-round fantasy pick now, at worst. He had a nice touchdown Sunday. And another one.  

Odell Beckham Jr. has had to deal with multiple bad deep throws while open downfield this year thanks in part to Baker Mayfield playing through a shoulder injury, but he had a brutal drop in the second quarter that crucially came on fourth down. OBJ finished with just three targets, facing one of the league’s top run-funnel defenses while giving way to David Njoku, who turned in an impressive performance Sunday. Njoku has real talent but is unlikely to see enough targets to carry consistent fantasy value, although tight end doesn’t take much … In the same week Brandon Staley picked up a bunch of “Coach of the Year” buzz, he smartly went for two down 27-19 (I’ll say this every time, regardless of outcome) … Nick Chubb had a monster game in a favorable matchup, while Kareem Hunt continues to produce at an insane rate. Hunt is on pace to rush for 17 touchdowns this season on 187 carries.

New York Jets @ Atlanta Falcons

Cordarrelle Patterson is legit and has to be treated as a top-15 RB/WR moving forward. Mike Davis can be flexed in the right matchups, but Patterson is here to stay … While it took no Calvin Ridley and Russell Gage for it to happen, Kyle Pitts finally broke out (and had another 40+ yard catch called back by penalty). Pitts has the second-most receiving yards by a tight end over his first five games in NFL history and could easily be a top-three fantasy tight end from here on out … Jamison Crowder makes Corey Davis more of a fantasy WR3, especially given his QB’s limitations right now … The amount of Elijah Moore’s preseason hype hasn’t quite matched his production so far … It’s funny we’ve still never sent London a matchup with two winning teams.

Kyle Pitts #8 of the Atlanta Falcons
Kyle Pitts finally had his breakout game of the season. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)

Miami Dolphins @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers

In hindsight, Tom Brady was the DFS QB play this week coming off a couple of quiet games (including last week’s against the Pats); Sunday marked the first-ever 400-yard, 5-TD game of his career, and he’s up to 14 TD passes over three games at home this season. Brady even allowed Leonard Fournette to rush in a score Sunday … With DeVante Parker and Will Fuller out and facing the NFL’s No. 1 pass-funnel defense that was also missing multiple corners, this was a highly favorable matchup for Jaylen Waddle and Mike Gesicki, but it was Myles Gaskin who benefitted most; he caught all 10 of his targets for two receiving TDs, finishing as full-PPR's RB2 in Week 5 despite getting just five carries … Antonio Brown is going to beat his ADP by a lot … It was a gutty effort by Jacoby Brissett, who returned after being carted to the locker room with a hamstring injury that clearly limited him … Brian Flores was a big fan of punting to the GOAT.

Philadelphia Eagles @ Carolina Panthers

Jalen Hurts had a better fantasy game than in real life, but it resulted in an Eagles win anyway. His fantasy floor is so high thanks to his rushing, whereas Sam Darnold’s fantasy day was a disaster … It helped facing one of the league’s premier run-funnel defenses, but Chuba Hubbard needs to be treated as a top-10 fantasy RB whenever Christian McCaffrey is out. His usage was incredibly encouraging Sunday (although CMC seems likely to return in Week 6).

New Orleans Saints @ Washington Football Team

Two touchdowns were nice, but Marquez Callaway remains a poor fantasy start. His box score Sunday was really helped by a Hail Mary. It was nice to see Alvin Kamara see eight targets, as Washington’s pass defense continues to be one of the league’s biggest disappointments … Deonte Harris made the most of his one target Sunday … Ricky Seals-Jones saw eight targets and finished with a modest box score, but it could’ve been so much more; RSJ saw at least three end-zone targets and had another nice 40+ yard catch nullified by an ineligible man downfield in a very Ricky Seals-Jones performance.

Tennessee Titans @ Jacksonville Jaguars

Laviska Shenault’s first target of the day didn’t come until the fourth quarter despite no DJ Chark, playing exclusively from behind, and facing a poor Tennessee secondary; it nonetheless resulted in Trevor Lawrence’s longest pass play of his career. Lawrence would miss a wide-open Shenault shortly thereafter … Dan Arnold looks like a possible top-12 fantasy tight end moving forward, which admittedly has a low bar to clear. Jacksonville is going to use him … Carlos Hyde’s return didn’t stop James Robinson from having a huge game, although it came with just one target (for negative yards) … The targets have dried up for Derrick Henry (just two over the last two games after seeing an uncharacteristic 13 over the first three games), and Darrynton Evans was just designated to return from IR, but Henry’s on pace to finish with 2,600+ yards from scrimmage and 24 touchdowns anyway, as he tries to become the first RB in NFL history with three straight 1,500-yard, 15-TD seasons.

Detroit Lions @ Minnesota Vikings

Alexander Mattison lost a fumble late that nearly cost Minnesota the game and benefitted from a favorable matchup, but he needs to be treated as a top-five fantasy RB whenever Dalvin Cook is sidelined … The Lions were too clever for their own good going for two late to go up one point, resulting in a more aggressive Vikings team to counter with a game-winning field goal as time expired. Had Detroit kicked the extra point, the conservative Mike Zimmer would’ve almost certainly settled for overtime with just 33 seconds left in regulation … Remember there’s an extra game when I use “pace” stats, but D’Andre Swift is quietly on track to finish with 1,500+ scrimmage yards, 99 catches, and 10 touchdowns. He’s been playing through a groin injury against a difficult schedule and has yet to see even 15 carries in a game this season. Few running backs have more dynasty value right now.

Denver Broncos @ Pittsburgh Steelers

So much for Courtland Sutton’s late-week sprained ankle slowing him, as he looks like a top-15 fantasy WR with Teddy Bridgewater in and Jerry Jeudy out … Nice to see Kendall Hinton catch a touchdown, as the last time he was noteworthy was when he started at quarterback last season … Diontae Johnson had a long TD grab for the second straight week but somehow saw just two targets despite JuJu Smith-Schuster leaving early and Chase Claypool playing through a hamstring injury … Najee Harris has totaled 456 yards with 27 catches and three touchdowns over his last four games after a quiet opener that came on the road in Buffalo against DVOA’s No. 1 defense. The rookie looks like a big win if you drafted him, as there are so few trustworthy fantasy backs these days.

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Green Bay Packers @ Cincinnati Bengals

Aaron Jones split work with AJ Dillon far more than his fantasy managers would like, and a late 57-yard rush saved an otherwise extremely disappointing game that lasted five quarters. Dillon’s work as a receiver (four targets) is especially worrisome for Jones … Davante Adams turned 16 targets into a career-high 206 receiving yards, becoming the first receiver to top 200 this season. Adams is in a tier by himself among fantasy wideouts … Joe Mixon played through his sprained ankle and split work evenly with Samaje Perine; a late TD saved his fantasy day. We'd hoped he'd get most, if not all, of Gio Bernard's vacated targets, but that hasn't come to pass … Even with Tee Higgins returning, Ja’Marr Chase remained Cincinnati’s clear alpha WR, highlighted by this impressive play … Both kickers combined to miss five field goals and an extra point during this wild overtime game, as the Packers have won four straight after getting blown out 38-3 by the Saints in Week 1 … While the loss hurts (someone tell Evan McPherson), Bengals fans have to be excited about the future.

New England Patriots @ Houston Texans

The Patriots entered more than touchdown favorites on the road despite missing four starting offensive linemen but needed a second-half comeback to pull off the win. Davis Mills outplayed Mac Jones in a battle of rookie QBs, although a bad drop by Jakobi Meyers cost Jones a huge gain. The teams started 0-for-3 on EPs in a bizarre day of kicking around the league that saw a whopping 11 missed extra points Sunday … Damien Harris lost another fumble at the goal line, this time at the one-inch mark. As someone who has a bunch of Harris on my fantasy teams and was backing New England in the $6 Million Circa Survivor pool, it wasn’t my favorite outcome from Sunday. Rhamondre Stevenson needs to be added in all fantasy leagues … Chris Moore was a name not heard in a while, but he took advantage of Bill Belichick shutting down his opponent’s best player (Brandin Cooks) as usual, highlighted by this play ... Houston was incredibly aggressive on fourth downs, which is the last thing you want to see from an underdog when backing a favorite in Survivor … Hunter Henry has emerged as a top-12 fantasy TE.

New England Patriots tight end Hunter Henry (85)
Hunter Henry has entered our fantasy plans. (AP Photo/Matt Patterson)

Chicago Bears @ Las Vegas Raiders

In a mistake-filled day by Las Vegas, Bryan Edwards’ drop while open 50 yards downfield stood out … Derek Carr returned after appearing to suffer a serious injury, but his recent struggles have hurt Darren Waller … Damien Williams looked good but lost more touches than expected to Khalil Herbert in the plus matchup. Herbert can be added in competitive leagues, but realize Chicago’s upcoming schedule is rough against the run (GB, @TB, SF, @Pit, bye), and David Montgomery will eventually return … Allen Robinson simply can’t be trusted in fantasy lineups right now … This was unquestionably a disappointing fantasy game by Justin Fields during the Bears win, as he took a bunch of hard shots and somehow finished with just three rushing yards.

New York Giants @ Dallas Cowboys

Saquon Barkley, Daniel Jones, and Kenny Golladay all left injured for the Giants in one of the biggest health catastrophes you’ll ever see. Kadarius Toney was also ejected in a game New York was already without LT Andrew Thomas, Sterling Shepard, and Darius Slayton; there’s testing depth and then there’s this. Really sad for Barkley, who suffered his injury early in Sunday’s game. Barkley left the stadium with a walking boot and on crutches, and his ankle didn’t appear quite 100%. He was essentially looking like the most valuable fantasy player after Derrick Henry and Davante Adams before going down, so this is just brutal.

While Devontae Booker needs to obviously be added in fantasy leagues, I might even be more excited to grab Toney if Jones is able to return soon (the QB suffered a scary concussion Sunday, and one can reasonably blame me for the jinx). The rookie wideout had an amazing performance (including a right cross that would’ve knocked down either heavyweights Saturday night) and has frankly jumped off the screen over the last two weeks. He may be raw as a route runner, but Toney has immediate upside with the Giants so injured. He’s the real deal and available in more than 80% of Yahoo leagues.

The Cowboys defense has recorded two or more takeaways in nine straight games, as Trevon Diggs became just the third player since the merger with an interception in each of his first five games of the season … CeeDee Lamb had a nice performance, and the passing attack was productive, but Dallas has quietly been one of the most run-heavy teams (over expectation) in the NFL since Week 1 (when they faced the most pass-funnel defense in football). Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard had more carries (35) than Dak Prescott had pass attempts (32) Sunday … Dallas is the only team undefeated against the spread this season

San Francisco 49ers @ Arizona Cardinals

Trey Lance’s first career start can be described as disappointing, but there was also a lot to like. He still managed 15+ fantasy points without recording a touchdown or throwing for 200 yards thanks to him cashing his rush yards prop with 11:50 left in the second quarter (he was also within an inch from a rushing TD). It came against a pass defense that entered ranked No. 3 in DVOA while missing George Kittle and dealing with a ton of penalties (one drive saw three 1-and-20s thanks to holds) and numerous drops. While the raw QB looked a year away from being a year away on some plays, he also showed enough (SF drove into Arizona territory on 8-of-9 drives) in a tough road matchup against the NFL’s lone remaining undefeated team to let Lance build off this performance coming out of the bye week. But if any of Kyle Shanahan's recent actions (or all the TV broadcast rhetoric) are to be believed, then it’s back to Jimmy Garoppolo if healthy (sad face emoji).

Kyler Murray had his biceps massaged throughout the game and severely underthrew a deep ball in the second half, which may be something to monitorDeAndre Hopkins has the most catches in NFL history before age 30 … While his box score doesn’t reveal anything close to it, Elijah Mitchell has quietly been one of the bigger fantasy RB risers over the last couple of weeks when projecting forward. He’s clearly viewed by SF’s staff as superior to Trey Sermon by a wide margin, and SF’s schedule looks favorable after the upcoming bye. Mitchell runs just like Raheem Mostert and will eventually benefit from big holes once Lance takes over for good.

Buffalo Bills @ Kansas City Chiefs

In a matchup featuring DVOA’s No. 1 defense (Buffalo) versus the No. 32 ranked D (Kansas City), the Bills effectively blew out the Chiefs on the road Sunday night. Patrick Mahomes has already matched last season's interception total (six) and misfired all night against a secondary that entered allowing the lowest YPA (5.5) in the NFL — more than a half yard fewer than the next best team. Mahomes will obviously bounce back, but KC also lost its lead back Clyde Edwards-Helaire to a knee injury that didn’t appear good. CEH is off to a rough start to his NFL career, while Darrel Williams is a must-add in all fantasy leagues … Mecole Hardman turned another 12 Mahomes targets into just 76 scoreless yards, highlighted by his severe alligator arms during one fourth-down drop (proved moot by a Buffalo penalty). Josh Gordon secured his only target during his KC debut … Meanwhile, Emmanuel Sanders cashed in his unrealized air yards with two scores — an outcome certain to occur for Stefon Diggs soon. Josh Allen was quite good Sunday night … The Bills have led an NFL-record 14 straight games at halftime.

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