Top fantasy takeaways from Week 5's action
With five weeks of data points in place, the fantasy landscape is really starting to take shape. Like every year, there are a number of surprises — both good and bad — and some things we expected. Here are 10 stats to know from Week 5 of the NFL season:
1. Sammie Coates led the week with five deep-ball targets.
File this one under “like we expected.” Coates finally had a big day in Week 5 with 139 yards and two scores on six catches. Five of Coates’ 11 targets traveled more than 20 yards in the air, giving him 14 deep-ball targets for the season. Only Will Fuller has seen more targets 20-plus yards downfield. Coates also leads the league in receptions on these targets with seven. Of course, it should be noted that this wasn’t Coates’ best game. He dropped four balls, which also was tops for the week.
2. Jordan Howard continues to impress.
The rookie was at it again, forcing nine missed tackles in Week 5. That’s just one fewer than Jeremy Langford had in all of 2015. Howard topped 100 yards on the ground for the second straight week, ripping off 7.4 yards per carry. He also caught all three of his targets for an additional 45 yards and a score. If Howard keeps playing this way, it’s going to be nearly impossible for the Bears to put Langford back in as a starter when he returns from injury. Langford owners should be prepared.
3. The Raiders used a 50/50 backfield split with Latavius Murray out.
This was something we feared throughout the week, and it’s exactly what happened. Oakland gave 14 touches each to DeAndre Washington and Jalen Richard, with the latter ending up as the better fantasy play. Neither player was particularly effective as a runner, but Richard salvaged a reasonable fantasy day thanks to his six catches for 66 yards. At this point, it’s going to be tough to trust either Oakland back as anything more than a flex option if Murray remains out.
4. Julio Jones comes back to earth.
The Falcons got out of Denver with a win, but Jones followed up his historic Week 4 performance with just two catches for 29 yards. Jones saw only three snaps in Bradley Roby’s coverage and was blanketed for much of the day by Chris Harris Jr. and Aqib Talib. The due kept Jones in check, but season-long owners shouldn’t worry. Atlanta faces Seattle on the road this week, but then gets a nice stretch of games against the Chargers, Packers and Bucs.
5. The target leader for Week 5 was … Jeremy Kerley?
It’s true. The Jets castoff is tops for the week with 14 targets. He caught eight of them for 102 yards and a score, which was good enough for ninth among wide receivers in standard scoring, and eighth in PPR. It’s time for the fantasy community to take Kerley for real. Sure, he’s undersized and only ran a 4.56 entering the league, but Kerley mans the extremely fantasy-friendly slot position in Chip Kelly’s offense. He’s currently tied with Larry Fitzgerald and Odell Beckham Jr. for seventh among wide receivers in targets. Kerely is now squarely in WR3-plus territory.
6. Ezekiel Elliott is proving he was worth a first-round pick.
This is true for fantasy and reality, but there was a lot of debate surrounding Elliott’s preseason ranking in fantasy circles. The popular narrative went something like this: “It’s crazy to take a rookie in the first round. He’s never played before.” Of course, he did play — at a high level, in fact — at one of the country’s top college programs. Through the first five weeks of the season, Elliott has shown that he was certainly worth a first-round fantasy pick. He currently leads the NFL in rushing yards with 549 — which is an average of 109.8 per game — and ranks third in both standard and PPR scoring.
7. Martellus Bennett goes nuts, but Gronk is back.
With Tom Brady back under center, the Patriots offense ran like a finely tuned machine on Sunday. Other than Brady, Bennett posted the biggest fantasy line of the day thanks to the first three-touchdown game of his career. But fear not, Gronkowski owners. The all-world tight end was used heavily downfield, posting an average depth of target of 13.2 yards, which was second highest among tight ends for the week. We’ve seen the New England offense sustain two TE1s in the past, and they appear to be trending in that direction again with Bennett and Gronkowski.
8. Chicago’s leading receiver was Alshon Jeffery Cameron Meredith.
With Kevin White sidelined and Eddie Royal banged up, Brian Hoyer peppered Meredith with a team-high 12 targets on Sunday. Royal was second on the team with 10 targets, and Jeffery came in a distant fourth with just six targets. Jeffery continues to backslide into the WR2s, but what should fantasy owners do about Meredith? The second-year receiver is an undrafted free agent out of Illinois St. who converted from quarterback to wide receiver at the college level. He ran a 4.42 at his pro day, so he certainly has speed to go along with good size (6-foot-3, 207). With his athletic profile and expanded role in the offense, Meredith’s arrow is pointing straight up. He’s going to be a hot waiver add this week, and rightfully so.
9. Lamar Miller puts up a dud.
We knew it was going to be tough sledding for Miller and the Texans offense against the Vikings, but nobody but thought it was going to be this bad. Miller managed just 20 yards on eight carries, chipping in four yards on a catch. Should Miller owners push the panic button? Absolutely not. The Vikings defense is for real, and their offense got out to a big lead early. The negative game script worked against Miller and he didn’t see his typically heavy workload. Despite the ugly stat line, Miller actually graded out positively. This is a great time to buy low on Miller with Colts next up on the schedule.
10. Ryan Tannehill gets outscored by Charlie Whitehurst.
You know it’s bad if Clipboard Jesus outscores you. Whitehurst came on in relief of an injured Cody Kessler (who also outscored Tannehill) and put up 182 yards and a score. Tannehill managed 197 yards and no scores. Of all quarterbacks to play so far in Week 5, only Jimmy Garoppolo had fewer fantasy points, and he played just nine snaps. To be fair, Tannehill faced a reasonably tough matchup against an underrated Titans defense. But Miami has managed just 45 and 44 offensive snaps over the last two weeks. It’s going to be very tough to trust Tannehill as a fantasy starter unless he and the Dolphins can turn things around.