Week 5 of the NFL season is nearly complete, with a Monday Night Football contest and a rare Tuesday Night football remaining. The games from Sunday's action-packed slate have already provided us with enough new information (and injuries) to start considering fantasy football action items as we head into Week 6.
Keep in mind that scheduled bye weeks continue this week with the Las Vegas Raiders, New Orleans Saints, Seattle Seahawks and Los Angeles Chargers all taking a rest. The Chargers were not originally scheduled to be on a bye week, but with the New England Patriots taking their bye week in Week 5, this is the new schedule.
Enough schedule talk, let's dig into Sunday's action with an eye toward improving next week. I'll hit on snap counts, routes run, goal-line usage, targets and target shares to make sure we're ready to roll as waiver deadlines approaches on Wednesday and Week 6 sit/start decisions loom. Consider this a crash course on Week 5.
PHILADELPHIA EAGLES @ PITTSBURGH STEELERS
Some people were hesitant to start Diontae Johnson this week because of the matchup against cornerback Darius Slay, but it turned out that did not matter in the slightest. Johnson left the game with a back injury, and rookie Chase Claypool was unleashed in his absence at the expense of the Eagles defense.
He scored over 40 fantasy points on the back of four touchdowns (three receiving, one rushing), 110 receiving yards and seven catches on 11 targets. Claypool was productive when Johnson missed time in Week 3 — he is going to be an auto-start moving forward should Johnson miss any time.
You also have to be worried about JuJu Smith-Schuster. He has not stepped up in the absence of Johnson and Claypool has looked like Big Ben’s favorite target. This year's rookie wide receivers are starting to break out left and right — you do not want to be late to the party.
Had it not been for Claypool, Travis Fulgham would be the most-discussed receiver out of this game. The second-year WR flashed with a big touchdown in Week 4, and his production came full circle in Week 5.
He emerged as Carson Wentz’s favorite target with a team-leading 12 targets for a team-best in receiving yards (152) and receptions (10). Fulgham might be more of a flash in the pan than anything else; don’t go crazy bidding for him off the waiver wire ahead of a Week 6 matchup versus the Baltimore Ravens.
Zach Ertz might be dust at this point. Despite traditionally thriving when other Eagles’ receivers are down for the count, Ertz has now seen 10 targets over the past two weeks and only converting them into five catches for 15 yards.
CAROLINA PANTHERS @ ATLANTA FALCONS
Matt Ryan needs Julio Jones on the field to be a productive quarterback in fantasy football. He scored just seven fantasy points in Week 5 and has averaged under 11 fantasy points per game without his No. 1 wide receiver over the past three weeks.
Todd Gurley was extremely effective as a rusher (8.6 yards per attempt) and finally saw some work in the passing game. He had a season-high five targets and hauled in four for 29 receiving yards. Gurley’s effort was not enough to help the Falcons come away with a win, however, and this game ultimately ended the tenure of head coach Dan Quinn in Atlanta.
Olamide Zaccheaus was a popular option in DFS at just $3,000 after news broke that Julio would miss the game. He did end up leading the team in routes run (39) but busted hard with just one catch for three yards.
For the first time all season, I finally ranked D.J. Moore behind Robby Anderson in my fantasy football rankings. And that’s exactly where the two ended up. Moore did have 93 receiving yards on five targets and a touchdown, but Anderson continues to be the No. 1 receiver in the eyes of Teddy Bridgewater.
He was targeted 12 times, hauling in eight receptions for 112 yards. Anderson owns a 27% target share of the offense on the year.
LAS VEGAS RAIDERS @ KANSAS CITY CHIEFS
The Raiders shocked the world on Sunday, taking down the undefeated Kansas City Chiefs by a score of 40-32. Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs’ passing game were productive, but it was Clyde Edwards-Helaire who disappointed in one of the best matchups you can ask for among running backs.
He had just 10 carries for 40 yards and three catches for 40 to the tune of 11 fantasy points — not what we like to see out of a player taken in the first half of the first round. He did have a touchdown called back on offensive pass interference, so considering the rookie’s overall usage, better days will be ahead.
Sammy Watkins left this game with an injury, which could open the door for a second-year breakout for Mecole Hardman. Hardman played a season-high of snaps (71%) and ran just two fewer routes than Demarcus Robinson.
Henry Ruggs made his return to the lineup after some missed time and immediately became Derek Carr’s vertical threat. Both of his receptions were on throws 20 yards or more downfield and his overall aDOT was 30.3.
Running back Josh Jacobs finished Sunday with 25 total touches, bringing his average to just over 24 touches per game for the season.
ARIZONA CARDINALS @ NEW YORK JETS
Kenyan Drake finally managed to find the end zone in Week 5, but his day would have been a big disappointment had it not been for the score. He averaged just 3.3 yards per rushing attempt and was a non-factor in the passing game.
Meanwhile, Chase Edmonds had five catches and flashed his big-play upside on a 29-yard touchdown run. The gap is narrowing between these two Arizona running backs.
There’s not much to say here besides the fact that Jeff Smith saw 11 targets and Le’Veon Bell saw one. Smith was only able to haul in three of them but his usage downfield (136 air yards) is encouraging. Only five of his targets were deemed catchable, so there could be more productive days ahead for Smith once Sam Darnold returns under center. The second-year wide receiver has 20 targets over the past two weeks.
It’s too bad Bell wasn’t more involved because he was impressive as a runner. He rushed for 4.6 yards per attempt and earned a PFF rushing grade of 79.8. He also saw all the red-zone carries for the Jets (two) but was unable to convert them into scores. Par for the course when it comes to being an offensive skill player in New York.
JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS @ HOUSTON TEXANS
The Houston Texans played their first game of the season minus former head coach and GM Bill O’Brien, and go figure they come away with their first victory of the season.
Brandin Cooks stole the show after posting a donut in Week 4. The speedy wideout hauled in eight of his 11 targets for 161 yards and a touchdown. If he was dropped after last week and is on the waiver wire, it's probably safe to go scoop him back up. Cooks is scheduled to play the Tennessee Titans and Green Bay Packers the next two weeks — both have had allowed some solid performances to opposing wide receivers.
Even with BOB out of the picture, one could argue David Johnson got more work. He had a season-high in rushing attempts (19), played 77% of the snaps and saw four targets. It was possible that Duke Johnson Jr. could see more work under a new head coach, but his rushing attempts (one), targets (zero) and snaps (29%) say that isn’t likely the case moving forward.
D.J. Chark left the game with an ankle injury and was underwhelming before his departure. Four other Jaguars’ players had more targets than Chark (four), and this isn’t an outlier performance from him in 2020. Chark has only led the team in targets once this season — he hasn't exceeded four targets in the other three games.
Meanwhile, rookie Laviska Sheanult Jr.’s role seems to be increasing weekly. He saw season-highs in targets (eight), receptions (seven) and routes run (38). He leads the team in targets over the past two weeks (14).
CINCINNATI BENGALS @ BALTIMORE RAVENS
In another installment of trying to figure out the Baltimore Ravens’ backfield, here’s what Week 5 told us: Mark Ingram led the team in carries (11), J.K. Dobbins led the way as the main receiver (three targets, three catches) and Gus Edwards played the largest snap share (38%).
Nothing has changed since I reviewed the backfield in the most recent installment of the Fantasy Football Mailbag — trade away Ingram, trade for Dobbins and add Edwards off the waiver wire.
Marquise Brown finally cashed in on all the air yards he had been collecting over the first four weeks of the season, posting six catches for 77 yards and a touchdown on 10 targets. But what’s interesting is that Brown actually failed to bring down any of the three deep balls thrown his way (20 or more yards) in Week 5. Hollywood might have more air yards yet to cash next week versus the Philadelphia Eagles.
Lamar Jackson failed to surpass 15 fantasy points for the second time in three weeks and posted his lowest competition percentage (51%) of the season. Missing on the deep ball has hurt Jackson’s production significantly this season.
Last season on deep passing attempts, Jackson had a 92.9 PFF passing grade and 42.6 adjusted completion percentage. This year, his deep passing grade (71.6) and adjusted completion percentage (31.8%) have regressed.
Quarterback Joe Burrow had one of those “Welcome to the NFL” rookie performances. He was under pressure constantly and failed to score more than five fantasy points. Burrow has been great so far this season for fantasy purposes, but he is far from matchup proof.
A.J. Green left the game with a hamstring injury. At this point, we move on from him for fantasy. It’s the Tee Higgins/Tyler Boyd show moving forward — they're the only Bengals wide receivers you can trust with confidence.
For the second straight week, Joe Mixon dominated the snaps (76% vs. 23%), routes run (18 vs. 11), carries (24 vs. zero) and targets (six vs. two) over Giovani Bernard. Mixon is averaging just under 24 touches per game and showed that even in a tough matchup he can do enough to salvage a decent performance.
LOS ANGELES RAMS @ WASHINGTON FOOTBALL TEAM
Kyle Allen was knocked out of this game on a scramble to the sideline, which brought Alex Smith into the game after a long recovery from his devastating leg injury. Neither was particularly effective against the Rams’ ferocious pass rush, and that killed Terry McLaurin’s fantasy value.
McLaurin saw just seven targets, which was his lowest since Week 1. It’s nothing to necessarily panic about, but it’s not great to see a quarterback switch and have the No. 1 WR see a major decrease in volume.
For the second straight week, Antonio Gibson saw all the carries and split work in the passing game with J.D. McKissic. McKissic is inevitably going to be involved in the receiving game, but considering the Washington Football Team is emphasizing passes to that position — regardless of who is under center — that’s all the volume Gibson needs.
Running backs for the Football Team have generated a 39% target share over the past two weeks.
Hate to break it to you folks, but Tyler Higbee is running fewer routes than Malcolm Brown and has just an 11% target share on the season. In Week 5, he was outperformed by Gerald Everett, so going forward he needs to be viewed as a matchup-based tight end. Higbee only has one game this season with at least five targets and has just six targets over his last three games.
Darrell Henderson is in a running-back-by-committee, but he is the clear 1A from what I can see. He led the RB backfield in snaps (44%), targets (four), carries (15) and, most importantly, carries inside the 10-yard line (four). Rookie running back Cam Akers ranked second on the team in carries (nine) and rushed for an impressive 6.8 yard per attempt.
MIAMI DOLPHINS @ SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS
It was a day to forget for the San Francisco 49ers’ offense. Jimmy Garoppolo posted a 15.7 quarterback rating and was benched for C.J. Beathard. The passing offense was all out of sorts, but it was encouraging to see Deebo Samuel back to a full-game snap share and lead the team in targets (eight).
Raheem Mostert reclaimed his status as the lead back, playing 53% of the team’s snaps. Jerick McKinnon played on just 24% of the snaps and had just three touches.
Jordan Howard was ruled inactive before this game which meant it was about to be Myles Gaskin szn. Gaskin operated as the primary bell-cow, seeing work as a receiver (five catches) and runner (16 carries), but the cherry on top was that he finally got the goal-line work. Gaskin had three carries inside the 10-yard line in Week 5 and converted one into his first rushing score of the season.
Mike Gesicki was also productive in this game, and this should have been more predictable. It was an oversight on my part that I missed Gesicki as a potential solid play versus San Francisco because they were without one of their best slot defenders, K’Waun Williams.
The Dolphins tight end is a glorified slot wideout, so his weekly matchup needs to be treated as such.
NEW YORK GIANTS @ DALLAS COWBOYS
The biggest news of the day when it comes to injuries is the loss of quarterback Dak Prescott. He left the game midway through the third quarter. Luckily for the Dallas Cowboys, they did invest in a quality backup in Andy Dalton, who helped Big D prevail over the Giants.
Before Dalton entered the game, Amari Cooper had zero targets in Week 5 and Michael Gallup had just one. Dalton spread the ball out evenly from the start with three targets for Cooper, three for Gallup and three for CeeDee Lamb, who already had eight targets from Prescott.
It’s hard to pinpoint a clear loser from the quarterback change in terms of target share, but tight end Dalton Schultz saw zero targets when Dalton was under center.
Devonta Freeman had close to 20 touches in Week 5 and I think can be trusted as a low-end RB2 most weeks based on his volume. He is consistently involved in the passing game and is the clear-cut goal-line back.
Evan Engram had the best matchup of the season and amassed just one catch for 11 yards. He salvaged the day with a rushing touchdown but more or less showed that he falls in the tier of tight ends that are not to be trusted weekly. He’s an easy sell-high candidate if you can get another manager to look at his touchdown score.
The Giants are heading into another tough stretch of games that include dates with Washington, Philadelphia and Tampa Bay.
INDIANAPOLIS COLTS @ CLEVELAND BROWNS
For the second straight week, Trey Burton led Colts tight ends in routes run (18) and targets (six), so I think it’s about time now to recognize him as the TE1 in that offense.
Backup running back Jordan Wilkins also played just two snaps on Sunday, so if you were worried that he might start eating more into Jonathan Taylor’s workload, this is a clear sign that won’t be happening anytime soon.
Kareem Hunt was the workhorse for the Browns on Sunday. He totaled 23 touches, finished just south of 100 yards from scrimmage and scored on a touchdown reception.
D’Ernest Johnson also saw nine touches of his own (eight carries, one catch) — that's going to be his likely workload while Nick Chubb remains sidelined.
Austin Hooper also saw nine targets in this contest and he has a 24% target share over the past three weeks. Among tight ends, that is hard to beat. Look for Hooper to be on the waiver wire list ahead of Week 6.
MINNESOTA VIKINGS @ SEATTLE SEAHAWKS
Dalvin Cook was banged up in this game — he returned but never left the sideline to go back into the game. Alexander Mattison played 81% of the snaps in his absence and would be the clear pick-up off the waiver wire ahead of Week 6.
Mattison finished Week 5 with 112 rushing yards, 99 of which came in the second half. He also added three receptions for 24 yards.
Justin Jefferson failed to extend his 100-yard game streak to three games, as the rookie was only able to muster three catches for 23 yards on five targets. But have no fear, as the Vikings play the Atlanta Falcons next week.
Tyler Lockett was not used downfield in Week 5, which was a contributing factor in his lackluster performance. In Weeks 1-4, Lockett’s aDOT was 10.5. It dropped to 3.0 versus the Vikings. I fully expect Lockett to bounce back and to actually have a safer floor when he's used closer to the line of scrimmage, so consider him a prime buy-low candidate.