News & Analysis

Garbage time fantasy report: Week 5's garbage timers

By Scott Spratt
Oct 10, 2017

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DETROIT, MI - OCTOBER 08: Darren Fells #87 of the Detroit Lions scores a late fourth quarter touchdown during the game against the Carolina Panthers at Ford Field on October 8, 2017 in Detroit, Michigan. Carolina defeated Detroit 27-24. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images) (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)

Twelve of the 14 games played this week were decided by one score, and if you didn’t follow them intently, then you might assume they were all close games. That is what makes garbage time so important to recognize and account for in fantasy. Teams like the Chiefs and Panthers hemorrhaged their big leads because killing clock was more important. I doubt either team stressed for their eventual wins for more than a play or two all the while their opposition racked up fantasy points. Benefiting fantasy owners can be happy with that eventuality, but know that that game-script-driven production is not a strong predictor of future fantasy success.

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Quarterbacks

On Sunday night, Deshaun Watson produced a garbage-time masterpiece. After the Chiefs kicked a field goal in the second quarter to grow their lead to 16-0, Watson and Alex Smith played seesaw with touchdowns that alternated that lead mostly between three scores and two. By midnight, Watson had four garbage touchdowns and an estimated 10.7 more fantasy points than he would have had in a typical game script.

Most Fantasy Points Gained in Garbage/CG Time, QBs, Week 5
Week 5 2017 Season
Player Yards TD Std Pts Yards TD Std Pts
Deshaun Watson 83 2.2 10.7 69 2.2 9.9
Matthew Stafford 59 1.1 6.7 59 1.1 6.8
Carson Palmer 106 0.5 6.4 171 1.6 12.9
Brian Hoyer 35 1.1 5.7 129 1.6 11.8
Jameis Winston 47 0.5 3.9 41 0.8 4.0
Kevin Hogan 32 0.5 3.2 86 0.5 5.4
EJ Manuel 39 0.5 3.1 55 0.5 3.8

That is a massive total of garbage production. Entering Sunday, no quarterback had 10.7 net extra fantasy points from garbage time for the full season. DeShone Kizer (9.8) and Mike Glennon (9.5) were closest, around a point back. After some more-moderate garbage numbers this week, Carson Palmer and Brian Hoyer jumped past the 10.7-point threshold for the year, but I think their paces could be somewhat sustainable. I have a harder time seeing that for Watson. He did not have a single garbage-time pass attempt in his three starts prior to this week, and despite J.J. Watt’s and Whitney Mercilus’ injuries, I expect the Texans to be generally competitive with a schedule that becomes easier for them starting this week against the Browns. Dak Prescott provides a fresh example of an excellent rookie quarterback fantasy season, but I would nevertheless recommend you try to sell Watson if there are owners who are ready to view him as a clear-cut QB1.

Watson isn’t the first quarterback to throw four garbage touchdowns in a game. Five other quarterbacks have managed the feat since 2009, most recently garbage king Blake Bortles in Week 16 of 2015. Weirdly, most of those performances have come in the fantasy playoffs. I vividly remember Matt Flynn’s 2013 Week 15 outburst as carrying me to a championship-game berth.

Games with 4+ Garbage Touchdowns, 2009-pre., QBs
Player Season Week Total FanPts Extra FanPts
Matt Cassel 2010 10 34.6 15.3
Andrew Luck 2013 14 28.9 11.1
Matt Flynn 2013 15 23.1 11.6
Matt Ryan 2014 14 30.0 12.0
Blake Bortles 2015 16 27.5 13.3
Deshaun Watson 2017 5 28.0 10.7

Two-garbage-touchdown games — like the ones put up by Matthew Stafford and Brian Hoyer on Sunday — are much more common, but you may be surprised to learn how few Stafford has in his career. Since 2009, his draft year, Stafford has just four games with two-plus garbage scores, tied for 17th-most in the league and less than half of the leader Philip Rivers’ total of 10. Stafford had just one game with two garbage scores last season despite his seemingly weekly come-from-behind wins. In other words, enjoy what Stafford was able to salvage for your fantasy team this week. It may not happen for you again this year despite the narrative around the Lions.

Most Fantasy Points Lost in Garbage/CG Time, QBs, Week 5
Week 5 Full Season
Player Yards TD Std Pts Yards TD Std Pts
Cam Newton -31 -0.3 -1.8 -2 -0.5 -0.6
Carson Wentz -26 -0.2 -1.5 -7 0.3 0.5

Despite the lucky number of seven quarterbacks who saw a meaningful boost from garbage time this week, only Cam Newton and Carson Wentz were hurt by it. Newton has looked totally rejuvenated over the last two weeks. His resurgence has coincided with his return to a full practice schedule, so maybe his shoulder really was healed by the start of the season and he just needed those first three games as his personal preseason. We probably won’t uncover any more layers to that mystery, but since he’s looked well the last two weeks, I can endorse him as a QB1 again. However, I do not see Newton as quite the same fantasy boon that he was in his MVP 2015 season. The Panthers look willing to use Newton as a third-and-short and goal-line hammer — and he’s too incredible at that to not do so — but he is running less overall. I project him to finish the year between 300 and 400 rushing yards, about 200 down from his prime. That’s a bit more than a full fantasy point per game lost.

By an interesting scheduling coincidence, Newton and Wentz play each other on Thursday this week. I wouldn’t expect any garbage time.

Skill-position players

Three receivers caught two garbage touchdowns this week. Their performances have very different fantasy implications.

Most Fantasy Points Gained in Garbage/CG Time, Skill Players, Week 5
Week 5 2017 Season
Player Total Yards Total TD Std Pts Total Yards Total TD Std Pts
Will Fuller 19 1.1 8.4 2 0.9 5.8
DeAndre Hopkins 17 1.1 8.2 18 1.5 10.6
Darren Fells 9 1.1 7.4 9 1.1 7.4
Michael Crabtree 21 0.5 5.3 18 0.5 4.7
Duke Johnson Jr. 15 0.5 4.8 62 0.7 10.5
Cameron Brate 10 0.5 4.2 5 0.9 6.1
John Brown 10 0.5 4.2 10 0.5 4.2
Kyle Juszczyk 2 0.5 3.5 4 0.5 3.6
George Kittle 2 0.5 3.4 5 0.5 3.7
Marquise Goodwin 31 0.0 3.1 55 0.0 5.5
J.J. Nelson 30 0.0 3.0 54 1.1 11.9

DeAndre Hopkins had re-established himself as an elite fantasy receiver before this contest, and his second and third touchdowns in Week 5 don’t move that needle in either direction. His finally having a competent (at the very least) quarterback is the real gift his fantasy owners were hoping for. Meanwhile, Darren Fells is not realistically going to pass Eric Ebron on the Lions’ depth chart, even if the Lions’ boo birds wish he would. You can safely ignore him in fantasy.

Will Fuller falls somewhere between those two, and that makes him the most interesting of the three for fantasy analysis. Fuller’s two Week 4 touchdowns were in normal time, but that still means that two of his four total touchdowns plus 57 of his 92 total receiving yards this year have come in garbage time. Even though everyone watched his Sunday night garbage-driven performance, I expect the game script part of that equation will be drowned out by the “four touchdowns in two games” and Watson-for-ROY narratives. Fuller is talented, but he is not a featured part of the Texans’ offense. I see him as the receiving equivalent to Chris Thompson, and I would try to trade him in redraft formats immediately.

Among the single-garbage-touchdown scorers, Cameron Brate deserves a mention. His was his second garbage score of the season and third total score, which ties him for the most at the position. Because his garbage production has transformed a true-talent TE2 into a top-five fantasy player at his position through five weeks, now might be a good time to try to sell. Brate is not a sexy fantasy asset with O.J. Howard on his team, but many fantasy owners are likely desperate for a productive tight end with popular draft picks like Jordan Reed and Jimmy Graham off to slow starts and Charles Clay joining the lengthy list of injuries at the position.

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