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Each week in this space, we’ll be taking a look back at Sunday’s games to find five of the most important stats for fantasy owners heading into the following week. With 13 of 14 games from Week 5 in the books, here are the five stats you need to know:
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1. Alex Smith currently leads all quarterbacks with a passer rating of 125.8. He ranks second among all quarterbacks in fantasy points, and is on pace for 372.7 fantasy points this season, which would rank seventh-most all-time.
While Smith has surely benefited from a vastly improved running game (#TeamKareem), I feel fairly confident that 2017’s Alex Smith is not Tom Brady, and is probably closer to, you know, Alex Smith. We have a fairly robust sample of Smith lacking any conceivable ceiling for fantasy, and I’m not sure why this season would be much different – even if, so far, it definitely has been. From Smith’s rookie season (2005) to 2016 he played in 141 games. Over that span, he had just four games with at least 26 fantasy points. This season, through five games, Smith already has three such games. Without much to explain the sudden turnaround, Smith feels far more like an ideal sell-high candidate than a 2017 league-winner.
2. Ben Roethlisberger attempted 55 passes against the Jaguars, completing 33 for 312 yards, zero touchdowns, and five interceptions. This was just the fourth game since 1950 a quarterback threw the ball at least 50 times while recording zero touchdowns and at least five interceptions.
This was Roethlisberger's first game with at least 45 attempts and zero touchdowns, as well as his first game with more than four interceptions. Through five weeks, Roethlisberger's 2017 passer rating (74.8) ranks fourth-worst of 32 qualifying quarterbacks. After the game, when asked about his poor performance, Roethlisberger was quoted as saying, “Maybe I don’t have it anymore.” Perhaps he was joking, but this comment is especially concerning after Roethlisberger considered retirement in the offseason and has also hinted that this season might be his last. Roethlisberger is a risky play next week on the road (where he typically underperforms) against Kansas City.
3. The Jacksonville Jaguars are allowing a passer rating of only 56.0 to opposing quarterbacks, which leads the league. Through five weeks, opposing quarterbacks would have been better off spiking the ball into the dirt than targeting Jalen Ramsey and A.J. Bouye. The Jaguars’ defense also has four touchdowns this season, while opposing quarterbacks have just three.
Both Ramsey and Bouye grade out among our 10-highest-graded cornerbacks (of 162) in coverage. Myles Jack (No. 2), Paul Posluszny (No. 15), and Telvin Smith (No. 21) all grade out among our top-25-graded linebackers in coverage (of 140), as do safeties Tashaun Gipson (No. 4) and Barry Church (No. 17) of 132 qualifying. Jacksonville’s pass rush also deserves some of the praise, as they rank fifth-best in pressures per dropback. So maybe we should cut Roethlisberger some slack – this defense is really good.
4. Leonard Fournette had a 90-yard touchdown run, which is the longest touchdown run for any player since 2014. In total, Fournette had 181 yards rushing, which was almost double Blake Bortles’ 94 yards passing. For the third time in five games, the Jaguars have totaled more rushing yards than passing yards.
Of 32 qualifying quarterbacks, Bortles grades out fourth-worst as a passer. It appears Bortles is still playing like Bortles, but that doesn’t really matter nearly as much anymore, given the effectiveness of Fournette and the defense. It also helps that Doug Marrone made good on his promise to hide Bortles at all costs. Jacksonville is running the ball 55.6 percent of the time this season, which leads the league. Not since 2014 has a team, over the course of a full season, run the ball more than they’ve passed.
5. Aaron Jones played on 96 percent of Green Bay's running back snaps (53 of 55), drawing 95 percent of the running back carries (19 of 20), and 100 percent of the running back targets (1).
Through the first three weeks of the season, Ty Montgomery played on 205 of the team’s snaps, which was 32 more than the next-closest running back (Le’Veon Bell). In Week 4, Montgomery played just five snaps before exiting early thanks to two broken ribs. Montgomery was inactive in Week 5, and rookie Jones served as his replacement in a comparable bell-cow role. He ended the day with 125 yards (6.6 yards per carry average) and a touchdown. He also currently sits as our highest-graded running back of the week, and is tied for the lead in missed tackles forced with five. Montgomery may only be out another week, but Jones looks like a must-start every week Montgomery misses time.