Stars of Week 5
QB: Ryan Fitzpatrick, MIA: 22-28, 350 yards, 3 TDs, 0 INTs
RB: Mike Davis, CAR: 16 carries, 89 yards, 0 TDs (9 catches, 60 yards, 1 TD)
WR: Chase Claypool, PIT: 7 catches, 110 yards, 3 TDs
TE: Travis Kelce, KC: 8 catches, 108 yards, 1 TD
Week 5 brought a week of fresh air to the leader board. Who would’ve guessed that Ryan Fitzmagic would be the top QB for the week? The Dolphins’ Harvard educated signal caller demoralized the 49ers’ secondary, tossing 3 TDs over 350 yards. Fitzpatrick having ‘magical’ days has been nearly an annual occurrence on one or two Sundays a month, only for the magic show to end in spectacular fashion just a few weeks later. So exercise caution on that end, although he does face the Jets this coming week in a juicy matchup.
With the NFL’s top RB on the shelf, Mike Davis has quietly stepped in and posted strong, consistent numbers over the past three weeks, both in the rushing and passing games. We’ll take a closer look at Davis below.
If you had Steelers’ WR Chase Claypool in your lineup this past weekend, take a bow. Claypool was perhaps the biggest story of the weekend from a fantasy football standpoint. The rookie from Notre Dame exploded onto the scene with 3 TD catches, plus a fourth TD via rush. Claypool will be examined in detail down below as well.
We end this section with the one expected name – Chiefs’ tight end Travis Kelce. No surprise here, as Kelce has been the league’s best tight end this season. He’ll likely make the weekly honor roll again multiple times before the season’s done.
Week 5 Takeaways – A Closer Look
Each week we take a closer look at a handful of performances and sort out what such performances mean going forward.
- Derek Carr, QB – LV: 22-31, 347 yards, 3 TDs, 1 INT
Analysis: With the depth of quality starters at QB across the league at an all-time high, we have many capable passers available on waiver wires across fantasy leagues. Inevitably we lose options as the season goes on, due to injuries and performance. With Dak Prescott out for the year, Drew Brees and Carson Wentz generally struggling, and the list of matchup proof QBs dwindling, it’s time to give another look to some forgotten QBs. Raiders’ QB Derek Carr has long been viewed as a mediocre QB, with minimal interest from a fantasy perspective. Well, Carr’s performance in 2020 requires the fantasy community to revisit his place among QBs. The Raiders knocked off the Chiefs this past weekend, with Carr throwing for 347 yards, finding the end zone thrice. Carr has elevated his game to a whole new level this year, with an 11 to 1 TD to INT ratio and 1,442 passing yards over give games. The film shows Carr’s growth, with pinpoint accuracy, mastery of Gruden’s offense and his best average depth of target to date. Carr’s known for dinking and dunking, but he posted a 9.7 average depth of target against the Chiefs (per PFF). Buoyed by a strong running game with Josh Jacobs, a superb tight end in Darren Waller and now a WR who can take the top off the defense in Henry Ruggs, Carr has the necessary tools at his disposal to sustain his new baseline of success. The Raiders have a bye this coming week, but keep Carr in your sights as the season goes on if you need QB help.
- Mike Davis, RB – CAR: 16 carries, 89 yards, 0 TDs (9 catches, 60 yards, 1 TD)
Analysis: By now you’ve surely heard that 1) Christian McCaffrey is the league’s best RB, and 2) the proclamation by the analytically inclined folks on Twitter that running backs don’t matter. Certainly both can be true. McCaffrey injured his ankle in week 2, with the Panthers sitting at 0-2 in the standings. Swap in Mike Davis for the league’s best RB, and the Panthers have won their last three games! So what’s going on here? McCaffrey remains the league’s top RB, and will resume his place on the throne upon his return. But the “running backs don’t matter camp”, boy have they got a new piece of evidence to submit to the jury. Over the three games that Davis has started, he has averaged 117 yards from scrimmage (meaning rushing and receiving) per game, while finding the end zone once in each game. Sure, these don’t numbers don’t quite match the level of McCaffrey’s numbers, but they’re not far off. Regardless of where you fall in the spectrum on the importance of RBs, the reality is that several factors go into an RB’s success – scheme, blocking from o-line, QB and the D’s respect for the QB’s passing game, etc. The Panthers run an RB friendly scheme, and Mike Davis is a high end backup RB – one that can step in and give you 75% of what McCaffrey does. McCaffrey will likely remain out for a few more weeks, and while he sits, Davis remains a must start RB1. Continue to start him with confidence if you’ve got Davis on your roster.
- Chase Claypool, WR - PIT: 7 catches, 110 yards, 3 TDs
Analysis: WR university flexes its muscles again, as no team in the NFL has developed wide receivers quite like the Pittsburgh Steelers. Over the last 15 years, from Hines Ward to Plaxico Burress, from Santonio Holmes to Mike Wallace, from Antonio Brown to Juju Smith-Schuster, the Steelers sit in rarified air in terms of WR lineage. Second year WR Dionte Johnson entered 2020 as the next pass catcher expected to emerge, and while he’s flashed at times, injuries have been a concern. Enter rookie WR Chase Claypool. The second round pick from Notre Dame had accumulated six receptions over his first three games, finding the end zone once in that span. Well, a matchup with the Philadelphia Eagles later, and Claypool sits at 5 TDs over four games, including a rushing touchdown. QB Ben Roethlisberger targeted Claypool 11 times this past Sunday, which dwarfed TE Eric Ebron, who was second on the team with 6 targets. Claypool stands at 6’4” and possesses good vertical speed, with questions coming into the league about his lateral agility and how well he would be able to find separation against NFL defensive backs. Against the Eagles, Claypool had no problem getting open. While keeping your excitement tempered with respect to rookie wide receivers is always advised (and remains so in this case), the Steelers have to continue featuring Claypool after that performance. Claypool will be matchup dependent, but he’ll have at least a flex floor in most matchups going forward. Even with Johnson ultimately returning to health, there’s enough ball to go around to support three WRs in this offense. Claypool’s the top add at WR this week.
- Travis Fulgham, WR – PHI: 10 catches, 152 yards, 1 TD
Analysis: We stay in Pennsylvania and look at the other breakout star of the Eagles-Steelers game, 2019 6thround pick Travis Fulgham. It was obvious to all of us who did our pre-game diligence that the battle of the Nutmeg State would come down to Chase Claypool vs Travis Fulgham. I kid, but it’s been well established that Eagles’ QB Carson Wentz has had to play with names at WR who are unknown to anyone but their parents. That’s far from the sole reason for Wentz’s struggles this season, but I digress. Fulgham made his 2020 debut a few weeks back against the San Francisco 49ers, and found the end zone with one of his two catches, covering 57 yards for the day. Wentz targeted Fulgham three times that day. Fast forward to this past weekend, and Wentz targeted Fulgham a whopping 13 times, with the battery connecting on 10 passes for 152 yards and a TD. The next leading WR for the Eagles only had 5 targets, so Fulgham became laser focused on Fulgham. With Fulgham hauling in everything, Wentz made the right call to go to his new weapon almost exclusively. Complicating Fulgham’s outlook is the pending return of several Eagles’ WRs. Alshon Jeffery and DeSean Jackson are expected to return within the next week or two, with Jalen Reagor to follow sometime later this season. Fulgham’s value is heavily tied to the availability of those other Eagles’ WRs, as the team’s passing game also heavily features two tight ends. Fulgham will be a low end flex play in deep leagues (12+ teams) if the reinforcements remain out. As the reinforcements return, Fulgham will have to show that he can carve out enough volume to be relevant. So Fulgham’s a solid short term add at WR, with a murkier outlook as the season progresses.
- Brandin Cooks, WR – HOU: 8 catches, 161 yards, 1 TD
Analysis: The Houston Texans have been in the midst of a massive overhaul, with more changes to come. The first domino fell in the offseason, when then current, now former czar Bill O’Brien traded franchise WR DeAndre Hopkins to Arizona, with new receivers Brandin Cooks and Reggie Cobb brought in via trade and free agency, respectively. As the team struggled to an 0-4 start this season, BOB was canned and the offense continued to try to find its way post-Hopkins. BOB’s plan was for Cooks and Cobb to join incumbent WR Will Fuller to form a compliment of options for franchise QB Deshaun Watson. Cooks has served as a deep threat at his various stops in the NFL, always producing regardless of location. His first four games in Houston have been wildly inconsistent, with 20, 95, 23 and 0 yards. So what happens in his fifth game? Cooks hauls in 8 passes for 161 yards and a TD, because of course he does! Watson targeted Cooks a team leading 12 times. Have Watson and Cooks started developing chemistry? Given the lack of offseason training time to develop a connection, it makes sense that their connection would begin to strengthen now that we’re in October. With that said, Cooks comes as the classic high ceiling, low floor option. Expect Cooks to have several more games with WR2/flex value, but he’ll have just as many games where he busts as well. In a nutshell, Cooks is worth an add if you need a WR, but just be ready for fluctuation in weekly performances.
Rapid Fire Pickups
Each week wel throw out potential free agent pickups from each position for deeper leagues, in each case 1) someone who has NOT been featured above, and 2) a player available in more than 50% of leagues.
QB: Kirk Cousins, MIN (facing ATL this week)
RB: Alexander Mattison, MIN (top short-term RB add if Dalvin Cook can’t go)
RB: JD McKissic, WAS
WR: Mike Williams, LAC
WR: Darnell Mooney, CHI
TE: Trey Burton, IND