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Mon Oct 12th 2020

2020 Week Five Review

Sunday Scramble

Week five is almost in the books, even though the NFL had to scramble due to the COVID cases. We lost one more game this week, and the NFL schedules shuffled quite a bit, but we had football to watch. The NFL seems very committed to a 16-game season, bringing joy to dynasty managers like you and me.

I had a great week, personally. My teams finished 6-2 this week. Win or lose; it's a joy to watch football all weekend and cheer on all of my teams.

After following all of the games this week, here are my thoughts on what we learned after week five and its impact on our dynasty teams.

Week Five Observations

Sunday Morning Scramble

  • As all of you know, I am a pastor, so my Sunday mornings are already busy. I do my final research and set all of my line-ups Saturday afternoon to not have to think about my teams on Sunday morning. I could not do that this Sunday, however, after the NFL announced that the Denver/New England game would move to next week. That news, combined with the fact that many Monday and Tuesday night players had questionable tags, made for some tough roster decisions. In one league, I had to start Jordan Howard as my RB-2 since Melvin Gordon and Damien Harris were not playing, and Kerryon Johnson was on a bye week. Then I find out Howard did not even suit up for the game. Thankfully, the team I was playing started Michael Thomas, and by the time New Orleans announced on Sunday afternoon that he was not going to play because of a team suspension, he had no one else that he could put in that wide receiver position. I suspect that is how this year will look going forward as COVID cases continue to affect teams. I am going to have to get used to the Sunday scramble!

Tight End Wasteland

  • This week I decided to go tight end shopping in several of my leagues. Jared Cook is my starting tight end in a few leagues, and he was questionable to start this week, and Zach Ertz is my starting tight end in several leagues, and he appears thoroughly washed up. When I went to the roster grid to find a team with two startable tight ends, I could hardly find one. The tight end market is a wasteland. Only six tight ends are averaging more than 12 points a game. Then there are about a dozen that score between 9 and 11 points per game. I found that I was unwilling to pay up for one of the top-scoring tight ends and was reluctant to give anything for a middle-of-the-pack tight end because the guys on my roster are just as likely to win a week as the other tight ends I was considering. I started Darren Fells, Jimmy Graham, Chris Herndon, Tyler Higbee, and the corpse of Zach Ertz on teams this week. It's made me so grateful for the leagues where I start Kelce, Waller, and Kittle. I wish I had more of those.

Houston, We Don't Have a Problem.

  • It turns out that all Deshaun Watson and the Texans needed was a new coaching staff and an inferior opponent to unleash their weapons. Houston had one of the most formidable starting schedules, playing the Chiefs, Ravens, and Steelers to start the season. Their schedule lightened up this week when they faced Jacksonville at home, and Watson had the best fantasy week of the season, scoring 34 points. He managed to score 27 points in week four while Bill O'Brien was calling the plays, but it was an ugly game where he only completed 60% of his passes and no completions to Brandin Cooks. This week, with O'Brien gone, he completed 71% of his passes and threw touchdowns to Cooks, Fuller, and Fells. Better things are yet to come for the Texans' passing game this season now that their schedule is easier and their coach is gone.

Sack Attack

  • The Rams and Ravens annihilated the Washington Football Team and Bengals quarterbacks and offenses. The Rams defense compiled eight sacks, nine quarterback hits, and ten tackles for loss. Washington only had 111 yards passing. Kyle Allen left the game with an injury to his arm, and comeback player of the year candidate, Alex Smith, came in, and he and his bionic leg took a pounding. At least Smith proved he could take a hit, but he didn't prove that he could move the offense, at least not against the Rams. The Ravens defense compiled seven sacks, 15 quarterback hits, and 11.5 tackles for loss. Joe Burrow only managed to pass for 183 yards, and Joe Mixon averaged just 2.5 yards per carry. Remove the Kansas City game from the Ravens' schedule, and they have given up an average of 10.5 points per game. The Rams have not been as dominant, but remove the Bills game from their schedule, and they have given up and an average of 13.75 points per game. The pass rush on these teams makes for awful fantasy performances for all fantasy players they are up against. Dynasty managers should consider these defenses when making start/sit decisions for the rest of this year.

Week Five Injuries

Dak Prescott

  • The worst and most gruesome injury of the day was Dak's fractured his ankle. My heart hurt for him as a Cowboy fan and a player who was on pace to shatter passing records and earn an enormous new contract. While the Cowboys do have the most experienced backup quarterback in the league, Andy Dalton, the pass catchers' value and drops quite a bit for this year. Dak's character and work ethic cause me to believe he will do well in rehab, bounce back next year, and continue to thrive in Dallas's high-powered offense. He'll remain a top-five dynasty quarterback. Though Dallas may try to lean more on Zeke than they would when Dak is healthy, he'll have fewer touchdown opportunities under Dalton, so his value this year and in dynasty remains the same. 

Dalvin Cook

  • Cook left the game Sunday night with a groin injury, and Alexander Mattison came in to contribute 112 yards rushing in his absence. Mattison managers have been waiting to capitalize on an injury to Cook. Now they can. Mattison is an every-week starter while Cook is out, but his dynasty value will remain about the same. Cook's signing his new contract last month, but a firm ceiling on Mattison's dynasty value for the time being, but he's still one of the best handcuffs in the league. Managers who have Cook on their roster will be the most willing to pay-up for Mattison, so float the idea to them to see what you could get in return.

Diontae Johnson

  • Diontae Johnson left again in the first quarter like he did last week, only this time with a back injury instead of a concussion. Chase Claypool stepped right in and scored four touchdowns! In the last few weeks, I wrote about how Johnson has surpassed Juju to become the WR-1 in Pittsburg. Maybe Claypool is aiming to overtake them both. After a day like yesterday, they have to consider starting him ahead of Juju and Johnson. I was wrong in my rookie-class evaluation of Claypool and will move him up significantly in my dynasty rankings while Johnson remains steady, and Juju falls even further. I don't believe Juju will get the second contract that he was hoping for in Pittsburg. He'll have to try to increase his dynasty value on another team next year.

A.J. Green

  • Tee Higgins saw the most snaps on Sunday after Green injured himself, making that two of the last three weeks. I'm afraid to say that Green's dynasty value has fallen even further since he's proven again that he cannot stay healthy. He has every opportunity in the first five games this year, but couldn't play better than the rookie, Higgins. Green is untradeable and unplayable, making him a sore spot on dynasty rosters currently. His only hope to see his dynasty value slightly increase is to get traded to another team who would try to squeeze the last bit of life out of Green's long career.

Sammy Watkins

  • Sammy Watkins hurt his hamstring, opening the door to Mecole Hardman to get 50 snaps this week, tying his record high for the year. Demarcus Robinson had 49 snaps and one more target than Hardman, so it's not certain that Hardman would be the only player to benefit from Watkins's absence. He's just the one all dynasty managers want to see playing full-time next to Tyreek Hill since he's a better playmaker than Robinson. If Sammy misses time with this injury, I'll monitor the snap counts and targets, hoping that Hardman gets significantly more work than Robinson. 

D.J. Chark

  • Chark left the field late in a game where he was already being out-targeted by Laviska Shanault and Keelan Cole. Last week, I wrote about how Chark needs to get fed 8-10 targets a week to impact fantasy rosters, but he left this game with only four while Shanault and Cole have eight and six, respectively. Even rookie Collin Johnson got involved with four targets and his first NFL touchdown. Last year's fringe dynasty roster players, Chris Conley and Dede Westbrook, have been significantly surpassed by bounce-back Cole and rookies Shenault and Johnson. Chark is still the most talented receiver in Jacksonville, but his injuries cause others to score more fantasy points than him and may ultimately cause his dynasty value to drop.

Week Five Waiver Wire

As a reminder, I play in 27 to 30-man roster leagues (true dynasty leagues), so the players I list here are for deep leagues only. If you play in shallower leagues, there are certainly better players than these to pick up off the waiver wire. That said, for those of you in true dynasty leagues, here is who I would be looking to pick up this week. I list them in the order that I would prioritize them.

Andy Dalton

  • I'd spend all of my FAAB on Dalton in a superflex league. He'll be an every-week starter for the rest of the season in superflex leagues. Thankfully, I already have him rostered in the superflex league where I have Dak. Dalton is nowhere near as talented as Dak, but he's a serviceable back-up with weapons all around him. I would put a claim on Dalton in one-quarterback leagues too. I imagine he'd be a streamable starter depending on his match-ups each week.

Keelan Cole

  • Cole is the clear WR-2 in Jacksonville, making him the WR-1 if Chark's injury lingers. He's still available in a few of my leagues but should be rostered in every dynasty league. He was a deep sleeper two years ago, but didn't play well or get much playing time last year, and was subsequently dropped by dynasty managers. Somehow he has climbed up the depth chart again in Jacksonville and should do the same in dynasty rosters. Minshew has been throwing the ball about 40 to 50 times a game the last four weeks, giving Cole a safe floor of targets.

Travis Fulgham

  • I have to admit that I have never heard of Fulgham before his ten-catch, 152-yard, one-touchdown day on Sunday. He has bounced around practice squads the last two years before seizing this opportunity on the receiver-needy Eagles. I'll add him to my dynasty rankings, but don't imagine that he is carving himself a permanent role on the team, given that the Eagles have so many guys they drafted on their team. I'd still make a waiver claim for him to wait and see or to use in a pinch the next few weeks if I had a lot of injured wide receivers on my roster.

Week Five Trades

Trades are hard to grade in a vacuum since scoring systems are different in each league, and every team has a diverse roster construction. That's why I write about trades made in my leagues and give context for why the dynasty owners made the trades. I grade the trade, but in the context of what each team was attempting to accomplish with the trade.

That said, here are my thoughts on trades that were made in my leagues this week. I hope these trades give you an idea of how other active owners value these players and future picks.

Miles Sanders <-----> Juju Smith-Schuster, Jalen Reagor, and a 2021 3rd round pick

  • This trade took place in my 14-team, PPR, tight-end premium, superflex, all-flex league. In this all-flex league, trades are rarely made to compensate for a weak position group since managers can start as many wide receivers or running backs as they choose, but the team who acquired Sanders was very thin at running back, with James Robinson as his only starter at running back. He had a strong wide receiver corps, so he was able to give up Juju and Reagor. He's a contender, so he must have thought Sanders would help him content more this year than Juju would. The team that acquired Juju and Reagor is one of the youngest teams in the league and looks to be buying up young talent to compete in the future. All of that said, the context here does not matter much to me. I would like the Juju ad Reagor side of this trade. Juju is the same age as Sanders even though he has been in the league longer. Reagor is going to become the WR-1 in Philadelphia for years to come. As I wrote last week, I believe Juju is now the WR-2 in Pittsburg behind Diontae Johnson, but I still feel his dynasty value is holding firm. I like the two for one part of this trade, especially since he picked up a 3rd round pick to boot.

Nick Foles <-----> 2021 2nd and 3rd round pick

  • This trade took place in my 14-team, PPR, tight-end premium, superflex, all-flex league. The team that traded away Foles has Patrick Mahomes and Kyler Murray as his starting quarterbacks, so he was very willing to give up Foles for picks. The team that traded for Foles had Aaron Rodgers and Derek Carr as his started but sought to add depth. In a 14-team league, this middle-of-the-pack team must have thought 2nd, and 3rd round draft picks don't hold too much value. I still think I would prefer the picks over Foles, even in a 14-team league. Foles has not looked much better than Mitch Trubisky and could lose his position to Trubisky again as he did last year to Gardner Minshew. That's too much of a risk, especially for a team that already had two starting quarterbacks that I would start ahead of Foles every week.

D.J. Chark, Eric Ebron, and 2021 2nd and 3rd round picks <-----> Rashaad Penny, Darius Slayton, Austin Hooper, and a 2021 1st round pick

  • This trade took place in my 12-team, PPR, tight end premium, superflex league. The team that gave away Chark is in rebuild mode and has been acquiring many first-round picks. While Chark is the best player in this trade, the young prospects and draft pick still make this a win for his team. In contrast, the team that traded for Chark is a strong competitor and made his team stronger for his playoff run. I would give away a 2021 1st round pick for Chark no matter what my team's roster looked like. He got the best player in this trade by far, and Ebron should play better than Hooper this year. This trade was fair for what both teams were trying to accomplish.

Calvin Ridley, Eric Ebron and a 2021 2nd round pick <-----> Tee Higgins, Jalen Reagor, and a 2021 1st round pick

  • This trade took place in my 12-team, PPR, tight end premium, superflex league. The team that gave up Ridley is rebuilding and picked up two top prospects at a first-round pick in the trade. While the team that grabbed Ridley is added to it's loaded roster and making a run for a championship this year. I like that the competing team could get a second-round pick back in the trade, which makes me favor this side of the trade slightly, but each owner got what they needed for their dynasty teams.

Teddy Bridgewater and DeVante Parker <----> Drew Lock and James Conner

  • This trade took place in my 12-team, PPR, tight end premium, superflex league. It's a pretty even swap for teams that just liked one quarterback over the other in this superflex league. Neither team was quarterback-needy. Both teams sought a bit of a roster shake-up. Lock should be returning to play soon, but still is in the unproven category for me. The team that picked up Lock is better on the younger player with a higher upside. He also acquired Conner, a player in the last year of his contract. Given the risk with Lock and Conner, I slightly favor the Bridgewater and Parker side of this trade. That side just feels a little safer.

Ryan Tannehill and a 2021 2nd round pick <-----> Eric Ebron and a 2021 1st round pick

  • This trade took place in my 12-team, PPR, tight end premium, superflex league. The team that gave up Tannehill is rebuilding, and this trade netted him his fourth first-round draft pick in 2021. He's been giving up second-round picks to acquire first-round picks. This trade may also be the first one I've seen that was possibly affected by COVID, given the trouble Tennessee has had controlling the outbreak on their team and could potentially forfeit games if COVID continues to be a problem for the team. Tannehill was one of his starting quarterbacks, leaving this team with only one startable quarterback in this superflex league. He will need to draft one ore two quarterbacks with the first-round picks he has been compiling. In my opinion, this trade slows down his rebuild efforts. 

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