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Mon Oct 11th 2021

2021 Week Five Review

It was another fun week of football with many games coming down to the wire with game-winning drives and field goals made and missed. Sadly, it was also a week with many injuries, including several quarterbacks. There were surprise active and inactive players, leaving some normally active owners in my leagues mistakenly starting inactive layers like Chris Carson and Dalvin Cook. Even so, it was an incredibly high-scoring fantasy week.

My teams didn't fare so well this week. I'll finish the week 4-6. I was the highest-scoring team in several leagues and was beat by the highest scoring team in a few leagues, and a few two of my teams were killed by injuries this week. As always, at the end of the weekend, I remind myself that win or lose, it's a joy to watch football all weekend and cheer on all of my dynasty teams.

After following all of the games this week, here are a few of my thoughts on players and situations and their impact on our dynasty teams. Unless a player or situation demands it, I try to write about teams and players that I have not written about in recent weeks.

Ten Observations From Week Five

All Kinds of Trouble In Seattle

  • Chris Carson was a last-minute scratch, and Russell Wilson left the game Thursday night with a fractured finger. He's already had surgery and is expected to miss at least four weeks. Geno Smith played admirably on Thursday night and connected on a touchdown pass with D.K. Metcalf, but there's no doubt that the offense and each of the fantasy values of the Seahawks will take a hit for the next month. D.K. Metcalf may be able to produce as the bigger-bodied receiver for Smith to trust, but I think Wilson and Tyler Lockett's connection with one another won't be reproducible by Smith. What's worse is how the Seahawk's defense is playing. They're giving up a league-high 450 yards per game and gave up 476 yards to the Rams Thursday night. A less productive offense under Smith will make the defense even worse. From a fantasy perspective, a bad defense can lead to garbage time points for the offense, which Wilson can do. I don't think Smith will be able to do so.

Joe Burrow Is Only Making One Player Great

  • I had high expectations for four of the Bengals' players going into the season, with a healthy Joe Burrow returning to lead the team. I expected Joe Mixon, Ja'Maar Chase, Tee Higgins, and Tyler Boyd to have great seasons and be reliable starters in fantasy lineups. Mixon and Boyd had great fantasy weeks in week one and four, respectively, but other than that, they have been mediocre along with Tee Higgins. Only Ja'Maar Chase has been consistent from a fantasy perspective. He's caught half or burrow's ten touchdown passes and is a big play waiting to happen. He had a 70-yard touchdown catch on Sunday. Higgins played on Sunday after recovering from injury the last two weeks, but he was not very productive. He had seven targets, but they only netted five catches for 32 yards. He dropped a touchdown pass too. I still believe in Higgins and feel like he has to stay in starting lineups because of his touchdown upside. I do think he will bounce back this season. On the other hand, Boyd is not as involved as I would have considered him to be and is benchable unless Higgins is out with an injury again. Mixon was a surprise active on Sunday, but Samaje Perine doubled his snap count. I am assuming the Bengals were trying to limit Mixon's touches, and once at 100%, he will go back to dominating the backfield. That said, his snap-count has declined every week since his only great fantasy game in week one. His touches have dropped from 33, 21, 19, 17, to 11. That's very concerning to see, making me not want to trust Mixon as a starter until I see a change.

Disappointing Day For The Vikings

  • After starting the season on fire in weeks one, two, and three, the Vikings' offense has sputtered out the last two weeks. They were dominated the Brown's strong defense last week and this week were surprisingly challenged by the 0-5 Lions defense. The Vikings have only scored two touchdowns the previous two weeks after nine the first three weeks of the season. Their lack of production is costing Justin Jefferson and Theilen managers games. Theilen scored four touchdowns in weeks one to three but has not scored or had more than 46 yards receiving since. He didn't have a single catch yesterday until the final game-winning field goal drive when the Lions allowed the Vikings to throw the ball underneath. Kirk Cousins only has eyes for Jefferson the last two weeks and has kept him productive but not as productive as the top-five dynasty receiver he is. Dalvin Cook did not play this Sunday and was limited and pulled from the game last week. Alexander Mattison has played fine in his absence, so it's hard to blame the poor offensive play on Cooks' injury. Something is broken with their offense right now. I think it's linked to the fact that their defense is playing better. In the first three games, they were in shootouts because the defense gave up so many points. The last two weeks, their defense held their opponents to 14 and 17 points. If the Vikings' defense continues to improve and keep games low-scoring, I think coach Zimmer is happy to play conservatively offensively.

The Saints' Stats Are Deceptive

  • The Saints scored 33 points on Sunday, but there's a bit of deception to the numbers. Jameis Winston scored 28 fantasy points on Sunday, but he did so on the back of a hail-mary touchdown and the speed of Deonte Harris and Alvin Kamara. You can't make those plays away from Winston, but I don't think games like this are sustainable. Washington's defense has surprisingly been one of the worst in the league, giving up the 6th most yards of any team. They gave up big plays on Sunday but also held Winston to just a 50% completion rate; something Winston has done twice this season already. Winston is one of my most rostered players, but I have yet to put him in a starting lineup. To coach Payton's credit, they drew up passing plays to Kamara, who did not have a single target last week but had eight this week. If Kamara gets back to the target share he had for years with Drew Brees, only then would I consider starting Winston. For now, Kamara continues to be the only startable player on the Saints.

The Titans Only Have One Reliable Player

  • Derrick Henry is a beast. It's unbelievable that he can continue to stay healthy while maintaining such a ridiculous workload. Since the Titans' week-one loss when Henry has only 20 touches, his workload has increased to 41, 31, 35, and 29, and the Titans won three of those four games. His involvement may be directly related to Julio Jones and A.J. Brown's injuries, but I don't think so. The play-action passes that their former offensive coordinator, Arthur Smith, drew up that made the Titan's offense efficiently and fantasy valuable aren't happening this year. Tannehill has only had one game with more than one touchdown pass this season, and I'm not sure it's going to change. If it were not for a touchdown catch in game one, A.J. Brown would be averaging three fantasy points per game. This is so frustrating because Brown is one of my favorite players in the league. He will surely have an explosive game or two soon this season, but with this offense, he cannot provide a steady floor that many dynasty teams need on their roster week to week. It's a blast to watch Derrick Henry completely dominate teams, but it's sad to see a player like Brown who is every bit as capable of doing so not being allowed to do it.

What I Expected From Trey Lance

  • I've seen exactly what I expected from Trey Lance in the last two weeks. He completes just 50% of his passes, and his only fantasy value comes from his legs. He'll have time to improve this season and still holds tremendous dynasty value, but he'll need to improve to become one of the elite quarterbacks. Modest improvement in accuracy within the next year could lead to the type of improvement Jalen Hurts has shown this year, making him a top-three fantasy quarterback this season. Lance is worth starting in lineups just because of his rushing yards, but he will bring down the in-season value of the rest of the offense. Deebo Samuel caught a long wide-open touchdown last week, but this week he only managed to catch three of his nine targets because of Lance's inaccuracy. Thankfully, Deebo managed a touchdown on the ground when he lined up as a running back. Other than that, the rest of the offense provided no fantasy value this week, and the team only scored that one touchdown. I'd expect much of the same in the coming weeks, and I would not be too surprised if Jimmy Garopolo gets an opportunity to start after recovering from his injury. The 49ers have a bye week this week, so I am sure all options will be considered after a second mediocre performance by Lance.

I Was Wrong And Right About Kadarius Toney

  • During the rookie-draft process, I was very low on Toney, as were most analysts. I thought of him as more of a gadget guy in the NFL and I had concerns about his character, given some of his college history. On Sunday, Kenny Golladay was blanketed by Trevon Diggs, so Toney was about the only player Daniel Jones targeted before leaving the game with a concussion. Backup quarterback, Mike Glennon, did the same even after Golladay left the game and Trevon Diggs manned up against Toney. Toney caught 10 of the Giants' 21 completed passes and had 34% of the team's target-share overall. He ended the game with 189 yards and looked like a legitimate starting wide receiver, not a gadget guy. It's only one breakout week, but I think I'm willing to say that I was wrong on Toney and will live to regret not drafting him even as he fell in most rookie drafts. I was also right about his character, though. After an apparent injury, while being treated by medical staff, he started yelling and then rose to his feet, knocking the trainer attending to him in the head. Later after a big plan on a critical drive, he retaliated against a Cowboy player who threw him down by throwing a punch at him, resulting in his disqualification from the game. In one game, we saw the best and worst of Toney. We'll see which side of him gets the best of him going forward.

Cleveland Backs Are Every-week Starters, But No One Else Is

  • I won a game this week in a league where my two starting running backs were Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt, and I think they will be my two starting running backs for the rest of the season. They combined to score 49 points for me in that league. Chubb finally had the long touchdown run that his managers came to expect and rely on last year. His 52-yard touchdown contributed to his 161 yards rushing. Hunt has two goal-line touchdowns and five receptions in the game. Chubb averages 19 touches per game compared to Hunt's 14, but their snap count is much closer - at 52% for Chubb and 44% for Hunt. Hunt is more involved in the passing game, with 17 receptions compared to Chubb's five, and Hunt appears to be getting more of the goal line carries with four touchdowns from inside the eight yard-line compared to Chubb's one. Cleveland is committed to the running game, ranking first in the league on rushing attempts. Baker Mayfield currently has the 24th most passing attempts in the league and seems unable to make his pass-catchers fantasy viable, including Odell Beckham Jr., who managed just two receptions for the second week in a row. Mayfield's tight ends are his best weapons, but you never know which one is his favorite from week to week, David Njoku, Austin Hooper, or Harrison Bryant. This week it was Njoku, who had a 71-yard catch and run for a touchdown. So far this season, when the Browns are not facing incredible quarterbacks like Patrick Mahomes and Justin Herbert, they dominate the teams with their defense and running game. That's what they intend to do and will be able to do most weeks.

Keenan Allen's Targets Don't Amount To Much

  • Keenan Allen is my most rostered player. For years I relied on his consistent targets from Phillip Rivers. His dynasty value dipped last year at the prospect of Tyrod Taylor leading the offense, but when Justin Herbert became the starter, Allen's dynasty value rose to the highest level of his career. Herbert only had eyes for Allen last season, making him the second most targeted receiver in targets per game with 10.5. This year his targets are up to 11.0 per game, which is third in the NFL. The only problem is that the targets have been far less valuable this season for some reason, and it does not make sense why. His average depth of target is up from 7.18 to 8.41, and his yards per game are up slightly from 70 to 73, but his fantasy points per game are down from 13.9 to 12. Much of this slight regression could be blamed on Mike Williams, who has scored six touchdowns to Allen's one, thus scoring eight more fantasy points per game. Every week I keep hoping for the scoring between Williams and Allen to even out, but it doesn't look like it's going to happen. It's frustrating to have a share of one of the best offenses in the league and just get an average of twelve points per game instead of the 18, 18, 29, and 32 point games Williams has had. I'm trying to be content with his safe floor, but I'd really like to see more from one of my favorite players. 

The Bills Are On Fire, But Stefon Diggs Is Not

  • Like Keenan Allen, Stefon Diggs is on one of the most potent offenses in the league, but it is not showing up in his stats like it did last year. Diggs is sixth in the league in targets per game with 10.5, which is barely more than last season when he averaged 10.4, but this season he's scoring 11.4 points per game compared to 16.7 last season. That's a massive disappointment for those who have him on their teams and rode him to dynasty championships as I did last year. Emmanuel Sanders and Dawson Knox have scored more points than Diggs this year, presenting a huge problem for Diggs from a fantasy perspective, even while making the Bills a very tough team to defend. I hope that teams will begin to game-plan against Knox and Sanders more than solely focusing on Diggs now that they'd given teams reason to do so, but I am uncertain that they will. Generally, I believe in following the targets because, in time, they will amount to fantasy points. It's still a philosophy I follow, but Allen and Diggs are defying the odds so far this season in a bad way.

Week Five Waiver Wire

As a reminder, I play in 27 to 30-man roster 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, but if you're in deep dynasty leagues, these are the players I would make bids on this week. I list them in the order that I would prioritize them.

It's a pretty bad week this week, but there is one player I am very interested in and two more that I would consider.

Donald Parham

  • Parham has scored in consecutive weeks. He's not getting many targets, but he is being used heavily in the red zone. What's more important is that he's getting more snaps than I expected at the start of the season. He's had 50% of the snaps this season, while Jared Cook is only modestly higher with 60%. Cook is dominating Parham in targets, 26 to 7, but I could see them drawing more even as the season progresses. Both of their contracts expire at the end of the season, so the Chargers will want to see both of them get opportunities so they can decide which one to sign long-term. I believe they prefer to sign Parham, who is ten years younger than Cook.

James Washington

  • Juju Smith-Schuster was lost for the season on Sunday after injuring his shoulder. Washington has the most to gain from his loss and will be the third wide receiver in eleven personnel. He's recovering from a groin injury but may have been able to play last week if Chase Claypool and Diontae Johnson were not both cleared to play. It's hard to expect much in season from a wide receiver three on the Steelers, but I could see Washington as a viable flex play when in a pinch with bye weeks coming up. He's in the last year of his contract, so his dynasty value is very uncertain, but he could help a team this year as injuries continue to mount.

Quez Watkins

  • After an incredible preseason, Watkins has only had one breakout game in week two, but he's still an active part of the Eagles' offense. His snap share is at 60%, behind DeVonta Smith and Jalen Reagor. He was wide open for an easy touchdown late in the game, but Jalen Hurts didn't see him. It would be hard to put him in a starting lineup right now, but his in-season value would increase significantly if Reagor or Smith got injured.

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.

Here are my thoughts on trades that took place in my leagues this week. I hope these trades give you an idea of how other active owners value these players and future picks.

Surprisingly, there was only one trade in my leagues last week, but it was a big one.

 A.J. Brown <=====> Derek Carr, Matthew Stafford, and Christian Kirk

  • It's pretty rare to see a three-for-one trade, but it took place in one of my leagues last week. The team that traded for Carr and Stafford just lost Russell Wilson and must have felt desperate for a quarterback, even though they had Kirk Cousins and Mac Jones on their roster already. The team that traded for A.J. Brown has Aaron Rodgers and Joe Burrow, so they must have been willing to give away two quarterbacks in the trade. In a one-quarterback league, A.J. Brown has the best dynasty value of the players involved in this trade, but this league is transitioning to superflex in 2023. Given that's the case, I would instead have held on to the two quarterbacks. Stafford will undoubtedly start for the Rams in 2023, and Derek Carr will likely start for the Raiders. I love A.J. Brown, even though I am frustrated with the Titan's offense right now. I could almost see trading away two quarterbacks in a one-quarterback league, but I definitely would not do it in a league that is moving to superflex in 2023. 

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