Week 5 of the fantasy football season featured plenty of notable performances. What should we make of them? Matt Bowen and Tristan H. Cockcroft are here with analysis on the biggest performers — and duds — of the week.
Will Fuller’s historic day
We watched something historic on Sunday, as Fuller scored a Week 5-leading 53.7 PPR fantasy points, converting 14-of-16 targets for 217 yards and three touchdowns. Heck, it was season-leading as far as individual games go, and the highest point total by any player since Jamaal Charles scored 59.5 in Week 15 of 2013. Fuller is the first wide receiver to score that many points since Terrell Owens scored 54.8 in Week 16 in 2000.
That obliterated Fuller’s previous personal best of 29.5 PPR fantasy points in Week 8 of 2017, and it served as a reminder of what he can do when fully healthy. He played one more snap (66-of-67) than DeAndre Hopkins (65-of-67), boosting his own career per-game average to 12.2 points. And while Fuller’s effort was largely a product of his matchup, it’s still a great sign that he did this in a game in which Hopkins also had a solid stat line (7 catches on 8 targets for 88 yards), signaling that there should be enough to go around for the both of them for so long as Fuller stays healthy. Fuller was started in only 11.1% of ESPN leagues in Week 5, but that will — and should — rise next week. — Cockcroft
What about the Falcons’ defense, Tristan? That’s bad football. I saw a lack of fundamentals, plus poor overall execution. You could see flashes of that on the film with this unit leading up to today’s game, too. And the Texans exposed every bit of it with the deep throws to Fuller. Man or zone coverage, find the open voids over the top, find the matchups and take a shot to Fuller. Monster day for the Texans’ wide receiver. — Bowen
Christian McCaffrey continues to be a fantasy superstar
While overshadowed by Fuller’s lofty point total, McCaffrey’s performance Sunday was really no less impressive, as his 47.7 PPR fantasy points continue to cement his status as fantasy football’s biggest superstar of 2019. McCaffrey’s game also carried greater weight than Fuller’s on the historical scale: With it, he has a massive 159.6 points through five weeks. To put that into perspective, there have been only three better starts to a fantasy season since at least 1950 (see the chart to the right). — Cockcroft
Mike Evans shut out
Evans was shut out in fantasy Sunday, a painful result for the 95.2% of ESPN fantasy managers who had him active this week (sixth-highest among wide receivers). It seems the Saints, and especially cornerback Marshon Lattimore, have Evans’ number, because this is now the second time in the wide receiver’s career that he has been shut out on the fantasy scorecard (also against the Saints in Week 2 in 2015, when he played 36 of 59 offensive snaps). Four of Evans’ nine worst single-game performances have now come against New Orleans. Lattimore was lined up on Evans for 43 of 53 snaps.
This was Lattimore’s best individual performance of 2019 — he afforded two catches on five targets for 25 yards and no scores with two passes defensed on 26 coverage snaps — reminding of his past efforts as one of the game’s toughest cover corners, and it’s something to keep tucked away for when these teams meet for a rematch in Week 11. — Cockcroft
Vikings get Adam Thielen the ball early and often
With the Vikings going a little deeper into the playbook, and opening up that route tree for Theilen, the wide receiver caught 7 of 8 targets for 130 yards and two touchdowns in a very favorable matchup versus the Giants. Kirk Cousins took a red zone shot to Thielen from a slot alignment and found the wide receiver on isolation routes versus man coverage. This is all about pass game volume/structure. When it’s there, Thielen is going to give you WR1/WR2 numbers. And I like the matchup for Thielen next week, too, versus a banged-up Eagles cornerback group. — Bowen
Kyler Murray continues to run well
The Cardinals’ passing game with Murray still centers around quick throws and intermediate concepts, but don’t sleep on the rushing totals that are starting to climb for the rookie QB. On Sunday, Murray scored on a designed run concept in the red zone — a naked boot — and finished with 93 yards on the ground. That gives him 189 yards rushing over the past three weeks on 22 carries, after producing just 17 yards rushing on six carries in his first two games.
With that steady uptick in rushing volume, plus Murray’s tendency to pull the ball down early to leave the pocket, I would anticipate these numbers on the ground to stay pretty consistent. — Bowen
Amari Cooper continues to produce
Though his 39.6 PPR fantasy points on Sunday fell more than 10 shy of his personal best (49.7, in Week 14 of 2018), Cooper’s performance continued to exhibit his statistical dominance since his trade to the Cowboys last Oct. 22. Since his Dallas debut, he has 271.8 PPR fantasy points, third-most among wide receivers behind only Michael Thomas (287.9) and Julio Jones (278.6). — Cockcroft
Aaron Jones dominates Cowboys
Oh my, Aaron Jones! Jones scored a running back-leading 49.2 PPR fantasy points on Sunday, the position’s most in a game all season to date and its largest total since Todd Gurley II scored 49.6 points in Week 16 of 2017. Jones obliterated his previous personal best in the process — he almost did so during the game’s first half alone — and posted the third-best score by any Packers running back since at least 1950.
Incidentally, Jones had the fifth score worth 40-plus points by any player so far in Week 5 — and there are Sunday and Monday night games to go. It’s only the second time since at least 1950 that we have had at least five individual scores of at least 40 PPR fantasy points, with the other coming in Week 13 of the 1965 season — and bear in mind that one of the scores from that week came from a team defense/special teams. This week’s scores have all come from skill-position players, the first time we’ve seen that happen. — Cockcroft
Jones’ ability to slash through running lanes and bounce the ball outside highlighted his running traits Sunday, but I also want to look at his numbers in the pass game here, too. Jones, who has the flexibility to remove from the formation as a receiver, caught seven of a team-high eight targets for 75 yards. That’s key for a Packers team that lacks dynamic ability at wide receiver or tight end outside of Davante Adams. And those are high-percentage throws for Aaron Rodgers when targeting Jones underneath or in the screen package. — Bowen
Gerald Everett: Everett — plus the Rams’ game plan — put the tight end in the mix as a streaming option. Everett caught 7 of 11 targets for 136 yards against the Seattle defense. He has the athleticism to create some matchups and gets production after the catch. And with L.A. going to more 12 personnel (one RB, two TE), Everette should continue to see pass game volume in Week 6 against the 49ers’ defense. — Bowen
Josh Jacobs: Oakland’s offensive front controlled the line of scrimmage, moving that top-tier Bears defense off the ball. Jacobs cashed in, too, rushing for 123 yards and two touchdowns on 23 carries. The rookie also added 20 yards receiving on three grabs. When the Raiders return from the bye in Week 7 versus the Packers, Jacobs should be locked in as a solid RB2. — Bowen
Allen Robinson: Regardless of Chicago’s starting QB, I don’t see an offense here with any sense of an identity. However, the one viable player you can count for fantasy production is Robinson. The wide receiver caught 7 of 8 targets for 97 yards and two touchdowns Sunday versus the Raiders. Robinson has now seen at least seven targets in every game this season, and the route-running skills pop every time I turn on the film. — Bowen
DJ Chark Jr.: After hauling in 8 of 11 targets for 164 yards and two touchdowns Sunday versus a tough Panthers defense, Chark has 234 yards receiving (on 23-of-34 targets) with four TDs over the past four weeks. Rookie quarterback Gardner Minshew can put the ball on target, and Chark has made a major jump in his route running as a second-year pro. With that type of production, plus red zone targets, Chark could find himself moving closer to the WR2 range. — Bowen
Chark’s start rate in ESPN leagues might be inching upwards, but “inching” isn’t awarding him enough credit for his 2019 performance plus the chemistry with Minshew that Matt hints at. Chark’s start rate the past three weeks: 10.0% (Week 3), 29.4% (Week 4), 30.2% (Sunday). He gets the Buccaneers next, so that number needs to exceed 50%. — Cockcroft
Lamar Jackson: The rushing production with Jackson was there (14 carries, 70 yards), but the Ravens quarterback tossed three interceptions and finished with just 161 yards in the air on 19-of-28 passing versus the Steelers. And I think Jackson left some plays on the field. He simply missed too many throws today. — Bowen
Chris Godwin: For the second consecutive week, Godwin managed at least 100 receiving yards and 30 PPR fantasy points, and he now has three 100-yard games over the past four weeks. His two best single-game fantasy performances have come in the past two games, his 41.2-point effort of Week 4 and 31.5 points Sunday. As can often be the case with slot receivers, Godwin benefited greatly from Evans having to deal with Lattimore — a role that could continue to grant Godwin advantageous matchups in the coming weeks. — Cockcroft
New England Patriots D/ST: With their 15-point performance on Sunday, the Patriots’ defense/special teams pushed their season total to 94 through five games, 41 more than any other team. Those 94 points are the most by any defense/special teams unit through the first five games of a season since the 2002 Buccaneers scored 95, and it is tied for the 12th most by any D/ST since the merger (since 1970). The Patriots now draw the Giants (Week 6) and Jets (Week 7) in back-to-back weeks. — Cockcroft
Philadelphia Eagles D/ST: The Eagles D/ST’s 35 fantasy points on Sunday tied the Patriots’ Week 2 score for the highest total this season. With it, Jets opponents have now totaled 72 points by the D/ST against them, matching the Dolphins for the most afforded by any team. The next three opponents for the Jets: Cowboys, Patriots, Jaguars. — Cockcroft
Deshaun Watson: Watson’s 41.7 fantasy points on Sunday set a new personal best, and they gave him a whopping 623.3 through the first 28 games of his NFL career. That set a new mark for any quarterback in history through that many career games, exceeding Cam Newton‘s 606.7 from 2011 to ’12. — Cockcroft
Michael Thomas: Thomas surpassed 40 PPR fantasy points for the first time in his career Sunday; his 41.2 points exceeded the 39.1 he had in Week 9 in 2018. He is now the league’s top-scoring wide receiver since the beginning of 2018, with 432.8 points. — Cockcroft