The Fantasy 32 analyzes the NFL from a fantasy perspective, with at least one mention of each of the league’s 32 teams. Though efficiency will be discussed plenty, the column will lean heavily on usage data, as volume is king (by far) in fantasy football. Use these tidbits to make the best waiver-wire, trade and lineup decisions for the upcoming week and beyond. Be sure to check back each week of the season for a new version of the Fantasy 32.
Note that data from Monday Night Football may not immediately be reflected in charts.
Throughout the below team-by-team rundowns, I’ll be referencing “OFP” and “OTD.” OFP stands for opportunity-adjusted fantasy points. Imagine a league in which players are created equal. OFP is a statistic that weighs every pass/carry/target and converts the data into one number that indicates a player’s opportunity to score fantasy points, or his “expected” fantasy point total. For example, if a player has an OFP of 14.5, it means that a league-average player who saw the same workload in the same location on the field would have scored 14.5 fantasy points. FORP is the difference between a player’s actual fantasy point total and his OFP. OTD works the same way, except instead of fantasy points, it’s touchdowns. Volume is king in fantasy football, so this is not information you want to overlook.
That said, here is the post-Week 5 OFP Leaderboard:
Next, here are the players who exceeded their OFP by the largest margin this past week and are thus candidates to see a dip in fantasy production moving forward, assuming they see a similar workload:
And these are the players who fell short of their OFP by the largest margin last week and thus you shouldn’t be too quick to overreact to their performance when making lineup, trade or waiver decisions:
After totaling 17 yards on six carries during Weeks 1-2, Kyler Murray has at least 69 rushing yards or a touchdown during each of his past three outings. Murray hasn’t thrown a touchdown since Week 3, but has rushed for one each of the past two weeks. That has helped bail out his fantasy production, as Murray sits eighth among quarterbacks in fantasy points (fourth in OFP) and posted his first top-10 in Week 5. Murray currently sits third among quarterbacks in both dropbacks (232) and carries (28). Though that’s good usage and production for the rookie, there’s actually room for more considering Arizona ranks 28th in offensive touchdowns but first in field goal attempts.
Calvin Ridley got back on track with a 5-88-1 receiving line on nine targets against Houston on Sunday. This was the expected development considering Ridley has been on the field for 80% of Atlanta’s pass plays (up from 67% in 2018). Ridley has now handled six-plus targets in four of five games, and the Falcons’ struggling defense is just going to mean more and more passing for the offense. Ridley is actually averaging a higher yards per target (8.9 to 9.5) compared to last season and, while potentially unsustainable, his three touchdowns in five games put him on track to come close to his 2018 production (10). Ridley remains in the WR3 mix and should be started against Arizona in Week 6.
Lamar Jackson has carried the ball 50 times this season, which puts him on a 16-game pace of 160. That would put the second-year quarterback on track to break his own record of 147 set last season. Jackson is also on pace for 986 rushing yards, which is well ahead of the 695 yards he produced as a rookie. Jackson already has posted four top-10 fantasy weeks, and his elite rushing production keeps him locked into the weekly QB1 mix.
Duke Williams was signed off the Bills’ practice squad on Saturday and found the end zone for the first time in his career on Sunday. Undrafted back in 2016, Williams spent the 2017-18 seasons in the CFL and actually led the league in receiving in 2018. Williams signed with the Bills in the offseason and could now be a fixture in three-wide sets alongside John Brown and Cole Beasley. With Zay Jones limited to one snap (he began the game with a shoulder injury) and Robert Foster out, Williams played 78% of Buffalo’s offensive snaps against Tennessee. That was behind only Brown (81%) and ahead of Beasley (63%). Williams shouldn’t be on your radar in most leagues, but those in 16-team and dynasty leagues should take notice.
Kyle Allen is 3-0 and has played well for Carolina in place of Cam Newton, but he simply hasn’t been a particularly good fantasy option since he threw for four touchdowns in his season debut in Week 3. During his past two outings, Allen has thrown for 413 yards and one touchdown. The 23-year-old has been a non-factor with his legs, adding 3 yards on four carries in his three games. Allen is doing his part to keep Christian McCaffrey, DJ Moore and Curtis Samuel fantasy relevant (not Greg Olsen, though, for some reason), but he himself is not on the QB1 radar. That said, he’s a fine bye-week streamer against Tampa Bay in Week 6.
Trey Burton finished the 2018 season strong and appeared well-positioned to make a run at back-to-back top-10 fantasy campaigns. Instead, Burton missed Week 1 with an injury and has failed to clear 20 yards or score a touchdown in any of his four games. Oddly, Burton has been on the field for only 57% of the team’s pass plays, which is down drastically from 79% in 2018. In turn, his targets have dropped from 4.6 to 3.5 per game. Burton, who has yet to post a single top-20 fantasy week, is not a viable starter right now and doesn’t need to be rostered until his usage increases.
Tyler Eifert was an intriguing Week 5 sleeper against a Cardinals defense that has been destroyed by tight ends this season. The oft-injured veteran was limited to two catches for 14 yards on four targets in the game while playing only 27% of the offensive snaps. Eifert had matched C.J. Uzomah in snaps in both Weeks 3 and 4, but Uzomah (66%) was way ahead against Arizona. The Bengals’ No. 2 tight end, Eifert has yet to post a top-10 fantasy week this season and should obviously be on your waiver wire.
Reaction coming Tuesday.
After missing two games because of injury, Michael Gallup returned to action and was targeted 14 times in Dallas’ loss to Green Bay. He was on the field for 87% of the snaps. Gallup has now seen seven-plus targets in all three of his 2019 outings, averaging 9.7 targets and 113.0 receiving yards per game. Gallup has produced top-35 fantasy weeks in each of his games and sits eighth at the position in fantasy points during the three weeks he was active. The second-year receiver should be considered a weekly WR3 option. He should be locked into lineups against the Jets’ leaky secondary this week.
Emmanuel Sanders has been the definition of boom/bust this season. The veteran wide receiver has reached 86 receiving yards in three of five games and scored both of his touchdowns during those outings. However, he’s also failed to clear 10 receiving yards during two of his past three games. With Denver ahead most of the afternoon, Sanders was limited to a season-low 62% of Denver’s snaps on Sunday, but he still sits at 81% for the season. Sanders is 24th among receivers in OFP and ninth in OTD (2.5). He remains a WR3.
Matthew Stafford entered Detroit’s Week 5 bye seventh among quarterbacks in fantasy points. Stafford’s production has been a bit boom/bust, as he’s managed a pair of fourth-place finishes, but ended up 17th and 26th the other two weeks. Stafford has thrown nine touchdown passes after tossing only 21 all of last season. He’s also averaging career-high marks in yards per attempt (8.0) and average depth of throw (11.5). Prior to the disaster that was 2018, Stafford had finished as a top-10 fantasy quarterback in six of seven seasons including three in a row. It’s possible he’ll settle back into the QB1 mix, so feel free to take a stab on waivers this week if you’re shaky at the position. Stafford is available in 55.8% of ESPN leagues.
Granted Jamaal Williams has missed the past two games, but Aaron Jones has taken steps toward emerging as the team’s clear featured back. Jones has handled 10-plus carries in every game and has been targeted at least six times in three of five games. Jones had a career day on Sunday, racking up 182 yards and four touchdowns on 26 touches. Jones struggled badly with rushing efficiency against a very tough slate of defenses to open the season but stepped it up against Dallas on Sunday (5.6 YPC). Jones is way over his head in the scoring department with a league-high eight touchdowns, though his 4.4 OTD trails only Austin Ekeler (4.9) for highest in the league. Once healthy, Williams figures to maintain a role, but Jones is easily the best back and makes for a solid RB2 play.
Will Fuller V exploded for a ridiculous 14-217-3 receiving line on 16 targets against Atlanta on Sunday. Fuller entered the game with a 14-183-0 receiving line on 23 targets during Weeks 1-4. Though no one could’ve predicted one of the greatest fantasy performances ever for a wide receiver, Fuller having a big day isn’t a complete surprise. The 2016 first-round pick entered the game having handled a 19% target share while playing 97% of the offensive snaps. Fuller has had an extremely boom/bust career and that’s what we should expect moving forward. Consider him a WR3 most weeks and a fringe WR2 in a good matchup against the Chiefs in Week 6.
With five weeks in the books, Marlon Mack ranks second among running backs in carries (101) and fourth in rushing yards (470). His yards per carry (4.65) and yards after contact per attempt (2.09) both rank among the league’s top backs. Despite that production, Mack sits 16th at the position in fantasy points due to a minimal role as a receiver. Mack has seen only nine targets, which ranks 38th among running backs. Indianapolis has called run on 69% of his snaps, allowing Mack only 14.8 pass routes per game. Mack will benefit from the Colts’ calling the league’s third-run-heaviest offense, but his lack of receiving work will continue to limit him to midrange RB2 numbers.
DJ Chark Jr. has done it again. After relying primarily on a few big plays and long touchdowns to open the season, the second-year receiver posted an 8-164-2 line on 11 targets against Carolina on Sunday. Chark has now scored five touchdowns in as many games and sits fifth among wide receivers in fantasy points. Chark was a bit hard to trust early in the season due to an unsustainable touchdown rate and Jacksonville’s lack of offensive touchdowns, but he has now seen eight-plus targets in three of his past four games, and Gardner Minshew II has thrown exactly two touchdowns in three straight games. Chark is still well over his head in the touchdown department (his +38 FORP is second-highest in the league and his 2.3 OTD ranks 36th), but he can sustain WR2/3 numbers if his target volume keeps up. He should be locked into lineups moving forward.
With Tyreek Hill out and Sammy Watkins limited to two snaps due to an early-game injury, Byron Pringle burst onto the scene Sunday night against the Colts. Pringle paced Kansas City wide receivers with nine targets and trailed only Demarcus Robinson in routes (34 of a possible 43). Undrafted in 2018, Pringle had a grand total of 12 snaps in his career prior to the Week 5 explosion. Pringle should be in lineups in Week 6 only if Hill and Watkins are out, so keep that in mind when considering your options on waivers.
Melvin Gordon made his 2019 debut Sunday, albeit in an abbreviated role. Gordon was on the field for 48% of the snaps, compared to 64% for Ekeler (Justin Jackson was inactive). Gordon out-carried Ekeler 12-3, but Ekeler racked up 16 targets in the game, compared to six for Gordon. Coach Anthony Lynn insists Gordon will return to the top of the depth chart once he settles in, but it will be hard to keep Ekeler off the field in passing situations. Ekeler is averaging an ugly 3.85 yards per carry but has caught an incredible 39 of his 41 targets. Ekeler leads all running backs in targets, receptions, receiving yards and touchdown catches. Both backs will be in the RB2 mix (Gordon the preferred play) in what figures to be a better game script at home against Pittsburgh in Week 6.
Todd Gurley II has been the league’s premiere touchdown scorer over the past two seasons (40 touchdowns in 29 games), and he’s back at it in 2019 despite fewer touches. Gurley has scored five times in five games. Perhaps even better news is Gurley playing a season-high 93% of the Rams’ snaps on Thursday. Gurley has been on the field for at least 64% of the snaps in all five of the Rams’ games and has handled 14-plus carries in four of those outings. Gurley’s underwhelming receiving production remains a concern (68 yards on 21 targets), but he has seen 16 targets over his past two games and ranks fourth among backs in routes for the season. Gurley’s current role positions him as a back-end RB1.
Preston Williams appears to be a terrific undrafted free-agent find by Miami, but the team’s weak offense has left Williams without a top-40 fantasy week despite strong play in September. Williams entered Miami’s Week 5 bye 47th in fantasy points, thanks to a 15-201-1 receiving line on 29 targets. Williams played a lesser role during Weeks 1-2 but was on the field for 90% of the snaps in Weeks 3-4 and handled 18 targets (28% share) during those games. If that volume keeps up, Williams will produce WR3 numbers, but he remains a risky play in Miami’s low-scoring offense, especially with Albert Wilson due back from injury in Week 6.
Kyle Rudolph has been a non-factor in the passing game so far this season and it’s not a fluke. Rudolph has been on the field for 91% of the team’s offensive snaps and has run a route on 71% of Minnesota’s pass plays, but he has cleared one target in only one of five games. Inexplicably, fullback C.J. Ham (nine targets) has been thrown at more than Rudolph (eight). Rudolph hasn’t put up more than 12 yards in a game and has yet to score a touchdown. He shouldn’t be close to fantasy rosters.
Josh Gordon has yet to clear 83 yards in a game and hasn’t scored a touchdown since Week 1. Despite the underwhelming box score numbers, Gordon should remain under consideration for a spot in your lineup. After managing a total of nine targets during Weeks 1-2, Gordon has seen at least seven during each of his past three games. Gordon was on the field for 86% of the snaps Sunday and actually leads all Patriots’ offensive skill position players, aside from Tom Brady, in snaps (289) and pass routes (182). Gordon has yet to post a weekly finish better than 29th, but his current usage suggests better days are ahead.
Jared Cook had his best game of the season Sunday, posting a 4-41-1 line on six targets against Tampa Bay. Despite the step forward, Cook is still a TE2. Cook is averaging 4.8 targets per game and has yet to clear 41 yards in a game. Cook has run a route on only 61% of New Orleans pass plays (down from 76% with Oakland last season) and sits 13th at the position in OFP. Cook will be a fine addition to your bench (and perhaps your starting lineup) once Drew Brees returns, but for now, he’s not seeing enough volume to warrant a spot in your lineup.
Golden Tate made his Giants’ debut Sunday and was on the field for 65% of the snaps. Tate was targeted six times but was held to three catches for 13 yards. As expected, Tate took over as the team’s primary slot receiver (90% of his routes came from the slot), which bumped Sterling Shepard to the perimeter (69% perimeter in the game) with rookie Darius Slayton (93%). Tate couldn’t get much done against former first-round pick Mike Hughes on Sunday, and life won’t be much easier against Patriots’ Jonathan Jones in Week 6. Tate will make for a better flex against Arizona in Week 7.
Demaryius Thomas was back in full for the Jets in Week 5 and led the team’s wide receivers in both snaps (43 of a possible 55), targets (nine) and receiving yards (47). Sam Darnold was close to returning in Week 5 and figures to be under center against Dallas this week. Assuming that’s the case, some life will be injected into the likes of Robby Anderson, Jamison Crowder, Thomas and Chris Herndon (who, by the way, will return from suspension in Week 6). Anderson, Crowder and Herndon should be on rosters in most leagues, and Thomas can be added in deeper leagues.
Rookie Foster Moreau has posted stat lines of 3-30-1 and 5-46-0 over the past two weeks, but he’s not yet a fantasy option. With the Raiders depleted at wide receiver on Sunday, Moreau played a season-high 63% of the snaps and handled a career-high five targets. Though Oakland runs a lot of two-tight-end sets (at 41%, they rank third in the league), Moreau entered Week 5 having run no more than 11 pass routes in a single game. As long as starter Darren Waller is healthy, Moreau will be no more than a hold in deep dynasty leagues.
Jordan Howard has scored five touchdowns during his past three games, so if he’s on your roster, you should be exploring trade opportunities. Howard is operating in a committee backfield — he and Miles Sanders both played 26 snaps on Sunday — and has a minimal role as a receiver (he’s been targeted nine times in five games, including zero in Week 5). Howard is running well (4.7 YPC, 2.1 YAC) but has cleared 13 touches in only one game this season. Howard is more of a non-PPR flex option than a weekly starter, and that figures to show up more often in tougher/closer games. That will be the case at Minnesota in Week 6.
A week after producing 83 yards and one touchdown on 18 touches, Jaylen Samuels was held to 13 yards on six touches against Baltimore on Sunday. Samuels was on the field for only 27% of the snaps with James Conner (78%) dominating the workload. Samuels has produced only one weekly finish better than 53rd this season. With Ben Roethlisberger out for the season and Mason Rudolph likely to miss time after Sunday’s scary head injury, Samuels should not be in fantasy lineups.
Reaction coming Tuesday.
Despite some early-season fumble woes, Chris Carson‘s role continues to grow. Against the Rams in Week 5, Carson was on the field for 85% of Seattle’s offensive snaps and racked up 27 carries to go along with a pair of targets. And that was with Rashaad Penny back from injury. Carson’s passing-game workload has dipped since his seven-target Week 1 showing (he has 10 targets in four games since), but Seattle’s lead back has 15-plus carries in all five games. He sits 15th among backs in fantasy points but is ninth in OFP, so there’s room for even more production. Carson is locked in as a solid RB2 play.
Mike Evans failed to catch a single pass on Sunday and now has two duds on the board this season (28 yards in Week 1). Despite the boom/bust nature of his season, there is no reason to panic. Evans entered Week 5 having seen seven-plus targets in three consecutive games while scoring four touchdowns during that span. Especially with O.J. Howard playing a minimal role in the passing game, the Buccaneers’ pass offense has and will continue to run through Evans and Chris Godwin. The two receivers rank fourth and fifth, respectively, in OFP at the wide receiver position. Evans ranks fourth in the entire league with a 4.0 OTD and is third with six end zone targets. Evans is on track for another top-15 fantasy season and, though Godwin will regress in the coming weeks (+41 FORP), he’s also in the weekly WR1 mix.
Delanie Walker came out hot with 16 catches, 158 yards and a pair of touchdowns during Weeks 1-3 but has hit a major slump with only two catches for 14 yards and no touchdowns on four targets over the past two weeks. Walker has seen his playing time drop in his age-35 season, as he’s been on the field for only 46% of the snaps while running a route on 53% of the pass plays. Despite the rough two games, Walker has handled 18% of the targets this season, so there’s hope for a rebound. He’s a fringe TE1 in Week 6.
Steven Sims Jr. had a pair of catches and a 65-yard touchdown run against the Patriots on Sunday, but he should not be on your radar except in deep dynasty leagues. Despite the big play, Sims was on the field for only 55% of the snaps, which trailed Terry McLaurin (94%), Paul Richardson (87%) and Trey Quinn (77%). The undrafted rookie entered the game having seen six looks on 20 snaps during Weeks 1-4. His snaps will take a hit once Vernon Davis and/or Jordan Reed return from injury.