In the Weekly Fantasy Unit, there are crimes committed that would shock and appal you: Negative points, underwhelming superstars and outright busts. These are the findings of one man on a mission to expose the NFL’s biggest perpetrators before they strike again.
These are … the Fantasy Files.
Welcome everyone to Week 5 of the 2019 NFL Season! Week 4 has come and gone and we’re somehow already through a month of football. This past weeks slate of games was a down one for all of us over at the precinct.
Suspected busts were let off the hook by outlier performances, format accommodations and ungodly target shares. However, there is no room for excuses in this business. You either win or you learn.
Let’s see what we learned this week:
WHERE WE HIT:
- Josh Allen (11 fantasy points)
- Prior to leaving Sunday’s contest against the Patriots following a nasty helmet to helmet hit, Josh Allen was already riding the struggle bus. It’s a ride that nearly every quarterback has taken against New England’s defense so far this season, and the Bills’ second-year savior couldn’t avoid his turn. Allen turned in one of his worst performances to date (153 Pass Yds/3 INTs) and only reached double-digit points because of a rushing TD. He’s a dynamic rising talent in the league, but New England was too much to handle. Here’s hoping he returns to the field soon.
- David Montgomery (8 fantasy points)
- Despite seeing the highest touch total of his young career by far (21 carries) David Montgomery continued to frustrate fantasy owners and Bears fans alike on Sunday afternoon. The highly touted rookie rushed for just 53 yards (an average of under 3 yards-per-carry) against a tough Vikings front. He will get a softer landing spot against the Raiders in Week 5. If his touch totals continue to climb, this matchup could be his breakout game.
WHERE WE MISSED:
- Stefon Diggs (12 fantasy points)
- Diggs just barely made it onto this side of the write up because of his perfect catch rate on Sunday. The Vikings wide-out hauled in all seven of his targets from Kirk Cousins for 108 yards, but he also lost a fumble. With rumors of his frustration and a possible trade making the rounds on social media, it’s anyone’s guess how Diggs will perform moving forward. He’s become one of the more volatile players taken in the first four rounds of drafts this year.
- Austin Hooper (17 fantasy points)
- We were just flat out wrong about Hooper this week. The Falcons offense hasn’t been working as intended so far this year, but Hooper has taken a Zach Ertz style role in their playcalling. With Matt Ryan’s early interception issues it seems to make sense that he’s going to his check down/safety valve option more often. If this trend continues Hooper could be on pace for a Top 5 level year at the position.
- Seattle D/ST (16 fantasy points)
- It turned out that the much-discussed Kliff Kingsbury “Air Raid Offense” has no clearance to fly in Seattle’s secondary. The Seahawks were clearly the better team coming into this match-up, and they asserted that dominance early. They limited Kyler Murray to under 250 passing yards & didn’t allow a single passing TD from the #1 overall pick. Murray would go on to score Arizona’s only touchdown of the day with his legs, but otherwise, Seattle was spotless.
- Jameis Winston (30 fantasy points)
- In what will likely go down as one of the most unexpected performances in recent history, Jameis Winston annihilated the defending NFC Champions on Sunday. The Rams defense had seemingly no answer for Winston, surrendering over 50 points and allowing a passing stat line of (385 Passing Yds/4 TD/1 INT). Winston got everyone (except OJ Howard) involved in the fun, throwing TD’s to Chris Godwin (2), Mike Evans and Cameron Brate on the day. This will go down as one of the best performances of Winston’s career and should be considered an outlier, but he was excellent on Sunday.
NOW, with that out of the way, let’s jump into the bust candidates for Week 5:
Week 5 Fantasy Busts
QUARTERBACK: MATT RYAN (Atlanta Falcons)
We briefly touched on the Atlanta Falcons offensive struggles a bit earlier when discussing the emergence of Austin Hooper. You can’t discuss these struggles without pointing a finger at Matt Ryan.
For a quarterback that was named the leagues MVP just three years ago, Ryan has hardly looked like it. His TD/INT ratio of 9/6 looks manageable until you dig just a bit deeper. Ryan has thrown an equal number of INT’s to TD’s in three of four games so far this season. He threw 2 TD/2 INT’s in Week 1 against Minnesota, 3 TDs/3 INTs against Philadelphia, and this past week he didn’t post a single score or INT against Tennessee at home.
Ryan has padded his fantasy stats through the first month with high yardage totals (over 300 Pass yards every week) to cover up for what are otherwise glaring issues. This week his 1-3 Falcons will be up against the wall against JJ Watt and a brutal Texans defense. This one could become a shootout, but Ryan hasn’t shown the ability to keep up so far this year.
RUNNING BACK: JOSH JACOBS (Oakland Raiders)
If we’re being transparent this selection has much more to do with the strength of the opponent than the drawbacks of the individual player.
Josh Jacobs has looked like a first-round running back for Oakland through the first month, but his supporting cast has looked like the Oakland Raiders. That’s bad news when you’re gearing up to face a vengeful Khalil Mack and the NFL’s 3rd ranked run defense.
There’s set to be a Mack attack in the Black Hole this weekend, and it’s one Jacobs will remember for quite some time.
WIDE RECEIVER: JUJU SMITH-SCHUSTER (Pittsburgh Steelers)
Last week we highlighted the struggles of the Minnesota Vikings passing attack and how it affected Stefon Diggs. This week we’re jumping from the NFC North to the AFC North to discuss JuJu Smith-Schuster. The red flags with Diggs are small but growing because of his draft placement as a low 3rd/high 4th round selection.
The red flags surrounding JuJu are the size of the banners they run out during the opening ceremony for the Olympics. Smith-Schuster’s first year without Antonio Brown in Pittsburgh has been a tough one. He has yet to eclipse 100 yards receiving after the first month and has reached the endzone only once. The loss of Ben Roethlisberger under center and rise of Mason Rudolph has brought with it a heavy focus on check-down passing and running the ball. Neither of these things is JuJu’s forte, and he runs a serious risk of being shut out as the season goes along.
His performance in a juicy Monday Night matchup with Cincinnati is a testament to that (3 Rec/15 Yds). Pittsburgh feels like they’re about to be fed to the metaphorical Lions this week in Baltimore, and Smith-Schuster won’t be able to save them if that’s the case.
TIGHT END: JAMES O’SHAUGHNESSY (Jacksonville Jaguars)
Here’s a fun waiver wire name that we’ve noticed over the past few weeks. James O’Shaughnessy has become fantasy relevant during the rise of Minshew Mania, scoring touchdowns in each of the last two weeks.
His status as a relative unknown means that he’s widely available in most leagues, but he comes with the same inherent risk that nearly all TE’s do. His target share is rock bottom, and it tanks his fantasy floor. O’Shaughnessy’s last two weeks may have yielded touchdowns, but he’s scored them on a combined three receptions on seven targets. Consider him a risky streaming candidate against a Carolina defense that’s looked rejuvenated over the past two weeks.
DEFENSE: KANSAS CITY D/ST
The Kansas City Chiefs splurged in the off-season to acquire Tyrann Mathieu and Frank Clark to bolster their defense. So far in 2019, it hasn’t really made much of a difference. The Chiefs win and lose games on the downfield magic of Patrick Mahomes and the ability to score seemingly at will.
They need every point they can get, as their defense has given up 25 or more points in three of four weeks so far this year. They’re this week’s bust defense because of the perceived weakness of their adversary. The Indianapolis Colts are a scrappy team, but they aren’t the Andrew Luck led AFC monster that the schedulers likely assumed they would be when they made this game for Sunday Night Football.
Nonetheless, Jacoby Brissett has proven himself to be more than capable of executing a gameplan and winning games. The backup that the world seemingly gave up on immediately after Lucks retirement has thrown for a TD/INT ratio of 10/2 in his first month as a starter and come within single digits of leading Indy to a 4-0 record.
The Colts may not win this game, but we expect them to hang a crooked number on the scoreboard against KC and make them work for the victory on Sunday night.
PRIMARY SUSPECT: LE’VEON BELL (New York Jets)
Picking on a member of the Jets offense just feels like cheating, but when that player is one of the best running backs in the league we’ll make an exception.
Le’Veon Bell has done everything in his power to overcome the New York Jets’ lack of talent around him (and the loss of his quarterback to a high school kissing illness). That effort has not gone unnoticed, but unfortunately for New York, it hasn’t made a difference in the standings.
Teams are well aware that Bell is the number one pass-catching option AND lead offensive play-maker on the Jets, and they’re stacking the box and playing coverage appropriately. His carry totals on the season have remained firmly in “workhorse” territory (20+ touches in all four weeks), but he’s only reached the endzone once so far (through the air).
This week will prove to be another unbreachable barrier for both Bell and the Jets offense as they march into Lincoln Financial Field to face the Eagles 2nd ranked run defense. Philadelphia has faced Derrius Guice/Devonta Freeman/Kerryon Johnson and Aaron Jones so far and limited all four to under 2 yards-per-carry.
If Bell reaches the endzone on Sunday it will be through a long battle of attrition (and likely a few penalties). We know it will be nearly impossible to sit him, but your expectations should be lower than usual in this matchup.