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Fantasy Overview, Week 5 - Footballguys

Get yourself caught up on what's going on in the league as we enter Week 5 of the NFL season. Here's my take on the fantasy landscape around the league and how you can benefit. 

It's hard to believe, but we are a quarter of the way through the season. In fantasy terms we're even further, considering most league's playoffs start in Week 14. For those of you with a 4-0 record, Congratulations! All the power to you.

This week's edition is more for those that are 0-4, 1-3 or 2-2. I'll take a look at some struggling players from each position and let you know what you how you should proceed with those players. These do not include any players who have missed multiple games with an injury.

QUARTERBACK

Aaron Rodgers, GB

Current rank:15th
Drafted as: QB1.
Opponents played: CHI (win), MIN (tie), at WAS (loss), BUF (win)
Record: 2-1-1
Upcoming schedule: at DET, SF, BYE, at LAR, at NE, vs MIA

Green Bay could conceivably be 1-2-1 if not for the comeback win in Week 1 vs Chicago, but this is about Aaron Rodgers and his place outside of the Top 10. How concerned should you be? Considering he was carted off in Week 1, taking the field is a bonus. Can we blame some of his slow start on the knee injury? Yes, but there's no proof that his knee has been the main culprit. He has come close, but he has not surpassed the 300-yard mark in any of his games this season, and he has two games with only one touchdown. His numbers so far - 1,130 yards, 7 touchdowns, and 1 interception. Last year at this time, Rodgers was ranked third with 1,146 yards and 10 touchdowns (3 interceptions). Both years he had zero rushing touchdowns through Week 4, and he actually has more rushing yards this year than last.

2017 fantasy points through Week 4 (99)
2018 fantasy points through Week 4(90)

99 fantasy points in 2018 would equal a ranking of 10th. He's not far off from a yardage standpoint of where he was last year. One big game and he's right back in the hunt.

Result: Keep the faith, Rodgers comeback is in the cards.

russell Wilson, sea

Current rank:20th
Drafted as: QB1.
Opponents played: at DEN (loss), at CHI (loss), vs DAL (win), at ARI (win)
Record: 2-2
Upcoming schedule: LAR, at OAK, BYE, at DET, LAC

Taking a deeper look at Russell Wilson, he has 7 touchdowns and 3 interceptions through four games. He has failed to surpass 200 yards passing twice this season and his highest rushing game is only 21 yards. In his defense, Seattle has lost some key pieces on offense, particularly receivers. Doug Baldwin has been out with a knee injury, Jimmy Graham signed with Green Bay in the offseason and nobody has taken a big step forward in their absence. You could argue Tyler Lockett has developed, but the passing game hasn't taken off. Seattle has two wins this year, against the Cowboys and Cardinals who are on the bad side of average at best. Interestingly enough, Wilson's two sub-200 yard games came in both of the team's wins (their last two), where the ground game ruled the day. What can we expect moving forward? The offense isn't what it used to be and they have an uphill battle to win the division with the Rams taking the lead. The offense seems out of synch, and only recently looked decent against teams ranked in the lower half of the power rankings. If Doug Baldwin can return to form or be close to what he was in the past, Seattle, and Wilson, have a chance to rebound as an offense. From a rankings standpoint for the rest of the season, Wilson looks like a quarterback on the outside of the Top 10.

Result: Should see an improvement from 20th, but advancing into the Top 10 seems unlikely.

Tom brady, ne

Current rank:19th
Drafted as: QB1.
Opponents played: at HOU (win), at JAC (loss), at DET (loss), MIA (win)
Record: 2-2
Upcoming schedule: IND, KC, at CHI, at BUF, GB

We've seen Tom Brady and New England start slow in the past, only to regain their championship form mid-way through the season. Brady has struggled in the past without his reliable slot receiver Julian Edelman, and to some extent, Wes Welker. Edelman is eligible to return this week, but keep in mind, he did suffer an ACL tear last season and may need to be eased back into the fold. Just because he's back doesn't mean he'll be the savior the offense is looking for. Rob Gronkowski had one foot into retirement in the offseason and has yet to explode onto the scene in 2018. Brady himself is 41 years old and at some point, he's going to decline. Will that decline begin this season? Surprisingly, that's difficult to tell. He has had one poor game this season (at Detroit) and two three-touchdown games. The other game was at Jacksonville where he managed to have a decent, but not spectacular outing. What can we expect moving forward? There is no reason to think that Brady is going to slow down, even though he defies conventional thinking. Brady has always turned on the production in times of need. Why should we expect anything different?

Result: Brady should rebound back into the Top 10 and is worthy of an every week start.

running back

Derrick Henry, ten

Current rank: PPR 53rd, standard 51st.
Drafted as: RB2-3.
Opponents played: at MIA (loss), HOU (win), at JAC (win), vs PHI (win)
Record: 3-1
Upcoming schedule: at BUF, BAL, at LAC, BYE, at DAL

One of the bigger disappointments at the running back position has been Derrick Henry, but it hasn't been due to lack of volume or yards. He has 54 carries (tied for 13th most) and 163 rushing yards (28th). The problem has been lack of touchdowns. He has zero through four games. However, when you look deeper, Tennessee has faced three opponents allowing 88 yards rushing per game or less. HOU (88 RYAPG), JAC (72 RYAPG) and PHI (40 RYAPG). Interestingly enough, all three were Titans wins. Is there a light at the end of the tunnel? That's hard to say, but the dark end of the tunnel seems to be further away. Tennessee has also had injuries to both starting tackles. Jack Conklin returned last week and Taylor Lewan (concussion) is expected to return in Week 5. What can we expect to see from Henry moving forward? Their next opponent (at Buffalo) is averaging 1.3 rushing touchdowns allowed per game, but they have been stingy in rushing yards allowed (75). Baltimore in Week 6 is another tough matchup, but the schedule opens up for the back half of the season. If Henry can manage a score here and there and perhaps a decent game, he projects to be a decent bounce-back candidate in the second half of the year.

Result: Hold onto Henry. Weather the storm for the next two weeks and be pleasantly surprised in the second half of the season.

David johnson, ari

Current rank: PPR 14th, standard 14th
Drafted as: RB1
Opponents played: WAS (loss), at LAR (loss), CHI (loss), vs SEA (loss)
Record: 0-4
Upcoming schedule: at SF, at MIN, DEN, SF, BYE

Arizona has played three of their four games at home and they have zero wins to show for it. It's no secret, the current Cardinals coaching staff has not utilized Johnson as the former Bruce Arians regime has. Johnson is still a talented back, but his usage, especially as a receiver, has fallen way off. As a result, he has put up good, but not great numbers. He is ranked 14th due to two scores and recent increase as a receiver. It's an improvement, but it's not how it used to be. Perhaps head coach Steve Wilks and offensive coordinator Mike McCoy have read the writing on the wall and have made it a point to get him more involved? Let's hope that's the case. It's not all volume-related, Johnson is averaging 3.3 yards per carry and the Cardinals offense has not found itself yet. On the bright side, he had 25 touches for 112 total yards in his most recent game (vs Seattle). He ran with purpose and had several impressive chunk-yardage plays, including a 30-yard screen catch and run where he looked like the Johnson we've seen in the past. It seems evident that Arizona will call on their lead back more as the season wears on. The offensive line needs to become more cohesive, but there are signs that Johnson will rebound and be a more reliable fantasy back, but his best fantasy years may be behind him. Not due to wear and tear, but coaching, play calling and offensive success.

Result: Don't give up on Johnson. He has much better moments coming this season.

jordan howard, chi

Current rank: PPR 27th, standard 27th
Drafted as: RB2
Opponents played: at GB (loss), SEA (win), at ARI (win), TB (win)
Record: 3-1
Upcoming schedule: BYE, at MIA, NE, NYJ, at BUF

Unlike Derrick Henry, Jordan Howard has found the end zone, albeit only once. Like Henry, Howard is still getting heavy volume. His 64 carries is 6th most in the league and his 203 yards rushing is 19th. Howard had a mere 11 carries for 25 yards in the blowout win against Tampa Bay last week, which has people wondering how he'll produce if he does very little in a 48-point effort from the offense. Some games are all about the passing game. Mitch Trubisky was too busy passing the ball in scoring situations, otherwise, Howard may have punched in one or two scores, and we would be talking about how Howard is a Top 20 back. A good offense is not a bad thing for a heavy volume running back. Not at all. Howard has not lit the league on fire in the first few games, but he hasn't been awful either. Sure he had some lower than expected games and because it's the beginning of the season, some people are concerned that it may be the norm. What if those games occurred in the middle of the season after he had a 100-yard effort with two scores? Would you be as concerned? Probably not. Trust the process with Howard - and Derrick Henry for that matter. The volume is there, and each of their teams is winning. Let the season play out - better games are ahead.

Result: Be patient and wait. The good games are coming. The beginning has been less than expected, but it's not time to panic.

kenyan drake, mia

Current rank: PPR 38th, standard 43rd
Drafted as: RB2-3
Opponents played: TEN (win), at NYJ (win), OAK (win) at NE (loss)
Record: 3-1
Upcoming schedule: at CIN, CHI, DET, at HOU, NYJ

The bad news is that Drake had only 5 and 3 carries in each of the last two games. The game against Oakland in Week 3, Miami barely ran the ball at all, running only 11 times among the backs - yet they managed to somehow come away with a win. Week 4 they were trounced in all phases by New England and gave Frank Gore more carries (11) - perhaps to give Drake a rest? It doesn't seem like Gore will be taking over duties as the primary back, so maybe chalk that up as an ugly game and move on? If Gore continues to get touches, while Drake barely has snaps, then it's time to worry. A bounce-back game against Cincinnati seems much more plausible.

Result: Hold onto Drake. But if Gore rises and Drake falls or fails to improve, it may be time to move on.

wide receiver

keenan allen, lac

Current rank: PPR 30th, standard 36th.
Drafted as: WR1
Opponents played: KC (loss), at BUF (win), at LAR (loss), vs SF (win)
Record: 2-2
Upcoming schedule: OAK, at CLE, TEN, BYE, at SEA

Philip Rivers has 11 touchdown passes in four games, yet his star receiver, Keenan Allen, has only caught one. The lack of scoring is keeping Allen from being included in the Top 20, but he also has been stung by two non-serious injuries one to his leg and another to his arm. While he hasn't missed any time, it may have had a negative impact on his performance. Five of Rivers 11 touchdown passes have gone to his backs and another five went to his wide receivers and one to his tight end. Mike Williams has three and has emerged as a red zone weapon, which has also aided in fewer scores for Allen. Could this be a down scoring year for Allen? Yes, but a rebound in terms of yardage and production is also expected. Allen leads the team in targets with 34 and the next closest non-back is Williams with 18. Allen needs a few big games and he'll be right back into the mix.

Result: He may not be an elite WR this year, due to Williams' end zone presence, but a rebound is likely

allen robinson, chi

Current rank: PPR 42nd, standard 47th.
Drafted as: WR2-3
Opponents played: at GB (loss), SEA (win), at ARI (win), TB (win)
Record: 3-1
Upcoming schedule: BYE, at MIA, NE, NYJ, at BUF

The Bears offense may have woken up from their hibernation after last week's offensive explosion against Tampa Bay. Unfortunately, Allen Robinson wasn't a big contributor in the game, but he did manage to score on one of Mitch Trubisky's six touchdown passes. The flow of the game focused on short-intermediate pass plays that Tampa Bay could not handle. Their speed players Tarik Cohen and Taylor Gabriel were the primary targets, which the offense thrived on. The downfield passing attack is still a work in progress for Trubisky and that's where Robinson can be effective. Until that happens, he'll continue to see shorter routes with a lower yards per catch metric. As long as the Bears offense is humming, Robinson should be able to put up some fantasy numbers for us, but the longer plays and 100-yard games may be few and far between this year - at least until the offense opens up more.

Result: Robinson is still a weekly start, but don't expect high yardage numbers until the downfield game blossoms

larry fitzgerald, ari

Current rank: PPR 66th, standard 82nd
Drafted as: WR2-3
Opponents played: WAS (loss), at LAR (loss), CHI (loss), vs SEA (loss)
Record: 0-4
Upcoming schedule: at SF, at MIN, DEN, SF, BYE

The Arizona offense is in flux right now. They are struggling as a passing offense and their running game, while improved recently, is also a work in progress. Rookie Josh Rosen has taken over as the Cardinals quarterback under center and it's going to take some time for him to get accustomed to the role, the plays, the team, the league, etc. As a result, players like Larry Fitzgerald are going to see a reduction in targets from what we've seen in the past, plus scoring opportunities will be hard to come by. In addition to struggles with the team, Fitzgerald is dealing with a hamstring injury that he's playing through. These injuries tend to last a few weeks and usually result in missed time. Fitzgerald has a great work ethic and his conditioning skills are among the best in the league. He is clearly battling an injury, has issues with a rookie quarterback and he's also in the sunset of his career. There are several strikes going against the future Hall of Famer right now, that may be enough for you to look elsewhere for a wide receiver in your lineup. There is no clear rosy path of success in Fitzgerald's immediate future. If there's a better option on the wire, consider taking it, otherwise hold on, hope the offense improves and wait for Fitzgerald to get back to 100%.

Result: If there's a better option on the wire, take it, otherwise wait for him to get healthy and hope the offense comes to life.

michael crabtree, bal

Current rank: PPR 50th, standard 53rd
Drafted as: WR3-4
Opponents played: BUF (win), at CIN (loss), DEN (win), at PIT (win).
Record: 3-1
Upcoming schedule: at CLE, at TEN, NO, at CAR, PIT

Joe Flacco has 8 touchdown passes this season of which five have gone to his wide receivers (3 John Brown, 1 Michael Crabtree, 1 Willie Snead IV). The expectation at the beginning of the year was that Crabtree would be the team's primary receiving weapon with John Brown playing more of a complementary role. Instead, Brown has been a deep threat averaging 22.5 yards per catch with three scores. Crabtree leads the team in targets with 34, but he has only 18 receptions with an average of 10.2 yards per catch. Not only is he getting shorter routes, but he's not catching even the shorter passes. Crabtree has three straight years of 8 touchdown receptions, but that streak is in jeopardy if he doesn't start making more plays. A game with a touchdown here and there will elevate his standing among the ranks, but he's becoming a liability as a starting wide receiver for your lineup. Expect a bounce-back, but if he struggles to find a niche in the offense, consider benching him until he does.

Result: Consider benching him until he proves he's a key piece in the offense.

tight end

jimmy graham, gb

Current rank: PPR 11th, standard 14th.
Drafted as: TE1
Opponents played: CHI (win), MIN (tie), at WAS (loss), BUF (win)
Record: 2-1-1
Upcoming schedule: at DET, SF, BYE, at LAR, at NE, vs MIA

Expectations were high for Jimmy Graham this year. He was a key offseason signing by a high scoring offense that was in need of a tight end. What could go wrong? Aaron Rodgers has always had a propensity for throwing touchdown passes to his wide receivers, while the tight end was more of a complementary role in the offense. But Jimmy Graham is different - he's built like a wide receiver. He'll fill the void left by Jordy Nelson. That, unfortunately, has not been the case, at least not through four games. He did manage to score his first touchdown last week, but the targets and yards aren't much different from what Richard Rodgers brought to the table in his time in Green Bay. Graham is more of a red zone threat than a key contributor between the 20's and perhaps that's what we need to expect moving forward? He has shown a slower step than in the past, plus he's not getting the same separation that he used to. He'll see some action in games, especially when the Packers offense is clicking, but he's become more of a goal-line threat, which can be productive if he scores. If not, he may find himself outside of the weekly Top 20 on occasion, which will hurt his overall place in the ranks.

Result: As long as the touchdowns come, he has value. If not, consider benching him for someone else.

cameron brate, tb

Current rank: PPR 26th, standard 17th.
Drafted as: TE2 or TE3
Opponents played: at NO (win), PHI (win), PIT (loss), at CHI (loss)
Record: 2-2
Upcoming schedule: BYE, at ATL, CLE, at CIN, at CAR

What happened to Cameron Brate? He was on a milk carton for the first two games, with zero catches on two total targets. O.J. Howard was rising to the occasion, leaving Brate as an afterthought. He came alive in Weeks 3 & 4 with touchdowns in both games and now that O.J. Howard is out for an extended time with a sprained MCL, Brate is expected to become a fixture in the offense once again. Jameis Winston has utilized Brate often in the red zone, where he has thrived, catching 14 touchdowns in the last two seasons. If you kept Brate on your roster despite the strong play from O.J. Howard, now's the time to start him. He may be available on the waiver wire and others may shy away due to the Buccaneers being on a bye this week.

Result: Go get him, or if you have him, it may be beneficial to insert him into your lineup.

david njoku, cle

Current rank: PPR 22nd, standard 32nd.
Drafted as: TE2 or TE3
Opponents played: at PIT (tie), at NO (loss), NYJ (win), at OAK (loss)
Record: 1-2-1
Upcoming schedule: BAL, LAC, at TB, at PIT, KC

Baker Mayfield does a good job of spreading the ball around to his playmakers, David Njoku included. He has yet to find the end zone this season, but that should change soon enough. The Browns offense is on an upswing with Mayfield under center and Njoku is among the top targeted players on the team behind Jarvis Landry and barely behind Antonio Calloway. He has 7 targets in three of four games and his best asset is his ability to run after the catch. If not for a few key drops, his numbers would be much higher. He'll find the end zone soon enough, but he needs to come up big when targeted.

Result: Hold onto Njoku and get ready for improved play and production in the coming weeks

Questions, suggestions, and comments are always welcome to haseley@footballguys.com