In this space, I’ll go through all that we learned from the Week 5 action and give you five things I care about along with five things I can’t muster up the emotional energy to care for.
Good news for you: We’re going to do this exercise in emotional turmoil every Sunday of the regular season.
5 Things I care about
Josh Allen puts the entire field in play
One team on the field Sunday night featured an absurdly gifted quarterback who simply couldn’t miss. A quarterback who was the rising tide for all boats, no matter where the vessels were positioned on offense. That team was not the Kansas City Chiefs with Patrick Mahomes.
Allen ended Sunday’s action as the QB3 in the fantasy football week, trailing only two otherworldly performances by Justin Herbert and Tom Brady. He averaged 21 yards per completion against Kansas City. It’s hard to put into words how insane that is.
Some of Allen’s yardage came on short passes that gained YAC when the Chiefs just left huge lanes for players to run through. Much more of it came on some absolute darts downfield. We’re talking perfectly placed vertical shots.
Allen doled them out to a ton of guys too. Dawson Knox, Emmanuel Sanders, and Stefon Diggs each were on the receiving end of at least one deep shot. The impact of guys like Knox and Sanders along with Diggs and other holdovers from 2020 has just taken the ceiling of the Bills offense to another level. It’s wild to think we’re getting performances like this from Allen and we’ve yet to see Diggs’ eruption game. It will come at some point and while fantasy managers might be twisting in the wind on that one, it’s a win for the Bills as a team. Because again, we all know those games will come.
There were many differences between the Bills and Chiefs on Sunday night. One of the starkest to me was Allen’s play alongside the impact of so many players deep down the Buffalo roster. Patrick Mahomes doesn’t have much margin for error and he doesn’t have a Knox or Sanders-like threat beyond his front-line weapons right now. So when Mahomes hiccups, the Chiefs fall apart.
Buffalo, on the other hand, has a strong enough infrastructure to weather any storm. Remember, they weren’t getting Allen’s best level of play to start the year but were able to get by as other areas of the roster stepped up. Now, with Allen playing his absolute best football, they look like one of the most difficult teams to beat.
This is the Josh Allen we signed up for in 2021. It's the beautiful encore to what was a delightful set in 2020.
I don't think it's going away any time soon.
Kadarius Toney’s journey
Kadarius Toney did it all in Week 5. He saw 13 targets, totaled 180-plus yards through the air, tacked on a rushing attempt, and even attempted a pass. Oh, yes ... and he also threw a punch which got him thrown out of the game and drew the ire of his head coach.
What a journey.
Who knows how the extracurriculars will impact his status with the team, if at all. But it’s clear the Giants’ offense needs the obvious juice Toney brings to the table.
It’s worth remembering that Toney’s big moment has come when just about every other Giants player was hurt. Sterling Shepard and Darius Slayton were out. Saquon Barkley got hurt early and then Kenny Golladay left the action. Toney was eventually getting targets from Mike Glennon because Daniel Jones was also ruled out with a concussion.
That doesn’t mean that Toney’s production was solely a product of being the last man standing. He brings rare open-field ability that’s already showing at the NFL level. I’m more interested in how the Giants deploy Toney once the top three receivers are back. Sterling Shepard will 100% get his role as the slot receiver back and Kenny Golladay isn’t going to cede snaps. A player like Darius Slayton should not block Toney’s rise but it’s still a question of whether Toney can thrive in a full-time receiver role outside.
The Giants need to keep Toney involved but there are still questions here. I still don’t have much faith that Jason Garrett is the guy to solve this puzzle.
Justin Fields isn’t running
The thesis behind Justin Fields’ upside as a fantasy player in Year 1 was mostly built on the back of his mobility. That’s looking like a miss.
Fields ran just three times for a measly four yards in Week 5 and he’s totaled just 25 yards on the ground since taking over as the starter. It’s not too surprising the Bears haven’t just flipped the script on their offense to make it an option-based attack but it is odd that Fields isn’t scrambling more. Especially considering how chaotic Chicago's offensive line is.
If we aren’t going to see more upside from the ground game, Fields is just a volatile passer who we need to hit a few deep strikes to return fantasy goodness. It’s been great for Bears fans to see Fields taking some positive steps forward, but the fantasy outlook is just taking a bit longer to materialize.
Antonio Gibson logs 22 touches
What’s crucial is that this development occurred while Washington mostly trailed the Saints throughout the afternoon. Meanwhile, J.D. McKissic logged just three touches for seven total yards.
I still strongly believe that the freak-out about Gibson’s fantasy stock this year is overstated due to the lack of bulk touchdowns and big games from McKissic in big moments.
Washington plays at such a high pace that Gibson is still going to log a ton of touches. Gibson handled 20 carries even as Taylor Heinicke threw 41 passes. Gibson might not have a top-five ceiling or anything like that but he has a rock-solid season-long floor. The panic might be low after this strong fantasy game but I’d still advise trying to trade for Gibson if you can.
Kyle Pitts has his moment
It was a layup lane for Kyle Pitts in fantasy football this week but it was nevertheless good to see the rookie slam it through the hoop.
On a day where the Falcons were without top receiver Calvin Ridley, they needed the No. 4 overall pick to deliver as the offensive focal point. Pitts did just that. The rookie tight end cleared 100 yards receiving, paced the team with 10 targets, and scored his first career touchdown. He looked like the dynamic force we all expected to see.
Even if the lane was so clear to see, the fact that Pitts showed it was in his range of outcomes was important. Pitts had all the volume and playing time metrics going in his favor. We just needed him to turn in a big performance to feel good about his outlook for the remainder of 2021. He’s still a top-five tight end in rest-of-season rankings.
5 Things I don’t care about
Waving off the Chiefs’ worries
No one should be ready to declare the Chiefs as done. If you see a friend ready to pick up the shovel and head to the pile of dirt, go ahead and step in for your buddy.
While it would be absurd to think the Chiefs still can’t go on some kind of run, it’s past time we acknowledge the very real flaws of this roster.
The Chiefs came into this Week 5 matchup with the Buffalo Bills already in a hole record-wise. The defense looked like a weakness. If there was any thought that some of those issues would just magically correct themselves in a big game against a familiar opponent, Josh Allen slashed those to pieces — quite literally.
Allen routinely found wide-open receivers at every area of the field. He flung perfect, pinpoint passes to wide receivers in the vertical game but far too often the defense left him with massive windows. They gave up YAC in bunches in the short game. The fact that Kansas City routinely turned their back in man coverage to a dangerous scrambler like Allen was just mind-numbing.
The Chiefs’ defense is a massive problem that the offense will have to have to compensate for every week.
And the offense wasn’t up for it on Sunday night. Patrick Mahomes was uncharacteristically off-target. He missed far too many layups and didn’t take some gimme plays over the middle. It just never looked right.
There’s really no use in panicking about the Chiefs’ Big Three in fantasy football. But part of the problem for Kansas City’s outlook the rest of the year is something that fantasy gamers know all too well: Beyond that Big Three, there just isn’t much here.
So when that trio has an off-night, there’s trouble. And when one or more of them has a way off night, you get a disaster with the state of this roster as it is.
No one should doubt that the Chiefs can get rolling at any time, because Mahomes is a transcendent talent. However, it’s time to have an honest conversation about where they stand right now.
The Full Jameis
Week 5 really was a picture-perfect example of the full Jameis Winston experience.
Winston threw a hideous interception in the first half of the game and completed just 50 percent of his passes. On the other hand, he threw four touchdowns, made plays with his legs, and averaged 11.8 air yards per attempt.
From a Saints-era adjusted perspective, this was letting Winston do his thing. His 30 pass attempts were a season-high and there was clearly more aggression in his passing portfolio in Week 5.
It’s hard to know what to project for this team going forward. Sean Payton and co. have wanted to keep Winston somewhat under control. I’m not ready to veer away from that expectation just yet. However, it’s worth keeping an open mind that the Saints will open up the passing game as Winston gets more experience working with Payton and Michael Thomas edges ever closer to returning.
For now, I don’t care to ride the roller coaster.
A.J. Brown’s box score
A.J. Brown only came away with three catches on six targets in a convincing win over the Jaguars. Apparently Brown wanted to play the full game but the coaching staff put him on a pitch count.
A.J. Brown said he wanted to play more but was on a snap count. Brown played 40 snaps which was 65% of the #Titans offensive snaps vs. the #Jaguars. Here are the rest of the skill players' snaps. pic.twitter.com/32JXcYjCpx
— TURRON DAVENPORT (@TDavenport_NFL) October 10, 2021
Smart move. The Titans didn’t need prime A.J. Brown in this game but they will at some point. Brown certainly had a high target ceiling in a game without Julio Jones. He did see a target on 27 percent of Ryan Tannehill’s attempts. That analysis wasn’t wrong. The Jags just didn’t put up a fight.
Nothing that happened today changed my high preseason expectations for Brown. All we wanted was to see him not have any aggravations and maybe show some juice, as he did on his 22-yard catch-and-run play.
Pretending to figure out the 49ers offense
That’s right, I’m throwing in the towel on the endeavor I talked about on just about every episode of the Yahoo Fantasy Football Forecast this summer.
The initial showing of Trey Lance as the starting quarterback was decidedly mixed. Lance was used as a rusher to an insane degree. He took off 16 times for 89 yards with a mix of designed runs and scrambles. No running back even cracked 10 carries.
Lance was essentially the power back of the offense. Which is sort of fun but how long can that last? One thing is for sure, Lance didn’t quite know how to protect himself in his first start. The guy took some shots.
The rookie also pushed the ball down the field much more than Jimmy Garoppolo to start the season. Lance averaged 10.5 air yards per attempt (fifth-highest among Week 5 passers). It was not effective, however, as his average completion traveled just 6.6 air yards. Lance just looks a little frenetic and scatter-shot from a passing perspective. That’s not unexpected considering he’s a rookie making his first start after barely playing last year.
No pass-catcher cleared 60 yards. We’re either going to need Lance to make massive improvements as a passer or the structure of the offense needs to change dramatically for any pass-catcher to consistently hit a ceiling.
There is so much talent here I’m ready to believe anything with this offense the rest of the way. But I’m done pretending I can correctly predict it.
Myles Gaskin’s big game
Myles Gaskin just turned in a Week 5 top-five running back performance against the vaunted Tampa Bay Buccaneers vaunted run defense. He did it one week after he touched the ball two times and played just 12 snaps.
If he blew up on your bench or you even dropped him, don’t let this negatively impact your mental state for one second. Seriously, just laugh it off and let it go. There’s a lot of random, unforeseen oddities that happen every fantasy season. This is one of them.
Nothing about Gaskin’s usage over the course of the season would have told you to play him here. You certainly shouldn’t have been remotely tempted with the Bucs on the schedule.
Gaskin did most of his damage as a receiver anyway. While he saw just five carries, he caught all 10 of his targets and totaled 74 yards with two touchdowns. He hadn’t seen more than six targets in any prior game. I’ll need to see this for one more game, at a bare minimum, before believing this is sustainable.