There are going to be highs and lows in fantasy, highs and lows in this prediction and projection racket. Our fades had plenty of hits in the first three weeks. Last week, the players faded in this space scored like Kevin Durant against a middle-school team. You’ll get humbled in this game.
Of course, the point is to try to actually offer advice that can be actionable. Fading Allen Lazard or Kenyan Drake isn’t going to help anyone. So let’s step up to the plate and make sure if we go down, we go down swinging. All of that, with the understanding that the goal is to make good decisions, and then reap rewards from the cumulative effect of good decisions.
Cordarrelle Patterson vs. Jets (in London)
It’s no fun to pan a player like Patterson, one of the feel-good stories of the first month. He’s on his fifth team, he’s in his ninth season, and maybe he’s finally landed with an offense that knows how to best utilize him. Maybe Patterson’s days of being Inspector Gadget are over; perhaps he’s a full-time offensive star.
But Patterson’s success thus far has come through a tiny amount of actual playing time. He’s played 97 offensive snaps for the Falcons. He has 45 touches on those snaps. And of course four touchdowns, including a glorious three last week.
Patterson doesn’t have the body type and skill set to be a traditional running back, and while his receiving numbers are good, the obvious outlier is the touchdown rate. Matt Ryan is a league-average quarterback at best, and the Jets — despite the 1-3 record — actually have a respectable defense. They dumped Ryan Tannehill so many times last week, you’d swear you were watching a Sack Exchange throwback video.
Perhaps your league is too sophisticated to pay retail for Patterson off this hot streak, but his managers need to try, anyway. Throw your running back or wide receiver room on the market — in totality — and see if you can lock in your profits now. This does not look like a sustainable success model.
(Post script, 3:42 pm ET: This was obviously written before the Calvin Ridley news. Perhaps the Patterson fade is more of a week to week thing than it is specific to Week 5. Season to taste.)
Amari Cooper vs. Giants
Here’s a fade I desperately want to get wrong. I have Cooper shares on teams that carry great importance. I need this guy to get going.
There’s probably nothing wrong with Cooper (or CeeDee Lamb), although Cooper was briefly dinged in the Week 4 win over Carolina. it’s the setup that concerns me. Dallas might have the best running game in the league right now — both Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard look fantastic — while Dalton Schultz has come on as a breakout tight end. Dallas is also getting production from No. 2 tight end, Blake Jarwin.
And that Dallas defense that couldn’t stop a nosebleed last year? It sure looks fixed to me. Cornerback Trevon Diggs and linebacker Micah Parsons are two of the young defensive stars of the league. Dallas is currently top 10 in Defensive DVOA and Pass Defense DVOA (the part of defense that really matters).
The Giants defense has been leaky for a month, so Cooper could find running room. He’s always capable of making a big play against anyone. And the scant target total of the past three weeks (12 in all) is eventually going to positively regress. But the Fantasy Carnival the Cowboys were early last year, that’s out the window right now. Dallas has become a balanced team that doesn’t need Dak Prescott to throw 40-50 passes against everyone. We need to adjust the wide receivers accordingly.
Odell Beckham Jr. at Chargers
I'm not here to pile on OBJ. He was open last week at Minnesota, and more than once. Baker Mayfield couldn't connect on the passes. Maybe this speaks to a lack of rapport between the players, perhaps this points to how Mayfield is dealing with a wonky left shoulder. All we know is these two players have never been copacetic in their time together.
The Chargers look like a sleeping giant, perhaps the AFC's deepest roster. Offense sells tickets and drives headlines, but LAC offers the fourth-best pass defense and ninth-best overall defense. The surging Raiders pass game did little against the Chargers on Monday night. And even when Mayfield does look to the air, he's not the type of quarterback to pepper any specific target. The Browns box score is longer than the phone book.
If you're looking to sell out of Beckham rostership, you might need to wait until he has a big game. Perhaps the timing isn't right. But I can't proactively start him at the moment. And while the Browns would love Beckham to rediscover his star form, they don't need him to be a star, either. They're doing just fine with a balanced, if somewhat boring at times, offense.
Antonio Gibson vs. Saints
Gibson is dealing with a shin injury and didn’t practice Wednesday, though context clues point to him playing Sunday. But the Saints have a nasty run defense, and I’m not convinced the WFT will proactively use Gibson in the passing game. Saquon Barkley’s Week 4 fantasy line was bailed out through the air, and WFT has targeted Gibson just 11 times. (One of those targets was a glorious 73-yard touchdown at Buffalo, but J.D. McKissic is the team’s preferred receiver out of the backfield.)
It’s a messy time for fantasy backfields and I understand many fantasy managers won’t be looking to bench Gibson. I’d probably feel forced to start him anywhere I had him. But this is an opportunity to look under on Gibson props, and certainly, an ignore spot for DFS.
Rondale Moore vs. San Francisco
The advice is rarely going to be one-size-fits-all in any fantasy column, and I encourage you to take any of these angles and apply them to your specific situation. But in the case of Moore, I do have a specific angle for you. In most standard leagues, it’s time to put him on the wire; release the hand.
It’s not that Moore doesn’t have talent. He was productive in the opener and smashed against Minnesota in Week 2 (8-114-1). But he’s still the WR4 on the Arizona depth chart, and while he struggles for snaps, too many teammates are outperforming their expectations.
A.J. Green sees six targets a week. Christian Kirk has been productive. Maxx Williams is a surprising post-hype breakout story. Chase Edmonds is a fun combo back, while James Conner has been the volume runner and the cleanup guy at the goal (when Kyler Murray isn’t doing it himself).
If someone gets hurt in the receiver room and Moore receives a bump in playing time, sure, we’re excited again. But there’s too much gridlock at the moment, and I’d prefer my roster space went to someone more playable now or with a more plausible path to relevance later.