Week 5 brought us some of the best of football and some of the absolute, gut-wrenching, worst.
It's always fun to see a potential star turn from a breakout rookie, and it's hard to call Chase Claypool's performance anything less. It's devastating to see a serious injury to a current star who has seemingly done everything the right way like Dak Prescott. We'll cover both situations in this week's Believe It or Not, but let's start with the positive.
Chase Claypool is the top waiver wire add and a Fantasy starter in Week 6.
Claypool was the star of Week 5 with seven catches for 110 yards and three touchdowns on 11 targets. He also ran the ball three times for 6 yards and another score. It was an historic outing from the second-round rookie, and his roster rate (38%) all but assures he'll be the most added player when waivers run this week. But you shouldn't just add him, you should immediately get him in your lineup for Week 6.
Verdict: Believe it.
The first part is a cinch. Forget about the touchdowns for a second. He's been building towards something. In Week 2 he caught all three of his targets, including an 84-yard touchdown. Last week the numbers weren't there, but he did play 76% of the snaps. Then in Week 5 it came all together. You just can't leave that type of profile on the waiver wire, especially when it's a high-profile rookie in his fourth career game.
The starting part is more complicated. We do have the Saints, Seahawks, and Raiders on a bye. And there are still a ton of high-profile receivers whose health is in doubt. Claypool won't have the projection of a Fantasy starter unless Diontae Johnson misses Week 6, but he's now shown enormous upside in two of his four games. It would be very difficult to bench him unless you have great options at receiver.
JuJu Smith-Schuster is going to be a Fantasy bust.
This is not just about what Claypool just did. It's more about what Smith-Schuster didn't do. Again. He still hasn't had a game where he has led the team in targets. In fact, he hasn't even been second on the team in targets the past two weeks. He also hasn't reached 70 yards in a game yet. Smith-Schuster was a consensus third- or fourth round pick in Fantasy drafts this year. With this type of role, he's unlikely to justify that cost.
Verdict: Believe it.
I am very uncomfortable with this take. I was arguing for Smith-Schuster all summer long. It's not normal for a player to be as awesome as he was at such a young age and then not be a superstar receiver. But Ben Roethlisberger sure isn't treating Smith-Schuster like a superstar. The first two weeks of the season, Diontae Johnson out-targeted him 23-14. Johnson suffered injuries in each of the Steelers' past two games and things somehow got worse for Smith-Schuster. He finished third on the team in targets each week with five in both games.
It's certainly possible that things will get better moving forward for Smith-Schuster, but it seems unlikely he's going to be the high-volume alpha No. 1 many of us thought he was.
Matt Ryan is droppable.
Wow. In his past three games, Matt Ryan has thrown more interceptions (two) than touchdown passes (one). His completion rate (59.6%) and yards per attempt (6.57) are pedestrian as well. His Fantasy production ranks 25th in that stretch, behind five quarterbacks who have played only two games in those three weeks. The Falcons fired their head coach and general manager on Sunday. You should fire their quarterback when waivers run on Wednesday morning.
Verdict: Don't believe it.
There are two things I could legitimately see turning Ryan around starting as soon as Week 6. The first seems obvious, and it's the return of Julio Jones, who has only played 15 snaps in the past three games. In the first two games of the season, when Jones was healthy, Ryan threw for 723 yards and six touchdowns. The second, is the regime change. We don't know what impact Dan Quinn had on the offense, but I can't imagine it was a positive one. We just saw Deshaun Watson and the Texans offense break loose a week after Bill O'Brien was fired, so I'd like to see this Falcons offense at least once after the coaching change.
I completely understand if you can't stomach starting Matt Ryan in Week 6, but don't drop him just yet.
Through Sunday's games, Crowder and Anderson both rank in the top 10 in Fantasy points per game at wide receiver. Crowder continued his excellence on Sunday despite a new quarterback in Joe Flacco. Anderson continued to out-target and outperform everyone's favorite breakout candidate, D.J. Moore. Regardless of what you thought about them before the season, it's time to recognize them as the No. 1 receivers they are.
Verdict: Believe it.
It's probably worth separating these guys out. Crowder has played three games. He has at least 10 targets, seven catches and 100 yards in every game. He has scored in two of three games. He leads the NFL with 111.7 receiving yards per game. His career-best 10.2 yards per target will likely regress as the season goes on, but I'm not sure anyone playing in a PPR league will care. The fact that he did it with Flacco as well should quell any concerns you have about Sam Darnold's shoulder. Crowder is playing the Jarvis Landry role in Adam Gase's offense and he's doing it was well as Landry ever did.
This is where I wear my bad take from last week. Apparently Robby Anderson is the No. 1 receiver in Carolina. He has led the team in targets each of the past three weeks and he has reached at least 99 yards in four of the Panthers five games. If anything, Anderson has been a little bit unlucky that he's only reached the end zone once on 47 targets. I would rather have Crowder than Anderson in full PPR, but they're both surefire top-20 receivers as long as they stay healthy.
The injury to Prescott was hard to watch, and the quarterback's reaction even harder. It's a rotten situation all the way around, and I certainly send my thoughts and prayers along with the rest of the NFL for a speedy and complete recovery for Prescott.
This Cowboys offense was on a historic pace with Prescott under center. That is not something you should expect to continue with Dalton under center. Dalton is a significant downgrade in every imaginable way from Prescott, and it's likely his presence torpedoes the Fantasy value for the Cowboys' pass catchers. If you can get someone to bite for even 75% of what their value was before Week 5, you should sell.
Verdict: Don't believe it.
It's true that Prescott is an elite quarterback and Dalton is not. But this is still a very good offensive system with one of the deepest sets of weaponry in the league. Dalton is a pretty average quarterback, and this is exactly the type of system that could elevate him to above average. While the total team production will shrink, I would still expect the Cowboys to rank in the upper half of the league as an offense. Here's a quick breakdown of how I'd view each of their weapons moving forward:
- Dalton is a fine No. 2 quarterback who will be a quality streamer against the right matchup.
- Ezekiel Elliott remains a top-three running back, and it's possible he could be even better if the Cowboys run rate goes up.
- Amari Cooper and CeeDee Lamb are No. 2 Fantasy receivers. I still prefer Cooper, but not by much.
- Michael Gallup is a boom-or-bust No. 3 receiver who is the perfect guy to have on your bench with bye weeks coming up.
- Dalton Schultz is the one guy I may actually cut bait on if the next couple of weeks aren't good. He's the least talented of the group and has the thinnest margin for error. But he's also a tight end, and the position is once again dreadful.