Fantasy Football Week 5 Stealing Signals: Stats, waiver targets, trade candidates for every game
Ben Gretch focuses on what matters for Fantasy players as he recaps every game from Week 5.
Week 5 brought some wild performances. Christian McCaffrey and Michael Thomas showed why they were first-round picks, but it was Will Fuller and Aaron Jones atop the Fantasy leaderboards. D.J. Chark and Chris Godwin continued their breakouts, while first-round rookie Josh Jacobs posted his best Fantasy total as a pro. There's plenty to discuss.
Data is typically courtesy of Pro Football Reference, RotoViz, the RotoGrinders Premium Usage App, airyards.com or PFF. Always feel free to hit me up on Twitter @YardsPerGretch with any questions about anything I covered or to ask my thoughts on something I glossed over. That is some of my favorite feedback, because sometimes it's something I've missed.
Here are some important statistical acronyms to know for Stealing Signals:
Green Zone - Inside the opponent's 10-yard line.
HVT - : for running backs, all receptions and all touches inside the 10 yard line.
TRAP - : for running backs, the percentage of all touches that are not high-value touches.
WOPR - : a metric created by Josh Hermsmeyer, it balances team share of targets and team share of air yards. Because a player's WOPR is a share of his team's overall opportunity, it's important to consider team volume as additional context.
RACR - Receiver Air Conversion Ratio: also created by Hermsmeyer, RACR is calculated as total receiving yards divided by total air yards. Similar to yards per reception or yards per target, but per air yard instead.
Week 5 games
Seahawks 30 - Rams 29
- Snap notes: Chris Carson - 84% (+8 vs. previous season high), Will Dissly - 89% (+10% vs. previous season high), Todd Gurley - 93% (+18% vs. previous season high), Malcolm Brown - 4% (-21% vs. previous season low), Gerald Everett - 81% (-7% vs. previous season high)
- Key stat: Seahawks - 23/43 pass/run ratio
Todd Gurley continues to play plenty of snaps, and after playing 67 snaps last Sunday — tied for fifth most by any running back in a game this year — he played another 67 on a short week. They tried to establish him on the ground early, but abandoned that later as Jared Goff threw a ton of passes for the second straight week.
Gurley caught three of five passes for just 6 yards, but got and converted both of the Rams' green-zone rushes, giving him a solid five high-value touches and a nice Fantasy total. In last week's Signals, I commented on how the elevated Week 4 passing volume raised the receiving production throughout the offense, and 49 pass attempts in Week 5 extends that point. Gurley's receiving role bouncing back with 16 targets over the past two weeks is nice to see, but the team volume is important context.
I also discussed the tight ends last week, and the tight ends were active again here, but six of 14 tight end targets — including five of Gerald Everett's 11 — came after Brandin Cooks exited the game early in the fourth quarter with an injury. Everett was a star, and absolutely has the talent and profile to be highly productive. He ran a route on a season-high 72% of dropbacks, but in Weeks 2 and 3 he was at 66% and 62%, so it wasn't a massive outlier. And Tyler Higbee does still run a decent number of routes — he was at 24% in Week 5.
Everett's a tough nut to crack, because while he might be a product of team volume the past two weeks, the Rams are starting to look like a team that might just be very pass heavy all season as they continue to feature Gurley but not really commit to significant carries for him. Everett needs to maintain the routes run bump and be the clear No. 4 option (assuming Cooks and the other wide receivers are in the lineup), and he was down at 54% in Week 4 so this does seem to bounce around a lot.
Cooper Kupp dominated targets with 17, and continues to elevate himself above Robert Woods and Cooks, a departure from the relative balance we saw in 2017 and 2018. The other two still have plenty of value, and I'm not overreacting to Cooks having a down game before his injury, something we've noted tends to happen as this offense takes what the defense allows (a note that can also be applied to Everett's production, since Seattle tends to allow a high rate of targets to the tight end position).
On Seattle's side, we got 268 passing yards and four touchdowns on just 23 pass attempts from Russell Wilson. Chris Carson runs hard and team identity and yada yada — and I'll even grant that how little Wilson throws probably does positively impact his efficiency — but the pass/run split is still malpractice here.
For Fantasy, Carson had just two high-value touches, but his raw volume helped make up for that. This was the Derrick Henry stat line, and his 118 rushing yards and the near-whiff double-catch on the go-ahead touchdown meant a strong Fantasy total. Of course for real football, Carson averaged 4.4 yards per carry while Wilson averaged 11.7 per pass attempt (and 4.0 on his eight rushes), so it's mind-boggling how this team wound up with 43 rushes against 23 passes in a close game. But the Seahawks did, and Carson's season-high 84% snap share drives home his role. Rashaad Penny played just 16% of the snaps in his return, and despite a long reception, can't be viewed as much more than a handcuff right now.
There was a lot of consternation on Twitter about a lack of targets for Tyler Lockett, but blame the overall volume; his four targets tied with Will Dissly and Jaron Brown for most on the team. D.K. Metcalf saw three. This is the Seahawks' offense — your receiving options will be very efficient because they are catching passes from Russell Wilson, but you'll often have to settle for frustratingly low target totals.
- Signal: Todd Gurley — no signs of workload concern from the Rams; Will Dissly — nearly an every down tight end; Rams — certainly look pass-heavy
- Noise: Rams — 117 pass attempts in two games is absurd
Bills 14 - Titans 7
- Snap Notes: Duke Williams - 78% (season debut), Dawson Knox - 72% (+5% vs. previous season high), A.J. Brown - 65% (+16% vs. previous season high), Tajae Sharpe - 32% (-17% vs. previous season low)
- Key Stat: A.J. Brown - 23 routes run (season high 74% of dropbacks)
This was a slow game, as the scoreline indicates. Neither team moved the ball particularly well, and despite poor overall numbers both quarterbacks benefited from a long pass play that was almost entirely not their doing. Marcus Mariota threw for 183 yards on just 22 attempts that included a 57-yard gain by Jonnu Smith on a tight end screen, while Josh Allen got up to 219 passing yards in part due to Isaiah McKenzie going 46 yards on a jet motion tip pass.
Probably the biggest signal here is the defenses, which are two of the more underrated units in the league, Buffalo in terms of probably not getting its due as borderline elite and Tennessee in terms of being at least above average. The Titans certainly have to feel like they had a shot to win this thanks to their defense, but Cairo Santos missing four field goals made things difficult. They released him Monday, if you were rostering Santos.
With Devin Singletary out, Frank Gore and T.J. Yeldon handled the backfield, and their split was much the same as we've seen. Wide receiver Duke Williams made his debut for Buffalo after being activated from the practice squad. He played heavily, running routes on 80% of dropbacks and catching all four targets he saw for 29 yards, including the go-ahead touchdown. Robert Foster was inactive while Zay Jones was active but had missed practice time last week; we'll see whether Williams can maintain a role but for now he's just a depth guy on a passing offense with little upside.
Dawson Knox saw his role continue to expand. It was veteran Lee Smith getting the short touchdown on his only target of the day (third of the year), but Knox's routes as a percentage of dropbacks have been trending up for a couple of weeks, and he tied John Brown and Yeldon with a team-high five targets. Again, not a ton of upside in this passing game, but given how thin tight end is, Knox is worth monitoring.
Derrick Henry scored yet another 1-yard touchdown run after a touchdown on a Mariota scramble was overturned on review. We really don't need to do this every week but I do want to point out he's only RB12 right now in PPR points per game despite a massive workload, some splash games and five early touchdowns, all of which has to be considered a positive start for him. I'm not saying RB12 is bad, just further driving home that TRAP backs lack elite upside even when they are running well. He got 20 rushes — four of them in the green zone — but no targets, and will continue to compile rushing yards and post solid touchdown numbers.
I'm saving the best note for last here, but in a thin passing game, A.J. Brown's snaps and routes spiked. He ran a route on 74% of dropbacks, up from a previous season high of just 60%, and is now a very good under-the-radar waiver add in leagues where he's available. It's another low-upside passing offense, but Brown was an elite prospect, and the only thing that's been holding him back is a part-time role. After a big Week 4, the Titans seemed ready to let Brown play more, cutting Tajae Sharpe's snaps to move away from what had been a rotation behind Corey Davis. Brown is worth a stash where he's available to see if that sticks because he's been fantastic on a per-target and per-route basis — he leads all Titans wide receivers in Fantasy points in all formats, despite not playing full time — and there's Fantasy viability even within this offense if he can keep up his high level of play while playing more.
- Signal: A.J. Brown — got the usage bump we'd been hoping for, good add; Dawson Knox — role continues to expand
- Noise: Derrick Henry — four 1-yard rushing touchdowns so far (NFL record: 11)
Vikings 28 - Giants 10
- Snap Notes: Olabisi Johnson - 44% (-13% vs. last week, his season high), Golden Tate - 67% (season debut), Darius Slayton - 65% (+21% vs. previous season high), Jon Hilliman - 64% (+29% vs. last week), Wayne Gallman - 9% (concussion)
- Key Stat: Sterling Shepard - 157 air yards (third most in Week 5)
After a tumultuous week, the Vikings came out willing to throw more early in this one. By halftime, they'd thrown 23 passes against 18 runs, with Kirk Cousins sitting on a line of 19-23 for 278 yards and a score. But they'd also already taken control of the game, and they extended their lead with another touchdown on their first drive of the second half, so they wound up with just four more passes in the second half as they predictably leaned on the run game.
While the final outcome was an improvement for the receiving options, it was still a perfect setup for Dalvin Cook, who rushed 21 times and caught six passes, totaling over 200 yards. It's still a ton of work for a back with an injury history, but he's otherwise obviously elite.
We'll have to see if some of the early passing carries over, but it would be good news for both Thielen and Diggs, for obvious reasons.
Olabisi Johnson has been solidifying the third receiver role and could perhaps make more of an impact than Laquon Treadwell ever did, but this still remains an exceptionally concentrated two-man receiving attack. Johnson had four catches but actually ran fewer routes as a percentage of dropbacks in Week 5 compared to Week 4 — his first extended playing time — as the Vikings instead went with more two tight end looks.
Golden Tate made his Giants debut and saw six targets at an aDOT of just 2.8, while the passing game still flowed through Evan Engram (11 targets, 83 air yards) and Sterling Shepard (10, 157). Neither posted efficient lines, but Shepard's air yards continued a trend that saw him rack up 345 air yards over the past three weeks, sixth-most in the NFL in that span.
Unfortunately, Shepard suffered another concussion, his second of the season, and reports indicate he'll be out a while. That could make Darius Slayton an interesting pickup. Slayton actually had the third most valuable Fantasy receiving role for the Giants in Week 5, given his 91 air yards on five targets. He caught four passes for 62 yards and the Giants' lone score on the day. In, I had this to say on Slayton:
"Darius Slayton's role didn't expand this week — he ran routes on 53% of dropbacks in his Week 3 debut, but that only moved to 56% in Week 4. He's unlikely to make an impact unless he can work into a full-time role."
Even with Tate in the fold, Slayton did see an uptick this week to a route percentage of 65%. With Shepard now out indefinitely, those downfield looks seem to fit Slayton's profile more than Tate, but we'll certainly see Tate utilized more as well.
Wayne Gallman also suffered a concussion after just six snaps, a killer for those with him in their lineups this week and also probably a killer for his seasonal value given the Giants play on Thursday night. Gallman won't be able to clear the concussion protocol on the short week, and Saquon Barkley appears close enough to his return that Week 6 might have been Gallman's last shot to start and play heavily.
- Signal: Vikings — 23 first-half passes was a positive sign; Darius Slayton — appeared to have a regular role as a downfield option even before the Shepard news
- Noise: Evan Engram — 10.2 Fantasy points (the 11 targets are the signal, and he should continue to be a star going forward)
Saints 31 - Buccaneers 24
- Snap Notes: Latavius Murray - 33% (-2% vs. season high), Ronald Jones - 34% (-15% vs. last week's season high), Peyton Barber - 34% (+8% vs. last week's season low), Dare Ogunbowale - 32% (+3 vs. season average)
- Key Stat: Michael Thomas - 0.79 WOPR for the season (leads NFL, Keenan Allen second at 0.67)
The Saints continue to win without Drew Brees, moving to 4-1 on the season with their third straight victory. Teddy Bridgewater's 314 yards and four scores pop, but without trying to take too much away from him, there's really no way to put it other than to say he didn't do a whole lot to create that stat line.
Both of his touchdowns to Michael Thomas were shorter throws where the Bucs played soft and Thomas showed strength after the catch to get into the end zone, while the touchdown to Jared Cook was a short slant where, again, the Bucs were just giving way too much cushion. Bridgewater did have one longer touchdown, but that deep shot to Ted Ginn for a 33-yard score was a busted coverage with no pressure in the pocket to speak of — Bridgewater calmly stepped up and threw with no one around him or Ginn for an easy score.
All of which is to say there really wasn't new information here. Bridgewater's average throw depth of 6.9 yards was only a slight improvement in terms of pushing the ball down the field, and while he obviously made the right reads and had to make all the throws to post the line he did, it's not a performance I'd expect to repeat against a better defensive performance.
Thomas was his typically fantastic self, dominating targets to the tune of a 13-11-182-2 line. Alvin Kamara caught 6-of-7 targets for 42 yards, ran for 62 yards and also completed a pass for 13. Those two combined for over 100 yards after the catch, something that helped boost Bridgewater's yardage totals. It wasn't Kamara's best Fantasy performance, but he got his typically high-value workload.
And Cook had his best day as a Saint, but again, the real lesson here was use your passing game options against the Bucs.
Tampa's offense was the worst we've seen in a few weeks, really struggling through the first half with their only touchdown coming off an interception deep in Saints' territory. Chris Godwin caught that one, then added another with 13 seconds left, and the 9-7-125-2 line he racked up accounted for more than half of Jameis Winston's passing yardage. It's not often Winston, in a trailing game script, can't manage more than 204 passing yards.
I'm not reading much into Mike Evans' goose egg, and think it's a mistake to see Godwin and Evans as competing forces. In the modern NFL, and especially in a modern, vertical passing attack like Tampa's, there's room for two productive receiving options. Week 5 was not an example of that, as very little worked for the whole offense en route to a season-low 252 total yards. Both Godwin and Evans remain, in my opinion, must starts.
As for Ronald Jones, after his breakout Week 4 he had to watch as Peyton Barber got the start and four of the first five carries across the first four possessions. Jones got three carries and caught two passes for 39 total yards as the focal point of their fifth drive, but that was it for the Bucs in the first half. And then in the second half, they went pass-heavy as they were chasing points, and passing-downs back Dare Ogunbowale got plenty of snaps. All three backs wound up with similar playing time overall, with Jones leading the rushers despite his slow start and matching Ogunbowale's three targets. But Jones ran just seven routes and the overall usage was a bad sign for those of us who would like to see him take over the backfield.
- Signal: Bucs pass defense — situation to target; Michael Thomas — can't be guarded
- Noise: Bucs offense — it's not necessarily noise for them to look flat, but 252 total yards was a season low and more than 200 fewer than either of their past two weeks
Texans 53 - Falcons 32
- Snap Notes: Carlos Hyde - 64% (+3% vs. previous season high), Duke Johnson - 40% (+1% vs. season low), Darren Fells - 79% (+12% vs. previous season high), Jordan Akins - 66% (-4% vs. season high), Keke Coutee - 44% (+1% vs. season average), Devonta Freeman - 54% (+5% vs. season low), Ito Smith - 47% (-4% vs. season high)
- Key Stat: Deshaun Watson - 6% pressure rate in Week 5 (lowest of career)
I'm not going to do that thing where I point out that I called Will Fuller a buy low and said to "expect... a big impact sooner than later" (oh, I just did that thing?) because that was a softball most people were on. But we've been noting Fuller has stuck to a full snap and route share all season, and especially with Kenny Stills out of the lineup, it was a great spot. The regression came quick, and apart from his three scores, he caught passes down to the 1-yard line on two other possessions; there was legitimate five-touchdown potential here.
Anyway, let's look beyond Fuller. With Stills out of the lineup, Keke Coutee's role didn't really grow, and his snap share actually decreased from last week. Instead, the Texans went with a lot of two tight end sets, as Darren Fells played a season high snap share and Jordan Akins was also near his season high. Fells caught two scores of his own, but those were his only two targets of the game.
Coutee did have one big play, a 51-yard reception, but finished with just 72 yards on four targets. He's not a great option right now given how they've used him thus far in 2019. Carlos Hyde played a season-high snap share and punched in a 1-yard score after the first time Fuller was stopped at the 1, but had just one catchless target and remains a low-upside TRAP back, as evidenced by his 12 Fantasy points in a game where the script favored his role, he got 21 carries and he got and converted a goal-line look.
And DeAndre Hopkins was fine, with an 8-7-88 line that was obviously capped a bit by Fuller going 16-14-217-3. All of this was possible because Deshaun Watson had time to operate, and his 28-for-33 day with 426 pass yards, five pass touchdowns and 47 rush yards is a glimpse into what his real ceiling is if Houston ever figures out how to protect him with consistency, and a reminder that he's accomplished an incredible amount to this point in his career considering the seemingly constant duress he's been under.
There's not much to say about Atlanta that I don't say every week, other than noting the 46 passes Matt Ryan threw meant more receiving volume than usual. But they are now tied with the Rams for the most pass attempts in the NFL at 222, and appear to be trending toward mostly abandoning the run.
Ryan was able to get the ball downfield more, getting both Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley more involved. Ridley led the team with 141 air yards and tied with Austin Hooper for the team lead with nine targets, posting a nice bounce-back game with five catches, 88 yards and score. Jones had a down week despite solid volume at seven targets and 99 air yards. As I've noted, the surest trend with Atlanta is targets will fluctuate game-to-game between those three, Mohamed Sanu and the backs.
Those backs saw 11 targets against just 16 rush attempts. Ito Smith notched six of those targets, and I suspect he played a bit more this week due to the pace of the game. Devonta Freeman still ran one more route than Smith, and while that was a closer split of typical passing downs work, it wasn't by much.
- Signal: Keke Coutee — took a back seat to two tight end sets; Falcons — very pass heavy
- Noise: Julio Jones — recent lack of production, volume is there, blowup coming soon; Will Fuller — do I have to point out that wasn't sustainable?
Cardinals 26 - Bengals 23
- Snap Notes: KeeSean Johnson - 95% (+19% vs. previous season high), Charles Clay - 57% (+24% vs. previous season high), Maxx Williams - 56% (+21% vs. previous season high), Auden Tate - 100% (+9% vs. previous season high), Joe Mixon - 63% (-1% vs. season high)
- Key Stat: Cardinals — 32/38 pass/run ratio
Final scoreline aside, the Cardinals controlled this game pretty much throughout, then gave up two touchdowns in the final five minutes to tie it before getting into field goal range themselves to seal the win. And they controlled the game in typical Air Raid fashion, by running more times and for more yards than they threw for.
It seems the Bengals rush defense is so bad that even Kliff Kingsbury didn't mind grinding out a victory. David Johnson was very good throughout, rushing 17 times for 91 yards and catching three balls for 65. His five targets featured 59 air yards as the Cardinals split him out and got him down the field.
We learned after the game that a back issue bothered him and contributed to Chase Edmonds playing considerable snaps, but we keep getting positive signs about Johnson's usage so long as these nagging bumps and bruises don't keep him off the field.
Edmonds looked great as well, notably taking a toss 37 yards for a fourth-quarter touchdown. He finished with 68 rushing yards on just eight carries. And then Kyler Murray was also involved, rushing 10 times for 93 yards and a score. Between the three and three wide receiver rushes, the Cardinals totaled 266 rushing yards; they averaged 92 per game across their first four games.
Christian Kirk was out, and Larry Fitzgerald led the receivers with an 8-6-58 line with 83 air yards. Murray did get the ball down the field more than the past two weeks, reversing a multi-week trend of declining aDOTs with a 7.7 average depth. Arizona also finally used the tight end position some, as both Charles Clay and Maxx Williams played season high snap shares by at least 20 percentage points.
Chalk up the offense being a lot more traditional to the matchup and Kirk's injury more than anything.
For the Bengals, it was more bad news for Joe Mixon. I was optimistic about his potential in a good matchup, and while he rushed well and the Bengals stuck with him as long as they could (a season-high 19 rush attempts), he wasn't able to convert either of his two green zone rushes on the first drive into his first rushing touchdown, and never got another chance in close. More of a concern was Giovani Bernard running more routes for the third time this season, something that has kept Mixon's reception potential capped. He had just one target while Bernard had three.
It's hard to see how the situation gets better for Mixon if he can't smash in this situation. He was very efficient on the ground with 4.9 yards per carry, but the Bengals can't stay in games long enough for that to matter — this was his first game over 15 carries this season, and he still didn't get enough work to hit the 100-yard mark, finishing with 91 rushing yards. And then if he's losing high-value touches both in the passing game and in the green zone due to the offense's ineptitude, it's not a recipe for success.
Most of Andy Dalton's 262 passing yards and two scores came in comeback mode. Tyler Boyd was his primary target throughout, and his final two receptions of 29 yards and a 42-yard touchdown pushed his line to 14-10-123-1. Auden Tate and Damion Willis played big snaps in the Bengals' three-wide sets, and Tate caught the other fourth-quarter touchdown to bail out a pretty subpar day. He finished at 6-3-26-1.
Popular tight end streamer Tyler Eifert was open for a short third quarter touchdown but Dalton simply missed him. Eifert's route share also fell off a bit as C.J. Uzomah led the tight ends in routes, and neither is an option going forward if they can't produce in this matchup.
- Signal: Joe Mixon — TRAP workload; Auden Tate/Damion Willis — big snaps, routes in three-wide sets
- Noise: Cardinals — 32/38 pass/run split
Panthers 34 - Jaguars 27
- Snap Notes: Reggie Bonnafon - 17% (season high, only a handcuff), Leonard Fournette - 92% (+8% vs. last week's season low)
- Key Stat: D.J. Chark - 175 air yards (most in Week 5; also has sixth-most in the NFL for the season)
I'm not really sure what to say about the Panthers other than Christian McCaffrey is in his own tier — and may be two tiers clear of any other player in the league (can tiers work like that?) — in terms of Fantasy value. I'm definitely on Team Running Backs Don't Matter, but McCaffrey transcends terms like "running back" and also "matter" because I'm pretty sure he's supernatural.
McCaffrey's 84-yard touchdown run was the second time he's gone at least 75 yards and gives him two of the four longest runs in the NFL this year. His backup, Reggie Bonnafon, added the 11th-longest run in the NFL this year in the fourth quarter to help ice the game.
Bonnafon becomes an add simply because McCaffrey finally took enough plays off for us to learn he looks like the handcuff. I could load up stats on McCaffrey, but it's nothing his Fantasy totals aren't already telling you.
He did lead the team with nine targets, catching six for 61 and a score. That type of pass game usage limits the other options, especially in a run-heavy game plan. D.J. Moore shook off the concerns Kyle Allen hasn't targeted him much by posting an 8-6-91 line, but no one else had more than 20 receiving yards in a game Carolina won on the ground. I'm still not too concerned about Curtis Samuel, who had six targets and a decent-if-not-great 60 air yards, while Greg Olsen's goose egg stung but also shouldn't be overreacted to on a week where tight end scoring across the league reminded us how thin the position is.
I've spoken highly of D.J. Chark each week — I could go back and quote it all but I alreadyand then in Week 4 noted he "continued to establish himself as a legit No. 1 in terms of usage" so hopefully he's on your roster and was in your lineup for his 11-8-164-2 blowup in Week 5.
Beyond him, Dede Westbrook's 11 targets were a season high, and he's continued to run a high share of routes throughout the season. The air yards aren't there for Westbrook — his 7.6 aDOT in Week 5 was a season-high, and his full season number is 5.9 — but he's starting to show a connection with Gardner Minshew and is leading the team with a 24% target share over the past three weeks after a slow first two weeks.
Chris Conley has also continued to run big routes and he's still seeing decent air yards, but he has a history of not really commanding many targets despite plenty of routes from his time in Kansas City, and I actually see his presence as more of a positive for Chark and Westbrook to continue establishing themselves atop the totem pole.
Leonard Fournette's big workload continued to pay dividends, as he ran for over 100 yards and a short score while adding four receptions on seven targets. He's still running a huge route share as a true three-down back as we've been highlighting all year.
One final note — James O'Shaughnessy has been leading a tight end split but is out for the season after an ACL injury. With Minshew showing some ability to support Fantasy production in the passing game, there's potential now for Geoff Swaim or perhaps rookie Josh Oliver — if he can get healthy — to work into a decent role, as O'Shaughnessy has quietly been the TE11 in PPR leagues thus far.
- Signal: Christian McCaffrey — suffocated the other options in the Panthers' offense; Dede Westbrook — establishing himself as a reliable PPR option underneath with Chark more of a downfield guy; Jaguars — decent TE opportunity after O'Shaughnessy's injury
- Noise: Greg Olsen — zero catches
Patriots 33 - Washington 7
- Snap Notes: Sony Michel - 49% (+1% vs. previous season high), Phillip Dorsett - 5% (hamstring injury), Matt LaCosse - 94% (+36% vs. previous seas on high), Ryan Izzo - 26% (-16% vs. previous season low), Terry McLaurin - 95% (return from injury), Steven Sims - 54% (+45% vs. previous season high), Adrian Peterson - 27% (-4% vs. previous season low)
- Key Stat: Sony Michel - 20 routes run (Weeks 1-4 combined - 16)
The Patriots predictably rolled over Washington, and it was clear early they were willing to use Sony Michel more in the passing game. The immediate and obvious caveat is that Rex Burkhead was out, and it's actually interesting to consider that Michel's role was so dependent on that, but the numbers are pretty clear. After just one target on a total of 16 routes across the first four weeks, Michel caught all three targets he saw while running 20 routes in Week 5, including a catch on the team's second play from scrimmage and another on the second drive.
I point out those early plays because those are commonly thought to be scripted plays, though of course we don't know how much each team scripts or whether that varies week by week. But when you see something like this early in the game, it's often an indication the team was planning for it to be an option. So all of that is a positive regarding Michel, but the negative side is Michel only got one more target outside those first two drives, while James White was targeted nine times on the day, catching six for 46 yards, and it was Brandon Bolden who caught a touchdown on a wheel route early in the third on his lone target of the day.
White only ran 21 routes against Michel's 20, but that target difference drives home that Tom Brady's more familiar with where White will be and letting the ball go in his direction. Plus, with Burkhead being out, the routes may not stick for Michel. But it's worth keeping in mind in case Burkhead (or White) misses more time, as Michel is tied with Mark Ingram through five weeks for the most green zone touches among the league's backs, and any kind of receiving production would really help him build out a solid profile. It certainly helped in Week 5 to pair those 6.2 PPR receiving points with Michel's 91 rushing yards that included a 14-yard touchdown run.
Phillip Dorsett suffered an early hamstring injury, and Julian Edelman and Josh Gordon dominated the downfield targets, with Edelman posting the far more efficient day. Gordon's aDOT is suspiciously low at just 10.2 this year after he saw more downfield looks with New England last year. He posted a 13.6 aDOT on 68 targets in 2018.
Ryan Izzo caught two targets for 39 yards and a score, but ran just seven routes while Matt LaCosse ran a season-high 42. LaCosse was targeted four times, and with Benjamin Watson not getting activated when first eligible, it's possible the Patriots have just been waiting for LaCosse to get healthy. Izzo is not a pickup; LaCosse is the one to watch.
Washington's lone score was on wide receiver Steven Sims' 65-yard touchdown run, and they otherwise had just 155 yards of total offense. Sims had a pretty solid role, but it was mostly the result of Vernon Davis being out, as Jeremy Sprinkle played his normal snap share and Jerome Cunningham, the next tight end up, only played 22% of the snaps. Washington went with more WR-heavy formations and worked in Sims with those Davis snaps.
Terry McLaurin returned to a 95% snap share so he should be considered healthy. He also racked up a whopping 123 air yards on seven targets, so he picked up right where he left off volume-wise. Don't let Colt McCoy's 6.6 aDOT fool you — McCoy is definitely a dink-and-dunker, but McLaurin still drew plenty of downfield volume, despite his underwhelming 3-51 receiving line.
We'll have to wait and see if Jay Gruden's firing and Bill Callahan taking over impacts the offensive tendencies, but Callahan's early comments suggest he'd like to run the ball more. I'm sure that will turn things around.
- Signal: Sony Michel — some potential for a receiving role, at least with Burkhead out; Terry McLaurin — still plenty of air yards despite Colt McCoy under center; Matt LaCosse — 42 routes run
- Noise: Ryan Izzo — ran just seven routes, not a Fantasy option
Raiders 24 - Bears 21
- Snap Notes: Josh Jacobs - 68% (-5% vs. previous season high), Trevor Davis - 75% (+17% vs. last week's debut), Keelan Doss - 55% (+36% vs. previous season high), Marcell Ateman - 38% (season debut), David Montgomery - 52% (-17% vs. last week's season high), Tarik Cohen - 53% (+1% vs. season average), Javon Wims - 93% (-1% vs. last week), Trey Burton - 76% (+16% vs. previous season high)
- Key Stat: Raiders - 169 rushing yards (Bears' average rush yards allowed, Weeks 1-4 - 61.5)
In my Fridaylast week, I talked a little bit about how the Raiders elected to fly straight to London from the site of their Week 4 game, Indianapolis, early last week. The Bears reportedly didn't travel until Friday.
Now I'm not an expert on body clocks and all of that, but it sure looked like this was a major factor in Week 5. The Bears came out incredibly flat, while the Raiders imposed their will with a power running game in the first half. By halftime, the Bears had run just 16 plays, gained just two first downs, and had just 44 total yards of offense, while Josh Jacobs was well on his way to his first career 100-yard rushing game with 11 carries for 57 yards and score in the first half, and the Raiders had a 17-0 lead.
The Bears seemed to kick their jet lag a bit in the second half, especially after a mixup where Derek Carr pitched a ball to Jacobs, who wasn't expecting a pitch play, and the Bears recovered the fumble at the 14-yard line after a mad dash. David Montgomery punched that in.
Later, Chase Daniel got going a little bit with two third-quarter touchdown passes to Allen Robinson — the second set up by a 71-yard punt return from Tarik Cohen — and the Bears took the lead into the fourth. But after a running into the kicker turned a 4th-and-6 into a 4th-and-1, the Raiders converted and kept a fourth-quarter drive alive, and it ended with Jacobs scoring his second touchdown, and pushing them to the victory.
I give the whole narrative here because it explains the box score of what was a weird game. The Raiders put up 398 yards on the Bears, notably running for 169 against a team that had yet to allow 100 rushing yards in any game, and just 246 in those four games combined.
David Montgomery's snaps had trended up each week, but they fell back to around his season average in Week 5, and he rushed just 11 times as Cohen played extensively in comeback mode.
Carr did wind up throwing 32 times, but he was extremely conservative, with no Raider posting an aDOT higher than Darren Waller's 5.2. They essentially only used the passing game as an extension of the run.
One big note was Jacobs stayed on the field for plenty of passing downs, running a route on a season-high 52% of dropbacks and catching three of four targets. Behind him, DeAndre Washington and Jalen Richard continued to split work, but despite that duo seeing five targets, they combined for 14 targets compared to Jacobs' 17.
The run-heavy script played into the Raiders' hands with Tyrell Williams out. Trevor Davis played the most, following up a big Week 4 role in his debut with the team, while Hunter Renfrow saw a slight-but-not-big uptick and Keelan Doss and Marcell Ateman also rotated in. It was only Renfrow's third highest percentage of routes per dropback this season — despite available wide receiver snaps — seemingly confirming that he's fallen out of favor somewhat.
There were some interesting notes among the receiving options on Chicago's side, as Anthony Miller and Trey Burton both played their biggest roles of the season. Miller's routes per dropback have climbed each week since he barely played in Week 1, and he ran a route on 86% of Chase Daniel's dropbacks in Week 5, even as Javon Wims again played full-time in Taylor Gabriel's spot. Burton, meanwhile, appears healthy after his offseason hernia surgery, and is an option for the tight end needy.
- Signal: Allen Robinson — 7+ targets in every game, clear No. 1; Trey Burton — back to full snap and route share
- Noise: David Montgomery — lost snaps, touches to script; Bears defense — chalking them getting gashed up to jet lag
Ravens 26 - Steelers 23
- Snap Notes: Mark Ingram - 65% (+4 vs. previous season high), Marquise Brown - 46% (ankle injury, returned to the game), JuJu Smith-Schuster - 92% (was reportedly a game-time decision), Diontae Johnson - 92% (+13% vs. previous season high), James Conner - 80% (+12% vs. previous season high), Jaylen Samuels - 25% (-1% vs. previous season low), Vance McDonald - 62% (return from injury), Nick Vannett - 50% (-26%), Mason Rudolph - 55% (concussion), Devlin Hodges - 43%
- Key Stat: Lamar Jackson - 14 carries, 70 rushing yards
For the first time this year, Lamar Jackson threw for fewer than 200 yards, and he also took a season-high five sacks. The Steelers defense stepped up and turned this into more of an old-school AFC North game than expected, intercepting Jackson three times.
And yet, Jackson's Fantasy value was fine. We've been harping on this all season, but even as he struggled a bit as a passer, he found room as a runner, rushing 14 times for 70 yards. That's a line many running backs would be proud of, and through five games Jackson now has the 15th most rushing yards in the NFL, so there are plenty chasing him in that category including guys like Todd Gurley and David Johnson.
But whenever Jackson rushes that many times, it does limit the overall upside in the offense. Mark Ingram played his biggest snap share of the season, and while he struggled on the ground, he found his way for his sixth rushing touchdown of the season from four yards out. He also caught two passes.
Marquise Brown suffered an ankle injury early and while he returned to the game, he played his lowest snap share since Week 1 by a considerable margin. That didn't stop him from finding the end zone, either.
But with just 277 yards of total offense and 70 of that coming from quarterback rushing, this was a low-value Fantasy game for the whole team — not something to be overly concerned about given what we've seen to date, but something to keep in mind as a possibility with the Ravens.
The Steelers tried a little bit of the wildcat we saw last week, but not much. That was perhaps in part because in the first quarter, Jaylen Samuels took a direct snap and threw downfield out of that formation for an interception. Samuels played a season-low snap share, while James Conner played a season high; Samuels curiously saw four targets on just six routes run while Conner saw no targets on 17. Conner did find the end zone on the ground, but a week after seeing a big target share, his Week 5 workload was far less valuable.
JuJu Smith-Schuster played a full snap share and didn't appear too hampered by the toe injury that reportedly made him a true game-time decision. He caught an early 35-yard touchdown and posted a solid 7-7-75-1 line, but lost a costly fumble in overtime that led to the Ravens' game-winning field goal.
Diontae Johnson played his biggest snap share of the season — matching Smith-Schuster — and while he caught five balls for just 27 yards, he led the team with eight targets and 75 air yards. it's actually his third straight week leading the team in Weighted Opportunity Rating (WOPR). Vance McDonald also returned to a healthy role, running routes on 61% of dropbacks.
Mason Rudolph suffered a scary concussion and was replaced by Devlin Hodges, an undrafted rookie out of Samford. It should probably go without saying that when you're down to the third quarterback, that's going to hold back the offense somewhat.
It seems likely Rudolph won't be back for Week 6, and Hodges would get the start. Hodges did play fine, completing 7-of-9 passes for 68 yards and rushing twice for 20 more. But it's
- Signal: Diontae Johnson — role expanding, clear No. 2
- Noise: Marquise Brown — 5-3-22 receiving (battled an ankle injury all day)
Eagles 31 - Jets 6
- Snap Share: Jordan Howard - 43% (-10% vs. last week's season high), Miles Sanders - 43% (+2% vs. season average), Dallas Goedert - 74% (+5% vs. last week's season high), Demaryius Thomas - 78% (+68% vs. previous season high), Jamison Crowder - 54% (-36% vs. previous season low)
- Key Stat: Demaryius Thomas - 1.01 WOPR (second in NFL for Week 5)
After an early Jordan Howard 1-yard touchdown run, the Eagles ran back their first of two pick-sixes with just over five minutes remaining in the first quarter, and they never looked back.
This was a classic lopsided game script, and it led to Carson Wentz throwing for fewer than 200 yards, as the Eagles played very conservative on offense. With DeSean Jackson still out, Philadelphia went with even more two tight end sets than last week. Dallas Goedert has seen a ton of playing time the past two weeks, but he's not likely to maintain such a high rate when the Eagles are back to full strength, and his routes topped out this week at just 55% of dropbacks.
Howard and Miles Sanders split the snaps down the middle with Darren Sproles barely used in the plus script. Howard led in rushes while Sanders continued to make some plays in the passing game. Reports have the team planning to lean more heavily on Howard going forward, and this is where yards per carry — a notoriously noisy stat — does come into play, because it can sometimes be an indicator of coaching preference. In this case, Sanders is averaging just 3.6 yards per rush while Howard is at 4.7, and whether it's those specific figures or not, they represent the reason the coaching staff is even having a discussion on Monday about who will be used more going forward.
But Sanders' production in the passing game — he's averaging 8.9 yards per target while the RB average over the past three seasons is right around 6.0 — makes him worth waiting on. He'll get another chance eventually, and he has more potential than Howard to have a touch mix that features the high-value looks we're seeking.
Alshon Jeffery and Zach Ertz led the passing game, but their upside was capped by the script.
Luke Falk really struggled for the Jets, and hopefully Sam Darnold is able to make it back for Week 6. Falk threw for just 120 yards on 26 attempts, which had a similar effect on the overall production of the offense.
Demaryius Thomas was a surprise, as he played a 78% snap share and led the team with nine targets and 89 air yards. His 1.01 WOPR — which measures the share of a passing game a player accounted for in targets and air yards — was bested only by Will Fuller in Week 5, but the caveat there is obviously that there wasn't much of anything going on in this passing game. Still, he's worth a look in deeper leagues as it seems to be an indication the Jets are going to use him in Quincy Enunwa's role.
Le'Veon Bell couldn't find much room to run, which tends to happen when the quarterback can't averaged 5 yards per attempt. He did catch 7-9 targets, and I maintain he's a buy low, but this Jets offense is brutal until Darnold is back. Chris Herndon is also expected back next week.
- Signal: Demaryius Thomas — big snap share, target share
- Noise: Pretty much everything in this game given it was never competitive
Broncos 20 - Chargers 13
- Snap Share: Mike Williams - 89% (return from injury), Austin Ekeler - 66% (+1% vs. season low), Melvin Gordon - 46% (season debut)
- Key Stat: Austin Ekeler - 15 receptions, season-high 33 routes run
Melvin Gordon made his much-anticipated debut for the Chargers, and he started and caught a swing pass on the first snap of the game, so it was clear Los Angeles wanted to get him involved early. But as the game went along, it was also clear the Chargers didn't want to take Austin Ekeler off the field — the two backs played together on several snaps, and by the end of the game Ekeler hadn't even played his lowest snap share of the season, as one might have expected.
Of course, the Chargers trailed throughout, so the script leaned toward Ekeler and was a big reason he wound up with 16 targets and 15 receptions. Ekeler ran more routes in Week 5 than any game this season and tied his season-high 69% (nice) routes per dropback. This shouldn't be read as the playing time split going forward — Gordon will lead the backfield in snaps in some and perhaps most upcoming games — but it's a good sign Ekeler was splitting out wide some and staying on the field to maintain his high-value work especially. He only rushed three times, but two of his receptions came in the green zone, and he led all running backs in high-value touches for Week 5.
Gordon on the other hand did take over as the lead runner, but he gained just 31 yards on 12 rush attempts. His overall workload was solid, and a big key here is Philip Rivers will throw to the backs a ton and the Chargers will feature them in the green zone, so we have to judge each back independently. Rather than focusing on all the receiving work Gordon ceded to Ekeler, we can say he caught a healthy four of six targets while running a solid 18 routes and got both green zone rush attempts for six high-value touches overall, a promising workload for his first game back.
The game itself was more of a defensive struggle, with Denver's combo of Phillip Lindsay and Royce Freeman combining for 28 carries and 175 rushing yards, but the game's two passing offenses combining for fewer than 400 yards through the air.
Lindsay's touchdown came on the first drive of the game, and he punched it in from 4 yards out after Freeman got tries from the 10 and 5, continuing a trend where Freeman has been getting some high-value looks but not inside the 5 — those rushes have seemingly been reserved for Lindsay. Lindsay was more productive overall but the lesson remains the same here — if either of these two backs misses time, the other will be an absolute Fantasy monster.
Flacco again threw six passes to the duo — on a day where he attempted just 20 overall — and for the season Lindsay is averaging 5.0 high-value touches while Freeman is averaging 4.2. If one of them were to play a larger percentage of the snaps and presumably creep up around eight or nine high-value touches, that'd be a very valuable situation.
Courtland Sutton was strong again; his 0.81 WOPR was eighth-highest in Week 5, and he was productive on that workload with a 7-4-92-1 line. Most of that production came in the first half as the Broncos went run-heavy after the break. Between the backs seeing six targets, Sutton seven and Flacco throwing just 20 passes, there were precious few more downfield targets, and Emmanuel Sanders and Noah Fant got scripted out a bit.
Mike Williams somewhat surprisingly dominated the Chargers' passing game to an even heavier degree than Sutton on the Broncos side, as Williams racked up 73% of Los Angeles' air yards and his 0.92 WOPR was fourth-highest on the week. Williams' 13 targets were behind Ekeler's 16, but he racked up 155 air yards (while Ekeler's aDOT was actually negative, which helps explain his 86 yards on the 15 receptions). Williams played a full snap share and looks finally healthy, and his 6-74 line left a lot of meat on the bone relative to his volume.
You'd think part of the opportunity boom for Williams was related to a tough matchup for Keenan Allen, but Chris Harris hasn't been playing the slot much in 2019, and it was trade acquisition Duke Dawson (who the Broncos acquired for a late-round pick swap from the Patriots right before cut-downs in August) playing big snaps there in Week 5. I'd have to dig into it more, but a down game for Allen isn't all that surprising given the ridiculous volume he's put up to date in 2019. Outside of Williams, Allen and the two backs, no other Charger had more than two targets, and this projects to continue to be a concentrated passing attack, at least until Hunter Henry returns.
- Signal: Austin Ekeler — maintained high-value receiving role; Broncos RBs — huge combined value; Mike Williams — healthy, strong volume; Courtland Sutton — also strong volume
- Noise: Emmanuel Sanders — one target (just 20 pass attempts overall); Melvin Gordon — lack of production (got six high-value touches, likely will play more going forward); Keenan Allen — don't overreact to target variance
Packers 34 - Cowboys 24
- Snap Share: Jake Kumerow - 68% (+60% vs. previous season high), Tra Carson - 32% (season debut), Michael Gallup - 86% (return from injury)
- Key Stat: Aaron Jones - 12 high-value touches
Aaron Jones' big week is exactly why we try to predict high-value touches as best we can. Any time you see a Fantasy total like that, it's a near lock that player got a ton of high-value touches, even as Jones did score his first touchdown on an 18-yard run that would qualify as low value.
With Jamaal Williams out, Jones played another big snap share, and converted three of his five green zone rush attempts into scores, adding seven receptions to post the monster day. To achieve that type of workload requires an offense that can get into that type of position often — plus the receiving opportunity that comes with a three-down workload — and the Packers helped set up Jones for big things all day.
After Williams left early last week, Jones totaled eight high-value touches, including six receptions, so this wasn't exactly out of the blue (although, to be fair, I did a poor job of covering it in last week's Signals, calling that noise, in large part because I expected Williams back given they played on Thursday night in Week 4 and had 10 days to prepare for Week 5). Williams' status will weigh heavy on Jones going forward, but perhaps this performance will be enough to wrestle a larger share of the work away going forward. It should be.
With Davante Adams out, Jake Kumerow played a big snap share and ran plenty of routes, but Jones led the team with his 8-7-75 receiving line while his backup Tra Carson added another four receptions, and no one else caught more than three balls or gained more than 50 receiving yards in a game Green Bay led throughout.
The Cowboys came out throwing, a really positive sign for an offense that had gone back to its conservative ways of years' past in Week 4. I had suspected we'd see that again in Week 5 against a Packers defense that likes to force teams to run, and with Tyron Smith out, and while Green Bay did shuffle some things around on defense, Kellen Moore's willingness to get back to his pass-first ways from the first few weeks of the season is a great sign for the passing game as a whole.
Part of why the Packers were able to be so conservative, though, was Dak Prescott struggled early, throwing two first-half interceptions that were not entirely on him, but helped Green Bay build what was at one point a 31-3 lead. But Dallas and Prescott kept firing away, and almost climbed back into the game.
Michael Gallup's return had a clearly positive effect on what they want to do as a vertical passing game, and he picked up right where he left off with really strong opportunity. Amari Cooper was of course the big story with a 14-11-226-1 line, but Gallup's 14-7-113-1 shouldn't go overlooked, especially as he was posting better opportunity shares than Cooper in Weeks 1 and 2.
If we isolate Weeks 1, 2 and 5, the games Gallup has played in, Gallup's WOPR of 0.64 narrowly edges Cooper's 0.61, as in essentially two-and-a-half games Gallup has out-targeted Cooper 29-28 and seen 330 air yards to Cooper's 313. That's not to say Gallup is overtaking Cooper; it's to say we should look at this as essentially two must-start receivers.
The game plan went away from Ezekiel Elliott a bit, but it was still script more than anything that led to his 14 touches, in a pedestrian-for-him performance.
- Signal: Michael Gallup — huge opportunity share, every-week Fantasy starter; Aaron Jones — high-value workload with Jamaal Williams out
- Noise: Ezekiel Elliott — 14 touches (script-related)
Colts 19 - Chiefs 13
- Snap Share: T.Y. Hilton - 83% (return from injury), Marlon Mack - 67% (+32% vs. season low in Week 4), Damien Williams - 56% (-3% vs. season average), LeSean McCoy - 22% (-7% vs. previous season low), Darrel Williams - 22% (+15% vs. Week 2), Sammy Watkins - 3% (injury), Byron Pringle - 78% (+73% vs. previous season high)
- Key Stat: Damien Williams - 4.7 high-value touches per game
The Colts surprisingly waltzed into Arrowhead and came out with a victory, holding the Chiefs to their fewest points with Patrick Mahomes under center.
Probably the two biggest reasons for this were the Colts establishing the run — bet you didn't expect to hear me say that — and Mahomes aggravating an ankle injury he's been playing through. On the Colts and running, there is a time and a place, and as a road underdog against a soft defense when the alternative is giving the ball back to the best football player on Earth faster, that's absolutely the time and place to run all day. The Colts controlled the pace of this game and gave the Chiefs just nine possessions, not counting a kneel down before half. They were able to generate a turnover on a LeSean McCoy fumble and a couple of other key stops with Mahomes clearly ailing, and they won a huge game the old-fashioned way.
Marlon Mack racked up 32 touches, 28 of which were low-value runs, but that's a huge number of touches and the Chiefs can't really stop anything so he compiled plenty of yardage and put together a nice Fantasy day. The biggest positive for Mack's value was he ran more routes than Nyheim Hines, and playing in the passing game got him back to a 67% snap share that looked like his rates from Weeks 1-3.
There wasn't much going on for the Colts outside Mack, as Jacoby Brissett threw for just 151 yards on 29 attempts. With T.Y. Hilton back, we saw a similar distribution of snaps and routes where Hilton is atop and several players are rotating at the other wide receiver spots and at tight end. Hilton's the only reliable receiving option in what has been a run-heavy team all season.
After missing two games, Damien Williams started and played a 56% snap share, running 20 pass routes, just off the 23 he ran in each of Weeks 1 and 2. I theorized he might slot back into that role, but that was largely because Darrel Williams had played a similar role, and I expected Darrel to take more of a back seat. While Darrel didn't play much in Weeks 1 and 2 before Damien's injury, Darrel was more active by comparison in Week 5, playing 22% of the snaps. Interestingly, those snaps came at the expense of McCoy, as he played a season low snap share and didn't even record a rush attempt.
This is a hard one to parse, but my two main takeaways are: 1) The Chiefs played from behind, and McCoy is more of the plus script back; 2) McCoy has been playing through an injury, so it may have made some sense to limit him with Damien back in the lineup. In other words, context points toward this not being much of anything for McCoy; it's hard to assume there's any long-term reason, other than perhaps the lost fumble, McCoy would be ceding so many snaps.
It's a murky situation overall, but in almost every other game there will be plenty of running back production from this backfield. It's absolutely a situation worth looking harder at, and for me both Damien Williams and McCoy are trade candidates, while Darrel is a stash if he becomes available.
Sammy Watkins was knocked from the game very early, and his replacement Byron Pringle was Mahomes' top target on the night. Pringle had a catch in each of the previous two games but had run a total of four routes. In Week 5, he ran 34, and he earned nine targets and 113 air yards to post a 6-103-1 line (but he also really should have converted that late third down). Life as a Patrick Mahomes receiver is good for Fantasy.
Travis Kelce was also heavily involved from an opportunity standpoint, but had a rough game, while Demarcus Robinson and Mecole Hardman were still involved but perhaps a bit less active. A big reason Mahomes struggled was the injury; he appeared to have no legs on several of his second-half throws and was getting by on pure arm talent, which sometimes failed him because... I mean, come on, what do we expect out of this guy?
- Signal: Damien Williams — right back in the mix, good trade target
- Noise: Byron Pringle — wasn't involved at all last few weeks, will still be buried when Tyreek Hill comes back
49ers 31 - Browns 3
- Snap Share: Matt Breida - 34% (-3% vs. season average), Tevin Coleman - 34% (27% in injury-shortened Week 1), Raheem Mostert - 32% (-2% vs. season average), Dante Pettis - 63% (+13% vs. previous season high), Deebo Samuel - 46% (-10% vs. season average), Antonio Callaway - 43% (season debut)
- Key Stat: 49ers - 275 rushing yards (season average - 200 per game, leads NFL)
Can a 31-3 game actually be more of a blowout than the scoreline indicates?
The 49ers dominated the Browns in every phase, save perhaps kicking, as Robbie Gould missed three field goals. It started early with a Matt Breida 83-yard touchdown run on their first offensive snap, and just continued on that way on both sides of the ball for the rest of the game.
While there was plenty of running back production again, we saw essentially a three-way split with Jeff Wilson deactivated for this one. Raheem Mostert picked up a few of his snaps and three of his carries on the final drive, but he was also involved earlier, and notably tied Breida with 11 routes run, while Tevin Coleman ran just four. Breida saw all three running back targets, and caught a touchdown on a nice combo route in the green zone, which was his first touch of the season in that area of the field.
Breida and Coleman were the main backs on rushing downs early, and while Breida started, Coleman wound up leading with 16 carries for 97 yards and a rushing touchdown of his own. That was a 19-yard touchdown rush, but Coleman also got the lone green zone rush attempt, which had previously been Wilson's role.
Along with his three receptions for 15 yards, Breida ran 10 more times after the long run early, and added 31 rushing yards on those carries to give him 114 on the ground for the day. So Coleman was perhaps more consistent as a runner and got more rushes, including the high-value run, while Breida got more involved in the passing game and had the big play, and Mostert was still involved as a passing downs option despite no targets. Committees are always frustrating, but this has been a fruitful situation overall, so it's worth some of the headache.
Dante Pettis started and played the most wide receiver snaps, running one fewer route than Marquise Goodwin and two more than Deebo Samuel, while Kendrick Bourne also mixed in. There wasn't much passing production because of the script, and what production there was went to George Kittle in his best game of the year, an 8-6-70-1 line that he added to with an 18-yard rush. Pettis had a bad drop late, and he and the other 49ers wide receivers continue to both be hard to trust and likely not a situation with all that much upside to be worth the trouble, given Kittle's presence and the RB focus of the offense.
I have little to add about the Browns that I didn't cover with a rant on them two weeks ago.
"Baker Mayfield has seemingly regressed in terms of getting through reads, and it's apparent to half of Twitter he's holding the ball too long. That he resorts to instinctive, almost backyard-type football when the pressure breaks down isn't abnormal — that's a natural reaction! — but it's also not something you see (ETA: as frequently) on well-coached teams, because the quarterback is coached to know how to handle those spots and where to go with the ball. My issue here is that it isn't one or two bad plays; it's a repeating problem that doesn't seem to be getting addressed.
Perhaps we'll see it addressed going forward. The offensive line is a pretty big issue in its own right, and the system needs to account for that. But again, it's a pretty decent sample now and the way I'd describe what's going wrong is they don't understand the problem in the building."
We saw some positive signs last week, but that one step forward was erased by this two steps back. Nick Chubb was good in this one, but Mayfield completed just eight passes for just 100 yards, and it's clear the scheme is not designed to set him up to succeed when they don't get the looks they are anticipating. There are no intelligent hot reads, no adjustments — they just look absolutely overwhelmed offensively.
I thought this was an interesting take, and it's possible all they need to do is simplify things and to make some quick improvements. The trick plays and weird personnel decisions like putting Odell Beckham deep for a punt return late in a blowout certainly reek of trying to do too much. But as it stands, they aren't the first team to have offensive line trouble, and Baker Mayfield didn't suddenly forget to play football over the offseason; I continue to put this squarely on a coaching staff that has looked unprepared to get the most out of their personnel all season.
One small usage note — Antonio Callaway returned to a pretty solid role early, but appeared to get benched after a drop at the goal line was intercepted. Drops and mental mistakes were a story on him throughout 2018, and he committed a false start on that same drive just a few plays before the drop. Cameras caught Freddie Kitchens appearing to say he wanted "him off the... field," presumably in reference to Callaway. I didn't see much of him after that, and he doesn't show up in the game book after that interception late in the second quarter.
- Signal: Tevin Coleman — lead rusher, got the green zone rush; Matt Breida — got more involved in the passing game; Raheem Mostert — still involved with 11 routes run despite no targets; Dante Pettis — playing more, but perhaps not worth the trouble
- Noise: Browns — 180 total yards (look, they can't be this bad all year)
So who should you sit and start this week? And which surprising quarterback could lead you to victory? Visit SportsLine now to get Week 6 Fantasy rankings for every position, plus see which QB is going to come out of nowhere to crack the top 10, all from the model that out-performed experts big time last season.
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