Week 5 Fantasy football hot takes
Chris Towers takes a look at the hottest storylines in Fantasy football, and either feeds the flames or douses them.
With big names under performing and breakout stars seemingly cementing their place among the Fantasy elite, there is plenty to overreact about for Week 4.
For instance, after one good quarter, is Todd Gurley already a must-start Fantasy option? Is DeVonta Freeman a stud, or is he the NFL Icarus, fated to tumble back to Earth after flying close to the sun? On the other hand, is Calvin Johnson's time as an elite Fantasy receiver passed?
Here are my takes on some of the hottest topics in Fantasy football heading into Week 5.
"Devonta Freeman is a top-5 RB"
It's not just about the touchdowns with Freeman, though seven of them in three games is the primary reason he leads all running backs in Fantasy scoring. However, even if he just had one touchdown in each of his last two games -- as opposed to six total -- Freeman would still rank third among running backs in scoring. And No. 4 would be seven points behind him. Touchdowns are random, but 112 all-purpose yards per game probably aren't. That number is made all the more incredible when you consider he didn't start the first two games. In this offense, Freeman has this kind of ceiling.
"Devonta Freeman is the best sell-high candidate in football"
On the other hand, we've seen Freeman play 20 NFL games, and he has averaged more than 4.5 yards per carry in just nine of them. For his career, he is at just 3.8 yards per carry, and it's hard to shake the feeling that those 131 carries aren't more meaningful than his 45 over the last two games. The Falcons liked Tevin Coleman more than Freeman coming into the season -- Coleman played 15 more offensive snaps than him in the only game both were healthy -- and there's no guarantee Freeman is even the starter in four weeks. If you can get a king's ransom for Freeman, it's probably the smart move.
"Todd Gurley is a no-doubt RB1"
It's hard to think of 12 running backs that I feel confident will be better than Gurley rest-of-season. There's Eddie Lacy, Adrian Peterson, Jamaal Charles and Le. There's Matt Forte and Arian Foster, probably. After that, there are a lot of question marks. Freeman? If he can hold off Coleman, sure. Was Justin Forsett a one-year wonder? Can Latavius Murray stay healthy? Can Mark Ingram get going? Can Jeremy Hill wrest playing time from Giovani Bernard? Gurley is in the discussion with those players, even after just one game -- just one quarter, really. His pedigree is that strong.
"Andy Dalton is a top-5 QB"
He has done it before, in 2013, when he finished fourth in Fantasy scoring. Of course, it is worth noting that his fourth-place finish in 2013 would have been a seventh-place finish in 2014, when quarterback play was up across the league. Dalton is off to a remarkable start, and perhaps even a historic one -- only five passers in NFL history have averaged at least 10 yards per attempt on more than 100 attempts through four games. Dalton is clearly playing at an incredibly high level, though not an unprecedented one in his career; he had 11 touchdowns and averaged 9.9 yards per attempt over a three-game span in 2013, and then proceeded to throw eight interceptions while averaging 5.4 yards per attempt in his next three. Dalton has more weapons than ever before, and the sheer number of injuries at the QB position gives him a chance, but I still think he's more of a low-end No. 1.
Both have huge games under their belts so far; Robinson a 155-yard showing against the Dolphins in Week 2 and Hurns' 116-yard game against the Colts in Week 4. However, Robinson has managed just 16 Fantasy points in his other three games, while Hurns has 25 in his other three, including at least six in each. I don't believe this one to be true, but the way the Jaguars are using them might make Hurns a bit more reliable, if less explosive, because so many of Robinson's passes have been down the field. Robinson has the much higher ceiling here, but Hurns is more relevant than many think.
"Jameis Winston is ruining Mike Evans"
With Evans and Vincent Jackson, the Buccaneers have mirror image deep threats on the outside. Last season, Evans was an unstoppable force down the field, hauling in 18 passes thrown 20 yards down the field or more for 575 yards, the third-highest total in the league. On the other hand, Jackson caught just nine such deep balls on 34 attempts, for 314 yards and zero touchdowns. As they were on opposite ends of the aging curve, the assumption many made was that Evans was the ascendant force, while Jackson was slipping in his 30's. And yet, through four games with Winston, Jackson is 4 for 5 on passes beyond 20 yards, while Evans has yet to connect on the six deep passes thrown his way. Evans' struggles are probably partially related to Winston, but the gap between him and Jackson makes me think there's a lot of dumb luck. Evans is one of the best buy-low options in football.
"Rob Gronkowski is the top Fantasy player rest of season"
With the Patriots' bye in the past, Fantasy owners can now look forward to a full helping of Gronk every week from here on out. His competition for the top spot -- Peterson, Julio Jones, Lacy, Antonio Brown, etc -- all have their bye weeks ahead of them, and most of them won't have the benefit of having a bye during a week when only one other team is off. Gronkowski has a case as the No. 1 overall Fantasy player anyways, and with a game in hand on his competition from here on out, he has to be the odd's on favorite.
"Calvin Johnson is done"
There was a time when Calvin Johnson getting a dozen targets in a game meant his Fantasy owner could count on elite production. Through three games, however, Johnson has just one double-digit standard scoring performance, despite being targeted at least 11 times in each of his last three. Johnson's yards per catch is down all the way to 9.4, and he doesn't have more than 30 yards after catch in any game, a potential sign that he is slowing down. On the other hand, he matched up against the Broncos and Seahawks in the last two games, and an improving Vikings' pass defense in Week 2, so it may just be a very tough stretch. At 30, Johnson is neither so old that you would expect him to have hit a wall, nor so far removed from success that it is crazy to expect him to improve. Another one of the best buy-low options in the game, even if his quarterback looks like a disaster right now.
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