Fantasy Football

2018 Fantasy Football Week 5 Preview: Unsettled Patterns


Usually by October, the NFL teams and players have reached a regular level of set rosters and depth chart expectations. For the most part we see this, but several teams remain in preseason mode and fantasy hopes for a dark horse sleeper are still alive.

In Arizona, we have a new quarterback and a fresh system undergoing continual adjustment and a possibility of  wide receiver breakouts could arrive.

In Dallas, a similar dim view in their current passing game has to awaken sooner or later. We know the talent of Michael Gallup from Colorado State, but a good receiver is nothing without adequate usage. The quarterback has a say in that and the Dallas coaching staff will no doubt address it. When and how we cannot say.

These are just a couple of the unsettled patterns, in the main, that NFL teams wrestle with in pursuit of stronger competitive stature in the league. Never forget that coaches address the weaknesses of their team. It’s their job. Some teams solve their problems effectively and others do not.

This is why power rankings constantly fluctuate through the season. Never give up hope on a deep spec add because every week is a new test of team adjustments. If a test is successful, a player can begin ranking stronger than our original conclusions from the past.

2018 Fantasy Football Week 5 Preview

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Early Sunday
Jaguars at Chiefs

On a short week, the Chiefs, and more topically Patrick Mahomes, face a defense known for shutting down deep threats coupled with a heavy pass rush.

If anything, the pressure is really on the Jaguars defense. They might try and concentrate on containing the running game so the Chiefs cannot freeze the safeties and somewhat relax the pass coverage. However, the Jaguars cannot pursue this strategy for very long. The Chiefs will eventually discover the soft areas over the middle, both underneath and deep, just like the Jets did with some success.

This means Travis Kelce is their key. A major one. Plus, the Chiefs can make good use of their other receivers by creating medium and long post routes too. Mahomes will discover how fortunate he is to have Kareem Hunt for short outside emergencies.

Make or Blake

I know some people are warming to Blake Bortles, myself among them, but this isn’t the type of game I’m comfortable with starting him. As strong as the Jags defense is, the Chiefs will break through enough to interrupt any game control Jacksonville try to build. Bortles has to work the ball to everyone and play for the time of possession.

The Jags cannot afford their defense to become too taxed by the fourth quarter – not against Mahomes. T.J. Yeldon, and to similar extent Corey Grant, must move the sticks and help create long time consuming drives. That’s ideal, but not as feasible against a team like the Chiefs.

I have the sense though that the Chiefs will try for the shootout come what may. It might seem too obvious that Mahomes and the Chiefs want to set that tone right from the start. They’ll have something cooked up in their very first series to try and unload Tyreek Hill.

Sleeper: Donte Moncrief, WR, Jaguars

Sunday Late
Vikings at Eagles

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Two playoff contending teams looking to turn the corner from unconvincing starts. Injuries have hurt both in the backfield, but the Eagles have lost several other integral players. The Eagles appear a little less shaken after a 2-2 September. Whereas the Vikings (1-2-1) have real game flow problems.

What I mean by that is they look reactive instead of proactive in their approach to adversity. Whenever you let an opponent set a tempo for game, they hold an instant advantage. Now granted, Dalvin Cook‘s absence has something to do with that, but Latavius Murray seems unable to pick up the slack.

Why is this? If you look at the film, defenses seem ready for running plays. Kirk Cousins has something to do with this because the Vikings weren’t this bad last year. I want to confirm my suspicions, but any ready evidence I seem to find runs contrary to other evidence. There are certain running plays which Cousins does not execute well to the benefit of the runner.

Boring game?

As for this game, the O/U is 44.5. I’ll take the under. It’s one of those matchups where I can see the scoreboard sitting at 10-6 after an interesting start, then with a long wait for something else to happen. The defenses are almost equal to the task of each of the offenses. Yeah, one of those ones. It’s an important game to not lose rather than win.

The Eagles have an edge at home and Carson Wentz should find Zach Ertz often enough as usual, but the rest of his day will involve running out of the pocket. The Eagles have the edge in the running game as Jay Ajayi should be back in full health.

I’m looking at floors for Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen. Anything better comes late in the game.

Sleeper: Me watching this game. Hope not. Ok… Jordan Matthews, WR, Eagles

Sunday Night
Cowboys at Texans

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As per usual, I can have another opportunity to take a shot at the Cowboys offense. They are a waste for fantasy with one exception. You know it’s a mess when Geoff Swaim looks like a spec add.

Ah well. It’s Sunday night and by this time you’re just waiting to collect your Texans points anyway.

That’s basically it. The Cowboys defense versus your fantasy Texans. Dak Prescott got his first 200+ passing game of the season. Perhaps 300+ this week?

Look for the usual from the Cowboys offense. Ezekiel Elliott.

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The Texans are far more interesting. Yes, they are erratic and Deshaun Watson can make some scary plays. What amazes me most when watching this team is how utterly talented DeAndre Hopkins is. There’s not a single opening he cannot find to escape coverage. That’s what every team faces when Nuk is on the field.

If the Texans can secure a lead early without breaking down too much in the red zone, they’ll easily control this game. There is no way Dak will find free movement with Jadeveon Clowney around. Clowney is actually off to a slow start this season, but the indicators are pointing up for him. He’ll be the one man guarding Elliott from gaining extra yardage.

Sleeper: Keke Coutee*, WR, Texans
* questionable

Monday Night
Redskins at Saints

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If anything, this might be a game where people rush to the waiver wire to chase the points on various Redskins. Alex Smith will open it up beyond Chris Thompson and Jordan Reed.

It is about time that Jameison Crowder, Paul Richardson or Josh Doctson have a breakout game. Adrian Peterson is finding some good stride on the Redskins and should enable more than enough openings.

The Saints have restored their defense since the opening Tampa Bay game where Fitzpatrick just let loose without the strength of a running attack.

The Saints, for their part, will find the Redskins defense a tricky challenge and the Josh NormanMichael Thomas battle is worth the ticket. Thomas, despite a down game last week, remains on pace to continue pursuing Marvin Harrison‘s reception record.

The Saints welcome the return of Mark Ingram and I’ll discuss him further below. However, this is the Alvin Kamara show through and through.

I expect Brees to have a big game as wrote in the preseason:

From 2015-2017, Brees averaged 329 yards per game (YPG) at home versus 283 away. One of his interesting and notable high splits is against NFC East teams; averaging 342 YPG during that same period. As mentioned, at outdoor stadiums, he averages 285 YPG versus 348 indoors.

Want one more? Okay. Happily start Brees on Monday Night Football. Over the past three years he has a 336 YPG average. The Saints play twice on MNF in 2018. And wouldn’t you know… the first is at home against the Redskins in early October!

So take that for what it’s worth, but Brees loves Monday night football.

Sleeper: Josh Doctson, WR, Redskins

Players to Watch

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Mark Ingram, RB, Saints (vs Redskins)

“We’ll figure out the balance” said Sean Payton this week. It seems the return of Ingram presents a problem of surplus for the Saints who are doing fine without him. In fantasy, we have to imagine Ingram is safe enough to start, but what Payton has in mind is anyone’s guess. I don’t think what we see of Ingram on Monday necessarily translates for the rest of the season. The Saints could phase Ingram back into the offense without upsetting too much of the dynamic they’ve built to this point.

Odell Beckham Jr., WR, Giants (at Panthers)

He joins a list of other receivers around the league complaining about their offense. Becks has a legit gripe here because Eli isn’t getting him the ball enough deep and if you look at his airyards catch-rate this season, it is well below the league average beyond 20 yards. It almost seems like OBJ checked this out because he stated as much. Squeaky wheels often get the grease, so if the chance for Manning presents itself, OBJ will see a few shots.

Russell Wilson, QB, Seahawks (vs Rams)

Our favorite Badger gets the Rams this week and I have him on the list because he really needs to get going. I criticize Dak Prescott enough for low passing yardage, but Russell has yet to post a 300+ as well. His QB1 status looks low-end at best and his legs aren’t something we can count on as he plays through hamstring problems. I know it’s the Rams and the Seahawks always have difficulty with them, but another sub-par performance like last week will start to raise question marks.

Jeff Heuerman, TE, Broncos (at Jets)

Can I just say that Heuerman led the Broncos in receiving yards versus the Chiefs on Monday night? Yes, the porous Chiefs. And can I also say that the Broncos have waited ages for a tight end to step up since Julius Thomas? My interest is more about those seven targets versus the Chiefs, not the yardage. That is serious usage out of nowhere. I consider seven targets a nominal latitude for high production expectancy. Watch his targets again and put your finger on the waiver trigger.

In The Booth on Sunday

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Sam Rosen

CBS Early

Jaguars at Chiefs: Jim Nantz, Tony Romo
Broncos at Jets: Ian Eagle, Dan Fouts
Dolphins at Bengals: Kevin Harlan, Rich Gannon
Titans at Bills: Spero Dedes, Adam Archuleta
Ravens at Browns: Andrew Catalon, James Lofton

CBS Late

Raiders at Chargers: Greg Gumbel, Trent Green, Bruce Arians

Fox Early

Giants at Panthers: Kenny Albert, Charles Davis
Packers at Lions: Thom Brennaman, Chris Spielman
Falcons at Steelers: Chris Myers, Daryl Johnston

Fox Late

Vikings at Eagles: Joe Buck, Troy Aikman
Rams at Seahawks: Sam Rosen, Ronde Barber
Cardinals at 49ers: Dick Stockton, Mark Schlereth

Check out the rest of our 2018 Fantasy Football content from our great team of writers.

About Richard Savill

Richard is an NFL Fantasy Football Writer and Editor of Fantasy Six Pack. Host of The Fantasy Edge Podcast. FantasyPros Contributor. Member of the FSWA. Richard is known for his "outside the box" insight into NFL fantasy football. Winner of the 16-Team 2015 FSWA challenge.

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