Fantasy Football

2019 Fantasy Football Week 5 Preview: Incentive


It is a reasonable question to ask whether team record affects the fantasy performance of individual players. Team direction and feasibility for a turnaround can vary. What’s the mindset like within a locker room for losing team?

2019 Fantasy Football Week 5 Preview

There are currently six winless teams in the NFL following Week 4. The Jets are 0-3 because of the bye and the Cardinals have a tie to make them 0-3-1. Only the 1992 Chargers have made the playoffs after a fully winless September.

We expect NFL players to put in full effort for every game. Despite long streaks of losses, the Browns of recent years generally put out a competitive team for all those weeks. Like the Cardinals and Bengals this week, the players might as well vent by pushing the envelope.

Once the players get on the field, all the stuff about records and power rankings melts away. An “us versus them” mentality takes over; even after the chances of a playoff berth evaporated weeks ago. Several players have incentive bonuses as part of the contract – every little bit helps.

However, coaching staffs might see things differently. If the team incentive is long gone, they can afford to work in otherwise non-fantasy relevant rookies and typical bench players for future reference and evaluation.

Not all coaches do this in equal measure and I suspect most prefer to keep this sort of thing subtle if possible. After all, putting the best team on the field to win, despite the standings, is how they can keep their jobs.

Nevertheless, dramatic adjustments do happen. Pulling out all the stops to get a team motivated who already face a dead end in December is paramount for a losing coach.

2019 Fantasy Football Week 5 Preview 2019 Fantasy Football Week 5 Preview

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Games to Watch 2019 Fantasy Football Week 5 Preview

A brief rundown of the games this weekend. You drafted your players and scooped up waiver prospects… now it’s time to watch ’em.

Byes: Dolphins, Lions

Early Sunday: Buccaneers (2-2) at Saints (3-1) -3.0 46.5

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The Buccaneers are taking adversity by the throat these days and the Bruce Arians system within the team is taking shape. Only a missed 34 yard field against the Giants prevented this team from coming into New Orleans 3-1. Jameis Winston went from an average of 200+ yards in his first two games to 380+ yards in the last two.

The fantasy points ballooned and the NFL named Winston the NFC Offensive Player of the Week. Recent performance always wins fantasy waiver votes, and he took that prize as well.

The Saints needed defense to defeat the Cowboys at home 12-10 and are holding on well enough to not leave Drew Brees a mess on his return.

Teddy Bridgewater is in for a tough test. He isn’t harming the production of your main fantasy players on the Saints, which is good, but in a matchup like this, expectations are higher for ceiling-type numbers. His deepest completed pass went for just 16 yards against the Cowboys.

Ronald Jones is a player of high fantasy interest. He is pulling away from Peyton Barber and the timeshare changed dramatically. Barber out-snapped Jones 26-23 against the Giants, but Jones took the reins taking 36-19 versus the Rams.

Fun Fact: Jameis Winston has thrown a 300+ yard triple just once; in Weeks 2+3+4 of 2017.
Sleeper: O.J. Howard, TE, Buccaneers

Other Early Sunday Games in Brief…

2019 Fantasy Football Week 5 Preview

Ravens (2-2) at Steelers (1-3) +3.5 44.5

This fierce rivalry continues. The presumed exclusive number one roles of  James Conner and Juju Smith-Schuster are under some fantasy scrutiny. Jaylen Samuels and Diontae Johnson are rising in the Steelers’ offense. If the Steelers’ siege on Andy Dalton (8 sacks) last Monday is any indicator, Lamar Jackson will choose run first, pass second for first down yardage.

Patriots (4-0) at Redskins (0-4) +15.5 42.0

The Redskins are essentially without a true starting quarterback. Case Keenum and Dwayne Haskins can’t get it done, so Colt McCoy gets the start. In situations like this, offenses get creative with wild-cat formations and the like. The Patriots can easily afford copious amounts of bump and run coverage; while maintaining plenty of pressure up front.

Jets (0-3) at Eagles (2-2) -14.0 43.5

The Jets, hungry for a win, cannot yet turn to Sam Darnold (illness). Luke Falk will step in and likely have no easy time versus a strong run defense like the Eagles. Despite this, expect the Jets to rely on Le’Veon Bell out of sheer necessity. The Eagles will employ the running game heavily too, but Carson Wentz could have a big day once the Jets defense wears out.

Bills (3-1) at Titans (2-2) -3.0 38.5

The Bills are playoff contenders now. Devin Singletary looks odds on for a return, so he and Frank Gore will split duties. Mariota is trying to build on the consistency of last week (129.7 pass rate); putting A.J. Brown on the fantasy radar. We still expect run-first as the main scheme, but if Mariota continues strong, who knows?

Jaguars (2-2) at Panthers (2-2) -3.5 41.0

A defensively high-pressure affair. You might forget that these teams do not play in the same conference. Gardner Minshew and Kyle Allen are in the middle of it. The short stuff will dominate early until one-upmanship in the passing game eventually bursts. Jalen Ramsey sits this one – allowing openings for Kyle Allen.

Vikings (2-2) at Giants (2-2) +5.0 43.5

The controversy surrounding Kirk Cousins, Adam Thielen, and Stefon Diggs especially made headlines this week. It sounds like a happy locker room of press-gang conscripts. Conversely, the Giants have all the flowering optimism entering this game. Saquon Barkley pushed to play in this game, but he will remain out. Daniel Jones continues to trend strongly for ROY honors.

Falcons (1-3) at Texans (2-2) -4.5 49.0

The bounce-back bowl? Look at last week. Matt Ryan hadn’t had a 300+ yard game with zero TDs since 2012. Deshaun Watson sacked another six times. Julio Jones and DeAndre Hopkins  both coming off down games. Running backs on both sides not inspiring much fantasy cheer lately either. So perhaps it’s time for a breakout party.

Cardinals (0-3-1) at Bengals (0-4) -3.0 47.0

One of the fantasy benefits of two teams with nothing to lose, except more losing, is that they can just let loose without too much attention to details.  Christian Kirk will miss this game opening the door for Andy Isabella and KeeSean Johnson for fantasy exposure. The Bengals, losing John Ross to IR, will ride with Auden Tate as the number two until A.J. Green returns.

Bears (3-1) vs Raiders (2-2) (in London) +5.0 40.5

The London games have few memorable contests. The Bears are so strong defensively, that we could be in for another forgettable game. Aside from this, the rise of David Montgomery before the Bears’ bye week is an important fantasy player to keep an eye on.

Late Sunday: Packers (3-1) at Cowboys (3-1) -3.5 47.5

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One of these teams will have two straight losses after late Sunday afternoon.

The Cowboys have Michael Gallup back in the lineup, but the Packers are without Davante Adams and Jamaal Williams.

The ground game for the Packers continues to frustrate the fantasy owners of Aaron Jones. The Cowboys have more creativity than the Packers when it comes to opening holes for Ezekiel Elliott. Jones could be in for another tough day if Aaron Rodgers needs to battle the clock through the air.

We will get our first looks at a new kid, Dexter Williams mixing in. He’s a lottery ticket spec-add.

Gallup is a nervous fantasy choice, because the Cowboys may ease him in; saving his usual regular snaps and targets for the next game.

Geronimo Allison is the other nervous choice in fantasy. His usage has fallen into boom and bust territory. However, without Adams, there’s no other way than up. Marquez Valdes-Scantling is the better option for target share.

Fun Fact: The Packers and Cowboys have beaten the OU four straight times when in Dallas by an average of 15.5 points per game. The OU is 47.5 for this game.
Sleeper: Jimmy Graham, TE, Packers

Other Late Sunday Games in Brief…

2019 Fantasy Football Week 5 Preview

Broncos (0-4) at Chargers (2-2) -6.5 44.5

I don’t know how Nantz and Romo ended up with this gig. Melvin Gordon begins his 2019 in earnest – we think. Austin Ekeler may remain frontman of the Chargers backfield for the foreseeable future. Mike Williams returns to the field in a plum matchup with Keenan Allen getting the star corner coverage. The Broncos are sinking fast, but the patchwork offense continues.

Featured Games

Sunday Night: Colts (2-2) at Chiefs (4-0) -11.0 56.0

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T.Y. Hilton*  is questionable and Parris Campbell is out for this game.

It’s hit and hope for the rest of the Colts’ receivers regarding their fantasy usage. Zach Pascal and Deon Cain are desperation plays. Like last week, Eric Ebron and Jack Doyle are better options.

Damien Williams returns to his split role with LeSean McCoy, but Darrel Williams may earn some carries.

Once again, Patrick Mahomes will challenge his offensive counterpart to keep up. Jacoby Brissett can throw deep too, but with far less accuracy.

Fun Fact: Patrick Mahomes can join Russell Wilson as the only QBs with zero INTs on at least 150 attempts after five games. Just seven quarterbacks in history have done this.
Sleeper: Mecole Hardman, WR, Chiefs

*UPDATE: Hilton upgraded to game time decision

Monday Night: Browns (2-2) at 49ers (3-0) -4.0 46.5

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Finally, a Monday night game with some bite to it.

The 49ers are out for respect. You always get this when a dark horse starts undefeated.

Curiously, the 49ers might have a point. You could argue that they remain undefeated even while playing well below their potential best. As for their best being at powerhouse level, I’m not going that far. I mean, come on.

As for the Browns, we already know they are playing well below their potential best. Yep, we’re seeing bust commodities cropping up in the offense except for Nick Chubb.

Baker Mayfield has the lowest completion efficiency of all full starting quarterbacks after September. Both Odell Beckham and Jarvis Landry are below 60% in completing their targets.

OBJ said the Giants sent him to Cleveland “to die” and, in irony of his intentions, that might be coming true.

Fun Fact: The 49ers have not started a season 4-0 since 1990. In that year, their bye week was also in Week 4. They finished 14-2.
Sleeper: Dante Pettis, WR, 49ers

In the Booth on Sunday

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Sam Rosen

CBS Early

Ravens at Steelers: Ian Eagle, Dan Fouts
Patriots at Redskins: Greg Gumbel, Trent Green
Jets at Eagles: Kevin Harlan, Rich Gannon
Bills at Titans: Spero Dedes, Adam Archuleta
Jaguars at Panthers: Andrew Catalon, James Lofton

FOX Early

Vikings at Giants: Sam Rosen, Charles Davis
Falcons at Texans: Kenny Albert, Ronde Barber
Cardinals at Bengals: Thom Brennaman, Chris Spielman
Buccaneers at Saints: Chris Myers, Daryl Johnston
Bears vs Raiders: Dick Stockton, Mark Schlereth (in London)

CBS Late

Broncos at Chargers: Jim Nantz, Tony Romo

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FOX Late

Packers at Cowboys: Joe Buck, Troy Aikman

Check out the rest of our 2019 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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