Week 5 Observations

Sometimes things go so comically bad, you just have to laugh. I was 3-10 ATS heading into Sunday night, and I needed the Colts to cover. Unfortunately, I needed them not to win because I had the Chiefs in Survivor.

The Giants also lost badly, I went 0-4-1 in the Super Contest, and the games were as flag-riddled as ever. As I wrote in East Coast Offense, it’s almost at the point where I can’t enjoy a play as it happens because I’m waiting to see whether the authorities have given it their blessing.

The one silver lining were my NFFC teams (one of them has three players going Monday night), but the other is 5-0 and 28th overall (out of 3204), pending Monday night. You usually don’t get 224 points with two zeroes in your lineup:

But it was an fairly insane day for fantasy scoring for a lot of people. Not pictured are Deshaun Watson and Will Fuller who paced their respective positions or D.J. Chark, Michael Thomas or Aaron Jones, all of whom had monster games too. People on Twitter commented it was the first time in NFL history five players had more than 40 PPR points.

The Colts were better than the Chiefs Sunday night. They got constant pressure on Pat Mahomes while protecting Jacoby Brissett, they controlled the line of scrimmage on the ground and the time of possession. Mahomes’ lone TD was on a miraculous play, and very little came easily, especially in the second half. The Chiefs miss Tyreek Hill and Kareem Hunt, and Frank Reich outcoached Andy Reid.

Marlon Mack was questionable all week, but racked up 29 carries, broke tackles and willed his way to first downs. He also caught three passes.

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Travis Kelce caught only four of 10 targets, a couple of which were drops. After a monster Week 1, Sammy Watkins has disappeared, and now he’s hurt yet again.

I mocked the Mahomes regression police for three weeks, and I really hope they don’t have the last laugh. But he’s had only one TD pass over his last eight quarters. Some of that is circumstantial — the Lions pass defense is excellent, the Chiefs got a fumble-six in that game, and the Colts bludgeoned the Chiefs and controlled time of possession. But unpredictable circumstances are an argument for, not against, regression. I would still re-regress Mahomes back to his 2018-Week-3, 2019 pace going forward, especially with Hill due back.

Dak Prescott was this week’s Jared Goff — monster stats, but an unimpressive overall game. Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup got 14 targets each. Cooper, who just missed being the sixth player with 40 PPR points, looks like a steal for a generic first-round pick right now.

Aaron Jones was the Packers entire offense, with 107 rushing yards and a team-leading eight targets, seven catches and 75 receiving yards. He also scored all their non-kicker points. I’d love to see when the last time a player checked those boxes in a win where the offense scored more than 30 points.

I made the Chargers seven-point home favorites over the Broncos, and when I saw the line was 6.5 (putting me on the Chargers), I immediately regretted it. Obviously, the healthier, hungrier Broncos were going to cover at the Chargers’ non-existent home field. I should have switched it, but I didn’t want to undermine my incredibly unsuccessful process.

Austin Ekeler and Melvin Gordon split snaps evenly, but Ekeler had 16 targets and 15 catches for 86 yards. When your leading receiver is getting fewer than five yards per target, you’re liable to lose the game.

Matt Ryan had another 46 passing attempts — he’s a great fantasy quarterback on a team that’s going nowhere.

Watson is unfair against a terrible defense, and he draws the Chiefs next week. I’d have to imagine the total will be close to 60, especially if Hill is back.

Christian McCaffrey used to have Alvin Kamara-level usage, and now he’s gone full Lev Bell, replete with all the goal-line carries too. I grudgingly took him at 1.2 in the NFFC, frustrated the guy at 1.1 took Saquon Barkley. McCaffrey would have had even more carries and yards had he not cramped up for the two final drives. He’s on pace to be the greatest PPR fantasy back of all time.

D.J. Chark is a rising star — he’s 6-4 and runs a 4.34 40, and Gardner Minshew is competent enough to support his breakout.

Leonard Fournette isn’t likely to live up to his pedigree, but has proved himself competent behind a credible offense.

I don’t know why I keep taking the Redskins, Dolphins and Jets and the points against the Patriots and other massive favorites. No matter how big the line is, they cover it easily, and this is the case even when the Redskins score the first TD of the game and keep it close for most of the first half. It’s a matter of when, not if, the terrible team blows the cover. Fifteen and a half on the road used to be an unthinkable line, but now there’s one like that every week.

Maybe the league is different now, wherein the disparity between good and bad is more stark. Or maybe it’s that teams are throwing more, so the disparity in final score is larger even if the disparity in quality is the same. Or maybe it’s just a five-week sample which will regress as soon as I start making lines big enough to put me on the favorites.

Sony Michel finally showed a pulse, likely closing the buy-low window. Buy-low only works when you’re legitimately worried you might be getting a lemon.

Lamar Jackson looked shaky even if his rushing yards always provide a nice floor. The Steelers aren’t the same without Ben Roethlisberger, but their defense might be good.

I have no idea why Mike Tomlin elected to kick in overtime, and I was especially aghast, given I had Steelers +3.5.

I picked up the Eagles defense for very little in two leagues this week (already had them in a third.) People broke the budget for Wayne Gallman two weeks ago, and yet getting a 15-point favorite defense at home against Luke Falk isn’t worth four percent of your FAAB budget? (Of course, I had the Jets with the points, too.)

The Eagles like Jordan Howard, who is good at what he does, so there’s no upside for Miles Sanders.

Daniel Jones had a bad stat game, but even his incompletions were usually on the money, and the Giants receivers had some drops. I’m still as bullish as ever.

You always hate to see a player you started get a concussion — in the first quarter.

Fifth-round pick Darius Slayton (4.39 40) looks like a player.

The Vikings offense has two good players, Dalvin Cook and Adam Thielen, and the Giants could not stop them.

Chris Godwin is the top PPR fantasy receiver this year. Mike Evans didn’t record a catch on three targets, as Marcus Lattimore shadowed him, and Jameis Winston stopped looking his way.

Teddy Bridgewater demonstrates more persuasively each week that Drew Brees is a system quarterback. Michael Thomas sure doesn’t seem to notice the difference.

The Raiders are 3-2 and would be a Wild Card team were the playoffs to begin today (h/t Ted Bell.) And two of their wins came on a neutral field against the Bears (who killed the Vikings last week) and in Indianapolis who just beat the Chiefs in Arrowhead. But Jon Gruden doesn’t understand analytics!

Josh Jacobs ran over the Bears a week after they stuffed Dalvin Cook, and Derek Carr took zero sacks from the Kahlil Mack team while the Raiders sacked Chase Daniel four times.

I had the Titans minus three, and if the Titans don’t release Cairo Santos and fire Mike Vrabel, I will. Vrabel made arguably the worst coaching decision in NFL history (a bar as high as, for instance, most painful death in Game of Thrones), electing down seven for a 53-yard field-goal attempt on 4th-and-4 with 6:31 left. It would have been a garden-variety terrible decision if his kicker were Justin Tucker, but Santoast was already 0-for-3 in the game, having missed from 36 and 50 earlier in the game, not including one he had blocked.

At least the Cardinals covered for me, though even they nearly blew it at the end too. Kyler Murray is living up to his billing as a runner if nothing else.