Week 5 Fantasy Football Recap: 6 Most Important Players to Analyze

Here to make sense of what happened yesterday, Lead Writer Zach Warren provides a numbers-filled recap like only numberFire can.

Still suffering from the harsh "I started Chris Johnson again" hangover? Trust me, some other owners have it worse. This is numberFire's week 5 fantasy recap, where we tell you why you shouldn't have slept on Colston, why Reggie Wayne is the best reanimation story since Frankenstein, and why Jonathan Stewart is good... when not eaten alive by vultures.

Locked on Target, Sir

Marques Colston - New Orleans Saints
Week 4 Final Points: 31 (#1 WR)
numberFire Projected Points: 13.21 (#2 WR)

Here is the full list of projections that had Colston as a top-five receiver this week: numberFire. Annnnd scene. I guess some people were a little down on the Saints (0-4 will do that to you), but their offense has not been the problem. New Orleans has now put up at least 24 points in all of their five games this season, and in case you didn't hear it 10,283 times last night, Drew Brees has thrown a touchdown pass in every single game since he was in Pee Wee football or something to that effect.

And just as it has been the entire season, Marques Colston was the primary beneficiary of Brees's passing prowess. Colston's 18 targets were the second most in the entire NFL this past week and represented 40% of Brees's throws, substantially larger than the 22% of throws he has been getting on the season. However, it's not like those targets came out of nowhere; he came into the week with a team-leading 50 targets. The Chargers looked to be decent defensive squad ranking as numberFire's #7 opponent-adjusted defense, but Matt Ryan had already proved this season that they were susceptible to a high-octane passing attack. His three touchdowns are obviously an outlier, but numberFire saw at least some scores coming, as his 0.80 projected TDs was second among receivers behind only Roddy White. Perhaps the most surprising part of Colston's day was his low 50% catch rate on the week, slightly worse than his 56% season average. That's right: he could have done even more damage.

Frank Gore
Week 4 Final Points: 16 (#5 RB)
numberFire Projected Points: 16.42 (#5 RB)

I don't call this game as much a victory for Frank Gore as I do a defeat for the Bills defense. Already numberFire's #30 opponent-adjusted defense entering week 5, they may sink even lower before facing the Cardinals in week 6. In five weeks, the Bills have now given up double-digit fantasy points to five different running backs, including the big names of Brandon Bolden, Shonn Greene, and Stevan Ridley. Well, maybe not so big names; the Bills rush defense is so bad that they might even make Chris Johnson look serviceable next week (maybe).

Gore's day doesn't come out of thin air, especially considering that he had averaged at least five yards per carry in three of his four previous games. But this one was even better. His 7.6 yards per carry this week is his largest in almost a full year, dating back to his 141-yard rushing day against the Lions in week 6 last season. His touchdown gives him four on the season, which ties him for the most rushing touchdowns in the NFL. Perhaps the most important, though, is the Niners' perpetual reliance on him as the #1 back. Even though Kendall Hunter ended with 11 rushes on the day, don't think the Niners are entering a timeshare any time soon. Only two of those 11 rushes came before the 7:00 minute mark of the third quarter, at which point the Niners were already up 24-3.

Where Did That Come From?

Jay Cutler - Chicago Bears
Week 4 Final Points: 19 (#7 QB)
numberFire Projected Points: 12.50 (#23 QB)

I could have looked at Smith or Luck here, but Smith's a product of the weak Bills defense I already talked about, and I'll touch on the Colts' passing attack next. But there was a third breakout QB this week who isn't going to get as much mainstream fantasy attention: Smokin' Jay Cutler. Do you now realize that Cutler has at least 17 fantasy points (FP) in three of his five games? Or that two of those games came in the past two weeks? Or that if you throw out the Green Bay debacle, he only has thrown three combined interceptions in his other four games? Or that he is engaged to that girl from Laguna Beach?

But unfortunately, here is the number of things in that last paragraph that will have lasting relevance: zero (cue the shrieking Kristin Cavallari fangirls). Out of the opposing defenses Cutler has faced so far this season, only the Packers (#16) and the Rams (#9) rank in the top half of numberFire's opponent-adjusted defenses. And in those two games, Cutler combined for five interceptions, one touchdown, 309 passing yards, and only eight fantasy points. The Jacksonville game looks good on paper, but according the numberFire's rankings, they are also the second-worst defense the Bears have faced (only ahead of the Colts). The immediate future after the bye looks good for Cutler, with Detroit, Carolina, and Tennessee right after the bye week, but he will spend the heart of fantasy season (weeks 10 through 16) playing a defense ranked in numberFire's top half every single week.

Reggie Wayne - Indianapolis Colts
Week 4 Final Points: 27 (#2 WR)
numberFire Projected Points: 9.64 (#21 WR)

He's alive, resurrected from the dead! So that's what Andrew Luck studied at Stanford, I guess. Just like my grandfather always said, "Son, if you want to go far, necromancy is the way of the future." (Editor's Note: My Presbyterian minister grandfather would probably have a heart attack before actually saying those words.)

Seemed to work for the Colts at least, as Reggie Wayne is undoubtedly, undeniably fantasy-relevant once more. He already had Luck's full attention, even before this week. His 40 targets entering week 5 represented 33% of all Andrew Luck throws. But then this week, especially on the Colts' game winning drive, Luck proved which receiver he trusted the most. Wayne ended the game with a week 5 league-high 20 targets, in total 36% of all Andrew Luck throws. With a 65% catch rate, Wayne stayed right in line with his 60% season average, which conveniently is right on line with the league average for receivers as well. If Luck keeps throwing, Wayne will get his targets, and all signs point to Luck doing exactly that. Luck's 44.25 passing attempts per game are second in the NFL, only behind Drew Brees.

But You Were Supposed To Do So Well!

Roddy White - Atlanta Falcons
Week 4 Final Points: 6 (#30 WR)
numberFire Projected Points: 14.24 (#1 WR)

We had him as our number one this week, even ahead of the expected breakout from Marques Colston. It's just that Matt Ryan decided, "So, you're going to say Roddy White's the best receiver? Well, the Redskins probably think that too. So let's not throw to him all day!" I know this because instead of necromancy, I decided to become a fortune teller; it's why I decided to pick up Danny Amendola in three of my four leagues (as I begin to slowly sob into a pillow).

So with that mindset, for the first time all year, Matt Ryan looked for Julio Jones and Tony Gonzalez a significant amount more than Roddy White. It was not the first time that White had been beaten in targets; Jones had more week 1 against Kansas City, and Gonzalez had more week 3 against San Diego. It was just that, for the first time this season, the disparity was significantly large. White's six targets represented only 12% of Ryan's throws, where previously, 27% of Ryan's throws had been going his way. Meanwhile, Gonzalez and Jones each had season-highs with 14 and 15 targets, respectively, which combined resulted in 53% of all of the Falcons' targets on the day. I consider this game an outlier, especially with the invisible secondary of the Oakland Raiders next on the docket, but it is still a tough outlier to take for White owners relying on him this past weekend.

Jonathan Stewart - Carolina Panthers
Week 4 Final Points: 2 (#42 RB)
numberFire Projected Points: 12.39 (#12 RB)

The stupidest thing you can do is argue with the math. I know not to argue with the math. But when I was setting my lineup on Sunday morning and was faced with an Ahmad Bradshaw vs. Jonathan Stewart matchup for my flex spot in one league, I went away from the math. I picked numberFire's #14 RB Bradshaw over numberFire's #12 RB Stewart. And I couldn't be happier that I did.

The fact remains, in Carolina, you never know exactly who is going to get what carries on any particular week. With the injuries and the crowded depth chart, not to mention Cam Newton poaching seemingly as many carries as humanly possible, it is tough to trust any particular Panthers player. Stewart ran into just that issue yesterday, when his four rushing attempts represented only 21% of Carolina's carries on the day and over 10 carries less than numberFire thought he would get. To be fair, he was the Panthers' most effective back on the day - Williams had six yards on six carries and Tolbert only had one carry for three yards - but that is little consolation to Stewart owners. At this point, you can only even think about starting Stewart against defenses at the very bottom of numberFire's defensive efficiency rankings, ones that could potentially give up high point days to multiple backs. The Seahawks are not that defense. No single running back has gotten over 55 yards against them the entire season.