Fantasy Football: 3 Things We Learned in Week 5
Perhaps more than anything, fantasy football is a game of adjustments. Season-long fantasy doesn't end at the draft, and smart managers learn to take the trends and data that each week of games offers and apply it to their roster decisions moving forward.
This weekly piece will look at trends from the previous slate of games and determine which trends in snaps, usage, and matchups are actionable moving forward. Let's dive in and look at some interesting pieces of information from Week 5.
Zack Moss is Widening the Gap
Once it was determined that Zack Moss was a scratch in Week 1 for injury reasons, the watch was on to see how long it would take before Moss officially supplanted Devin Singletary as the primary back in the high-powered Buffalo Bills offense. That time has officially come.
In Week 5 Moss played on 74% of Buffalo's offensive snaps, almost 20% higher than his 56% snap share in each of the previous two weeks. Moss' 42 snaps almost tripled what Singletary received (15), and Moss ran more than double the routes of Singletary (19 to 8, according to Pro Football Focus). The cherry on top was Moss' 15 opportunities (carries + targets) doubling up on Singletary's eight.
This is almost a complete reversal from Week 2 when they first played together this season. In that game, Singletary received 66% of the snaps while Moss only managed 28%. But Moss' role has continued to grow since that time, including the most important usage of all: red-zone work.
Despite missing the first game of the year, Moss ranks 8th among all running backs with 14 rushes in the red area. And it gets even better the closer the Bills are to the end zone. Inside the 10-yard line, Moss ranks fifth with nine rush attempts.
This Bills team is borderline historic in their ability to score points. They are first in the NFL in points per game, average scoring margin, red zone trips per game, and second in points per play this season. The Bills could bring Thurman Thomas or Fred Jackson out of retirement and they would be flex plays in this offense. As the Bills continue to dominate teams and Moss's role continues to grow, don't be surprised if you find his name in the top 15 running backs at the end of the year in half-point-per-reception formats.
DeVonta Smith Already Seeing Elite Usage
When a wide receiver gets six targets, we aren't usually overwhelmed by that kind of usage. It's a solid number, but nothing like 16 targets from Davante Adams this week or 13 targets from Cooper Kupp in Week 4. What that bias does is cause us to overlook players who consistently put up solid numbers in targets week after week.
Here is the list of wide receivers who have at least six targets in all five games this season.
|Week 1||Week 2||Week 3||Week 4||Week 5|
The first seven names on this list just read like a list of top fantasy wide receivers in the game this year. You also have possession receiver Hunter Renfrow, who is quickly becoming Derek Carr's best friend. And then you have the rookie DeVonta Smith. Averaging eight targets per game, the Heisman winner is already making a case for inclusion among the lists of elite wide receivers.
After Week 5, Smith ranks eighth among all wide receivers in share of his team's air yards (42%) and ranks 10th in total air yards (524). This is even more impressive when you consider that the Philadelphia Eagles as a team rank only 20th in passing yards as a percent of their total yards.
Only one time all season has any Philadelphia skill player had a higher target share than Smith in any game (Jalen Reagor's 21.1% target share in Week 3) and it's that kind of consistency that has led Smith to a WR30 ranking so far in point per reception formats despite only one touchdown. The scores will come as he continues to grow with Jalen Hurts, and Smith looks like he will be a usage monster all season.
Baltimore Does Not Have a Lead Running Back
At various points throughout this season, all of Ty'Son Williams, Latavius Murray, Le'Veon Bell, and Devonta Freeman have been waiver wire targets for fantasy teams needing a running back. After the loss of J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards, fantasy managers have been playing roulette with the Baltimore Ravens' running back room to try and figure out their lead back. The truth is, none appear able to win out.
Here is the breakdown of Baltimore running back usage in snap average, snaps by week, the share of the rushing attempts, and target share:
|Week 1||Week 2||Week 3||Week 4||Week 5||Rush |
As you can see, only once has a running back had more than 51% of the snaps this season. Williams, after seeing 50% of snaps in back-to-back weeks, has now seen 0% and 19% of snaps in the past two games. Murray has seen a snap decrease in three straight weeks. This is one giant headache.
None of this, of course, is a surprise. The Ravens' lead back is truly Lamar Jackson. Of the Ravens' 152 rushing attempts this season, Jackson owns 56 of those (36.8%). Jackson also has rushed for 341 of the Ravens' 744 total rushing yards --a huge 45.8% slice of the pie.
Now that Jackson has evolved into a full-blown RB1 (with just his rushing stats, he has the same production as Clyde Edwards-Helaire), and he is torching teams for 442 yards and four touchdowns, the Ravens' backfield is a headache to avoid entirely. It's time to just look elsewhere.