Pressing Week 5 fantasy football questions: Will Justin Jefferson and a bevy of excellent WRs shine on SNF?
Every week of the season brings new questions. Here we're going to try to pinpoint five of the most pressing in the NFL. The answers to these questions will reveal deeper truths about how the rest of the 2020 season's story will play out. We will find that these revelations will have a lasting impact not just on fantasy managers but the entire league.
1 - How many meters are the Vikings and Seahawks WRs combined?
Wide receiver play in the NFL is at such a high level these days. The surprising influx of talent from the 2019 draft class continues to shine bright, a strong stable of veterans remains at the top of the league, and we are already receiving strong contributions from the 2020 newbies.
All three of these groups will intersect in the game on Sunday night in Week 5, when the Minnesota Vikings take on the Seattle Seahawks.
Tyler Lockett and Adam Thielen are two established No. 1 receivers with histories of steady gaming. DK Metcalf is one of the leading playmakers from the 2019 crop and is currently linked to Stefon Diggs for the Mileage Received title. Rookie Justin Jefferson has got off to a hot start to his career after playing 100 yard games in a row and running all the courses in yards per run (3.95).
Justin Jefferson has shown up lately. (Photo by Hannah Foslien / Getty Images)
I argued ahead of the season that we can all agree that the Seahawks will have a top 5 recipient duo by the end of 2020. We're ahead of schedule. That should generally be accepted after only four weeks of the season. Minnesota held the top spot in this rankings for a long time when Thielen was paired with Stefon Diggs. Now Diggs is gone and thriving with Buffalo, but his successor, the aforementioned Jefferson, appears ready to bring the Vikings back into that discussion.
We should see a field day with a wide receiver game in this game. Not only are these four players great on their own, but they also play with efficient crime. Obviously, the Seahawks receivers are tied to one of the best quarterbacks in the league in Russell Wilson. Seattle throws the ball 64 percent of its games if the game is within three points. Everyone eats. Minnesota doesn't throw nearly as often, but hits the ball into the field. Kirk Cousins leads all quarterbacks with 14.2 yards per close.
Better still, none of the defenses can stop the pass. Seattle was beaten by wideouts all season. The secondary has allowed 94 catches for 1,345 yards and five touchdowns, the most in the league. That's 500 meters more than the next highest team. The Vikings are allowed under the final five yards per game (291.8) and adjusted yards per attempt (9.0).
Would anyone be surprised if these four were put together over 350 meters? You shouldn't be.
2 - Is Colts vs. Browns the game of the week?
The game in the question above will have something to say about it, as will a week 5 theoretical game against Titans, although the answer is likely no. You know the deal there. Even so, the Colts and Browns will feature two teams who built strong squads after looking lost at sea in Week 1. We'll learn a lot in this match.
The Colts look like one of the few strong defenses in the NFL. Indianapolis leads the league in the defensive DVOA rankings of Football Outsiders and has allowed the fewest yards per game. As evidenced by the fact that they slack off only 354 yards after the catch (second best), they absolutely fly to the ball. The addition of DeForest Buckner looks like a move that changes units.
The Browns make a 49-point appearance against the heinous defense of Dallas. The shift in competition couldn't be stronger. And yet Kevin Stefanski has been humming this offense since week 1. The running game was absolutely flawless. Cleveland leads the league both in the line yards adapted by football outsiders (measures to block the run) and in the mileage allocated to the return run. This is wild. Kareem Hunt is now taking the reins of this frenzied attack. The passing game wasn't perfect, but Baker Mayfield was largely safe and helped get Odell Beckham Jr. on a big outing in Week 4.
In this matchup, two units are at their peak. That's all you want in a soccer game. It may not be the best fantasy setup, but you get a really good data point here. What we see between these two teams on Sunday will change the way we project teams against the Colts, or whether we buy this Browns offense as a fully transformed unit.
3 - Can the Steelers crime come back to it right away?
The Steelers pulled the short end of the racket when the Titans' COVID outbreak forced them into an early season goodbye week. It was interesting to see Ben Roethlisberger come out this week saying that he wouldn't have liked to throw a wrench into their season when it got into a rhythm.
Let's all hope the Steelers can record their music right away. In the first three weeks of the season we saw that this, along with their top notch defense, was a high-flying offense.
[Week 5 Fantasy Ranking: QBs | RBs | WRs | TEs | FLEX | Daylight saving time | Kickers]
Pittsburgh has now returned to the style of playing before Mason Rudolph with Ben Roethlisberger back. Pittsburgh is always at the top of the league in the pass when No. 7 is healthy. Pittsburgh has the second highest percentage of passing games (64 percent) of all crime. Roethlisberger lets his passport catchers click on all levels. Diontae Johnson was boiling from a week 3 concussion and is still leading the team with 25 goals. JuJu Smith-Schuster has three touchdowns in as many games and averages 6.12 meters after the catch. All of Chase Claypool, James Washington, and Eric Ebron showed up in different sections of weeks 1-3. You have starters on the front line and strong supporters.
The Steelers still look like a league winning crime and should put that skill to the test on Sunday. Your Philadelphia week 5 opponent was devastated by bottlenecks and slot receivers that year. Pittsburgh has a lot of people in Johnson, JuJu, and Ebron who could run right through that defense. Let's hope that Ben Roethlisberger actually has nothing to fear when it comes to getting out of rhythm.
4 - Will Washington's outlook ever change with Kyle Allen?
Ron Rivera made the decision to put Dwayne Haskins less than 12 starts in his NFL career. You can undoubtedly criticize the decision, but Ron Rivera had his reasons and, according to the coach, not because he doesn't think Haskins can develop into a starter. Washington Football Team beatwriter for The Athletic Rhiannon Walker attended her flagship podcast to discuss the move. Here were the reasons Rivera set out:
The coach sees a chance to win a rotten division, even if Washington aren't a great team yet. Rivera once claimed an NFC South title with the Panthers amid a 7-8-1 record.
Haskins was robbed of off-season time to familiarize himself with the system, an offense Allen has played in for years.
Despite some strong moments, his young quarterbacks' mistakes were not fair to the rest of the team.
He believes that stacking some wins and competing for the division, while not much of a concern for long-term rebuilding, can help reverse the culture and revitalize regulars on the squad who are fed up with to lose.
So this is clearly a hyper-focused, short-term win. That's fine and Rivera could be right, which in the short term would spark some wins and positive momentum across the organization. But will Kyle Allen actually provide enough of an upgrade to do that?
There are no safe bets on it.
Last year Allen was 30th in QBR (39.7) and 32nd in adjusted net yards per attempt (4.25). We use these metrics specifically because they use a quarterback for removed bags, which was a big problem for everyone. No passer-by lost more yards of bags in 2019 than the Panthers backup. Combined with its league-low capture rate of 38.8 percent for passes of more than 15 air yards, this served to bury a once-promising unit. There is no question that the longer Allen hung around as a starter in Carolina, the worse the results got.
Allen came out hot as the Panthers relief man, and there's a chance he could give the football team a three to four game jolt. Asking for more pushes your luck. If Rivera really plans on competing at NFC East over a 16-week season, Alex Smith or a suddenly rejuvenated Haskins are his best bets.
From a skill position perspective, we have evidence that if Allen stays in Washington and his individual game begins to wane, he will be fine. Allen beat up the Panthers receiver DJ Moore with targets on sloping and digging routes. Terry McLaurin is a superior separator and could enjoy the same tunnel vision as the quarterback. He could be more productive with everyone at the center. Antonio Gibson begins to get more involved every week. If Allen continues to keep things short in the passing game, Gibson could get the same pepper Allen handed out to Christian McCaffrey last year. If Allen holds the offensive “more systematically” than Haskins, it will only mean more scoring opportunities for Gibson.
5 - Will the Falcon's Offense Respond?
No one should be surprised that the falcon defenses are again below par. They've been an embarrassing outfit since they lost the Super Bowl during the 2016 season and just kind of got worse every year. Now they are out of health and are playing a matchup with an athletic and fascinating group of Panthers players.
More surprisingly, after a hot start, the offense looks normal at best. Atlanta ranks 19th in success rate and 18th in success rate. With Julio Jones largely out of the mix and Calvin Ridley slamming the last two games, Matt Ryan and the airstrike weren't the arena-league-style attack that graced the field in weeks 1 and 2. This has to be the strength of the team. Dealing with injuries there and the line of scrimmage is unsustainable. Especially when Ryan has been playing good but not great football so far. He has to be elite to survive the storm roster in his current state. That does not happen.
The panthers' defense is certainly to be had. The weaker point is the run defense, but the lack of a consistently dangerous pass rusher and some mistakes in secondary school make it a vulnerable entity. Failure to capitalize on this point would have many consequences. If Ryan and the passing game fall short, the Falcons will likely lose that game. It would place fantasy managers in a difficult position deciding whether to change expectations for these players for the rest of 2020. It would also take the Falcons to a 5-0 start and potentially topple the final domino that will bring the end of the Dan Quinn era in Atlanta.
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