When there is so much going on, what should fantasy gamers and sports fans focus on? This is the question I will answer for you in this series of articles entitled, “Lessons Learned.” Here are the lessons we learned in Week 5 of the NFL season.
1) Thursday Night – Game of the Weak?
Neither Denver minus Javonte Williams nor Indianapolis minus Jonathan Taylor could muster a single touchdown Thursday night. They even gave them an extra quarter but still… no. Both squads brought in new quarterbacks this year hoping to build their own version of the 2021 Los Angeles Rams. However, neither team’s new quarterback was coming off a particularly great 2021, and they entered 2022 a combined 72 years old.
Well, five weeks into 2022, those QBs, Russell Wilson and Matt Ryan, have not been upgrades at all. On Thursday they combined for zero touchdowns and four interceptions. Between them, they’ve tossed more picks than scores on the season.
While everyone in Indianapolis wanted to run Carson Wentz out of town after 2021’s stunning season-ending loss to the Jags, so far in 2022, Matt Ryan has put up fewer Fantasy Points per Game and a lower True Passer Rating and QBR than Carson did last year.
Russell’s 2022 Denver QBR, Expected Points Added and Production Premium are all less than Teddy Bridgewater‘s 2021 marks. Teddy, subbing for injured starter Drew Lock for much of 2021, put up QB2 or better weeks in nine of his last 10 starts.
Having said that, while Thursday’s game was painful to watch, smart fantasy owners saw trade prices dropping – especially for Broncos players. Without Williams, Denver will have to throw more. And their late-season schedule is solid for passing games as they finish with the Ravens, Chiefs (twice), Cardinals, and Rams.
On the Colts’ side, there’s still a chance rookie Alec Pierce is on the waiver wire. He won’t be after this week. Pierce is blessed with great athleticism, solid college metrics, and an outstanding Breakout Age, and he’s put up better numbers in each of his first five NFL weeks. To make it even more intriguing, Indianapolis has a great schedule during the heavy bye schedules of Weeks 7 and 8.
Action: Use Thursday’s ugly game as a buying opportunity for Broncos and Colts players.
2) Plan Now for Week 7 and 8 Byes
NFL byes begin in Week 6 with Houston, Las Vegas, Tennessee, and Detroit getting the week off.
Weeks 7 and 8 are when the bye-week rubber will really hit the road. In Week 7, fantasy teams will need QB and WR help to replace their Bills, Eagles, Vikings, and Rams. In Week 8, it’ll be the Chiefs and Chargers. That’ll leave a lot of fantasy managers needing to back-fill quarterback and receiver talent.
What should we do? Rather than wait for other owners to join us at the waiver trough as the bye weeks hit, let’s do our work a week earlier. We’ll have a better selection and lower waiver prices.
But who to target? Per Pro Football Reference, Pittsburgh, Washington, Tennessee, Detroit, and Seattle are among the most generous fantasy defenses against the pass. If we play our cards right, we might find players that can help both weeks.
Per the schedules, two teams have particularly great passing matchups in both Weeks 7 and 8:
- Miami faces the Steelers and Lions. Miami only throws to two receivers, and they’re certainly not available. However, Teddy Bridgewater is still on some waiver wires. If he’s available, healthy enough to play and Tua Tagovailoa isn’t back, Teddy will be a great fill-in through those byes.
- Indianapolis gets the Titans and Commanders. Alec Pierce had his first real big game in Week 5. If he was not claimed before Thursday, this will be your last chance to strike now.
Action: Review the upcoming byes now and find replacements a week or two before your league mates.
3) They Might Be Giants!
Just two years ago, the “NFC Least” sent division winner Washington to the playoffs with a losing record. But the times, they are a-changin’. The top three teams in the 2022 NFC East – Philadelphia, Dallas, and New York – are now a combined 13-2. The Giants’ 4-1 record would lead any other division. The G-Men must now be taken seriously.
What’s been New York’s story? Brian Daboll, of course, has brought some Buffalo magic and has the Giants believing in themselves. Saquon Barkley has returned to his place atop the NFL running back mountain. But also important is the oft-overlooked and under-appreciated Daniel Jones. People just don’t seem to like Jones. The Giants declined his fifth-year option. His 2022 ADP was QB21 despite finishing QB17 in Fantasy Points Per Game in 2021 throwing to the likes of Kenny Golladay, Evan Engram, and Darius Slayton.
And Jones has been reliable again in 2022. Yet again without a receiving corps and now on a bum ankle, he’s managed to put up QB2 or better numbers in every game. Heading into Week 5, he was posting 16.6 (No. 13) Fantasy Points per Game on just 105 (No. 26) Pass Attempts despite facing the No. 3-most Pressured Throws. His 8.2 (No. 4) Accuracy Rating and top-10 mark across all rushing metrics give him a safe fantasy floor. To make Jones’ prospects even more intriguing, the Giants’ upcoming schedule features tilts against the Ravens, Jags, Seahawks, and Lions.
Action: Get on the Giants train. Buy Wan’Dale Robinson and even Kadarius Toney. They will be healthy at some point, and this is a team you’ll want a part of. If you need QB help and a fellow league manager still underestimates Daniel Jones, make an offer.
4) The Broncos-Seahawks Trade Improved the Wrong Team’s Passing Game
It wasn’t supposed to be this way. When Denver sent two first-round draft picks, two seconds, Noah Fant, and more to Seattle for Russell Wilson, it was supposed to put the Broncos over the top. But, then again, since according to Smithsonian Magazine, broncos don’t really exist anyway, maybe it’s fitting that the Broncos aren’t really a thing yet, either.
Geno Smith has been a better quarterback in 2022 for Seattle than Russell Wilson was in 2021. Smith sits top-10 in Fantasy Points per Game and his 8.3 Accuracy Rating is No. 1 amongst quartervacks. His QBR, Expected Points Added, Production Premium, and Adjusted Air Yards Per Attempt are all better than Russell’s 2021 stats. Russell’s 2022 numbers have been at best comparable to Teddy Bridgewater‘s 2021 Denver marks. In 2021, Bridgewater filled in admirably for Denver when starter Drew Lock was out. He posted nine QB2 or better weeks in his last 10 starts and a 72.2-percent (No. 13) True Completion Percentage.
So, for Denver, it’s been a wash. Seattle is throwing better than they have in years. Denver, you do know it would have cost a lot less to just acquire Geno or Teddy, don’t you?
Action: Geno Smith is already rostered. But Seattle, now minus Rashaad Penny, has a lousy defense and a thriving passing game so won’t be able to just lean on rookie Kenneth Walker. They will continue to put up solid passing numbers.
5) Sell Cooper Kupp in Dynasty?!
There. I said it. Sell Cooper Kupp in dynasty. But, please, please, please, only do so if you are not going to win this year. If you’re in that situation, now is the time. Why such blasphemy? His price will never, ever be higher. In fact, no player’s price may ever be higher. However, Kupp turns 30 next year and is paired with Matthew Stafford who’ll turn 36 himself, broke his back in 2019, and needed a PRP injection in his throwing elbow before this season.
The Rams had their moment in the sun and are now getting old very fast. Hall of Fame left tackle Andrew Whitworth retired. Stafford, sacked 30 times all last season, has been dropped 21 times already in five games. Odell Beckham Jr. tore his knee. The Rams got rid of Robert Woods. Allen Robinson has been a bust, and they can’t run the ball. Even their defense has taken a step or three back. Leonard Floyd, who averaged 10 sacks a year the last two seasons, has zero sacks so far in his age-30 season. Von Miller is gone. And, as is typically the case in LA, they’ll have no first-round pick next year and will have just two in the first five rounds.
Action: Sell Cooper Kupp? In dynasty, if you can’t win this year, you will get a boatload now. Let everyone know you’re open to a bidding war and bring in a treasure trove that’ll help your team for years to come.