One Big Thing – AFC – Week 5

Updated: October 15th 2020

Every week we learn a little bit more about how a team sees each player as a part of their offense allowing fantasy footballers to react (positively or negatively) to those actions. Each week I will look to capture the “One Big Thing” that should have an impact on each team going forward and how you, the savvy fantasy player, can use that to your advantage.

AFC EAST

NY Jets

I guess we have to talk about the elephant in the room, or should we say not in the room, as the Jets shopped and then quickly released former All-Pro running back Le’Veon Bell this week. The Jets have been bad with or without Bell in the lineup and with his contract, it was unlikely that any team would offer much in the way of trade value. Still, releasing him a third of the way through a season suggests that he and the coaching staff were not getting along and decided that removing him from the team was best for what they are trying to do. A timeshare between Frank Gore and rookie Lamical Perine is most likely the go-to for Adam Gase this week. Former Detroit Lion Ty Johnson also will be mixed in after being claimed off waivers early this month. None are fantasy relevant at this point.

 Miami

All I had to do was bash on Preston Williams to ignite a fire in him. After suggesting that many were disappointed with how he has started this season he earned his first 100 yards receiving game of the season and put up over 20PPR points. Ryan Fitzpatrick also had another FitzMagic-type performance with 350 yards passing and three (3) touchdowns. The 49ers are not the team they were last year but any time a team puts up 43 points credit should be given to the offense. The Dolphins schedule plays out favorably through to December with two matchups against the lowly Jets and Broncos, as well as the Rams, Cardinals and Chargers three weeks in between. If the team can keep its mojo going and they are in the playoff hunt, there may not be a need to turn to Tua this season.

 Buffalo

That was quite the wake-up call for the Bills in a game that they probably thought they would be able to take advantage of a team that had barely practised over the last two weeks and was missing several contributing players. From a fantasy standpoint, Stefon Diggs had his usual strong performance with 10 catches and over 100 yards but the rest of the team struggled to keep up with the Titans offense. Josh Allen also had a down night (by his standards) with his first game under 300 yards passing and throwing two (2) interceptions. Other than the Chiefs and Patriots, the schedule is rather favorable in terms of opponent’s pass defenses so just forget last week’s game and hopefully, Allen and Co. continue their strong offensive performances.

AFC NORTH

 Cleveland

So the Browns are for real? Last week I wanted to see them win a game with more than just running the ball 35 times a game and to see if Baker Mayfield can make some plays. They still ran the ball 30 times but Mayfield made enough plays to convince me that this should be at least a wildcard team in 2020. Against an opponent that many thought might be one of the best defenses in the league, Mayfield passed for almost 250 yards and two (2) touchdowns. This week’s matchup against the Steelers will be more focused on the line’s play but it may come down to Baker having to duel with Ben Roethlisberger for AFC North supremacy.

Baltimore

Another easy victory for the Ravens who had no struggle beating the Bengals. It was disappointing that Lamar Jackson once again failed to throw for over 200 yards and only had three (3) rushing yards. The upcoming schedule features some of the best teams in the AFC (Pittsburgh twice, New England, Tennessee, Indianapolis) which likely forces the Ravens to have to play their best football. Hopefully, this can shake the offense out of the fantasy funk they have had since week 3.

 Cincinnati

This was Joe Burrow’s first “Welcome to the NFL, rookie” game as neither he nor the entire Bengals offense could get anything done against the Ravens’ defense. A.J. Green once again re-injured his hamstring and it remains to be seen how long his role will continue on this team. With Tyler Boyd becoming the focal point of the targets and rookie Tee Higgins showing improvements each week, Green may be a trade deadline acquisition for a team in need of receiver help. This of course assumes that he can be healthy and show some production to boost his value to another team. It seems unlikely he will be with the Bengals in 2021.

 Pittsburgh

Hey MapleTron, we see you! After having only nine (9) targets and 151 yards through the first three (3) games Chase Claypool exploded against the Eagles for seven (7) catches on eleven (11) targets for over 110 yards and three (3) touchdowns. He also started the day with a jet sweep, rushing for a fourth touchdown, the first Steeler to do so in half a century. Dionte Johnson leaving early in this game likely had something to do with the amount of targets Claypool earned but a week after Juju Smith-Schuster was one of the most resigned players across RSO, some owners may already be having buyers remorse.

AFC SOUTH

 Houston

The Texans played inspired football for their new head coach and earned their first victory of the season. The passing offense also seemed more open with three (3) receivers having six (6) or more targets and DeShaun Watson throwing for over 350 yards and three (3) touchdowns. His two (2) interceptions are still a sore spot that one would hope an elite quarterback would avoid but if risking a few passes to get his receivers more opportunities to make plays is needed, I think both fantasy and Texans fans would take it. The schedule does not get much easier with games against Tennessee and Green Bay next but hopefully, the success they had after changing coaches can build as the season goes along.

 Jacksonville

This offense needs D.J. Chark in the lineup if they are going to have any success. Much like two weeks ago, the Jaguars were unable to consistently move the ball downfield and relied on secondary options like Laviska Shenault and Keelan Cole to try and claw their way back against the Texans. James Robinson has also been trending the wrong way since his big primetime performance in week 3. With Devine Ozigbo set to return soon from the injured reserve, this may become more of a timeshare backfield than some would have thought three weeks ago. It may not matter if the offense cannot muster more success though.

 Indianapolis

Is it midnight already for Philip Rivers? He seemed to turn back into a pumpkin against the Browns last week throwing two (2) interceptions, one that was so telegraphed the cornerback easily took it back for six,  and no touchdowns. The defense is playing at a high level and will help win them games against inept offenses like the Bears and Jets but the offense (especially Philip Rivers) need to figure it out if they are going to have any chance at making the playoffs. Only Jonathan Taylor is worth starting in fantasy right now.

 Tennessee

At one point I was watching this game and the stat came across the screen that Derrick Henry had something like 12 carries for 15 yards total and I thought, “Man, the Bills defense is shutting down Henry tonight”. Then he stiff-armed Josh Norman so hard it made everyone forget Earl Thomas and before you knew it he had 19PPR points and the Titans had scored 42 points. This offense is one of the most underrated in real life and fantasy. It has been great to see Corey Davis and Jonnu Smith finally put it together and with a healthy A.J. Brown now back, this team should be one of the final four contenders for the AFC Championship.

AFC WEST

 Kansas City

The so-so play of the Chiefs finally cost them a win last week as the defense kept letting the Raiders go up and down the field on them, both with quick scores and long sustaining drives. After a big week 1 that made everyone gush taking him at 1.01 in rookie drafts, Clyde Edwards-Helaire has been very pedestrian in the last two performances. With rumors of Le’Veon Bell potentially signing with the Chiefs his arrival would make Chiefs fans rejoice, but the CEH drafters miserable. We will have to see what happens. Maybe this is a buy-low window.

 Las Vegas

Derek Carr finally got his first-round receiver, Henry Ruggs, back and he immediately made a splash play with his speed on a 72-yard touchdown. Nelson Agholor also scored his third touchdown of the season on his own deep throw touchdown. Jon Gruden clearly wants to do three things: run the ball with Josh Jacobs (20+ carries in 3 of their first 5 games), work the sticks with Darren Waller (leads all tight ends with 47 targets and 34 receptions), and take deep shots (at least one completion of 34 or more yards in 4 of 5 games). If the Raiders can do all three successfully, they will keep the AFC West race competitive down the stretch.

LA Chargers

The Chargers lost in yet another heartbreaking way that only can be described as “That’s so Chargers”. You cannot, however, pin it on rookie quarterback Justin Herbert who if not for Chase Claypool’s performance would have been the AFC rookie of the week. The rookie has gone toe-to-toe with two of the best quarterbacks in the past two weeks and has thrown seven (7) touchdowns to only one (1) interception and over 260 passing yards in both. Fantasy owners that drafted Herbert in the late first or early second round of Superflex drafts are thrilled at the prospect of having a potential top 10 quarterback coming up. If the talent around Herbert can stay healthy there could be some great duels between him and Mahomes for the AFC West crown heading into the next decade.

More Analysis by Nick Andrews