Tournaments have always favored the bold and Week 5 signified just how important committee backfields can be to determining large field GPP winners. Of the nine highest scoring backs of the week (in terms of fantasy points), four did so while participating in full-blown committee situations: Tevin Coleman, Theo Riddick, Devonta Freeman and Matt Asiata…and none of them were priced above $9,800! This week was a nice reminder that comfort should be reserved solely for cash games and risks should be taken in tournament in order to separate from the field. Rostering players the public does not feel comfortable with assures a low ownership percentage and none of the aforementioned foursome were more than 12-percent owned in large GPPs on FantasyDraft. All of them possess upside in their respective roles whether it be their involvement in the passing game or eating up all the goal line touches. The same holds true for all committees, so before stubbornly rostering only workhorse backs in the future, dig a little deeper. Rostering one of these types is the definition of game theory and clearly could/would have led to victory had it been employed this past week and the same holds true for the future.
Here are some of my other DFS-relevant observations from Week 5 of the 2016 NFL season:
Eli Manning, Giants – For the fifth consecutive game, Eli Manning failed to reach 20 fantasy points on Sunday evening and it’s officially time to worry. While a pass could have been given for the subpar performance against the Vikings last week, the Packers had allowed the fourth most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks (QBs) heading into this week. Furthermore, the Giants offensive line was played awfully well this season considering four of them have graded in the top 29 at their position to this point. Also, Manning’s receiving core is loaded with three upper-echelon receivers so it cannot be blamed for lack of options. Sure the running game has not helped him out in any way, shape or form but at this point the situation is not getting any better. With this performance, fantasy owners can officially hit the panic button and avoid until further notice. Unfortunately, the Packers were not the first favorable opponent he struggled against; he failed to throw a TD against the Saints in Week 2. Moving forward, there are at least 15 superior fantasy options to consider on a weekly basis before resorting to Manning. Next week, the team will square off against a Ravens team that has allowed the seventh fewest fantasy points at the position so safely scratch Manning off your list.
Jalen Richard/DeAndre Washington, Raiders – Latavius Murray was diagnosed with turf toe earlier in the week and that sort of injury tends to be of the multiple week variety. In other words, Murray should miss at least another week. What developed in Week 5 was a mess of a committee: DeAndre Washington played 37 snaps, Jalen Richard played 23 and Jamize Olawale played 22. However, Richard and Washington both touched the ball 14 times and Richard outgained Washington 97 total yards to 52. Heading into this matchup, Washington had out-touched Richard 29 to 22 and had gained 184 yards from scrimmage compared to Richard’s 183 (and 75 had come on a long TD run). In my opinion, the masses are going to overreact and assume Richard is the player to own moving forward but he was simply the hot hand in this game…and that should be how the team continues to handle this committee as long as Murray remains out. As if that weren’t enough, Olawale stole nine touches for 33 yards and received a goal line carry that he converted into a TD. While some may be ready to crown Richard the frontrunner for the foreseeable future, my preference is still with the guy playing the snaps, although this has turned into a full-blown, fantasy unfriendly committee situation. Next week, the back of your choice will be viable in tournaments only.
Sammie Coates, Steelers – In Week 5, Sammie Coates had the WR version of a Coby Fleener game. What does that mean? When all said and done, Coates’ numbers looked respectable but it could have been a hell of a lot better had he not dropped some easy passes. Officially, Coates was credited with three drops in the tilt against the Jets which was the most credited to any player so far this season. It also should be noted other unofficial sources list him with five. Either way, Coates hauled in 6-11 targets for 139 yards and two TDs. Quietly, he has filled the Martavis Bryant deep threat role on this team while Antonio Brown remains the focus of defensive coordinators scheming against the Steelers passing game. This allows the second receiver to run free and potentially take the top off of the defense (Coates scored a 72 yard TD against the Jets). Quite obviously he needs to work on the drops but he isn’t fading away any time soon. Assuming his hands improve, Coates should enter consideration as a boom-or-bust WR2 on a weekly basis in this incredibly enticing role.
Adam Thielen, Vikings – Although Stefon Diggs missed the Vikings’ Week 5 matchup against the Texans, Adam Thielen still unquestionably stole the show to the tune of seven receptions (RECs) for 127 yards and a TD. Prior to this breakout performance, Thielen had caught 13-17 targets in four games (3.25 RECs per game) for 145 yards and zero TDs. Offensive Coordinator Norv Turner once schemed Josh Gordon to 1,600-plus receiving yards and he continues to rely on the “one WR above all” approach. When Diggs has been healthy, the team has targeted him like a true number one WR. Through four weeks, only six players had averaged more RECs per game than Diggs’ 6.0 and only 13 players had been targeted on a higher percentage of their respective teams’ passing plays. Basically, Thielen just catapulted into the Diggs role for a week because the team needed a top option. When Diggs returns, expect Thielen not return to a role not too dissimilar from the likes of Adam Humphries on the Buccaneers. Although he is viable to his team in real life, he’s really only a punt option in dire situations for DFS.
Antonio Gates, Chargers – If the Raiders’ backfield is considered a RB-by-committee then the Chargers now have themselves a TE-by-committee. Supposedly Antonio Gates was on a snap count this week but he still incurred five targets compared to four for Hunter Henry. Both players scored TDs when all said and done, and on and offense missing two of their top targets (Keenan Allen and Danny Woodhead), both players should have a role on the offense. This makes choosing between the two a difficult proposition moving forward because Gates is the savvy veteran who has been producing for years while Henry is the up-and-coming stud. In this game alone, Henry averaged 24.7 yards per REC compared to just 7.5 for Gates. The allure of Gates is Philip Rivers’ tendency to target him the red zone but he has lost at least a step this season. Therefore, the upside play moving forward is still Henry judging by his 12.6 yards per target (YPT) averaged compared to just 4.6 for Gates.