A Giant Void to Fill

Here are some of Fantasy Expert Ricky Sanders’ DFS-relevant observations from Week 5 of the 2017 NFL season:

Carson Wentz, Eagles – In a matchup against a defense equipped with a top corner, and sans the team’s top two receiving backs, Carson Wentz threw for 304 yards and four passing touchdowns (TDs) on Sunday. When the smoke cleared, Wentz led the position in fantasy points and he threw all four TDs to different pass-catchers. The Eagles’ offensive line once again played well and now possesses four different players who have graded inside the top six at their respective positions, per Pro Football Focus (PFF). Although Lane Johnson left the game with an injury, Halapoulivaati Vaitai filled in admirably for him, not allowing a single hurry. Sure, the Cardinals passing defense ranked 19th according to Football Outsiders’ defense-adjusted value over average (DVOA) heading into Week 5 but Wentz still exceeded expectations. The team’s weaponry is low key solid (Zach Ertz, Alshon Jeffery, Nelson Agholor and Torrey Smith) and the run game is sporadic. Deshaun Watson has received a majority of the praise, at least amongst young quarterbacks (QBs), but Wentz has quietly thrown a TD in every game and he has now thrown 10 in five games. Additionally, Wentz has topped a 90 QB rating in four of his five starts including a season-best 128.3 against the Cardinals. In the correct matchups, Wentz can be confidently deployed as a QB1 with an elite offensive line and talent surrounding him. Do not sleep on him any longer.

Leonard Fournette, Jaguars – Kareem Hunt and Dalvin Cook had stolen the show through four weeks (when it comes to rookie running backs (RBs)) but Leonard Fournette made a strong case to be included in the conversation on Sunday. Facing a Steelers defense that had ranked 10th in rushing DVOA, Fournette carried the ball 28 times for a whopping 181 yards and two scores. Okay, so 90 yards and a score came on one run where he broke away from the defense, but it extended his streak to five straight games with a TD to begin his career. If the 90-yard burst never happened, Fournette would have only allowed 3.37 yards per carry (YPC) on his other 27 attempts (ATTs), but volume always leads to positive outcomes with talented players. In his career at LSU, he rushed for over 100 yards 19 times and he scored a TD of at least 79 yards in every season, while averaging at least 6.5 YPC in each of his final two years at school. Essentially, long runs and broken tackles are part of his skill set so fantasy owners should not be shocked if he breaks off an occasional long one. Considering he leads the NFL in rushing attempts, Fournette is a RB1 in the truest sense moving forward despite his team’s mediocre offensive line play. Fournette and LeSean McCoy are toss-ups in terms of fantasy value…he is that good.

Javorius Allen, Ravens – Last year, the Ravens ranked first in passing attempts and dead last in run play percentage (34.01-percent). So far this year, the team ranks 18th in passing attempts and 10th in run play percentage so the scheme has shifted over the offseason. Consequently, the team’s running backs (RBs) have become more valuable because the coaching staff is committed to pounding the football with them. In Week 5, after an injury to Terrance West early on, Javorius Allen touched the ball a whopping 25 times en route to 85 total yards and a TD. Additionally, Alex Collins touched the ball 12 times (all rushes) and averaged 4.6 YPC to Allen’s 3.5. In other words, if West is truly hurt, this is going to be committee moving forward but Allen looks like the lead dog. Not only is he the one with the track record (with this very team also) but he is also the one involved in the passing game. On a site like FantasyDraft, catches are important because of the point-per-reception (PPR) scoring system, so he gets the nod by default. With this sort of volume upside, Allen is approaching RB2 territory and the team will face the Bears in Week 6 who will be without their top two linebackers.

Todd Gurley, Rams – Eventually, Todd Gurley’s TDs were going to regress to the mean and he would be held scoreless eventually. Unfortunately for those who rostered him this week, he tanked and only finished with six fantasy points. To be fair, Gurley broke a run and reached for end zone but fumbled into the end zone before he could complete the score. To put it differently, Gurley just missed a TD and instead ended up with a fumble lost (so that play alone was approximately a 10-fantasy point swing). In more difficult matchups, Gurley is not invincible even with an improved offensive line and one of the better coaches in the league. Heading into this tilt, I had noted the Seahawks were a better rushing defense than they had shown, so this should be nothing more than a blip on the radar. However, it was mildly concerning to see Gurley habitually sitting on third downs and he was only targeted four times (and caught a season-low two receptions). Strangely, Gurley’s 56 snaps were an improvement from last week, so the season-low in touches (16) could be an anomaly. Keep an eye on his passing down work moving forward just in case but do not lose hope as he very nearly produced another respectable outing.

Giants Wide Receivers (WRs) – The Giants are in deep trouble after losing not one, not two, not three but four WRs on Sunday. Sterling Shepard is expected to miss multiple weeks with an ankle injury, Brandon Marshall was carted off with an ankle injury, Dwayne Harris broke his foot and Odell Beckham Jr. will miss the remainder of the season with a broken ankle. Roger Lewis Jr. caught a TD for this team but it is clear the team will need to go out and find talent to replace those who went down. Moving forward, Shepard is the receiver to own here and he is worth targeting as soon as he manages to get back on the field. Whomever the Giants sign will be immediately fantasy-worthy because there will be targets to go around by default. Otherwise, Evan Engram and Shane Vereen both get nice boosts in value because more volume should be headed their way with the team’s franchise pass-catcher on the shelf. This is a horrible blow to Eli Manning’s value but should propel Engram to TE1 levels. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure and Shepard/Engram are the big winners here.

Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Jets – Finally, it happened! Austin Seferian-Jenkins found the end zone for the first time this season in what figures to be the first of many scores to come. Seferian-Jenkins is such a huge target and Josh McCown is an ample professional QB (even if not spectacular). Most would be shocked to learn McCown’s QB rating (87.8) through four weeks edged out Matt Ryan, Cam Newton and Carson Palmer in the category. Furthermore, Seferian-Jenkins has hauled in his targets at an extremely high rate; he has hauled in 15-18 targets en route to an 83.3-percent catch rate. By comparison, only two other non-RBs who have been targeted at least 18 times have produced a superior catch rate: Danny Amendola and Albert Wilson. Crazy efficiency plus perfect size and solid hands equals a potential fantasy stud.

Ricky Sanders

Ricky Sanders

Ricky Sanders is a fantasy sports expert with over 15 years of playing experience. After starting several freelance fantasy sports blogs, Ricky moved up in the fantasy industry when he joined Going9 Baseball. He wrote fantasy baseball content and had a weekly radio spot on the site’s SiriusXM Satellite Radio show. Shortly thereafter, in early 2013, Ricky joined RotoExperts as a three-sport fantasy contributor, eventually becoming one of the site’s lead basketball writers. While writing for RotoExperts, Ricky was introduced to daily fantasy sports and immediately fell in love. With help from some of his mentors, some of the best DFS players in the world, he honed his skills and became the daily fantasy expert he is today. When RotoExperts created a daily-focused website called DailyRoto.com, Ricky was brought on as one of the main contributors. He still makes frequent appearances on the RotoExperts SiriusXM Radio show and on the FNTSY Sports Television Network, talking daily fantasy sports. He also continues to write for a few DFS content sites: RotoCurve and The Fantasy Fix. Ricky is a proud and active member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association. He has agreed to be a writer and representative for the FantasyDraft brand and serves as an ambassador to the site. He has no more access to the site than the typical user. Don’t hesitate to contact Ricky with questions on Twitter @RSandersDFS.

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