Fantasy Football Week 5: Matt Camp's Weekly BS Meter
Heading into Week 4, Dalvin Cook and Chris Carson were part of a strong rookie running back group and key pieces to fantasy rosters. During Week 4, however, each suffered a major injury, leaving fantasy owners scrambling to find replacements.
On Monday, Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer said Cook tore his ACL, according to Ben Goessling of the Star Tribune. That leaves the Vikings with Latavius Murray and Jerick McKinnon to pick up the slack, which won't be easy considering how productive Cook was over the first month of the season.
According to Brady Henderson of ESPN.com, Carson was placed on injured reserve with a broken leg. While the Seattle Seahawks have depth at running back, they could use a committee and create a nightmare for fantasy owners.
Week 4 was a great example of how quickly your fantasy depth chart can get scrambled. If you're deep at a position, especially running back, hanging on to that depth early in the season isn't a bad idea. You might find a better replacement for Cook or Carson on your bench than on the waiver wire.
The B.S. Meter breaks down 10 situations that cover the most pressing issues in fantasy football. The statements will be rated from 1 to 10, with 1 being completely true or 10 being total B.S.
Note: All fantasy stats used to calculate finishes are from FantasyPros. All advanced stats are calculated using data from Pro Football Reference. Snap counts are also from Pro Football Reference. All stats are based on a points-per-reception format.
The Ravens Don't Have Any Reliable Fantasy Options
Watching the Baltimore Ravens offense has become a chore.
After missing significant time in the preseason with a back injury, Joe Flacco has been terrible in the first four games, throwing for just 601 yards and four touchdowns with six interceptions. The trickle-down effect has meant ugly numbers for the receiving corps.
Ben Watson and Javorius Allen lead the team with 16 receptions each, while Jeremy Maclin is tops with 20 targets. Watson is the only player to record at least 60 receiving yards in any of the first four games (91 in Week 2), and Watson (146) and Maclin (116) are the only two Ravens with at least 100 receiving yards.
Alex Collins has emerged with 25 carries for 206 yards (8.2 yards per carry), but he's lost two fumbles in three games, which prompted head coach John Harbaugh to say Collins "won't get any more opportunities" if the fumbles continue, according to Jamison Hensley of ESPN.com.
Added Harbaugh: "When you come in here and drop the ball however many times he has dropped [it], I'm not going to tolerate it. I like him. He's a good kid, and he makes plays, but he has to hold on to the football." For those looking for help on the waiver wire, it's hard to feel great about Collins after those comments.
Of course, he is getting his chances because Terrance West is averaging just 3.3 yards per carry (37 attempts, 121 yards) and Allen is being featured more in the passing game with 12 targets to 10 carries in the last two weeks.
Trusting any Raven to be in your starting lineup and produce is a big ask. You're taking a risk on arguably the worst offense in football.
B.S. Meter on the Ravens not having any reliable fantasy options: 1/10
Alvin Kamara Is the Only Trustworthy RB in New Orleans
Two weeks ago, I addressed the idea of cutting Adrian Peterson from your fantasy roster. Since then, he has 13 carries for 37 yards and two receptions for four yards. He remains a giant waste of money and shouldn't be owned in any fantasy leagues.
The rise of Alvin Kamara has been the real story in the New Orleans Saints backfield. He played 35.1 percent of the snaps in a 20-0 win over the Miami Dolphins in Week 3, notching 10 receptions for 71 yards and a touchdown on 10 targets and five carries for 25 yards. Mark Ingram had 14 carries for 45 yards and four receptions for 17 yards on eight targets while playing a season-high 62.2 percent of the snaps.
While Ingram is still leading the way on the ground (42 carries, 170 yards), Kamara is second on the team in targets (28), receptions (20) and receiving yards (147) to Michael Thomas (37, 25, 310). Ingram has stayed fairly active as a receiver with 22 targets, 15 receptions and 125 yards. The difference between the two has been touchdowns, as Kamara has one rushing and one receiving score while Ingram has failed to find the end zone.
Even though the Saints defense has been better the last two games, it's far from good, and it did benefit from playing a couple of struggling offenses in the Carolina Panthers and Dolphins. Kamara will have the most to gain from a shaky defense because he'll be in the game as a hurry-up/pass-catching back. However, as we saw in Week 4, his role is important regardless of the score.
It's much easier to buy into Kamara as a great RB3/flex with RB2 upside than it is to rely on Ingram as a weekly starter right now.
B.S. Meter on Kamara being the only trustworthy RB in New Orleans: 2/10
Charles Clay Is the Top Receiver in Buffalo
Familiarity and chemistry can go a long way when it comes to targets for a receiver, which is exactly why Charles Clay has been so busy over the first month of the season.
The veteran had a monster game in Week 4, with five receptions for 112 yards on seven targets. He became the first Buffalo Bill to record 70 receiving yards—let alone 100—in a game this season. Clay leads the team in targets (25), receiving yards (227) and is tied with Andre Holmes for a team high with two touchdowns. LeSean McCoy leads the team in receptions (21) but has been a disappointment, having not scored this year.
Considering the Bills lost Robert Woods to free agency and traded Sammy Watkins in August after drafting Zay Jones in April, maybe it shouldn't be a surprise to see Clay get so much attention from Tyrod Taylor. The quarterback is just leaning on whomever he has the best rapport with, and considering Clay is the only starting holdover from last year's team, the connection is strong.
According to Sal Capaccio of WGR 550, Jordan Matthews needs thumb surgery and will miss at least a month, which makes Clay even more important to Taylor and the health of the Buffalo passing game. There's no doubt Clay is a weekly fantasy starter since such consistency is hard to find at tight end.
B.S. Meter on Clay being the top receiver in Buffalo: 3/10
You Can Trust the Panthers Passing Attack Again
Last week, many asked about what to do with Cam Newton after he laid an egg in a great matchup at home against the Saints. It capped an ugly three-week stretch to open the season, which included the loss of Greg Olsen to a broken foot and Kelvin Benjamin exiting in Week 3 with a knee injury.
The trust level in Newton and the Panthers passing attack had nearly disappeared, which is why many looked for potential streaming options instead of using Newton in another good matchup against the New England Patriots. While dropping Newton seemed a little drastic, the idea of keeping him but using a streamer or backup on your roster in his place made sense until he proved to be a reliable fantasy starter again.
After throwing an early interception, Newton rebounded in a big way to torch the Patriots for 316 yards and three touchdowns on 22-of-29 passing with an addition 44 yards and a score on eight carries. It was the first time this season Newton threw for more than 228 yards and only the second time he accounted for at least two touchdowns.
The big game by Newton also meant great numbers for Devin Funchess and Benjamin, who played through his knee injury. Funchess caught seven of his nine targets for 70 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Benjamin hauled in all four of his targets for 104 yards.
So a week after failing to take advantage of the Saints defense, the Panthers followed the trend of crushing the Patriots through the air, which means owners can have some confidence in playing Newton. Can the same be said for Benjamin and Funchess? Expectations shouldn't equal the production they had against the Patriots, as they've come nowhere near that in previous games and this week's matchup with the Detroit Lions is tougher than last week's.
B.S. Meter on trusting the Panthers passing attack again: 4/10
Wayne Gallman Will Cure the Giants' Backfield Woes
If you're looking to a winless team to help solve the problems in your fantasy backfield, make sure you curb your enthusiasm. Don't let anyone foist a player you don't really need on to your team.
That might be the situation in the New York Giants backfield after the performance of Wayne Gallman in Week 4. Following yet another disappointing showing from Paul Perkins and a ribs injury, Gallman got a chance and made more of an impact than Perkins has all season. He carried 11 times for 42 yards and caught both of his targets for eight yards, including a four-yard touchdown, while playing 38.8 percent of the snaps.
Perkins didn't have a game with more than 22 rushing yards and had a total of seven receptions for 35 yards on nine targets. According to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network, Perkins has bruised ribs, but X-rays were negative, so it could come down to a pain issue. Or the Giants could use Perkins' injury as a reason to stick with Gallman until further notice.
There's nothing particularly special about Gallman, but considering he showed signs of life in a backfield that has had none this year, he's worth grabbing off your waiver wire. Obviously, the Giants still have offensive line concerns and look like they have no offensive identity, but if you're hurting at the running back position because of injuries and/or bye weeks, he's worth a shot.
B.S. Meter on Gallman curing the Giants' backfield woes: 5/10
Eddie Lacy Is Back on the Fantasy Radar
With Chris Carson out for the season, should you be running to the waiver wire to grab Eddie Lacy just weeks after he lost his job?
His performance in Week 4 has some jumping back on his bandwagon. With C.J. Prosise (ankle) out and Thomas Rawls inactive as a healthy scratch, the Seahawks went into their matchup with the Indianapolis Colts with Carson leading the way and Lacy and J.D. McKissic backing him up. Carson played 51.5 percent of the snaps with 12 carries for 42 yards and three receptions for 24 yards on three targets before suffering his injury late in the win over the Colts.
Lacy had his best performance as a Seahawk with 11 carries for 52 yards on 33.8 percent of the snaps. McKissic may have been the most impressive of the group with four carries for 38 yards, including a 30-yard touchdown run and a 27-yard touchdown reception on his only target. As a former wide receiver, McKissic looked natural on the touchdown grab and was easily the quickest back on the roster, which could be enough reason to keep him involved, regardless of the health of Prosise.
Head coach Pete Carroll said Prosise had a good pregame workout and that he would be "shocked" if Prosise didn't return for Week 5, according to Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times. Prosise isn't a lead back, so even with the injury to Carson, he won't be in line for a big increase in carries.
However, the most telling line from Carroll was what he said about Rawls, per Henderson:
"With Chris being banged up, we're so fortunate to have Thomas ready to jump back out there. We're just lucky that we have a guy like that who's ready to go."
Is that an indication Rawls will take the starting job back in relief of Carson instead of Lacy? You could easily interpret it that way, which makes the waiver wire decision on any of these Seahawks back a difficult one. The confidence level in Lacy's fantasy value shouldn't be high, despite his production in Week 4.
B.S. Meter on Lacy being back on the fantasy radar: 6/10
Evan Engram Is a Fantasy Fluke
History says not to trust a rookie tight end as a weekly fantasy starter. Hunter Henry was impressive as a rookie last year, but he was only worth using when Antonio Gates was out or at worse than 100 percent. The Giants may have found themselves a reliable rookie tight end, and as a result, the fantasy world found some help at a position that's been brutal to deal with this season.
Despite the Giants' 0-4 record and the up-and-down play of Eli Manning, Evan Engram has quickly emerged as a go-to option in the passing attack. Following his six-catch, 62-yard performance on 11 targets in Week 4, Engram now has 19 receptions for 200 yards and a touchdown on 30 targets. He's tied for second on the team in targets with Brandon Marshall to Odell Beckham's 33 targets and his 19 receptions aren't far behind Beckham (20) or Sterling Shepard (21).
Among tight ends, Engram is tied for third in receptions and is fifth in yards. That's more than enough proof that he's one of the most reliable options out there, especially since he's been consistent with at least five targets in each game and improved numbers in each week. If you have Engram, you should stick with him as a regular starter. If he's still on your waiver wire, he's one of the best pickups of the week.
B.S. Meter on Engram being a fantasy fluke: 7/10
It's Too Early to Call Deshaun Watson a Weekly Starter
For those who streamed Deshaun Watson in Week 4, you ended up with the top quarterback in fantasy football. That doesn't happen all the time when it comes to streamers, which means you may be thinking of keeping Watson around for the future.
Watson and the Houston Texans destroyed the Tennessee Titans in Week 4 with one of the best performances in team history. In just his third start, Watson completed 25 of 34 attempts for 283 yards with four touchdowns and 1 interception in addition to 24 rushing yards and a touchdown on four carries. Over his last two games, Watson totaled 584 passing yards, six passing touchdowns, 65 rushing yards and a rushing score. He's averaging 26.9 fantasy points over the last two weeks.
You can look at Watson's performance in the last two games in a couple of ways. Based on the sample size of four games, the Patriots are giving up the most fantasy points to quarterbacks, and the Titans are giving up the second-most fantasy points to quarterbacks, so Watson didn't exactly have tough challenges. On the other hand, these were the second and third starts of his career and Watson took Tom Brady to the limit and destroyed a division opponent.
After what he did in New England and how he followed that up at home against the Titans, his self-confidence as well as the trust of his coaches and teammates must be building. Watson's matchup will get tougher when he faces the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 5, but he's a player you should be keeping around as a potential starter going forward.
B.S. Meter on it being too early to call Watson a weekly starter: 8/10
Wendell Smallwood Can't Replace Darren Sproles
The Philadelphia Eagles not only survived without Darren Sproles, they thrived with Wendell Smallwood stepping into Sproles' role. Could Smallwood end up a better option than Sproles?
In the first two weeks of the season, Carson Wentz attempted 85 passes while Sproles, Smallwood and LeGarrette Blount combined for 33 carries. In the last two games, Wentz attempted 62 passes with the running back stable combining for 46 carries. The Eagles have made a clear commitment to the run and it's paying off with big production from Blount and Smallwood.
Blount had his best game of the season in Week 4 with 16 carries for 136 yards on 32.9 percent of the snaps, which is right around his normal snap count for the season. With Blount leading the way on the ground, Smallwood caught four of six passes for 45 yards and added 10 carries for 34 yards and a rushing touchdown on 44.3 percent of the snaps.
Smallwood's number are similar to what you'd expect from Sproles, but at 5'10" and 208 pounds, he's big enough to take on more carries if needed. With Blount running as well as he did, Smallwood didn't need to play a huge role in the rushing attack. As a dual threat, he should remain an active part of the Eagles offense regardless of the score, which is why he has more weekly value than Blount. Smallwood is a great replacement for Sproles and a big key to Philadelphia's success in the last two weeks.
B.S. Meter on Smallwood being unable to replace Sproles: 9/10
There's a Clear Replacement for Dalvin Cook
With Cook out for the season, the Vikings will scramble to replace his production and fantasy owners will hit the waiver wire in hopes of finding someone to make up for at least some of the RB1 numbers Cook put up over the first four games of his career.
The obvious answer is veteran Murray. The former Oakland Raider signed with the Vikings this past offseason but wasn't ready for the start of training camp because of ankle surgery. By the time he was activated off the PUP list, Cook had already secured the starting job, leaving Murray to backup duty to open the season. Cook had taken on a heavy workload with 74 carries and 16 targets in under four full games of action before going down with his torn ACL.
The Vikings gave just seven carries to Murray and eight carries to McKinnon over the first three games. We may have learned why when Murray told Chris Tomasson of the Pioneer Press that "his ankle is still not 100 percent and he still has some soreness." Does that sound like a player ready to take over for Cook?
McKinnon has been a little busier with eight receptions for 40 yards on 12 targets. While Murray is more of a bruiser and a plodder at 6'3" and 225 pounds, McKinnon is quicker, but not much of a between-the-tacklers runner at 5'9" and 205 pounds. According to Andrew Krammer of the Star Tribune, McKinnon suffered his own ankle injury in Week 4.
Whether we're talking about the Vikings or your fantasy squad, replacing Cook and his ridiculous production is almost impossible, but with Murray and McKinnon as the top options, it's hard to expect much from this backfield. While the offensive-line play has been better than expected, Cook was able to create in ways that Murray can't and that will take away a dynamic element of the Vikings offense. Unless you're desperate and the pickings are slim, you should look elsewhere to find a Cook replacement.
B.S. Meter on no clear replacement for Cook: 10/10