Week 5 was pretty awful in terms of injuries, as we lost Odell Beckham and Brandon Marshall for the year. Sterling Shepard and DeVante Parker are banged up, Terrance West had another disappointing week due to injury, Rob Gronkowski surprisingly didn't play Thursday - the list goes on.
Let's dive in to some other wild happenings in Week 5 and look forward to what to expect in Week 6.
The most important thing that I look at when evaluating a player and projecting their trajectory for the upcoming weeks is snap counts - aka the amount that they were on the field compared to their positional peers. Generally, I take to Twitter (@DonaldGibsonFF) for my snap count observations, but they'll be posted here from now on.
Baltimore Ravens RB Situation
With Terrance West's injury that should linger for a while, Buck Allen will be the guy going forward. In a positive game script with Baltimore leading the entire game, Allen out-snapped Alex Collins 47-16. Allen is more than just a third-down back, and he's the only Ravens RB I'm comfortable using.
The Joe Mixon show is right around the corner
Joe Mixon has out-snapped the next Bengals RB (sometimes Gio Bernard, sometimes Jeremy Hill) by at least ten snaps in each of the past three games. That difference was 14 in Week 5, and that gap should continue to grow.
Quick one: Lamar Miller out-snapped D'Onta Foreman 56-9 in Week 5.
Pump the brakes on Mack
Aren't you glad I didn't make a Mack truck joke? I love Marlon Mack more than most because I fully expect him to unseat Frank Gore's ancient rump. With that being said, Mack only had 17 snaps compared to 39 for Gore and 21 for Robert Turbin. Mack had ten touches on those 17 snaps, so you can expect them to use him when he's on the field. Just don't expect him to banish Frank Gore to the bench just yet.
What the hell is happening in Oakland?
Marshawn Lynch had only two more snaps than Jalen Richard (27-25), which is a cause for alarm. To be fair, the Raiders were trailing for most of the game, so that's Richard's sweet spot. Regardless, it's something to watch.
Beyond the RBs, Amari Cooper...has been ungood. He still, somehow, led the Raiders receivers with 55 snaps, though he only accumulated a whopping two targets and one reception. I really have no idea what's up with him aside from the whole "forgot how to catch footballs" thing.
Unexpected development in Pittsburgh
I saw this on Twitter so I can't take full credit for noticing it myself, but Juju Smith-Schuster has out-snapped Martavis Bryant three games in a row. Smith-Schuster is definitely someone to keep an eye on, though Bryant will always have his splash plays.
DeMarco Murray is back?
DeMarco Murray has played 61 more snaps than Derrick Henry in the past three games, including +38 in Week 5, which means that he's apparently back to being the guy and Derrick Henry is nothing more than a very desperate flex play - until we see a shift, that is.
Back to Week 4 - Saints receivers - Ted Ginn - isn't good - and doesn't play - as much - as Brandon Coleman
Did I give it away already? Brandon Coleman (my quickly-worthless 2016 draft starlet) out-snapped Ted Ginn in each week from Weeks 1-4. Could it be because Ted Ginn can't really catch? Who knows?
A GIANT mess
Well all of the Giants receivers got hurt. Sterling Shepard is the only one expected back sometime soon. For what it's worth, Roger Lewis stepped in once Odell Beckham Jr., Brandon Marshall, and Dwayne Harris got mutilated.
Beyond that, the running game was just as messy. Paul Perkins was out (and also, bad), and the Giants gave 27 snaps to Wayne Gallman, 23 snaps to Shane Vereen, and 20 snaps to Orleans Darkwa. Basically, it's gross, but I prefer Gallman of the bunch.
Eagles splitting more than expected
A lot of people saw Week 5 as a coming-out party for LeGarrette Blount with the recent injuries to Darren Sproles and Wendell Smallwood. Surprisingly, the Eagles gave Corey Clement 23 carries (compared to Blount's 26), and Kenjon Barner snagged 17 himself. This is, you guessed it, also a mess.
The Seahawks are also a mess. Just trust me. I can't talk about Eddie Lacy more than I already have in the last few weeks.
Carlos Hyde was averaging over 100 yards from scrimmage in each of the first four games this season. He finally looked good. He had a great matchup against a weak Colts defense and he, of course, got nine touches for 18 yards and played less snaps than Matt Breida. ?????
I've probably already lost your attention, so I'll be brief. The top waiver guys this week are Deshaun Watson, Jerick McKinnon, Buck Allen, Elijah McGuire, and Adrian Peterson - in that order. If you have an empty spot and can afford to stash, I like Shepard, Smith-Schuster, and Mack as guys to pay off down the road. Just don't expect too much in the immediate future. Oh and if Alvin Kamara isn't already owned I hate you.
Maybe I'll update this tomorrow with more of my thoughts. Maybe not?
They say that fantasy success is divided into thirds. The first third is the draft, the second third is lineup execution, and the third third (?) is through transactions - mainly the waiver wire.
The waiver wire is probably the main source of your team's turnover and often ends up being the difference between hoisting a toilet bowl trophy and a golden one.
Who should we be targeting after a very weird Week 1?
1) Tarik Cohen
My concern with drafting Jordan Howard this offseason was the general un-good-ness of the Bears. I assumed they'd be trailing, and that would limit Howard's involvement because they'll be throwing and Howard isn't the best at the whole "catching the football" thing.
Enter Tarik Cohen. Cohen led the Bears in rushing yards, receptions, and receiving yards against the Falcons in Week 1. With that being said, Howard didn't have a bad game, so don't do anything crazy and dump Howard.
Cohen will present great value in negative game script games for the Bears - aka most of them. I don't really see him blowing the lid off of the NFL, but he's worth adding in all formats.
2) Marqise Lee
Lee quietly posted over 800 receiving yards last season. I get that he's a Jaguar, but after Allen Robinson suffered a season-ending torn ACL injury, Lee should be thrust into the spotlight.
I don't love the idea of starting Lee now or really any time in the next few weeks, but he's the perfect example of a stash-and-see. If his volume approaches what we expected from Robinson, he'll provide excellent value.
3) Javorius "Buck" Allen
Surprisingly, Buck Allen actually led the Ravens in carries in a 20-0 blanking of the Browns last week. I still envision Terrance West as the workhorse running back, but Allen will be involved in both the rushing and receiving game after the likely-nagging injury to Danny Woodhead. Allen should step in and fill the Woodhead role immediately.
Let's just hope the Ravens remember to run the ball because they absolutely forgot about that last year.
4) Kerwynn Williams
There is a shroud of mystery surrounding the Cardinals backfield situation, as David Johnson suffered a wrist injury that, according to Twitter, could keep him out anywhere from 12 seconds to 12 weeks.
Williams is worth an add, but Arizona is expected to, at a minimum, bring back Chris Johnson. It's going to be a committee on an iffy offense. Add him, but I'm praying for you if you're forced to start him.
5) Alvin Kamara
This is a kind of ugly one. Believe it or not, Kamara actually led the Saints in carries against Minnesota last night - 7 for him, 6 for Adrian Peterson, and 6 for Mark Ingram. Kamara also tied AP for the most rushing yards with a WHOPPING 18, and he added 20 yards on four receptions.
The receiving back on the Saints is always worthy of a PPR plug-and-play - remember Pierre Thomas (77 catches in 2013), Reggie Bush (54 in 2013), and Darren Sproles (86 in 2011, 75 in 2012, and 71 in 2013)? Keep an eye on Kamara. Don't forget that the targets from the departure of Brandin Cooks are still up for grabs, and I guarantee they aren't all going to Ted Ginn...
6) Kenny Golladay
The treasure of the 2017 sleeper articles made quite the impression in his first NFL game, hauling in four catches for 69 yards and two touchdowns. I'm not anywhere close to calling Golladay the number one receiving option on the Lions, but he should be added if you have an expendable player on your bench.