The 2020 NFL season has been wild, to say the least, and Week 5 seemed to embody the pendulum swings that are becoming the norm in football. We saw more high-scoring offenses, incredible comebacks, and massive fantasy production, then experienced some extreme lows with upsets, coaching changes, and serious injuries.
Let’s talk about the bad first and get that out of the way.
Dak Prescott’s Season Comes To An End
The Giants-Cowboys game in Dallas had the potential to be another high-scoring affair in a battle of two bad defenses. In a surprise twist, it was the defenses that stepped up for both teams in the first half. The Cowboys were held to a field goal on their first drive and the Giants Defense delivered the team’s second touchdown in the first quarter with a big pick-six.
In the second quarter, it was the Cowboys Defense that held the Giants to a field goal and also scored a defensive touchdown on a fumble recovery. RB Ezekiel Elliott rushed in a touchdown, but the most exciting play of the first half was a “Philly Special” with WR Cedrick Wilson throwing a touchdown pass to Prescott.
Prescott was held in check in the first half, having un-Dak-like numbers heading into the third quarter. Just as he was starting to pick up the pace for the Cowboys, the unthinkable happened. Prescott came down poorly on his right ankle that was stuck underneath defensive back Logan Ryan. It was a gruesome injury and very difficult to watch. Full disclosure - I had to look away. Even worse were the heartbreaking tears in Prescott’s eyes as well as those among his teammates. Jason Garrett, the Giants’ OC and former Cowboys’ head coach, joined HC Mike McCarthy at Prescott’s side to offer his support.
Prescott was carted off of the field and sent directly to the hospital where he underwent surgery for a compound fracture and dislocation in his ankle. Prescott was playing under the Cowboys’ franchise tag after an agreement on a contract extension stalled. His future in Dallas is now up in the air.
Backup veteran QB Andy Dalton took over under center and the Cowboys pulled out a victory in what turned out to be a very exciting ending. Having Dalton at the helm was a wise choice by the Cowboys. This isn’t his first rodeo and the Cowboys could be looking at a season reminiscent of the Eagles with QB Nick Foles.
In other bad news (just a little bit more until the good stuff), after losing their fifth game, the Falcons fired both head coach Dan Quinn and general manager Thomas Dimitroff. This isn’t all that surprising, given their record, but owner Arthur Blank is known for being notoriously patient. For Blank and Falcons fans, though, enough was enough and something had to give. An interim head coach is set to be announced on Monday.
To round out the bad news, Vikings’ RB Dalvin Cook suffered a groin injury after rushing for 65 yards and a touchdown as well as adding five receptions for 24 yards. Backup Alexander Mattison filled in for the injured Cook with 112 yards rushing, three receptions, and 24 yards. Cook finished with 19.9 points and Mattison finished with 16.6. It is likely that Mattison is already rostered in your fantasy league, but it’s possible that fantasy GMs had to drop him to make room for other players. He is a must add if he is available to claim.
Now for the good stuff.
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QB Alex Smith Returns to Action
It was a heartwarming story to help assuage the pain of Prescott’s injury. Backup veteran Alex Smith got his chance to play for the first time since his horrific leg injury in 2018. After suffering a compound fracture, Smith underwent 17 surgeries, infection, and extensive rehab to fight his way back into starting contention. Former starting QB Dwayne Haskins was demoted to the third-string during the week, and HC Ron Rivera named Kyle Allen the starter and Smith as the backup.
Allen took a brutal helmet-to-helmet hit by the Rams’ Jalen Ramsey and was taken off the field. Smith grabbed his helmet and made his 2020 debut. Although Washington lost to the Rams 30-10, the real win was seeing Smith play in the NFL. Players around the league sang his praises and it was something special to see.
Both Allen and Smith should be rostered in two QB and superflex formats moving forward.
Steelers’ Rookie Chase Claypool Scores Four Touchdowns in Win Over the Eagles
Claypool leads our Sunday fantasy winners across the board. He put on a clinic against Philadelphia, scoring a whopping 42.6 fantasy points in PPR. He caught seven receptions on 11 targets, 110 receiving yards, three receiving touchdowns, plus three rush attempts for six yards, including a rushing touchdown. Every time you tuned into the game, Claypool was scoring points.
In the same game, undrafted free agent Travis Fulgham exploded onto the scene with 31.2 points. He had clutch plays and first downs on 10 receptions for 152 yards and a touchdown.
Houston finally found their first win and WR Brandin Cooks was a big reason why. He had eight receptions, 161 yards, and a touchdown in by far his best game of the year. He had only 138 yards total heading into Week 5.
Running backs around the league also had healthy finishes with eight players all scoring 20 points or more. Carolina’s Mike Davis led RBs on Sunday with 29.9 points against the Falcons. On the other side of the ball, Todd Gurley finished with 121 rushing yards, a touchdown, and 25 points.
We had not one, but two major upsets with the Raiders defeating the Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium 40-24 and the Dolphins pummeled the 49ers with a shocking 43-17 win. Patrick Mahomes still finished Sunday as the QB1 despite the loss, but Derek Carr had an excellent day with 23.98 points, 347 yards, three touchdowns, and one interception.
QB Ryan Fitzpatrick was on fire once again finishing as the QB2 in Miami's upset win. He threw for 350 yards, three touchdowns, and zero interceptions. QB Jimmy Garoppolo struggled in the first half and was pulled during the break. Backup C.J. Beathard took the wheel but couldn’t get much going. HC Kyle Shanahan pulled Garoppolo more for his own safety than poor QB play. Keep an eye on the QBs status moving forward.
QB Deshaun Watson found his way into the top-five looking much more like himself than he has all year. He also threw three touchdowns and added 25 rushing yards to finish with 24.86 points. Perhaps removing Bill O'Brien has infused some new life in the Texans who came away with their first win.
With injuries decimating the NFL, trades are more important than ever. Remember to trade away a player when his value is at its highest and target a player when their value is at its lowest.
I know that Drake GMs are getting frustrated. He found the end zone for the first time since Week 1 and finished with 13.2 points, but it was Chase Edmonds again who outscored him with over 20 points. As each week passes, trading for Drake gets riskier but he still has opportunity in the Cardinals’ offense. This may be the best time to get him on your roster before he explodes. He is following an eerily similar pattern as last year after being traded to Arizona mid-season. Drake scored a touchdown in his first appearance for the Cardinals against San Francisco. He then went four weeks without a score only to break off a four touchdown game. He took the rock and didn’t look back after that.
Unlike Drake with opportunity in his offense, Mike Davis’ future is swiftly coming to a close if it’s not already shut. Christian McCaffrey may be looking at a Week 6 return and the stock for Davis will plummet substantially. He led all running backs on Sunday with nearly 30 points, so trade him now, before it’s too late. If you are running into trouble with your negotiations, try explaining the value of having a productive backup if that helps seal the deal.
Another trade-away option is the Buccaneers’ Ronald Jones. Although he has been the lead back thus far in five weeks, fellow RBs Leonard Fournette and rookie Ke’Shawn Vaughn are impatiently waiting in the wings. Fournette’s chance to take the lead was sidelined, literally, due to an injury, but he is not out for the season. We’ve seen HC Bruce Arians offer only so many chances to a running back, and Jones’ job is not 100% secure. As soon as Fournette is healthy and on the field, his stock could substantially plummet.
If you are looking for a piece of that Cowboys' offense, WR Michael Gallup may be your best bet. Amari Cooper and CeeDee Lamb have been the shiny names for the Cowboys, but Dalton targeted Gallup for two big plays at the end of Sunday’s game. He finished with 11.3 points on four receptions for 73 yards. Gallup may have his opportunity for bigger production with Dalton as the new quarterback.
I usually have at least one player on my trade-away list that causes much wailing and gnashing of teeth and Claypool is that player this week. Claypool is incredibly talented and is quickly becoming my favorite player in the NFL. However, it is unlikely that he can repeat a four-touchdown performance. Will he be fantasy productive in the future? Absolutely. Do you have to trade him away? No. No, you do not have to trade Claypool. But, if you are hurting at other positions and have WR depth, then Claypool is the perfect candidate to get the best value in return. For example, if you need to replace Prescott as your QB and you have Claypool, you have a much bigger weapon in your trade arsenal as opposed to another WR3.
The Ravens’ Marquise Brown is another receiving option you can move. He has been volatile so far in 2020 but he finally had a decent fantasy day with six receptions for 77 yards and a touchdown, finishing with nearly 20 points. If you want a more reliable piece on your roster, consider offering Brown in a bundle trade coming off of one of his best games in 2020.
I have been saying to trade the Browns' wide receivers and the tight end position is no different. This is especially true now that David Njoku is healthy and back on the field. If you have Austin Hooper in your lineup, you may want to consider trading him away. He is coming off of a nice fantasy day with 10.7 points. There are too many mouths to feed among the pass-catchers in a run-first offense and his production may see more busts than booms as the season progresses.
After a huge Week 2 with three touchdowns, Rams’ TE Tyler Higbee has been quiet. Now is the best time to target him in a trade if you are in need of a tight end. His production is not guaranteed with fellow TE Gerald Everett also seeing the field, but he is a better option than most in a TE landscape that is virtually a wasteland. Higbee has seen 72% or more of the offensive snaps while Everett has seen 58% or fewer.
COVID-19 Schedule Changes
The Chiefs-Bills Week 6 matchup has been rescheduled from Thursday, 10/15 to Monday, 10/19 at 5:00 pm EST.
The Broncos-Patriots Week 5 matchup has been postponed. Their next game will be in Week 6 on Sunday, 10/18 at 1:00 pm EST. Both teams will have Week 5 declared as their bye.
The Jets-Miami has been rescheduled from Week 10 to Week 6 on Sunday at 4:05 pm EST.
Bills-Titans remains as scheduled for Tuesday at 7:00 pm EST, despite another positive test on Sunday. Continue to keep a close eye on any more positive tests and any further schedule changes.
Steelers’ WR Diontae Johnson left the game early with a back injury. … Bengals’ WR A.J. Green left the game early with a hamstring injury. … Saints’ WR Michael Thomas was ruled out for Monday night’s matchup. … Jaguars’ WR D.J. Chark left the game early with an ankle injury. … Vikings’ Dalvin Cook injured his groin and did not return. He will have an MRI Monday to determine his status. … Cowboys’ QB Dak Prescott suffered a dislocated ankle and compound fracture. He underwent successful surgery on Sunday night.