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Each week, our staff here at QB List will be previewing all the fantasy-relevant things you should be on the lookout for in this week’s games. Today, we preview all the upcoming Week 5 action.
Titans vs. Bills
So four games in, just who are the Titans?
We are a quarter of the way through the season, so some things are starting to become clear. The Rams are as good as expected while the Bills are as bad as we expected…save for a freak game against Minnesota. What about the Titans though? They have beaten a 3-1 Jaguars team that looks the part. They also took down the reigning Super Bowl Champion Eagles. So if you ask me, the Titans are the real deal. They should roll over the Bills this week en route to a 4-1 start and a continued hold on the lead in the AFC South. I hope we see continued improvement from the offense as well as the defense remaining tough. If Marcus Mariota can elevate his play to become even a poor man’s version of last year’s Russell Wilson, this could be the Titans’ best season ever.
Who can I trust on the offense?
The Titans shouldn’t have too hard a time with the Bills, so I’m guessing this will be a good week for the running backs. I imagine Derrick Henry will see plenty of carries as the Titans salt away a lead in the 3rd and 4th quarters. I like him in standard leagues and less in PPR. Dion Lewis should also be fine with his passing game involvement and as Marcus Mariota’s security blanket. I expect him to have a higher floor than Henry as a result, and he is much more valuable to me in PPR leagues. I trust Corey Davis at WR, even in this low-volume passing attack, and I would start him this week. For Taywan Taylor, I think it is still a week early. I’d hold on to him, but wait to see that he is for real before relying on him. Outside of these four names, there is no one else I am considering for week 5.
And how about the defense?
There are some matchups that just scream out wanting to be started. This is definitely one of them. Buffalo averages less than 8 points per game, less than 200 passing yards per game, and they give up 5 sacks per game. These are some excellent numbers to chase after as a defense, and I would consider the Titans a top-5 unit this week. They are probably already owned as they are a talented bunch regardless of matchup, but right now they are sitting out there in 13% of Yahoo leagues. Go check, and start them if you can.
The Buffalo Bills enter week 5 with just 1 victory to their name against 3 losses, and are coming off a 22-0 loss to the Green Bay Packers last week. The 0 points last week really highlights the potential valleys that can occur in an offense led by a rookie QB, a leaky offensive line, and a mediocre group of skill position players. There are potential peaks though and that’s what I’m going to try and help you identify so let’s take a look at the potentially fantasy relevant Buffalo Bills:
Will rookie QB Josh Allen bounce back from a rough week 4 game this week?
Buffalo Bills QB Josh Allen while under constant pressure from the Green Bay Packers last week put up just 3.94 fantasy points on the day. He is now the 25th highest scoring QB in fantasy football and he likely should be considered a streamer in most leagues. He gets to play the Titans this week who rank in the top half of the league when it comes to passing defense according to Football Outsiders.
That might not even matter if Allen doesn’t have time to throw the ball. Allen has been sacked 18 times in his first four games which is more than the other rookie QBs (Jets QB Sam Darnold, Browns QB Baker Mayfield, and Cardinals QB Josh Rosen) have combined for (16). Pass protection continues to be an issue for the Bills and will again likely be the deciding factor in the success of Allen and the rest of the Bills passing game. Talented DE Jurrell Casey could be a handful as he currently ranks 6th in total pressures with 16 on the season. When given a clean pocket to work with, Allen has been below average with a 91.6 passer rating, but that’s a passable mark and one that far exceeds the other rookie QBs which is encouraging.
Is RB LeSean McCoy healthy and can he or anyone in the backfield be fantasy relevant this week?
RB LeSean McCoy hasn’t done much right this year. In fact, he hasn’t done much of anything at all. McCoy has 85 total rushing yards this season and only 21 touches in three games played for a 4.0 yards per carry average. There’s no doubt that McCoy’s rib injury has contributed to the problems of running success, but the Bills offense has also been a major drag on his weekly upside. He may be not be listed on the weekly injury report, but I noticed that he didn’t look quite right last week and that he’s still likely dealing with the rib injury that kept him out in week 3, and that presents opportunities for RBs Chris Ivory and Marcus Murphy to continue stealing touches. Ivory actually got more carries than McCoy last week, and Murphy continues to flash well as the change-of-pace RB and so overall, I think this situation is one to avoid for fantasy simply based on the workload situation.
It likely doesn’t help that this week, that the Titans are in town and they are yet to surrender a touchdown to a RB this year. I mentioned him above, but DE Jurrell Casey is also an elite rush defender and should clog up the running lanes. The rest of the rush defense may not be quite as strong though as overall, Football Outsiders ranks the Titans rush D 25th best in the NFL and perhaps that could mean a surprising outcome. Still, I think it’s best to not trust the Bills RBs this week unless desperate.
Are there any players in the receiver group worthy of starting on your fantasy teams this week?
At this point, I think the answer remains no. There just isn’t enough talent on this offense to trust a strong performance out of anyone week to week and so I think everyone among this receiving group should be considered a bench player at best unless desperate. Presumed #1 target WR Kelvin Benjamin continues to struggle with creating separation with just a 1.4 avg yards of separation at target which ranks 2nd worst in the NFL. He continually puts himself in contested catch situations and gives his QB a covered target which isn’t easy to trust. He’s totaled just 7 receptions on 21 targets for just a 33% catch rate on the year. He needs to be better for his rookie QB, and I’m leaving him on my bench or the waiver wire until he is.
WR Zay Jones is showing better separation skills with a 2.2 yards of separation at target mark which ranks ahead of names like Chargers WR Keenan Allen, Buccaneers WR Mike Evans, and Bengals WR A.J. Green. He is running a ton of routes, but isn’t being targeted effectively as he has a catch on just 7.9 percent of his routes (league average is 14.2 percent). It’s not a drop issue either as he’s shown reliable hands with 10 receptions on 17 targets including a perfect 4 for 4 day last week. Against a Titans D that can put pressure on the QB, a quick strike passing game could be used and Zay Jones thrived in that style of offense in college at East Carolina. He would be the guy to start if need be imo.
TE Charles Clay continues to underwhelm from a fantasy perspective, but he did secure 4 targets last week for 40 yards which isn’t terrible for a TE, especially in PPR leagues It’s clear though that QB Josh Allen doesn’t rely on his TEs the same way that former Bills QB Tyrod Taylor did, and that means that Clay should be downgraded to a bench or waiver wire role at this point.