Staff Playbook: Legit Hot Start Or Just A Mirage? (Week 5)

Paul Ghiglieri (@FantasyGhigs) and the QB List Staff tell you ... heading into Week .

Welcome to the QB List Staff Playbook Series. Every week throughout the season, we will conduct a staff survey, asking multiple fantasy analysts to offer insights on some of fantasy football’s most pressing questions. Essentially, we’re sharing our “playbook” with you, revealing the hard choices and strategic moves we would make to stay ahead of the competition.

This week, the QB List Staff was asked what hot starts are you buying and not buying ahead of Week 5:


Paul Ghiglieri (@FantasyGhigs): LEGIT: Josh Allen; MIRAGE: Josh Jacobs

Reasoning: Josh Allen has undergone a transformation. Oft-criticized for being woefully inaccurate, he has actually throw 36 touchdowns and only three interceptions across his last 15 games. Allen has thrown for over 1,400 yards through four games with a 71% completion rate and MVP-caliber 9.0 yards per attempt. All those numbers are better than what Patrick Mahomes produced through his first four games of his league-winning 2018 campaign, and they’re better than what Lamar Jackson posted last year through four starts as well. The “Allen for MVP” talk is not a joke, and we’re seeing a far more composed and accurate quarterback than we saw last season. Allen is on pace for over 5,000 total yards (passing and rushing) and 50 touchdowns this year. OC Brian Daboll has done a masterful job not only developing Allen as a passer but also putting him into positions to maximize his potential.

After Week 1, I saw many folks on Twitter regretting they did not take Josh Jacobs as high as fifth overall in drafts this summer. Jacobs ran 25 times for 93 yards and three touchdowns, but more importantly, he added 46 yards on four receptions. After en entire offseason wondering how involved Jacobs would be in the passing game, it took just one game to convince fantasy owners that Jacobs would be a dual threat bell-cow.

However, Jacobs hasn’t received more than four targets since, nor has he cleared more than 25 yards receiving. Worse yet, Jacobs is averaging a paltry 3.65 yards per carry while seeing his rushing yardage totals drop each game. Plus, he hasn’t scored again since that Week 1 explosion, a statistical output that has kept him inside the top-10 fantasy producers at the position. I see the arguments for buying Jacobs (dominates red zone touches, high volume, among the best in the league at breaking tackles), but the Raiders have been down two starting receivers, and the team simply isn’t winning through the air, allowing defenses to stack the box against the run. It’s more likely we see Jacobs continue to slide than rise moving forward until Las Vegas can threaten defenses through the air.



Myles Nelson (@MylesNelsonPL): LEGIT: Terry McLaurin; MIRAGE: Tyler Higbee

Reasoning: “Scary” Terry McLaurin is the WR10 so far this season and it is almost entirely due to his volume of work, and not random touchdown luck. In fact, he’s only scored one touchdown so far this season, despite being 6th among WRs in targets and receptions and 5th in yards. With how talented McLaurin is, and the complete lack of other weapons in Washington, I fully expect him to continue to rack up receptions and yards, and he’ll eventually find the end zone more and more.

As for Tyler Higbee, a lot of people drafted him to be a top-5 TE, and while they were rewarded in Week 2 (finishing as the TE2 that week in PPR), that has buoyed his stats in a very misleading way. On the surface, being TE9 on the season overall is a win considering how difficult it is to draft a reliable TE, but Higbee has finished outside the Top 20 at his position in Weeks 1, 3, and 4. I do not expect more weeks like Week 2 for Higbee, and he may drop out of the startable range here soon as wide receivers Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp get more involved and fellow tight end Gerald Everett carving out a larger snap share each week.




Kevin Taylor (@ktbeast918): LEGIT: Robby Anderson; MIRAGE: Melvin Gordon

Reasoning: Robby Anderson was cast into this deep shot/burner type receiver with the Jets. Now with Carolina, he has essentially taken over D.J. Moore’s role from last year as the 1A in this passing offense. He is the WR9 in PPR formats. That is backed up by a top-11 ranking in targets, target share, and red-zone targets. His yards per target is 10.8 (ranked 18th) and he has the second-most yards after the catch with 177 yards. To summarize, Anderson is getting the ball thrown his way often, in the red zone, and in a range down the field where he can do damage after the catch. He should be a low-end WR1 or WR2 going forward.

Melvin Gordon is the RB11 right now in PPR leagues. He is top-10 at the position in both carries, rushing yards and rushing touchdowns. He hasn’t had much opportunity in the passing game thus far (19th in targets, 21st in receptions). He also isn’t getting a lot of opportunity in the red-zone ranking 31st at the running back position in red zone touches. Looking forward, running back Phillip Lindsay is expected back (maybe as soon as Week 5) from a toe injury that he acquired in Week 1. He was the projected platoon-mate with Gordon coming into this year and will eat into Gordon’s volume. This Denver offense has struggled mightily and it isn’t expected to get much better with the injuries they have sustained across the entire offense. We can project red zone opportunities to continue to be scarce for Gordon. It would not surprise me if Gordon struggled to maintain RB2 status the rest of the way should Lindsay stay healthy.



Eli Grabanski (@3li_handles): LEGIT: Kareem Hunt; MIRAGE: Darrell Henderson

Reasoning: The Browns’ running back room has been one of the most dangerous position groups in the NFL averaging 31.5 carries, 182.5 rushing yards, and 1.75 rushing touchdowns per game through 4 games. Will there be some regression here? Probably. But it might be less than most people think. As I pointed out in the “Coaching Time” preseason article, Browns HC Kevin Stefanski is arguably the best coach in the NFL at getting production out of his running backs on the ground. In addition, the Browns’ roster has been completely tailored to the running game, with the Browns offensive line performing as one of the best units in the league. This isn’t a sell high situation; this is a hold and enjoy the benefits of the best running game in the NFL. With Nick Chubb expected to miss upwards of six weeks with a right MCL sprain, Kareem Hunt and company should feast.

As for a mirage, Darrell Henderson seems like he could be a sell-high candidate. He had great weeks in Weeks 2 and 3, but he was subpar in Weeks 1 and 4. HC Sean McVay has talked about riding the hot hand all season, and with Cam Akers getting healthy again, there’s a strong chance that Henderson’s value takes a huge dip.



Have a question? Want to know more? Click the Twitter handle of any writer above to reach out directly. We’re always happy to help out and talk football!

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