What We Saw: Week 5

Alvin Kamara looked like the Alvin Kamara we all know and love

Browns @ Chargers

Final Score:  Chargers 47, Browns 42

Writer: Ryan Radel (@RadelFF on Twitter)

 

This game was INSANE. Over 40 points scored in the fourth quarter. More lead changes than I can count on one hand. Browns fans traveled well for this matchup in LA. It seems like regardless of where the Chargers are playing, it isn’t going to feel like a true home game for them. Two philosophically different, high-powered offenses provided for a ton of entertainment in-game that Vegas had as a 56-point over/under. This game certainly did not disappoint, as there were explosive plays from both offenses from start to finish. It was fun to watch two of the future star quarterbacks of the future duke it out. There was not a lot of defense from either team – Cleveland was without both of its top cornerbacks by the end of the first quarter, and the Chargers defense has been underwhelming all season. In the end, both teams took the “a best defense is a good offense” approach in the most exciting game I have watched so far this season. The Browns run game helped them dominate the time of possession, but the Chargers high octane offense was too much in the end.

 

 

Cleveland Browns

 

Quarterback

 

Baker Mayfield: 23/32, 305 yards, 2 TD, Sack | 2 carries, 8 yards

 

Don’t let the stats fool you. While it was an improvement over last week, it was still a rather ugly game for Baker Mayfield. He’s still in the shoulder sling and probably will be for a while still, but he made whatever adjustment needed to be made to stop overthrowing every single throw. He had several well-placed passes throughout the game, but whiffed when it mattered on the final drive of the game. There still looks to be limited chemistry between Baker and wideout Odell Beckham Jr. The Browns passing game needs Jarvis Landry back badly, if only for the leadership and culture impact he brings with him. With both of their starting tackles out for the game, Baker had to get a little creative this week:

 

 

Running Back

 

Nick Chubb: 21 carries, 161 yards, TD | 1 target, 1 reception, 9 yards

Kareem Hunt: 12 carries, 61 yards, 2 TD | 6 targets, 5 receptions, 28 yards

 

The run game continues to be the focal point of the Cleveland offense. The Chargers have been giving up boatloads of rushing yards to opposing teams. Put those two things together, and you get over 200 yards and three scores combined for Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt. Even with both of their starting tackles out, the Browns continued to keep their superstar duo of running backs involved throughout the game.  The usage for Chubb and Hunt are almost exactly what you want when starting either of these two in fantasy and should be something that continues throughout the season if things go as planned for head coach Kevin Stefanski. Kareem Hunt has received the “violent” runner tag the last two weeks, but I think it goes to Nick Chubb this week:

 

Wide Receiver/Tight End

 

David Njoku: 7 targets, 7 receptions, 149 yards, TD

Donovan Peoples-Jones: 6 targets, 5 receptions, 70 yards

Rashard Higgins: 5 targets, 3 receptions, 29 yards, TD

Odell Beckham Jr: 3 targets, 2 receptions, 20 yards

 

After a rather quiet start to his 2021 campaign, former first-round pick David Njoku broke out with nearly 150 yards and a score as Baker’s favorite target on the day.  Keep an eye on Njoku – he could become more involved as the season continues. He’s a freak athlete who was drafted due to his potential ceiling, and this coaching staff might be able to get him there. In previous weeks, all three of the Browns’ tight ends (Njoku, Bryant, and Hooper) were involved in the passing game. If the production is funneled to one player, such as Njoku, it could create value at a position lacking much of it across the league. Donovan Peoples-Jones was back in the game plan this week after ghosting us last week, and Odell Beckham Jr. proved he can still do cool stuff sometimes!

 

 

The Browns defense did not live up to the lofty expectations they established over the last two weeks. They were without some talent in their secondary, but after giving up a combined 21 points over the last two weeks, you would expect more out of them.

 

Los Angeles Chargers

 

Quarterback

 

Justin Herbert: 26/43, 398 yards, 4 TD, 2 Sacks | 4 carries, 29 yards, TD

 

If you’re like me, you made fun of the Chargers when they drafted Justin Herbert in 2020. In case you missed it, he proceeded to shatter rookie passing records and make the forgotten Chargers somewhat relevant again. The Browns added to his legacy as Herbert read the Browns defense like a book as he tossed a career-high 398 passing yards to go along with four passing touchdowns and a rushing touchdown. Simply put, Herbert put on an absolute clinic against a defense that gave up a total of 21 points over the last two weeks. There really wasn’t a lot of negative out of Herbert today. He displayed excellent poise under pressure, quick decision-making, elite arm talent, and the field view of an experienced veteran. He stepped up to the challenge and defended his home turf against a playoff team, and exchanged blows until he was the last man standing. My opinion on Herbert has obviously changed since the 2020 draft, and I’m sure yours has too. He’s incredibly fun to watch and is only going to get better, especially with a talented coach in Brandon Staley. As long as Chargers playmakers stay healthy, Herbert will continue to fill up the stat sheet. The Chargers have bona fide star in #10.

 

 

Running Back

 

Austin Ekeler: 17 carries, 66 yards, 2 TD | 5 targets, 5 receptions, 53 yards, TD

Joshua Kelley: 2 carries, 17 yards

 

Austin Ekeler continues to impress. Putting up over 100 yards from scrimmage, including three total touchdowns, he was utilized throughout the entirety of the game regardless of situation. I’ve always thought of Ekeler as a pass-catching, change of pace sort of running back, but he’s impressed me with his ability to run between the tackles. The Browns defensive line is no joke, but Ekeler chopped them up all over the field. Head coach Brandon Staley clearly has plans to keep Ekeler involved as long as his health can take it. If Ekeler can stay healthy, his volume in such a high-powered offense will continue to make him a top-five fantasy running back in 2021. Here’s one of his three touchdowns, displaying excellent burst right through the line of scrimmage:

 

 

Wide Receiver/Tight End

 

Mike Williams: 16 targets, 8 receptions, 165 yards, 2 TD

Keenan Allen: 9 targets, 6 receptions, 75 yards

Jalen Guyton: 3 targets, 2 receptions, 35 yards

Donald Parham Jr.: 2 targets, 2 receptions, 29 yards, TD

Jared Cook: 3 targets, 1 reception, 29 yards

Joshua Palmer: 3 targets, 2 receptions, 12 yards

 

Keenan Allen has been “the guy” atop the Chargers receivers depth chart for many years, and rightfully so. While he is still a great receiver, I think the mantle has officially been passed on. Keenan will continue to be involved in this offense, as will the occasional pass catcher further down the depth chart such as Guyton, Parham, or Palmer, but the leader of this group if fairly obvious now. SIXTEEN targets. That’s how many looks Justin Herbert sent Mike Williams’ way in week five. In an offense as high powered as the Chargers, that amount of targets is going to carry immense value this fantasy season. Through five games, Williams is on pace for 175 targets, 105 receptions, 1,600 yards, and 20 touchdowns. Let that sink in. It’s likely not sustainable, but it’s cool to imagine – especially given his 2021 ADP. Can we say “league winner?”

 

 

— Ryan Radel (@RadelFF on Twitter) 

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