In Week 5 we definitely saw some performances to take note of. A couple of tight ends are trying to enter the every week starter range, Some record-breaking showings, and players who continue to struggle five weeks in. Guys you have to keep your eyes closed to watch and games you couldn’t take your focus from. Overtimes and game winners. Week 5 covered all ranges. Here are five performances that caught my eye and made me take a closer look.
Five Interesting Performances: Week 5
Eric Ebron, TE Indianapolis Colts
For years people have wanted Eric Ebron to be a thing. Above you see how his Combine compares with the consensus top-three tight ends in the league when they were coming out of college. So clearly this is definitely not the end all be all when predicting talent.
But from his combine workouts to being drafted 10th overall by the Detroit Lions, to every time he flashes just a little bit, people are still drawn to him. Often times, if not all the time we’re disappointed though. The fact that he plays the most volatile fantasy football position doesn’t help matters either. Tight end is a battlefield on a good day. Maybe we are a seeing a fourth must-start tight end emerging? So strictly speaking, if you only look at his production so far then the answer is yes. Finally, he has shown some consistency. His Week 5 performance was the best we’ve seen from him (caught 9/15 targets, 105 yards, two TD). So can this be trusted is the question?
Week 5 Performance
First of all, on Thursday Night Football we saw Ebron’s first 100 yard game as a pro (Previous high 94 yards, Week 14 2017). Also, he played on over 70% of the teams snaps for the third straight game. (Week 3- 88%, Week 4- 83%, Week 5- 71%). This is clearly due to Jack Doyle’s lack of availability over the past three weeks. But Ebron scored in both games Doyle was in even with limited snaps (Week 1 45%, Week 2 28%). He is clearly taking advantage of his opportunities. This is his third straight game with double-digit targets. Also in Week 5, he saw the most targets in his career (Previous high 12, Week 16 2016) and the second most receptions (High 10, Week 14 2017). Most noteworthy of his nine receptions, Ebron hauled in two TDs. His first game with multiple scores.
Week 5 Receptions And Targets
(Reception #/ Quarter/ Location/ Down & Distance/ Air Yards/ Yards/ Result/ Notes) – Longest To Shortest, Redzone Targets/ TDs in Bold.
- 5/ Third Qtr/ Own 33/ 3rd and 10/ 17 AY/ 28 Yards/ First Down/ Lined up as WR. Deep in route.
- 6/ Fourth Qtr/ NE 34/ 3rd and 5/ 16 AY/ 18 Yards/ First Down/ Lined up in slot. Slant route
- 2/ Second Qtr/ Own 34/ 3rd and 1/ 6 AY/ 17 Yards/ First Down/ Lined up as TE. Showed great hands on a badly under-thrown ball.
- 4/ Third Qtr/ NE 14/ 2nd and 10/ 14 AY/ 14 Yards/ TD/ Lined up in slot. Fought through a jam from the linebacker to stay on schedule. Corner route.
- 1/ First Qtr/ Own 35/ 3rd and 3/ 5 AY/ 8 Yards/ First Down/ Lined up in slot. Five-yard hook.
- 3/ Second Qtr/ Own 43/ 1st and 10/ 5 AY/ 7 Yards/ 2nd and 3/ Lined up in slot. Ball thrown behind him, good catch.
- 8/ Fourth Qtr/ Own 25/ 1st and 10/ 4 AY/ 7 Yards/ 2nd and 3/ Lined up in slot. Short hook.
- 7/ Fourth Qtr/ Own 39/ 3rd and 10/ 3 AY/ 5 Yards/ 4th and 5/ Lined up as TE. Blocked for a second, then drifted to the flat.
- 9/ Fourth Qtr/ NE 1/ First and Goal/ 1 AY/ 1 Yard/ TD/ Lined up as TE. Short out route, isolated on a Linebacker. Previous play was a TD reversed, down on the one-yard line. Fantasy owners will not complain.
(68 Air Yards on nine receptions.)
(Target #/ Quarter/ Location/ Down & Distance/ Air Yards/ Notes) – Redzone Targets in Bold.
- 1/ First Qtr/ Own 19/3rd and 16/ 2 AY/ Lined up in the slot. Drop.
- 3/ First Qtr/ NE 20/ 2nd and 9/ 19 AY/ Throw too far to his back shoulder.
- 9/ Fourth Qtr/ Own 25/ 1st and 10/ 0 AY/ Knocked down by defensive linemen.
- 10/ Fourth Qtr/ Own 39/ 1st and 10/ 17 AY/ Pass defensed.
- 14/ Fourth Qtr/ NE 39/ 1st and 10/ 14 AY/ Overthrown.
- 13/ Fourth Qtr/ NE 15/ 4th and 6/ 15 AY/ Endzone target. Thrown short. Turn over on downs.
(67 Air Yards on six in-completions.)
(9 Air Yards per Target)
Game Notes: So Ebron is quickly becoming a third-down weapon for Andrew Luck. Six of his 15 targets were on third down. Also, he seems to be one of Luck’s favorite red zone targets with four opportunities inside the opponents 20-yard line in Week 5. The Colts were down quickly in the contest. Due to this, they were forced to pass a lot which can help explain the 15 targets. Furthermore, the addition of the Doyle and Hilton injuries has provided more chances for Ebron to make plays.
2018 Year to Date
In almost every way possible, 2018 has been Ebron’s best season as a pro. Consequently, we are back on the hype train.
Career Averages (Actual Statistical Averages – 14 GM Avg/ 16 Game Pace): Targets (72/82), Receptions (46.5/53), Yards (517.5/ 591), TD (2.8/3), Receptions per Game (3.3), Yards per Game (37)
2018 (Through Week 5/ 16 Game Pace): Targets (45/144), Receptions (26/83.2), Yards (255/816), TD (5/16)
So finally, has Ebron entered the realm of the must-start tight end? As small as it may be…
First of all, there is the question of Jack Doyle. Doyle played on over 90% of the team snaps in the first two weeks of the season. He saw 15 targets in Weeks 1 and 2. in comparison, Ebron saw nine total targets in the first two weeks of ’18 but crossed the goal line twice. Hence, Ebron was the more productive fantasy producer of the two. Certainly, the stats don’t lie… Right…?
Well, unfortunately, they kind of do. Ebron was in on far fewer snaps then Doyle. Half the amount of Doyle in the first game. Roughly a quarter of the snaps in the second game. This doesn’t seem promising for Ebron’s future outlook once his TE counterpart returns. While he did score two TDs in the first two weeks, opportunity is king. He has proved to be a vital Redzone threat though. It seems like Luck trusts him near the goal line. He won’t lose that trust because Doyle returns. He will lose some opportunity almost certainly though.
Even more important then the question of Doyle is Andrew Luck. I think the question of Lucks shoulder has all but been answered. With 121 attempts over the past two weeks. It seems like his shoulder is doing alright as we speak. Also, Luck has proved he can have two relevant fantasy tight ends in his career. He did so in 2014 and ’16 as seen here…
…So if Doyle can return, there is no guarantee that Ebron goes away.
Finally, can we trust this? Certainly, it won’t always be as good as it’s been (double-digit targets in three straight). Also one TD a game. I don’t think the genie can be put back in the bottle. Therefore iIsee Ebron as a locked in TE1 with Doyle out, and a low end TE1 with upside once Doyle returns. Maybe his league-leading 11end zone targets won’t slow…. Maybe.
Isaiah Crowell, RB New York Jets
So I’ve heard of a boom or bust wide receiver. But a boom or bust running back? Well, that’s pretty much what we have here. Sunday though? Sunday he went BOOM. With 219 yards rushing, this is as good as we’ve seen him. But is this something that we can trust….
Weeks 1 – 5 Game Log
(Standard Point Ranks)
- RB3 22.20 Fantasy Points – 10 Touches, 102 Yards, 2 TDs
- RB41 3.90 Fantasy Points – 14 Touches 39 Yards, Caught 2/3 Targets, 4 Yards (Team trailed 20 – 0 into the Third Qtr.)
- RB8 17.10 Fantasy Points – 18 Touches, 51 Yards, Caught 2/3 Targets, 17 Yards, 2 TDs
- RB57.30 Fantasy Points – 5 Touches, 3 Yards, Caught 1/1 Targets, 3 Yards (Trailed 18 – 0 into the Third Qtr.)
- RB 29.10 Fantasy points -16 Touches, 231 Yards, Caught 1/1 Targets, 12 Yards, 1 TD
Most noteworthy is clearly this weeks performance. 219 rush yards is impressive for the best of the best. But how did it happen? While Denver has a solid pass defense, Their rush defense leaves much to be desired. The majority of his yards came on three…
- 13:59 in the Second Qtr/ Own 23 yard line/ 1st and 10 -The Jets are lined up with two receivers close to the line on the left and on out wide to the right. TE is on the right side of the line. The run is set up to go up the middle but the Broncos jam it up. So Crowell bounces it to the left and the right side of the Den defense gets sucked into the middle. Another two blocks by the jets receivers to help Crowell get the edge. Finally, two defensive backs over pursue and it’s off to the races. 77 yard Touch Down!
- 14:53 in the Third Qtr/ Own 12 yard line/ 1st and 10 – Similar to the first big play, the Jets are lined up in the same formation with one exception. the TE is on the left side of the offense this time. The jets motion the farthest outside receiver to the other side. As a result, the Denver corner back comes down into the box and the safety moves over to the offensive right side. Because this the blockers were all one on one. Once Crowell broke the line he was free till he was caught up to by the safety from the other side of the field. 54 Yard gain.
- 8:53 in the Fourth Qtr/ Own 10 yard line/ 2nd and 7 – So on this one the Jets have a full back in front of Crowell on the right side with two tight ends on the same side. one receiver out wide to the left. The farthest outside tight end goes in motion. This again draws the defensive back to the opposite side. The hand off goes to the right side this time though. Denver’s line backer can’t hold contain and Crowell out runs a couple more guys. 36 Yard gain.
Almost all of his rushing yards came on these three big runs (76.25%). What did they all have in common? Poor Denver defense. Bad tackling, over pursuit, not staying in their lanes, and losing containment on the edge were constant issues.
First of all, no. No, we can’t. Game flow is something we can not predict. Almost everyone tries, but there are so many factors throughout the course of a game that can change the way it’s going. Also, Bilal Powell is still out snapping his back field mate (4 straight games). This never bodes well for an RB in a committee. Furthermore, Crowell’s history is nothing to get to excited about as we see here…
Unfortunately, his performance also can’t be ignored. Due to the high ceiling, he has shown this year he must be accounted for. Because he has the potential in a good game script to go off as he did in Weeks 1,3, and 5, he absolutely must be owned. At the same time though he is by no means must start. You just don’t want those boom weeks against your team.
Adam Thielen, WR Minnesota Vikings
First of all, I want to name a few names. Jerry Rice, Randy Moss, Terrell Owens, Largent, oh yeah and every single other wideout to play in the Super Bowl era have never done what Adam Thielen just did. 100 receiving yards in five straight games to start a season. Also, it was his fifth straight game with double-digit targets and at least six receptions. He is quickly becoming one of the best wide receivers in the game. in real life and in fantasy. When you’re outshining a receiver on your own team that many think is better, your doing it right…
The Record-Setting Performance
Caught 7/10 targets, 119 Yards, 1 TD
In Week 5 Thielen had another solid WR1 game. It wasn’t anything crazy like a three TD game or one with 200 yards. It was just another consistent, reliable, locked in WR1 day. While there wasn’t anything spectacular about the stat line, the day started with a very spectacular catch. With pressure in his face, Cousins launched a ball in Thielen’s direction. The top-notch receiver laid out for the ball and was able to haul it in. Similarly fantastic, his TD reception was great over the shoulder catch. The Vikings wideout was able to fight through a jam and being interfered with and still able to concentrate enough to keep his feet in bounds.
Rest Of Season (ROS) Pace
Finally, let’s see what it looks like if he keeps this pace and stays healthy ROS.
Catch 150.4/211.2 Targets, 1884.8 Yards, 9.6 TD
Now can he keep this up? In my opinion for the most part yes. Probably about 85 – 90 percent of the production he’s currently giving his fantasy owners. There will be games with less than 10 targets and 100 yards receiving. They just might be few and far between. Dalvin Cook’s return might take some targets from him and Kyle Rudolph will have his days as well. As far as the wideouts, its a two-man show and Thielen has been the lead act so far. He leads the team in Yards, Targets, Receptions, Air Yards, and is tied for the lead in TD with Stefon Diggs (3).
David Njoku, TE Cleveland Browns
Sunday might have been the beginning have a beautiful friendship between a rookie quarterback in a second-year tight end. After all, we know tight ends can be a young QBs best friend. Njoku has been just that in the two starts for Baker Mayfield catching 11/18 Targets for 121 yards and a 21.43% target share. Week 5 was a career-high in Targets and Receptions along with the second most yards he has had as a pro. He hasn’t scored yet with the young QB but the TDs will come as the relationship grows. The Browns have enough confidence in his ability to send him out wide which is where he made one of his biggest plays on a slant route for 19 yards. The biggest play showed what the Browns liked him so much. He displayed all the athleticism he shown at the combine…
Lining up at tight end and outrunning the Ravens defensive back, leaping for a high throw and ultimately securing the catch.
What To Expect ROS
So since Baker Mayfield has been the starter Njoku is currently second on the team and Mayfield has had plenty of attempts in his two starts (84). Jarvis Landry is still the top dog with 20 Targets (23.8% Target Share) but Njoku isn’t far behind with 18 (21.43% Target Share). Antonio Callaway (16.67% Target Share) and Rashard Higgins (10.71% Target Share) are third and fourth respectively. I stated above a tight end can be a rookie QBs best friend. Mayfield will see every kind of blitz package and coverage scheme imaginable to try and get him to make mistakes. Because of that, he is going to need a reliable weapon in the middle of the field. Njoku can be just that guy for him. I see him as a low-end TE1 going forward.
Blake Bortles, QB Jacksonville Jaguars
So Week 5 was the most Blake Bortles game that he probably can muster. In every Blake Bortles metric, he was himself. As a result, there will be some mixed emotions when you see his results. Consistency has never been his thing as we know…
Let’s take a look at his Sunday performance…
Bortles Week 5 consisted of some great fantasy production. 18.6 Fantasy Points, 430 Yards passing, 34 Yards rushing, and one rushing TD to go with his passing TD. That should be looked at as a solid streaming QB day. He didn’t lose you your day or win it. So if you were to only look at the fantasy totals and didn’t watch the game, you wouldn’t see the problems. This is the issue between fantasy and reality because Bortles certainly played pretty darn bad for most of the day.
First of all, let’s talk about ball security. Bortles threw 4 INTs and lost a fumble. Here’s a quick note on each time the ball changed hands in favor of the Chiefs
- Fumble (4:21 left in the second Qtr.) – Stripped from behind as he attempted to throw.
- First INT (1:56 left in the second Qtr) – D linemen read the screen pass the whole way.
- Second INT (:27 left in the second Qtr) – Trying to throw to the end zone. Throws the ball off O linemen’s head. INT on a deflection.
- Third INT (11:51 left in the fourth Qtr) – Badly overthrown.
- Fourth INT (:09 left in the fourth Qtr) – Defensive back read the corner fade the whole way.
Bortles was all over the place with his passes in Week 5. He missed high, low, inside, and out. His timing was off the whole game as the Chiefs were able to get some decent pressure in his face. There was more than one frustrated looking receiver. Out of a possible 57 attempts, only 33 were completed. That’s a very unimpressive 57.89% completion percentage. He did have volume but this is due to KC getting a 23 – 0 lead and their bowling ball of a starting running back still nursing his hamstring injury.
Currently, Leonard Fournette has no timetable for Return and Bortles has historically thrown the ball a lot more when his starting back is out. We’ve seen this kind of production from the Jags QB before but it’s never something your going to feel comfortable with. I’d suggest finding other options unless there isn’t much else out there because you just don’t need that kinda of stress in your life. Proceed with caution… Remember that for 30 minuets he was as bad as he could be. The next 30 were still not good real football results but the fantasy production was there. He did outscored Patrick Mahomes in the same game…… With five turnovers…