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Fantasy football preview for Week 5

NFL Fantasy



Week 4 was pretty fun around the NFL and fantasy football. The rookie quarterbacks are all starting to get it going, while the league MVP is starting to establish himself. I’m looking at you, Cordarrelle Patterson

Like we do every Monday, let’s take a look at what stood out from this weekend’s action and how we can apply it for Week 5 and onward. 



The Eagles aren’t giving Miles Sanders the football

Over the last two weeks, Miles Sanders has nine carries. A starting running back of an NFL team having nine carries in a two-week span is rather absurd and the recent usage of Sanders in Philadelphia is becoming a serious issue. The Eagles have abandoned the running game as of late, especially from inside the red zone. Sanders carried the ball just seven times against the Chiefs Sunday — the gamescript favored the pass in the second half, but the Eagles once again never had any intention of running the football even before that. That especially holds true from in close, as Sanders now only has two carries from inside the 10-yard line through four weeks. That is fewer than players such as Taylor Heinicke, Carson Wentz, Jacoby Brissett, Chase Edmonds and Michael Carter, and the same as teammate Kenneth Gainwell, who is really eating into Sanders’ workload. Gainwell is taking Sanders off the field on third downs and in the two-minute drill and actually did convert a carry from seven yards out into a touchdown. Gainwell saw eight targets Sunday and continues to be the better bet for production when the Eagles are chasing points and over their next two games, Philadelphia faces the Panthers and Buccaneers. Sanders is a very risky start at the moment. 

It is Darnell Mooney time?

One of my favorite players in all of fantasy during the offseason, Darnell Mooney got off to a slow start, as the Bears offense struggled mightily out of the gate. However, a change in offense really helped him in Week 4, as Mooney connected on the deep ball with Justin Fields multiple times Sunday, something I had been dreaming about for months. Chicago gave the playcalling duties to Bill Lazor and the offense opened up, as Mooney hauled in five of a team-high seven targets for 125 yards. He saw 41% of the targets from Fields and connected with the rookie passer on gains of 21, 32 and 64 yards in this game, while sporting an average depth of target of 18.0 yards. This is what I have been excited about all offseason, as Mooney has shown the ability to get open since the start of his rookie season. In 2020, Mooney saw 23 deep targets but only hauled in four of them. Zero, however, were Mooney drops, as just 32% of his deep looks were deemed catchable, the third-lowest rate among receivers with at least five deep targets a season ago. Fields showcased tremendous arm strength and accuracy against the Lions and Lazor’s playcalling saw more deep shots down the field. Mooney should not be available on any waiver wires after this weekend.

Dalvin Cook continues to fight through ankle injury

After missing Week 3 with an ankle injury, Dalvin Cook returned to the lineup Sunday but clearly wasn’t over this injury. Cook got the start against the Browns but wasn’t 100% healthy, as he only played two snaps in the third quarter. He did return for the fourth quarter but ultimately ended the game with nine carries to Alexander Mattison’s 10. We will have to monitor Cook’s status in practice over the course of the week, because he clearly aggravated his ankle injury to some extent in this game. Cook has an amazing Week 5 matchup against the Lions, but who knows how healthy he’ll be for that divisional showdown. It is possible Cook is active and gets 15-20 touches instead of his usual 20-25. 



The Trey Lance era begins in San Francisco

Through the first few weeks of the season, the 49ers used Trey Lance in some goal-line packages but not as their starting quarterback. That is all going to change, and we saw it Sunday, as Lance started the second half for the injured Jimmy Garoppolo, who is expected to miss a few weeks with a calf injury. In just a half of play, Lance scored just over 20 fantasy points, throwing for 157 yards and a pair of touchdowns, while adding 41 rushing yards on seven carries. 76 of those passing yards and a touchdown came off an absolute busted coverage on a Deebo Samuel touchdown, but there is clearly a lot of fantasy potential with Lance. In a game where San Francisco had zero game plan for Lance under center, he still was very good in fantasy, so it’ll be exciting to see what he can do with a full week of practice with the first-team offense. Lance scrambled five times in this game — that is clearly going to be a huge part of his game, which is very fantasy-friendly. His first career start will come against a Cardinals defense that allowed the most rushing yards per game to opposing quarterbacks last year, as they play a lot of man coverage. For as long as Lance is under center, he has back-end QB1 upside in fantasy football. 

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