Welcome to PFP’s weekly studs and duds fantasy recap for the 2021 football season! Here we take a look at some of the standout performances, both and good and bad, from Thursday’s and Sunday’s contests. These are more instant reactions rather than in-depth analyses, with things to keep in mind as the season progresses. Let’s see who took to the skies and who bottomed out in Week 5! You can check out Week 4 here.
Players Who Soared
Justin Herbert: 26/43, 398 passing yards, 4 pass TDs, 4 rushes, 29 rushing yards, 1 rush TD
Herbert showed out in the bonafide shootout against the Browns today. The second-year quarterback kept pace with ease for the entire game against Cleveland’s respectable defense. He commanded a magnificent offensive performance, leading to equally impressive days from Austin Ekeler (17 for 66 and 2 TDs rushing, 5 for 53 and 1 TD receiving) and Mike Williams (8 for 165 and 2 TDs receiving). Having thrown for 901 yards and 11 TDs with no INTs in the last three weeks, continue to trust Herbert as he heads to Baltimore next week.
Davis Mills: 21/29, 312 passing yards, 3 pass TDs, 1 rush, 2 rushing yards
Arguably the biggest surprise of the week, Mills very nearly conquered the rookie QB stigma against Bill Belichick‘s Patriots. He connected with Chris Moore (5 for 109 receiving) and Chris Conley (3 for 84 and 1 TD receiving, 1 fumble lost) on some very nice deep balls and managed the game well by minimizing his own mistakes. The biggest assist, however, was from the putrid efforts put forth by the Patriots’ defense early in the game. It was a promising effort from the rookie, though, who took a big step towards being in the streaming conversation for the rest of the season.
Jalen Hurts: 22/37, 198 passing yards, 1 INT, 9 rushes, 30 rushing yards, 2 rush TDs
Thank the lord for Hurts’ legs, otherwise, this would have been an ugly fantasy outing for the Eagles starting QB. The lone INT on the day was a horrible overthrow, highlighting a very sloppy game from both teams in this contest. Hurts’ struggles as a passer were on full display today against a respectable defense and should cause some major concerns going into the Buccaneers matchup next week.
Others of Note
- Tom Brady: 30/41, 411 passing yards, 5 pass TDs, 1 rush, 13 rushing yards
- Josh Allen: 15/26, 315 passing yards, 3 pass TDs, 11 rushes, 59 rushing yards, 1 rush TD
- Jameis Winston: 15/30, 279 passing yards, 4 pass TDs, 1 INT, 6 rushes, 26 rushing yards
Myles Gaskin: 5 rushes, 25 rushing yards, 10 receptions, 74 receiving yards, 2 receiving TDs
In a move that was a long time coming for fantasy owners, Gaskin established himself as the clear lead back in Miami’s backfield. He out-touched Salvon Ahmed 15-4 and looked dangerous catching passes out of the backfield. This was to be expected against the vaunted Tampa Bay rushing defense, but the passing game usage was very relieving to see as Miami expects to be in many negative game scripts moving forward. He gets a juicy matchup against Jacksonville next week to flex those rushing muscles too.
Alvin Kamara: 16 rushes, 71 rushing yards, 1 rush TD, 5 receptions, 51 receiving yards, 1 receiving TD
After inexplicably being excluded from the passing game last week, Kamara posted his first true boom of a game in Washington. He saw his highest target share of the season yet (8) and looked just as good as ever gaining yards after the catch. What’s most encouraging is Winston’s attempts keep creeping back up, which will hopefully lead to more touches for Kamara moving forward as well if and when this team is trailing. Kamara gets a bye week before a matchup against the Seahawks in week 7.
Alexander Mattison: 25 rushes, 113 rushing yards, 7 receptions, 40 receiving yards, 1 receiving TD, 1 fumble lost
This standout game is courtesy of a late scratch for Dalvin Cook as he was just too hurt to play this week. Mattison took advantage of the delectable matchup against Detroit and was featured all over the place in Minnesota’s offense. This is his second game answering the call in a big way in the wake of Cook being too hurt to play. Mattison may have now carved out a Tony Pollard-style role in this offense, especially if Cook needs more rest on game days.
Others of Note
- Derrick Henry: 29 rushes, 130 rushing yards, 3 rush TDs
- Ezekiel Elliott: 21 rushes, 110 rushing yards, 1 rush TD, 2 receptions, 2 receiving yards
- Nick Chubb: 21 rushes, 161 rushing yards, 1 rush TD, 1 reception, 9 receiving yards
Davante Adams: 11 receptions, 206 receiving yards, 1 receiving TD
I’m not sure what’s more terrifying about Adams at this point. It could be the fact that he’s been averaging 12 targets a game this season, and 15 targets per game over the last three weeks. But it could also be the fact that he only has two touchdowns on the season so far. For context; Adams had 2 touchdowns after five weeks last season as well while missing two weeks for injury and being on bye. The star Packers wideout is disgustingly good, with positive TD regression on its way. He’s a locked-in WR1 even in a tough divisional matchup at Chicago on the docket.
Antonio Brown: 7 receptions, 124 receiving yards, 2 receiving TDs
Brown continues to prove he is a valuable target for Brady in the nigh-unstoppable Buccaneers offense. This is the third game where Brown has garnered at least seven targets in a game as the presumptive WR3 on the depth chart. The high-powered nature of this offense means that upside is to be found all over the place every week. While Mike Evans (6 for 113 and 2 TDs receiving) appears to still be operating as the WR1 with Chris Godwin (7 for 70 receiving) providing a safe floor, Brown still has WR2/3 potential every single week with the occasional explosive stat line.
Kadarius Toney: 10 receptions, 189 receiving yards
Toney has looked electric for a Giants offense desperate for weapons. Injuries continue to ravage this team as both Saquon Barkley and Daniel Jones went down in this game. This team was missing seven of its 11 starters from week one against a surprisingly stingy Cowboys defense. Toney became Mr. Necessary for this team and showed beautiful body control and after-the-catch potential. His day was cut short after throwing a punch at Damontae Kazee and getting ejected with 6 minutes left in the game. Even with Sterling Shepard and Darius Slayton eyeing returns next week, Tony has made his mark on this offense moving forward.
Others of Note
- Ja’Marr Chase: 6 receptions, 159 receiving yards, 1 receiving TD
- DK Metcalf: 5 receptions, 98 receiving yards, 2 receiving TDs
- Chase Claypool: 5 receptions, 130 receiving yards, 1 receiving TD
- Courtland Sutton: 7 receptions, 120 receiving yards, 1 receiving TD
David Njoku: 7 receptions, 149 receiving yards, 1 receiving TD
Njoku finished the game as the yardage leader for the Cleveland passing game. He more than doubled the next closest receiver in that offense in a game that demanded a massive stat line to stay interesting. The Browns have been running Njoku and Austin Hooper (1 for 11 receiving) about as often, but this is the first game that either of them has shown up for. Njoku is a more interesting flyer as the better athlete, but neither can be relied on for week-to-week production at this time.
Kyle Pitts: 9 receptions, 119 receiving yards, 1 receiving TD
All it took was a matchup against the Jets with Calvin Ridley and Russel Gage out due to injury to finally get Pitts to break out. The freak athlete out of Florida finally came down with his first professional touchdown and made a mockery of the pitiful Jets secondary. Going into the bye week you have to imagine Arthur Smith realizes he needs to find more ways to keep Pitts involved. The good news is that he’s seen at least eight targets in three of the first five weeks, so they’re already headed in the right direction.
Others of Note
- Dawson Knox: 3 receptions, 117 receiving yards, 1 receiving TD
- Hunter Henry: 6 receptions, 75 receiving yards, 1 receiving TD
- Donald Parham: 2 receptions, 29 receiving yards, 1 receiving TD
Players That Got Floored
Jared Goff: 21/35, 203 passing yards, 1 INT
There’s a lot to be said about the heartbreaking losses the Lions have been victimized by this year on last-second field goals. There’s also a lot to be said about how uninspiring Goff’s play has been. Gone are the 50+ pass attempt days of the Los Angeles Rams, and with it goes Goff’s fantasy ceiling, having yet to eclipse 18 points in a 4-point TD format. With no rushing ability to help the bottom line, Goff will continue to be a matchup-dependant streaming option on a struggling team.
Justin Fields: 12/20, 111 passing yards, 1 pass TD, 3 rushes, 4 rushing yards
Fields finds himself in the Floored category for the third week in a row, and with good reason. He’s only amassed 388 total passing yards through his first three starts, and the rushing upside just hasn’t materialized yet. However, the Bears are in no rush to let their rookie air it out. They have remained competitive relying on their running game and defense alone. The offense will need to open it up to keep up with the formidable Packers offense next week. Keep an eye on Fields from your bench and waivers for now.
Others of Note
- Derek Carr: 22/25, 206 passing yards, 1 INT, 3 rushes, 10 rushing yards
- Zach Wilson: 19/32, 192 passing yards, 1 INT, 1 rush, 3 rushing yards
- Sam Darnold: 21/37, 177 passing yards, 1 pass TD, 3 INTs, 2 rushes, 10 rushing yards
Chase Edmonds: 6 rushes, 15 rushing yards, 3 receptions, 19 receiving yards
This dud of a game was brought to you by a nagging hamstring issue and a tough 49ers matchup. Edmonds was fighting through the injury all week in practice and was questionable coming into this week. Neither he nor James Conner (10 for 29 and 1 TD rushing, 1 for 8 receiving) could get much going as this matchup was focused on the defensive efforts for both teams. Hopefully, Edmonds has some additional time to heal before another respectable matchup against Clevland next week.
Melvin Gordon: 9 rushes, 34 rushing yards, 2 receptions, 9 receiving yards
The veteran Broncos running back continues to hold a solid floor with very limited upside. While the backfield continues to be a near 50/50 split, it’s becoming more apparent that Javonte Williams (8 for 61 rushing, 3 for 25 receiving) shows more promise than Gordon. There’s a good chance both backs end up with great games against a soft Raiders defense next week. If that happens, it may be time to sell high on Gordon as Williams continues to find work.
Others of Note
- Elijah Mitchell: 9 rushes, 43 rushing yards, 2 receptions, 19 receiving yards
- Miles Sanders: 11 rushes, 45 rushing yards, 5 receptions, 6 receiving yards
- Alex Collins: 15 rushes, 47 rushing yards, 2 receptions, 25 receiving yards
Odell Beckham: 2 receptions, 20 receiving yards
It’s inexplicable at this point how the most talented wide receiver on the Browns is a total afterthought in a game where the team puts up 500+ total yards of offense. Beckham and Baker Mayfield (23/32 for 305 and 2 TDs passing, 2 for 8 rushing) have struggled to get anything going the last two weeks. It’s been a disappointing result after a promising week three performance for the Cleveland duo. You have to hope that they can figure something out heading into another high-scoring affair against Arizona next week.
Adam Thielen: 2 receptions, 40 receiving yards
This was a disappointing result for Thielen, but not a very surprising one. He took a back seat to Mattison and Justin Jefferson (7 for 124 receiving) as the Vikings fought to close out a sloppy game against the Lions. Thielen is showing that he is very touchdown-dependent, which was expected coming into the season. The good news is he’s still involved enough in the offense to sustain that touchdown upside on a week-to-week basis.
Others of Note
- Marvin Jones: 1 reception, 25 receiving yards
- Brandin Cooks: 3 receptions, 23 receiving yards
- Darnell Mooney: 3 receptions, 35 receiving yards
Robert Tonyan: 1 reception, 8 receiving yards
It’s been an incredibly disappointing start to the season for someone considered to be a sleeper during draft season. He’s seen three or fewer targets in three games while siphoning away red-zone targets to Adams. Tonyan has been droppable for two weeks now and should stay that way until further notice.
Cameron Brate: 1 reception, 12 receiving yards
It’s become very apparent that Brate is not the Rob Gronkowski replacement fantasy owners hoped he’d be. Brady has instead started leaning more on the wide receivers and Leonard Fournette (12 for 67 and 1 TD rushing, 4 for 43 receiving) rather than the veteran tight end. Even in this stellar offense, the upside just isn’t there for Brate, who can be dropped even before Gronk gets healthy.
Others of Note
- Pat Freiermuth: 2 receptions, 7 receiving yards
- T.J. Hockenson: 2 receptions, 22 receiving yards
- Tyler Conklin: 2 receptions, 25 receiving yards