Look, we're not pretending to have
all of the answers even one single answer around here, but we can maybe drop a few breadcrumbs. Here are six stats to help better understand the NFL and fantasy heading into Week 5 ...
116 - Josh Jacobs delivered 116 rushing yards after contact in Sunday's win against Denver and he forced eight missed tackles, the most of any running back in Week 4. He's now up to 276 yards after contact on the season — third-most in the NFL behind Saquon Barkley and Nick Chubb — and he's forced 22 missed tackles, which ranks second behind Chubb.
Jacobs, in case it wasn't clear, is verifiably good at running the ball. Let the record show that some of us tried to tell you this was the case back in July, when no one wanted to draft him. This sort of run is pretty special:
77.3 - This is Geno Smith's league-leading completion percentage following his 23-for-30, 320-yard performance at Detroit on Sunday. He's completed over 70 percent of his attempts in all four games for Seattle — not bad for a guy who entered the season with a career rate of just 58.8. It's not as if Smith is simply targeting receivers near the line of scrimmage, either; his average depth of target is 8.1 and he has the same number of deep attempts as Josh Allen (13).
29 - Kyle Pitts has run a route on 29 snaps over the past two weeks, which is fewer than such luminaries as Noah Gray (30), Eric Saubert (37), Daniel Bellinger (31), Juwan Johnson (42) and various other tight ends who should not be added. We can reasonably hope for a bump in volume this week against Tampa Bay, but right now Atlanta simply doesn't offer a rich environment for receiving production.
Marcus Mariota's pass attempts have decreased each week this year, from 33 to 26 to 20 to 19. So that's terrible. All we can cling to with Pitts right now are his air yards, which are among the highest at his position (365). At some point, hopefully, all these not-quite yards become actual yards.
23 - Javonte Williams played 23 of 25 first-half snaps for the Broncos on Sunday before tearing his ACL on snap No. 24. This is just depressing in every possible way. The team was finally flipping the switch to full-time usage for Williams after yet another Melvin Gordon lost fumble, but injury struck before the second-year back could erupt. Just a brutal, cruel break for one of the game's most exciting young players. Here's hoping he comes back as electric as ever. Gordon is about to get a second chance he may not totally deserve as the clear top option in Denver's backfield.
Let's please remember the reasons that he actually remained in a committee with Williams throughout the 2021 season: He's still an excellent back, one of the game's best. Gordon averaged 4.5 YPC for the Broncos a year ago and he actually didn't trail Williams by much at all in terms of yards after contact or missed tackles. He had 23 carries of 10 or more yards last season, just two fewer than Williams.
If he can resolve the ball security issues (which is not a small if), he can be a massive fantasy contributor.
17.1 - George Pickens is among the early season leaders in average depth of target at 17.1. That's not quite Chris Olave territory (18.7), but it's exciting. Pickens is coming off the first 100-yard game as a pro and he's just a couple weeks removed from making one of the least-possible catches you've ever seen:
We obviously can't make guarantees about anyone's production with Kenny Pickett at the controls of the Steelers offense, but it's tough to imagine the team's passing game getting much worse. Pickett was firing downfield on Sunday (13.2 aDOT), which we generally like to see. Consider buying Pickens before the full breakout. His Week 4 target share was a healthy 32.0 percent.
9.0 - The Seattle Seahawks are allowing a league-worst 9.0 yards per pass attempt and 6.7 yards per play — absolutely abysmal numbers under any circumstances, but shocking when you consider the teams they have actually played to this point: Denver, San Francisco, Atlanta and Detroit. Jared Goff just passed for 378 yards and four scores against them despite playing without his top two receivers and his primary backfield receiving threat.
New Orleans is up next for the league's worst defense, so prepare to start any and all active Saints.