Top 5 Fantasy Football Surprises of Week 5

By Chip Bayless



*All statistics/projections are based on ESPN Standard Rules for PPR leagues*




1. Chase Claypool

Projected Points: 6.6

Actual Points Scored: 42.6

Chase Claypool went nuts for the Steelers last week and became the first receiver in NFL history with three receiving scores and a rushing touchdown in a single game. Claypool recorded seven receptions on 11 targets for 110 yards and three touchdowns against the Eagles. He also rushed three times for six yards and another score. Prior to this stellar performance, he had received no more than four targets in any game.

With the offensive explosion that is the Chiefs offense in recent years, every NFL team is now desperate for a Tyreek Hill-esque deep threat to stretch defenses. There’s a reason why Henry Ruggs was taken 12th overall in this year’s draft, and there’s a reason why the Steelers constantly sought to get Claypool the ball in this game. As the contest wore on, it became clear the Steelers wanted to feed the fastest player on their roster. This screen in particular was especially telling:

At first glance one might expect that Claypool and his three blockers are merely an obvious distraction to get their big tight end (Eric Ebron) singled up in the red zone; however, Big Ben fired to Claypool immediately. This showed the coaching staff’s confidence in the young receiver as the play was essentially designed for him.


Although, four receivers saw more snaps than Claypool on the team’s opening drive, and it took an injury to Diontae Johnson to get Claypool some real volume. Nevertheless, his historic production likely demands more volume in the future, especially if Johnson’s injury woes continue.



I would wait until Claypool produces consistently until I consider him a weekly must-start. But if Johnson is out this week he is a must-start, and Claypool is likely worth a flex play regardless as he faces a porous Browns defense that has allowed the second-most fantasy points to receivers.



2. Travis Fulgham

Projected: 6.2

Actual: 31.2

One week after catching just two balls on three targets, Travis Fulgham received a whopping 13 targets against the Steelers. This resulted in 152 yards on ten catches which included a TD as well.

He led the team in receptions, targets and yards. He was also able to bring much-needed chunk plays to the Eagles offense by recording five receptions of 15+ yards. The last Eagles receiver to have at least 150 yards in a game was Jeremy Maclin back in 2014.

While Fulgham’s past two weeks might give you confidence in him considering the lackluster from production other Eagles WRs, just remember that this coaching staff is completely incompetent.

Yes, based on the eye test Fulgham looks like he deserves to start at receiver for the Birds instead of DeSean Jackson, Alshon Jeffery, or Jalen Reagor. But remember: the Eagles HATE using the eye test and instead rely almost exclusively on personal biases and misinterpreted analytics when determining their depth chart and game plan.

If Jackson, Jeffery, and Reagor are all out again or if two of them are, Fulgham would likely be considered a WR2/WR3 play. But if one or more of those three receivers gets healthy this week, I would leave Fulgham on the bench until he proves he can produce despite fellow healthy receivers (especially against a stingy Ravens defense).



3. Brandin Cooks

Projected: 9.1

Actual: 30.1

A week after rewarding fantasy owners who started him with a fat zero, Cooks put up 30 points and was fantasy’s third-best receiver in week 5. He was targeted 12 times and accrued 161 yards and a TD on eight grabs. Much like the man ahead of him on this list, it was encouraging to see Cooks create constant chunk plays with five receptions of 20+ yards. This included a 28-yard touchdown reception to secure the win.

Once a lock as a top-20 fantasy WR with the Saints, Cooks has faded into fantasy mediocrity in recent seasons. Nonetheless, there’s a chance his production turns a corner under a new head coach in Houston. At the very least, owners should be encouraged he just posted his most yards in a single game since 2016.

Cooks has been wildly inconsistent through five games with the Texans, gaining just 25 yards or fewer in three contests. He’s too inconsistent to start this week unless you are desperate, but if he is able to break double-digit points in back-to-back weeks then that would be a major sign that the new coaching regime has plans for a larger Cooks role in the Houston offense. See how he performs this week before considering starting him against Green Bay in Week 7.




4. Mike Williams

Projected: 9.6

Actual: 27.9

Mike Williams is one of the most frustrating players in recent Fantasy Football memory. It doesn’t help that I’m the sucker who was high on him last year after his eight touchdown season, and I took a late chance on him in this year’s draft because I once again thought there was a possibility he might step up opposite Keenan Allen. I (and many other fantasy owners) cut him after Week 3 after back-to-back sub five-point games.

Against the Saints on Monday night, Williams shocked us all with a 28-point performance on just five catches that went for 109 yards and two TDs. In his return from a hamstring injury, (which coincided with Keenan Allen exiting early Monday with a back issue) Williams acted as the Chargers’ top perimeter option.

He showcased the physical skills that got him drafted by fantasy managers throughout the game including this acrobatic catch on a jump ball in double coverage to put his team in position for a game winning field-goal:

Going forward, like many on this list your confidence in Williams will depend on his consistency and whether Allen returns or not. Regardless of Allen’s health, Williams could be in store for a similarly strong showing in Week 7 when the Chargers return from their bye to face the Jaguars.



5. Preston Williams

Projected: 6.5

Actual: 20.6

After four straight disappointing weeks where he failed to break double-digit points, Preston Williams busted out with a 20-point performance against the 49ers on Sunday. He was targeted five times, caught four of them, and scored a TD in addition to breaking 100 yards for the first time this season.



Coming off an ACL tear, he looked to be in midseason form during Sunday’s upset win. The second-year pro set the tone on Miami’s first play of the game with a 47-yard catch from Fitzpatrick. Moreover, his 106 yards were a career high, and Williams also surpassed his total combined yardage through the first four games of the season.

Despite this “breakout performance”, Williams is not even worth a waiver claim in most leagues. Only if you are incredibly thin at receiver in a deep league would he be worth a start against the Jets as a flex/WR3. After all, prior to this week he hadn’t recorded more than two catches in a single game, and he’s left the field for about a third of the team’s snaps during the past three weeks.

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