Week 5 in the National Football League starts with a Thursday Night Football matchup between some of the best the NFC has to offer. The same is true for fantasy football purposes as this matchup is full of starter quality talent on both teams. Both the Seattle Seahawks and Los Angeles Rams enter this game with matching 3-1 records on the season and want to continue the pace against an in-division opponent.
Usually, Thursday Night Football games have given fantasy owners nightmares, due to their nature to produce underperforming games. This tends to come from teams not having the usual time to prepare for their opponent and a condensed time to recover from any injuries suffered the week before.
The Los Angeles Rams are coming off a Week 4 game where they put up 40 points and somehow managed to lose by 15. While Jared Goff gets some credit for gaudy passing yards he piled up in Week 4, he also cost his team dearly with 3 interceptions. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers scored 21 points directly following those costly turnovers. Head coach Sean McVay has put a lot of faith in his quarterback as the Rams are only rushing the ball on 34% of their offensive play calls. Going up against a Seahawks’ defense that ranks 7th in rushing yards allowed per game, I’d expect this to be more of the same in Week 5.
After making Russell Wilson the highest-paid player in the NFL, Wilson has shown why the Seahawks put their faith in him through four games. While the Legion of Boom might be gone, the Seahawks can win any game they play in. Between a solid defense and balanced offense, fantasy owners have several players that are viable starters in almost any lineup.
QB Russell Wilson
Even though the rushing upside for Wilson hasn’t been there the past few years, by design rather than ability, he remains a must-start every week. In Week 4, Wilson posted the third-highest PFN Offensive Share Metric (OSM) of 35.63. He has been one of the most accurate passers of the season so far. Currently, Wilson has a league-best 72.9% completion rate and is one of only three quarterbacks to start all four games and not throw an interception. Ranked as our number four quarterback for the week, Wilson is a must-start in this week’s game.
RB Chris Carson
Chris Carson is putting together a solid, albeit a quite top-15 season for fantasy football running backs. Questions surrounded the third-year back and if he could hold off Rashaad Penny to be the lead rusher for the Seahawks entering the season. So far, Carson has done just that leading the team with 70% of backfield touches.
Thanks to the Seahawks balanced offense, Carson is averaging 16.8 rushing attempts per game, good enough for #10 in the NFL. Fumbles have been an issue (3), however, but the team remains committed to trusting him to handle the lions share of the work. The Rams enter this game ranked 24th in the NFL in rushing yards allowed, making Carson a low-end RB1 for fantasy owners if he can find his way into the endzone.
WR Tyler Lockett
Tyler Lockett is off to a fantastic start to the season and is by far Wilson’s favorite target. Currently sitting at number nine in PPR scoring, Lockett is receiving 25.2% of the targets for the Seahawks. It also helps he never seems to come off the field, playing in 92.6% of all offensive snaps and running routes on 94.7% of all passing plays. The only knock on Lockett is his lack of targets in the red zone so far, with only four so far, putting him behind both D.K. Metcalf (5) and tight end Will Dissly (6). The targets will come in time and could very quickly start on Thursday, putting Lockett firmly as a WR1 for your fantasy football team.
RB Todd Gurley
Todd Gurley is not the running back of the past few years, and that isn’t going to change as it appears that the Rams have a close eye on his snap count. Even though Gurley is getting 72.6% of the backfield touches, he is only averaging 12.2 rushes a game (23rd in the NFL). Part of the problem limiting his ceiling is the play calling from head coach Sean McVay. So far the Rams are only rushing on 34% of plays called for an average of 24.2 rushes per game. Part of the reasoning for this imbalance is the poor play from the offensive line which Blaine Grisak covered in a recent article.
Last week against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Rams fell behind quickly 21-0 and had to abandon the run other than some red zone attempts that Gurley capitalized on. The 11 targets Gurley received are a positive sign showing that even if they get behind in a game, he still has a chance to impact the game. While he isn’t the top overall RB we remember, Gurley does have that chance any week and remains a solid RB2 for Week 5 in fantasy football.
Los Angeles Rams WRs
Honestly, this is pretty self-explanatory as the Rams wide receivers are consistently in top-24 rankings every week. The sheer volume and Jared Goff‘s willingness to spread the ball around make any one of Cooper Kupp, Robert Woods and Brandin Cooks starters for fantasy football. Few offenses in the NFL can sustain production from these many WRs every week.
Kupp is the lead WR for the Rams, ranking as the second-best in fantasy football in PPR scoring and is Goff’s go-to target. Woods sits second on the Rams for receiving yards with 307. However, it hasn’t been consistent. In Week 4, where the Rams did nothing but throw the ball, Woods pulled in 13 of his 15 targets for 164 yards after averaging only 47.6 yards per game leading into the matchup. Things should balance out for Woods though and will be more consistent moving forward in terms of weekly production while trying to get his first touchdown of the season.
Cooks is rather intriguing when you look at what he has done thus far. Known for his elite speed, he has yet to do anything with it averaging only 3.4 yards after the catch putting him behind backup TE Tyler Higbee. With 31 targets on the season, the opportunity is there for him to have one big play and fill up a stat column. Cooks deserves to be started even if only as a low-end WR2 or Flex play.
Are you looking for someone not mentioned? Check out our weekly rankings for both PPR and Standard scoring leagues.
RB Rashaad Penny
Having missed the previous two games with a hamstring injury, head coach Pete Carroll declared Penny was a full participant in Monday’s practice. With only 17 touches in the first two games, Penny wasn’t doing much more than giving Carson a breather. Carroll and the team could have easily handed the lead role to Penny when Carson is having his fumbling issues but chose not to. After Carson’s 155 total yard performance in Week 4, I doubt the Seahawks will be quick to take away touches from him this week. Penny is a solid stash in case of bye weeks or if an injury were to happen to Carson. As for this game, find a better option to use in your fantasy football starting lineups.
TE Gerald Everett
Week 5 saw Gerald Everett have his best game of the year by far, posting a stat line of 5 catches on 8 targets for 44 yards and a touchdown. His 8 targets were more than he saw in all three weeks prior combined. Game script and situation have to be taken into consideration here when looking at his performance.
The Rams found themselves down fast and by a lot, forcing them to play an uptempo game and throw it almost every play. This led to a substantial increase in targets for Everett compared to a traditional game plan. I’m not saying Everett can be a reliable red-zone option for the Rams as the season continues. He is athletic enough to beat the majority of linebackers in coverage and has the size required to go up and get a ball. However, there are too many other options for the Rams when they need a score, and Everett looks more like a bye week fill-in if anything currently.
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Tommy Garrett is a writer for PFN covering Fantasy Football. You can follow him at @TommygarrettPFN on Twitter.