In this Week 6 edition of 10 Thoughts, we cover Kadarius Toney’s immense talent, high-value running back touches, injury ripple effects, and much more.
1) Kadarius Toney looked genuinely unstoppable in Week 5.
I will be the first to say that I criticized Dave Gettleman’s decision to draft Toney, and I didn’t think he would be a factor this season. However, with Sterling Shepard and Darius Slayton out last week, opportunity knocked and Toney caught 10 passes for a whopping 189 yards. It was the way he did it that shocked me, though. Toney looked like a slightly slower, more fluid version of Tyreek Hill, gliding around the field at a completely different pace than the other 99th percentile athletes around him. When a player is playing at a different speed on an NFL field, you know he’s a special talent. Toney is still a bit unrefined and he was also ejected for throwing a punch in the game, but we’re looking at a supreme talent here, and I want to bet on that going forward.
2) Josh Jacobs is proof that high-value touches matter more than talent.
For reference, when I refer to high-value touches I’m talking about carries near the goal-line and receptions. Josh Jacobs is a bad football player right now — he has no burst, he’s not making anyone miss, and he’s not creating anything, but he’s still producing fantasy points because he’s getting all of the high-value touches. Jacobs was predictably inefficient last week, turning 19 touches into just 67 total yards while averaging only 3.2 yards per carry and 3.5 yards per target. However, because he has the goal-line and receiving roles out of the backfield, he scored 16.7 fantasy points by falling into the end zone and catching a few balls. Talent is important because it predicates ceiling performances, but baseline fantasy production for running backs is all about high-value touches, and Josh Jacobs proved it in Week 5.
3) A.J. Dillon is becoming a viable RB3/flex option, and he still has enormous conditional upside.
Dillon’s appeal coming into the 2021 season was obvious, he’s a size/speed freak and he looked poised to step into Jamaal Williams’ vacated 35-40 percent touches role. In Weeks 1-2 Dillon only had 11 combined touches, however, and it looked like he was falling behind fast. But then came Weeks 3-5 in which Dillon piled up 36 touches and a solid 11.1 PPR points per game, putting him back on the map. Dillon being involved in the passing game has been huge, and it paves the way for him to be essentially a more athletically gifted version of what Jamaal Williams was last year for Green Bay. I actively target talented young second-string running backs like Dillon and Tony Pollard because A) they have standalone RB3/flex value and B) they have RB1, league-winning upside if they step into the starting role in the event of an injury. Many underestimate players in this mold because they don’t have the touch upside currently to have huge games, but the combination of the depth they provide now and the upside they could provide later should not be underestimated.
4) Ricky Seals-Jones is a must-add for teams without a top-tier tight end.
Seals-Jones is relatively unknown, but he’s been in the NFL for five seasons now and he’s a big-bodied 250-pound athlete who ran a 4.69 (75th percentile) 40-yard dash as a tight end. I’ll admit that while Jones is solid, he’s closer to an average player than a great one, but it’s the way he was utilized that was so intriguing. Seals-Jones essentially didn’t come off the field last week, playing 98.3% of snaps and running 42 routes while operating the same exact way Logan Thomas did before his injury. Seals-Jones ran the second-most tight end routes in the NFL behind only Travis Kelce, and to top it off, he had three red zone targets in Week 5 alone… it doesn’t get any better than this for non-Kelce tight ends. Oh, and did I mention that he gets to face a Kansas City Chiefs defense that has allowed opposing tight ends the most receiving yards in the NFL this week? Logan Thomas will miss at least two more weeks, so enjoy Seals-Jones while you can.
5) Rondale Moore might have just gotten the break he needed.
You always hate to see injuries happen, particularly to someone as beloved as Maxx Williams was to his teammates, but sometimes injuries open things up for certain players. In this case, I’m wondering if losing Williams means that Arizona will start going with more four wideout sets, which would greatly benefit Rondale Moore. Kliff Kingsbury has been moronically limiting him to 30-50 percent of snaps each week, but he’s so good that he’s still managed to produce and draw targets at a very high rate with limited playing time. I want to see what happens when Moore starts playing on 60+ percent of snaps because he could smash in a bigger role. To be clear, this is just a hunch I have, but it also makes sense football-wise. I’ll be watching closely to see how Moore is utilized against the Cleveland Browns in Week 6 because he has a very real WR3 ceiling if he does get above that 60 percent snaps mark.
6) The Chicago Bears are utilizing Justin Fields like early-career Lamar Jackson.
Over the last two weeks, we’ve seen enough to have a pretty good idea of what Bill Lazor and Matt Nagy (mostly Lazor, Nagy failed miserably in Week 3) want to do with Justin Fields under center. They seem to be treating Fields like early-career Lamar Jackson. What I mean by that is that with Fields, we’re seeing low passing volume (44 percent) with a lot of play-action (31.8%) and high aDOT throws (10.0 aDOT). Unfortunately, this sort of offensive style leads to uneven wide receiver production because it’s almost as if Allen Robinson and Darnell Mooney need to catch a long bomb to have a big game (think early-career Marquise Brown). Now, both players are more than capable of doing that, and Justin Fields is at his best throwing deep down the field, but it’s tough to rely on that on a weekly basis because of the variance associated with deep passes. If you are still starting Robinson or Mooney, just keep in mind that they are very boom/bust as of right now.
7) Let Kyle Pitts’ Week 5 blowup game be a lesson if you were down on him.
Pitts was one of the draft season’s most divisive players, with drafters either being all in at his high price tag or all out. After a tough/mediocre first four weeks, the reactions were still fairly charged. Some of those that were off of him in drafts used the first few weeks to victory lap, while many of those that were on him generally pointed to his utilization being much better than his box scores indicated. Well… Pitts went off for 9/119/2 in Week 5 against the Jets, and nobody should’ve been surprised. Pitts was arguably the most well-regarded receiving tight end of all time when he was drafted fourth overall, and he was routinely running 35-40 routes per game while getting peppered with targets. Those that faded Pitts after his early struggles would do well to remember that supreme talents with elite usage can’t be held down for long.
8) Dan Arnold has a shot to become a TE1.
Not much was made of the Jaguars acquiring Arnold and a third-round pick for their former first-round cornerback selection C.J. Henderson, but I was intrigued from the start, and I’m certainly intrigued now. At 6-foot-5 240 pounds, Dan Arnold is a freaky athlete with a 97th percentile burst score and a 95th percentile catch radius per Player Profiler. So, when he stepped into a situation with no quality tight end ahead of him on the Jaguars roster, I perked up, and then he put together a 6/64/1 line while leading the team in targets with eight in Week 5. Last week was Arnold’s second week for the team and he wasn’t even fully integrated yet, but he still produced. We saw the much less talented James O’Shaughnessy produce early in the season before he got hurt, and with D.J. Chark (ankle) out for the season it’s clear that there are targets for the taking. Arnold is more than capable of turning opportunity into production as he proved last week, and the opportunity isn’t going anywhere. He won’t be under the radar for long, so now is the time to pounce before Arnold firmly establishes himself as a TE1.
9) Seattle’s offensive line is about to be exposed without Russell Wilson.
I could even go as far as to say that Seattle’s entire organization is about to be exposed without Russell Wilson, who will be out roughly four to six weeks with a torn finger ligament. The reason Russ has had tension with the team over the last couple of offseasons is that John Schneider, Pete Caroll, and Co. rely on him to carry a flawed roster year after year. Seattle’s pass blocking in particular has been atrocious for a long time, and while Russ is a superhero capable of overcoming that, Geno Smith is not. Even with all of his skill navigating the pocket, Wilson only had 61.1% clean pockets before his injury, and Geno Smith only had 52.6% clean pockets in his limited action. It’s hard to overstate how bad that is, and it’s going to be a major issue. Those big plays that Tyler Lockett and D.K. Metcalf thrive on? There won’t be many of them, as they require time to develop. Don’t expect much of anything from Seattle’s offense until Russ is back under center.
10) The New Orleans Saints offense could get a boost due to an injury.
This is another situation where an unfortunate injury could open things up. Taysom Hill took a nasty hit and was concussed in Week 5. Not coincidentally, Week 5 was the first time that Sean Payton allowed New Orleans’ passing game to thrive. Jameis Winston, Alvin Kamara, and Marquez Callaway had all been struggling mightily to produce in the passing game to extremely low volume in that area, and Taysom Hill is part of the reason why. Sean Payton is obsessed with utilizing Hill as a gadget player and running the ball with him on the field, so with Hill, who was playing about half of the snaps out of the picture, he was forced to call a more balanced game that benefitted the entire offense in Week 5. The team has a bye in Week 6, but the hope is that Payton reflects on the success from last week and realizes that the team was better off operating the way they did in that game going forward. Michael Thomas’ impending return sometime soon after the bye could also help shift things in favor of the pass.