The Worksheet, a fantasy football overview by Rich Hribar, breaking down everything you need to know for the Week 5 Los Angeles Chargers at Cleveland Browns Sunday afternoon game.
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- The Browns have allowed 50 points in the fourth quarter this season (52.6% of their points allowed), the most in the league.
- The Chargers are averaging 2.6 fewer yards per rushing play than their opponent, the worst in the league.
- Cleveland is averaging 74.0 more rushing yards per game than their opponent, the largest differential in the league.
- 28.7% of the Chargers’ carries have gained five or more yards, the lowest rate in the league.
- Cleveland is tied for the league lead with 25 carries of 10 or more yards.
- The Chargers and Browns are allowing just 2.0 sacks plus turnovers per game, tied for the fewest in the league.
- Jacoby Brissett has completed 35% (7-of-20) of his red zone passes, the lowest rate in the league.
Justin Herbert: Herbert bounced back after a tough Week 3 playing through a rib injury, posting a QB9 (21.1 points) scoring week while throwing for 340 yards and 8.7 yards per pass attempt. Hebert had no lingering effects from his rib injury suffered in Week 2 while the offensive line was able to hold up, allowing a 27.5% pressure rate (12th lowest in Week 4).
Of course, that was all against the Texans.
Even without both Myles Garrett and Jadeveon Clowney, the Browns generated pressure on a league-high 55% dropbacks in Week 4. The Browns leaned on the blitz more with those edge rushers sidelined. Cleveland blitzed on 50% of dropbacks (second in Week 4) after a 23.6% blitz rate Weeks 1-3 (18th).
Only three quarterbacks have been blitzed at a lower rate than Herbert (21.5%) on the season. When these teams met a year ago, Cleveland chose to bring extra pass rushers on seven of Herbert’s 48 dropbacks (14.6%) in a game in which Herbert threw for 398 yards and four touchdowns.
While we can’t expect to repeat that 89-point bonanza from a year ago when these teams met and we need to see which wide receivers are available for the Chargers this week, Cleveland has only been middle of the road defending the pass to open the season despite facing Baker Mayfield, Joe Flacco, Mitchell Trubisky, and Marcus Mariota. They rank 19th in passing points allowed per attempt (0.42), 19th in yards allowed per attempt (7.3 Y/A), and 17th in touchdown rate (4.1%), keeping Herbert as a locked-in QB1 fantasy option.
Jacoby Brissett: Brissett was not as clean last week as the previous two games, but he still was able to post a QB16 (14.9 points) scoring week. Brissett threw for just 6.7 yards per attempt, passing for 234 yards, but he added his first rushing touchdown of the season to anchor his line. Brissett has now closed as a top-17 scorer in each of the past three weeks, giving him a pulse as a floor-based option in 2QB formats.
It is also implied that the Browns will be forced into a negative script and forced to press the scoreboard.
The Chargers have also been middle of the pack against the pass, allowing 7.1 yards per attempt (15th), a 68.5% completion rate (26th), and a 6.2% touchdown rate (30th) to opposing passers.
Nick Chubb: Chubb continued his strong start to the season this past week, rushing 19 times for 118 yards with his fifth rushing touchdown on the season. Chubb has now cleared 100 yards from scrimmage in all four games this year.
He only has six catches for 37 yards, so we need him to keep finding the end zone to sustain RB1 status. The Browns did trail a bit more last week, but the game was never out of reach to force them into a pass-heavy script. Cleveland has still trailed for the seventh-lowest rate of snaps while trailing for the third-lowest rate of their snaps in the second half. Chubb has yet to be scripted out of a game.
That could happen here given the implied line, but the Chargers also are allowing a league-high 6.1 YPC to running backs and 13.9 rushing points per game (24th) to the position. We know Cleveland is going to run the football while they can. The Chargers have moving pieces of personnel this season compared to last year, but Chubb rushed for 161 yards and a score in this shootout last season.
Chubb is a touchdown and efficiency reliant RB1.
Austin Ekeler: Ekeler channeled his 2021 fantasy output last week, posting a season-high 109 yards from scrimmage on 19 touches with three trips to the end zone. After rushing 32 times for 80 yards (2.5 YPC) through three weeks, Ekeler made 13 carries for 60 yards feel massive on the strength of 10- and 20-yard touchdown runs. He also added six catches for 49 yards and a score through the air, giving him six or more receptions in each of the past three games.
The Chargers were finally able to squeeze out some rushing production against the Texans poor run defense, but Cleveland is also allowing 5.25 YPC to backs (28th) and 15.9 rushing points per game (28th) to give Ekeler and the Chargers a matchup carrot.
Ekeler’s snaps still remain lower this season (59% in Week 4) than a year ago, but his utilization rate per snap (47.7%) ranks 12th at the position and his 18.7% target rate per snap ranks second.
Keep Ekeler in as an RB1 with added juice in full-PPR formats.
Kareem Hunt: With 12 touches for 68 yards, Hunt had his third straight week as an RB3 in fantasy output. We mention it every week, but that’s where Hunt’s baseline is while his ceiling is driven by finding the end zone, something he has not done since the season opener.
Hunt is involved in the red zone as he has 16 opportunities in that area of the field (one more than Chubb), so he has run a bit cold based on actual usage there.
The Browns also have not trailed often or late in any game this season to open up a game script that could favor Hunt’s receiving ability, which we could see here.
Hunt remains an RB3/FLEX with his ceiling tied to touchdown output.
Mike Williams: We are keeping our hands and feet inside the roller coaster at all times with Williams. He has been up and down all season, posting games of 2-10-0, 8-113-1, 1-15-1, and 7-120-0 through four games this season.
With Keenan Allen out again in Week 4, Williams saw a season-high 29.7% of the team targets. With Allen suffering a setback last week with a hamstring injury he sustained in Week 1, we will play things cautiously this week on him returning to the field.
Even if Allen is back, Williams has run a route on 94.2% of the team dropbacks, something that is not going to be compromised. While the target volume can be, we still know the life we have chosen to live with Williams as a boom-or-bust WR2 that pushes the WR1 line when Allen is inactive.
Cleveland has given up tons of big plays in the passing game, allowing 12 completions on throws over 15 yards downfield (24th) and 15.4 yards per catch to opposing wide receivers (31st) to offer upside on the Williams-coaster in Week 5.
Amari Cooper: Just when we were starting to feel good about Cooper laying the foundation as a target-rich fantasy option, he has one catch for nine yards on just four targets Sunday.
After target shares of 21.4%, 37.0%, and 35.5% through three weeks, Cooper received just 11.4% of the Cleveland targets this past week.
Through four weeks, we now have Cooper hitting 100 yards twice, sandwiched by 17 and 9-yard performances.
That volatility should be expected with attachment to his limited passing game, but Cooper is still a strong bet to lead Cleveland in targets in more games than not.
The Browns should be forced to chase points here while the Chargers are allowing 18.0 fantasy points per game to opposing WR1 (24th) to open the season, providing outs for Cooper to bounce back as a WR2.
Chargers WRs: Approaching things with a wait and see approach on Keenan Allen’s availability, his absence typically would mean that Josh Palmer gets another bump into WR3/FLEX territory. But Palmer also suffered an ankle injury last week that limited his playing time. We will have to monitor his status this week as well.
If we somehow do not end up seeing Allen or Palmer, then DeAndre Carter will then be elevated to a larger role with Michael Bandy and Jason Moore mixed in as depth options.
Carter has been targeted on just 11.9% of his routes, the lowest rate of the Charger wide receivers, so he still would take a step of faith as a WR4/FLEX option even if operating as the WR2, which he did for a stretch last week.
Donovan Peoples-Jones: After just one catch for 10 yards the previous two weeks, the ball found Peoples-Jones last week as he caught 5-of-9 targets for 71 yards.
Through four weeks, Peoples-Jones has seen 39.3%, 3.7%, 9.7%, and 25.7% of the team targets, which leaves him as a better in best ball option. It also shows that this passing game may just not support multiple wide receivers for fantasy as the two weeks that Peoples-Jones even scratched the surface on production, Amari Cooper was AWOL in the box score.
If hoping to connect on a deep ball, the Chargers have allowed a 52.4% completion rate on throws over 15 yards downfield, 26th in the league.
Gerald Everett: After a down Week 3 (2-25-0), Everett came back to catch 5-of-6 targets for 61 yards and his second touchdown on the season.
Everett still only commanded 16.2% of the team targets (17th among tight ends in Week 4), but his output this season does show how attachment to a good offense can create fantasy viability at a low-bar position. Everett has had six or fewer targets in all but one game but has three top-8 scoring weeks at his position.
Offensive attachment keeps Everett as a lower-end TE1 option. Cleveland has yet to allow a touchdown to a tight end early this season while allowing 7.9 yards per target (23rd) to the position.
David Njoku: Looking to build off his Week 3 breakout, Njoku secured 5-of-7 targets for 73 yards on Sunday, losing a fumble as part of the output. Njoku remained involved, receiving 20% of the team targets (seventh among tight ends in Week 4) while running a route on 86.8% of the team dropbacks (eighth).
That usage has Njoku in play as a weekly TE1 play, but he will be a fringe TE1 for me this week as I proceed with some caution with tight ends against the Chargers, who have allowed a 60.7% catch rate (seventh) and no touchdowns to the position so far on the early season with Darren Waller, Travis Kelce, and Evan Engram as part of their early season sample.
More Week 5 Fantasy breakdowns from The Worksheet: