The early season swings in player value can be both exhilarating and nauseating, depending on which side you're on. People were actually talking about dropping Myles Gaskin last week (understandably) and Adam Thielen was being celebrated as a must-start receiver once again. Kadarius Toney has gone from a rookie on the bench to the Giants' No. 1 receiver in a matter of two weeks.
This type of stuff happens every year, so it shouldn't be too shocking, but it can be hard to decipher moving forward. Which is exactly what we try to help with each Monday morning in Believe It or Not.
Adam Thielen is a touchdown-dependent Flex
The Case: Thielen started the season with nine catches for 92 yards and two touchdowns against the Cincinnati Bengals. Since then, he does not have a game with more than 50 receiving yards. That was okay in Week 2 and Week 3, because he scored, which he often does. But he hasn't the past two weeks and he's combined for 13.6 Fantasy points against the Browns and the Lions.
That of yardage production is not even a must-start receiver, even if you start three of them. It's a Flex you start hoping they'll score.
The Verdict: Believe it.
Some of this is carrying over from 2020. Last year Thielen had 51 yards or fewer in eight of 15 games. In contrast, he topped 80 yards four times. But he scored 14 touchdowns, so it was easier to overlook. And, in fairness, he's scored four times in five games, so that hasn't changed all that much either. What has changed is the target distribution in Minnesota.
Justin Jefferson has been the team's true No. 1 receiver, with a 25% target share. That's not all that surprising after what Jefferson did as a rookie. But Tyler Conklin and K.J. Osborn have combined for a 28.8% target share, which is considerably higher than what we've come to expect from the WR3/TE combo in Minnesota. For reference, last year Irv Smith and Chad Beebe combined for a 15.1% target share.
So we came into this year expecting touchdown regression for Thielen, and that hasn't quite happened yet. At least not to the extent we expected. But his yardage production has fallen because of the drop in target share and a drop in efficiency. Since I still believe more touchdown regression is coming, Thielen is no more than a flex with touchdown upside each week
Time for Week 5 Believe It or Not...— Heath Cummings (@heathcummingssr) October 10, 2021
Adam Thielen is a touchdown-dependent WR3/flex
Myles Gaskins is a starting Fantasy RB again
The Case: It didn't take long for Brian Flores to recognize the mistake he made by not playing Myles Gaskin more in Week 4. Gaskin led all running backs with a season-high 69% snap share and led all Dolphins with 10 catches (on 10 targets) for 74 yards in Week 5. As bad as the running back position is, the performance (along with what he did in 2020) makes Gaskin a No. 2 running back again.
Fantasy Football Today Newsletter
Know What Your Friends Don't
Get tips, advice and news to win your league - all from the FFT podcast team.
Thanks for signing up!
Keep an eye on your inbox.
There was an error processing your subscription.
The Verdict: Don't believe it.
This might be true, but I'm sure not there yet. Gaskin still just saw five carries in the game and the Dolphins were without Devante Parker and Will Fuller. If you simply ignore Week 4, Gaskin is now averaging eight carries and 6.5 targets per game. That is probably a low-end No. 2 running back in PPR and a middling flex in non. I am hopeful that he'll see 15 touches again in Week 6 against Jacksonville, but I'll need to see at least one more week before I fully buy back in.
And if I was set at running back I wouldn't hesitate to try trading Gaskins to an RB-needy team.
Myles Gaskin is a starting Fantasy running back moving forward— Heath Cummings (@heathcummingssr) October 10, 2021
Kadarius Toney is the best Fantasy player on the Giants rest of season
The Case: On Sunday, Toney became just the sixth rookie receiver ever to catch at least 10 passes for 180-plus yards in a game. The other guys? Jerry Butler, Gary Clark, Jerry Rice, Anquan Boldin, and Odell Beckham. He finished with 10 grabs for 189.
Toney displayed the shiftiness, speed, and athleticism that made him the Giants' first-round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. Assuming he doesn't get suspended for the punch he threw, he's a must-start wide receiver in Week 5 and the most valuable Fantasy asset on the Giants team.
The Verdict: Don't believe it.
We still expect Saquon Barkley to return. In fact, he may not even need to go on short-term IR. Even if you told me Barkley was going to miss the next three games, I'd still prefer him to Toney rest of season. The more interesting question is how to value the Giants wide receivers.
Toney only had five targets the first three weeks of the season and this breakout came without Sterling Shepard, Darius Slayton, or Kenny Golladay on the field. In fact, a lot of it came without Daniel Jones. While I would prefer Toney on my roster to any other Giants receiver simply because of the upside, we're a long way from expecting even the nine targets he saw in Week 4 on a weekly basis.
Toney is a must-add this week and could be the top priority on the waiver wire depending on what kind of injury news we get on Clyde Edwards-Helaire and the other injured running backs. There's just still a lot to unpack regarding his rest of season value.
Kadarius Toney is the best Fantasy option on the Giants, rest of season— Heath Cummings (@heathcummingssr) October 10, 2021
Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt are both top-12 RBs rest of season
The Case: Heading into Monday Night Football, Hunt and Chubb both rank inside the top-12 performance after their remarkable performance against the Chargers in Week 5. The duo combined for 259 total yards and three touchdowns in a loss to the Chargers. Hunt has actually been better than Chubb because he's scored one more touchdown and caught 12 more passes, but it doesn't really matter which Browns back is better. They're both top-12 running backs in any format.
The Verdict: Don't believe it.
If anything, Chubb and Hunt might both be sell-high candidates. That's partially because of how much more difficult their schedule gets after facing the Cardinals in Week 6. This team still hasn't faced a division opponent yet, which means they still have five games left against the Ravens, Steelers, and Bengals (their second matchup with the Bengals is Week 18). I don't know for sure how good the Bengals defense is, but I'm pretty sure it's better than the Chargers, Chiefs, and Texans.
And yes, the Browns run game is a bit matchup-proof, but this type of production in a true split is still not sustainable. I fully believe Hunt and Chubb will remain must-start running backs. I also believe they are sell-highs. Target someone like Jonathan Taylor, Joe Mixon, Antonio Gibson, or Darrell Henderson and get an upgrade somewhere else. I understand if you want to wait until after Week 6.
Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt are both top-12 Fantasy running backs— Heath Cummings (@heathcummingssr) October 10, 2021
So who should you start and sit this week? And which surprising quarterback could lead you to victory? Visit SportsLine now to get Week 6 rankings for every position, plus see which QB is going to come out of nowhere to crack the top 10, all from the model that has out-performed experts big-time.