Week 5 of the NFL season has arrived and we're dealing with a handful of injured players who could swing the slate in a large way.
Let's dive into the biggest injuries this week, and determine who may step up for their respective teams.
Game status: Out
Right off the top, Pitts has been ruled out with a hamstring injury. While the Falcons don't have a ton of depth at tight end outside of Pitts, his removal from the lineup could shift some opportunity in a major way. The star tight end is off to a quiet start but has played the most snaps on passing plays (104) and is still sitting in a decent spot with a 22.2% target share on the season. There are some stark differences in the passing attack with and without Pitts on the field:
Short middle pass percentage with Pitts: 46%
Short middle pass percentage without Pitts: 23%
It's an interesting usage rate to look at because Pitts hasn't produced much but has the highest average depth of target (aDOT) figure on the roster at 14.5 when removing small sample sizes. That would indicate some player who works downfield more often will be in-line for a larger target share, but rookie receiver Drake London isn't too far off with an 11.0 aDOT. The team throws further downfield with Pitts off the field and has been more productive in yards per attempt and yards per dropback figures, though the sample sizes aren't exactly large.
No players outside of Pitts and London have played a large role in Atlanta's passing attack, and that's likely to continue this week. Sure, backup tight ends Parker Hesse, Feleipe Franks, and Anthony Firkser will play more snaps than usual, but none are likely to produce a startable performance in fantasy football leagues. This feels like a London or nothing type of situation.
Game status: Both Questionable
Injury: Quad, Groin
As of today, there probably shouldn't be a ton of concern surrounding Hill and Waddle as both players are likely to suit up in this game. Waddle was able to practice in a limited fashion the past two days, while Hill popped up on the injury report as limited over the past two days as well. Both are likely to play.
One area to note is quarterback Tua Tagovailoa has already been ruled out of this contest. The team will start Teddy Bridgewater for the first time this season. Going back to last week, the team didn't perform tremendously differently with Bridgewater in there on short notice:
Of course, it should be expected that the team will have some dropoff with Tagovailoa ruled out. Bridgewater has proven he is one of the more productive and safe backup options, but the team was worse with him on the field, though it should be noted he was tossed in on short notice and obviously didn't have a week to prepare as the starter.
In terms of the potential receiver issues by way of health, Cedrick Wilson and Trent Sherfield are two players to highlight. Both could see expanded roles in this game. Wilson hasn't played much this season as he's struggled with injuries himself. The veteran has played just 40 snaps on passing plays, while Sherfield has been in on 78 of those plays. Sherfield has been used as an intermediate threat who can convert first downs, while Wilson is used a bit closer to the line of scrimmage and has great yards-after-the-catch (YAC) ability.
Game status: Out
Burks was placed on IR earlier, meaning he'll miss at least the next four contests. The rookie hasn't played a crucial role in Tennessee's passing attack, though his 16 targets and 129 receiving yards both rank second on the roster. Since Burks has already been ruled out, we know the Titans will need to make adjustments for this contest. The positive is veteran Robert Woods is coming off a contest in which he reeled in four receptions on four targets for 30 receiving yards and a touchdown. Not a ton is expected to change for the Titans moving forward without Burks — both Woods and Nick Westbrook-Ikhine are expected to continue operating in two-receiver sets, and rookie Kyle Philips — who is now healthy — will occupy the No. 3 receiver spot in the slot.
While it may appear there should be ample work available for all three receivers, particularly since the team is lacking a true threat at tight end, the Titans rank just 23rd in 11-personnel usage. The team runs out 12 personnel and 13 personnel far more often, though that doesn't come as a surprise. The Titans are a team that like to get under center and run the football, with their passing game evolving off their ability to remain under center and utilize play action.
Unfortunately, Westbrook-Ikhine and Philips aren't likely to be major fantasy factors, though Philips likely has the better chance to produce points in a full-point PPR format. The rookie showed his ability in Week 1 when he reeled in a team-high 27.3% target share and 10.6 fantasy points.
Game status: Questionable
There doesn't appear to be a ton of concern that Walker misses this game, though he may be limited even if he does suit up. The rookie has his role as the RB2, though his status is important to note for starter Rashaad Penny. During the first two weeks, Penny played 38 and 20 snaps, though he reached peaks of 49 and 45 snaps over the past two games. In addition, Penny was able to secure back-to-back season-highs in rushing attempts with 17 and 22 in the past two weeks. It's clear that Penny has RB1 upside while Travis Homer remains on IR, and that is especially true if Walker isn't able to go.
Either way, the Seahawks are likely to split work with Penny and whoever is next up. If Walker is healthy enough to play, it'll likely continue to be him, though if he can't suit up, DeeJay Dallas is very likely to see an expanded role this week. With that being the case, Penny is in a strong spot once again, but he could have a higher floor by way of more volume if Walker is unable to suit up.
Game status: Questionable
Just like last week, St. Brown is in a position where he could miss this game. While we still await his actual status, we do know D.J. Chark and Quintez Cephus have already been ruled out. In addition to St. Brown, Josh Reynolds is also questionable, though he's likely to suit up. Looking at last week, the Lions elected to give Reynolds WR1 snaps (62), with Tom Kennedy (60) trailing and Kalif Raymond (38) slotting in as the distant third once Cephus was ruled out with an injury.
If St. Brown is once again ruled out, we can expect a similar type of structure and workload in the receiver room. Reynolds would once again be in-line to match his 83% snap share and 20.5% target share. The one player to highlight is tight end T.J. Hockenson. While Hock isn't likely to match his absurd eight-catch, 179-yard, and two-touchdown game, he is in a great spot to be featured once again. No player on the roster has seen a bigger boost in production without St. Brown on the field than Hockenson. With St. Brown on the field, Hock has just nine receptions for 64 yards and one touchdown. Without St. Brown on the field, Hock has totaled nine receptions for 197 yards and two touchdowns. There is a clear opportunity for another top-five finish at the position for him if St. Brown can't go in Week 5.
Game status: Out
Injury: Ankle, Shoulder
It doesn't take a genius to know that Jamaal Williams is a legitimate RB1 without Swift on the field. Luckily for managers who have Williams, he'll get another shot to prove it this week since Swift has already been ruled out for Week 5. There has been a clear distinction in Williams' volume with and without Swift, too:
It is just a one-game sample, but Williams experienced an uptick in usage and opportunity across the board without Swift. He is a must start in every week without Swift and has legitimate RB1 potential with an RB2 floor. On top of that, the Lions have been one of the most productive offenses in the NFL. As long as they continue to put up points, Williams will continue to produce major numbers. Start him.