NFL Week 5

The Hard Bargain: Gifted

“The Hard Bargain” is a year-round column by Dave Stewart offering parenting advice and weekly fantasy football advice for deeper (16+ team) leagues. Dave brings over a year of experience writing this column to NFL Week 5 and will be here to help provide lineup recommendations throughout the fantasy football season.

A Clearer Picture

NFL Week 4 was a very compelling watch. A single score decided nine games. We were treated to more amazing comebacks and mind-boggling coaching decisions.

Welcome to October! We are nearly at the quarter-pole of the NFL season, and the picture is getting a bit clearer. Or is it getting more confusing? Organizing your thoughts about the NFL or anything else in life comes with challenges. In the end, we are all trying to do what we think is best.

Personal Attention

I was confronted with a situation this past week that I really have mixed opinions about. The wrestling match that has been going on inside my head is one for the ages.

Frequent readers are aware that my daughters, “the Sneaky Girls,” are in their first year of in-person learning. I miss their constant presence around my house, but ultimately, I think attending a physical school has been for the best.  One of the most beneficial aspects of in-classroom learning is the personal attention that teachers can pay to the students. Online learning has so many challenges that are not even related to learning. My kids did kindergarten and first grade virtually, and we spent as much time during those two years teaching our young children to be technologically proficient as we did in addressing any of the curricula.

Off the Charts

I really like Maisy’s teacher. She sends weekly emails and sends items back and forth in a binder, keeping us apprised of the coursework. It has been a concerted effort of the second-grade teachers to evaluate students and arrange them into math and reading groups to better suit their needs.

Maisy is the only second grader in the school that goes to a third-grade classroom for her math group. She took a reading assessment and scored in the 99th percentile. The teacher explained that this is the highest score attainable. As a result, Maisy has been referred to the gifted program.

Unpleasant Memories

While this situation may seem entirely positive to some parents, I carry some baggage from personal experience. The first step in qualifying for the program is for her to undergo a series of cognitive tests with the school psychologist. When I went through this, I felt uncomfortable about being taken from the classroom while my classmates were learning. I felt a bit like a lab rat as I was observed solving puzzles and patterns. They did not ask me to ring a bell for cheese, but a snack would have been nice.

I did not ultimately qualify for the gifted program in the end, which may have contributed to the sour taste remaining in my mouth. I felt like it was not only an uncomfortable process but a complete waste of time. Though I took a few accelerated classes, I reached a point where I stopped trying so hard in school. Kids teased me and called me names for being smart. Being smart was not cool.

Deciding What Is Best

I fear this situation for my daughter. I keep telling myself that this is immature thinking and that pursuing this path would not automatically set her up for abuse. However, we are talking about kids here. They are immature. That is how they think.

Ultimately, this decision is not about me. It is not about how I felt then or even how I feel now. This comes down to me doing what is best for my child. Maisy is bright and enjoys learning. She likes challenges and puzzles, even when they are too difficult for her to solve. I remember the days when I completed my assignments much quicker than my peers and spent much of my time daydreaming and staring out the window waiting for them to catch up. I do not want my child to be left behind because I won’t allow her to excel.

Identifying the Gifted Players on Your Fantasy Football Team

Do not make that mistake with your fantasy team. You don’t want to hold back anyone on your roster from having success. By this stage of the game, we know who has lived up to expectations and who has not. Being the manager in your league that fails to assess a gifted player’s skills will result in losses.

Don’t be afraid to eschew the name recognition. Trust your evaluation process and give the opportunities to your productive players. Last week, I trusted Trevor Lawrence and DeVonta Smith, which was a mistake. I did, however, find Chase Edmonds and Robert Tonyan. Neither had many touches, but they both found the end zone. NFL Week 5 preparation begins now.

Zach Wilson (QB, New York Jets)

Zach Wilson made his season debut in Week 4 against the Pittsburgh Steelers. There were highs and lows, but overall it was pretty good for fantasy purposes. He totaled 252 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions. It may not sound like much, but it is a QB1 performance.

In NFL Week 5, the Jets welcome the Miami Dolphins to town. The Dolphins have surrendered the second-most fantasy points to quarterbacks this season. While it would be nice to have a little more data on Wilson, he was able to give multiple receptions to six different pass catchers in his first game. Look for him to spread the ball around again and push for QB1 numbers.

Mike Boone (RB, Denver Broncos)

By now, you have likely heard the news that Javonte Williams will miss the remainder of the season with a torn ACL, LCL and posterior lateral corner. Mike Boone and Melvin Gordon will now be expected to carry the load in the running game. Conventional wisdom suggests Gordon would be in line for the larger workload, but he has struggled with ball security. Gordon has fumbled five times in his last 44 carries.

After Williams left the game, Boone saw 65 percent of the running back snaps. Even with the Broncos trailing, Boone rushed three times for 20 yards. He also saw three passing targets. Boone will have a role against the Colts on Thursday in the opening game of the NFL Week 5 slate and should be the preferred target in the passing game.

Isaiah McKenzie (WR, Buffalo Bills)

Isaiah McKenzie caught his third touchdown of the season against the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday. He has five red zone targets this year. Only 13 wide receivers have more. Of McKenzie’s 21 targets in 2022, 15 have come in the last two games. McKenzie should see an increase in targets, as Jamison Crowder suffered a broken ankle.

The concern for McKenzie is that he left his Week 4 matchup with an apparent head injury. He is now in the concussion protocol. If he is unable to play, rookie Khalil Shakir would be the next man up.

Logan Thomas (TE Washington Commanders)

Logan Thomas has not been the model of consistency this season. Let’s face it; if you have a consistent tight end, you probably are not reading my deep-league start suggestions. However, while Thomas has not been consistent, the Titans’ inability to stop tight ends has been. The floodgates certainly opened on Sunday. The Colts’ tight ends caught 11 passes for 180 yards and two touchdowns against Tennessee.

I am not expecting Thomas to come anywhere near matching those numbers. However, the Commanders should exploit this weakness and potentially throw a touchdown to a tight end. I am predicting that player to be Thomas and not teammate John Bates, although both players each saw six targets and totaled an identical 19 receiving yards against Dallas.

Life is hard, but it gets a little easier when we learn to lean on each other. Find me on Twitter @DaveFantasy for more life and fantasy sports content for NFL Week 5 and beyond.