Each week I plan to give you what I feel are the best FanDuel plays at each position, as well as the plays that I am staying away from. My DFS methodology is a little different than the typical player. I don’t make separate cash and tournament lineups. I simply make the best possible lineup that I can, period. I feel like it distracts me too much to make different lineups for different contest types. I end up splitting up plays I really like for the sake of qualifying a guy as cash or tourney. Therefore, I put together the best lineup I can with the best plays, and that’s what you will see reflected in this article. With that said, I primarily enter GPP’s, with anywhere from one to four lineups each week with a mix of my core plays.
Something happened in Week 4 that I want to address before getting into this week’s plays. I wrote up Matthew Stafford last week and really liked him early in the week. As the week went on I continued to tinker with roster construction to find the best possible lineup I could make. Almost every lineup I made had Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell in it with Stafford as QB. It didn’t take long for me to realize that I could increase my upside and maintain a relatively similar floor by switching my QB play to Ben Roethlisberger at only a $100 price difference. It just made so much more sense to fill out the stack. I will always let you know via twitter when I make a change like this, as I did on Saturday or Sunday before lock. So make sure you follow me so you can get my last-minute play updates here: Follow @mrclutchdfs
If you’re looking for DraftKings plays, check out Neil’s GridIron Gang article which posts every Thursday.
Week 5 NFL FanDuel Plays
Tom Brady ($8,700) plays like a man possessed when he’s pissed off. Some people believe that narrative, some people make fun of it. Me! I believe it so much as to consider it fact. I will not be surprised to see a 300+ yard, 5 touchdown game from Brady this week. Does it worry me that he hasn’t been allowed to step foot on the Patriots facilities at all until this week? Absolutely it does. But it’s Tom Brady, it’s Bill Belichick, and it’s the New England Patriots. It’s not like he won’t be up to speed on the game plan. Sure, he could come out rusty and disappoint. I just know I’m not going to bet against him in a situation like this. At the end of the day, on top of all the narratives, he is playing against the Cleveland Browns. I don’t really need to say more than that about the matchup.
As we come down from Brady, Derek Carr ($8,100) is the guy I’m very interested in. The matchup is there, they are a pass first offense, and the Raiders are favored in the highest over/under game of the weekend. The Chargers are giving up the 5th most pass yards per game. They’ve passed the ball 153 times in 4 games, which is 7th most. They’ve run the ball 95 times which is tied for 22nd. They rushed a season low 19 times last week. On another positive note: Carr has a 9:1 TD-to-INT ratio through four games. He’s taking care of the football.
If we look back up the salary chart from Carr, we find Ben Roethlisberger ($8,600). This play might be the perfect pivot from Brady if it appears that Brady is going to be highly owned. This Steelers’ offense is so dangerous and can put up huge numbers any given week. The Jets haven’t allowed less than 23 points in a single game, and I don’t think it’s going to happen in Week 5. I think his floor is two touchdowns and we saw his ceiling just this past week.
As the week goes on, Eli Manning ($7,700) is becoming my favorite quarterback for Week 5. It hasn’t been the yardage that has been the problem for Manning; it’s the touchdowns, as he only has 4 on the year so far. He has thrown for over 350 yards twice already and he is a strong candidate to approach that level again against Green Bay. The Packers are stout against the run, but their secondary is horrible. Sam Shields remains out and I think Manning will have his way through the air. His ownership percentage is going to be very low and this is a great spot to take advantage of that. I also love a Giants stack.
Lastly, I want to mention Brian Hoyer ($6,000) again this week. I mean come on, the guy has thrown for 300+ yards and 2 touchdowns in each of his last two games, yet he’s priced the same as Shaun Hill, Brandon Weeden, Matt Schaub, and Ryan Mallett. Huh? Plain and simple, he is mispriced. This is a situation that we need to exploit. I will have a lineup with Hoyer at QB this week. It just allows you to get so many strong plays throughout the rest of the lineup.
Remember last week when I said that I wish I could roster Le’Veon Bell ($8,600) in both roster spots? Yeah, well that still stands. He looked great in his first game back and there won’t be many, if any, weeks that Bell won’t be a good play. There’s not a lot of research that needs to be done to tell you Bell is the number one running back on the board. As a side note, Bell is underpriced on Draftkings, so roster him there 100% across the board!
Demarco Murray ($8,400) has seen his price rise to a level that I’m almost uncomfortable playing him. However, he’s been the only bright spot in the Titans offense. He has been the Titans offense. The Dolphins have given up the 4th most rush yards per game so far. Murray should see 20 carries and a handful of targets in the passing game, which puts him in play. It makes me nervous to click the green plus next to his name, but that’s the reason that he could be an excellent play this week. No one else is likely to roster him when they can get Bell for $200 more.
Ezekiel Elliott ($7,900) has looked better and better each week. This matchup does scare me a bit. The Bengals have been pretty stout against the run the past two weeks. But Elliott is an elite talent and he is running behind an offensive line that those before him didn’t have the luxury of. I’ll be honest, I made a few early week lineups and I kept ending up with Bell and Elliott together. I’m not sure if it will end up that way on Sunday, but I liked the look of it.
As we continue down the list, I think Jerrick McKinnon ($6,200) is as low as I’m willing to go unless some new information becomes available. McKinnon didn’t see his price rise after a 18-85-1 effort on Monday Night Football. The Vikings offense has the luxury of an amazing defense behind them and that helps McKinnon stay relevant, because they’re very unlikely to find themselves down by multiple scores. McKinnon is also involved in the pass game, where he saw 5 targets in Week 4. The Texans are the 6th worst in terms of rush yards against per game and recently lost the best defensive player in the league, J.J. Watt. McKinnon is an excellent RB2 option on FanDuel and is almost a must play on Draftkings.
I don’t want to keep beating a dead horse, so I’ll just say this: If you can afford him, put Antonio Brown ($9,600) in your lineups. If you can’t afford him… Find a way to afford him.
Odell Beckham Jr. ($8,500) may be a diva/baby/egomaniac/whatever else you want to call him, but he’s still a dang good football player. He’s going to have some blow up games soon, and that may start this weekend. Despite having his lowest price since Week 15 of 2014, people aren’t going to want to play him. I’m seeing a lot of people let their personal opinion on OBJ cloud their judgement on rostering him. He has as much upside as anyone. Trust me, he’s going to have some insane game soon with a line like 120+ yards and 3 touchdowns. I don’t want to miss out on that, especially at this discounted price. Therefore, OBJ will probably be a centerpiece of my lineup.
One guy that will probably be skipped over this week is Jordy Nelson ($7,900). Nelson had a bye week, so his two touchdown performance isn’t still fresh on everyone’s minds. He makes a great WR2 or even WR1 if you want to pay up at both RB spots. He has the same upside as the guys above him and I’m afraid we’ll soon see his price scoot a little closer to Brown and OBJ. Now is the time to take advantage of the discount.
I already told you how much I like Carr, but Amari Cooper ($7,200) is one of my favorite plays on the entire slate. I really wish I could play the four wide receivers I’ve mentioned above, but we only have three slots on FanDuel. I might try to do it on Draftkings. Anyways, Cooper has been unlucky and posted some pretty menial lines this year. This is the absolute perfect spot to roster Cooper. From projections I’ve seen so far, it looks like Cooper will come in around 4-5% owned. That’s way too low in this matchup. On top of that, last years top rated corner in the league, Jason Verrett, was just ruled out for the season with a knee injury. The Carr to Cooper stack is my favorite of the week. I think more people will actually be rostering Michael Crabtree ($6,900) after his three touchdown game in Week 4. I don’t think it’s a bad play and you could stack both receivers with Carr, but given price and ownership percentages, and just overall ability, I am higher on Cooper.
I lied about wanting to roster four receivers. I actually want to roster five. Julian Edelman ($7,000) is going to go bonkers this weekend. I feel very confident that Brady is going to look at Edelman early and often and the bromance is going to be rekindled like the fire never went out. His price is depressed because he’s had Jacoby Brissett throwing him the ball the past two weeks. I’ve already told you why I like Brady so much, so it should be obvious why I love Edelman. Geez, I think this is going to be a really high scoring week.
There are just too many receivers to love this week. I wasn’t on Brandon Marshall ($7,600) when I started this article, but as the week goes on, I’m falling more and more in love with him. With Eric Decker out, Marshall is likely to get the lions share of targets (along with the next guy below). It actually wouldn’t surprise me to see him end up with 15 targets. The Jets offense looked bad the past two weeks, but in their defense, they were in Arrowhead one week and played an angry Seattle team last week. This is the perfect bounce back spot. I think Marshall will be low owned and he’s the perfect WR2 in a Steelers stack.
I don’t know if I’ll have a receiver under $7,000 this week as much as I love the guys above, but if I need to, I’ll probably look to Quincy Enunwa ($6,200). He has 32 targets and 23 catches through four weeks. He had 10 catches combined in his last two games, but that was in two very tough matchups where Ryan Fitzpatrick threw for 9 total interceptions. This week, things get a lot easier. The Steelers have given up the 3rd most yards per game through the air. Enunwa has faced three top 12 pass defenses in his first four games. With Decker out, I expect him to continue to get plenty of opportunities. I expect the Steelers to score plenty in this game, so there should be plenty of passing happening for the Jets.
As my love for Manning has increased throughout the week, so has my outlook on Victor Cruz (5,600). I won’t be rostering Cruz by himself, but I will give him a long hard look in my Giants stack.
If you’ve read this article the last few weeks, you know that I typically like to save money at tight end, although I did recommend Jordan Reed last week. Therefore, I’m skipping the higher priced guys (more on this later). There are three guys within $200 that I’ll be focusing on this week.
The first is Zach Ertz ($5,600). Ertz should be a forgotten man this week after sitting out a couple of weeks and then being on bye last week. He was busy in Week 1 and showed good chemistry with Carson Wentz, with 6 catches on 7 targets. The Lions have already given up 6 touchdowns to opposing tight ends through four weeks, the most in the league.
The next guy is Zach Miller ($5,400). Hoyer has shown good chemistry with two guys since he took over for Jay Cutler — Kevin White and Miller. Well, Kevin White ended up on IR this week, so I expect Hoyer to look Miller’s way plenty.
Hunter Henry (5,400) is the last guy I’m looking at in this range. He’s been my main tight end play the last two weeks and finally finds his price above the minimum. The Raiders have been the team to target tight ends against for two years now. They’re not as bad anymore against the position as public perception would lead you to believe, but this is still a good spot for Henry. The rookie has seen plenty of targets the past two weeks with Antonio Gates out and if Gates is out again this week, he’ll continue to be used. Just another player in the highest over/under game that you can target.
Personally, I think there’s only one defense I’m considering this weekend and that is the Minnesota Vikings ($4,800). The Vikings may be the best defensive team in the league this year. Real life defensive success doesn’t always equal fantasy success, but with the Vikings it has. They are tough, and I don’t see them having any problems handing the Houston Texans’ offense. Their last three opponents were no cake walk. The Packers, Panthers, and Giants have three of the better QB’s and offenses in the NFL, and the Vikings made it look easy shutting them down. Over those three games, the Vikings only gave up 34 total points, while racking up 13 sacks, 5 interceptions, 3 fumble recoveries, and a defensive touchdown. They are the best play this weekend and maybe every weekend going forward. The fact that they’re the third highest priced defense this week makes them a must play in my opinion.
If you don’t like the Vikings for some crazy reason, I don’t hate the New England Patriots ($4,800). The Browns offense is anemic.
I’m looking cheap at kicker as usual. Two guys I’m considering are Adam Vinatieri ($4,700) and Josh Lambo ($4,600). Both guys are in two of the highest scoring games according to over/under. Combined they’re 16-for-17 with double-digit outings in 5 out of their 8 games. Lastly, neither guy has a game with less than 8 points. That provides us a solid floor with upside.
Week 2 Stay Aways
I’m going to start my “Stay Aways” in the same place I have before with Aaron Rodgers ($9,100). I wrote against him before the Lions game and he threw for four touchdowns in the first half and I wasn’t happy. The touchdowns seemed a bit fluky and the perfect set of circumstances allowed it to happen. It was the perfect storm of things going the right way for Rodgers. Don’t get me wrong, he did play well in that half and made some excellent throws, it’s just not often that it leads to four touchdowns in one half.
As the Lions started mounting a comeback, Rodgers and the Packers offense stalled as they have many times before over the past season or so. When it was all said and done, Rodgers ended the game with just 205 yards. Think about that with what I said above. He threw for four touchdowns in one half and finished the entire game, which was within one score, with barely over 200 yards. Things just went right in the first half. I’m rambling, but hopefully you get the point. He has now thrown for more than 218 yards just twice in his last 11 games, and the game against the Lions was his first game in that stretch with over 2 touchdowns. At this price, I’ll continue to fade him. He’s the highest priced quarterback on FanDuel, but he won’t be the highest scoring.
One guy that has been on the above section of my recommended plays the last two weeks is Melvin Gordon ($7,700). This week, I’m hopping off the Gordon train. He’s averaged over 18 Fanduel points per game in those last two games, but don’t let the numbers fool you. His touchdowns are propping him up substantially. Gordon rushed for 71 yards on 35 carries over his last two games COMBINED. His three touchdowns in those two games have helped immensely, but I don’t think he’ll keep that touchdown pace up. His usage in the passing game keeps him relevant, but I think now is the perfect time to jump off. He’s taken me as far as I trust him to take me. If he was still in the $6,500 range, I’d consider him, but I’m not interested at over $7,500.
I won’t be on T.Y. Hilton ($7,700) despite all the love he is getting. He’s a target monster. He’s one of two guys (the other is Jarvis Landry) to see double-digit targets in every game so far. Despite all the targets, he’s not a guy that always turns those into fantasy dominance. Out of the four games he’s played, he’s been under 42 yards twice. He’s the kind of guy that can catch 7 of 13 targets for 65 yards and not find the end zone. There are plenty of WR’s with higher ceilings this week that offer the same floor or better, so you won’t find me on Hilton.
What to do with Rob Gronkowski ($7,200) this week? As I mentioned earlier, Brady could throw 5 touchdowns this week and Gronk is in play to catch one. He can line up, he can run a route, and he can catch the ball. That’s about all he will need to do this week with the game that Brady might have. However, I think Gronk is still a few weeks away from being 100% healthy. While I think he might have a good game in real life, I don’t know if it will be enough from a fantasy perspective to pay off his price tag. I think he sees something like 7-8 targets, ending up with somewhere around 5 catches for 60 yards and a touchdown. Again, not a bad real life game, but I think we have just as good of a chance to get that kind of production from a guy that is nearly $2,000 less.
Well, that’s it for this week. Be sure to follow me on twitter if you want to get any updates from me on which way I’m leaning on some of these plays once Sunday gets here. Click here to follow me: Follow @mrclutchdfs
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