We’ve hit the quarter pole of the season, and that doesn’t seem possible. Last week was chalk city so cash lineups likely did well, while risky tourney lineups might have had a tough time cashing. Week 5 is very interesting in that I feel like my core is pretty small. The problem is, everyone I like is expensive so I can’t play all of them. Therefore, I think it’s going to come down to hitting on the cheaper plays, which is a bit tougher this week than it has been the last three weeks, simply because pricing is getting adjusted on guys that have become somewhat consistent. In other words, prices are on the rise for the good cheap plays through the first four weeks, leaving us with cheaper guys who are not very safe. Mark Lee covered the best value players earlier today. I’ll try to help you try to navigate the rest of the landscape for Week 5.
Matt Ryan and Ben Roethlisberger face off in a game that has the highest over/under of the season thus far. What’s not to like about both of them? Big Ben is at home, which historically bodes well for him. Both of these defenses are bottom 10 and are giving up points in bunches. You can start a lineup with them and feel good about the position. We’ve seen it each week this year. You have to have a quarterback that goes big. You’re likely to get a high score from one or both of these guys. They’ll both be chalky, but you strongly want to consider going here.
Kirk Cousins is my favorite QB play of the week. I pegged him as my guy before I read one thing or listened to one DFS podcast this week. I really didn’t want to hear his name mentioned, because I think he’s in an excellent spot, at a reduced price from the chalk, and is the perfect pivot from the two guys above. As I’ve started to read around the industry, it looks like he is getting some love from some very smart people. However, I still don’t think he’s where the masses are going to go on Sunday.
They’re going to be scared to miss out on Ryan and Big Ben and that massive total, and I’m going to save the money to use at other positions. The Eagles corners have been really bad, and the targets on this team are going to two guys, who we’ll talk about below. That makes this easy to pinpoint the large majority of beneficiaries here. Taking a look at their opponent, the Philadelphia Eagles, the Vikings should be forced to attack through the air. The Eagles run defense is STOUT. They’ve only allowed 160 yards and one rushing touchdown through four weeks, while only giving up 2.67 yards per attempt. That’s impressive. Cousins has thrown the ball 48 or more times in each of the last three games, while throwing for over 400 yards in two of those contests.
Why wouldn’t they do that again here? Here are the pass attempts against the Eagles each week: 43 (Ryan), only 33 (Fitzpatrick, but threw for 402 yards), 41 (Luck), 43 (Mariota). Again, everything points to Cousins throwing it early and often and having a big day.
SATURDAY UPDATE: As we get closer to lock on Sunday, Marshawn Lynch has really jumped out at me. I spend a lot of time on sharpfootballstats.com, looking at personnel groupings, etc. The Chargers have given up the highest success rate (64%) of any team against the run in 11 personnel. The Raiders on the other hand currently have a 55% rushing success rate in 11, averaging 5.4 yards per carry. I’m not sure we can trust Jon Gruden to be aware of this and try to exploit it, but even so, 52% of their run plays come out of 11, so there should be a good chance of success.
I’m also starting to come around on Christian McCaffrey. McCaffrey could realistically end up with more rushing and/or receiving yards that Gordon, and comes at a bit of a discount, which is a premium this week. He’s also bound to score a touchdown. I think this might be the spot he finally hits paydirt.
Melvin Gordon is again on my very short list for my favorite at the position. He’s in a great spot against the Raiders. If you throw out the game against the Dolphins, because, well, the Dolphins have absolutely zero running game, the Raiders have given up 463 yards in the other three games at a clip of 6.34 yards per carry. It’s hard to see a path where Gordon doesn’t touch the ball 22-25 times and finish with a fine fantasy day.
Todd Gurley is really expensive, but if a way presents itself for you to play him, you just do it. They guy has been incredible, going back to last season. Sure, the Rams have plenty of weapons that could score, but Gurley is the still the GUY to get the important touches and red zone opportunities. Over his last eight games, dating back to last season, he’s only failed to reach 20 FanDuel points once, and has topped 30 once, and 40 twice.
The reason I may not make it up to Gurley is because I LOVE James Conner. Conner hasn’t done much the last couple weeks, but this is the prime bounce back spot. Literally every week, the first thing I do at running back is see who the Falcons are playing. Then I ask myself, “is the opposing running back a pass catching back?” When the answer is yes, you plug them in. Conner should see plenty of targets in the contest and I think he’ll be one of the lower owned pieces of these two offenses. If people are paying up for the wide receivers for both teams, they’re not going to have a lot left over to spend on Conner. I think that’s a mistake. He’s fairly priced and in a smash spot. Don’t let me say I told you so Sunday night when he ends up with 10+ catches for 80 yards and 15-ish carries for 65-70 and a couple touchdowns.
Christian McCaffrey had last week off, so he should be well rested. Before the bye week, we saw him gash the Bengals on the ground for his first big career rushing day. I think we’re going to continue see the Panthers use him to exploit whatever their opponent’s weakness is. But regardless, he’s going to be heavily involved. Every week. He’s not as cheap as I’d like, but you’re getting a strong floor and ceiling, especially on DraftKings.
I really want to like TJ Yeldon, but I still have a bad taste in my mouth from the past. Last year I rostered him in an excellent spot and he flopped. I vowed to not fall for it again. The problem is, he’s looked pretty good filling in for Fournette this year. He’s the kind of guy who could rush the ball 18-20 times and catch 5-7 balls. At his deflated price, he makes for an excellent salary saver with a solid ceiling. The matchup with the Chiefs makes this all the more intriguing. I do worry that Corey Grant starts eating into his touches though.
Matt Breida is a guy I’ve recommended a lot, and his stock continues to rise. He is slowly seeing more snaps and I think that will continue to tip further in his favor over Alfred Morris. This week he’s in a great spot against the Cardinals, who have given up 520 rushing yards and seven rushing touchdowns to running backs through four weeks. Breida is a big play waiting to happen. If he hits for the big touchdown play, you’re playing with house money the rest of the way.
Just as with quarterbacks, the most obvious plays this week are Julio Jones and Antonio Brown. Look, both of these guys are in an about a good of a spot as you could ask for. I can’t make a case against either of them. But, decisions will have to be made this week. Do you want to pay up at running back and forego guys like Brown and Jones, or do you want to roster both of them and not have as much to spend at RB. I don’t think I have the answer to that question yet, but I’m leaning to the former. I’ll hopefully have that nailed down more into Saturday and Sunday morning. Juju Smith-Schuster is also a great option, and will allow you to save a bit of money. He still has a very high floor and ceiling.
What I would really like to do is roster both Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs. As I mentioned above, pairing these two with Cousins gives you a very large piece of the Vikings offense. This is a game where the Vikings will likely line up and throw the ball, instead of run their non-existent running game into the wall that is the Eagles rush defense. Dalvin Cook doesn’t look healthy, and Latavius Murray is still Latavius Murray. This game just screams funnel spot to the pass catchers and there may not be a better team to be able to stack the top pass catching options. The only issue is that they are both priced up, so they command a decent portion of salary.
Was Corey Davis awesome last week or what? He had a massive day, soaking up huge usage, and turning that into a 9-161-1 line. Underlying stats have pointed to him having a break out, and man did he do that. His price is still really cheap, especially on FanDuel, so I am going to give him a very long look.
Marvin Jones has owned the Packers recently. Being a diehard Lions fan, I don’t miss a down of their games. I wasn’t big on Jones coming into the season because of Golden Tate and the expected emergence of Kenny Golladay. However, Jones is soaking up a ton of red zone targets. I overlooked the absence of Eric Ebron and that the Lions didn’t replace him with a tight end that they want to throw the ball to. Jones is a big threat to score in this game and he should have minuscule ownership.
Tyler Boyd was the shiny toy last week and delivered a 11-100-0 line on 15 targets. I think he’s going a bit overlooked this week, but has a decent matchup against the Dolphins. The Dolphins numbers against wide receivers look a little better than they should after only giving up seven catches for 79 yards in Week 1 to the Titans. Since then, they’ve been gashed for 33.2, 41.5, and 39.7 fantasy points to opposing wide receivers (according to ESPN half ppr scoring). There is a path to another big game for Boyd.
Tight end is very narrow for me this week and the guy I like the most is Vance McDonald. He’s super cheap on both sites and he’s an off the board option to get exposure to the passing game in this huge total. I honestly feel like this is a week where I just plug him in and have one less position to worry about.
If you don’t want to go with McDonald, you might consider paying up for Zach Ertz. Ertz has been a target and catch monster. He has 31 catches on 47 targets through four weeks, but has yet to score a touchdown. That is going to change very soon, and there’s no reason it’s not this week.
If you’re playing on FanDuel, just plug in the Tennessee Titans and move on. DraftKings did a good job, pricing them up as the most expensive defense, because of their matchup with the Buffalo Bills. FanDuel however, has them priced as the 14th most expensive defense. You can still play them on DraftKings, they’re just not as much of an autoplay. Every year, it seems like there is one offense that you can play defenses against just about every week, and this year it’s the Bills.
There’s not a lot to love outside of the Titans, but you could make a case for the Carolina Panthers. I like teams at home and they should be able to turn over Eli Manning a time or two, while getting some pressure up front.
UPDATE: I’m starting to really like the New York Jets at defense. They give you quite a bit of savings, and at home against Case Keenum, they seem to be in a pretty good spot.
That’s it for this week. As I mentioned before, I will be adjusting the format as we go, so if you have any input about what you like or don’t like, feel free to let me know on twitter @mrclutchdfs. Best of luck this weekend!
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