Week 5 was frustrating. There were so many little things that just went the other way to avoid cashing in my higher dollar tournaments. Kirk Cousins to Adam Thielen/Stefon Diggs was the right play, but Cousins only threw one touchdown. The Raiders decided to throw the ball on the one yard line with Marshawn Lynch available to fall across for the score. Derek Carr threw in INT. Marquez Valdez-Scantling, who I ended up on late after everyone was ruled out for Green Bay, had a second touchdown overturned. If any of the things above happen just a bit different, it would have been a tournament cashing weekend across the board. Instead, it was a losing one, with the lower tourney cashes not outweighing the higher dollar non-cashes. However, the process must be followed.
As a tourney player, I’ve either cashed or been within a few points of cashing in four out of five weeks. The goal is for a massive one week spike, so the grind goes on. This week I’m including a lot more analytical plays now that we have a decent amount of data on teams. Here are my plays this week. If you need a few cheaper alternatives, check out Mark Lee’s Week 6 sleeper and value picks.
Matt Ryan is going to cost you this week, but for good reason. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers pass defense has been very bad. They have allowed a 100+ quarterback rating to every quarterback they’ve faced this season, including Nick Foles. If we throw Foles out, they’ve allowed a 120+ QB rating to the to the other three QB’s, which were Ben Roethlisberger, Drew Brees, and Mitchell Trubisky. Those last three combined for just over an 80% completion percentage, 1,146 passing yards, 12 touchdowns, and just one interception. Once again, this pass defense is terrible. Ryan has had some big days already this season, but this one arguably sets up as his best matchup yet. If I can afford him, I’m playing Matt Ryan.
If you want to save some money, Jameis Winston is in a good spot on the other side of this matchup. He’s basically $1,000 less on each site, but I think he’s going to be much higher owned. It seems to me that Jameis ownership is going to continue to rise up until lock on Sunday. This Falcons defense is decimated. We’ve targeted them with running backs each and every week this season, but the Bucs don’t have a RB that we can trust this week, so I’m just going to look Jameis’ way to rack up the yards and scores. Ironically, the Falcons defense has given up 100+ passer rating to four of the 5 QB’s they have faced. Foles is the lone sub-100 passer. Each of the other four passers (Roethlisberger, Brees, Andy Dalton, and Cam Newton) threw for exactly three touchdowns. I prefer Ryan because he has a bit of a higher floor, but their ceilings are very similar.
SUNDAY MORNING UPDATE
As the week has gone turned to Sunday, my gut keeps telling me that Baker Mayfield is going to have his fantasy coming out party today. I wouldn’t play him in cash, but I am going to take a shot in tourney’s as a pivot from the guys above. At home against the Chargers, who haven’t played the best on defense and are also traveling across the country for an early kick, I think we see his first big fantasy games. something along the lines of 300+ yards and 3-4 touchdowns. I’ll be bold and say 340 yards and four total touchdowns for Mayfield.
Chris Carson is very cheap on both sites. I wish Mike Davis wasn’t in the picture, but we saw last week that even with Davis getting work, Carson still touched the ball 20 times. Each week, I spend an ample amount of time scouring the Sharp Football Stats website looking for interesting stats and opportunities to exploit from a fantasy perspective. Each week I’m developing more of a process and figuring out how to use it more effectively and efficiently. I encourage you to check out Warren Sharp’s site if you haven’t already. It’s football gold.
With that said, I’m really liking what I’m seeing this week for Carson. The Seahawks offensive line has come to life in recent weeks, in conjunction with getting D.J. Fluker back in Week 3. This allowed the line to shuffle around and the turnaround has been phenomenal. So back to Carson. The Seahawks face the Oakland Raiders this week. Teams have run the ball directly up the middle more against the Raiders than any other direction. On those runs, they’ve allowed 5.9 yards per carry.
In Week 3 and 5, Carson rushed the ball up the middle 14 times for 6.4 yards per carry with two carries over 10 yards. Last week, the Seahawks ran up the gut 14 times and both backs (Carson and Davis) averaged over 8 yards per carry. If there’s one thing we know about the Seahawks and Pete Carroll, it’s that he wants to run the ball. They should have success here, and with 20+ touches, Carson can pay off his cheap salary.
Click HERE to look at directional frequency stats on Sharp Football Stats.
Todd Gurley is in an absolute smash spot. You could say that every week, because he’s Todd Gurley and Todd McVay is his coach, but this week is setting up nicely. The Broncos are coming off of a game where they gave up 323 rushing yards and 8.5 yards per carry to the Jets, led by Isaiah Crowell and Bilal Powell. The week before that, Kareem Hunt rushed for 121 yards and a touchdown to go with a 3-54 receiving line.
Early in the season, the Broncos were fairly competent against the run, although much of that probably had to do with opponent and playing their first two games at home where teams must adjust to the altitude. In Weeks 1-3, the Broncos allowed just a 26% success rate on the 31 rushing attempts they faced against 11 personnel, which the Rams line up in 95% of the time. In Weeks 4 and 5, the Broncos allowed a whopping 63% success rate and 8.0 yards per carry. This is not a get right spot for the Broncos. The Rams average 4.9 yards per carry and a 58% success rate out of their go-to 11 formation. Gurley will cost you, but he’s worth every dollar.
If you can’t afford Gurley (and it’s going to be hard), then Christian McCaffrey is a nice consolation prize. The matchup against the Washington Redskins, who are on a short week, is juicy for the run game. The Redskins have allowed the following rushing success rates out of these two formations they’ve faced on 80% of opponent’s runs:
- 11: 63% success rate, 5.0 yards per carry, 2 touchdowns, 32 attempts
- 12: 56% success rate, 4.9 yards per carry, 16 attempt
Here are the Panthers rushing numbers out of each:
- 11: 51% success rate, 5.3 yards per carry, 35 attempts
- 21: 56% success rate, 5.2 yards per carry, 16 attempts
(Note: These numbers do not include Washington’s Week 5 stats yet)
The only knock on CMC to this point are his touchdowns. He found the end zone for the first time this season last week. He’s currently seventh among running backs (0.5 ppr) in fantasy points per game. Here are the touchdown totals of the six guys ahead of him, from 6th to 1st: 3, 5, 5, 6, 6, 9. The only thing missing for McCaffrey are the TD’s and I think there is some regression coming his way.
Joe Mixon is in play just because he’s going to touch the ball 25+ times and is priced lower than the other bell cow backs. Sure, there is a scenario where he could end up with a line of 22-87-0 with a few catches. That won’t win you a tourney, but that’s a solid floor.
Similar to Mixon, T.J. Yeldon is going to be on the field a lot! I don’t love the matchup against the Cowboys, because this just seems like a game where both teams plod around the field until the final horn rings and the Jags end up on top in a score of something like 17-7. With that said though, I see no way the Cowboys will sustain drives in this game, which should be plenty of opportunities for Yeldon.
Will this be the week Julio Jones finally remembers what it feels like to reach the end zone? If there was ever a spot, this would be it. I highlighted Ryan above, and I love pairing him with his star receiver. There’s not a lot to analyze here, but I’m predicting a long touchdown this week against the Bucs and don’t be surprised if he trolls the “Julio can’t score” crowd with a second touchdown from the red zone.
Again on the other side of this game, I like a wide receiver. That guy is Mike Evans. Before facing off against the stout Chicago Bears defense in Week 4, Evans had at least 83 yards and a touchdown in each of the first three games. Granted, that was with Ryan Fitzpatrick throwing him the ball, that doesn’t sway me. Evans and Winston have plenty of chemistry. Number one receivers have fared very well against the Falcons on the season:
Week 1 – Nelson Agholor – 13.5 DraftKings points
Week 2 – Devin Funchess – 14.7 DraftKings points (Four Panthers pass catchers scored 12+ DK points)
Week 3 – Michael Thomas – 25.9 DK points
Week 4 – A.J. Green – 17.8 DK points (Tyler Boyd – 24 DK points)
Week 5 – Antonio Brown – 31.1 DK points
Evans fits in best with the last three and should have a floor around 15 with a ceiling upwards of 30.
Chester Rogers is one of my sneaky plays of the week. This guy has been exceptional over the past two weeks as Andrew Luck’s top receiver. He has seen 11 targets in both games, catching 16-151-0. It’s looking like the Jets will be without both Buster Skrine and Trumaine Johnson this week, which will soften their secondary. Rogers should carry a low ownership with a high ceiling at his price.
Courtland Sutton has been one of my favorite young receivers to watch this year. He hasn’t posted a massive line yet, but I know it’s coming. He is a playmaker and the Broncos had him out there more than Demaryius Thomas in Week 5. I don’t know if that trend continues this week, but I do know that the Broncos will likely find themselves playing from behind and need to air it out. He is near the minimum on both sites, and that’s too low for a guy of his caliber. He’s the bottom of the barrel play at the position if you need it.
I also like Mohamed Sanu as a play from that Buccaneers/Falcons game. You can most definitely pair him with Julio, but you almost have to play him if you decide to fade Julio. There will be a lot of receiving yards to go around, and Sanu would be second in line to soak those up.
SUNDAY MORNING UPDATE
Because I like Baker, I also really like Jarvis Landry. He’s been solid with Baker, but hasn’t had his first big game yet. I think targets funnel to Landry because the Chargers and Derwin James are very solid against tight ends.
I’m going to say 100+ yards and two touchdowns for Landry.
Maurice Harris is min priced on both sites. Washington has no pass catchers. Jamison Crowder and Chris Thompson have been ruled out. Josh Doctson missed last week and is questionable. Paul Richardson is questionable. Harris is going to be in a position to be able to see opportunity at a very cheap price. Now, it’s hard to trust Alex Smith to be able to get the ball to him, but Carolina should be leading this game, so Washington is going to have to pass the ball. Give Harris a look if you need to save salary somewhere.
Cameron Brate is min-price on FanDuel and only $3,700 on DK. If O.J. Howard is out, Brate is an easy lock for me. Winston has shown a tendency to target him in the red zone in the past, and if Howard sits, it will lock in those tight end looks for Brate. In 2018, Winston had a 87.5 passer rating when targeting a wide receiver, but that jumped to 118.3 when targeting tight ends. I haven’t done a deep dive, and that is likely the norm across the league, but his 9.3 yards per attempt to tight ends was second in the league last year among all quarterbacks, and that rating was fourth best. Keep an eye on this, as Howard has got some practice time in.
SUNDAY MORNING UPDATE
O.J. Howard will play today, so I’m going to pivot off of Brate. The guy I’m looking at is C.J. Uzomah. The Steelers have been torched by tight ends each and every week. Uzomah is a bit scary, but with Joe Haden likely covering A.J. Green a lot of the day and Mike Hilton back to cover Tyler Boyd, that is going to leave Mixon and Uzomah to soak up a lot of underneath targets. I think he’ll have a really solid day with 4-6 catches and 60-70 yards, so if he finds the end zone, it will be a cherry on top.
Who would have thought that Niles Paul would resurface in fantasy? Paul saw nine targets last week in a game where the Jags were trying to come from behind, and he caught seven of those for 65 yards. It’s not a sexy play, but it’s another cheap tight end that you can use. I like Paul more on DraftKings, where he’s over $1,000 cheaper than Brate. He’s a couple hundred more than Brate on FD.
Defense is one of the last positions for me to decide on this week. I’m kind of just going where my leftover salary dictates.
If money wasn’t a thing, I’d probably roster the Chicago Bears. The Bears have been the number one fantasy defense, scoring a solid 14.5 FanDuel points per game. They take on the Dolphins, who have allowed opposing defenses to score the third most points against them. And that includes one game where the Raiders had 0 against them. The Dolphins have allowed 11 sacks, five interceptions, four lost fumbles, and three defensive touchdowns. The Bears have registered 18 sacks, eight interceptions, three fumble recoveries, and two defensive touchdowns. The Bears aren’t the most expensive team on either site, in fact, they’re fourth on DK and fifth on FD. If you can afford them, play them.
You may think I’m crazy, but I’m giving the Cincinnati Bengals a look this week. At home, in a divisional matchup against the Steelers, I think they can have some success. We’ve seen Big Ben throw four interceptions in one game this season and we know he’s different on the road, especially in the early afternoon game. Things still don’t seem to be clicking between him and Antonio Brown, so I do think there is a possibility that the Bengals can turn in a good day at a really cheap price.
I’m also considering the Cleveland Browns. The Browns are also cheap and at home. They’ve been a solid unit for the most part, scoring the fifth most points per game on FD. They get pressure on the QB and turn the ball over. The matchup isn’t perfect against the Chargers, but they haven’t scored fewer than nine FanDuel points at home this season, and they held Drew Brees and the Saints to just 21 points in New Orleans.
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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