NFL DFS Week 5 Picks
A month of the NFL season has now elapsed. More data has been attained and cataloged by robots. Injuries and the sort have been noted. It is time to commence the ATTACK ALL THE BAD TEAMS strategy that generally yields a high amount of profits for those ballsy enough to believe in the analytics. Sounds crazy, right? It’s around this time of the NFL year that we all shout and bicker amongst ourselves on whether or not current trends are simply small data sizes or actual reality. The smarts yell at the dumbs about game-log watching and/or not extrapolating for bye weeks when mumbling about season totals at the work cooler. Who will win the world’s most irrelevant argument among the DFS degenerates? Only time will tell, but you know what else time will tell? My taeks! READ THEM and find out whether I’m a smart or a dumb.
Last week was a bust for Watson as he just couldn’t quite hook up on some long bombs and was running for his life for most of the game. Tough break, but you can’t stop chasing a potential blow-up game just because you got skunked one week. Watson gets an ATL defense that’s been getting carved lately as teams figure out Dan Quinn’s antiquated Cover 3 defense (now 21st DVOA pass defense after a strong start). That strong start now appears to be more about how awful Kirk Cousins is and how important Keanu Neal was to the defense. They’ve now given up back to back season-high games to Jacoby Brissett/Marcus Mariota. Watson is on a different level than those QBs with a WR corps that has just been missing out on explosive plays. The Texans still skew more towards passing (64% last week) despite O’Brien’s best efforts to kick start a dead engine in Carlos Hyde while stashing his Porsche in the garage (poor Duke Johnson). Chances are Watson should roast an ATL pass coverage that’s progressively graded worse as the weeks have gone by (only two positively graded players) and puts up a top score. At least, that’s the hope. BoB is the worst.
While I do agree Wentz is a nice top QB play for the week, I have my doubts on his ability to post a top score if all of his weapons aren’t back (Jackson, specifically) as his WRs have just absolutely destroyed his potential with drops and gaffes. There’s also the chance that they go up big early and just chew the clock with their stable of RBs. That’s why I prefer good ol’ Brady against a woeful 29th DVOA Redskins pass coverage that just keeps yielding fantasy points to opposing QBs (7th most, T2nd most pass TDs given up). As is the norm with the Patriots, it’s difficult to find a stacking partner with Brady but it’s a good week for naked Brady. The Pats’ run game has been largely anemic while the Redskins’ run defense looks more like a funnel despite getting some big bodies back upfront (still 7th best-graded run defense). Brady generally picks apart awful defenses and stat pads his way to a top-five showing, so why should this week be any different?
On the other side of the potential shoot-out lies Matt Ryan, ready to unleash his popgun of an arm. The Falcons have had a dreadful season to date, but it hasn’t affected Ryan’s fantasy production as he’s now put in four straight 300+ yards games. He’s underpriced on the main slate in a spot where his biggest weapon in Julio Jones might have one of the best match-ups on the day. The Texans pass defense has only yielded the 13th most fantasy points to opposing QBs and rank 11th DVOA, but I’m not so sure I believe in the data. That’s right! It’s time to use BIASED FAKE STATS! The Texans may be slightly above average against QBs according to the aforementioned stats, but PFF grades their coverage as 6th worst while tied with 4 other teams for 2nd least interceptions. Those 4 teams? 14Th, 18th, 27th, and 32nd DVOA in pass defense. Small data? Bad trends? I’m not sure but what I do know is Ryan has had a consistent fantasy floor regardless of how quickly the Falcons fall behind. He’s completing 70% of his passes and is nearing Kyler Murray levels with his pass attempts. On a slate with not so lovely options for cheap QBs, Ryan looks to be the diamond in a sea of coals.
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Yes, yes. He’s a yucky option in a yummy match-up. He’s yet to crack 200 passing yards and just had a 22.4 QBR despite completing 76% of his passes last week. Still, he’s in a prime spot to beat his price across all sites if he can just muster a few touchdown passes. The Bucs have been absolutely dreadful against the pass and have operated as a true pass funnel (15th DVOA pass defense and 9th worst graded, 1st in both DVOA and graded run defense). They’re coming off a game where they allowed 500 yards to Jared Goff but did add four turnovers. Could the same happen to Bridgewater? Absolutely! The Saints are still allowing Bridgewater plenty of opportunities to show that he’s not a terrible QB with plenty of pass attempts and a concentrated effort to involve both his playmakers (MT and Kamara). The problem has been Bridgewater is just reluctant to let the ball fly in the air (3rd lowest YPA, behind Rosen and Trubisky). All he has to do is trust himself and let the NO system work in his favor against a defense that will give him every ample opportunity to do so (3rd most plays given up). At this point, I sound like I’m begging Teddy to let go of my beloved pets and set them free. That’s the nature of the DFS game. Volatility to 30 and add a 10 boost to put him over the bottom tier QBs in the projections.
It’s such a fantastic RB week that I’m forced to list more than the usual plays!
Bad run defense? Check.
No LBs that can run with CMC? Check.
Still running the most routes among RBs? Cheeeeeck.
McCaffrey continues to be the most elite fantasy RB we’ve seen in a long time and hasn’t been priced like one. He’ll get 20+ touches once more against a bottom 10 Jags run defense while keeping his remarkably high floor static with the most routes/targets among RBs. The Panthers know what butters their bread, and CMC is that expensive butter your mother gets at Whole Foods specifically for Sunday dinners. Don’t touch it!
You know who else is tied with CMC for most routes ran among RBs? DEEEEJAY! He’s also 2nd in targets! But what really pushes DJ over as a top play is his potential to be an actual #1 WR for the Cardinals due to injuries to both starting WRs Christian Kirk and Damiere Byrd. Johnson operated as the number two WR for Murray, collecting 8 catches for 99 yards in the loss. That should be around his ceiling against a Bengals defense that just doesn’t seem to be all there in the head. Samuels/Conner combined for a ridiculous 16/140/1 on the poor Bengals linebackers last week. Imagine what DJ could do to these nincompoops! Ignoring the savagery the Steelers inflicted upon them, the Bengals also give up the 5th most rushing yards and T2nd most rushing TDs while surrendering the most receiving yards/TDs. Basically, for David Johnson to goose egg in this spot would mean an injury or the fantasy gods simply hate us. Let’s hope that doesn’t happen and the low YPA of Murray increases tenfold in a gorgeous match-up. I’d rather bet on DJ having a big day than Murray though.
I’m not so high on Zeke this week as the projections may imply (4th best RB play) but the reasoning is sound. The Packers boast a potentially elite secondary led by shutdown CB Jaire Alexander, which has forced teams to pound the rock into submission in most games. The results of that? Not so great for the Packers run defense, as they rank 27th DVOA with the 4th worst grade. They’ll face the 6th highest graded run-blocking DAL OL that may not have vaunted LT Tyron Smith. I’m not sure what that may do for Zeke’s numbers, but the data points to a big Elliott game if Dallas decides to avoid a top-five secondary. Elliott’s been on a slow start with the 3rd lowest elusive rating and a deplorable 2,7 YPC. That could be contributed to his holdout and lack of camp/preseason reps, but those numbers can change very quickly in an offense that has still heavily involved Elliott despite his bad early returns. He’s still seeing a nearly full-time workload while being in on almost all of their play-actions/3rd downs. It’s a fine gamble to spend up for Elliott and the high-flying Cowboys motion offense.
With Melvin Gordon back, some people may be backing off rostering a heavy dose of Ekeler into their lineups. I have my very high doubts that Ekeler cedes enough work to Gordon that it renders him not fantasy relevant. He’s been out-producing Gordon in every imaginable metric that includes YPC, elusive rating, pass work and even YPR/R! Ekeler also has seen his pass work numbers climb, ranking 8th in RB routes run and owning the highest YPR/R among RBs. Denver just got shredded by Lord Fournette for 200+ rushing yards and lost stud DE Bradley Chubb for the season. Ekeler is priced right below the elite tier of RBs that are all fine plays on the slate, making him one of the best RB values due to his immense ceiling provided Gordon does not cut into his workload. If anything, Ekeler’s 33% RZ MS probably takes a big hit. That’s just a risk you’ll have to take for a shot at a discount priced RB1.
Speaking of the devil, Fournette looks to continue his wonderful spam season against the now 29th DVOA Panthers run defense that’s starting to become a run funnel. The Jaguars have employed a full-time bell-cow role with Fournette, feeding him more and more as the season goes on (19, 21, 23, and 31 last four games respectively). Thankfully for both his fantasy owner and the Jaguars, Fournette has actually done something with the insane amount of touches, racking up at least 80+ total yards of offense in every game. The biggest benefactor for Fournette’s fantasy ceiling has been the rise of the Mustached QB, Gardner Minshew. Minshew’s provided a stable guiding light at a position that’s been lacking for years, helping lower the number of loaded boxes for Fournette. That should continue to be the case against the Panthers’ depleted front that will be missing their best interior DL in Kawann Short (on I.R,). At his price point and volume, Fournette is right there with Ekeler as giant values for a true RB1 in a great match-up.
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I love D-Mont’s match-up this week and actually will use Kerryon Johnson’s case last week as a reason why. Despite Trubisky going down early in the game, the Bears didn’t deviate from their gameplan under Chase Daniel. They involved Montgomery at his highest rate all season (69% of the snaps) and fed him 24 touches for his troubles. Backup vulture Mike Davis received zero snaps (didn’t dress up, duh) while other backup vulture Tarik Cohen operated more of a receiver than a running back. He also saw more targets and ran more routes than Cohen at RB. Sure sounds like Kerryon when he finally got freed in Week 3 with 77% of the snaps. Chances are the Bears may decide to go run-heavy under Daniel again as they travel to London against the slow-paced Raiders. Once upon a time, the Raiders were 1st DVOA against the run. That has long since been a mirage, as they have plummeted to 9th with a 3rd worst graded run defense. Maybe it’s partly due to their atrocious pass defense and inability to move on offense. Whatever it may be, the volume and opportunity are there for Montgomery to smash his price at a great value. Give him an 8 boost so he’s right underneath Fournette as a top 10 RB value.
The Bengals’ offensive players are all likely to fall under this category due to how god-awful volatile their offense can be. The Bengals OL has been banged up all season and simply have not opened up holes for Mixon to gash through with the 10th worst run-blocking grade. That could change against a Cardinals run defense that may not be as bad as the numbers indicate (24th DVOA, 5th worst graded), but hemorrhaging the 5th most snaps and stalling on offense without taking up time has its consequences. The Cardinals defense just stays on the field for far too long and ends up losing energy as the game drags on. It might just be what the Bengals offense needs to wake up from its eternal slumber. It starts and ends with Mixon, as Dalton simply cannot orchestrate a John Ross/A.J. Green-less offense effectively enough before he coughs up the ball. They’ll need to involve Mixon at a higher rate if they want any shot at a win. Sadly, I don’t think they’re too committed to winning at the moment so I’ll crank up Mixon’s volatility to a 50 and downgrade him with a -10 boost. Hopefully, he gets involved in the passing game more.
Unfortunately, the WR plays are not as strong as the RB plays this week, especially in the value department. Do your best to find someone in the middle that you trust to get points. Perhaps the Bruise Bros?
As I said earlier, Jones possesses a great match-up against the Texans’ secondary, specifically against Jonathan Joseph’s coverage. Joseph has now surrendered the most catches in his coverage while letting up the 6th most yards. His fellow cornerback in Bradley Roby hasn’t fared any better with 177 yards allowed on 15 catches. Remember, they had to cut Aaron Colvin due to his bad play earlier in the season. While Julio isn’t running at his ridiculous league-leading YPR/R from last year, he’s still nabbed the 5th most targets on the 8th most routes run and a 21% MS/T while generating the 6th most air yards. He’s still the man in Atlanta and in a prime position to be the top WR on the slate. Lock him in!
The other elite WR on the game, Nuk will also get a match-up to die for as the Texans figure to match their best weapon against the Falcons’ worst defender in Isaiah Oliver. Mr. Oliver has given up a 15/195/3 stat-line in his coverage since becoming the incumbent starter next to Desmond Trufant. Not ideal. Nuk has had a tough start to his season with only an average of 7 targets a game while facing some of the top CBs in the NFL. He’s still managed to put up the 9th most air yards, making him a great buy-low candidate in yearly. Oh wait, this is DFS? Whatever just lock him in, too!
This is more of a volume-based play and taking advantage of a terrible Bengals defense, No Kirk, no Byrd, rookie Isabella that has barely seen any snaps. Chances are high for a 10+ target game for old man Larry, but will it be a good 10 targets? I’m not so sure, as the Kingsbury dink-and-dunk offense has produced questionable results (4th lowest YPA and 8th fewest points scored). Still, Fitzgerald continues to run the most routes among WRs and gets a very good match-up against the vaunted B.W. Webb and company. Meh. Considering the lack of real value on the slate, I’m okay with rostering more Larry than I’d like since he’s got a dependable floor and a decent upside in a toilet bowl game.
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Samuel has been on the wrong side of deep bombs from both Newton/Allen all season, which might explain why he has put up the 8th most air yards but garnered little value for his efforts. He’ll get another crack at landing a bomb or two against a Jaguars defense that is unlikely to have stud CB Jalen Ramsey this week, putting Tre Herndon back on the field in Ramsey’s stead. In the two games Herndon has been forced to start, he’s yielded 9/160/2 in his coverage for an impressive 130.2 NFL rating. The majority of those numbers came from last week’s massacre as he allowed 6/119/2 in the game. Yikes. It’s clear teams will target Herndon’s inexperience and attack downfield all game, something Samuel happens to excel at. Perhaps D.J. Moore is the actual beneficiary of Herndon’s spot duty, but the Jags have mostly interchanged their cornerbacks and Moore runs shorter routes. We saw both Sutton and Sanders feed themselves against Herndon and company’s coverage, so chances are Samuel should have himself a field day regardless. I think he’s a candidate for a big volatile number and a small boost since the projections already like him enough. 50 volatility and a 10 boost seems ample enough.
And now, we have one of the worst TE slates thus far this season. Talk about truly punting a position! Sheesh.
Safe, in a game where the Eagles are double-digit favorites, the only truly healthy receiver for Wentz, and has garnered the T-most targets/3rd most routes ran among TEs. On a slate where even the top options like Engram and Waller are dicey plays, Ertz figures to be the chalk TE play to pay up for and it’s completely reasonable to do so. I’d just rather punt the position or pay a little less for the next TE pick in a better match-up.
Now, Andrews could be the TE slate-breaker that may be worth paying up for. Generally speaking, you wouldn’t pay up for a value play as that’s a bit of a contradiction. For this particular TE slate, though? Yeah, Andrews is still a fine value against a team notorious for completely ignoring the main slot receiver on opposing offenses. Normally, you wouldn’t consider a TE the main slot receiver for any offense but in the case of Andrews, he actually really is their main slot guy. He runs nearly 60% of his routes from the slot (4th highest) on the 5th most routes among TEs. His TE slot numbers would place him 2nd among all eligible receivers that have run routes in the slot, trailing only behind Snead by a mere 30 routes. 23% MS/T, 26% MS of redzone targets, 2nd most slot routes on the team, facing a PIT D that has surrendered the most fantasy points to slot receivers. What more can you ask for on a ghastly TE slate?
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Sigh. Okay, Zona TE pass funnel. Dead last in every tight end metric. Sure, yeah. Sure. Why not? Well, hold on a minute! 41% of the offensive snaps (consistent 3 of 4 weeks)? Only 16 targets and 81 WHOLE YARDS? YUCK!!!! 30% MS/T redzone targets? Hmm….okay. Maybe, just maybe he’ll get there. I mean, it is the Cardinals defense, right? Most catches, yards, and TDs surrendered to TEs. Hmmm, yeah I dunno. Gonna go ahead and hit Eifert with the 90 volatility. Either he goes off for a massive 3/50/3 line or goes 0/0/0 on 2 targets. No biscuit if you don’t risk it?