FanDuel NFL Week 5 Picks: Gurley, Bell rule DFS running back kingdom
RBs Todd Gurley II and Le’Veon Bell where in the winning 2 Million FanDuel Sunday Million ($500K to 1st) lineup last week. They could very well be again this week, and that is why they will be exclusively used in my FanDuel lineups for NFL Week 5.
I enjoy the challenge of DFS because it’s like a puzzle in which the pieces to put it together correctly are constantly changing. Players perform differently than expected, matchups change, and opportunities for a star to emerge due to an injury to a teammate transforms the DFS landscape from week-to-week.
All of these elements played out in Week 4 and created a number of value plays for week 5. The key will be to select which value plays are in a good position to perform well and partner them with studs that are worth paying up for because are also in a good position.
When it comes to the RB position, injuries have created a whole batch of players to consider as value plays. I picked up RB Elijah McGuire and RB Aaron Jones for my season-long leagues, but I’m not playing them in DFS. McGuire and Jones, nor any other fresh contenders, have shown they are going to the touches and are in plus matchups.
One or more of the emerging RBs will likely perform well on Sunday. Without a clear sign of which one(s), it’s guesswork. Once you go down that road, you can build an almost infinite number of lineups to account for all the possibilities. You may succeed at a few, but your bankroll to play with will likely have shrunk.
The WR position does have value plays that meet the requirements of predictable opportunity and favorable matchups. Meanwhile, it’s a near certainty Gurley and Bell will receive a heavy workload, thus my lineups are built around them while finding value elsewhere.
Todd Gurley II (LAR, $7,800) is dirt cheap considering he came into the week just 0.30 points behind RB Chiefs RB Kareem Hunt (99.90 fantasy points scored) for the overall fantasy lead, according to fantasy.nfl.com.
In just four games, Gurley has accumulated 362 rushing yards and four TDS, 234 receiving yards and three more TDs. Last week against the Cowboys, who have an average defense against the run, Gurley rushed 23 times for 121 yards and caught seven of eight targets for 94 yards and a TD.
The reason why Gurley is so cheap is the Rams are playing the Seahawks who are perceived to have an elite defense. The reality is Seattle’s defense against the run is similar to the Cowboys, ranked middle of the road. The Seahawks defense is ranked 16th against the run with an average of 18.65 fantasy points allowed per game (FPPG). They have allowed 356 rushing yards (114 per game) and three rushing TDs to RBs not named Gurley.
Last week, I choose Gurley over Ezekiel Elliott (DAL, $8,900) when the two faced off because despite Elliott having a matchup advantage on paper, Gurley has way outperformed Elliott. That paid off, and I expect it will again on Sunday. Elliott has thee total touchdowns, which is four less than Gurley, and came into the week ranked 29th among all players with 57.5 fantasy points scored. Elliott faces the Packers defense which has allowed 20.35 FPPG to RBs. That’s only slightly worse than Gurley’s opponent in the Seahawks. Yet, Gurley is $1,100 cheaper than Elliott.
Le’Veon Bell (PIT, $9500) is a MUST play this week and maybe for the remainder of the season. Bell got off to a slow start after missing the pre-season but looks to have returned to his dominant self. Against the Ravens last Sunday, Bell rushed 35 times for 144 yards and two TDs, caught four of passes for 42 additional yards. This week, the Steelers are at home against the Jaguars who this season have allowed a league-high 576 rushing yards (144 per game).
Aaron Rodgers (GB, $9,500) leads all QBs in the main slate with 10 passing TDs passes this season. He has also thrown for 1146 yards (286.5 per game).The Packers will play the Cowboys who are tied for 4th worst at allowing passing TDs (8). Rodgers is affordable because of the choice of Gurley over Elliott, and the value to be found at WR and TE.
QB Carson Palmer (AIR, $7,200) is the leading passer on the main slate with 1,282 passing yards. Palmer faces the Eagles defense which has allowed the most passing yards on the main slate, 1,204. The Eagles have also allowed seven passing TDs, tied for sixth worst.
Jay Cutler (MIA, $6,700) is in a very similar situation as Cam Newton (CAR, $7,800) was last week. Despite being in a great matchup, Newton was extremely low owned because he didn’t play well even when facing the Saints poor pass defense. Newton went on to have a monster game against the Patriots. Cutler hasn’t thrown a TD in two games including the Saints but faces the Titans this week who have allowed a league-high 11 passing TDs.
Related Post: FanDuel Week 5: Are QBs Cutler, Cassel value plays?
Odell Beckham Jr. (NYG, $8,900) lead the league with 15 targets last week. He caught seven passes for ninety yards. Over the past two games, Beckham averaged 14 targets and had 169 receiving yards with two TDs. This week the Giants play the Chargers who have allowed a second worst six TDs to WRs.
Jordy Nelson (GB, $8,600) is tied for the league lead with five receiving TDs despite missing virtually an entire game with an injury. Last week, Nelson had four catches for 75 yards and two TDs. Dallas has allowed 568 receiving yards and 5 TDs (4th worst) to WRs this year. I was not able to stack Nelson with Rodgers and still use Bell, however, he was affordable when using Cutler and Palmer.
DeAndre Hopkins (HOU, $7,700) leads the league with 12.3 targets per game average, one better than Antonio Brown (PIT, $8,800), ranked 2nd. Hopkins caught 10-of-12 targets for 107 yards and a TD last week. This week, Hopkins will play the Chiefs. Similar to Gurley, Hopkins low price may be attributed to playing a defense that is perceived to be stellar. The Chiefs, however, allowed a 10th worst 23.75 FPPG to WRs and have allowed four receiving TDs.
Larry Fitzgerald (AIR, $6,700) is the fifth most targets WR with 10.3 targets per game average, and he is facing the Eagles defense which has allowed 837 receiving yards, worst on the main slate.
Devante Parker (MIA, $6,100) also has a superb matchup against the Titans who have allowed a league-high eight receiving TDS to WRs, two more than any other team. Even if Parker doesn’t find the end zone he is in a great position to make value against a Tennessee defense that has given up a league-high 29.75 FPPG to WRs, six more than any other team.
Parker has a solid nine target per game average and was targeted last week once more than WR Jarvis Landry (MIA, $6,600) who is $500 more expensive.
Jaron Brown (AIR, $4,500) could far and away be the best value of any player on the slate. Brown was the third most targeted WR last week with 12, five more than teammate Fitzgerald. Brown has a combined 29 targets in the last three games.
His FanDuel scores for those three performances are 9.3, 9.7, and 14.5 points, respectively. Brown gets the same benefit of Fitzgerald in facing the Eagles defense and may be targeted more. Yet, Brown cost $2,200 less than Fitzgerald at the basement price. A stack of Carson and Brown leaves plenty of cash for Beckham and Hopkins, with Gurley and Bell.
Austin Seferian-Jenkins (NYJ, $5,500) is a great value play because the Jets are playing the Browns who make pedestrian TEs look like superstars. TEs Jesse James (PIT, $4,900) and Tyler Kroft (CIN, $5,500) each have two TDs on the season, and for both of them they came against the Browns.
Seferian-Jenkins could get the same opportunity this week and has become more involved in the offense. Last week, he caught all four of his targets for 46 yards.
Note: The Browns defense is ranked 2nd worst against TEs with 12.55 FPPG average and four TDs. The Giants are last with 14.73 and five TDs. The Giants are playing the Chargers, but I’m not playing either Antonio Gates (LAC, $4,600) or Hunter Henry (LAC, $5,200) because it’s a guess at which one will be used more. Either are a fine play if they are on your season-long team.
Jared Cook (OAK, $5,300) draws a great matchup against the Ravens who are the fourth worst defense against TEs with 11.78 FPPG average and have allowed four TDs. My concern with Cook is that the Raiders may have a difficult time scoring with QB Derek Carr (back) not playing.
Nevertheless, Cook should be a safe outlet for backup QB EJ Manuel (OAK, $6,200). Carr was back in practice on Friday and took a few second string reps and is listed as questionable, according to Michael Gehlken of the Las Vegas Review-Journal. If Carr plays, then Cook’s value is elevated.
McLellan’s Week 5 NFL Player Pool
Odell Beckham Jr.