FantasyDraft: NFL DFS WEEK 5 – Sunday Night Hammer

Week 4 was profitable with three of four unique GPP reaching the FantasyDraft Pay Out Zone in some form, but it wasn’t exactly how we drew it up. Neither the lineup in this article or the DFS Fantasy Forplay podcast lineup cashed in the Hooters $750 K Main Event. A lineup I built Sunday morning based on breaking info was able to cash in that tournament with a 2499th place finish for $80. Additionally, I finished 15th out of 100 in the SNF-MON for a $62.50 win. In all, I was up $51.05 for the week.

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Photo Credit: FantasyDraft

A disappointing performance by SEA QB Russell Wilson and few plays that didn’t go our way kept us out of the money for the article and podcast lineups. Both lineups had LAC WR Keenan Allen and DET RB Kerryon Johnson in addition to Wilson at QB. Wilson got off to a hot start but did very little in the second half and in total scored only 14.30 points as the Seahawks protected their lead over the Cardinals and won 27-10. Allen had a 69-yard TD called back on what appeared to be a questionable offensive pass interference on him. Johnson fumbled the ball literally inches before the goal line. In retrospect, the approach for both lineups was solid, but it didn’t pan out. That happens!

For the second week in a row, I capitalized on Sunday morning info. This time it was less about actual news than a Tweet that made me say, “Hmmmm.” Giants RB Saquan Barkley (ankle) who was out for the game sent out a tweet indicating his backup RB Wayne Gallman JR. was going to have a big day. While that could be just a teammate hyping up his understudy, I felt it was worth a shot because Barkley actually knew the game plan. Gallman scored two TDs and was the fifth-highest performer among RBs with 28.80 points at just 5% ownership.

I also performed well again the prime time two-game slate by using the FantasyPros optimizer. As the season goes on, optimizers tend to perform better with more information to draw from and do best on the smaller slates that have fewer variables.  The trick to using an optimizer is to not go with the ultimate optimized lineup, as it likely will be played by several others. Instead, swap out one of the lower-priced players for a player that is slightly cheaper and is projected for perhaps a fraction of a point lower. You will create a lineup that has a much greater chance of being unique as it leaves a few hundred on the table, while still being very close to optimum. I took this approach last week and created a unique lineup for the tournament I was playing.

For two consecutive weeks, we have also experienced the frustration of seeing a lineup slip out of the Pay Out Zone late in the Sunday Night game. We hope to avoid that frustration this week by being in the Pay Out Zone when the game starts and climbing the pay ladder with KC QB Patrick Mahomes as our Sunday Night Hammer.

The lineup in this article and the DFS Fantasy Foreplay podcast will be played in the FantasyDraft $500 K Hooters Main Event (70K to 1st). The podcast will be posted at the top of this article by Saturday.

QB (Salary on FantasyDraft)

KC QB Patrick Mahomes ($14,200) saw his price decrease $200 after what many may consider for Mahomes’ standards to be a ho-hum performance against the Lions. Mahomes completed 24 of 42 passes for 315 yards and rushed for another 54 yards to score 21.00 FantasyDraft points. It was his lowest performance of the year by nearly 10 points. It was also only his second performance since Week 5 of last year where he did not throw a TD.  In that 16 game span, he threw 50 TDs, the same amount he threw for in 2018. Mahomes is the leading passer (1,510 yards) on the season and his 10 TDs thrown is tied for the most. He faces the Colts who are tied for the fourth-worst with nine passing TDs allowed. Mahomes has an excellent opportunity to throw for 3-4 TDs and score 30-40 FD points.

“The Colts are going to be without starting free safety Malik Hooker, who suffered a torn meniscus in Week 3, though they may be getting inside linebacker Darius Leonard back, who has missed the last two weeks,  wrote Mike Tagliere for FantasyPros in his weekly column The Primer which covers every fantasy player. “They also may be without their other starting safety Clayton Geathers, who is in the concussion protocol. If that’s the case, Mahomes should be able to do what he wants down the field. Despite those injuries, the Colts defense has already surrendered nine passing scores through four games, the fourth-most in the NFL, which comes despite seeing just 127 pass attempts, which ranks as the eighth fewest in the NFL. The 74.0 percent completion-rate that Philip Rivers, Marcus Mariota, Matt Ryan, and Derek Carr have combined for ranks as the second-highest number in the league. As you can see, the Colts are bleeding points when quarterbacks drop back. Knowing they’ve still yet to allow a 100-yard rusher under Frank Reich’s tenure, Mahomes should be all systems go for a QB1 performance.”

It’s difficult to predict which WR will do the best from week-to-week with the Chiefs and none of them fit into our final lineup build. Therefore, we are taking the unusual approach of not stacking Mahomes with any of his offensive weapons.

Alternative QBs

TB QB Jameis Winston ($12,800) has been on fire. In the last two weeks, Winston has thrown for 765 yards and seven TDs. In that span, his fantasy score average is 31.4 (29.5 and33.3). Winston faces a Saints defense that performed well last week but allowed a combined 82 points (28, 27 and 27) in the first three games. Winston makes for a nice stack with WR Mike Evans ($12,800) who we list as an alternate WR play.

WRs (Salary on FantasyDraft)

MIN WR Adam Thielen ($12,100) is coming off of a miserable performance against the Bears. Thielen had only two receptions for six yards to score 2.6 points. He scored more than that in every game listed in the FantasyDraft game log for him. “Wow, that’s bad,” you say! Yes, but it was against a tough defense and it creates recency bias resulting in low ownership. The week prior, Thielen scored 20.60 points against Raiders. This week he has a great matchup against the Giants who have allowed 52 catches for 835 yards and six TDs for a fourth-worst 43.30 fantasy points per game to WRs, according to

“There has been tons of speculation in the Land of 10,000 Lakes, wrote Mike Woellert at 4for4 in his weekly WR vs CB Matchup Analysis column. “Stefon Diggs missed practice for ‘undisclosed’ reasons, leading to rumors of a trade. The Vikings’ pass offense is struggling, but what better way to snap a slump than against the Giants. If Thielen moves around, he’ll get both Jenkins and Deandre Baker. Jenkins has allowed the third-most yards in coverage (276) and is allowing 17.3 yards per reception. Thielen’s average depth of target (aDOT) is 13.4 yards downfield, so he could exploit Jenkins’ deep-ball tendencies. This is the game that Thielen finally breaks out. Jenkins is allowing nearly two fantasy points per target.”

Woellert also touted TB Mike Evans in Week 3 and called for a breakout. Evans scored a phenomenal 48 points against the Giants in that game.

CIN WR Auden Tate ($7,000) is our value play of the week and shows how optimizers can be used in research. Tate was not initially on our radar until he popped up on an optimizer. We took a closer look at his stats and saw that he had had 10 (6-4) catches in the last two games for 138 yards and a TD.

“The 6-foot-5, 228-pound Tate has now seen 16 targets over the last two weeks, and it seems like he’ll be Dalton’s No. 1 perimeter option against the Cardinals with John Ross ailing,” wrote Tagliere “Tate isn’t the quickest receiver to gain separation, but going back to his college days, he’s been wonderful in contested catch situations, allowing his quarterback to target him when one-on-one. He’ll see a mix of rookie Byron Murphy and Chris Jones in coverage. While I like Murphy as a player in this league, he may have issues trying to defend Tate, as he’s just 5-foot-11 and 190 pounds. Meanwhile, Jones is an undrafted free agent who’s played 116 snaps in his NFL career. If Dalton targets him, there are some fantasy points to be had.”


Alternative WRs: 

TB WR Mike Evans ($12,800), CIN WR Tyler Boyd ($11,700), NE Patriots Josh Gordon ($11,000) were among the WRs who Woellert featured as having great CB matchups.

TE (Salary on FantasyDraft)

CIN TE Tyler Eifert ($6,400) receives the benefit of playing the Cardinals this week. If you haven’t been following along, our research for TEs is simple: use anyone playing the Cardinals. So far that approach has paid off. Arizona has allowed at least one TD to a TE in every game this season and their six TDs allowed to the position is twice that of any other defense.

Alternative TEs: 

KC TE Travis Kelce ($12,100) should crush it against the Colts who are missing several playmakers over the middle. We just couldn’t fit him into this lineup.

NYG TE Evan Engram ($10,900) should continue to see high volume despite the return of WR Golden Tate ($9,100) who is returning after a four-game suspension.

RBs/Flex (Salary on FantasyDraft) 

DAL RB Ezekiel Elliott ($15,600) price dropped $500 this week and he faces the Packers who have struggled against the run. Green Bay has allowed the seventh-worst 142.2 rushing yards per game. They have also allowed five rushing TDs, third for fourth-worst.

“The Packers have allowed 34.8 PPR points per game to running backs, which ranks only behind the Bengals and Dolphins, the two teams fighting for the No. 1 pick in the 2020 draft, wrote Tagliere. “Ever since his “break-in” game in Week 1, Elliott has totaled 18 carries in every game and even saw seven targets last week. If the Cowboys want to win this game, they’ll ride Elliott in a great matchup. He’s worth cash-game consideration and is an elite RB1 start.”

MIN RB Dalvin Cook ($16,000) going into last week, had rushed for over 100 yards in all three games (11,154,110) and had scored at least one rushing TD (2,1,1). His 29.13 FD average (29.0, 31.1, 27,3) was the highest among all RBs. We didn’t play Cook in Week 4 because he had a tough matchup against the Bears. The matchup did limit his production. He carried the ball 14 times for 35 yards with a TD and added six catches on eight targets for 35 yards to score 19 points. Cook should return to scoring the high 20s to even over 30 points this week against the Giants who will be without starting LB Ryan Connelly (torn ACL last week) and may also be missing starting LB Alec Ogletree (hamstring) who did not play last week. Look for the Vikings to run the offense through Cook which will provide a solid floor with huge upside.

AIR RB David Johnson ($14,100) is re-emerging as a PPR monster, and that is exactly what you want on FantasyDraft that rewards a full point per reception. Johnson has 14 catches in the last two games for 127 yards and a TD. Johnson faces the Bengals who are the league-worst at defending pass-catching RBs. The Bengals are also not good at stopping the run. The Bengals have allowed a fifth-worst 143 rushing yards per game and have also allowed five rushing TDs. While Johnson hasn’t done a whole lot on the ground with just 173 rushing yards on the season and 3.7 yards per carry, he is duo threat this week to earn a 3-point bonus for going over 100 yards as either a rusher or a receiver.

“Outside of the game he left early (wrist injury), he’s seen at least seven targets in each game, propping-up his fantasy floor,” wrote Tagliere. “In a game where it’s conceivable they run 65-plus plays, Johnson is a candidate for 25 touches. His play-style will be a nightmare for the Bengals who struggle to tackle and who have allowed 78.0 PPR points to the running backs through the air alone. There’s no other team in football who’s allowed more than 63.3 PPR points. Johnson is locked-and-loaded as an elite RB1 play this week.”

CHI RB David Montgomery ($10,200) is emerging as a workhorse RB with 52 carries in the last three games. He has been in the game for 82 snaps in the last two games. Montgomery hasn’t put up huge numbers, yet, but that could change this week with the Raiders.

“Montgomery should be locked into 18-plus touches per game, which would include this matchup,” wrote Tagliere. “The Raiders are going to be without linebacker Vontaze Burfict, who was an important acquisition to their run defense this year. We watched them struggle to contain the run in 2018, allowing a massive 4.77 yards per carry and 13 touchdowns, which included six top-12 PPR performances against them. Missing Burfict may open the flood gates, as they’ll have to lean on 2017 undrafted free agent Nicholas Morrow to fill his spot, and the team was already without starting strong safety Johnathan Abram.”

Even if Montgomery doesn’t have a big day, the volume he should see will likely provide a nice floor and he is at a price to afford key players elsewhere in the lineup.

Alternative RBs/Flex:

CAR RB Christian McCaffrey ($17,000) is the most expensive player on the slate because he is constantly scoring around 30 points a game with a 29.47 average. He is in a similar situation to what Cook was in last week against the Bears. McCaffrey faces a Jaguars defense that has not allowed a rushing TD this season. However, McCaffrey could easily break that ice and is more than capable of scoring two receiving TDs. We will likely play McCaffrey in a lineup that does not have Mahomes at QB.

LAC RB Austin Ekeler ($12,600) may be a steal. His price came down $2,500 with the return of LAC RB Melvin Gordon III ($13,000). Many are projecting Gordon to jump right back into the lead role despite the fact Ekeler has started the season as one of the best RBs in football. Gordon will play this week, the Chargers have already made that clear. However, his role may not be as big as most think it will be. In Twitter correspondence I had with Eric Williams, ESPN Chargers beat writer, Williams said Gordon will be limited in his first game back after a failed contract dispute. This makes me believe that Gordon will play the role that we have typically seen Ekeler play under Gordon. If that’s the case, Ekeler will be the lead back this week against the Broncos that just let JAX RB Leonard Fournette rush for 225 yards against them. The Broncos have also allowed five rushings and receiving TD to RBs this year. Ekeler could easily add another one or two to that total. He will be in at least one lineup I play this week.

JAX RB Leonard Fournette ($10,900) was also a feature last week as one of our alternative plays. Unfortunately, we didn’t have him a lineup. Fournette went off against the Broncos with 29 carries for 225 yards and two catches for 20 yards. Despite not scoring a TD, he still racked up 29.20 fantasy points.  Fournette is getting the work you want for a featured back. He faces Panthers defense that has allowed 4.9 yards per carry this season.

Team Defense (Salary on FantasyDraft)

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers ($4,300) are the third-cheapest. They scored 15 points last week against the Rams. Their 11 point average is the fourth-highest on the slate. Their worst performance on the season was eight points against the Giants in a game that they lost 31-32. Don’t be afraid that they are playing the Saints in New Orleans, with 10 sacks and four forced fumbles on the season they are generating enough points to offset what they lose by allowing the other team to score.



Put It All Together

FantasyDraft DFS

Photo Credit: FantasyDraft – FantasyDraft Week 5 lineup

This FantasyDraft lineup has a QB that leads all of football in fantasy production and will likely do it again this week.  A high-end WR in a great CB matchup, and a value WR who is seeing plenty of targets. A TE that is going against the worst defense at defending TEs. An RB trio of Elliott/Cook/Johnson projects to be the top RBs for the week. Plus a mid-priced RB who is seeing workhorse volume and is in a good matchup.

If you are playing the FantasyDraft $500 K Hooters Main Event (70K to 1st) contest, please make at least one change from this lineup.

Dan McLellan Rankings

Last week I made a modest gain the rankings, I rose from 93rd to 88th overall. However, I am proud to announce that I have the number one ranking overall for TEs. Hopefully, this week I can continue to rise.

Follow Dan on Twitter @sandiegosports.

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