FanDuel NFL Week 5: In-Depth Player Pool With Expert Analysis
I have now put up three winning FanDuel weeks in a row. Albeit, I got fortunate on Sunday. My most expensive single-entry tournaments did not cash due to a lackluster performance by Seattle WR Tyler Lockett, and Chargers RB Austin Ekeler exiting the game with a hamstring injury. Two lineups did cash. I also hit the 100K bonus split for the longest TD with Chargers WR Jalen Guyton 72-yard score at 0.1% ownership. The 100K bonus was split 282 ways at $342.46 each.
Guyton was a late add in the chaos of COVID news that broke over the weekend. I noticed he has a good CB matchup and I watch mostly Chargers games, so I had seen multiple attempts at the big play over the last few weeks.
If you read my intro last week, you saw my biggest mistake of the week. I wrote, “I started to go down the road of stacking QB Dak Prescott with WR CeeDee Lamb, and Josh Allen with WR Zay Jones because those stacks provided the best CB matchups to go with the QB. However, I don’t think that is wise due to the abundance of RB options that are in the range. The difference in cost between a Lamb and Jones to one of the RBs is anywhere from one to two thousand and is likely going to get a minimum of 10 more touches.”
The stack of Prescott (38.28) and Lamb (22.7) would have netted 60.98 points. Ouch!!
Keeping that in mind, I am playing some lower-priced FanDuel WRs this week who are in outstanding CB matchups. This week’s Sunday Million contest has a 100K bonus for the lowest price player to score a TD. Three WRs and a TE I feature in this article have a realistic shot at that bonus. There is a chance for you to debate the topic of who will win the bonus.
With the bankroll growing, I’m going to continue to play more FanDuel lineups than normal. I intend to build a lineup with all seven QBs featured in this article and enter them into the Sunday Million along with a single-entry. The FanDuel lineups I have the most confidence in will be entered into the higher-priced tournaments.
Due to COVID, I’m not sharing Fanduel lineup builds this week and foreseeable future at the end of the article. The continued breaking news of which teams will and will not play creates too much stress for large changes at the last minute.
Research, The Mikes
As regular readers of my column, you will not only see my research of stats but the analysis of some of the best experts in the industry (If you can’t beat them, join and credit them). Mike Tagliere of FantasyPros and Mike Woellert of 4for4 are quoted frequently.
Tagliere’s weekly column, The Primer, is the most compressive look at Fantasy Football. It’s typically about 20,000 words and had well thought out information on every fantasy-relevant (and not so relevant) player. Tagliere takes into account defensive injures, schemes, matchups, and historical numbers. I admire Tagliere’s work. This article is somewhat modeled after The Primer, but reduced to only the players I’m using.
Woellert is an expert at WR vs. CB matchups. He continually finds low owned undervalued players that have huge weeks. When spending up at W.R., it’s great to know they are in advantageous situations. As the season progresses, patterns emerge, and it becomes clear which C.B.s should be exploited. Our goal will be to play W.R.s covered by C.B.s, who average near or above 2.0 fantasy points per target.
While my articles give you free exposure to a sliver of the information, at FantasyPros and 4for4, I would recommend subscribing to help with your research.
Week 5 FanDuel Player Pool
Lamar Jackson (BAL, ($8, 900) is the top-ranked QB 4for4 and FantasyPros. However, he missed practice on Wednesday and Thursday with a knee issue. He then returned to practice on Friday without a brace. Much of Jackson’s fantasy value comes from his ability to get yards and touchdowns on the ground, so if he were to have an ailing knee, that would be deeply concerning. I’ve decided to play Jackson this week because he was not wearing a brace, and the matchup suggests that he can put up a 3X performance. “The Bengals have failed to generate more than a 26.7 percent pressure-rate over the last two weeks, as defensive tackles Geno Atkins and Mike Daniels being out hasn’t helped,” wrote Tagliere. “In two games against a similar defense last year, Jackson crushed this defense for 30.6 fantasy points in the first matchup, and then 33.4 fantasy points in the second one. He threw for 236 and 223 yards in those games, but the fantasy points came from both ends, as he rushed for 152 yards and a touchdown in the first game, and then threw for three touchdowns the next time around. Despite playing against two struggling quarterbacks the last three weeks, Gardner Minshew, Carson Wentz, and Baker Mayfield were all able to eclipse 15.2 fantasy points against them. There have now been six different occasions where they’ve allowed 46 or more rushing yards to the opposing quarterback since the start of 2019. It’s also not a bad thing that their opponents are averaging 69.5 plays per game, as the Ravens play-count has been down, averaging just 58.0 plays per game, which ranks as the third-fewest in the league. Last year, they averaged 68.0 plays per game, which ranked as the third-most in the league. You should be starting Jackson as a high-end QB1 every week.”
Dak Prescott (DAL, $8,700) is putting up crazy stats. “He’s the first player in NFL history to throw for 450-plus yards in three consecutive games,” wrote Tagliere. “How is that happening? Well, the defense is a big part of the reason why, though Cowboys games are netting a massive 149.0 plays per game, which is easily the most in the NFL. Now onto a matchup with the Giants, who have surprisingly allowed just the sixth-fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks through four weeks. We’re still in the area of the season where context is key, as they’ve played a somewhat easy quarterback schedule against Ben Roethlisberger (who finished as the QB9), Mitch Trubisky, Nick Mullens, and Jared Goff. Doesn’t seem as impressive anymore, eh? Their pass rush is better than anyone thought, as they’ve sacked quarterbacks on 7.3 percent of their dropbacks, which ranks as the 11th-best mark in football, though their pressure-rate ranks 21st, so they’ve been lucky in that regard. The Cowboys receivers match up well with the Giants secondary, as they’re not deep at the cornerback position at all. 52.3 percent of the fantasy points they’ve allowed have gone to receivers, which ranks as the 10th-most, while the Cowboys target their receivers 62.9 percent of the time, which ranks as the 12th-most. In a game, the Cowboys are projected for 31.8 points, Prescott should remain in lineups as a top-three quarterback.”
Kyler Murray (AIR, $8,300) is coming off his worst fantasy performance of the season. He still scored 23.12 fantasy points against the Panthers. That’s still nearly a 3X performance at this week’s price, and he faces a Jets defense that has allowed only 16.88 fantasy points a game to QBs. “The fact that the Jets have allowed the sixth-fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks doesn’t tell the whole story, wrote Tagliere. “They are a team that can be thrown on, but the question is: Will the Cardinals take advantage? Knowing their run-game is really struggling, I think they have to, so plug Murray in as a stable QB1 this week.”
DeShaun Watson ($7,900) is coming off his first 300 yard game of the season by completing 20 of 33 passes for exactly 300 yards against the Vikings. His fantasy performance was still mediocre at 20.9. His best came in Week 1 against the Chiefs when he scored 21.82. However, the matchup this week suggests he can return a 3x performance. “(The Jaguars) allowed every quarterback they’ve played to average at least 7.9 yards per attempt, and it wasn’t the most impressive list of quarterbacks (Philip Rivers, Ryan Tannehill, Ryan Fitzpatrick, and Joe Burrow),” wrote Tagliere.”From fantasy points per actual pass attempt standpoint, the Jaguars have allowed the second-most points per throw. It certainly helps when quarterbacks are completing a league-high 77.0 percent of passes against them. We also watched Ryan Fitzpatrick gallop for 38 yards and a touchdown on the ground, which certainly looks good for Watson. The last three opponents for the Jaguars have run the ball with their running backs at least 27 times, which is something that’s not likely to happen with the Texans. Watson should drop back and throw more than most have against this team, so get him back into fantasy lineups as a sturdy QB1 this week.”
Ryan Fitzpatrick (MIA, $7,300) will probably not receive much buzz in the DFS world this week. I think he is flying under the radar. Fitzpatrick has scored between 23.3 and 24.7 fantasy points in each of the last three games. That’s a 3X return. The 49ers have been slightly above average against QBs, having allowed 17.44 fantasy points a game. However, San Francisco has its own issues at QB, which may lead to more opportunities for Fitzpatrick in a good field position. He also has a reviver in Preston Williams, who has the best CB matchup possible that creates a very cheap WR/QB stack to build around.
Teddy Bridgewater (CAR, $7,100) is coming off a 27.24 performance against the Cardinals and now has one of the best possible matchups against the Falcons. Atlanta has allowed a league-high 32.48 fantasy points a game. The Falcons have allowed the second-most passing yards (1,415) and the most passing (13) and rushing TDs (3) by opposing QBs.
Daniel Jones (NYG, $7,000) has been terrible for the last three weeks with fantasy scores of 8.74, 8.06, and 11.1. Jones did score 19.36 fantasy points against the Steelers in Week 1. Jones has a matchup against the Cowboys that should again elevate him to Week 1 levels and provide around a 3X return. The Cowboys have allowed the fourth-most fantasy points to QBs at 22.76 per game. Jones is near the bottom of my confidence level, but a solid lineup can be built around him at his price.
WR DeAndre Hopkins (AIR, $8,700) had seven receptions against the Panthers, and it was an awful week for him with just 41 yards. Hopkins has 41 receptions in four games with an average of 99.25 yards game. That’s an extremely high floor and why he is ranked at the top of basically everyone’s projections every week. “It was clear that Hopkins was not himself last week, as he was targeted at/near the line of scrimmage on nearly all his targets,” wrote Tagliere. “He did seemingly make it through that game setback free, so he should be out there this week closer to 100 percent. The Jets secondary is one that can certainly be beaten, as they’ve allowed a 71.4 percent completion-rate and 9.47 yards per target to wide receivers. They’ve allowed just three touchdowns to this point, keeping their overall numbers down, but that has more to do with teams punching it in via the run, something the Cardinals have struggled with. The cornerback he was slated to see was Blessuan Austin, who had to leave last week’s game with a calf injury. His replacement was rookie Lamar Jackson (no, not the quarterback), an undrafted free agent who hadn’t played any snaps the first three weeks. The combination of Austin and Jackson has allowed 12-of-18 passing for 151 yards in their coverage, so again, there’s absolutely nothing to worry about here. If Hopkins is close to full health and gets double-digit targets, he should finish as a top-three wide receiver this week.”
JuJu Smith-Schuster (PIT, $7,300) should be relatively fresh and healthy after coming off an impromptu COVID bye week. Smith-Schuster has one of the best CB matchups on the Main Slate this week. Eagles CB Nickell Robey-Coleman should cover him. “If you want to improve your completion percentage, toss it NRC’s way, as he’s allowing 89% of the balls thrown his way to be caught,” wrote Woellert. “He’s allowing 12.5 yards per catch and 2.7 fantasy points per target. If the Steelers want to move the ball, JuJu needs to be involved.”
Amari Cooper (DAL, $7,800) caught 12 of 16 targets for 134 yards and a TD against the Browns to score 27.4 fantasy points. It was his best performance of the season, and he had a difficult CB matchup. His previous three games provided eerily similar fantasy scored (13.1,13, and 13.1). Cooper has now averaged 100.25 receiving yards. This week’s CB matchup suggests that he is more likely to mirror the performance of last week than the first three. Giants CB James Bradberry has allowed a 55% catch rate and 1.88 fantasy points per target.
DJ Chark Jr. (JAC, $7,000) is the best option for an opposing WR to QB DeShaun Watson. Chark caught eight of nine targets for 95 yards and two TDs to score 25.2 fantasy points against the Bengals last week. Chark has a great CB matchup in HOU CB Bradley Roby, who we pick on frequently in this column. “When you target Chark, good things happen,” wrote Woellert. “He was targeted nine times last week, converting eight into catches, including two trips to the dwelling that we call home. Roby is coming off a rough outing against Minnesota, where he allowed his second TD season. He’s allowing just over 11 yards per catch and 2.3 fantasy points per target.”
Will Fuller V (Hou, $6,600) is coming off his best performance of the season. Fuller caught six of seven targets for 108 yards and a TD against the Vikings to score 19.8 fantasy points. With the odd exception of not being targeted against the Ravens in Week 2, Fuller has now scored each game in the teens (15.2 and 13.4). It would appear the Fuller’s floor this week is a 2X performance with a very high ceiling. Fuller has an outstanding matchup against Jaguars CB Chris Claybrooks, who has allowed an 80% catch rate and 2,68 fantasy points per target. I’ll likely have multiple shares of Fuller.
D.J. Moore (CAR, $6,600) may not be on many DFS players radars. He has averaged 9.4 points and eight targets a game, but has not yet scored this season. A closer look at the targets reveal most came in the first two games. Moore has a CB matchup this week against Falcons CB Isaiah Oliver to the right the ship. “After being peppered with 22 targets in the first two weeks, Moore has received 10 in his last two,” wrote Woellert. “He’s also coming off a season-low 71.4% snap-rate. This is a get-right spot. Oliver has struggled and been burned in coverage all season. Oliver is giving up 17 yards per catch and has yielded two scores, resulting in 2.2 fantasy points per target.”
Robby Anderson (CAR, $6,200) should not be cheaper than teammate DJ More. Anderson has out produced More in three of four games this season, averaging 94.25 yards a game opposed to More’s 72, and Anderson has scored 4.98 fantasy points a game greater. He also has a better matchup this week. Anderson should be covered by Falcons CB A.J. Terrell, who has allowed an 83.3 catch rate and 3.23 fantasy points per target, fourth-highest point average of all CBs.
Darius Slayton (NYG, $5,800) has done very little since going off in Week 1 for 25.2 fantasy points against the Steelers top-ranked pass defense. Slaton’s scores since Week 1: 4.8, 4.8, and 6.3. The set up is there for Slaton to return to performance similar to how he started the season. The game has the second-highest over/under projection at 54 with the Cowboys favored by 8. That means the Giants are expected to score at least three TDs and be throwing the ball late. Slayton should be covered by CB Daryl Worley, who has allowed a 66.7% catch rate and 2.49 fantasy point per target.
Golden Tate (NYG, $5,500) has been lackluster in three games (7.2, 6.1, and 4 fantasy points), but has an even better CB matchup than Slayton with CB Jourdan Lewis and the same potential game script. “The Cowboys have struggled with slot receivers this season, allowing 2.3 fantasy points per target,” wrote Woellert. “The blueprint on how to beat Dallas is widely known. After missing Week 1, Tate has averaged six targets a game and has been on the field for 75% of the offensive snaps. Lewis has been targeted 10 times and has been responsible for two scores, resulting in 2.5 fantasy points per target.” When playing QB Daniel Jones, I will double stack with Slayton and Tate. I will Slayton as my opposing WR for my Dak Prescott lineup because Slayton has actually had a big game this season.
A.J. Green (CIN, $5,400) has struggled mightily and appears to be a ghost of his former self. His best fantasy performance this season came in Week 1 against the Chargers when he scored 7.6 fantasy points. With that said, he is dirt cheap and has the best CB matchup among Bengals WRs. Green should be covered by Ravens CB Anthony Averett, who has allowed an 83.3% catch rate and 1.71 fantasy points per target. If you are looking for an opposing WR to Lamar Jackson, then Green is worth a shot and likely will be low owned.
Preston Williams (MIA, $5,100) has the BEST POSSIBLE CB matchup on the slate. Williams should be covered by 49ers CB Ahkello Witherspoon, who has allowed a 100% catch rate through four games. That’s right; every ball thrown in his direction has been caught! Witherspoon has the second-highest yard per target at 17.5, so they haven’t been dump-off passes. Witherspoon has allowed the most fantasy points per target at 4.25. The only issue is Williams has only seen 17 targets in four games. The Dolphins offensive coordinator Chan Gailey said this week he wants to change that. “We’re hoping to continue to work with him to get him some catches, according to CBSSports. “We know he can be a weapon, we know he should be a weapon … we need him to.” This is the matchup to make that happen!!
Willie Snead IV ($5,000) has the best CB matchup of Ravens WR and is a worthy option for stacking with Jackson while providing salary relief for the high priced QB. Sneed should be covered by Bengals CB Mackensie Alexander, who has allowed a 75% catch rate and 2.38 fantasy points per target.
Olamide Zaccheaus (ATL, $4,800) is a decent option if you want an opposing WR to Bridgewater. In a larger part, because Julio Jones ($8,100) left the game with a hamstring injury, Zaccheaus lead the Falcons receivers on Monday night against the Packers. With Jones out, caught 8 passes on 9 targets for 86 yards. Because that performance came on Monday, it didn’t affect his price for this week. Zaccheaus hauled in four of six targets for 41 yards the previous week against the Bears when Jones did not play. At the time of writing, Jones had not practiced this week. Hence, it appears Zaccheaus will see significant playing time this week against the Panthers after already being on the field for 75% of offensive snaps in consecutive weeks, according to FanDuel. Zaccheaus has the best CB matchup of the Falcons WRs. Falcons CB Donte Jackson has allowed a respectable 54.5 catch rate, but a high 2.13 fantasy points per target. No other Falcons CB has allowed over 1.0 fantasy points per target.
Mark Andrews (BAL, $7,500) is coming off his second-best fantasy performance of the season by catching all three of his targets for 57 yards and two TDs to score 19.2 fantasy points against Washington. The matchup this week against the Bengals is surprisingly mediocre. Cincinnati is in the middle of the pack against TEs and has allowed a respectable 11.98 fantasy points a game against the position. I won’t have a ton of exposure to Andrews this week, but he will be stacked with Jackson.
George Kittle (SF, $7,500) is peppered with targets no matter who the 49ers QB is. Against the Eagles last week, he caught 15 of 15 targets for 183 yards and a TD to score 32.6 points. At first glance, the matchup against the Dolphins looks difficult as Miami has allowed the fourth-fewest fantasy points to TEs at 6.78. The truth is they really haven’t been tested by a heavily targeted TE. “If you’re one of the “how many fantasy points have they allowed?” crowd, you’d probably be worried about Kittle this week, wrote Tagliere. “But what if I told you they’ve seen just 21 targets and that those targets came from Ryan Izzo, Dawson Knox, James O’Shaughnessy/Tyler Eifert, and Greg Olsen? Despite that group, they have allowed 7.19 yards per target to tight ends, which ranks as the 14th-most in the league. The lack of pass attempts is the only concern in this game for Kittle, as it’s been for most tight ends against them. Because of that, the Dolphins haven’t allowed a tight end more than 66 yards since Week 1 of last year. But let’s be real, you’re playing him every week as a locked-and-loaded TE1.”
Tyler Higbee (LAR, $6,000) has been quiet for the past two weeks after scoring 25.9 points against the Eagles in Week 2. Higbee may have another opportunity to fly high again this week against that has allowed the sixth-most fantasy points to TEs at 18.73 points per game and have allowed a second-most five TDs to the position. I’ll likely have multiple shares of Higbee.
Evan Engram (NYG, $5,500) is a player that you have to look a little deeper at his numbers to see the potential for this week. This season’s highest fantasy performance came in Week 2 against the Bears when he scored 9.5 fantasy points. In large part, that’s because he does not yet have a score. Engram had received 5-10 targets in every game with the 10 coming last week against the Rams when he caught six balls for 35 yards. If Engram were to receive that many targets this week, he could be in for a monster fantasy day. The Cowboys have allowed the sixth-most 18.72 fantasy points a game to TEs. I will likely have multiple shares of Engram.
Ian Thomas (CAR, $4,700) is a cheap additional stack with Bridgewater and has the best possible matchup for a TE this week. Atlanta has allowed a whopping 26.65 fantasy points a game to TEs. The Falcons are averaging almost two TDs a game to TEs with a league-worst seven on the season. Thomas has bargain-priced bonus potential.
Take a Side
Ezekiel Elliott (DAL, $9,000) is the highest projected RB on both 4forf4 and FantasyPros. The high projection is not one that may at first makes a ton of sense solely on the matchup. The Giants right in the middle of the pack in fantasy points allowed to RBs at 25.35 fantasy points a game. Elliott, however, is seeing a tremendous workload and is used a ton in the passing game. The Giants also haven’t played what would be considered elite RBs to start the season. “No running back in the league has run more pass routes than Elliott, and it’s not all that close,” wrote Tagliere. “His 145 routes are 33 more than the closest running back (David Johnson).” Tagliere continued, “The Giants have done a good job limiting production on the ground, though playing against Benny Snell, David Montgomery, Jerick McKinnon, and Darrell Henderson will do that. Snell and Montgomery were able to rush for 82-plus yards, so it’s not a complete-shutdown type matchup or anything. Three of the four teams did total at least 26 carriers, a mark that Elliott could realistically hit if the Cowboys keep giving him 91 percent of the team’s carry. The last time Elliott played the Giants (with similar players, though in a different scheme), he totaled 139 yards on 23 carries. On top of that, the Giants have allowed the third-most fantasy points per target (2.06) to running backs, and Elliott has seen 30 targets over the first four games. This could be that Elliott 100-yard, a two-touchdown game his managers have been waiting for.”
Clyde Edwards-Helaire (KC, $7,900) is repeatedly getting the touches for a big game; it just hasn’t happened yet. On Monday night against a good Patriots run defense, Edwards-Helaire rushed 16 times for 64 yards and caught all three of his targets for 27 yards to score 10.6 fantasy points. This week he one of the best matchups possible in The Raiders. Las Vegas has allowed a league-worst 37.63 fantasy points a game to RBs. The Raiders are also tied with the Panthers for 8 (seven rushing, one receiving) total touchdowns allowed to RBs.
Kenyan Drake (Air, $7,000) may be flying a bit under the radar this week because he only has one TD on the season, and it came in Week 1 against the 49ers. Drake is getting the touches (19,22, and19) to breakthrough for a big game. This could be Drake’s week as he faces the Panthers who have allowed a league-high seven rushing TDs and second-worst 42.83 fantasy points a game to RBs.
Todd Gurley II (ATL, $6,700) is starting to pick up steam. He is now recorded back-to-back games with at least one rushing and receiving TD while receiving 15 and 17 total touched in those two games. This week Gurley has a fantastic matchup against the Panthers, who have allowed a third-worst 36.75 fantasy points a game to RBs. The Panthers are tied with the Raiders with eight total touchdowns to RBs. Carolina has also allowed a fourth most 244 receiving yards to RBs.
James Robinson (JAC, $6,600) continues to see a workhorse load. Last week, he had 17 carries for 75 yards and caught all four of his targets for 32 yards against the Bengals, a favorable matchup. Robinson only scored 12.7 points because he didn’t score. He has an excellent chance of again reaching or exceeding 20 points this week against the Dolphins. Miami has allowed a seventh-worst 30.63 fantasy points a game to RBs. They have also allowed the seventh-most receiving yards to RBs at 211 and the third most total TDs to RBs at seven (5, rushing, 2 receiving).
David Johnson (HOU, $6,400) is a cheaper, albeit older, version of Edwards-Helaire. Johnson has a workhorse load for his team, but the end zone has been elusive, keeping his fantasy production flat. Johnson had 16 carries for 63 yards, and two receptions for 29 yards against a very beatable Vikings run defense to score 10.2 fantasy points last Sunday. Johnson gets a similar matchup this week against Houston. The Texans have allowed a fourth-most 32.68 fantasy points a game to RBs. Houston has allowed the most rushing yards at 651 and third-most total TDs to RBs at seven (six rushing, one receiving). Johnson has a decent chance to break off a big run for a score this Sunday,
Mike Davis (CAR $6,800) has seen a workhorse load replacing Christian McCaffrey (IR, Ankle). In the last two weeks, Davis has had 29 carries for 130 yards and a TD, and caught 13 of 15 targets for 72 yards and another TD. His fantasy output had been constant at 19.1 against the Chargers and 19.1 vs. the Cardinals last week. Davis is facing a Cardinals defense that has allowed 444 rushing yards and 29.78 fantasy points a game to RBs, both the ninth-most. Arizona has also allowed the third-most receiving yards to RBs at 257 and a league-worst three receiving TDs to RBs. Davis is a great stack with Bridgewater because of pass-catching ability and matchup. The Panthers mega four stack of Bridgewater/More/Anderson/Davis is only a combined $23,400 and provides four players who are all in a great spot on Sunday.
There isn’t an exact science in what a winning FanDuel lineup looks likes. However, they should tell a logical story, and certain elements are frequent.
When building a FanDuel lineup, I’ll try to check off most of the criteria:
1) QB stacked with a WR: This allows for a double score when the two connect.
2) Opposing WRs: A recent analysis of big tournaments winners found a high percentage were constructed with two WRs in the same game from both teams. This combination makes sense because high scoring shootouts allow for opportunity on both sides of the ball. Based on matchups, some of our builds incorporate this.
3) RB stacked with Defense: There is a strong correlation between an RB performing well with their team’s defense. That’s something to factor in when choosing a reason, but in reality, it’s often the perceived best available defense with money left from the build that gets plugged in.
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