We’re at the part of the season where not only do we lose the six teams from the primetime games each week but also the teams on the bye. Thus, our player pool to select from on the main slate is reduced and that is a constant until week 12 concludes and the bye weeks are finished.
Heading into week 5, I love a lot of the pricier options. Of course, the challenge will be selecting the right ones and squeezing in as many as possible. Usually I have a variety of players ranging in salary but as you’ll see, the expensive players make up a lot of the article this week. However, I will still have a few cheaper options that you can consider for your lineup construction.
Ben Roethlisberger: vs ATL (DK 6900; FD 8400)
The Falcons have given up at minimum 300 yards and three passing touchdowns to each of the last three quarterbacks they’ve faced; that’s an excellent 24 point floor before the opening kickoff takes place. It doesn’t set up better for Ben Roethlisberger who has traditionally performed better at Heinz Field than away from it. Don’t let the performance against the Ravens, a division rival that typically plays them tough, deter you from making the easy call in starting Big Ben this week against a struggling Atlanta defensive unit. The odds of seeing the quarterback who shredded Kansas City in week 2 are incredibly higher than the one that showed up against Baltimore last Sunday night.
Kirk Cousins: at PHI (DK 6000; FD 7700)
He’s underpriced in the theory that the Eagles defense is far superior at home than away from Lincoln Financial Field. Part of that theory is correct as they have stopped the run much more effectively in South Philly and can generate pressure against a bad Vikings offensive line. However, that secondary is burnable in any NFL venue and one that Kirk Cousins has enjoyed a good deal of success in his time with the Redskins. He is averaging 2.28 passing touchdowns against the Eagles in his last seven games. What’s more notable is his 12 touchdown passes at the Linc in his last four games there and arguably, he now has the best weapons he’s ever had in his career since signing with the Vikings. Kirk’s 2018 home/road splits through four games are ridiculous through four games and his success on the road should continue against Philadelphia’s secondary that is struggling immensely.
Blake Bortles: at KC (DK 5500; FD 7000)
While Case Keenum didn’t put up the fantasy performance that would have been expected, the Chiefs defense still allowed 404 yards of total offense. They had allowed the prior three quarterbacks an average of 30.1 FPPG and that’s a narrative we’ll continue to attack as Blake Bortles can absolutely return value in this spot. Very much an underrated asset in Blake’s career is his ability to scramble as he is averaging 33 rushing yards a game. The Chiefs secondary won’t go many games without allowing a passing touchdown and especially on DraftKings with 16.5 being the number to return value, it’s a great spot to roster Bortles with Leonard Fournette inactive in this game.
Melvin Gordon: vs OAK (DK 8600; FD 8700)
The Raiders may have won their first game but they certainly didn’t look impressive doing so, giving up 42 points in Baker Mayfield’s first start in the NFL. In that high-scoring affair, the Browns running backs had a field day to the tune of 27 rushes for 198 yards and 3 touchdowns along with four receptions for 45 yards; that’s 44.3 FD/49.3 DK points for those keeping score. Enter Melvin Gordon who is averaging 19.5 touches per game and in a game where the Chargers are favored by 5.5 points, he should find plenty of work and opportunity against this Oakland team that should be grateful to be 1-3 and not 0-4. Start Gordon with confidence.
Christian McCaffery: vs NYG (DK 8000; FD 8100)
The formula for fantasy football is simple: snaps allow for the opportunity to touch the ball which generates fantasy production. It’s hard to argue not paying up for McCaffery when he is on the field for 93% of Carolina’s offensive snaps, including all 67 of them against the Bengals in week 3. His 22.6 touches per game ranks second only behind Todd Gurley and this week, he faces a Giants team that’s allowed the 6th most FPA to the running back position in PPR scoring and the 2nd most touchdowns to the position. Cam Newton has certainly vultured some of his potential touchdowns early on but as previous Giant opponents like Ezekiel Elliott and Alvin Kamara have done, there is a good chance that McCaffery crosses the pylons for the first time this weekend.
James Conner: vs ATL (DK 7500; FD 7800)
When the Steelers have trailed in games, James Conner’s usage plummets as illustrated by his 12.5 touches against the Chiefs and Ravens, all games the Steelers would eventually lose. When the Steelers have held a lead and didn’t go on to lose, he averages 28 touches. While he thrives on a positive gamescript, he could find success even if the Steelers fall behind and they gameplan around Atlanta’s inability to stop pass catching backs. Opposing running backs are averaging 10.5 catches on 13.75 targets against the Falcons, all figures that bode well for Conner who himself averages six targets a game. It sets up well for him as he sees 93.1% of the running back touches against a Falcons defense that allows 29.75 touches per game to opposing running backs.
Aaron Jones: at DET (DK 4300; FD 6100)
Jamaal Williams and Ty Montgomery weren’t impressive with their 2.45 and 3.6 yards per carry clips against a Bills team that has been terrible against running backs. Aaron Jones wasn’t any better; remove the 30 yard rush and he averaged 3.5 yards per carry. However, Aaron Rodgers has been raving about Jones and hopefully this week, his snaps and touches will increase and reflect that excitement. Up next for Jones is a Lions team that Ezekiel Elliott slaughtered for 240 scrimmage yards. He is more a bargain on DraftKings and with increased opportunity, he could take advantage of this Lions team that gives up 6.12 yards per carry.
Mark Walton: vs MIA (DK 3400; FD 4700)
It will come down to 11:30 EST/8:30 PST when the inactives release for the first set of games on Sunday but Mark Walton should ONLY be roster if Joe Mixon AND Giovani Bernard are both unavailable on Sunday. At the time of this writing on Thursday night, Bernard has yet to practice this week and while Mixon has been in full pads, he has yet to be medically cleared after arthroscopic knee surgery. Walton could be the free space on both sites and be the conduit to the higher-priced options this week. Walton would face a Dolphins team that allows the 4th most FPA to running backs and was just crushed by James White and Sony Michel in Foxboro the week before.
Julio Jones: at PIT: (DK 8500; FD 8800)
It almost lacks explanation how Julio Jones has only scored three touchdowns since the start of the 2017 season. Currently, he is putting up yardage in mass chunks and is on pace for a 2,000 receiving yard season. Perhaps the touchdown drought ends this weekend as Calvin Ridley draws the harder matchup this weekend. He will line up opposite Joe Haden on most of his snaps while Julio will see Coty Sensbaugh who is part of a Steelers secondary that is allowing the 5th most FPA to receivers lined up on the left side of the ball. Pittsburgh also allows the 3rd most FPA to slot receivers and both Ridley and Julio will see time there against Mike Hilton. Calvin Ridley is on pace for 24 receiving touchdowns; regression is going to hit the rookie at some point soon. Eventually, Julio is going to find the end zone as the Falcons keep finding themselves in shootouts each week. A date against a terrible Steelers secondary bodes well to finally cross the pylons.
Brandin Cooks: at SEA (DK 7400; FD 7800)
The Rams offense is able to sustain three receivers averaging over 16 FD/20 DK points per game while averaging 35 points through the first four games. Sean McVay has made it a point to target Brandin Cooks as he has seen at least eight targets in each game thus far; he saw eight or more targets just five times with the Patriots last year. He draws a favorable matchup in the rookie Tre Flowers who was beaten by Emmanuel Sanders for 51 and 43 yard strikes, the latter being a touchdown, in week 1. Jared Goff has been masterful in the first quarter of the season and with the blazing speed of Cooks, expect Goff to take a few deeps shots against this vulnerable cornerback.
Adam Thielen: at PHI (DK 7700; FD 8300)
Stefon Diggs: at PHI (DK 7000; FD 8200)
The list of slot receivers that Sidney Jones has faced are as follows: Mohamed Sanu, Adam Humphries, Chester Rogers, and Tajae Sharpe. This will be the toughest test for the second-year cornerback as Adam Thielen is averaging 14 targets a game and has eclipsed 100 yards in all four games so far. Diggs is cheaper on both sites, more so on DraftKings, and has surpassed 20+ fantasy points in both road games early on, something he didn’t achieve once last year in PPR scoring. Diggs draws Jalen Mills who was last seen being torched by Corey Davis and Taywan Taylor. This is a matchup that Minnesota offensive coordinator and former Philadelphia quarterbacks coach John DeFillipo should continue to expose as he was witness to quite a few of Jalen’s poor performances. Its tough to go wrong on either of these options and both can make for a good stack with Kirk Cousins.
Emmanuel Sanders: at NYJ (DK 7100; FD 6700)
This is one of my favorite plays on FanDuel in week 5 as he is very affordable for the breakout potential he possesses. His production has dropped off since week 2 but draws a great matchup against Buster Skrine. Blake Bortles attacked the slot corner last week targeting Dede Westbrook 13 times for nine receptions and 130 yards. Sanders lines up in the slot on nearly 66% of his snaps and will see plenty of Skrine on Sunday. He makes for a good play on DraftKings but there are other options I like in his price range; give Sanders the call on FanDuel at his $6700 salary.
Taywan Taylor: at BUF (DK 4000; FD 5000)
For Taywan Taylor, it’s about the matchup and opportunity. Corey Davis will be busy dealing with Tre’Davious White which should filter additional targets Taylor’s way. Also, the Titans have all but abandoned targeting the tight end position with the injury to Delanie Walker and with Rishard Matthews no longer a member of the team, Taylor is now the #2 passing option for Marcus Mariota. The price is too good to pass up given all of the facts listed above; he’s a good piece for getting all of your other options in lineups on Sunday.
Jimmy Graham: at DET (DK 4700; FD 6100)
The Green Bay medical situation with their receivers is becoming concerning. Randall Cobb and Geronimo Allison have yet to practice as of Thursday night and Davante Adams will deal with Darius Slay this week. Jimmy Graham could find himself the beneficiary of these injuries and see additional work against a Lions team that is in the middle of the pack against the tight end position. Aaron Rodgers has fared well against the Lions, throwing 2+ touchdown passes in his last 5 against them. Detroit has given up two touchdowns to tight ends through four games and in a game where Rodgers could be lacking passing options, Graham is a good option at a reasonable price.
Vance McDonald: vs ATL (DK 3700; FD 4600)
This is about getting exposure to the game with the highest total on the week 5 slate. Since Vance McDonald’s 2018 debut in week 2 against the Chiefs when fellow tight end Jesse James went off for 22.3 FD/27.8 DK points, McDonald has seen eight more targets than James over the last two weeks. He’s been either boom or bust in his brief time in Pittsburgh; the divisional round game against Jacksonville last year and the Monday night game against Tampa Bay this year are examples of that boom potential. Against an Atlanta defense that has given up 12.35 FD/15.1 DK point averages to the tight end position over the last two weeks on top of the nine passing touchdowns allowed over the last three weeks, he has a decent shot at returning value and provides a means to the higher-priced options, especially at his $4600 salary on FanDuel.
Austin Hooper: at PIT (DK 3000; FD 5000)
Again, exposure to the highest total on the week 5 slate and while McDonald was more the FanDuel bargain, Austin Hooper is a better bargain on DraftKings. A trio of Baltimore tight ends combined for 99 yards on 10 catches last week and over the last three, the Steelers have given up 26 receptions for 314 yards and three touchdowns to the position. He’s dependent on getting in the end zone but as long as he continues to play 84% of the snaps, he’ll see his 4-6 targets that he currently averages. Again, Calvin Ridley will not sustain his touchdown rate from the last two weeks, someone else will be the beneficiary of Matt Ryan’s touchdown passes. He’s a gamble that can easily pay off in this potential shootout.
Tennessee: at BUF (DK 4000; FD 3900)
An absolute must play on FanDuel as Tennessee is the 14th priced defense compared to being the most expensive on DraftKings. Excluding the Vikings catastrophe, opposing defenses against Buffalo are averaging six sacks, two interceptions, and 16.33 fantasy points per game. This is simply a flow chart play but it may be tough to squeeze this defense in lineups on DraftKings. If able, this Titans defense that sacked Carson Wentz four times including a strip sack should find even better success against the Bills porous offensive line.
Los Angeles Rams: at SEA (DK 3800; FD 4700)
The Rams defense has forced nearly two turnovers per game against opposing offenses while scoring two touchdowns in four games. Meanwhile, Seattle’s offense has struggled against superior defenses like the Broncos and Bears, allowing 12 sacks and five turnovers in those games. The Rams are definitely in the caliber of the two defenses listed above while the Seattle offense is a shadow of what it was last year.
Cleveland: vs BAL (DK 2500; FD 3300)
The public may lay off this defense after allowing 39 points to the Raiders offense but there is a lot to like about Cleveland heading into this divisional tilt. The Baltimore offense has at minimum turned the ball over once and allowed two sacks in each of their first four games while the Cleveland defense has at minimum forced two turnovers and sacked the quarterback twice in their first four games. Defenses that get to the quarterback and force turnovers are ones worth consideration each week in the hopes of a defensive score; Cleveland has the pieces to make that happen, even if it is against an improved Baltimore offense.
Each week, I will identify what players are bargains based on the salary cap percentage difference they represent on the respective site. Here are the notable week 4 bargains from both sites:
NOTABLE DRAFTKINGS BARGAINS
QB Patrick Mahomes: 1.93
QB Cam Newton: 1.2
RB Austin Ekeler: 1.93
RB Aaron Jones: 1.56
RB Kareem Hunt: 1.2
WR Mohamed Sanu: 1.33
TE Austin Hooper: 2.33
TE Travis Kelce: 1.83
NOTABLE FANDUEL BARGAINS
WR Emmanuel Sanders: 3.04
WR Brandin Cooks: 1.8
DEF Tennessee: 1.5