Week 5 Overview
This should be a fun week on FanDuel. It starts with the fact that there are not any games with huge totals on the main slate. This will naturally lead to ownership being spread out and less overly chalky players. We have a raft of quarterbacks with rushing upside on the slate given the fact that so many athletic young passers are now entrenched as starters, including now Trey Lance. Chasing rushing upside has been the winning strategy every week to date. At running back, there are some potential injury values (Samaje Perine and Damien Williams) but it is easy enough to build rosters that allow you the cap space for two or even three of the better $7K+ options. It is a good week to pay up at running back. We can get the cap space to splurge at running back by rostering a pair of wide receivers in the $6K range. As you will read below, a number of players in this range have a great chance to see 10+ targets.
This is a fun week at quarterback with many intriguing options at the position. One of the things that I will continue to emphasize here is the importance of rushing upside. Another week, another example of our GPP-winning quarterback (Sam Darnold) getting there on the strength of rushing scores. We have most of our list of usual suspects on the slate when it comes to rushing upside, led by Kyler Murray and Dak Prescott. We have seen enough from Sam Darnold (in a new offensive system) and Trevor Lawrence to also feel confident in their red zone rushing usage. Lastly, we have Trey Lance making his first career start. If Kyle Shanahan decides to get creative with designed runs for Lance to get him comfortable, he could have a big fantasy week. Don’t forget about Justin Fields either. He has not been asked to run as much as expected but you have to feel he is going to break off some long runs at some point this season.
Top QB Plays
Kyler Murray ($8,500), Arizona vs. San Francisco
Another week with Murray at the top of our list. His combination of rushing upside (7.2 rushing points per game) along with his passing upside (318.3 yards and 2.3 passing touchdowns per game) gives him an edge over the rest of the field that is worth paying the small premium of approximately $1,000 for. He is my best points per dollar play on the entire slate again this week. The matchup against San Francisco is solid, if unspectacular. The Cardinals have the fourth-highest implied team total on the slate (27.5) and if Trey Lance exceeds expectations in his first career start, this game could quickly turn into a shootout.
Joe Burrow ($7,000), Cincinnati vs. Green Bay
There is a chance that this ends up being the “sneaky low-owned” play that ends up much more popular than we thought it would be. However, if the projected ownership of sub-2% ends up being accurate, this is exactly the kind of GPP-winning play we should be on the lookout for. Aside from the bargain salary and low ownership, here are some reasons to be bullish on Burrow:
- The Bengals have been getting off to slow starts, averaging less than a touchdown per game up until the two-minute warning of the first half. However, they have then opened up the offense with touchdown drives in the final minute of the half and then come out and been excellent in the second half. Letting Burrow cook earlier in the game is the next logical step.
- Green Bay’s defense is beaten up. Star cornerback Jaire Alexander is out. Top pass rusher Za’Darius Smith is out. Preston Smith, Kevin King, and others are banged up.
- This is a Bengals offense that should return Tee Higgins and give Burrow his full complement of passing-game weapons. This is not the wide receiver corps you want to be facing when your CB depth is being tested.
- With Joe Mixon highly questionable to play, we should not expect Samaje Perine to see quite the same workload. Also Perine will be spelled by Chris Evans, which should end up leading to more empty sets, where Burrow has been nearly unstoppable of late. Keep an eye on Mixon news, though even if he is able to give it a go, do not expect the same workload. This is a Burrow game.
- This is also a game with real shootout potential. The Bengals defense has been strong to date but has not faced a quarterback anywhere near the caliber of Aaron Rodgers.
Bengals TE CJ Uzomah on Joe Burrow: "He's an animal. He's a stone cold killer back there. His facial expression doesn't change throughout the game. He's Joey Franchise for a reason." pic.twitter.com/eipwHs1UBc— Kyle Brandt (@KyleBrandt) October 8, 2021
Other QBs to consider:
Trey Lance ($6,900), San Francisco at Arizona
I am excited to play Lance in his first start at this incredible price. Unfortunately, I am not alone in that, which keeps Lance from being a great tournament play. Despite the high projected ownership, Lance is still at least a good play. He has major rushing upside and plenty of weapons at his disposal. He is also playing in what is expected to be one of the highest-scoring games of the weekend. Get him in some lineups but try to also incorporate some sleeper plays elsewhere because there are going to be a lot of similar-looking Lance-Kittle and Lance-Samuel lineups in every tournament.
Trevor Lawrence ($6,500), Jacksonville vs. Tennessee
Almost all of the arguments in favor of Lance also apply to Lawrence this weekend. However, you can get Lawrence at much lower ownership and an even cheaper price. The Jaguars have clearly decided they need to use Lawrence more as a runner. Over the last two weeks, he has 14 rushing attempts for 63 yards and a touchdown. And he has looked good doing it. Lawrence’s speed and elusiveness are underrated. If he can score another rushing touchdown, the potential is there for a big weekend because the Tennessee pass defense has not been good. They let a struggling Zach Wilson get on track last week and could let Lawrence get rolling this week.
We are getting to the point of the season when we know who the top options are and most of them are priced accordingly (Derrick Henry, Dalvin Cook, and Alvin Kamara). Based upon usage rates the past couple weeks, Saquon Barkley, Najee Harris, and Nick Chubb may belong in that same tier but we are able to roster them at a solid discount compared to the top guys. Leonard Fournette is going to be chalky but he has looked good in recent weeks and has a great matchup, making him “good chalk.” Keep an eye on injury news as we approach Sunday. Samaje Perine is only $5,600 and could see 20 touches if Joe Mixon is out.
Top RB Plays
Leonard Fournette ($6,400), Tampa Bay vs. Miami
Leonard Fournette has clearly emerged as the top option in the Buccaneers backfield. He is coming off of a big 92-yard rushing performance in a huge matchup against New England and has been looking more and more like the guy who was once the fourth-overall pick. In addition to the rushing numbers, Fournette has been heavily involved as a pass catcher, averaging 4.8 targets per game. Miami has struggled defending the run this season, ranking 27th in rushing yards against (547). Tampa Bay has been very aggressive in attacking the weakness of the opposing defense with adaptive game plans that look different each week. As big home favorites against a bad rushing defense, the logical plan would be to use a run-heavy approach for the second-straight week.
Saquon Barkley ($7,800), NY Giants at Dallas
Barkley has looked healthy the past two weeks and is back to producing big fantasy numbers. He has rushed for 50+ yards and scored a touchdown in both games. More importantly, he is seeing heavy usage as a pass catcher, averaging 5.5 catches for 58.5 receiving yards per game. We should again expect big receiving numbers for Barkley in a great matchup against the Cowboys. Dallas is allowing 11.2 fantasy PPG to opposing running backs through the air. This game has the highest total (52) on the entire slate and Barkley is game script proof given his heavy usage as a pass catcher. This is one of the few high floor plays on the slate in the sub-8k price range. We need to take advantage of our opportunities to roster Barkley at these mid-tier prices while we can. He is soon going to be in the same price range as Alvin Kamara and the other top backs.
In which moment did Saquon Barkley feel more like his peak form - his receiving touchdown or his rushing touchdown to win the game?— Giants Videos (@SNYGiants) October 7, 2021
"First one got me in my bag. After I scored, I was like 'yeah.'" pic.twitter.com/uZREEXzUWB
Other RBs to consider:
Nick Chubb ($7,500), Cleveland at LA Chargers
Chubb is going massively overlooked this week with very low projected ownership. Any week when Chubb is unpopular, it is a great idea to get overweight compared to the field. He is getting fed (back-to-back weeks with 22 touches) and is one of the most talented backs in the NFL running behind one of the league’s elite offensive lines. Some of the touchdown variance (Kareem Hunt has been stealing most of the touchdowns) is due to swing in Chubb’s favor soon. If that happens Sunday and the chalky running backs don’t have big games, you can put yourself in position for a huge payday by rostering Chubb.
Najee Harris ($7,300), Pittsburgh vs. Denver
The usage totals are just insane so it feels like only a matter of time until Harris explodes for a huge slate-tilting fantasy game. Over the last two weeks he has 20 receptions for 131 yards. He is also averaging 14.5 carries per game over that stretch despite the Steelers falling behind early in both games. With Pittsburgh favored at home against Denver, this could be the first game of the season where the Steelers can get out to an early lead and really try to pound away with Harris.
Unlike some past slates, we have very few elite plays at the top end (outside of Davante Adams). None of the options in the $6,500-to-$8,000 range leap off the page as must plays. However, there are plenty of talented guys with proven upside in that range so we want to sprinkle them into our GPP lineups. The most value is in the $5,800 to $6,400 range. We are able to get some players there who have been seeing 10+ targets per game in recent weeks. Going overweight on some players in this range (four of whom are highlighted below) gives us some extra cap space to play with to get up to Adams and some of the top running backs.
Top WR Options
Davante Adams ($8,200) Green Bay at Cincinnati
The pros of playing Adams are obvious. (1) He has been the league’s best fantasy receiver for more than a year. (2) He has seen 29 targets over the past two weeks. (3) He is playing in a game with sneaky shootout potential considering the flashes we have seen from Joe Burrow in recent weeks. On top of all that, it is a great week to pay up at wide receiver and there are very few attractive options at the very top.
Jakobi Meyers ($5,900) New England at Houston
Meyers is simply too cheap for a player who has averaged 8.5 catches per game on 13.0 targets the last two weeks. The only reason we are getting Meyers at sub-$6K is the fact he has not yet scored a touchdown. Expect that to change soon considering just how much volume Meyers has been seeing.
DeVonta Smith ($6,000), Philadelphia at Carolina
Smith put up 122 yards on 7 receptions last week and could have a similar performance against an overrated Panthers defense that is missing top cornerback Jaycee Horn. Newly acquired Stephon Gilmore is still nursing a quad injury. This game features a pair of quarterbacks that have quietly been almost as hot as any passer in the NFL. Darnold has thrown for 300+ in three straight games and Hurts is averaging 356.5 passing yards per game over his last two. This is a bet that Smith takes another step on his way towards becoming one of the league’s best wide receivers. Given the game environment, matchup, low salary, and relatively low projected ownership, this is a fantastic spot to use Smith. Pair him with Hurts for one of the sneakier extreme upside stacks.
DeVonta Smith amongst rookies this season:— Jeff Kerr (@JeffKerrCBS) October 7, 2021
Targets -- 31 (2nd in #NFL)
Receptions -- 18 (3rd)
Receiving Yards -- 237 (2nd)
First #Eagles rookie with 10+ targets, 5+ catches, and 120+ yards in a game in franchise history.#FlyEaglesFly pic.twitter.com/Tv2HbrUlPn
Other WRs to Consider:
Laviska Shenault Jr ($5,800), Jacksonville vs. Tennessee
With D.J. Chark Jr out and Marvin Jones Jr expected to see a lot of top cornerback Kristian Fulton, this could be the week Shenault finally breaks out. He showed signs of breakout potential last week while racking up 110 total yards against the Bengals. It is clear that Shenault is one of the top playmakers in this Jacksonville offense. Expect them to start to really prioritize getting the ball into his hands on Sunday. The price and expected ownership of less than 10% makes him a strong tournament play.
Tyler Boyd ($6,300), Cincinnati vs. Green Bay
Ja'Marr Chase generates all of the headlines but Boyd has quietly been the engine that makes the Bengals offense go. Cincinnati has found tremendous success in empty sets of late, largely due to the fact that Boyd has been almost uncoverable over the middle of the field when they spread things out. He is coming off of a 9-118-0 performance against Jacksonville and has the potential to do similar damage against a weak Packers secondary. If he also finds the end zone, he can win you a GPP. Boyd also has a higher floor than most other receivers in this salary range so there is little risk in rostering him as your WR3.
The most common roster construction will be paying up for Darren Waller or George Kittle. Both are fairly priced and have significant upside. There is some solid value this week and the top options below will explore a couple of high-upside sleepers.
Top TE Options
Mike Gesicki ($5,600), Miami at Tampa Bay
When you start figuring out target projections for the week and comparing them to prices, Gesicki quickly stands out in his price range. Over the last three weeks, he has seen 6, 12, and 6 targets (8.0 per game). Miami is beat up at wide receiver with Will Fuller V on injured reserve and some depth pieces also sidelined. More importantly, the likely game script is incredibly favorable for Gesicki. The Dolphins are 10-point road underdogs against a team that is allowing less than 43 rushing yards per game but giving up 327.5 passing yards per game. Opponents have also averaged 46.5 passing attempts per game against the Buccaneers. One of the things we have seen from Jacoby Brissett is that he is not going to be super aggressive with the ball and loves checking down to his tight ends and running backs. Add it all up and this is a spot where Gesicki should see even more than the 8.0 targets he has averaged over his last three games.
Anthony Firkser ($4,700), Tennessee at Jacksonville
It is looking like A.J. Brown should play but Julio Jones remains highly questionable for Sunday with a hamstring injury. Firkser saw five targets last week, played 50 snaps, and should be one of Ryan Tannehill’s top targets again this week. While he does not carry a huge projection, there is some upside here given that Firkser essentially functions as a slot wide receiver in this offense and Ryan Tannehill has consistently looked to his tight ends in the red zone throughout his career. The real attraction here is the price. The $4,700 salary gives you a gigantic advantage in roster construction. If Firkser even keeps it close with the top tight ends like Darren Waller, the $2,700 price difference not only helps you put together a unique lineup structure but should help you add some major firepower at other positions.
Other TEs to consider:
Darren Waller ($7,400), Las Vegas vs. Chicago
Waller is going to be a top option every week. Aside from Travis Kelce, no other tight end has shown both the high floor and ridiculous upside we have seen from Waller. That being said, Derek Carr has been spreading the ball around more in recent weeks with both Hunter Renfrow and Henry Ruggs III seeing more targets. This has led to Waller seeing exactly seven targets in each of the last three games. If you are going to eat the chalk (expect Waller to be 20% rostered or higher) and pay up to the very top of the position, it would be nice to have a big gap in terms of projected targets. However, Waller does not project to have many more opportunities than Gesicki and some of the other mid-priced tight ends.
New England ($5,000) at Houston
The chalky, expensive defenses have been hitting lately. Last week it was Buffalo who shut out the Texans and took advantage of four Davis Mills interceptions. Turnovers were a massive problem for Mills in training camp and he is clearly unready to be a starting NFL quarterback. Expect Bill Belichick to confuse the rookie with some exotic looks and for New England to generate some turnovers this weekend.
Pittsburgh ($4,000) vs. Denver
The Steelers defense has proven over the years to be fantasy gold due to their aggressive play style and knack for causing turnovers. Whenever they are priced down a bit, they deserve our attention. That is especially true this week as home favorites against the Broncos.