Thanks to being over the field on Tampa Bay it was a decent week on FanDuel. Once the news broke that Dalvin Cook was out Alexander Mattison became the clear best play on the slate, and I ended up with him in around half my lineups. That was great from the standpoint of Mattison was awesome, but it had a ripple effect of lowering my exposure to the Chargers and Derrick Henry, the other offense that went off and the top RB on the slate. While that kept me from putting up a truly elite finish, most of the lineups cashed and a few were doing very well prior to the Chargers going nuclear. Mike Evans and Antonio Brown smashed. Running backs aside from Mattison that I was heavily exposed to included D’Andre Swift and Najee Harris, both of which had strong fantasy scores. Tight end was the lone letdown position, as Mike Gesicki saw the targets but didn’t do much with them. Darren Waller and Cameron Brate also busted at their salaries. Overall, the net on the FanDuel lineups was $3.87 to bring the bankroll back up to $58.99.
The Draftkings lineup was another story. When the Cook news broke I pivoted onto Mattison from Leonard Fournette, from Tee Higgins to Mike Evans, and from Patriots DST to Chargers DST. Mattison outproduced Fournette, Evans was an awesome play at sub-5% rostership, and while the Chargers DST was awful at least I didn’t pay $4900 for the defense that Davis Mills lit up. The rest of the lineup was not great. Trevor Lawrence also came in under 5% and had a pretty solid fantasy game, but a lot of that was thanks to a rushing touchdown. Surprisingly, the Jaguars did not feature their good receivers at all in their game plan. That meant Laviska Shenault and Marvin Jones were both pretty bad misses. A.J. Brown could have looked a little better if he wasn’t tackled on the 1-yard line, but playing him over Derrick Henry was just a mistake. Henry was super popular, but Brown came in at around 15% himself and it was clear that popularity aside Henry was just a better play. Aaron Jones was fine, but with so many strong running back plays on the slate I think playing him given as popular as he was turned out to be a mistake as well. The Draftkings bankroll drops to $45.
Kansas City Chiefs, team total of 30.25, @ Washington Football Team, team total of 23.75
This game is the clear standout on the slate, as neither defense has been able to stop anyone. The Chiefs, led by Patrick Mahomes ($8300 on Draftkings/$9000 on FanDuel), are the most expensive team to stack this week. While Travis Kelce ($7000/$8500) has seen his price drop a little on Draftkings he is still the most expensive tight end on the slate, and Tyreek Hill ($8500/$8700) offers no discount despite heading into this game a little banged up. Darrell Williams ($4900/$5200) is the one bargain in this offense, thanks to an injury knocking usual starter Clyde Edwards-Helaire out for this week, but it’s not clear how much of a role in the passing game he’ll have and it’s not like CEH is vacating a ton of high-value touches. Mecole Hardman ($4200/$5500) is coming off a big 12-target game, but most of those throws came after Hill left the game with an injury, and with Hill back in the lineup it’s hard to view Hardman as anything more than a dart throw in tournaments to get a cheap piece of this offense.
Because of their salaries, the premium Chiefs stack of Mahomes-Hill-Kelce likely won’t be as popular as it should be in a fantastic matchup. Despite coming into the season with high expectations the Washington Football Team defense has been terrible. Aside from holding the Chargers to just 20 points in Week 1, the Football Team has given up at least 29 points in all of the last four weeks. Their secondary is particularly weak and should offer little resistance to Mahomes and company. They’re expensive, but few players can match the ceilings the Chiefs’ stars offer.
The Football Team offense comes in a little cheaper and also gets a matchup with a porous defense. The Chiefs have struggled to stop anyone, giving up at least 29 points in all of their games, and should score fast enough to push Washington to keep up. Taylor Heinicke ($5800/$7300) offers a significant discount from Mahomes while still giving access to this high-scoring game environment. Heinicke has gone for over 20 Draftkings points in three of his four starts, only failing to do so against a much tougher Saints’ defense, and offers some upside as a rusher. His targets should be concentrated on Terry McLaurin ($7100/$7400) assuming he’s good to go for Sunday. McLaurin popped up on the injury report late in the week with a hamstring injury, but it sounded more precautionary than something to worry about. If he’s healthy, McLaurin has a case to be the top receiver on the slate. He’s had inconsistent production to start the year but his 30.6% target share and 44.3% share of his team’s air yards make it clear that he’s in the elite tier of receivers.
In his first start last week, Ricky Seals-Jones ($3000/$5000) played 99% of the snaps and earned nine targets. He projects as the best points-per-dollar play at the tight end position, and lineups featuring both him and Kelce offer a way to stack this game in an unconventional way. Curtis Samuel will miss this game, so Adam Humphries ($3400/$5000) and Dyami Brown ($3300/$4600) should be on the field a lot. Brown would be the preferred option thanks to his 14.2 aDOT, but both are deep fliers at best. Antonio Gibson ($6500/$6700) hasn’t carved out enough of a receiving role to ascend to the top tier of running backs and might get forced off the field if the Chiefs build a big lead, but he’s explosive and a focal point of the Football Team’s offense assuming they don’t abandon the run. J.D. McKissic ($4800/$5200) handles the passing work and should see an increased role in this game, but with the other running back value available this week you probably don’t need to give him much consideration outside of game stacks.
Los Angeles Chargers, team total of 24.25, @ Baltimore Ravens, team total of 26.75
This game should also be popular with both teams coming off memorable games. The Chargers just hung 47 points on the Browns and look like one of the most exciting offenses with their explosive plays and aggressiveness on fourth downs. Justin Herbert ($7300/$8000) has 11 passing touchdowns in his last three games, has gone over 300 passing yards in three of his five starts, and is quickly establishing himself as one of the elite quarterbacks. He’s likely to go a little overlooked compared to Mahomes and the other quarterback in this game, but Herbert has already proven he has week-winning upside even in difficult matchups.
Mike Williams ($8100/$8000) didn’t practice all week and is priced up despite being slightly behind Keenan Allen ($6400/$7100) in target share. Both are commanding near-elite usage, but given the price and injury concerns, it’s tough to trust Williams. This sets up as a better matchup for Allen anyway, as the Ravens play a lot of man coverage and have struggled a bit with underneath routes.
Austin Ekeler ($7900/$8400) has a receiving touchdown in three straight games, as well as at least five targets in every game since Week 1, and the Ravens defense has struggled to defend running backs so far this season. My preferred Herbert stack would be with Allen and Eekler, but in larger contests, Williams is worth a look.
Lamar Jackson ($7400/$8200) led a fantastic second-half comeback on Monday Night Football and continues to also serve as Baltimore’s primary rushing threat. Jackson has looked great throwing the ball this year and remains in a class of his own as a rushing quarterback. The Chargers’ secondary has held up pretty well this season but they’ve been very beatable on the ground, so Jackson has multiple paths to hit his ceiling regardless of how this game goes.
Mark Andrews ($5200/$6300) is coming off a monster 44.7 Draftkings point performance and should be popular this week. He’s tied with Marquise Brown ($5900/$7000) for the team lead in target share and has an easier matchup against the middle of the LA defense. Brown is always a big-play threat but his price is starting to creep up and he might lose some targets to debuting rookie Rashod Bateman ($3000/$5000). Jackson’s rushing ability makes it fine to stack him with just one of his receivers, with Andrews likely to be the more popular choice since he knocks out the tight end position while providing a discount from Kelce.
Los Angeles Rams, team total of 28.75
Matthew Stafford ($6700/$7900) hurt his last week but seems to be fine for this week, which means the Rams’ offense should be set to light up the Giants. New York has struggled to stop the run and to defend passes in the middle of the field. Darrell Henderson ($6000/$7300) looks to be one of the most popular running backs this week, for good reason, but that likely means the passing attack here goes overlooked. Cooper Kupp ($7900/$8200) wasn’t going to catch a touchdown every week and aside from not finding the endzone his usage has remained as elite as it was to start the season. Kupp has double-digit targets in every game, maintaining a 36% target share, and leads the NFL in red-zone targets heading into Week 6. Robert Woods ($6100/$6900) broke out last week with 14 targets, and while that’s likely an anomaly it was a nice reminder that he is still clearly one of the top options on this offense and is capable of huge games. Tyler Higbee ($4400/$5500) continues to play a ton, logging 84% of the snaps last week, and is one of the few tight ends that is a legitimate part of this team’s offense.
The Giants offer two main options to run it back with; Sterling Shepard ($5000/$6200) and Kadarius Toney ($5600/$6000). Toney has emerged as a real weapon on a Giants’ offense that has dealt with serious injuries to their playmakers. Shepard and Darius Slayton ($3800/$5500) are set to return from injury, but Saqon Barkley and Kenny Golladay will miss this week. Toney has shown he can play both in the slot and on the perimeter and should take over Golladay’s role this week. Shepard still leads the team in targets despite missing the past two weeks and had games of nine and 10 targets before going down with an injury. Shepard looks better on Draftkings, where he is cheaper and benefits from the full PPR scoring, and Toney looks better on FanDuel where there is more of a premium placed on big plays.
Since there are only 10 games on the slate this week quarterback is pretty thin. Kyler Murray ($7900/$8400) is always in consideration, but his head coach and play-caller is going to miss this game due to COVID protocols. Murray was also limited in practice with a shoulder injury which is especially concerning given how much his production dropped off last year after suffering a shoulder injury.
Carson Wentz ($5400/$6700) might be a terrible quarterback. However, he is cheap and has an easy matchup at home against the Texans this week. Combine that with the Colts’ secondary’s inability to stop big plays, and it’s possible the Texans can do enough on offense to force Wentz to throw enough to pay off his salary. He gets T.Y. Hilton ($4100/$5000) back this week as well.
Joe Burrow ($6300/$7400) appears to be fully healthy now, with at least 32 pass attempts in each of the last two weeks and should be able to carve up a bad Detroit defense for however long that game is competitive.
Kareem Hunt ($6200/$7400) was an interesting play before Nick Chubb was ruled out, and now that he has the backfield to himself he will be by far the most popular play this week. Chubb’s absence locks Hunt into a bigger snap share and most, if not all, of the goal-line work.
Jonathan Taylor ($6600/$7500) should be able to take advantage of the Texans as a big favorite at home, and since he played on Monday his salary doesn’t reflect his big two-touchdown performance.
D’Andre Swift ($6300/$7100) has been a staple of these articles and will continue to be until his salary reflect his elite usage in the passing game. Swift may not see a majority of the carries, but he has at least five targets in every game this season and should see an uptick with Quintez Cephus hitting injured reserve.
Dalvin Cook ($7700/$8800) is back healthy and should step back into his bell-cow role at a discount thanks to the missed time. Cook should be much more expensive, and likely will be again after this week.
Khalil Herbert ($4600/$5500) is the last man standing in the Chicago backfield. It’s not a great matchup, but he doesn’t need to do much to pay off his salary.
Jakobi Meyers ($5500/$5800) has a 23% target share as the number one receiver for the Patriots and should be in a good spot to produce against the Cowboys this week. Dallas will score enough to force the Patriots to open up their offense, and Meyers should be the primary beneficiary. His fantasy point total has been depressed by his failure to score a touchdown yet this season, but aside from the lack of touchdowns, he’s been a solid producer this season.
Brandin Cooks ($5800/$6500) isn’t playing a defense that can take him out of the game plan, and his peripheral stats are all fantastic. Cooks has a 33.6% target share, accounts for just under half of his team’s air yards, and should have no issue finding open space against a bad Colts’ secondary.
Courtland Sutton ($6200/$6600) is second among receivers on this slate in total air yards and should thrive in a game against a reeling Las Vegas Raiders team.
Justin Jefferson ($8000/$7900) never seems to be popular despite being one of the best receivers in the NFL. Jefferson has distanced himself from the rest of the Minnesota pass catchers with a 27% target share, and has gone over 100 yards or scored a touchdown in four of five games to start the season.
Tight End looks brutal this week outside of Kelce, Andrews, and Seals-Jones. T.J. Hockenson ($5000/$6400) should have a favorable matchup against the Bengals and should see more targets with Cephus being on IR, but it’s clear Hockenson is dealing with an injury that is limiting him. Hopefully, it’s something that is healing, and if he returns to form this week he would be a great tournament play since he’s unlikely to be popular at all.
Dalton Schultz ($4900/$6500) is starting to be priced consummate with his production and probably won’t continue to earn more targets than the Dallas receivers. Still, he’s on one of the better offenses and it’s not likely he’ll be a focus of the New England defense this week.
Cleveland DST ($2600/$3600) is cheap and playing the Cardinals at the most opportune time. Arizona will be missing their play-calling head coach this week and may struggle as a result. It’s risky given how explosive the Cardinals’ offense is, but the Browns have good pass rushers and should be able to generate pressure.
Kansas City DST ($2800/$3800) is not a good real-life defense, but they find themselves in a high-paced game where their opponent should pass a lot. With many looking to stack the offenses in that game, the Chiefs offer a nice pivot and should have plenty of chances to force a turnover.
One of the first decisions this week is what to do with Kareem Hunt, who projects to be very chalky, and to a lesser extent Darrell Henderson and Khalil Herbert. While all three are objectively great plays I think there are enough other running back plays that fading them is fine. My plan, for now, is to play Hunt and Henderson but to leave myself some room to late swap away from Hunt if the early games don’t go well.
Instead of going for a value play at quarterback again this week, I’m going to pay up for Lamar Jackson and stack him with Mark Andrews to take care of tight end without having to commit the salary for Kelce.
Keenan Allen is my favorite Charger to run it back with and the discount he offers from Mike Williams and Austin Ekeler is much appreciated in this build. There’s enough salary to fit in three mid-tier receivers, so Sterling Shepard, Jakobi Meyers, and Michael Pittman all make sense. Shepard should see plenty of targets and provides some correlation with Henderson, while Meyers and Pittman have favorable matchups and should lead both of their respective teams in targets.
Cleveland DST fits in as the last piece and stands out as the best of the cheap DSTs. Hunt, Meyers, and the DST are all in the late games, so if the early games go poorly there is some maneuverability. One option that stands out at first glance would be to swap from Meyers and Hunt to Josh Jacobs and Amari Cooper. Jacobs and Cooper shouldn’t be very popular while still providing a comparable combined ceiling, which is all I’d be looking for in that late swap scenario.
I plan to just match the field’s exposure to Hunt while fading Herbert and being over the field on Henderson. From there, I’ll be prioritizing getting Lamar Jackson into lineups as well as Terry McLaurin, who is priced much more favorably on FanDuel. I’ll also be over the field on Mark Andrews and Darren Waller, while I’ll be under the field on Travis Kelce and instead will be focusing most of my Chiefs exposure on Tyreek Hill, with the hope that his questionable tag will depress his popularity.
My top five plays at each position right now, by how much exposure I have to them:
QB: Lamar Jackson, Carson Wentz, Patrick Mahomes, Taylor Heinicke, Justin Herbert
RB: Jonathan Taylor, Kareem Hunt, Darrel Henderson, Darrell Williams, D’Andre Swift
WR: Terry McLaurin, Keenan Allen, Jakobi Meyers, Brandin Cooks, Tyreek Hill
TE: Mark Andrews, Darren Waller, Travis Kelce, Evan Engram, Jared Cook
DST: Minnesota, Green Bay, Cleveland, Chicago, Indianapolis
Good luck this week!
Photo by Mark Goldman/Icon Sportswire