Week 5 is a “stars and scrubs” kind of week. I see five absolute studs in pristine spots: Julio Jones vs. WAS, Odell Beckham vs. SF, Jamaal Charles vs. CHI, Le’Veon Bell at SD and Rob Gronkowski at DAL. Everyone is going to try to get exposure to one, two or maybe even three of those guys. Of course, in order to do that we need a bunch of cheapies in our lineup. I’ve identified some of the ones I like below.
The point of this column is to use the news, snap count, usage and trends to both be a little contrarian and avoid whiffs.
MATCHUPS TO EXPLOIT
1. Jamaal Charles’ touchdown projection against the Bears
Over the last three seasons, the Chiefs have scored 86 touchdowns. Jamaal Charles has accounted for 38 of them, or 44.1 percent. When this team gets to the red zone, they don’t look to Travis Kelce and don’t even think about featuring a wideout. It’s JC, JC, JC. So when the Chiefs are at home as a 10-point favorite with an implied team total of 27.5, we have to take serious notice of Charles’ multiple-touchdown probability. It’s also a letdown spot for the Bears after they edged out the Raiders at home last week and now have to go to Arrowhead.
SITUATIONS TO CAPITALIZE ON
1. Willie Snead earning his way up the depth chart
Snead was not expected to make the Saints when training camp opened. The former UDFA out of Ball State forced his way onto the team by dominating the preseason (11-48-1 on 98 snaps). He opened the regular season behind Brandon Coleman and Marques Colston, playing just 24.3 percent of the snaps and running 14 routes. Those numbers have gradually risen to the point where Snead played 65.8 percent of the snaps and ran 37 routes against the Cowboys last week.
The key here is that the Saints weren’t forced to hand Snead a bigger role a la Kamar Aiken or Keith Mumphrey. It’s a merit-based promotion for a player who has been impressing for three months. Snead has the trust of Drew Brees/Sean Payton and also has a plus up-in-pace matchup against a broken secondary. At just $3000, it’s hard for me to make lineups I like without Snead in them.
2. Dion Lewis gets a contract extension
A big reason some people have shied away from rostering Dion Lewis this season is a fear of being “Belichicked.” Those fears should be quelled a good bit after the Patriots signed Lewis to an extension through 2017 that includes $3M in base money and can total $5M with incentives. Giving out in-season extensions is a rarity in the NFL – especially at the replaceable running back position. Dumping this cash on Lewis right now confirms the Patriots and Bill Belichick are high on him as their featured back. He’s safe at $4800 Sunday against a Cowboys team that can no longer hog the ball without Tony Romo, Dez Bryant and DeMarco Murray.
3. Joique Bell’s injury raising Ameer Abdullah’s floor
After Ameer Abdullah has the inevitable breakout game that’s coming, it’s going to be too late. He’s such an electric player, one that everyone wants to be on but can’t quite pull the trigger on yet. This week isn’t ideal as the Lions are on a short week with a struggling offensive line against a very good Arizona defense. But the good news is Joique Bell (ankle) is out again. Last week, Abdullah set season-highs in snaps (52.6 percent) and touches (15) in an impossible, “throw it out” kind of spot at Seattle. There’s a ton of GPP upside here despite the warts.
CONTRARIAN GPP STACKS
1. Kirk Cousins, Jamison Crowder and Derek Carrier
I think this is an eruption spot for Mt. Saint Julio against a Redskins secondary that was very bad even before injuries to DeAngelo Hall, Chris Culliver, Duke Ihenacho and Justin Rogers. The problem is he costs $9200. A way I like to think about GPP roster construction is putting together a package of players that really correlate well together if the game goes how we think it will go. In this case, I expect the Redskins to try to slow the game down and run the football early. But once Julio puts it on them, they’ll be forced to speed up and go to the pass game. At that point, the Falcons should have a big enough lead where they can sit back on defense and give up the underneath stuff. That would lead to a ton of dinks/dunks to Crowder – who has replaced Andre Roberts as the slot man – and Carrier – a converted wideout who is replacing Jordan Reed. The best part of this is we can get all four players in this Julio-included package for $20,500.
1. Todd Gurley at Packers
Everyone is all Gurley-ed up after he impressive ran for 19-146-0 against a stout Cardinals defense last week. He costs just $4300 this week, which will make him very popular. There are a lot of concerns with chasing Gurley this week, the main one being a spot at Lambeau Field in which the Rams should get smashed. Bennie Cunningham – not Gurley – is the Packers’ third-down/passing back. I’d also be concerned that he’s still less than 12 months removed from an ACL tear and is coming off 21 NFL touches just seven days earlier. And Gurley is still playing behind one of the worst offensive lines in the league (PFF ranked them 25th so far). There will be spots to use Gurley, but I don’t think this is one of them.
2. Boobie Dixon at Titans
Early in the week, the Bills revealed that Boobie Dixon would likely start at Tennessee Sunday with Karlos Williams (concussion) and LeSean McCoy (hamstring) doubtful. Owners quickly went to DraftKings, saw Dixon was $3000 and put him in their lineups as part of a “stars and scrubs” construction. That was always shaky, but it became a bad play when it was revealed Dixon is battling a calf injury of his own. Running backs coach Anthony Lynn admitted whatever shred of explosiveness the fullback-esque Dixon had is sapped, and that the dude is now up around 250 pounds despite being listed at 233. Expect a value-less three-man committee also involving Cierre Wood and Boom Herron Sunday.
WHO I’M CONSIDERING IN DRAFTKINGS CASH GAMES
(No particular order)
QB: Philip Rivers, Matt Ryan, Tyrod Taylor, Aaron Rodgers
RB: Dion Lewis, Le’Veon Bell, Jamaal Charles, Devonta Freeman, Justin Forsett
WR: Julio Jones, Odell Beckham, Randall Cobb, Keenan Allen, Julian Edelman, Larry Fitzgerald, Leonard Hankerson, Willie Snead, Jamison Crowder
TE: Rob Gronkowski, Charles Clay, Owen Daniels, Martellus Bennett, Derek Carrier
D: Packers, Chiefs, Bengals, Giants, Broncos