It’s crazy to think, but your seasonal fantasy league’s regular season is already more than a third of the way over, and it still seems like we’re learning something new every week. Here’s an attempt to take all that information and try to apply it to what we’re going to see on the field going forward into Week 6. Good luck!
Tom Brady ($7,700) With 400 yards passing and three touchdowns in his debut you can’t NOT mention him here. As I wrote last week, it seemed obvious through four weeks – even with Garoppolo and Brissett at the helm – that the Patriots’ receiving corps has dramatically improved since last year. Bennett and Hogan both showed exactly what they can add to this attack in this game, and while, yes, it was the Browns, we have seen this unit operate at high levels against all comers even with lesser options. You know Brady is going to get plenty of attempts, and he will play efficiently, limiting mistakes (and downside). He’s the perfect cash game option, with more than his fair share of upside to go along.
Derek Carr ($6,500) Speaking of consistent cash game options, Carr has between 23.76 and 25.98 fantasy points in four of his five outings so far. He has 11 TDs against just two picks through five, at least in part because he is consistently throwing in the red zone. The Raiders trust him to make plays for them all over the field, and he is doing exactly that. He’s been able to take advantage of the skills of everyone on the field around him, using Crabtree’s size to his advantage in close and in short yardage, and this week finally throwing Cooper open consistently as well, as he managed to finish with 138 yards on six catches, the kind of game-breaking ability that will only help elevate Carr’s ceiling.
Carson Wentz ($6,000) For this week, there isn’t a single option on the QB rankings list below Wentz I would seriously consider for my lineups. So I figured he warranted a mention, as the cheapest possible play on the board I think could still be useful. He didn’t exactly light up Detroit on Sunday, but he played well (his one interception coming on a deep ball on the game’s final drive as he tried for a desperation score). With at least two touchdowns and 17.92 fantasy points in three of his four games and just that one pick, he has demonstrated the relatively high floor you need to feel confident inserting a high-upside play (in a matchup against Washington) into your lineup.
Le’Veon Bell ($7,900) He is the most well-rounded back in the league, and he stepped right into a role as the lynchpin of the Steelers offense upon his return from suspension. Even in a game this weekend where he didn’t score and only averaged 3.3 yards a carry, he still turned in a very serviceable day by virtue of his nine catches for 88 yards (on 11 targets). He can split out wide and beat defensive backs, never mind the random linebacker with the misfortune of getting isolated out there. The point is, one way or the other the Steelers will find a way to make use of his many talents week in and week out, and the touchdowns will come, sometimes in bunches, making him both the most consistent and the highest upside play on the board.
Ezekiel Elliott ($7,000) He finally snapped off a long touchdown run on Sunday, and flashed the upside that was obviously there somewhere through four weeks. This is the danger that lurks in box scores: touchdowns are fluky and an entire NFL season can still be a small sample size, never mind four games. Despite whatever you were seeing in his stat lines in the Cowboys’ first few games, Elliott was running with explosiveness and power; it really wasn’t a matter of why he wasn’t able to break long runs, it was about why they hadn’t come yet. Now that they’ve started, they might not stop, even against a Green Bay defense that’s #1 against RBs so far this season (having faced the Jaguars, Lions, Vikings and Giants).
Isaiah Crowell ($4,600) It might seem odd to be recommending Crowell coming off his weakest game of the year against the Pats, but it was clear from the beginning that Belichick and Pats defensive coordinator Matt Patricia had decided coming in that they were not going to allow the Browns to beat them on the ground. Near the end of this game, though, Whitehurst showed some signs of life, hitting Andrew Hawkins ($3,100) repeatedly, a trend that could mean the return of some running lanes for Crowell going forward. Even when he is being met in the backfield, he is the type of back that seems to pop off the screen when you’re watching bursting past and around defenders in a way that makes you wonder what you might see out of him in a better situation.
Kelvin Benjamin ($8,100) Cam Newton should return in Week 6 and will be greeted by the gift that is the New Orleans Saints defense. Benjamin put up 70 yards with Derek Anderson barely serviceable, so this seems like a spot where he could really feast. Of Benjamin’s 21 receptions this year, 18 have gone for first downs. Only Jordy Nelson has more red zone receiving touchdowns.
Julian Edelman ($6,800) Edelman’s value last year, wherever you ranked him, came from his rapport with Brady, which made him the definitive “PPR monster.” Nine, ten, eleven catches for 90 or so yards was enough to make him a cash-game staple. But after just one week of watching Brady operate this year, it seems like Julian might not have that same opportunity, and therefore might not have the same value for fantasy owners. I am sure the Patriots think he is just as valuable as ever, but as I wrote about Brady, there is an obvious increase over last year in the quality of the weapons around him, which will cap the upside on each of them individually and make it nearly impossible to predict which will be the best play on a week-to-week basis.
Sammie Coates ($4,700) When there has been a player talented enough to step up and fill it, there has been a role for a #2 WR on the Steelers offense with Ben Roethlisberger at the helm. Last season it was Martavis Bryant, and he was actually more of a one-trick-pony, giving Big Ben a deep valve and little else. But Coates yesterday had both a 70-yard and a 5-yard touchdown, showing the diverse skill-set that could make him a match-up nightmare for defenses trying to get him covered up with a second or third corner as they focus on stopping Antonio Brown and Le’Veon.
Greg Olsen ($7,000) You see a tight end priced at a point $300 higher than Gronkowski and facing a defense somehow ranked #9 against tight ends in terms of fantasy points this season, and you might just move on – understandably so. But it’s the Saints, and a defense that’s 29th against wide receivers and 24th against QBs is simply a defense that can’t defend the pass. Olsen remains one of the primary – if not THE primary target on the Panthers, coming away with nine grabs for 181 yards on 13 targets in Cam’s absence Monday night. Averaging just more than six catches per game so far this season, he makes for the perfect cash-game option at tight end when you can afford it.
Martellus Bennett ($4,500) The most important thing about Bennett’s performance on Sunday wasn’t his three touchdowns, but Gronk’s 109 yards. The thing about the man who goes by @martysaurusrex on twitter will be subject to the same ups and downs as everyone else in the Patriots’ receiving corps as Brady spreads the ball around week to week, but he’s worth mentioning here because there was a fear that his value would simply dissipate when Gronk (finally) returned to form. Instead, like the Steelers starting in a running formation and then splitting Bell out wide, Gronk and Bennett are going to be on the field together a ton, each a threat to drive a defender backwards on a running play or break out into a pass route on any given play.
Eric Ebron ($3,400) You’ll have to monitor his health all week if you want to use him, but the thought when it was first announced to be missing Week 5, it seemed as if the team believed it would likely be a one-week issue. If he does play, he is a typical touchdown-dependent tight end, but with at least four catches in every game so far, he is not likely to stick you with a zero and he is involved enough in what his team is trying to do that a touchdown out of him doesn’t feel quite as random and lucky as it does with some of these other cheap tight end options. At least with Ebron you feel like his touchdowns were on purpose.
Buffalo Bills ($3,700) The Bills ARE, after all, now coached by Rex Ryan. Coming into last year, many thought it would be an improved unit, and they under performed, but they did have talent. And when one of the best defensive coaches in the game comes into a situation like that, we probably shouldn’t be surprised that they managed to turn it around relatively quickly. So far through five games they have created eleven turnovers, and are averaging more than three sacks a contest, a great way for a top D/ST unit to create some valuable fantasy point totals. In a game against a San Francisco offense that has yet to find any real kind of rhythm, a fourth straight game with 15 or more fantasy points could be coming.
Los Angeles Rams ($2,900) Truthfully, either of the defenses in this matchup (Detroit Lions – $3,000) could be solid plays, and it is hard for me to find even the possibility of a lot of upside in the less expensive options available for next week. The strength of the Rams defense is up front, especially in the speed of their defensive line, which could be a good fit in a matchup with a Lions team that will not really put a lot of pressure on that front seven to stand up against the run. If they can just put their heads down and get after Stafford, they could wreak plenty of havoc in the Lions backfield, limiting the amount of time Detroit has to get their receivers into the downfield routes they love, and giving the Rams D/ST a chance to rack up plenty of fantasy production even if they do end up allowing a couple of scores.\
Josh DeMaio and Pearce Dietrich are promoters at DraftKings and also avid fans and users (usernames: theasquad and greenflagradio2) and may sometimes play on their personal accounts in the games that they offer advice on. Although they have expressed their personal views on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and they may also deploy different players and strategies than what they recommend above.