After seeing a ton of huge scores in Week 3, scoring was down drastically in Week 4. A lot of the high priced studs fell short of expectations, along with numerous low salaried chalk plays failing to meet some lofty expectations. Either you had Devonta Freeman on your roster and won or you didn’t.
We’re on to Week 5.
Looking for a different position? Check out the rest of the positional targets:
Week 5 has a solid mix of plays at all price points, making roster construction quite interesting this week. Some of the game’s best have excellent matchups, so choosing which ones to build your lineups around will be extremely important decisions this week.
We’re getting to the point where we have more actionable in-season data that we can lean on, but I’m not willing to trust it blindly yet. Soon we’ll be able to use more relevant information based on what has actually happened rather than relying on a mix of what happened last season and what we expected to happen this season. Make sense?
Thanks to amazing sites like Pro Football Focus, Football Outsiders, and 4for4, there has been a tremendous wave of actionable analytics in football over the past few seasons. I’ll be introducing you to some of those stats this season, and I hope you find them helpful to your lineup building process. I’ll also be referencing the Expert Consensus Rankings from FantasyPros in order to understand how players are viewed each week, and then related it to their price here on DraftKings.
If you’re new to the daily fantasy community, welcome. If you have questions, please find me on Twitter, @RyNoonan.
Cream of the Crop
Jamaal Charles, Kansas City Chiefs (vs. Chicago Bears) -$7,800
It’ll take a lot to bump Le’Veon Bell from the top spot here each week, but Jamaal Charles has a few things working in his favor here. First is the $800 price difference which, when factoring in opponent, is difficult to ignore. Second is the expected game script. The Chiefs are 10-point home favorites against the Bears, who come in ranked 27th in rush DVOA according to Football Outsiders. Despite finally having multiple offensive options in Kansas City, Charles is still the primary weapon, accounting for 40.5% of team’s total touches. His 5.2 YPC and 5 catches per game will play nicely against this hapless Bears defense.
Le’ Veon Bell, Pittsburgh Steelers (@ San Diego Chargers) -$8,500
Even though Le’Veon Bell’s price continues to soar, he’s absolutely worth it this week and should be a cornerstone in one of your lineups. It doesn’t hurt that San Diego is ranked 25th against the run, but it’s almost irrelevant when it comes to Le’Veon. After missing the first two games, Bell has been in on 97% (!) of the Steelers’ snaps the past two weeks, and with Ben Roethlisberger still on the shelf, they’re running the offense through their tailback. He’s obviously their main ball carrier, but he also has 14 receptions through two games, raising his expected fantasy point floor. I’d be shocked if Bell didn’t lead all running backs in touches this weekend.
The league’s top running back in defensive-adjusted yards above replacement through the first four weeks is? None other than the man, the myth, the legend, Davonta Freeman. It’s been quite a two week run for the Falcons’ running back, doing his best to put a strangle hold on a job that appeared to be slipping away from him before Tevin Coleman went down in Week 2. In Week 5 Freeman has his most difficult test so far, as Washington is 7th in run DVOA so far, allowing an average of 78 yards on the ground along with just one rushing score through the first month of the season. You’ll also be swinging downstream if you roster Freeman this week, as I suspect him ownership will continue to climb. He still appears to be the lone wolf in the Atlanta backfield, and the Falcons are not only 7.5-point favorites but they have one of the highest implied point totals on the slate (27.75).
Justin Forsett, Baltimore Ravens (vs. Cleveland Browns) -$5,800
We may have begun writing Justin Forsett’s obituary a bit early. After some strange early season usage, we’re starting to see a clearer path to touches for Forsett. He dominated the backfield snaps and touches last week against the Steelers, playing on 78% of the Ravens plays, and his season mark is 70% which is the sixth highest total among running backs. He’s not being featured in the passing game as much as I thought he would, hauling in 12 catches on just 14 targets so far. That could change with the loss of Steve Smith Sr., but either way Forsett is a viable option with strong expected game script (6-point favorites) and facing a porous Cleveland run defense.
The ‘Blount Game’ against Jacksonville, combined with a Week 4 bye has Dion Lewis off of fantasy radars and has kept his price below $5,000. Okay. Using LaGarrette Blount against the Cowboys would play into what they want to do, so you can expect to see a ton of Dion Lewis on Sunday. Averaging 4.9 yards-per-carry and catching 5 passes per game has made Lewis a cash game staple for sharp fantasy owners so far this season, and this is a great spot for him. Dallas is 20th against the run but more importantly is 28th in defending passes to running backs according to Football Outsiders’ DVOA metrics. New England’s 28.75 implied point total is the highest of the week.
Matt Forte, Chicago Bears (@ Kansas City Chiefs) -$7,000
I don’t love rostering a running back on the road who’s a 9.5-point underdog, but Matt Forte is definitely one of the exceptions to the rule. Chicago’s chances to win increase when they funnel their offense through Forte, and you can expect them to lean on him early. Kansas City is more susceptible to the pass, ranking 17th against the run, but the Bears would be smart to incorporate Forte in the passing game as well, something that the Chiefs have had trouble defending all season (32nd in pass DVOA to RB’s).
Middle of the Pack
Arian Foster, Houston Texans (vs. Indianapolis Colts) -$7,000
A healthy Arian Foster is a steal at $7,000, but I’m reluctant to assume Foster is 100%. There’s some clear tournament appeal with one of the league’s top backs facing a Colts squad that’s given up 120 yards and a score per game on the ground so far. A PPR beast at his best, Foster played 42% of the Texans’ snaps in their Week 4 drubbing in Atlanta but appears ready to handle a larger workload moving forward. The question is how much bigger is that workload and what are the chances that the oft-injured Foster aggravates his groin injury? Playing on Thursday night will drive up his ownership though, so be careful.
Eddie Lacy, Green Bay Packers (vs. St. Louis Cardinals) -$6,700
The rally cries for Eddie Lacy’s head aren’t quite as loud this season as they were last year, but clearly he’s off to another slow start. If you’re patient and continue to roster Lacy I think you’ll benefit from some improved point totals and relatively low ownership. St. Louis’ run defense has not gotten off to the start many expected this season, though they’re still slightly above average. The Packers are 10-point favorites in Lambeau so that’s working in Lacy’s favor, but Lacy’s usage makes it hard to believe that the Packers aren’t trying to be careful with how much they’re using him after that Week 1 ankle injury.
The Rams gave the keys to the Corvette to their young rookie last week and now it’s time to either buckle up and get in, or get off the road. After making his season debut in Week 3 and appearing in just 27% of the teams’ snaps, Gurley played in 68% of the Rams plays in the desert on Sunday, solidifying himself as their lead back. The public will remember that performance and jump on him at $4,300, but I think you should have limited exposure. While Tre Mason was a non-factor, Benny Cunningham was still featured heavily on passing downs and the expected game script as 10-point underdogs in Green Bay means Gurley will be hard pressed to grind out the clock here in the second half. His price is favorable and Green Bay has struggled against the run, but don’t go too overweight chasing the shiny new toy.
Carlos Hyde, San Francisco 49ers (@ New York Giants) -$4,900
Any time there’s a clear lead back who’s getting around 20 touches per game and cost under $5,000, you need to consider him. The problem with Carlos Hyde is that his team is a bit of a mess and will rarely be in optimal running situations because they’re often playing from behind. Hyde is among the top-10 in terms of both snap percent and percent of team’s touches, but the 49ers are again 7-point underdogs and have a low team total of just 18 points. The Giants have allowed just 70 yards per game so far this season and have the best run DVOA in the league through four weeks.
Rest of the Field
Latavius Murray, Oakland Raiders (vs. Denver Broncos) -$6,300
The weight of being a popular DFS selection last week was apparently too much for Latavius Murray to handle. Yeah, that’s it! He didn’t look sharp against the Bears last week but he’ll need to be at his best if he’s going to get going against the Broncos in Week 5. Denver has perhaps the best defense in the league, but they’re more susceptible on the ground than through the air. Oakland would benefit from controlling the clock here, so you can count on similar usage that we’ve seen through four weeks, despite the return of Roy Helu who could eat a bit in to Murray’s passing down work. As I mentioned before, Murray was popular last week and fell short of expectations, something that always suppresses the following week’s ownership totals.
T.J. Yeldon, Jacksonville Jaguars (@ Tampa Bay Buccaneers) -$4,400
T.J. Yeldon is another example of a player that’s severely underpriced when compared to how often he’s on the field. Unfortunately he’s not doing much with all of his snaps so far, averaging just 3.7 yards-per-carry and ranking 35th in defensive-adjusted yards above replacement. The good news is that he’s coming off of his first career 20+ carry/100-yard effort on Sunday against the Colts and is in position to build on that this weekend in Tampa. This low-scoring slugfest shouldn’t have the game script flipped out of hand either way, but Jacksonville clearly wants to ride Yeldon and see if he can carry them.
Duke Johnson Jr., Cleveland Browns (@ Baltimore Ravens) -$4,600
I pegged Duke Johnson Jr. as a strong play last week and all of the same reasons that made him viable are still in play in Week 5. The big difference is his price is up to $4,600 from $3,100 last week. When Cleveland is behind or in passing situations they’re giving nearly 100% of those snaps to Duke, relegating Isaiah Crowell to early down work, but even those snaps seem to be going Duke Johnson’s way of late. On the road against the Ravens isn’t a great spot, but I like Johnson’s chances at surpassing last week’s previous high snap total of 61%.
Frank Gore, Indianapolis Colts (@ Houston Texans) -$5,000
I likely won’t own too much Frank Gore this week, mostly because he’s playing on Thursday and I think fading the game is +EV. I do think that Gore can have some success against a Texans run defense that was gashed by Devonta Freeman last week and checks in at 23rd in run DVOA so far. The expected return of Andrew Luck is good news for Gore’s fantasy prospects, but I wouldn’t rush in to Thursday night contests JUST to get a piece of him.
Doug Martin, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (vs. Jacksonville Jaguars) -$4,700
Rostering Doug Martin is tough because he’s extremely game flow dependant. He’s splitting snaps nearly 50/50 with Charles Sims, with Martin being featured exclusively on the ground. His lack of PPR upside hurts, but if you like Tampa Bay’s chances as 2.5-point favorites at home this week, then you’ll like Doug Martin’s chances at getting 20+ carries.
Some other quick notes:
• Despite their early season struggles, the Eagles’ run defense has been excellent. They’re second in DVOA and they’ve allowed the fewest schedule-adjust fantasy points per game to running backs so far. Mark Ingram ($6,100) and C.J. Spiller ($3,800) both feel a bit under priced but the matchup isn’t good and they’ll eventually start cannibalizing each other.
• Last week’s fantasy darling, Karlos Williams ($5,700) is dealing with concussion symptoms and his status for Week 5 is up in the air. Same goes for LeSean McCoy ($5,500) and his ailing hamstrings, meaning Anthony ‘Boobie’ Dixon ($3,000) might be left to shoulder the load. If that’s the case you have to look at Dixon for salary relief as Tennessee is last in run DVOA.
• The Redskins’ backfield is a full-blown three-man committee, and the best bet of the group this week is Chris Thompson ($3,300). He’s seeing a lot of work on passing downs and Washington is likely to be working from behind this week in Atlanta.
• Denver coach Gary Kubiak has made it perfectly clear that both C.J. Anderson ($5,300) and Ronnie Hillman ($4,900) will be a part of their game plan, making both players difficult to roster no matter the opponent.
• Same could be said for the Bengals with Jeremy Hill ($6,100) and Gio Bernard ($4,800), who clearly have defined game script roles moving forward. A matchup against the Seahawks, even at home, makes it difficult to pull the trigger on a time-share back.
• At home as 8.5-point underdogs would have been a great spot for Lance Dunbar if he hadn’t blown a tire against the Saints on Sunday night. Unfortunately he’s out and the Dallas backfield feels as uneasy as ever.
• If you’re a believer in the squeaky wheel narrative then I’m guessing you’re buying DeMarco Murray ($6,200) shares this week. I’ll pass until they figure things out and aren’t playing against a team that’s so easy to pass on like the Saints.
May the run-well force be with you!
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