Below you’ll find discussion of the players that are “in play” at each position for the Week 5 main slate DFS contests on DraftKings and FanDuel (aka the 12 Sunday games beginning 1:00 PM ET or later). Players are arbitrarily listed in descending order of FanDuel salary and are not ranked in order of preference given differences between the sites and the varying types of contests you might be playing.
Aaron Rodgers — vs. NYG — DK: $7,700 — FD: $9,100
Rodgers is just a GPP play for me this weekend. I’d much rather go cheaper at QB in cash if there’s a viable option, and there almost always are those cheaper, viable options. I also can’t decide which receiver I’d want to pair with him in cash games. Jordy Nelson has a tough-ish individual matchup, and Randall Cobb is tough to trust. In a GPP I’d probably stack Rodgers with both receivers. Guys like Tom Brady and Ben Roethlisberger should be more heavily owned, so Rodgers should be contrarian enough to be a GPP play.
Tom Brady — @ CLE — DK: $7,500 — FD: $8,700
Brady is going to be popular this week. The Pats have the highest implied total of the weekend in Vegas at 28.5 and are a 10.5-point favorite. I’m sure there’s some “revenge” narrative that will drive his ownership rate as well. That said, I’m having a hard time seeing where I’d roster Brady. As mentioned, I prefer cheaper options in cash games, and Brady is going to be too heavily owned to be a great GPP play. I also don’t love any of his receiving options in particular. LeGarrette Blount is questionable with a hip injury, and if he were unable to go, that would be another plus in Brady’s favor that might force me into using him. But unless Blount is out, I’ll probably pass.
Ben Roethlisberger — vs. NYJ — DK: $7,200 — FD: $8,600
Ben should be the most heavily owned QB this weekend, and it makes all the sense in the world. The Steelers are a touchdown favorite at home and have the second highest implied total. Ben also has a good matchup against the Jets who rank 24th in 4for4.com’s Schedule-Adjusted Fantasy Points Allowed (aFPA) and 25th in Football Outsider’s pass defense DVOA. There’s a good cheap option on FD that we’ll get to in a bit who is probably where I’ll go in cash on that site. But the value options on DK are a bit iffy, so Ben makes plenty of sense in cash there.
Andrew Luck — vs. CHI — DK: $7,300 — FD: $8,600
I don’t trust Luck as far as I can throw him. Efficiency is more important than volume at this position, and Luck’s completion percentage and yards per attempt are both below average so far this season. So I wouldn’t touch him in cash, especially since Chicago ranks top 10 in aFPA and pass DVOA. But the Colts are a home favorite with an implied total of 26, so the Vegas variables are in Luck’s favor. He shouldn’t be too highly owned, so I could see Luck heading up a GPP lineup. I like his price better on FD, which is also true of his #1 receiver T.Y. Hilton, so I’d only use him on that site.
Joe Flacco — vs. WAS — DK: $6,200 — FD: $7,600
Originally I though Flacco might make for a cheap cash game option on DK since the Ravens are a home favorite with an implied total of 24.25. But the matchup with Washington is a bit below average as the Skins rank 15th in aFPA and 13th in pass DVOA. And the fact that Josh Norman should see some of both Steve Smith and Mike Wallace makes either receiver dicey to roster and stack with Flacco. Flacco/Smith/Wallace could make for a contrarian GPP stack on DK, but that’s about it.
Trevor Siemian — vs. ATL — DK: $5,200 — FD: $7,600
This is another cheap option I considered on DK. Of the teams in action on Sunday, the Falcons rank next to last in aFPA and second to last in pass DVOA. And the Broncos have a healthy implied total of 26.75 as a six-point home favorite. But with Siemian being questionable with a non-throwing shoulder injury, he’s just way too risky if he ends up getting the start. He, or Paxton Lynch if Siemian can’t go, could be worth a bullet in a GPP, but that’s it.
Carson Wentz — @ DET — DK: $6,400 — FD: $7,500
Home favorites are preferable at the quarterback position, but I’m happy to make an exception here for a road favorite as Philly is favored by three in Detroit with an implied total of 24.5. Of the teams in action on Sunday, the Lions rank dead last in both aFPA and pass DVOA, so Wentz literally has the best matchup of the slate. At only $7,500 on FD, Wentz is exactly the kind of cheap option I’m looking for in cash games. He should also be lightly owned enough to use in GPPs.
Behind the paywall you’ll find the rest of our Week 5 NFL DFS breakdown.
LeVeon Bell — vs. NYJ — DK: $7,500 — FD: $8,600
The Jets are a much tougher matchup for Bell than they are for Roethlisberger. They rank eighth in aFPA against RBs in PPR leagues and third in run DVOA. That coupled with the fact that running back is not the position where I like to spend my money means I’m unlikely to roster Bell. Pricing is soft enough on FD that you could find a way to fit Bell in there pretty easily, but the matchup makes him dicey in cash games, and he’ll be a bit heavily owned for GPP use.
DeMarco Murray — @ MIA — DK: $7,200 — FD: $8,400
We have basically the same story with Murray that we had with Bell. Miami is a tough matchup for backs, which makes Murray dicey in cash games. And like Bell, Murray should be a popular play and thus not a great GPP option. Again, you could find a way to fit him in on FD, I’m just not sure why you’d try too hard to do so.
Todd Gurley — vs. BUF — DK: $6,500 — FD: $7,600
Now that we’ve talked about backs I wouldn’t roster, let’s discuss some I would consider rostering. Volume is what you’re looking for at this position, and Gurley gets a lot of it as he gets a higher percentage of his team’s touches than anyone else in the league (per 4for4.com). Now that his prices have dropped from the top end, he represents a nice value in terms of dollar spent per touch. He doesn’t have a prohibitive matchup against Buffalo, and he doesn’t figure to be too highly owned, so he’ll work in both cash games and GPPs.
Devonta Freeman — @ DEN — DK: $5,000 — FD: $7,200
Denver has a great defense, but their strengths are in coverage and rushing the passer. They’re actually not a terrible matchup for backs as they rank 17th in aFPA and 23rd in run DVOA. Tevin Coleman is eating into Freeman’s workload enough that Freeman may not be the best cash target, but he is priced so well on DK that he’s worth a look in GPPs there.
Jordan Howard — @ IND — DK: $5,200 — FD: $7,200
Howard’s prices have jumped significantly since he got 26 touches and racked up over 100 rushing yards last week. But he’s still too cheap for a guy seeing that kind of volume. He also has a great matchup with the Colts who rank 30th in aFPA and 26th in run DVOA. He’s an excellent cash game play on both sites. He’s rightly going to be heavily owned, so you could look elsewhere in GPPs. But if you get contrarian in your other RB slot, you can live with one chalk RB.
Terrance West — vs. WSH— DK: $4,800 — FD: $6,400
Another reason not stated above that I’m a little less inclined to use Flacco is how good the matchup with Washington is for Baltimore on the ground. Washington ranks 29th in aFPA and 32nd in run DVOA, so this matchup is arguably the best one of the weekend for a running back. West touched the ball 21 times last week in the first Forsett-less game for the Ravens, and Kenneth Dixon is questionable again this week, so I expect West to see a heavy workload again. That makes him a good cash game option, and he should only be moderately owned and thus a GPP option as well.
Jerick McKinnon — vs. HOU — DK: $4,000 — FD: $6,200
McKinnon and Howard are probably going to be the two most heavily owned backs this weekend, except for maybe Bell or Murray topping McKinnon in ownership rate on FD thanks to the softer pricing. But McKinnon will rightly be popular thanks to the volume he has seen since Adrian Peterson got hurt. In two AD-less games McKinnon has 38 touches, and he has out-touched Matt Asiata in the red zone four to two. His value in terms of dollar per projected touch is excellent this week, especially on DK. He also has a great matchup with Houston who ranks 23rd in aFPA and 30th in run DVOA. Like Howard, McKinnon can be used in GPPs so long as you go contrarian in your other RB slot. In other words, don’t use Howard and McKinnon together in GPPs.
Antonio Brown — vs. NYJ — DK: $9,800 — FD: $9,600
Brown trails only Julio Jones in fantasy points, and he trails only Mike Evans in targets per game. There’s just no one more bankable than Brown. He’s a cash game staple, and he’s even someone I’m OK using in GPP lineups if it’s sufficiently contrarian throughout most of the rest of the lineup.
A.J. Green — @ DAL — DK: $8,900 — FD: $8,700
Green should see more Brandon Carr than Mo Claiborne this weekend, which is a good thing for the receiver. On a team level Dallas ranks 18th in aFPA against receivers and 24th in pass DVOA. Green ranks fourth in targets per game, so he should be able to do plenty of damage with his volume in this matchup. His price is a better on FD, which makes him more appealing for cash games there. But the sharper pricing on DK should keep his ownership rate down a bit more, which makes him a GPP option on that site.
Odell Beckham — @ GB — DK: $8,500 — FD: $8,500
I was hoping Beckham’s slow start might keep his ownership rate down for this cushy matchup with Green Bay, but I think that’s unlikely as many are forecasting a bounce back game for Beckham. The Packers rank 32nd in aFPA and 22nd in pass DVOA, and Sam Shields may miss the game with a concussion, which weakens GB’s pass defense further. Beckham has certainly disappointed so far, but he still ranks 11th in targets per game, so better days have to be coming with that kind of volume. This is the kind of matchup for him to get right.
I should quickly mention that the stud receiver everyone is fading this week is the same one that most everyone faded last week, Julio Jones. Julio was in all my GPP lineups last week, so I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t considering throwing him in a few again this week since everyone seems to be scared of the Denver matchup, though that’s a justified fear.
T.Y. Hilton — vs. CHI — DK: $7,400 — FD: $7,700
As mentioned, Hilton and Luck are better values on FD, so they could be a stack option for GPPs there. There are some slightly cheaper options that I like a bit more than Hilton, which keeps him from being a cash game play for me.
Emmanuel Sanders — vs. ATL — DK: $6,800 — FD: $7,100
It would be nice if Siemian wasn’t questionable with that non-throwing shoulder injury because he and Sanders would make for a nice GPP stack option. On his own, Sanders should only be moderately owned, so he could be thrown in a GPP lineup as well, though he’s not super contrarian. He probably makes the most sense in cash games if you don’t have enough cash to roster two stud receivers and you’re looking to fill in a WR slot with mid-price option. Sanders is reliable because he’s seen a ton of volume so far. He ranks sixth in targets per game and leads the league in red zone targets. He’s not one of the 15 most expensive receivers on either site, so he’s an excellent value for the amount of volume he should see. And don’t forget that Atlanta is an excellent matchup for opposing passing games.
Jordan Matthews — @ DET — DK: $6,800 — FD: $7,000
JMatt has easily been Wentz’s favorite target this season, so if you’re using Wentz, Matthews is an obvious stack candidate. Like Wentz, Matthews is priced better on FD than DK, so they make a ton of sense to stack there. Matthews also doesn’t figure to be too heavily owned there. With Sanders basically being the same price as Matthews, I’ll likely only use Matthews in Wentz lineups since I prefer Sanders and his superior volume. But if you’re using Wentz, whether in cash or GPP, Matthews should probably be in that lineup as well.
Michael Crabtree — vs. SD — DK: $6,900 — FD: $6,900
Despite the fact that Crabtree has outproduced and out-targeted Amari Coooper so far, Crabtree is still cheaper than Cooper on both sites. Individual matchups could make Cooper a better play in some weeks, but with Jason Verrett now injured for San Diego, the individual matchups are tough to peg this weekend. So give me the cheaper, more productive receiver who has seen more volume from the team with an implied total of 27 as a home favorite.
Quincy Enunwa — @ PIT — DK: $4,600 — FD: $6,200
With Eric Decker ruled out on Sunday, Enunwa could see enough volume to be a nice little value. Enunwa has a questionable tag due to a knee injury, which really gives me pause, but reportedly the injury is nothing serious and he’s fully expected to play. Normally I’d avoid a receiver with an injury tag, but Enunwa is still worth considering given that he’s one of few cheap options at the position who could see a healthy dose of targets.
At tight end you’re looking for guys on teams with an implied total of 24+, and their team is preferably a favorite (even more preferably a home favorite). In general, tight ends see less volume than receivers, and they do their work closer to the line of scrimmage than receivers do on average, so tight ends are much more touchdown dependent for fantasy scoring. Touchdowns come with much more volatility than targets and yardage do, so it’s not a bad idea to spend less on such a volatile position.
The most obvious name here is Zach Ertz (@ DET, DK: $3,500, FD: $5,600). The Eagles are a favorite with an implied total over 24, so Ertz fits the Vegas criteria. He also has an excellent matchup with the Lions who rank 31st in aFPA against tight ends and 29th in DVOA against tight ends. Just lock him in your cash lineups. But he’s so obviously a great play that he’ll be heavily owned and thus might not be the best GPP option.
A more contrarian but still affordable option is Dennis Pitta (vs. WSH, DK: $4,100, FD: $5,500). The Ravens are a home favorite with an implied total of 24.25, so check off the Vegas criteria. He also ranks fifth in targets among tight ends, making him a decent value in terms of dollars spent per projected target. If there’s one concern it’s that he has still yet to be targeted in the red zone this season, but the expected targets along with a low ownership rate still make him a GPP option.
Other than that? Meh. I could’ve gotten on board with Clive Walford (vs. SD, DK: $2,700, FD: $4,800) as a punt option had he not come up with a questionable tag on Friday. And I could maybe see Martellus Bennett (@ CLE, DK: $3,700, FD: $6,300) in an excellent matchup against the Browns who rank 29th in aFPA and 28th in DVOA. But unless we hear that Rob Gronkowski will be out or on a serious snap limit, Bennett is nothing more than a GPP bullet. He’s priced well on DK, so he’s a cash option there if Gronk is out or limited. But that price tag will make him popular enough that he’s only really a GPP option on FD.
All you’re looking for in a kicker is a kicker that plays for a favorite who has an implied total of 24 or more. Preferably the team would be a home favorite, but road favorites are acceptable as well. The cheapest kicker who meets this criteria this week is the minimum priced Mason Crosby. The Packers have the third highest implied total this weekend, so it’s honestly absurd that Crosby is priced at the minimum. Don’t bother considering anyone else for cash lineups on FD, but you should be more contrarian in GPPs. Miami’s Andrew Franks is also priced at the minimum. The Dolphins are a 3.5-point home favorite and have an implied total just under 24, so Franks is a GPP option. If you have an extra $200 to spend, consider Chris Boswell as he shouldn’t be too heavily owned, and the Steelers have the second highest implied total of the day.
I write a DFS D/ST article each week for FantasyAlarm.com, so I’m copy/pasting what I wrote there below.
The key with defenses is finding defenses that will face a lot of passing plays. Fantasy point-scoring events like interceptions and sacks occur exclusively on passing plays, and fumbles actually occur more on passing plays than running plays. Defensive touchdowns are difficult to predict, but they’re also more likely to occur on passing plays with 53 pick sixes last year compared to only 33 scoop ‘n scores.
One of the best ways to identify defenses that will face a lot of passing plays is identifying Vegas favorites, preferably home favorites. And obviously the lower the opponent’s implied point total, the better the matchup for the defense.
Minnesota is the obvoius D/ST choice this weekend. For starters, their opponent, Houston, has the lowest implied team total in Vegas this weekend (17). And then there’s the fact that Minny’s defense is extremely stout. The Vikes rank third in Football Outsider’s defensive DVOA, and they lead all defenses in fantasy scoring by a wide margin. The only reasons not to roster Minny’s defense are a) because you’re playing in a GPP and need to be contrarian, or b) because you can’t quite afford them in your cash lineup.
If you can’t quite afford the Vikes, Los Angeles makes sense as a slightly cheaper alternative as they’re cheaper than Minny across the board.. The Rams will host the Bills who have the third lowest implied total of the weekend. St. Louis’ defense ranks 12th in DVOA so far, though they rank seventh in FO’s DAVE rankings, which still include preseason projections to account for any small sample size issues we may still be dealing with. The Rams won’t be nearly as popular as Minny, but they should still see a healthy rate of ownership, so you might get even more contrarian still in GPPs.
One other team that might be considered a premium option by some is New England. But the Pats haven’t been good on D this year as they rank 26th in DVOA and 24th in the DAVE rankings. They’ll also cost you as much or more than Minny’s defense, so what’s the point?
This category is reserved for good defenses that may be overlooked in a given week for whatever reason, providing you with the opportunity to roster a really good unit with a lower ownership rate. The team that most fits that bill this week is Baltimore. The Ravens rank fourth in both DVOA and DAVE, and they’ll host Washington who has the sixth lowest implied total of the weekend. Baltimore is cheaper than all the most obvious defenses this week, and they figure to not be all that heavily owned. Give them a long look in GPP lineups.
If you’re looking to go as cheap as you can with your defense, don’t look further than the Ravens on FD. But on DK Miami is worth a look. They’re a home favorite playing host to the Titans who have the fourth lowest implied total of the weekend. The Titans have also allowed the second most fantasy points per game to opposing defenses, so the matchup is great. Miami ranks middle-of-the-pack in DVOA and DAVE, but the matchup is definitely good enough to overcome that.
Miami will see a decent amount of ownership, so if you want to be a bit more contrarian but still go cheap at DST, take a look at Cincinnati. The Bengals rank seventh in DVOA and ninth in DAVE, so they’re a solid unit. They’re only a one-point favorite on the road in Dallas, and the Cowboys have a decent implied total of 22.25. But that’s why this is a contrarian option and not an obvious one. The Bengals are a good enough defense to return some value on their DK price tag.