RealTime DFS Strategy: Week 5

Fri Oct 4 10:15am ET
Contributing Writer

Jackson producing big numbers

We have another busy slate in the NFL for Week 5 with only two teams on a bye. Still, with the Rams and Seahawks being the two teams that play Thursday, we are missing a few explosive players for the Sunday-Monday slate of DFS. Keeping that in mind, here are some players to target across the price scale, as well as some who might be best left alone.


Top-tier option: Lamar Jackson, BAL at PIT ($6,600): Jackson already has 10 touchdown passes through four games, showing he is much more than just a running quarterback. Still, his added contributions with his legs are key with him racking up 238 yards and one touchdown on the ground in the early going. The Steelers shut down the Bengals in their last game, but playing the Ravens is a completely different story. Look for Jackson to once again provide a high floor.

Cheap target: Andy Dalton, CIN vs. ARI ($5,700): Despite the Bengals losing their first two games, Dalton performed well by totaling 729 passing yards and four touchdowns. However, it’s been all downhill in two games since, including throwing for only 171 yards against the Steelers on Monday. He also threw an interception without logging a touchdown. His overall upside is limited playing behind a bad offensive line, but he can still provide value in the right situations. That could be the case against the Cardinals, who have allowed the 10th-most passing yards per game and the fourth-most points in the league.

Player to avoid: Derek Carr, OAK vs. CHI ($5,800): The Raiders have held their own at 2-2, but Carr is still looking for his first juicy stat line of the season. He hasn’t thrown for more than 259 yards in any of their four games and even threw for fewer than 200 yards twice. He also has three interceptions to go with his six touchdown passes. Facing a Bears defense that is one of the stoutest in the league likely isn’t going to help matters, so I’d much rather take a chance on Dalton at $100 cheaper.


Top-tier option: Christian McCaffrey, CAR vs. JAC ($7,900): McCaffrey is one of the safest cash options on a week in, week out basis. He had another monster performance last week against the Texans, racking up 179 total yards and a touchdown. He posted 10 receptions in that contest, which was the second time that he has reached that threshold in a game this season. The offense will continue to run through him with Cam Newton (foot) out, likely making him worth his hefty price tag.

Cheap target: Jordan Howard, PHI vs. NYJ ($5,100): Howard wasn’t relied on heavily through the first three weeks, logging no more than 32.9 percent of the Eagles’ offensive snaps in a single game. However, he was on the field 53.2 percent of the time in Week 4, which helped him finish with 87 yards on 15 carries. He scored three total touchdowns, providing one of the more surprising fantasy performances. While his playing time is still anything but certain, he’ll at least carry touchdown upside into a matchup against a Jets’ defense that has experienced plenty of difficulties slowing down opposing offenses.

Player to avoid: Josh Jacobs, OAK vs. CHI ($6,600): One of the Bears’ strengths is their defensive front, so it’s no surprise that they have allowed the third-fewest rushing yards per game. That could spell doom for Jacobs, who hasn’t found his way into the end zone since Week 1 and isn’t very involved in the passing game. Since he doesn’t come at much of a discount, this is an easy one to avoid in my eyes.


Top-tier option: Michael Thomas, NO vs. TAM ($7,100): After posting back-to-back 10-catch performances the first two games, Thomas has 14 total receptions over the last two weeks. That’s still a lot of work, which has resulted in him totaling 143 receiving yards and a touchdown. Despite the Saints not looking as potent with Teddy Bridgewater under center, Thomas still provides a high floor for this matchup against a Buccaneers’ team that has allowed the second-most passing yards per game.

Cheap target: Auden Tate, CIN vs. ARI ($3,200): The Bengals are looking at a thin depth chart at wide receiver right now with A.J. Green (ankle) and John Ross (shoulder) out. Tyler Boyd steps in as their clear top option while Auden Tate also has an opportunity to grab onto the number two wide receiver role. He already has 10 catches for 138 yards over his last two games, making him a top target in tournament play at such a cheap price.

Player to avoid: Sammy Watkins, KC vs. IND ($6,800): Watkins exploded for 198 yards and three touchdowns in the season opener, but he only has 167 yards and no touchdowns across three games since. Maybe most concerning is that he received a season-low six targets against the Lions last week. With Tyreek Hill (shoulder) starting to practice again, he could be in line for a return for this matchup. Even if he doesn’t make it back, Demarcus Robinson and Mecole Hardman have stepped up enough in his place to the point where the Chiefs don’t need to force-feed Watkins. At this price, he’s too risky for me.


Top-tier option: Travis Kelce, KC vs. IND ($7,000): There is no tight end in the league as reliable as Kelce. He’s once again on pace for a special season, recording at least 85 receiving yards in each of his first four games. The key is his heavy workload since he has received at least eight targets in every contest. While he’ll eat up a significant portion of your budget, he’s still ideal for cash contests.

Cheap target: Tyler Eifert, CIN vs. ARI ($4,100): Eifert looked like he had the potential to be a difference-maker at tight end, but injuries have prevented him from reaching his full potential. The good news is that he’s healthy right now, making him one of the top pass-catching options that the Bengals have left. With the Cardinals having major issues holding down opposing tight ends, Eifert might not be a crazy option despite him only posting 81 receiving yards so far.

Player to avoid: Evan Engram, NYG vs. MIN ($6,300): This is more about Engram’s price than anything else. He’s having a breakout campaign and is one of the primary receiving options on the Giants, although there will be more mouths to feed with Golden Tate now back from suspension. Engram’s floor is still reasonably high, but his price tag is a tough pill to swallow. George Kittle ($5,900) also has a high floor while Zach Ertz ($5,800) could be in line for a huge performance against the Jets. The Vikings present a tough opponent for the Giants’ offense, so this might be one of the few weeks where it’s not worth paying up for Engram.

Mike Barner has been covering fantasy sports since 2007. His work has appeared in Sports Illustrated, Yahoo, SportsLine and RotoWire. Mike was also a finalist for the 2018 FSWA Basketball Writer of the Year award. Follow Mike on Twitter @rotomikebarner.

Player Notes
Demaryius Thomas Oct 18 10:50pm ET

New York Jets wide receiver Demaryius Thomas has a rough matchup Monday against a Patriots Defense that allows the fewest fantasy points against to opposing wide receivers. Thomas got five targets last week, so he's been getting more involved in the offense, but is still not seeing the type of target share to warrant consideration in standard-size fantasy leagues. Thomas got five targets last week but is the clear third option behind Robby Anderson and Jamison Crowder and won't carry much fantasy appeal as long as those other two are healthy.

From RotoBaller

Jamison Crowder Oct 18 10:40pm ET

New York Jets wide receiver Jamison Crowder will face a tough test Monday when the Patriots No. 1 ranked pass defense comes to town. New England allows the fewest fantasy points to opposing wide receivers and shut down Crowder in Week 3 when they held him to only 25 yards on two catches. Third-string quarterback Luke Falk started that game, so Crowder should have more success with Sam Darnold back under center. In two games with Darnold, Crowder has 20 catches for 197 yards, so he has major fantasy upside moving forward, especially as the Jets' schedule gets softer. In Week 7, however, Crowder is only a borderline WR3 who has more appeal in PPR formats.

From RotoBaller

Le'Veon Bell Oct 18 10:30pm ET

New York Jets Le'Veon Bell will face a tough matchup Monday night when the Patriots elite defense heads to MetLife Stadium. New England allows the second-fewest fantasy points to opposing running backs so it's a tough matchup for Bell, but he should put up RB2 numbers based on volume. Bell has played 92.2 percent of the team's offensive snaps so far and has the second-most targets on the team. Bell should see his usual 20-25 touches and fantasy owners should start him with confidence he can put up a decent day even if he doesn't score a touchdown.

From RotoBaller

Robby Anderson Oct 18 9:50pm ET

New York Jets wide receiver Robby Anderson will look to change his fortunes against the Patriots in a tough matchup Monday. In seven career games against New England, Anderson hasn't scored a touchdown and his 39.5 percent catch rate is by far his lowest mark against any team he's faced more than once. This season, the Patriots are as daunting a matchup as there is in the NFL allowing the fewest fantasy points against to wide receivers. There is always the chance Anderson grabs a long touchdown, like the 92-yard score he had last week, so he has some appeal as a flex in deeper leagues. However, where possible, owners should look to steer clear of Anderson in this matchup.

From RotoBaller

Sam Darnold Oct 18 9:40pm ET

New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold will face a tough challenge Monday night against the Patriots, the team that has given up the fewest fantasy points this season to opposing quarterbacks. Darnold, who missed three games with mono, had a strong showing in his return to the field Sunday when he put up 338 yards and two touchdowns. Fantasy owners shouldn't expect that type of performance Monday against arguably the best defense in the NFL, especially with two starters on the offensive line unlikely to play. Darnold is best left on the bench this week, however, the Jets schedule gets very soft after the game vs New England so Darnold is a good bench stash for those matchups.

From RotoBaller

Jakeem Grant Oct 18 8:50pm ET

Miami Dolphins wide receiver Jakeem Grant (hamstring) and cornerback Xavien Howard (knee) were limited in practice this week and are questionable for Week 7 against the Bills. Even if Grant plays this weekend, he's nowhere close to being fantasy relevant behind Devante Parker, Preston Williams and Albert Wilson on the depth chart. Grant has only nine catches (19 targets) for 52 scoreless yards in four games this year. Howard is the team's best cornerback, but the Dolphins Defense/special teams is also well off the fantasy radar. If Howard sits, it'll be good news for Bills wideout John Brown.

From RotoBaller

Josh Oliver Oct 18 8:50pm ET

Jacksonville Jaguars rookie tight end Josh Oliver (hamstring) practiced in full the last two days and isn't on the Week 7 injury report against the Bengals. Oliver has yet to play in his rookie season, but this weekend would be good timing for him to make his debut with Geoff Swaim out and James O'Shaughnessy on Injured Reserve. There's no guarantee that Oliver is heavily involved in the offense in his first game, but he's one to watch for those that are desperate at the position.

From RotoBaller

Jimmy Graham Oct 18 8:40pm ET

Green Bay Packers tight end Jimmy Graham (ankle) was limited in practice on Friday and was removed from the Week 7 injury report against the Raiders. With Davante Adams (toe) out, Geronimo Allison (concussion) doubtful and Marquez Valdes-Scantling (ankle, knee) questionable, Graham could see his biggest workload of the season this weekend. The Packers will continue to lean on the running game with their receivers beat up, but Graham could easily be quarterback Aaron Rodgers' favorite target against Oakland. The Raiders have also allowed the sixth most fantasy points per game (9.7) to tight ends. Graham has clear WR1 upside in Week 7.

From RotoBaller

Geronimo Allison Oct 18 8:40pm ET

Green Bay Packers wide receiver Geronimo Allison (chest, concussion) missed practice all week and is doubtful to play in Week 7 against the Raiders. The Packers are holding out hope that Allison can get cleared from the concussion protocol, but it doesn't look like it's happening. Davante Adams (toe) has already been ruled out and Marquez Valdes-Scantling (ankle, knee) will be a game-time decision. Green Bay could be without their top three wideouts, so Jake Kumerow, Allen Lazard and rookie Darrius Shepherd could be their three receivers on Sunday. Kumerow and Lazard will be in play as DFS sleepers and flex options in deeper leagues, but expect the Packers to lean heavily on their ground game.

From RotoBaller

Michael Badgley Oct 18 8:40pm ET

Los Angeles Chargers kicker Michael Badgley (groin) practiced in full the last two days and is listed as questionable for Week 7 against the Titans. Badgley has been out all season but looks to have a good chance to make his season debut on the road in Tennessee. As usual, the Bolts have had a nightmare on special teams in the kicking game this year and were using their punter, Ty Long, for field-goal duties earlier this year with Badgley sidelined. They've been using rookie Chase McLaughlin in recent weeks, but he's predictably been unreliable in the kicking game. The Chargers will give Badgley a shot to win his job back, but he should be avoided in fantasy for the time being if he's active.

From RotoBaller

Jacksonville Jaguars Oct 18 8:40pm ET

Following two straight close losses, the Jacksonville Jaguars enter their contest against the Cincinnati Bengals needing a victory to remain in AFC playoff conversation. At the crux of securing that win will be their defensive unit, which has been largely hit or miss over the first six weeks of the year. Despite All-Pro cornerback Jalen Ramsey being shipped to the Los Angeles Rams earlier in the week, the team has become accustomed to playing without him. While many owners may overreact to Ramseys departure, Jacksonville is coming off holding New Orleans to 13 points last week, and now squares off with a much-maligned Bengals offense. Andy Dalton and the rest of the offensive unit are averaging just 16.2 points per game and their 56.5 average rushing yards per contest enters the week as the lowest in the league. The Jaguars defense is not the same dominant group that has been in years past, but should be a serviceable fantasy unit in Week 7.

From RotoBaller

Darrell Henderson Oct 18 8:30pm ET

Los Angeles Rams running back Darrell Henderson could have some luster as a flex option against the Atlanta Falcons. Running back Malcolm Brown (ankle) is doubtful this week, but Todd Gurley (thigh) is expected back. Gurley's workload could be spotty, and Henderson could see extended run. He rushed six times for 39 yards in Week 6, but he lost a key fumble to open the second half. He'll have a chance at redemption against the midrange matchup.

From RotoBaller

Brandin Cooks Oct 18 8:30pm ET

Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Brandin Cooks has been irrelevant for a couple of weeks for fantasy owners. He left the Oct. 3 game with a concussion, and the entire Rams offense was plugged up last week. He had four catches for 47 yards in the two games combined. He has an awesome matchup against the Atlanta Falcons this week. They are the worst at defending the position in the league. They've allowed just over 15 catches for 219 yards and nearly two touchdowns per game to receivers over the last five games. Cooks is a low-end WR2 option for Week 7.

From RotoBaller

Cooper Kupp Oct 18 8:30pm ET

Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp broke a four-game string with 100 receiving yards last week as the entire offense was shut down by the San Francisco 49ers. The good news, though, is the Rams face the leaky Atlanta Falcons Defense, which is the worst at defending receivers the last five weeks. Kupp is sixth in the league in fantasy points over the last five weeks at the position despite having four catches for 17 yards last week. He'll return to the WR1 section this week.

From RotoBaller

Robert Woods Oct 18 8:30pm ET

Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Robert Woods has been Jekyll and Hyde in the matter of a couple of weeks. He busted out with 13 catches for 164 yards three weeks ago and didn't catch a last on four targets last week. He'll have a brighter matchup against the Atlanta Falcons, who are the best matchup for opposing receivers the last five weeks. The Rams spread the ball around a lot, though, and Woods is limited to a flex option in point-per-reception formats.

From RotoBaller

Tyler Higbee Oct 18 8:30pm ET

Los Angeles Rams tight end Tyler Higbee has been an afterthought in the offense this season with 16 catches for 154 yards and a touchdown in five games. He has a good matchup against the Atlanta Falcons this week, but he is too spotty to rely on in traditional leagues. He'd be someone to take at a basement price in daily formats, though.

From RotoBaller

Gardner Minshew II Oct 18 8:30pm ET

Jacksonville rookie signal caller Gardner Minshew hit a significant bump in the road last week for the first time as a starter. The cure for that skid? It may just prove to be a matchup against a Bengals Defense yielding greater than 425 yards per game. Minshew failed to toss a touchdown last Sunday against New Orleans, the first time he did not record one in six games. While his 240.3 passing yard per contest average is far from gaudy, he has tossed nine touchdowns to just two interceptions, making him a safe option in traditional fantasy, as well as a high-upside low-priced option in DFS.

From RotoBaller

Darren Sproles Oct 18 8:30pm ET

Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson (abdomen) and running back Darren Sproles (quadriceps) both missed practice all week and have officially been ruled out for Week 7 against the Cowboys on Sunday night. Jackson is closer to returning than Sproles, but there remains no timetable for either player. D-Jax has been out since getting hurt in Week 2, and the Eagles offense is surely missing their deep threat, as Mack Hollins hasn't come close to replicating Jackson's production as a field-stretcher. Alshon Jeffery, Nelson Agholor and Hollins will continue to operate in three-receiver sets in the big divisional showdown on Sunday evening.

From RotoBaller

Los Angeles Rams Oct 18 8:30pm ET

The Los Angeles Rams Defense shouldn't be played against the Atlanta Falcons this week. They've had their issues on the ground, but they still put up points and air it out. The Rams are amidst a tough portion of their schedule and really haven't played well enough to hang onto in traditional formats.

From RotoBaller

Kyler Murray Oct 18 8:20pm ET

Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray has a good matchup against the New York Giants in Week 7. Murray has been hot lately, and he's fifth in fantasy points among quarterbacks over the last three weeks. Murray has tossed for 834 yards, three touchdowns and one interception, but his legs have been the difference. He has rushed 25 times for 152 yards and two touchdowns during that stretch. The Giants allow the eighth-most fantasy points to the position on average over the last five weeks. Murray is a mid-to-low QB1 this week.

From RotoBaller