DFS Player Pool Week 5
After a week away, the DFS Player Pool makes a return. One-quarter of the season down and the fantasy world is picking up the pieces of a bizarre Week 4. It seems appropriate that October brings the weird to fantasy. More oddities are in store as the season progresses, including the first of four NFL games in London. Bye weeks will continue to cannibalize the player pool, but good plays and value will always be there. Sometimes, it just takes a little more digging. Consider this column your shovel, and don’t stop until you hit the bottom.
DFS Player Pool Week 5
Deshaun Watson, $6,700, vs. ATL
With no Patrick Mahomes on the main slate, Watson emerges as the top option for most DFS players. Watson faces a Falcons defense without Keanu Neal (IR) and fresh off making Marcus Mariota look like a competent quarterback. This season the biggest weakness for Watson is the pressure he faces in the pocket. Luckily, Atlanta is tied for the second-fewest sacks in the league and are not capable of capitalizing on the problem.
As a whole, the Falcons are trending down in their effectiveness against QBs. After containing Kirk Cousins in Week 1, they faced Josh McCown for part of their Week 2 game against the Eagles. In the last two weeks, they’ve given up 20+ points to Jacoby Brissett and the aforementioned Mariota. Watson is ready to break through and bring his offense with him to new heights, and making the investment here is a safe play.
Carson Wentz, $6,100, vs. NYJ
Wentz and the Eagles love to play down to their opponent week after week and have yet to win by more than a single score. For fantasy, that has been a mixed blessing, as catastrophe seems so close with this team. Still, Wentz and the Eagles have been good enough to score the sixth-most points in the league. Wentz is tied for second with 9 TD passes and he will continue to pass as the running backs have yet to establish any consistency.
With Sam Darnold out for at least one more game, the Jets offense remains no threat and will lead to as much volume as the Eagles can handle. The Jets are giving up the fifth-most passing yards per game and will be down LB Jordan Jenkins, and C.J. Mosely and Quinnen Williams are both doubtful. For cash lineups, Wentz likely has the safest floor of the mid-level QBs.
Kyler Murray, $6,300, @ CIN
Fresh off his second career multi-TD game of his rookie season, Murray will look to build some momentum against a weak Cincinnati Bengals defense. The Bengals have been shredded by RBs and are among the worst defenses in yards allowed (9th), points allowed (5th), and yards per play (3rd). Against QBs, the Bengals have allowed both of these teams have a fast moving offensive mindset, and there should be plenty of volume for these two teams to drive the point total up. Ownership for Murray will be down given the relatively disappointing performance of the Cardinals’ offense early on. His matchup and pricing make for a very nice, contrarian GPP play.
Chase Daniel, $4,800, @ OAK
It’s not often that a starting quarterback appears in the player pool for under $5,000. While Daniels’ career numbers don’t blow anyone away, he is still a big upgrade over Mitchell Trubisky. In his first bit of game action this year, Daniel hit a 37 yard pass down the right sideline to Javon Wims, went 7 for 7 passing to Allen Robinson, and was able to throw successfully to both sides of the field. At this point, Daniel is a much better option for Chicago at QB. He’ll face a Raiders defense allowing the 9th most points per game to QBs. Part of that is due to the total lack of pressure generated by Oakland. They are tied for second fewest sacks and QB hits. Even overseas, it is doubtful the travel hangover will affect the Bears O-line enough to matter.
Dalvin Cook, $8,400, @ NYG
What else is there for Cook to prove? Through a quarter of the season, Cook is the RB3 and season long owners who invested a 2nd or a 3rd round pick are ecstatic. DFS players are pleased as well. Cook’s price has soared, but his ROI just dipped below the 3X mark last week.
He’s had 20 or more touches and at least one TD every week, a rarity nowadays. Coach Mike Zimmer was not joking when he talked up the emphasis on the run game this season. Even Kirk Cousins’ train wreck season hasn’t hurt Cook’s fantasy output. He’s turning into the DeAndre Hopkins of fantasy RBs: able to produce regardless of who is taking the snaps from the center. Facing the New York Giants, Cook is a lock for his normal workload against a middle of the road defense. Having already produced well on the road against Chicago and Green Bay, Cook’s floor looks to be what we saw last week: 19 points. Do not worry about the Vikings’ drama; start Cook if you can make the salary work.
David Johnson, $7,500, vs. CIN
As mentioned above, the Bengals are not a good defense. Against opposing RBs, Cincinnati allows the 5th most rushing yards, the most receiving yards, second-most receptions, and the most total TDs. That is what awaits David Johnson, who just last week had a season-high in targets, receptions, and yards. With Christian Kirk expected to miss this week, a shift in usage for Johnson could see him lined up in Kirk’s slot position or at heavily involved in the passing game. To avoid using one of the top RBs, DJ offers as very high floor and a solid ceiling for a roughly $1,000 discount. There isn’t much else to say, as DJ will be a very popular play in both cash games and tournaments.
Derrick Henry, $6,000, vs. BUF
There are some opposing forces at work in this matchup. On the one hand, Henry’s workload is untouchable at this price point. The snap percentages favor Henry 58% to Dion Lewis’ 43%. There is a third back on the roster, David Fluellen, who has a total of four snaps. So far, the only game Henry was under 50% was Week 3’s 7-20 loss. That is the only two score deficit the Titans have seen this season and was an overall ugly game on a short week. This week, Tennessee is coming off an easy against the Falcons, while Buffalo just lost a tough game to New England. If there ever was a time for a let down for Buffalo, it’s now.
The status of Josh Allen remains unclear after an ugly hit to the head. Beyond that, there was a real feeling that the game was in their grasp if not for just a few plays. Coming out of that, and having just given up 63 yards to Sony Michel, Henry is ready to pick apart Buffalo’s rush defense. Yes, Buffalo has a fearsome secondary, but they rank 25th in Football Outsiders’ rush defense DVOA. On the ground is how you beat them. Not many will be on Henry, but he can make for a solid pivot for not much money.
David Montgomery, $5,200, @ OAK
Finally, Montgomery is on the cusp of realizing a weeks-long campaign by Bears fans to increase his workload. Slowly, the snaps have been increasing and last week he set a new high in touches. Even though the results weren’t outstanding, he was facing one of the better rush defenses in Minnesota. That won’t be as much of a problem for him this week. The per game numbers for Oakland are pretty much middle of the pack, but they have benefitted from some schedule luck. Last week Marlon Mack left the game after he was used sparingly. The Raiders have also given up very good days to the Vikings and Broncos backfield units.
Now, with a likely upgrade at QB to remove some of the pressure up front, Montgomery should produce his best day yet on Sunday. The game script might dictate heavy carries as Oakland could be down WRs Tyrell Williams and J.J. Nelson. Additionally on the defensive side, Clelin Ferrell could join fellow rookie Jonathan Abrams on the sidelines. Not a recipe for a good day in London for Oakland, but Montgomery should be jolly by game’s end.
Ronald Jones II, $4,600, @NO
Is there finally a bit of clarity emerging from the Tampa Bay backfield? Not yet, but this is a good week to take a swing. Over the last two weeks, Jones has been the more utilized and productive back for the Buccaneers. Jones has out touched Peyton Barber 35 to 25, and has 203 total yards to Barber’s 74. Last week was the first time Jones was on the field more than Barber, so this could be the start of a workload shift. While clocking in at RB19 in PPR formats the last two weeks, Jones has also looked like the more dynamic option between the two. It’s worth the risk, given the past RB history of Bruce Arians’ offense and the low investment in terms of salary.
So far, the Saints have been solid vs. RBs, but if Jones is getting the majority of the work, he can still hit value while saving a lot of salary space. His low ceiling can be accounted for by pairing him with one of the top options, and still getting a potential 20+ touches.
Julio Jones, $7,700, @ HOU
Keeping things very simple here: Julio is a stud. This matchup is shaping up to be a shootout. Jones leads the Falcons in yards, air yards, TDs, red-zone targets, and first downs. When the team needs a play, Jones is who they rely on. That reliability will be vital against the Texans, who are likely to put up a solid point total. This line has been climbing since it opened, and could be over 50 by kickoff. The combination of Jonathan Joseph and Lonnie Johnson will have no answers for Julio on Sunday. He is as safe a play as there is and should be used in every format.
Chris Godwin, $6,900, @ NO
This might finally be the week that Godwin and Mike Evans stop alternating huge days. All of the preseason hype for Godwin still might be underestimating him. Currently, he is the #3 WR in PPR formats and will certainly maintain a top 10 position after this week. Godwin has one of the juiciest matchups in the main slate with the much maligned P.J. Williams set to run behind him all day. Right now, only the Pittsburg Steelers are giving up more points per game slot receivers than the Saints. If the Saints rush defense does manage to contain Ronald Jones and Peyton Barber, Tampa will rely on their pass game. Either way, Godwin is primed for another huge day.
Josh Gordon, $6,100, @ WAS
Perhaps just as bad as P.J., Josh Norman has been scaring no one away from throwing in his direction this season. New England has been rolling over bad defenses with abandon, and Washington looks to be the next victim. With the largest spread of the week (thanks in part to Miami being on their bye) the Pats offense will rolling along. The toughest part, as always, is figuring where the production will come. Given the matchup with Norman and the lingering effects of Julian Edelman’s chest injury, Gordon is the best bet for receiving production. History tells us that the starters are likely to play well into the fourth quarter, even in a blowout, so no worries there. Washington is giving up the third-most points per game to WRs, fueled by 8 TDs, which leads the league. Expect that number to rise.
Alshon Jeffrey, $5,900, vs. NYJ
Another week removed from the calf injury that cost him Week 3, Jeffrey will be matched up against the Nate Hairston or Daryl Roberts. Also potentially in the mix is Trumaine Johnson. He was benched the last two weeks despite being one of the highest paid players on the team. Only re-injury seems likely to stop Jeffrey from going off this week. In Week 3 against NY, Josh Gordon put up a 6/83 day. Prior to that, Odell Beckham Jr. did Odell things, finishing 6/161/1. Finally, back in the opener, John Brown smoked the Jets for 7/123/1. If it weren’t for a Week 4 bye and the Eagles equally porous secondary, the fantasy community would be talking up Jeffrey non-stop. Don’t miss out on this matchup.
Auden Tate, $3,500, vs. ARI
Probably one of the chalkier plays of the week, Tate offers a ton of roster flexibility while offering a moderate ceiling. With A.J. Green and John Ross III out for this week’s game, there is a chance for Tate to step into a larger role. The last two weeks have seen him receive 16 targets, and total 10 catches for 138 yards. Even more impressive is the fact that his best game as a professional came two weeks ago on the road in Buffalo.
Speed isn’t a major component of Tate’s game, instead, he relies on leveraging his size and body control to haul in passes. His skill set complements Tyler Boyd’s inside game nicely. And his price complements some of the other more expensive chalk at the position. Tate has a bit of risk, obviously, but Arizona is still down Patrick Peterson and a few other pieces of their secondary. Between Tate and fellow value WR Javon Wims, Tate probably has the higher floor and better QB. Proceed, but with caution.
Evan Engram, $5,800, vs. MIN
Yes, Minnesota is still a solid defensive unit. But, the rise of Daniel Jones at QB, and the return of WR Golden Tate gives the Vikings defense a little more to think about. Also, keep in mind that Minnesota has given up a TE5 finish (Austin Hooper in Week 1) and a TE1 finish (Darren Waller in Week 3) in four games. Tight ends can be successful here. Engram is more talented than both Hooper and Waller, and is the top fantasy TE in 2019. Assuming Wayne Gallman can’t find running lanes against the Vikings’ front seven, New York will be forced to throw. Even with a new season-high in salary, Engram hasn’t been correctly priced and this could be the last week he is under $6,000.
Mark Andrews, $4,800, @ PIT
For the first time in weeks, Andrews has been removed from the injury report. The foot injury that has been nagging him seems to be mostly behind him, and it couldn’t have come at a better time. Facing the division rival Steelers, Andrews is in a great matchup. Having already run 7th most slot routes among TEs (per Matt Gajewski), the Ravens can capitalize against the main weakness of the Steelers pass defense. Pittsburg leads the league in points per game allowed to slot receivers, and that should continue to be an issue this week.
So far, Andrews has been an excellent target for QB Lamar Jackson. His 23% target share is second only to WR Marquise Brown, and the next most targeted player has 20 fewer targets than Andrews. If he and Jackson are on the field together, he will be targeted. Enjoy the slight discount in his pricing, as it is likely to be the last until a Week 9 matchup with New England.
Austin Hooper, $4,600, @ HOU
The Atlanta/Houston matchup has come up a few times already. This is the only game on the main slate with a total of 50 or higher, so people are expecting fireworks in this one. For the Falcons, the second-best option in the passing game this season has been Austin Hooper. Currently averaging 18.7 points per game, Hooper has failed to hit double digits once, back in Week 2. His other games he has been targeted an average of 9 times, catching 89% 0f them. He is second on the team in first downs and leads in receptions, YAC, and broken tackles. In short, he’s been their second-best playmaker. In a shootout, expect Matt Ryan to lean on him, especially facing the likely pressure J.J. Watt will bring against a rookie RT.
Tyler Eifert, $3,300, vs. ARI
It has to be said: Arizona is AWFUL against TEs. This will be a true test to the limits of how bad they are, as Eifert hasn’t been very good in 2019. But, he still leads the team in red zone targets, and Eifert only needs a couple of catches and a TD to really hit here. Those targets are what really distinguish him from teammate C.J Uzomah. Arizona has already allowed 6 TDs to TEs, so it’s very possible Eifert can return a decent value. The floor is zero, making this a GPP play only, but he will save salary.