Last updated: October 5th at 9:05pm ET.
Jaguars at Panthers
Team Totals: Panthers 22, Jaguars 19
His buy-low window slammed shut in last week’s 245-total-yard eruption at Denver, Leonard Fournette will look to build on his breakthrough performance against a Panthers defense enemy backs have touched up for 85/405/3 (4.76 YPC) rushing. Fournette’s floor is raised by his passing-game usage – David Johnson and Christian McCaffrey are the NFL’s only running backs who’ve run more pass routes (118) – and Fournette remains due for positive-touchdown regression after a scoreless opening month. Fournette is a locked-in RB1 play against Carolina, which placed top DT Kawann Short on injured reserve with a torn rotator cuff on Tuesday. … For forward-thinkers anticipating a Fournette injury, rookie RyQuell Armstead is your stash after he logged a season-high 14 snaps, vultured a seven-yard TD catch, and efficiently rushed eight times for 42 yards against the Broncos. A Speed Score sleeper, Armstead runs 4.45 at 5’11/220 and is the only other true tailback to play a snap for the Jaguars this year. … Gardner Minshew’s low-volume usage and short-area passing style limit his streamer and DFS appeal, but he has settled in as a two-quarterback-league starter with to-date fantasy results of QB13 (Texans), QB18 (Titans), and QB15 (Broncos) on virtually error-free play. The Panthers present a much more daunting matchup for quarterbacks, having stymied Jared Goff (QB29), Jameis Winston (QB21), Kyler Murray (QB15), and Deshaun Watson (QB20) while leading the league in sacks (18) and QB hits (35).
Minshew’s 2019 target distribution: Dede Westbrook 26; D.J. Chark 23; Fournette 21; Chris Conley 17; James O’Shaughnessy 15; Geoff Swaim 13; Armstead, Keelan Cole, and Marqise Lee 1. … Following a disastrous start to the season, Westbrook finally turned in an efficient game with 5/66/0 on six targets and led Jacksonville in Air Yards (66) at Denver. Popping in Week 5’s Air Yards Model, Westbrook is a sleeper against a Panthers defense that has yielded useful PPR production to fellow slot WRs Chris Godwin (8/121/1), Christian Kirk (10/59/0), Cooper Kupp (7/46/0), and Larry Fitzgerald (5/36/1). … Chark still led the Jags in Week 4 targets (8), losing a touchdown catch on an illegal hands-to-the-face penalty. Playing a Cover-4 zone, Carolina has put consistent clamps on perimeter receivers, however, notably bottling up Mike Evans (4/61/0), DeAndre Hopkins (5/41/0), Brandin Cooks (2/39/0), Will Fuller (3/23/0), and Breshad Perriman (0/0 on 4 targets). Particularly with Panthers No. 2 CB Donte Jackson (groin) ruled out, Chark has earned red-hot James Bradberry’s shadow coverage. … Conley hasn’t been a big part of Jacksonville’s passing game with 47 scoreless yards on seven targets over the last two weeks. … O’Shaughnessy remains a touchdown-dependent streamer with end-zone trips in consecutive weeks but averages of just four targets and 20.5 Air Yards per game.
Favored at home and leading the NFL in touches (111), rushing yards (411), and yards from scrimmage (629), Christian McCaffrey is once again the top RB1 play of the week facing an okay-not great Jaguars run defense that yielded 84/354/2 (4.21 YPC) rushing to enemy backs in Weeks 1-4. There’s not a ton more to say about McCaffrey, who has accounted for 16 touchdowns and 105 receptions in his last 16 games. … Kyle Allen’s outlook is very much tied to Jalen Ramsey’s (back) availability; Jacksonville held Weeks 2-3 opponents Deshaun Watson (QB22) and Marcus Mariota (QB23) in severe check with Ramsey in the lineup before none other than Joe Flacco torched the sans-Ramsey Jags for last week’s QB8 score. Allen did take a significant Week 4 step back after his four-TD Week 3, looking indecisive in the pocket, losing three fumbles, and leading just one touchdown drive in Carolina’s eked-out 16-10 win at Houston. Befuddled as the Texans took away Greg Olsen, Allen is just 1-of-7 for 27 yards on passes traveling 20 yards downfield. Still 3-0 as the Panthers’ starter, this will be Allen’s first-ever home start.
Update: The Jaguars ruled out Jalen Ramsey (back) on Friday and will give Tre Herndon another start after Herndon was singed for six completions on nine targets, 119 yards, and two touchdowns by Joe Flacco last week. Ramsey’s absence is an obvious upgrade to all members of Carolina’s passing attack.
Allen’s 2019 target distribution: McCaffrey and Curtis Samuel 14; Olsen 11; Jarius Wright 8; D.J. Moore 7. … Samuel presents quite the conundrum as a WR2/3 play; he is popping as Week 5’s No. 2 buy-low receiver in Josh Hermsmeyer’s Air Yards Model, and Jacksonville has allowed the NFL’s second-most 20-plus-yard completions (20), but Allen’s vertical-passing struggles are working against him. Ultimately, I’d rather fire up Samuel’s playmaking ability than not. Samuel is Allen’s most-targeted pass catcher in his brief NFL career (20). … The Jaguars’ athletic linebackers and safeties have generally scuttled tight end efficiency; when targeting Olsen’s position against Jacksonville, teams are 18-of-31 passing (58%) for 244 yards (7.9 YPA) and one touchdown. Still No. 7 in targets (29) and No. 4 in Air Yards (283) among tight ends, I’ll keep betting on Olsen’s usage as a season-long TE1. Only Zach Ertz and Travis Kelce have run more pass routes at the position. … I think Moore would be Carolina’s likeliest wideout to draw Ramsey’s coverage should he play, but that looks questionable at best. Just as concerning is Moore’s usage in Allen’s two 2019 starts; Samuel (205) and Olsen (107) have blown Moore’s 75 Air Yards out of the water with Wright (67) close behind. Moore has devolved into a boom-or-bust WR3/flex option.
Score Prediction: Panthers 24, Jaguars 20
Cardinals at Bengals
Team Totals: Bengals 25.5, Cardinals 22
In a battle of winless teams, the Cardinals visit Cincinnati with David Johnson in breakout position after the Bengals were ethered for a 100/477/5 (4.77 YPC) rushing line by enemy backs in Weeks 1-4 and yielded a league-high 290 receiving yards to Johnson’s position. Despite missing much of Week 2 with a wrist scare, Johnson is tied with Christian McCaffrey for most routes run among NFL backs (127) and has catch totals of 6, 6, and 8 in his three full games. A shoo-in every-week PPR RB1, Johnson continues to go too-low owned in DFS tournaments. If coach Kliff Kingsbury is smart, he will explore the idea of using Johnson in the slot to mitigate Christian Kirk‘s (ankle) injury and Chase Edmonds as Arizona’s primary tailback more. … Kyler Murray’s Weeks 1-4 fantasy results were QB13 > QB18 > QB15 > QB12, showing a high floor without revealing his ceiling. Murray’s Week 5 outlook is improved by Cincinnati’s allowance of the NFL’s tenth-most quarterback rushing yards and inability to generate pressure with the league’s second-fewest sacks (5) and seventh-fewest QB hits (18). Murray is an underrated DFS-tournament play in this plum draw, ideally paired with Johnson and/or Larry Fitzgerald.
Murray’s Weeks 1-4 target distribution: Fitzgerald and Kirk 36; Johnson 28; KeeSean Johnson 19; Damiere Byrd 18; Charles Clay 6; Chase Edmonds 5; Trent Sherfield 4; Maxx Williams 3. … As much as Adam Levitan will hate to admit it, Kirk’s ankle injury elevates Fitzgerald’s floor and ceiling into WR1 range by refocusing Arizona’s passing game from three prominent members (Kirk, Johnson, Fitz) to two (Johnson, Fitz). In an offense averaging 42.2 pass attempts per game – third most in the league – Fitz looks like one of the safest fantasy plays on the Week 5 slate. … With Byrd (hamstring) still on the shelf, KeeSean belongs in WR4 discussion against the Bengals, who yielded useful games to fellow outside WRs D.K. Metcalf (4/89/0), Deebo Samuel (5/86/1), Diontae Johnson (6/77/1), and Marquise Goodwin (3/77/1) in Weeks 1-4. … Second-round pick Andy Isabella has a shot at an expanded role with Kirk on the shelf and should be picked up in 12- and 14-team season-long leagues; Kirk ranked No. 8 in the NFL in targets before going down. Isabella is often criticized for his tiny catch radius, tendency to let passes into his body, and unorthodox routes, but he ran 4.31 at the Combine and led the entire nation in yards per route run (4.15) as a senior at UMass. Isabella’s competition is Pharoh Cooper, who played slot receiver for Arizona this preseason. Update: Coach Kliff Kingsbury stated Wednesday that Isabella will compete for playing time outside with Sherfield and KeeSean. Cooper now looks like Arizona’s No. 2 slot receiver, giving him PPR-specific WR4 dart-throw appeal in such a high-volume role.
It may seem unthinkable for anyone who watched last Monday night’s massacre at Heinz Field, but this is a sneaky rebound spot for Cincinnati returning home after a nationally-televised embarrassment to face a bad Arizona team traveling cross country for a 1pm ET start. Cardinals DC Vance Joseph’s defense has been skewered for top-six QB1 results in 3-of-4 games, has a 10:0 TD-to-INT ratio against, and has allowed the NFL’s fifth-most yards per pass attempt (8.5). Offenses facing the Cardinals are averaging the league’s fourth-most plays per game (67.5), increasing box-score opportunity across the board. I like Andy Dalton as an underrated QB1 streamer and extremely low-owned DFS-tournament play in stacks with Tyler Boyd and/or Auden Tate. … At least until he visits Miami in Week 16, this is the best matchup Joe Mixon will get all year. Arizona has allowed the NFL’s fifth-most rushing yards (586) and fourth-most rushing attempts per game (30.8) and resurrected Chris Carson’s season in Week 4 (22/104/0). Mixon set year highs in snaps (63%) and touches (19) against the Steelers. He’s an upside RB2 versus the Cards.
Dalton’s Weeks 1-4 target distribution: Tyler Boyd 39; John Ross 32; Auden Tate 18; Tyler Eifert 16; Mixon 15; Giovani Bernard 14; Damion Willis 9; Alex Erickson 8; C.J. Uzomah 7; Drew Sample 3. … The Cardinals have allowed completions on 29-of-39 slot targets (74.4%) for 345 yards (8.85 YPA) and four touchdowns, boding well for Boyd, who has run 71% of his routes inside over the past three weeks. In hindsight, Boyd’s Week 4 flop wasn’t so surprising when you consider Dalton threw for a season-low 171 yards. Arizona is allowing 271.0 passing yards per game, and Dalton averaged 326.3 in Weeks 1-3. … As Ross averaged eight targets and a team-high 94.3 Air Yards in the season’s first month, his shoulder injury frees up a ton of opportunity. Boyd stands to benefit some, but Tate will too after he led Cincinnati in receiving in each of the last two games, playing 90% of the Bengals’ offensive snaps. Also popping in Josh Hermsmeyer’s Air Yards Buy Low Model, Tate offers Week 5 breakout potential in this plum draw. … Ross was placed on I.R. Wednesday and can be safely dropped in season-long leagues. … The Bengals kept Eifert’s playing time below 50% in each of their first four games but may have to loosen his leash minus Ross and A.J. Green (ankle) sounding like he won’t be back anytime soon. This is certainly the optimal week to do so from a matchup standpoint; T.J. Hockenson (6/131/1), Mark Andrews (8/112/1), Greg Olsen (6/75/2), and Will Dissly (7/57/1) have all flamethrowered the Cards.
Score Prediction: Bengals 27, Cardinals 23
Falcons at Texans
Team Totals: Texans 27, Falcons 22
Matt Ryan heads to Houston having thrown for 300-plus yards in five straight games dating back to last season to face the Texans in Week 5’s second-highest-totaled affair. Ryan’s biggest concern should be Houston’s ability to generate pressure; DC Romeo Crennel’s defense ranks sixth in sacks (13) and fourth in QB hits (29), and Texans LE J.J. Watt versus Falcons rookie RT Kaleb McGary is one of the biggest mismatches of the week. Nevertheless, this game’s shootout probability and Ryan’s deep cast of weapons give him high-end QB1 upside with top-eight fantasy outcomes in two of his last three starts. Per Sports Info Solutions, Ryan leads the league in completed Air Yards (579), while Houston has permitted an NFL-high 33 completions of ten-plus Air Yards. … Devonta Freeman’s run-game struggles resumed in last week’s loss to Tennessee, but he compensated with a year-best 8/72/0 receiving line on nine targets, out-touched Ito Smith 20 to 4, and out-snapped Smith 62% to 38%. Houston has yielded 75/342/2 (4.56 YPC) rushing to enemy backs plus 34 catches, most in the league. Although Freeman’s to-date RBBC usage and lost explosiveness are putting lids on his ceiling, positive-touchdown regression should soon hit Freeman, who is scoreless on the year.
Ryan’s Weeks 1-4 target distribution: Julio Jones 37; Austin Hooper 33; Mohamed Sanu 31; Calvin Ridley 23; Freeman 21; Smith 8; Justin Hardy and Luke Stocker 7. … Houston’s burnable secondary has allowed at- or above-expectation wide receiver lines to Keenan Allen (13/183/2), Michael Thomas (10/123/0), Ted Ginn (7/101/0), Chris Conley (4/73/0), and D.J. Chark (7/55/1), boding well for Julio’s chances of rebounding from last week’s 4/52/0 clunker. Jones’ last four stat lines immediately following sub-60-yard games are 5/106/2 > 9/138/1 > 8/106/2 > 7/149/0. Ryan-to-Julio DFS stacks deserve to be very popular; Houston has been charbroiled in the downfield passing game as mentioned above, and Jones holds a commanding team lead with 21 targets thrown ten-plus yards downfield. Ridley is a distant second (11). … Hooper is up to 87 catches over his last 16 games with an NFC-high 28 this year. That voluminous usage earns Hooper matchup-agnostic TE1 treatment, even against a Texans defense that has yielded the NFL’s fifth-fewest yards to tight ends (95) and took Greg Olsen (2/5/0) away from Kyle Allen last week. … Sanu has cleared 75 yards in back-to-back games but has one touchdown over his last 14 and has drawn just one red-zone target four weeks in, suggesting a TD binge isn’t coming. He’s a PPR-specific WR4. … Ridley has also seen just one red-zone target and none inside the ten. He is likely to remain a boom-bust WR2/3 play all year in such a deep pass-catcher corps, but this is a far better matchup for Ridley than he saw in each of the last two weeks. It doesn’t hurt that Texans No. 2 CB Lonnie Johnson (groin) got injured in practice this week and is listed as questionable. Texans No. 1 CB Johnathan Joseph is 35 years old.
Just like Week 5 opponent Atlanta, the Texans managed ten points in Week 4, their fewest in any of Deshaun Watson’s 26 career starts. Also much like the Falcons, this is a bounce-back opportunity for Houston against Dan Quinn’s defense, which permitted consecutive QB11 finishes to Carson Wentz and Jacoby Brissett in Weeks 2-3 before resurrecting Marcus Mariota’s season (QB7) in last week’s home loss to Tennessee. Watson should experience his cleanest pocket of the year; the Falcons rank second to last in sacks (5) and laid just four hits on Mariota after the Titans’ first three opponents hit him nine times per game. This is a positive-regression week for Watson-to-DeAndre Hopkins DFS stacks. … Even as Duke Johnson resumed out-snapping Carlos Hyde 64% to 49% in last week’s loss to Carolina, Hyde out-touched him 16 to 8 and now has 46 touches to Johnson’s 18 over the past three games. Regardless of opponent, they are canceling each other out as start-able fantasy options in RB3/4 no-man’s land.
Watson’s Weeks 1-4 target distribution: DeAndre Hopkins 36; Will Fuller 23; Kenny Stills and Jordan Akins 14; Johnson 12; Darren Fells 11; Keke Coutee 7; Hyde 6. … Atlanta’s Week 4 busting of perimeter WRs A.J. Brown (3/94/2) and Corey Davis’ (5/91/1) slumps creates Week 5 optimism for Hopkins, who has flukily been held scoreless and below 70 yards in three straight games while dealing with Jalen Ramsey, Casey Hayward, and James Bradberry’s coverage all in a row. Falcons top CB Desmond Trufant was victimized on both of Brown’s scores and a 22-yard gain by Davis, while No. 2 CB Isaiah Oliver has allowed 15 completions on 24 targets for 195 yards (8.13 YPA) and three touchdowns this year. Throw in this game’s lofty total, and Week 5 is to Hopkins as Week 3 was to Mike Evans and Week 4 to Davante Adams. Hopkins is also popping as this week’s No. 6 buy-low receiver in Josh Hermsmeyer’s Air Yards Model. … Top 15 in the NFL in Air Yards (399) but not even top 50 in actual receiving yards (183), Fuller hasn’t been able to buy a break. A would-be 75-yard touchdown overthrown by Watson in last week’s defeat glanced slightly off Fuller’s fingertips. Although Fuller’s to-date fantasy results are frustrating, a breakout game is almost certainly nigh based on his immense opportunity. Like Hopkins, Fuller is popping in Week 5’s Buy Low Air Yards Model. … Stills’ (hamstring) absence also improves Fuller’s outlook and vaults Coutee back into three-receiver sets after Coutee logged year highs in snaps (57%) and routes (31) following Stills’ Week 4 injury, drawing three targets. Coutee is WR4 playable in PPR-specific deep leagues. … Akins’ role never changed despite his two-touchdown Week 3; he’s seen between 2 and 5 targets in all four games in Houston’s ongoing TE rotation with blocker Fells.
Update: Kenny Stills (hamstring, ankle) did wind up practicing on a limited basis this week and is regarded as a game-time decision against the Falcons. If Still does play, he would remove Keke Coutee from sleeper contention.
Score Prediction: Texans 30, Falcons 27
Buccaneers at Saints
Team Totals: Saints 25, Bucs 22
Improved to 2-2 following three straight impressive offensive efforts highlighted by last week’s road-game destruction of the previously-stout Rams, the Bucs look to stay hot against a Saints defense that was carved for QB3 (Deshaun Watson), QB9 (Jared Goff), and QB1 (Russell Wilson) fantasy results before stunningly stymieing Dak Prescott for Week 4’s QB24 score. Critical to Jameis Winston’s L.A. explosion was his squeaky-clean pocket; he took just two sacks and four hits on 43 dropbacks after averaging 3.3 sacks and 8.3 hits per game in Weeks 1-3. Saints DC Dennis Allen‘s unit won’t be nearly as giving with the NFL’s fourth-highest pressure rate (41%) and seventh-highest QB Hit Rate (18.5%). Winston also has a putrid 18:20 TD-to-INT ratio against zone coverage versus 26:6 against man since the beginning of the 2017 season (Sports Info Solutions). The Saints are playing zone at the NFL’s third-highest rate. I badly bricked on believing Winston would struggle in L.A. last week, but the data has me doubling down on New Orleans’ D/ST. In DFS, they’re virtually certain to go low owned. … Running with newfound aggressiveness inside the tackles and teasing his college track-star speed, Ronald Jones pulled away from Peyton Barber and Dare Ogunbowale against the Rams by leading the backfield in touches (20) and snaps (49%) despite losing 54- and 25-yard runs to largely innocuous penalties. Per PFF, Jones’ nine broken tackles tied Alvin Kamara and Chris Carson for most among NFL backs in Week 4. Jones’ floor remains low with just three targets on the year, but he is the Bucs’ only flex-viable back at New Orleans. The Saints have yielded an unimposing 78/332/2 (4.26 YPC) rushing line to enemy backs.
Jameis’ Weeks 1-4 target distribution: Mike Evans 35; Chris Godwin 34; Ogunbowale 13; O.J. Howardand Breshad Perriman 12; Cameron Brate 9; Barber 8; Bobo Wilson 6; Jones 3; Justin Watson 1. … Back on fire following his early-season illness, Evans leads the NFL in Air Yards by a whopping 89-yard margin over the past two weeks and is back on pace for 140 targets, which would be his most since 2016. Evans will almost certainly draw Week 5 shadow coverage from Marshon Lattimore, who struggled mightily in Weeks 1-3 before all but eliminating Amari Cooper (5/48/0) last Sunday night. A boom-bust WR1 play at the Superdome, Evans’ four career stat lines against Lattimore are 4/86/0 > 7/147/1 > 5/55/0 > 1/13/0. … Godwin’s matchup is friendlier; teams targeting New Orleans’ slot coverage are 24-of-32 passing (75%) for 315 yards (9.8 YPA) and two touchdowns, highlighted by Tyler Lockett (11/154/1) and Cooper Kupp’s (5/120/0) big games. With Perriman (hamstring) ruled out and Howard making no headway, the Bucs’ target distribution is even narrower than we anticipated before the season, raising Evans and Godwin’s floor and ceiling. … Howard’s play continues to be far too poor for Bruce Arians to elevate his usage. Howard is PFF’s No. 67-graded run-blocking tight end among 67 qualifiers and 62nd in pass blocking with three penalties, including a hold that negated Jones’ aforementioned 54-yard run in last week’s victory. Perhaps Howard will pick it up later in the season, but fantasy leaguers should be streaming over him at this point.
Held below 200 yards in three straight games with just two attempts (and zero completions) beyond 20 yards, Teddy Bridgewater remains a low-end, low-ceiling QB2 regardless of opponent. The Saints’ game manager’s to-date fantasy results are QB30 > QB22 > QB27, even as No. 2 QB Taysom Hill has played just 10 combined snaps in the past two weeks. … Sean Payton would be smart to focus on feeding Alvin Kamara Week 5 passing-game targets; despite facing the 49ers’ dynamic run game, Christian McCaffrey, Saquon Barkley, and Todd Gurley in Weeks 1-4, Bucs DC Todd Bowles’ defense has shut down enemy backs for 69/160/2 (2.32 YPC) rushing. … Whereas Saints ancillary pass catchers have reached drop status in season-long leagues, Michael Thomas has stayed post-Drew Brees afloat on sheer volume, ranking second in the NFL in target share (32%) over the past three weeks. Fellow WRs Robert Woods (13/164/0), Cooper Kupp (9/121/1), Sterling Shepard (7/100/1), Curtis Samuel (5/91/0), D.J. Moore (9/89/0), Darius Slayton (3/82/0), and Brandin Cooks (6/71/0) all met or beat expectations against the Bucs’ secondary in the last three games, keeping Thomas on the WR1 fringe despite his QB downgrade. Per Sports Info Solutions, Tampa Bay is permitting the NFL’s second-most yards per game to slot receivers (178.3). Thomas has caught 15-of-17 slot targets for 171 yards this year.
Score Prediction: Bucs 21, Saints 20
Vikings at Giants
Team Totals: Vikings 25, Giants 20
Looking to retake the NFL rushing lead after Christian McCaffrey passed him last week, Dalvin Cook draws a Giants defense missing its top-three inside linebackers with Alec Ogletree (hamstring) and Tae Davis (concussion) ruled out and promising rookie Ryan Connelly having torn his ACL against the Redskins. Even as Chicago’s shutdown front stymied Cook all last Sunday, the Vikings fed him 20 touches for the fourth straight week, and Cook compensated in PPR leagues with season highs in routes run (28), targets (8), and catches (6). That passing-game floor will help keep Cook matchup proof all year. … Keep stashing Alexander Mattison in season-long leagues. Cook has struggled to stay healthy in college and the pros, and these consistently massive workloads heighten his injury risk. … Matchup quality hasn’t mattered for Kirk Cousins, who the Vikings’ coaching staff is keeping hidden as much as possible with the NFL’s 25th-most pass attempts (99). Cousins just passed benched Eli Manning (89) and injured Cam Newton (89) in attempts last week. Cousins’ to-date fantasy results are QB22 > QB27 > QB26 > QB25. Regardless of opponent, he’s devolved into a poor start even in two-quarterback leagues.
Cousins’ Weeks 1-4 target distribution: Adam Thielen 22; Stefon Diggs 19; Cook 18; C.J. Ham 8; Kyle Rudolph 7; Irv Smith 6; Bisi Johnson 4; Ameer Abdullah 4; Mattison 1. … While pass volume has become a major concern for Thielen and Diggs, Sunday’s matchup isn’t against a Giants secondary that has been pounded inside and out by Mike Evans (8/190/3), Michael Gallup (7/158/0), Amari Cooper (6/106/1), Cole Beasley (4/83/0), John Brown (7/72/0), and Randall Cobb (4/69/1). … Thielen may get squeaky-wheel treatment after speaking up about his team’s unwillingness to sling it as the run game sputtered in last week’s offense-less loss at Chicago. “You’re not going to be able to run the ball for 180 yards (every week), even with the best running back in the NFL. That’s when you have to be able to throw the ball.” Cousins went so far as to publicly apologize to Thielen on Tuesday. Thielen did log 75-plus yards and/or a touchdown in each of the first three games and should bounce back in this plus draw. Both Thielen and Diggs remain every-week WR2/3s in season-long leagues. I’d take Thielen over Diggs this week in DFS. It can’t hurt that Thielen and Diggs are both popping as top-four buy-low receivers in Josh Hermsmeyer’s Air Yards Model. … The Vikings should consider lowering Thielen and Diggs’ route depths to make life easier on Cousins and their protection-deficient line, which is allowing pressure at the NFL’s third-highest rate. Thielen’s aDOT is way up to 13.4 from 9.5 last year. Diggs’ has soared from 8.6 to a team-high 14.4. Dropping those would give Cousins higher-percentage throws.
After teeing off on Tampa in Week 2 and last week’s above-par effort in a smooth-sailing win over the hapless Skins, Daniel Jones draws his toughest to-date matchup against Mike Zimmer’s Vikings, who’ve contained Aaron Rodgers (QB19), Matt Ryan (QB14), Derek Carr (QB20), and Chase Daniel/Mitchell Trubisky (QB20) while ranking top ten in sacks (11) and No. 7 in yards per pass attempt allowed (5.9). Jones is best viewed as a volatile two-QB-league play and contrarian DFS-tournament option in stacks with Evan Engram. … With Saquon Barkley (ankle) still out indefinitely – one early-week report had the Giants not expecting him back for another 5-7 games – Wayne Gallman will maintain volume-based RB2/flex appeal against the Vikings, who’ve limited enemy backs to 93/343/1 (3.78 YPC) and rank top ten in tackles for loss (24). Although UDFA rookie Jonathan Hilliman was involved for ten carries versus Washington, he managed 3.3 YPC, was not targeted, and touched the ball just once after losing a fourth-quarter goal-line fumble. Hilliman’s struggles reinforce Gallman as the Giants’ clear-cut feature back for the foreseeable future with a realistic chance at matchup-proof usability based on his every-down role.
Jones’ 2019 target distribution: Sterling Shepard 18; Evan Engram 16; Gallman 9; Darius Slayton 7; Bennie Fowler and Rhett Ellison 5. … As Shepard has run 80% of his routes inside, it will be interesting to see whether he moves outside with Golden Tate off suspension. Tate worked in the slot on 62% of his preseason plays. … Either way, Week 5 matchups for all Giants receivers are difficult against the Vikings. Davante Adams is the only enemy wideout to clear 80 yards on Zimmer’s defense through four games, with Allen Robinson (7/77/0), Calvin Ridley (4/64/1), Julio Jones (6/31/1), Tyrell Williams (3/29/1), and Marquez Valdes-Scantling (3/19/0) all held in relative check. I’m downgrading Shepard back into fringe WR3/flex range and using this as a wait-and-see week for Tate, who should be owned in all season-long leagues but approached with caution in his Giants debut. … Engram draws New York’s top pass-catcher matchup; teams targeting tight ends against Minnesota are 28-of-32 passing (88%) for 248 yards (7.8 YPA), including Darren Waller (13/134/0) and Austin Hooper’s (9/77/0) high-production games. Engram continues to warrant matchup-agnostic treatment with the NFL’s second-most yards (331) and targets (37) among tight ends. … As the Giants cut Fowler on Tuesday, Slayton has a real chance to take over No. 3 receiver duties alongside Shepard and Tate with Cody Latimer as his primary competition. A 4.39 speedster who helped key New York’s Week 3 comeback win over Tampa Bay, Slayton should be rostered in all Dynasty leagues.
Score Prediction: Vikings 24, Giants 20
Bears vs. Raiders
Team Totals: Bears 23, Raiders 18
The 3-1 Bears head to London with Chase Daniel at quarterback after Mitchell Trubisky suffered his second left-shoulder injury in as many seasons. A scrappy, short-area passer with intense knowledge of Matt Nagy’s offense having spent five of the last six years together in Philadelphia and Chicago, Daniel managed QB16 and QB19 fantasy results in two road-game spot starts against the Lions and Giants last season and is start-able in two-QB-leagues in this plus draw. Oakland has allowed the NFL’s fourth-most touchdown passes (9) and ranks second to last in sacks (5). … Even as David Montgomery’s rushing efficiency continues to underwhelm (3.45 YPC), his ascending usage foreshadows an imminent spiked week with 16-plus touches in three straight games and a career-high 24 in last week’s win over the Vikings. He’s also drawn 11 targets over the last three weeks. Favored by five against a Raiders defense that won’t have early-season difference maker Vontaze Burfict (suspension), Montgomery is a solid RB2 with breakout-game potential. … Tarik Cohen seemed headed for more involvement than usual when he beat Vikings LB Anthony Barr for last week’s first-quarter ten-yard touchdown catch, but Cohen finished with eight touches or fewer for the fourth straight game. Still somewhat intriguing from a contrarian angle, Cohen was targeted by Daniel more than any other Bears pass catcher last season, securing 19 of Daniel’s 22 throws for 201 yards and a touchdown. Cohen’s game fits Daniel’s short-distance style. … Mike Davis is strictly a handcuff for Montgomery; Davis has played one snap over the last two weeks.
Daniel’s Week 4 target distribution: Allen Robinson 7; Cohen 5; Javon Wims 5; Montgomery and Trey Burton 4; Anthony Miller and Adam Shaheen 2; Cordarrelle Patterson 0. … Robinson caught all seven of Daniel’s targets for 77 yards and led Chicago in Air Yards (69) against the Vikings. The Raiders have surrendered at- or above-expectation wide receiver stat lines of 6/172/2 (Demarcus Robinson), 7/120/0 (Courtland Sutton), 5/86/1 (Emmanuel Sanders), 4/72/0 (Zach Pascal), 4/61/1 (Mecole Hardman), and Adam Thielen (3/55/1). Robinson’s big-play potential may be curbed by Daniel’s weak arm, but his PPR value should be stabilized by Daniel’s accuracy upgrade on Trubisky. … Preseason star Wims played 94% of Chicago’s Week 4 snaps, running more routes (33) than slot man Miller (26) and finishing second on the team in Air Yards (60). Wims’ Week 5 playing time is contingent on Taylor Gabriel’s (concussion) health. … Including playoffs, Miller has failed to clear 50 yards in 19-of-20 career games. … Burton has topped 40 yards in 3-of-19 games with the Bears and has one touchdown over his last 11 appearances.
Update: Taylor Gabriel (concussion) was indeed ruled out, setting up Javon Wims to operate as a full-time receiver again. I also think Week 5 sleeper Tarik Cohen stands to benefit from Gabriel’s absence.
Derek Carr heads to London with weakling QB21 > QB28 > QB20 > QB17 fantasy results under his belt facing a shutdown Bears defense that held its first four opponents to QB23 (Aaron Rodgers), QB17 (Joe Flacco), QB21 (Case Keenum), and QB25 (Kirk Cousins) finishes. Carr is a low-end two-quarterback-league play. … Even without critical DTs Akiem Hicks (knee) and Bilal Nichols (arm) and 2018 first-round ILB Roquan Smith (personal), Chicago put Week 4 clamps on now-former NFL rushing leader Dalvin Cook (14/35/1) and has held enemy backs to 77/235/1 (3.05 YPC) rushing on the year. Despite Jon Gruden’s promises that Josh Jacobs’ passing-game involvement would increase, the Raiders’ rookie lead back drew two targets and ran one more route (13) than Jalen Richard (12) in last Sunday’s win over the Colts. Jacobs is a recommended sell with a forthcoming slate (vs. CHI, @ GB, @ HOU, vs. DET, vs. LAC) that forewarns of Oakland facing a worrisome combination of difficult matchups and negative scripts.
Carr’s Weeks 1-4 target distribution: Darren Waller 37; Tyrell Williams 24; Hunter Renfrow 18; Richard and Foster Moreau 7; Jacobs, DeAndre Washington, J.J. Nelson, and Derek Carrier 5; Keelan Doss 1. … Even as Noah Fant (4/33/0), Jimmy Graham (3/30/1), Vernon Davis (2/30/0), and Kyle Rudolph (1/12/0) got little going against the Bears, Waller’s consistent volume keeps him mid-range TE1 playable every week. Waller is playing 93% of Oakland’s offensive snaps, has drawn seven or more targets in all four games, and ranks No. 7 among NFL tight ends in routes run (116). … Stefon Diggs (7/108/0), Emmanuel Sanders (11/98/1), Paul Richardson(8/83/1), and Terry McLaurin (6/70/1) showed over the last three weeks that Chicago’s biggest defensive vulnerability is its secondary, where slot CB Buster Skrine and RCB Prince Amukamara can be beat. Still, Williams has been living off touchdowns with end-zone trips in all four games but fewer than 50 yards in three straight. His TD streak likely to end this week, Williams is a fringe WR3 option in a matchup where the Raiders’ passing game as an entity figures to struggle. … Coming off a 3/30/1 receiving line against the Colts, Moreau is worth rostering in Dynasty leagues with Waller on a one-year deal. Only T.J. Hockenson and Noah Fant logged higher SPARQ athleticism scores in this year’s tight end class, and Moreau has already earned a 41% snap share as a fourth-round rookie.
Update: Tyrell Williams (foot) did not practice all week and is listed as questionable. Players who don’t practice all week typically miss games on Sundays. J.J. Nelson (knee) is also questionable. Against the Bears, I’d suggest avoiding the Raiders’ receiver corps entirely in fantasy-lineup calls. The Raiders signed WR Marcell Ateman off their practice squad on Saturday, indicating they expect at least one of Williams or Nelson to miss.
Score Prediction: Bears 20, Raiders 16
Jets at Eagles
Team Totals: Eagles 29, Jets 15
Update: I wrote the Jets’ entry with a soft assumption Sam Darnold would play. He was ruled out on Friday, so Luke Falk will get the nod again. Through two appearances, Falk is averaging 6.3 yards per attempt with zero touchdowns and one interception and has taken seven sacks among 54 dropbacks for a 13.0% sack rate absorbed. For context, Tennessee has allowed the NFL’s highest team sack rate at 12.5%. Fire up the Eagles’ D/ST and downgrade Jets skill-position players. Gang Green is simply unlikely to score many points.
Based on this game’s two-TD spread, the Jets’ in-practice loss of LG Kelechi Osemele (shoulder, knee) from an already discombobulated line, and Sam Darnold’s (mono/spleen) questionable availability and condition if he does start, I would rather take shots on the Eagles’ D/ST than most Jets skill players this week. … Le’Veon Bell is an exception, just not based on his running-game matchup; Philly’s forever-stout front limited enemy backs to an anemic 67/191/2 (2.85 YPC) rushing line in Weeks 1-4. But the Eagles have allowed the NFL’s sixth-most running back catches (27), while Le’Veon is on pace for a career-high 123 targets and collected nine from Darnold in Week 1, catching six for 32 yards and a score. The Jets have yielded the NFL’s second-highest QB Hit Rate (24.3%) and third-highest sack rate (12.1%). High-percentage throws to Bell give Adam Gase a means of circumventing his swinging-gate front five.
Popping in Josh Hermsmeyer’s Buy Low Air Yards Model, Robby Anderson is another possible exception, albeit a less-comfortable one with Darnold’s health still in serious question. In addition to his to-date unfulfilled Air Yards opportunity, Anderson’s matchup gives him DFS-tournament appeal after fellow outside WRs Davante Adams (10/180/0), Terry McLaurin (5/125/1), Julio Jones (5/106/2), Calvin Ridley (8/105/1), and Marvin Jones (6/101/1) all stomped the Eagles’ defenseless secondary in Weeks 1-4. … Jamison Crowder had his best game of the season (14/99/0) in Darnold’s Week 1 start against Buffalo, while Philadelphia’s loss of CB Avonte Maddox (neck, concussion) will force the Eagles to dig deeper into their slot-corner depth, potentially even resorting to 32-year-old street free agent Orlando Scandrick, who is on his fourth team in three seasons. Crowder is a PPR-specific WR3/4 flex play capable of racking up short receptions when the Jets fall behind and try to rally back as two-touchdown road dogs. … With Darnold on his way back and Gang Green’s bye out of the way, now is the time to add Chris Herndon in any season-long leagues where he’s available. In 2018, Herndon became just the eighth rookie tight end in the last decade to top 500 yards and finished top ten in PFF’s predictive yards per route run metric. Gase intends to deploy Herndon as an every-down player in three-receiver, one-tight end 11-personnel sets. Herndon will be an immediate TE1 when he becomes eligible in Week 6.
The Eagles come off a mini-bye following their Thursday night win at Lambeau as nearly two-touchdown favorites over the Jets, who conceded top-16 scores to each of their first three quarterbacks faced with a bottom-five sack rate (4.1%) and the NFL’s 12th-most yards per pass attempt allowed (7.7). This is a high-floor, high-ceiling spot for Carson Wentz, fantasy’s QB5 through four weeks. Although DeSean Jackson’s (quad) status remains in doubt, Wentz should otherwise play with a near-full deck after Alshon Jeffery (calf) and Dallas Goedert (calf) resumed their normal roles at Green Bay. Unfortunately, Wentz will be a season-long sell after Sunday’s game; Philadelphia’s Weeks 6-11 pass-defense schedule is beyond brutal (@ Vikings > @ Cowboys > @ Bills > vs. Bears > vs. Patriots). … Even as Gang Green has limited enemy backs to 57/216/3 (3.79 YPC) rushing, this game’s projected script sets up nicely for Jordan Howard to parlay his three-score Week 4 into another useful performance with Philadelphia likely to spend most of Sunday protecting a lead. Howard’s snaps are on an upward weekly trend (23% > 23% > 32% > 53%), and Howard out-touched Miles Sanders 18 to 11 versus the Packers. Sanders played just 36% of Philly’s Week 4 snaps and ran a season-low four pass routes. While this backfield presents whack-a-mole risk each week, Howard is the top Week 5 RB2/flex option. Sanders is a low-floor flex.
Update: DeSean Jackson was formally ruled out on Friday, setting up Mack Hollins for another start.
Wentz’s Weeks 2-4 target distribution: Zach Ertz 31; Nelson Agholor 24; Mack Hollins 17; Jeffery 9; Sanders 8; J.J. Arcega-Whiteside 7; Howard 6; Goedert and Darren Sproles 4. … Popping as Week 5’s No. 1 buy-low player in Josh Hermsmeyer’s Air Yards Model, Ertz is due for positive-TD regression after a scoreless opening month despite leading all tight ends in red-zone targets (6). Jets DC Gregg Williams’ scheme is typically vulnerable to tight ends because his “angel” safety aligns in punt-return formation, creating gaps in the middle of the field, and ILB C.J. Mosley (groin) doesn’t look ready to return. Wentz-to-Ertz is a compelling DFS stack I doubt will have high ownership. … Agholor goose egged in Jeffery’s Week 4 return and catches a tough draw against Jets slot CB Brian Poole, who allowed 36 scoreless yards on 15 targets (2.4 YPA) in Weeks 1-3. Agholor is a low-floor WR3/flex option against a secondary more vulnerable on the perimeter. … Odell Beckham (6/161/1), John Brown (7/123/1), Josh Gordon (6/83/0), and Phillip Dorsett (6/53/1) can all attest to that. Jeffery led the Eagles in Week 4 targets (9) and Air Yards (87), playing 81% of Philly’s offensive snaps at Green Bay. He can be confidently fired up as a WR2 in this plum draw. … Hollins filled in for Jackson against the Packers but was targeted just twice with Jeffery back in the fold. Arcega-Whiteside went from a 72% player in Week 3 to 10% in Week 4. … The Eagles are always better with Goedert on the field, but he has yet to exceed three targets in a game.
Score Prediction: Eagles 30, Jets 13
Ravens at Steelers
Team Totals: Ravens 24, Steelers 20.5
Lamar Jackson visits Heinz Field with league-winning fantasy results of QB1 > QB2 > QB10 > QB3 under his belt to face a 1-3 Steelers team surely high on itself following last Monday night’s destruction of the hapless Bengals. While Pittsburgh’s man coverage enhances its vulnerability to dual-threat QBs when defenders turn their backs to the offense, the Steelers’ ability to generate pressure is concerning for Jackson’s odds of staying hot; DC Keith Butler’s unit ranks No. 4 in the NFL in sacks (14) and No. 3 in QB hits (31). Nevertheless, Jackson has earned matchup-agnostic QB1 treatment with top-12 outcomes in six of his last seven starts. The Ravens’ crumbling defense is good news for Jackson’s outlook, forcing him into urgent comeback mode in each of the past two weeks. … Even as the dominant presence in Baltimore’s backfield, Mark Ingram’s continued lack of passing-game usage renders him a touchdown-dependent weekly RB2. Ingram has just seven targets in four weeks and scored 9.7 and 8.1 PPR points in the two games where he didn’t hit pay dirt. Pittsburgh has limited enemy backs to 105/450/3 (4.29 YPC) rushing. A sell high since the year began, Ingram should continue to be shopped in season-long offers.
Jackson’s Weeks 1-4 target distribution: Marquise Brown 34; Mark Andrews 31; Hayden Hurst 11; Willie Snead and Nick Boyle 10; Miles Boykin and Seth Roberts8; Ingram and Justice Hill 7; Gus Edwards 3. … Brown was a Week 4 failure with his first two drops of the season and now has just 71 scoreless yards on 16 targets over the past two weeks. Usage remains firmly on Brown’s side, however, and he popped as Week 5’s No. 2 buy-low receiver in Josh Hermsmeyer’s Air Yards Model. This is a great week to pivot back onto Brown, fading recency bias after he busted as a popular DFS play last Sunday. Brown’s Week 4 snap rate was a season-high 81%, and only Mike Evans has more Air Yards over the past two weeks. The Steelers have allowed the NFL’s tenth-most 20-plus-yard completions (16), while Brown has drawn the league’s third-most targets of 20-plus yards (10). … Andrews saved his Week 4 box score on a wide-open eight-yard touchdown catch in last week’s fourth quarter. I’ve grown increasingly concerned about his foot; Andrews’ snaps (42%) and routes (22) against Cleveland were both lows since Week 1. Held to 46 yards on 15 targets over the past two weeks, Andrews is shaping up as a volatile if still high-upside TE1. … No other Ravens pass catcher is seeing enough volume for fantasy relevance.
The Steelers have every reason to continue to utilize the Wildcat looks they unveiled in last Monday night’s whooping of Cincinnati after it resuscitated their previously-dead offense and helped Pittsburgh to its first 2019 win. Equaling James Conner in touches (18) on 45% of the snaps, versatile Jaylen Samuels was the sparkplug with 83 yards from scrimmage, a read-option rushing score, and 31 passing yards. With Conner nursing a balky ankle, Samuels warrants RB2 treatment with RB1 upside in PPR leagues versus a collapsing Ravens defense that has yielded over 500 yards of total offense in back-to-back games, including a whopping 47/316/5 (6.72 YPC) rushing line to Chiefs and Browns backs. … Conner said he would be all systems go on Tuesday. If so, he should be teed up confidently as a fringe RB1 after logging a 66% snap rate and career highs in catches (8) and receiving yards (83) in Pittsburgh’s Week 4 running back-friendly attack. Conner’s 21 routes run were a season high. … Mason Rudolph continued to dink and dunk versus Cincy, his lone 20-plus-yard downfield completion coming on Diontae Johnson’s 43-yard busted-coverage touchdown. Rudolph still emerged with Week 4’s QB13 result and should stay locked into two-QB-league lineups against a Ravens defense that has allowed 300-plus passing yards in three straight games.
Update: James Conner practiced fully on Friday and was removed from Pittsburgh’s Week 5 injury report. I’m expecting another running back-heavy offense from the Steelers where Conner and Jaylen Samuels continue to rotate on a near-even basis.
Rudolph’s 2019 target distribution: JuJu Smith-Schuster 16; Diontae Johnson 15; Conner 14; Samuels 9; James Washington 7; Vance McDonald 6; Nick Vannett 2; Donte Moncrief, Benny Snell, and Ryan Switzer 1. … JuJu’s target and Air Yards volume have severely disappointed, but this matchup should give him a puncher’s chance at bouncing back. Smith-Schuster runs nearly 70% of his routes inside, where Baltimore yielded 100-plus-yard games to fellow slot WRs Jarvis Landry(8/167/0), Christian Kirk (6/114/0), and Larry Fitzgerald (5/104/0) over the past three weeks. … Johnson has fast emerged as a Rudolph favorite; Rudolph is 9-of-12 for 129 yards (10.8 YPA) and two TDs when targeting him in the last two games. Johnson led Pittsburgh’s wideouts in Week 4 routes run (25) and leads the team in Air Yards (114) in Rudolph’s two starts. Johnson has entered WR3/flex territory, although Marlon Humphrey’s Week 5 coverage may await. Humphrey held Odell Beckham to 20 yards on seven targets last week. … Washington has been 2019’s version of 2018 Chris Hogan, running wind sprints down the sidelines while his teammates do all the work. Washington ranks 77th among 84 qualified receivers in PFF’s yards per route run. … With McDonald (shoulder) inactive last week, trade acquisition Vannett drew two targets on 76% of the snaps with Zach Gentry (0, 41%) behind him. Neither is a realistic streamer candidate.
Update: Vance McDonald (shoulder) practiced fully on Friday, indicating he is likelier than not to return against Baltimore. If active, he’ll be a risky TE1 play with his health still in question in a passing game that has lacked aggressiveness under Mason Rudolph.
Score Prediction: Ravens 24, Steelers 23
Bills at Titans
Team Totals: Titans 20.5, Bills 18
Update: Josh Allen was medically cleared on Saturday and will start against Tennessee. Although the matchup is difficult, Allen maintains a high ceiling from his high-variance style of play and breathes life back into John Brown. I also think Allen’s availability bodes well for Dawson Knox and does not take away from the attractiveness of the Titans’ D/ST.
With Josh Allen (concussion) questionable at best to play in Week 5’s lowest-totaled affair, the Bills will otherwise turn to Matt Barkley for game-managerial duties in Nashville. The Titans have allowed the NFL’s tenth-fewest yards per pass attempt (6.9) and fourth-fewest points per game (15.5) while limiting enemy quarterbacks to fantasy finishes of QB16 (Matt Ryan), QB12 (Jacoby Brissett), QB18 (Gardner Minshew), and QB24 (Baker Mayfield). Barkley is capable of completing a high percentage of throws but not consistently stretching the field or adding much with his legs. He’ll be a bottom-barrel two-QB-league start if Allen can’t go. … Devin Singletary appears likely to return from his two-week hamstring injury, reverting Buffalo’s backfield into a two- or three-man committee after Frank Gore dominated rushing work and T.J. Yeldon collected seven targets in Weeks 3-4. This is a fantasy situation to avoid against a Titans defense that held enemy backs to 54/123/1 (2.28 YPC) rushing in its past three games if you exclude two individual runs; a 55-yarder by Jordan Wilkins and Leonard Fournette’s 69-yard sprint.
John Brown’s vertical-oriented playing style doesn’t theoretically match Barkley’s shorter-area passing approach, but Barkley is more accurate than Allen and hit Brown for a gain of 28 yards on his first throw in last week’s game. With 50-plus yards in all four weeks and a 1,260-yard pace, I’m still rolling with Brown as a season-long WR3 play at worst against the Titans. … Cole Beasley catches a tough draw against Logan Ryan in the slot, although Beasley’s consistently high-volume role is more predictive from a fantasy standpoint. Albeit without a ton of upside, Beasley has drawn at least nine targets in 3-of-4 games and is PPR-specific playable as a WR3/4. … Zay Jones has 69 scoreless yards to show for his 17 targets. I’ll keep saying it; the Bills need to play Jones less and Robert Foster more. … The Titans yielded 4/37/1 to Browns tight ends in Week 1, 5/46/1 to Colts tight ends in Week 2, 3/26/1 to Jaguars tight ends in Week 3, and 9/130/0 to Austin Hooper in Week 4. Rookie TE Dawson Knox set season highs in playing time (67%) and routes run (40) in last week’s loss to New England and has 134 yards from scrimmage with a touchdown over the past two games. He is a legit streamer option in this plus draw.
Bills-Titans has Week 5’s lowest total, making it a game to fade in most lineup decisions. Buffalo has allowed the NFL’s fifth-fewest real-life points while holding Sam Darnold (QB25), Eli Manning (QB24), Andy Dalton (QB17), and Tom Brady(QB29) to unusable results. Marcus Mariota’s three-score first half in last week’s upset of Atlanta warrants descriptive recognition but is very unlikely to offer predictive value against the Bills, who’ve allowed just 39 touchdown passes in 36 games under coach Sean McDermott. … Derrick Henry has nine straight games of 100-plus total yards and/or a touchdown facing a Bills defense that held its last three opponents to a modest 55/241/2 (4.38 YPC) rushing line. So far a matchup-proof RB1, Henry’s Weeks 1-4 touch counts were 20 > 17 > 18 > 28 as Tennessee’s offensive focal point. Dion Lewis has yet to top eight touches in a game. With Buffalo’s offense likely to struggle in this road affair versus a stingy Tennessee defense, expect Titans OC Arthur Smith to try to control this game by relentlessly putting the ball in Henry’s belly. The Titans also get back Taylor Lewan from suspension; fill-in LT Dennis Kelly is PFF’s No. 66 run blocker out of 72 qualified offensive tackles.
Mariota’s Weeks 1-4 target distribution: Delanie Walker 23; Corey Davis 18: A.J. Brown 17; Adam Humphries 15; Lewis 11; Henry 9; Tajae Sharpe 7; Jonnu Smith 5. … Walker has a brutal matchup; athletic at linebacker and safety, teams targeting tight ends against Buffalo have managed 84 scoreless yards on 14 targets (6.0 YPA). Walker does have some room for optimism as a TE1 streamer, popping as Week 5’s No. 2 buy-low tight end in Josh Hermsmeyer’s Air Yards Model. … Davis and Brown’s big Week 4s were likely non-predictive; Brown’s playmaking ability is real and he deserves credit for getting the best of Falcons top CB Desmond Trufant, but Brown ran a season-low 16 pass routes on a season-low 42% of the snaps. Davis is averaging a sheepish 4.5 targets and has cleared 50 yards once in his last nine games. Fellow perimeter WRs Josh Gordon (3/46/0), Robby Anderson (3/23/0), John Ross (2/22/0), and Phillip Dorsett (2/10/0) have all produced below expectations against Buffalo’s lockdown secondary.
Score Prediction: Titans 20, Bills 17
Patriots at Redskins
Team Totals: Patriots 29, Redskins 13.5
Coming off a miserable offensive effort in Buffalo, this is a get-right spot for the Patriots, who offer DFS team-stack possibilities with Tom Brady at the forefront. Washington has supported high floors by yielding top-13 fantasy results to 3-of-4 quarterbacks faced, while Brady has top-14 scores in 3-of-4 starts, including two top-seven finishes. Despite several offensive line losses, Brady has taken just three sacks one month in. He should experience another clean pocket against the Skins, who managed three combined sacks and eight QB hits against the Bears and Giants in their last two games. … With Sony Michel badly struggling behind an injury-ravaged line without FB James Develin (neck, I.R.) and Rex Burkhead’s (foot) health in doubt, James White is New England’s lone bankable PPR back. White played a season-high 52% of last week’s offensive snaps, led the Pats in targets (10) and receiving (8/57/0), and now faces a Skins defense Wayne Gallman stung for 6/55/1 as a pass catcher in Week 4. … Burkhead injured his foot in practice last week, played a season-low 12 snaps at Buffalo, and looked to aggravate the injury on a fourth-quarter punt. He’ll need to re-prove his health to become fantasy viable again. … Projected game script should work in Michel’s Week 5 favor – the Patriots are favored by 15.5 points in D.C. – but Michel has virtually no room for error with zero targets on the season in a dysfunctional rushing attack. He’s fantasy football’s most touchdown-dependent commodity beyond Adrian Peterson.
Update: The Patriots ruled out Rex Burkhead on Saturday, setting up Sony Michel and James White for increased workloads. I’d call Damien Harris a Week 5 sleeper, but he has played behind special teamer Brandon Bolden this year. Despite Michel’s to-date struggles, this game’s projected script gives him breakout-week appeal, albeit with continued touchdown dependency. White remains by-far New England’s premier PPR running back play.
Brady’s Weeks 1-4 target distribution: Julian Edelman 32; Josh Gordon 27; Phillip Dorsett 23; White 21; Burkhead 18; Jakobi Meyers 4; Ryan Izzo 3; Matt LaCosse 2. … Whereas all Patriots pass catchers were predictable Week 4 duds in a game at Buffalo where Brady managed 150 passing yards, Week 5 offers a premium bounce-back spot. The defenseless Skins have been torched for 29-of-35 passing for 334 yards (9.5 YPA) and four touchdowns on slot targets this year. Edelman runs 74% of his routes inside. … Perimeter WRs DeSean Jackson (8/154/2), Taylor Gabriel (6/75/3), Devin Smith (3/74/1), Alshon Jeffery (5/49/2), and Amari Cooper (4/44/1) have all paid dividends versus Washington, boding well for Gordon and Dorsett. Gordon leads New England in targets (18) over the last two weeks, while Dorsett has paced the team in Air Yards (182). Popping in Josh Hermsmeyer’s Week 5 Buy Low Air Yards Model, Gordon is an upside WR2 play against the Skins. Dorsett a similarly high-ceiling WR3/flex. … I’d hesitate to stream 38-year-old Ben Watson in his first game off suspension, but tight end-premium leaguers need to pick him up. Watson shouldn’t struggle to earn passing-down snaps over blocker Izzo and invisible LaCosse.
Update: Ben Watson will not be activated off suspension for Week 5 but should debut in Week 6.
As the winless Redskins continue to treat their Week 5 starting quarterback as a secret of the darkest depths, we’re left to a guessing game between Dwayne Haskins, Colt McCoy, and Case Keenum while focusing on New England’s D/ST. Haskins is our preferred option from that standpoint; the rookie No. 15 overall pick showed precisely why Jay Gruden didn’t want to play him in the first three weeks by coming off the bench to throw three picks among 17 attempts in last week’s blowout loss to the Giants. … Chris Thompson is Washington’s lone fantasy-viable running back with the Skins highly likely to play from behind. The Patriots have stymied enemy backs for 62/210 (3.39 YPC) rushing on the year – bad news for Adrian Peterson – while Thompson ranks second among NFL backs in targets (28) and receiving yards (251). … Terry McLaurin’s hamstring injury proved serious enough to sideline him last week and limit him in this week’s practices. With Stephon Gilmore’s shadow on tap, this is a wait-and-see week for McLaurin to gauge his health amid quarterback uncertainty. … Trey Quinn (2/10/0) and Paul Richardson (3/14/0) flopped spectacularly as Week 4 punts after McLaurin was announced as inactive, and Vernon Davis is in concussion protocol. Good luck getting this moribund Redskins offense right.
Update: The Redskins announced Friday that they will start 33-year-old journeyman Colt McCoy amid reports coach Jay Gruden never wanted Dwayne Haskins as a draft pick in the first place. Haskins was handpicked by meddlesome owner Dan Snyder. McCoy broke his right leg last December, required three surgeries to repair it, and encountered setbacks in this year’s training camp, failing to play a single preseason snap. McCoy just resumed practicing fully last week.
Update II: The Patriots ruled out tight end stopper SS Pat Chung (heel) on Saturday, giving third-string TE Jeremy Sprinkle some life as an extremely-deep sleeper. Vernon Davis and Jordan Reed (concussion) have been ruled out.
Score Prediction: Patriots 34, Redskins 7
Broncos at Chargers
Team Totals: Chargers 25.5, Broncos 19
Their season circling the drain at 0-4 with 3-of-4 losses unfortunately by one score, the Broncos visit a Chargers team that yielded QB18 (Jacoby Brissett), QB14 (Matthew Stafford), QB4 (Deshaun Watson), and QB23 (Josh Rosen) fantasy results in its first four games, essentially playing to its competition. Los Angeles is without crucial pass rusher Melvin Ingram (hamstring), giving Joe Flacco life as a two-QB-league start. Averaging 8.0 yards per attempt with zero sacks taken, Flacco turned in his season-best game in last week’s loss to Jacksonville and finished above QB17 for the first time this year. … Phillip Lindsay and Royce Freeman draw a neutral matchup against the Bolts, who’ve given up 82/363/2 (4.43 YPC) rushing to enemy backs. Unfortunately, OC Rich Scangarello’s commitment to an even timeshare continues to cap Lindsay and Freeman’s ceilings; last week, the pendulum swung to Freeman in snaps (34 to 25) yet both handled ten touches. Lindsay and Freeman are unexciting-yet viable flex plays in L.A. Scangarello has given away no signs of featuring one back over the other regardless of on-field success.
Flacco’s target distribution: Emmanuel Sanders 34; Courtland Sutton 31; Freeman and Lindsay 19; Noah Fant and DaeSean Hamilton 15; Jeff Heuerman 7. … Sanders continues to slaughter expectations with 100-plus yards and/or a touchdown in 3-of-4 games. Badly missing Derwin James (foot, I.R.), his backup Adrian Phillips (broken forearm), and vulnerable at No. 2 corner, the Chargers coughed up wideout lines of 8/117/1 (Kenny Golladay), 4/89/0 (Kenny Stills), 8/87/2 (T.Y. Hilton), and 4/70/1 (DeVante Parker) in Weeks 1-4. Sanders has earned WR2 treatment at worst. … Positive-touchdown regression smacked Sutton in the face in last week’s loss to Jacksonville, beating Jalen Ramsey fill-in Tre Herndon for each of his scores. Quietly 17th in the NFL in receiving yards (309), Sutton is a confident WR3 play against the Bolts. Whereas Sanders is an obvious sell high, Sutton is a buy-high target in Dynasty leagues. … Fant showed his superlative athleticism on last week’s 25-yard screen-pass TD, Fant’s first NFL end-zone trip. Fant has been a predictably mistake-prone rookie, but his arrow is pointing up. Only seven tight ends have run more routes. Fant is in Week 5 streamer contention against the safety-disabled Chargers, who were burned by Jordan Akins (3/73/2) and Darren Fells (5/49/1) in the same game two weeks ago.
The Chargers head home after last week’s 20-point win in Miami, where Philip Rivers did whatever he wanted on 24-of-30 passing for 310 yards (10.3 YPA) and two TDs. Rivers’ to-date fantasy results are QB9 > QB26 > QB12 > QB9, good enough for low-end QB1 treatment against a Broncos defense that gets worse by the week. Vic Fangio’s star-crossed unit was rocked by Week 4 injuries to RE Bradley Chubb (ACL) and ILB Josey Jewell (hamstring) with slot CB Bryce Callahan (foot) already on the shelf. … Although Anthony Lynn has stated vehemently that Melvin Gordon will return as the Chargers’ starter, Austin Ekeler’s dual-threat dynamism will be difficult to pull off the field after Ekeler accounted for six of Los Angeles’ ten touchdowns in Weeks 1-4. Gordon did not play a single snap against the Dolphins and is probably still a few weeks away from the level of game shape required to handle something close to 20 touches. Until there is evidence proving me wrong, I’m riding with Ekeler as a fringe RB1 and DFS-tournament play with his ownership likely to be depressed by Gordon’s Week 5 activity. The injury-wrecked Broncos front was ethered by Jaguars backs for 37/267/0 (7.22 YPC) rushing last week. I’m approaching Gordon as a largely touchdown-or-bust flex option against Denver.
Update: After Friday’s final practice of the week, coach Anthony Lynn all but confirmed Austin Ekeler will remain Los Angeles’ feature back against Denver. “I don’t want to put (Melvin Gordon) in there and play him too much, and I really don’t have to. I like what Ekeler has been doing.” Continue to treat Ekeler as a locked-in RB1 play. Gordon is a risky flex option against the Broncos.
Rivers’ Weeks 1-4 target distribution: Keenan Allen 48; Ekeler 25; Mike Williams 15; Dontrelle Inman 13; Travis Benjamin 10; Justin Jackson 8; Lance Kendricks 5; Andre Patton 4; Virgil Green 3; Geremy Davis and Troymaine Pope 2. … Fantasy’s WR1 entering Week 4, Allen busted when his 70-yard TD was nullified by penalty and he got pushed out of bounds at the one-yard line on a swing pass later in the game. Broncos top CB Chris Harris has played just four 2019 snaps in the slot, where Allen runs over half of his routes. Particularly with Inman (quad) on I.R. and Williams (knee, back) and Benjamin (hip) both hobbled, Allen projects as a Week 5 target magnet. … Patton and Davis filled in as last week’s Nos. 3 and 4 wideouts behind Allen and Inman. Neither is fantasy relevant, and Williams needs to reprove health to warrant anything close to WR3 discussion. Both Williams and Benjamin are listed as questionable for Week 5. … The Chargers’ tight end room is even more barren.
Score Prediction: Chargers 23, Broncos 21
Packers at Cowboys
Team Totals: Cowboys 25, Packers 22
The 3-1 Packers visit JerryWorld with extra time to prepare following last Thursday night’s nail-biting loss to Philadelphia wherein Aaron Rodgers earned his first top-15 fantasy finish of the year (QB2) on 53 pass attempts after averaging 31 throws per game in Weeks 1-3. Missing Davante Adams (toe) against a Cowboys defense that has limited enemy passers to fantasy outcomes of QB19 (Eli Manning), QB15 (Case Keenum), QB30 (Josh Rosen), and QB24 (Teddy Bridgewater/Taysom Hill), Rodgers is a tough sell as a Week 5 fantasy starter in a game Dallas should control with its rushing attack. … Jamaal Williams’ (concussion) absence should vault Aaron Jones into near-every-down duties at Dallas with untrustworthy late-round rookie Dexter Williams in top reserve. Albeit inefficiently against the Eagles’ proudly-impenetrable run defense, Jones logged 19 touches on a season-high 84% of Green Bay’s Week 4 offensive snaps and ran a career-high 43 pass routes. The Cowboys have been particularly generous to pass-catching backs, yielding the NFL’s eighth-most receptions (25) to Jones’ position. Dallas’ run defense has been far more stout, holding enemy backs to 54/170/1 (3.15 YPC) rushing in its last three games. Volume gives Jones RB1 upside in Week 5, even as inefficiency seems likely as an underdog on the road.
Rodgers’ Weeks 1-4 target distribution: Adams 36; Marquez Valdes-Scantling 28; Jimmy Graham 16; Jones 15; Geronimo Allison 11; Jamaal Williams 9; Marcedes Lewis 8; Robert Tonyan 5; Dan Vitale 4; Jake Kumerow 1. … Adams’ likely absence shoves MVS into No. 1 wideout duties with Allison inside and Kumerow as Green Bay’s No. 3 wideout. Even if Valdes-Scantling feels tough to trust based on his boom-bust background, Rodgers may disagree after directing just 33 fewer Air Yards (344) to MVS than Adams (377) in the first month. Michael Thomas (9/95/0), Cody Latimer (3/74/0), Preston Williams (4/68/0), Terry McLaurin (5/62/1), Sterling Shepard (6/42/0), and Bennie Fowler (5/40/0) all met or beat PPR expectations against Dallas in Weeks 1-4. … Even after going catch-less in Weeks 2-3, Graham warrants serious TE1 discussion against the Cowboys. Graham logged season highs in snaps (71%), targets (9), routes run (60), and receiving (6/61/1) in Green Bay’s Week 4 loss to Philadelphia and inherits a larger red-zone role minus Adams. … Even as Kumerow feels like a fun sleeper, Allison is easily a superior Week 5 play after logging 80% of last week’s offensive snaps and parlaying his four targets into 52 yards with a score. Allison has four TDs and five games above 50 yards over his last nine games played with Rodgers.
Particularly with pass-pro extraordinaire LT Tyron Smith (ankle) sidelined, this is a golden opportunity for the Cowboys to hand their offense over to Ezekiel Elliott back home following last Sunday night’s national-stage Superdome loss. Per Sports Info Solutions, Green Bay has allowed league highs in rushing Success Rate (59.4%), yards after contact per carry (3.5), and opponent TD rate via the run (55.6%). All told, enemy backs have smeared the Packers for 99/525/5 (5.30 YPC) rushing. Green Bay has also yielded the NFL’s fourth-most receptions to backs (29). … Setting recency bias aside – Dak Prescott’s QB24 finish at New Orleans was easily his worst of the year – this sets up as another tough spot against a Packers defense that ranks No. 9 in sacks (12), No. 12 in QB hits (25), and held three of its first four quarterbacks faced to fantasy results of QB27 or worse. Even as Dak remains in QB1 contention – we’ll discuss why in a bit – ceiling expectations should be tempered based on Smith’s injury and this matchup.
Michael Gallup’s return enhances Dak’s outlook after Devin Smith managed 36 scoreless yards on six targets in two fill-in starts. Gallup is a dicey WR3/flex in his first game off meniscus surgery, but season-long leaguers should add him if he was dropped. The Cowboys face the secondary-deficient Jets, Eagles, and Giants in their next three games. … Amari Cooper has 75-plus yards and/or a touchdown in 7-of-8 home games since joining Dallas. Cooper is at some risk of commanding Jaire Alexander’s shadow coverage, although Gallup being back lessens it, while Allen Robinson (7/102/0), Courtland Sutton (5/87/0), Stefon Diggs (1/49/1), and Alshon Jeffery (3/38/1) have all delivered useful games against the Packers. Cooper will be a contrarian DFS play after Marshon Lattimore won their nationally-televised matchup resoundingly last Sunday night. … Even in a revenge game, Randall Cobb is a no-go versus Green Bay; slot WRs Nelson Agholor (0/0), DaeSean Hamilton (0/0), and Anthony Miller (0/0) have been erased by the Packers’ slot coverage. … Teams targeting tight ends against Green Bay are 19-of-23 passing for 153 yards (6.6 YPA) and one TD. Jason Witten has yet to exceed four targets in a 2019 game.
Score Prediction: Cowboys 27, Packers 21
Colts at Chiefs
Team Totals: Chiefs 34, Colts 23
Monstrously totaled at 57 points, Colts-Chiefs is an obvious game to lean toward in lineup decisions. … Particularly with T.Y. Hilton (quad) due back, Jacoby Brissett offers streamer appeal against a Kansas City defense that has permitted top-ten fantasy outcomes to 3-of-4 quarterbacks faced while ranking bottom ten in QB Hit Rate (12.6%) and allowing the NFL’s sixth-most completions of 20-plus yards (17). High-priced DE Frank Clark has been an especially big disappointment with one QB hit on 132 pass-rush snaps. Even without Hilton last week, Brissett turned in his third straight top-12 QB1 score and has increasingly gained his coaching staff’s trust; Brissett’s pass attempts have risen each week (27 > 28 > 37 > 46) after the Colts’ run-focused early-season start. … Kansas City’s biggest defensive weakness is still on the ground, where DC Steve Spagnuolo’s unit has been trucked for 88/509/3 (5.78 YPC) rushing by enemy backs. Unfortunately, we may lack clarity on Marlon Mack’s (ankle) availability until close to game time. If Mack does miss, tackle-breaking Jordan Wilkins would take over on early downs with Nyheim Hines’ role largely unchanged as Indy’s passing-down/change-up back. Hines still makes for a compelling PPR sleeper based on this game’s projected script. Hines logged nine touches on season highs in snaps (46%) and routes run (26) as the Colts played from behind in last week’s loss to Oakland.
Brissett’s Weeks 1-4 target distribution: T.Y. Hilton 25; Jack Doyle 17; Hines and Eric Ebron 16; Parris Campbell 13; Deon Cain 11; Chester Rogers and Zach Pascal 10; Mack 6; Mo Alie-Cox 3; Wilkins 2. … Hilton is a must-play in season-long leagues if active Sunday night, but there are some causes for pause. Hilton still doesn’t appear fully recovered from the quad injury that sidelined him last week, and T.Y. has long maintained significant home-road/turf-grass splits with a career 83.9-yard average and 44.8% touchdown probability beneath domes and retractable roofs versus 61.0 yards with a 28.6% TD rate outdoors. It wouldn’t be crazy to fade Hilton on one-game DFS slates. … Doyle has run 85 routes to Ebron’s 75, but Ebron has 172 Air Yards to Doyle’s 93. Ebron dropped three passes in last Sunday’s loss, only to save his box score by beating Raiders S Erik Harris for a 48-yard touchdown in what amounted to garbage time. Neither Colts tight end is season-long viable, and their outlooks are largely the same in DFS with Doyle offering a bit more PPR equity and Ebron superior big-play potential. … Non-Hilton Colts wideouts have done nothing to warrant season-long utility, but for the sake of one-game DFS slates, ancillary WR routes were divided as follows in Week 4: Rogers 39; Cain 38; Pascal 35; Campbell 30.
Update: The Colts ruled out Parris Campbell (abdomen), giving fellow slot WR Chester Rogers increased life on one-game DFS slates.
Although Patrick Mahomes threw for 315 yards and tacked on a career-high 54 rushing yards in last week’s shootout win, Mahomes was a fantasy bust as the Chiefs scored three of their four touchdowns on running back carries and the fourth on a fumble return. Kansas City also lost the time-of-possession battle 34 to 26 to run-first Detroit. Particularly with FS Malik Hooker (meniscus) out 3-5 more weeks, expect Mahomes’ TD binge to resume versus Indianapolis, whose defense has one sack in its last two games and has surrendered the NFL’s fourth-most touchdown passes on the year (9). Colts DC Matt Eberflus runs zone coverage on 83% of plays, and Mahomes has shredded zone looks for league highs in yards per attempt (12.6) and touchdowns (8) in 2019. … Damien Williams’ (knee) return throws another wrench into Kansas City’s backfield with Darrel Williams and LeSean McCoy both performing well but Damien immensely trusted by the coaching staff and offering the best pass-catching skills in the unit. Damien was the Chiefs’ clear lead back in his lone healthy game, pacing the group in touches (19) and snaps (66%) in Week 1 at Jacksonville. Hopefully, Sunday night will provide a blueprint for Andy Reid’s running back usage. Going in, all three are risky flex options. Darwin Thompson figures to be inactive.
Mahomes’ target distribution: Sammy Watkins 38; Travis Kelce 33; Demarcus Robinson 21; Mecole Hardman 17; McCoy and Damien 11; Darrel 9; Thompson 1. … Scoreless since his monster opener, Watkins should get back on track against the Colts, who are more vulnerable to slot receivers like Keenan Allen (8/123/1) and Mohamed Sanu (6/75/0) than perimeter threats. Watkins runs nearly 70% of his routes inside. Although Colts slot CB Kenny Moore has done well to limit yards after catch, he’s allowed completions on 14-of-17 targets (82%) this year. As the Colts play zone coverage on 83% of their snaps, it’s notable that Watkins leads the Chiefs in targets (17), catches (10), yards (223), and touchdowns (3) versus zone (Sports Info Solutions). Promisingly, Watkins is also popping as Week 5’s No. 5 buy-low receiver in Josh Hermsmeyer’s Air Yards Model. … The Colts’ zone is even more susceptible to tight ends, as Austin Hooper (6/66/2), Darren Waller (7/54/0), and Foster Moreau (3/30/1) showed in the last two weeks. Kelce dropped a 7/108/0 stat line on Indianapolis in last January’s playoff win. Hooker and MLB Darius Leonard‘s (concussion) continued absences help Kelce’s matchup. … With Tyreek Hill (shoulder) still at least one more week away from return, Robinson and Hardman remain WR3/flex usable simply by virtue of playing with Mahomes. But this matchup is no walk in the park; fellow outside WRs Corey Davis (3/38/0), Tyrell Williams (3/36/1), Mike Williams (2/29/0), A.J. Brown (3/25/0), Travis Benjamin (2/12/0), and Calvin Ridley (1/6/0) have all fallen short of expectations versus Indy. Julio Jones (8/128/1) is the only perimeter wideout to clear 40 yards against the Colts.
Update: Sammy Watkins was downgraded to limited and questionable on Friday’s injury report due to shoulder and hamstring injuries, the latter of which was new. It appears Watkins suffered a hamstring tweak or strain of some sort in Friday’s practice. I’m not sure season-long leaguers can afford to trust Watkins as a Week 5 play in a game with such a late start unless they have quality alternatives on the bench. Demarcus Robinson and Mecole Hardman would, of course, work. Odell Beckham and Jarvis Landry obviously qualify but I wouldn’t trust any of the 49ers’ wideouts on Monday night.
Score Prediction: Chiefs 35, Colts 24
Browns at 49ers
Team Totals: 49ers 25, Browns 21.5
Suddenly atop the AFC North, the 2-2 Browns draw San Francisco on an abnormally long week following the 49ers’ Week 4 bye. Even as Cleveland’s road demolition of the Ravens was fun to watch, it’s a little concerning that so much was due to Nick Chubb’s run-game explosion (20/165/3) ahead of facing a rested 49ers defense that held enemy backs to 54/180/0 (3.33 YPC) rushing before its off week. Chubb remains an obvious every-week RB1 with 100-plus total yards and/or a touchdown in 10 of his last 12 games, but the Browns still need more from their passing attack. … Baker Mayfield’s to-date fantasy results are QB24 > QB16 > QB29 > QB14 facing a 49ers defense that will come after him, ranking No. 9 in sack rate (7.9%) keyed by red-hot rookie DE Nick Bosa, interior dominator DeForest Buckner, and underrated nickel rusher Ronald Blair. Mayfield’s 43.4 under-pressure QB rating ranks 25th among 27 qualified passers at PFF. He also may be without reliable possession target Jarvis Landry (concussion). I’d call Mayfield a boom-bust fantasy option, but we haven’t seen him boom since December of 2018.
Mayfield’s Weeks 1-4 target distribution: Odell Beckham 37; Jarvis Landry 33; Chubb 19; Damion Ratley 13; D’Ernest Johnson 6; Ricky Seals-Jones and Dontrell Hilliard 5; Demetrius Harris 4; Rashard Higgins 3. … One reason for Mayfield optimism is how well this game sets up for Beckham to rebound from last week’s 2/20/0 clunker. Tyler Boyd (10/122/0), John Ross (4/112/1), JuJu Smith-Schuster (3/81/1), Chris Godwin (3/53/1), and Diontae Johnson (3/52/1) all delivered useful fantasy production versus the 49ers in their first three games, while RCB Ahkello Witherspoon (ankle) is out after a hot start to the season. LCB Richard Sherman never moves, and fill-in RCB Emmanuel Moseley is a second-year UDFA Browns coach Freddie Kitchens can specifically game plan to attack. … If Landry can’t get cleared, I think we will see Higgins return from his knee/ankle injury to start in the slot with a rotation of Ratley and Antonio Callaway at third receiver. … Kitchens hiked Cleveland’s Week 4 use of two-tight end 12 personnel with incredible results; per Sharp Football, the Browns averaged 17 yards per pass attempt and 10 yards per carry from the tight end-heavy formations, which most benefited Seals-Jones (3/82/1). RSJ still only ran 15 routes on 30% of the snaps, but it’s enough to put him in play on one-game DFS-tournament slates.
Update: Jarvis Landry was indeed cleared for Monday night’s game and will play in two-receiver sets alongside Odell Beckham. The Browns’ third receiver is unclear. I’m guessing it will be Rashard Higgins, but we won’t know with any certainty until Monday night’s pre-game inactives are announced. If Cleveland continues to utilize its highly productive two-tight end 12-personnel packages, Ricky Seals-Jones could prove a superior fantasy option to any of the Browns’ third-receiver candidates.
The 49ers come off their bye as one of fantasy’s toughest offenses to parse with Tevin Coleman (high ankle sprain) tentatively due back to give coach Kyle Shanahan four legitimate tailback options along with smallish playmaker Matt Breida, underrated jack of many trades Raheem Mostert, and north-south goal-line/short-yardage specialist Jeff Wilson. Particularly against a highly-talented Cleveland defensive front that has a significant advantage on San Francisco’s LT Joe Staley-less (broken fibula) offensive line. In season-long leagues, this is a wait-and-see week to gauge how usage is allocated. For one-game DFS slates, I’d rank the 49ers’ running backs Breida > Mostert > Wilson > Coleman. … Jimmy Garoppolo’s Weeks 1-3 fantasy results were about as uneven (QB28 > QB6 > QB27) as Weeks 1-4 scores allowed by the Browns (QB10 > QB29 > QB19 > QB3). Cleveland has successfully overcome the absences of first-team CBs Greedy Williams (hamstring) and Denzel Ward (hamstring) by generating up-front disruption with the NFL’s fourth-most sacks (14) and eighth-highest QB Hit Rate (17.7%). Garoppolo is a weak streamer, and I would take Mayfield’s projection over Jimmy G straight up as a one-game DFS play.
Garoppolo’s Weeks 1-3 target distribution: George Kittle 21; Deebo Samuel 14; Marquise Goodwin and Richie James 8; Kendrick Bourne 7; Mostert and Dante Pettis 6; Breida and Kyle Juszczyk 5; Coleman 3. … Opponents have completed 15-of-22 passes (68.2%) for 156 yards (7.1 YPA) and three touchdowns when targeting tight ends against the Browns, positioning Kittle to bust his frustrating scoring slump. Leading the 49ers in Air Yards by a 26-yard margin over runner-up Goodwin, Kittle also has yet to break off one of his trademark catch and runs for a monster gain. They’re coming. … The 49ers’ wideout corps is similar to their backfield as a massive committee wherein five members have shared time. This is how routes were divvied in San Francisco’s pre-bye win over the Steelers: Goodwin 21; Samuel and James 18; Pettis 14; Bourne 11. Situations like this are not conducive to bankable fantasy results. Hopefully for fantasy purposes, Shanahan emerges from the open date with a tighter wideout rotation.
Score Prediction: 49ers 23, Browns 20