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Daily Fantasy NFL Football Picks for FanDuel, DraftKings, and Starsdraft - Week 5
Editor's note: Get ready for Raybon's insightful article on NFL's week 5! He's done an amazing job breaking down the top plays of the week, but obviously, he could never include every single great play. If you want point projections for individual players? Go ahead and get access to the exclusive projection system that produces these picks. Sign up now and get a free 3 day trial to our lineup construction tool for FanDuel, DraftKings and Starsdraft.
As we’ve entered the season’s second quarter, it’s a good time to discuss sample size. With only 16 games per season, it’s always a challenge to obtain a large enough sample of NFL data. Nevertheless, four weeks in to the season, it’s time to start giving 2015 numbers more weight.
As is pertains to QBs and defenses against QBs, we’re looking for trends in efficiency metrics. Has a QB been able to consistently throw for good yardage and multiple TDs. Has a defense consistently had trouble stopping completions are allowed a high yards-per-attempt average over this season’s first four games? At the other positions, we’re looking for indicators of consistent volume. What is the lowest number of targets and receptions a receiver has had through four games? How many touches and red zone opportunities is a RB seeing? These are all meaningful trends that we should pay attention to now that 2015 is 25 percent complete.
Also, don’t forget to simply look at fantasy performance to date. Some players’ prices simply haven’t caught up to their production, and through four games, that’s significant. For example, Larry Fitzgerald is currently the fantasy WR2, but he’s priced outside the top ten WRs on both FanDuel and DraftKings.
Now let’s get into the Week 5 plays.
Tom Brady - FD 8800 DK 7800 Starsdraft 8300
The fantasy QB1 through the first quarter of the season, Brady faces a Cowboys defense that has allowed an average of 322 passing yards and two TDs over the past two games to Drew Brees and Matt Ryan. The Patriots enter the weekend with the highest Vegas total on the slate (29.25), which bodes well for Brady since 71 percent of New England’s offensive TDs have come via the pass since the start of 2014 (including playoffs).
Philip Rivers - FD 7500 DK 6200 Starsdraft 7000
The NFL’s passing yardage leader through four games, Rivers’ salary has dropped $600 on FanDuel and $900 on DraftKings from when the season opened. Rivers has been consistent this season, throwing for at least 240 in all four games and multiple TDs in three out of four. The Steelers have allowed a 100.4 quarterback rating, eighth worst in the league.
Matt Ryan - FD 8300 DK 6700 Starsdraft 8100
Ryan is second in the NFL in passing yards and is averaging 8.4 yards per attempt. His only problem fantasy-wise has been that of the Falcons 15 offensive TDs, nine have come via the run, a figure which is bound to regress to the mean – the NFL average is a 2:1 passing TD-to-rushing TD split. The Falcons have a 27.75 Vegas total and Ryan should have no problem carving up the Redskins, who have permitted a 7:0 TD-to-interception ratio this season.
Carson Palmer - FD 8100 DK 6600 Starsdraft 7400
Palmer is second in the NFL in passing TDs and fourth in passing yardage. He gets to take on a Lions defense that has allowed an eye-popping 100-of-128 passing, which equates to a 78 percent completion rate allowed, worst in the NFL. The Lions have also allowed the third-worst passing yards per attempt figure in the league at 9.1.
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Le'Veon Bell - FD 9000 DK 8500 Starsdraft 8100
Volume has the strongest correlation to fantasy points for RBs, and Bell is averaging 27.5 touches per game through two games, which is all but guaranteed to continue as the Steelers try to weather the storm until Ben Roethlisberger returns. The Chargers are an inviting matchup, as they’ve been gashed for 5.1 yards per carry by opposing RBs this season. San Diego has also been vulnerable to RBs out of the backfield, allowing the fifth-most receiving yards in the NFL to RBs. Bell has caught seven passes in back-to-back games and is a top-two fantasy RB (he’s ether first or second depending on scoring format) in terms of fantasy points per game.
Devonta Freeman - FD 7600 DK 6300 Starsdraft 6300
Freeman is taking on a tough Washington run defense, but as usual, Freeman’s projected usage and the Falcons’ projected game script outweigh any matchup concerns. Freeman’s averaging over 20 touches per game despite only starting two of a possible four, his 20 red zone touches lead all RBs, and his 23 passing game targets are fourth in the league. The Falcons are 7.5-point home favorites and have been blocking well over their last two games, allowing Freeman to average a cool 4.8 yards per tote. Despite starting only two games, Freeman is a top-two fantasy RB (he’s either first or second depending on scoring format) in terms of fantasy points per game.
Karlos Williams - FD 6900 DK 5700 Starsdraft 5100
(if cleared from concussion) or Anthony Dixon if he isn't
Whoever starts at RB for the Bills will be in a nice situation as a favorite against the Titans. Williams received 21 touches – including 100 percent of the RB carries – in negative game script last week. If Dixon plays, I’d expect similar usage. Bills RBs have scored six TDs already this season, and the Titans have allowed three TDs to RBs in their last two games.
Justin Forsett - FD 7200 DK 5800 Starsdraft 6100
Coming off a 27-carry, 150-yard day against the Steelers, Forsett faces a Browns run defense that opposing RBs are ripping off 5.1 yards per carry against. With Steve Smith out, the Ravens will have likely to rely on Forsett for another 20-plus touches. Also working in Forsett’s favor is that his Ravens are 6.5-point home favorites.
Julio Jones - FD 9200 DK 9200 Starsdraft 8700
Even with a down week last week, Jones is still the fantasy WR1 on the season. He is getting all-important target volume, as he’s second in the league with an average of 13 per game. Especially without cornerback DeAngelo Hall, the Redskins secondary simply isn’t very talented and has allowed nine pass plays of 20 or more yards over the past two weeks, fourth-most in the NFL over that span. The Falcons have a high Vegas total of 27.75, and Jones has accounted for 66 percent of the Falcons TDs through the air this season.
Larry Fitzgerald - FD 7400 DK 6800 Starsdraft 6000
Fitzgerald’s is the fantasy WR2 on the season – behind only Julio Jones – yet comes at a big discount to Julio. Fitzgerald hasn’t been held under six receptions or 87 yards this season, and is averaging over one TD per game. The Lions have allowed the fifth-most receiving yards and seventh-most receptions to WRs this season.
Keenan Allen - FD 7700 DK 7200 Starsdraft 6400
Allen’s mixed one dud amongst three strong fantasy games, but a 75-percent “hit” rate is still well above average for a fantasy WR. Allen has been a top-seven fantasy WR through the season’s quarter mark, and is third among WRs in receptions and sixth among WRs in targets. The Steelers have allowed opposing WRs lines of 11-97 (Julian Edelman), 6-120-1 (Torrey Smith), 7-102 (Kenny Britt), and 5-77-1 (Kamar Aiken) over the last four weeks.
James Jones - FD 6400 DK 5700 Starsdraft 4200
Jones is a top-15 fantasy WR this season and still isn’t priced like it. With Davante Adams out, the previously TD-dependent Jones gets a nice boost in volume – he’s accounted for 43 percent of Aaron Rodgers’s passing yards over the last two weeks. The Rams have allowed the fourth-most receptions to WRs so far this season. The Packers are at home (where Aaron Rodgers is always at his best) with a 27.5-point Vegas total, one of Week 5’s highest.
Rob Gronkowski - FD 8400 DK 7500 Starsdraft 6400
Having scored a TD in eight of his last nine games (including playoffs), Gronk is always the premier option at the position. The Patriots have the highest team total on the slate, and Gronk has been responsible for 35 percent of the Patriots receiving TDs since the start of 2014 (including playoffs).
Charles Clay - FD 5700 DK 4100 Starsdraft 3900
It looks like Sammy Watkins will miss another game, and if he does, Clay will again be the focal point of the passing offense coming of a 13 target, 9-111 line that would have been bigger if Richie Incognito hadn’t committed a penalty that wiped out a Clay TD. The Titans haven’t fared well against TEs this season, allowing 70 yards and 0.67 TDs per game to the position, along with a 12.3 yard-per-target average.
Owen Daniels - FD 4900 DK 2700 Starsdraft 3600
Coming off back-to-back games with a TD, Daniels is a punt play at TE against the Raiders, who sport the league’s worst defense against TEs through four games. The Raiders have allowed lines of 9-104-2 (Tyler Eifert), 5-88-2 (Crockett Gilmore), 6-105-1 (Gary Barnidge), 11-83-1 (Martellus Bennett). All in all, the Raiders are dead last in the NFL in receptions, yardage, and TDs allowed to TEs, allowing a per-game stat line of 8-97-1.5.
New York Giants
Fantasy defenses are largely about targeting struggling, mistake-prone QBs, and there’s no better QB to target right now than Colin Kaepernick. Kaep’ has a 2:5 TD-to-interception ratio on the season, and has taken the third-most sacks (14) in the league. Allowing the fourth-most fantasy points to opposing defenses this season, the 49ers have been installed as large road underdogs (+7) with a meager 18-point Vegas total.
Derek Carr is not the prototypical QB to target, as he actually has done well to not throw interceptions or take sacks in his career. But with limited value at the position this week, the Broncos are in play because they’re probably the best on-paper defense in the NFL with elite pairs of pass rushers (Demarcus Ware, Von Miller) and cornerbacks (Chris Harris, Aqib Talib). The Broncos on-paper talent has equated to fantasy success, as they are the number-one fantasy defense through four weeks.
With limited value at the position this week, the Ravens become viable thanks to the QB they’re facing. While he’s had an uncharacteristically good two-game stretch, Josh McCown’s numbers over a large sample suggest he’s inaccurate, sack-prone, and turnover-prone. The Ravens are 6.5-point home favorites and the Browns’ Vegas total is only 18.5 points.
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