This article (and the Friday Mock Lineups) are circling some real money.
In a week where the million dollar winner featured a Rams stack of Goff, Kupp, and Woods with Chris Godwin bringing it back the other way, you can rest easy knowing that your favorite Owl Eats Football Writer was one Godwin away from that same core.
The auxiliary pieces are another story, but when you are trying to win a GPP, you need a solid core and then some differentiation on the edges. We’re closing in on the core and the rest might just hit at any moment.
But, I’ll be honest with you. This slate is not the sexiest in the world.
Without the Chiefs, Rams, or Seahawks (sorry Colts) playing on the main slate, we lose three concentrated and/or explosive offenses. Plus, with Miami on bye, we lack the opportunity to attack their defense like we have been all season. As a result of this, we have a slate where the only total over 47 is Atlanta-Houston.
So, our challenge now is to find some well-researched, GPP and cash game winning cores amidst all of this mediocrity. We’ll do our best to lay out some big cases here and launch into some mock lineups on Friday.
On that note, here are Week 5’s Plays of the Week:
Core Plays - For any lineup, any contest, anywhere
These are the players who have a high probability of paying off their price but also have the high upside to anchor a tournament winning lineup. They should be a part of your GPP and Cash considerations.
Lamar Jackson - BAL DK $7100
The highest priced quarterback on a slate being the best play may not be the most innovative or shocking play, but it can still be the best play.
Looking across the slate, Melvin Gordon is $7000. Although he may certainly be overpriced, the point is that to get a player averaging 30 DraftKings points at the same price a player who hasn’t played a down is a steal.
Grounding this in more relevant and analytical data, if you remove the Miami blowout, Jackson is running 11 times a game for almost 80 yards.As has been made clear to all of the DFS community, a rushing quarterback is the cheat code of the system. But this rushing is even more valuable given that he has 7 attempts in the red zone. In Jackson we get a player putting up low end running back numbers from the quarterback position.
But Jackson is not just a running back. This season, he is passing for 270 yards a game and is leading the league in passing touchdowns. On every play, he is a threat to connect deep as he is third in the league in deep targets. He is pairing his RB2 numbers with QB1 numbers.
Now, he faces a Steelers defense that has stopped no one except the Bengals, and whose secondary has been struggling against everyone but Andy Dalton. The one one thing that the Steelers do is rush the passer, but that is something Jackson can neutralize with his legs.
It might not be sexy or it might be really sexy, depending on how you look at it, but no matter your view, Jackson is an elite play this and every week.
David Johnson - ARI DK $7500
As is the center of any core play, Johnson is seeing elite volume and will be entering into a great matchup.
First the volume: In games that Johnson has played the entire game, he is averaging nine targets and seven catches. Overall, he is second in the NFL in running back targets and third in running back receptions. Given Kyler Murray’s shallow depth of target (31st in the league) Johnson is in line to see this continue for the rest of the season.
In this specific matchup, the Cardinals face a Cincinnati team that has been unable to stop the run, unable to obtain leads, and who just gave up 16 receptions to Steelers running backs. The long and short of that would be that Johnson will be able to run as the Cardinals will look to hold onto their inevitable lead and then will be primed to catch a high volume of passes when he isn’t carrying the ball.
This will be a high paced game between two defense that cannot stop anyone. It could shoot out or the Cardinals could dominate, but either way I want the most talented player on the field in the best matchup. No matter the lineup I’m building.
Julio Jones - ATL DK $7800
DeAndre Hopkins - HOU DK $7700
In an article that is going to end up somewhere in the neighborhood of 4000 words, I am not going to use too many of those telling you why to play two of the best receivers on the planet.
The numbers bear out that neither of these two players should ever be disqualified from lineups for their matchup, as they can put up big numbers against anyone. In this matchup, both see secondaries that have had trouble containing opponents all season.
Now, given that they are playing each other, they correlate nicely in that when one scores, the other is likely to see increased volume as their team tries to catch back up. Having them joined together in lineups is an easy and safe way to ensure that the game flow of the highest total game available is always serving your lineup.
And finally, after down weeks for each of these receivers last week, there is a good chance that a portion of people will shy away from getting “burned” again.
So in a plus matchup, against beatable secondaries, with slightly lower than expected ownership, these two should be locks all over your lineups. Enough said.
Evan Engram - NYG DK $5800
I’m thinking of just leaving Engram permanently written up in this section.
The dude is a wide receiver playing tight end, and his numbers are so consistently full of potential it’s scary. This week, he might be an even better play after last week he was barely utilized in a game the Giants had secured in the first half of the first quarter.
On the season, though, Engram ranks second among tight ends in targets and receiving yards while ranking first in yards after the catch and fantasy points per game. He has been a dominating force no matter who the quarterback is, and he is the Giants best weapon with Saquon Barkley out. He is yet to see a game with less than seven targets and he has two hundred yard explosions on the season.
On Sunday, he will play a Minnesota team that has given up 13 for 135 to Darren Waller and 9 for 77 to Austin Hooper, two of the other top scoring tight ends in the league. In a game where Minnesota figures to have a lead and the Giants look to be playing catchup, Daniel Jones will be throwing the ball all day long.
There is some mild concern with Golden Tate coming back into the fold and taking away some targets, but the way this offense has been rolling, it seems more likely that Engram will squeeze Tate out and not the other way around.
Either way, there is little chance he gets squeezed out of my lineups this week.
CASH - Double-ups, 50/50s, Head-to-Heads
These are players with high floors to consider adding to your core plays. Often times in cash it is best to eat the chalk and differentiate elsewhere. Since lineups are safer and more similar in Cash, this allows you to avoid missing out on what big games, but you can still survive a grenade because everyone else will be in the same boat.
QB- Matt Ryan - ATL DK $5900
Ok, this is one of the moments where it is important to divorce how we feel about a player’s real life play with how we feel about that same player’s fantasy value.
Case in point: Matt Ryan.
In real life, Matt Ryan has been missing throws by a mile and turning the ball over in horrendous fashion. He has lead his team to a 1-3 record, with the only win coming thanks to Julio Jones taking a screen pass 50 yards and then Nelson Agholor dropping a would be game winning touchdown.
The Matty Ice era in Atlanta may have passed his prime, or at least might be in need of a retooling.
But in fantasy? Ryan has been a stud.
He is currently QB 6 on the season, nestled in between Carson Wentz and Deshaun Watson. He plays on a team with two great wide receivers (3 if you count Mohammed Sanu) and what is apparently a great TE (Austin Hooper...who we’ll get to in a minute) while also having no running game.
As a result of this very specific fantasy set-up, Ryan has to throw the ball a lot. In his four games to date, Ryan has the most attempts, the second most passing yards, and the most air yards completed (which means the most yards when you take out what the receiver does with the ball after the catch).
In four games, he has gone over 300 yards four times and has thrown for multiple touchdowns thrice. He is averaging 23.7 DraftKings points, which is third only to Dak Prescott and Lamar Jackson on this slate.
Now, facing a Houston secondary that has been shredded multiple times, in the highest total game on the main slate, Ryan has a chance to continue his high floor, consistent play. That make him a staple of our cash lineups this week.
RB - Dalvin Cook DK $8400
This spot could easily be Christian McCaffrey, who is seeing a ridiculous amount of touches and who never comes off of the field.
Instead, however, the nod is going to Dalvin Cook in a game where his team should be leading and against an opponent who has shown no ability to stop the strengths of the team they are playing. Plus Cook offers a discount from McCaffrey.
In their two losses, the Giants have given up 120 yards/game on the ground and have seen a steady diet of running plays come their way. The bad news for them is that even when they are not down, the Vikings are the most run heavy team in the league.
Cook is the player who most benefits from this as he is second in the league in rushing yards, averaging over 100 a game.
Amongst the three top priced running backs, he is my favorite only because of his price and his matchup. At the cheapest of the three, he offers as much upside as anyone and gives a floor that can’t be topped.
Essentially, then, he is the perfect cash play.
Keenan Allen- LAC DK $7300
If you played Allen last week, then him getting a 70 yard touchdown called back hurt. For those of us who faded him in the hopes he would drop off of people’s radars this week, it was a god sent.
Allen’s five catches for 48 yards last week were all season lows, which make this the most opportune time to play him. In spite of those numbers, he is still the league leader in targets, receptions, and receiving yards. He is fourth in the league in air yards and second in red zone receptions. Bottom line, he has been the best receiver in the league a quarter of the way through, and that is even with a dud last week (that wouldn’t have been a dud with that touchdown).
In Denver, Allen has an opponent that can keep the game close enough to warrant his usage, but who does not have a player who can cover Allen.
With Melvin Gordon back, the Chargers are going to be able to rely on the one constant they’ve had this season. In our lineups, we can do the same.
Austin Hooper - ATL DK $4500
So, the cat’s out of the bag, I like this Atlanta-Houston game.
The good news: It is the highest total game on the slate between two teams who love to pass and have explosive play-makers all over. Scoring should be high and play volume should be even higher.
The bad news: My bet is that everybody else likes this game too. Given that it’s total sticks out like a healthy thumb on a decrepit hand this week, most players will undoubtedly be drawn to it.
But in a cash game, that is not a problem. Even if the entire field plays Hooper, we want to play him because he is seeing guaranteed volume at a price that allows us to flesh out the rest of the roster.
On the season, Hooper is averaging over 8 targets a game (fourth among tight ends) and 28 catches for 307 yards and 2 TDs which gives him over 18 DraftKings points per game and makes him the TE2 on the slate, behind only Evan Engram and tied with Mark Andrews (ahead of players like Zach Ertz and Darren Waller).
But perhaps the most interesting stat I stumbled across in my research is that Hooper is first among tight ends in target separation, which measures how far away a player is from a defender when the ball arrives.
Perhaps this is a noisy stat that belies a deeper, less interesting truth about Matt Ryan - Austin Hooper, but as far as I can tell this is a product of defenses allocating so many resources downfield to the Falcons deep attack. Add in the fact that Hooper is third amongst tight ends in yards after the catch, and we see that Hooper’s production comes on short passes when everyone else is downfield, and where he can rumble forward picking up massive chunks of yards.
In other words, Hooper is a stand-in for the Falcons run game and he is doing the job well.
For this high scoring matchup where Atlanta looks to move the ball efficiently and take shots down field, Hooper seems like he should be an integral part of the offense and thereby an integral part of our cash lineups.
GPP - Large Field, Guaranteed Prize Pool Tournaments
These are players with higher upside and often are less chalky, but whose flameout potential is higher as well. They make for high risk high reward plays that can tank lineups or push them to the top of the leaderboard.
Somethings to remember:
Stacking games is the most efficient way to win big tournaments, especially when you stack a game that is not one of the highest totals of the week.
Often times building a core and revolving the high risk players around that core is the best way to attack a slate where you are entering multiple lineups .
If you are entering a big number tournament, you have to do something different. A lot of these picks are different in some way from what you might first suspect. They might fail, but you don’t win money by straddling the fence. You win money by turning the fence into a ramp and gunning it in your Ford Mustang.
So with all that in mind, here are stackable, non-core, ramp building players:
Andy Dalton - CIN DK $5700
So if you are a football addict who doesn’t know what’s good for you (like me) then you watched the Bengals play the Steelers on Monday night.
The result was having to watch Mason Rudolph complete more passes behind the line of scrimmage than five yards down field, and Andy Dalton repeatedly implode as his offensive line crumbled around him.
Although the majority of America may not have watched this game, the instant reactions of the Internet were all Andy Dalton jokes and the vast majority of people will carry that into this next week with them.
That, however, would be a mistake.
This week will be a lot different than last in two significant ways: the Bengals play at home and they play the Arizona Cardinals. In many ways, the Cardinals are the best matchup for a quarterback as they rank 30th in total yardage given up, largely because of the pace their offense plays at.
Dalton is still averaging almost 300 yards per game, despite only throwing for 171 on Monday night. He has three games in which he has thrown for or run for multiple touchdowns, and Zac Taylor is still able to but together an offensive scheme.
Listen, I don’t feel great about it either, but sometimes having the guts to play someone who doesn’t feel great is what gives you an edge over everyone else.
Dalton isn’t as bad as he looked Monday night, and this matchup will be his best of the season. Let’s take a chance on a player that no one else will be able to stomach.
Ronald Jones - TB DK $4600
This is both a contrarian play and a very logical play.
To start with, Jones saw a season high in touches last week as the Bucs blew the doors of the Rams in LA. He had 19 carries for 70 yards and caught 1 target for 12 yards. His 20 touches for over 80 yards is encouraging, but anyone who watched the game knows that this could have been much much more.
Jones had multiple big plays called back because of penalty, one of which appeared to be a run of 50 yards down to the 2 yard line. Factor in these plays and his line is something more in the neighborhood of 150 yards on the ground.
But like any good GPP play, there are some numbers to back this up. Tampa Bay is currently playing at the fourth highest pace in the league right now, and given the volume that they are pouring into the wide receiver positions, Jones has been facing lighter boxes (less defenders on the line) and taking advantage.
Also like any good GPP play, the eye test backs this up. Anyone who watched the Rams-Bucs game last week saw a Jones who was light on his feet, agile, and explosive.
Sometimes players take some time to adjust to the league, and sometimes the numbers take a little while to catch up to the player. Let’s be ahead of those numbers and have Jones in our lineups this week when it all finally comes together.
Will Fuller - HOU DK $4500
Ok, at this point we are riding the Will Fuller train until it either reaches the station full of money or plunges off a bridge into an infinite abyss.
After three weeks of writing him up in this space, Fuller is back again, but not just because I’m stubborn.
To start with, he was inches away from a 75 yard touchdown from Deshaun Watson last season which would have put him into triple figures and would have been given him his first touchdown of the season. In other words, if that play connected Fuller would be priced up even by $1,000 dollars and would be in everyone’s lineups this week.
Deeper underneath the surface, Fuller’s entire season has been a slightly missed connection. Playing almost every snap, Fuller is top 10 in deep targets and in the top 20 in air yards. Putting that all together, Fuller is averaging 17 yards per target, which is seventh in the league. Given his time on the field, the way he is being targeted and the frequency of those targets, Fuller is going to hit one of these weekends.
And the final piece of the puzzle is that Fuller and the Texans are playing in the highest totaled game (outside of the Sunday night affair) in a dome against a depleted Falcons defense.
Listen, at the Fuller’s price it is our obligation as GPP players to have him in at least one lineup. A lineup that may just win everything.
Ben Watson - NE DK $3600
Talk about a GPP play.
I have no stats for you, because Watson will be playing his first game on Sunday. To be quite frank, I don’t even know if he will be a big part of the offense or not.
What I do know, however, is that this Patriots offense looked in need of healthy targets with both Julian Edelman and Josh Gordon seeming as though they were not playing at 100% on Sunday.
Add in the fact that I have the Patriots to win this game 100-0, and those 100 points have to come from somewhere. Is it possible that Watson has 4 catches for 50 yards and 2 TDs? Yes, and so that is enough for me to take a shot on a guy many will forget is an option, and whose team might need him to produce right away.
A GPP tight end if there ever was one.