Each week, as we prepare to make some difficult lineup decisions, our team, which includes Rob Willette, Ryan McDowell, and Sal Leto, will bring you a few sleepers and landmines for each position. Our sleeper picks could be on your waiver wire or a low-priced DFS target or could simply be going overlooked this week. On the other hand, our landmine players are getting attention, too much attention. These are players we feel are being overvalued and overpriced and would avoid for this week.
Ryan Tannehill $5,400
There’s no denying that the Dolphins and QB Ryan Tannehill struggled in Week Four but this week, facing the Bengals should be a different story. Cincinnati has already allowed three top-12 fantasy performances from the QB position this season. They simply can’t stop opposing quarterbacks. Expect Tannehill and the Dolphins to return to their odd big play/low volume offense, mixed in with the floor Tannehill provides as a runner. – Ryan McDowell
Dak Prescott $6,300
Things have started to look up in the Cowboys offense and while it wasn’t riveting Dak is coming off of his best performance of 2018. He used a mix of RBs, WRs and the TE to lead the ‘Boys to victory. In this weeks battle of Texas you better believe Jerry Jones wants this win and is letting his players know about it. The Texans just gave up 464 pass yards and four touchdowns to a Colts team that ranks bottom five in explosive pass plays on the season. They allowed Eli Manning and the hapless Giants pass offense to post 297 and two touchdowns and they haven’t had an interception since week one. I expect a steady QB1 performance from Dak this week. – Sal Leto
Alex Smith $6,600
It has been a rather sleepy start for Alex Smith from a fantasy perspective. He’s totaled only four touchdowns in three games to go along with just over 250 passing yards per game, a rather tame number in today’s NFL. However, he has been an efficient passer overall, averaging just under eight yards per attempt and completing 68.8 percent of his passes. Despite being gifted a matchup with Eli Manning in Week 4, the New Orleans Saints have allowed the third-most passing yards in the league, and the defensive improvements they showed in 2017 have quickly given way to more shootouts in The Big Easy. Washington will need to score to keep pace with the Saints on the fast track indoors at the Superdome. This should be Smith’s best performance in his new home to-date. – Rob Willette
Andrew Luck $7,200
Things are certainly looking up for the Colts QB Andrew Luck after his huge game a week ago, brushing off questions about his arm strength to set new career-high marks for pass attempts and passing yards. This week, the Colts visit the Patriots on short rest and Luck will be without top pass-catchers WR TY Hilton and TE Jack Doyle, along with RB Marlon Mack. Luck is not a total avoid, but I won’t be expecting a repeat of last week. – Ryan McDowell
Baker Mayfield $6,100
I probably shouldn’t have to tell you this but I’ve seen some crazy hype in the shiny new toy type of way the last two weeks. I’ve been asked about dropping viable weekly fantasy position players for Mayfield. I say stop the madness. This is still a poorly coached Browns team. Sure he’s going to have moments and make plays that indicate the bright future but for the most part it will be inconsistent and tough to swallow. This week he will see the number two pass defense in the Baltimore Ravens who have allowed one passing touchdown total in three of their four games. Zero 300 yard passing games in a season that seemingly has half the league hitting that mark each week. The Ravens are confident coming of a prime time beating of the Steelers and not a place you want to start a rookie. – Sal Leto
Russell Wilson $6,600
For all of Russell Wilson’s greatness, he is not immune to being impacted by his supporting cast. The talent level in Seattle has atrophied over the past several seasons and we are seeing it hinder Wilson’s upside, highlighted by his 172 yards, no touchdown clunker this past Sunday at Arizona. While the Rams are extremely banged up in the secondary, they still pose a matchup issue for Wilson, as Wade Phillips’ defense are always well-equipped to limit passing games. Wilson is more name brand value than locked-in fantasy starter at this point, and there are much better plays on the Week 5 docket. – Rob Willette
Sal Leto (@LetoSal), Ryan McDowell (@RyanMc23), and Rob Willette (@RobWillette24) are freelance contributors for the SportsHub Games Network, Inc., Fanball’s parent company. Any advice or strategies provided by SportsHub contributors represent their personal opinions; they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of SportsHub Games Network and are not necessarily reflective of the strategies they may employ in their own lineups.
That’s much better.
See what happens when I listen to myself? I didn’t take down the tourney—that honor went to @Botch79, who finished 4.98 points ahead of @twsg2003—but I did land in the money with a respectable 18th place finish. In total, 525 of us finished ahead of Charch’s 147.28 points to get into Week 17’s $5,000 first-prize finale.
Drew Brees and Ben Roethlisberger were both disappointing despite being in solid spots, but the Andy Dalton and Deshaun Watson reccos worked out well.
I noted Alvin Kamara and Giovani Bernard as must-plays in last week’s column and both hit, but Tevin Coleman was a big disappointment. I actually pivoted late to Wendell Smallwood on the cheap in my flex spot when Corey Clement was ruled out along with Darren Sproles. Never would have done that in a cash game, but since this was a tourney I went for it. Went up from John Brown to Julio Jones, which wasn’t necessary, but with Coleman’s disappointing day it was pretty much a wash. Not that Jones had a bad day—he most certainly didn’t—but it would’ve been nice to play all three receivers I recco’d last week (Sterling Shepard, Tyler Boyd and Brown) and see them all pay off.
Eric Ebron saved his day late, but I can’t wait for Jack Doyle to get back so I’m no longer tempted to play Ebron. And because Fanball doesn’t take points allowed into account for its team defense, the Colts play turned out fine. I didn’t talk about Indy in my write-up, instead noting the Cardinals (who did nothing) and the Packers (who I should’ve played).
OK, enough about me. Let’s talk about all of us.
The field at this point really isn’t big enough to worry too much about ownership, except to note that in general folks are still trending more towards chalk. Boyd was 39% owned, Bernard was 31%, Kamara was 30%, and Shepard clocked in at 27%. I think @Botch79’s lineup is a perfect blueprint for a winning lineup on a day where the chalk hits: He or she had all four of the aforementioned guys plus Dalton at 24%. Jones was the other lineup stud besides Kamara, and you had to figure he’d be lower owned after last week’s dud—which, combined with a lower price and a nice matchup, is the perfect bounce-back spot and absolutely the time to jump on a player. Jones clocked in at just 7% this week.
Then @Botch79 finished off the game stack with Tyler Eifert (13%), and rounded things out with a high-upside, low-priced Taylor Gabriel at 4% (I noted how I preferred Gabriel to Allen Robinson in last week’s story—that’s the one I’m kicking myself on for not playing) and the Bears defense at home against Ryan Fitzpatrick at just 5%.
OK, enough about @Botch79. Let’s talk about Charch.
Charch sure doesn’t pass up an opportunity to roster Blake Bortles, does he? The matchup and price are right, though he is on the road. With the exception of two weeks ago when Bortles gave us a lesson in small sample size, Bortles has been a far better fantasy asset without Leonard Fournette—and he’ll be without his workhorse back in this one. I don’t hate the play, but with Bortles such a fantasy yo-yo and quarterback upsides in the 4- to 6-touchdown range, it’s hard for me to use my one bullet in a single-entry tourney on him.
Aaron Jones is a curious pick at $5,600 not because of his price or talent, but because of his usage. He’s been the third back in a three-back rotation his first two weeks back from suspension and he doesn’t catch passes. Considering this is a PPR format, I’ll get my running back points elsewhere.
At receiver I have no quarrel with Kenny Golladay, who is surprisingly priced as the third Detroit wide receiver despite arguably having the best upside. I’m not forcing Golladay into my lineup, but he’s certainly in play this week.
Zach Ertz is Charch’s tight end, and considering the wasteland that is this position I’m fine with paying up—especially considering how Minnesota’s defense has struggled thus far.
As for my picks…
We now go live to Fanball pricing quarterbacks this week: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
The top four options are all $8,000 or $7,900 with Aaron Rodgers fifth in line WAY down at $7,800. I can’t give the pricing too much guff considering how insane quarterback scoring has been thus far. I’m cool with any of the top five guys, though I’m probably fading Jared Goff if only because there’s a good chance this could be a Todd Gurley game. I really like Cam Newton off the bye against a bad Giants team down at $7,400, Watson for $100 less, and Matt Stafford and Carson Wentz down another $100. I’ll ultimately land on a QB based on my receivers and running backs, working in a stack and possibly running it back with an opposing receiver or back. Want to punt at QB? I don’t mind Marcus Mariota at $6,500 or Derek Carr way down at $5,900. Heck, I could make a case for Josh Rosen or CJ Beathard at $5,300 and $5,200, respectively. With everyone’s putting up video-game scores, there are a lot of quarterbacks you can use to win DFS tournaments.
Gurley, Melvin Gordon, Ezekiel Elliott. Check, check and check. Just for S’s and G’s I put together a lineup with all three and TBH I didn’t hate it (it included a Rosen + Christian Kirk stack). I’ll certainly have one of the top guys—ideally Gurley if I can afford him. I’m in on James Conner this week based on his matchup with DT Grady Jarrett to miss this game with an ankle injury, but Christian McCaffrey’s just $800 more, and Saquon Barkley’s only $900 more—so I’ve got some decisions to make. I’ll go back to the Giovani Bernard well if Joe Mixon is out again, though I expect Mixon will give it a go. With Fournette out of commission, I’m fine with TJ Yeldon at $5,700 against the Chiefs despite Corey Grant potentially getting some work. I’m in like with him, not love. Phillip Lindsay and Austin Ekeler are also low-price guys you could fill out a roster with—especially the latter if you’re paying up for Rivers at quarterback. I’m also intrigued by Javorius Allen at just $5,500. He’s already getting the passing work, and might have the goal-line work on lockdown now with Alex Collins fumbling there last week.
There aren’t any huge red flags among the top-end guys—I don’t need to force any in, but I’d pair them with their QBs in every case except perhaps Odell Beckham Jr. with Eli Manning. Force me to pick one and it’s Julio Jones, who’s got Pro Football Focus’ best matchup going against Coty Sensabaugh this week, is on pace for over 2,000 yards, and will absolutely find the end zone sometime soon. On the flip side of that coin, I’m going to keep fading Calvin Ridley based on his snap rate and target share compared to his $7,500 price. Though matched up against Pittsburgh he’s certainly still got potential. I really like Corey Davis at $6,900, John Brown and Sterling Shepard remain underpriced at $6,500 and $6,400, respectively, as does Tyler Boyd at $6,000 based on his workload. If Will Fuller misses this week with injury, sign me up for Keke Coutee at $4,100. And keep an eye on Packers injuries: If Randall Cobb and Geronimo Allison both miss, Marquez Valdes-Scantling at $2,900 is a lock (perhaps that Gurley/Gordon/Zeke lineup will happen after all…).
Jared Cook is having the classic 31-year-old breakout season, and at $6,200 he’s probably my prime target here if I can’t get up to Travis Kelce at $7,100—who I prefer to Ertz. Jacksonville’s defense will give Tyreek Hill and Sammy Watkins a run for their money: the middle of the field is where the Jags are most vulnerable and where Kelce will get to work. The field in general might fade Kansas City based on the matchup, so a Kelce + Patrick Mahomes stack at low ownership could be a tourney-winning move. George Kittle at $6,300 is another fine choice. If you prefer to live dangerously, I’d roll with David Njoku at $4,200, Ian Thomas at $3,500, or Nick Vannett (Will Dissly is on IR now) at $3,100. I don’t have the balls to play Hayden Hurst in what I expect to be his career debut at $3,100, but considering the Ravens’ TE usage this season, Hurst is a stash for those of you in season-long dealing with the loss of Tyler Eifert, Greg Olsen, Evan Engram, OJ Howard, and the probably dozen others I’m leaving out.
There are some nice matchups to take advantage of at the top of the pay scale here, but I’m sticking with my no-paying-up-at-defense approach. The Panthers against the Giants for $3,700 is probably as high as I’d go, but Baltimore at Cleveland for $3,600 is probably my favorite play.
Let’s keep making money in Week 5! Or, at the very least, let’s all beat Charch. If I don’t finish first this week, I hope you do!
Anthony Maggio (@MplsMaggio) once threw a chair at a bar and is co-host of The Fantasy Football Party at ZoneCoverage.com. Subscribe on iTunes, Stitcher or anywhere Android podcasts are given away for free. He is a freelance contributor for the SportsHub Games Network, Inc., Fanball’s parent company. Any advice or strategies provided by SportsHub contributors represent their personal opinions; they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of SportsHub Games Network and are not necessarily reflective of the strategies they may employ in their own lineups.