Joe Burrow, CIN at BAL ($6,000 DK, $7,300 FD, O/U 43.5)
If you have the cap space, Lamar Jackson and Patrick Mahomes are the optimal plays on the main slate. I’ve gotta say that I love seeing Joe Burrow’s salary taking a slight dip this week. There’s no denying that the Ravens will generate plenty of offense as 12-point home favorites. However, it’s the likelihood that Cincy will fall behind that has me licking my chops. The only game this season where Burrow has trailed by more than six points was Week 2 to the Browns. Perhaps you remember that game as Burrow attempting 61 passes with only 5.2 yards per attempt. Not the way I remember it.
Cleveland was begging Burrow to throw deep while trailing against their zone trio of Cover 3, 4, and 6. I was simply blown away -- even after last season -- by his fortified patience waiting for those holes in the zone to open up. Although, in Week 5, Burrow will face a Baltimore secondary that will play man coverage on half of their snaps. While many out there may fall for the belief that the Ravens field a top man scheme, allow me to break the news that they are actually well below average.
Even if his opponent were the Patriots’ CBs, I would still be touting Burrow. Do yourself a favor, set a mental alarm to go off every time you see Burrow facing a secondary featuring man coverage. It’s that level of automatic. Allow me to throw some numbers at you from the small sample size we have of Burrow. He’s faced a Cover 0 (man shell) on seven dropbacks this season or three percent of snaps and has thrown for two TDs or 33 percent of his season total. The Ravens play Cover 0 at the highest rate in the league.
Burrow has faced a Cover 1 (man shell) on 32 percent of snaps and his yardage per attempt follows with a 25 percent reciprocal spike. Although, the Ravens will revert to a zone as they put points up on the board. We have more than enough from the Cleveland game to know that Burrow will remain patient, and keep the yardage flowing wherever the hole in the Ravens’ zone develops.
The Bottom Line: I am so confident in exposure to Burrow this week that I believe he will finish in the top-three of main slate QBs. I should also remind you that Burrow nearly led the Bengals back in the Week 2, 35-30 defeat. The current 50.5 combined implied total is cherry red ripe for the picking for the over wager obliteration. By the end of the game, the scoreboard will make you think you’ve been watching a pair of Big 12 teams.
Deshaun Watson, HOU vs. JAX ($6,900 DK, $7,900 FD, O/U 54.5)
Speaking of defenses that feature man coverage holding a common belief of above-averageness. To be clear, C.J. Henderson is in the running for DROY and Tre Herndon has played phenomenal ball this season. However, as a unit, the Jags’ Cover 1 has been the most vulnerable man scheme in the NFL this season. Deshaun Watson will face the Jacksonville Cover 1 on 40 percent of snaps this week. Dating back to the beginning of 2019, when Watson has gone against a Cover 1, he’s passed for nine TDs to only 2 INTs.
The Jaguars will also throw a pair of zone coverages at the Texans approaching league-high rates. On a third of snaps, Jacksonville will play Cover 3. When facing Cover 3 since ‘19, he’s thrown another nine TDs, five INTs, and his YPA increases by 13 percent. Finally, Watson will see a Cover 3-Seam on 10 percent of snaps this Sunday. His YPA increases from his overall average of 7.7 up to 10.6, or a 27 percent increase.
The Bottom Line: I already know what you may be thinking about Watson. Not only have the Texans lost four straight, Watson has likely let you down in rostered DFS LUs by failing to score at least 25 points all season. Setting the analytics aside for a moment, the firing of HC Bill O’Brien will provide the Texans with a ton of morale at home this week. He’s been nothing short of a dictator standing over Watson his entire career. This is the game where Houston gets back on track. I’ll be stacking Watson with Will Fuller V on a ton of LUs this weekend.
Dak Prescott at TEN ($7,400 DK, $8,700 FD)
Daniel Jones at DAL ($5,400 DK, $7,000 FD)
Clyde Edwards-Helaire, KC vs. LV ($6,800 DK, $7,900 FD, O/U 55.0)
Kansas City is 4-0, they’ve already crushed the largest obstacle, Baltimore, 34-20 toward defending their title, and, sans L’Jarius Sneed, they’re entirely healthy. What could be missing? Well, if we’re being picky, the backfield is only averaging 129.3 yards/game or 24th in the NFL. Since Clyde Edwards-Helaire is responsible for 74 percent of carries this season, much of that is on his shoulders. We could put the blame on the three percent difference in passing more, running less than league averages. But the Chiefs rank in the top-10 in plays/game, negating that theory.
Make no mistake, predicting which RBs will end up with the most FPs each week is difficult, to say the least. Through Week 4, we’ve had a total of 21 RBs eclipse 100 rushing yards. That means if all 32 teams are in play, only 4.8 RBs will be expected to reach the century mark. With two teams on a bye in Week 5, two already playing on Thursday, four teams playing on Sunday and Monday night, and four teams removed from the DK main slate due to having their games moved ahead, only 20 teams will be in play this week. That leaves us with trying to predict which three RBs will top 100 rushing yards on the main slate. Outside of receiving FPs, the only other predictive model would feature foretelling TDs.
We also have the salary makers working against us in pricing the RBs at the top that are most likely to hit. I’ll go ahead and pass along that, if you have room under the cap, Ezekiel Elliott is the optimal play this week. However, I am thoroughly convinced that CEH will join them at the top of this list. Kansas City utilizes the combination of inside and outside zone concepts at the league’s second-highest rate. CEH has had his most success running the ball right up the middle on inside zone, ranking third in the NFL on those runs with 3.67 yards after contact per attempt (YCo/Att). The Raiders, in turn, have permitted the most yardage on inside zone runs this season.
The Bottom Line: The Chiefs are currently 12-point favorites -- second-highest of Week 5 -- and the Las Vegas defense will be the most vulnerable they’ve faced since Week 1. That positive game script should be engaged early enough to provide Edwards-Helaire with more than enough volume to set new career highs across the board.
James Robinson, JAX at HOU ($6,700 DK, $6,600 FD, O/U 54.5)
When the Jaguars traded Leonard Fournette and named James Robinson the new starting back, most believed he would be a one-trick pony. Yet, the rookie out of Illinois State currently ranks in the top-ten in receiving FPG (7.8) and second, behind only Alvin Kamara, with 2.44 yards per route run (YPRR). Jacksonville features a run concept package of inside, outside zones, and man blocking on around one-fourth of run plays apiece. The remaining percentage is split between power (backside guard pull) and counter (misdirection) concepts.
The Texans have allowed the third-most rushing yards on inside zone runs, seventh-most on outside zone attempts,11th-most against man blocking and 10th-most against exotic concepts (power, counter, etc.) Robinson has generated nearly half of his rushing FPs on inside zone and 34 percent on power and counter.
The Bottom Line: Robinson has shouldered 81 percent of Jacksonville rushing attempts this season, and that number shot up by 14 percent last week against Cincinnati. He’s even topping Chris Thompson’s eight-percent target share with 10 percent of his own this season. As the Vegas lines indicate, this will be a high-scoring matchup with somewhere in the ballpark of 55-60 percent of the offense going through the hands of Robinson. I’m all in.
Mike Davis at ATL ($6,400 DK, $6,800 FD)
Jerick McKinnon vs. MIA ($5,800 DK, $6,400 FD)
Kareem Hunt vs. IND ($6,500 DK, $7,000 FD)
Will Fuller, HOU vs. JAX ($6,400 DK, $7,400 FD, O/U 54.5)
As mentioned above, I’ll have a ton of Deshaun Watson and Will Fuller V stacks this week. In addition to the reasons I’ve provided in the Watson analysis, I wrote about why Fuller in a must-start this week here. To summarize, a man coverage matchup with either Tre Herndon or C.J. Henderson will be a worthy challenge indeed. But when the Jags drop into a Cover 3 or Cover 3 Seam shell, Fuller will be ready to engage into nuclear-mode.
When facing Cover 3 since the beginning of 2019, Fuller’s YPRR increases by 22 percent, and his FPs/route jumps up 21 percent. Against Cover 3 Seam schemes, Fuller’s YPRR shoots up an amazing 47 percent, coinciding with a 21 percent increase in FPs/route. These statistics indicate that Fuller has yet to reach his maximum potential. The impact cannot be overstated that Houston has moved past their brutal early-season schedule and moved on from Bill O’Brien The portion of the passing offense left behind by the departure of DeAndre Hopkins will become entirely apparent starting this week.
The Bottom Line: With Fuller absorbing the red zone and goal line looks from Hopkins, those Cover 3 and Cover 3 Seam success percentages will skyrocket after this week. The thing standing in Fuller’s way will always be his health/hamstrings. Should he provide Watson with a full slate of games the rest of the way, he offers everything required to become a true No. 1 WR. For Week 5, the schematics greatly favor this Houston connection as a slate-busting stack.
Tyler Boyd, CIN at BAL ($6,600 DK, $6,600 FD, O/U 51.0)
The second of my two favorite stacks of Week 5, Joe Burrow and Tyler Boyd will have the framework in place to push both to scoring at the top of the main slate. We can entirely count on Marlon Humphrey covering Boyd on the 40-plus percent of snaps the Ravens will play in man coverage. Make sure you don’t overstate the ability of Humphrey. He’s one of the top slot CBs in the game, but he’s also permitting over 60 percent of targets in his coverage to be completed.
Burrow’s exceptional ability against man coverage and the fact that Boyd’s FPs/route increases by 29 percent when facing man will help. Boyd will see enough volume opposite Humphrey to get us started since he’s not a catch-and-run wideout anyway. When the Ravens have had a lead this season, their rate of Cover 3 usage (30 percent) increases by 22 percent. When facing a Cover 3, Boyd’s FPs/route jumps 12 percent.
The Bottom Line: While Burrow’s and Boyd’s salaries have remained consistent, Vegas has begun to catch up to the offensive success of Cincinnati. Should the Bengals give the Ravens a tough time this week, all of that will change. However, we can reasonably expect Baltimore to put together a lead, and that will do nothing to dissuade Burrow’s ability to overcome pressure. Boyd is easily one of the top values on the entire slate.
Robby Anderson, CAR at ATL ($5,200 DK, $5,400 FD, O/U 53.5)
If you sit back and think about the season for Carolina, it’s been nothing short of a roller coaster. Two weeks in, they’ve suffered a painful opening loss at home to Las Vegas, and found out after their Week 2 defeat that Christian McCaffrey would miss a large chunk of the season. Many began to consider the hiring of HC Matt Rhule and OC Joe Brady a costly mistake. However, a shift in secondary scheme led to a road victory over the Chargers, and a double-digit win over an Arizona offense that appeared to be a burgeoning juggernaut coming into the season.
Unfortunately, the reversal of fortunes for the Panthers has not coincided with Teddy Bridgewater displaying the abilities desired for capturing a long term role. Although, he has been good enough to feed Mike Davis the McCaffrey target volume, and for Robby Anderson to average 17.8 FPG on 94.3 YPG. In Week 5, Bridgewater will face a secondary that should allow Anderson to have a big game with enough volume left over for D.J. Moore.
Even setting aside the lack of TDs for Moore, Anderson has been the better wideout since the start of 2019 against every coverage they’ll face from Atlanta. Against Cover 1, Anderson’s route efficiency is 42 percent higher. Against Cover 2, his YPRR is 43 percent higher. Against Cover 3, it’s 10 percent higher.
The Bottom Line: It should be thoroughly established by now that the Falcons’ secondary is a weekly target for DFS WRs. Nobody will confuse Bridgewater’s game for Aaron Rodgers’ but the Packers accumulated nearly 300 receiving yards, and four TDs to their RBs and Robert Tonyan, alone. Week 5 will be no different and we can expect Anderson to be the primary beneficiary.
D.J. Moore at ATL ($6,000 DK, $6,600 FD)
Golden Tate at DAL ($4,600 DK, $5,500 FD)
Laviska Shenault Jr. at HOU ($4,500 DK, $5,300 FD)
Austin Hooper, CLE vs. IND ($4,100 DK, $5,200 FD, O/U 48.0)
With injuries, opportunity knocks. When Nick Chubb injured his MCL in Week 4, Kareem Hunt stepped up to fill the lead role and D’Ernest Johnson took over as the backup. However, the player that will see the most significant boost in volume will be Austin Hooper. With the Browns building a 41-14 lead in the third quarter last week, Johnson ended up leading the team in carries. Risking Hunt with that big of a lead would be illogical with Chubb already injured. Do not expect to see anything close to that carry distribution in the future.
With Chubb and Hunt in play, the Browns intelligently reverted to a run-first game plan. Without Chubb or another four TD lead, Cleveland will not only pass more, the TEs will not be asked to block as much. We know Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry will be the first to feed each week. But the Browns gave the four year, $44 million contract, $23 million guaranteed, to Hooper for him to do more than block, when the time was necessary. That time is now.
The Bottom Line: The Browns will host the top zone coverage defense in the NFL from the Colts this week. However, Darius Leonard has been ruled out. Leonard is one of the top coverage LBs in the game. Bobby Okereke and Anthony Walker pale in comparison. You are obviously targeting either George Kittle or Travis Kelce with enough cap space, but Hooper will offer you considerable salary relief with opportunity knocking.
Eric Ebron, PIT vs. PHI ($4,000 DK, $5,100 FD, O/U 44.5)
This is one of the games I am most looking forward to watching this weekend. The Steelers’ front-seven is the best in the game. Having a healthy Ben Roethlisberger on the field is big for the NFL. And watching Carson Wentz going to battle with an offensive line made up of practice squad-level ability without much of a receiver unit is must-watch television.
We’re likely to see Darius Slay shadow Diontae Johnson. So we can consider a huge portion of his 20 percent target share up for grabs. Slay is that damn good. Then we have the Eagles’ elite run defense. The Steelers run nearly half of attempts on power, counters, and draws. Against those exotic looks, the Philly D ranks third in the NFL in the least yardage allowed.
The Bottom Line: The injury to Mike LB T.J. Edwards didn’t receive much notice. But he was the top coverage player in that unit with both Duke Riley and Nathan Gerry inching closer toward allowing a perfect QB rating when targeted this season. Ebron’s involvement has increased from two, to five, to seven targets this season. That is enough expected volume in a plus matchup at the right price. No shame in kicking a dead horse in DFS, my people.
Evan Engram at DAL ($4,600 DK, $5,500 FD)
Mo Alie-Cox vs. IND ($4,200 DK, $5,400 FD)