Our first set of team byes are on the horizon. An extra week of rest could not have come at a better time for those teams. As with each passing week, we find ourselves one step closer toward learning the matchup strengths of rookies and those receiving their first dose of extended action. Whether you’re a tournament (GPP) junkie or fighting tooth-and-nail to stay above that Cash/Single-Entry (SE) line, you’ve set your GPS to the precise location toward fulfilling those goals. Rest assured that I am fighting that fight right alongside you in both regards, and everything uncovered from my weekly analysis can be found below.
The entirety of my Mondays are devoted to watching/re-watching every game from the previous week. I also use that time filling in the defensive coverage scheme blanks in my databases. From the time I wake up, until the time my head hits the bed, Tuesday is devoted entirely to refreshing everything in my databases to account for everything from the previous week. Whether or not the previous week returned profits for the efforts, every single step is followed to the letter at the dawn of a new week.
NEW FEATURE ALERT: I am unveiling something new in this week’s edition that I am anticipating will maximize our profits: a coverage scheme algorithm that has taken weeks of my time. The projections provided by this algorithm factors coverage scheme success, anticipated coverage scheme rates, and current opportunity rates, i.e., route percentages, target shares, carry shares, etc. for each QB, RB, and WR. Unfortunately, projections for TEs will not be ready until Week 7. But the TE position easily affords the lowest reliability due to multiple factors that I feel requires more time to develop. While I am excited for the impact I feel the algorithm will immediately provide, it will only play a secondary role in Advanced Matchups until I am able to increase my sample collection.
If you’d like to learn more about/refresh yourself with each of the defensive coverage shells mentioned throughout this series and other relevant schematic details, utilize the following resources:
Fantasy Shells: Coverage Glossary
Fantasy Shells: Cover 1
Fantasy Shells: Cover 2
Fantasy Shells: Cover 3
Fantasy Shells: Cover 4
We may have four less teams to analyze this week, that only means every second normally devoted to those franchises will be shifted toward deciphering matchups from each of the other 14 games. Without further delay, let’s get to the action.
*14-17 (45%); 5-4 in Week 5
Kansas City Chiefs (-6.5) at Washington Football Team
Los Angeles Chargers (+3.5) at Baltimore Ravens
Cincinnati Bengals (-3.5) at Detroit Lions
Carolina Panthers (+1.0) vs. Minnesota Vikings
Arizona Cardinals (+3.0) at Cleveland Browns
Dallas Cowboys (-3.5) at New England Patriots
Buffalo Bills (-6.0) at Tennessee Titans
*11-10 (52%); 5-3 in Week 5
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Philadelphia Eagles (Over 52.5)
Miami Dolphins at Jacksonville Jaguars (Under 47.5)
Los Angeles Rams at New York Giants (Under 47.5)
Kansas City Chiefs at Washington Football Team (Over 55.5)
Los Angeles Chargers at Baltimore Ravens (Over 52.5)
Arizona Cardinals at Cleveland Browns (Over 49.5)
Dallas Cowboys at New England Patriots (Under 51.5)
Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Seattle Seahawks (Under 42.5)
*15-4 (79%); 7-1 in Week 5
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-275) at Philadelphia Eagles
Los Angeles Rams (-575) at New York Giants
Kansas City Chiefs (-305) at Washington Football Team
Los Angeles Chargers (+135) at Baltimore Ravens
Indianapolis Colts (-400) vs. Houston Texans
Cincinnati Bengals (-180) at Detroit Lions
Carolina Panthers (+105) vs. Minnesota Vikings
Arizona Cardinals (+140) at Cleveland Browns
Dallas Cowboys (-170) at New England Patriots
Pittsburgh Steelers (-225) vs. Seattle Seahawks
Buffalo Bills (-265) at Tennessee Titans
Matchups to Target
Najee Harris, PIT ($7.4K DK | $8.5K FD) vs. Seahawks’ Cover 3
Never again. At least not in any 2021 matchups. Do not count on seeing Najee Harris’ name under the Matchup to Avoid category anytime soon. Since the Steelers are not scheduled to face Tampa Bay, that’s an easy statement to make. Harris not only managed to provide profit over value (18%) against an elite Denver run defense, he generated a career high in rushing yardage (122). Success against those Broncos leaves little doubt in my mind that Najee is teetering upon matchup-proof status. And he will welcome a Seattle defense on Sunday night that, in spite of components greater than the sum, has yet to find an answer for opposing ground games. The ‘Hawks are surrendering 31.1 FPG to RBs (third-most), providing 5.6 red zone touches/game (fifth). The coverage algorithm projects Harris as the RB1 for Week 6 with 27.7/25.3 FPs.
Diontae Johnson, PIT ($6.7K DK | $7.4K FD) vs. Seahawks’ Cover 3 It sure does seem as though Ben Roethlisberger took notice to calls for his status as Pittsburgh’s starter to heart. His Week 5 performance still fell short of providing reasoning for Big Ben exposure, but he at least avoided throwing an INT, and finally fed Chase Claypool with a big game with Diontae Johnson on the field. Watching Roethlisberger pepper Diontae, and only Diontae, with solid games as though it’s normal for an offense to only support a single receiver really turned the stomach. Looking back to last season, it’s truly a shock that Pittsburgh played as well as they did under the exact same circumstances, and without Najee.
Do I have any confidence that Roethlisberger will manage to fuel consistent production for both Johnson and Claypool? Absolutely none whatsoever. But I am confident that he’ll continue to target Diontae at a top-five rate. The Steelers closed down shop on the pass after 15 completions last week to eat up the clock on the ground. One of those hookups resulted in a 50-yard TD strike to Johnson. In each of Diontae’s other three games, he was provided with double-digit targets. Perhaps the most maddening part of projecting the Steelers’ WRs is that Big Ben simply does not care who has had the most success against a particular coverage during their careers. Reothlisberger is perfectly comfortable staring down Diontae until delivering the ball at his route break. He got away with that laziness in his youth, nowadays it’s led to a massive issue dealing with pressure.
Final notes on Seattle
Seattle is in big trouble without Russell Wilson. If we’re being honest, this is a lost season for the franchise. And that’s not even a low shot attempt at Geno Smith ($5.1K/$6.5K). Few QBs can match up to the excellence of Wilson. The assumption is that the Seahawks will ride the ground game. That will be great for Chris Carson’s ($5.4K/$6.4K) upside… when he’s back to 100% health. At least they have a quality backup in Alex Collins ($5.0K/$5.8K). DK Metcalf ($7.2K/$7.5K) did manage to connect with Smith for a TD against the Rams in Week 5, but we will need to see those scoring strikes at an impressive rate in order to trust Metcalf or Tyler Lockett ($6.7K/$6.8K) at their pricing. Gerald Everett ($3.0K/$4.9K) will be lucky if he maintains half of the potential he held with Wilson running the show.
Final notes on Pittsburgh
As you may have already guessed, you might want to fade Ben Roethlisberger ($5.4K/$7.1K). At least when Chase Claypool ($6.6K/$6.7K) is dealing with an injury, he doesn’t leave us high-and-dry during the first quarter… cough.. Diontae. He deals with his injuries in between games. Claypool could actually post solid outings in consecutive games with JuJu Smith-Schuster ($4.6K/$5.0K) out for the season. And it would be great to see James Washington ($4.0K/$5.2K) come into some utility instead of watching Ray-Ray McLoud III ($3.1K/$4.9K) trip his way over empty route volume.
Matchups to Target
Stefon Diggs, BUF ($7.4K DK | $7.6K FD) vs. Jackrabbit Jenkins, TEN
Prior to the season, Buffalo’s scheduling appeared to indicate a massive number of Cover 1 matchups. Through five weeks, it feels like it’s been a lifetime since Stefon Diggs faced a defense truly featuring a Cover 1. Get comfortable, folks. We have reached our destination. The Titans feature the fourth-highest rate of Cover 1. And, within the setup of that scheme, nothing Tennessee may attempt will be able to slow what will prove to be Diggs’ first defining performance of the season.
Over the last three seasons, Diggs has been opposed by a Cover 1 on 25% of his routes. He’s responded with 33% of his receptions, 38% of his yardage, and 41% of his total TDs. His 0.68 FPs/route under those conditions ranks fifth-best, 3.32 YPRR is the third-highest, and he has demanded the fourth highest target share at 31% when facing Cover 1. Jackrabbit Jenkins will surely give his all, but the efforts will be in vain with ranks outside the top-60 outside corners in each of my most trusted coverage metrics.
Final notes on Buffalo
Since this component of the series is unlikely to provide much time to consume its contents and fill out Thursday-to-Monday lineups, my assessment of Josh Allen ($8.2K/$8.8K) is of little consequence of the shortened slates. But, yes, this is a matchup of some magnitude in favor of Allen. Tennessee has been far better at stunting receiving output from RBs than containing ground production. That’s a death sentence for Devin Singletary’s ($4.3K/$5.7K) upside and a casting call for Zack Moss ($5.5K/$6.2K). It’s odd that Emmanuel Sanders ($5.4K/$6.8K) is still so reasonably priced after blowing up in two of the last three weeks. He’s obviously an excellent roster addition. That’s not the case for Cole Beasley ($4.3K/$5.5K) since he is at his best against Cover 4 and Cover 6 schemes. Don’t look now but Dawson Knox ($4.8K/$6.7K) is making a case to insert himself among the top options at the position. With the dearth of TE production consistency, another game or two with anything close to his previous two games will just about seal the deal.
Final notes on Tennessee
It pains the heart to see Ryan Tannehill ($5.9K/$7.0K) priced under $6.0K. He is truly one of the elite QBs that has seen his numbers fall off due to the poor health of his WRs. The collection of replacement-level wideout options rostered by Tennessee behind their Big-2 is an utter embarrassment with the cheat code that is Derrick Henry ($9.0K/$10.5K) depressing the difficulty curve. As for Henry, he is a straight fade for me in classic setups. This Buffalo defense is the most balanced, complete unit in the NFL. A.J. Brown ($6.1K/$6.6K) and Julio Jones ($6.2K/$6.5K) finally appear ready to take the field together again, and it just has to be the week they are facing the Bills. To be fair, those words regarding the pathetic state of the Titans’ secondary options should begin after Chester Rogers’ ($3.5K/$5.1K) name. He’s actually been a solid slot addition. The season may end before Anthony Firkser ($3.0K/$4.7K) figures out a way to do something of substance. He did deal with a slight hyperextended knee, but this might be the type of golden opportunity he may never again be provided.