DFS research can be tough. We may not always know what to look for, or where to look for it.
But this article helps solve that problem – by providing some early-week research to give readers solid footing for the upcoming Week 5 DFS slate.
Los Angeles Chargers (-3) @ Cleveland Browns (O/U: 47.5)
The Chargers still appear cautious with Keenan Allen’s hamstring injury. So what can we expect this week if Allen can’t go?
In his six games without Allen since 2020, Mike Williams averages 16.2 FPG, 78.5 receiving YPG, and 8.2 targets per game – a decent improvement on the 12.9 FPG, 60.3 YPG, and 7.3 targets per game he averages with Allen.
Still, it’s worth noting that Williams’ usage over the last three weeks without Allen (16.2 XFP/G), has only been about 3% better than his usage over the entirety of 2021 (15.8 XFP/G). So Allen’s absence might not be the massive boost for Williams many logically hoped it would.
Josh Palmer suffered a minor ankle injury in Week 4 that prevented him from seeing a full workload, but the 15.5 XFP/G he averaged in Weeks 2 and 3 without Allen would rank 21st among all WRs – tied with Jaylen Waddle and better than Deebo Samuel (14.7).
Gerald Everett appears to have earned the 2nd-biggest boost from Allen’s absence (after Palmer), as the 12.8 XFP/G he’s averaged over the last three weeks ranks 6th-best among TEs, and is a 33% improvement over the 9.6 XFP/G that Jared Cook averaged last season.
Justin Herbert averages an insane 29.3 FPG in his 17 career wins, compared to just 21.2 FPG in his 19 career losses. For perspective, 29.3 FPG would be the greatest fantasy QB season of all time. The Chargers implied win probability this week is 60%.
Austin Ekeler is currently on pace for the 5th-most RB targets ever (127). Still, his usage this season (17.2 XFP/G) is about 5% worse than last year (18.1 XFP/G), due to a modest drop off in goalline opportunities (0.6 fewer i10 opportunities this season).
Nick Chubb’s workload this season (15.7 XFP/G) has only been about 10% better than Kareem Hunt’s (14.3). They’ve had nearly identical XTD numbers (Chubb leads 0.8 to 0.7 XTD/G), and Hunt has actually earned more red zone opportunities this season (4.3 to 4.0). So, I think Hunt could wind up massively underrated as a DFS play this week in potential negative gamescript.
Remember, Chubb has averaged +2.8 more FPG as a favorite (17.9) than as an underdog (15.1) since 2019.
Jacoby Brissett has quietly been playing well, posting the 8th-best PFF passing grade (72.6) of the season.
LAC has given up the 3rd-most FPG to opposing RBs (29.9) and 5.4 YPC (2nd-most), after allowing the 5th-most FPG to opposing RBs (26.3) and 4.6 YPC (4th-most) last season. An elite matchup for the CLE ground game.
LAC has been the 9th-worst team against opposing WRs, allowing 38.8 FPG this season.
CLE has been the 6th-toughest team against TEs thus far, allowing 7.8 FPG.
The Browns have faired fine from an FPG perspective against opposing RBs, allowing the 11th-most FPG (23.8). But, they are PFF’s worst-graded run defense, so this is likely a favorable matchup for the LAC RBs.
Chicago Bears (+7) @ Minnesota Vikings (O/U: 44.0)
Justin Fields has as many rush attempts (34) as he does completions this season.
Fields is averaging the 12th-most rush attempts per game ever for a QB (8.5), but just the 73rd-most rushing FPG ever by a QB (5.2). #Inefficiency
The only Bears player averaging double-digit XFP/G is Khalil Herbert (11.3), the backup RB.
With no David Montgomery in Week 4, Herbert claimed 66% of backfield XFP.
Dalvin Cook averages +2.7 more FPG as a favorite of 4.0 or more (22.0 FPG) than he does outside of that split (19.3). Cook also averages +5.2 more FPG in wins of 4-points or more (22.8 FPG) than he does outside of that split (17.6 FPG).
Interestingly, Justin Jefferson has scored over 30.0 DraftKings points in 25% of his games as a favorite, compared to just 11% of his games as an underdog.
As a favorite of 6.0-points or more, Kirk Cousins has scored over 30.0 DraftKings points just once (4% of games) over his entire career. Likely a safe fade against a Bears offense that seems incapable of pushing the tempo.
MIN has been the 6th-worst team against opposing RBs, allowing 26.0 FPG. A good note for Montgomery (if he plays) and Herbert.
Partially due to pace, CHI has been the toughest opponent this season for opposing WRs, allowing just 24.8 FPG. The Bears were the 5th-toughest team against outside WRs last season, giving up just 18.9 FPG.
Tennessee Titans (-2.5) @ Washington Commanders (O/U: 42.5)
Granted, Robinson’s return is surely bad news for Antonio Gibson, who ranked 7th among RBs in XFP/G (16.3) through the first four weeks.
Curtis Samuel (34) is 3rd among WRs in touches, behind only Deebo Samuel (37) and Cooper Kupp (43). Samuel ranks 11th among WRs in XFP/G (17.0) and hasn’t fallen below 12.0 XFP in any individual game. His usage is fantastic.
Since 2019, Derrick Henry averages an insane 25.1 FPG in wins, but just 13.2 FPG in losses. The Titans implied win probability this week is 58%.
Ryan Tannehill has exceeded 300 passing yards and 24.0 FPs just once in his last 21 games. He averages just 18.5 FPG as a favorite over that stretch.
These teams have been terrible against opposing WRs this season, with WAS ranking 3rd-worst (46.7 FPG allowed) and TEN ranking 4th-worst (42.7). Both teams were also terrible against outside WRs last year, with TEN ranking 7th-worst and WAS ranking 5th-worst. Based on this, we could argue this game may have sneaky shootout potential, but I’m not sure I buy it.
Both teams have been tough against opposing RBs, with TEN allowing the 4th-fewest FPG (17.8) and WAS allowing the 6th-fewest (18.3).
Houston Texans (+7) @ Jacksonville Jaguars (O/U: 44.5)
In his five career victories, Trevor Lawrence averages a solid 19.4 FPG (~QB11), compared to just 14.6 FPG in his 16 career losses.
Jacksonville won their Week 2 and Week 3 games by a combined 52 points, and James Robinson saw 14.9 XFP/G (~RB10) and 18.2 FPG (~RB5) in those victories. He shapes up as a strong play whenever the Jags are expected to win, and their implied win probability this week is 78%.
Zay Jones is a screaming value if he suits up this week (which appears likely). Among WRs, he ranks 26th in XFP/G (14.2), 23rd in FPG (14.1), 24th in targets per game (8.0), 6th (tie) in end zone targets per game (1.3), and 3rd (tie) in red zone targets per game (2.3) – yet he ranks as the WR60 (by salary) on DraftKings and the WR41 on FanDuel.
Dameon Pierce saw his 2nd-best usage of the season (16.9 XFP) in Week 4, despite Houston trailing the entire game. His 6 targets, 49% route share, and 100% backfield carry share last week suggests that he’s viable in games HOU is likely to lose, but we would obviously prefer to play him in positive gamescript.
Since joining the Texans, Brandin Cooks hasn’t benefitted from losses, as he averages -1.6 fewer FPG in games HOU has lost by 6-points or more (14.1 FPG), compared to 15.7 FPG outside of that split.
- Houston’s run defense is truly disastrous. They rank 2nd-worst in PFF run defense grades and are giving up a league-leading 32.8 FPG to opposing RBs this season, after giving up the 4th-most FPG (26.8) to opposing RBs last season. An awesome matchup for JRob.
Seattle Seahawks (+5.5) @ New Orleans Saints (O/U: 45.5)
Everyone is excited about Rashaad Penny being amazing, I get it. But, he’s only averaged 8.3 XFP/G so far this season, the 46th-best mark of any RB this year.
With that said, I think the excitement about Geno Smith is more appropriate. He’s PFF’s 2nd-highest graded passer (81.5 passing grade), ranks 5th-best in EPA per play (0.15), and Seattle ranks 12th-best in pass rate over expectation.
And, as a result of Smith playing so well, Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf are essentially the same guys they were last season. In 2021, Metcalf averages 14.9 XFP/G, while Lockett averaged 13.8. This season? 16.4 XFP/G for Metcalf, and 13.8 for Lockett.
With that said, both Metcalf and Lockett have performed much better as favorites since 2019. Lockett averages 16.3 FPG as a favorite, compared to 12.7 FPG as an underdog. And Metcalf averages 15.5 FPG as a favorite, and 12.0 FPG as an underdog.
Chris Olave leads New Orleans in XFP/G (16.2), targets per game (9), air yards per game (190.5), and red zone targets per game (1.0). It doesn’t at all seem like a stretch to call him the WR1 in New Orleans.
Andy Dalton has been pretty terrible as a favorite, averaging just 14.0 FPG when favored by 3-points or more since 2017, compared to 17.2 FPG outside of that split.
Seattle has been a plus matchup for opposing QBs this season, allowing the 7th-most FPG (24.8).
And the Seahawks have been a great matchup for opposing RBs, allowing the 4th-most FPG (29.7) and the most total XFP (121.2). SEA allowed the 2nd-most FPG to opposing RBs last year (29.8). A great matchup for the Saints backfield.
New Orleans, on the other hand, is a brutal matchup for opposing RBs. They are currently allowing the 6th-fewest FPG to opposing RBs (18.2) after allowing the fewest FPG in 2021 (17.4).
Atlanta Falcons (+8.5) @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers (O/U: 48.0)
Tampa Bay saw a huge jump in their pass rate over expectation in Week 4, suggesting they may be back to their pass-happy ways of previous seasons.
Since joining Tampa Bay, Tom Brady has averaged a very impressive 26.6 FPG in games where TB was favored by 6.0-points or more, compared to 22.8 FPG outside of that split.
In the first game since Week 1 with all their top WRs active, Chris Godwin earned an 85% route share and 17.6 XFP. I think it’s safe to assume he’s a full-time player again, and remember that he averaged 16.5 XFP/G (~WR11) and 17.6 FPG (~WR6) in 14 games last season. He costs just $5,900 on DraftKings this week (WR22)
Rachaad White averaged just 2.7 XFP/G in his first three games, while Lenny Fournette averaged 16.3 XFP/G. In Week 4, a much greater emphasis was placed on getting White the ball, as he earned 13.8 XFP, compared to 14.9 for Fournette. Tampa Bay could be headed for a committee at RB.
Fantasy gamers will surely be excited about Tyler Allgeier this week, but I’m not so sure myself. Allgeier has handled 60% of non-Cordarrelle Patterson carries, and earned about 50% of non-CPat backfield snaps, but that only amounted to 5.4 XFP/G. It’s tough to see Allgeier’s role massively expanding given Caleb Huntley earned 10 carries in Week 4, and Avery Williams has run more routes over the full season. I see a very gross committee unfolding.
Drake London (19) and Kyle Pitts (12) were the only Falcons to run double-digit routes in Week 4. Things are bad in Atlanta…
From The XFP Report: It’s really not looking good for Kyle Pitts. Yes, his underlying usage looks positive – ranking 5th in target share (22.2%) and 14th in route share (75%). But Arthur Smith is running this offense like Marcus Mariota is Kendall Hinton. By pass rate over expectation, the Falcons rank ahead of only the Bears (-7.7%). And they’re also the 12th-slowest offense in football (27.3 seconds per snap).
TB has been very tough against RBs, allowing the 3rd-fewest FPG (17.2). They were the 4th-toughest team against RBs last season, giving up 20.0 FPG.
ATL has been a soft matchup for opposing WRs, allowing the 5th-most FPG (40.6). They’ve given up the 7th-most FPs to slot WRs (56.5), and the 14th-most FPs to outside WRs (93.1). So, this is probably a slightly better matchup for Chris Godwin than Mike Evans.
TB has given up the 6th-most FPG to opposing TEs this season (67.7), after giving up the 10th-most FPG last year (13.2). So, this could be a solid opportunity for Kyle Pitts to get back on track.
Miami Dolphins (-3.5) @ New York Jets (O/U: 43.5)
Since 2017, Teddy Bridgewater has managed just 12.8 FPG in wins, compared to 15.8 FPG in losses.
In 63 career starts, Bridgwater has exceeded 25.0 FPs just four times (6%). With that said, he’s never played with WRs like Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle.
Tyreek Hill (177) and Jaylen Waddle (155) rank 2nd and 6th in YAC, respectively. Despite Bridgewater’s sub-par game logs, he can absolutely have a big game by just getting the ball in their hands.
Over the last two weeks, Raheem Mostert has earned 64% of backfield opportunities, 69% of backfield routes, and 65% of backfield snaps. He’s the clear RB1 on a team that may lean more run-heavy with Bridgewater at QB against an inferior team.
NYJ’s pass rate over expected cratered with Zach Wilson back under center.
Breece Hall earned 12.0 XFP/G and a 36% snap share in Weeks 1 and 2, but that jumped to 20.4 XFP/G and a 59% snap share in Weeks 3 and 4. Safe to say he’s become the lead RB in New York.
Corey Davis led the NYJ WRs in targets (7) and XFP (12.1) in Week 4 with Zach Wilson returning to starting QB duties. I’m not sure this means anything, but Davis has averaged +2.9 more FPG in games Wilson has played (13.1 FPG) than in games Wilson sat (10.2).
Elijah Moore, on the other hand, has averaged +7.5 more FPG in games without Wilson (15.7 FPG), compared to games with Wilson (8.2)
MIA has given up the 2nd-most FPG to opposing QBs this season (29.0).
The Dolphins have also given up the 7th-most FPs (101.6) and 11th-most XFP (91.0) to opposing outside WRs. So, this may be a good spot for Corey Davis and Elijah Moore.
Pittsburgh Steelers (+14) @ Buffalo Bills (O/U: 47.0)
Seemingly the only game environment where Josh Allen doesn’t smash is as a heavy favorite. Since 2020, he averages 23.8 DraftKings FPG as a double-digit favorite (8 instances), and has exceeded 30.0 DraftKings points just once.
With Jamison Crowder out indefinitely, Isaiah McKenzie is in a position to smash as an every-down player. Since 2019, McKenzie averages 20.3 FPG in games with 5 or more targets, compared to 4.4 FPG in games with 4 or fewer targets.
Devin Singletary appears to be a bell cow, but only in big games. The Bills won by a combined 55 points in Weeks 1 and 2, and Singletary only logged a 57% snap share and 6.3 XFP/G. In Weeks 3 and 4, Buffalo won by a combined 5 points, and Singletary logged an 80% snap share and 20.1 XFP/G. With that in mind, I think he’s fairly safe to fade in Week 5, given this absurdly high spread.
George Pickens’ TPRR spiked in Week 4 with Kenny Pickett under center for 48% of team dropbacks. Pickens also posted season-high marks in targets (8), receiving yards (102), and FPs (16.2).
Najee Harris has struggled as a big favorite, averaging just 13.3 FPG when PIT is an underdog by a TD or more, compared to 17.1 FPG outside of that split.
And at least so far this season, Harris’ workload has been downright bad. His usage has fallen about 40%, from 19.6 XFP/G in 2021, to just 13.7 XFP/G this year. This could just be due to the offense getting out to a slow start this season, but it’s still concerning.
BUF has allowed the 2nd-fewest FPG (14.0) to opposing QBs this season. Last season, they allowed the fewest FPG (12.4). A brutal matchup for Kenny Pickett’s first NFL start.
BUF has also been a brutal matchup for opposing WRs, allowing the 5th-fewest FPG (27.5). Last season, they allowed the fewest FPG to opposing outside WRs (13.0) and the 5th-fewest FPG to opposing slot WRs (11.4).
The Bills have also been a tough matchup for opposing TEs, giving up just 5.6 FPG (3rd-fewest).
The Bills are PFF’s highest-graded pass rush (86.6 team pass rush grade) and they are doing a great job getting pressure without blitzing.
PIT has been a friendly matchup for opposing WRs this season, giving up the 8th-most FPG (39.2).
Detroit Lions (+3) @ New England Patriots (O/U: 45.5)
- Detroit ranks 1st in PPG (35.0) and 32nd in points allowed (35.3). It should go without saying that this is an incredible setup for fantasy…
The Lions currently rank 1st in points scored and 32nd in points allowed.— Scott Barrett (@ScottBarrettDFB) October 4, 2022
Last 3 teams to rank top-3/bottom-3 by these stats:
Those 3 teams combined to provide:
- 3 QB1s (2 in top-3)
- 3 RB1s
- 5 WR1s (3 in top-8)
- 2 TE1s (1 overall TE1)
- With no D’Andre Swift, Jamaal Williams handled 49% of backfield snaps, 37% of backfield routes, but 73% of backfield XFP. If we expect similar numbers in Week 5, then we can estimate Williams for ~20.5 XFP, which would rank 2nd-best among RBs over the full season.
- With no Amon-Ra St. Brown or DJ Chark, it was Tom Kennedy, not Kalif Raymond, who earned the plurality of DET slot routes. This is a worthwhile note given how much OC Ben Johnson and QB Jared Goff love the slot, but Kennedy is at best the No. 3 option behind Josh Reynolds and TJ Hockenson in the event St. Brown and Chark can’t play in Week 5.
- As an underdog in games with a total of 44.0 or more, Jared Goff averages 20.6 FPG (~QB8) since joining DET, compared to 17.5 FPG outside of that split.
- Rhamondre Stevenson has earned more XFP in back-to-back games than Damien Harris. Last season, Stevenson only earned more XFP than Harris three times.
- And, for just the 5th time ever, but the 3rd game in a row, Stevenson out-snapped Harris. With that said, Harris has captured 68% of red zone opportunities, so he’s still the preferred play (in a vacuum) when NE is favored.
- Hunter Henry was actually NE’s No. 2 pass catcher in Week 4 (by XFP), at least partially thanks to Jonnu Smith suffering an injury mid-game. Henry averaged 11.1 XFP (~TE10) in the two games Smith missed last season, and is extremely cheap this week at just $2900 on DraftKings.
DET is allowing the 3rd-most FPG to opposing QBs (28.5), the 2nd-most FPG to opposing RBs (31.2), the 6th-most FPG to opposing WRs (40.4), and the 9th-most FPG to opposing TEs (16.3). A great matchup all-around for NE.
NE has been the 5th-toughest team against RBs this season, allowing just 17.9 FPG.
San Francisco 49ers (-6.5) @ Carolina Panthers (O/U: 39.0)
Jeff Wilson has captured an impressive 98% of backfield XFP over the last two weeks. Based on SF’s backfield average of 16.4 XFP/G from last year, Wilson needs to be considered a mid-range RB1 based on workload alone, especially in games where he’s faced with positive gamescript.
Twitter sentiment suggests George Kittle just isn’t running routes anymore due to Trent Williams being hurt, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Kittle has only stayed in to pass block 6 times over the last two weeks, posting a lower pass block rate than TJ Hockenson.
Jimmy G averages a very pedestrian 14.9 FPG when SF has been favored by 5.0-points or more since 2020, compared to 16.8 FPG outside of that split.
Christian McCaffrey has only played in four games since 2019 with a total of 41.0 or less, and he’s averaged a respectable 23.5 FPG in those contests, compared to 25.8 FPG when the game total is over 41.0.
SF ranks 31st in FPs allowed to opposing rushers (56.2), and they’ve allowed the 2nd-fewest FPs relative to their expectation (-27.5). A tough matchup for CMC.
SF has also been a tough matchup for opposing WRs, allowing the 6th-fewest FPG (28.8).
Philadelphia Eagles (-5.5) @ Arizona Cardinals (O/U: 49.0)
Jalen Hurts is averaging 11.1 rushing FPG and 13.3 rush attempts per game. Among QBs all-time, those numbers would rank 1st and 1st.
Incredibly, Hurts actually has more rushing attempts (53) than he has incompletions (41).
Jalen Hurts is tied with Nick Chubb and Joe Mixon for the most red-zone rush attempts in the league (16).
Jalen Hurts is averaging 21.9 FPG in the first half of his games this season. If that were just his FPG average, it would be good enough for QB6 on the season. And if we extrapolate that production to full games (43.8 FPG), then Hurts would be on pace for a season that’s 58% better than the greatest fantasy QB season of all time (2019 Lamar Jackson).
And Jalen Hurts is PFF’s highest-graded passer on the season (85.7 passing grade), if you needed another reason to love him this week.
Miles Sanders’ workload this season (14.8 XFP/G) is about 36% better than his 2021 workload (10.9), but he’s still only captured 45% of backfield inside the 10 opportunities, which is a tad concerning from an upside perspective.
Since the start of the 2020 season, AJ Brown averages +5.9 more FPG in games with a total over 48.0 (17.8) than in games with a total under 48.0 (12.9) – exceeding 27.0 DraftKings points in 42% of those games when favored (12 instances).
The Cardinals' offense has looked largely inept at times, and yet, Kyler Murray is still the overall QB6.
Over the last three seasons, Kyler Murray has averaged 25.4 FPG (~QB2) in games with a total of 47.0 or higher.
Marquise Brown has averaged 22.8 XFP/G over his last 3 games. Last season, that workload would’ve led all WRs, including Cooper Kupp (21.0 XFP/G).
In Rondale Moore’s first game back, he earned the same number of routes as Marquise Brown (33). If we assume Moore is the No. 2 WR in this offense, then we may be able to pencil him in for Greg Dortch’s production over the first 3 weeks – which was worth 15.3 FPG and 12.4 XFP/G. Moore appears like a strong value priced as the WR60 on DraftKings and the WR62 on FanDuel in a game that should feature a ton of negative gamescript for ARI.
ARI doesn’t jump out from an FPG perspective, but they are by far PFF’s worst-graded pass defense (31.5 team coverage grade). Byron Murphy is the team’s only player with serious coverage snaps to pull an above-average coverage grade (61.2), and he’s just barely above average.
ARI has given up the 3rd-most FPG (20.0) and the most XFP (65.3) to opposing TEs this season. A great matchup for Goedert.
PHI has allowed the 8th-fewest FPG to opposing QBs (16.7). With that said, they’ve only faced Kirk Cousins, Carson Wentz, Jared Goff, and Trevor Lawrence, so it’s hard to draw firm conclusions on whether they are a difficult matchup for a QB talented as Kyler Murray.
Dallas Cowboys (+4.5) @ Los Angeles Rams (O/U: 43.5)
CeeDee Lamb has averaged 18.0 XFP/G in Cooper Rush’s three starts, which would’ve ranked 8th-best among WRs over the entirety of 2021. By salary, Lamb is priced as the WR10 on DraftKings this week.
Backfield usage in Dallas has been split almost perfectly 50-50 between Tony Pollard and Ezekiel Elliott this season, but surprisingly, Pollard is actually earning more red zone opportunities per game (1.3 to 1).
Cooper Kupp averages 2.4 fewer FPG and 1.5 fewer targets per game since 2021 as a favorite of 3.0-points or more (9 instances). Granted, he’s still largely smashed in these spots, averaging 24.8 FPG and 11.3 targets per game.
Tyler Higbee is the definition of a ‘bell cow’ TE. He’s run the 3rd-most routes of any TE (147), averages the 2nd-most targets per game (9.0), and ranks 3rd in XFP/G (14.9). His aDOT has fallen 3.1 yards relative to last season, which may help partially explain his outstanding volume – he’s Stafford’s safety valve.
The Rams offer one of the grosser backfields I’ve ever seen. Darrell Henderson (7 XFP) and Cam Akers (6.7 XFP) split work evenly in Week 4, but it’s impossible to have high hopes for either player with the Rams’ backfield averaging a truly pathetic 13.3 FPG this season (last) after averaging just 18.7 FPG last year (4th-worst).
DAL has given up the 5th-fewest FPG to opposing QBs this year (15.4).
No team has been tougher against opposing RBs than the Rams, allowing just 14.9 FPG this season. Teams are incredibly scared to even run on LAR, as they’ve allowed the 2nd-fewest XFP thus far (72.0).
The Rams have gotten cooked by opposing WRs, allowing 47.5 FPG (2nd-worst) and relative to their expectation, they’ve performed worse than any other pass defense, allowing +41.9 more FPs than expected this year.
But, LAR has been tough against TEs, allowing the 2nd-fewest FPG (5.5) this year.