With Bills-Titans moved to Tuesday, Broncos-Patriots moved to Monday, and now Cardinals-Jets in jeopardy because someone on the Jets tested positive for COVID, Week 5 is shaping up to be a messy slate. If Arizona’s game gets moved, we’ll be down to a nine-game main slate between the 1pm and 4pm (EST) contests. On a positive note, tracking ownership for tournaments is a lot easier this week on a condensed slate.
Let’s get to it.
Sorting through the chalk running backs
This week, we’ll see ownership concentrated around four running backs that will all carry 20-35% ownership on DraftKings. According to our projections powered by FanShare, Ezekiel Elliott (32%), Mike Davis (26%), Clyde Edwards-Helaire (23%), and Kareem Hunt (16%) will be the four highest-owned backs on this slate. I think Hunt will end up pushing 20-25% ownership in smaller field tournaments at his $6,500 price tag. With Nick Chubb out, everyone is going to see that price tag and their eyes will light up.
Once again, this all sets up for James Conner as a fantastic tournament play with ownership centering around those four backs. At $6,900 on DraftKings, Conner is sandwiched between Elliott ($7,800), Edwards-Helaire ($6,800), Hunt ($6,500), and Davis ($6,400) and will draw 3-5% ownership as everyone else flocks to the chalk. This is the same exact situation we saw in Week 3 where Conner set up as an amazing contrarian play and he went off for 27.9 DK points.
Conner just got two weeks of rest and has everything we look for in a great running play at fractions of the ownership of the chalk RBs. He’s at home. His team is favored to win (by 7.5 points). And he’s a bell-cow. Over the last three years, Conner has averaged a monster 23.4 fantasy points per game when the Steelers win and just 11.9 FPG in losses. The Eagles usually stout run defense hasn’t been as nearly as good to start this season, either. Through the opening month, Philadelphia has allowed the fifth-most fantasy points and ninth-most yards on a per-carry basis to opposing backs.
Conner provides amazing leverage on DraftKings and is a near lock-play on FanDuel at his lowly $7,000 price tag. We have Conner and James Robinson projected for sub-10% ownership on FanDuel this week and both make for great tournament plays. I’d be much more inclined to play Robinson on FanDuel than DraftKings against Houston’s bottom-3 run defense. Robinson is $100 cheaper than the remains of Todd Gurley on FanDuel this weekend.
Is it Antonio Gibson week?
At just $5,000 on DraftKings, Antonio Gibson makes for one of the most intriguing tournament plays this week. With ownership concentrated around 4-5 running backs, Gibson is projected for just 2% ownership on DraftKings. The matchup on the ground for Gibson couldn’t really get much better. The Rams are much easier to run on than pass against, as DC Brandon Staley’s unit ranks 28th in FootballOutsiders run defense DVOA metrics but 7th-best against the pass. The quarterback change from Dwayne Haskins to Kyle Allen could be a nice boost for Gibson as well. Last year, Allen checked down to his running backs on 27% of his dropbacks -- which was the seventh-highest rate in the league -- while Haskins has targeted his RBs just 20% of the time by comparison.
If Washington can keep this game close, Gibson has the upside for 20+ fantasy points. We finally saw a glimpse of the high-upside receiving role everyone was expecting to start the season last week against the Ravens when Gibson’s first three targets came when he was split out as a wide receiver and took two screens and a shallow crosser for 65 yards. After Peyton Barber annoyingly got all of the goal-line work in Week 1, Washington has unleashed Gibson as the red-zone back in recent weeks. Gibson has scored in three-straight games after handling four of Washington’s 6 carries inside of the five yard line in Week 2-4.
The issue with Gibson is two-fold, though. First and foremost, Washington are massive underdogs (+7.5) and could get trucked by the Rams which would force Gibson off of the field. Last week when Washington lost to Baltimore in a game that was never really competitive, J.D. McKissic out-snapped Gibson 30 to 14 on passing downs.
If you’re making 20 tournament lineups this week, you can put Gibson in 3-4 of them and still be massively overweight on the field.
Mahomes / Lamar leverage
Dak Prescott is going to end up being the most popular quarterback on this slate and for good reason. Prescott is an especially good value on DraftKings where he costs $300 less than Patrick Mahomes and $500 less than Lamar Jackson.
On both DraftKings and FanDuel, I think we’ll see Prescott at 17-25% ownership, Mahomes will float around in the 10-15% range, while Jackson could go way under-owned as the most expensive QB option on both sites.
Jackson is dealing with a knee injury but HC John Harbaugh has downplayed it all week. The reason Jackson missed practice on Wednesday and Thursday was actually because of a stomach bug and he came back and practiced in full on Friday. Against the Bengals man-heavy defense, a Jackson-to-Hollywood Brown stack has tournament-winning upside. Cincinnati plays man coverage at the league’s fifth-highest rate which is huge for scrambling quarterbacks. It’s much easier for QBs to run against man because defenders have their backs turned in coverage, leaving rushing lanes behind. Meanwhile, Brown is in a potential blowup spot against these Bengals cornerbacks that are surrendering the second-most fantasy points per game to outside wide receivers. That’s where Hollywood aligns on over 80% of his routes.
Mahomes has the upside to hit 30+ fantasy points in any matchup but that’s especially the case this week. The Chiefs are implied to score a whopping 34.5 points against the Raiders. There is a chance that Kansas City just rips Las Vegas to shreds and Mahomes takes his foot off of the gas in the second-half, but Mahomes-Tyreek Hill-Travis Kelce stacks have nuclear upside if the Raiders can somehow keep up the scoring pace in this game.
My lean this week is to fade Dak Prescott against the Giants after his 502 yards, 4TD performance that won all of the tournaments last week. Can Daniel Jones and this abysmal Giants offense keep pace and force Prescott to drop back and pass 45-50 times again? Because that’s what you need to justify playing Prescott at what will be significantly higher ownership than Mahomes or Jackson. Dallas’ defense is going to keep a lot of games close until they get some of their guys back healthy, but Vegas doesn’t view this game as particularly close. Despite being 1-3 and leading on just 15% of their snaps this year, the Cowboys are 9.5-point favorites. This feels like a 2-3 touchdown game for Zeke.
Slayton vs. Tate
Right now, we have Darius Slayton projected for 4 times the ownership of Golden Tate on both DraftKings and FanDuel. Sure, Slayton has more upside than Tate 1 vs. 1, but I’m not sure it’s 4 times the upside. Dallas is terrible everywhere — but especially through the slot where Jourdan Lewis has already allowed 2 TDs and an 80% catch rate in place of the injured Anthony Brown. Over the last two weeks without Sterling Shepard, Tate has run 85% of his routes from the slot and is tied with Keenan Allen in slot targets (11).
Punt TE options
We finally have a good slate of tight ends with Kelce, Kittle, Andrews, Waller, and Ertz all available. Unlike the last few weeks, I’m not sure this is another slate where we can punt tight end completely and pray for 2-3 catches. However, if you want to go all YOLO and pay up at other positions, Gerald Everett is minimum price on DraftKings and has actually split snaps with Tyler Higbee (33 to 27) over the last two weeks. The matchup is nice, too, with Washington surrendering the fourth-most fantasy points per target and 10th-most yards to tight ends.
On FanDuel, Eric Ebron ($5,100) could end up being a fairly popular salary saving option. The Eagles have been terrible against tight ends this year, with Logan Thomas (4/37/1), Tyler Higbee (5/54/3), and George Kittle (15/183/1) all finding success. Meanwhile, Darren Fells ($4,700) and Tyler Eifert ($4,500) are both nice TD or bust options in what should be a high scoring affair between the Jaguars and Texans. Jordan Akins is still in the Texans concussion protocol, leaving Fells as Houston’s only healthy tight end.
Back to Cooks?
Literally no one will want to play Brandin Cooks this week after last week’s debacle. I was one of the many poor souls that suffered the Cooks donut. However, this spot might be even better. At his depressed price ($4,100 DK; $5,200 FD), Cooks is still a strong tournament consideration in Deshaun Watson stacks. Even though it didn’t seem like it, Cooks was still highly involved in the Texans attack last week — he ran a route on 39 of Watson’s 42 dropbacks after being involved on 30-of-33 passing plays the week prior. Despite facing Philip Rivers, Ryan Tannehill, Ryan Fitzpatrick, and Joe Burrow, the Jaguars have allowed a league-high 77% completion rate, the fourth-most fantasy points per pass attempt, and the fourth-highest passer rating to opposing quarterbacks. And they might be without starting CB C.J. Henderson (shoulder), who has been burnt toast so far in his rookie season. Cooks is projected for 3% ownership on both DraftKings and FanDuel.