Atlanta Falcons vs. Washington (Sunday, 1:00 p.m.)
Vegas O/U: 48 pts, Falcons Total: 28 pts, Washington Total: 20 pts
I think this matchup, sporting one of Week 5's highest projected totals, is brimming with fantasy potential.
Washington's injury-ravaged secondary showed just how vulnerable it might be last week when Sam Bradford – he of the check down pass – torched Washington with a few deep shots in the second half. Matt Ryan will cost you a pretty penny this week, but his floor is as high as ever with Julio Jones and Leonard Hankerson primed to roast Washington's coverage unit.
Julio was a victim of game script last week against Houston. The Falcons, after seizing a giant lead, had no need to force the ball to their superstar. Maybe, just maybe, Julio's DFS tournament ownership will come down a bit in the wake of his pedestrian Week 4 stat line. Either way, he's as safe as ever.
Hankerson is seeing 6.9 targets per contest as Roddy White fades into obscurity. He now goes against Washington – his former employer, for the Narrative Street crowd – that has given up 25 receptions and four scores to wide receivers over the past couple weeks. With Atlanta projected to pour on the points in this one, I'll have Hankerson in more than a few tourney lineups.
Devonta Freeman's white-hot 2015 continued in Week 4, so it comes as no surprise that his DFS price tag has skyrocketed in Week 5. My hot take of the week: Freeman, at his new price, is a pretty easy fade against Washington, which allows the fewest fantasy points to opposing runners. Washington's front seven is legit – teams are averaging just 3.8 yards per carry – and the banged-up secondary could (should) be easy pickings for Matt Ryan and company. I'm off the Freeman hype train this week.
Jordan Reed is once again in concussion protocol and we're still not sure if DeSean Jackson will make his season debut for Washington. I suspect this game could get ugly early, meaning Kirk Cousins will be forced to chuck it to a depleted receiving group. While Cousins is unplayable, I wouldn't mind deploying Pierre Garcon as a pure volume play. It's the only way Garcon has ever succeeded as a fantasy option, and he's seeing 8.6 targets per contest.
Washington tight end Derek Carrier is the sneakiest play of this likely lopsided matchup. Carrier ran 22 pass routes in Reed's absence last week, catching two balls for 18 yards. Cousins likes his check-sown options. That's precisely what Carrier could be against Atlanta. The Falcons have allowed at least four tight end receptions in every 2015 game. I really like Carrier in GPPs, assuming Reed sits.
Baltimore Ravens vs. Cleveland Browns (Sunday, 1:00 p.m.)
Vegas O/U: 43 pts, Ravens Total: 25 pts, Browns Total: 18 pts
Josh McCown has quietly become a volume passing fantasy monster in Cleveland's heinous offense. I deployed him in a few GPP lineups last week against the Chargers simply because Vegas said the Browns would trail.
We have a similar situation in Week 5 against a Baltimore secondary that has allowed the second most fantasy production to opposing receivers and the eighth most to opposing quarterbacks. McCown, who still has a very low DFS price tag, could once again throw more than 40 times in this one, as Vegas has Cleveland listed as a full touchdown dog. McCown, who has played roughly 2.5 games in 2015, is dropping back to throw 43.6 times on average.
We don't chase quarterback volume in cash games, though high-variance tourney lineups sometimes demand it. I see Travis Benjamin as a prototypical JAG (just a guy), but it's hard to ignore the only viable receiver on a team. He saw 10 targets in Week 4 and is the only stacking option with McCown that has any sort of upside. The McCown-Benjamin stack would cost you just 19 percent of your DraftKings allotment.
Steve Smith broke his old man back last week against Pittsburgh. That leaves Kamar Aiken as the default No. 1 receiver in Baltimore. Let that sink in.
Aiken came through in Week 4 with five catches for 77 yards and a touchdown. He was targeted seven times – a number that could jump in Week 5 as Joe Flacco has few other legit options. Receivers have notched six touchdowns against Cleveland through four games. Pro Football Focus grades the Browns' secondary as a bottom-7 unit in 2015. Only nine teams allow more fantasy production to opposing pass catchers. Aiken is a cheaper-than-cheap receiver who should be considered in cash lineups until Smith returns.
Cleveland is being gouged on the ground to the tune of 4.8 yards per tote. Justin Forsett, despite early-season struggles, is still seeing a healthy 19.5 touches per contest. He remains one of the Ravens' few offensive threats and game script could very much be on his side in Week 5. Two of Cleveland's four 2015 opponents have cracked the 150-yard rushing mark. I think that makes Forsett something of a safe Week 5 play.
Green Bay Packers vs. St. Louis Rams (Sunday, 1:00 p.m.)
Vegas O/U: 45.5 pts, Packers Total: 27.75 pts, Rams Total: 17.75 pts
Opposing passers are completing 75.7 percent of their throws against the Rams in 2015. Only Detroit is worse. Aaron Rodgers is once again the ultimate high-floor cash game quarterback in a game that projects Green Bay to approach four touchdowns.
The lumbering Eddie Lacy has done reasonably well with good game script. It's not known just how bothersome Lacy's ankle injury has become, but I think you can plug him in here with the (safe) assumption that the Packers will run away from St. Louis and the Rams moribund offense. Opponents are averaging 22.45 fantasy points per game on the ground against the Rams. Teams are averaging 28 runs per game against the Rams. Lacy is a candidate for 25 touches in this one.
The Rams have faced some of the worst receiver groups in the NFL through four weeks. That's reflected in St. Louis allowing a measly 16.1 fantasy points to receivers in 2015. James Jones and Randall Cobb represent a slight (huge) upgrade though, so don't be scared off by that aforementioned number.
I'm a touch obsessed with James Jones at his still-reasonable DFS price, especially on DraftKings. He's a central red zone target in an offense guided by the game's best quarterback in an offense that can score as many points as it wants to. There are still 23 receivers priced ahead of him on DraftKings. A Rodgers-Jones stack will cost you 27.2 percent of your DK budget. I'm into it.
Todd Gurley truthers are out in force after the rookie exploded for 161 total yards against the Cardinals in Week 4. It's tough to find a cow bell runner for any cheaper than Gurley is in Week 5, so don't hesitate to fit him into a cash lineup or two and hope that game flow doesn't go sideways in a hurry.
Kansas City Chiefs vs. Chicago Bears (Sunday, 1:00 p.m.)
Vegas O/U: 44.5 pts, Chiefs Total: 27.25 pts, Bears Total: 17.25 pts
Vegas expects big things for Kansas City in this one. It makes some sense from an offensive standpoint: the Chiefs are posting 25 points per week – seventh highest in the NFL. Lots of that offensive production has come courtesy of garbage time though.
Jamaal Charles is as safe as he's ever been. He's averaging 24.2 PPR points per game in 2015 and now gets to feast on a Bears' defense allowing 119.2 rushing yards per contest. Charles, a locked-and-loaded cash game runner, is a candidate for 150 total yards and a score against Chicago's lackluster defense.
Alex Smith ranks 29th in fantasy points per drop back. Colin Kaepernick, Jameis Winston, and Blake Bortles have been more efficient on a per-drop back basis. He's still managed 16.7 fantasy points per game in Andy Reid's pass-heavy attack. Smith is throwing 37.8 times every week, which could be useful in a matchup against a Chicago defense giving up a 67.6 percent completion rate to go along with 6.9 yards per pass attempt. Smith won't be in my cash lineups though.
Jeremy Maclin has also benefitted from the team's massive throw volume. He's seeing 9.9 targets per game and has the seventh most receiving yards in the league through four weeks. Receivers have pile up eight scores against Chicago in 2015, giving us some hope for the rare KC receiver touchdown. Maclin has six red zone targets through four games.
No team allows more fantasy production to opposing signal callers than the Chiefs. Kansas City's defense has been fairly stingy against every other position, but quarterbacks have lit them aflame time and again in 2015. Allowing a whopping 7.8 yards per pass attempt, the Chiefs have seen three enemy passers eclipse the 300-yard mark. Quarterbacks have thrown for 11 touchdowns against KC in 2015.
That's the long way of saying that Jay Cutler is a viable GPP option at a pretty attractive price point. If Cutty gets Alshon Jeffery back for this matchup, he could be a borderline cash game play. Almost 75 percent of offensive plays runs against Chicago in 2015 have been of the aerial variety.