We survived the first week of COVID terrorism. If everything goes well this week, the Titans will return to the field. Although as of publishing, that is truly up in the air as apparently, Tennessee decided to sidestep the league’s COVID protocols last week, and positive cases continue to multiple for them. The league appears ready to move the BUF-TEN game to Tuesday night. We may also see Cam Newton return this week. If he can remain asymptomatic and have two consecutive days worth of negative tests. As of Friday, the team was practicing as if Jarrett Stidham would be the starter this week. Of course, that game has also been moved to Monday night thinning the pool slightly. In addition to these questions, we also once again lost two first-round talent RBs for the foreseeable future. Austin Ekeler and Nick Chubb join a growing list of perennial pro bowl talent at the position who are out for an extended period. Make sure to continue to tune in to our forums and follow our analysts on Twitter for breaking news as the weekend progresses. Also, make sure to update any DFS lineups Sunday morning if games get moved around again.
Going into this weekend, the other big question on my mind is will the DFS sites immediately adjust returning players’ salaries their first week back, or will they let their algorithms do the work and provide us one or two weeks of bargains. George Kittle’s price last week seemed a bit low and both Jamison Crowder and Deebo Samuel feel underpriced despite successful returns last week. Will we see a $7K Christian McCaffrey later this year, or maybe a $6.5K Michael Thomas (and I mean the New Orleans’ one)? Oh yeah, we also have our first “scheduled” byes of the year…Welcome to Week 5!
DFS: The Primetime Slate
It seems like every season the Minnesota Vikings have to travel to Seattle for a primetime game, and every season they get pummeled in that game. The Vikes won’t have to deal with a twelfth man this week, but even if you gave the Vikings the twelfth man on defense, they couldn’t stop Russell Wilson. I’ll give Mike Zimmer credit, he has his kiddie corps at CB improving each week. Still, this is going to be a massacre of epic proportions. The SNF production team is already suggesting that you shield your children’s’ eyes from the impending horror. They even gave the broadcast a TV-MA rating due to graphic violence. Freddy Krueger, Michael Myers, and Jason Voorhees never caused this much carnage.
As for Kirk Cousins, he will assume his normal Primetime Scream Queen role as the victim who hides behind the wall of chainsaws instead of getting into the running car. Seattle’s secondary is actually more horrific than the Vikings, but Kirk has turned into a pumpkin every time he has appeared in primetime. MNF features two noted pass defenses, so by process of elimination Kirk is probably QB2 on the slate. Still, it is a scary proposition to play him. All last week, we were expecting Chris Carson to miss the game following an injury and that Carlos Hyde would step into the starting role. Somewhere during the middle of the week, Carson got healthy and Hyde ended up needing to visit Dr. Jekyll. Both should be active this week, and Carson is the RB3 on the board with Hyde rolling in at RB6. Minnesota has played better in the last two weeks because they have #LetCookRuss. Dalvin Cook is earning every dollar of his big extension. He also does not have the primetime curse around his neck that Cousins has.
Cook and Alvin Kamara should be your RB1 and RB2 in some order and both should be in your lineup. Ignore Tyler Lockett’s down Week 4 performance. You can start either Lockett or DK Metcalf as a safe WR2 this week. Even David Moore is in play at WR3. Despite his QB’s woes, the clear WR1 on this slate is Adam Thielen. With the development of Justin Jefferson as a legit option B, Thielen has more room to work. If you doubt Thielen’s potential here, consider Jefferson because the Vikings will have to throw to stay close. Jacob Hollister had a big game in their last meeting, he is now third on the Seattle TE pecking order. Greg Olsen sits on top of that depth chart and he has always beat up on the Vikes.
In the last three weeks, Minnesota has given up big yardage to Jordan Akins/Darren Fells, Jonnu Smith, and Mo Alie-Cox. If it wasn’t for the potential of a Hollister or Will Dissly vulture, Olsen would be TE1. I’ll give him TE2 instead. Hollister and Dissly are both Showdown slate worthy but not trustworthy enough unless an injury occurs. Kyle Rudolph is always a red zone threat but his usage has been sporadic. He gets no better than TE3 here, and perhaps TE4 if Jared Cook returns. Irv Smith Senior has almost as many targets as his son this year. That is all you need to know about his usage. I’d consider Seattle’s defense since Cousins will make some mistakes, but probably choose from the MNF game instead.
The Saints at home are always capable of blowing up. Of course, it is a lot easier when Michael Thomas is on the field. With a Week 6 bye, there is a strong likelihood that Thomas sits out one more game. Drew Brees looks every one of his 41 years when you watch him out there without Thomas. Still, he quietly has averaged 282-2 in the three games without him. This is not a good matchup for him, so 250-2 sounds like his ceiling, especially if there is no Thomas. Justin Herbert has played well enough to earn the Los Angeles starting job, regardless of what their coach says. This isn’t a great matchup on paper, but New Orleans is missing some CBs right now with both Janoris Jenkins and Marshon Lattimore missing last week’s game.
Watch the injury wire as the week progresses, if they are both out again, bump Herbert’s confidence level up slightly. He could possibly have more value than Brees. Alvin Kamara is a set it an forget it play at RB1 most weeks. This week, you could argue for Cook over him, but keep it simple and just play both of them. Latavius Murray is a cheaper FLEX option, who can score a TD at any time, still, his price seems high for a non-every-down back. I’d only use him as a pivot when you don’t want to spend full price for Kamara. Joshua Kelley is now the undisputed RB1 in Los Angeles. He didn’t do much last week, and the matchup is not great here. Still, volume backs have fared well against New Orleans, and receiving backs have been particularly useful. He will be RB4 on the slate, but I feel better about him at FLEX than Latavius. Justin Jackson got some run last week but did nothing. Against a worse team, I might consider him FLEX-Worthy, but not here.
If Michael Thomas plays, he is a clear WR1 candidate. The usually elite Chargers’ secondary has struggled mightily the last couple weeks. I’m still not confident enough in the usage of Emmanuel Sanders to roll him out as anything more than a WR3. Tre’Quan Smith is the better play and could be considered as a WR2. I won’t be digging any lower than this. Mike Williams missed last week’s game with a hamstring injury. His fantasy owners probably feel he has missed the entire season due to his lack of production. Keep him on your bench even if he plays. Keenan Allen has turned into a target hog with Herbert under center. If Lattimore remains out, Allen will compete with Thielen for WR1 honors on this slate.
In Williams’ absence, both Jalen Guyton and Tyron Johnson scored long TDs. This is Guyton’s second long score of the year, so he might make a sneaky punt WR3 play and he is a must-play in Showdown. Jared Cook missed last week’s game with a groin injury. He hasn’t done much when healthy this year. The Chargers got lit up by the position last week, so if he plays you can consider him. Adam Trautman and Josh Hill did nothing in his absence, so leave them on your bench. Hunter Henry gets all of Justin Herbert’s targets that don’t go to Allen. He is no lower than TE2 on this slate. The XFL fan in me hopes Donald Parham becomes a top-ten TE next year after Henry moves on. He scored last week, but he is no more than a Showdown TD prayer play. Consider either of these defenses, but watch the injury reports since both have players who missed Week 4.
Late Friday, we learned that New England’s contest with Denver has been moved to Monday Night. This one can be summed up easily: consider starting Cam Newton if he plays (on MNF Slate only). Don’t reach for Brian Hoyer or Jarrett Stidham. At WR, you can use N’Keal Harry or Damiere Byrd at WR3. You can also use Julian Edelman at WR2. Damien Harris is a great FLEX play on all primetime slates as is James White. Ignore the NE tight ends and start the NE defense in every lineup. Bench any Denver player not named Melvin Gordon or Tim Patrick. Gordon can be an RB2 or FLEX on MN-only. Patrick could be a WR3 on either slate.
We also learned that BUF-TEN will be played Tuesday, if at all. We don’t know yet how the DFS sites will address this game (other than it won’t be on the main slate). Check my Twitter @NewClearHarley on Sunday for possible updates regarding it’s addition to any slate.
The Main Slate: My recommended DFS lineups
At DK: $7.4K for Dak Prescott. $6.7K for either James Robinson or Mike Davis. $4.3K for Nyheim Hines. $7.4K for Amari Cooper. $5.9K for Robby Anderson. $4.8K for Darius Slayton. $4K for Eric Ebron. $5K for Antonio Gibson at FLEX. $4.2K for the Patriots’ defense.
At FD: $7.9K for Deshaun Watson. $7.9K for Clyde Edwards-Helaire. $6.8K for Davis. $7.8K for Cooper. $6.6K for Will Fuller. $5.8K for Slayton. $7.1K for Kittle. $5.8K for Gibson at FLEX. $4.2K for the Cardinals’ defense.
At Fanball (SuperFlex – includes Sun Night: Russell Wilson, Teddy Bridgewater (or San Francisco starter) at SF, Robinson, Davis, DK Metcalf, Adam Thielen, Drew Sample, Kittle, and Gibson at FLEX.
Weekly strategy – Lamar Jackson and Patrick Mahomes are elite talents and both are always in play. That said, Dak Prescott and Deshaun Watson are my top two plays for the week. The other two high-priced options, I don’t mind are Ben Roethlisberger and Kyler Murray. Both are more amenably priced on DK than on FD. I also like Teddy Bridgewater on DK. Daniel Jones, Derek Carr, and San Francisco’s starter are the only punt plays I will consider. I doubt I will have much exposure to any of them, but they are useable.
Fantasy Four Pack
Dak Prescott, Cowboys vs. NYG ($7400 DK, $8700 FD)
The Giants’ pass defense has not been nearly as bad as you might think. That said, Ben Roethlisberger in Week 1 was the only real threatening QB they have faced. Dak has thrown for three or more TDs in four of his last five games against the Giants. This is par for the course for the Dallas gunslinger. In his last three games, Dak has accounted for a total of 11 scores, plus an average of 475 passing yards per game.
Lamar Jackson, Ravens vs. CIN ($7900 DK, $8900 FD)
What will keep Lamar Jackson from being the top QB option this week? First off, he will throw the ball probably six times all game. Secondly, the Ravens will pull him midway through the third quarter of this game. That is if Jackson even plays. He has been battling an injury over the last couple of days, but the team is downplaying it. So when this game becomes out of hand, there is no way he won’t be allowed some time on the pine. Seriously though, Joe Burrow is going to be a good QB eventually. This week he will be hoping to just avoid the infirmary. I’ll give Jackson 80 yards rushing and a ground score, and probably 100-1 through the air, before getting his extended bench rest. The offense’s other 200-3, will be split on the ground between Mark Ingram, J.K. Dobbins, and Gus Edwards.
Patrick Mahomes, Chiefs vs. LV ($7700 DK, $9000 FD)
Patrick Mahomes proved on MNF two weeks in a row that he is the greatest QB in the NFL. This week both Lamar Jackson and Mahomes face defenses that you don’t need to throw the ball against. Unlike Jackson, who isn’t throw-first, this is Mahomes, so he will still post a sizeable passing line. Still, the Raiders’ pass defense isn’t awful…and their run defense is. Mahomes will hit his floor of 299-2.8 (which is his four-game career average against Las Vegas. He may also add a rushing score this week. My only fear with Mahomes this week was that late hug from Stephon Gilmore.
Deshaun Watson vs. JAX ($6900 DK, $7900 FD)
Deshaun Watson has been set free from the coaching chains of Bill O’Brien. This is his time to shine. We know he has elite-level talent, and he has a wealth of weapons (albeit not DeAndre Hopkins) surrounding him. Lesser QBs, Ryan Tannehill and Ryan Fitzpatrick combined for seven total TDs against this defense, and Joe Burrow threw for 300 yards against them. Watson should top 300-2 here and don’t be surprised if the new regime allows Deshaun to carry the ball more too.
Teddy Bridgewater, Panthers @ ATL ($5900 DK, $7100 FD)
Teddy Bridgewater finally accounted for more than one TD last week. In a non-COVID world, this might be the leading headline on SportsCenter. We may need to break into this weekend’s games with a BPN Breaking News report when Bridgewater repeats this feat again. Atlanta has given up four total quarterback TDs to every team they have faced this year. Teddy scoring four times may break the space-time continuum, but this is 2020 so anything could happen.
Daniel Jones, Giants @ DAL ($5400 DK, $7000 FD)
Consider this less a vote of confidence in Daniel Jones, and more a vote of No-confidence in the Dallas defense. Jones does have some weapons remaining with Golden Tate (as long as he isn’t suspended), Even Engram, and Darius Slayton. We know the Giants will be playing from behind and will be forced to throw throughout. By volume alone, Danny Dimes will produce a serviceable line. If you do go this punt route, please stack him with Slayton and stack-back with Dallas receivers too.
Weekly strategy – Ezekiel Elliott is always a great play. I will use him some, but that FD price is a bit high. James Conner, Clyde Edwards-Helaire, and James Robinson are the best high-priced options this week. I will use one of them paired with Mike Davis as my top-two RBs. Jonathan Taylor, Jerick McKinnon, and Todd Gurley are my RB2 pivots. For punt options, I like the Baltimore backfield, Antonio Gibson (my favorite for FLEX), David Johnson, and Devonta Freeman. They should all receive FLEX consideration, and if you overspend elsewhere each could be a possible RB2.
Fantasy Four Pack
Ezekiel Elliott, Cowboys vs. NYG ($7800 DK, $9000 FD)
Ezekiel Elliott is always a great play. Against the mediocre Giants defense, his value only shoots up. Elliott hasn’t seen the ground usage he has received in previous seasons due to Dak Prescott’s gaudy passing lines. Unfortunately, Dallas is losing, so expect more usage by Zeke going forward. Elliott has scored and/or topped 100 total yards in every career game versus the Giants.
James Conner, Steelers vs. PHI ($6900 DK, $7000 FD)
James Conner is averaging 135-1 over his last two games. He appears fully healthy and he is being used both on the ground and in the receiving game. That is impressive because when he left Week 1 with an injury every fantasy analyst left him for dead. The only team to not score at least one RB touchdown against the Eagles was Cincinnati. Still, in that game, Joe Mixon and Giovani Bernard combined for 120 total yards. I expect Conner to post another 125-1 here with Benny Snell scoring late in mop up time as well.
Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Chiefs vs. LV ($6800 DK, $7900 FD)
The Raiders have allowed the third-most total yards to opposing RBs. They are also tied for the most RB touchdowns and only one team has allowed more RB receiving yards. Clyde Edwards-Helaire may have a silent-H in his name, but there is nothing silent about his performance so far. Helaire ranks sixth in RB rushing yards and seventh in RB receiving yards. The Chiefs will have an early lead this week which should equate to lots of clock control time for Helaire in the second half.
James Robinson, Jaguars @ HOU ($6700 DK, $6600 FD)
Apparently, the Jaguars knew what they were doing when they cut Leonard Fournette. James Robinson has scored three times in four games and he is averaging 71 yards per game on the ground. Additionally, Robinson ranks second among all RBs with 161 receiving yards. Meanwhile, Houston currently ranks dead last allowing 189 total yards per game to opposing RBs. Houston is free of Bill O’Brien, which should open up their offense, turning this into a shootout. If that occurs, expect several passes from Gardner Minshew to all of his weapons including Robinson.
Antonio Gibson, Football Team @ LAR ($5000 DK, $5800 FD)
The Rams’ strength is their passing defense. Their “weakness” is their run defense. They have been particularly generous to opposing pass-catching backs. Antonio Gibson is definitely the pass-catching option out of the backfield for Washington. He has witnessed his targets increase every week this year. He also has scored in three of four contests despite facing three top-six rushing defenses. You aren’t expecting huge yardage here, but at this price, 50 rushing and 5-50 through the air with a single score easily pushes him over 3x. If you needed any more initiative here, remember how frequently Kyle Allen peppered Christian McCaffrey last year.
Devonta Freeman, Giants @ DAL ($4600 DK, $5500 FD)
The Giants should attempt to run the ball early to slow down the Dallas passing game. Devonta Freeman is their best back. That isn’t saying a lot, but his price is low and he can catch the ball too. This is purely an attempt to get some cheap exposure to this game, and Freeman is the best bet to lead the backfield in both catches and potential scores.
Weekly strategy – Aside from the potentially injury-limited Falcons, the top of the WR price list looks interesting. Amari Cooper and Will Fuller are my favorite plays (particularly stacked with their quarterbacks). I also feel DeAndre Hopkins will blow up this week at a slightly higher price point. Outside of that threesome, there are a lot of guys I like but don’t love. Possible pivots would include Cooper Kupp and DJ Chark. The preference would be to roster two of those five. If I want to save a little bit at WR2, I could go with CeeDee Lamb instead of Cooper. Plus, there are several very tempting pivot WR2/WR3 guys in that same tier: Robby Anderson, Jamison Crowder, and the 49ers receiving corps. Darius Slayton is my favorite cheap WR3 option. I also do not mind going with one of the Colts. Golden Tate could also have a solid game against Dallas if he isn’t suspended. The Raiders’ starting WRs are each cheap enough to qualify as punt-worthy.
Fantasy Four Pack
Amari Cooper, Cowboys vs. NYG ($7400 DK, $7800 FD)
We knew Amari Cooper would blow up last week. What we didn’t know was that he would be targeted twice as often as the next closest Cowboy WR. 12-134-1 was a step in the right direction as he finally got into the end zone. It will also give him a new baseline to aim for each week. The Giants’ secondary is slightly better than Cleveland, but it shouldn’t matter here. If you don’t use Cooper here, definitely find a spot for CeeDee Lamb.
DeAndre Hopkins, Cardinals @ NYJ ($7900 DK, $8700 FD)
Brett Rypien just made Tim Patrick and Jerry Jeudy look like all-pros versus the Jets defense. Kyler Murray will surely cause Adam Gase’s eyes to bulge out. DeAndre Hopkins had a “down week” by his standards last week, due mainly to playing through an ankle injury. He only hauled in seven catches for 41 yards. This down week lowered his season averages to 10-99. I’ll take that as his floor week-to-week. I also love his chances of scoring this week.
Will Fuller, Texans vs. JAX ($6600 DK, $6600 FD)
If we are to believe that Deshaun Watson will be free from Bill O’Brien’s micromanagement, then we need to also trust in his top WR. Will Fuller has now scored and/or topped 100 yards in each of the three games that he has played. Jacksonville has been so-so against the pass this season, but they have faced four middling QBs. Deshaun Watson is the most physically gifted QB they have faced, and he should have more success. That success will come with his ability to air it out deep to Will Fuller and potentially Kenny Stills and Brandin Cooks. Don’t be surprised when the Texans’ first play from scrimmage is a 60-yard bomb to Fuller for a TD. Also, don’t be surprised if this stack outperforms every other one on this slate. I even would consider Darren Fells here if Jordan Akins is out.
DJ Chark, Jaguars @ HOU ($6500 DK, $7000 FD)
DJ Chark gets the run-it-back role this week in the HOU-JAX game. I expect the Texans to take it to the next level without Bill O’Brien and that means that Garner Minshew will be forced to throw it a ton. DJ Chark is the clear favorite target of Minshew and the clear talent leader in that WR room. If this turns into the shootout I expect, Chark will post 7-100-1.
Robby Anderson, Panthers @ ATL ($5900 DK, $6200 FD)
Yes D.J. Moore is a better WR than Robby Anderson. Unfortunately for his owners, Teddy Bridgewater doesn’t seem to care. It’s hard enough to predict a second passing TD for Teddy week-to-week (outside of the presumed CMAC/Mike Davis score). This week, however, I am confident that Anderson will get it done. Atlanta was drastically short-handed in the secondary before their game Monday night. In that game, they lost another DB in Damontae Kazee. Anderson is averaging 7-94 on the year and he will surpass that this week.
Darius Slayton, Giants @ DAL ($4800 DK, $5800 FD)
When you are facing a high octane offense such as Dallas, you are forced to throw the ball to keep up. With Sterling Shepard on IR with injury, Golden Tate and Darius Slayton have needed to step up. Over the last three weeks, Slayton has managed only a total of 9-134. That isn’t getting it done. Of course, it was also against three of the best defenses in football. Dallas is not a good defense. Heck, they may be the worst pass defense in football. This is possibly the best strategic WR3 on the slate. Especially, if you are also stacking Dak Prescott and Amari Cooper.
Weekly strategy – If you can afford him, just use George Kittle this week. I will go out of my way to fit him in. If you must look elsewhere, I’d suggest Tyler Higbee or Darren Waller. I’m not used to spending this month at this position, but Kittle is primed for a colossal performance that will at least be on par with last week. If I follow my usual game plan and spend down here, I will have a few options. Eric Ebron, Mo Alie-Cox, and Evan Engram are all set up for success. There is one potential punt play on this docket, Chris Herndon. To roll with him, you will need to believe in Joe Flacco (I’m not sure how I feel about that).
Fantasy Four Pack
George Kittle, 49ers vs. MIA ($6600 DK, $7100 FD)
George Kittle is among the league leaders in every TE statistical category despite only playing two games. It hasn’t even mattered who his QB is. His price is low enough that he is a must-start. Poor Miami, they haven’t seen a TE like this yet this season. This will get ugly for them very fast. Do not be surprised when his line is similar to last week, if not better.
Travis Kelce, Chiefs vs. LV ($6400 DK, $7800 FD)
Las Vegas has been very strong against opposing TEs through the first four weeks. Of course, Jared Cook is the only decent one they have faced. He scored a short TD but was otherwise held in check. Over their last seven meetings, Travis Kelce has averaged 6.4-91 against them with four scores. Apparently, the Raiders have been too busy trying to stop all of the other weapons on the Chiefs. Kelce is probably good for 7-75 here, but I am not going to predict the TD simply because KC has so many options to choose from.
Tyler Higbee, Rams @ WAS ($5600 DK, $6000 FD)
Washington has already allowed five TE scores this season. Both Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert balled out against them in Week 1. Something called Harrison Bryant vultured Austin Hooper Week 3 and last week, Mark Andrews scored twice. Tyler Higbee already has one multi-score game this season, and he could easily repeat that performance here. More realistically, however, I expect Higbee to break out of his mini-slump and post 6-60-1. Which should be a top-three performance on this slate.
Darren Waller, Raiders @ KC ($5900 DK, $6800 FD)
With the exception of the Patriots’, no one has been able to solve Darren Waller. I really thought that Buffalo’s secondary with all of their injured players returning would follow the Patriots’ playbook to shut him down. They didn’t. Waller posted 9-88 against them. The Chiefs are very good against opposing TEs, but I still expect Waller to produce a quality line based on volume alone.
Mo Alie-Cox, Colts @ CLE ($4200 DK, $5400 FD)
You need Mo’ Alie-Cox in your lineup, not Less Alie-Cox, Mo Alie-Cox. Cleveland has allowed huge games to Mark Andrews, C.J. Uzomah, Drew Sample, Logan Thomas, and Dalton Schultz, and they’ve only played four games. Jack Doyle and Trey Burton’s return did bite slightly into Cox’s usage last week, but he also scored for the second straight week. Cox is a physical beast and a red zone mismatch for any team. Touchdowns could come readily for him this year, not unlike Darren Fells last year in Houston.
Eric Ebron, Steelers vs. PHI ($4000 DK, $5100 FD)
Did you see what George Kittle did to this defense last week? Perhaps you witnessed Week 2 when Tyler Higbee scored three times against them. Eric Ebron has increased his targets, receptions, and receiving yards each week this year. He topped it off with his first score of the year last week. I expect him to score again this week and post roughly 5-50. Making this a nice sleeper stack with Ben Roethlisberger and one of the WRs.