Covid continues to wreak havoc on the NFL schedule as multiple games have shifted over the last two weeks, and many more have been shuffled later in the year. Fortunately for DFS players, all we have to do is make sure that our lineup features only players on that slate. You don’t have to drop talented bench pieces, to roster emergency starters for late games. Simply, swap out for the player(s) that aren’t playing.
We also had our first major technical issue of the season as FD sat idly by while their statistical service was in complete meltdown for multiple days. Rather than having a failsafe in place, FD just posted zero stats for all of their games until Monday afternoon. Social media excoriated them over not resolving this faster. Making matters worse for FD, they only released a couple of updates about the outage throughout the day. They then decided to double-down on the bad publicity, by promising to refund only a pittance of user’s losing entry fees. Needless to say, they have been and continue to be raked over the coals for this issue. I’m certainly not going to join the pitchfork mobs in leaving FD over this, but I hope they realize that they have rubbed many regular users the wrong way. Perhaps, we can use this to our advantage if any mega-users boycott their site this week, the competition level in GPPs may be reduced.
DFS: The Primetime Slate
Barring another schedule change, we will get a bonus MNF game this week as Kansas City’s game in Buffalo has been moved following Buffalo’s game being moved in Week 5.
Los Angeles Rams @ San Francisco 49ers
Sunday night, the Los Angeles Rams travel up the PCH to face the 49ers. Ignoring what Miami did to them last week, San Francisco’s pass defense is pretty solid. The Rams’ pass defense is even better. This means expect a lower output from Jared Goff and whoever starts for the Niners this week. Jimmy Garoppolo went last week and it was clear he was not 100%. If he claims he was, then he is not only not the best QB on his team, he may not even be the second-best QB on his team. Either way, keep him, Nick Mullens, and C.J. Beathard out of your lineup as they are no better than QB5 on this slate. Goff gets the QB4 slot, but it is hardly enticing. San Fran’s defense is gonna be pissy after last week’s debacle.
Good luck choosing which RB to start week-to-week for the Rams. I’m betting that they don’t even know before kickoff. Cam Akers returned last week and looked every bit the high-value draft pick that he was. This means he will probably get five snaps while Malcolm Brown is on the field most of the game. Plus, they have Darrell Henderson who has scored four times in five games. Any of the three could be a decent FLEX, but it isn’t exactly a lightweight opponent. I’ll probably avoid the whole cluster and use someone different. Raheem Mostert returned last week as well. His presence usurped all the other ham-and-eggers in the San Fran backfield. He is a very solid play and recommended at RB2/RB3. Jerick McKinnon returns to his role as a C-O-P Back, and may have some usefulness in showdown slates, but avoid him in standard tournament play. Jeff Wilson, welcome back to the practice squad, we hardly knew ye.
Cooper Kupp is the best option on either of these teams at WR this week. He is still no better than WR5/WR6 on the slate. San Francisco has shown their most weakness against inside receivers. Robert Woods may have a TD in him once again, but I’m not paying his price for what smells like a 4-60-1 (at best) line. Josh Reynolds could be a decent punt WR3, but I’d prefer a guy like Mecole Hardman or Christian Kirk or even Cole Beasley. Deebo Samuel appears fully back but both he and Brandon Aiyuk will face a studly defense. They are best left on the bench this time out. Kendrick Bourne is always in play in showdown format, but he never does much more than 2-20-1. Good luck picking the week he is going to score.
Tyler Higbee took a back seat to Gerald Everett in a prime spot last week. I’m not going to hold it against him, but I’m also not going to touch either of them on a slate with Travis Kelce and George Kittle. Speaking of Kittle, for his sake, we hope Garoppolo stays out with his injury. Kittle was targeted considerably more frequently once Beathard entered the game. Even if Jimmy G. plays, consider Kittle as TE2 on this slate. With solid offenses tangling in both the Monday games, consider one of these two teams (I’d go the Rams) as your defense.
Kansas City Chiefs @ Buffalo Bills
Monday afternoon we get Kansas City in Buffalo, assuming no Bills catch COVID from the Titans. Patrick Mahomes had one of the worst games of his career last week against a better-than-you-think Raiders’ defense. Buffalo’s secondary is no slouch either, but not enough to knock Mahomes out of the QB2/QB3 spot this week. Josh Allen has gotten it done all season long, including against elite defenses. KC’s defense is much better than they showed in Week 5, but Allen is still in play also in the QB2/QB3 conversation. Both QBs like to run the ball and both have plenty of weapons, so either is a solid play here.
Clyde Edwards-Helaire looked like a dynasty darling Week 1 but now cannot find the field in the green zone. Going against a stout Buffalo defense, he is no better than RB3 here, and a possible FLEX play, since this could become a shootout. In Showdown slates consider Darrel Williams since he has been on the field inside the five and on passing downs for KC. Zack Moss’ return will ding Devin Singletary’s shine for this game. I’d still consider Singletary a possible FLEX play and Moss as a possible punt, but I won’t be racing to roster either of them.
Sammy Watkins is injured again. What else is new. Tyreek Hill may get a break with Tre’davius White battling a back issue. If White plays, reduce your expectations for Tyreek but he won’t fall lower than WR5 either way. DeMarcus Robinson and Mecole Hardman can be considered as cheap WR3 options with Watkins out. Stefon Diggs has played out of his gourd this year. Against a good-but-not-great defense, he should be among the top three WR choices this week. John Brown has battled a couple of different injuries in the last three weeks. He has played through each of them and hasn’t done much due to them. Watch his health status on Friday and Saturday to see if you can use him at WR3. If he is good to go, he could prove useful as deep route receivers slashed KC in Week 5. If Brown doesn’t play, Gabriel Davis becomes a near must-start WR3. No matter what happens, Cole Beasley is always in play at WR3 due to his volume. I don’t love the matchup since he will probably see a lot of Honey Badger this week, but he is still safe as a WR3. Isaiah McKenzie and Andre Roberts are no more than Showdown slate dart throws.
Travis Kelce is the best TE on this docket. Buffalo just isn’t getting it done versus the position. If you can afford him, start him. KC has allowed three TE scores in five games, but not a ton of yardage. Dawson Knox and Tyler Kroft both see red zone action, but neither is consistent. If I had to choose, I’d go with Kroft, but fortunately, you don’t have to choose. The two best offenses in the AFC clash here, do not be foolish and start one of their defenses.
Arizona Cardinals @ Dallas Cowboys
On MNF, We get what would’ve been a marquee matchup between two of the best young QBs in the NFC and their high flying offenses. Instead, we are Dak-less in primetime. Kyler Murray has been very good this season, and his numbers suggest a young stud. Still, something seems shaky with this offense. Nevertheless, his legs and his weapons against a futile Dallas defense, make him the clear QB1 on this slate. Andy Dalton is arguably the best backup QB in the NFL. He inherits a team with more in the arsenal than he ever had in Cincinnati. He also inherits a team that has forgotten how to play defense. If Dallas was wise, they would feature more of their rushing attack this week to give some relief to their beleaguered defense. Of course, Mike McCarthy will never be called wise. Even if the team focuses its attention on Ezekiel Elliott, Dalton is safe to roll out as QB4 on this slate in a presumed shootout.
Neither Kenyan Drake nor Chase Edmonds inspires a lot of excitement based on their performances to date. Their split has reached a point where starting either of them is difficult. Still, this is a choice matchup, so both are in consideration for FLEX usage. and one would have to be used on the Monday-only docket. I’m still leaning Drake, despite most of the Twitter community pining for Chase. Ezekiel Elliott should be the RB1 on this slate. Dallas needs to lean on its rushing game more to help keep their defense off the field. That should start this week. Tony Pollard may even have some value as a punt RB play, especially if you differentiation in case something happens to Zeke in-game.
DeAndre Hopkins is fully healthy again and that is a dangerous thought going against this sieve defense. He will have slate-breaking numbers here and is the lock WR1 on the slate (and perhaps all weekend). Christian Kirk is in play at WR3 as are old-man Larry Fitzgerald and young-buck Andy Isabella. CeeDee Lamb has an excellent matchup here, but he will likely be over-owned coming off Week 5. I still love him here at WR2, but recency bias puts Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup more in my crosshairs. I was particularly pleased with the number of times Dalton targeted Gallup down the stretch. Even Cedrick Wilson could be considered since Dalton worked more with him on second-team practices up until last week.
Despite several analysts selling Dan Arnold as a bill of goods coming into this season, he has done next to nothing. He was even out-targeted by something called Darrell Daniels last week. Needless to say, you can ignore both of them. Arizona is not as bad as they were against the position from 2018 and 2019. Still, they have given up scores to two of the last three TE groups they have faced. Dalton Schultz is the defacto TE3, thanks to the matchup and due to the split usage in Los Angeles. These two offenses are too good (even with Dalton in at QB), to consider using one of their defenses.
The Main Slate: My recommended DFS lineups
At DK: $6.1K for Kirk Cousins. $7.3K for Derrick Henry. $4.7K for Adrian Peterson. $6.2K for Kenny Golladay. $6K for Justin Jefferson. $3K for Jeff Smith. $6.5K for Mark Andrews. $5.4K for Myles Gaskin at FLEX. $4.5K for the Ravens’ defense.
At FD: $7.1K for Cousins. $9K for Henry. $5.5K for Peterson. $8.6K for Calvin Ridley. $7.4K for Adam Thielen. $7.2K for Golladay. $4.3K for Irv Smith. $5.7K for Gaskin at FLEX. $4.9K for the Ravens’ defense.
At Fanball (SuperFlex – includes Sun Night): Ben Roethlisberger, Cousins at SF, Henry, Alexander Mattison (if Dalvin Cook is a no-go, otherwise James Robinson), Thielen, Golladay, Ridley, Irv Smith, and Jonathan Taylor at FLEX.
Weekly strategy – Very seldom do I look at the top of the QB list and think yeah these guys are all ok this week, but none really screams play me. Matt Ryan and Cam Newton have prices that are a tad over for FD. Aaron Rodgers has a good matchup, but will Davante Adams be 100%. Deshaun Watson has a so-so matchup and Lamar Jackson has a sweet matchup, but he has underperformed all year. When this happens, I just look for the highest-priced option that is 100% safe. This week that is Ben Roethlisberger at home. I don’t mind the pivot to Ryan or Newton, but Big Ben is safe both with a high ceiling and a high floor. If I don’t use Ben, I will use either Kirk Cousins or Matthew Stafford. They both have delicious matchups, great receivers, and reasonable prices. The only punt option that I like is Kyle Allen.
Fantasy Four Pack
Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers vs. CLE ($6700 DK, $7600 FD)
Cleveland is very good against the run. They are also very bad against the pass. Ben Roethlisberger has always been considerably better at home than on the road. Despite playing the exact same number of home and road games in his career, Ben has 57 more passing TDs at home. Cleveland has allowed the third-most passing yards and the third-most passing TDs. Anything less than 325-3, would seem improbable here.
Aaron Rodgers, Packers @ TB ($7500 DK, $8400 FD)
If we 100% knew that Davante Adams would be on the field and also be 100% healthy, Aaron Rodgers would be gifted a GREEN rating. In Week 4, Rodgers managed 327-4 despite throwing to a cast of receivers that wouldn’t make the Eagles’ roster. This was the second time this year that Rodgers has thrown for four scores. Not to mention, that he has multiple passing TDs in every game. Tampa Bay is no better than middle-of-the-pack against opposing QBs and they are solid against the run. This suggests that Green Bay may have to lean more on Rodgers than Aaron Jones. If Adams is on the field, that just makes that job even easier.
Lamar Jackson, Ravens @ PHI ($7700 DK, $9000 FD)
Lamar Jackson has not looked like himself of late. Part of that stems from an injury that limited him last week to not using his legs to move the offense. He needs that rushing yardage to make up for only throwing for an average of 169 yards per game over the last four weeks. I’m hoping that some of that lackluster passing had to do with facing four top-ten pass defenses over that stretch. Of course, if the rushing numbers return this week, the passing issues are moot. Philadelphia hasn’t faced a rushing QB yet this year, so they will be tested here.
Matt Ryan Falcons @ MIN ($6600 DK, $7400 FD)
Deshaun Watson broke out the week following Bill O’Brien’s dismissal. Now we get to see if Matt Ryan will have a similar breakout without Dan Quinn. The matchup is there for him as Minnesota’s kiddie corps of corners is still learning on the job. I’m expecting a shootout here, and Ryan has the weapons to exploit Minnesota’s defensive liabilities. I’m just not as confident in him as I am in Big Ben, due to Ryan’s recent struggles. If Julio Jones makes it back on the field it would be a huge boost for Ryan and my confidence in him.
Kirk Cousins, Vikings vs. ATL ($6100 DK, $7100 FD)
At this price, Kirk Cousins is barely qualifying as a sleeper. Still, he is the tenth overall priced QB on DK, plus there are 11 QBs on FD more expensive than him. The matchup is awesome. This will be a shootout as neither team can stop anybody. Opponents are averaging 346-3 versus this defense from their QBs. I’ll take that from Cousins for nearly $2K less than Lamar Jackson on FD.
Kyle Allen, Football Team @ NYG ($5100 DK, $6400 FD)
An injury last week kept us from seeing the true capabilities of Kyle Allen in this offense. All signs point to him being able and ready to start this week, despite the feel-good story of Alex Smith. The Giants are no better than middle-of-the-pack against the pass. At this price, Allen could hit 3x value with just a pair of TDs. If you do go down this rabbit hole, consider stacking Allen with either Antonio Gibson or J.D. McKissic, both of whom are very active in the passing game. Allen did love to target Christian McCaffrey with short passes last season.
Weekly strategy – Dalvin Cook hasn’t been ruled out yet, but Minnesota would be crazy to let him play with the bye next week. In his absence, Alexander Mattison makes a great play. RB1 will be Derrick Henry in most formats, but Mattison could be a serviceable pivot, and if you wish to spend up a great RB2. James Robinson, Mike Davis, and Jonathan Taylor are the other top options to choose from. Ideally, I will have two of them. If I need to shave a few dollars off, I will go with David Montgomery, Myles Gaskin, or Antonio Gibson. I may also consider one of them at FLEX. More likely, I will use Adrian Peterson or James White in that role.
Fantasy Four Pack
Derrick Henry, Titans vs. HOU ($7300 DK, $9000 FD)
The only thing that can stop Derrick Henry is his own team’s COVID protocols. Houston certainly can’t. They are awful against the run. They are allowing nearly 175 total yards per game to the position. Henry is the Tennessee backfield, so all of that yardage is gonna go through him, plus at least one TD.
Alexander Mattison, Vikings vs. ATL ($7200 DK, $7000 FD)
Call this one “PriceGate”. Several twitter DFS users posted that Alexander Mattison’s price showed up in the $6K range with a complete DK salary post on Sunday Night. Those salaries all disappeared before I woke up Monday morning. Then we didn’t see any pricing from either site until Tuesday. Of course, when the smoke cleared Mattison saw his price bumped up to represent the likelihood that he would start Week 6. If Dalvin Cook doesn’t play, Mattison is worth every penny and then some. Atlanta has allowed the most receptions, the most receiving TDs, and the second-most receiving yards to the RB position. The Vikings love to run the ball and they also love to dish it off to their RBs. Mattison will be busy this week.
Mike Davis, Panthers vs. CHI ($7000 DK, $7500 FD)
Who knew that Christian McCaffrey was a system RB? Mike Davis has performed like a cheaper version of CMAC during his absence. Chicago presents a legit challenge for the Panthers’ backup, but Davis has been up to the task so far. With the volume of passes thrown Davis’ way, he should produce a serviceable line. I just wish his price was still where it was two weeks ago.
James Robinson, Jaguars vs. DET ($6800 DK, $6500 FD)
The game script took away a great opportunity for James Robinson last week. That won’t be an issue this week. Both of these teams can score some points, and neither has much of a defense. Detroit is allowing 5.6 YPC to opposing RBs. There are still only two backs with more receiving yards this season than Robinson, so he should get his both on the ground and through the air.
Myles Gaskin, Dolphins vs. NYJ ($5400 DK, $5700 FD)
Myles Gaskin has averaged over 20 touches during the last three weeks. Where I come from that qualifies as featured back material. The Jets are a rudderless boat slowly sinking into the Hudson. They are allowing an average of 153-1.6 to the running back position. We cannot count on that many yards for Gaskin, but we can count on about 80 total yards and a score, with five or six catches to boot.
Adrian Peterson, Lions @ JAX ($4700 DK, $5500 FD)
D’Andre Swift did start to eat into some of Adrian Peterson’s touches in Week 4, but the veteran isn’t going to hand over the car keys without a fight. On the year, Peterson has a greater than 2-1 ratio on touches versus either Swift or Kerryon Johnson. Jacksonville has struggled both with rushing backs and receiving backs, so both Peterson and Swift can be used for value this week. I’m choosing Peterson over Swift because he is more likely to get any goal-line work.
Weekly strategy – Positive COVID tests within the Atlanta Falcons’ organization raise possible red flags for the game between the Minnesota Vikings and the Falcons. We are all hoping it happens because Calvin Ridley, Adam Thielen, and Justin Jefferson are all primed for a huge game. The rest of the teams’ offenses are great plays too. None of the other top-priced WRs, are as much of a sure thing. I don’t hate DeVante Parker or JuJu Smith-Schuster as a pivot, but neither screams please play me. Davante Adams given a completely clean bill of health is probably the only other option that I would consider up top. Let us just hope the MIN-ATL game goes on because you want your WR1 and WR2 to come from there if possible. Other WR2 options to consider are Kenny Golladay, Julian Edelman, and Jamison Crowder. They could also end up being your WR1 if you can’t use the Vikings and Falcons. I hate to chase points but Chase Claypool loos like the real deal. I will use him or Laviska Shenault as my primary WR3. The punt selection is a little stronger this week. Keelan Cole, Preston Williams, Danny Amendola, Damiere Byrd, the Falcons backups, and Jeff Smith are all in play for cost savings.
Fantasy Four Pack
Calvin Ridley, Falcons @ MIN ($7800 DK, $8600 FD)
The Vikings young secondary is starting to play better, but bigger, stronger, and faster WRs have already dominated them this year. DK Metcalf last week was the most recent example of the Vikes just being manhandled by a big strong WR. Calvin Ridley has topped 100 receiving yards and ten targets in each game that he has been fully healthy. He will again and he will score at least once.
Adam Thielen, Vikings vs. ATL ($7300 DK, $7400 FD)
Adam Thielen is tied with Mike Evans for the league lead in receiving TDs. Meanwhile, Atlanta has only allowed four WR touchdowns this season, but they have given up the second-most yardage to the position. With the exception of the short-handed Packers, every other team’s WR1 has scored and/or topped 100 yards against Atlanta. Thielen is gonna do both AND SO WILL Justin Jefferson.
Davante Adams, Packers @ TB ($8000 DK, $9000 FD)
Davante Adams has completed back-to-back full practices leading me to believe that he is fully ready for this matchup with Tampa Bay. Assuming that he does not suffer any setbacks, Adams will approach GREEN status. In his only full game of the year, Adams was targeted 17 times hauling in 14-156-2. I’m not expecting that in his first game back, but two-thirds of that would be nice. Tampa is tough to run against, and Green Bay knows that. That said, they have had two weeks to get ready for this meeting.
Kenny Golladay, Lions vs. JAX ($6200 DK, $7200 FD)
This will be my favorite game to target if ATL-MIN is canceled. Jacksonville just gave up big games to both Brandin Cooks and Will Fuller last week. Meanwhile, Kenny Golladay has scored in back-to-back games. Let’s make it a hat trick.
Chase Claypool, Steelers vs. CLE ($5200 DK, $5500 FD)
Chase Claypool stepped in for the injured Diontae Johnson last week and went bananas. Johnson finally returned to a limited practice on Thursday, but he is not guaranteed for this weekend. Even if he is healthy enough to suit up, he may have been Wally Pipped. Claypool is a physical beast, he is tall, fast, strong, and he can outjump you. If he had gone to a school other than Notre Dame he would’ve likely been one of the first-round WRs taken. Cleveland has allowed the third-most WR scores and the third-most WR receiving yards. If he gets a similar snap share to last week, he will score again. I’m already seeing shades of DK Metcalf in this kid.
Jeff Smith, Jets @ MIA ($3000 DK, $4900 FD)
Over the last two weeks, Jeff Smith is tied for seventh with 20 targets. This includes eleven targets from Joe Flacco last week. Jamison Crowder is still the WR1 in this offense, but Miami has given up big games to secondary receivers like John Brown, Gabriel Davis, David Moore, and Brandon Aiyuk. So, opportunities will be there if Smith can take advantage of them. e. Peppered this frequently at the site minimum on DK, Smith is a lock for 3X value.
Weekly strategy – Mark Andrews is the only DK player over $6K on the slate. He is also the only one over $5K with a certainty of hitting 3X. If you can afford him on DK use him. Good luck fitting his cost into your FD lineup though. On FD, I’ll trend towards T.J. Hockenson or Jonnu Smith or Eric Ebron instead. Speaking of FD, if I told you before the season started that Robert Tonyan would be the second-highest priced tight end any week this season or any week in his career for that matter, you would’ve laughed at me. Well, guess what, it’s Tonyan Season. I’m certainly not paying $6.2K for him, but $5.1K on DK isn’t awful. As for punt options, I don’t mind Darren Fells (especially if Jordan Akins is out) and Irv Smith has finally become relevant.
Fantasy Four Pack
Mark Andrews, Ravens @ PHI ($6500 DK, $7600 FD)
Mark Andrews gets to do to Philly what George Kittle and Tyler Higbee have already done. That is destroy them and take their souls. Philly has allowed the sixth-most yards and the third-most scores to the position. This aligns nicely with Andrews who is tied with Robert Tonyan and Jonnu Smith for the most TE scores this year.
Jonnu Smith, Titans vs. HOU ($5200 DK, $5800 FD)
Many fantasy analysts had Jonnu Smith as the next breakout TE this offseason. COVID slowed their ability to peacock this call, but now their plumage is in full show. Jonnu has scored in three of four games. In fact, he has scored twice in two of those four. I’m not going to predict two scores here, but a single stripe crossing is definitely in the works. The Tuesday game slowed his salary increase, so use him this week. By Week 7, his salary will jump into the Travis Kelce range.
T.J. Hockenson, Lions @ JAX ($5300 DK, $5700 FD)
T.J. Hockenson saved his Week 4 line with a TD. It was otherwise a disappointing showing against the Saints. Still, he has topped 50 yards and/or scored in every game this season. Jacksonville has already given up small yardage and a TD to both Mike Gesicki and Darren Fells. They also gave up a huge game to Jonnu Smith. I wish his price was a little less, but if you use Matthew Stafford, the triple-stack of Stafford-Golladay-Hockenson could be profitable.
Mike Gesicki, Dolphins vs. Jets ($5500 DK, $5600 FD)
Mike Gesicki has scored and/or topped 90 yards in three of five games to start the year. In the other two games, he was a pumpkin. Despite the hit-or-miss potential of Gesicki, on a thin slate for TEs, he is one of the safest options. The Jets have given up big days to Mo Alie-Cox and Jordan Reed while not facing much else at the position. Gesicki is arguably better than either of them, so he is definitely in play here.
Eric Ebron, Steelers vs. CLE ($4100 DK, $5200 FD)
Eric Ebron disappointed me last week against the Eagles. It wasn’t really his fault as Chase Claypool was hogging the ball. This matchup may be even sweeter for Ebron as Cleveland has allowed the third-most receptions and the fifth-most scores to the position. Using the triple-stack with Ben Roethlisberger and either JuJu Smith-Schuster or Claypool should be a great start to your lineup.
Irv Smith, Vikings vs. ATL ($2500 DK, $4300 FD)
Atlanta has allowed a league-high seven TE touchdowns, including three in the last two weeks. They have also allowed the third-most receptions and the third-most receiving yards to the position. Meanwhile, Kirk Cousins made it a project to ensure multiple targets for Smith last week. That strategy almost led to a victory against the highly-favored Seahawks. If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it. Cousins and the Vikings would be wise to continue peppering their young TE if they have any hope of getting back into the playoff hunt. At this price, he is a lock for 4X value on DK. Plus, that cheap price tag will make it even easier to load up two high priced WRs.