Every week, at least one player becomes my fascination of whether he’s worthy of a fantasy football start or bench. The decision can be a mental wrestling match, but for the purpose of brevity, only one player can be chosen as the fantasy football gamble of the week.
The best fantasy football gamble for Week 5
Tracking my predictions: 1-3-0
Win: Player produces ≥ 75% of projected fantasy points
Loss: Player produces >75% of projected fantasy points
Tie: Player is ejected or leaves with an injury
It feels good to get back on track after some bad beats in the first three games. Last week, New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones occupied this space as the recommendation, and he finished with strong numbers in the driving rain. I projected 295 yards, three touchdowns, one interception and 10 rushing yards (26.75 fantasy points) under the belief there was a slight chance of light rain. My prediction turned out to be 81 percent accurate, which is better than we can say for the weather forecast. He posted 275 yards, two touchdowns, one interception and lost a yard rushing — not terrible considering the conditions and pressure of the game.
WR Deonte Harris, New Orleans Saints at Washington Football Team
The Saints head on the road to face a defense that has been among the best in the league at limiting running backs while simultaneously being among the worst at containing wide receivers.
Washington has afforded running backs next to nothing in fantasy, permitting just the sixth-fewest points in PPR, and only seven teams have been tougher in standard scoring. Offenses have run the 15th-most times for the ninth-fewest yards and have found paydirt every 86 carries, which is the third-lowest frequency.
In the passing game, it hasn’t been much easier for running backs. Averages against of a mere 14.8 yards on 2.5 grabs both sit as the third-lowest numbers. The only positive for backfields is one in five catches has scored, which ranks second among the 18 teams to have given up a TD this way. Washington also has fared well vs. tight ends, relenting a lone TD over 24 catches faced.
Long story short, star running back Alvin Kamara will have an uphill climb, and it should come as no surprise if the Football Team does everything in its power to keep him from going hog wild.
Provided the game indeed plays out in this manner, New Orleans will be forced to get the passing game going and to people other than AK41. This matchup is intriguing from a volume perspective. Washington has done a pretty good job of limiting downfield plays, which suggests wide receiver Marquez Callaway will not be as large of a factor.
The elevated potential for a lack of deep shots also can be attributed to a formidable front seven being able to get home on Jameis Winston playing behind a beaten-up offensive line that may be without LT Terron Armstead and center Erik McCoy once again. Expect Winston to be forced into quick-release passing around the line of scrimmage to help create an extension of the running game.
In this event, and presuming Washington can at least do a respectable job against Kamara, there’s a strong chance we see Harris get involved more than usual. He had eight targets last week against the New York Giants in a similar situation without McCoy and Armstead. The results were a modest five catches for 52 yards.
Other areas for fantasy profit potential can be found in one in every 11 catches by a receiver against Washington has scored, and only eight other teams have allowed fewer yards per catch to the position.
Additionally, Washington may be able to move the ball better than expected against a Saints defense that has had its faults defending the aerial game so far this year. The ninth-best rating makes it seem as if the Saints have dominated QBs, but when removing that Week 1 debacle by Green Bay, we’re talking about a defense that has allowed 305 yards with a few scores to Sam Darnold, 270 and a TD to Mac Jones in only his third game, and 402-2-1 to Daniel Jones last week. Taylor Heinicke can approach 300-2-1 for sure, which could put the Saints in a “need to pass” situation.
This one is geared mainly for PPR leagues, and while there aren’t any bye weeks yet to help ease the decision-making process of playing an inconsistent option like Harris, he’s capable of doing big things with limited touches. The pint-sized wideout and return man (possible added points in some leagues) could house it from a screen pass. He’s worthy of a flex spot to find out.
My projection: 5 receptions, 78 yards, 1 TD (18.8 PPR points)