Week 5 Player Grid
This Player Grid will hold little value for you without first reading this.
Note: Players in a given tier are not listed in any particular order.
FantasyDraft Players :: I’ve added a FantasyDraft Addendum to the bottom
There are a few quarterbacks this week who have just awesome yardage and touchdown expectations. Each of these guys has a strong shot at 300 yards and two touchdowns, with upside for more yardage and an extra one or two touchdowns from there. I won’t be straying from these five options on any “main team” stuff.
- Matt Ryan :: Matt Ryan will be able to attack downfield in this matchup against Pittsburgh — and while he is likely to end up with fewer pass attempts than his counterpart, the yardage should be roughly equal. There isn’t much to say on these guys, in a game with the highest Over/Under of the season. Each quarterback should have a strong game.
- Ben Roethlisberger :: This matchup is more “Tampa” for the Steelers than it is “Kansas City,” as the Falcons — like Tampa — keep the ball in front of them and force offenses to work in the short areas of the field. This will make it tougher for Pittsburgh to pile up splash plays, but Ben will be able to work the short areas with A.B. and JuJu all game long, allowing him to pile up easy points, with plenty of opportunities for touchdowns.
- Kirk Cousins :: The Vikings cannot run the ball, and they are set to take on an Eagles team that opponents do not even try to run on. This sets up perfectly for yet another game of 40+ pass attempts, against a pass defense that can be worked for big yardage days. I’m a big believer in this passing attack this week.
- Blake Bortles :: It took me until late Friday night to come around on this offense, but I’m finally here. While it is very difficult to predict how the Chiefs will pick up yards and points on the Jags, we do know they are going to have more success than other teams moving the ball — which sets up nicely for Jacksonville to open things up through the air in response. The Jags are also missing Leonard Fournette, which typically leads to a more pass-heavy approach from this team. I’m not sure how the Chiefs will get there, but especially with this game being played in Kansas City, I’m comfortable betting on them putting up points, which will lead to plenty of Bortles passes against a beatable Kansas City defense.
- Derek Carr :: Carr’s worst yardage game this year was 288 yards at Denver. Carr is going to pile up yardage once again in this spot, and two to three touchdowns is a reasonable expectation. I like this Oakland offense quite a bit this week, and I’m comfortable betting on it in cash games and tourneys. (You could also slot in Philip Rivers for Tier 1. I have him below Ryan/Ben because the Chargers can score on the ground so easily; but yardage totals could be similar, and it won’t be a shock if Rivers sneaks to the highest QB score on the slate.)
There are three guys who have been in Tier 1 every time they have been on the Main Slate, in Gurley, Gordon, and CMC. That won’t change this week, and only a couple guys are getting added alongside them.
- Todd Gurley :: This game sets up perfectly for the Rams to smash Seattle on the ground. Gurley will see his typical 20 to 25 touches, and there is no reason to expect anything but his typical production.
- Melvin Gordon :: Against one of the worst run defenses in the NFL, Gordon will be in great position to carry this offense once again. He has only two fewer targets on the year than Keenan Allen, and his red zone role is as bankable as any player in the league. Gordon will pile up yards and have scoring opportunities this week.
- Christian McCaffrey :: CMC is functioning as the main weapon on Carolina, and that will continue this week as the bye-rested Panthers play a home game against the demoralized Giants. CMC is going to rack up a ton of catches and a ton of carries, and he’ll be involved near the goal line — giving him one of the highest floor/ceiling combos on the slate.
- Marshawn Lynch :: Lynch has quietly touched the ball at least 20 times in three consecutive games, and he has looked awesome doing so. This week, he’ll enter a likely high-scoring environment against a bad run defense in the Chargers. Once we move out of the higher price range, he is the guy who is catching my eye this week more than any other.
- Austin Ekeler — DraftKings/FantasyDraft :: With softer pricing on FanDuel, I wouldn’t go here; but Ekeler has a legitimate role in this offense, as roughly a 30% to 35% player who gets the ball schemed to him when he is on the field. Rostering Ekeler is similar to rostering Tevin Coleman a couple years ago when Kyle Shanahan was with the Falcons — except you pay a lot less to get Ekeler than you would have spent on Coleman. With pricing tight this week, Ekeler is a strong way to capture floor and ceiling at the lower ends of the price range.
There are no surprises at wide receiver this week. The “top plays” are pretty clearly the top plays — and while a strategy case can always be made for doing something different, these are the guys I’ll be focused on in my Main Roster builds.
- Julio Jones :: Julio legitimately has the lowest floor among these higher-priced guys, as his red zone role continues to be an issue, and his targets can rise and dip without warning. But he also leads the NFL in air yards and is taking on a Pittsburgh defense that has been very beatable deep. Along with a lower floor than these other high-priced guys, Julio carries the highest raw ceiling on the entire slate. It wouldn’t be crazy to see something like 6-90-0 from him this week; it also wouldn’t be crazy to see something like 9-170-2.
- Steelers :: It will be almost impossible for JuJu and A.B. to “fail.” The only issue is that one of these two will probably pop off for a monster game, while the other will be more “strong roster piece.” If you can fit both guys, you won’t even have to worry about it; but you may have to pick between the two. I’m leaning JuJu slightly myself, as he is cheaper and is not far off from A.B. in floor/ceiling projections.
- Vikings :: Diggs and Thielen have combined target totals of 18 // 26 // 29 // 27. Thielen is the preferred play between the two — but it is absolutely possible for both guys to hit on the same weekend.
- Tyler Boyd :: Boyd is a borderline Tier 1 play; but with Xavien Howard on A.J. Green, Tyler Eifert out, and Joe Mixon banged up, it makes sense for Boyd to see plenty of targets once again. Miami is weakest over the middle of the field, where Boyd will do most of his work. He’s been a money-maker for us the last two weeks. I think that continues this week.
- Zach Ertz :: With the tight end position so thin, Ertz always has a place on this list. I don’t usually pay up for tight end, but Ertz is the safest, highest-upside way to do so. He’s especially valuable on FanDuel, where the pricing gap between the low guys and the high guys is less substantial, and where softer pricing makes it easier to get up here.
- Vance McDonald :: This is more “Tier 1 for tight end” than it is “pure Tier 1.” But Vance has so much upside with the ball in his hands, and he should secure at least five or six catches in this spot, with upside for more. I doubt he’ll sneak by many people this week, but he’s a good way to get affordable exposure to this shootout.
- Tennessee Titans :: Who is playing the Bills this week? Check.
- Saquon Barkley :: Barkley seems to land here every week — and we have not yet been wrong. He is too talented (and is seeing too many touches) to “fail.” But his offense (and offensive line) are bad enough that his realistic ceiling has to be pegged lower than Gurley, Gordon, and CMC. One of these weeks, he’ll outscore those guys; but it’s less bankable, and this leaves him as a safe play with less guaranteed upside than the guys priced around him.
- T.J. Yeldon :: The Jags have seemed hesitant this year to feed Yeldon a big workload, so we may see him capped at around 16 touches. But against Kansas City, this gives him a high floor — and his role near the end zone gives him enough ceiling to be considered in this spot.
- Titans :: Corey Davis and Taywan Taylor are really the only guys the Titans have to throw to. Mariota should throw more like 30 to 33 passes this week (compared to the 43 he threw last week), so take down volume projections a little; but each guy can be relied on for looks, making each guy safe. Upside is less bankable, but it won’t be surprising if one of these guys hits.
- Raiders :: I have no idea which of Jordy Nelson, Amari Cooper, and Jared Cook will hit this week — but I expect one to have a big game, one to have a solid game, and one to disappoint. Because I cannot pinpoint one guy I feel best about, I like the idea of playing all three together in cash (and taking all the guaranteed points — while saving plenty of money for other spots on your roster), but it’s more difficult for me to pull the trigger on just one individual play. I have found some other roster construction approaches that will pull me away from the super Raiders-heavy build I was playing around with earlier in the week, but I still like the idea of this build quite a bit.
- Willie Snead — DraftKings/FantasyDraft :: The Ravens will continue to run their same offense this week, with John Brown going deep and with Crabtree and Snead working underneath. The Browns do a good job taking away the deep ball, which will filter targets short. Snead is the more reliable of the underneath guys at the moment, giving him a quietly strong floor (I’ll be surprised if he falls shy of nine or 10 points). He’ll need a touchdown in order to really sizzle, but he’s a nice, safe way to save salary this week with locked-in points.
- Cam Newton :: Always in the tourney discussion. Janoris Jenkins guarding Devin Funchess should open even more tuck-and-run opportunities for Cam. He is averaging almost 10 carries per game.
- Jared Goff :: I think the Rams will get there on the ground more than through the air this week, but this Seahawks pass defense without Earl Thomas will not be able to hold down the Rams if they take to the air. Goff is going to go overlooked, and he could legitimately post the highest score on the slate if the Rams attack in a different manner than expected.
- Russell Wilson :: If the Rams put up points, the Seahawks will have to respond. This offense is not well-designed, and this offensive line is bad, and Doug Baldwin is not 100%, and Russ has not been running; but if things change this week, Russ could have legitimate slate-breaking upside. He’s worth a tourney shot.
- Matthew Stafford :: The Lions should score at least three touchdowns this week at home against the Packers, and recent history tells us that these points are likeliest to come through the air in this offense. Stafford is quietly in position for a really nice game.
- James Conner :: I have him below Gurley, CMC, and Gordon — and probably even below Saquon — among high-priced guys, as the role lately has just not justified the price. But we did see this team give Conner over 30 touches in Week 1, and if that sort of usage returns, he could break the slate wide open. Even without that sort of usage, he’s in position to post a strong score this week.
- David Johnson :: I’m not sure the offense can open up enough just yet to get DJ the 30+ points he should be getting — but he has consistently produced this year, even with Bradford under center, and it’s only a matter of time before he pops. I like him as a solid floor/ceiling play who is not seeing as much traction in the DFS community this week as I expected. He’s a nice tourney piece.
- Joe Mixon :: Mixon was Tier 1 for me before concerns emerged on Saturday that he may not have a true workhorse role out of the gate. The Bengals will likely keep Walton involved and limit Mixon to around 70% of the team’s snaps. This should have him in line for a solid 17 to 20 touches, but this is not quite the 22 to 25 touch role I was hoping for. Lower his floor a bit, but keep his upside locked in place.
- Lions :: I’m having a difficult time narrowing things down among Tate, Golladay, and Jones, as we still have so little information on how to most effectively attack this Packers defense, given the schedule they have faced to date. As noted in the NFL Edge: I expect one big game from this group, one solid game, and one disappointing game. Because I’m left “guessing,” I may stay away on Main Roster stuff, but I like this group a lot in tourneys.
- Rams :: Again: I expect the Rams to lean on the run. But if they go to the air instead, we could see another 350 yard, four-touchdown game from Goff. All three of these receivers would get into the action again if that ends up being the case.
- Seahawks :: Baldwin and Lockett are fringe Tier 1 plays, to be honest, as the Seahawks should be trailing in this game and will have to pass in order to keep up. But this offense is bad enough as a whole that I’m not quite comfortable “locking in production” from this group. Call it a moderate-floor, solid-ceiling spot for Doug Baldwin and Tyler Lockett.
- Jaguars :: Someone from this group is going to have a big game. Similar to some of these other spots this week, it’s tough to figure out exactly who that “someone” will be. Based purely on talent and recent usage, I’m leaning toward Dede Westbrook at the moment. I wouldn’t argue against replacing him with Cole, and even Moncrief — inconsistency and all — could surprise with the biggest game from this group.
- Emmanuel Sanders — FanDuel :: I don’t love this spot — on the road, with an early start, vs a solid pass defense…with a struggling Case Keenum under center — but Manny has the best matchup on the Broncos, and he is severely underpriced on FanDuel. The floor is iffy, but monster upside remains.
- Mike Williams :: May God have mercy on me — Williams is in a great spot once again. This guy is going to have more 18-point games this year than single-digit games. This is a good spot for him to hit.
- Marquez Valdes-Scantling :: You could argue he belongs in Tier 1 — especially on DraftKings and FantasyDraft, where the savings matter so much. I’m giving him four to seven targets, if Davante Adams is on the field. If I’m wrong, however — if Adams sees “only” 14 or 15 targets again — then MVS could jump up to eight to 10 looks and be a true difference-maker. He’s strongly in the rotation for me this week. I also like Adams as a tourney play, as I genuinely think he sees 18 or 19 targets. As crazy as it sounds, this isn’t too much higher than the projections on Thielen // Diggs // Juju, and those three have better matchups, so I still like them more. But it won’t be a surprise if Adams outscores all of them, making him a worthwhile tourney play.
- All the rest :: Lots of other guys to consider in large-field stuff: D.J. Moore should have a bigger role coming out of the bye // A.J. Green has a tough matchup, but is A.J. Green // Kenny Stills has serious upside vs the Bengals, though his floor is also low // Calvin Ridley remains a lower-usage piece on the Falcons, but his upside is awesome in the shootout vs Pittsburgh // Nelson Agholor is seeing the targets; he just needs his hands to return // Christian Kirk is an interesting salary saver, with legitimate 80-yard-and-a-touchdown upside.
- All the rest :: I’m including Jared Cook among the Raiders wide receivers, but he’s obviously strongly in play from an upside perspective. Jimmy Graham is a lesser play than Cook if we played out this slate a hundred times; but it won’t be crazy for Jimmy to hit for something like 7-80-1 in this spot. Travis Kelce and George Kittle have question marks, but big upside. C.J. Uzomah and Jeff Heuerman have floor, but their upside is not appealing enough for me to want to chase, given the upside available in other spots.
- All the rest :: I probably won’t be paying up for the Titans this week, as salary is a little too tight, but there is nothing else I love at Defense. The teams I am focused on are the Panthers (coming off the bye, at home vs the broken Giants offense), the Broncos (strong edge rushers, against a mistake-prone rookie), and the Jets (good defense at home vs a cross-country-traveling offense with a mistake-prone quarterback). You could throw the Ravens and Browns onto that list. DST is a bit ugly this week.
Hopefully this gives you a great opportunity to compare your thoughts against my own.
I’ll see you at the top of the leaderboards this weekend; and I’ll see you on the site next Thursday morning for the Week 4 edition of the NFL Edge!
If playing the Full-Sunday slate on FantasyDraft:
Ezekiel Elliott, Will Fuller, and DeAndre Hopkins enter the tourney discussion, as does Deshaun Watson; but realistically, there is so much more shootout potential on these earlier games that none of these guys would make the Tier 1 cut if this game were on the main slate. The one piece I’ll have huge interest in here is Keke Coutee, who is one of the best salary savers on the slate. I expect another six to nine targets for Coutee here, with possibly one or two carries as well. The Texans want to get the ball into his hands, and this matchup sets up well for targets to be filtered his way. He’s a Tier 1 salary saver for me on FantasyDraft, where he should rack up a strong PPR floor with really nice after-the-catch upside.