We're on to Week 5 of the NFL season. FitzMagic is gone, none of last season's conference championship contestants lead their divisions and Patrick Mahomes is now ambidextrous. If you think you've got a handle on this week's craziness, come prove it by entering the RotoWire FanDuel Fantasy Football Championship!
A quick rules refresher: we're running a $10 contest in each of the first 10 weeks of the season, where the top 150 finishers double their money. Compete against fellow RotoWire readers as well as three experts: Kevin Payne, Jeff Erickson and Derek VanRiper. Beating all three experts in one week earns you a ticket to Week 11's championship round, where the top 120 scores earn a prize and the top score gets $1,000 and a two-year RotoWire subscription. Sign up for this week's contest here.
Meanwhile, the experts here at RotoWire have been competing in a parallel contest. Adam Wolf won last week's contest with a 200-point lineup featuring at least 30 points from Andrew Luck, Alvin Kamara and Ezekiel Elliott. The overall leaderboard through four weeks can be found here. The current top 10 are as follows:
- Joshua Fathollahi (jashfath) 612.02
- Scott Jenstad (oaktownsj) 606.78
- Ken Crites (kencrw) 579.62
- Andrew Laird (kingmorland) 575.74
- Benjamin Donabedian (jd0505) 569.66
- Jake Letarski (rotojakeski) 567.26
- Joel Bartilotta (joelbartilotta) 564.98
- Joe Bartel (alphacool) 564.70
- Michael Rathburn (burnnotice) 559.56
- Derek VanRiper (rotodvr) 558.12
As usual, a quick reminder to check out RotoWire's lineup optimizer, the best place to go to begin to work out your lineup. Note: the Colts, Patriots, Cowboys, Texans, Redskins and Saints all have played in or will play in primetime games this week, so their players are not included on the main slate. The Bears and Buccaneers have bye weeks.
QB Ben Roethlisberger: Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Atlanta Falcons
FanDuel Price: $8,400
The Steelers again look likely to be involved in a shootout, with this game coming in at an over/under all the way up at 58. Roethlisberger should be an instrumental figure in reaching that over/under, as the Falcons have allowed the fourth most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks and have lost safeties Keanu Neal (knee) and Ricardo Allen (Achilles). The Steelers have the weapons in the passing game to pick the Falcons apart, and their defense is weak enough that Big Ben will likely have to keep throwing all game to outscore the similarly dynamic Falcons passing game. He comes in with the second-highest price among all quarterbacks on the slate, so a stack with Antonio Brown would be quite pricey, though JuJu Smith-Schuster and Vance McDonald are affordable alternatives.
WR Adam Thielen: Minnesota Vikings at Philadelphia Eagles
FanDuel Price: $8,300
Thielen has been the league's most-targeted receiver through four weeks and has the most fantasy points among all receivers on the slate. He faces an Eagles defense which has seemingly lost the ability to cover receivers, giving up the fifth most points per game to wideouts so far this season. With running back Dalvin Cook (hamstring) still banged up, look for the Vikings to lean on the passing game again this week, especially if Philadelphia leads as expected. Both Thielen and Stefon Diggs are good bets this week, but Thielen gets three more targets per game yet costs just $100 more than his teammate.
RB Christian McCaffrey: Carolina Panther vs. New York Giants
FanDuel Price: $8,100
The Giants have allowed the sixth most fantasy points to opposing running backs this season, but McCaffrey would likely be worth his price tag even if that weren't the case. There may not be a player more immune to game scripts than the Panthers' running back. In Week 2 against Atlanta, he received just eight carries but caught 14 passes, while in Week 3 against the Bengals, he was thrown to just twice but carried the rock a whopping 28 times. That gives him an incredibly high floor: he's averaged 17.3 points per game this season, and that's without having scored a touchdown yet.
RB Aaron Jones: Green Bay Packers at Detroit Lions
FanDuel Price: $6,100
Jones returned from his two-game suspension in a small role Week 3 against the Redskins, but saw his snaps and carries both jump in Week 4 against Buffalo. He out-snapped fellow running back Jamaal Williams by one and was far more effective rushing the ball; he's gained 6.3 yards per carry on the season compared to just 3.4 for Williams. That performance disparity suggests that there's no reason for the trend not to continue in Week 5 against the Lions, who have given up the third most fantasy points to opposing running backs so far this season.
Tennessee Titans Defense at Buffalo Bills
FanDuel Price: $3,900
With nine points per game, the Titans enter Week 5 fourth-best among all defenses on the slate. They get to face a Bills team that just got shut out by a Packers unit which is certainly not elite, giving 23 points to fantasy owners who made the easy call to start the Packers last week. By all accounts, the Titans should be priced as a top-five defense in this game. Instead, they come in with a bottom-half price, ranking tied for 13th out of 24 squads. Slotting them in is a no-brainer, even if everyone else does the same. There's no sense in turning down Josh Allen's generous gifts.
QB Marcus Mariota: Tennessee Titans at Buffalo Bills
FanDuel Price: $6,800
Mariota showcased his promise Week 4 against the Eagles, posting 31.4 points in his first full game with new coordinator Matt LaFleur. He threw for 344 yards and a pair of touchdowns while running for 46 yards and another score. He'll get the chance to build on that performance against a Bills team that sits in the middle of the pack in terms of fantasy points given up to opposing quarterbacks primarily because they're often so far behind that their opponents run the ball to wind the clock down for most of the second half. The upside is there for another big performance at a price which remains quite low.
WR Marquez Valdes-Scantling: Green Bay Packers at Detroit Lions
This recommendation could be worthless depending on the results of Green Bay's final injury report, but as of writing, Valdes-Scantling appears to be primed for a big role Sunday. Randall Cobb is out with a hamstring injury, while Davante Adams is questionable with a calf issue and Geronimo Allison is questionable due to a concussion. If all three receivers miss the game, Aaron Rodgers' number one receiver will suddenly be available at an incredibly cheap price, as Valdes-Scantling appears to be clearly ahead of fellow rookies J'Mon Moore and Equanimeous St. Brown. He's completely unproven, and the Packers' offense has yet to fully click, but he has the size and speed to take advantage of the opportunity should it come his way. Getting potentially eight-to-ten throws from Aaron Rodgers for just $4,800 is a deal too good to pass up.
TE Vance McDonald: Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Atlanta Falcons
FanDuel Price: $4,600
As mentioned above, this game is expected to be a shootout, with Pittsburgh having the highest implied point total on the slate at 30.5. Atlanta has been poor against the pass, and McDonald should be able to take advantage of the fact that both the Falcons' starting safeties are out. He's averaging a solid five targets per game and has the ability to make a big play, as shown by his 75-yard catch-and-run touchdown against Tampa Bay in Week 3 (which included the stiff arm of the season against Chris Conte). McDonald easily has both a higher floor and a higher ceiling than the other tight ends in his price range.
QB Patrick Mahomes: Kansas City Chiefs vs. Jacksonville Jaguars
FanDuel Price: $8,600
Mahomes is incredible. He can extend plays like few other quarterbacks and can even throw left-handed for a first down on a game-winning touchdown drive with Von Miller bearing down on him. Even in something of a down week in Week 4, he still put up 22.9 fantasy points. But does he really have the track record to be the most expensive quarterback on the slate even when facing the vaunted Jaguars defense, which has held opposing quarterbacks to just 11.4 fantasy points per game this season? Mahomes is still an interesting contrarian play in a big tournament, but the other expensive quarterbacks all have far easier matchups, so it's hard to pay up for the young phenom this week.