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Inside the Matchup

Week 5

By: Andy Swanson | Mike Krueger | Nick Caron | HC Green



Sunday Early:



Sunday Late:

CLE @ LAC | CHI @ LV | SF @ ARI | NYG @ DAL | BUF @ KC



- Green highlight indicates plus matchup (top eight)
- Red highlight indicates negative matchup (bottom eight)

Rams at Seahawks - (Caron)
Line: LAR -2.5
Total: 54.5

Passing Game Thoughts: We finally saw a “disappointing” game from Cooper Kupp in Week 4, but even that was pretty decent as the Rams WR caught five passes for 64 yards in the loss to the Cardinals. More importantly, despite his lowest fantasy output of the season, Kupp actually saw his highest number of total targets in a game (13). He’s now been targeted at least 10 times in every game and there’s very little reason to believe that he won’t continue to be peppered with targets throughout the remainder of the season. He’s a WR1 for fantasy until he proves otherwise.

Teammate Robert Woods hasn’t had quite the start that fantasy owners had hoped for as he was being drafted at right around the same range as Kupp but currently sits outside WR3 range in PPR formats. He’s only been targeted 25 times and while he’s scored twice and turned in three 12-plus point PPR fantasy days, we haven’t seen the ceiling from him that we expect. Without an increase in target share, it seems unlikely that Woods is going to push for the high-end WR2 finish that many had hoped for. He’s probably more of a high-end reliable WR3 right now.

The fantasy breakout performer of Week 4 for the Rams was second-year wide receiver Van Jefferson. Jefferson caught all six of the targets for 90 yards and a touchdown - his second of the year. He’s now more than doubled the snaps of veteran DeSean Jackson in every game this season, playing over 75 percent of the Rams’ total offensive plays. Jackson might’ve had the flashy long touchdown in Week 3, but he’s otherwise been pretty ineffectual for the Rams, largely due to the lack of playing time. Jefferson’s role seems intact and it makes sense that he’s going to continue to see a healthy target share, particularly in games that could be shootouts, like the one we have here in Week 5 at Seattle. It’s understandable that most fantasy owners won’t have the courage to start Jefferson, but there are a lot of teams suffering from injuries at the wide receiver position right now and it’s tough to find players who are seeing six or more targets per game in good offenses. He’s a Flex-worthy option if you’re in a pinch.

Tight end Tyler Higbee fell out of the TE1 range in PPR formats this past week when he turned in another dud, with a four catch game for just 36 yards. He’s failed to exceed 68 yards or six targets in any game this season and he’s only scored one touchdown, so this just feels like a relatively low volume situation. He’s still a talented player in a good offense so there will be weeks where he produces as a TE1, but unless there’s an injury to one of these top wide receivers, we shouldn’t be expecting many high ceiling games from Higbee. He does face the Seahawks this week who’ve seen tight ends targeted against them six or more times in every game this season, so there’s some decent potential for a fantasy-relevant day, but don’t get too excited.

All of these pass catchers have helped resurrect the fantasy career of Matthew Stafford. His pass attempts have increased in each subsequent game this season, leading to a 41-attempt day this past week against the Cardinals. Of course, the Rams were behind multiple scores throughout much of that contest and that game script isn’t likely to hit this team very often, but it still shows us that Stafford does have the potential to throw the ball a decent bit this season, assuming that the Rams don’t get too far ahead on the scoreboard. Seattle’s offense has been good enough that they should at least force Los Angeles to throw the ball more than they’d otherwise like to, and that’s probably a good thing for Stafford’s ceiling this week. The Seahawks have given up the seventh-most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks, including 20-point days to the struggling Carson Wentz and Ryan Tannehill, as well as Kirk Cousins and rookie Trey Lance. Consider Stafford a low-end QB1 this week.

SEA FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.7
SEA FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.2
SEA FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.10
SEA FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.14

Running Game Thoughts: There was some concern that Sony Michel would maintain a significant role in the Los Angeles offense even though Darrell Henderson returned from a one-week injury, but that certainly didn’t happen. Not only did Michel get relegated to backup status, he saw just three carries - fumbling on one of them - which allowed Henderson to play a whopping 61 snaps. The game script and Michel’s fumble certainly played a big role in the playing time for these backs, but what was great to see is that the Rams coaching staff did not seem to have any concerns about the rib injury that kept Henderson out in Week 3. Henderson ended up carrying the ball 14 times, adding five receptions in the passing game, and he contributed another solid RB2 PPR fantasy performance despite failing to get into the end zone for the first time this season.

Henderson now faces a Seahawks defense that has been crushed by opposing running backs. They gave up 198 total yards to the duo of Jonathan Taylor and Nyheim Hines in Week 1 before Derrick Henry humiliated them with 237 total yards in Week 2. They then played the Dalvin Cook-less Minnesota Vikings in Week 3, which turned into a career day for backup Alexander Mattison who contributed 171 total yards. Last, this past week we saw 49ers rookie Trey Sermon, along with fullback Kyle Juszczyk, combine for another 130 total yards.

Needless to say, this is a great matchup on paper for Henderson and he has to be in lineups as a high-end RB2 in this one. Don’t bother with Michel, until we see him find his way back onto the field.

Value Meter:
QB1: Matthew Stafford (low-end)
RB2: Darrell Henderson (high-end)
WR1: Cooper Kupp
WR3: Robert Woods (high-end)
TE1: Tyler Higbee (low-end)
Flex: Van Jefferson
Bench: Sony Michel, DeSean Jackson

Passing Game Thoughts: Another low volume passing day for Russell Wilson meant that many fantasy owners were disappointed in the Seattle pass catching weapons in Week 4. Wilson himself saved his otherwise lackluster fantasy day by rushing for a touchdown - his first of the season and just his third since the start of the 2020 season, as he checked in with a 20-point fantasy day. He did also throw a pair of touchdown passes so there’s not a ton to complain about, but it’s just hard to trust that he’s going to have that type of red zone efficiency in every game. The Seahawks seem to be content with capping Wilson at right around 30 pass attempts almost regardless of what’s happening on the scoreboard. He’s the kind of player who can still turn that into a top-12 QB season, but the upside of him being a top five quarterback just doesn’t exist unless he either starts running the ball significantly more or the coaching staff decides to open the offense up and allow him to start throwing more - especially when his team is behind on the scoreboard.

There might be an opportunity for some of that this week as the Rams have one of the league’s most prolific offenses and are certainly capable of forcing the Seahawks into a more pass-heavy gameplan. That would obviously benefit Wilson, but perhaps more importantly it’d benefit his top two receiving options, DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett. Lockett got off to the hot start this season, just like he did in 2020, but he’s cooled off over the past two games while contributing just eight catches for 75 total receiving yards and no touchdowns. Lockett’s a notoriously streaky player who’s currently amidst a bit of a slide, so don’t go into this one with too high of expectations. He’s a mid-to-low-level WR2 in this contest and could see more of Jalen Ramsey’s coverage than fantasy owners would like, especially if Seattle moves Metcalf into the slot more often to keep him away from the star corner.

Metcalf has delivered four double-digit PPR fantasy days and ranks just outside the top-12 at the position on the year. Metcalf’s frame and play style has typecast him as a guy who’s boom-or-bust to casual fantasy gamers, but he’s actually been very reliable over the past two seasons and he doesn’t have nearly as many “boom” or "bust" games as you’d probably think. Unfortunately, Metcalf will likely see a lot of coverage from Ramsey this week and that could potentially be a problem. He lined up across from Ramsey on 53 coverage snaps in two games of the 2020 regular season and only accumulated one total catch for 11 yards during those plays. He was targeted just four times. The Seahawks did opt to move Metcalf around the formation much more than they normally do when these teams met up again in the playoffs, which led to a big game from Metcalf as he was targeted 11 times, catching five of those passes for 96 yards and two touchdowns. Look for them to deploy a similar strategy here in Week 5 in an attempt to get Metcalf away from Ramsey as much as possible. The Rams, of course, could counter, by moving Ramsey around more often as well, but we haven’t seen them do that much. It’ll be interesting to see how this one plays out, but be aware that this is probably not the high potential ceiling game for Metcalf that some might believe it is.

Freddie Swain might’ve jumped onto some fantasy radars as he’s now scored twice in four weeks, but he’s at best the third option in a low volume passing attack to begin with and that just brings too much risk of a bust game for him to be in any starting lineups. Roster him if you’d like and hope for an injury to one of the Seahawks’ top two receivers, but that’s about the only way that he’ll ever crack your lineup in a normal league.

Tight end Gerald Everett missed Week 4 after being played on the reserve/COVID list. He returned a negative COVID test on Monday and just needs to test negative one more time in order to get on the field for Thursday’s game. Backup tight end Will Dissly had an opportunity to get more involved in the passing game with Everett out, but was targeted just twice against the 49ers, confirming that he is someone who can be dropped in just about all formats. Everett, however, is still hanging on by a thread for fantasy consideration. He caught five passes for 58 yards against the Vikings in Week 3 and he scored a touchdown in Week 1, so there’s some low-end TE1 upside to potentially be found here. There are probably other options who have higher ceilings on your waiver wire, but those in deeper leagues could do worse than Everett here in Week 5 as he plays against a Rams defense that allowed Maxx Williams to catch five passes for 66 yards and a touchdown against them this past week.

LAR FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.15
LAR FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.11
LAR FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.14
LAR FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.12

Running Game Thoughts: A neck injury has Chris Carson’s Week 5 status in question and we’ll need further confirmation about his playing status before we make any definitive statements about this backfield. He didn’t practice on Tuesday, which absolutely has to be a concern for fantasy owners as this week’s game will be taking place on Thursday. Carson is a veteran who might not even need to get in a full practice before the team decides to activate him, but this is one we need to keep an eye on for sure.

For now, we’re going to assume that Carson will be active and thus will be the primary ball carrier for the team. However, even assuming that he does suit up, there’s a good chance that he loses touches to backup running back Alex Collins here in Week 5. Collins actually touched the ball 12 times to Carson’s 14 in Week 4, while out-producing Carson on a per-touch basis, and he also scored the team’s only running back touchdown for the day. A fully healthy Carson would almost certainly be a borderline bell cow back as we’ve seen in recent seasons, but that’s just not the case right now. Because of these worries, and facing a good Rams defense, Carson needs to be looked at as only as borderline RB2/Flex this week.

Collins has to move up into being a Flex option or low-end RB2 himself if Carson does sit, but he shouldn’t be in most lineups unless we get confirmation that Carson is out or at least that Collins will be the lead back for the week.

Value Meter:
QB1: Russell Wilson (low-end)
WR2: DK Metcalf, Tyler Locket
Flex: Chris Carson, Alex Collins (only if Carson is out)
Bench: Collins, Travis Homer, Freddie Swain, D’Wayne Eskridge, Gerald Everett

Prediction: Rams 30, Seahawks 24 ^ Top

Jets @ Falcons (London) - (Swanson)
Line: ATL -2.5
Total: 45.0

Passing Game Thoughts: The Jets head across the pond to take on the Falcons at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. New York is riding high on a surprising 27-24 overtime victory over the Titans last week in which rookie Zach Wilson had his best game as a pro, with 297 passing yards and two touchdowns. Wilson made numerous big throws in that game and topped a 60% completion rate for the first time this season.

Corey Davis continues to be the top wide receiver to start on the team after an impressive 4/111/1 last week against the Titans. However, Jamison Crowder quietly delivered a monster PPR game with 7/61/1 on nine targets. If Crowder continues to get 42% of the wide receiver targets or at least 25%, he is going to have value in all formats, especially PPR. Crowder played in 68% of snaps and has taken over the slot job from Braxton Berrios.

Kellan Cole had a nice week as well, but the target volume was not there (4), and he is more of a boom/bust play.

With nearly a quarter of the season in the books, we are starting to gather a decent sample size of how defenses are likely going to play. From a fantasy perspective, the Falcons give up the second-most points to opposing quarterbacks and the eighth-most to opposing WRs, making them a-plus matchup for the passing weapons for the Jets.

Wilson is more of a two-QB or high-end No.2 in single quarterback leagues because of the threat of turnovers. Davis is a solid play, and Crowder should be considered a WR3 or flex in PPR.

ATL FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.4
ATL FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.9
ATL FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.9
ATL FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.15

Running Game Thoughts: This matchup pits two teams with the worst rushing offenses in the league against each other, with the Falcons coming in dead last (not counting the stats for Patterson) and New York just ahead at 12.1 combined points per game.

No Jet running back has topped ten fantasy points in any game this season, making this a backfield to avoid if possible. The Falcons are downright dreadful against the pass, but they are not bad against the run, with Grady Jarrett controlling the line of scrimmage.

If you have to start a Jet, Michael Carter is the one to go with based on him getting the most carries in the past two games and his ability to get some work in the passing game.

Value Meter:
QB2: Zach Wilson (High-End)
RB3: Michael Carter (High-End)
WR2: Corey Davis (High-End)
WR3: Jamison Crowder (Low-End)
TE2: Ryan Griffin (Low-End)

Passing Game Thoughts: Matt Ryan enters Week 5 against the Jets as the No. 21 ranked fantasy quarterback on a team that is 1-3. On a positive note, Ryan is coming off his best game of the season with 283 passing yards and four passing touchdowns. He also has not turned the ball over once in his last two games.

On a negative note, the Jets have given up the 5th-fewest points to opposing quarterbacks this season, and this game projects to be a low-scoring affair.

The bright spot for Atlanta this season has been the breakout campaign for veteran Cordarrelle Patterson, who enters Week 5 behind only Cooper Kupp and Tyreek Hill for fantasy points scored by a wide receiver.

Although Calvin Ridley has the 6th most targets of any wide receiver in the league and by far the biggest target share on the Falcons, it is Patterson who continues to get the touchdowns and fantasy points and not Ridley.

There was massive hype around Ridley taking that next step as a fantasy player with Julio Jones moving on to the Titans. The volume has been there in terms of targets, but the production has not, with Ridley currently ranked as the No.30 WR in half-point PPR scoring. By comparison, Patterson has just 18 targets on the year.

The Kyle Pitts rookie blowout season has yet to happen in 2021, with the first round pick posting 15/189/0 in four games. He has yet to top 10 fantasy points in a game and enters Week 5 as the No. 22-ranked TE. For those of you who faded Pitts in drafts, it looks like you made a wise choice.

Update: According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Calvin Ridley will not travel with the team to London and will miss this game. Look for Ridley’s absence to boost targets for both Patterson and Pitts, with Olamide Zaccheaus also getting some volume.

NYJ FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.31
NYJ FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.1
NYJ FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.30
NYJ FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.26

Running Game Thoughts: As a team, the Falcons have fewer rushing fantasy points than any other team in the league. So much for Arthur Smith bringing his running game to Atlanta (we all knew they would struggle without Henry).

Mike Davis ranks 34th at the position in half-point PPR scoring and is only that high because he managed to score a receiving touchdown last week. Davis is averaging just 3.1 yards per carry and is not getting enough work to be a viable No.2 RB.

In Davis’ defense, the Falcons have played against the Bucs and the Football Team, two of the best run-stopping units in the game. But even with that aside, he is not making up for his troubles running the ball with production in the passing game, which greatly limits his value.

Patterson is the one of the two running backs you want to start on the Falcons, especially if your league gives him WR eligibility. He has been more efficient than Davis running the ball, and he clearly has a large role in the offense and a rapport with Ryan.

The matchup in this game could not get any better for Patterson and Davis, as the Jets have given up the second-most points to opposing running backs. McCaffrey, Damien Harris, and Derrick Henry all posted good games vs. Robert Salah’s defense.

Value Meter:
QB2: Matt Ryan (High-End)
RB3: Mike Davis (High-End)
WR1: Calvin Ridley (Low-End)
WR2: Cordarrelle Patterson (Low-End)
TE1: Kyle Pitts (Low-End)

Prediction: New York 21, Atlanta 17

Saints @ Football Team - (Krueger)
Line: NO -2.0
Total: 43.5

Passing Game Thoughts: Saints’ quarterbacks have thrown for 609 yards in four games, second worst only to the Bears combo of Andy Dalton and Justin Fields. Jameis Winston has only topped 200 passing yards once and has finished as the QB26 in each of the last three weeks. Yuck. The good news is that Washington has given up the most fantasy points to quarterbacks through four weeks, but the ineptitude of the Saints passing game and an uninspiring game total (43.5) makes it difficult to trust Winston in this matchup.

Checking in at WR76 in PPR leagues is Deonte Harris who leads the team in targets (15) receptions (11) and yards (164) which begs the question where is Marquez Callaway? Juwan Johnson is a touchdown or bust low-end TE2 and nobody else in the passing game is worth mentioning, even Alvin Kamara who has only 10 receptions to date. The matchup here is decent but the Saints low volume passing attack remains a situation to avoid, likely until Michael Thomas comes back.

WAS FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.1
WAS FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.27
WAS FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.2
WAS FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.16

Running Game Thoughts: The lack of work in the passing game for Kamara is eye-opening. After four weeks, Kamara is T-19 in running back targets (14). RBs with more receptions than Kamara include Kyle Juszczyk, Kenneth Gainwell, Derrick Henry and Jeremy McNichols. With the lack of playmakers at the wide receiver position you would think Kamara would be heavily involved in the passing game but that hasn’t been the case. Instead, Kamara is on pace to receive 331 rushing attempts – a substantial increase considering his high-water mark is 194 attempts back in 2018. The attempts are nice but swiss army knife Taysom Hill remains a goaline threat and has 3 rushing TDs on the season. Tony Jones (ankle) is expected to miss a few weeks which prompted the signing of Devine Ozigbo on Tuesday but Kamara is only fantasy option for now.

Washington has done a respectable job against RBs as most teams are finding success through the air. No running back has topped 60 yards against them but given the volume that Kamara is likely to see, he his easily on the RB1/RB2 borderline in Week 5. It should be noted the Saints have the highest run percentage (59.6) in the league. Kamara the only viable fantasy option on this team.

Value Meter:
QB2: Jameis Winston (low-end)
RB2: Alvin Kamara (high-end)
WR3: Marquez Callaway (low-end), Deonte Harris (low-end)
TE2: Juwan Johnson (low-end)
Bench: Adam Trautman

Passing Game Thoughts: Taylor Heinicke has thrown at least two touchdown passes in each of his last three games and his mobility is giving a nice boost to his fantasy value which currently sits in the middle of QB2 territory. Terry McLaurin (39% target share in Wk4) has posted a couple 100-yard receiving days and 3 TDs through four weeks and provides a safe floor and a big ceiling especially considering TE Logan Thomas (hamstring) is expected to miss the next few weeks. Curtis Samuel (groin) returned to action last week but it’s obvious Washington is going to bring him along slowly after missing the majority of the off-season. He missed practice on Wednesday and Thursday. Ricky Seals-Jones is expected to fill in for Thomas but isn’t a recommended option and feels more like a TE2 dart throw.

The Saints have allowed the 8th most passing yards to quarterbacks so this is a reasonable spot for Heinicke and McLaurin but others in the Washington passing game including Dyami Brown (knee) are risky propositions.

NO FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.24
NO FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.24
NO FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.8
NO FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.22

Running Game Thoughts: Antonio Gibson isn’t being used like a workhorse RB1 fantasy back. His 55% snap percentage last week may be product a of shoulder and shin injuries that’s been bothering him over the last few weeks. He was limited in practice on Thursday. He received 20 carries in Wk1 but hasn’t topped 14 carries in a game since. His passing game usage is ho-hum receiving two targets in each of the last three games. This qualifies him as a mid-range RB2 but is lacking upside unless his usage increases. J.D. McKissic is Flex worth in PPR leagues and continues to be used in hurry-up situations and the two-minute offense which also puts a cap on Gibson.

The Saints have done a good job limiting opposing RBs, giving up the 9th fewest fantasy points to the position which includes stifling Aaron Jones and Damien Harris while giving up what you might expect to Christian McCaffrey (24-72-1, 5-65) and Saquon Barkley (13-52-1, 5-74-1). Sporting one of the better run defenses in the league, it’s hard to get excited about Gibson's fantasy prospects in Week 5.

Value Meter:
QB2: Taylor Heinicke (high-end)
RB2: Antonio Gibson (low-end)
WR1: Terry McLaurin (Low-End)
Flex: J.D. McKissic
Bench: Curtis Samuel, Dyami Brown, Ricky Seals-Jones

Prediction: Football Team 26, Saints 24

Packers @ Bengals - (Green)
Line: GB -3.0
Total: 50.5

Passing Game Thoughts: Green Bay never looked in trouble against Pittsburgh last Sunday but also seemed to leave a lot of plays on the field. Aaron Rodgers was guilty of that, missing Robert Tonyan for an easy touchdown late that would’ve put the Packers up 34-10. It’s an ongoing issue with Rodgers this season as he hasn’t been as sharp as he was in 2020 when he ran away with the MVP award. His final numbers in Week 4 -- 248 yards, 2 TDs, 0 INTs and a rushing score -- were decent, but his streak of passing for fewer than 300 yards was extended to 10 games.

Although he was targeted a team-high 11 times, Davante Adams (6-64-0) finished behind Randall Cobb, who turned back the clock with 69 yards and two TDs on five receptions. The veteran was more involved with Marquez Valdes-Scantling (hamstring) out with a strained hamstring, which is something that could continue with MVS on IR. As such, Cobb could offer short-term appeal in deeper leagues. Meanwhile, Tonyan (2-8-0) continued to struggle, though his seven targets were a silver lining.

While the Bengals rank 13th in pass defense (229.5 yards per game), it’s worth noting that haven’t dealt with competent quarterbacking since Week 1 when Kirk Cousins threw for 351 yards and a pair of TDs. Adams is an elite WR1, and Rodgers is still top-10 with the potential to go off any given Sunday. Tonyan has weekly TE1 upside, but with the way he has played you’d be well within your rights to keep him benched.

CIN FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.26
CIN FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.15
CIN FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.15
CIN FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.28

Running Game Thoughts: Aaron Jones (15-48-0) never really got going on the ground but chipped in with 51 yards on three receptions against the Steelers. Fantasy owners got a glimpse of what AJ Dillon (15-81-0) can do in wearing down a defense, and at this point it’s all a matter of opportunity when it comes to generating value. Cincy is one of eight clubs giving up less than 100 yards rushing per game and fewer than 4.0 yards per carry, though Jacksonville ran the ball effectively against them last Thursday. Jones remains a solid RB1 while Dillon would be a lottery-ticket flex.

Value Meter:
QB1: Aaron Rodgers
RB1: Aaron Jones
Flex: AJ Dillon
WR1: Davante Adams
TE1: Robert Tonyan
Bench: Marquez Valdes-Scantling (IR), Randall Cobb

Passing Game Thoughts: After sleepwalking through the first half, Joe Burrow and the Cincinnati offense woke up in the second, scoring 24 points to erase a 14-0 deficit and narrowly avoid an embarrassing home loss to the Jags. Burrow finished the game with 348 yards passing and a pair of TDs in what was his best post-ACL surgery performance. Last year’s top overall pick is looking healthier, and the team has done a much better job of keeping him upright -- he was sacked 10 times in his first two games but just once in the past two. If Cincy coming out flat was a byproduct of overlooking Jacksonville, you can bet that won’t be the case against the Packers.

With Tee Higgins (shoulder) missing a second straight game, Tyler Boyd (9-118-0) and Ja’Marr Chase (6-77-0) stepped up alongside an unexpected contribution from C.J. Uzomah (5-95-2). Higgins has been a limited participant in practice this week and could be a game-time decision. If he’s up, Higgins is best viewed as a WR3 as a hedge against lingering injury issues. Chase should be considered a WR2 regardless of what happens, whereas Boyd would be a solid WR3 minus Higgins and more of a flex with him.

In terms of pass defense, Green Bay looks like a group in flux. They’re currently eighth in yards allowed (209.5) but are also one of just five teams to allow double-digit TD passes -- half of those came in Week 1, so they’ve allowed a much more respectable five over the past three weeks. Also, barring something unforeseen, they’ll be without All-Pro CB Jaire Alexander (shoulder), which is a blow to their secondary. Kevin King (concussion), the other starter, could return from a concussion after missing two games. Still, Burrow would carry some risk if used as a QB1.

GB FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.9
GB FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.16
GB FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.26
GB FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.7

Running Game Thoughts: It certainly appears that Joe Mixon (ankle) won’t suit up in Week 5 as he hasn’t practiced this week. Without him, Samaje Perine should get most of the touches. Perine averaged 4.8 yards per carry for the Bengals last season and could offer RB3 or flex appeal at least for this Sunday. On the other side, the Packers sit 12th in run defense at 102 yards per game on a YPC average of 4.3.

Value Meter:
QB2: Joe Burrow
RB3/Flex: Samaje Perine
WR2: Ja'Marr Chase
WR3: Tee Higgins (inj-shoulder)
WR3/Flex: Tyler Boyd
Bench: Joe Mixon (inj-ankle)

Prediction: Packers 34, Bengals 24

Lions @ Vikings - (Green)
Line: MIN -10.0
Total: 49.0

Passing Game Thoughts: How do you keep the Lions out of their homes? Paint an end zone in front of it. Ba-dum-tsh! Thank you, thank you. I’ll be here all week. Try the veal. Recycled jokes aside, Jared Goff and company had massive problems in the red zone this past Sunday with five trips inside the 10-yard line resulting in one touchdown, two lost fumbles and two turnovers on downs. It was the difference between notching their first win of 2021 and losing to a Bears team that had managed 47 total yards during their previous game.

If there was a silver lining it was that Goff (299 yards passing, 2 TDs, 0 INTs) was able to get the ball to his anonymous receiving corps with Quintez Cephus (4-83-0), Amon-Ra St. Brown (6-70-0) and Kalif Raymond (3-46-2) occupying the top three spots for receiving yardage in Week 4. Of course, that means it was another quiet day for T.J. Hockenson (4-42-0), who is drawing lots of attention. He scored a TD versus the Vikings last season but averaged just over 30 yards per game. Despite that middling production, Hockenson remains a TE1 and the lone playable Lions pass catcher.

Minnesota rates 18th against the pass, a mark that was helped by the struggles of Baker Mayfield (155 yards, 0 TDs) and success of Cleveland’s ground game last Sunday. There’s nothing intimidating about the Vikings’ secondary, which could be shorthanded after Cameron Dantzler (illness) and Harrison Hand (illness) both landed on the COVID-19 list. The silver lining for Minnesota is their pass rush (13 sacks; T-4th), and they could get Anthony Barr (knee) back in Week 5.

MIN FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.18
MIN FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.14
MIN FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.13
MIN FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.20

Running Game Thoughts: D’Andre Swift (8-16-0) had his worst game of the young season, accounting for just 49 total yards and taking a backseat to Jamaal Williams (14-66-0), whose north-south running style was more effective against Chicago. Both backs figure to get a lot of work this Sunday against the league’s 25th-ranked run defense; Minnesota is allowing 135.5 yards per game and 4.8 yards per carry this season. Swift ran effectively against the Vikings last year and is an RB2 this week. Williams can be deployed as an RB3.

Value Meter:
RB2: D’Andre Swift
RB3: Jamaal Williams
TE1: T.J. Hockenson
Bench: Jared Goff, Quintez Cephus

Passing Game Thoughts: A lot of good feelings about Kirk Cousins’ strong start to 2021 went up in smoke last Sunday with the type of performance that fantasy owners (and Vikings fans) have seen many times before. With Cleveland able to generate a steady pass rush, Cousins was off target and failed to lead the offense into the red zone after the opening-drive touchdown. He ended the day 20-for-38 with 203 yards, 1 TD and 1 INT -- a second interception was erased on a defensive pass interference call. Cousins lit up the Lions in 2020 (625 yards, 6 TDs, 0 INTs in two games), and though many of the faces have changed he could still be used as a low-end QB1.

While K.J. Osborn (3-26-0) and Tyler Conklin (4-18-0) have put themselves on the map in deeper leagues, the tandem of Justin Jefferson (6-84-1) and Adam Thielen (3-46-0) remain the only worthwhile options in standard leagues. Jefferson performed better against Detroit last year with 197 yards on a dozen receptions -- well beyond Thielen’s 6-95-0 combined line -- but surprisingly neither one of them was on the receiving end of any of Cousins’ six TD throws in two wins over the Lions. For the first meeting of 2021 you can play Jefferson as a midrange WR1 and Thielen as a steady WR2.

With the Bears intent on limiting what they asked of Justin Fields a week ago, the Lions gave up just 11 completions... for 209 yards. That’s a tidy 19.0 YPC for those scoring along at home. Detroit’s secondary was thin to begin with and it’s gotten thinner. Plus, they’ve now lost pass-rusher Romeo Okwara (Achilles) for the year. This matchup feels ripe for exploitation if the Vikings are so inclined.

DET FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.20
DET FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.4
DET FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.21
DET FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.19

Running Game Thoughts: Of course, when you’re talking about Mike Zimmer with a 1-3 record, the idea that he’d lean on the running game wouldn’t surprise anyone. Dalvin Cook returned after missing Week 3 with an ankle injury but finished with just 44 yards on 11 total touches. Alexander Mattison got 10 carries of his own, managing all of 20 yards. The Lions are one spot ahead of the Vikings in run defense at 132.8 yards allowed per game. Cook has missed practice Wednesday and Thursday so follow his status this weekend. Assuming he’s good to go, he should deliver RB1 value against the team he ran for 206 yards and 2 TDs against last November.

Value Meter:
QB1/QB2: Kirk Cousins
RB1: Dalvin Cook
WR1: Justin Jefferson
WR2: Adam Thielen
Bench: Alexander Mattison, K.J. Osborn, Tyler Conklin

Prediction: Vikings 31, Lions 21

Broncos @ Steelers - (Green)
Line: Pk
Total: 39.5

Passing Game Thoughts: Through the first three games, Teddy Bridgewater (concussion) had been his usual efficient self, completing over 75 percent of his passes without an interception as Denver rode an easy schedule to a 3-0 mark. Last week’s matchup with the Ravens represented their first meeting with a team that made the playoffs in 2020 but losing Bridgewater to a concussion right before halftime makes it difficult to gauge how close they are to being a legitimate playoff contender -- it was 14-7 when the injury took place, and the Broncos were outscored 9-0 the rest of the way.

Head coach Vic Fangio is hopeful that Bridgewater will be ready to go this Sunday. If not, Drew Lock, who passed for 113 yards and an interception last Sunday and failed to guide the team to any points, will make his first start of 2021. Whoever gets the nod, Courtland Sutton (3-47-0) should function as the top option on the outside while Tim Patrick (3-39-0) holds the fort down until Jerry Jeudy (ankle) can return from IR. Noah Fant (6-46-1) is a good fit for both QBs’ short passing preference and is the only player that holds clear starting fantasy value.

Pittsburgh carries a reputation as a tough defense, and they’re off to a decent start even with a 1-3 record and some ongoing injury troubles. The Steelers are better against the run, however, as they rank a middling 19th in both pass defense (258.8 yards per game) and sacks (eight), though keep in mind top defender T.J. Watt (groin) missed much of Week 2 and all of Week 3 with a groin injury. Beyond Fant as a TE1, Sutton can be used as a low-end WR3 or flex option. Neither quarterback should be played.

PIT FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.12
PIT FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.26
PIT FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.6
PIT FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.21

Running Game Thoughts: Denver’s one-two punch of Melvin Gordon (9-56-0) and Javonte Williams (7-48-0) has been effective this season with the veteran Gordon leading the way with 248 yards on 51 carries (4.9 YPC) and the rookie Williams following close behind with 46 carries for 186 yards (4.0 YPC). As noted, the Steelers are tough to run the ball on, sitting 11th at 99 yards per game and seventh at 3.7 YPC. Both Denver backs can be deployed as RB3s here.

Value Meter:
RB3: Melvin Gordon
RB3: Javonte Williams
WR3/Flex: Courtland Sutton
TE1: Noah Fant
Bench: Teddy Bridgewater (inj-concussion), Jerry Jeudy (IR)

Passing Game Thoughts: During the offseason, prominent national media members criticized the Packers for selecting Jordan Love so he could be developed behind Aaron Rodgers. Now, some of those same people are criticizing the Steelers for not having a succession plan for Ben Roethlisberger. The two QBs are one year apart. File the whole scenario under “damned if you, damned if you don’t.” Big Ben faced Rodgers last Sunday and showed no signs of altering his downward trajectory.

For the game, Roethlisberger completed 26 of 40 passes for 232 yards, 1 TD and 1 INT; he also lost a fumble and was sacked twice. The pedestrian numbers only tell part of the story, though, as he missed some potential big shots to JuJu Smith-Schuster (2-11-0) and spent most of his time tossing short passes to Diontae Johnson (9-92-1) and Najee Harris (6-29-0). The Steelers missed Chase Claypool (hamstring), and it’s worth acknowledging that the team hasn’t had all three wideouts for a full game since Week 2.

That could change this Sunday against Denver, which ranks sixth in pass defense (197.8 yards per game) and is one of four teams with more picks than TD throws allowed. No matter what happens with Claypool, Johnson has created some distance and is now the top option with WR2 appeal. Smith-Schuster has trended in the opposite direction and would be a hard sell as more than a flex candidate. If Claypool is up, he can be penciled in as a WR3. As for Roethlisberger, it’s time to leave him on the bench.

DEN FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.30
DEN FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.32
DEN FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.18
DEN FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.29

Running Game Thoughts: The Steelers entered Week 4 with the NFL’s last-ranked rushing offense, and it’s a spot they still occupy today. Najee Harris (15-62-1) did enjoy his best game on the ground, setting season highs in yardage and yards per carry (4.1) while scoring his first rushing TD. That was a low bar, though, and the Broncos bring the fifth-ranked run defense (70 yards per game) into the Steel City. Still, Harris adds enough as a pass catcher to offer RB2 value even in a negative matchup.

Value Meter:
RB2: Najee Harris
WR2: Diontae Johnson
WR3: Chase Claypool (inj-hamstring)
Flex: JuJu Smith-Schuster
Bench: Ben Roethlisberger (inj-pectoral)

Prediction: Steelers 20, Broncos 16

Titans @ Jaguars - (Swanson)
Line: TEN -4.5
Total: 48.5

Passing Game Thoughts: Ryan Tannehill and the Titans enter Week 5 against the Jags fresh off the heels of a disappointing road loss to the Jets in yet another overtime game for Tennessee. 2021 has not been as kind to Tannehill fantasy managers as 2020, with Tannehill averaging three fewer fantasy points per game and the fewest since joining the team in 2019.

His completion percentage is down to 63%, and he has nearly half as many interceptions this season as he had all of last year.

It has not helped that A.J. Brown and Julio Jones missed last week with hamstring injuries and most of the game against the Colts. Josh Reynolds and Chester Rogers led the Titans in receiving last week against the Jets, with Reynolds garnering the most targets on the week at nine.

Nick Westbrook-Ikhine was the flavor of the week and the hotness on the waiver wire after catching a touchdown against the Colts in Week 3, but he too is dealing with an injury and will likely miss this game.

Julio was a DNP in practice on Wednesday and looks like he is headed for another inactive week. Brown was able to log a limited practice and could be able to play. Keep an eye on the Friday practice report. If he logs full participation, put him in your lineup.

The Jags are a hot mess on defense and present a plus-matchup for both the passing weapons and Derrick Henry on the ground. Tyrod Taylor, Teddy Bridgewater, Kyler Murray, and Joe Burrow all managed to post 20 or more fantasy points and only Murray has an interception against the Jacksonville secondary.

Game script is something to monitor in this game, as it is well within the realm of possibility that the Titans run all over the Jags and create a negative passing game script for Tannehill. He should still be considered a start based on the matchup, but don’t be surprised to see his volume down a tick.

JAC FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.8
JAC FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.12
JAC FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.11
JAC FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.10

Running Game Thoughts: Death, Taxes, and Derrick Henry running wild with a ridiculous number of carries. Those are things fantasy managers can expect to be inalienable truths. We all keep waiting for Henry to break down, yet he continues to dominate and is on pace for over 500 touches.

He is not a man. He is built differently, and owners should continue to plug him in regardless of matchup and thrive when faced with a plus-matchup like this. Jacksonville ranks 7th in fantasy points allowed and has given up a touchdown to an opposing running back every week. If Henry does not get at least 100 yards and a score, we will be shocked.

There are a few injuries for the Titans to consider in this matchup, but none of them should sway you from starting the King. Starting tackle Taylor Lewan is dealing with a toe injury and center/guard Aaron Brewer missed practice on Wednesday with a knee issue. Starting guard Rodger Saffold III is in the concussion protocol.

Value Meter:
QB1: Ryan Tannehill (Low-End)
RB1: Derrick Henry (Elite)
WR1: A.J. Brown (Low-End)
WR3: Chester Rogers (Low-End)
TE2: Geoff Swaim (High-End)

Passing Game Thoughts: Rookie Trevor Lawrence is off to the type of season you would expect of a number one overall quarterback learning how to play QB at the NFL level. Lawrence is completing just 57% of his passes and has more interceptions than touchdown passes. On a positive note, he does have a rushing touchdown, and the team looks committed to giving him read-option plays in the red zone.

The team lost D.J. Chark to a season-ending broken ankle against the Bengals last week, leaving only Laviska Shenault and Marvin Jones as the two viable fantasy options on the team. Jones leads the team with a 36% target share among wide receivers through four games, but Shenault has been steady with 31%.

Both players are strong starts this week against a Titans secondary that is downright awful. Only the Buccaneers have allowed more fantasy points to wide receivers than Tennessee, and the Titans are tied with eight receiving touchdowns allowed to opposing WRs.

There are several injuries on the Titans that should make things even more attractive for Lawrence and the passing game, including linebackers Rashann Evans, Bud Dupree, and Jayon Brown, all dealing with ailments. Dupree is the most interesting, as he is the best pass-rushing threat on the team, and he is limited with a knee injury.

TEN FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.14
TEN FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.20
TEN FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.3
TEN FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.32

Running Game Thoughts: Carlos Hyde was a surprising healthy scratch last week for the Jags as they played the Bengals on the road, opening the door for James Robinson to be the below back. Robinson went from 59% of the snaps in Week 4 to 95% in Week 5 and responded with a monster two-touchdown game.

Hopefully, Urban Myer learned from his mistake of splitting carries between the two backs, and Robinson will once again carry the mail.

You can certainly run on the Titans, but passing against them has been the more successful option up to this point in the year. Another thing to consider is this game could go sideways, forcing the Jags to pass more than they would like.

This should not change your opinion on starting Robinson, as he is a solid high-end RB 2. Just keep in mind that a ton of his value game last week because the Bengals struggled to move the ball in the first half against the Jags. That will not be the case for Derrick Henry and the Titans.

Value Meter:
QB2: Trevor Lawrence (High-End)
RB2: James Robinson (High-End)
WR3: Laviska Shenault (High-End)
WR3: Marvin Jones (High-End)
TE2: Dan Arnold (High-End)

Projection: Tennessee 30, Jacksonville 21

Eagles @ Panthers - (Swanson)
Line: CAR -3.0
Total: 45.0

Passing Game Thoughts: Jalen Hurts was a preseason darling for most in the fantasy industry to become the breakout quarterback for the year. Although we are only four games into the season, that breakout looks to be happening, as Hurts ranks third in fantasy points per game, behind only Patrick Mahomes and Kyler Murray.

Hurts has seven passing touchdowns and only two picks, along with 226 rushing yards and a score. Not only has he taken the next step in his progression to be more efficient in year two, the rushing yards that we all hoped for are there as well.

Rookie DeVonta Smith leads the wide receiving corps with 18 catches for 237 yards and one score. Although the touchdowns are lower than anticipated, he does lead the team in targets with 33 and a 22.76% target share. Most rookies start off slow, but Smith has looked every bit the first round pick and should continue to get better as the season progresses.

The same cannot be said for last year’s first round bust, Jalen Reagor. Despite being on the field for an average of 77% of the team’s plays, Reagor has not topped 54 yards and saw just one target last week against the Chiefs. Feel free to cut bait and move on.

It might surprise some to learn that rookie running back Kenneth Gainwell is second on the team in targets and tied for second with 15 catches. Miles Sanders is the first and second down back, with Gainwell working as the receiving back and during the two-minute drill. In full PPR leagues, the rookie is well worth flex consideration in this game.

From a matchup perspective, the Panthers have been solid against opposing quarterbacks in 2021, limiting QBs to the sixth-fewest points on the year. Closer examination of their matchups reveals a team that has benefitted from playing some of the worst passing offenses in the league, with the Jets, Saints, and Texans on their schedule. Dak Prescott proved last week with four passing touchdowns that you can pass on the Panthers if you are an above-average passing offense.

CAR FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.27
CAR FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.30
CAR FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.29
CAR FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.17

Running Game Thoughts: It’s hard to imagine a more disappointing fantasy player than Miles Sanders. He came into the league with a ton of hype and appeared to land in an offense that would utilize his impressive skill set that he put on display at Penn State in College.

Instead of flourishing, Sanders has just 12 total touchdowns in 32 NFL games and has yet to score this year. He has just nine carries in the last two games and continues to give up ground to his rookie counterpart, Kenneth Gainwell.

The rookie is the preferred receiving back for head coach Nick Siriani and clearly has a rapport with Jalen Hurts.

The Panthers defense presents a difficult challenge when projecting the outcome of this game. In Week 2, they completely shut down Alvin Kamara and the Saints, only to give up over 200 using yards to Zeke Elliott and Tony Pollard in Week 4.

Who are the real Panthers? If you take out the Dallas game, they have given up fewer than 100 rushing yards in their first three games. Considering that they are back home and the Eagles are dealing with significant injuries to their offensive line, we anticipate Carolina will make it very difficult to run on Sunday.

On a positive note, starting left tackle Jordan Mailata was back at practice in a limited capacity on Wednesday and could return to the field after missing the last two games with a knee injury.

Pro Bowl center Jason Kelce missed practice on Wednesday with a foot injury. The top-rated center in 2021, according to ProFootballFocus, typically rests on Wednesday and should be good to go.

An injury of note for the Panthers that could help both the passing and running game is the loss of linebacker Shaq Thompson, who is out with a foot injury.

Value Meter:
QB1: Jalen Hurts (High-End)
RB2: Miles Sanders (Low-End)
WR2: DeVonta Smith (Low-End)
WR4: Quez Watkins (High-End)
TE1: Dallas Goedert (Low-End)
TE2: Zach Ertz (High-End)

Passing Game Thoughts: It might surprise you to learn that Sam Darnold currently leads all players, running backs included, in rushing touchdowns through four weeks of the year. By comparison, Darnold had five total rushing touchdowns in his first 38 starts.

Regression to the mean is likely for Darnold, and expecting that sort of rushing production is likely a mistake. However, he is on pace to set personal records in completion percentage, passing yards, and passing touchdowns. Oh, and he has done all that without Christian McCaffrey, who could return to the field this week.
The breakout season that we all hoped for from D.J. Moore is finally here, with the former first round pick from Maryland averaging 18.7 points per game in half-point scoring. He is on pace to smash all of his personal records and is clearly the favorite target for Darnold. Both Darnold and Moore are excellent plays this week and should be in your lineups.

The same cannot be said for Robby Anderson, who has yet to top 57 yards in any game and has just one receiving touchdown on the year. Head coach Matt Rhule said after the Houston game that he wanted to get Anderson more involved. That technically did happen, with Anderson getting 11 targets against the Cowboys.

Unfortunately, he managed to catch just five of those passes for 46 yards and no scores. It would be advisable to bench Anderson for the time being until he starts producing.

The Panthers are not the same passing offense without Christian McCaffrey. Chuba Hubbard filled in for McCaffrey as the running down back, and Rodney Smith handled the majority of passes, but neither player did much in what appeared to be a solid matchup against Dallas.

PHI FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.17
PHI FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.8
PHI FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.22
PHI FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.11

Running Game Thoughts: Christian McCaffrey was back at practice on Wednesday after straining his hamstring at Houston on September 23rd. It is too early to tell if that means he will play on Sunday, and even if he does play, will he get the full workload that makes him such a dangerous fantasy weapon?

If he does suit up, you are starting him, but expect a lighter workload than normal, with Hubbard helping carry the load.

This is a matchup that CMC managers would love to see their star take advantage of, as the Eagles have given up the 8th most points to opposing running backs. Ezekiel Elliott scored two rushing touchdowns vs. the Eagles, and Clyde Edwards-Elaire posted 18.4 fantasy points last week.

QB1: Sam Darnold (High-End)
RB1: Christian McCaffrey (Low-End)
WR2: D.J. Moore (High-End)
WR3: Robby Anderson (Low-End)
TE2: Tommy Tremble (High-End)

Prediction: Philadelphia 34, Carolina 28

Dolphins @ Buccaneers - (Swanson)
Line: TB -10.0
Total: 48.0

Passing Game Thoughts: The 2021 season for the Miami Dolphins has been a disaster, with quarterback Tua Tagovailoa suffering a rib injury and a stint on the IR and loses to Bills, Raiders, and Colts after a win to start the season against the Patriots.

Joining Tua on the IR is free agent acquisition Will Fuller, who suffered a broken finger after posting just four catches for 26 yards in two games.

Backup QB Jacoby Brissett has been adequate but not great in terms of fantasy production for the skill position players on the team. The veteran ranks 31st in fantasy points per game, with just two passing touchdowns and only one game of over 200 passing yards.

The Dolphins have struggled running the ball and currently sit as the 5th-worst rushing team with 78.3 yards per game. Considering that the Bucs are the most difficult team to run against, it would make sense for Brissett and the Dolphins to pass against the Bucs early and often.

Tampa Bay ranks 5th in points allowed to quarterbacks and have given up the most passing touchdowns on the season. Dak Prescott, Matt Ryan, and Matthew Stafford each topped 300 passing yards and posted multiple passing touchdowns against the Bucs. Even rookie Mac Jones had a solid game vs. Tampa Bay, giving hope to DeVante Parker and Jalen Waddle fantasy managers.

Another positive sign for the Dolphins passing attack is the broken-down status of the Tampa Bay secondary. Starting safety Antoine Winfield Jr. is in the concussion protocol, starting cornerback Carlton Davis missed practice on Wednesday with a quad injury, and fellow starting corner Jamel Dean was limited with a knee injury.

Veteran corner Richard Sherman started for the Bucs last week after the team signed him to a one-year deal. Sherman still has great instincts and ball skills, but he is one of the slowest corners in the league at his advanced age and can be beaten by fast wideouts like Waddle.

TB FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.5
TB FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.28
TB FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.1
TB FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.3

Running Game Thoughts: 2021 has not been kind for Myles Gaskin and those fantasy managers who listened to the number of fantasy analysts who predicted a monster season from the second-year running back.

Although Gaskin is averaging nearly five yards per carry, he has just 29 attempts in four games and has yet to reach the end zone.

The Dolphins are a running back by committee that cannot run the ball. As a team, they have just 66 rushes in four games. By comparison, Derrick Henry has 113 carries!

Even in the best of matchups, it is difficult to trust a Dolphins running back. In a matchup like this against the top run-stopping team in the league, you should avoid these players like the plague.

QB2: Jacoby Brissett (Low-End)
RB3: Myles Gaskin (High-End)
WR3: DeVante Parker (High-End)
WR3: Jaylen Waddle(High-End)
TE1: Mike Gesicki (Low-End)

Passing Game Thoughts: Tom Brady failed to throw a passing touchdown in last week’s close victory over the Patriots in the overhyped return of Brady to Foxboro. After starting the season red-hot, with nine passing touchdowns in two games, Brady came back down to Earth with one passing touchdown in his last two.

Look for him to bounce back in a big way in this matchup against a Miami defense that ranks in the middle of the pack in fantasy points given up to opposing quarterbacks. This is not the same choice matchup against the Falcons from a few weeks past, and Miami has only given up one game of over 20 fantasy points. But when you consider that two of those games came against Mac Jones and Carson Wentz, and you have a better idea of the opportunity the Dolphins present.

Teams have found more success running the ball against Miami than trying to move it through the air, with the Dolphins currently sitting second in fantasy points allowed to running backs. But the Bucs are not a great running team, and head coach Bruce Arians will want to get his passing attack back on track after a disappointing performance vs. the Pats on Sunday Night Football.

Another reason why the Bucs will target the Dolphins in the passing game is the injuries to three of the starting members of the Miami secondary. Xavien Howard has a shoulder injury, and Safety Brandon Jones is dealing with an ankle injury. Both players practiced on Thursday and should be good to go, but they may not be themselves, and Brady will test them.

Starting corner Byron Jones missed practice quad and Achilles issues and could miss the game.

MIA FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.23
MIA FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.3
MIA FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.20
MIA FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.13

Running Game Thoughts: Leonard Fournette saw an 82% snap count last week against the Patriots after seeing the field in just 36% the week prior. With Giovani Bernard out of the game, Fournette was not only the primary first and second down back, but he was also the team’s passing down weapon as well.

Ronald Jones has just 25 total snaps in the last two games and appears to be an afterthought. Sure, he reached the end zone last week, but you would have had to be brave to play him with just 12 snaps the week prior.

Miami has given up three 100-yard games, four matchups this season, including 103 yards, and a score last week in a loss against the Colts. Not only can you run on the Phins, but they have given up a whopping six total touchdowns in four games.

We anticipate that the Bucs will get up early on the Dolphins with Brady taking advantage of a broken-down secondary, and the Bucs defense will shut down Brissett. This should create a positive game script for Fournette that is conducive to a solid fantasy day.

QB1: Tom Brady (High-End)
RB2: Leonard Fournette (High-End)
WR1: Mike Evans (Low-End)
WR1:Chris Godwin (Low-End)
WR3: Antonio Brown (High-End)
TE1: Cameron Brate (Low-End)

Tampa Bay 34, Miami 17

Patriots @ Texans - (Swanson)
Line: NE -8.5
Total: 39.5

Passing Game Thoughts: Mac Jones held his own in a showdown with Tom Brady and the Buccaneers on Sunday Night Football. You could make a case that the rookie actually outplayed the future first ballot hall of famer, with two touchdowns and 275 yards with a 77% completion percentage.

Now that the Brady game is behind them, the Patriots and Jones head south to Houston to take on the Texans and fellow rookie Davis Mills.

From a fantasy perspective, the Texans present a significantly easier opportunity than the Bucs for the pass-catching options on the Patriots. Houston has given up the 5th-most points to opposing quarterbacks and the second-most points to opposing tight ends. The Texans are also the tenth-worst against the run, which fits perfectly into the type of team the Patriots are on offense.

Look for the Pats to force a positive game script on defense and run the ball on offense, with Jones mixing in play-action passes to his duo of tight ends, Jonnu Smith and Hunter Henry. Both players caught a touchdown last week against Tampa Bay and should be active again this week against a team that struggles to cover tight ends.

Jakobi Myers continues to be the favorite target for Jones in the receiving corps, with Nelson Agholor and Kendrick Bourne pulling up the rear. In a game that projects to be a fairly easy win for the Pats, there may not be enough volume in the passing game for all of them to have value. Myers is a start for sure with 26 targets in his last two games, but the other two may be risky.

HOU FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.6
HOU FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.13
HOU FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.23
HOU FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.2

Running Game Thoughts: The Texans lack playmakers on the defensive side of the ball at all levels, making them susceptible to the run. Unlike last week against Tampa Bay, in which the Pats could not move the ball on the ground, they will look to lean heavily on their ground game in what should be a positive game script for Damien Harris.

It is very un-Belichick-like for a Patriots team to rank outside the top-20 in fantasy points scored by running backs. This is primarily due to a difficult run matchup against the Saints and the Bucs over the past two weeks. The Texans are on the opposite end of the spectrum and should give up a ton of yards and points on the ground.

The Patriots have been hit with COVID-19 issues on the offensive line, with starting tackle Isaiah Wynn and starting guard Mike Onwenu listed on the reserve Covid list on Tuesday. Should they miss the game along with starting right tackle Trent Brown, who missed last week, the Pats may not be able to run as well as they would like.

Value Meter:
QB2: Mac Jones (High-End)
RB2: Damien Harris (High-End)
WR2: Jakobi Meyers (Low-End)
WR3: Nelson Agholor (Low-End)
TE2: Jonnu Smith (High-End)
TE2: Hunter Henry (High-End)

Passing Game Thoughts: The Texans have a point differential of -65 since rookie Davis Mills took over at quarterback for veteran starter Tyrod Taylor. According to beat writer Aaron Wilson, Taylor is still a “couple of weeks” away and will not play against Bill Belichick and the Patriots.

Belichick is well known for giving even the best rookie quarterbacks a difficult time with complicated defensive schemes and looks. Mills is coming off a 40-0 loss to the hands of another talented defensive mind in Sean McDermott, leading us to believe that Mills will struggle once again this week.

The only variable option in the passing offense for the Texans that should be a start is wide receiver Brandin Cooks, who leads the team with 28/369/1. His 369 yards are 67% of all of the yards so far for Texans receivers.

Although he will get the volume, don’t be surprised to see Belichick develop a scheme that double teams Cooks on nearly every play. His calling card as a coach is to take away the best weapon on the opposing team, and that certainly is Cooks in the case of the Texans.

A matchup to watch in this game is going to be Cooks on starting cornerback JC Jackson. Jackson has done an excellent job shutting down top wide receivers this season, including Mike Evans, last week.

NE FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.29
NE FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.19
NE FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.28
NE FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.31

Running Game Thoughts: As a unit, the Texans have posted the 17th-most points in four games this season, despite getting shut out last week against the Bills. While this may sound like the Texans are an average running team, they are far from that for fantasy purposes and should be avoided at all costs.

The Texans use four running backs, and none of them are worth owning or starting in fantasy. They are most certainly not worth starting in this matchup against a Patriots defense that will force Davis Mills into bad throws and long downs and distances.
We cannot even recommend starting them in PPR formats. In four games, those four running backs, Mark Ingram, David Johnson, Rex Burkhead, and Phillip Lindsay and not combined for 100 receiving yards.

Value Meter:
QB2: Davis Mills (Low-End)
RB3: Mark Ingram (High-End)
WR2: Brandin Cooks (Low-End)
TE2: Pharaoh Brown (High-End)

Prediction: New England 28, Houston 10

Browns at Chargers - (Caron)
Line: LAC -2.5
Total: 47.0

Passing Game Thoughts: A torn labrum in his non-throwing shoulder does seem to be affecting Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield, and wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. has certainly suffered the side effects. Beckham himself has actually looked good since getting back on the field over the past two weeks, but he’s been held to just seven catches for 104 yards and he hasn’t yet scored a touchdown. If you’re looking for a positive, though, it should be that Beckham has been targeted 16 times - an impressive number when you consider that he hadn’t been on the field in about a year. With Jarvis Landry still out, Beckham should continue to be the Browns target leader and it seems like only a matter of time before he’s delivering some nice fantasy production.

With the Browns passing offense being relatively low volume to begin with, we’re going to avoid all of the other pass catchers, other than Beckham, for now.

The Browns face the Chargers this week and that’s a defense that has given up the fifth-fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks so far this season. They’ve done so despite a difficult schedule that has included games against Dak Prescott and even Patrick Mahomes. Mayfield is typically a mid-level QB2, but we’re going to knock him down to “bench” status this week in what is a difficult matchup.

LAC FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.28
LAC FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.17
LAC FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.31
LAC FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.6

Running Game Thoughts: While the Browns passing game has been struggling, they’ve been leaning even more heavily than usual on their running game. That has resulted in some huge performances for both Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt. Chubb has carried the ball over 20 times in each of the past two weeks and while he remains relatively inactive in the passing game, he’s going to remain a low-end RB1 most weeks. This week he faces a Chargers defense that did a good job of containing the Raiders’ running backs on the ground this past week, but had previously given up back-to-back 100-plus yard rushing days to running backs.

Despite being the “backup,” Hunt has actually outscored Chubb thus far this year, primarily due to his usage in the passing game and at the goal line. Hunt has caught 12 passes and scored three rushing touchdowns already this season, while seeing about a dozen carries per week on the ground. That type of usage makes him a high floor RB2 option who has the potential to break into RB1 range if he gets into the end zone.

Value Meter:
RB1: Nick Chubb (low end)
RB2: Kareem Hunt
WR2: Odell Beckham Jr. (low end)
Bench: Baker Mayfield, Rashard Higgins, Anthony Schwartz, Donovan Peoples-Jones, Austin Hooper, David Njoku

Passing Game Thoughts: Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert got off to a bit of a slow start this season, but he’s been on fire over the past two weeks - both Chargers wins - while throwing for over 600 yards and seven touchdowns with no interceptions. He’s been making use of his top pass catching weapons, as well, with Keenan Allen, Mike Williams and even tight end Jared Cook turning in some high-end fantasy performances.

Herbert and the Chargers do have a difficult matchup this week against a Browns defense that has really stepped up in recent weeks, although it’s worth noting that they’ve faced some pretty weak competition since their game against Patrick Mahomes back in Week 1. While this isn’t an ideal matchup, it should be one that Herbert can perform against and we need to be looking at him QB1, albeit a low-end one.

Wide receiver Keenan Allen hasn’t been giving us the high-even production that we’ve seen from him at times, but he has been reliable and he’s seeing plenty enough targets for us to consider him a low-end WR1 or high-end WR2. Meanwhile, teammate Mike Williams has been one of the most surprising revelations of the early 2021 fantasy season, as he turned in massive fantasy performances in each of his first three games. He was held to just one catch for nine yards on a season-low four targets against the Raiders in Week 4, which may be a sign that things are coming back down to Earth, but he’s been productive enough that he should still be in lineups this week as a WR2. It is worth noting, however, that he will likely see a lot of coverage from Browns cornerback Denzel Ward who has been quite good this season. That could cause Herbert to look elsewhere more often than he did in other, more advantageous matchups.

Tight end Jared Cook is another one in the line of weekly borderline TE1s for fantasy, but he does have a difficult on-paper matchup this week against the Browns. Cleveland allowed Travis Kelce to torch then in Week 1, but they’ve otherwise been excellent against all other tight ends they’ve faced including holding Minnesota’s Tyler Conklin to four catches for 18 yards this past week. You could still do worse than Cook as your TE1 if you need him, but look around your league’s waiver wire and see if you can find someone who’s in a better situation.

CLE FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.25
CLE FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.31
CLE FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.25
CLE FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.23

Running Game Thoughts: Austin Ekeler got off to a bit of a slow start in Week 1, but he’s scored more points in each subsequent week, until this past week’s dominant performance against the Raiders. Ekeler ran the ball 15 times for 117 yards and a touchdown, adding three catches for an additional 28 yards and another touchdown. Ekeler has now caught 18 passes over his past three games and is back to being a rock solid RB1 in practically any matchup as he’s completely dominating touches in neutral game situations.

With the Browns being a good team, it’s hard to imagine that the Chargers will be ahead enough on the scoreboard that any of the Chargers backups get any significant work. Larry Rountree III got 11 carries in Week 4 with Los Angeles ahead multiple scores against Las Vegas, but he should be on fantasy benches here in this one.

Value Meter:
QB1: Justin Herbert (low end)
RB2: Austin Ekeler
WR1: Keenan Allen (low end)
WR2: Mike Williams
Bench: Larry Rountree III, Justin Jackson, KJ Hill, Josh Palmer, Jared Cook

Prediction: Chargers 27, Browns 23

Bears at Raiders - (Caron)
Line: LV -5.5
Total: 44.5

Passing Game Thoughts: Chicago Bears head coach Matt Nagy committed to Justin Fields as the team’s starting quarterback on Tuesday, citing noticeable improvements from the rookie’s performance this past weekend in Chicago’s win over Detroit. Fields didn’t do much from a fantasy standpoint, though. He attempted just 17 passes, completing 11 of them for 209 yards and no touchdowns with one interception. That type of volume just isn’t nearly enough to sustain multiple fantasy-relevant pass catcher. In fact, it might not even be enough to sustain even one fantasy-relevant pass catcher.

Allen Robinson has made a career out of succeeding with some awful quarterbacks, but thus far in 2021, he hasn’t been able to produce much with the combination of Andy Dalton and Justin Fields. Robinson has just 13 receptions on the season and his target numbers haven’t been great either. In fact, with Fields behind center, Robinson has been targeted just nine times over the past two weeks, catching five of those passes for 90 total yards. Obviously we know that Robinson is talented and we can have hope that things will turn around, but things just don’t look good for him or really any of the Bears pass catchers right now. It seems crazy to say, but - for now - Robinson is a low-end Flex option at best, and there’s a good chance that you have someone on your bench who you should be starting above him in that spot. Let’s take a “wait and see” approach with this situation.

Darnell Mooney has been seeing a higher target share than Robinson, including the past two weeks with Fields at QB. Mooney had his best game of the season this past week when he caught five passes for 125 yards. Mooney is a talented player with big play potential, but he’s also the kind of player who can deliver what he did in Week 3 when he caught just one of the five targets for nine yards. He’s worth rostering in the scenario that he becomes Justin Fields’ favorite receiver, but he, too, should be on your bench until we figure out what type of connection he has with Fields, or at least until we see more volume from this Chicago passing game.

Fields himself is a player who we had hoped for more from on the ground but we haven’t seen that happen yet. It’s possible that the coaching staff has instructed him to avoid running the ball due to the lack of depth the team has behind him, but it’s equally as likely that Fields just doesn’t feel as comfortable taking off and running in the NFL as he did in college, due to the size and speed of the defenders. Whatever the issue is, we just can’t trust Fields to be a starting fantasy QB at the moment. He’s a borderline QB2 until the offense opens up for him, or until he starts to show us more than what he has so far.

LV FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.22
LV FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.6
LV FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.24
LV FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.9

Running Game Thoughts: With David Montgomery now expected to miss four or more games with a knee sprain, the hottest waiver wire add of the week was veteran Damien Williams. Williams carried the ball eight times for 55 yards and a touchdown primarily in relief of Montgomery in Week 4, adding two catches for an additional 15 yards in the process. He’s a versatile veteran with 20-touch upside in this offense, particularly in games in which the Bears get ahead on the scoreboard like we saw this past week against the Lions.

Unfortunately, this looks like a game that could easily turn into a low scoring output contest as the Bears head to Las Vegas to play the Raiders. Las Vegas has mostly held opposing running backs in check on the ground, but they’ve already given up six touchdowns to the position on the season. This past week was their worst performance, which not surprisingly came in a loss to the Chargers, when they allowed Austin Ekeler to run for 117 yards and catch an additional three passes for 28 yards to go along with two total touchdowns.

We expect that Williams will be the primary back while Montgomery is out, but there is a possibility that Khalil Herbert gets some additional playing time and limits Williams’ upside. Deploy Williams as an RB2 this week, but keep an eye on the situation.

Value Meter:
RB2: Damien Williams
Flex: Allen Robinson (low-end)
Bench: Justin Fields, Khalil Herbert, Darnell Mooney, Cole Kmet

Passing Game Thoughts: Derek Carr torched the NFL through the first three weeks of the season, but he did fall back to about his norm this past week in the Raiders’ loss to the Chargers. His 196 passing yards were almost 200 fewer than any game he’s had thus far in 2021 and while he did still throw a pair of touchdowns, it wasn’t enough to make him finish as a QB1 for fantasy. We’ve become accustomed to Carr being a low-end QB2 most weeks who does occasionally have QB1 games and that’s about what we should be considering him going forward.

This week, Carr and the Raiders will host the Bears, who have been a beatable defense for opposing quarterbacks. One position they have done an excellent job against, however, is tight end. They held Lions tight end T.J. Hockenson to just four catches for 42 yards on eight targets this past week. They’ve allowed just one touchdown to the position through their first four games, while holding the position to a total of just 133 receiving yards. Certainly Darren Waller is a must-start in any matchup in seasonal leagues, but this is not a particularly great situation for him and it’s one where he should probably be avoided in for DFS.

The wide receiver situation in Las Vegas continues to be a bit of a crapshoot. Henry Ruggs III has been the team’s best field stretcher, as expected, but he’s been held to four or fewer catches in all but one game, while scoring zero touchdowns in all three of those contests. That type of boom/bust receiver is attractive in best ball formats, but he’s someone who can be extremely frustrating to start in seasonal leagues. We expect this game to be a low scoring affair, so Ruggs’ targets are likely to be limited. If he’s someone who’s a borderline starter for you, this is probably a week to bench him.

Fellow wide receiver Bryan Edwards continues to be the team’s go-to player late in games and in important situations, but it almost seems like they completely forget about him in normal game situations. Edwards has been targeted five or fewer times in every game and he’s just not contributing enough to be in starting lineups.

The surprising “breakout” player in the Raiders passing game this season has been Hunter Renfrow. We knew that he was going to be part of this offense, but few could’ve expected that he’d be consistently leading the team in targets at the wide receiver position. Renfrow has seen at least six targets in every game and he’s now scored in back-to-back weeks. He’s definitely not a sexy name and he’s not a high ceiling option, but you could do a lot worse than Renfrow as a WR3 in PPR formats right now.

CHI FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.19
CHI FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.22
CHI FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.5
CHI FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.27

Running Game Thoughts: Josh Jacobs returned to the field this past week, which relegated Peyton Barber to the bench as he saw just one carry on the day. Kenyan Drake also saw minimal playing time, carrying the ball just once, and he failed to see a target in the passing game for the first time this season. We should expect that Drake will remain a thorn in the side of Jacobs owners, but things appear to be clearing up a bit in this backfield.

Jacobs touched the ball 18 total times in Week 4 after returning from his ankle injury, and he seems to be back to being the unquestioned RB1 in this offense. Jacobs saw the field on nearly twice as many plays as Drake despite the fact that the Raiders were behind on the scoreboard by multiple scores for most of the game. This should be a welcome change of pace for Jacobs owners as it was a bit concerning that Drake was taking so much of the receiving work early in the year. If Jacobs can continue to be the team’s primary carrier out of the backfield while also playing on around half of the passing downs, he could get back to the solid RB2 and borderline workhorse status that we’ve seen from him in recent years.

The Bears have mostly done a nice job at containing opposing running backs this season, but this isn’t a completely impossible matchup for Jacobs to overcome. We’ll call him a low-end RB2 given his volume floor, but he does have low-end RB1 upside if he’s able to get into the end zone.

Value Meter:
QB2: Derek Carr
RB2: Josh Jacobs (low-end)
WR3: Hunter Renfrow (PPR only)
TE1: Darren Waller
Bench: Kenyan Drake, Peyton Barber, Henry Ruggs III, Bryan Edwards

Prediction: Raiders 24, Bears 16

49ers at Cardinals - (Caron)
Line: ARI -5.0
Total: 49.5

Passing Game Thoughts: It’s Trey Lance season...or so we think.

The rookie quarterback got his first real playing time this past week when starter Jimmy Garoppolo was knocked out of the game with a calf injury. Garoppolo has not practiced yet this week and looks unlikely to play, which would give us our first opportunity to see the 49ers offense with their new, athletic quarterback.

Lance delivered huge fantasy production in just one half of football against the Seahawks in Week 4 and while his tendency to run could be a negative for the 49ers pass catchers, it should be a huge positive for Lance’s own fantasy numbers. Lance ran the ball four times in that half of football, delivering 41 rushing yards on the ground. He also rushed for a two-point conversion. His passing efficiency wasn’t nearly as impressive as he completed just 50 percent of his passes, including missing some pretty routing throws, but he still threw for 157 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Now facing the NFL’s only remaining undefeated team, there’s a good chance that Lance will have the ball in his possession quite a bit, whether as a passer or as a runner. There’s some bust potential here, but Lance’s upside makes him a borderline QB1.

Wide receiver Deebo Samuel has been an absolute monster for fantasy purposes this season, including his eight catch, 156-yard, two touchdown performance. Samuel has been targeted a whopping 43 times through four games - a massive number for an offense that doesn’t typically throw the ball very much - and the 13 that game his way in Week 4 were a season high. Now playing against a weak Arizona secondary, Samuel needs to be in fantasy lineups as a WR1. He’s done it enough that we need to stop asking questions and just start playing him.

Fellow wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk hasn’t been nearly as good thus far, as he’s been held to one or fewer catches in three of the 49ers’ first four contests. With the 49ers likely to utilize an even more run-heavy approach than usual, this is not the week to be trusting Aiyuk back in your starting lineup.

Tight end George Kittle has definitely been a disappointment thus far, but the peripheral numbers are strong enough that it makes sense to continue viewing him as a high-level TE1. He’s been targeted 19 times over the past two weeks. That’s a number that almost no other tight end will see this season. Understand that this could be a low volume passing day, but Kittle is still good enough to be in your lineup.

ARI FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.16
ARI FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.21
ARI FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.7
ARI FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.30

Running Game Thoughts: Trey Lance starting at quarterback could mean wider running lanes for the running backs, but likely also limits their upside in the passing game. Thankfully the 49ers backs haven’t been accumulating a ton of fantasy points through the air as it is, so it won’t be a big drop off even if they don’t get involved as pass catchers, but it’s something to note.

The real question with this backfield, at the moment, is the health of Elijah Mitchell. Mitchell missed Week 3 with a shoulder injury and has been limited in practice this week. He did not practice all of last week, though, so this is an improvement from the situation that saw him inactive against Seattle. When he was healthy, though, Mitchell was the 49ers’ lead back, taking 38 touches over the first two games of the season, while fellow rookie Trey Sermon barely saw the field. Sermon did, however, lead the 49ers backfield this past week as he carried the ball 19 times for 89 yards in the loss against Seattle.

We have to assume that the 49ers will implement some sort of committee situation if Mitchell is healthy, with Mitchell being the more valuable player. That should allow Mitchell to be a low-end RB2 or Flex, but we’ll keep Sermon on the bench if Mitchell is healthy. If Mitchell is inactive, though, Sermon should be in line for another heavy workload game and he himself would be an RB2.

Value Meter:
QB1: Trey Lance (low end)
RB2: Elijah Mitchell (low end), Trey Sermon (if Mitchell is out)
WR1: Deebo Samuel
TE1: George Kittle
Bench: Sermon (if Mitchell is active), Brandon Aiyuk, Mohamed Sanu, Trent Sherfield

Passing Game Thoughts: Kyler Murray’s push for NFL MVP continued this past week as the quarterback was efficient again as a passer, throwing for 268 yards and a pair of touchdowns along with 39 rushing yards. Murray has been an elite fantasy quarterback, as expected, and there’s no reason to believe that he won’t continue to be that this week against a depleted San Francisco secondary.

Despite Murray’s success, top wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins has been a disappointment thus far for fantasy, having failed to exceed four catches in any of his past three games. He’s been banged up with a rib injury, but we have to expect that he’s going to continue to be a vital part of this offense. We need to see him get back into double digit target totals if we’re going to call him a WR1, but he’s still a WR2 for now.

Fellow veteran A.J. Green has stepped up in a big way on his new team and he’s now had double-digit PPR fantasy points in three straight games. He’s been targeted exactly six times in every game and he’s quietly played the second-most snaps of all Cardinals wide receivers. We can’t expect that Green will be an elite contributor this year, but he’s been reliable enough that he should be a WR3 for fantasy this week.

Depth receivers Christian Kirk and Rondale Moore have been extremely frustrating for fantasy with both players turning in some nice games, but also a couple of duds. Moore isn’t seeing enough playing time or targets to be a fantasy starter for now, but he has looked good when he’s had opportunities so keep your eyes on him in case he does start to get more playing time. Kirk, on the other hand, went from being targeted eight times in Week 3 to being targeted just once against the Rams in Week 4. We should expect that Kirk is going to see a handful of targets this week, but it’s probably not enough to put him in fantasy starting lineups.

Tight end Maxx Williams has been quietly productive this season and is nearing TE1 range on the year after a couple pretty good games. He’s dealing with a shoulder injury, but he’s another player in a long line of borderline TE1s for fantasy. The Cardinals receivers are getting healthier, though, so we’re going to recommend benching him in this one.

SF FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.10
SF FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.10
SF FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.19
SF FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.24

Running Game Thoughts: If you want to see a headache of a situation for fantasy owners, look no further than the Arizona Cardinals backfield. While Chase Edmonds has been by far and away the Cardinals’ most productive back on a per-touch basis, he’s still yet to get into the end zone this season. Meanwhile, backup James Conner has now scored four times despite a 3.2 yards per carry average and just three catches on the year.

Realistically, Edmonds remains a reliable RB2 in PPR formats, but his lack of goal line work strongly limits his upside to be a RB1. Meanwhile, Conner is going to be frustrating to own as well, because he isn’t productive enough with his touches unless he gets into the end zone. In fairness, he’s been able to score multiple times over the past two weeks, so there’s always the potential that it continues, but you’re really dealing with a touchdown-or-bust Flex player.

Value Meter:
QB1: Kyler Murray
RB2: Chase Edmonds
WR2: DeAndre Hopkins
WR3: A.J. Green
Flex: James Conner
Bench: Rondale Moore, Christian Kirk, Maxx Williams

Prediction: Cardinals 30, 49ers 20

Giants @ Cowboys - (Krueger)
Line: DAL -7.0
Total: 52.0

Passing Game Thoughts: The Giants are throwing the ball at a 60-40 clip with Daniel Jones chucking it at least 32 times in each game. Jones is also adding value with his legs with rushing totals of 27-95-39-27. Despite missing Sterling Shepard and Darius Slayton last week due to hamstring injuries, Jones posted his best passing day of the season (28-40, 402-2-1) in a win over the Saints. Shepard and Slayton both missed practice on Thursday so follow their injury status over the weekend. Should both miss again, Kenny Golladay, and rookie Kadarius Toney (9 targets in Wk4) will be the top two receiving options for Jones. TE Evan Engram has seen six targets in each game since he returned to the lineup in Week 3 but has only 7 catches for 48 yards. However, given the lack of depth at the position he is a viable TE2 option against the Cowboys.

Despite some big plays on defense by DB Trevon Diggs, Dallas has given up four 300-yard passing games to Tom Brady, Justin Herbert, Jalen Hurts and Sam Darnold to start the season. I’d expect Diggs to cover Golladay a good portion of the game but I wouldn’t let that deter from starting Golladay if needed. The Giants aren’t necessarily a high-tempo team and would prefer to have a balanced run/pass ratio, but if you think Dallas gets out to a lead and plays from in front, Jones can be a sneaky start in a game with 52.0 point total.

DAL FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.2
DAL FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.23
DAL FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.4
DAL FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.8

Running Game Thoughts: Saquon Barkley is back to being a fulltime participant in the backfield. Over the last two weeks he’s received 40 touches while the rest of the Giants’ running backs have received 3. Dallas has done a decent job against the run and has yet to allow a rushing TD by a running back. They gave up 54 yards rushing and 61 yards receiving to Austin Ekeler (Wk2) in the only real player comp to Barkley. Given his usage in the passing game (13 targets last two weeks) Barkley remains an easy RB1 option in this contest regardless of game script.

Value Meter:
QB2: Daniel Jones (high end)
RB1: Saquon Barkley (low-end)
WR3: Kenny Golladay (mid-range)
Flex: Kadarius Toney
TE2: Evan Engram (mid-range)
Bench: John Ross

Passing Game Thoughts: Amari Cooper (ribs, hamstring) is doing his best Julio Jones impersonation these days, gimping around on the field and on the sidelines, making him a very uncomfortable WR2. As a result, I’d expect CeeDee Lamb to see the majority of wide receiver targets in this game and is the preferred fantasy option among the two. Tight ends Dalton Schultz and Blake Jarwin have found the endzone four times which is peeking the interest of fantasy owners. Keep in mind, these two are splitting snaps and while Schultz has seen the better production recently, anointing him a TE1 seems premature. He’s certainly startable given the position scarcity but I wouldn’t expect this trend to continue.

The Cowboys have been somewhat run-heavy of late which has left Dak Prescott with some mediocre yardage totals the last three weeks (237, 238, 188). Leaning on Elliott and Tony Pollard makes sense as a gameplan so I would temper expectations on Dak even with a relatively high game total. The Giants aren’t generating much of a pass rush through four weeks so when Dak does drop back to throw, he should have all the time he needs.

NYG FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.11
NYG FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.18
NYG FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.17
NYG FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.4

Running Game Thoughts: Ezekiel Elliott is currently sitting as the RB6 in PPR leagues (FPts/G) and has the most rushing TDs among running backs (4) - tied with Derrick Henry and James Conner. All of this despite Tony Pollard stealing enough volume (10 touches in each of his last three games) to make him a Flex option and preventing Elliott from realizing elite performances. Zeke isn’t being used in the passing game as much as his owners would like (8 targets) which also caps his upside. The Giants are in the bottom third against the run and shouldn’t pose a big threat to Zeke and Pollard on the ground making Zeke an easy RB1 in Week 5.

Value Meter:
QB1: Dak Prescott (low-end)
RB1: Ezekiel Elliott (mid-range)
WR1: CeeDee Lamb (mid-range)
WR2: Amari Cooper (low-end)
Flex: Tony Pollard
TE2: Dalton Schultz
Bench: Cedrick Wilson, Blake Jarwin

Prediction: Cowboys 30, Giants 20

Bills at Chiefs - (Caron)
Line: KC -2.5
Total: 56.5

Passing Game Thoughts: He’s had a few less-than-elite games so far, but Bills quarterback Josh Allen remains an excellent QB1 with a high floor and massive ceiling. This week might be the best opportunity he has all year to be in a true offensive shootout and he has to be in every fantasy lineup due to that reality.

Like Allen, wide receiver Stefon Diggs has been a bit of a disappointment thus far in 2021, but he’s still been consistently good. He’s scored at least 12 PPR fantasy points in each contest despite just one touchdown on the year. Perhaps most importantly, he’s already been targeted 42 times and there shouldn’t be much concern about him going forward. He does also have the benefit of facing a weak Chiefs secondary that has been exposed by outside receivers in recent weeks. Marquise Brown, Mike Williams and DeVonta Smith have all gone over 100 yards against the Chiefs this season and those players scored a combined three touchdowns. Diggs has huge upside in this one and his floor is great as well.

Fellow outside receiver Emmanuel Sanders has also been excellent in recent weeks. He had a gigantic performance against Washington and followed it up with a solid five catch, 74-yard game against the Texans this past week. Sanders has been targeted at least six times in every game, making him a solid floor option who also has the ability to blow up at times. He’s more of a WR3, but he’s a decent option this week.

Slot receiver Cole Beasley has been up and down this year, but his two catch performance against the Texans shouldn’t be looked into too much, as the Bills were ahead for the entire game and really didn’t need to do much short-yardage passing. The bigger concern for Beasley should actually be the emergence of tight end Dawson Knox, who caught a pair of touchdowns in the blowout win. Beasley is already the third option in the passing game and if he has to fight another player for short yardage passes then it’s probably wise to sit him for right now, especially in this difficult matchup against Chiefs slot cornerback L’Jarius Sneed.

Speaking of Knox, the tight end has now scored four times over the Bills’ past four games, despite a relatively low target volume. It’s hard to expect that he’s going to continue to score at this rate, but he’s definitely a player who should be in fantasy lineups as long as he’s producing like this. The Chiefs allowed big games to both Dallas Goedert and Zach Ertz this week and Knox has a decent chance of producing TE1 numbers again this week.

KC FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.3
KC FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.5
KC FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.16
KC FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.5

Running Game Thoughts: The Bills running back situation has been awful for fantasy for a few years now and it really hasn’t changed much this season. Zack Moss started the season off inactive and was way behind Devin Singletary on the pecking order, but has since taken back his role as the team’s primary running back, playing the “60” role in the 60/40 split of this backfield. Moss is, however, playing the goal line role in a good offense and that makes him significantly more valuable as a fantasy asset right now.

Singletary has carried the ball at least 11 times in every game, but he’s only scored one touchdown on the year and he’s not involved much in the passing game. Without having a goal line role, Singletary’s upside is very limited and he shouldn’t be in fantasy lineups other than in the deepest of leagues.

Value Meter:
QB1: Josh Allen
WR1: Stefon Diggs
WR3: Emmanuel Sanders
TE1: Dawson Knox
Flex: Zack Moss
Bench: Devin Singletary, Cole Beasley

Passing Game Thoughts: Patrick Mahomes re-asserted himself as the QB1 in fantasy this week when he completely destroyed the Eagles with 278 yards and five touchdowns. He’s now thrown at least three touchdowns in every game, including 15 total touchdowns through four games. This week he does face a Bills defense that has been the NFL’s best fantasy defense against opposing quarterbacks, but this is a strength-versus-strength matchup that shouldn’t be avoided.

Wide receiver Tyreek Hill dominated this past week, with a massive 11 catch, 186 yard, three touchdown performance against the Eagles. He had been a bit of a disappointment in recent weeks but this blow up game should remind fantasy owners that you simply don’t bench Hill, no matter how things have been looking. He does have a difficult matchup this week against elite cornerback Tre’Davious White, but what did we just say? You don’t bench Tyreek Hill.

Tight end Travis Kelce is also an unbenchable fantasy asset. He did fail to do much against the Eagles, but he had dominated in each of his first three games and should again be a major part of the Kansas City passing game.

This passing game has been a funnel to Hill and Kelce in recent years, but things got interesting recently when the Chiefs signed the oft-suspended Josh Gordon. Gordon has been practicing with the team and is now activated to the 53-man roster. He’s been heavily praised by Kelce and should immediately be the third option in this passing game. It’s hard to expect that he’s going to be an every down player right away, but the rest of these receivers are terrible fantasy players, so it’s at least worth keeping an eye on him this week in what should be a heavy passing game for the Chiefs.

BUF FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.32
BUF FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.29
BUF FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.32
BUF FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.25

Running Game Thoughts: Second-year running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire was a disappointment early this season, but he’s now gone over 100 yards on the ground in back-to-back games while also scoring a receiving touchdown in each of those two contests. He’s still not very involved overall in the passing game, but Edwards-Helaire has reestablished himself as an RB2 for fantasy.

What’s interesting is that, despite Edwards-Helaire’s reemergence, backup running back Darrel Williams has actually become increasingly involved in the Chiefs offense with each passing week. He’s not doing enough to warrant a spot in fantasy lineups, but he’s doing enough to make things frustrating for Edwards-Helaire owners.

Value Meter:
QB1: Patrick Mahomes
RB2: Clyde Edwards-Helaire
WR1: Tyreek Hill
TE1: Travis Kelce (high end)
Bench: Darrel Williams, Josh Gordon, Mecole Hardman

Prediction: Chiefs 34, Bills 30

Colts @ Ravens - (Green)
Line: BAL -7.0
Total: 45.5

Passing Game Thoughts: Staring at the prospect of a 0-4 start, the Colts went into Miami and put themselves right back into the thick of a downtrodden AFC South with a 27-17 win. Carson Wentz, who played through two sprained ankles in Week 3, looked healthier last Sunday, completing 24 of 32 passes for 228 yards and a pair of TDs. He also ran a little, something he didn’t do at all in the previous game. It wasn’t a great game from Wentz, but it was definitely a step in the right direction for a player that desperately needed one.

While both touchdown tosses found seldom-used Mo Alie-Cox, Michael Pittman (6-59-0) is the only name to know in Indianapolis’ passing game right now. The second-year pro has been targeted 32 times in the last three weeks, hauling in 20 of them for 250 yards. He’s yet to deliver in the red zone -- he has one TD on 63 career receptions -- but at 6-foot-4, 223 pounds, there’s no reason to think that isn’t coming. T.Y. Hilton (neck) has yet to play this season due to a neck injury. He’s due back shortly, though, and is worth a watch-list slot based on his history.

Baltimore is ranked 24th (273 yards per game) against the pass this season, though they’re coming off a game in which they held Denver to 178 yards through the air. Yes, Teddy Bridgewater didn’t play in the second half due to a concussion, but he’d thrown for just 65 yards before departing with the injury. The Ravens’ pass rush also had its best day, registering half of their 10 sacks for the season in Week 4. Despite Wentz looking better he’s still best left on your bench. Pittman is playable as a WR3.

BAL FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.21
BAL FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.7
BAL FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.27
BAL FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.1

Running Game Thoughts: On a more dynamic offense, Jonathan Taylor (16-103-1) might rate as one of the top fantasy backs around. In Indy, he’s more of an RB2. Part of the reason for that is his disappearance from the passing game; after catching six passes for 60 yards in Week 1, Taylor has just five receptions for 21 yards since. Nyheim Hines is ostensibly the change-of-pace/pass-catching back, but his involvement continues to fluctuate wildly. The Ravens rate seventh against the run (85.8 yards per game) and should pose a challenge to Taylor and Hines.

Value Meter:
RB2: Jonathan Taylor
Flex: Nyheim Hines
WR3: Michael Pittman Jr.
Bench: Carson Wentz, T.Y. Hilton

Passing Game Thoughts: Lamar Jackson threw for 316 yards against the Broncos last Sunday, marking the first time in 32 regular season games that the former MVP has eclipsed the 300-yard mark as a passer. Jackson has quietly been more aggressive with his throws, averaging a career-best 8.7 yards per attempt this season, but his four TD passes lead only Baker Mayfield among full-time starters. His running makes up for some of that from a fantasy perspective, but after averaging 2.1 TD passes per game over the past two years, he’s off to a slow start in that department.

Marquise Brown (4-91-1) shook off a drop-laden Week 3 performance to make a sprawling touchdown grab in Denver, showing the speed and big-play ability he has. The next step is consistency, which is easier said than done from undersized speedsters not named Tyreek Hill. Mark Andrews (5-67-0) continues to deliver steady production, though Jackson’s lack of TD throws is trickling down to the tight end, who hauled in 17 touchdown catches over the past two years. Sammy Watkins (4-49-0) helps open things up offensively but isn’t posting fantasy-relevant numbers.

While Indy ranks ninth in passing yards allowed (216.8 per game), the 11 touchdown strikes they’ve surrendered are tied with Atlanta and Tampa Bay for the most in the NFL this season. Perhaps this will be the matchup where Jackson posts multiple TD passes for the first time in 2021. He’s a must-start QB1. Andrews also offers No. 1 value at his position with Brown an option as a WR3.

IND FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.13
IND FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.25
IND FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.12
IND FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.18

Running Game Thoughts: For whatever reason, Ty’Son Williams and his 6.1 YPC average was a healthy scratch last Sunday with Latavius Murray (18-59-1) getting most of the carries. The veteran looked every bit a 31-year-old plodder, though perhaps the Ravens value his experience and ball security (one lost fumble in his last three-plus seasons) over Williams’ upside. Le’Veon Bell (4-11-0) also debuted for Baltimore. The Colts were the No. 2 run defense a season ago but currently sit 15th at 114 yards per game. Play Murray as an RB3 here and ignore the rest.

Value Meter:
QB1: Lamar Jackson
RB3: Latavius Murray
WR3: Marquise Brown
TE1: Mark Andrews
Bench: Ty’Son Williams

Prediction: Ravens 31, Colts 20