The daily fantasy football Week 5 salaries are already loaded at DraftKings and ready to be whittled into a winning lineup. DFS owners already know Aaron Rodgers ($7,900), Le’Veon Bell ($8,500) and Julio Jones ($9,200) are studs since they are listed as the most expensive choice at their positions.
Devonta Freeman ($6,300), Carson Palmer ($6,600) and Keenan Allen ($7,200) are also projected to dominate their matchups this week at slightly more lineup-friendly prices.
There are duds lurking on the high end of the wage scale as well. Latavius Murray ($6,300), Calvin Johnson ($7,400) and Andrew Luck ($7,700) are avoidable risks in Week 5.
The Carolina Panthers, Miami Dolphins, Minnesota Vikings and New York Jets take their respective byes in Week 5, which is not a significant loss of high-tier offensive talent. None of these units entered Week 4 ranked in the top half of total offense.
Predicting monster performances from a team defense is certainly an inexact science, but the Arizona Cardinals ($3,800) should bounce back from Todd Gurley’s ($4,300) coming-out party. NFL Network tweeted a snippet of the rookie’s 146-yard breakout on Sunday:
— NFL Network (@nflnetwork) October 4, 2015
Arizona travels to face the Detroit Lions in Week 5, who lead the league in percentage of drives ending in turnovers heading into Monday night’s game against the Seattle Seahawks.
If you’re eager to be disappointed, $4,000 is a hefty price to pay for a Seahawks team hitting the road on a short week to face the third-ranked offense of the Cincinnati Bengals. Seattle’s salary rose $700 since opening weekend, making Week 5’s premium undesirable in such a questionable matchup.
The tight end position is almost as difficult to predict as team D/ST in terms of variance for any player not named Rob Gronkowski ($7,500). Charles Clay’s $4,100 salary to round out the top 10 among tight ends is evidence of the inconsistency.
Travis Kelce ($5,200) leads the best of the rest, averaging 16.6 fantasy points per game. He’s the No. 2 target in the Kansas City Chiefs offense behind wide receiver Jeremy Maclin ($6,000).
Kelce faces a Chicago Bears defense that looks tough against opposing tight ends on paper—ranked sixth on DraftKings—but hasn’t played an offense featuring the tight end yet this season. He should see plenty of opportunities as Kansas City returns home looking to rebound from a nasty three-game losing streak.
Kelce could also be this week’s dud if he fails to score, as is typically the case with the majority of tight ends.
Allen, on the other hand, re-emerged as the focal point of the San Diego Chargers’ passing game after a disappointing sophomore campaign in 2014. He’s the sixth-ranked wide receiver on DraftKings with 23.7 PPG and tied for third in receptions (33) with Demaryius Thomas ($8,100).
The Steelers—ranked 23rd in WR points allowed—are vulnerable through the air, something quarterback Philip Rivers ($6,200) should be able to exploit as the league leader in passing yards with 1,249.
Allen also might not have much competition for targets in Week 5 since Stevie Johnson ($4,000) and Malcom Floyd ($3,500) both left Sunday’s game against the Cleveland Browns early, as reported by Rotoworld’s Evan Silva on Twitter:
Looks like Stevie Johnson strained his hamstring. #Chargers already missing Malcom Floyd (concussion).
— Evan Silva (@evansilva) October 4, 2015
DFS participants can expect Allen to keep up the spectacular performance in Week 5.
Owners can also anticipate another disappointing effort from Calvin Johnson, who will likely be shut down by the Seahawks Monday (ranked sixth in WR points against) and again by the Cardinals on Sunday (ranked third).
Freeman’s salary rightfully skyrocketed over the past two weeks, up $1,700 from Week 3, when he first took sole possession of the Atlanta Falcons’ RB1 spot from the injured Tevin Coleman ($4,200).
The second-year pro ascended from a Week 3 sleeper ($4,600) to Week 4 value ($5,200) to bona fide Week 5 stud ($6,300) by combining for 252 yards and four touchdowns in the spotlight. Freeman’s two-week performance totaled 342 combined yards and six rushing touchdowns and ranks him as the most proficient red-zone running back this season.
The only factor possibly impeding this runaway train is Coleman’s eventual return from the rib injury that sidelined him two weeks ago. He’s still week-to-week at this point, an important development to monitor leading up to the home game against the Washington Redskins, which Atlanta opened as a nine-point favorite, according to Odds Shark.
Murray put up just 49 rushing yards and 12 receiving yards on three receptions against the Bears before getting benched after committing his second turnover on the day.
Scott Ostler of the San Francisco Chronicle reported Murray took responsibility but was not told anything when replaced by Roy Helu Jr. ($3,000): “[Head coach Jack Del Rio] just told Roy to go ahead and step in. No particular reason. That’s just how it is.”
Facing the league’s stingiest defense in Week 5—the Denver Broncos are allowing just 4.4 yards per play—as a 5.5-point home underdog is not an indication Murray will get back on track this week.
The St. Louis Rams defense seemingly found a way to at least contain Arizona’s red-hot offense by forcing three turnovers out of Palmer and company. But Palmer still demonstrated passing prowess, completing 63.04 percent of his throws for 352 yards, one touchdown and one interception.
The 12-year veteran’s $6,600 salary ranks 10th among quarterbacks in Week 5, even though he ranks fourth with 23.4 PPG. PFF graded him second behind only Rodgers among QBs.
A Week 5 road game against a soft Lions pass defense coming off a Monday night roadie in Seattle is practically the DFS equivalent of a sure thing—especially considering Palmer is still $1,300 cheaper than Rodgers.
Meanwhile, even if Luck can start on Thursday night against a Houston Texans defense coming off five touchdowns allowed to the Falcons in Week 4, he makes a poor DFS play simply because it’s a road game on Thursday night.
Head coach Chuck Pagano declared Luck day-to-day leading up to the game, according to Mike Chappell of Indy Sports Central.
But Luck—who should start—and the Colts aren’t likely to get the offense on track in a short week on the road, especially considering Luck’s third-highest salary among QBs for Week 5.
Standard NFL statistics courtesy of Pro-Football-Reference.com, and CBSSports.com provided standard fantasy stats unless otherwise noted. Advanced NFL and fantasy numbers courtesy of Pro Football Focus unless otherwise noted. Fantasy points allowed rankings based on DraftKings scoring unless otherwise noted.
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