Week four of the NFL season brought us a mixed bag of outcomes in daily fantasy football, some of which were bizarre beyond my comprehension. Who honestly believed that Deshaun Watson and the Texans would drop 57 on Tennessee? And how many people really believed that Cam Newton would finally have a good game and score 37 fantasy points (on DraftKings)?
I’m not ashamed of my picks this time around, though. Eli Manning was the fourth best performing QB, and Brady came in 11th. Todd Gurley was the second-best halfback, while Justin Fournette was sixth. If you listened to me, you didn’t win a million dollars (sorry!), but you probably won most of your cash games, at least on DraftKings, because I hit on a number of picks. I’m looking to continue the success this week, so without further ado:
Aaron Rodgers $8100 DK/9500 FD
Although Packers were 1-1 against the Cowboys last season, Rodgers played well enough to win both, throwing for 316 yards and 3 TDs in the regular season loss, and 355 yards, 2 TDs, and an INT in the playoff win. I’m looking for Rodgers to continue his dominance over a weak Cowboys secondary. I know Dallas has a strong pass rush. Rightfully so, that probably worries a lot of Packers fans for the real game, but for the daily fantasy football players, you should consider that Carson Palmer had his best game of the season against the Cowboys in Week 3 (also the only game in which he did not turn the football over).
Dak Prescott $6800 DK/7700 FD
Unfortunately for the Packers, Rayne Dakota (that’s seriously his legal name) also played well enough to win both games (and probably also your fantasy football games) which is probably why the two teams split last year. Dak threw 3 TDs and an INT in both games (247 yards and 302 yards respectively). The Packers defense has been pretty friendly to opposing teams not hailing from Chicago to this point, and I don’t think that’s going to change this week. As I’m sure is the case for all teams, the Packers top priority will be slowing down Ezekiel Elliot. If that means playing with extra defenders in the box, then it could be a long day for one Kevin King. Although Dez has performed terribly against top-flight DBs, King isn’t one of them, so the Packers have their work cut out for them.
I think this is a good pick even if Elliot goes off on the Packers because regardless of whether or not they should continue hammering away with Elliot, Jason Garrett can’t help but air it out, even if it means his team blows a 24-13 lead.
Eli Manning vs SD $6100 DK/7000 FD
If you want to save yourself some extra cash, or if you just can’t stand to pick Dak Prescott against your beloved, I think Eli is a good pick again. The Chargers are only allowing 192 yards through the air per game, but they’ve given up six TDs in four weeks. And as talented as they are in the secondary, the fact of the matter is that they’ve only played one team with a strong WR corps (Denver), so we’ll see how they handle a talented offense that has no choice but to throw.
Halfback matchups are off-the-charts enticing this week in daily fantasy football. I could go on for a long time talking about all of them, but I’m going to keep it at two quality starters and a budget pick, as I do every week. Just know that there many good plays this week.
Gurley $8000 DK/7800 FD
Todd Gurley is running the way everyone expected him to run when he came out of college. He’s also catching in a way no one thought he could. The guy is an absolute freak, running with the power of Adrian Peterson and catching like he’s Marshall Faulk. Whether it continues or not remains to be seen, but for now, he’s a must play in every fantasy football format.
Since I don’t believe in must plays based strictly on individual performance, let me add that Seattle has the seventh worst rushing defense in the league right now. It’s hard to believe, I know, but they’ve surrendered 536 yards on 107 attempts (5.0 yards per carry), and three touchdowns (tied for 10th most). In a game where passing yards will be hard to find, look for a heavy dose of runs and check-downs to Gurley.
Melvin Gordon $6000 DK/7100 FD
It’s a rough season in San Diego, but I’m looking for Gordon to bounce back in a big way this week. The Giants struggled against the pass last week, but that won’t become the standard anytime soon because they regularly struggle against the run, and they have far less talent to stop opposing HBs. Gordon has put up some good fantasy football games in spite of the Chargers success, and in spite of the lack of opportunities he’s seen so far.
This week, Gordon urged the coaching staff to involve him more, so I’m looking for a spirited performance against a poor defense, which should translate to another strong fantasy football performance, even if it means little in real terms.
Andre Ellington $4600 DK/5400 FD
Boy, the Cardinals are really struggling this season, aren’t they? They have one of the worst offensive lines in football, and their quarterback keeps throwing the ball to the wrong team, putting the defense in tough spots time and time again, (yet somehow, they’ve managed to win twice). Their offensive line struggles are exactly why Ellington is a good pick. Palmer has to get the ball out of his hands in a hurry this season, having taken a league high 17 sacks, and he’s a freakin’ statue in the backfield, which means he’s either chucking it to a wide receiver who might not be open, or he’s dropping it off into the hands of Mr. Ellington.
With Chris Johnson averaging only 2.6 yards per carry and being essentially unused in the passing game, Ellington faces little competition in the backfield. Palmer was sacked six times last week against the vaunted Niners defense (who came into the game with a terrifying 4 sacks through three weeks), leading to 14 targets in Ellington’s direction. This week, they play the Eagles, who have 10 sacks in four games. The point is, the Eagles pass rush is far superior to San Francisco’s, which should lead to a ton of throws to Ellington again, at DraftKings, every one of those passes is worth a point, and because Ellington averages 10.1 yards per catch, he’s an excellent budget pick.
Jordy Nelson $8100 DK/8600 FD
Jordy has a TD in every game that he completed, and multiple TDs in 50% of his games. Historically, he hasn’t faired well against Dallas, but Dallas is still banged up in the secondary, and they let go of some of the more talented DBs they had to begin with, so I’m expecting Jordy’s excellence to continue this week with another strong fantasy football performance.
Dez Bryant $6500 DK/7800 FD
Just as I liked both QBs, I like both of their number one targets this week. Historically, Dez owns the Packers’ secondary, and he has what seems to be a cupcake matchup against King this week. Like I said when talking about Rayne Dakota, Dez doesn’t do well against the best in the league, but King isn’t close to that level, so Dez should post some big fantasy football numbers.
Pierre Garcon $6100 DK/6700 FD
Garcon’s performances have been essentially the inverse equivalent of the opponent’s difficulty. He’s playing one of the softer defenses this week, so we should see his fantasy football totals go up again, as they have against other poor secondaries.
Similar to Garcon, TY played well against the lesser opponent (Cleveland) than he has against the better opponents (Peterson in Arizona, and the Seahawks secondary). There are some good value picks later down the line, but I have a strong feeling that Hilton will explode again this week. This is the same 49ers defense that Sammy Watkins score 31.6 fantasy football points against, and Hilton is far more utilized than Watkins.
Austin Seferian-Jenkins $3500 DK/5500 FD
Jenkins scored about eight points in both of his appearances this season, and this week he gets the best matchup a tight end could hope for in the NFL: the Browns. The Browns allowed the following fantasy football point totals, in reverse chronological order: 24.8, 2.6, 17.1, 22.1. The 2.6 went to Jack Doyle, and it had nothing to do with Cleveland figuring out how to stop a tight end. No, T.Y. Hilton’s dominance meant that there weren’t many opportunities for Doyle. Look for the trend to continue this week as the Jets roll into town, mostly because the Jets lack any real threats at WR.
Charles Clay $4800 DK/5700 FD
Clay has been dominant this season, at least in fantasy football. He’s the fifth highest scoring TE according to ProFootballFocus, and he’s clearly Tyrod Taylor’s number one option this year, especially with Jordan Matthews out. PFF also suggest his matchup is slightly disadvantaged this week, but I’m sure he had a similar or worse advantage against Denver, against whom he scored 15.1 fantasy football points. Look for another good game from Clay.
Evan Engram $4000 DK/5400 FD
If targets are any indication, Manning’s rapport with Engram is getting stronger each week. The Chargers secondary makes life difficult for outside receivers, but they’re a bit softer over the middle. Physically, Engram is a freak. He runs a 4.42 40-yard dash at 6’4” and 240 lbs, and has a 36-inch vertical; those are stats that make him a nightmare for opposing defenses. I’m expecting another high-volume week for Engram, which should translate to a bunch of fantasy football points.
I picked them last week, too, and they messed all over the bed. I’m picking them again this week because I don’t trust Manuel to do much of anything with the Raiders offense. If Derek Carr were playing, I wouldn’t consider them, but against a QB that hasn’t had much success, I’ll roll the dice.
The Jets have only had one good week in fantasy football terms, and I’m feeling some similarities between that performance and the upcoming game. Namely that they’re playing a team that loves to turn the ball over, and generally has a hard time finding the end zone (Cleveland is the 28th ranked scoring offense). This could be another great week for the J-E-T-S.
I think a lot of people are cautious on this one, they’re wondering if the Bengals have figured things out and turned the corner. They haven’t. The Bengals have never actually figured things out, that’s why Marv Lewis is still their coach. Dalton had two good games against two bad defenses, and I don’t think there’s much more to it than that. His game against the Packers wasn’t even that good, it was just good for him, and it was especially shocking after the soulless ginger threw zero TDs and four INTs in the first two weeks. I expect things to move a lot closer to the middle this week, maybe 200 yards and a TD for Dalton, but probably two INTs, and maybe one of them goes for six the other way. I think the Bills are an excellent play in week 5, and they’re going to save you precious cap spacefor the higher scoring roster positions.
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