RealTime DFS Strategy: Week 5

Fri Oct 4 10:15am ET
Contributing Writer

Jackson producing big numbers

We have another busy slate in the NFL for Week 5 with only two teams on a bye. Still, with the Rams and Seahawks being the two teams that play Thursday, we are missing a few explosive players for the Sunday-Monday slate of DFS. Keeping that in mind, here are some players to target across the price scale, as well as some who might be best left alone.


Top-tier option: Lamar Jackson, BAL at PIT ($6,600): Jackson already has 10 touchdown passes through four games, showing he is much more than just a running quarterback. Still, his added contributions with his legs are key with him racking up 238 yards and one touchdown on the ground in the early going. The Steelers shut down the Bengals in their last game, but playing the Ravens is a completely different story. Look for Jackson to once again provide a high floor.

Cheap target: Andy Dalton, CIN vs. ARI ($5,700): Despite the Bengals losing their first two games, Dalton performed well by totaling 729 passing yards and four touchdowns. However, it’s been all downhill in two games since, including throwing for only 171 yards against the Steelers on Monday. He also threw an interception without logging a touchdown. His overall upside is limited playing behind a bad offensive line, but he can still provide value in the right situations. That could be the case against the Cardinals, who have allowed the 10th-most passing yards per game and the fourth-most points in the league.

Player to avoid: Derek Carr, OAK vs. CHI ($5,800): The Raiders have held their own at 2-2, but Carr is still looking for his first juicy stat line of the season. He hasn’t thrown for more than 259 yards in any of their four games and even threw for fewer than 200 yards twice. He also has three interceptions to go with his six touchdown passes. Facing a Bears defense that is one of the stoutest in the league likely isn’t going to help matters, so I’d much rather take a chance on Dalton at $100 cheaper.


Top-tier option: Christian McCaffrey, CAR vs. JAC ($7,900): McCaffrey is one of the safest cash options on a week in, week out basis. He had another monster performance last week against the Texans, racking up 179 total yards and a touchdown. He posted 10 receptions in that contest, which was the second time that he has reached that threshold in a game this season. The offense will continue to run through him with Cam Newton (foot) out, likely making him worth his hefty price tag.

Cheap target: Jordan Howard, PHI vs. NYJ ($5,100): Howard wasn’t relied on heavily through the first three weeks, logging no more than 32.9 percent of the Eagles’ offensive snaps in a single game. However, he was on the field 53.2 percent of the time in Week 4, which helped him finish with 87 yards on 15 carries. He scored three total touchdowns, providing one of the more surprising fantasy performances. While his playing time is still anything but certain, he’ll at least carry touchdown upside into a matchup against a Jets’ defense that has experienced plenty of difficulties slowing down opposing offenses.

Player to avoid: Josh Jacobs, OAK vs. CHI ($6,600): One of the Bears’ strengths is their defensive front, so it’s no surprise that they have allowed the third-fewest rushing yards per game. That could spell doom for Jacobs, who hasn’t found his way into the end zone since Week 1 and isn’t very involved in the passing game. Since he doesn’t come at much of a discount, this is an easy one to avoid in my eyes.


Top-tier option: Michael Thomas, NO vs. TAM ($7,100): After posting back-to-back 10-catch performances the first two games, Thomas has 14 total receptions over the last two weeks. That’s still a lot of work, which has resulted in him totaling 143 receiving yards and a touchdown. Despite the Saints not looking as potent with Teddy Bridgewater under center, Thomas still provides a high floor for this matchup against a Buccaneers’ team that has allowed the second-most passing yards per game.

Cheap target: Auden Tate, CIN vs. ARI ($3,200): The Bengals are looking at a thin depth chart at wide receiver right now with A.J. Green (ankle) and John Ross (shoulder) out. Tyler Boyd steps in as their clear top option while Auden Tate also has an opportunity to grab onto the number two wide receiver role. He already has 10 catches for 138 yards over his last two games, making him a top target in tournament play at such a cheap price.

Player to avoid: Sammy Watkins, KC vs. IND ($6,800): Watkins exploded for 198 yards and three touchdowns in the season opener, but he only has 167 yards and no touchdowns across three games since. Maybe most concerning is that he received a season-low six targets against the Lions last week. With Tyreek Hill (shoulder) starting to practice again, he could be in line for a return for this matchup. Even if he doesn’t make it back, Demarcus Robinson and Mecole Hardman have stepped up enough in his place to the point where the Chiefs don’t need to force-feed Watkins. At this price, he’s too risky for me.


Top-tier option: Travis Kelce, KC vs. IND ($7,000): There is no tight end in the league as reliable as Kelce. He’s once again on pace for a special season, recording at least 85 receiving yards in each of his first four games. The key is his heavy workload since he has received at least eight targets in every contest. While he’ll eat up a significant portion of your budget, he’s still ideal for cash contests.

Cheap target: Tyler Eifert, CIN vs. ARI ($4,100): Eifert looked like he had the potential to be a difference-maker at tight end, but injuries have prevented him from reaching his full potential. The good news is that he’s healthy right now, making him one of the top pass-catching options that the Bengals have left. With the Cardinals having major issues holding down opposing tight ends, Eifert might not be a crazy option despite him only posting 81 receiving yards so far.

Player to avoid: Evan Engram, NYG vs. MIN ($6,300): This is more about Engram’s price than anything else. He’s having a breakout campaign and is one of the primary receiving options on the Giants, although there will be more mouths to feed with Golden Tate now back from suspension. Engram’s floor is still reasonably high, but his price tag is a tough pill to swallow. George Kittle ($5,900) also has a high floor while Zach Ertz ($5,800) could be in line for a huge performance against the Jets. The Vikings present a tough opponent for the Giants’ offense, so this might be one of the few weeks where it’s not worth paying up for Engram.

Mike Barner has been covering fantasy sports since 2007. His work has appeared in Sports Illustrated, Yahoo, SportsLine and RotoWire. Mike was also a finalist for the 2018 FSWA Basketball Writer of the Year award. Follow Mike on Twitter @rotomikebarner.

Player Notes
Randall Cobb Oct 13 3:33pm ET

Dallas Cowboys WR Randall Cobb (back, hip) has been declared inactive for the team's Week 6 game.

From TheHuddle

Baker Mayfield Oct 13 3:30pm ET

Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield appeared to injure his lower back in the third quarter against the Seahawks. Mayfield was taken to the locker room for evaluation, but he promptly returned without missing a single snap and is currently back in the game. It appears Mayfield will tough this one out, but his Week 7 status needs to be monitored.

From RotoBaller

Demaryius Thomas Oct 13 3:23pm ET

New York Jets WR Demaryius Thomas (hamstring, knee) is officially active for the team's Week 6 game.

Fantasy Spin: Thomas likely will receive a handful of targets against the Dallas Cowboys, but fantasy players may be able to find better options for their lineups this week.

From TheHuddle

Will Dissly Oct 13 3:00pm ET

Seattle Seahawks tight end Will Dissly went down in Week 6 against the Browns with an injury to his achilles. The injury was non-contact, and Dissly was quickly ruled out for the remainder of the game. At the time of the injury, Dissly was just targeted just once and failed to haul it in. Luke Willson is in at tight end for the rest of the afternoon, and currently has one catch for five yards. Dissly's Week 7 status is in doubt and needs to be monitored.

From RotoBaller

Christian Kirk Oct 13 2:53pm ET

Arizona Cardinals WR Christian Kirk (ankle) has been declared inactive for the team's Week 6 game.

From TheHuddle

David Johnson Oct 13 2:53pm ET

Arizona Cardinals RB David Johnson (back) is officially active for the team's Week 6 game.

Fantasy Spin: Johnson likely will receive a lot of touches during the game despite the injury and should be a starting option in all fantasy leagues.

From TheHuddle

George Kittle Oct 13 2:53pm ET

San Francisco 49ers TE George Kittle (groin) is officially active for the team's Week 6 game.

Fantasy Spin: Kittle is one of the best right ends in the NFL and is a must-start option in all fantasy leagues.

From TheHuddle

Carolina Panthers Oct 13 2:40pm ET

The Panthers Defense brutalized the Tampa offense during the Week 6 matchup in London. With seven sacks on the day, including receiving 2.5 from Gerald McCoy against his former team, Carolina was relentless by also forcing quarterback Jameis Winston to throw five interceptions. With a week off, the team will have a stiff challenge against a sound 49ers offense in Week 8.

From RotoBaller

Greg Olsen Oct 13 2:30pm ET

Carolina Panthers tight end Greg Olsen was targeted seven times against the Buccaneers on Sunday and finished with four catches for 52 yards. After failing to record a catch against the Jaguars in Week 5 while recording just two in Week 4, the veteran's performance in London was a slight improvement. Nonetheless, Olsen has been a disappointment from a fantasy perspective and should only be expected to produce efficient performances on sporadic occasions throughout the remainder of the season regardless of who is under center for the Panthers.

From RotoBaller

Will Dissly Oct 13 2:30pm ET

Seattle Seahawks tight end Dissly missed last season with an injury to his right knee, so this is a brand new injury to his left Achilles. We don't know the severity yet, but it was bad enough to immediately rule him out for the rest of the game. It took him a couple of minutes to get off the turf and it sure seems like this is a serious injury. Stay tuned. At tight end, Luke Willson will take over and he's an athletic TE who may become a threat.

From RotoBaller

Peyton Barber Oct 13 2:30pm ET

Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Peyton Barber was unable to get anything going against the Panthers in Week 6, gaining just 28 yards on 10 carries on the day. Barber did get more carries than backfield mate Ronald Jones II, but could not find any holes and was otherwise a non-factor in what turned out to be a pass-heavy game. Barber has established himself through the first 6 weeks of the season as borderline unstartable in any fantasy format and should be treated as such. The Bucs have a bye in Week 7 before another tough matchup against the Titans in Tennessee in Week 8.

From RotoBaller

Ronald Jones II Oct 13 2:20pm ET

Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Ronald Jones II was unable to get going Sunday, gaining only 10 yards on four carries, but did score a touchdown to save his day. Jones again fell victim to the Bucs unpredictable backfield rotation after starting to seemingly separate himself from the pack, seeing fewer snaps and touches than fellow backfield mate Peyton Barber in Week 6. It will be hard for fantasy owners to trust any of the Bucs running backs until something changes in that backfield. Until then they can both be considered very low-end bye week fill-in options. The Bucs are off in Week 7 before a tough matchup against the Titans in Week 8.

From RotoBaller

Jameis Winston Oct 13 2:10pm ET

Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston disappointed fantasy owners in a big way Sunday, completing 30-of-54 passes for 400 yards and a touchdown to go along with an absurd five interceptions. Winston wasn't given an inch on the day, getting sacked seven times and losing a fumble in the process. Anything Winston did through the first four weeks to gain fantasy owner's confidence has been thrown out the window over the last two weeks. This shouldn't come as the biggest surprise though, as inconsistency has been the theme of Winston's career. The Bucs have a bye in Week 7 before a tough matchup against the Titans in Tennessee, Winston will slot in as a mid-range QB2 for that matchup.

From RotoBaller

Curtis Samuel Oct 13 2:10pm ET

Carolina Panthers wide receiver Curtis Samuel recorded four catches for 70 yards, while also recording a pair of touchdowns against Tampa Bay on Sunday. Samuel got it done in all areas in London, rushing for a score midway through the third quarter before catching a touchdown off of a 13-yard pass from quarterback Kyle Allen in the fourth. With Cam Newton (foot) potentially returning after the Week 7 bye, the 23-year-old will continue to split the bulk of the targets with fellow wideout D.J. Moore and running back Christian McCaffrey regardless of who is under center.

From RotoBaller

D.J. Moore Oct 13 2:00pm ET

Carolina Panthers wide receiver D.J. Moore recorded 73 yards off of seven catches during the win over the Buccaneers in London. With 10 targets on the day, Moore kept it going after recording six receptions for 91 yards against the Jaguars in Week 5. The quarterback situation remains a mystery as the team heads toward the bye, but the 22-year-old should remain involved regardless of who is under center while continuing to split the majority of the targets with Curtis Samuel, who finished with two touchdowns on the day.

From RotoBaller

Christian McCaffrey Oct 13 1:50pm ET

Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey recorded just 57 total yards against Tampa Bay on Sunday, but still managed to find the end zone twice in Week 6. While McCaffrey was stuffed by the Buccaneers Defense by rushing for an abysmal 31 yards on 22 attempts, he offset his shoddy numbers with a touchdown run late in the first quarter, while acquiring his second off of a 25-yard pass from Kyle Allen. With the team heading into a bye, the potential MVP will look to keep it going in Week 8 against the 49ers.

From RotoBaller

Kyle Allen Oct 13 1:40pm ET

Carolina Panthers quarterback Kyle Allen recorded his fourth straight win on Sunday against Tampa Bay in London. While Jameis Winston recorded five interceptions on the day, Allen was able to get it done by finishing with 227 yards and two touchdowns on 20-for-32 passing. With the Panthers heading into a bye, things will get interesting for the Panthers if Cam Newton (foot) can return for the Week 8 matchup with San Francisco. Fantasy managers will want to monitor the situation, but Allen should remain on rosters until Newton is officially back in the mix as a starter.

From RotoBaller

Alvin Kamara Oct 13 1:00pm ET

New Orleans Saints running back Alvin Kamara (ankle) is active against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Kamara gets a juicy matchup in Week 6, though he might be limited. Even if he has a smaller role, he should still put up RB1 numbers against Jacksonville.

From RotoBaller

Marquise Brown Oct 13 12:50pm ET

Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Marquise Brown (ankle) is inactive against the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 6 while tight end Mark Andrews (shoulder) will play. Andrews is a TE1 with upside, as quarterback Lamar Jackson will lean on him in the passing game. Ravens slot receiver Willie Snead could be a sneaky sleeper without Brown in the fold.

From RotoBaller

Sammy Watkins Oct 13 12:40pm ET

Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Sammy Watkins (hamstring) is officially inactive for Week 6. His absence should give the rest of the Kansas City offense more opportunities. In a likely shootout against the Houston Texans, Mecole Hardman and Demarcus Robinson are flex plays while Tyreek Hill is back and ready to resume his WR1 role.

From RotoBaller