Welcome to the NFL DFS Slate Breakdown! This is a new article I will be writing this season, offering my favorite plays position-by-position. I will be discussing my top cash game plays, GPP targets, pivots and stacks! This article will also feature data tables produced by Sam Scherman, that I use heavily in my decision making each week. If you’re a fan of my content (thank you) I highly recommend purchasing access to my Core Plays for both main slates and showdown, and joining our FREE Discord!
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Kyler Murray- Murray is the top listed play in this article each week, and it’s hilarious to me that he is once again projecting for sub-10% ownership. Few fantasy players possess Murray’s floor/ceiling combo that is especially valuable when you are able to roster him at low-ownership. I believe we have seen floor-level games from him each of the last two weeks, and that’s still resulted in 22 DK points per game. For example, two weeks ago he posted 22 DK points despite not throwing a single touchdown pass. James Conner is clearly going to be a red zone threat, which affects the ceiling a tad, but Murray still has three attempts inside the 5 in 2021. Everyone is going to be focused on the cheaper Trey Lance in this game, but I love building around Murray in potential shootouts.
Kirk Cousins- I expect Dak Prescott and Daniel Jones to be most peoples choice in the mid-tier…but I’m all-in on this Vikings passing game in Week 5. It’s unlikely I get up to Prescott in cash games due to the presence of Trey Lance, and for tournaments I prefer the lower expected ownership of the Vikings — who have basically the same implied team total. Detroit has arguably the worst secondary in the NFL, and have luckily avoided getting shredded do to who they have played. With Dalvin Cook looking unlikely to be a full-go, I expect the Vikings to come out firing in a must-win game. Now, that’s not to say their running backs won’t be involved, because they will and it’s arguably the top match-up in football on the ground as well. But, Cousins is notorious for getting fat and popping off against weak opponents, and that’s exactly what the Lions are with their injuries on the defensive side of the ball. The concern over game-script will only lead to even lower-ownership, and it won’t shock me one bit if we see Cousins throw for 4 touchdowns in Week 5 coming off that offensive letdown against the Browns.
Trey Lance- Jimmy Garoppolo was officially ruled out for the 49ers on Friday afternoon leading us straight into Trey Lance chalk week. You 100% do not have to play Trey Lance this week, especially in tournaments, but I do view him as the optimal play in cash games at his price. I don’t think it’s likely we see another Justin Fields situation either. For starters, Lance has a smart offensive mind calling his plays and scheming the offense around his game, whereas Fields does not. We also saw Lance drop 20 DK points in one half of football last weekend, more than Fields has put up all season. Overall, we can’t expect Lance to repeat last week, but we can confidently project him as the best point per dollar option at this position.
Favorite Pivot: Joe Burrow (if Mixon is out), Jalen Hurts
Derrick Henry- CMC was listed as doubtful by the Panthers on Friday, leaving King Henry once again as the clear top option in cash game and single entry formats. This is another smash match-up for Henry, as the Jaguars rank bottom-ten in fantasy points per game allowed to running backs, and have faced the fifth-most rushing attempts in the NFL. He caught another two passes last week, which is all that we needed for him to unlock a ceiling he has never previously had. Julio Jones is out once again, and AJ Brown is just returning from a nagging hamstring injury. Henry has averaged 30 touches each of the last two weeks and should see another healthy workload on Sunday.
Saquon Barkley- Barkley hasn’t been someone I’ve been on much this season, but I believe Sunday vs the Giants is a great time to jump on board the train. It’s clear that he is finally healthy, and has been dominating the snaps for New York over the past three weeks. He still has to deal with a terrible offensive line, but has been heavily-involved in the passing game, especially with Sterling Shepard and Darius Slayton out. Both missed Week 4, and Barkley was able to turn in a 5-74-1 receiving line, seeing snaps out wide as well. Both are ruled out again this week, and Dallas is giving up the most catches to running backs so far this season. Barkley is in between the high-priced and low-priced chalk options, and this could be a great week to be overweight to the field on him in all formats,
Najee Harris- Speaking of heavy passing game usage, Harris has been seeing CMC-level usage for the Steelers to begin his rookie campaign. This is his toughest match-up to date, but at some points, raw usage outweighs match-up for me. Especially when you consider that he’s a lock to come in low-owned. Overall, this is a GPP-only play for me but with Denver ranking top-eight in pressure% we could see a ton of dump offs coming Harris’ way again in Week 5.
Leonard Fournette- It feels weird to write about Fournette being chalky on a main slate, but it feels like the stars are aligning for him against the Dolphins. It does appear Gio Bernard has a chance to return this week, while he will steal some passing down work if so, it’s clear Lenny is the back Arians trusts the most on early downs. Miami continues to be a run-funnel defense allowing the fourth-most fantasy points to running backs, yet the 21st most to wide receivers. Tampa Bay are huge 10 point favorites at home, and the issue with Fournette is that he is way too cheap. It’s hard to imagine him miserably failing this price tag, in this match-up, especially for cash game rosters. You can always look to pivot in GPPs, but Fournette is likely to be locked into my Core Plays come Sunday.
Note: As the week has progressed, it looks like a 50/50 chance Dalvin Cook sits this game out for the Vikings. If so, Alexander Mattison would be used in a huge role like we’ve seen when Cook has missed in the past, and he would fly to the top of my RB rankings for all formats in their match-up with Detroit. While this would likely concentrate high-ownership on Mattison, it would further in my interest in the Vikings passing game in tournaments.
Favorite Pivot: Chase Edmonds
Davante Adams- Adams is coming off a “let down” game in which he posted a 6-64 line on 11 targets. He simply just didn’t find the end zone, and that is not a reason to fade him in Week 5. Adams’ usage continues to be the best in football, owning just under 40% of Aaron Rodgers targets and 39% of the teams Air Yards. Marquez Valdes-Scantling will once again be out for the Packers, further increasing Adams already massive target floor. He is the top option in all formats, and will likely be chalky due to the abundance of Week 5 value.
Justin Jefferson- Jefferson is priced just below Adams, but is arguably my favorite play on the entire Week 5 slate. Jefferson has been an absolute alpha since joining the Vikings and has continued that in 2021 with an average of over 20 PPR points per game. Detroit’s pass defense might not look bad on the surface, but I truly believe this is arguably the worst secondary unit in football right now. They have faced run-heavy offenses over the last few weeks, and lucked out against Baltimore with Hollywood Brown dropping three plus touchdowns against them. Jefferson is a much better version of Brown, and this type of speed is what we want to target against the Lions. They are allowing the highest YPA in the NFL at over 9 to begin the season. This is a blowup spot for Kirk Cousins and Jefferson, and I want to be overweight to the field here in all formats.
Keenan Allen- Allen isn’t someone I’m forcing into my cash game builds, but he simply has to be considered priced in the mid-6K range on DraftKings. His role in the Chargers offense continues to be especially valuable in the full-PPR DraftKings scoring, and he trails only Cooper Kupp and Davante Adams in targets this season. He should be able to find plenty of spaces over the middle against a Browns unit that has been solid on the outside to begin the season. I’m not sure I expect much fantasy goodness from this game, but Allen is criminally priced for his floor alone in any match-up.
Jakobi Meyers- Meyers continues to be the face of positive regression headed his way, having yet to score an NFL touchdown. He’s been the eighth-heaviest targeted WR in the NFL this season (41) and is clearly Mac Jones go-to WR playing the slot role he targeted heavily in college. Not only does he dominate looks from Jones, but he has been utilized a lot in the red zone as well. His three targets in the red zone lead the Patriots, and it’s astounding to me he has yet to find paydirt. I think that changes this weekend, and view Meyers as playable in all formats.
Ja’Marr Chase- Tee Higgins is back this week, but all of the Bengals receivers are underpriced, especially Ja’Marr Chase. As I noted in the Burrow blurb, if Joe Mixon is out I do expect Zac Taylor to take the training wheels of the offense a bit. Taylor has been extremely conservative when facing good defensive fronts, and the Packers are currently bottom-ten in QB Pressures per Pro Football Reference. Chase has benefitted from the absence of Higgins, sure, but he also ranks seventh in the NFL with a 41.7% share of the teams Air Yards. He has great rapport with Burrow, and is still underpriced for his big play upside. I love him as a correlation play with Davante Adams, even if you aren’t stacking the game.
Laviska Shenault- Shenault is one of the more underpriced WRs on the slate, as the sites clearly did not account for DJ Chark’s absence. Tennessee is allowing the second-most DK points per game to opposing wideouts, and they have also allowed the most fantasy points in the slot through four weeks. Shenault has a ceiling with no Chark, but he also has a realistic floor with the low-aDOT targets he receivers from Trevor Lawrence. It’s likely the Jaguars are trailing in this game, and even if they aren’t there’s a good chance Shenault was involved in the offense. I think he should be closer to $6K with Chark out, and he won’t be this cheap next week if he posts a solid game on Sunday.
Favorite Value Plays: Kadarius Toney, Curtis Samuel
Favorite Pivot: Deebo Samuel (keep bumping him up as the week goes on) and AJ Brown
Tight End is full of mid-tier options this week, in a week where weekly elite spend-up Travis Kelce is not on the slate. When looking at ownership projections, you’ll see Evan Engram and Ricky Seals-Jones as the highest projected owned options. I do believe these are the two best cash game options, especially Seals-Jones who is priced at just $2,500 on DraftKings.
In tournaments, I would rank my favorite options in order as Mike Gesicki, Noah Fant and Tyler Conklin. Gesicki is running the most routes in the slot in football this season, and makes for a great correlation play opposite Leonard Fournette. Fant will be low-owned due to his price and match-up with the Steelers, but has a huge ceiling and can be used as correlation on your Najee Harris teams.
Ben’s Top Five Stacks
Kyler Murray-DeAndre Hopkins-Maxx Williams (if in)-Deebo Samuel
Joe Burrow-Ja’Marr Chase-Tee Higgins-Davante Adams
Kirk Cousins-Justin Jefferson-Adam Thielen-TJ Hockenson
Jalen Hurts-DeVonta Smith-DJ Moore
Tom Brady-Chris Godwin-Antonio Brown-Mike Gesicki OR Jaylen Waddle
Written by Ben Hossler (Follow @BenHossler on Twitter)