NFL

Week 5 Game Scripts to Target in Daily Fantasy Football

Considering game scripts should be a huge part of your process when building lineups in NFL daily fantasy.

How will the game play out? Will it be high paced with lots of potential for fantasy points to be scored? Does it set up well for one team, both teams, or neither? A running back could go from a lock one week as a home favorite to a complete avoid the next week as a double-digit road underdog, because the game scripts in these games are completely different.

Projecting these outcomes can be extremely difficult for one person. We can use the lines and totals to see what oddsmakers think and go from there. A great resource is numberFire's Daily Fantasy Matchup Heat Map, which provides those numbers that are used for sports betting, as well as custom metrics that show how the teams will match up against each other. This will give us a much better handle on how games are likely to play out, and how we can take advantage of that in our lineups.

Here are some game scripts to target this week in DFS.

Arizona Cardinals vs Cincinnati Bengals

Over/Under 46.5

Cardinals Implied Team Total: 21.75

Bengals Implied Team Total 24.75

The first game script we are going to target this week is a game between two teams that have yet to win. This is in large part due to weak defenses, which we can hope to exploit. Our Adjusted Defensive Net Expected Points (NEP) metric has the Cincinnati Bengals' defense ranked 28th overall and the Arizona Cardinals' defense ranked 24th. These teams are also very pass happy, with the second and third highest pass-to-run ratios in the league.

So who can we roster to take advantage of these matchups?

A few times a year, Andy Dalton ($7,500 on FanDuel) becomes a popular play in the DFS world, and then people mostly ignore him at other times. This seems to be the week for him this season, with the extra possessions that might come from facing the fastest team in the league on a seconds-per-play basis in Arizona, per Football Outsiders. Dalton was actually useful in fantasy the first three games of the season, posting no less than 18.1 FanDuel points before a dud last Monday night against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Kyler Murray ($7,400) has shown more on the ground than through the air the past two weeks. Arizona has reverted to many short passes to compensate for a poor offensive line not giving Murray enough time. Luckily for him, the Bengals' defense has not generated much pressure as they are 22nd in Adjusted Sack Rate and have just one sack since their four in Week 1. Murray threw 20 deep passes in the first two games but only nine in the last two. With more time to throw in this game, he could start chucking it deep again.

Tyler Boyd ($6,700) has been a de facto number one receiver for the Bengals in the absence of A.J. Green. Boyd has a target share of 23%, and now with the news that John Ross is going on injured reserve, Boyd should see even more targets. If Dalton is to have a big game, Boyd would likely have one, as well, with the pass catching options so limited. A salary of $6,700 for a number one target in a game that could be a shootout makes Boyd a reasonable play this week.

David Johnson ($6,800) might be the best play in this game for his affordable salary. While not getting it done on the ground, the volume in the pass game has been great. Johnson has seen at least seven targets in three of the four games this season. Targets are more valuable than carries with the half point per reception, and Arizona seems willing to use passing to Johnson as their running game instead of actually running.

Others to Consider

Larry Fitzgerald ($5,800) was basically the second receiver behind Christian Kirk. Kirk will be missing this game due to an ankle injury, giving Fitzgerald the number one role to himself.

Auden Tate ($5,300) gets a bump up the pecking order after the Ross injury. He had already been involved in the offense some, with 10 targets and six targets in the last two games. He offers cheap exposure to a game that is one of the higher totals of the week.

Atlanta Falcons vs Houston Texans

Over/Under: 49

Falcons Implied Team Total: 22

Texans Implied Team Total: 27

The Houston Texans have been in a few games this year where the game script should set up well, and this one is included in that since it is the highest total on the slate, according to FanDuel Sportsbook. Some of them have worked out, like Week 1 against the New Orleans Saints, and some of them are 13-10 games like last week versus the Carolina Panthers. So which one will this week be?

The Atlanta Falcons have a pass-to-run ratio of 2.62, the highest in the league. Houston is down at 1.54, but they may try to pass more against a pass funnel Atlanta defense. Our metrics have the Falcons ranked sixth against the run but 27th versus the pass. It could give each quarterback lots of opportunities to throw more passes in a back-and-forth game that has a fairly close spread.

Deshaun Watson ($8,000) has a had an up-and-down start to the season from a from a fantasy perspective. The reason for this seems to be poor offensive line play and holding on to the ball too long. This might not be as big of a problem here, with Atlanta having just the 26th ranked adjusted sack rate on the season. Watson is dangerous when he has time to move around in the pocket and throw deep.

If he is going to have time to throw deep, it might be time to get back on Will Fuller ($5,700). Fuller has an average depth of target of 17.3, the fourth highest among receivers with at least 10 targets. Unfortunately he has converted 399 air yards into just 183 actual yards. We can keep going back to him knowing the usage has been good while others might be turned off by the results being poor. Fuller makes for a good tournament play if people have soured on him, though he won't sneak under the radar too much with this game likely being a popular game stack in Week 5.

Over the past few seasons, some fantasy owners were frustrated with Julio Jones ($8,200) and his lack of touchdown scoring. His usage in the red zone was not yielding fantasy points. Well, so far this season, that's changed. Julio has caught all of his four red zone targets, resulting in three of his four touchdowns coming from inside the 20. According to Pro Football Focus, Jones has the third biggest mismatch for a wide receiver against a cornerback this week when he lines up against Lonnie Johnson Jr.

Austin Hooper ($6,700) has quietly been one of the most consistent fantasy tight ends this season. At a position where volume is inconsistent, he has at least six targets in every game. He has carved out a 19% target share, ranking him second behind Jones on Atlanta. Last week when Atlanta was in comeback mode, he saw 11 targets, and if they fall behind again, Hooper could benefit.

Others to Consider

Calvin Ridley ($5,400) has trailed off after scoring in consecutive weeks to open the season. He is a big play threat with an average depth of target of 14.6 yards and could catch a long pass at any moment

DeAndre Hopkins ($8,500) is always the number one target on the Texans. While his results thus far this season have been pedestrian, he still is dominating the volume with 33% of the air yards and a 28% market share of targets. Getting back on Nuk makes a lot of sense, especially if you are trying to stack this game.

Baltimore Ravens vs Pittsburgh Steelers

Over/Under: 44

Ravens Implied Team Total: 23.75

Steelers Implied Team Total: 20.25

The Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers rivalry typically gets the reputation of being a defensive battle. Things have changed over the years, but the sentiment has stayed the same with the public. The Ravens actually rank dead last in Adjusted Defensive NEP per play after surrendering 40 points to the Cleveland Browns last week.

So if this game is more offensive than it appears on the surface, who will score fantasy points in it?

Lamar Jackson ($8,300) hasn't been the world beater he was in the first two games against overmatched opponents. He still put up over 20 fantasy points in those games, as he is one of the highest floor quarterbacks in the league right now. Accounting for 11 total touchdowns already, Lamar is nearly game-script proof as whether he does it throwing or rushing, he will get his.

JuJu Smith-Schuster ($7,300) will face a banged up Baltimore secondary. With Jimmy Smith out, teams have been able to throw at will against them. Now Smith-Schuster gets his chance against slot corner Brandon Carr. Last week, Browns slot receiver Jarvis Landry went off for eight catches and 167 yards in the same matchup.

Like the aforementioned Fuller, Marquise Brown ($5,400) is another receiver who has gotten great usage and not quite paid off in the past few weeks. He is one of just three receivers to see more than 500 air yards thus far. He also is the number one target for Jackson, with 24% of the targets going his way. It's only a matter of time before he uses his game-breaking speed again like he did in Week 1 and has a huge fantasy game for his owners.

James Conner ($6,900) performed in a somewhat different role on Monday night football than he had in previous weeks. With Jaylen Samuels taking snaps under center, he would do short, tap passes to Conner, giving him a free half-point on these short receptions. Conner caught all eight of his targets and had his best game of the year. He could have success on the ground in this game, after Nick Chubb ripped open the Baltimore defense for 165 yards and three touchdowns.

Others to Consider

The hype for Mark Andrews ($6,100) has died down some, but his volume hasn't really decreased much. He still saw seven and eight targets in the past few games and has rare big-play ability for a tight end.

Diontae Johnson ($5,000) has taken on a new role in the offense after Donte Moncrief was benched. Johnson has seen six targets in the last two games and also caught a touchdown in both games. At only $5,000, he makes for a nice salary relief tournament-type play to fit into your lineups.


Nicholas Vazquez is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Nicholas Vazquez also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username hbyanksman. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his/her personal views, he/she may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his/her personal account. The views expressed in his/her articles are the author’s alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.