NFL

4 NFL FanDuel Studs to Target in Week 5

Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs have a huge implied team total, making him a great play at quarterback. Who else should you pay up for at other positions?

Spending your available salary in any DFS lineup on a stud can make or break your lineup. These high-priced plays will take up the majority of your salary cap, so it’s critical to carefully consider which ones you’ll want for each slate. Whether it’s trying to capture a safe floor in a cash game or chasing a huge game to help you win a tournament, nailing the expensive players is one of the keys to making winning NFL lineups on FanDuel.

We're into the second quarter of the season with Week 5 now upon us. Let's see which stars you want to spend up on for Sunday's main slate.

[Editor's Note: The games between the Denver Broncos and New England Patriots and the Tennessee Titans and Buffalo Bills have been removed from the main slate.]

Patrick Mahomes, QB, Kansas City Chiefs

FanDuel Salary: $9,000
Projected Points: 26.51

You can make the case for playing Patrick Mahomes every week. This week, he and the Kansas City Chiefs are set up for perhaps their best game yet this season. Considering how often Kansas City is in position to have offensive eruptions, that's saying something.

The Chiefs are playing at home against the Las Vegas Raiders, and the oddsmakers are expecting a big performance. They are 13.5-point favorites, the biggest on the slate according to FanDuel Sportsbook. Looking at the daily fantasy matchup heat map, they also have a massive implied team total of 35 points. That's the biggest on this slate and one of the higher totals we have seen this season. The Raiders haven't been awful against the pass so far, ranking 15th in schedule-adjusted pass defense according to numberFire's metrics, but Mahomes has already carved up the 6th-ranked Baltimore Ravens and 11th-ranked Los Angeles Chargers.

Mahomes has scored at least 20 FanDuel points in all four games this season and had a ceiling performance against the Ravens with 40 points. Over the last three games, he's added 5.6 points just from rushing, which just adds another dimension for defenses to defend and another way for him to score fantasy points. Mahomes is obviously a safe play but can also have these monster games that most quarterbacks will not be able to replicate.

Patrick Mahomes is our highest projected player this week and is a great play in any format.

Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Dallas Cowboys

FanDuel Salary: $9,000
Projected Points: 19.0

With a lot of solid value options in the mid-to-high salary range for running backs, spending up to the very top of the position could be a less popular strategy this week. That would be good news for people who want to roster Ezekiel Elliott. The Dallas Cowboys' games this season have been chaotic, but that has been good news for Zeke's fantasy value. He has some of the best usage in the league, which could lead to even more fantasy points down the line.

The Cowboys are facing off against the New York Giants at home. This game has a huge total at 54.5 despite the Giants scoring just three offensive touchdowns this season. That's because of the complete fantasy carnival that has been any game involving the Cowboys. There has been an average of 78.3 combined points scored in Dallas' last three games. This has seen Elliott get hugely involved in the passing game, seeing 8.7 targets per game over that span.

Zeke's role, with the passing game usage and getting the ball inside the five yard line, is one of the best in the league. He ranks second in opportunity adjusted touchdowns and first in opportunity adjusted fantasy points. This role has also made him practically game script proof, so if the Cowboys get ahead by a lot against a weaker opponent this week, Elliott will likely be in the game getting the carries to run out the clock.

The Cowboys' implied team total is the third-highest on the slate, sitting at 31.75. Elliott is our highest projected running back, and if people are using some of the backs that have lower salaries for the value, that could lead to him being less popular than normal.

Calvin Ridley, WR, Atlanta Falcons

FanDuel Salary: $8,300
Projected Points: 17.0

After being one of the top wide receivers in fantasy, Calvin Ridley put up a zero on Monday Night Football in Week 4. He saw 5 targets and 98 air yards, so some of the opportunity was still there, though. This is one that we should be willing to chalk up as football being weird and random, and Ridley is in a great bounce-back spot this week.

The Atlanta Falcons are back at home in the dome in Week 5, playing against the Carolina Panthers. A theory as to why Ridley had such a poor game against the Green Bay Packers is that Jaire Alexander was able to shut him down. Even if Julio Jones were to sit out or be hobbled in this game, the Panthers don't have anyone who could shut down Ridley. The Falcons have a 28-point implied team total, and we know they usually will get to that total through the passing game. They have the sixth-highest passing rate in the NFL.

Ridley tops the projections for wide receivers this week. We can take advantage of players who will shy away from rostering Ridley after the bagel he had in a nationally televised game. Don't be fooled by that randomness, and get back on the Ridley train this week.

George Kittle, TE, San Francisco 49ers

FanDuel Salary: $7,100
Projected Points: 12.4

The tight end position got a much needed boost last week with George Kittle returning to action. And boy, did he ever return in a big way. He caught 15 balls for 183 yards and a touchdown in Week 4. Despite playing in only two games, Kittle's performance against the Philadelphia Eagles made him the TE9 in season-long half-PPR leagues. Now that he is back and looking healthy, we can fire him up on FanDuel this week.

The San Francisco 49ers are facing the Miami Dolphins at home, with a healthy implied team total of 27.5. Miami's defense has actually been performing well, ranking eighth in schedule-adjusted pass defense this season. However, we have seen the Seattle Seahawks and Buffalo Bills passing games have success from a fantasy perspective against the Dolphins this season. If we just want to roster Kittle and avoid the other options in this passing game, that certainly makes sense. Kittle saw a 33% target share in his return and has been a reliable option no matter which quarterback is behind center.

Kittle is second in our tight end projections this week. He makes for a good cash-game play, as there are few tight ends who can match the kind of volume Kittle sees in his offense, and he is also one of the best yards-after-catch players in the entire league.


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.