FanDuel Single-Game Daily Fantasy Football Helper: Week 5 Monday Night (Chargers at Saints)

Both the Saints and Chargers are without some key playmakers, so how does that affect the slate on FanDuel?

For a bit, it was looking like we'd once again get a two-game set for Monday night -- and two single-game slates, but with the Denver Broncos/New England Patriots game postponed, we're back to just the matchup between the Los Angeles Chargers and the New Orleans Saints in the Superdome.

The Saints are favored by seven points despite the fact that stud wide receiver Michael Thomas has been ruled out. For the Chargers, running back Austin Ekeler is on injured reserve.

Which plays, then, stand out for the single-game slate?

Before we dig in, don't forget to brush up on some single-game perfect lineup trends and leverage our Sharpstack single-game optimizer for correlated lineup plays. Let's dig into overall strategy and MVP considerations and flex possibilities, as well.

MVP Considerations

Using numberFire's projections as the base, Alvin Kamara ($16,000) is expected to be the slate's top-scorer around 33.7% of the time over a thousand simulations, making him a pretty easy recommendation for your MVP. In three games without Thomas this season, Kamara has a team-best 27.3% target share with 9.0 targets per game and 2.0 red zone targets per game. That's in addition to 12.7 carries. Kamara's unmatchable workload in this game puts him at the top of the list as the best process-based MVP pick.

If not going with Kamara at MVP, it gets a little open. Drew Brees ($14,500) is 26.2% likely to be the top scorer with Justin Herbert ($14,000) 17.5% likely to do that. Brees, through four games, has doubled the NFL average in Passing Net Expected Points (NEP) per drop back (0.32 compared to the average of 0.16). He's done that despite a 5.6-yard average target depth, 2.2 yards off the NFL average of 7.8. Herbert, though, is at a per-drop back Passing NEP of 0.23 with a 7.2-yard average target depth and 4.0 rushing attempts per game. Given the combination of passing efficiency and rushing potential, Herbert gets the nod for me as the first pivot away from Kamara as the MVP choice due to sheer leverage potential over the chalkier Saints.

Keenan Allen ($12,500) should also be in the mix for a primary MVP pick because wide receivers are usually not rostered as MVPs quite as often as they should be based on trends in optimal lineups. Allen has averaged an insane 12.3 targets per game and maintains a 35.8% target share through four games. Allen was the top-scorer in just shy of 10.0% of simulated slates.

Flex Considerations

With Ekeler on out, there's room for Joshua Kelley ($12,000) and Justin Jackson ($7,500) in the Chargers' backfield, but we could certainly see a split. In Week 4, when Ekeler left after 3 snaps, Kelley led the team with 30 snaps (56.6%), and Jackson had 21 (39.6%). That's not a big enough gap to go hard at Kelley at MVP, especially given the actual workloads they had: 9 carries and 3 targets for Kelley and 6 carries and 2 targets for Jackson. Jackson is very appealing, given the salary discrepancy.

Tre'Quan Smith ($9,500) and Emmanuel Sanders ($10,000) have identical 17.2% target shares in three games without Thomas (5.7 per game). Surprisingly, Sanders has more downfield targets (2.0 per game) than Smith (0.7), but Smith (1.3 red zone targets) is more involved close to the end zone than Sanders (0.3). Jared Cook ($11,000) had just 5 and 3 targets in two healthy games without Thomas so far and is far from 100%.

Value/Differentiation Plays

There aren't many that inspire confidence, so it's probably a good slate to play just one of the quarterbacks, ensuring we aren't digging too deep for punt plays. Hunter Henry ($9,500) is an underdog tight end but has a 16.8% target share in games with Herbert under center, a share that gets bumped up to 18.3% of the targets in games with Herbert but without Mike Williams.

Tre'Quan Smith and Emmanuel Sanders fit as value plays, given their salaries.

Latavius Murray ($8,000) has averaged 2.5 red zone carries per game on the year and is always in play for stealing touchdowns, but the overall upside is limited due to limited receiving work and yardage potential.

As for the kickers, Wil Lutz ($9,000) finished with a top-five FanDuel performance 25.5% of the time, and Mike Badgley ($8,500) did it just 3.0% of the time. Lutz could be a round-out pick in a Saints stack.

Overall Thoughts

Kamara's anticipated workload makes him nearly impossible to fade outright, but if you want to go elsewhere at MVP, I'd just look to the Chargers, going the route that they stifle the Saints and win, thus limiting Kamara. In that event, Allen and Herbert deserve the attention.

Chasing Kelley and/or Jackson isn't something that looks like a good bet long-term as MVP considerations, but naturally, over a full multi-entry slate, Kelley can be in the mix.

Bringing back Kamara MVP stacks with Herbert and Allen stand out as pretty ideal.