5 NFL FanDuel Value Plays to Target in Week 5
Studs with sizable salaries are frequently an integral part of winning money in daily fantasy football at FanDuel. However, to fit them under the salary cap, it's imperative to locate underpriced players who over-deliver.
A good place to start when attempting to unearth undervalued players is our projections tool. The tool offers a value option for sorting, showcasing who offers the most bang for your buck. In addition to matchups impacting projections, injuries do as well. On that note, players replacing injured starters are often among the top values. So, staying abreast of injury news and inactives until the start of games is a must with that in mind.
With the tone set for this piece, let's move on. The following quintet of players is among my favorite cap-friendly options in Week 1.
Trevor Lawrence, QB, Jacksonville Jaguars ($6,500)
Let's jump right into this with the player our projections credit with the highest value score (points per thousand dollars of salary), Trevor Lawrence. First, the power rankings grade the Tennessee Titans as the 12th-worst pass defense in 2021. Second, they were the panacea for another struggling rookie quarterback, Zach Wilson, last week. Through the first three weeks, Wilson passed for 628 yards, 2 touchdowns, and 7 interceptions. Then, last week, he erupted for 297 passing yards, 2 touchdowns, and only 1 interception, completing a season-high 61.76 percent of his passes.
Lawrence is coming off an extended break after playing in last week's Thursday Night Football game. Additionally, he flashed in his last game, completing a season-high 70.83 percent of his passes, throwing no interceptions for the first time in a game, rushing for a season-high 36 yards, and scoring once on the ground. Over the last two weeks, Lawrence has run 14 times for 63 yards, an interesting development that enhances his appeal in FanDuel daily contests. At his salary, he doesn't have to do much to provide value, and if last week's an indication he's making strides in his rookie campaign, he might smash value this week.
Antonio Brown, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers ($6,500)
Antonio Brown returned from a one-game absence with COVID, and he promptly tied for the team lead with 7 receptions, was targeted 11 times, and finished second with 63 receiving yards. According to Pro Football Focus, Brown's 29 routes were only fifth-most on the team, well behind Chris Godwin's 43, and Mike Evans' 43. Lagging behind his talented receiving running mates in routes isn't ideal. However, Tom Brady clearly has an affinity for Brown, targeting him on an absurd 37.9 percent of his routes.
Additionally, Brown's usage as a field-stretcher might shine in this week's matchup against the Miami Dolphins. Quantifying Brown's vertical usage, Sports Info Solutions credits him with an average depth of target (aDOT) of 15.3 yards downfield this season. As for the Dolphins, they're hemorrhaging explosive passing plays. According to Sharp Football Stats, Miami's ceded the third-highest average explosive pass rate (13 percent) in 2021. Therefore, I like Brown's odds of delivering some big receptions and paying off for his modest salary, making him an appealing GPP option who's worth using and embracing the volatility that accompanies sharing an offense with other elite pass-catchers.
DeVonta Smith, WR, Philadelphia Eagles ($6,000)
First, a matchup with the Carolina Panthers for DeVonta Smith probably isn't as daunting as it appears at first blush. Yes, Carolina ranks as the sixth-best pass defense in the power rankings. Unfortunately for the Panthers, that rank likely isn't a fair representation of their pass defense in the wake of significant secondary injuries, namely to star rookie cornerback Jaycee Horn. Keeping the injuries in mind, I'm viewing Carolina's pass defense as average or worse until Horn gets back, second-year corner C.J. Henderson makes a leap or Stephon Gilmore joins them and reverts to pre-injury form.
As for Smith, he's ascended to the top option in the passing game in his rookie year. To that point, he leads the team in targets (31), receptions (18), receiving yards (237), and routes (163). In addition, Smith has six or more targets and multiple receptions in every game. Further, according to Sports Info Solutions, he has the sixth-most intended air yards (456). Encouragingly, he snapped a two-game skid in which caught only 5 of 13 targets for 44 yards to clown the Kansas City Chiefs for 7 receptions and 122 receiving yards on 10 targets.
According to the heat map, the Philadelphia Eagles have an unexciting implied total of 20.50 points. Thankfully, even if they struggle to score points, Smith's high-volume role provides him a path to generating value without scoring a touchdown. Speaking of value, Smith has the ninth-highest value score in our projections. Unlike Brown above, I view Smith as an excellent value in all game types and not specifically in GPPs.
Damien Williams, RB, Chicago Bears ($5,800)
Damien Williams is another screaming value in all game types. Unfortunately for the Chicago Bears, starting running back, David Montgomeryfaces a multi-week absence. Thankfully, they invested in the backup running back position in the offseason, bringing Williams via free agency. They also drafted Khalil Herbert, but Williams projects to run ahead of him with an every-down back skill-set.
The veteran running back opted out of the 2020 season, but he showcased his well-rounded skills in 2019 with the Chiefs, piling up 64.7 yards from scrimmage and 2.7 receptions per game in 11 games played. Williams also scored seven touchdowns (five on the ground and two receiving). He's received limited usage as the backup this year, but he's assuaged concerns about rust after a year off, averaging 4.6 yards per rush attempt, and securing eight of 10 targets for 41 yards. Last week, he was especially impressive, recording 70 yards on only 10 touches.
The Las Vegas Raiders are a middle-of-the-pack matchup for running the ball. Nevertheless, volume is far more important for a running back than their matchup, and Williams has it at his disposal. Unsurprisingly, Williams is popping in our projections, ranking as the top value at running back. He's a must-have in cash games. Yet, I also like him in GPPs, even though he'll likely be chalky.
Eli Mitchell, RB, San Francisco 49ers ($5,500)
The San Francisco 49ers might get rookie running back Elijah Mitchell back after a two-game absence. He's practiced in a limited capacity so far this week. However, unlike last week, he's supposed to shed the non-contact jersey this week.
More good news
Kyle Shanahan said RB Elijah Mitchell should be able to return to practice on Wednesday without the blue non-contact jersey.#49ers
— Keiana Martin (@KeianaMartinTV) October 4, 2021
Fellow rookie Trey Sermon hasn't done anything to Wally Pipp Mitchell over the last two weeks. In fact, according to our snap counts, Sermon's snap percentage slid from 58.57 percent in Week 3 to 51.32 percent in Week 4. Comparatively, Mitchell played 61.43 percent of the snaps in Week 2. Comparing the two, according to Pro Football Focus, Mitchell has 8 missed tackles forced on 36 carries and 2.97 yards after contact per attempt compared to only 6 missed tackles forced and 2.67 yards after contact per attempt on 30 attempts.
Considering Mitchell was running ahead of Sermon before the injury, I anticipate him returning to the top of the depth chart when he's healthy. Further, Mitchell's explosiveness is tailor-made for a matchup with the Arizona Cardinals. As you can see on Mitchell's Player Profiler page, he boasts eye-popping workout measurables and percentile ranks. And, while Arizona's the 11th-worst run defense in our power rankings, it's specifically their struggles with yielding explosive plays that dovetail perfectly with Mitchell's home-run speed. According to Sharp Football Stats, the Cardinals have allowed the highest average explosive run rate percentage (18 percent).
So, obviously, there are concerns about how the backfield usage will shake out in Mitchell's return. Nonetheless, Mitchell's upside and cap-friendly salary thrust him into the GPP picture. Thus, I'm emboldened to fire some bullets on Mitchell in GPPs, expecting him to be on a low percentage of rosters to boot.
Joshua Shepardson is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Joshua Shepardson also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username bchad50. 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.