4 Daily Fantasy Football Matchups to Exploit in Week 5

The beauty of daily fantasy football is that, unlike a season-long draft where someone is tied to their top players all year, any top players in the NFL can make their way into your lineup. While that can be a blessing, it can also be a curse.

Although you're able to roster Christian McCaffrey, Dalvin Cook, and Derrick Henry all at once if you want, it is unlikely that all three running backs are optimal plays at their respective salaries for a particular week. There are many elements to decide which players are the best plays, and a large aspect of daily fantasy is the matchup a player has.

While usually encompassed in some respects inside the salary figure, a soft matchup can take a good running back to a great week. On the other hand, a tough matchup can make superstars suboptimal to roster.

Which matchups are lurking in this weekend's games that we can take advantage of on FanDuel?

Vikings Passing Attack vs. Lions Secondary

At 1-3 with a banged-up Dalvin Cook, the Vikings need a break. The Lions' secondary may hand a few out.

Minnesota hosts Detroit as a 9.5-point favorite in a game with a saucy, 49.5-point total. Heavy favorites are not typically the best spots to target passing games, but Detroit's outlier defense may make it unavoidable.

The Lions have allowed 0.45 Adjusted Passing Net Expected Points (NEP) per drop back in their four contests this season, which is comfortably last in the NFL. Detroit has also faced Jimmy Garoppolo, Lamar Jackson, and Justin Fields in three of the four games doing so, and it was not just Aaron Rodgers that has done this damage. Detroit has been bleeding in the secondary all season, and the Vikings have individual talent that can take advantage.

Kirk Cousins has already flashed two 25 FanDuel-point outings in four weeks this season, and Minnesota is obviously loaded on the outside with Justin Jefferson, Adam Thielen, and the emerging K.J. Osborn. This unit has averaged a league-high 0.35 Passing NEP per drop back in their own right, yet it just may not seem like this is the best passing offense in the NFL because it is still their less-preferred way to attack teams.

With Cook still missing practices, personally, this wise move for the Vikings would be to rest their star running back and put an aerial assault on Detroit.

Derrick Henry vs. Jaguars Run Defense

Averaging 22.7 FanDuel points in his last six games against Jacksonville, it does not take a complicated process to arrive on Derrick Henry this weekend.

Still, the performance metrics inside their 2021 seasons indicated Henry should have his way with the Jaguars' defense once again. Jacksonville is allowing 0.10 Adjusted Rushing Defensive NEP per carry, which is tied for the fourth-worst mark in the NFL. The Jaguars have ceded six goal-to-go rushing touchdowns in four games as well, which means even if Henry is inexplicably not having success running the ball, he can salvage his day with a score or two.

Henry's 63% snap share really is not a concern. With 35.7 total adjusted opportunities per game (carries plus double targets), he has the best workload in the NFL adjusting for targets, and when he comes out of the game, it usually is just on plays not designed for him. Henry has only run 36.3% of Tennessee's routes this year but still has a 10.1% target share.

With A.J. Brown back at practice and potentially back to playing soon, the Titans' offense should come out of its fogginess against a weak Jacksonville defense, and, as usual, Henry likely contributes a great deal to the scoring.

Dalton Schultz vs. Giants Linebackers and Safeties

Who is the Dallas Cowboys' target share leader the past three weeks? It's not CeeDee Lamb or Amari Cooper, but, actually, it is Dalton Schultz.

The Dallas tight end is ascending in fantasy football's worst position after back-to-back weeks with a score, but his peripheral usage likely indicates his newfound success is likely not going anywhere until Michael Gallup returns.

Schultz had a 23.0% target share the past three weeks, and last week, Schultz played 78.6% of the Cowboys' snaps and ran 81.8% of their team routes. He has increasingly separated from Blake Jarwin entering his best matchup of the season.

The Giants have struggled to defend tight ends. They have allowed the fifth-most FanDuel points to tight ends, and they have allowed 1.50 adjusted FanDuel points per target to them as well, which is the 10th-worst mark in the league.

With Schultz hitting his stride in his new role, and the Giants' defense continuing to allow points to tight ends, he makes for a great stacking partner with Dak Prescott this week.

Panthers DST vs. Eagles Offensive Line

I also wrote up the Panthers' defense in my bold predictions column, but I cannot pass up this defensive matchup in very many FanDuel lineups this weekend.

Carolina's defensive line has been tremendous in 2021. They have at least four sacks in every game except last week's stinker against the talented, efficient Cowboys' offense. Their 32% pressure rate is the sixth-best mark in the NFL. Given they just added C.J. Henderson to help in the secondary, they should be able to return to form against a struggling Eagles' offensive line.

Philadelphia may still be without left tackle Jordan Mailata, who just returned to practice in a limited fashion for the first time on Wednesday. Lane Johnson is also still away from the team with no timetable return due to personal issues. Missing both tackles could be horrible news for a unit that -- with them for good chunks of the season -- is already allowing a league-high 29% pressure rate.

The Eagles' overall Adjusted NEP per play is 0.03 (fourth-worst in the NFL), so their struggling unit has failed to put up points without facing a menacing pass rush. Adding one into the mix for a road game sounds like a total offensive implosion waiting to happen in Week 5.