Fantasy Football: 5 Bold Predictions for Week 5
One of the things that makes fantasy football so captivating is the variance. Even throughout Cooper Kupp's historic, unflappable season, he was the top wideout for the week just three times in 2021. That means, on individual weeks, some very strange players may pop in terms of fantasy points at their positions.
That opens the door for some room to be "spicy" and make some fun predictions. In a landscape increasingly set ablaze by "hot takes," it can be difficult to understand the difference between a bold prediction -- based on a particularly strong spot for a team or player -- and a senseless take with the prayer of becoming correct based on variance.
Let's shoot for the former with five interesting spots to target during this weekend's NFL games.
Note: All predictions are for half-PPR formats (and FanDuel scoring for quarterbacks).
1. Came and Wentz: Carson Ends His Slump With a Top-15 Performance Against the Titans
Some people might see the past two weeks and say, "The same old Carson Wentz is back." I don't really see it that way.
With the litany of weapons in Washington, Wentz started this year well, posting 0.21 Passing Net Expected Points (NEP) per drop back in the first two weeks. That was eighth amongst qualifying quarterbacks.
The last two weeks have no doubt been a struggle. He's posted -0.31 Passing NEP per drop back, and a ton of that was lost on 11 total sacks. However, against two defenses (Dallas and Philadelphia) that are top-six units in sacks, I think happier days are still ahead.
It could come this week against Tennessee. The Titans are tied for the second-most Passing NEP per drop back allowed in the NFL (0.23), and they've allowed multiple passing scores in all four games this year.
Personally, I'd stream Wentz over popular options like Teddy Bridgewater or the opposing signal-caller, Ryan Tannehill. In this current season, we've seen Wentz produce top-shelf weeks with this supporting cast. While the offensive line is a bit banged up, I still think he returns with a solid effort in Week 5.
2. Zappe to Have You Under Center: Both Patriots Tailbacks Post Double-Digit Fantasy Points
Other than in absurdly deep leagues, you don't have to turn to Bailey Zappe this week. He's still affecting fantasy football, though.
New England went into a shell when Zappe, who wasn't expected to see the field behind Brian Hoyer, came into the game against Green Bay. Zappe averaged just 6.6 yards per attempt on 15 throws, and the Patriots' duo of running backs feasted.
Damien Harris got 18 carries and a target, and Rhamondre Stevenson was more of the pass-catching back, earning 5 targets in addition to his 14 carries. With at least 20 total adjusted opportunities each, both got substantial work. Don't expect that to change against Detroit.
The Lions have ceded a miserable 0.33 Rushing NEP per attempt thus far, which is the most in the league. With New England's O sporting 0.12 Rushing NEP per attempt (sixth-best in the NFL) themselves, this is a matchup where both Pats running backs could be in line for a monster day.
With so much work in line for both backs, fire them up with confidence.
3. Kupp-t in Check: Dallas Keeps Cooper Under 15 Fantasy Points
The only thing the Los Angeles Rams are doing well on offense right now is feeding Cooper Kupp. I'm not sure that holds long-term with this offensive performance.
On Monday night, Matthew Stafford was sacked seven times. He's now been sacked 16 times in four contests, and the defending champions have tallied the 11th-fewest Passing NEP per drop back (0.05) in the entire league. At some point, this is going to affect Kupp.
It did in Week 3 against Arizona. Kupp was held to just six targets, but he did take a carry into the end zone to save his fantasy day. Dallas is a matchup where it could definitely happen again.
The Cowboys' defense is just mean. Their 37% pressure rate is the best in the league, and they've held every top wideout so far to less than six catches. A lot of that has to do with Trevon Diggs, who allowed a 0.0 passer rating this past week.
With Dallas' supreme pressure and Dan Quinn's ability to take away top targets, I wouldn't expect another career-high mark in catches for Kupp this week.
4. Into the Freier: Pat Isn't a Top-10 Tight End Against Buffalo
Now, the strength of schedule for them in terms of tight ends faced hasn't been amazing, but that schedule has still included Tyler Higbee and Mark Andrews. Specifically, the Bills have allowed the ninth-fewest adjusted fantasy points per target to tight ends. That "adjustment" factors in the schedule.
That indicates that Buffalo's secondary certainly isn't going to be a free pass for big guys over the middle, and Freiermuth has a bit of uncertainty beyond his matchup. It's rookie Kenny Pickett making his first start on the road.
Now, Pickett was an upgrade over Mitchell Trubisky last week, totaling 0.08 Passing NEP per drop back. Freiermuth got only four targets in the second half while trailing, compared to five in the first half with Trubisky. It's something to monitor as rookie George Pickens broke out with eight targets.
Between a tiny bit of uncertainty in his workload, a rookie quarterback in a hostile environment, and a brutal matchup, I'd leave "Muth" on the bench if I had a quality alternative like Tyler Conklin, Dawson Knox, or Logan Thomas.
5. Woke Up Feeling Delirious: San Francisco's D/ST Forces Multiple Carolina Turnovers
The 49ers, sporting arguably the league's best defense, will be a brutal spot for a team that mustered just one offensive touchdown against the Arizona Cardinals, the fourth-worst pass defense in numberFire's nERD rankings.
As mentioned, San Francisco's 34% pressure rate is third-best in the league. Carolina's offensive line is allowing a 25% pressure rate, which is the 11th-worst in the league. Mayfield will be under fire constantly at the line of scrimmage.
The Niners have forced five turnovers in four weeks, and the Panthers have turned it over six times. This sets up to be another prime spot for a sluggish Carolina offensive effort, which would place Matt Rhule under even more scrutiny.
If one of your leaguemates dropped the San Francisco D/ST because of a perceived difficult matchup with the Rams in Week 4, do everything in your power to roster them for Week 5.