Targeting Games for Week 5 DFS Matchups

by Chase Vernon · Strategy

DFS Week 5 matchups are going to be muddled. However, not nearly as murky as our results from Week 4. Fades were hitting more often than our studs were performing, which will happen when you have strange weeks. And when I say strange, I’m pulling no punches. Three of the four NFC East games went for over 64(!), Sam Darnold is beating out Derrick Henry in rushing touchdowns after compiling two more, and Darren Waller finished as the bet tight end from the top tier at tenth.  

Yet, there were still avenues we lined up to make some cash. 

Week 4 Matchups We Attacked

Cardinals @ Rams 

Chase Edmonds was the absolute stud in this matchup as the Rams are still spotty against the run, and Maxx Williams showed out as my favorite tight end play of the week. We knew the Rams struggled in the middle of the field, which is why I liked Rondale Moore so much, but he didn’t see enough opportunity. Additionally, I missed the matchup of A.J. Green against the smaller David Long—something I don’t pass up often.

Robert Woods hit for cash lineups but likely didn’t give enough in tournaments; Meanwhile, the Cooper Kupp fade paid off amazingly. Byron Murphy is the real deal and showed us why once again.  

What I Learned: The best stack from this game would have likely been Kyler Murray with Edmonds and Williams. Week 3 was Green and Christian Kirk, and Week 2 was Rondale Moore and Williams. The producers aren’t random like some teams. Very similar to how Russell Wilson operates, they attack the matchups and script players open.  

Sometimes you play the studs, but for the Cardinals, I’m targeting the matchups.

Chiefs @ Eagles

You don’t see 72 points scored often, but the ability to get a rare scoring game is why we targeted this matchup. Patrick Mahomes gave you more than Jalen Hurts by a point and a half, but Hurts was the right play. Outside of Tyreek Hill, this lineup somehow bombed. 

Nine different rushers saw opportunities in this matchup, with 16 pass-catchers getting involved. Although I thought Devonta Smith would have a solid game overall, I didn’t target him in DFS which I regretted for cash games.

What I Learned: I need to stop chasing what makes sense. Giving Miles Sanders rushing opportunities will not be in the cards for the Eagles regardless of how much I think they should. Now that Kenny Gainwell has solidified himself as the pass-catching back, chasing Sanders is like chasing the rainbow. 

Ravens @ Broncos

Lamar Jackson would tear up the Broncos in one way or another, and that’s exactly what he did. He had his second-highest career passing total, but the touchdowns just weren’t there. After Teddy Bridgewater exited the game with an injury, there was little to no hope this game would be competitive. The Broncos running backs would see enough work in the passing game; it was over as soon as it started.  

What I Learned: Pay attention to the injuries. As I predicted, the Ravens would be able to move the ball, and if Bridgewater didn’t get hurt, this might be a different contest.  

Games to Target in DFS Week 5 Matchups

The Rams, Seahawks, Bills, Chiefs, Colts, and Ravens are all off the main slate. In addition, only the Packers-Bengals and Giants-Cowboys have insinuated point totals of over 50. So, if you like to take shots on low-cost quarterbacks, this is your week.

Titans @ Jaguars

Weather: 76f Partly Cloudy

Over/Under: 48.5

Fact to Know: Dan Arnold was acquired three days before the Week 4 game and played the second-most snaps (13), ran the most routes (11), and saw the most targets (2) at the tight end position. Impressive, yet Trevor Lawrence still targeted three other tight ends.

Players to Target in DFS Week 5 Matchup

Laviska Shenault $4,800
A.J. Brown $6,500
Trevor Lawrence $5,800
Derrick Henry $9,000
Marvin Jones $5,700
James Robinson $6,000
Jeremy McNichols $5,000
Dan Arnold $2,900
Ryan Tannehill $6,400

Trevor Lawrence didn’t do great in Week 4, but hear me out: The Jaguars discovered he has legs. Shocking, right?

Over the past two weeks, Lawrence has seen 14 rushing attempts while grabbing a touchdown. I was clamoring for it during the game, and all of a sudden, it happened. However, keep in mind the majority of his runs were designed in short-yardage situations. Not really what you want your young stud doing, but it worked. Now Lawrence has the easiest matchup of his season in terms of passing and recently discovered his love for playmaker Laviska Shenault. If he can put all three together, we could see a big Week 5. 

I am concerned about the Titans above-average pressure rate while forcing 20 hurries on the quarterback thus far. Lawrence has been dreadful with defenders in his face, with only a 31.3-percent (No. 29 among qualified quarterbacks) Pressured Completion Rate. However, if this forces him to run more often, I’m all for it. 

With Chark out, look for Marvin Jones to expand his deep route repertoire even further.

Lawrence has completed 50-percent of his balls over 20 yards when targeting Jones six times and the Titans have allowed the fourth-highest explosive pass-play rate. Seems like Week 5 is a 2020 blowup game for Jones. 

Don’t discount Shenault, however. The Titans have been one of the worst teams in the slot, and they can’t keep their defensive backs healthy. Primary slot corner Chris Jackson missed Week 1 and couldn’t finish Week 4. This has forced Kristian Fulton into the slot along with third-round rookie Elijah Molden. Week 1 for Molden was brutal, and Fulton wasn’t much better. Jackson didn’t allow many targets when healthy but still allowed an 85.7-percent completion rate.  

With the 29.2-percent target share commanded by Shaunault after Chark’s injury, we could see a high volume, high-efficiency week from him. Regardless of who is in the slot on defense, it will be an ideal DFS Week 5 matchup. The Jaguars have been working the RPO, which should disrupt any bracketed coverages in the center of the field. Although Shenault has only seen 27 (No.34) targets on the season, he has turned those into 90 (No.21) yards after the catch. So look for the Jaguars to get him involved early and often.

As for James Robinson, he is now seeing the volume and some of the passing-down work. However, if they continue to use the RPO as they did in Week 4, it will hinder his upside in the receiving game. Instead of using dump-offs on short-yardage situations, Lawrence will run the ball. I like the idea of using Robinson and a receiver without Lawrence, but the cannibalization is too much with him. This is more like a Hurts-Sanders situation than a Jackson-Dobbins one.

If you decide to stack Titans, Robinson is the ideal candidate to run it back, which I would only do if A.J. Brown plays. And as long as he’s active – regardless of his health – I’ll have matchups stacked with Brown, Tannehill, and Derrick Henry.

It’ll be like the olden days back in 2021—or at least for Brown and Henry when they combined for 68.4 fantasy points in Week 14. 

The one upside I see to playing Tannehill is rushing. He showed us he still has it in Week 3, but Week 4 – without receivers to help pull coverage – he had nowhere to go. If the defense focuses on defending Brown and Henry, this could open up scrambling possibilities. However, tournament upside is limited without him hitting the 100-yard bonus—something he’s never done. I’d prefer to go with a Lawrence stack and run it back with the Titans, but as we learned from Sam Darnold in Week 4: Never count out a quarterback who has shown he has rushing upside in the past.

Dan Arnold is the sneaky play here, but I’m not running to play him. Titans have been good against the tight end. Jaguars never cared about adding an actual tight end until recently. Keep in mind, they could have signed Arnold in the offseason without giving up a first-round talent at corner. The trade seemed much more like the Jaguars wanted to get rid of C.J. Henderson, more than acquiring a tight end to be the focal point.

Regardless, the “Fact to Know” is makes Arnold an intriguing option.

Giants @ Cowboys

Weather: Dome

Over/Under: 52.5

Fact to Know: Trevon Diggs has put up elite numbers in 2021. Although he’s defended 145 (No.10) routes, Diggs has only allowed 23 (No. 136) targets with four (No. 5) breakups and five (No. 1) interceptions. His 25.3 Coverage Rating is top ten in the league for starting corners.    

Players to Target in Week 5 DFS Matchup

**If Sterling Shepard or Darius Slayton play this week, I’ll most likely be out on all Giants pass catchers aside from Kadarius Toney. If they both play, Toney will just be a dart throw. I will typically fade contests with as many injury marks as this game, but it has too much upside.

Daniel Jones $6,000
Saquon Barkley $7,300
Ezekiel Elliott $7,000
CeeDee Lamb $6,200
Amari Cooper $6,100
Kadarius Toney $4,000
Blake Jarwin $3,200
Dalton Schultz $4,400
Dak Prescott $6,900
Tony Pollard $5,600
John Ross $3,400
Kenny Golladay $5,900  


Lots of variables also mean lots of options. I’m excluding Shepard for now as even if he does play, the workload might be limited, and the presence of Toney could force Shepard outside. As for this matchup – more than any other game thus far – you have to create a story for this game script. 

The Cowboys have had a tendency of seizing the lead by halftime or shortly after. Over the past two contests, in particular, they have been dominating going into the fourth. The game script in 2021 has allowed them to run the ball 31 times per game—a number they haven’t hit since 2014. Also helping the case, they are turning into turnover machines on defense. They have forced ten (No. 2) turnovers in four games. 

A big reason as to why is their 20.6-percent (No. 24) blitz rate has converted into 42 (No. 11) pressures. 

Daniel Jones is someone who struggles against pressure. His 35-percent (No. 26) completion rate with 11 (No. 8) danger plays and ten (No. 6) interceptable passes make for an appetizing Cowboys play on defense.  

Jones could still have an ugly game while being great for fantasy. Although the Cowboys top 12 in overall pressures, the pressure rate is down at only 22.2-percent. 

What Jones needs to do to be successful is simple: get the ball to Toney and Barkley. Starting with Toney, he was sensational in Week 4. He converted five of his six receptions for first downs, while five of his six receptions came short of the line to gain. His 51 yards after the catch finished fourth and his 88.5-percent snap share was second amongst Giants receivers. 

Across the line, he faces Jourdan Lewis, who has been atrocious. The only two statistical categories he has finished top 50 in are 128 (No. 19) Routes Defended and 2 (No. 30) Pass Breakups. Meanwhile, the primary guys he has covered thus far are all outside the top 60 in fantasy points scored aside from Chris Godwin. If this is a competitive game, Toney will be involved, and although I would like to see more red-zone usage, his floor should be through the roof. 

Jourdan Lewis Advanced Stats and Metrics

As for Barkley, the Cowboys 5.28 (No. 30) DOCE Score has not been an outlier after the Cowboys finished at the top in 2020. They have allowed 29 (No. 30) receptions and 222 (No. 30) receiving yards to the pass-catching running backs with 33 (No. 32) receptions and 234 (No. 3) yards to the position as a whole. The pass-catchers production has equated to 12.8 (No. 29) fantasy points in the air while allowing no receiving touchdowns. Typically with players like Barkley, DOCE Score doesn’t matter as he should perform regardless. However, with how porous the Cowboys have been against receiving backs, it’s tough not to put the cherry on top.

As for the rushing defense against the Cowboys, teams have been wildly efficient but forced to abandon it.

Their 4.74 (No.26) yards per carry leaves much more volume to be desired. They also are one of only two teams to allow neither a rushing nor a passing touchdown to the running back. In a Jason Garrett revenge game, look for him to dial up plenty of runs with his stud and if the Giants go down, expect Barkley to get heavy usage in the passing game. 

On the other side of the ball, you have the passing game or the running game. There hasn’t been much when it comes to sharing. In addition, playing too many angles on this game could force you to go broke. The combinations of receivers, running backs, and tight ends are endless; meanwhile, you hope just a couple hit. 

I can make a case for all three positions, but doing so would take an entire article, so I’ll leave you with a few statements. 

James Bradberry did a great job shutting down Amari Cooper in 2020 prior to Dak Prescott getting hurt. However, Bradberry typically struggles against quicker route runners and struggles against the slant. Cooper is beat up but a touchdown and 100 receiving yards are not out of the question if they need him.

On the other hand, CeeDee Lamb torched them going catching eight balls for 124 yards. Adoree Jackson might be a little more challenging, but if Darnay Holmes is back or they put either Xavier McKinney or Julian Love in coverage, its wheels up for Lamb.

Elliot is attractive as the Giants are one of the worst at stopping the run and have allowed two rushing touchdowns on the season. If the Cowboys can go up early, look to get the third game in a row where Zeke runs, and no one can stop him.

The position where they keep forgetting to cover is the tight end. However, it seems the primary tight end doesn’t concern them. In each of the last four games, the secondary or tertiary tight end has scored a touchdown. In none of those instances was the same defensive player in coverage. Dalton Schultz isn’t a poor play but give me Blake Jarwin as a fun flyer.


Lions @ Vikings

Weather: Dome

Over/Under: 49.5

I wanted to talk about Packers at Bengals but with the slow pace of play, I opted to go Lions at Vikings. How could I not? Both teams allowed explosive plays in the passing game, have swiss cheese defensive fronts, and the Vikings allowed a 100-percent completion rate to tight ends until they faced a putrid Baker Mayfield in Week 4.

Stat to Know: The Vikings have allowed 99 total yards to the running back position in every game since Week 10 in 2019 against the Cowboys.

Players to Target in DFS Week 5 Matchups

D’Andre Swift $6,100
Justin Jefferson $7,700
T.J. Hockenson $5,500
Adam Thielen $6,600
Dalvin Cook $8,400
Jamaal Williams $5,200
Kirk Cousins $6,500
Jared Goff $5,300
Alexander Mattison $5,500
Quintez Cephus $4,300
Kalif Raymond $4,800

D’Andre Swift has and hasn’t been what we hoped for throughout the first four weeks. He’s given us an average of 24 points at home with just over 10 points away. Its all about whether he’s going to see the volume. Against the Vikings, volume shouldn’t be an issue as they are giving up 119 total touches to the position. If Michael Pierce misses time, this DFS Week 5 matchup could be even more enticing.

Jamaal Williams absolutely affected on his touches against the Bears, but once they needed a playmaker, Swift made an appearance. If Swift can generate more usage in Week 5, his ROI should be through the roof.

As for Justin Jefferson, I don’t know how you can fade either one. With Cousins and the offense coming off a bad week, this is the perfect opportunity for a bounce back. Cousins hasn’t put up two sub par performances consecutively since 2019. Don’t expect it to happen against the Lions, regardless of how far they pull ahead.

The running game is going to be more based on big plays and if Dalvin Cook can bust a couple big runs. While playing only two complete games, he has 3 (No. 10) Breakaway Runs on the season. Although Detroit has limited those plays, their schedule is misleading. Cook is banged up but look for Cook to have a signature game against the Lions. 

T.J. Hockenson should find his way against the Vikings. They have struggled to cover the tight end as their 13.32 (No. 2) average yards per reception should play to Hockenson’s strengths. Look for the coaching staff to get him more involved in the game plan than he has been the past two weeks.  

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