With four weeks of game data logged so far this season, team situations are becoming more clear, opposing defense quality is better defined, and on-field performances are easier to forecast. While opportunities to take advantage of early season randomness are less prevalent, careful analysis of four weeks of game data allows analytical DFS grinders to more accurately evaluate player ability and opportunity and more precisely project fantasy output.
The Atlanta Falcons and Oakland Raiders suddenly have top-5 offensive lines. The Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks still have the best team defenses. Aaron Rodgers is the best athlete in the history of sports. Julio Jones is a demi-god. Le’Veon Bell is Ladanian Tomlinson reincarnate. Rob Gronkowski is the most valuable player in fantasy football. These are no longer assertions. These are facts.
With newfound truisms and four weeks of game data in-hand, the DFS sharps will be playing more lineups in more contests in week 5 — larger bankrolls chasing larger jackpots. Throughout the NFL season, PlayerProfiler and XN Sports will be providing a handful of top value plays on DraftKings each week.
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The following players are noteworthy value plays who could either serve as the cornerstones of an optimal cash lineup or add upside variance to a GPP/tournament roster, or both.
The Dumpster Fire Salvage Project
Matthew Stafford, $5,400
Projected PPR Points: 15.48
Matthew Stafford is a punchline. A punchline that was a Kam Chancellor punch and a blown call away from beating the Seahawks in Seattle on Monday Night Football. While Stafford has posted a lackluster 14.2 fantasy points per game thus season, it can be partially explained away by his schedule:
Ouch. Calvin Johnson healthy? Check. Golden Tate healthy? Check. Ameer Abdullah healthy? Check. Arizona allows 18.6 fantasy points per game to quarterbacks this season, but the Lions will be playing at home for just the second time all season in what could very well be a shootout against a Cardinals teams that boasts a top-5 offense. Playing Matthew Stafford in week 5 is the against-the-grain play of the year. For tournaments especially, Matthew Stafford offers the counterintuitive variance that GPP players desire.
The Chalky Play
Dion Lewis, $4,800.00
Projected PPR Fantasy Points: 15.07
The Patriots have a top run blocking offensive line by every efficiency measure, and Dion Lewis has been the primary beneficiary in 2015. Averaging 19.5 points per game in 2015, Dion Lewis has become one of the more straightforward chalky weekly DFS plays this season. While Lewis is more than a “Vereen role” player, he is the Patriots primary passing down back, which makes him a particularly strong play this week against a beleaguered Dallas Cowboy’s defense.
Devonta Freeman dismantled Dallas for 193 total yards and three touchdowns in week 3, and Mark Ingram and C.J. Spiller followed up Freeman’s performance with 237 total yards and one touchdown in week 4. Running backs were gleefully shredding the Cowboys in the passing game even before star linebacker Sean Lee left with a concussion in New Orleans.
With Lee, the Cowboys will be vulnerable to Dion Lewis, particularly in the passing game. Without Lee, Lewis could be Devonta Freeman-level prolific in week 5.
The Revenge Game
Leonard Hankerson, $4,000.00
Projected PPR Points: 11.80
Coming out of the University of Miami, Leonard Hankerson was a more precocious prospect than Roddy White ever was. Both players posted ~50-percent College Dominator Ratings. Hankerson posted his college stats at a major conference university, White went to UAB. Standing 6-1, 209-pounds and running a 4.43-40, Hankerson’s 108.5 Height-adjusted Speed Score dwarfs White’s 101.4. At 26-years old, Leonard Hankerson is the young lion positioning himself to steal the soon-to-be 34-year old Roddy White’s pride.
Or has the transition already happened?
2015 receiving statistics:
Wide Receiver A: 6 receptions for 92 yards on 13 targets.
Wide Receiver B: 17 receptions for 241 yards on 28 targets.
The bell has tolled for Roddy White in the form of Leonard Hankerson. Hankerson’s snap share began rising in week two when he received 11 targets. From week 2 to week 4, he has averaged 8.3-targets per game. Last week, Hankerson and White both logged 48 snaps. Hankerson has been a consistent fantasy asset, exception when Dallas dared Atlanta to throw to Julio Jones, and Matt Ryan acquiesced throwing to Jones 20 times in week 3. Assuming Jones receives his customary 10-15 targets in week three, there will be ample opportunity for Hankerson to secure passes and continue to score touchdowns for fantasy owners.
Leonard Hankerson has overtaking Roddy White as the Falcons’ No. 2 wide receiver, yet his DraftKing’s salary remains surprisingly depressed. Take advantage of this pricing inefficiency and a juicy match-up at home against a Washington secondary that is allowing 37.0 PPR fantasy points per game to wide receivers. Win your Flex position by playing Hankerson against his former team in week 5.
The Target Takeover
Derek Carrier $2,500.00
Projected PPR Points: 9.03
Before simultaneously suffering a sprained knee, sprained ankle, and a concussion in week 5, Jordan Reed was averaging 14.0 fantasy points per game. At 6-2, 237-pounds, Jordan Reed has been the smallest every-down tight end in the NFL. While his size did not affect his fantasy output, his diminutive stature undoubtedly contributed to Mr. Glass’ inability to stay healthy at the NFL level.
Soaking in 8.5 targets per game, Reed operated as a quintessential tight end target hog before his tenuous health status collapsed in week 5. Fortunately, Washington traded for Derek Carrier in the offseason after their other athletic yet undersized tight end, Niles Paul, was lost for the season with a dislocated ankle. Reed’s replacement may be his offensive equal. A former wide receiver at Division III Beloit College, Derek Carrier accounted for an astounding 65-percent of Beloit’s receiving yards and touchdowns during his final college season. Like Paul and Reed before him, Carrier may be a below-average blocker, but he is absolutely an above-average receiver at the tight end postion.
Derek Carrier steps into Jordan Reed’s target hog role with the ability to command Reed’s previous target volume and fantasy production. Facing an Atlanta defense that is neither stingy nor generous to tight ends, Carrier is a low-risk, low-cost, roster-making play in week 5. Roll out Derek Carrier at the minimum salary and use the savings to afford additional stud player elsewhere on the roster.
May the game flow be ever in your favor.