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The Game Plan: Week 5 Edition (2021 Fantasy Football)

by Kyle Yates | @KyleYNFL | Featured Writer
Oct 7, 2021
The Game Plan

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I’ve been thinking a lot recently about the concept of role models. We have a lot of buzz words for these in our society today, such as mentor, influencer, guide, adviser, etc. but they all mean the same thing. It’s essentially someone that you can look up to that exemplifies and teaches you a way of life that you find appealing.

In a day and age where we are so connected to everyone and everything around us with the tool of social media, there is no shortage for individuals that we could turn to and deem to be our role models in life. Even if we don’t know the person closely – such as a celebrity – we find ourselves drawn to their way of living and attempting to replicate their actions, attitude, or work ethic.

For me, Mike Tagliere was my role model for work. Whether he knew it or not, he was someone that I watched closely while working together and modeled my work after. For example, I knew how hard I was working based on whether or not I was in the same stratosphere as Tags. More often than not, I was nowhere close to putting in the same amount of time and energy into my craft, but I had a competitive drive always to draw closer to the same amount of work as he did. For example, The Primer was Tags’ baby and he worked tirelessly at it every single week during the NFL season. I would often get messages from him as early as 5:00 in the morning (my time) as he was up already and working on writing. He would routinely cross over the 30,000-word barrier in his weekly articles and that set the bar for me. As I began working last season on my Fantasy Projections article (which would eventually be rebranded to what you see in front of you today, The Game Plan), I fought each week to go a little bit further, to write a little bit more, all in the efforts of keeping up with Tags.

As many of you know, my role model is now gone and I do feel like my compass has been knocked off course. I’m struggling now to find my footing as I try to move forward and figure out who I turn to now to set the bar for my work. I suppose at some point I have to take ownership and lead in this area of my life and begin setting those goals for myself, right? It might be time to do just that, but first I wanted to do my best to honor my friend by pushing myself as hard as I could this past week. Below you’ll find the largest and most extensive Game Plan article from me yet up to this point. I wanted to test my limit this week in honor of Tags and the example that he set for me as I watched him closely and tried to model my work after his the past couple of years.

Here’s the thing about role models though…I don’t know if Tags ever knew that I was watching him that closely. I don’t know if we’ll ever know the amount of people that are watching us – either from far away or bumping shoulders – and trying to model what they do after us. I don’t know if we’ll ever know the impact we have on someone just from being ourselves and trying to be the best version that we possibly can be. As you move forward throughout your week, I encourage you to think about the people that are role models in your life and I’ll challenge you to tell them how much you appreciate their influence. Additionally, stop and think about what people might see if they watch you closely. Are they going to see a tenacious drive to be the best person you possibly can be in every aspect? Or will they see how you love those around you and decide that it’s best to model their life after someone else?

I appreciate each and every one of you that read this article. The amount of support has been overwhelming at times as I navigate the loss of one of my best friends and close co-workers, but you’ve helped make it just a little bit easier with your stories and words of encouragement. So, from the bottom of my heart, I thank you.

Let’s talk some football.

LAR at SEA | NYJ at ATL | NE at HOU | DET at MIN | PHI at CAR | NO at WAS | TEN at JAC | MIA at TB | GB at CIN | DEN at PIT | CHI at LV | CLE at LAC | NYG ta DAL | SF at ARI | BUF at KC | IND at BAL |

Los Angeles Rams vs Seattle Seahawks

Date/Time: Thursday October 6, 8:20pm ET
BettingPros Consensus Spread: Rams -2
BettingPros Consensus Over/Under: 54.5 points
Implied Vegas point totals
: Rams 28.25, Seahawks 26.25

Los Angeles Rams

POS NAME COMP/ATT PASS YDS TDs INTs RUSH YDS TDs FPTS
QB Matthew Stafford 25/36 298 3 0.7 6 0.15 24
POS NAME CARRIES RUSH YDS TDs RECS REC YDS TDs FPTS
RB Darrell Henderson Jr. 16 76 0.7 3 26 0.15 16.91
RB Sony Michel 3 14 0.15 1 10 0.1 4.47
POS NAME CARRIES RUSH YDS TDs RECS REC YDS TDs FPTS
WR Cooper Kupp 0 0 0 8 116 0.85 20.74
WR Robert Woods 0 0 0 4 42 0.65 9.96
WR Van Jefferson 0 0 0 3 40 0.3 7.53
POS NAME CARRIES RUSH YDS TDs RECS REC YDS TDs FPTS
TE Tyler Higbee 0 0 0 4 45 0.65 10.67

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Seattle Seahawks

POS NAME COMP/ATT PASS YDS TDs INTs RUSH YDS TDs FPTS
QB Russell Wilson 23/32 283 2.3 0.4 17 0.5 24
POS NAME CARRIES RUSH YDS TDs RECS REC YDS TDs FPTS
RB Alex Collins 14 50 0.75 3 21 0.25 14.64
RB Chris Carson 5 23 0.25 1 7 0.2 6.35
POS NAME CARRIES RUSH YDS TDs RECS REC YDS TDs FPTS
WR Tyler Lockett 0 0 0 6 97 0.45 15.36
WR D.K. Metcalf 0 0 0 5 71 0.7 13.83
WR Freddie Swain 0 0 0 3 35 0.25 6.45
POS NAME CARRIES RUSH YDS TDs RECS REC YDS TDs FPTS
TE Gerald Everett 0 0 0 3 30 0.3 6.32

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Quarterback

Los Angeles: Through the first three weeks of the season, Matthew Stafford‘s fantasy stock was on a trajectory straight for the moon. He was averaging 313 passing yards, three touchdowns, and .3 interceptions per game to pair with a 10.0 Yards Per Attempt and the Rams’ offense looked unstoppable. In week four though, Stafford came crashing back down to earth in a big way. Against the Cardinals, Stafford had just 280 passing yards, two touchdowns, one interception, and a mere 6.83 YPA. Just as Stafford had moved into must-start territory, he faltered and finished outside the top-12 QBs on the week. With that being said, he didn’t crush fantasy lineups and he still put up a respectable fantasy performance so it’s not time to completely panic. However, we can’t view him as this top-8 lock as we had been up to that point of the season. This next week against Seattle, Stafford has an excellent chance of bouncing back. In a game that’s projected to be a shoot-out, points could be flying up on the board in this one. Additionally, against the defense that’s currently allowing the 5th-most passing yards per game (292.5), Stafford deserves to be right back in our starting lineups as a low-end QB1 with upside.

Seattle: Russell Wilson has been playing extremely well over the first four weeks of the season. He currently has a completion percentage over 70%, has over 1,000 passing yards, and has nine touchdowns to zero interceptions. While fantasy managers might look at the fact that he only has averaged 223.5 passing yards and 1.5 touchdowns over the last two weeks, it’s important to remember that he also was able to find the end zone as a runner last week to help boost his fantasy stock. Wilson’s passing yardage numbers should come skyrocketing back up this week in a matchup against the Rams with a high Over/Under. The Rams are also not as fearsome of a defense as previously believed and they’re allowing 273.2 passing yards per game. There’s no reason why we shouldn’t view Wilson as a locked-and-loaded QB1 this week against Los Angeles.

Running Backs

Los Angeles: Do you remember the confidence that people had after the Sony Michel trade saying that he was going to unequivocally take over this backfield in LA? Yeah, it was never going to happen and that’s all but cemented now. Despite coming into this past game maybe not at 100%, Darrell Henderson saw a total of 21 total opportunities (carries + targets) to Michel’s three (Michel’s fumble certainly didn’t help him). Henderson showed out with the increased workload too and averaged over six Yards Per Carry, which is a huge indication of his talent level. While he wasn’t able to find the end zone in week four, he brought an extremely high floor for fantasy managers with his opportunity and there’s very little reason to doubt Henderson as one of the better fantasy football options right now at the RB position. Against the defense that’s allowing the second-most rushing yards per game (152), Henderson’s a smash start and deserves to be in consideration as a top-15 play.

Seattle: It’s been a very up-and-down season so far for Chris Carson. In two games this season, he has averaged over 5.6 Yards Per Carry and has amassed 80 rushing yards or more. However, in the other two games this season, Carson has averaged less than 2.4 Yards Per Carry and hasn’t crossed over 35 rushing yards. It’s difficult to ascertain which version of the talented RB we’re going to see any given week, but the upside is always present. Against the defense that’s allowing 4.7 Yards Per Rush Attempt so far this year, Carson could easily be in line for one of his more efficient performances. Points are expected to go up on the board this week too in this matchup and Carson could easily find the end zone. While the unexpected usage of Collins last week is concerning, it shouldn’t detract us from viewing Carson as a high-end RB2. Alex Collins emerged last week in this backfield and had 10 carries to Carson’s 13 and served as a rotational piece in this backfield. While that’s concerning for Carson’s fantasy managers, it’s not quite enough guaranteed volume just yet to view Collins as worth starting in redraft formats. We need to watch this matchup closely though to see what the usage is in this one to see if Carson’s stock is trending down while Collins’ is rising. Update: Carson is dealing with a neck injury coming into this game and is questionable. As of right now, all signs point to Collins getting the start. If Collins is alone in this backfield, he can be viewed as a mid-range/low-end RB2 based on volume and the high over/under.

Wide Receivers

Los Angeles: Here’s the good news: Cooper Kupp saw a ridiculous 31% target share again in week four. The bad news is that it only translated to five catches for 64 yards. The Arizona Cardinals made it a priority to slow down Kupp and they succeeded. With that being said, Kupp was a slight miscommunication with Stafford away from having another touchdown tacked on to his five so far this season and it would’ve led to another dominant performance. Against the defense that’s having problems slowing down anyone so far this season, Kupp belongs back in your lineups as a top-5 option again for week five. Robert Woods has certainly been a disappointment for fantasy managers that spent up to acquire him this season, but no one saw the type of target share going Kupp’s way that it has so far this year. This has directly hurt Woods as a result and his fantasy stock has taken a hit. With that being said, he still certainly has value for fantasy and he belongs in starting lineups still every single week due to the offense that he plays in. He might not provide top-15 upside as we anticipated coming into the season, but he still has value to fantasy lineups as a low-end WR2/high-end WR3. After scoring in week four, Woods belongs back in that range again for week five with this matchup against Seattle. Van Jefferson has now come through with two big performances so far this season and he’s showing that he has a clear role in this offense. Unfortunately, that role isn’t leading to much consistency. With Kupp dominating the target share, there’s very little reliability week after week in this offense for the remaining receiving weapons, which means that we can’t trust Jefferson in our starting lineups. In deeper formats, he’s a fine desperation FLEX play. However, in our traditional home leagues, we can’t view him as a trustworthy option.

Seattle: After the first two weeks of the season, it looked like Tyler Lockett had finally moved out of the boom-or-bust category and that he simply was going to be all boom. Unfortunately, Lockett has now only totaled 55 receiving yards and zero touchdowns over the last two games. While there’s the possibility that the injury has played a role in Lockett’s dip in production, it may just be that Lockett is back to his old ways and we need to take that into account when setting our weekly lineups. He obviously still comes with week-winning upside, but we’ve now seen that he comes with a low floor too in this Shane Waldron offense. Moving forward, Lockett needs to be viewed as a boom-or-bust low-end WR2. DK Metcalf started off the year relatively quiet as Lockett was absolutely exploding, but he’s bounced back in a big way over the past two weeks. From Weeks 3-4, Metcalf is the WR9 and he’s now the WR15 on the season. Even though Wilson isn’t airing the ball out a ton, Metcalf’s thriving with a 31.7% target share on the season and it’s translating to top-tier production week in and week out. Against the Rams defense that’s allowing 179.2 yards per game on average to the WR position, Metcalf should be in line for another big performance. He can be viewed as a low-end WR1.

Tight Ends

Los Angeles: Tyler Higbee put together a decent performance – by fantasy TE standards – in week four, but it could’ve been a much better day. Stafford looked Higbee’s way in the end zone on a 4th & Goal play and the ball just bounced out of Higbee’s grasp, which would’ve led to a potential top-5 finish at the position. Moving forward, Higbee’s now in the “set it and forget it” territory of fantasy football TEs. We might be disappointed any given week, but he’s in a dynamic offense and gets plenty of scoring looks. That’s better than a lot of the other options in fantasy right now. He can be viewed as a low-end TE1 with upside in this potential shoot-out.

Seattle: Gerald Everett missed last week after being placed on the COVID-19/Reserve list, but all indications are that he should be set to return to the lineup for this matchup. While it’s a bit of a gamble, Everett’s in consideration for starting lineups this week against the Rams. He started to take over this TE room completely in week three before he was sidelined and this is an excellent matchup for opposing TEs. The Rams are currently allowing 75.5 receiving yards per game to opposing TEs and we could see Everett put together a solid performance this week. If you’re in need at the TE position, Everett can be considered as a mid-range TE2 with upside.

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New York Jets vs Atlanta Falcons

Date/Time: Sunday October 10, 9:30pm ET
BettingPros Consensus Spread: Falcons -3
BettingPros Consensus Over/Under: 46 points
Implied Vegas point totals
: Falcons 24.5, Jets 21.5

New York Jets

POS NAME COMP/ATT PASS YDS TDs INTs RUSH YDS TDs FPTS
QB Zach Wilson 22/35 238 2.05 1.25 10 0.2 17
POS NAME CARRIES RUSH YDS TDs RECS REC YDS TDs FPTS
RB Michael Carter 12 49 0.4 2 17 0.15 10.95
RB Tevin Coleman 4 11 0.15 1 10 0 3.62
POS NAME CARRIES RUSH YDS TDs RECS REC YDS TDs FPTS
WR Corey Davis 0 0 0 5 65 0.55 12.08
WR Jamison Crowder 0 0 0 5 47 0.35 9.43
WR Keelan Cole Sr. 0 0 0 3 52 0.4 9.19
POS NAME CARRIES RUSH YDS TDs RECS REC YDS TDs FPTS
TE Ryan Griffin 0 0 0 2 18 0.2 4.2

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Atlanta Falcons

POS NAME COMP/ATT PASS YDS TDs INTs RUSH YDS TDs FPTS
QB Matt Ryan 23/35 243 2.3 0.8 5 0.15 19
POS NAME CARRIES RUSH YDS TDs RECS REC YDS TDs FPTS
RB Cordarrelle Patterson 6 26 0.25 7 75 0.45 17.73
RB Mike Davis 12 37 0.5 3 16 0.2 10.85
POS NAME CARRIES RUSH YDS TDs RECS REC YDS TDs FPTS
WR Olamide Zaccheaus 0 0 0 2 21 0.3 4.95
WR Tajae Sharpe 0 0 0 2 24 0.2 4.46
WR Christian Blake 0 0 0 1 14 0.1 2.66
POS NAME CARRIES RUSH YDS TDs RECS REC YDS TDs FPTS
TE Kyle Pitts 0 0 0 5 66 0.65 13.14

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Quarterback

New York: Zach Wilson was able to rebound and put up a decent performance in week four against the Tennessee Titans. He threw for 297 passing yards, averaged 8.7 Yards Per Attempt, and had two touchdowns. He showcased off his playmaking ability outside of the pocket on a couple of occasions and there was enough good in that game to be able to build off of moving forward. With that being said, he still threw another interception and added to his shockingly high total so far this season. Wilson has now just thrown for four touchdowns to eight interceptions on the season and – despite the plus matchup – there’s simply no way we can trust him in our starting lineups yet. As a desperation play in Superflex leagues, you might be able to get away with it, but otherwise, it’s best to stay away.

Atlanta: Coming into week four, Matt Ryan had just four passing touchdowns on the season. Ryan doubled his touchdown output this past week and shredded the Washington defense through the air all game long. While Washington is supposed to be a vaunted defense, they’ve struggled this entire season so far to slow down opposing passing attacks and Ryan took advantage. While we could write this off as a one-game performance for Ryan and simply relegate him back to low-end QB2 territory for fantasy, he now gets to take on the New York Jets. While the Jets have been stingy to opposing passing games from a statistical perspective, it’s because they’ve been surrendering a ton of volume to opposing rushing attacks due to how much they’ve been playing from behind. With the receiving weapons Ryan has around him, plus no legitimate threat at the RB position they can lean on, he should be able to get enough done through the air again this week to fall into the streaming QB conversation. He can be viewed as a mid-range QB2 this week with upside.

Running Backs

New York: Michael Carter has now officially taken over this backfield as the main option and it’s not hard to see why when you watch the tape. His elusiveness that was all over his North Carolina film is evident time and time again in the NFL and he has nine Missed Tackles Forced on just 37 rush attempts so far this season. With that being said, this offensive line is struggling and it’s evidenced by the fact that Carter had just 38 rushing yards last week, but 28 total Yards After Contact. He’s having to create on his own a ton and that’s simply not something that I’m comfortable relying on for anything more than a mid-range RB3 in my lineup. The matchup against the Falcons is intriguing, but we shouldn’t get ahead of ourselves just yet with Carter from a fantasy perspective. He’s slowly moving up my weekly rankings, but we need to see a lot more before we can consider him a trustworthy option.

Atlanta: Throughout Cordarrelle Patterson‘s long NFL career, he had never scored more than four receiving touchdowns in a season (2013 with Minnesota). He’s already reached that benchmark through four games in 2021 with the Falcons. Through four weeks, Patterson is now averaging 4.5 receptions, 58.75 receiving yards, and one touchdown per game. Additionally, he’s also tacking on an average of 6.75 rush attempts, 29.75 rushing yards, and .25 rushing touchdowns per game. He’s absolutely dominating for fantasy purposes and he’s becoming an extremely reliable target in this Falcons offense. While we might not be able to ever see a three-touchdown performance again from him this season, he’s now in the weekly RB2 conversation due to his guaranteed volume. Against the Jets, Patterson could explode for another big game yet again. Fire him up as a low-end RB2 with upside. Update: Ridley is out for this matchup and Patterson should see an uptick in targets as a result. He can be viewed as a mid-range RB2 with upside. Coming into the 2021 campaign, Mike Davis was believed to be a safe option due to the amount of volume he would see in this offense. However, no one anticipated Patterson emerging as the better option out of this backfield. Davis is still seeing enough work that he should remain fantasy-relevant, but coming off of a game where he saw 13 rush attempts for 14 yards, all faith is lost from a fantasy perspective. Davis saved his day for fantasy with a nice reception where he broke multiple tackles behind the line-of-scrimmage, but we can’t bank on that moving forward. Davis should see plenty of work again this week in a game that the Falcons should easily win, but we can’t trust him in our lineups. He’s a low-end RB3 in my rankings.

Wide Receivers

New York: Corey Davis is a good football player. While I don’t believe that’s really been in question up to this point of the season, it’s always good to remind people of that fact. He’s been let down by inconsistent QB play so far this year, but Davis came through in a big way last week against the team that drafted him with a top-5 NFL Draft pick. On seven targets, Davis reeled in four of them for 111 yards and a score. He’s not in the flashiest offense – and there will be some down games as a result – but he’s still going to be a very fantasy-relevant option this year. Looking ahead to week five against Atlanta, Davis is a smash start in a very favorable matchup. The Falcons are allowing the most passing touchdowns per game so far this season with 2.8 per game and there’s an excellent chance that Davis gets his fourth touchdown on the season in this one. Fire him up as a high-end WR3 with upside. Jamison Crowder returned to the lineup last week and got back to doing what Jamison Crowder does! No matter who his QB is, Crowder simply produces for fantasy football when he’s on the field. He saw a 26% target share in his first game action of the season and reeled in seven of those nine targets for 61 yards and a score. Moving forward, Crowder’s going to be consistently in the FLEX conversation as long as he’s healthy and this matchup up against the Falcons doesn’t get much better for opposing passing games. He should bring a safe floor this week, but he also has some upside due to the opponent. He can be started as a low-end FLEX play that gets a bump up in Full PPR formats. Keelan Cole was able to be Wilson’s safety value this past week when he was outside of the pocket and he put together a respectable 92-yard performance. With that being said, he still only saw four targets and that’s enough reliable volume to trust behind Davis and Crowder on this depth chart. Cole could come through with the touchdown in this matchup, which makes him an intriguing DFS option or deep-league FLEX play, but we shouldn’t trust him as anything more than that this week.

Atlanta: Has Calvin Ridley lived up to our expectations for him so far this season? Absolutely not. However, he is still providing weekly fantasy value due to his role on this team. Through four games now, Ridley is averaging 10.5 targets, 6.75 receptions, 63.75 receiving yards, and .25 touchdowns. While we would all love to see the touchdown totals increase for Ridley – and there’s certainly reason to question why Patterson’s outscoring Ridley – it’s still worth noting that Ridley’s providing weekly value. We simply just have to adjust our expectations. In a matchup this week against the New York Jets though, we should see Ridley feast and there’s a very strong chance that he finds the end zone in this one. He can be viewed as a high-end WR2 with upside this week. Update: Ridley will not travel with the team to London and is out for this matchup due to a personal matter. None of the other Falcons WRs are worth considering for starting lineups as a result.

Tight Ends

New York: None of the Jets TEs should be considered for fantasy football.

Atlanta: We’re now through four weeks and Kyle Pitts certainly has not been what fantasy managers expected him to be when they spent a mid-round selection on him in their drafts. He’s currently just averaging 3.75 receptions per game and has yet to find the end zone in his rookie campaign. With that being said, there are still reasons to be optimistic about Pitts and his fantasy outlook moving forward. Pitts is currently 7th in the entire NFL at the TE position in terms of targets and he’s also tied for the most Inside-The-10 targets with three, which are crucial for fantasy production. The volume is still there, but it just hasn’t turned into reliable production just yet. Combine all that with the fact that Pitts is 5th in the NFL at the TE position with 144 Air Yards, we need to continue starting Pitts in our lineups. Things will start to click eventually and they have a very good chance of doing just that this week against the Jets. He can be viewed as a low-end TE1 with upside. Update: Ridley is now out for this matchup against the Jets due to a personal matter. Pitts is the main beneficiary and is now locked into starting lineups as a top-5 option.

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New England Patriots vs Houston Texans

Date/Time: Sunday October 10, 1:00pm ET
BettingPros Consensus Spread: Patriots -9
BettingPros Consensus Over/Under: 39.5 points
Implied Vegas point totals
: Patriots 24.25, Texans 19.25

New England Patriots

POS NAME COMP/ATT PASS YDS TDs INTs RUSH YDS TDs FPTS
QB Mac Jones 22/32 207 2.15 1.8 4 0 14
POS NAME CARRIES RUSH YDS TDs RECS REC YDS TDs FPTS
RB Damien Harris 18 76 0.8 2 8 0.1 14.63
RB Brandon Bolden 6 11 0.3 2 14 0.15 6.01
POS NAME CARRIES RUSH YDS TDs RECS REC YDS TDs FPTS
WR Jakobi Meyers 0 0 0 6 54 0.3 10.14
WR Kendrick Bourne 0 0 0 3 43 0.3 7.81
WR Nelson Agholor 0 0 0 3 30 0.4 6.66
POS NAME CARRIES RUSH YDS TDs RECS REC YDS TDs FPTS
TE Hunter Henry 0 0 0 3 34 0.4 7.54

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Houston Texans

POS NAME COMP/ATT PASS YDS TDs INTs RUSH YDS TDs FPTS
QB Davis Mills 17/27 167 1.3 1.9 5 0.25 10
POS NAME CARRIES RUSH YDS TDs RECS REC YDS TDs FPTS
RB David Johnson 2 6 0.1 2 25 0.1 5.49
RB Mark Ingram II 8 24 0.25 1 5 0.05 5.01
POS NAME CARRIES RUSH YDS TDs RECS REC YDS TDs FPTS
WR Brandin Cooks 0 0 0 6 62 0.4 11.38
WR Danny Amendola 0 0 0 3 18 0.2 4.27
WR Chris Conley 0 0 0 1 18 0.15 3.33
POS NAME CARRIES RUSH YDS TDs RECS REC YDS TDs FPTS
TE Jordan Akins 0 0 0 2 21 0.15 4.25

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Quarterback

New England: Mac Jones was – by all accounts – good on Sunday Night Football. He went toe-to-toe with Tom Brady and consistently took what the defense gave him with absolutely zero support from the running game. With that being said, Jones still only finished as the QB20 on the week for fantasy purposes in a game in which he threw the ball 40 times. Jones is showing that he has a very fast internal clock and can make the correct reads, but he is simply not pushing the ball deep downfield. He had an ADOT (Average Depth of Target) of just 5.5 in week four and he doesn’t have the proper playmakers around him to be able to take those plays and create easy yardage for him. With no mobility – Jones just has seven rush attempts on the season through four games – there’s virtually no upside to playing Jones any given week. In this matchup against Houston, it’s tempting to plug him into our starting lineups in Superflex formats, but there’s a very strong possibility that the running game takes over this week for the Patriots and Jones is simply just handing the ball off 30+ times. He can be viewed as a low-end QB2 this week.

Houston: Yikes. Do I have to write anything else? I do? Shoot. It wasn’t exactly great out there for the rookie QB in week four against the Buffalo Bills defense. Mills threw for four interceptions, averaged just 4.1 Yards Per Attempt, and had a Passer Rating of just 23.4. Can he just shake it off though and look forward to next week? Nope. Mills now gets to take on Bill Belichick and the Patriots defense that historically feasts on rookie QBs. There’s the possibility that Mills throws for multiple picks again this week and there’s no format where we should be looking his way for fantasy football.

Running Backs

New England: Oh boy, it was not pretty for Damien Harris on Sunday Night Football. Harris carried the ball just four total times for -4 yards. The Patriots weren’t even interested in attempting to disguise the fact that they didn’t want to run the ball against Tampa Bay and they completely abandoned that aspect of their offense. Thankfully, Harris was able to end up with two targets that he turned into 30 receiving yards which meant that he didn’t leave fantasy managers that played him with negative points, but it still wasn’t good. With that being said, Harris belongs right back in your starting lineup this week against the Houston Texans defense. The Texans are currently allowing 114 rushing yards per game to opposing RBs and Harris should easily be able to hit that mark – if not more – in this game. With another rough projected game script for the Texans, the Patriots will simply be able to rely on their run game this week to drain the clock and Harris could easily finish as a top-10 RB as a result. He can be viewed as a high-end RB2 with upside in this matchup. Update: The Patriots could potentially be without four of their starts on the offensive line this week. While this is still as good of a matchup as you can possibly find, that’s concerning for Harris and his outlook on Sunday. We need to downgrade him just slightly to mid-range RB2 territory.

Houston: None of the Texans’ RBs should be considered for fantasy football in this matchup.

Wide Receivers

New England: Jakobi Meyers has now had 112 receptions without a touchdown up to this point in his NFL career. While Meyers is averaging 10 targets, 6.75 receptions, and 61.5 receiving yards per game so far this year, he’s coming with virtually no upside due to his inability to find the end zone. He’s a sure-handed receiver that’s fun to watch on film, but he’s also not going to be able to create a ton on his own either to help offset the lack of touchdown upside. Meyers only has 75 Yards After the Catch this season on his 246 receiving yards and is only averaging 9.1 Yards Per Reception. With all of this taken into account, Meyers belongs in the same territory as players like Cole Beasley and Tyler Boyd (when Tee Higgins is healthy). They probably won’t find the end zone, but they’ll still have value as a safe FLEX play that gets extra value in Full PPR formats. Against the Texans, there’s the possibility that we see Meyers’ touchdown streak snap, but it’s most likely that we see the Patriots running game take over here. Meyers can be viewed as a low-end FLEX play this week. Kendrick Bourne got involved in the action last week in a matchup where Jones needed other receiving options to step up. Bourne is starting to get his feet under him in this Patriots offense and we’re starting to see his production trend upwards. With that being said, it’s still highly unlikely that he emerges as a weekly FLEX play in this offense. He’s worth picking up and playing if you’re in an absolute pinch, but otherwise, he can probably just remain on your league’s waiver wire. N’Keal Harry made his return to the lineup this past week for the Patriots, but he only played a total of 15 snaps. There’s the possibility that he could work his way back into a larger role, but this offense doesn’t figure to be one that can support multiple WR options. Harry’s probably best left on your waiver wire. Nelson Agholor saw the same amount of targets as Bourne last week against the Bucs and he did enough to not burn fantasy managers that took a shot on him in their starting lineups. However, this offense doesn’t figure to be high-powered enough moving forward where Agholor should be considered as anything more than a desperation FLEX play.

Houston: Brandin Cooks continues to defy all odds this season. Even in a game where his QB threw for just 87 total yards, Cooks accounted for 47 of them. While he certainly did not help fantasy managers in week four – can you blame him? – he still presented a safe floor with a 5-47-0 stat line that didn’t crush your lineup in Full PPR formats. There’s the strong possibility that the Texans’ offense puts up comparable numbers to last week here against the Patriots, but we should still feel extremely comfortable leaving Cooks in our lineups. There’s virtually no upside to starting him, but he’ll bring a safe enough floor to be viewed as a low-end WR3.

Tight Ends

New England: Hunter Henry has now seen 73% of the team’s snaps through four weeks and he came through for fantasy managers that dropped him into their starting lineups this past week with a touchdown. While Henry would normally just remain in the low-end streaming conversation, this matchup against Houston is worth taking a deeper look at for fantasy purposes. The Texans are currently allowing the second-most fantasy points to opposing TEs this season with 11.8 per game. They’re surrendering 66.8 yards per game and nearly a touchdown per contest, but they also just got torched for multiple scores by Dawson Knox this past week. There’s a strong possibility that Henry leads this TE room in targets again in this one and the scoring opportunities are going to be there. He can be viewed as a high-end TE2 this week. Jonnu Smith was able to find the end zone last week against the Bucs, but it hasn’t been pretty for the Patriots’ prized free-agent acquisition from this off-season. Smith has seen his snap count decrease from 55 in week one to only 28 total snaps in week four. He’s struggled with drops this season and he hasn’t been able to break free for as many big gains as we had seen in previous years. At this point, Smith is simply a touchdown-or-bust option for fantasy lineups. However, this might be a matchup where he’s able to reel in another touchdown yet again. The Texans are bleeding fantasy points to opposing TEs in 2021 and we could easily see Smith find the end zone again here. It’s a complete risk, but if you’re in the spot where you desperately need a TE option that has a chance to score, Smith’s one of the better options available.

Houston: None of the Texans should be considered for fantasy football in this matchup.

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Detroit Lions vs Minnesota Vikings

Date/Time: Sunday October 10, 1:00pm ET
BettingPros Consensus Spread: Vikings -7.5
BettingPros Consensus Over/Under: 49.5 points
Implied Vegas point totals
: Vikings 28.5, Lions 21

Detroit Lions

POS NAME COMP/ATT PASS YDS TDs INTs RUSH YDS TDs FPTS
QB Jared Goff 27/38 285 2 1.4 14 0.05 18
POS NAME CARRIES RUSH YDS TDs RECS REC YDS TDs FPTS
RB D’Andre Swift 10 35 0.3 5 46 0.4 14.98
RB Jamaal Williams 9 41 0.4 2 12 0.35 10.68
POS NAME CARRIES RUSH YDS TDs RECS REC YDS TDs FPTS
WR Kalif Raymond 0 0 0 4 56 0.3 9.56
WR Quintez Cephus 0 0 0 4 50 0.25 8.25
WR Amon-Ra St. Brown 0 0 0 5 42 0.2 7.7
POS NAME CARRIES RUSH YDS TDs RECS REC YDS TDs FPTS
TE T.J. Hockenson 0 0 0 6 55 0.5 11.32

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Minnesota Vikings

POS NAME COMP/ATT PASS YDS TDs INTs RUSH YDS TDs FPTS
QB Kirk Cousins 21/30 238 3 0.4 6 0.1 22
POS NAME CARRIES RUSH YDS TDs RECS REC YDS TDs FPTS
RB Dalvin Cook 14 63 0.7 2 20 0.35 15.79
RB Alexander Mattison 11 48 0.45 2 14 0.2 10.92
POS NAME CARRIES RUSH YDS TDs RECS REC YDS TDs FPTS
WR Justin Jefferson 0 0 0 6 75 0.8 15.21
WR Adam Thielen 0 0 0 5 53 0.85 12.83
WR K.J. Osborn 0 0 0 3 41 0.35 7.77
POS NAME CARRIES RUSH YDS TDs RECS REC YDS TDs FPTS
TE Tyler Conklin 0 0 0 3 30 0.45 7.07

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Quarterback

Detroit: In Jared Goff‘s career, he has now faced the Chicago Bears defense four times. In those games, he has five total fumbles, five interceptions, and just four total touchdowns. Goff has historically struggled against the Bears and he has to be frustrated that he now plays them twice a year moving forward. With that game in the rearview mirror though, Goff now turns his attention towards the Minnesota Vikings defense. This season, the Vikings are middle-of-the-pack when it comes to fantasy points allowed to opposing QBs (21.8 fppg), but they’re surrendering plenty of yardage through the first four games. Minnesota is currently allowing 278.5 passing yards per game and that’s with Baker Mayfield‘s 155-yard performance in week four built into it. While it’s hard to trust Goff in this Lions offense, they should be playing from behind yet again and the matchup’s favorable enough for us to at least consider him in Superflex formats. Goff can be viewed as a low-end QB2 this week that could end up surprising if the game script works out in fantasy managers’ favor.

Minnesota: Before last week, Kirk Cousins had been playing lights out. He had been taking care of the football and had been averaging three close to three passing touchdowns per game. Unfortunately, those numbers came crashing down last week against a very solid Browns defense. Cousins completed just 20 passes for 203 yards and one touchdown to one interception. He had an uncharacteristic 52.6% completion rate and averaged only 5.3 Yards Per Attempt. The Browns were applying pressure all game long and Cousins was never allowed to fully settle in and find his groove. Looking ahead to week five, it’s probably a solid bet that Cousins will find his groove again against the Lions’ defense. The Lions are actually middle-of-the-pack when it comes to defending opposing fantasy QBs, but those numbers are skewed due to how much teams are able to run on them. Will the Vikings run the ball 30+ times in this game and leave Cousins without a ton volume? It’s possible, but the Vikings are going to be putting points up on the board this week, as evidenced by their 28.5 Vegas Team Implied Point Total at the time of writing. That means plenty of scoring opportunities and Cousins should be able to connect with his receivers in the end zone a couple of times here. There’s always the possibility that the Vikings rumble for multiple scores on the ground and Cousins is left empty-handed – like Justin Fields last week – but the matchup puts Cousins into the streaming conversation at the very least.

Running Backs

Detroit: Do you remember in week three when D’Andre Swift saw 21 total opportunities (carries + targets)? And then do you also remember Dan Campbell saying before week four that we were going to see a lot more of Swift moving forward? I do too, but apparently, Campbell wanted to see fantasy football analysts confidently rank Swift in the top-10 RBs on the week just to pull the rug out from under everyone. Swift totaled just 14 opportunities in week four and fantasy managers had to watch Williams finish the game with 14 carries to Swift’s eight. It’s confusing what to make of this situation in Detroit, but we do know that we cannot trust Swift as a locked-in RB1 moving forward based off of volume. We’re going to have to see Swift put up tremendous efficiency moving forward with his receiving work to continue placing in the top-12. With that being said, he’s still a very valuable fantasy asset that should be viewed as a high-end RB2 for this matchup against the Vikings defense. Jamaal Williams has certainly had an interesting start to his tenure with the Detroit Lions. After seeming like he was on a path to finish the year with 100 or more targets based on week one, Williams has now seen just five targets over the last three games. He’s still seeing enough work on the ground to be fantasy relevant, but his work as a receiver is what had fantasy managers excited to potentially plug him into their lineups as a high-end RB3. Unfortunately, there’s no predictability anymore with Williams and his usage and he presents very little upside due to the offense that he plays in here in Detroit. In this matchup against the Vikings, Williams shouldn’t be viewed as anything more than a mid-range RB3.

Minnesota: Dalvin Cook looked sharp last week in his limited opportunity as he worked his way back from an ankle injury. While there wasn’t much indication last week that Cook wouldn’t see his usual workload, it was at least encouraging to see him cutting quickly on his ankle and putting faith in it. He did leave the game last week briefly, but he returned in the fourth quarter and there’s no buzz currently that he’s in danger of missing this game. If Cook plays in this matchup, he’s a top-5 option regardless of his health status. The Lions are absolutely bleeding fantasy points to opposing RBs this season and it doesn’t appear like that’s going to change any time soon. They’re allowing 111.5 rushing yards per game on average to go with 1.5 rushing touchdowns, which is the highest mark in the league. As long as Cook gets in limited practices this week, he has overall RB1 upside in this matchup. Update: Cook is questionable coming into this matchup. He’s unlikely to be at 100% in this one, so we need to downgrade him slightly due to the potential of a decreased workload. He still should see plenty of work this week though and he can be viewed as a mid-range/low-end RB1. If Cook doesn’t play, Alexander Mattison moves into top-15 territory.

Wide Receivers

Detroit: Should we begin talking about Kalif Raymond more for fantasy football? Over the past two weeks, Raymond has seen 16 targets, nine receptions, 114 yards, and two touchdowns. He’s the WR14 during that time period too. With the target share balancing out a little bit more in this offense as the season has progressed, there’s an opportunity for the WRs in this offense to make an impact for fantasy football. It’s certainly risky to buy into Goff and what we’ve seen from this offense from a production standpoint, but if they’re constantly going to be playing from behind, the volume should be there week after week. In a matchup against the Vikings this week, Raymond has a very good possibility of seeing six or more targets yet again. The Vikings should get out to an early lead and their defense is currently allowing 25.8 fantasy points per game to opposing WRs. You’re buying into the garbage-time production narrative if you consider Raymond in deeper formats, but the path is there. Amon-Ra St. Brown was a big target of mine throughout draft season in deeper leagues due to his upside in this offense as the slot receiver. St. Brown has this role locked down as he’s currently playing 85% of his snaps out of the slot and he’s now starting to see his opportunity increase as he gets more familiar with the offense. St. Brown saw his snap count jump up from just 27 snaps in week three to 51 in week four and it translated to a 21.6% target share. He has the talent to make an impact for fantasy lineups – especially in deeper PPR formats – and he might be on his way to seeing his role and opportunity increase moving forward. In a matchup where the Vikings are allowing 179.5 receiving yards per game to opposing WRs, St. Brown could be a sneaky FLEX play in 14-team or larger leagues. Quintez Cephus‘ production has been a bit of a rollercoaster here recently, but he’s performing when he’s given the opportunity. Last week, Cephus only saw five targets, but he reeled in four of them for 83 yards. It’s not encouraging to see St. Brown and Raymond find more targets in this offense than Cephus, but the second-year wideout possesses a big-play ability that no other receiver in this offense has. If you’re in a pinch and need someone off of the waiver wire, Cephus is most likely available to be able to pick up and play as a FLEX option.

Minnesota: Heading into 2021, there was a lot of confidence with Justin Jefferson being ranked as a consensus top-10 option, but there was some concern hanging over fantasy managers’ heads that he would be able to do enough to live up to that hype. That concern is completely gone now through four weeks though. Jefferson has been everything fantasy managers were hoping for when they spent that premium selection on him and he’s been incredibly consistent in fantasy lineups. Through the first four games, Jefferson is now averaging nine targets, 6.5 receptions, 84.5 receiving yards, and .75 touchdowns per game and that’s exactly what fantasy managers need right now with so many other players providing up-and-down performances. Looking ahead to week five, Jefferson has a beautiful matchup in front of him against the Lions’ secondary. Jefferson should draw coverage from Amani Oruwariye, which is one of the more favorable matchups in all of fantasy football this week. Oruwariye is allowing a 69% catch rate this season and 1.26 Yards Per Route Covered. He’s not going to be able to contain someone with Jefferson’s abilities and we could see a big game incoming for the second-year wideout. Fire him up as a mid-range WR1. Adam Thielen didn’t find the end zone in week four, but he’s still tied for the second-most touchdowns at the WR position through four weeks. Even in a game where the Vikings couldn’t get much done offensively, Thielen did enough to not crush your fantasy lineup. Moving forward to week five, Thielen belongs in your starting lineup as a top-15 option. Thielen should draw coverage this week from Bobby Price who is currently allowing 2.49 Yards Per Route Covered. For comparison, Price’s teammate Oruwariye is allowing 1.26 YPRC (which is still a high number). Thielen has an excellent chance of finding the end zone and putting up solid receiving numbers in an individual matchup that the Vikings offensive game plan is going to be honed in on. Start him with full confidence this week. KJ Osborn is quickly becoming a stud WR right in front of our eyes this season. While the stat line isn’t particularly impressive from this past week, Osborn showed off his talent on a couple of occasions. In particular, he made a jaw-dropping contested catch on the sideline that showcased what he could become if he sees an increased opportunity in this offense. With Jefferson and Thielen above him on the depth chart, it’s probably not worth plugging him confidently into our starting lineups as a FLEX play, but he is absolutely worth rostering in deeper formats due to his upside if one of the aforementioned players goes down with an injury. He’s proving that he has the talent, but he now just needs the guaranteed opportunity to be a force for fantasy football. In a matchup this week against the Lions, there’s the possibility that Osborn breaks loose for a big play here or there, but we could see the overall pass volume decrease in a game that the Vikings are heavy favorites. Osborn’s nothing more than a low-end FLEX play in deeper formats this week, but he’s still worth watching moving forward.

Tight Ends

Detroit: T.J. Hockenson had a disappointing week three for fantasy purposes, but he bounced back in week four and provided fantasy managers with an extremely safe floor. He saw a 21.6% target share in week four, which is encouraging moving forward, but he was only able to reel in 50% of his targets for 42 yards. The big takeaway is that Hockenson tied for the 4th-most targets at the TE position in week four and that’s what fantasy managers should be focusing on. At a position group where so many other people are chasing touchdown volatility, etc. it’s a huge positional advantage to have one of the target leaders. Hockenson should consistently be viewed as a high-end/mid-range TE1 every single week and in a matchup against the Vikings – who are allowing 63.2 yards to opposing TEs this season – he’s a locked-in option. Update: Reports are currently that Hockenson has a “chance” to play this week. While that’s concerning, if Hockenson plays he belongs in your starting lineup as a mid-range TE1 simply based on other available options.

Minnesota: Tyler Conklin now has 14 targets over the past two games, which is tied for the fourth-most at the TE position in that time span. While he had the massive performance in week three, he came back down to earth a bit in week four in a game where the Vikings struggled to get a ton done offensively. Conklin only reeled in four of his six targets for 18 yards, but the target share is encouraging moving forward. In a TE landscape where so many options are touchdown-or-bust, it’s important to chase volume. This week against the Lions, Conklin should see enough volume to get the job done as a high-end TE2, but he comes with tremendous upside due to the matchup. The Lions are currently allowing 62.8 receiving yards per game to opposing TEs and the potential is there for the athletic receiving option in this one. If you’re in a pinch, Conklin’s worth tossing into your starting lineup.

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