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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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Green Bay Packers vs Cincinnati Bengals

Date/Time: Sunday October 10, 1:00pm ET
BettingPros Consensus Spread: Packers -3
BettingPros Consensus Over/Under: 50 points
Implied Vegas point totals
: Packers 26.5, Bengals 23.5

Green Bay Packers

POS NAME COMP/ATT PASS YDS TDs INTs RUSH YDS TDs FPTS
QB Aaron Rodgers 22/33 233 2.65 0.25 11 0.2 22
POS NAME CARRIES RUSH YDS TDs RECS REC YDS TDs FPTS
RB Aaron Jones 16 62 0.6 4 30 0.5 17.79
RB AJ Dillon 8 32 0.35 1 10 0.15 7.9
POS NAME CARRIES RUSH YDS TDs RECS REC YDS TDs FPTS
WR Davante Adams 0 0 0 9 108 0.85 20.36
WR Randall Cobb 0 0 0 3 37 0.4 7.79
WR Allen Lazard 0 0 0 2 24 0.25 4.8
POS NAME CARRIES RUSH YDS TDs RECS REC YDS TDs FPTS
TE Robert Tonyan 0 0 0 3 24 0.5 6.75

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Cincinnati Bengals

POS NAME COMP/ATT PASS YDS TDs INTs RUSH YDS TDs FPTS
QB Joe Burrow 24/34 286 2.45 0.6 8 0.2 22
POS NAME CARRIES RUSH YDS TDs RECS REC YDS TDs FPTS
RB Samaje Perine 13 50 0.5 2 11 0 11.06
RB Chris Evans 5 21 0.25 3 27 0 9.19
POS NAME CARRIES RUSH YDS TDs RECS REC YDS TDs FPTS
WR Ja’Marr Chase 0 0 0 5 81 1 14.61
WR Tee Higgins 0 0 0 5 64 1 13.09
WR Tyler Boyd 0 0 0 5 58 0 10.22
POS NAME CARRIES RUSH YDS TDs RECS REC YDS TDs FPTS
TE C.J. Uzomah 0 0 0 3 31 0 6.14

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Quarterback

Green Bay: Aaron Rodgers simply continues to ball out this season and he now has nine total touchdowns over the past three weeks. With his usual receiving weapons rocking and rolling, Rodgers belongs in the low-end QB1 conversation every single week moving forward. The Bengals have been tough on opposing QBs so far this season for fantasy football, but Rodgers and co. should be able to overcome. Start him with confidence this week.

Cincinnati: Through the first three weeks of the season, we had been waiting for Joe Burrow to show up. While working his way back slowly from injury, Burrow hadn’t exactly been delivering for fantasy managers the way that he had prior to his injury during his rookie campaign. However, we may have just witnessed the first step to Burrow working his way back to form in 2021. Against Jacksonville on Thursday night, Burrow came through with a dominant performance for fantasy managers. Despite a very shaky first half, Burrow finished with 348 yards passing, a 78% completion rate, and two touchdowns to zero interceptions. While Burrow was expected to perform well in a plus matchup last week, it’s an encouraging sign moving forward that he’s working his way back into weekly starter consideration. Against the Packers defense this week that’s been pretty stingy to opposing passing games, Burrow can be viewed as a high-end/mid-range QB2.

Running Backs

Green Bay: Since the disappointing week one performance, Aaron Jones has now averaged 17 carries, 65.6 rushing yards, .6 rushing touchdowns, 3.6 receptions, 37.66 receiving yards, and one receiving touchdown. He’s been an incredibly consistent option for fantasy rosters and he’s receiving as significant of a workload as fantasy managers hoped for this off-season with Jamaal Williams out of town. The Cincinnati Bengals have only allowed 63.8 rushing yards per game to opposing RBs so far this season, but they’re allowing 8.0 receptions and 47.5 receiving yards per game as well. With Jones’ ability to be a reliable receiving threat out of the backfield, he should be able to get the job done either way. There’s no reason to bump Jones out of mid-range RB1 territory this week against Cincinnati. AJ Dillon saw a sizeable workload last week against the Steelers, but the Packers were simply looking to drain the clock and they didn’t need to rely solely on Jones. Dillon is likely going to go back to his complementary role this week against Cincinnati and he shouldn’t be viewed as anything more than an insurance RB.

Cincinnati: With the news that Joe Mixon is unlikely to suit up this week, Samaje Perine should get the nod as the starting RB here for the Bengals. While Perine hasn’t been a particularly efficient RB up to this point of his NFL career, he’s going to see a minimum of 12 touches in this matchup. With that guaranteed volume on the ground, Perine is instantly in the low-end RB2/high-end RB3 conversation. We could see Evans take away some of the receiving work in this backfield, which puts a cap on Perine’s fantasy output, but he’s worth plugging into your lineup this week if you’re in a pinch. Chris Evans has shown flashes of his talent and receiving ability up to this point of the season, but the volume hasn’t been consistent enough to warrant fantasy consideration. Now with Mixon likely out for this week, Evans has a chance to showcase his talent with a potential increase in volume. It’s likely not going to be enough to view him as a FLEX option this week, but it’s worth watching in case Mixon’s absence is longer than expected. Evans could turn into a viable fantasy asset if he performs well in this game. Update: Joe Mixon is scheduled to practice on Saturday to determine his week five availability. There’s the possibility that he returns to the lineup this week, but it’s highly likely that he’s sidelined for this week and comes back in week six.

Wide Receivers

Green Bay: We’re now through four weeks of the 2021 season and only Brandin Cooks is ahead of Davante Adams in terms of total target share. With a 35.7% target share this season, Adams is feasting for fantasy purposes and yet he still hasn’t brought the ridiculous upside that we know he has with the touchdown production. Based on everything we’ve seen, the touchdowns should come for Adams sooner than later and there’s no reason to view him as anything less than a top-5 option every single week at the WR position. Randall Cobb was able to find the end zone multiple times last week, but we can’t count on that happening consistently. Cobb should remain a focal point of this offense as long as Marquez Valdes-Scantling is on IR, but the leftover volume after Adams from a target share perspective might not be enough to count on Cobb in our starting lineups just yet.

Cincinnati: While Ja’Marr Chase didn’t have as dominant of a performance in week four as many fantasy managers were anticipating due to the matchup, he still was heavily involved in this offense and provided a high floor. Chase saw nine targets with Higgins out of the lineup and he was able to convert that into a 6-77-0 line. Moving forward, Chase should continue to provide a high floor due to his significant target share in the offense and the connection that he has with Burrow, but we certainly know that he comes with plenty of upside as well. There’s very little reason to doubt Chase at this point and he belongs in our starting lineups as a locked-in WR2. Tee Higgins appears set to return to the active roster this upcoming week against Green Bay and he belongs right back in our starting lineups as a result. Higgins has been fantastic for fantasy purposes when he’s been on the field this season and the Packers are allowing 1.2 receiving touchdowns per game to opposing WRs. With Burrow taking a step forward in his injury recovery and playing a lot better, Higgins has a ton of upside in this matchup. He can be viewed as a mid-range/low-end WR2. Tyler Boyd stepped forward last week as a superb replacement option for the Bengals with Higgins sidelined and he delivered for fantasy lineups. However, with Higgins coming back into the fold this week, Boyd should move back to his usual role and he’ll surrender targets to Higgins as a result. Boyd can be viewed as a high-end FLEX play that gets a slight bump in Full PPR formats.

Tight Ends

Green Bay: Robert Tonyan saw seven targets last week against the Steelers, but he only reeled in two of them for just eight yards. While Tonyan has tremendous touchdown upside due to his size and chemistry with Rodgers in the red zone, we now know that the floor is essentially zero fantasy points. We cannot trust Tonyan as anything more than a touchdown-or-bust play in lineups this week against Cincinnati.

Cincinnati: CJ Uzomah broke off for a monstrous performance on Thursday Night Football, but he saw one more target in that game than he had the entire season up to that point. The three weeks prior, Uzomah had seen five targets for just four receptions and 39 receiving yards. There’s a possibility that Uzomah becomes a larger part of this Bengals offense, but we have a long track record to signal that last week was most likely just a fluke performance. He can remain on your league’s waiver wire.

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Denver Broncos vs Pittsburgh Steelers

Date/Time: Sunday October 10, 1:00pm ET
BettingPros Consensus Spread: Steelers -1
BettingPros Consensus Over/Under: 40 points
Implied Vegas point totals
: Steelers 21.5, Broncos 19.5

Denver Broncos

POS NAME COMP/ATT PASS YDS TDs INTs RUSH YDS TDs FPTS
QB Teddy Bridgewater 22/33 224 2 0.9 8 0.15 17
POS NAME CARRIES RUSH YDS TDs RECS REC YDS TDs FPTS
RB Melvin Gordon III 12 49 0.4 2 21 0.15 11.54
RB Javonte Williams 12 47 0.4 2 16 0.15 10.72
POS NAME CARRIES RUSH YDS TDs RECS REC YDS TDs FPTS
WR Tim Patrick 0 0 0 5 68 0.45 12.11
WR Courtland Sutton 0 0 0 5 59 0.45 11.05
WR David Moore 0 0 0 2 18 0.15 3.62
POS NAME CARRIES RUSH YDS TDs RECS REC YDS TDs FPTS
TE Noah Fant 0 0 0 4 32 0.45 7.75

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Pittsburgh Steelers

POS NAME COMP/ATT PASS YDS TDs INTs RUSH YDS TDs FPTS
QB Ben Roethlisberger 21/36 211 2.05 1.3 3 0.1 15
POS NAME CARRIES RUSH YDS TDs RECS REC YDS TDs FPTS
RB Najee Harris 16 54 0.45 5 32 0.3 15.39
RB Benny Snell Jr. 1 3 0.1 0 0 0 0.92
POS NAME CARRIES RUSH YDS TDs RECS REC YDS TDs FPTS
WR Diontae Johnson 0 0 0 5 54 0.65 11.97
WR Chase Claypool 0 0 0 4 50 0.4 9.24
WR Juju Smith-Schuster 0 0 0 4 31 0.25 6.35
POS NAME CARRIES RUSH YDS TDs RECS REC YDS TDs FPTS
TE Pat Freiermuth 0 0 0 3 26 0.3 5.68

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Quarterback

Denver: Drew Lock should get the starting nod here for the Denver Broncos, but he should not get any starting nods for fantasy lineups. From everything that we’ve seen with Lock over his NFL career, it’s unlikely that he steps forward and produces as anything more than a low-end QB2 in this matchup. Update: Teddy Bridgewater seems to be set to return for this matchup after progressing through the concussion protocol. With that being said, he’s nothing more than a low-end QB2.

Pittsburgh: At this point, Ben Roethlisberger‘s arm looks completely toast. He’s struggling to even hit his receivers on 10-yard out routes or curls without skipping the ball to them and the offense is struggling a ton as a result. There’s no matchup out there in which you can feel comfortable starting Big Ben in fantasy football. In this matchup against the Denver Broncos? Absolutely not. Update: Big Ben will play in this game as he has been removed from the injury report.

Running Backs

Denver: Melvin Gordon and Javonte Williams seem set to continue splitting the work essentially evenly every week moving forward. Against the defense that’s allowing the 6th-fewest fantasy points to opposing RBs so far this season and exactly zero rushing touchdowns up to this point, there’s very little upside with either of these options for your fantasy lineup. They’ll bring a safe floor due to their guaranteed volume, but this offense could struggle to move the ball with Lock at QB too. They’re both simply high-end RB3s at best this week against Pittsburgh.

Pittsburgh: Najee Harris has been effective for fantasy football this season purely on the back of opportunity. He is seeing 92.6% of the team’s RB snaps and essentially no other player on this roster is getting touches out of the backfield. Through four weeks, Harris is now averaging 22.25 touches per game and he’s needed that to supply fantasy value because the efficiency simply has not been there. Harris now heads into the most daunting matchup for opposing RBs this season though and there’s a lot of reasons to be concerned. The Broncos are allowing just 15.5 rush attempts, 50.5 rushing yards, and .2 touchdowns per game on average to the RB position. While Harris hasn’t been effective on the ground though, he’s been able to get the job done through the air, right? Unfortunately, Denver’s also locked down opposing RBs in that category as well. They’re also just allowing 2.5 receptions, 11.2 receiving yards, and zero touchdowns per game on average to the RB position. So the question becomes, what gives? Does the Broncos’ defense crack based on Pittsburgh’s offense? Or do they stand strong and continue to prevent RBs from doing much? My bet is on the latter and Harris could end up tumbling in the weekly rankings as a result. He should still be viewed as a mid-range RB2 simply based on the volume and the lack of other proven assets at the position, but there are reasons to be concerned with him this week.

Wide Receivers

Denver: Courtland Sutton had a fantastic week two performance against Jacksonville, but if we remove that 159-yard performance, Sutton is averaging just three receptions for 33 yards and zero touchdowns on the season. While fantasy managers might be excited for the upside that Sutton possesses with Lock at QB – and his ability to push the ball deep downfield – there is very little reliability with Sutton right now from a fantasy perspective. The matchup is enticing though as the Steelers are allowing the 5th-most fantasy points to opposing WRs, but there’s a lower floor here with Sutton that needs to be recognized. He can be viewed as a mid-range/low-end WR3 this week that has upside if we see a much-improved version of Lock. Tim Patrick has been Mr. Consistency over the course of this season, but his production took a bit of a hit last week against Baltimore. He finished with just three receptions on six targets for only 39 receiving yards and no score. The matchup here against Pittsburgh is a little bit more favorable, but fantasy managers have to be concerned about the QB play this week with Lock behind center. Patrick is merely just a high-end FLEX option this week. Update: Sutton popped up on the injury report after rolling his ankle in practice. He’s questionable heading into this matchup. Depending on reports leading up to the game, Sutton should be viewed as just a low-end WR3 this week.

Pittsburgh: At this point, Diontae Johnson is the only Steelers WR that we can consider for fantasy purposes. He’s played in three games this year and has averaged 11.6 targets per contest, 7.66 receptions, 77.66 yards, and .66 touchdowns. Even with Ben’s arm struggling, he’s still able to lock onto Johnson and force-feed him targets. In a tougher matchup this week against the Broncos, the upside might not be there for Johnson but he’s still worth plugging into your lineup as a low-end WR2 simply based on volume. Chase Claypool logged a limited practice on Wednesday, but there’s no clarity at the time of writing on whether or not he’ll be back to play on Sunday this week. Even if he does suit up, it’s probably not worth rolling the dice to see how he performs with the way Ben has looked recently. At best, he’s a FLEX play that has a wide range of outcomes. Right now, JuJu Smith-Schuster has to be kicking himself that he didn’t sign with the Baltimore Ravens or Kansas City Chiefs this off-season. This offense is going nowhere fast and Juju’s quickly barreling towards being dropped in fantasy football leagues across the board. You simply cannot play him right now – despite the target volume – and there’s very little upside to make it worth even holding onto him. If you need to drop him for a player that has more upside, it’s worth considering. Update: Claypool will play in this game after being removed from the injury report. He’s merely just a low-end FLEX option.

Tight Ends

Denver: Coming into the year, it was hard to see how Noah Fant would return value on where he was being drafted with all the receiving weapons that the Broncos had in their offense. However, things have cleared up a bit with Jerry Jeudy and KJ Hamler‘s respective injuries and Fant’s fantasy outlook is benefiting as a result. Fant had a 27% target share in week four and he turned it into six receptions for 46 yards and a touchdown. In this matchup against the Steelers, who are allowing just 5.0 fantasy points per game to opposing TEs, Fant will have to see a hefty target share again to be a reliable option. Based on many of the other players at the position though and their respective volatility, Fant needs to be viewed as a mid-range/low-end TE1 in week five.

Pittsburgh: With the way this Steelers offense is performing, none of the Steelers TEs should be considered for fantasy football this week.

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Chicago Bears vs Las Vegas Raiders

Date/Time: Sunday October 10, 4:05pm ET
BettingPros Consensus Spread: Raiders -5.5
BettingPros Consensus Over/Under: 45.5 points
Implied Vegas point totals
: Raiders 25.5, Bears 20

Chicago Bears

POS NAME COMP/ATT PASS YDS TDs INTs RUSH YDS TDs FPTS
QB Justin Fields 19/30 192 1.95 0.75 26 0.3 18
POS NAME CARRIES RUSH YDS TDs RECS REC YDS TDs FPTS
RB Damien Williams 12 47 0.5 4 22 0.2 12.9
RB Khalil Herbert 4 16 0.1 1 9 0.1 4.17
POS NAME CARRIES RUSH YDS TDs RECS REC YDS TDs FPTS
WR Darnell Mooney 0 0 0 5 61 0.55 11.72
WR Allen Robinson II 0 0 0 4 52 0.5 10.44
WR Marquise Goodwin 0 0 0 2 18 0.2 3.84
POS NAME CARRIES RUSH YDS TDs RECS REC YDS TDs FPTS
TE Cole Kmet 0 0 0 3 23 0.3 5.54

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Las Vegas Raiders

POS NAME COMP/ATT PASS YDS TDs INTs RUSH YDS TDs FPTS
QB Derek Carr 23/36 287 2.75 0.8 7 0.15 22
POS NAME CARRIES RUSH YDS TDs RECS REC YDS TDs FPTS
RB Josh Jacobs 16 58 0.55 1 10 0.15 11.78
RB Kenyan Drake 2 4 0.1 3 25 0.25 6.37
POS NAME CARRIES RUSH YDS TDs RECS REC YDS TDs FPTS
WR Henry Ruggs III 0 0 0 4 66 0.5 11.5
WR Hunter Renfrow 0 0 0 5 56 0.5 11.14
WR Bryan Edwards 0 0 0 3 47 0.4 8.48
POS NAME CARRIES RUSH YDS TDs RECS REC YDS TDs FPTS
TE Darren Waller 0 0 0 5 52 0.7 11.8

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Quarterback

Chicago: At the time of writing, it’s unclear exactly who will be playing QB for the Chicago Bears this upcoming weekend. Despite Justin Fields showing off his talent on multiple occasions this past week, Matt Nagy has continued to reiterate that Andy Dalton is the Bears starting QB when he’s healthy. Dalton might be better for some of the other fantasy options in this offense, but Fields brings 10x more upside than the veteran passer right now. Fields had a 22% Big Time Throw rate against the Lions – BTT is a stat measured by Pro Football Focus that calculates a pass with excellent ball location and timing, generally thrown further down the field and/or into a tighter window – and that was high enough to lead the entire league this past week by a fairly wide margin. Fields is starting to get his feet under him with the change in play-calling, so he’s now moving into the start-worthy conversation if he is indeed the starter for Chicago on Sunday. He would be viewed as a mid-range QB2. If Dalton starts though, he’s not worth considering for fantasy lineups. We’ll continue to update as we get more information. Update: Justin Fields has been named as the Bears starter moving forward.

Las Vegas: Derek Carr came crashing back down to earth last week in a tougher matchup. He didn’t cross over 200 passing yards on the day and had just two passing touchdowns to one interception against the Chargers. Looking ahead to week five, Carr has another tough matchup this week against the Chicago Bears defense that is allowing just 20.8 fantasy points per game to opposing QBs and they certainly know how to create pressure, much like the Chargers did on Monday Night Football. Carr should have enough volume again here to be a mid-range QB2, but the upside simply might not be there in this one.

Running Backs

Chicago: With the news that David Montgomery is going to be sidelined for the next 4-5 weeks with a knee sprain, Damien Williams is the next man up here in Chicago. We’ve seen Williams be effective for fantasy football in the past with a large workload – remember the Super Bowl? – and there’s absolutely a need for him for fantasy managers right now. With so much uncertainty and unknowns at the RB position right now across the fantasy landscape, any player that has the potential to see 15+ touches deserves to be in the top-20 conversation. With no Montgomery or Tarik Cohen in this backfield, Williams should easily hit that threshold this week and he deserves to be viewed as a mid-range/low-end RB2 as a result. Against the defense that’s allowing the 7th most fantasy points to opposing RBs this season with 20.0 per game, Williams has top-15 upside in his first start. If you picked him up off of the waiver wire this week, he deserves to be in your starting lineup. Khalil Herbert has been a popular name that I’ve seen buzzing around Twitter over the past few days, but it’s important to remember that he’s still a 6th-round rookie RB that’s unproven in the NFL. While Herbert has plenty of talent and he could be a factor for fantasy football down the road, he’s highly unlikely to usurp the backup RB who has played in a Super Bowl and most likely should have been the MVP of that game. Herbert will see some work as a complementary option in Montgomery’s absence, but fantasy managers that believe he’s the RB to own in this backfield are likely to be disappointed.

Las Vegas: Josh Jacobs returned to action on Monday night and wasn’t necessarily able to capitalize on a plus matchup. He finished with just 40 rushing yards on 13 carries for zero touchdowns, but the big news is that Jacobs saw five total targets in this game. With Kenyan Drake completely relegated to the sideline, Jacobs was able to soak up targets out of the backfield for one of the first times in his career. While he still didn’t do a ton with the opportunity, it’s encouraging for fantasy managers to see that and recognize that he might have some upside if he continues to be utilized in that fashion. In week five, Jacobs draws the Bears defense that is keeping opposing RBs in check with only 15.2 fantasy points allowed to the position. It’s probably best to view Jacobs as nothing more than a low-end RB2 this week that will need to find the end zone to crack the top-15.

Wide Receivers

Chicago: We can all admit it. Allen Robinson has been a massive disappointment for fantasy managers this year. He is currently the WR61 on the season up to this point and he is averaging just three receptions for 37 yards and .25 touchdowns per game. The frustration levels are through the roof for managers that have Robinson on their rosters, but there are reasons to at least be optimistic moving forward. Robinson still has a 24% target share on the season up to this point. While this hasn’t translated to a ton of volume over the past two weeks with Fields throwing the ball just 37 total times, it’s still an encouraging number to see. Additionally, Dalton could be returning to the Bears lineup as early as this next week, which should mean good things for Robinson as his only touchdown of the season came from Dalton in week two. With Montgomery out for the next several weeks, we could see the Bears lean on their passing game a little bit more as well, which could open up the overall volume for Robinson. He’s certainly not a locked-in WR2 like we thought he was going to be coming into the season, but there are still reasons to have Robinson in your starting lineups this week against the Raiders. He can be viewed as a high-end FLEX play in a tougher matchup. Darnell Mooney is starting to come alive in his second NFL season. While he showed plenty of flashes in his rookie campaign, Mooney’s taking his game to another level and it’s translating to production on the field. Mooney had a 41% target share in week four and exactly 100 Air Yards, which was tied for the third-most at the WR position last week behind only Tyreek Hill and Terry McLaurin. While his upside is dependent a bit upon which QB the Bears roll out on Sunday – due to their willingness or unwillingness to push the ball downfield – Mooney’s not becoming a safe option to plug into your lineup as a FLEX play. With the Bears likely to air the ball out a bit more after the Montgomery injury too, we could see Mooney’s target volume increase even more. He can be viewed as a low-end FLEX play in week five in a tougher matchup against the Raiders defense that’s allowing just 16.8 fantasy points per game to opposing WRs.

Las Vegas: Hunter Renfrow continues to get the job done for fantasy football. Over the last two weeks, Renfrow is now the WR12 in fantasy football and he’s becoming one of the most consistent assets out there. Renfrow should draw coverage this week from Duke Shelley and he’s allowing an 84% catch rate this season and 1.63 Yards Per Route Covered. Renfrow should see his 5-8 targets again this week and he’s going to have enough room to get the job done yet again for fantasy purposes. He can be viewed as a high-end FLEX play. Through the first four games of the season, Henry Ruggs is now the WR29 on the year. He’s bringing tremendous upside each and every week due to his skillset and utilization and there’s no reason why he should be out of starting lineups at this point. Against the Bears defense that is allowing the 3rd-most fantasy points to opposing WRs with 28.8 per game, Ruggs is a smash start as a mid-range WR3. Bryan Edwards had been steadily involved in this offense through the first three weeks, but his production took a dip this past week against the Chargers and he had just one reception. While the matchup is enticing against the Bears’ pass defense this week, fantasy managers have zero confidence in Edwards. He can be viewed as a low-end FLEX play at best in deeper formats.

Tight Ends

Chicago: At this point, Cole Kmet simply isn’t getting enough volume to be relevant for fantasy football. He can be dropped to your league’s waiver wire.

Las Vegas: After seeing 19 targets in week one, Darren Waller just finally totaled enough targets over the past three games to eclipse that number from week one. Waller has seen 21 targets over the past three weeks and he’s brought a safe floor, but the upside hasn’t been as high as what fantasy managers were expecting. He was able to find the end zone this past week and he’s now the TE2 on the entire season, only behind Travis Kelce. The Bears have clamped down on opposing TEs so far this year, but Waller’s too consistent of a fantasy option to let that sway us when setting our lineups. Waller’s a locked-in top-5 option for this one.

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Cleveland Browns vs Los Angeles Chargers

Date/Time: Sunday October 10, 4:25pm ET
BettingPros Consensus Spread: Chargers – 2.5
BettingPros Consensus Over/Under: 47 points
Implied Vegas point totals
: Chargers 24.75, Browns 22.25

Cleveland Browns

POS NAME COMP/ATT PASS YDS TDs INTs RUSH YDS TDs FPTS
QB Baker Mayfield 22/33 252 1.7 0.55 14 0.2 18
POS NAME CARRIES RUSH YDS TDs RECS REC YDS TDs FPTS
RB Nick Chubb 18 99 0.8 1 10 0.1 17.08
RB Kareem Hunt 9 46 0.5 5 43 0.15 15.14
POS NAME CARRIES RUSH YDS TDs RECS REC YDS TDs FPTS
WR Odell Beckham Jr. 0 0 0 4 62 0.6 11.85
WR Rashard Higgins 0 0 0 3 42 0.2 6.74
WR Anthony Schwartz 0 0 0 2 29 0.1 4.34
POS NAME CARRIES RUSH YDS TDs RECS REC YDS TDs FPTS
TE Austin Hooper 0 0 0 3 28 0.3 6.24

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Los Angeles Chargers

POS NAME COMP/ATT PASS YDS TDs INTs RUSH YDS TDs FPTS
QB Justin Herbert 26/38 275 2.7 0.8 17 0.2 23
POS NAME CARRIES RUSH YDS TDs RECS REC YDS TDs FPTS
RB Austin Ekeler 12 56 0.5 5 43 0.35 17.74
RB Larry Rountree III 6 18 0.2 0 0 0 3
POS NAME CARRIES RUSH YDS TDs RECS REC YDS TDs FPTS
WR Keenan Allen 0 0 0 7 70 0.65 14.29
WR Mike Williams 0 0 0 5 73 0.6 13.6
WR Jalen Guyton 0 0 0 1 23 0.3 4.82
POS NAME CARRIES RUSH YDS TDs RECS REC YDS TDs FPTS
TE Jared Cook 0 0 0 3 36 0.6 8.88

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Quarterback

Cleveland: Things did not exactly go the way that Baker Mayfield wanted them to go this past weekend. Mayfield finished with just a 45.5% completion rate, 155 passing yards, and zero touchdowns. He routinely missed Odell Beckham Jr. for big gains and simply just couldn’t hit his receivers in stride all game long. Now up against the Chargers defense that is allowing just 207 passing yards per game and only 15.8 fantasy points per contest, Mayfield’s merely just a low-end QB2.

Los Angeles: Justin Herbert got off to a slow(ish) start this season, but that is certainly no longer the case as he is now playing like a man on a mission. Over the last two weeks, Herbert has thrown for 503 yards and seven touchdowns to just zero interceptions. He’s taken advantage of some plus matchups and he’s delivered in a big way for fantasy football lineups. With that being said, Herbert might have his hands full this week against the Cleveland Browns defense that is currently 3rd in Football Outsiders’ Total DVOA. The Browns are allowing just 208.8 passing yards per game so far and only 1.5 passing touchdowns per contest. We could see Herbert continue to play lights out, but the likelihood of that happening in this tough matchup is slim. He’s still worth starting as a low-end QB1, but we need to adjust our expectations for him heading into this week.

Running Backs

Cleveland: Nick Chubb continues to provide one of the highest floors in all of fantasy football with his workload and efficiency. Through four weeks, Chubb is now averaging 17.25 rush attempts, 90.5 rushing yards, and .75 touchdowns per game. While fantasy managers were frustrated that Hunt got the goal-line work last week and cashed in, it’s still worth appreciating what Chubb is doing on the field. In a matchup against the Chargers that is allowing 114.2 rushing yards per game to opposing RBs, Chubb should be in line for another monstrous yardage day. If he can break away for a touchdown, that’s simply just icing on the cake. Play him this week as a mid-range/low-end RB1. Kareem Hunt is now starting to come alive this season in this Browns offense and he’s producing in a big way for fantasy football. Hunt is now currently on pace for 182.75 rush attempts, 994.5 rushing yards, and 12.75 rushing touchdowns. Additionally, he’s also on pace to add 51 receptions for 514.25 receiving yards and zero touchdowns through the air. In an RB landscape that is continuously losing top pieces to injury or seeing players that were supposedly considered safe drop-off, Hunt has remained extremely steady and he’s now moved into locked-in RB2 territory. In this matchup against the Chargers, Hunt should continue to see plenty of work and there’s plenty of evidence to suggest that both Hunt and Chubb could find the end zone this week. He can be viewed as a mid-range/low-end RB2 this week.

Los Angeles: Do you remember when Austin Ekeler was just a pass-catching option out of the backfield for the Chargers? While that’s underselling what he did quite a bit, he certainly was not known as a player that would wear down a defense with his work on the ground or even someone that was featured in the red zone. In 10 games last season, Ekeler had only 18 red zone rush attempts on the year. Through four weeks of 2021, Ekeler is already up to 12 attempts inside the 20-yard line. He’s continuing to produce at a very high level for fantasy rosters and there’s very little reason why we shouldn’t be talking about Ekeler as a top-5 RB for the rest of the season. This matchup against Cleveland is daunting for opposing RBs, but Ekeler’s producing at such a high level currently that it’s not worth downgrading him in the slightest. He can be viewed as a mid-range RB1 this week.

Wide Receivers

Cleveland: Odell Beckham Jr. saw a 22.6% target share in week four, but it only resulted in two receptions for 27 yards. However, Beckham was let down by his QB on multiple occasions last week where he should have either a touchdown or a big play, only to see the ball miss the mark by several yards. It’s discouraging to see fantasy points left on the field like that, but those types of instances are unlikely to continue week after week, especially for someone with Baker’s reputation as an accurate passer. This matchup against the Chargers isn’t the greatest for opposing WRs as they’re currently 4th in Football Outsiders’ Pass DVOA, but OBJ should see enough work in this one to at least return high-end WR3 production. Rashard Higgins took advantage of an increased role last week and he should remain involved enough in this one to be a safe option for desperate fantasy managers, but the matchup signals that we shouldn’t be putting our trust in Higgins just yet for our starting lineups.

Los Angeles: Keenan Allen just continues to roll with his absurd target share in this Chargers offense. Allen is averaging 11 targets per game so far this year and he’s providing one of the safest floors in fantasy football as a result. While his production took a bit of a dip last week against the Raiders – seven receptions for 36 yards on 11 targets – there’s no reason to be concerned moving forward. He’s still worth starting every single week as a low-end WR1/high-end WR2 simply because of his guaranteed workload. Combine that with his talent level and the upside is always going to be there. Mike Williams had finally done enough throughout the first three weeks of the season for me to buy in and start ranking him as a top-10 WR. All the evidence was there to suggest that Williams was safe to rank very highly moving forward as he was the WR2 in all of fantasy football through the first three games, but where did he finish as soon as I ranked him inside my top-10? WR104 on the week. Last week hurt fantasy managers in a big way that were buying into the production just like I was, but there’s very little to suggest that we need to shy away from Williams in our starting lineups moving forward. Players have these fluke performances from time to time and Williams was wide open for a big play on Monday night, but Herbert overthrew him by a hair. The Browns are not an easy matchup for opposing WRs, but the volume should bounce back enough for Williams to be viewed as a mid-range WR2. With that being said, we’ll need to watch this game closely to see where Williams ends up in rankings for future weeks.

Tight Ends

Cleveland: Austin Hooper saw five targets in week four against the Vikings, but he was only able to reel in one of those targets for 11 yards. At this point, Hooper falls into the same territory as so many other TEs. If he scores a touchdown, you’ll be happy you started him. If he doesn’t, you’re going to be left with essentially zero points from your TE spot.

Los Angeles: Jared Cook has quietly been one of the better fantasy football TEs through the first four weeks of the season. While his numbers were lower in weeks two and three, it’s important to remember that he had a touchdown that was called back due to an illegal shift in one of those games. If that touchdown had stood, we would have a very different perception of Cook in our minds moving forward. After a 6-70-1 performance on Monday Night Football, Cook belongs in starting lineups this week as a low-end TE1/high-end TE2. There’s the possibility that we could see the target share balance back towards Williams a little bit, but the upside is absolutely there. At the TE position, that’s what we need and Cook brings plenty of it.

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