News & Analysis

Week 5 breakout candidates and potential projection-beaters

By Tyler Loechner
Oct 5, 2017

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PHOENIX, AZ - OCTOBER 1: George Kittle #85 of the San Francisco 49ers runs after making a reception during the game against the Arizona Cardinals at the University of Phoenix Stadium on October 1, 2017 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Cardinals defeated the 49ers 18-15. (Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images)

We have four weeks’ worth of data to base our points per opportunity matchup insights on. This year’s weak spots are starting to shine.

For example: It turns out the Patriots are, indeed, terrible on defense this year. The Seahawks are overrated against the run (so far). The Broncos are still fantastic against the pass, but are now surprisingly the best against the run.

Here is the PPO against data through four weeks:

Below some players that are prime to break out in Week 5, according to the PPO data. (To see individual player PPO scores on a weekly or season-long basis, check out the Fantasy Stats section in our Tools lab.)

Running backs

Le’Veon Bell picked it up in Week 4, and he’ll keep it rolling against the Jaguars in Week 5. Jacksonville has given up an astounding 0.91 PPO on the ground — most in the league by a wide margin. Bell had an absurd 39 touches last week. If he sees anywhere close to that kind of volume again, he could have one of his best games of the year.

Thomas Rawls will supposedly step in as the Seahawks lead back with Chris Carson out for the season. The Rams have been a revelation this year, but they have been friendly to opposing running backs, giving up 0.79 PPO on the ground, second-most in the NFL. Rawls is risky, but if he sees legitimate starter volume, he could rock this week.

Don’t bet against Todd Gurley this week just because he’s going against the Seahawks. Our PPO chart shows that the Seahawks have actually given up 0.71 PPO on the ground, third-most in the league. Running backs have averaged a hefty 5.1 YPC against Seattle this year.

Bilal Powell could be in for another big week. The Browns have actually been relatively stout against running backs on the ground, but they have given up the second-most PPO (0.32) to backs in the air. Powell caught four of five targets last week and was fourth in targets among running backs last year (69).

Wide receivers

Mike Evans is an obvious play on Thursday night, but Adam Humphries could crush as well. The Patriots have given up 0.25 PPO to wideouts this year, fifth-most in the NFL.

On the flip side, all of New England’s primary receivers are must-starts this weekend. The Bucs have given up by far the most PPO to opposing wideouts. You’re starting the usuals — Brandin Cooks and Chris Hogan — but Danny Amendola could work his way up to flex production as well. Amendola saw a healthy seven targets last week on just 36 snaps.

(Both Amendola and Humphries also rank in the top 15 in terms of targets per snap. Neither is a guarantee, obviously, but they are great low-key options this week, especially in PPR leagues.)

The Bears have been sieve-like against wideouts this year, giving up the second-most PPO (0.25) to opposing receivers, second-most in the NFL. I’m willing to fire up Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen regardless of who plays quarterback.

Tyreek Hill has disappointed a few weeks in a row now despite having some great draws, but he gets another chance to shine on Sunday night in Week 5 against the Houston Texans, who have given up the third-most PPO (0.25) to enemy receivers this year. Hill has scored the eighth-most PPO among wideouts this year (0.33).

The Titans (0.24 PPO given up, sixth-most) have been bad against receivers, and this week they face the rollercoaster Miami Dolphins passing attack. DeVante Parker and Jarvis Landry are in play. Yes, they let everyone down last week in the primo spot against the Saints, but at least this game will be played in Miami, not London.

Odell Beckham Jr. should light it up against the Chargers in Week 5. The Chargers have given up 0.25 PPO to enemy receivers, fourth-most in the league. OBJ has been targeted on 20.6 percent of his snaps — most among all wideouts (minimum 50 snaps). He does have a tricky individual matchup with Casey Hayward, who has been playing well this year, but Hayward has given up a middling 1.23 yards per route covered. I like Beckham’s chances.

Tight ends

Be sure to check out our new TE matchup chart!

Austin Seferian-Jenkins gets the best tight end matchup in the NFL this week against the Cleveland Browns, who have surrendered 0.34 PPO to the position, second-worst in the league.

It’s too bad Hunter Henry and Antonio Gates eat into each other so much, but both have a matchup against the Giants, who have given up a league-worst 0.40 PPO to tight ends this year. Gates (13-9-76-1) and Henry (10-9-96-1) have nearly identical stat lines through four weeks. There’s a great chance at least one of these tight ends has a great game. I’d bet on Henry.

The Patriots (0.31 PPO given up, third-most in the league) have been torched by tight ends this year as well. They face Cameron Brate and O.J. Howard on Thursday night. Howard scored his first touchdown of his career last year, but Brate is the better bet to have a huge game in Week 5. Brate has 13 targets to Howard’s eight.

Want a super deep sleeper? San Francisco’s George Kittle draws the Indianapolis Colts this week, who have given up 0.26 PPO to enemy tight ends, sixth-most in the league. Kittle has just 10 catches for 83 yards through four games, but he has run 123 pass routes, good for eighth-most among all tight ends.

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