(Each week, the Sunday Study Session will feature a quick-hit look at our top fantasy football advice of the week to help you prepare for that week’s fantasy slate, as well as links to our full writeups. For last-minute research and prep, this is the place.)
The point has been made several times this week, so I’ll just add my commentary to the pile: There are 12 afternoon games on Sunday. They are broken down with 10 early-afternoon games and two in the late afternoon. And while I understand the rationale there — most of this week’s Sunday games are in the Central or Eastern time zones, Green Bay/Dallas is a marquee matchup they don’t want to have a lot of competition for, etc. — it stinks.
An 8:4 or 7:5 balance would be great, if of course not always practical. But I would still like to reiterate my desire, just once, for the NFL to do a reverse Sunday — three or four games in the 1 p.m. block, then eight or so games in the late afternoon. Heck, make it a promotion, call it Reverse Day or something. I know the NFL has decided that the current setup is best, and they are probably right, but imagine easing into your Sunday football, crescendoing with a huge slate of down-to-the-wire games at 7, 7:30, and fading off with a prime Sunday night game.
I don’t think it would be a great schedule every week. But I would love to see it once.
Season-long league advice
These are the pieces that will help you build your roster and set your lineup each week. On Tuesday, Jeff Ratcliffe breaks down the best waiver claims of the week, while Scott Barrett breaks down the streaming defense candidates and Lee Sifford picks out streaming quarterbacks. Daniel Kelley looks at the players to drop. Wednesday is Jeff’s top 150 flex rankings, Daniel’s peek at the best and worst matchups of the week, and Scott’s Expected Fantasy Points metric. There’s also the indispensable trade value chart. Thursday, Daniel returns with his weekly sleepers and busts, while Scott Barrett breaks down the key start and the sits of the week. And finally, Jeff is back Friday with his weekly focus, taking a full look at the whole weekly slate from every angle.
For most of these pieces, we’ll pull a blurb to highlight and offer up a key takeaway. For this piece, though? It’s worth a full read. Beginning to end, Jeff brings the crucial info.
17.Amari Cooper, DAL vs GB (WR7) — This isn’t the best matchup for Cooper, but he’s an every-week top-10 option.
18.Chris Godwin, TB @ NO (WR8) — Godwin enters the week third among wide receivers in fantasy scoring.
19.Mike Evans, TB @ NO (WR9) — While Godwin has pulled ahead of Evans in rankings, we still like Evans as a top-10 play following last week’s offensive explosion from the Bucs.
20.Leonard Fournette, JAC @ CAR (RB10) — Fournette rewarded patient fantasy owners last week and will see another healthy workload in this contest.
START Allen Robinson in medium-sized leagues: Oakland is giving up the eighth-most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers and the most fantasy points to receivers on deep passes. Robinson leads the team and ranks ninth among receivers in deep targets per game (2.25). Last week, Robinson was Chase Daniel’s most targeted receiver, drawing seven of 30 attempts (23%).
START Chris Thompson in deep leagues: Through four games, Thompson is averaging 4.0 carries, 7.0 targets, and 74.3 yards per game. Like in each of Washington’s first four games, he’ll benefit from negative gamescript this week, and massively so, as 15.5-point underdogs against the Patriots.
SIT Ronald Jones in shallow leagues: Jones now, perhaps somewhat shockingly, ranks as our single-highest-graded running back. That’s all fine and good, but he’s seen just three targets all year. That means he’s too risky to start this week, up against a New Orleans Saints defense that ranks best in rushing fantasy points per game allowed over the past two seasons.
SIT Baker Mayfield in medium-sized leagues: Through four games, Mayfield ranks just 28th in fantasy points per game and 31st in passer rating. He’s a risky start this week, against a quietly great San Francisco defense. Their defense ranks fourth-best in PFF grade and third-best in opposing passer rating.
SLEEPER: Jeff Wilson Jr.: Tevin Coleman’s presumed return could complicate matters, but it looks like Wilson has carved out a clear scoring-opportunity role in this offense. Of Wilson’s 18 carries so far, 13 (72.2%) have come in the red zone, scoring on four of them. That’s more than twice the percentage of any other back in the league with at least 10 carries.
BUST: Darren Waller: As electric as the first four weeks of Waller’s season has been, he’s still without a touchdown. And that’s not just bad luck, as he’s gotten only three red-zone targets (none in the end zone).
BEST: Michael Thomas: The breakout Week 4 performances of Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods were extremely predictable, in large part because the slot is easily the best area to attack the Buccaneers, namely M.J. Stewart. Well, Thomas led the league in slot yards per route run in 2017 (3.63), did it again in 2018 (3.63 again), and is second this year (3.89), putting him at 3.66, putting him almost a full yard ahead of the second-best slot receiver in that time. Giddy up.
WORST: Corey Davis: Davis only has five touchdowns in his two-plus years in the league (itself pretty damning). They came against the Eagles, Patriots, Texans, and Jets (last year) and the Falcons (Week 4). Of that group, only the Patriots had anything approximating a strong group of cornerbacks. Davis is very cornerback-sensitive, and he will likely draw some combination of Tre’Davious White and Levi Wallace Sunday, making him a stayaway.
ADD Golden Tate in shallow leagues: The Giants get Tate back from suspension this week. Don’t get too carried away with him, but Tate is a WR4 option going forward.
ADD Chase Edmonds in medium-sized leagues: The Cardinals back looked good as a runner in Week 4. While his role is somewhat limited right now, Edmunds offers big time handcuff value.
ADD Dawson Knox in deep leagues: Knox has seized his opportunity on the Bills depth chart and has produced in each of the last two weeks.
Duke Johnson/Carlos Hyde: Hyde is getting the carries between these two, but he’s not doing a lot with them and has basically no receiving value. And Johnson isn’t contributing enough as a receiver either, averaging just 3.3 targets and 2.0 receptions a game. They’ve combined for one touchdown across all four weeks and barely 16.0 PPR points a game.
Justin Jackson: Jackson got off to an excellent start in his second year before missing Week 4 to injury, averaging 4.8 yards after contact per attempt on 18 carries. And it’s moot, because Melvin Gordon’s return renders Jackson an afterthought.
San Francisco 49ers: San Francisco is more than just a defense to stream this week — this could be an every-week starting defense moving forward, thanks in part due to a massively improved defensive line following the arrivals of Nick Bosa and Dee Ford. San Francisco’s defense ranks third-best in fantasy points per game and fourth-best in PFF grade, and is well rested coming off of the bye, while Cleveland ranks third-worst in fantasy points allowed (12.3).
Daniel Jones: Through his first two weeks at the helm of the New York offense, Jones has looked the part of a starting NFL quarterback. With 0.62 fantasy points per dropback, Jones is tied for fourth over the past two weeks and could even see that number go up with the return of Golden Tate.
John Brown: Somewhat shockingly, Brown ranks sixth among wide receivers in XFP per game (16.5). If Josh Allen returns this week, he’d be an ideal DFS tournament play, ranking 13th in targets per game, third in air yards per game (136.8), and third in deep targets per game (2.5).
Leonard Fournette UNDER 30.5 receiving yards: This is a healthy line right here. Fournette has been one of the rare three-down backs in the league this season, but he’s only once topped this line. Our numbers like the under with Fournette projected at 26.9 receiving yards.
Scott Barrett’s DFS Focus piece will highlight all the key daily fantasy tips and tricks from one of the industry’s best, but that isn’t all, as our team tackles the main DFS slate from every angle.
CHALK: Jameis Winston: Winston has been on fire the past two weeks, and people may chase the points here. He went over 380 yards and 3 TDs in both games and is facing a Saints defense that did struggle a lot against QBs in the first three weeks.
Ravens vs. Steelers: The Steelers’ coverage unit is allowing serious production to slot receivers – 58 targets (third most), 83% catch rate (third), 637 yards (second), 11.0 yards per attempt (fourth), four touchdowns (fifth), 14 explosive plays of 15-plus yards (third), and a 128.2 passer rating (fourth). Marquise Brown (36% slot snap rate) has a bona fide chance to bust a big play in a cushy matchup against the Steelers.
Chase Daniel, QB, Chicago Bears: This play is solely about cost and opportunity. Per PFF grades, the Raiders have the 29th-ranked pass coverage and the 26th-ranked pass-rush, and the Bears have enough weapons that Daniel could have a big day Sunday. On top of that, we graded his passing at 88.4 last week in relief.
Calvin Ridley, WR, Atlanta Falcons: Ridley has laid two duds in a row, and his price reflects that. Ridley has just four catches for 38 yards the last two weeks and needs to get back on track here. The Texans are ranked 27th in coverage. If Ridley finds his way back toward his performances in the season’s first two games, he can be a steal for you this weekend.
Andy Dalton, QB, Cincinnati Bengals: After Dalton’s disastrous Week 4 performance, he’s likely to be lightly owned this week (check out DFS ownership projections). But even with that awful game, Dalton still ranks top 10 in the league in dropbacks, pass attempts, completions, and passing yards. The good pace should help him as well.
Jimmy Graham, TE, Green Bay Packers: Graham’s getting plenty of red-zone and end-zone looks so far this year, and with Davante Adams out Sunday, he’ll see even more. You aren’t counting on much in the way of yardage from Graham, but there might be no tight end more likely to find a touchdown.
Le’Veon Bell, RB, New York Jets: An expensive running back facing the Eagles is a dicey enough proposition given the success that team has had shutting down opposing running games. Bell was going to be a scary play even with Sam Darnold back and at full strength. The fact that he’ll have Luke Falk as his quarterback again just cements that there is no way you should consider Bell.
Courtland Sutton, WR, Denver Broncos: On the whole, the Chargers aren’t a terrifying defense for wide receivers — they’re almost exactly middle of the pack in PPR points per game allowed to the position. But the beauty of the WR/CB matchup chart is that we can dive deeper on the matchups. Sutton is almost certain to be shadowed by Casey Hayward in this game, which is one of the worst possible matchups.