We have an excellent 12-game main slate on tap for Week 5 that begins at 1 p.m. ET on Sunday.
This piece will highlight the top NFL DFS players at each position in our FantasyLabs Player Models in terms of their projected ceiling from our award-winning Director of Predictive Analytics, Sean Koerner.
(Do people even read intros?)
Let’s dive in.
Top Model Quarterback Ceiling Projections
Deshaun Watson ($6,700 DraftKings; $8,000 FanDuel)
Watson seemingly makes this column every other week, but this might be the best matchup he’s had all season against a Falcons pass defense that ranks 21st in pass DVOA.
While the Falcons rank sixth in pressure rate this season and Watson tends to take a lot of sacks, he can still compete under pressure just fine, averaging 7.7 yards per attempt with a 109.3 Independent Quarterback Rating (IQR), per Sports Info Solutions. Both marks rank inside the top six in the league.
Additionally, with the exception of Kirk Cousins, the Falcons have allowed at least 20 or more DraftKings points per game to opposing quarterbacks. As Drew Dinkmeyer, Chris Raybon and everyone talked about on this week’s Fantasy Flex podcast, implied team totals correlate well with quarterback scoring, and the Texans are sporting a healthy implied team total of 27 points.
Per our Trends tool, quarterbacks with comparable implied team totals have averaged a +2.02 DraftKings Plus/Minus. Those numbers look even better when you factor in quarterbacks who run the ball. Overall, quarterbacks who’ve averaged at least five rushing attempts per game over the last 12 months have averaged a +2.79 DraftKings Plus/Minus with a 61.5% Consistency Rating.
Watson is a solid play in all formats.
Tom Brady ($6,500 DraftKings; $7,600 FanDuel)
If implied team totals correlate well with quarterback fantasy points, then it’s hard not to at least look at Brady as the Patriots are tied with the Eagles for a slate-high 28.5 points. He’s projected for just 2-4% ownership, which makes sense since he’s priced right behind Watson and more expensive than the likes of Carson Wentz and Dak Prescott.
The Redskins have been abysmal on defense, ranking 27th overall in defensive DVOA and 29th in pass defense DVOA. Additionally, Josh Norman (knee) missed practice on Thursday, so there’s an outside chance he sits this game. Not that it would matter too much for Brady & Co., but it certainly doesn’t hurt.
Given the massive 15-point spread, the primary concern is a lack of back and forth since the Patriots own one of the best defenses in the league. However, that’s one of the main drivers suppressing his ownership.
Brady is a boom-or-bust play because he certainly could struggle to have a ceiling game if they take the ball out of his hands and just let the running game take over.
Top Model RB Ceiling Projections
Christian McCaffrey ($8,700 DraftKings; $9,100 FanDuel)
CMC has been unstoppable this season for the most part. It’s unsurprising to see him atop the ceiling projections considering his massive role in this offense. He’s averaging 27.8 touches per game which leads all other running backs by at least two touches per game.
While McCaffrey is expensive, he’s always worth it because you’re essentially rostering two players for the price of one — CMC the running back, and CMC the receiver with his 7.8 targets per game.
He won’t offer much leverage in tournaments, but you won’t ever hear me recommending a CMC fade.
Joe Mixon ($6,100 DraftKings; $7,100 FanDuel)
At the time of writing, Mixon has a projected ownership of 9-12% on DraftKings and 5-8% on FanDuel, resulting in Leverage Ratings of 63% and 78% with his top-eight ceiling projection on both sites. To gain more leverage on this play, you could just go overweight relative to the field in your lineups. If there weren’t an abundance of elite backs in great spots this week, I would’ve expected his ownership to be higher.
Mixon and the Bengals offense hasn’t looked great this season, but if he were going to have a ceiling game, I’d have to think it comes against an Arizona defense that ranks 24th in rush DVOA, allowing 4.76 yards per carry and 146.5 rushing yards per game.
Furthermore, the Bengals will be at home as three-point favorites, and Mixon will have the benefit of increased play volume against the fast-paced Cardinals team.
Top Model WR Ceiling Projections
Julio Jones ($7,700 DraftKings; $8,200 FanDuel)
Julio checks in with the highest ceiling projection in our models for DraftKings, just edging out DeAndre Hopkins. He’s in consideration almost every week because he brings such a high floor and ceiling to the table, which is what we’re looking for in both cash games and tournaments.
Overall, he leads the Falcons with 31% of their Air Yards along with 21% and 25% of their overall target share and red-zone target share. It should be an exploitable spot for Julio vs. the Texans, considering PFF ranks all of their cornerbacks 63rd or worse. He’s expected to run most of his routes against Lonnie Johnson, who grades out as their 105th “best” cornerback.
Will Fuller ($4,500 DraftKings; $5,700 FanDuel)
Fuller narrowly missed a big week in Week 4 after Watson just overthrew him on what could’ve been a 75-yard touchdown pass. Had that play panned out, I’d think he’d be significantly higher owned this week.
The Falcons haven’t been great against the pass this season, ranking 21st in pass DVOA. Fuller is the clear No. 2 on this team, soaking up 18% of Atlanta’s target share and 29% of its Air Yards, trailing only Hopkins. He’s also tied with Hopkins in targets that are 15-plus yards downfield as they’ve each seen 11 targets from that depth.
Fuller is also intriguing because he has a ceiling projection that ranks in the top 25, but he’s priced as the No. 37 receiver on DraftKings. He’ll always be a hit-or-miss option with Hopkins being the focal point, but the ceiling is there.
Top Model TE Ceiling Projections
Zach Ertz ($6,000 DraftKings; $6,600 FanDuel)
With the Chiefs on the Sunday night game and not on the main slate, Ertz has taken over for Travis Kelce as the tight end with the highest ceiling projection.
Ertz has been disappointing so far, with his best game coming in at 13.20 DraftKings points. However, some touchdown progression should be on the horizon as he hasn’t scored this season, but he leads the Eagles with 25% of their red-zone target share.
Austin Hooper ($4,500 DraftKings; $6,700 FanDuel)
Hooper possesses a top-six ceiling projection on both DraftKings and FanDuel this week. He’s been quietly consistent from a usage standpoint, seeing 19% of their target share and 8.3 targets per game. Both marks rank second on the team, trailing only Julio.
Overall, his 8.3 targets per game are the fourth-highest mark in the league among tight ends and tied with Kelce. He’s seeing the usage of an elite tight end, but his price doesn’t reflect that. Hooper is viable in both cash games and tournaments in Week 5.
Top Model D/ST Ceiling Projections
New England Patriots ($4,300 DraftKings; $5,500 FanDuel)
The Patriots own the highest ceiling projection in our models, but the main drawback is how expensive they are. As a result, they have -2.59 DraftKings Plus/Minus and a -2.0 FanDuel Plus/Minus.
Price not considered, they’re the best play on the board against a Redskins team implied for just 13.5 points. We want to target defenses that can generate sacks and pressure and that’s exactly what the Patriots do. They boast a pressure rate of 31%, and their 10.3% sack rate is the second-highest mark in the league.
Carolina Panthers ($2,600 DraftKings; $4,400 FanDuel)
The Panthers are my favorite defense in all formats. They’re affordable and possess a top-two ceiling projection in our models, along with a solid 2.6 sack projection.
They’ve been excellent this season, sporting a league-best 10.7% sack rate, along with the eighth-highest pressure rate, per Sports Info Solutions. That’s about as simple as it gets.
Pictured above: Tom Brady
Credit: Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports