The Week 5 NFL main slate kicks off on Sunday, Oct. 6, at 1 p.m. ET. In this piece, I highlight the quarterbacks who stand out in our large suite of analytical DFS Tools, most specifically the industry-leading FantasyLabs Models.
Odds as of Wednesday and via PointsBet, where Action Network users get an exclusive 200% deposit match (deposit $50, bet with $150).
Top Quarterbacks in the FantasyLabs Models
There are four quarterbacks atop the individual Pro Models that Jonathan Bales, Peter Jennings (CSURAM88), Adam Levitan, Sean Koerner, Chris Raybon, Kevin McClelland (SportsGeek) and I have constructed.
- Deshaun Watson: $6,700 DraftKings; $8,000 FanDuel
- Carson Wentz: $6,100 DraftKings; $7,800 FanDuel
- Dak Prescott: $6,000 DraftKings; $8,200 FanDuel
- Matt Ryan: $5,900 DraftKings; $7,700 FanDuel
Deshaun Watson: Houston Texans (-5) vs. Atlanta Falcons, 48.5 Over/Under
This year, Watson has been more hot-and-cold than a married couple’s broken shower. In Weeks 1 and 3, he crushed on the road as an underdog. In Weeks 2 and 4, he fell flat at home as a favorite.
- Week 1 (at Saints): 31.7 FanDuel points, 20-of-30 passing for 268 yards, three touchdowns, one interception, 4-40-1 rushing
- Week 2 (vs. Jaguars): 12.9 FanDuel points, 16-of-29 passing for 159 yards, 4-5-1 rushing
- Week 3 (at Chargers): 25.8 FanDuel points, 25-of-34 passing for 351 yards, three touchdowns, 7-18-0 rushing
- Week 4 (vs. Panthers): 11.6 FanDuel points, 21-of-33 passing for 160 yards, 3-12-1 rushing
This week, he is once again a home favorite. Does that mean we should fade him? H-E-L-L to the no.
In the games he struggled, he faced two tough defenses. The divisional rival Jags have held opposing starting quarterbacks to 14.7 FanDuel points with a -1.44 Plus/Minus and 38.2% Consistency Rating in 55 games (including playoffs) since 2016, when the team drafted No. 1 cornerback Jalen Ramsey.
And this year the Panthers have held opponents to a league-low 3.9 net yards per pass attempt.
Watson’s performance in Weeks 2 and 4 had much more to do with matchups than with his status as a home favorite.
And for Week 5, Watson has a good matchup. If you look just at the overall numbers, the Falcons don’t seem to have an exploitable pass defense: They have allowed a middle-of-the-road 19.7 FanDuel points per game to opposing quarterbacks.
But those numbers aren’t fully representative. In Week 1, the Falcons faced a ground-based Vikings offense that ran just 11 pass plays in an easy 28-12 victory. In Week 2, the Eagles passing game imploded as quarterback Carson Wentz, wide receivers Alshon Jeffery and DeSean Jackson and tight end Dallas Goedert all suffered in-game injuries. What happened in those games is meaningless.
But in Weeks 3-4, the Falcons looked bad.
- Jacoby Brissett (Week 3, home): 20.8 FanDuel points, 28-of-37 passing for 310 yards, two touchdowns, 3-4-0 rushing
- Marcus Mariota (Week 4, away): 23.3 FanDuel points, 18-of-27 passing for 227 yards, three touchdowns, 3-22-0 rushing
Keep in mind: Brissett and Mariota are two of the league’s least-inspiring quarterbacks. If they’ve taken it to the Falcons, there’s almost no telling what Watson could do to them.
It especially hurts that the Falcons are without Pro-Bowl strong safety Keanu Neal (Achilles, injured reserve), who suffered a season-ending injury in Week 3. In 2018 — when Neal played just 37 snaps before tearing his ACL and missing the rest of the year — the Falcons allowed a league-high 22.1 FanDuel points per game to quarterbacks.
Watson’s connection has been off with field-stretching wide receiver Will Fuller this year, but he could go off in Week 5. Fuller is likely to match up most with cornerback Isaiah Oliver, who has allowed 195 yards and three touchdowns in his coverage. A larger corner with mediocre speed (4.5-second 40-yard dash), Oliver could struggle to hang with the shifty and explosive Fuller, who is No. 12 in the league with 399 air yards despite having just 23 targets.
If Fuller is able to turn a couple of his deep attempts into touchdowns, he could bestow a massive fantasy day to his quarterback.
In his 27 starts (including playoffs), Watson has exhibited stark Fuller-based passing splits.
- With Fuller (15 games): 24.4 FanDuel points, 31.8 pass attempts, 273.9 yards passing, 2.40 touchdowns passing
- Without Fuller (12 games): 20.6 FanDuel points, 32.0 pass attempts, 235.5 yards passing, 1.25 touchdowns passing
Of any player targeted at least 20 times by Watson in his career, Fuller has gifted his quarterback with the greatest per-attempt efficiency (per the RotoViz AY/A app).
As long as Fuller is on the field, Watson always has a chance to go off.
Wide receiver Kenny Stills (hamstring) is questionable, but slot man Keke Coutee is ready for an increased snap load, and he has a delectable matchup against cornerback Damontae Kazee, who has a 51.3 coverage grade (per Pro Football Focus).
As for DeAndre Hopkins, he has a neutral-to-negative matchup with cornerback Desmond Trufant, but he’s No. 9 with 462 air yards, and the smaller Trufant could struggle against him in contested catches because of his size (6-foot, 190 pounds).
Despite his inconsistent start to the year, Watson is the No. 6 fantasy quarterback with 20.5 FanDuel points per game.
For his career, Watson has averaged 22.7 FanDuel points with a +5.89 Plus/Minus and 74.1% Consistency Rating. Since his 2017 rookie campaign, Watson has been outproduced on a per-game basis by only Patrick Mahomes.
For roster constructions that allow for an expensive passer, Watson is more than viable in cash games and guaranteed prize pools. He will be chalky.
And Watson isn’t even all that expensive on FanDuel, where he leads the position with his ceiling projection and +3.84 Projected Plus/Minus and is the unanimous No. 1 quarterback in our Pro Models.
He’s also the top option at the position in the CSURAM88, Raybon and SportsGeek Models.
Carson Wentz: Philadelphia Eagles (-13.5) vs. New York Jets, 43.5 O/U
It doesn’t feel as if Wentz is lighting the world on fire: He’s No. 21 among all quarterbacks with just 240.8 yards passing per game. His 60.7% completion rate puts him in the ranks of Andy Dalton and Josh Allen.
If you watch him play, at no point in the game do you think, “This guy is really putting it all together.”
And yet he’s the No. 6 fantasy quarterback with 22.2 DraftKings points per game.
He’s had a minimum of two touchdowns every week, and he’s a Konami-lite runner with 13.5 yards rushing per game. As a result, he has scored no fewer than 19.5 DraftKings points in any game this year: He has a tremendously high floor.
And his ceiling is deceptively spacious. Since his 2017 breakout campaign, Wentz has been strong in his 14 games as a home favorite, averaging 22.6 DraftKings points with a +4.91 Plus/Minus and 71.4% Consistency Rating.
On the Week 5 Fantasy Flex pod, Drew Dinkmeyer makes the case for Wentz.
The Jets are coming off the bye, so they should be rested and prepared, but they don’t match up well with the Eagles.
Wide receiver DeSean Jackson (abdomen) is questionable and has missed the past two games, but even without him, the Eagles could soar. Or maybe glide. Ascend? Anyway…
Slot cornerback Brian Poole has been strong in pass defense with his 50% completion rate allowed: He should be able to handle wide receiver Nelson Agholor.
But outside receivers Alshon Jeffery and Mack Hollins have good matchups against Darryl Roberts and Nate Hairston, who respectively own PFF coverage grades of 45.7 and 59.9.
The Jets are just one of two teams (along with the horrid Dolphins) to allow a positive Plus/Minus quarterback performance in each game.
- Josh Allen (Week 1, away): 20.0 DraftKings points, 24-of-37 passing for 254 yards, one touchdown, two interceptions, 10-38-1 rushing
- Baker Mayfield (Week 2, away): 19.0 DraftKings points, 19-of-35 passing for 325 yards, one touchdown, one interception
- Tom Brady (Week 3, home): 23.1 DraftKings points, 28-of-42 passing for 306 yards, two touchdowns, -1 yard rushing
I probably won’t look to Wentz in cash, but he’s intriguing for tournaments: He’s $1,000 cheaper than Lamar Jackson on DraftKings, but he actually has the higher ceiling and floor projections.
Wentz is the No. 1 quarterback in the Freedman Model for DraftKings.
Dak Prescott: Dallas Cowboys (-3.5) vs. Green Bay Packers, 46.5 O/U
I have no idea what to make of this Cowboys team.
After the first three weeks of the season, I was unabashedly smitten with baby-faced offensive coordinator Kellen Moore. For years, the Cowboys have consistently underwhelmed under head coach Jason Garrett, but with Moore guiding the offense, they were aggressive and inventive in Weeks 1-3, blowing teams out instead of playing down to their level.
But in Week 4 they were exposed, scoring just 10 points at the Super Dome — the Coors Field of Fantasy Football! — against a fantasy-friendly Saints defense. They looked exactly like Garrett’s Cowboys of old.
What version of the Cowboys are we going to see in Week 5?
In the Garrett era, the Cowboys have been the league’s most profitable teams to bet against as home favorites, yielding a 29-18-1 record against the spread to opposing investors, good for a 20.9% return on investment (per Bet Labs). That underachieving version of the team is the one I’m worried we’ll be treated to on Sunday.
Here’s the thing: That might not matter.
Dak has been at his best throughout his career as a home favorite.
PSA: Dak Prescott’s career fantasy splits in DK PPG.
Home: 20.3 ✅
Favorite: 21.0 ✅
Home Favorite: 22.6 ✅✅
Cowboys are -3.5 home favorites against Packers this week.
— Matthew Freedman (@MattFtheOracle) October 2, 2019
Dak has an outstanding +5.65 Plus/Minus and 81.8% Consistency Rating on DraftKings as a home favorite. With his pass-catching options and Konami Code rushing ability, Dak always has a good chance to return value when he’s at an advantage.
Despite Dak’s poor Week 4 performance, he is still the No. 4 fantasy quarterback with 24.3 DraftKings points per game this year.
- Week 1 (vs. Giants): 36.4 DraftKings points, 25-of-32 passing for 405 yards, four touchdowns, 4-12-0 rushing
- Week 2 (at Redskins): 28.7 DraftKings points, 26-of-30 passing for 269 yards, three touchdowns, one interception, 5-69-0 rushing
- Week 3 (vs. Dolphins): 23.5 DraftKings points, 19-of-32 passing for 246 yards, two touchdowns, one interception, 2-7-1 rushing
- Week 4 (at Saints): 8.6 DraftKings points, 22-of-33 passing for 223 yards, zero touchdowns, one interception, 1-7-0 rushing
I’m unsure about Dak in cash games: I don’t like that the offense looked so listless last week.The Cowboys seemed to miss wide receiver Michael Gallup (knee) last week, and he’s unlikely to suit up in Week 5.
Plus, the Cowboys will be without Pro-Bowl left tackle Tyron Smith (ankle), and they have significantly underperformed in the Dak era without Smith (including playoffs).
- With Smith (44 games): 24.9 points, 365.5 total yards, 8.6 offensive expected points
- Without Smith (11 games): 18.4 points, 324.7 total yards, -2.7 offensive expected points
On top of that, the Packers are No. 5 with a -24.2% pass-defense DVOA (per Football Outsiders). They have significantly invested in the defense via free agency and the draft over the past two years, and they are now getting the dividend of a vastly improved unit.
The sample is small, but this year they have allowed the second-fewest DraftKings points to opposing quarterbacks with 12.0 per game.
In Weeks 3-4, the Packers used 2018 first-round cornerback Jaire Alexander in shadow coverage, and I expect that he will tail wide receiver Amari Cooper this week. Although Coop probably has the edge in this matchup, his edge is slight. Alexander is in the midst of a breakout campaign: He has a near-elite 88.3 PFF coverage grade, and quarterbacks have a paltry 40.7% completion rate against him.
If Alexander does to Amari what Saints cornerback Marshon Lattimore did last week (4-39-0 receiving on seven targets), the Cowboys offense could struggle. Again, I don’t know about Dak in cash.
But he easily warrants tournament exposure: If Dak leverages his splits and finds his early-season form, he will dominate.
Dak is the No. 1 quarterback in the Bales and Koerner Models for DraftKings, where he has a position-high +3.42 Projected Plus/Minus and 98% Bargain Rating.
Matt Ryan: Atlanta Falcons (+5) at Houston Texans, 48.5 O/U
Ryan is an intriguing tournament option for a few reasons.
First, he’s playing opposite Watson, which will reduce his ownership rate. If they invest in this game, most fantasy players will opt for Watson, not Ryan.
Additionally, Ryan has had clear location-based splits since at least 2014, when wide receiver Julio Jones initiated his current streak of more-or-less complete seasons.
- At home (43 games): 21.4 DraftKings points, +2.21 Plus/Minus, 58.1% Consistency Rating
- On road (44 games): 19.6 DraftKings points, +0.70 Plus/Minus, 45.5% Consistency Rating
DFS players are keenly aware of Ryan’s home/away splits, and if you look at the FantasyLabs Trends tool, you’ll see that they have rostered him accordingly.
- At home (43 games): 9.2% ownership rate
- On road (44 games): 4.5% ownership rate
Facing Watson on the road, Ryan might have an ownership rate of less than 2%.
And that’s far too low for a quarterback of Ryan’s talent.
Since Ryan’s 2016 MVP campaign, he has been one of the top fantasy quarterbacks in the league (minus a regression-filled 2017 season), and his start to the season has been about as good as one might expect.
- Week 1 (at Vikings): 23.6 DraftKings points, 33-of-46 passing for 304 yards, two touchdowns, two interceptions, 2-24-0 rushing
- Week 2 (vs. Eagles): 25.1 DraftKings points, 27-of-43 passing for 320 yards, three touchdowns, three interceptions, 2-3-0 rushing
- Week 3 (at Colts): 26.5 DraftKings points, 29-of-34 passing for 304 yards, three touchdowns, one interception, 2-3-0 rushing
- Week 4 (vs. Titans): 19.7 DraftKings points, 35-of-53 passing for 397 yards, zero touchdowns, 2-18-0 rushing
Ryan has a league-high six interceptions, and that’s concerning, but he usually is not careless with the ball, and he at least is top-eight with 13 end-zone targets, which somewhat counterbalance his turnovers.
Ryan has 4,000-plus yards passing in each season since Jones entered the league in 2011, and he’s always a reasonable bet to get the 300-yard passing bonus on DraftKings: Since Ryan’s transcendent 2016 season, he leads the league with 15,288 yards passing. He also leads the league since 2017 with 10,344 yards, and only Mahomes has more than Ryan’s 6,249 since last year.
This might sound sacrilegious, but when Ryan retires, he might have an all-time top-five passing yardage mark. He’s already No. 11 with 48,045, and he’s not yet 35 years old.
For 2019, Ryan is the No. 5 fantasy quarterback with 23.7 DraftKings points per game. He has hit his salary-based expectations every week and averaged a strong +6.55 Plus/Minus.
He has a good matchup against the Texans, who are No. 27 with a 51.4 PFF coverage grade. In their two games against quarterbacks of the non-Gardner Minshew/Kyle Allen variety, they have been exploitable.
- Drew Brees (Week 1, home): 24.8 DraftKings points, 32-of-43 passing for 370 yards, two touchdowns, one interception
- Philip Rivers (Week 3, home): 23.6 DraftKings points, 31-of-46 passing for 318 yards, two touchdowns, 2-9-0 rushing
For most of the game, I expect All-Pro wide receiver Julio Jones to be matched up with rookie cornerback Lonnie Johnson Jr., who has one of the league’s worst PFF coverage grades at 32.5.
I have one ironclad fantasy rule. Just one. Whenever Julio is going up against a rookie corner named Lonnie, I roster Ryan in GPPs.
And if you thought about Ryan in cash games, I wouldn’t hate it. Ryan is cheap, he has an advantageous matchup and he and his offense have been fairly stable on a week-to-week basis.
And he has one of the league’s best pass-catching quartets in Julio, wide receivers Calvin Ridley and Mohamed Sanu and tight end Austin Hooper.
Ryan leads the NFL with 176 pass attempts, and he also leads the slate with 1,519 air yards (per AirYards.com).
In a game that could shoot out with a pass-heavy game script, Ryan stands out, especially on DraftKings, where he has an 83% Bargain Rating and is the No. 1 quarterback in the Levitan Model.
Upside Quarterbacks for Guaranteed Prize Pools
Lamar Jackson, Baltimore Ravens ($7,100 DK, $8,300 FD): L-Jax is No. 1 with 29.6 DraftKings and 28.1 FanDuel points per game. He leads all quarterbacks with 238 yards rushing and is No. 4 with 10.2 air yards per attempt (per Next Gen Stats). He has position-high median projections in our Models.
Tom Brady, New England Patriots ($6,600 DK, $7,800 FD): Brady is coming off a brutal 150-yard, zero-touchdown performance, but the Patriots have a slate-high 28.75-point implied Vegas total. The Redskins are No. 29 with a 31.6% pass-defense DVOA. Brady leads all quarterbacks with his floor projection on FanDuel, where he has a position-high 67% Bargain Rating.
Kyler Murray, Arizona Cardinals ($6,300 DK, $7,400 FD): Hope lingers. Kyler is the No. 11 fantasy quarterback with 20.5 DraftKings points per game. He seems likely to be without wide receivers Christian Kirk (leg) and Damiere Byrd (hamstring), but the Bengals are No. 31 with a doleful 37.5 PFF coverage grade. Kyler has hit salary-based expectations in each game.
Jameis Winston, Tampa Bay Buccaneers ($6,200 DK, $7,600 FD): Jameis was the No. 1 fantasy quarterback last week with 33.3 DraftKings points. Wide receivers Mike Evans and Chris Godwin have potentially exploitable matchups against cornerbacks Marshon Lattimore and P.J. Williams. The Saints are No. 26 with a 24.4% pass-defense DVOA.
Andy Dalton, Cincinnati Bengals ($5,700 DK, $7,500 FD): Dalton was every bit as bad last week as his 5.6 DraftKings points suggest he was. The Bengals are No. 29 with a 49.5 PFF pass-blocking grade, and that seems generous. But he will have reduced ownership after his Week 4 ignominy, and the Cardinals have allowed the second-most DraftKings points to opposing quarterbacks with 26.3 per game.
Kirk Cousins, Minnesota Vikings ($5,300 DK, $6,800 FD): The Vikings have an aggressive 50.6% run rate under offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski, so they might rely on the ground attack as road favorites. But the Giants are No. 30 with a 47.0 PFF coverage grade, and wide receivers Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs are squeaky wheels in need of grease.
FantasyLabs Positional Breakdowns
For more in-depth NFL analysis information, check out The Action Network.
Pictured above: Deshaun Watson
Photo credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports