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Each week the Noise highlights under-started names who he believes are destined to torch the competition. To qualify, each player must be started in fewer than 60 percent of Yahoo! leagues. Speaking as an accountability advocate, I will post results, whether genius or moronic, the following week (Scoring thresholds – QB: 18 fpts, RB: 12 fpts, WR: 11 fpts: TE: 10 fpts; .5 PPR). If you’re a member of TEAM HUEVOS, reveal your Week 5 Flames in the comments section below.
Alex Smith, QB, Was (7% started; Yahoo DFS: $29)
Matchup: at NO
Vegas line/total: NO -6.5, 52
Fall is the best season of the year. It’s undebatable. Colorful, crisp and festive, it checks every box imaginable. The best part: the release of Trader Joe’s seasonal “Fearless Flyer.” Loaded with brilliant product descriptions determined to widen eyes and growl stomachs, its illustrations of deliciousness are a must read. When an illuminated green “vs. NO” sits next to your quarterback, an identical appetite is conjured. The Saints are THE most scrumptious matchup for fantasy purposes. Marshon Lattimore and Co. have become a turnstile on defense. New Orleans has conceded 9.6 yards per attempt, 323.0 pass yards per game, 2.8 pass touchdowns per game and the fourth-most fantasy points to the position. Slot corner P.J. Williams, manhandled by Sterling Shepard last Sunday, and fellow DB Ken Crawley have allowed a perfect passer rating (158.3) and 2.54 yards per snap to their assignments combined. Smith, overshadowed by former KC understudy Patrick Mahomes and others, is quietly stringing together a quality campaign. Yes, he ranks QB18 in fantasy points per game, but his top-10 standing in adjusted air yards per attempt (7.9), red-zone completion percentage and play-action completion percentage arrow to future statistical wealth. His receivers need to generate more breathing room (No. 24 in separation yards per route), but given the matchup, manufacturing space won’t be a problem. Play the probabilities. Smith finishes top-10 in Week 5.
Fearless Forecast: 294 passing yards, 3 passing touchdowns, 0 interceptions, 19 rushing yards, 25.7 fantasy points
Kerryon Johnson, Det, RB (41% started; Yahoo DFS: $19)
Matchup: vs. GB
Vegas line/total: GB -1, 50.5
Truck stick. De-cleat. Roller pinned. Whatever phrase you want to apply to Kerryon’s flattening of Dallas tackling dummy, Jeff Heath, it was a public embarrassment. Off tallying the Lions’ first 100-yard rushing effort since 2013 and a respectable 55-1 total against a stingy Cowboys D, Johnson is a fantasy talent in full bloom. His decisiveness on downhill runs, escapability and plus-versatility are calling cards. He’s a complete running back who should command 15 or more touches each week. Jim Bob Cooter and Matt Patricia’s infatuation with LeGarratte Blount needs to dissipate. Johnson, who ranks top-13 in YAC/att (2.89) and top-20 in elusive rating, has earned the lion’s share. This week, in a divisional matchup against Aaron Rodgers and the Packers, expect the scales to tip. Green Bay bottled up Buffalo without much exertion last Sunday. However, their true colors were revealed in previous matchups against Chicago and Washington. On the year, the Packers have yielded 4.77 yards per carry, 115.0 total yards per game, two total touchdowns and the 11th-fewest fantasy points to tugboats. Bend, don’t break. However, under the microscope, only Kenny Clark and Nick Perry have earned positive run defense grades according to Pro Football Focus; as a whole, they’re very beatable. Detroit’s defense is woeful, but whether the game script flows positively or negatively, bank on Johnson carving out of a fantasy-useful role. When the dust settles come Monday, a top-12 finish shouldn’t shock anyone. Start him with supreme confidence.
Fearless Forecast: 12 carries, 66 rushing yards, 3 receptions, 21 receiving yards, 1 touchdown, 16.2 fantasy points
Dion Lewis, RB, Ten (40% started; Yahoo DFS: $16)
Matchup: at Buf
Vegas line/total: Ten -3.5, 39
Diminutive in stature and fiercely competitive, Lewis is a backfield bulldog. Derrick Henry, the Great Dane of Tennessee, may dwarf him in size, but this week expect his half-pint partner to dole out the punishment. Lewis, ranked highly this preseason by a throng of fantasy “experts” including this dunderhead, has waded in mediocrity, at least on the surface. His 10.22 fantasy points per game scored in .5 PPR ranks RB30. Beneath the surface, however, he’s the same deceptively powerful and evasive RB from his New England days. He’s forced a missed tackle 26 percent of the time (RB4) while gaining 2.7 yards after initial contact (RB11). In other words, point the finger at Tennessee’s early season inconsistency at quarterback. With Marcus Mariota starting to resemble his old self and blessed with a favorable matchup, Lewis is worth heavy debate at RB2. The Bills have yielded 3.96 yards per carry, 132.8 total yards per game, seven total touchdowns and the seventh-most fantasy points to RBs. When weighing their defensive backfield strength and susceptibility in short-field coverage (7.3 receptions allowed to RBs), Lewis should be an active and willing participant in the pass game. Henry does hold a 16-8 red-zone touch advantage over the complement, but it’s entirely possible both find the end zone in Week 5. Corey Davis’ heroics last week may have finally galvanized Tennessee.
Fearless Forecast: 10 carries, 38 rushing yards, 6 receptions, 64 receiving yards, 1 touchdown, 19.2 fantasy points
Josh Gordon, NE, WR (31% started; Yahoo DFS: $16)
Matchup: vs. Ind
Vegas line/total: NE -10, 53
Two months ago while held confined on an airplane for six hours, adult beverages flowed and fingers tapped at the laptop keyboard. What resulted was 1,400 well-researched words on why I believed Gordon was destined for fantasy redemption. It was an eye-catching hook supported with ample evidence. Much has changed since publishing my stance. No longer a Cleveland Brown, the WR has undergone many reevaluations in owner minds. Will he ever pay off? Confidence remains high in some. It’s waned in others. Ever the eternal optimist, I’m with the former group. Activated for the first time last week as a Patriot, Gordon provided a sneak peek of his immense promise. He only played on 22 percent of the snaps, but he caught both of his intended passes for 32 yards, one nearly stretching to the goal-line. Praised by New England coaches for his work ethic and quick playbook absorption, his role is bound to increase moving forward. With Julian Edelman back in the fold and Rob Gronkowski ailing (ankle), he should draw more premium coverage Thursday night against a below average Colts pass defense. Indy ranks No. 10 in fewest fantasy points allowed to WRs, but it’s conceded 7.6 pass yards per attempt. Likely to clash most often with Nate Hairston (76.9 catch%, 115.2 passer rating allowed) in coverage, Gordon should use his size, strength and speed to convert on a couple of explosive pass plays. The breakout is coming…
Fearless Forecast: 4 receptions, 62 receiving yards, 1 touchdown, 14.2 fantasy points
Dede Westbrook, Jax, WR (4% started; Yahoo DFS: $18)
Matchup: at KC
Vegas line/total: KC -3, 49
Midsummer during the National Fantasy Football convention in Fort Worth, Tex., my podcast partner Brandon Funston and I were privileged to interview Westbrook. He talked about his compelling Oklahoma recruitment, upbringing in Waco and unwavering opinions regarding Blue Bell vs. Braum’s ice cream. Naturally, we also talked pigskin strategy — specifically Nathaniel Hackett’s desire to attack defenses downfield more aggressively. Outside of the Titans field-goal fest, the offensive coordinator’s wish has been granted. Keelan Cole, Donte Moncrief and the former Heisman finalist have all chipped in meaningful numbers. Guessing who profits most is a spin on the roulette wheel week-to-week, but this Sunday, placing your bets on No. 12 is advisable. So far this season, the second-year wideout has enticed 18.7 percent of the target share, ranking inside the top-17 in yards after catch, yards per target and target separation. Against a slumbering KC secondary, he could easily meet or exceed his 9-7-89-0 line from Week 4. The Chiefs have given up 7.9 pass yards per attempt and the 16th-most fantasy points to wide receivers. Mining data, Westbrook’s most likely slot matchup, Kendall Fuller, has surrendered a 101.8 passer rating and 68.0 catch percentage to his assignments. In a contest where Blake Bortles could resemble the high-flying passer from the New England game, Westbrook is a certifiable WR3 in 12-team and deeper formats. Mike Evans and Allen Robinson owners looking for a one-week solution should strongly debate his merits.
Fearless Forecast: 5 receptions, 80 receiving yards, 1 touchdown, 16.5 fantasy points
WEEK 5 SHOCKER SPECIAL (Under 10% started)
Michael Gallup, Dal, WR (1% started; Yahoo DFS: $10)
Matchup: at Hou
Vegas line/total: Hou -3.5, 45
Decisive. Clean route technician. Confident. Sure-handed. Comfortable outside the numbers. These were the descriptions yours truly scribbled when scouting the Colorado State product for last April’s NFL Draft. Outside of Courtland Sutton, Gallup was my second-favorite receiving prospect. Dallas’ target-availability combined with his skill set pointed to noteworthy fantasy production. Of course, with the Cowboys offense resembling more Jeff Fisher-era than current Rams — Jerry Jones was obviously boofing when he compared his inferior roster to L.A.’s — it hasn’t materialized yet for the youngster. Calvin Ridley is far and away the rookie WR pacesetter. This week, though, presents a terrific opportunity. Gallup provided a glimpse of his potential last week against Detroit. On a season-high 40 snaps, he caught 2-of-5 targets for 42 yards. Currently WR24 in average target distance (13.6) according to Player Profiler, he could stretch the limits Sunday night versus Houston. The Texans, picked to pieces vertically, have given up 7.7 pass yards per attempt and a 70.1 catch percentage to WRs. Expected to see a mixture of Jonathan Joseph (106.9 passer rating allowed) and Shareece Wright (113.3) in coverage, Gallup is a candidate to spring loose.
Fearless Forecast: 3 receptions, 67 receiving yards, 1 touchdown, 13.2 fantasy points
BONUS WEEK 5 FLAMES (Under 50% started)
RB: Chris Thompson, Was (at NO; $15) – The scatback has more total targets than notable wide receivers DeSean Jackson, Calvin Ridley and Kenny Stills…in one fewer game. He and Smith’s short-arm go together like tater tots and my mouth. Thompson is a highly recommended Week 5 play whether in standard or PPR. The Saints’ stiffness up front should occasionally lead Smith to nickel and dime the defense underneath. CT, No. 9 in fantasy points per opportunity, cracks the top-15. (FF: 5 atts, 18 yds, 7 recs, 70 yds, td, 18.3 fantasy points)
RB: Nyheim Hines, Ind (at NE; $22) – Andrew Luck likes short-field routes as much as a certain public figure does beer, from what I’ve heard. To be fair, he showed excellent zip on several intermediate passes in last week’s shootout versus Houston. However, Luck’s dink-and-dunk tendencies and matchup against a New England defense that’s allowed a 6.8 YPA suggest Hines, off an 11-target game, thrives. (FF: 4 atts, 12 yds, 6 recs, 54 yards, td, 15.6 fpts)
WR: Nelson Agholor, Phi (vs. Min; $18) – His 8.4 aDOT and WR62 standing in air yards are unsightly, but netting 23.1 percent of the target share, Agholor remains in the WR3 conversation, especially this week. Defensively, the Vikes have left their weapons on the kitchen table. Uncharacteristically, they’ve given up 9.3 pass yards per attempt and 11th-most fantasy points to WRs. He’s a problem for slot corner McKenzie Alexander (115.0 passer rating allowed). (FF: 6 recs, 59 yds, td, 14.9 fpts)
TE: Vance McDonald, Pit (vs. Atl; $15) – Wicked stiff arms. Barrelling upfield turns after the catch. Reliable hands. McDonald is starting to deliver on his TE1 promise. His 13.3 yards per target and growing target share should push him past the 60-yard mark for the third straight week. Atlanta’s glaring faults underneath only increase the chance it occurs. (FF: 4 recs, 66 yds, td, 14.6 fpts)
DST: Cincinnati Bengals (vs. Mia; $13) – No, I have not lost my marbles, at least completely. The Bengals are an above average plug ‘n play against a unimaginative Miami offense sputtering after last week’s humbling effort in Foxboro. The Dolphins have surrendered only eight sacks and six turnovers thus far, but if they don’t establish the run quickly, their predictable offense will get contained by Geno Atkins and cohorts. (FF: 16 PA, 322 YDSA, 3 SCK, 2 TO, 10.0 fpts)
#TEAMHUEVOS PICKS OF THE WEEK
Each week one fortunate guest prognosticator will have a chance to silence the Noise. Following the rules stated above, participants are asked to submit their “Flames” (1 QB, 2 RBs, 2 WRs, 1 TE, 1 D/ST) by midnight PT Tuesdays via Twitter @YahooNoise. How large are your stones?
Readers’ record: 11-19
Brad record: 20-25 (WK4 results (8-3) – W: Baker Mayfield, Aaron Jones, Ito Smith (SS), Royce Freeman, Sterling Shepard, Tyler Boyd, Joe Flacco, Trey Burton; L: Christian Kirk, Mike Williams, LA Chargers D/ST; DNP: Chris Carson)
Want to bull rush Brad? Follow him on Twitter @YahooNoise. Also check out his TV show, “The Fantasy Football Hour,” now available in 91 million households on various regional sports networks, and his award-nominated podcast, “The Fantasy Record.”