FanDuel NFL Bargain Bin – Week 5
It’s Week 5 in the NFL and player prices on FanDuel are becoming more and more reflective of the on-field performances shown through the season’s first quarter. With enough data in the books it’s getting harder to find truly undervalued players, especially with four teams on bye this week. Thankfully change is always in the air in the NFL and through injuries, coaching decisions, matchups, or even just a good old hot streak you can rest assured that there’s always a bargain to be found.
This article will highlight three undervalued players and one super cheap option to consider at each position this week. The list will only include players if they fall below the following salary levels by position:
QB – 3 Players under $7,000 & 1 Freebie under $6,000
RB – 3 Players under $6,000 & 1 Freebie under $5,000
WR – 3 Players under $6,000 & 1 Freebie under $5,000
TE – 3 Players under $6,000 & 1 Freebie under $5,000
K – 3 Players under $5,200
D – 3 Players under $5,200
1. Terrelle Pryor, OAK v. SD ($6,600) – Pryor will be back in action in Week 5, practicing with the first team this week after missing the game in Week 4 with a concussion. He missed out on the great matchup against Washington’s sieve of a defense last week but returns in time to catch an equally juicy matchup against the Chargers, arguably the league’s worst pass defenders so far with 1,249 passing yards and eight touchdowns allowed against just one interception. Despite the generally warm feelings toward Pryor in the fantasy community, he has thrown for just two touchdowns this year with just as many interceptions. Of course, he is second among QB’s in rushing yards and 23rd across all positions, despite missing a week. With San Diego offering little resistance in the air, and allowing 5.2 yards per carry on the ground, Pryor should be able to add significantly to both totals in Week 5.
2. Eli Manning, NYG v. PHI ($6,600) – Eli has been anything but elite in 2013, already throwing nine interceptions and losing two fumbles as the Giants have buried themselves deep in cellar of the NFC East. Still, he’s on pace for 4,592 passing yards and 24 touchdowns, and in the right matchup can still be a fantasy point machine. The Eagles offer that exact matchup this week, challenging the Chargers for the title of the NFL’s worst passing defense by allowing 1,300 passing yards and nine touchdowns with just two interceptions this year. Eli’s offensive line has let him down big time, having already allowed 14 sacks, but the Giants still have Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks and with two potent offenses facing two weak defenses there should be plenty of points accrued on both sides by the end of the game.
3. Sam Bradford, STL v. JAC ($6,800) – Bradford shot out of the gate this year with strong games in Weeks 1 and 2, only to fall back to his mediocre ways with clunkers in weeks 3 and 4. It’s important to note that these poor performances were not because the team committed more to running the ball, as Bradford threw 89 passes in the last two weeks, it was simply a matter of Bradford not doing anything with the opportunities. Luckily the Rams face the hapless Jaguars in Week 5, meaning that if Bradford tosses another 40+ passes he should be able to convert them into points at a rate more closely matching his output from the season’s first two weeks.
Freebie: Ryan Fitzpatrick, TEN v. KC ($5,500) – I can’t write a glowing endorsement for Fitzpatrick, who came on in relief of Jake Locker in Week 4 completing three of eight passes for 108 yards and a touchdown. However, Locker is out for Week 5 and likely beyond, and if you are adamant about choosing a quarterback under $6,000 your choices are either Fitzpatrick or Blaine Gabbert. As turnover prone as Fitzpatrick has been in his career, he’s light years ahead of Gabbert in being remotely qualified for the starting quarterback job on an NFL team. Kansas City is a tough opponent but Fitzpatrick has the intelligence and experience, if not the arm, to have a chance to pick up where Locker left off with the Titans standing at 3-1.
1. Rashad Jennings, OAK v. SD ($5,200) – Jennings is next man up in the Raiders’ backfield after Darren McFadden and Marcel Reece went down in Week 4, granting 22 touches to Jennings who took them for 116 total yards. He managed just 3.2 yards per carry but was perfect in catching eight passes on eight targets, gaining an average of 8.9 yards per reception. This versatility works to his advantage against San Diego in the same way as Terrelle Pryor’s, and Jennings could have an equally productive game if he gets 20-25 touches again this week. If he was able to perform with Matt Flynn at the helm, he should be even better with Pryor keeping defenders out of their comfort zone.
2. David Wilson, NYG v. PHI ($5,600) – Philadelphia’s defense hasn’t been quite as bad against the run as they have against the pass, but they haven’t been good either, allowing 4.2 yards per carry and more than 120 rushing yards per game. Wilson has been pretty terrible himself, but partly due to lack of opportunities. He has yet to receive more than 13 carries in a game this season, although that was his number last week, and his carries have increased each week since Week 2. I think they will again in Week 5, as the Giants simply must run the ball more often even if the results are unsatisfactory. While I expect Eli to throw the ball quite a bit against the Eagles, I also expect Wilson to get at least 15 carries for the first time this season. If the Giants manage to strike multiple times early in the game, he could get the ball quite a bit in the second half, and make for great value at his deflated price.
3. Jacquizz Rodgers, ATL v. NYJ ($5,500) – Rodgers had a solid game in Week 4, carrying a chunk of the rushing load for the Falcons with Steven Jackson sidelined. Rodgers got only seven carries but also caught six passes on six targets, out-touching teammate Jason Snelling by four. Snelling did almost nothing with his opportunities against the Patriots, while Rodgers managed to total 88 yards and post 11.8 fantasy points. Nothing to celebrate over too hard, but still the equivalent value of a 20.6 point game from the $9,600 Adrian Peterson for example. The Jets are not easy to run on, giving up just 3.0 yards per carry and one rushing touchdown so far this season, but they have been susceptible to the pass and Matt Ryan should be able to apply enough pressure to open up some lanes for Rodgers and get him involved in multiple ways.
Freebie: LeGarrette Blount, NE @ CIN ($4,500) – The Patriots running back position has been in constant flux and a situation to generally avoid so far this year. There is a little bit more clarity in Week 5 as it appears Stevan Ridley is going to miss the game against the Bengals. That leaves the majority of the carries to Blount and Brandon Bolden. While the equally low-priced Bolden ($4,500) opened eyes with a big play in Week 3, he did virtually nothing in Week 4 and there is little reason to believe he would be given a primary role in the Patriots’ offense in Ridley’s absence. Blount is not a flashy back, but he does have a 1,000-yard season in his pocket and has been very productive with his carries over the last two weeks despite Ridley being healthy, toting the rock for 129 yards and a touchdown on 5.6 yards per carry.
1. Kenbrell Thompkins, NE @ CIN ($5,900) – Thompkins had his best game of the season in Week 4, catching six passes on 11 targets for 127 yards and a touchdown. That makes three touchdowns in the last two weeks for the rookie, who has drawn praise from Tom Brady as an acceptable stopgap to the team’s crazy mess of setbacks in their receiving corps. Danny Amendola may be back in Week 5, which could bite into the lofty target counts Thompkins has seen so far, but Rob Gronkowski is likely still out and that could spell more bombs and end zone looks for Kenbrell. His 38% target-to-catch conversion rate on the season is pretty poor efficiency, but it’s been improving each week and if he does manage a jump in that number this week he could have a monster game.
2. Hakeem Nicks, NYG v. PHI ($5,900) – It seems hard to believe at this point but Nicks was looking pretty solid after the first two weeks of the season saw him amass 197 receiving yards. His value has been in freefall ever since with only 33 yards in Weeks 3 and 4 combined. The good news is he was targeted nine times in Week 4 after seeing just one target in Week 3, meaning he’s still a big part of the Giants’ game plan. With Victor Cruz doing laps around defenders and racking up huge yardage this year defenses are going to have to start committing extra resources to stopping him, leaving Nicks a good opportunity at more appetizing matchups. Although Nicks didn’t do much with the targets he got last week, he has a long history of productive chemistry with Eli Manning and should see his first double-digit target game of the season against the Eagles this week. With his price falling below $6,000 on FanDuel for the first time this year, Nicks has a shot at being one of the top value plays of the week.
3. Denarius Moore, OAK v. SD ($5,000) – Hopes were high for Moore coming into Week 4 after a big game in Week 3 and an easy matchup on the docket against Washington. Well, with Matt Flynn standing in for Terrelle Pryor it didn’t quite work out the way we expected. Still, Moore caught four of six targets and continued to be significantly more efficient with his targets than he ever has in his career. With Pryor back in Week 5 and the equally soft Chargers on the schedule, Moore should be in for a rebound game. At just $5,000 there’s not much to dislike about Denarius.
Freebie: Eddie Royal, SD @ OAK ($4,500) – Eddie Royal has done virtually nothing since scoring five touchdowns in the season’s first two weeks, catching only five passes over the last two weeks. That said he has managed to do that on just five targets, meaning drops can’t be blamed, and he has eked out 76 yards on those five catches and had a touchdown called back. While there are a lot of good WR options in the $5,000 – $6,000 range, the pool is pretty thin below $5,000 at this point in the season, leaving Royal as the best option in that price range. Philip Rivers has been excellent this year and although he’s looked more to Antonio Gates and Danny Woodhead lately, Royal is still tied for the team lead in receptions among wide receivers and will likely have at least one more productive game this season. It’s hard to tell when that will be, but Oakland is far from the toughest matchup and will probably allow at least one or two Chargers into the end zone this week.
1. Jared Cook, STL v. JAC ($5,600) – Cook tops the tight end bargain list for the second straight week. It didn’t work out quite so well in Week 4 against San Francisco, as Cook caught just four of nine targets for 45 yards, doing all of his damage in the first half. This time around Cook gets to face the Jaguars, which compared to the 49ers is about as big of a matchup 180 as you can do from one week to the next. As mentioned above for Sam Bradford, there are good things coming from the Rams this week and Cook is legitimately the best offensive player they have on the field, still leading the team in receiving yards after three down weeks. I expect him to find the end zone for the first time since Week 1 on his way to a productive day in St. Louis this Sunday.
2. Owen Daniels, HOU @ SF ($5,800) – Daniels got a lot of looks in Week 4, catching six passes on 11 targets, both season highs. Unfortunately he didn’t score a touchdown, as teammate Garret Graham caught one for the third time this year, matching Daniels’ season total. San Francisco is a tough matchup but one that might make it more likely for Matt Schaub to rely on both his tight ends if the 49ers manage to lock down Andre Johnson. Seeming perpetually stuck in this price range, Daniels offers consistent value production with the threat of a big game should he be Schaub’s target of choice in the red zone.
3. Jermichael Finley, GB v. DET ($5,900) – Finley is coming off of a concussion that occurred in Week 3 before the team had a bye in Week 4. It sounds like he’s going to play, giving Aaron Rodgers another weapon in the passing game. Finley has only played two games so far this season but has caught almost 70% of his targets and scored a touchdown in both games. While he’s never quite blossomed into the monster tight end he was expected to be when he came into the NFL, it’s likely the main cause for that has been the plethora of options Green Bay has on the field each week. Competing with Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb, and James Jones makes life difficult, but it also gives some good examples of what players can do in weeks where Rodgers is generous to them.
Freebie: Charles Clay, MIA v. BAL ($4,500) – Clay has been a dependable bargain all year with at least six targets per week and has been very efficient in catching 20 out of his 25 targets on the season for 245 yards and a touchdown. The fact that Clay is still priced at only $4,500 doesn’t align with the fact that he’s eighth among all tight ends in fantasy points so far in 2013, sandwiched between fellow bargains Owen Daniels and Jared Cook and ahead of notable names like Jason Witten and Vernon Davis. Top that with the notion that the Ravens are a good matchup for tight ends this year and you have a player priced to succeed.
1. Dan Bailey, DAL v. DEN ($5,100) – Bailey had a tough week in Week 4, missing a 56-yard field goal and settling for three extra points that left his FanDuel owners disappointed. Still he’s hit seven of nine attempts including two from beyond 50 yards. The Cowboys tend to kick a lot of field goals due to their pedestrian red zone efficiency, and Bailey is generally reliable on the attempts he gets. It may be tough to amass a huge volume of attempts against a high-scoring Denver team that could make field goals irrelevant, but Bailey remains best of the bunch in value kickers at this time.
2. Rob Bironas, TEN v. KC ($5,000) – Bironas was once a fantasy darling earlier in his career, including a game on October 21st, 2007 when he kicked eight field goals and registered 29 fantasy points. It’s been a while since he’s been top dog at the kicking position, but he was productive as recently as 2011 and is still reliable from short to mid range. Like Bailey, Bironas is seven for nine on attempts so far this year. The matchup is hard to read, as it’s tough to say if the Chiefs strong defensive unit will hold Tennessee to field goals or will shut them down completely. My money is on the former with Bironas the top minimum-priced kicker of the week.
3. Greg Zuerlein, STL v. JAC ($5,100) – Zuerlein is a tough kicker to get a fantasy read on. He has immense leg power and has been extremely accurate from under 50 yards, missing only two such attempts in his career. His field goal percentage is kept low due to the fact that he attempts so many 50+ yarders, a whopping 13 last year alone. Somehow he has yet to get an attempt from that range this season, something that will inevitably change eventually, and will spell big points when it does. Jacksonville has been so bad this year that Zuerlein may just end up with a bunch of extra points, but either way he should have his best game since Week 1.
1. Carolina Panthers, CAR @ ARI ($5,100) – Carolina is coming off a bye and should have a precise game plan mapped out against the Cardinals. The Panthers have the personnel to execute that plan, having already racked up 10 sacks with more interceptions than touchdown passes allowed through the season’s first three weeks. Their run defense has been stout as well, allowing just 3.7 yards per carry and only one touchdown on the ground. Arizona has some pieces and is improved from last season, but they aren’t exactly the most threatening squad in the NFL. The last time the Panthers stepped on the field, they shut out the Giants 38-0, and as bad as the Giants have been you’d have a tough time convincing me the Cardinals are any better.
2. New Orleans Saints, NO @ CHI ($5,000) – The Saints have had quite the resurgence this year starting the season 4-0 after finishing last year 7-9. Sean Payton is a big part of that, but perhaps not as big as the return of the Saints defense that helped them win Super Bowl XLIV. With a fantastic seven interceptions against just four passing touchdowns allowed and 12 sacks already, there is more than just Drew Brees lighting up the field in New Orleans this season. The Bears have played pretty well on offense, but Jay Cutler has also thrown six interceptions and lost two fumbles, and should sustain his average of two turnovers per game through Week 5. That is, if they don’t just hand the ball to Matt Forte and take advantage of the 5.5 yards per carry the Saints are allowing on the ground in 2013.
3. Indianapolis Colts, IND v. SEA ($5,000) – The Colts were the defensive bargain of the week in Week 4 and came through with 23 fantasy points on four sacks, three interceptions, one touchdown, and just three points allowed against Jacksonville. This week they get a much tougher assignment against Seattle. While that certainly downgrades their chances of holding their opponent to no touchdowns again, the Colts have given up just two passing touchdowns against six interceptions and 13 sacks so far this season. While Marshawn Lynch may be able to pile up the yards against them, it wouldn’t be shocking to see the Colts put up another productive game in sacks and turnovers.