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Expert DRAFTing Week 5

A how-to-guide to beating this week's snake drafts on DRAFT

DRAFT offers weekly fantasy contests with 5-man rosters (1 QB, 2 RB, 2 WR/TE) and 0.5-point PPR scoring (the same as FanDuel).  But instead of using a salary cap like other daily fantasy sites, teams are built through live snake drafts with 30-seconds per pick. The most common contest sizes are Head-to-Head, 3-Team, 6-Team and 10-Team. 

First, we will dive into the rankings and draft strategy for each of the four Draft sizes. If you are interested in why the players are ranked where they are in the overall rankings, make sure to check out the in-depth breakdowns of the top options in the positional rankings. 

Please feel free to contact me (email or twitter) with any questions or if you are just looking for some extra advice for this week’s drafts. Constructive feedback on the article format and content is always appreciated.

2-Team Strategy and Rankings

  1. LeVeon Bell
  2. Ezekiel Elliott
  3. Todd Gurley
  4. Aaron Rodgers
  5. A.J. Green
  6. Jordy Nelson
  7. Antonio Brown
  8. DeAndre Hopkins
  9. Kareem Hunt
  10. Russell Wilson

LeVeon Bell, Ezekiel Elliott, and Todd Gurley should be the top three picks in all formats this week. Drafting second provides the advantage of being able to lock up two of the three. Each is a home favorite in an above-average matchup. More importantly, each is seeing a ridiculous number of touches every week. Bell has averaged 33.7 touches over the past three weeks. Aside from an outlier game against Denver’s ridiculous defense, Elliott is averaging 26.3 touches. Gurley is averaging 26.5 touches for the season and has at least 30 touches in each of his last two games. Being able to bank on a massive workload from an extremely talented back in a high-scoring offense is a major advantage. Lock up two of the three if at all possible. 

In 2-Team drafts, how aggressively you pursue the top-3 backs will be largely dependent upon how you view Kareem Hunt this week. By the numbers, he is the clear fourth option and a full tier lower than the top guys. He is averaging 20.2 touches per game, which is a very solid number overall but still well below the volume the top-three backs are seeing. He also has a tough matchup against a Houston Texans defense that hasn’t given up more than 36 rushing yards to an opposing back since Week 1. Kansas City will also be without two top offensive linemen and facing a dominant Houston defensive line. While Hunt deserves the benefit of the doubt due to his early success and remains a top-4 option at the position, the drafter in a 2-Team contest who can grab two of the top three backs gains a significant advantage based on early projections.

Aaron Rodgers is also a premium target in 2-Team contests. If you are high on Hunt and the other top backs, Rodgers makes sense as a target as high as 1.01. He has thrown for 9 touchdowns over the last three weeks and has over 300 passing yards in 3-of-4 games. In a potential shootout against Dallas, he is a great option this week.

The wide receiver position is ugly in Week 5. Each of the top talents faces a below-average matchup:

  • Antonio Brown faces a Jacksonville defense with a pair of top-notch cornerbacks who haven’t allowed a 60-yard receiver all season.
  • A.J. Green faces a Buffalo defense that hasn’t allowed a 100-yard receiver this season and has surrendered just 1 passing touchdown all season. 
  • Odell Beckham faces Casey Hayward, who is one of the league’s top shadow-coverage cornerbacks and rated as the #2 cornerback in the league by ProFootballFocus. Beckham is also dealing with a broken finger and re-aggravated ankle injury that could impact his effectiveness on Sunday.
  • Jordy Nelson faces a Dallas defense which tends to limit outside receivers due to their defensive scheme. The Cowboys primarily play zone and emphasize limiting big plays to the outside receivers. Nelson still has a solid touchdown expectation (32 in his last 36 games) but may not have the big yardage output many are expecting.

With the elite receivers facing daunting matchups, it is worth considering taking one of the second-tier options with a better matchup. DeAndre Hopkins and Dez Bryant are both in play as top-6 options this week. 

3-Team Strategy and Rankings

  1. LeVeon Bell
  2. Ezekiel Elliott
  3. Todd Gurley
  4. Kareem Hunt
  5. Aaron Rodgers
  6. A.J. Green
  7. Jordy Nelson
  8. Russell Wilson
  9. LeSean McCoy
  10. Antonio Brown
  11. DeAndre Hopkins
  12. Odell Beckham Jr
  13. Dez Bryant
  14. Dak Prescott
  15. Leonard Fournette

The first round should be reserved for a pick of one of the three elite running backs. If one of the top two drafters goes off script and you are drafting third, pounce on both of the remaining top backs at 1.03/2.01 turn. 

The 1.03 spot is the spot to be this week, allowing you to start with two of the top four running backs (likely Todd Gurley and Kareem Hunt). With the drop off after the top four, locking in two of the top options provides a nice advantage. LeSean McCoy and Leonard Fournette both face difficult matchups as road underdogs against stout run defenses and rank a tier below the top backs. McCoy and Fournette still profile as top-6 options however due to their consistent workloads and pass-game usage. 

Aaron Rodgers should also be in consideration alongside Hunt at 2.01 and shouldn’t slip past 2.02. Rodgers provides an advantage over the other top quarterback options like Russell Wilson and Dak Prescott. 

Everyone is going to have the top-six wide receivers ranked in a different order. Each project to score within a point of each other, so beauty will be in the eye of the beholder. Expect wide receivers to start flying off the board in the third and fourth rounds and don’t be afraid to go with your gut if you like Dez Bryant or DeAndre Hopkins over some of the bigger-name receivers. 

6-Team Strategy and Rankings

  1. LeVeon Bell
  2. Ezekiel Elliott
  3. Todd Gurley
  4. Kareem Hunt
  5. Aaron Rodgers
  6. LeSean McCoy
  7. A.J. Green
  8. Jordy Nelson
  9. Leonard Fournette
  10. Antonio Brown
  11. Russell Wilson
  12. DeAndre Hopkins
  13. Odell Beckham Jr
  14. Carlos Hyde
  15. Melvin Gordon
  16. Jordan Howard
  17. Dez Bryant
  18. Dak Prescott
  19. Stefon Diggs
  20. Christian McCaffrey
  21. Keenan Allen
  22. DeVante Parker
  23. T.Y. Hilton
  24. Doug Baldwin
  25. Joe Mixon
  26. Jay Ajayi
  27. Carson Wentz
  28. Deshaun Watson
  29. Carson Palmer
  30. Randall Cobb

Landing a pick in the first-half of the round provides a real advantage. Not only will you get to lock in one of the elite backs but you also will have strong options in the second and third rounds. There is a small tier break after the top-15 players and the ability to land three of the top-15 is another inherent advantage of lucking into an early draft slot. Ideally, if you are drafting from the top-3, you can grab your RB2 near the 2/3 turn to lock in a big advantage at the position.

If you are drafting in the back-half of the first round, it is worth considering a more aggressive approach to overcome the disadvantage of missing out on the top backs. It may be worth rolling the dice on an Aaron Rodgers-Jordy Nelson stack near the 1/2 turn. The safer approach of locking up at least one top back early also makes sense if you want to wait to make a swing for the fences later in the draft and Kareem Hunt, LeSean McCoy, and Leonard Fournette are targets in the 1.04-2.03 range.

One of the biggest considerations in the fourth and fifth rounds is how much you are willing to gamble on talented receivers in good matchups that could be held back by quarterback play. Stefon Diggs is one of the league’s top young receivers but Case Keenum has been up-and-down. DeVante Parker has a plus matchup against a struggling Tennessee Titans defense but Jay Cutler has looked awful the past two weeks. T.Y. Hilton is also very much in play against an awful San Francisco pass defense but could be held back by Jacoby Brissett. If you err on the side of playing receivers with better quarterbacks, Keenan Allen, Doug Baldwin and Randall Cobb are also strongly in play in the late rounds.

10-Team Strategy and Rankings

  1. LeVeon Bell
  2. Ezekiel Elliott
  3. Todd Gurley
  4. Kareem Hunt
  5. Aaron Rodgers
  6. LeSean McCoy
  7. A.J. Green
  8. Jordy Nelson
  9. Leonard Fournette
  10. Carlos Hyde
  11. Melvin Gordon
  12. Jordan Howard
  13. Antonio Brown
  14. DeAndre Hopkins
  15. Odell Beckham Jr
  16. Russell Wilson
  17. Dez Bryant
  18. Dak Prescott
  19. Stefon Diggs
  20. Christian McCaffrey
  21. Joe Mixon
  22. Jay Ajayi
  23. Bilal Powell
  24. Lamar Miller
  25. Ameer Abdullah
  26. Keenan Allen
  27. DeVante Parker
  28. T.Y. Hilton
  29. Doug Baldwin
  30. Randall Cobb
  31. Pierre Garcon
  32. Larry Fitzgerald
  33. Travis Kelce
  34. LeGarrette Blount
  35. Frank Gore
  36. DeMarco Murray
  37. Carson Wentz
  38. Deshaun Watson
  39. Carson Palmer
  40. Golden Tate
  41. Rishard Matthews
  42. Zach Ertz
  43. Jarvis Landry
  44. Cam Newton
  45. Ben Roethlisberger
  46. Philip Rivers
  47. Eli Manning
  48. Latavius Murray
  49. Marshawn Lynch
  50. Adam Thielen

In 10-Team drafts, there should again be major urgency to lock up a solid pair of running backs. The quality drops off much more sharply after the top dozen running backs than it does at wide receiver. Quarterback is also deeper this week and you aren’t at a major disadvantage against most of your opponents if you wait until the last round to grab one. While quarterback is deep with solid options, there are few elite quarterbacks in great spots. It makes sense to reach for Aaron Rodgers and, to a lesser extent, Russell Wilson and Dak Prescott once the top running backs are gone.

After the safer, higher-upside running backs are off the board, the options are mostly unappealing in the final two rounds. Frank Gore brings a solid floor at home against San Francisco but his upside is questionable. Latavius Murray isn’t fully healthy and may have to share snaps with Jerick McKinnon. The Oakland Raiders would love to get Marshawn Lynch going but have shown no signs of being able to do so. Looking at these RB2 names should reinforce the importance of reaching to lock up two backs within the first three rounds. 

Quarterback Breakdown

  1. Aaron Rodgers The Green Bay at Dallas matchup has far and away the highest game total of the week (52.5). Both offenses should have plenty of success. For the Packers, most of that success is very likely to flow through Rodgers and not the Packers’ mediocre running game. Ty Montgomery will probably be out with a rib injury, which leaves the Packers only a pair of late-round rookie running backs. The last time these teams met was in the playoff last season. Rodgers threw for 355 yards and led the Packers to a 34-31 upset 
  2. Russell Wilson The Seahawks-Rams game has a lot of the elements we look for in a potential shootout. First, the Seahawks (3rd) and Rams (2nd) are behind only the New England Patriots in pace of play (situation neutral). Both of these teams have been in shootouts in recent weeks. The last two Rams games have seen 80 and 65 points scored. Seattle’s last two games have had 60 and 64 points scored. Wilson brings a solid weekly floor due to his rushing ability and he also has sneaky upside in this matchup with shootout potential.
  3. Dak Prescott
  4. Carson Wentz
  5. Deshaun Watson
  6. Carson Palmer Palmer is leading the league in pass attempts by a wide margin (46 per game). With David Johnson out, the Cardinals can’t run the ball and will look to Palmer to again carry the offense. The Eagles have a stout front but are weak at defensive back. The Eagles have allowed over 300 passing yards per game on average. 
  7. Cam Newton
  8. Ben Roethlisberger
  9. Philip Rivers
  10. Eli Manning

Running Back Breakdown

  1. LeVeon Bell Over the past three weeks Bell is averaging30.3 touches per game and playing over 66 snaps per game. The usage has been there and it was only a matter of time until Bell broke out with a huge fantasy game. It came in Week 4 against a stout Ravens defense, as Bell scored twice and racked up 186 total yards. He returns home in Week 5 and the situation could not be much more favorable. The Steelers are 8-point home favorites facing a Jacksonville defense that is one of the toughest against the pass but has been getting demolished on the ground. Over the past three weeks, no team has given up more rushing yards than the Jaguars. Jacksonville is giving up 8.0 yards per carry over the past three weeks. 
  2. Ezekiel Elliott The Cowboys have the highest implied team total (27.5) on the Sunday-Monday slate in a potential shootout game at home against the Packers. Aside from an outlier game in Denver, Elliott has at least 21 rushing attempts in every game. He has also been a big part of the passing game. Elliott is on pace for 64 receptions this season and no running back in the league has run more pass routes. Green Bay is without interior run-stuffer Mike Daniels and the logical game plan for the Cowboys is to pound away with Elliott to try to keep Aaron Rodgers on the sideline. In two meetings against the Packers last season, Elliott rushed for 282 yards (141 per game). 
  3. Todd Gurley Over the past two weeks, Gurley has gone from a typical workhorse running back workload to an elite LeVeon Bell/David Johnson usage level. Gurley has carried the ball 25.5 times per game and averaged 6.0 receptions per game in road wins over San Francisco and Dallas. The Rams are 1-point home favorites in a game that Las Vegas sees as relatively high-scoring (46.5-point game total). The Seahawks have been surprisingly vulnerable against the run. Seattle enters this game as the sixth-worst run defense in the NFL, allowing 134 rushing yards per game.
  4. Kareem Hunt Hunt is clearly one of the top-4 options this week but is in a tougher spot than any of the running backs ranked ahead of him. The Chiefs are missing their starting center Mitch Morse and lost their starting right guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif last week due to a knee injury. Left tackle Jake Fisher is playing through a back injury. While Kansas City has solid depth, the run of injuries to the offensive line is still a cause for concern. Even more worrisome is the matchup. After a disastrous Week 1 performance by the entire Texans team, Houston has been impossible to run against. No opposing rusher has topped 36 yards against the Texans since Leonard Fournette in Week 1. 
  5. LeSean McCoy It’s hard to see McCoy having a big game on the ground against a stout Bengals front-seven that has given up just 76 rushing yards to opposing running backs the last two weeks. However, where Cincinnati is vulnerable is defending running backs in the passing game. The Bengals allowed 9 receptions to Duke Johnson in Week 4 and 8 receptions to Ty Montgomery in Week 3. At the quarter-point of the season, McCoy is on pace for 84 receptions. With Jordan Matthews now out at wide receiver, McCoy’s pass game usage may go even higher. 
  6. Leonard Fournette This is a tough spot for Fournette and the Jaguars. Jacksonville is an 8-point road underdog against Pittsburgh. But the team will not abandon the run even in negative game scripts. Fournette is averaging 20.3 rushing attempts per game and also has 3.0 receptions per game. He has also found the end zone every week. A huge fantasy performance from Fournette in Week 5 seems unlikely but his talent and workhorse role gives him a solid floor. 
  7. Carlos Hyde
  8. Melvin Gordon
  9. Jordan Howard
  10. Christian McCaffrey This is a sneakily strong spot for McCaffrey. He has averaged just 6.0 carries per game over the past three weeks but part of that was due to matchups. Expect him to see double-digit carries against Detroit in Week 5. Dalvin Cook was well on his way to a big day against the Lions in Week 4 before tearing his ACL and the Falcons smashed Detroit for 227 total yards. McCaffrey is on pace for 88 receptions and is capable of breaking off big gains when he gets the ball in the open field. 
  11. Joe Mixon
  12. Jay Ajayi
  13. Bilal Powell
  14. Lamar Miller
  15. Ameer Abdullah
  16. LeGarrette Blount Blount is the last-man-standing in the Eagles backfield. Darren Sproles is out for the season and Wendell Smallwood hasn’t been practicing due to a knee injury. While Corey Clement should get some touches, Blount should step into more of a workhorse role for Philadelphia. He is coming off of an impressive 156-yard performance against the Chargers last week. In a 10-Team league, Blount is a solid 5th-round Draft target. 
  17. Frank Gore
  18. DeMarco Murray
  19. Latavius Murray
  20. Marshawn Lynch

Wide Receiver Breakdown

1. A.J. Green In a week where the top receivers each face tough matchups, Green is narrowly the top play due to his bankable volume as the clear go-to target in the Bengals offense. Green has been as consistent as any receiver in the league with at least 5 receptions and 63 or more yards in every game. The Buffalo pass defense has been excellent, allowing just one touchdown through the air in four games. But from a stylistic perspective, the Bills zone scheme, which will allow completions underneath but takes away longer passes, plays into the Bengals’ strengths. Cincinnati seems resigned to the fact that the offensive line cannot protect Andy Dalton long enough to take a lot of deep shots. Under new coordinator Bill Lazor, the Bengals have found success focusing on quick passes. Since Lazor took over in Week 3, the Bengals have had seven long scoring drives of at least nine plays. 

2. Jordy Nelson As of Friday morning, it seems likely that Davante Adams will be able to play against Dallas despite taking a nasty shot to the head last week. 

3. Antonio Brown Aside from his elite talent, the main reason to like Brown this week is the “squeaky wheel” narrative. Brown was held to just 4 catches and 34 yards in Week 4 and threw a tantrum, tossing a Gatorade cooler. While Mike Tomlin doesn’t necessarily want to encourage this type of behavior, he also knows he needs to keep his superstar receiver involved and fully engaged. Expect a couple extra balls to be forced in Brown’s direction. The matchup couldn’t be much uglier though. Brown will see a lot of coverage from emerging superstar coverage-man, Jalen Ramsey. The Jaguars pass defense is strong overall and especially excels against opposing receivers, giving up the least fantasy points in the NFL to opposing receivers. 

4. DeAndre Hopkins While Hopkins might not have the elite talent of the other top receivers, he makes up for it with volume. Hopkins is averaging 12.2 targets per game. He should see another heavy workload in a favorable matchup against cornerback Terrance Mitchell. Last week’s 10-107-1 receiving line from Hopkins shows his upside. Perhaps even more impressive is Hopkins’ solid floor. He has scored at least 10.8 Draft points in every single game. 

5. Odell Beckham Jr Beckham is a risky proposition this week. He faces shadow coverage from ProFootballFocus’ #2 ranked cornerback, Casey Hayward. Beckham is also dealing with a dislocated finger and re-aggravated his ankle injury late in Week 4. At less than 100% and in a difficult matchup against the Chargers, letting someone else draft Beckham is a decent strategy. Beckham has the big-play ability to take a quick slant the distance at any time though, so at some point, he is worth rolling the dice on. 

6. Dez Bryant Bryant has run the gauntlet of elite cornerbacks through four weeks. The schedule finally turns more favorable with an awful Green Bay secondary coming to town. The Packers have allowed 88.3 yards per game to opposing #1 receivers. Green Bay’s outside cornerbacks rank 89th (Kevin King), 90th (Davon House) and 91st (Quinten Rollins) in ProFootballFocus’ cornerback rankings. Bryant posted 29.7 Draft points when he faced this Green Bay secondary in the playoffs last January. 

7. Stefon Diggs

8. Keenan Allen

9. DeVante Parker Parker is averaging 9.0 targets per game and has seen at least 8 passes his way in every single game. Not all targets are created equal and Parker’s targets are high-value ones from a fantasy perspective. His average depth of target (aDOT) is 15.6 yards. Of players with more than 20 targets, only Martavis Bryant, DeSean Jackson, and Brandin Cooks have higher aDOTs. The Tennessee defense has struggled mightily against the pass and ranks 30th in fantasy points allowed to opposing receivers. 

10. T.Y. Hilton Playing with backup quarterbacks in Indianapolis, Hilton has not been the fantasy force he typically is. He has maintained top-20 fantasy production however on the strength of his 119 yards after completion. He has an ideal matchup this week against a San Francisco defense that has allowed the 5th most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers. 

11. Doug Baldwin

12. Randall Cobb

13. Pierre Garcon

14. Larry Fitzgerald

15. Travis Kelce

16. Golden Tate

17. Rishard Matthews Matthews is a high-floor 5th-round option with touchdown upside. Aside from a Tennessee blowout over Jacksonville, Matthews has seen at least 8 targets in every game. While the target totals provide safety, don’t sleep on Matthews upside. Quietly, Matthews has 10 touchdown catches over his last 16 games. The matchup against an awful Miami secondary couldn’t be much better. The Dolphins are allowing 272 passing yards per game and could have to put burnable Byron Maxwell back in the starting lineup due to injuries. 

18. Zach Ertz

19. Jarvis Landry

20. Adam Thielen