Netflix is best used when in the midst of a television lull. Empire and Survivor admittedly aren't for everyone, leaving a sortable catalogue of streaming titles as the best option to fill in the gaps of wasted time. And because revisiting Friday Night Lights or The Office for the sixth time isn't considered rational, "Top Picks for John" suddenly becomes the immediate and only choice. Selections like Pulp Fiction and Peaky Blinders strafe through the queue while others go unnoticed. But few stand out, Narcos being one of them.
Having been released at the end of August, Narcos is one of Netflix's newest and more riveting dramas. I know it sounds like I've been paid off as some type of promoter, but really, it's worth the time. Entertaining. Informative. Terrifying. Innocent. It checks all the boxes. But what it does differently as opposed to all other television is that it creates an entirely new experience for those watching.
Never once had I been eight episodes into any program and been left with zero knowledge about the further existence of it. Not that I don't know how the tale of Pablo Escobar comes crashing to a halt. But in dealing with a character such as Escobar and the narrative of his life, it's odd to see it all happening, to be fully entrenched and unsure whether it all ends only a few hours later or continues on for another season (spoiler alert: it was picked up for a second season shortly after release).
I've had a few days to stew over the recent news of potential insider trading and the outrage involved in FanDuel employees being allowed to create lineups at DraftKings and vice versa. It all leads back to that unknown ending. At this time, it's hard to find many open-minded opinions about the issue. Pieces about it continue to be tackled, whether it's from an outsider's perspective or forums regarding the topic, but no one knows if this recent speed bump is just that or the final nail in the coffin. Ask a proper reporter and they'll tell you everything they've heard is that it doesn't look good for the future of daily sports. Ask someone with the acronym of "DFS" in their twitter handle and you'll be biasedly shunned as someone who "just doesn't get it." It's a slippery slope and like any other time we've been forced to deal with the unknown, it's hysteria.
As for this column, life goes on. I've always tried to feature both daily fantasy and weekly advice and that isn't going to change. If FanDuel and DraftKings become obsolete by December (and right now, that certainly isn't out of the question), then so be it. But season-long tips will live on. Besides, we're currently at a 62 percent clip with the picks and I'm not going to let one inferior employee ruin that. After all, the bad guys need to get lucky every time. The good guys just need to get lucky once.
Here are your Week 5 matchups and movements (and picks).
(Home team in CAPS)
TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS (-3) over Jacksonville Jaguars
Vegas Scoring Total: 42
The way this works is that I typically scroll through my notes and begin previewing games in the order they're listed at NFL.com. Once I noticed the Jaguars were visiting Tampa Bay, I immediately vaulted them to the top in order to end the misery quicker. It's like if The Walking Dead aired only the final minute of each episode rather than the 59 we're forced to sit through prior. But despite what we're programmed to believe, there's actually a lot of value to be had here.
Doug Martin eclipsed 100 yards last week but still only has a total of nine more snaps than Charles Sims on the year. As a timeshare that doesn't appear to be going away anytime soon, it's probably best to consider Martin more of a flex. It doesn't help that Jacksonville has yet to allow an opposing running back to rush for more than 80 yards. But Tampa Bay will likely find a way to score, which is why both Mike Evans and Vincent Jackson are bound to find success. Which one you pick, however, is up for debate. Jackson has seen the fourth-most red zone targets this season but Evans is no longer plagued by injuries or Josh Norman.
As for the Jaguars' offense, there's still only one receiver you truly want. The 17 fantasy points Allen Hurns scored last week were more a product of playing opposite of Vontae Davis rather than becoming the focal point of the offense. Allen Robinson still saw 12 targets but, in typical Vontae Davis style, produced very little.
And if you're a T.J. Yeldon owner, the only reassurance I have is that it's coming. He remains one of only five backs currently averaging at least 20 touches per game and has somehow scored only one touchdown this season. The fact that he hasn't been featured strutting across the goal line in more images can only be chalked up to luck (or lack thereof). Considering the Buccaneers have allowed opposing running backs to score at least 20 fantasy points per game, Yeldon's emergence could even begin this week.
Buffalo Bills (-1) over TENNESSEE TITANS
Though the absences of both Karlos Williams (concussion) and LeSean McCoy are worth some estimated value, the projected line has moved three points in favor of the Titans since being opened. And since the only information we have on Anthony Dixon is that 1) he's commonly referred to as "Boobie" and 2) he has a career average of 3.4 yards per carry, it's probably best to ignore how vulnerable Tennessee is against the run and avoid both him and Dan Herron in cash games. Still, their workload might be too enticing to pass up in GPPs.
And don't let the numbers fool you. Buffalo has allowed the fourth-most passing yards this season but have been blemished due to opposing volume. Both the Colts (Week 1) and Dolphins (Week 3) spent the entirety of their matchups playing from behind while the Patriots never let their foot off the pedal. For Marcus Mariota and Co., that spells trouble. And that's not all.
The Bills defense has been exploited by opposing quarterbacks that released the ball quickly rather than allowing the rush to reach them. Per Pro Football Focus, Tom Brady ranks first from the time of snap to release (2.1 seconds). Eli Manning ranks third. Andrew Luck and Ryan Tannehill? 14th and 18th. And for the 28th-ranked Mariota, that doesn't bode well.
BALTIMORE RAVENS (-7) over Cleveland Browns
I realize this game is projected to finish with one of the lower scoring totals of the weekend, but it wouldn't be shocking to see all hell break loose (which is the first time that has ever been stated about a game featuring Josh McCown). For starters, McCown has passed for at least 340 yards and two touchdowns in each of the past two games. With Duke Johnson finally being featured (three consecutive games with double-digit touches) and Travis Benjamin continuing to shock (back to back games with at least 10 targets), the Baltimore defense will assuredly give way to more fantasy goodness. For Gary Barnidge, however, the fun stops here.Though still the best answer to any pub question that asks "Football Player or SpongeBob Character?" the Ravens have allowed less than one fantasy point per game to opposing tight ends. Just another reason to have exposure towards Benjamin everywhere.
But the Browns, though likely to produce, aren't the key to fantasy points in this one. Outside of the Chargers and their offensive line that has seen more new faces than the employees at Dunder Mifflin have seen bosses, Cleveland has allowed opposing running backs to average 5.4 yards per carry and 23 fantasy points per game. If Lorenzo Taliaferro is declared out, Justin Forsett should once again be heavily involved and started in every lineup.
Washington (+7.5) over ATLANTA FALCONS
Though I should really spend the next few paragraphs apologizing to Devonta Freeman, it's become quite clear that maybe, just maybe we were all wrong. Not only has he caught for more receiving yards than any other running back in the last two weeks, but he's received 17 red zone carries. Unfortunately, Washington has allowed the fewest fantasy points to running backs. It's likely more of a "Please don't lead by 40 points and bench Julio" day than it is another three-touchdown performance.
On the other side of the ball for Atlanta, no running back has rushed for more than 90 yards against them and yet they've still allowed the most fantasy points to opposing runners. That benefits Chris Thompson and an offense that currently leads the league in rushing. Thompson has averaged nine touches and 81 yards during the past two games and at minimum cost, is probably worth the flier no matter the format.
If anything, there's a greater than zero chance that Chipotle continues appreciating King Kirk.
Chicago Bears (+9) over KANSAS CITY CHIEFS
Kansas City is implied to score at least 31 points and you don't have to look far to know where it's coming from. Though home teams favored by more than a touchdown tend to lean on the running game, Jeremy Maclin has accumulated at least 11 targets and 140 yards in back-to-back games. Finishing in the top 10 at his position on Sunday is just as likely as the Chiefs piling on another 37 field goals when down by 11.
For as many cigarettes that were smoked in Jay Cutler's honor last week, there might be even greater opportunity in Week 5. The Chiefs have been an absolute disaster against the passing game, allowing a combined average of 63 fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks and receivers. In other words, stock up on Camels and pay for Cutler against a secondary that has allowed the most passing touchdowns this year. With Alshon Jeffery all but out, adding Eddie Royal to the mix wouldn't hurt, either.
And while we're here, let's get Martellus Bennett's opinion on his quarterback:
Martellus Bennett on oft criticized Cutler: "They threw rocks at Jesus, + Jesus was an excellent guy who did a lot of awesome stuff." Wow.
— Scott Bair (@BairCSN) October 5, 2015
New Orleans Saints (+5) at PHILADELPHIA EAGLES
Sam Bradford recorded 36 percent of his completions over 20 yards all last week no thanks to his butt. Even so, going back to the Philadelphia well seems to be considered a contrarian play. New Orleans has allowed 6.5 yards per play but will be returning the services of Keenan Lewis on the outside. That means more Brandon Browner in the slot and a great chance for Jordan Matthews to continue averaging 9.5 targets per game. DeMarco Murray would ordinarily make the list, but his 9.7 touches per game aren't nearly enough to be considered in either cash games or GPPs. Just ask him.
With Drew Brees no longer listed on the injury report, a Saints stack seems like one of the more high-scoring combinations this week. Who you stack him with, however, remains a mystery. Last week against Dallas, Willie Snead tied for the team lead in catches, C.J. Spiller led in yards, and Brandin Cooks led in targets. Snead seems to be the most valuable candidate considering he's still, for whatever reason, priced at the minimum. And though it goes against the grain of proper stacking, paying up for Brees and Mark Ingram doesn't seem all too crazy. New Orleans averages over 100 receiving yards from their backfield alone, meaning his carries, combined with his team-leading red zone targets, make Ingram nearly must-start material.
St. Louis Rams (+9) over GREEN BAY PACKERS
In hindsight, Chicago may have accomplished the most impressive feat of the year during Week 1. The Bears held the Packers to six first-half points en route to watching Matt Forte finish the day with 166 total yards and one touchdown. Chicago lost, of course, but not before piecing together nearly the perfect blueprint to, at the least, contend with Green Bay. Since then, Green Bay has limited Marshawn Lynch to 41 yards, Jamaal Charles to 49 yards, and Carlos Hyde to 20. That leaves Todd Gurley, who's already tied for the league lead in runs of 20 or more yards, as their next test.
In his first start of 2015, Gurley carried the ball 19 times and somehow walked away averaging 7.8 yards per carry. Still priced relatively low, he'll be owned in a majority of GPPs and is probably worth fading. But in cash games, it's all hands on deck for both him and Eddie Lacy.
Oh, and if you were looking to be reminded how old you are, Jeff Fisher imitated Aaron Rodger's hard count by using the "Macarena" during practice this week and came away with only one observation:
"When the guys were walking out and the 'Macarena' was playing, none of them had heard it before. They weren't born."
CINCINNATI BENGALS (-3) over Seattle Seahawks
Seattle is ranked in the top 5 in every category you'd expect on defense this season. Their offense, on the other hand, is an entirely different story. Their offensive line has been nonexistent, rendering the likes of Thomas Rawls, Russell Wilson, and even Jimmy Graham to be passed on until further notice. The opposite goes for Cincinnati.
Jeremy Hill may have recorded three touchdowns last week, but the touches distributed between he and Giovani Bernard tell the real story. Bernard still leads the Bengals in carries and received only one fewer touch inside the 20 last week. If you're looking to feature any Bengals player, it's Bernard and not A.J. Green, who has caught for more than 85 yards in only one contest (Week 3 vs. Ravens) this season.
Arizona Cardinals (-2.5) over DETROIT LIONS
Why are the Cardinals favored by less than a field goal against a team that's currently struggling to score as much as a field goal?
DALLAS COWBOYS (+8.5) over New England Patriots
If you've ever thought about stacking Brandon Weeden along with Terrance Williams, 1) go away, and 2) you're in luck. Even though they've only played three games because of a Week 4 bye, the Patriots have allowed the third-most passing plays of 25 yards or more. They also rank fifth and second, respectively, in fantasy points allowed per game to quarterbacks and wide receivers. With Lance Dunbar joining the list of injured Dallas players last week, Williams recorded the third-most red zone targets of any player during Week 4. Assuming the Cowboys are playing from behind (or matching point for point), Williams should be one of the more underrated players of Week 5.
And if you're concerned about how the New England backfield will play out, just know that all of Dion Lewis's 13 touches against Jacksonville came in the first half. After the intermission, LeGarrette Blount received an additional 16 carries. I don't know about you, but to me, that sounds more like a starter resting than it does "Belichick up to his old tricks." Start Lewis with confidence.
Denver Broncos (-4.5) over OAKLAND RAIDERS
Peyton Manning-Demaryius Thomas-Owen Daniels stack, anyone?
San Francisco 49ers (+7) over NEW YORK GIANTS
Colin Kapernick is only 11 points away from being a top 10 fantasy quarterback and I'm not sure you could even trade him to his mother's fantasy team right now. Still, he has at least seven carries in every game this season and continues to be valuable if only as a bye-week filler. Carlos Hyde, on the other hand, has a total of 36 carries for 114 yards in the three weeks since his 168-yard night against the Vikings. In other words, stream the Giants defense and don't look back.
Pittsburgh Steelers (+3.5) over SAN DIEGO CHARGERS
The Steelers kept both the Rams and Ravens under 190 yards passing during the last two games, but that shouldn't matter much against Philip Rivers and a Chargers offense returning Antonio Gates this week. If you're looking to feature a few San Diego players, that's the only way to go. Melvin Gordon and Danny Woodhead will likely have trouble finding any room against a Pittsburgh front seven that has allowed only Justin Forsett to rush for more than 100 yards this season.
For the Steelers, Le'Veon Bell is the only offensive player that should be owned in cash games. Guaranteed to receive at least 20 touches, his matchup against San Diego is almost all too perfect. Let others cross their fingers while Antonio Brown and Martavis Bryant attempt to receive any amount of passes from Michael Vick.
And as always, have fun. Don't let one individual ruin that for you.
Last Week: 9-4
Week 4 Exposure: Colin Kaepernick (11.1), Aaron Rodgers (16.2), Karlos Williams (14.5), Frank Gore (9.2), Thomas Rawls (5.2), Julio Jones (5.8), Marvin Jones (1.5), DeAndre Hopkins (20.2), Greg Olsen (3.8), Martellus Bennett (19.8), Broncos (10)
Week 5 Exposure: Jay Cutler, Eli Manning, Le'Veon Bell, Todd Gurley, Chris Thompson, Justin Forsett, Dion Lewis, Terrance Williams, Jeremy Maclin, Travis Benjamin, Willie Snead, Rob Gronkowski, Giants, Broncos
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