After researching the NFL player pool at quarterback, running back, wide receiver and tight end each week over the past few seasons, I will go on a new path for the daily games in 2021. I continue to produce projections, and this baseline will be used to identify possible values at each position during the season.
In the daily games, we see each week players with low salaries post difference-maker scores. The key to winning is mixing a core of studs with some undervalued options that post impact scores for their price point.
Depending on the format, the goal is to find players that will score three or four times their salary to have a shot at GPP (grand prize pool).
Top Tier: Josh Allen, Buffalo Bills ($8,100/$8,800)
Allen threw the ball well last week (8.5 yards per pass attempt), but Buffalo failed to execute in the red zone leading to four field goals and a touchdown over the first three quarters. The Bills have scored 13 touchdowns and seven field goals over their last 37 possessions (118 points). He sits ninth in quarterback scoring (26.16 FPPG), with one impact game (367/5). In 2020, Allen had two starts against the Chiefs (164/2 and 375/2).
Kansas City’s defense has already allowed 126 points. Offensives have scored 15 touchdowns and five field goals over 38 possessions. Quarterbacks gain 8.8 yards per pass attempt while also having success in the run game (29/177/2).
Both teams will score, setting a high number of throws for Allen. The Bills’ defense played well over their first four matchups (PIT, MIA, WAS, HOU), but Patrick Mahomes is one of the best quarterbacks in the game. The Chiefs scored 33.5 points (18 touchdowns) while facing a more challenging schedule (CLE, BAL, LAC, PHI).
I have Allen projected for 346 combined yards with three touchdowns and a 75 percent chance of scoring on the ground.
More: Tom Brady – 30.47, Patrick Mahomes – 29.55
Value: Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons ($5,700/$7,200)
Over the first four games, Ryan attempted 159 passes (39.75 per game), but he averaged only 6.2 yards per pass attempt. His best output (283/4) came last week at home despite failing to gain over 6.8 yards per pass attempt for the fourth straight week.
The Jets’ defense has yet to get run over in a game despite their offense throwing eight interceptions. They’ve allowed seven touchdowns and 15 field goals over 47 possessions. New York already has multiple injuries on its defense, and those weaknesses will get exposed over time.
On the surface, this matchup doesn’t create a lot of offensive excitement. Atlanta played better offensively last week, pointing to a potential breakout game for Kyle Pitts and a couple of long catches for Calvin Ridley. Ryan finds a way to pass for over 300 yards with three passing scores, and the Falcons’ defense allows 32 points per game.
More: Dak Prescott – 30.06, Daniel Jones – 25.05
Top Tier: Derrick Henry, Tennessee Titans ($9,000/$10,400)
The Titans continue to ride Henry early and often, leading to 127 touches over the first four games (31.75 per week). He is on pace for 2,040 rushing yards with 16 scores and a career-best output in the passing game (56/500). Despite his higher volume of chances with success in yards per rush (4.5) and yards per catch (8.9), Henry has only two plays of 20-plus yards this season. In 2020, he dominated in his matchup in Jacksonville (26/215/2 with two catches for seven yards).
The Jaguars held running backs to 3.5 yards per carry over the first four weeks with 17 catches for 146 yards and one touchdown. Runners have six touchdowns while averaging almost 31 carries per game.
This week, Tennessee would love to have at least one of their top two wideouts back to force Jacksonville to defend the Titans’ passing game. Henry looks to be on a path for 165 combined yards with one touchdown and four catches.
More: Christian McCaffrey – 28.89 (if he plays)
Value: Damien Harris, New England Patriots ($5,500/$6,500)
The Patriots abandoned the ground game the past two weeks while facing two of the league’s top run defenses. Harris managed only 10 yards on 10 carries while being an easy sit in the season-long contests. He ran the ball well over the first two weeks (39/162/1).
Houston has struggled vs. the run over the last three weeks (34/156/3, 33/117/3, and 40/199/2). Offenses have eight rushing scores (four by quarterbacks – 27/70/4), leading to their defense being on the field for over 109 minutes. The Texans gave up 11 touchdowns and six field goals over this span (32 possessions).
Harris should regain his stride in this matchup. With 20-plus carries and a score, he should be a value at running back in Week 5.
More: D’Andre Swift – 19.29, Leonard Fournette – 18.62
Top Tier: Davante Adams, Green Bay Packers ($8,200/$8,200)
Adams remains on a high path in catches (31) and receiving yards (373) while averaging 11.25 targets through four games. His only shortfall is one score (18 touchdowns over 14 games in 2020).
Wide receivers have 62 catches for 699 yards and three touchdowns against the Bengals. Adam Thielen had the most success (9/92/2), followed by Chase Claypool (9/96) and Laviska Shenault (6/99).
SI Sportsbook set the over/under for this matchup at 51, pointing to the highest-scoring affair on the main slate on Sunday.
More: Calvin Ridley – 27.98, Stefon Diggs – 27.46
Value: CeeDee Lamb, Dallas Cowboys ($6,200/$6,900)
The draft day excitement for Lamb has been waning over the past two games (3/66 and 2/13) while receiving only eight combined targets. The Cowboys turned to their run game over their last three matchups (31/198/2, 41/160/2, 34/245/1), leading to Dak Prescott only attempting 75 passes in that stretch. The law of averages suggests Dallas will be more active in the passing game over the next few weeks.
New York has risk against the run (4.5 yards per carry), with most of the damage coming in Week 1 (28/165/1) and Week 4 (39/170/2). Wide receivers have 61 catches for 659 yards and four touchdowns on 82 targets (74.4 percent catch rate). Terry McLaurin delivered the only impact game (11/107/1).
More: Kadarius Toney – 18.60, Jaylen Waddle – 19.75
Top Tier: T.J. Hockenson, Detroit Lions ($5,500/$6,400)
The Ravens and Bears defenses slowed down Hockenson over the past two games (2/10 and 4/42). However, his season started with two strong showings (8/97/1 and 8/66/1) with 20 combined targets. Last season, he had five catches for 39 yards and one touchdown vs. the Vikings on the road.
Minnesota has yet to allow a touchdown to a tight end (19/253). The Cardinals (7/94) and Seahawks (6/93) completed all 13 passes to their tight ends. A chaser game points to Hockenson being active again in Week 5.
More: Travis Kelce – 22.68, Darren Waller – 20.73
Value: Mike Gesicki, Miami Dolphins ($4,200/$5,600)
The stock of Gesicki rose over his previous two matchups (10/86 and 5/57/1), coming after an empty start to the season (0/0 and 3/41). He is now on pace for 72 catches for 736 yards and four touchdowns on 108 targets.
The Buccaneers allowed 1,466 yards and 12 touchdowns to quarterbacks over the first four weeks. Most of the damage came to wide receivers (80/1,064/9), but there has been plenty of chances for tight ends (28/245/3 on 32 targets).
Tampa Bay has plenty of offensive firepower, requiring the Dolphins to chase on the scoreboard. Gesicki should be active in this matchup with a reasonable chance of scoring. I have him projected for six catches for 67 yards and 0.75 touchdowns.
More: Kyle Pitts – 15.15, Tyler Higbee – 13.38
The Week 5 projections are up at Sports Illustrated, with a second update coming Saturday morning after all practices close Friday night.
Senior analyst Shawn Childs is a multi-sport, high-stakes fantasy legend with lifetime earnings in the high six-figures. He has been providing in-depth, analytical breakdowns for years all while helping his subscribers to countless titles and winnings across season-long & DFS. An inaugural inductee of the NFBC Hall of Fame, Shawn can teach you how to prep like a champ!