As anyone who has played fantasy football knows, it’s good to know which way the wind blows. The ocean of fantasy assets stretches out before us and expands from horizon to horizon, making any thought of mapping it all out a daunting task. The NFC (or NF-Sea?) holds plenty of dark corners and treacherous pitfalls. It takes a true fantasy explorer to know how to navigate.
Abandon all hope, ye who enter here! Only the strong can survive and dead men tell no tales.
Each week, we brave souls enter the depths of the North, the East, the South, and the West, and send word as to what we find there. Is it treasure? Is it traps? Is it glory and victory?
We break it all down for you right now.
NFC North Preview
Michael Stephenson (@DFF_Mste)
What to Watch For:
Who is going to be catching the ball in Green Bay?
Heading into week 5 the Packers WR room resembles a hospital wing, with Randall Cobb carrying a hamstring injury and Geronimo Allison in the concussion protocol already, Devante Adams is now carrying a calf injury. Mike Mccarthy has said that Marquez Valdes-Scantling would be the next man up if Allison does not clear the protocol, but this was prior to the news of Devante Adams’ injury. While it has not been confirmed that Adams and Allison will miss Sunday, the Packers may turn to rookies J’mon Moore and Equanimeous St.Brown, or to converted WR Ty Montgomery.
Fantasy Impact Players:
Aaron Jones is the running back to keep an eye on in this match-up. He returned from suspension last week to split carries with Jamaal Williams, but he vastly out-produced Williams, scoring a touchdown and averaging 5.9 YPC compared to Williams’ 2.5 YPC. The Lions have given up the 5th most fantasy points to RBs through 4 weeks, meaning Jones should be in for a good week.
The Minnesota Vikings head to Philadelphia following their shootout in Los Angeles and all eyes will be on Kirk Cousins and his top receivers Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs. The Eagles have allowed the 4th most fantasy points to WRs so far this year and have allowed 30+ points to quarterbacks in 2 of their 4 games so far. The passing offense of Minnesota should thrive here, and we could see top 5 weeks from both Diggs and Thielen, with top 3 QB potential for Cousins.
Kerryon Johnson has fast become a fan favorite in Detroit after becoming their first 100-yard rusher since 2013 in week 2, and then averaging over 6 yards per carry and scoring a touchdown in week 3. This week he faces one of the toughest defenses against the run in the league, having allowed the 8th least points to running backs on the year, giving up no rushing scores in 3 of their 4 games. Temper expectations for the rookie this week.
The Packer’s wide receiver injuries mean that any number of fringe WRs could be relevant this weekend. Marquez Valdes-Scantling has been named by Mike Mccarthy so he gets the nod from me as the sleeper in Green Bay, but if either J’mon Moore or Equanimeous St.Brown pop up with a few big catches it will not be surprising.
Aldrick Robinson burst onto the scene in week 3 catching both of his targets for 33 yards and 2 touchdowns. The Eagles have given up a ton of points to the WR position and his performance last week may encourage the Vikings to work Robinson in more this week.
Green Bay Packers 30 vs Detroit Lions 24
Minnesota Vikings 33 vs Philadephia Eagles 23
NFC South Preview
What to Watch For:
Alvin Kamara has put the whole fantasy world on notice. With 19 carries for 134 yards and 5 receptions for 47 yards, he is a true example of a fantasy football PPR back. As the top fantasy running back with the closest competition 30 points behind him, he has totally shocked the haters who picked other running backs than him first overall. He fits my model perfectly on what to look for in number one overall picks in the draft.
Fantasy Impact Players
This week you should see a lot of impact on your fantasy team if you have some dirty birds on your team. The Steelers’ defense is allowing so much offense to all positions in fantasy that starting anyone against them will show major production. Ito Smith gave you 13 points in standard PPR, which is decent if your running back was on a bye. But keep an eye on Devonta Freeman, who could be back next week and would completely crush any hopes of Smith seeing the field. All three wide receivers from the Falcons did well this week so be confident starting them moving forward.
With the Saints, I mentioned Alvin Kamara above, and Michael Thomas is an obvious start. Other than that, the rest of the team outside of Drew Brees is more confusing than the movie Cast Away and should probably be left on the waiver wire.
The Carolina Panthers had a bye last week and play the New York Giants this week. Expect a big game from Christian McCaffrey as the offensive line seems to have found a rhythm, and the Giants’ defense surrendered so many fantasy points to Kamara in the running game. Cam Newton should be up to his old tricks this week, running for touchdowns and throwing for them as well. Devin Funchess might not be so great at providing points for your fantasy team. The Giants managed to shut down the number one wide receiver in the NFL last week. So Devin could see the same double coverage take him out of the game.
Tampa Bay is on a bye this week but I think the magic of Ryan Fitzpatrick is over. Expect Jameis Winston to start when the bye is over, and it might be wise to pick him up. I know he threw two interceptions against the Bears but that is a top five defense. They will be playing the Falcons after the bye, whose defense is nowhere near as good.
Fantasy Impact Players
The Saints play the Redskins this week and they have a pretty good defense. Outside of Kamara and Thomas, this team has some “dartboard”-type players that could do well if the conditions are right. You just cover your eyes, throw a dart, and pick whoever it lands on. Cameron Meredith might be a solid play this week. With most of the attention going toward Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara, plus the return of Mark Ingram, you should see a different offense next week with this team. Hopefully the Redskins don’t take the bait and go back to last year’s tape to evaluate this team, with the tape already out there just for Alvin Kamara. Then add the idea of Taysom Hill running an RPO set with Ingram and Kamara on the field. That look could be very difficult for defenses to prepare for.
As far as Carolina goes, this sleeper is really in a deep sleep. Ian Thomas should have a bigger role in the offense this week, being that the Giants were leaving the tight end wide open last week against the Saints. Safety Landon Collins was so focused on Kamara, it let the tight end line up on the linebacker for most of the game. Norv Turner likes to use his tight end for moments like this. Ian Thomas’ production has gone up every week, so expect an explosion from him this week. They had a week to prepare for this team, so McCaffrey should be a nice decoy on some plays to get the tight end wide open since the Giants’ corners seem to be very good in one-on-one coverage against wide receivers.
If I had to choose a sleeper on the Falcons, it would be Austin Hooper. Since teams are starting to double cover Calvin Ridley, it’s leaving Sanu and Hooper wide open across the middle. And that’s prime real estate against the Steelers; it seems the Steelers’ linebackers can’t get their reads right and are leaving a lot of uncovered spaces in the middle of the field. The Bucs’ and Ravens’ games showed a lot of gaps in that defense and I don’t think much will change this week. Unless some retired players hit the fountain of youth and suit up.
Panthers 27 – NY Giants 17
Atlanta Falcons 42 – Steelers 45
New Orleans 24 – Redskins 27
Stop chasing points, fantasy fans. And remember, “I am with the force and the force is with me.”
NFC East Preview
Chris Smith (@Chrisheatcanes)
What to Watch For:
Ezekiel Elliott went off this week with 34 fantasy points. He is the only player on this team that has fantasy relevance, so make sure you never take him out. The running backs in this division seem to be “money” when you take a closer look. Either Adrian Peterson found the fountain of youth, or Captain Jack Sparrow handed it over to him for those gold chains Peterson loves so much. Chris Thompson has been playing very well so far; as long as he is healthy, he should start.
You know Alex Smith: his first and last read is his running back. And Saquon Barkley is a solid start this season for fantasy owners; just think, what could he accomplish if he actually had an offensive line! The Giants’ wide receivers are money as well. Too bad it’s not the same for the rest of the division unless you stashed Alshon Jeffery on your bench. Now that’s going to be a coming out party, to say the least.
Fantasy Impact Players:
For the biggest impact from this division, look no further than Odell Beckham and Sterling Shepard. They are playing the Carolina Panthers this week, who struggle with wide receivers, and I mean ALL wide receivers. And being that the Giants are a three-headed monster now, those two wide receivers along with Saquon Barkley should be heavily targeted.
You might be thinking of sitting AP and Chris Thompson since the Saints’ defense is second in the league versus the run. But think again: the Saints have not seen an offensive line like the Redskins’ this year. So expect both running backs to put up big numbers.
Philly plays the Vikings this week, and unless the Vikings have found the problems that ail their defense, start Alshon and you might want to start Jay Ajayi as well. The Philly offensive line has been blocking well for the run this season, so expect the same results you got from Ajayi last week, plus a touchdown. The tight ends should have a great game this week, especially since Anthony Barr couldn’t check a soul last week. He was left one-on-one in passing situations the whole game.
Paul Richardson should have a productive game this week. He caught a touchdown the last time he was on the field, and the Saints’ defensive backs have been playing terrible as of late. Michael Gallup from the Dallas Cowboys could have a good game this week in leagues with more than 10 people. The reason, you ask? The Texans only have one corner in Jonathan Joseph and since there is no clear number one receiver on the Cowboys, Gallup might get some one-on-ones with some of the new corners on the team. Wendell Smallwood is another sleeper thanks to the Anthony Barr effect. I think Philly will put whoever they can in one-on-one passing situations with him, being that he’s the weakest link in the passing game.
Dallas 21 – Texans 27
Philly 28 – Vikings 31
Giants 20 – Panthers 35
Redskins 24 – Saints 21
NFC West Preview
Mitch Lawson (@DFF_MitchLawson)
What to Watch For:
Who Will Lead the Seahawks Backfield?
I feel like you could have this storyline slotted in every single week and no one would bat an eye. Pete Carroll is starting to become the NFC’s Bill Bellichick with his carousel of starting RBs. Who’s next up? Will Mike Davis[/profiler] remain the lead back? Will [profiler]Chris Carson re-claim his role? Will Rashaad Pennyfinally get the spotlight? Will CJ Prosise or JD McKissic all of a sudden put up RB1 numbers?
Ugh. It’s enough to make your head spin. My money is on Carson regaining the majority of carries. But I say that with less confidence than I have in previous weeks after Davis’ performance last week.
Fantasy Impact Players:
The Rams Receivers – Take your pick here. With Earl Thomas’ injury, the Seahawks have an extremely questionable pass defense. In a game that could easily devolve into a shootout, all 3 Rams receivers are worth a start. And they will more than likely combine for upwards of 200 yards.
David Johnson – Johnson finally had a game that was reminiscent of his 2016 season. He has a great chance to build on that against the 49ers. He will be leaned on again, and have his best game to date. Proj. 27/180/2
George Kittle – Kittle has quietly become the most dependable receiver in SF. CJ Beathard absolutely leaned on the hulking TE, and he’ll likely need to do so again on Sunday. Proj. 7/90/1
Russell Wilson – Wilson has a tough task in front of him, as his defense will be overpowered by the Rams offense. However, Wilson has Doug Baldwin back and has question marks surrounding his run game. This game could be a shootout, giving Wilson “Boom” potential. Proj. 28-44 / 350 / 3 TDs (1 rushing) / 1 INT
Kendrick Bourne – Both Marquise Goodwin and Dante Pettis are questionable for this week. While Trent Taylor could push for more work, it’s been Bourne who’s come out with the better production. With Pierre Garcon looking lost in this offense, Bourne could absolutely explode this week if he gets a feature role. Proj. 7-801
Seahawks – 33 vs. Rams – 43
49ers – 27 vs. Cardinals – 30 (OT)