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Booms, Busts and Bets: NFL Week 5

Heading into Week 5, a clearer NFL picture is starting to emerge. Top teams — the Cardinals, Bills and Packers — all run their divisions, while the bottom-feeders — the Falcons, Lions and Jaguars — are right where they belong. Here are the best picks for this next week of action (in PPR leagues, unless otherwise noted):  

Yvonne Tang / DFP Staff

Boom: Dawson Knox

The Bills’ offense is cooking, and Knox has emerged as Josh Allen’s new favorite touchdown target. Touchdown dependency is always concerning, but with a match-up against the Chiefs defense that is bottom-three in the league, it’s less of a worry. Knox should at least be able to pull in a touchdown and a few catches in this Week 5 match.  

Bust: Packers defense/special teams

During the past couple of NFL seasons, a viable strategy in fantasy football has been to start the defense the Bengals are playing. With a healthy Joe Burrow and their explosive offensive weapons, that is no longer the case. The Packers’ defense is missing its best two players — Jaire Alexander and Za’Darius Smith — and won’t be able to keep up.   

Boom: Kenny Golladay

Week 4 brought about the triumphant return of Golladay. The new Giants receiver hauled in six catches for 116 yards in the Giant’s first win of the season against the Saints. With Darius Slayton and Sterling Shepard injured, Golladay should continue to see a boost. The return of a healthy Saquon Barkley will help too, so defenses now have to worry about both the run and passing attack. Against the weak Cowboys secondary — with the exception of Trevon Diggs — Golladay should feast.    

Bust: JuJu Smith-Schuster

First, let me clarify, I love Smith-Schuster. He’s a reliable, physical, tough receiver who Big Ben can always turn to in big situations. Unfortunately, that does not equate to fantasy significance. The volume of the Steelers offense currently runs through Diontae Johnson and Najee Harris. Johnson gets double-digit targets on short three- to five-yard passes, relying on his agility and yards-after-catch ability to get first downs, and Harris is on the field for nearly every play, getting more than his share of carries and targets. With Ben being unreliable in the deep game and DJ and Harris taking all the short game, there’s not a lot of room for JuJu. 

Best value bets

(Using FOX Sports odds at the time of writing. Disclaimer: Picks are merely the opinion of the author. Gambling involves financial risk. The author is not responsible for losses incurred from gambling). 

Carolina Panthers: Win/cover spread (Spread: -3.5)

  • I understand this spread after Week 4: the Panthers’ defense let up 36 points, and the Eagles offense looked really good. But the Panthers were facing one of the most dangerous offenses in the league in the Cowboys, while the Eagles’ matched with one of the worst defenses, the Chiefs. This week should be more about the Panthers’ defense, and I expect a bounce-back performance at home to give Carolina a comfortable win. 

Pittsburgh Steelers: Win/cover spread (Odds: -1.5)

  • The Broncos team this year has so much talent on both sides of the ball, and as a football fan, it’s painful to see their injuries potentially derail a great season. In Week 5, with Teddy Bridgewater, Pat Surtain, Jerry Jeudy and several more players battling injury, I don’t think they have the firepower to beat Pittsburgh on the road. The Steelers also, despite their loss, were a bad offsides call and a couple of missed throws away from potentially beating the Packers in Week 4. In one of the toughest divisions in football, the Steelers badly need a win to keep their season alive.

New York Jets: Cover spread (Spread: +3.5)

  • The Atlanta Falcons defense is, once again, atrocious. The Jets are coming off their first win, and most of their struggles this year have come from Zach Wilson falling apart against elite defenses — the Panthers, Patriots, and Broncos. Wilson and receiver Corey Davis should have an easy outing against the Falcons secondary, and this game should be close — I honestly even like the Jets to win at +150 odds.

Green Bay Packers @ Cincinnati Bengals: Over 51 points

  • I think this game will be a fun one to watch if you like offensive shootouts. Neither team has a great defense — particularly with the Packers’ injury struggles — and both teams have great offensive weapons. This should be a fun, high-scoring slugfest.

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