By Steven Van Tassell (@SteveVT33)
A distraction is defined as “a thing that prevents someone from giving full attention to something else.” As someone who works from home, I know that it’s easy to get distracted while I’m trying to write and researching my weekly Starting lineup and Bench recommendations. The pressure of having a publication deadline (which I miss pretty regularly to be completely honest) sometimes makes me focus better, but in many other instances it’s hard to focus and I get distracted by noises outside or from my phone, my cat meowing at me for treats, or even chores that I should be doing around the house.
Imagine being a NFL player and having a distraction as you’re trying to get ready to play every week. There are only 17 games this season for each team (up from 16 games). The NFL isn’t like other sports that have multiple games a week and 162 games (Major League Baseball) or 82 games (National Basketball Association and National Hockey League). It’s not even like European football (aka soccer) because the major European leagues (English Premier League, La Liga, Serie A, Ligue 1 and the Bundesliga) play either 34 or 38 games in a season with no playoffs. I know regular season games are important in every sport, but with just 17 of them, there is a heightened importance in the NFL.
Therefore, NFL players can’t get distracted by outside things, like their coach dancing with random people at a bar and infuriating the team owner when he probably should be preparing his winless team for their next game. Each game is too important to millions of the team’s fans (although in Jacksonville’s case, they may not have a million fans after having ten or more losses in nine out of the past ten seasons). It even seemed to happen to the G.O.A.T. last week as having to answer a million questions about his return to New England plus the emotions of seeing Patriots owner Robert Kraft and the New England faithful at Gillette Stadium (plus some good defense by the Patriots) appears to have contributed to his poor performance in Week 4. Everyone thought it would be the ultimate revenge game and that the G.O.A.T. would throw it all night long with multiple TDs against his former team, but in the end, maybe he’s like the rest of us and things going on outside of football distracted him and hindered his play last week.
Besides the situation in Jacksonville, there are other potential distractions that Dynasty Owners may want to take into consideration when setting their lineups this week. Both the Falcons and Jets may be distracted by having to fly overseas to London and play a game that starts at 9:30 AM (Eastern) in the time zone that they spend almost all of their time. It might not have the correlation between NBA player James Harden’s performance and the quality of the “adult entertainment” options in a city that somebody “proved” back in 2019, but it could impact a player on your Dynasty Owner roster. I’d link to the Harden article, but honestly, everyone can do an easy internet search to find out about it.
It’s a valid concern for Dynasty Owners with players from the Jaguars, Falcons and Jets on their rosters. Might players from those teams do somewhat worse this week because of what’s going on with their coach, or sleep patterns because they have to play several thousand miles away in another country? Or maybe another team has a distraction that we don’t know about that will hurt other player’s performance this week?
Thanks for reading my weekly preview article and hopefully not getting distracted by the ramblings in the previous few paragraphs. Every week of the 14-game Dynasty Owner regular season and three game playoffs, I’ll present a player at each position (QB, RB, WR, TE) who you should have as a Starter in your Dynasty Owner lineup. After that, I’ll name one player per position who should be on your Bench or Practice Squad. These won’t be recommendations for Starters that you get everywhere else. No recommendations to go ahead and start guys who have produced well the past couple of weeks, like Kareem Hunt. He’s RB8 in Dynasty Owner, was drafted in the fifth or sixth round, on average (ADP 63.3) and has averaged more than 22.0 Dynasty Owner fantasy points over the past two weeks. Same thing with Dalton Schultz. Unless you have both Travis Kelce and Darren Waller or three of the top 10 WRs, you probably should have Schultz in your Starting lineup. He has more Dynasty Owner fantasy points over the past two weeks than any other TE and a good TE is hard to find. Instead of guys like Hunt or Schultz, I’m going to recommend you Start players who were clearly drafted to be on your Bench or Practice Squad, or who rank outside the Top 12 QBs, Top 24 RBs, Top 24 WRs and Top 12 TEs. For the Bench recommendations, I’ll suggest players drafted to be Starters or who should be in your Starting lineup based on their current ranking, but who shouldn’t be in there this week based on matchups, past performance against a team or something else.
Finally, I will look at one Dynasty Owner game, our Match-up of the Week. It’s a couple of 4-0 teams with one team in the Top 25 of the Chase for the Ring. I picked this match-up instead of one of the recommended match-ups from the Wednesday livestream because I got distracted and forgot to write down what Dynasty Owner teams were suggested in the chat. The best way to prevent that again is to tweet me (@SteveVT33) and offer your team and a match-up to be featured next week.
All stats cited are based on the Standard Dynasty Owner scoring system as outlined in the updated Dynasty Owner Constitution. Standard Dynasty Owner scoring gives you .1 points for every yard rushing or receiving, .1 point for every 2 yards passing, 1 point per reception, 6 points for a rushing, receiving or passing touchdown and 2 points for a successful 2-point conversion (rushing, receiving, or passing). Interceptions or fumbles lost cost you 3 points, while a fumble that is recovered by the player’s team is a loss of only 1 point. Bonus points are available for 100-199 yards rushing (2 points), 200 yards rushing or receiving (6 points), 300-399 yards passing (1 point) and 400 yards passing (4 points). There is also a 3 point bonus for clutch scoring, which is a score that results in a lead change in the final two minutes of the 4th quarter or overtime. Kickoff and punt return touchdowns are worth 6 points for the player and kickoff and punt returns are worth 1 point for every 40 yards.
For the purposes of this article, ADP and Dynasty Owner rostered percentage statistics were current as of the morning of October 8th.
These Guys Should be Starters This Week
As always, let’s take a quick look at how my recommendations from the previous week fared (Good, Bad or Just Ok). I predicted performances worthy of being in your Dynasty Owner Starting lineup for these four players in Week 4, but let’s find out what actually happened.
QB: Taylor Heinicke – 36.8 (Good recommendation)
RB: Trey Sermon – 8.9 (Bad recommendation)
WR: Olamide Zaccheaus – 2.5 (Bad recommendation)
TE: Tommy Tremble – 0.0 (Bad recommendation)
My QB Starter recommendations continue to do well as Taylor Heinicke was the third Good one in four weeks. Unfortunately, there are three other positions to recommend and all of them were Bad this week and in most of the previous weeks. Trey Sermon had 8.9 Dynasty Owner fantasy points, which is more than any other recommended RB through four weeks, but it wasn’t enough as he finished well outside the Top 24 RBs for the week. I didn’t even to bother to check out Zaccheaus’ ranking, and Tremble was an awful choice as he did nothing and had a Blutarsky (0.0 Dynasty Owner fantasy points). Hopefully neither one of them was in your Starting lineup or even on the Bench.
I’m hoping to have another Good QB recommendation this week and add at least one other Good recommendation from the other three positions in Week 5. Here goes:
Jacoby Brissett (QB – MIA): I believe that I texted out a variation of the following sentence several times during last week’s Patriots-Buccaneers game. “Throw it to whoever Sherman is guarding.” Mac Jones did so on eight occasions and the Patriots receiver being guarded by Sherman caught all eight passes for 98 receiving yards. On Monday, Buccaneers Head Coach Bruce Arians said that Sherman “played really, really well.” I’m not Mike Clay breaking down WR-CB matchups every week, but what I saw with my own eyes was not someone playing really, really well. Hopefully, Dolphins Head Coach Brian Flores, both Offensive Coordinators (apparently they have two) and QB Jacoby Brissett watched the game film and can do the same thing against Sherman and the Buccaneers secondary this week. Patriots QB Mac Jones had 22.6 Dynasty Owner fantasy points last week with -1 yards rushing. If Brissett can throw as well against Sherman and the rest of the Tampa secondary as Jones did (31 completions on 40 attempts for 275 yards and two TDs) plus add in some rushing yardage that Jones didn’t, then Brissett will be worth a spot in your Week 5 Starting lineup.
Damien Harris (RB – NE): The Patriots game plan should include plenty of running of the football against a Houston Texans defense allowing 114 yards rushing per game to RBs and an average of nearly 5.0 yards per rushing attempt. Harris has 49 rushing attempts in four Patriots games this season, while the other RBs currently on their roster have combined for 10 attempts. Harris has 94% of the yards gained by Patriots RBs on the ground this season (172 out of 183 yards). I realize that equates to only 43 rushing yards per game, but Harris had 100 rushing yards against Miami in Week 1 and 62 rushing yards (plus a rushing TD) in Week 2 against the Jets before being almost completely unused against New Orleans in Week 3 and Tampa Bay in Week 4 (10 attempts for 10 rushing yards). If the Patriots plan on running the ball against the Texans, then it’ll be Harris carrying it. I think that they will do it, so put Harris in your Starting lineup.
Laviska Shenault (WR – JAC): When Dynasty Owners drafted Shenault at the end of the seventh round (ADP 82.0), they likely expected a WR who would improve with Urban Meyer as the Jacksonville coach instead of boring Doug Marrone. Shenault wasn’t terrible in 2020, but more than a WR47 finish and 11.2 Dynasty Owner fantasy points per game average were expected this year at that draft position. So far, that hasn’t worked out as Shenault is WR51 and averaging only 10.1 Dynasty Owner fantasy points per game. And he hasn’t even played a game after all of the distractions in Jacksonville over the past couple of days. Will those distractions affect Shenault? I don’t know, I’m not a psychologist, but I am recommending him as someone to get into your Starting lineup, so probably not. It’s mostly because Shenault is expected to take on a bigger role in the Jaguars offense with D.J. Chark out with an ankle injury. After Chark got injured last week, Shenault had his best game of the 2021 season with 17.0 Dynasty Owner fantasy points. That’s the second biggest game of his career behind Week 17 against the Indianapolis Colts when he had 24.6 Dynasty Owner fantasy points. Guess who missed that Week 17 game last year. It was D.J. Chark. Shenault should exceed his average weekly production with Chark out and be worth a spot in your Starting lineup.
Hayden Hurst (TE – ATL): With Calvin Ridley out, the Falcons starting WRs for their game in London against the New York Jets are likely to be Olamide Zaccheaus, Christian Blake and Tajae Sharpe. Out of the three of them, only Zaccheaus has played more snaps, received more targets, gotten more receiving yards, and most importantly, scored more Dynasty Owner fantasy points, than Hurst. Kyle Pitts is likely to line up outside as a WR quite a lot in this game, while Hurst plays the traditional TE role. It’s not like he’s new to the Falcons or doesn’t have QB Matt Ryan’s trust. Just last year, Hurst was the TE9 in Dynasty Owner with 149.1 Dynasty Owner fantasy points (56 receptions, 571 receiving yards, 6 receiving TDs) in 16 games for an average of 9.3 Dynasty Owner fantasy points per game. He hasn’t done much so far in 2021 (9 receptions, 63 receiving yards and 1 fumble to score 14.3 Dynasty Owner fantasy points, but that should definitely change this week. Back in Week 3, I recommended Austin Hooper as a Starter in a similar situation as Hurst is in this week. Hooper scored 9.9 Dynasty Owner fantasy points (2 receptions, 19 receiving yards, 1 receiving TD) to finish the week as TE15. I think Hurst can do better because the Browns at least had Odell Beckham Jr. returning to their lineup at WR. The Falcons have no proven WRs at all this week, so Matt Ryan will look a lot to Kyle Pitts, Cordarrelle Patterson and Hurst when he wants to throw the ball. This makes Hurst a worthy Starter at TE this week.
These Guys Should Be on the Bench (or Practice Squad) This Week
Now it’s the time to look at how my Bench recommendations from Week 4 worked out (Good, Bad or Just Ok). In an effort to distract everyone, I will once again mention that I was a perfect 4 for 4 with all Good Bench recommendations in Week 1 and had two Good recommendations in Week 2.
QB: Lamar Jackson – 25.6 (Just Ok recommendation)
RB: Saquon Barkley – 31.6 (Bad recommendation)
WR: Marquise Brown – 19.1 (Bad recommendation)
TE: Dalton Schultz – 17.8 (Bad recommendation)
Unfortunately, the past two weeks haven’t gone as well as the first two did. Both weeks have featured three Bad recommendations and a single Just Ok one. Lamar Jackson was the QB12 in Dynasty Owner last week for the Just Ok recommendation, while everyone else should have definitely been in your Starting lineup. There’s no way to spin it any differently. Don’t let the last two weeks distract you from focusing on who I’m recommending that Dynasty Owners leave on their Bench in Week 5.
Daniel Jones (QB – NYG): Isn’t it inevitable that Daniel Jones will rip the heart out from his Dynasty Owners one of these weeks? And if so, what better place than on America’s Game of the Week versus the Dallas Cowboys? If you have Jones on your Dynasty Owner roster, you can’t continue to expect him to continue to be the QB9 in Dynasty Owner and score an average of just under 28.5 Dynasty Owner fantasy points per week. He didn’t score that many Dynasty Owner fantasy points in a single game in 2020. The average number of Dynasty Owner fantasy points in games that Jones has started against Dallas is 13.8. I’m generously leaving out the -1.7 Dynasty Owner fantasy point game he had in Week 1 of his rookie season in 2019 because Eli Manning started the game. In those three starts, he has thrown 2 INTs and fumbled four times (losing three). His best game against Dallas was in Week 17 of last year when he had 19.1 Dynasty Owner fantasy points. Maybe it’s a Jason Garrett thing, but Jones doesn’t seem to play well against the Cowboys, so I’d sit him on my Bench this week if I had him in any leagues at all.
James Conner (RB – ARI): A pair of two TD games has pushed James Conner into Starting lineup position in Dynasty Owner as he is RB26 after four weeks. Two of the RBs ahead of him are definitely out for Week 5 (Chris Carson and David Montgomery) while two more are likely to be out (Joe Mixon and Christian McCaffrey), so Conner is really more like RB22. Conner has scored 45.8 Dynasty Owner fantasy points with 40.2 of those points (88.4%) coming from rushing the ball. If you look at overall rushing defense, the 49ers have allowed 4.45 yards per carry (106 carries for 472 yards). However, if you only look at RBs, then they are much better and average only allowing 3.9 yards per carry (88 carries for 343 yards). Conner’s yards per carry average is lower than that at 3.2 yards per carry. It’ll be difficult for Conner to reach 10.0 Dynasty Owner fantasy points with that kind of rushing average, few targets in the passing game (3 targets all season – that’s in all four games, not per game) and only scoring over 10.0 Dynasty Owner fantasy points in both of his 2 TD games. Arizona has so many weapons on offense that it’s not realistic to expect Conner to have another 2 TD game this week. It’s more likely that he’ll have no TDs and score under 10.0 Dynasty Owner fantasy points, so leave him on your Dynasty Owner Bench.
Brandin Cooks (WR – HOU): I basically wrote the reasons for Cooks being on this list back in Week 2 when I recommended that Dynasty Owners put Corey Davis on their Bench before his Week 2 matchup with the New England Patriots defense https://dynastyowner.com/2021/09/week-2-preview-cliffhangers/). If you don’t want to read the article, then here’s a quick summary. Rookie QBs are terrible against Bill Belichick defenses and Belichick will do his best to take away the best player from the opposition’s offense. This week, Houston faces New England with a rookie (Davis Mills) at QB. Ignore the fact that Cooks is WR9 right now and averaging 17.85 Dynasty Owner fantasy points per game and focus on the fact that he is by far the best Texans’ offensive player and that Belichick will do whatever it takes to take him out of the game. Corey Davis scored only 2.8 Dynasty Owner fantasy points (2 receptions for 8 yards) back in Week 2. It might not be that bad for Cooks, but still leave him on your Dynasty Owner Bench this week.
George Kittle (TE – SF): In one half of one game with Trey Lance at QB, George Kittle was only targeted three times with zero completions. Not a huge sample size, but it’s not good news for Dynasty Owners who spent big on him (ADP 45.5; 5 years/$15 million per year). So far, it hasn’t worked out for them as Kittle is only TE11 through the first four weeks of the season and has scored zero TDs. While he’s second on the team in targets (28), he’s pretty far from Deebo Samuel who has been targeted 43 times so far. Samuel was also targeted seven times in the second half by Lance last week with 4 completions for 107 receiving yards and 2 receiving TDs. If that wasn’t enough to convince you not to put Kittle in your Starting lineup, then how about the fact that the Arizona defense has allowed only 22.3 Dynasty Owner fantasy points to TEs over the first four weeks of the season (5.6 points per game). The best TE performance to date against Arizona was 7.6 Dynasty Owner fantasy points by Tyler Higbee of the Rams in Week 4. Even though it’s George Kittle who we’re talking about here, the data doesn’t add up to a top 12 TE performance, so keep Kittle on your Bench.
Dynasty Owner Match-up of the Week – Miami Crypt Keepers vs. The Underdawgs
It’s time for the fifth Dynasty Owner Match-up of the Week of the 2021 season and the first one in which I did some research on Dynasty Owner and found the match-up myself. It’s compelling because both teams are undefeated and one has Ring aspirations (Miami Crypt Keepers who sat in 11th place after Week 4). The other team (The Underdawgs) would probably be happy if their team won League #59074, the first prize payout of $600 (since it’s a $1,200 cash prize pool league) and the windfall of $100 million Dynasty Dollars that comes along with being a League Champion. All of that sounds pretty good to likely all Dynasty Owners, including both Miami Crypt Keepers and The Underdawgs.
While this is a new league, some of the teams in it should be familiar to Dynasty Owners as they were around last year and made Chase for the Ring leaderboard appearances in different leagues earlier this year. OFF CONSTANTLY is 3-1 in this league and was in 7th place in the Chase with their League #27447 team after Week 1, while Bastedos are 2-2 in this league and had their League #27448 team on the Leaderboard after Week 2 (7th place) and Week 3 (10th place). That’s some difficult competition that both of the teams in our Match-up of the Week will need to conquer to win League #59074.
As you can tell from the projections and minutes listed above, I did this in the middle of the Thursday Night Football game. Guess what? I got distracted by other things at home and the Red Sox-Rays playoff game.
Even with some of each team’s points scored, it looks like the Miami Crypt Keepers are the favorites to go 5-0 on the season. The projections have Miami Crypt Keepers winning by about a dozen points – 160.75 to 148.57. Interestingly, the Miami Crypt Keepers are projected to fall short of their average weekly score (169.65 points per week), while The Underdawgs are projected to exceed their average (142.98 points). Both teams look evenly matched up at every position but TE as the Miami Crypt Keeper will have Travis Kelce in their TE spot, while The Underdawgs counter with Jared Cook. Kelce is projected to score 14.0 more Dynasty Owner fantasy points than Cook, which is more than the Miami Crypt Keeper’s projected margin of victory. If Cook can score 19.0 Dynasty Owner fantasy points like he did in Week 4, then The Underdawgs might be able to pull the upset over a Chase for the Ring contender. Either way, check in on Tuesday to find out who won and if the Miami Crypt Keepers will appear on the Top 10 or Top 25 leaderboard.
Don’t get distracted by reading every single column about who to start, sit or who’s a sleeper for the week. That will leave your head spinning and may make you think that a player like Rams WR Robert Woods should on your Bench this week. While it’s true that he hadn’t been as good as Cooper Kupp over the first four weeks of the 2021 season, Woods was still averaging 11.5 Dynasty Owner fantasy points per week while Kupp was going bananas at the start of the season.
Was it what you were expecting when you drafted Woods? No, of course not. But it’s not terrible and he wasn’t dropping easy passes, missing practices due to injury or anything else. He just had a bad couple of games. Dynasty Owners who got distracted by the new bright shiny WRs who may have had a good game or two could have missed Woods’ breakout Week 5 performance on Thursday night.
Please read my weekly preview article each and every week to see who should be in your Dynasty Owner Starting lineup and who should be on your Bench. If you have one of the players mentioned, hopefully it will assist you with your lineup decisions. While some Dynasty Owners may heed my advice, others might disagree, or not have a better option for their Starting lineup and choose to ignore a Bench recommendation. Other Dynasty Owners may not need Starting lineup help as they have a stud player at a position who isn’t moving to the Bench unless he’s injured or on bye. Hopefully, the choices for your Starting lineup and Bench are solid, your team wins its game, and you stay in contention for the playoffs and even the Chase for the Ring.
In addition to this weekly preview article, Dynasty Owner has plenty of other great content to help you win your League Championship and maybe the Chase for the Ring. Our in-season publication schedule is as follows. On Monday, Jay Pounds will preview the Monday Night Football matchup from the Dynasty Owner perspective. Tuesday has a double shot of Dynasty Owner content with my Week 5 recap article and Jay’s Free Agent Auction targets article and video. Wednesdays is when Matt Morrison – The Jerk will dive into a topic of his choosing with an article and a video. Right now, he’s doing a series on Incredibly True Stats by position. The next day, he’ll have an article previewing the Thursday Night Football game to start Week 6. Don’t forget about the Dynasty Owner livestream on Wednesday with myself, Tim Peffer and now featuring Cousin Justin (who is an injury expert and a real actual Doctor of Physical Therapy). There is also the free flowing fun that is Seth and Tim chatting together live on Thursdays at 1 PM. Set those timers on YouTube so you don’t miss either one of those broadcasts.
Please read all of our articles, watch our videos on YouTube or listen to them wherever you get your podcasts. Don’t forget follow all three of the Dynasty Owner team of writers plus Dynasty Owner on Twitter as well. Thanks, and have a great day!
Steven Van Tassell is the Head of Content for Dynasty Owner