NFL Week 5 Predictions | 2021

NFL DFS predictions post here every week, including projected outcomes and players to watch for every matchup. (We respond to all reader comments so jot them below.)

Thursday, Oct. 7th

RAMS (3-1) AT SEAHAWKS (2-2) — 8:20pm ET FOX

Favorite: Los Angeles (-2.5) O/U: 54.5

The 3-1 LA Rams head up to Seattle to take on the 2-2 Seahawks. A division win for either team will be pivotal down the line. The Rams are coming off of a 37-20 thrashing at home by the Cardinals while the Hawks enjoyed a 28-21 road win against the 49ers. The X-factor Thursday will be the Rams’ defense—and how Russell Wilson is able to deal with Aaron Donald in his face all night.

DFS Player to Watch: Van Jefferson | WR | $3,500 DraftKings | $5,000 FanDuel

Van Jefferson was the most effective receiver for Stafford last week against the Cardinals and he’s still undervalued due to presence of both Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods. Jefferson has 226 yards and two touchdowns on the season and Thursday’s matchup against the Seahawks’ 21st ranked defense could be a fruitful night for the 2nd-year Rams receiver.

Sunday, Oct. 10th (Real Early Slate)

JETS (1-3) AT FALCONS (1-3) — 9:30am ET NFLN

Favorite: Atlanta (-3) O/U: 46

The Jets and the Falcons will both make the trip across the Atlantic in a battle of 1-3’s at London’s Wembley Stadium. The Jets pulled out their first win in OT against the Titans while the Falcons suffered a close loss to the Washington Football Team at home. Matt Ryan will not have Calvin Ridley to aim at in this game because of a personal matter and the Jets pass rush is far from the worst in the league. Moreover, rookie Zach Wilson will follow up a confidence-inspiring win after upsetting the Titans and throwing for almost 300 yards.

DFS Player to Watch: Cordarrelle Patterson | RB | $5,900 DraftKings | $7,500 FanDuel

The 30-year-old receiver (ahem, running back) is coming off a three-TD performance. We can’t count on a repeat of that, but with Calvin Ridley absent, Patterson could easily get more than last week’s six targets. More importantly, he’ll feast on one of the most porous run-D’s in the NFL.

Sunday, Oct. 10th (Early Slate)

PACKERS (3-1) AT BENGALS (3-1) — 1:00pm ET FOX

Favorite: Green Bay (-3) O/U: 51

Two 3-1 division leading teams duel at Paul Brown Stadium. While the Bengals have had hard-fought duels to earn their victories, they have yet to face a QB like Aaron Rodgers. The Bengals have the advantage of playing at home and a few extra days of rest, but that might not be enough to mitigate Rodgers, Adams and Jones. If he wants the win, Joe Burrow will need to top last week’s 348-yard two-TD performance against a mid-tier defense, and hope Green Bay RB Aaron Jones is slowed by his recent ankle injury.

DFS Player to Watch: Tyler Boyd | WR | $5,300 DraftKings | $6,300 FanDuel

Tyler Boyd had a quiet start to the season through the first three games but managed a breakthrough performance against the Jaguars. On Thursday Night Football he put up a 118-yard performance. With Cincy RB Joe Mixon possibly out, Burrow will have to sling the ball more. And if Tee Higgins remains out or limited in Friday’s practice, Boyd could be a value pickup.

LIONS (0-4) AT VIKINGS (1-3) — 1:00pm ET FOX

Favorite: Minnesota (-9) O/U: 49

The Lions and Vikings have the unpleasant honor of currently sitting at the bottom of the NFC North. The only thing consistent about both teams has been their inconsistency week. The Vikings desperately need this win in order to stay relevant in the NFC North. The Lions, however, will start thinking about building for 2022 if they slip to 0-5. The Lions don’t have history on their side. They’re 0-7 in their last seven meetings with the Vikings.

DFS Player to Watch: Adam Thielen | WR | $6,600 DraftKings | $7,500 FanDuel

We could have picked any Minny WR because the Lions pass coverage is in shambles. Thielen, meanwhile, has scored at least one touchdown in every game, minus last week’s contest against the Browns. He hasn’t cracked the 100-yard mark this season, but if there were ever a defense to do it against, it’s this one.

BRONCOS (3-1) AT STEELERS (1-3) — 1:00pm ET FOX

Favorite: Pittsburgh (-1) O/U: 39.5

The Broncos have worries at the QB position as Teddy Bridgewater was knocked out of the Baltimore game with a concussion. If he can’t go then it will be Drew Lock against a shaky Steelers pass defense on the road. Both team’s QBs look unimpressive to put it mildly, so we wouldn’t be pounding their receivers in fantasy. If Bridgewater is able to return in time that may be enough to tip the scale in Denver’s favor. Look for this to potentially be a low-scoring snoozer.

DFS Player to Watch: Najee Harris | RB | $6,900 DraftKings | $7,300 FanDuel

Harris keeps turning lemons into lemonade on an offense that’s lost its passing mojo. The rookie back has logged at least 19 fantasy points in his last three appearances. Denver’s run-D is tough but Harris knows how to catch a short pass and that’s about all Roethlisberger can throw these days.

DOLPHINS (1-3) AT BUCCANEERS (3-1) — 1:00pm ET CBS

Favorite: Tampa Bay (-10) O/U: 48

The Miami Dolphins are broken. There is something fundamentally wrong with this football team and it runs much deeper than the absence of Tua. The offense looks lost, the defense is gassed from too much field time and opponents seem to know what plays they’re going to run before they do. The Buccaneers are coming off an emotional 19-17 victory over the Patriots, despite being down several corners and playmakers. The Dolphins need to figure out their problems in a hurry because the Buccaneers are a top 5 offense that won’t be taking prisoners.

DFS Player to Watch: Tom Brady | QB| $7,400 DraftKings | $8,400 FanDuel

Tom Brady didn’t dominate against his former team like many expected him to. He’ll want to return to his MVP-candidate self against the woeful Dolphins in front of his home crowd. At home Brady has thrown for 655 yards, 9 touchdowns and 2 picks. On the road Brady has thrown for 701 yards but only one touchdown. Brady plays better at home and that should continue on Sunday.


Favorite: New Orleans (-2) O/U: 44

The unpredictable Saints and Washington Football Team should prove interesting for multiple reasons. For starters, it’s already week 5, yet it’s hard to say how good or bad either of these teams really are. The Saints laid an egg last Sunday against the winless Giants in their home opener and Washington, through the heroics of Taylor Heinicke, stole two last-minute games against the Giants and Falcons. Washington’s defense continues to struggle with injuries while the Saints Brees-less damaged-receiver offense is the reason they’ve been struggling.

DFS Player to Watch: Alvin Kamara | RB | $8,600 DraftKings | $8,600 FanDuel

Alvin Kamara has been a reliable weapon for Jameis Winston through four weeks. Consider his zero targets last week an aberration. He should pose a major challenge in the run and pass game for Ron Rivera’s defense.

EAGLES (1-3) AT PANTHERS (3-1) — 1:00pm ET FOX

Favorite: Carolina (-3.5) O/U: 45

The Panthers are looking to get back on track against an Eagles team that, despite a valiant effort against the Chiefs, look outclassed against top-tier opponents. Jalen Hurts is proving every week that he is a starting quarterback in this league. His maturation and growth is why the Eagles have been able to hang around in games at all. The biggest question is whether or not McCaffrey, a game-time decision, will be available for the Panthers.

DFS Player to Watch: D.J. Moore | WR | $7,500 DraftKings | $7,900 FanDuel

D.J. Moore has developed incredible chemistry with Sam Darnold through four weeks. That connection figures to grow even more against a depleted Eagles defense. With 398 receiving yards and three touchdowns in four games, Moore is a fantasy powerhouse.

TITANS (2-2) AT JAGUARS (0-4) — 1:00pm ET CBS

Favorite: Tennessee (-4.5) O/U: 48.5

The Titans, like the Saints and Washington Football Team, are a puzzler. They have a bad habit of playing down to inferior opponents but also an uncanny knack for rising to the occasion against fierce opponents. That’s what makes this game so tough to analyze. Yes, the Jaguars are an inferior team on paper and the Titans should handle them easily, but the Jags have extra days of rest and have improved since week 1. If Julio Jones is unavailable again the game will be closer.

DFS Player to Watch: Trevor Lawrence | QB | $5,800 DraftKings | $6,500 FanDuel

Trevor Lawrence, like the rest of the Jaguars, has shown growth in his last few games. The Titans’ secondary, and defense in general, has several gaps that Trevor may be able to exploit if his O-line gives time. He may not win, but he should at least 3.5x his salary on DraftKings.

PATRIOTS (1-3) AT TEXANS (1-3) — 1:00pm ET CBS

Favorite: New England (-9) O/U: 39.5

While it’s understandable for the Texans to be in the shape they’re in—considering injuries and shallow talent—the Patriots’ record is more surprising. They spent a load in free agency, on both sides of the ball. This game is about one team getting back on track and the other going further down the rebuilding rabbit hole. If the Patriots defense plays as well as it did against the Bucs and Mac Jones continues to take strides, this should be a relatively easy day for Bill Belichick & co.

DFS Player to Watch: Kendrick Bourne | WR | $4,000 DraftKings | $5,200 FanDuel

Kendrick Bourne has been an under-the-radar type receiver. He’s incredibly reliable, catches what’s thrown to him and is capable of putting up incredible YAC numbers when given the opportunity. And his price is right.

Sunday, Oct. 10th (Aft. Slate)

BEARS (2-2) AT RAIDERS (3-1) — 4:05pm ET CBS

Favorite: Las Vegas (-5.5) O/U: 44

The Raiders were handed their first loss by the surging Chargers. Now they’ll face a Bears team with an aspiring pass rush. The good news for the Raiders is that the Bears offense has ranked near the bottom of the league (948 yards of total offense in four weeks with both Dalton and Fields managing a whopping zero passing touchdowns). Vegas also has a defense graded top 3 by PFF. If it can get to Fields early that’ll be the difference maker.

DFS Player to Watch: Hunter Renfrow | WR | $4,900 DraftKings | $5,800 FanDuel

Hunter Renfrow has proven to be one of Derek Carr’s most elusive and reliable receivers. That should continue this week at home against the Bears’ second-rate coverage unit. Renfrow, who led the team in targets last week, caught two total touchdowns all of last year. He’s already got two in 2021.

BROWNS (3-1) AT CHARGERS (3-1) — 4:05pm ET CBS

Favorite: Los Angeles (-1.5) O/U: 47

The saying goes that stats don’t lie. Here’s what the stats tell us about this matchup: The Browns are averaging 25 points of offense through four games while the Chargers are averaging 23.4. On defense the Browns are holding opponents to 16.75 points and the Chargers are holding them to 18.4 points a game. These are two teams putting up nearly identical numbers. That should make for both an exciting game and a fruitful fantasy opportunity, between two playoff contenders in the AFC.

DFS Player to Watch: Austin Ekeler | RB | $7,600 DraftKings | $7,700 FanDuel

Through four games Austin Ekeler has logged 283 yards rushing and two touchdowns in addition to 141 receiving yards and two more touchdowns off catches. Some may not like this matchup but Ekeler is an elite running back in this league. Choosing the best DFS running back is not always about picking the best matchups. His dual threat ability means the chargers will lean on him against a stingy Browns defense.

GIANTS (1-3) AT COWBOYS (3-1) — 4:25pm ET FOX

Favorite: Dallas (-7) O/U: 52

The Cowboys look to be the class of the NFC East and, health permitting, should have no issues taking the division come January. However, as mentioned before, divisional games entail more variance. The Giants could very well be 2-2 right now had a field goal gone the other way in week 2. Their victory against the Saints is proof of their resilience against more talented and better coached teams. Still, despite Daniel Jones’ impressive showing of late, beating a surging Cowboys team–who’s quarterback is playing the best football of his career–is not in the tea leaves.

DFS Player to Watch: Tony Pollard | RB | $5,600 DraftKings | $5,600 FanDuel

Tony Pollard has proven a dependable #2 running back for the Cowboys. He’ll continue to see action against the Giants, particularly if Elliot is held back . While Pollard has only one rushing touchdown on the season, he’s also put up 250 yards of rushing. He’s also averaged more yards per attempt than Elliott ( 6.8 Y/A compared to 5.3).

49ERS (2-2) AT CARDINALS (4-0) 4:25pm ET CBS

Favorite: Arizona (-5.5) O/U: 50

Jimmy Garoppolo suffered a calf bruise that could sideline him for this matchup which would pave the way for 2021 third overall pick Trey Lance to get his first NFL start. While this would normally be exciting news for a fanbase desperate to see what their future looks like, it unfortunately comes against the undefeated Cardinals. The Cardinals are the real deal and will likely go to 5-0.

DFS Player to Watch: Deebo Samuel | WR | $7,100 DraftKings | $7,700 FanDuel

Deebo Samuel leads the league in receiving yards (490) and yards after the catch (266). He’s also averaging 122.5 yards a game. To give perspective, Jerry Rice’s all-time high was 115.5 yards back in 1995. We are witnessing the evolution of a WR who’s going from talented to elite. Rookie QBs lean on their best pass catcher, especially when trailing against the #1 team in football.

Sunday, Oct. 10th (Late Slate)

BILLS (3-1) AT CHIEFS (2-2) 8:20pm ET NBC

Favorite: Kansas City (-2.5) O/U: 56.5

A rematch of last year’s AFC Championship game gets the national spotlight on to Sunday Night Football. The Bills have looked almost unbeatable, minus their week one collapse against the Steelers. K.C., while still putting up impressive offensive numbers, has nothing but holes on D. The Bills will seek to exploit them in what could be an early playoff preview.

DFS Player to Watch: Emmanuel Sanders | WR | $4,900 DraftKings | $6,200 FanDuel

Emmanuel Sanders continues to be one of the most reliable receivers in the game despite his age. He’s a great value start against a team battling the Lions for the NFL’s worst defense.

Monday, Oct. 11th

COLTS (1-3) AT RAVENS (3-1) — 8:15pm ET ESPN

Favorite: Baltimore (-7) O/U: 46

The Colts finally earned their first win of the season against the woeful Dolphins. Now they get to play a red hot Ravens team that have moved into a high gear behind Lamar Jackson’s play. This matchup figured to be a possible playoff preview before the season started but the Colts’ surprising 1-3 record and seemingly interminable injury list make it a brutal uphill climb for Carson Wentz and co.

DFS Player to Watch: Marquise Brown | WR | $5,800 DraftKings | $6,800 FanDuel

“Hollywood” Brown has had an incredible start to his season (326 yards, 3 touchdowns and averaging 17.2 yards) and it’s a near certainty that it’ll persist against a Colts secondary that ranks near the bottom of the league.

About the Author: Steven A. Cravens has been a professional sports better and analyst for over a decade. As a former Fox Sports NFL researcher and data logger, he specialized in player profiling and performance statistics.

Note: Unless otherwise noted, all fantasy stats are based on point per reception (PPR) scoring.

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