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Running backs present unique DFS opportunity

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Daily fantasy (DFS) brings a breath of fresh air to the industry, with an emphasis on the excitement of drafting a new team every week. We all know that the late summer drafts and the thrill of analyzing the weekly matchups are the best part of playing fantasy football. The daily game merges those two together to form the newest wave rocking the fantasy world.

Here in the weekly daily fantasy roundup column, we'll break down everything you need to know to pick the best plays on the Week 5 slate. If any of the terminology goes over your head. Please refer to the "what you need to know" preview of the roundup.

Top quarterback plays

Derek Carr, QB, Oakland Raiders - The Chargers lost their best cornerback to a season-ending injury when Jason Verrett tore his ACL. San Diego already allowed a 65.4 completion percentage and the fifth-most passing yards in the NFL through four weeks. Carr has been on fire and this is a home game that projects to be high-scoring. The young quarterback could cross the 40-attempt threshold, especially with starting tailback Latavius Murray out for this game.

Top running back plays

DeMarco Murray, RB, Tennessee Titans - Power backs like Isaiah Crowell and LeGarrette Blount ripped through the Dolphins defense the last few weeks. Teams have run on the Dolphins frequently this year as they have 103 rush attempts against them in four games. The Titans are feeding Murray regardless of game script and he has fewer than five catches in just one game this season.

Terrance West, RB, Baltimore Ravens - With rookie Kenneth Dixon questionable and likely to get eased in slowly during his first NFL game, West should draw his second consecutive start. The Ravens get Washington in Baltimore on Sunday and no team bleeds more production to the running back position. Washington allowed the most yards to running backs in the NFL through four weeks at 5.1 yards per carry. They have also ceded seven rushing touchdowns. As home favorites, Baltimore should find themselves in a run-heavy or neutral game script, which will keep the ball in West's hands.

Jerick McKinnon, RB, Minnesota Vikings - DFS values come out Sunday night, so McKinnon's strong Monday night game is not reflected in his Week 5 value. He's a starting back valued far too low. While he did lose a goal-line touchdown to Matt Asiata, he played 61 percent of the snaps and punched in a red-zone score of his own. With the Vikings defense in tow, the game script should keep McKinnon involved every single week.

Top wide receiver plays

Jordy Nelson, WR, Green Bay Packers - The Giants vs. Packers game should be one of the highest-scoring contests of the week. Nelson owns a 28 percent of the team's passing targets and leads the NFL in red-zone looks, despite playing just three games. Nelson should draw coverage from Janoris Jenkins, who is susceptible to biting on good route-running and double moves. Both of those are strengths of Nelson's.

Amari Cooper, WR, Oakland Raiders - The Raiders second-year receiver has yet to score a touchdown this season. He's been inches away from a big game and even had a 60-plus yard score called back in the first four weeks. Eventually, Cooper is going to find the end zone and he's clearly the big-play threat for the Raiders, even if Crabtree is going to lead the team in targets again. Week 5 could be Cooper's coming out pary, especially with Jason Verrett out for the contest.

Jarvis Landry, WR, Miami Dolphins - Landry has double-digit targets in every game the last eight weeks he's played. The Titans slot corner Brice McCain is a career journeyman and will not be able to hang with Landry. The entire Dolphins passing game is interesting this week.

DeSean Jackson, WR, Washington Redskins - After a one-catch, five-yard game Jackson is primed to have one of his explosive games in Week 5. Jackson should run most of his routes against Ravens corner Shareece Wright. Per Next Gen Stats, in 115 coverage attempts quarterbacks targeted Wright 29 times through four weeks, and he's allowed 16 catches for 202 yards and a whopping five touchdowns.

Steve Smith, WR, Baltimore Ravens - Will he ever slow down? It sure doesn't seem like it. Smith has 198 yards and a touchdown in his last two games. He lines up in the slot on 37 percent of his plays, so there will be more than enough opportunities for Smith to avoid Josh Norman's shadow coverage.

Robert Woods, WR, Buffalo Bills - No team has more wide receiver targets against them than the Rams (115). Los Angeles has allowed the third-most yards to wide receivers in the NFL. Woods collected 18 targets over the last two games and should see healthy volume yet again. The Bills need to get up after a big win over New England in Week 4 and now travel across country for a road game. The Rams should be able to keep on their game script and have the Bills playing from behind.

Top tight end plays

Martellus Bennett, TE, New England Patriots - The Browns rank 28th in tight end defense, per Football Outsiders' DVOA, and allow 83.5 yards per game to the position as a whole. Rumors are swirling that Rob Gronkowski still is not healthy after running just 13 pass routes in Week 4. Bennett has had four 100-yard receiving games in his eight-year career, and two of them are from this year as a Patriot. Even if this will be his first game with Tom Brady, it is clear the team wants him involved.

Zach Ertz, TE, Philadelphia Eagles - It's risky to play a skill position player in the first week back from injury, but Ertz is in just too good of a spot. The Lions allow a league-high five touchdowns to tight ends on just 27 targets against them. They've allowed touchdowns to Richard Rodgers and Zach Miller in back-to-back weeks. Ertz returns to a team that hasn't established a strong No. 2 option to Jordan Matthews and is getting solid play from Carson Wentz.

Defense plays

Patriots DEF - Eventually Cody Kessler will have a "throw up on his shoes" game, and what better spot than a road trip to New England with Tom Brady set to make his season debut.

Rams DEF - The Bills are traveling across country after an emotionally jarring win in the "Rex Ryan beats Bill Belichick Super Bowl." Buffalo is a big-play dependent offense that ranks 19th in percentage of drives that end in a score (33.3 percent).

Dolphins DEF - The Titans keep giving the ball to the opposing defense. 17.4 percent of their drives end in a turnover, good for the sixth-highest rate in the NFL.

Stack(s) of the week

Andrew Luck/T.Y. Hilton, Indianapolis Colts - T.Y. Hilton was born to play in the dome. Hilton averages 100 yards and 0.67 touchdowns per game in the six homes games he's played with Andrew Luck since the start of 2015. The Colts get a banged up Bears secondary at home in Week 5. The public will likely chase after Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady at the top rung of the quarterback standings this week. If Luck's ownership is depressed, he makes for an ideal tournament play.

Ryan Tannehill/DeVante Parker, Miami Dolphins - The Titans carry the 14th ranked pass defense per Football Outsiders' DVOA. That's a solid ranking, but they have areas where they can get picked on. One spot to attack is left corner Perrish Cox, who should see plenty of big play wideout DeVante Parker. Quarterbacks have targeted Cox on 25.8 percent of his coverage attempts and he's allowed 18 receptions for 228 yards and two touchdowns thus far.

Steelers (Ben, Brown, Bell and even Sammie Coates) - In their building, the Steelers average 31.6 points per game as opposed to 22.1 on the road dating back to 2014. 2016 looks to be a continuation of that trend with Pittsburgh averaging 33.5 points per game in their two home contests and 20.5 in their two road tilts. So, essentially, anytime Pittsburgh plays at home you should put them in this stacking section. The Jets have allowed 797 yards to the wide receiver position (fourth-most) through four weeks on just 66 targets. Big plays have been an issue for the Jets as receivers average 16.6 yards per reception against them. Ben, Brown and Bell (who played four snaps at wide receiver, seven in the slot and one tight to the line) all could feast through the air in this game, but there is one more Steeler you can mix into stacks. Sammie Coates played the second-most snaps of any Steelers wideout in Week 4, at 57 percent. Coates also played his most complete game to date. His average depth of target was just 13.4, down from his season average of 27.2. It was by far his most consistent outing to date. Since he's such a value, consider using him to access the vaunted Ben/Bell or Brown stack as a third component.

Best contrarian plays

Todd Gurley, RB, Los Angeles Rams - The Bills have a solid run defense, giving up under 4.0 yards per carry and checking in as the 14th run defense in DVOA. They've just been ripped by touchdown runs. However, the Rams might not find themselves in a better game script to pound Todd Gurley for an entire game. The Bills are in a major letdown spot taking a cross-country road trip. Gurley could push for 30 carries here, and with everyone just about fed up with him after incorrectly taking him in the top-five of their season-long drafts, you won't get him at a lower ownership rate than in Week 5.

Randall Cobb, WR, Green Bay Packers - Over the last two weeks with Trevin Wade playing significant snaps the Giants have allowed 200 yards and a touchdown out of the slot to a combination of Stefon Diggs, Cordarrelle Patterson, Jamison Crowder, DeSean Jackson and Jordan Reed. Wade was primarily the culprit of the allowed production as a replacement slot corner. Even if Dominque Rodgers-Cromartie is back, this is his first year as a nickel corner and he's not healthy. It's tough to chase a good Cobb game, because it's been almost a calendar year since we've seen one, but this game could easily turn into a shootout and force some volume his way.

Odell Beckham Jr., WR, New York Giants - Sam Shields will miss another game with a concussion and that leaves Damarious Randall as the top cover corner in Green Bay. After limiting Allen Robinson to two receptions for 13 yards and a 39.5 passer rating on 13 coverage attempts, Randall got stung by Stefon Diggs (5-134-TD on 15 coverage attempts) and Marvin Jones (3-82-TD on 16 coverage attempts), allowing a perfect passer rating and catch rate to both in back-to-back weeks. The narrative street, on-field matchup and projected point total all line up for Beckham in this spot. Look for him to remind the world why he's one of the best players this game has to offer.

Best obvious play

DeAndre Washington, RB, Oakland Raiders - With Latavious Murray out, both Washington and Jalen Richard come into focus as potential punt plays as they play near even snaps. Washington was the drafted player and looks like an explosive athlete. Washington recorded 105 catches over his last three years in college, while the Chargers allow the second-most catches to running backs (36). As he's the passing game specialist, and this game projects to be primarily an air-driven contest, Washington is simply too much of a value not to chase.

Players to fade

Melvin Gordon, RB, San Diego Chargers - Eventually Melvin Gordon's inefficiencies are going to catch up to him and he will lay a statistical egg. Gordon leads the NFL in red-zone carries and has all six of his touchdowns from inside the 20-yard line. Even if you remove those short-area carries, the second-year back averages 3.62 yards per attempt. The Raiders don't have a strong run defense and the volume should still be there for Gordon. However, now that he's valued as a top-five back and we know he's still not an elite back ability-wise, it makes sense to fade him this week with his ownership likely still climbing.

The near 100 percent exposure player

Jordan Howard, RB, Chicago Bears - The Colts allow a 4.1 yards per carry figure and six total touchdowns to running backs. It's a bit dicey to trust a running back on the road on a team with below-average quarterback play, but Howard should own a massive share of the backfield touches. Howard played a whopping 91 percent of the team snaps and touched the ball 26 times in Week 4. Getting a feature back at his value, regardless of the theoretical script, just provides way too much relief to your lineup.

Cheat code of the week

Derek Anderson, QB, Carolina Panthers - In his two 2014 starts against the same Buccaneers he'll likely face Monday night, Anderson totaled 507 passing yards and three touchdowns while completing 66.5 percent of his passes. The Bucs are no better in pass defense and they rank 27th in Football Outsiders' DVOA. Anderson knows to just feed his guys when he's starting. In those two games, Kelvin Benjamin averaged 98 yards receiving, scored two touchdowns and handled 21 targets, while Greg Olsen averaged 96.5 yards on 24 targets and posted a 10-catch game. Since this is a Monday night game, you need to be careful about locking Anderson into your lineup, as Cam Newton could also pull the hero card and get out there to play. The signs right now strongly point to Newton sitting. Getting a capable backup at the stone minimum value is one of the most tempting plays in DFS.

Matt Harmon is an associate fantasy writer/editor for NFL.com, and the creator of #ReceptionPerception, who you can follow on Twitter @MattHarmon_BYB or like on Facebook.

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