Every week, at least one player becomes my fascination of whether he’s worthy of a fantasy football start as a streamer. The decision can be a mental wrestling match, but for the purpose of brevity, only one player can be chosen as the fantasy football gamble of the week.
The best fantasy football gamble for Week 5
Tracking my predictions: 1-3-0
Win: Player produces ≥ 75% of projected fantasy points
Loss: Player produces >75% of projected fantasy points
Tie: Player is ejected, leaves with an injury, or lands on COVID-19 list after publishing
2021 record: 8-9-1
2020 record: 5-10-1
Hey, look at that! Being back in the winner’s circle feels nice, but it pales in comparison to the reward that was starting Seattle Seahawks running back Rashaad Penny at Detroit Lions. The 15.9 PPR points I projected was dwarfed by his actual 28.7 results, and it hopefully propelled many of you to a fantasy victory.
The celebration is short-lived, just as quickly as we shake off bad calls around here, so let’s get after it for Week 5.
QB Derek Carr, Las Vegas Raiders at Kansas City Chiefs
The 0-3 Raiders were up against it heading into Week 4 and managed a victory vs. the Denver Broncos, but if this team has any chance of making the playoffs, winning this week is just as — if not more so — important.
As we saw last week, returning to the ground game was the key to Vegas’ win, and Carr was effectively irrelevant through the air. He finished with 188 yards, no touchdowns or interceptions, and added 40 rushing yards for his first sub-21-point fantasy outing of 2022.
While I fully acknowledge the driving force behind the Raiders’ Week 4 success was Josh Jacobs’ 144 rushing yards, it won’t be so easy to just pound the rock and throw a season-low 34 times again vs. Kansas City. The Chiefs have permitted the fewest rushing yards per game to the position in 2022. Furthermore, they probably will score 30-plus points, and the Raiders will be required to respond through the air.
KC has allowed quarterbacks to average 25.7 fantasy points per game, which is the sixth-highest figure through the first month of play. In that time, the position has thrown 10 touchdown passes — tied for the league lead — against a lonely interception and averaged 286.5 aerial yards. The Chiefs, to their credit, have opened the year facing Kyler Murray (20.6 points), Justin Herbert (28.8), Matt Ryan (19.5) and Tom Brady (31.3) — not exactly the easiest slate.
In 2021, the Chiefs blew out the Raiders in both meetings, and Carr was at least competent in each one, largely thanks to garbage-time volume. He finished with 261-2-1 and 264-1-1 — not ideal but not horrendous, either, suggesting a reasonably stable floor. Yes, the Raiders have a new, complex offense that hasn’t been fully actualized in 2022, but the weaponry is improved. Davante Adams and Darren Waller demand focused defensive attention each and every play, while Hunter Renfrow and Mack Hollins have proven to be more than capable role players. Renfrow is poised to return from missing two games with a concussion.
All things considered, the Raiders haven’t played that poorly on defense. The highest point total allowed so far is just 29 to Arizona in Week 2, and six of those were a walk-off defensive TD. The Los Angeles Chargers were held to 24 in the opener. Kansas City has scored 41 or more twice in four outings, and a far superior defense in Tampa Bay had no answers for this offense a week ago.
If the Raiders cannot get any traction on the ground early, look for the short-area passing game to become the rushing attack by proxy, and those nickels and dimes add up for real money in Carr’s final stat line. I’m banking on a combination of a poor running game and a negative game script resulting in the veteran passer cashing in his most lucrative fantasy day of the season.
My projection: 331 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT, 13 rushing yards (25.15 fantasy points)