Snapdraft is a weekly game in which you select a team that fits under a $27 million salary cap. There’s a wide variety of league sizes, and while each league costs at least $1, there are cash prizes as well. Each week I’ll take a look at the matchups and the salaries and put together a winning combination. Since there’s a salary cap, you can’t just stack your team with a bunch of studs, so finding some bargains will be key. Here’s the Week 5 squad.
Cam Newton, Panthers, $5,210,000, vs. Saints
The rookie signal caller has impressed in three of the first four weeks to open the season, so it’s time to become a believer. His only hiccup was against the Jags in Week 3, which was played in torrential rain, so he gets a pass there. Last week he passed for 374 yards against the Bears and added two rushing TDs to go along with one through the air. The Saints’ defense has been spotty at times, so don’t be surprised to see Newton go off again in a game that could turn into a shootout.
Other value picks
Curtis Painter, Colts, $2,870,000, vs. Chiefs – The Colts’ third-string quarterback showed enough against the Bucs last week where he should be bumped up to the second string behind the injured Peyton Manning. Painter threw for 281 yards and two touchdowns, so if you’re looking to save some major cash at the QB position, this is who you take. Just be sure to make sure he’s getting the start on Sunday morning.
Matt Hasselbeck, Titans, $3,810,000, at Steelers – Hasselbeck only completed 10 passes last week, but three of them were for touchdowns. Even when the Titans rely on the running game, Hasselbeck is still coming up big. Look for another nice game against a banged up Steelers team.
Fred Jackson, Bills, $4,980,000, vs. Eagles
It’s starting to look like you should just take whichever RB is playing against the Eagles. Last week a hobbled Frank Gore went off on the beleaguered Birds, so Jackson could have a field day. Even when Jackson’s not putting up huge numbers on the ground, he’s involved in the passing game, so you’re sure to get yards somehow. He’s scored in three straight games now, and that trend should continue. He’s worth the high salary.
Isaac Redman, Steelers, $1,410,000, vs. Titans
You can’t find a better value than Redman. Rashard Mendenhall and Mewelde Moore are both hurt, so Redman will be the feature back for the banged up Steelers. The Titans have a very solid defense, but Redman is going to get plenty of carries, and at his low salary, you can’t pass him up. In his few chances carrying the ball, he’s looked even more dynamic than Mendenhall, so perhaps he can have a big day given a full load. QB Ben Roethlisberger is also hobbled, so he’ll be forced to rely on the running game, adding more incentive to take Redman.
Other value picks
Willis McGahee, Broncos, $2,000,000, vs. Broncos – McGahee has topped 100 yards twice in the last three weeks, but he has only one TD all season, so he’s a bit of a risk here. But at that salary it’s hard to pass him up. John Fox says he’s the Broncos’ guy right now, so you can ride him out until that changes.
Stevan Ridley, Patriots, $2,500,000, vs. Jets – Ridley went off for 97 yards on only 10 carries last week against the Raiders for a second straight impressive week. Look for his role in the offense to continue to grow. With Revis and Cromartie in the opposing secondary, the Pats may run more than usual this week, and Ridley should be the main beneficiary.
Hakeem Nicks, Giants, 3,800,000, vs. Seahawks
Nicks exploded for 10 catches, 162 yards and a touchdown last week in the Giants’ controversial win over the Cardinals. The only danger in this game is that the Giants could find themselves with a huge lead and turn to the run game to run out some clock. Even if that’s the issue, there’s a good bet Nicks will be the reason they have that lead in the first place, so he should be well-worth the high salary.
Jacoby Jones, Texans, $1,410,000, vs. Raiders
Like Isaac Redman at running back, Jacoby Jones should be a steal here due to injuries on his team. Star wideout Andre Johnson is out with a hamstring injury, so Jones should play a major role in the offense this week. While the Texans will likely rely on the running game against the Raider, Matt Schaub will still sling it at times, and Jones should be very productive, especially at such a bargain basement price.
Other value picks
Mike Thomas, Jaguars, $2,700,000, vs. Bengals - Rookie QB Blaine Gabbert is going to go through plenty of growing pains, but Thomas is his No. 1 target, so he’ll get plenty of looks. Thomas hauled in five catches for 73 yards last week. While those aren’t huge numbers, it proves there’s potential there, and at a relatively low salary, he could be a nice risk.
Michael Crabtree, 49ers, $1,820,000, vs. Buccaneers – Crabtree looked more like himself last week, grabbing five receptions for 68 yards against the Eagles. He’s been battling a foot injury, but perhaps he’s ready to turn the corner. He’s a nice high risk/high reward pick.
Jared Cook, Titans, $1,360,000, at Steelers
With Kenny Britt done for the season with an ACL injury, Cook’s role in the offense should continue to grow. He’s extremely athletic and showed flashes of brilliance last week. He only had two receptions, but they totaled 93 yards and one resulted in a TD. Cook could do some damage against a banged up Steelers squad, so we’re ready to roll the dice on him.
Other value picks
Dustin Keller, Jets, $1,800,000, at Patriots – Rex Ryan said he’s going back to a ground and pound running attack, but the Jets haven’t been able to run the ball all season. Mark Sanchez will have to do some damage through the air if the Jets will have a chance here, and Keller could be a nice matchup with Jerod Mayo out for the Pats.
Jermaine Gresham, Bengals, $1,390,000, at Jaguars – Gresham is coming off a game in which he tallied four receptions for 70 yards and a touchdown. Look for rookie Andy Dalton to continue to rely on the tight end against the Jags this week.
New Orleans Saints, $1,550,000, at Panthers
While we did take opposing QB Cam Newton, at this price, the Saints are hard to pass up. If Newton does go off and put up a ton of points, you don’t get penalized in this scoring system. You are rewarded for giving up few points, but not the other way around. So, if the Saints can force a few turnovers, the points won’t hurt you here, and the Saints should still win, which is another three points.
Other value picks
Cincinnati Bengals, $1,890,000, at Jaguars – The Bengals’ defense has been extremely underrated this season, and this week they face rookie QB Blaine Gabbert. The Cincy D is likely licking its chops for this matchup.
Arizona Cardinals, $1,380,000, at Vikings – While the Cardinals aren’t known for their defense, they’ll be going up against Donovan McNabb, who could be making on his way to a demotion. If Arizona can hold Adrian Peterson in check, they should be able to force McNabb into a couple mistakes and keep the scoring to a minimum.
Chris Johnson, Titans, $5,150,000, at Steelers
This is where those earlier value picks like Redman and Jones come in handy. With some nice savings, Chris Johnson is the pick at Flex. Pittsburgh has been terrible against the run this year, and Chris Johnson showed that he’s shaking off the rust with a nice game last week against the Browns with 101 yards rushing. Look for Johnson to continue to improve and finally find the end zone this week.