Week 8 daily fantasy advice: Previewing the week in DFS
The chalk was the story of DFS in Week 7, but at first glance, it doesn’t seem like that will be the case again in Week 8. At least that’s what I’ve concluded after my initial pass through the Week 8 salaries.
As usual, this column will provide some early-week thoughts on players, salaries, matchups or anything else I find noteworthy in my initial pass through the players on DraftKings and FanDuel.
The Thursday night game this week features the Tennessee Titans and Jacksonville Jaguars, while the Monday night game sports the Minnesota Vikings and Chicago Bears. Not the juiciest night games. This might be a good week to play the Thursday-Monday slates just to fade the TNF and MNF games.
It’s actually a weird week all around in terms of slate choices. We have another Sunday morning game (9:30 am kickoff), between the Washington Redskins and Cincinnati Bengals, and there are six teams on bye this week (Ravens, Rams, Dolphins, Giants, Steelers, 49ers). So the “main slate” will feature only 10 games, and only two of them will take place in the late afternoon (4:05 and 4:25 p.m.). If you miss the 1 p.m. kickoffs, you miss nearly the entire week.
However, almost all of the 10 games on the main slate are interesting, starting with Cardinals-Panthers all the way through the Sunday night game between the Cowboys and Eagles.
That’s the topline look at Week 8. It’s time to take a closer look. Remember, this is not meant as a comprehensive, refined list of players I love, like, or hate each week. These are early-week musings.
(Note: I’m providing only DraftKings and FanDuel salaries as I live in Florida, where Yahoo does not operate.)
There are not a ton of great quarterback options this week when looking at the high end. I’m finding myself building some early-week lineups using a lot of the cheaper players — particularly in cash games. However, I do see myself paying up for some of the top-end talent in tournaments.
Russell Wilson at $7,200 as the fourth-most-expensive quarterback on DraftKings makes him an instant fade for me this week — even with his tantalizing matchup against the New Orleans Saints. Wilson has scored more than 15 DraftKings points just once this season, so there’s a good chance he won’t even return 2x value on his salary. No thanks.
Matthew Stafford ($7,700) is the ninth-most-expensive quarterback on FanDuel this week, but he’s averaging the sixth-most PPG among quarterbacks on the slate and has truly been excellent this season. However, the matchup against the Houston Texans is tougher than it appears. The Texans have allowed the second-fewest passing yards per game. So despite the attractive price tag, I’m hesitant to go overboard on Stafford this week.
Is Kevin Hogan ($5,300) worth considering on DraftKings? Considering he went over 100 yards rushing — and got the three-point rushing bonus in the process — you might be tempted. But then you remember that Hogan completed just 12-of-24 passes for 100 yards, no touchdowns and two interceptions. For you math junkies, that’s 4.16 yards per attempt, which is awful. I don’t see any way Hogan gets 100 rushing yards again, or even close to 100 yards. This is an oozing, poorly camouflaged value trap waiting to gobble you up.
Somehow, some way, Tyrod Taylor ($5,200) is even cheaper than Hogan on DraftKings. Taylor has scored at least 15 points every week since Week 1, and he’s averaging 18 PPG on the season as a whole. In Week 4 against the Patriots, he scored 16.64 DraftKings points — but the Patriots scored no points in that game, and put no pressure on Buffalo’s offense to rack up the points. With Tom Brady under center for New England this go around, I’m expecting a different game flow and more points from Taylor. He’s in my cash lineup to start the week.
Value running backs are harder to spot this week, and it once again seems like the higher-priced options will be the most popular choices. This has been a trend this year, but it still feels weird because it’s so different from last season. There are, of course, some interesting value plays with potential. I’ll go over a few of them.
Give me Ezekiel Elliott ($7,200) on DraftKings this week. I’ll take him on FanDuel too, if I can fit him in my lineup, but at $8,500, that might be harder. Elliott proved in Week 6 that he’s matchup-proof, and some people might shy away from him in Week 8 because of the “tough” matchup against the Philadelphia Eagles. But the only run games the Eagles have truly held in check were the Pittsburgh Steelers, sans Le’Veon Bell, and the Detroit Lions, sans any legitimate running back. Elliott has topped 130 yards in four straight games, and he leads the league in rushing despite playing one fewer game than most other running backs.
Lamar Miller ($7,400 on FanDuel) is a sneaky-good play this week. He draws the Detroit Lions, a seemingly bad matchup, given the fact the Lions have not given up a rushing touchdown to a running back all year. However, that doesn’t tell the whole story. The Lions have given up 139 carries for 688 yards to running backs on the year. That comes out to 4.94 YPC. People may be off Miller because of the matchup, but it’s actually much better than it appears.
Over on DraftKings, Latavius Murray at $4,500 sticks out as an interesting option. He returned from injury last week and generated 20 total touches (18 attempts and two receptions). He was inefficient on a YPC basis (just 3.3 YPC), but he did score two touchdowns. And his price only increased $100 compared to Week 7. Murray had only seen about 10-12 touches per game from Weeks 1 to 4, so the 20-touch outburst was unexpected. That also means it’s difficult to bet on a repeat. However, we currently have the Oakland-Tampa Bay game projected to be the highest-scoring affair of the weekend, and many DFS players will be in on Oakland’s passing game. Murray might be a nice leverage play in tournaments, although he doesn’t come without risk.
LeGarrette Blount ($5,300) got more expensive on DraftKings this week after a huge Week 7, but it wasn’t enough of a price increase to pull me off of him. He has topped 15 DraftKings points in four of seven games, and he has gone for over 20 points in three games. The Buffalo Bills just gave up a 200-yard game to Jay Aayi. They also gave up huge games to Matt Forte and David Johnson earlier this season. They are not as fierce of a defense as Rex Ryan’s presence makes them seem. We also have New England projected to win by more than a touchdown, so Blount could be turned to late in the game to ice it.
There are a handful of names throughout the entire price spectrum that interest me this week, which is actually a good thing. Instead of feeling the need to pay up for multiple wideouts — or, on the flip side, feeling like the best value resides in the cheap players, which is never a confidence-builder — I can spread out my wideout talent this week.
Mike Evans at $8,100 on DraftKings will certainly draw a lot of looks. Oakland has a bright green “30th” next to their name to let everyone know they are terrible against the pass, and Evans has scored a touchdown in all but one game this season. Additionally, as noted above, we have the Tampa Bay-Oakland game projected to be a high-scoring contest. What’s not to like? In truth, there’s much more to like than dislike. But this is going to be a chalky, chalky play, and there’s a potential for a trap: The Raiders held Allen Robinson to just two catches for nine yards last week. I can’t pull myself completely off of Evans, but I’ll likely have less ownership than the rest of the crowd.
Don’t mess with Kelvin Benjamin this week. He’s $7,300 on FanDuel and $7,200 on DraftKings. He will likely draw Patrick Peterson, and it’s a matchup that leaves plenty to be desired. Peterson had been giving up just 0.19 fantasy points per route run leading into Week 7. He did give up four catches for 54 yards in Week 7, and another three for 65 in Week 6, but from Weeks 1 to 5, Peterson allowed just nine catches on 22 targets for 89 total yards. He’s still a stud, and I wouldn’t flirt with it this week.
Since I like Tyrod Taylor, I guess I also like Justin Hunter. I know, I can’t believe I just typed that sentence either. I might end up talking myself out of this one by the end of the week, but Hunter is only $5,200 on FanDuel and $3,100 on DraftKings — only $100 above wide receiver minimum. After playing 20 percent of Buffalo’s snaps in Week 5 and another 58.2 percent in Week 6, he jumped all the way to 93 percent in Week 7. His targets have increased from 1, to 3, to 4, and he caught a touchdown in each of his first two games. The numbers aren’t big, obviously — and Hunter is definitely not a cash game play — but if he’s going to play 90-plus percent of Buffalo’s snaps while playing catch up against the Patriots, he’s worth an insert in tournaments with his cheap price tag.
I’m leery of Brandon Marshall as the fourth-most-expensive wideout on DraftKings at $7,800. For starters, he’ll likely draw Joe Haden — assuming Haden is healthy come Sunday. Additionally, while the targets have been there for Marshall, the production has been inefficient, to say the least. Marshall has 63 targets this year, tied for seventh among wideouts. But he only has 30 receptions, tied for 33rd. Even when factoring in his high average depth of target of 14.0, a 46.3 percent catch rate is nothing to write home about.
Oh, man. This is a pretty hellish week for tight ends. Even the top guys — Rob Gronkowski and Greg Olsen — have tough matchups. There’s very little in the mid-range to like this week, and as usual, dumpster diving for tight end value will be risky business once again. Your choices seem to be to pay up for a top dog and hope their talent wins out, or cross your fingers and try to find the right value play.
Hunter Henry is now the fourth-most-expensive tight end on FanDuel’s main slate, priced at $5,800. This is too much. First of all, the Chargers are playing the Denver Broncos. Secondly, he entered the league’s concussion protocol on Monday. And finally, his snap rate trended in the wrong direction for the fifth straight week. After logging 100 percent of San Diego’s snaps in Week 3, Henry’s Weeks 4-7 snap rates have been: 97.1, 82.7, 68.2, 62.7. So Henry is injured, going up against the Denver Broncos, and is seeing his role in the offense decrease. Not the kind of player who should be the fourth-most expensive option at the position.
I like Travis Kelce on both DraftKings ($4,900) and FanDuel ($5,700). Recency bias will have fantasy players down on Kelce after he caught just five passes for 56 yards and no touchdowns over the past two weeks combined, despite the fact Kelce had great matchups against the Oakland Raiders and New Orleans Saints. A third good matchup in a row could be the charm, as Kelce this week plays the Indianapolis Colts, who have given up a touchdown to tight ends in two straight games and rank 27th against tight ends overall.
If there was ever a “Richard Rodgers in tournaments” week, this is it. There are really no stats to support Rodgers as a good play — he has just nine catches of 15 targets this year — but Green Bay’s dysfunctional offense saw Davante Adams and Ty Montgomery take over in recent weeks, so nothing will really surprise me at this point. The Falcons have been terrible against tight ends all season long, so the matchup is right, and he costs only $2,700 on DraftKings and $4,800 on FanDuel, so it’s not a big investment. Rodgers isn’t going to go for over 100 yards (Hail Marys notwithstanding), but a pair of touchdowns isn’t out of the question. Disclaimer: Tread at your own risk.