DraftKings Daily Fantasy Football Helper: Week 8
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Once again the main slate is only 10 games, but this one has a number of high-scoring affairs. In fact, six games have an over/under of 49 points or higher. In cash games you click on Todd Gurley and move on. There's really no reason to avoid using him in cash whenever he's on the main slate. From there, either Kareem Hunt or James Conner is the best way to keep building upon an extremely high floor, but we'll touch of each of them shortly. It might also be a good week to invest at quarterback, given a lack of strong options in the lower range.
Aaron Rodgers ($6,400): Coming off a bye week, Aaron Rodgers (knee) has been practicing in full while sporting a smaller brace and has been lobbying to stop using it altogether. Additionally, Geronimo Allison (hamstring) and Randall Cobb (hamstring) are both expected to return to play after each missed multiple weeks of action. It's an ideal time for Rodgers and his receivers to be close to full health as they are nearly double-digit underdogs in the game with the week's highest over/under. Prior to containing C.J. Beathard, the Los Angeles Rams allowed a total of 10 touchdowns from Weeks 3 to 6, and they are still without top cornerback Aqib Talib. Rodgers has thrown no fewer than 40 passes in five consecutive games and is averaging more than 430 passing yards over his last two contests.
Jameis Winston ($6,000): Based on numberFire's projections, Jameis Winston is easily the top value at quarterback this week on the 10-game main slate. Over the last two weeks, Winston has thrown the ball nearly 100 times and has flirted with 400 yards in each game. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are small road underdogs in a game with the week's second-highest over/under. That means similar results should be excepted, as the opposing Cincinnati Bengals are 29th in passing success rate against, according to Sharp Football Stats. Through seven games, five opposing quarterbacks have exceeded 300 passing yards against the Bengals, while three of the last four have surpassed 350 yards. Winston didn't throw a touchdown last week, but did mange to run one in for a rushing score. Turnovers remain a large concern, however. Winston has six interceptions in only three games, but should see more than enough volume to exceed this price tag.
Joe Flacco ($5,300): One cheap quarterback with a good chance to beat our projections in Week 8 is Joe Flacco. He's second in pass attempts, yet hasn't thrown three touchdowns in a game since the opener. On the other side, the Carolina Panthers have yet to allow three passing touchdowns in a game this season. However, three of the last four opposing quarterbacks have scored two touchdowns while also exceeding 300 passing yards; and one of those was Eli Manning. Sharp Football Stats has the Carolina pass defense 25th in success rate and 28th in explosive passing allowed, which runs counter to their public perception as a formidable defense. For a low-owned stack, given the low over/under, Flacco can be paired with John Brown ($5,900) who remains underpriced coming off his best game of the season: 7 receptions, 134 yards, and a touchdown.
James Conner ($7,500): The only player that is likely to keep Kareem Hunt from seeing massive ownership this week is James Conner. Like Hunt, Conner is playing at home as a large favorite. He's also seeing a divisional opponent for the second time this season. Back in Week 1, Conner had what remains his biggest game of the season by rushing 31 times for 135 yards with two touchdowns against the Cleveland Browns. Conner also caught five of six targets for 57 yards. Now coming off two consecutive games in which he exceeded 31 DraftKings points, the only question is if paying the additional $400 to play Conner ahead of Hunt is worth it. Our projections have the cheaper Hunt outscoring Conner by 3.4 points. The Denver Broncos are near the very bottom in run defense by our metrics while the Browns are in the middle of the pack. Regardless of which running back you opt to pair with Todd Gurley in cash games, be sure to get exposure to the other in tournaments.
Kareem Hunt ($7,100): Playing Gurley in cash games this week is an easy decision. Figuring out the other high-end running back to pair with him is far more difficult. Our projections point to Kareem Hunt, loud and clear. He's third in projected DraftKings points and second to only Gurley as the top points-per-dollar value at the position. Not only has Hunt exceeded 29 DraftKings points in three of his last four games, but he's finally seeing usage in the pass game. After seeing a total of nine targets over the first five games, Hunt has recorded a total of 10 receptions on 12 targets in the last two contests. One of the aforementioned big games for Hunt came against these same Broncos. Back in Week 4, Hunt ran for a season-high 121 yards on 19 carries while adding three receptions for 54 yards. Denver is coming off a game in which they bottled up David Johnson, but not before allowing a 200-yard rusher in both Weeks 5 and 6. The Broncos are currently the second-worst run defense by numberFire's schedule-adjusted metrics and are double-digit road underdogs in the week's third-highest over/under. Clearly, everything is set for Hunt to smash once again.
Kerryon Johnson ($5,300): While an overdue change at offensive coordinator will surely get people excited about playing David Johnson ($6,700) again, another running back with the same surname provides similar upside at a much cheaper price tag. Kerryon Johnson is a slight home favorite competing in a game with an over/under that is top-five on the main slate. The opposing Seattle Seahawks have seen five different running backs exceed 70 rushing yards against them, and three of those added enough receiving yards to total more than 100 yards from scrimmage. Aided by an early 71-yard scamper, Johnson totaled 158 rushing yards on a season-high 19 carries last week at the Miami Dolphins. The Detroit Lions were without Theo Riddick, who did not practice on Thursday, but only targeted their second-round pick three times in the passing game. Unfortunately, LeGarrette Blount has punched in three short touchdowns over the last games. Being poached near the end zone could remain a concern for Johnson going forward, but there's no reason why he can't score from longer distances given Seattle's extremely generous 4.7 yards per carry allowed. Various injuries could open up additional running back values below Johnson. Those options include Jalen Richard ($4,200), Raheem Mostert ($3,800), and Nyheim Hines ($3,800).
Robert Woods ($6,800): Assuming you are playing Gurley along with either Conner or Hunt as the staples of your cash game lineup, you'll need to find value near the top of the wide receiver position to further elevate both your floor and ceiling. Thankfully, Robert Woods is somehow under $7,000 despite being the number one receiver on a Rams team that is playing at home with the slate's highest implied total. Sure, you are playing Gurley in cash games as well but so what? Over the last five games, Woods -- a top-five value at wide receiver by our projections -- is averaging 8.2 targets, 6.3 receptions, and 94.2 receiving yards per game. During that time he's also been credited with seven rushing attempts for 82 yards. Priced right below Woods is Tyler Boyd ($6,700), who is a great pivot to make in tournaments as he looks to rebound against the Buccaneers after posting two duds in his last three games.
Jordy Nelson ($4,700): Even though he's coming off what is easily his worst game of the season, Jordy Nelson finds himself at the intersection of value and opportunity this week in DFS. In fact, our projections have Nelson as a top points-per-dollar value at home against the Indianapolis Colts in the wake of the Amari Cooper trade. The Colts have done a good job of limiting explosive pass plays -- they rank seventh-best in that area per Sharp Football Stats -- but are allowing passes to be completed at a high rate as only two teams have a worse passing success rate against. Nelson lacks the ceiling you want in a tournament, but if he hits 13.0 DraftKings points, as projected, you'll gladly take the savings in order to jam in a pair of stud running backs in cash.
Sammy Watkins ($4,600): While we can be cautiously optimistic about Nelson providing us a decent floor, let's also get excited about the upside Sammy Watkins offers at a nearly identical price. DFS players can swap Nelson for Watkins in tournaments, or take both values in cash games. Either way, Watkins only needs one or two big plays reach value at a price that matches his lowest of the season. Watkins has been something or a boom-or-bust player this season, but if you exclude his early Week 4 departure due to injury against this same Broncos defense the numbers really aren't all that bad. Looking at just those six games, Watkins has seen seven or more targets on four occasions while exceeding 70 yards three times. Watkins is a cheapest way to get a reasonable piece of the explosive Kansas City Chiefs offense and should see a decent bit of ownership in all formats.
Vance McDonald ($3,700): One of the most difficult decisions to make this week on the main slate is at tight end, particularly in the $3,000 range where there are three very attractive options to consider. Our projections given a very slight points-per-dollar edge to Vance McDonald, but it's extremely close. After failing as the chalk tight end in Week 5 against the Atlanta Falcons, McDonald bounced back in Week 6 with season highs in targets (8) and receptions (7) while putting up 68 yards. McDonald will face a Browns defense that has seen the third-highest amount of targets go to the tight end position. Also in this price range are two tight ends that will be in the same game: O.J. Howard ($3,900) and C.J. Uzomah ($3,500). Both are coming off decent games and face opposition that has been extremely favorable to tight ends.
Jeff Heuerman ($2,600): While the number of mid-range tight ends to evaluate in Week 8 is vast compared to recent weeks, the best option in cash games might be punt the position altogether. And the best option for that is Jeff Heuerman, who is only $100 above the minimum-salary floor. While Heuerman is coming off a game in which he did not record an official target, he had a touchdown taken off the board when he was flagged for offensive pass interference. According to the game charting done by PlayerProfiler, Heuerman only ran 10 routes last week against the Arizona Cardinals. However, Denver found themselves up 21-3 with 2 minutes left in the first quarter and only needed to call 21 pass plays over the entire game. Now the Broncos are massive road underdogs facing a Kansas City defense that has given up more receiving yards to tight ends than anyone else, and that includes Heuerman's seven targets, four receptions, and 57 yards from Week 4.
Cincinnati D/ST ($2,500): Even though Jameis Winston has only played in three games, the game charting done by PlayerProfiler has charged him with nine interceptable passes and 12 "danger plays". Winston has also thrown two interceptions in each game thus far and has been sacked a total of eight times. However, after starting the season with two solid defensive outings, the Bengals defense has recorded zero or negative DraftKings points in four of their last five. Thankfully, that other game saw the Cincinnati defense score two touchdowns while compiling one fumble recovery, two interceptions, and three sacks while limiting the Miami Dolphins to only 17 points. There's clearly a lot of risk here but Winston's shaky level of play can turn the Bengals into a tournament-winning defensive unit.
Pittsburgh D/ST ($2,300): Not only are the Steelers second in our raw points projection when it comes to defensive squads they are also the best points-per-dollar play across the entire slate, regardless of position. While Baker Mayfield is the best quarterback prospect to enter the league in quite some time he's taken five sacks in three consecutive games and has committed a total of seven turnovers in only four starts. That's bad news when you are facing the Steelers at home, a defense that is second in sacks per game and eighth in hurry rate. Pittsburgh is an easy play in cash games and has plenty of ceiling at a ridiculously low price to plug into tournament lineups as well.
Eric McClung is not a FanDuel employee. The views expressed in his articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.