Week 8 Game Scripts to Target in Daily Fantasy Football
Considering game scripts should be a huge part of your process when building lineups in NFL daily fantasy.
How will the game play out? Will it be high-paced with lots of potential for fantasy points to be scored? Does it set up well for one team, both teams, or neither? A running back could go from a lock one week as a home favorite to a complete avoid the next week as a double-digit road underdog because the game scripts in these games are completely different.
Projecting these outcomes can be extremely difficult for one person. We can use the lines and totals to see what oddsmakers think and go from there. A great resource is numberFire's Daily Fantasy Matchup Heat Map, which provides those numbers that are used for sports betting, as well as custom metrics that show how the teams will match up against each other. This will give us a much better handle on how games are likely to play out, and how we can take advantage of that in our lineups.
Here are some game scripts to target this week in DFS.
Houston Texans vs Oakland Raiders
Texans Implied Team Total: 29.0
Raiders Implied Team Total: 22.5
Most people would not have expected the Oakland Raiders to be involved in a game with a total that high this season, especially not after Antonio Brown was cut by the team. Derek Carr ($6,900 on FanDuel) has been surprisingly efficient though, as his .22 Passing Net Expected Points (NEP) per drop back is better than the likes of Tom Brady and Matt Ryan. He is still not the most exciting option for fantasy, so let's talk about some players that would be more fun to roster in this game.
Deshaun Watson ($8,400) had a rough game against the Indianapolis Colts in Week 7. He tends to have big games when the opposing defense can't get pressure on him and struggles in the games where they do pressure him. Against the Colts, who rank eleventh in Football Outsiders' adjusted sack rate, Watson took three sacks and had a 0.05 Passing NEP per drop back. In the previous two games, he wasn't sacked at all and had Passing NEP per drop back outings of 1.11 and .33 in Week 5 and Week 6, respectively. The Raiders are 22nd in adjusted sack rate and have just ten sacks on the season. Watson should have plenty of time to carve open the league's 30th ranked passing defense, according to numberFire's metrics.
DeAndre Hopkins ($8,200) finally had a game that most fantasy owners would expect after a few duds in a row. He saw the same 12 targets in Week 7 as in Week 6, but this time, he recorded 106 yards and found the end zone. Despite Will Fuller getting a lot of hype because of his big Week 5 performance, Hopkins is still the one commanding a 29% target share, per airyards.com. Now with Fuller out due to injury, Hopkins could see even more targets as Watson's clear number one option. The Raiders are 29th in FanDuel points per game against wide receivers, so Hopkins is looking to keep trending up in this game.
One of the most impressive players this season has been tight end Darren Waller ($6,800). He has emerged as the Raiders' number one passing game target, with 26% of the Raiders passes being thrown his way. He found the end zone twice last week for his first two touchdowns of the season. With the Raiders sitting as six and a half point underdogs, Waller could see lots of targets in a negative game script. Waller's two best games this season were in games where the Raiders were way behind -- Week 3 against the Minnesota Vikings and last week against the Green Bay Packers. If that happens again, the ball is likely to go in his direction, leading to a lot of fantasy points.
Josh Jacobs ($7,200) had a good game last week, even with the bad game script for the Raiders against the Packers. He rushed for over 100 yards for the second straight game and caught all three of his targets in each game. Oakland was willing to give him 24 touches last week even as the game got out of hand, meaning that we shouldn't fear him not getting touches in a blowout as we have in the past. The three catches on three targets could also lead to more trust in the passing game.
Others to Consider
Kenny Stills ($5,700) would be a decent replacement for Will Fuller. They both run deep routes with Fuller's average depth of target being 14.3 yards and Stills' 13.2. Stills has been a big-play receiver in his career, and now might be more on the same page with Deshaun Watson after being on the Houston Texans for a couple of months after the trade.
A complete dart throw for Oakland would be Trevor Davis ($4,900). He played the most snaps of any Raiders wide receiver in each of the last two games in Tyrell Williams' absence. Playing him would be an extremely thin way of trying to get access to this game that has one of the higher totals on the slate. If you need a complete punt at wide receiver, Davis could be it.
New York Giants vs Detroit Lions
Giants Implied Team Total: 21.5
Lions Implied Team Total: 28.5
Two more teams that we would not expect to make for good game scripts coming into the season were the New York Giants and the Detroit Lions. The 50 point total is somewhat surprising and is the third-highest on the main slate. These teams have had some interesting trends and tendencies that have clearly influenced the over/under to get as high as it has.
The Lions were looking to be a run-heavy team on paper to start the season, but that hasn't entirely been the case. They are 17th in pass to run ratio in the league this year at 1.41. That number could go up with workhorse back Kerryon Johnson placed on IR. Another thing that we like as fantasy players is how often they are throwing deep.
Matthew Stafford ($7,700) ranks second in deep ball percentage, per Player Profiler. His Passing NEP is .25, good for sixth among qualified quarterbacks. The Giants are 24th in passing defense this season, and we just saw Stafford tear up the eighth-ranked Vikings pass defense. He is playing some of the best football of his career right now, and it has gone largely overlooked in fantasy until last week.
It was Marvin Jones ($6,300) who was on the end of Stafford's big game against Minnesota. He caught four touchdowns for the best game of his career. Now he will get to attack a Giants secondary that has been weak all year. He surpassed teammate Kenny Golladay ($6,700) in receptions, yards, and touchdowns in the game, and put doubt into who the actual number one receiver is in Detroit. Whoever it is should have a big game in this spot.
If Detroit is connecting on a lot of deep passes, the Giants will probably look to Saquon Barkley ($8,600) to drag them back into the game. Barkley returned from injury last week and had a solid if unspectacular game. He did get 18 carries and five targets, despite leaving the game for a short period of time after aggravating his ankle injury. He returned to score a touchdown, so he should be a full go in this game. Detroit has allowed the 3rd-most FanDuel points to running backs on the season and is 21st in Rushing Net Expected Points allowed on a per play basis. Barkley makes sense to pay up for as he gets healthier and gets a good matchup.
Others to Consider
Since most people will look to Marvin Jones after the big game, Golladay could be a nice pivot. He is still the team leader in market share of air yards and target share. He has Pro Football Focus' biggest advantage for a wide receiver against Giants rookie cornerback Deandre Baker.
Golden Tate ($6,100) returns to Detroit in a revenge game against his former team. He has seen twenty targets over the last two games and would be a different way to get exposure to the Giants besides Barkley. NFL coaches sometimes like to scheme to guys who are playing their former team, so that's a leap of faith we can take if rostering Tate this week.
Evan Engram ($6,300) had a surprisingly bad game in Week 7, with just one catch on five targets. Those five targets were his lowest on the season, as he had seen seven in every game before that. I tend to think that was a fluke rather than a trend, and Engram will bounce back to his normal volume in this game.
Arizona Cardinals vs New Orleans Saints
Cardinals Implied Team Total: 18.5
Saints Implied Team Total: 29.0
This is a game in which the script could change based on the players that are available. As of now, reports are that Drew Brees ($7,200) plans to play in this game. This could increase the New Orleans Saints' pace because with Teddy Bridgewater playing the majority of their snaps, they ranked 22nd in situation neutral pace. The good news is that they are playing the Arizona Cardinals, who are 2nd in pace and have the 28th-ranked defense in the league. So either with volume or efficiency, the Saints players should be able to get there for our fantasy lineups this week.
If Brees does return, Michael Thomas ($8,500) becomes an even better play than he already was. He really didn't miss a beat without Brees, as his lowest fantasy output was 12.9 in Week 6 against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Thomas is dominating in opportunity for the Saints, with a 41% market share of the air yards and 32% overall target share. He is worth spending the $8,500 on in this slate given that Arizona is ranked 26th against the pass this season.
We are still waiting on news about Alvin Kamara ($8,100) and his availability for the game on Sunday. If he can go, he is a great play at $8,100 with the way the Saints like to use him in the passing game. If he isn't available, Latavius Murray ($6,200) will get tons of work, just as he did last week. He got 89% of the snaps and saw 32 touches against the Bears. When any back gets that much volume running behind an elite offensive line like the Saints have, they are a great play, especially at only $6,200.
Another injury situation to monitor is that of David Johnson ($6,800). The Cardinals signed two running backs off the street during the week, making it look less likely that he will play. That gives us the chance to roster Chase Edmonds ($6,100) this week. We all wish we had that chance last week, as Edmonds went off for 140 total yards and 3 touchdowns. The matchup here is tough, but Edmonds has shown the ability to be effective in the passing game. If the Cardinals get behind, he will still likely be heavily involved in the offense.
Others to Consider
Kyler Murray ($7,400) had a weird game in bad weather against the Giants in Week 7. Now playing indoors and likely to be trailing, it could be a spot to go back to him after he disappointed many fantasy owners last week.
Ted Ginn Jr. ($5,300) could be in line for more deep passes with Drew Brees back and the Saints at home in the Superdome. His average depth is already high at 14.4 yards, but the hope is that Brees will be more efficient with those deep balls.
Josh Hill ($5,000) caught a touchdown pass last week and would be the starter again if Jared Cook ($5,800) were to miss this game. Hill would benefit from facing the league's worst defense against the tight end position.
Nicholas Vazquez is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Nicholas Vazquez also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username hbyanksman. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his/her personal views, he/she may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his/her personal account. The views expressed in his/her articles are the author’s alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.