FanDuel Daily Fantasy Football Early-Slate Helper: Week 8
The Week 7 NFL DFS early slate on FanDuel has nine games, all kicking off at 1 p.m. EST. All matchups have a total over 40.0, with two hitting 50.0 -- so there will likely be a lot of lineup variance with this many juicy plays.
The numberFire NFL DFS Matchup Heat Map will be referenced for all implied totals and spreads throughout this article, so be sure to check it out.
Let’s look at the best plays at every price point on the slate.
Saquon Barkley, RB, New York Giants ($8,900)
Despite returning from a high ankle sprain, Saquon Barkley is still one of the most efficient runners in the NFL, ranking fourth among running backs with at least 40 carries in Rushing Net Expected Points (NEP) per carry with 0.13. Barkley also showed he was fully healthy in Week 7 by matching his season-high 21 touches in his first game back.
Saquon Barkley knows what he’s in for on Sunday. Damon Harrison couldn’t wait to “hit his ass” last year in training camp. Now he gets his chance. #Giants #Lions pic.twitter.com/XD1erJWdwP
— Jordan Raanan (@JordanRaanan) October 24, 2019
This week he has a matchup with the Detroit Lions, who rank 21st in Adjusted Defensive Rushing NEP per play. What is strange is that the New York Giants aren't utilizing Barkley's best skill. He is averaging 3.5 receptions per game, which is way down from his 5.7 from 2018. He is still the same elite pass-catching back and has the same guy calling the plays, so that should correct itself soon. If the Giants choose to unleash him, Barkley could have one of his signature monster games.
Leonard Fournette, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars ($7,700)
Leonard Fournette is seeing over 90 percent of the work in his backfield and also has 31 red zone touches, second-most among running backs. Despite this monster workload, the end zone has been particularly elusive for him, as he has just one score on the season. This has held his price relatively steady, but that should change soon. Our projections have Fournette going for the most touches on the slate and as the best value per dollar at his position. The New York Jets just allowed three scores on the ground to Sony Michel, so hopefully, Fournette can have similar luck.
Mike Evans, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers ($7,400)
The Tennessee Titans rank fourth in Adjusted Defensive NEP per play, so the Tampa Bay Buccaneers offense could sputter with a mistake-prone Jameis Winston throwing the ball. However, one edge that they have comes in the form of the 6'5" Mike Evans. He has a massive advantage over the 5'10" Malcolm Butler and Adoree' Jackson.
Evans has not been the bright spot of this offense, as Chris Godwin nearly doubles him in Success Rate and Reception NEP per target. Despite this, Winston has targeted his big receiver 55 times while looking for Godwin 54 times. The Bucs will likely be trailing in this matchup, leading to more pass attempts. Take the $700 discount with Evans and bank on some red zone scores.
Tyler Lockett, WR, Seattle Seahawks ($7,200)
This matchup between the Seattle Seahawks and Atlanta Falcons has the highest total, at 53.5. Matt Ryan has not been ruled out yet, but neither of these defenses are really capable of stopping the offenses, as both rank outside the top-20 in Adjusted Defensive NEP per play. Logically, we want to play the best pass-catchers from potential shootouts.
Highest % of targets caught by WR (min. 30 targets):
1. Tyler Lockett: 85.4%
2. Chris Godwin: 81.1%
T-3. T.Y. Hilton: 80.0%
T-3. Mohamed Sanu: 80.0%
5. Michael Thomas: 77.9%
— Field Yates (@FieldYates) October 18, 2019
Tyler Lockett is the obvious play here, as he's recorded at least 50 yards or a score in every game this season. The Falcons are lost in the secondary, ranking 31st in Adjusted Defensive Passing NEP per play. Seattle could skew run-heavy if they get ahead, but Lockett can make a lot happen on just a few targets.
Mid-Priced Upside Plays
D.J. Chark, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars ($6,300)
Despite a pristine matchup in Week 7, D.J. Chark matched his season-lows in targets and receptions. We know Chark is capable of big games, as he has finished with 15 or more fantasy points in four of his seven games this season. DFS gamers should go back to him this week, as he has another solid matchup with Trumaine Johnson on the perimeter and checks in at a relatively cheap price tag.
Austin Hooper, TE, Atlanta Falcons ($6,600)
Austin Hooper still managed to find the end zone with Matt Schaub stepping in when Matt Ryan went down with an ankle injury. With Schaub likely under center this week, Hooper is a strong candidate to lead the Falcons in targets. Back-ups aren't typically aggressive in pushing the ball down the field, and that probably applies even more to the 38-year-old Schaub.
It took a 69-year-old Matt Schaub to save Austin Hooper's fantasy day.
— JJ Zachariason (@LateRoundQB) October 20, 2019
That ideology would mesh well with Hooper's outlook, as his low average target depth of 7.4 yards ranks 24th among all tight ends. Seattle has allowed the third-most receiving yards to opposing tight ends, so he's in a solid spot this week no matter who is under center.
Bargain Bin Prospects
Ty Johnson, RB, Detroit Lions ($5,200)
Ty Johnson flashed his all-purpose skillset in Week 7, handling 10 carries and catching all 4 of his targets when Kerryon Johnson exited with a knee injury. FanDuel somehow made Johnson cheaper than J.D. McKissic ($5,400), meaning he'll likely be a chalk play in most cash lineups. Our projections have him as the fourth-best value per dollar on the slate and handling 17 touches. While the Giants rank 12th in Adjusted Defensive Rushing NEP per play, it's hard to fade one of the best values on the slate.
John Brown, WR, Buffalo Bills ($5,900)
Despite struggling on both sides of the ball, the Philadelphia Eagles have at least been stout against opposing run games. That should force Josh Allen into more pass attempts against a defense that ranks 22nd in Adjusted Defensive Passing NEP per play.
Most of those looks should go the way of John Brown, who's Success Rate and Reception NEP per target rank eighth among all receivers. He has an ideal matchup with Rasul Douglas and is horribly mispriced for an alpha receiver facing a pass-funnel defense. Fire him up with confidence.
Jonnu Smith, TE, Tennessee Titans ($4,900)
With Delanie Walker still unable to practice, Jonnu Smith should step into a featured role in this new Titans offense, led by Ryan Tannehill. Tennessee has the fifth-highest implied total on the slate, meaning they should be able to move the ball with ease against a Bucs defense that ranks 21st in Adjusted Defensive Passing NEP per play. If you're looking to punt a position to afford the high-priced studs, Smith is the way to go.
Jonathan Taylor Smith is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice Jonathan Taylor Smith also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username Jtsmittyyy. 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.