NFL

DraftKings Daily Fantasy Football Helper: Week 8

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We are almost halfway through the season at this point and have actionable data on which we can make informed decisions. A couple of point totals have already breached the coveted 50 point mark, and several other teams have team totals in the high 20's, even low 30's. Let's take a look at what pieces from those games and teams we'll want to target on Sunday's Main Slate.

Quarterback

Russell Wilson ($7,200): I'll admit that I am as afraid as the rest of the DFS community that the Seattle Seahawks will come out and run the ball 40 times and limit Russ's upside. But the Seahawks are implied for 28.5 team points per FanDuel Sportsbook. Even if newly minted workhorse back Chris Carson gets a couple of touchdowns in this game, there's still some leftovers to be had for the possible future MVP of the league. The Atlanta Falcons are allowing the most points to opposing quarterbacks on the season, and have allowed an average of 315.3 passing yards and 3.3 passing touchdowns per game over their last four games. Not to mention they get almost zero pressure on the quarterback with an adjusted sack rate per Football Outsiders of 2.9% and only five sacks on the season. If you're going all the way up at quarterback this week, the spot doesn't get any sweeter than this for Russ.

Ryan Tannehill ($5,100): A well-known fact this year about the Tampa Bay Buccaneers defense is that they are a massive pass funnel defense. Their run defense has only allowed 52.5 rushing yards per game to opposing running backs this season against some of the best talent in the league (names like Christian McCaffrey and Saquon Barkley). Tannehill looked good last week leading the Tennessee Titans to a victory against the Los Angeles Chargers, and brought receiver Corey Davis back to life with a 6/80/1 stat line, targeting him 7 times. The talent is there on the perimeter for the Titans, with Davis and rookie receiver A.J. Brown. And with Tampa Bay allowing the most DraftKings points to wide receivers over the past four games, and the second-most DraftKings points to opposing quarterbacks, Tannehill will most certainly hit value, and quite possibly achieve the unknown ceiling beyond.

Mitchell Trubisky ($4,900): Of all the quarterbacks in all the smash spots this weekend, it's Trubisky who pops with the best point per dollar value on the slate according to our projection system. "But he's been terrible!" Yes. Yes, he has. But even as bad as he played last week against the New Orleans Saints, he still managed to score 20 DraftKings points and exceed 3x value. The Los Angeles Chargers continue to struggle with getting pressure on the quarterback with only 14 sacks and an adjusted sack rate of 6.3% on the season, and the once-revered secondary just let the Ryan Tannehill-Corey Davis tandem resurrect into relevance. A Trubisky to Allen Robinson ($6,000) stack would eat up only 21% of your DraftKings budget and allow you to jam in some of these stud running backs coming below in GPP contests.

Running Backs

Leonard Fournette ($7,800): In what many considered a "smash spot" last week, Fournette's final outcome of DraftKings points of 20 was somewhat underwhelming. And yet his usage numbers continue to be elite on a week to week basis, and we are continually getting great discounts on his usage. His value projects as the highest of the "stud" running backs this week in our projection system. Over the last four games, Fournette is averaging 25.3 rushes and 3.5 receptions per game, which equates to over 28 touches per game. His opponent, the New York Jets defense, ranks 28th in DraftKings points allowed to running backs over the last four games. Despite his monster usage, Fournette has only scored one touchdown this season. That positive regression train is coming, and you want to be on board the Fournette express when it does.

Chris Carson ($7,000): Speaking of under-priced bell-cow running backs, Chris Carson is averaging 23.5 rushes and 3.0 receptions per game over the last three games. DraftKings has only slowly and steadily started to raise his price, but they haven't elevated it to the level that we normally see out of bell-cow backs. His underwhelming performance last week in a game that got a little bit away from the Seahawks may lead to slightly lower ownership. But probably not that much lower, since the projected total in his match-up this weekend is already up to 53.5. We already mentioned that Russ could lob a couple of touchdowns to account for that 28.5 team total, and Carson is a shoo-in for one if not two of those other two projected scores with his goal line role.

Austin Ekeler ($5,900): Ekeler rebounded huge from a 6 DraftKings points performance against the Pittsburgh Steelers to accumulate 29 DraftKings points against the Tennessee Titans. If we remove the Steelers game, Ekeler's last 4 point totals are 15, 29, 23, 29. His receptions in those games: 7, 5, 15 (!), and 7. He's a pass-catching, match-up proof running back who gets work when the Chargers are up, and when the Chargers are down. And his opponent this weekend, the Chicago Bears, just happen to be struggling and allowing 8.3 receptions per game to opposing running backs over the last four games. At some point, the Chargers will wise up and realize that Ekeler is by far their best running back. If that happens this week, we'll get another one of Ekeler's ceiling games for a discounted price. If not, his floor is almost certainly cash game viable as well.

Wide Receivers

DeAndre Hopkins ($8,100): The Watson to Hopkins stack is going to be expensive this week, but man, will it be worth it. Hopkins enters this dream spot averaging over 8 receptions per game in his last three games against an Oakland Raiders secondary that got absolutely lit up last week by Aaron Rodgers. The Raiders currently rank 30th in Football Outsiders pass DVOA metric, and their Defensive Pass NEP via the numberFire model is 0.33, second only to the Falcons. Meanwhile, their defensive numbers against the run are not too terrible (11th DVOA, -.03 NEP). Considering Carlos Hyde and the Texan's rushing offense isn't lighting the world on fire, it's easy to see the path to success here for Hopkins, Watson, and the entire Texans passing attack.

Corey Davis ($4,400): It's the dawn of a new era in Nashville. An era highlighted by us no longer having to wait on Corey Davis for consistent production because of inconsistent quarterback play. Nobody's crowning Ryan Tannehill the next Patrick Mahomes, but he seems to be remotely capable of getting the ball to his playmakers on the outside, and Davis is one of them. Drawing an exciting match-up against the previously mentioned Tampa Bay pass funnel defense, Davis helps provide value for us on a slate where we will need the salary savings to get to our studs. With Tampa giving up an average 55 DraftKings points per game to wide receivers over the past four games, if Davis gets just a third of that from a 23% target share and 27% air yard share similar to what he saw last week, he'll easily eclipse cash value.

Mike Williams ($4,000): With Keenan Allen still not practicing on Friday, Big Mike Williams could be in for a big workload on Sunday. Already averaging 9.6 targets per game over his last three games, more volume would swing his way if Allen were to sit out on Sunday. Williams trails only Keenan Allen in market share of air yards at 30%, with the second-highest average depth of target on the team at 14.9. With a solid floor and accessible 30+ point ceiling, Williams makes for an excellent salary saver that could break the slate on your cash team.

Tight Ends

Jared Cook ($4,000): While we will have to keep an eye on the injury status of Mr. Cook, there's no denying that his match-up with the Arizona Cardinals is a juicy one. Still allowing the most DraftKings points to tight ends over the course of the season, Evan Engram finally broke the trend of tight ends smashing against Arizona last week, but that's no reason to not going back to the well with Cook. Before sitting out due to injury last week, Cook was developing a blossoming connection with Teddy Bridgewater that led to 14 and 13 DraftKings points in Weeks 5 and 6 respectively. The New Orleans Saints are slotted for a team total of 29.3, and it's not crazy to think Cook could snag 6 of those points with a touchdown catch from Teddy or even a healthy Drew Brees coming back from his injury.

Cameron Brate ($2,700): A little value opened up at tight end on Friday, as O.J. Howard was ruled out for Friday's contest against the Titans. Howard had been playing over 81.5% of the snaps this year while Brate was only averaging 33.2%. That number looks to escalate close to the 80s or 90s this week for Brate, and his market share of tight end receptions should be strong as well as only he and Howard have caught passes at the tight end position this season for the Bucs. Jameis Winston's affinity for throwing to Brate, especially in the end zone, has been well documented, and that old connection could resurface this weekend against a Titans defense that ranks 27th in DVOA to the tight end position. His volume could make for an excellent cost-saving floor this week.

Defenses

Los Angeles Rams D/ST ($3,800): After an absolutely dominating performance against the Atlanta Falcons last week, the Rams D "comes home" (it's in London) to face the struggling (putting it nicely) Cincinnati Bengals. The Bengals offensive line ranks 23rd in adjusted sack rate and has allowed 24 sacks so far on the season, good for 3.42 sacks per game. The Bengals offense is also averaging giving up a fumble and an interception per game this season. They sit in the second place position in our projected fantasy points for defenses this weekend, and come at a $500 discount to the top-ranked New England D/ST.

Jacksonville D/ST ($2,900): At a sub 3k price this week, Jacksonville comes as quite the value against the New York Jets offense that has allowed 26 sacks on the season and ranks 31st in adjusted sack rate. While one would think the subtraction of Jalen Ramsey would have torpedoed the Jags defensive capabilities, they performed admirably against a Cincinnati Bengals team last week by posting 17 DraftKings points in their tilt. While the pieces are there for the Jets to take the next step on offense after getting Sam Darnold, they haven't quite put that puzzle together yet, and Sacksonville will look to take advantage this weekend.


“Justin Manuel is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice Justin Manuel also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username JMIZZLE08. 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.”