Daily Fantasy Football Bargains and Best Buys: Week 8
Don't overthink things this weekend in daily fantasy football.
A DraftKings user won $1,000,000 this past weekend with a lineup consisting of players owned on 5% or more of the rosters in the Millionaire Maker contest. He simply put the right combination of players together, avoided players who busted completely, and netted a big prize as a result.
So who are some of the best plays for this weekend? Here are eight players I recommend, broken into two groups.
The first category - Bargains - is pretty obvious. These are undervalued players who will allow you to spend more elsewhere. The other category is Best Buys, which includes players who are more than worth a large chunk of your budget.
Keep in mind that these players may or may not be used in our weekly optimal lineups. To see who the algorithms are selecting on the week, check out our optimal lineup section, and don't forget to use our custom optimal lineup tool.
Ben Tate, Cleveland Browns - Ben Tate is the starting running back for the third-most run-heavy team in the NFL, and has a matchup this weekend against the team ranked 20th in run defense (according to our rankings). The Oakland Raiders have allowed seven double-digit fantasy point rushing performances so far this season, and are likely to give up an eighth to Tate this week.
It's understandable if you don't trust the Cleveland offense, but that risk is baked into Tate's price. There's no other reason to price a workhorse back for a team that runs the ball more than nearly any other this cheap in daily fantasy. With so many great options in the "best buys" category below, you have to save somewhere, and Tate is a solid cheap option for this week.
Kelvin Benjamin, Carolina Panthers - Kelvin Benjamin is still hovering among the mid-priced receivers despite being the top target for an offense with a quarterback finally getting back to health. The Carolina offense has been a bit of a roller coaster, but this weekend's matchup against Carolina should actually be a good one for the Panthers passing attack.
According to our metrics, the Seattle Seahawks have the 28th-ranked pass defense in the NFL, and they've allowed seven 12-plus fantasy point performances (PPR) to opposing wideouts so far this season. Benjamin gets over 23% of his team's targets and has five of their 12 receiving touchdowns, and will be the focal point of their passing game this week in a surprisingly good matchup.
Alex Smith, Kansas City Chiefs - The St. Louis Rams rank 29th in our pass defense rankings, which provides a great matchup for the steady Alex Smith this weekend. They also just allowed Russell Wilson to rush for 100 yards, and gave up two rushing scores to Josh McCown earlier in the year, which means Smith's legs may be a matchup nightmare for the Rams as well.
Smith has scored between 17 and 25 fantasy points in all but one game this year, and is going against a team that has allowed two or more total touchdowns in every game. They've also given up over 350 total yards to opposing quarterbacks in their last two matchups. Smith's upside may be limited, but his floor is pretty safe in a great matchup.
Dwayne Allen, Indianapolis Colts - Reggie Wayne is unlikely to play this weekend, and even if he does, he'll likely be limited as he deals with an injury. But the Colts have a matchup against the bad Pittsburgh passing defense, so you will still want a piece of that offense if you can get it.
Dwayne Allen is one of the team's top red zone targets even when Wayne plays, but if the veteran receiver sits out, Allen will likely see a boost in his usage near the end zone. Combine this with his generally stable volume as a part of one of the most pass-happy teams in the league (he has three or four receptions in all but one game this season), and he's a good play at tight end if you're avoiding the expensive options.
Rob Gronkowski, New England Patriots - If you would like to pay up at the tight end position this weekend, you're in luck! Rob Gronkowski is reasonably priced, and appears to be back at 100% (or close enough to it) as the lead receiver for the New England offense.
Chicago's defense ranks 15th in our opponent-adjusted pass defense metric, but have allowed three touchdowns to tight ends over the last three games. Gronk is our 15th-ranked pass catcher in Reception NEP among players with 30 or more catches, and is climbing up the charts every week removed from his most recent injury.
Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers - There are more reasons to play Aaron Rodgers this week than I could even begin to list, but here are just a few that stand out: The Saints have the second-worst pass defense in the league, the game has the highest total in Vegas this week, the game is being played in a dome, and the Packers are not favored to win by a lot, which should force Rodgers to throw more often than he usually does.
You'll need to save on other positions to get Rodgers in your lineup, but it's totally worth it this week. Daily fantasy tournaments are won by chasing "video game" performances, and Rodgers is in line for that kind of day in a great matchup and situation against New Orleans.
Jordy Nelson, Green Bay Packers - All of those reasons above, plus Nelson's ridiculous 73 targets (out of 214 total for his team) make him an obvious stack with Rodgers. He's our top pass-catcher so far this season in terms of Reception NEP, and faces a defense that has allowed the second-most Passing NEP.
Arian Foster, Houston Texans - There are tons of great running back options this week, but one that may not be as heavily used is Arian Foster. The Houston back faces the Titans, who are 22nd against the run according to our data, and have allowed over 150 yards rushing to the two other run-heavy teams they've faced (the Cowboys and Browns).
The Texans join those two teams as the three run-heaviest teams in the league, meaning Houston will stick with Foster and the run game until they, too, reach 150 or more yards in this matchup. Add in a game script likely tilted toward the Texans with a rookie starting under center for the Titans, and this is a perfect spot to use Foster and differentiate yourself from the masses who will be playing Matt Forte and DeMarco Murray, while still getting a great player in a great matchup.
(There's nothing wrong with using Forte or Murray, by the way. But those plays are pretty obvious at this point, so I decided to provide what could be an off-the-radar option.)