Week 8 Game Scripts to Target in Daily Fantasy Football
Welcome to the Game Scripts to Target article for the 2021 season. Each week, we'll be taking a look at specific games to target for daily fantasy tournaments. Stacking games has always been a popular option in GPPs, as it allows you to reach for upside with the back-and-forth scoring.
Dissecting 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 as a double-digit road underdog because the expected game scripts in these contests 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 betting-related numbers -- implied totals, over/unders, and spreads -- as well as custom metrics that show how the teams will match up against each other. This gives us a much better handle on how games are likely to play out, and we can take advantage of that in our lineups.
Let's look at some game scripts to target for this week.
Tennessee Titans at Indianapolis Colts
This AFC South matchup is the perfect spot to look for a game stack.
Both teams are in the top-11 in the league when it comes to the fastest average seconds per play when trailing by seven points or more. If either team falls behind by a large margin, we know they can pick up the pace and run more plays, which creates a fantasy-friendly game environment.
We'll start with the road Titans, who come in with a 24.25 implied team total and are cruising on offense recently; they've posted 27 points or more in three straight games. We should see that continue this week, so let's jump into their offensive options.
The major news for the Titans is that wide receiver, Julio Jones ($6,500), has been ruled out for this game. Jones has played on 63.8% of the snaps this season and has a 17.8% target market share, and with him out of the lineup, it should open up opportunities for other receivers.
The obvious choice would be to look directly at A.J. Brown ($7,600), who leads the team in target market share (24.9%), air yards (556), and routes run (77.9%) and is third in red zone target market share (14.8%).
Considering the Colts are allowing the 9th-most (31.8) FanDuel points per game to opposing wide receivers, it's easy to say Brown is a near must-play in this spot.
We can't assume that the offensive void left by Jones is going to be filled by Brown alone, so we should back to Weeks 4 and 5 when Jones missed those games.
In that time, Marcus Johnson ($4,800) had a 23.8% target share. Jeremy McNichols ($5,000) had a 20.0% target share, Nick Westbrook-Ikhine ($4,900) had a 16.3% target share, and Josh Reynolds ($5,200) had a 14.3% target share.
I'd be most interested in Reynolds since he comes in with an 11.08 average depth of target (aDOT). That presents a big-play threat giving you some savings and potential upside.
Of course, we have to mention Derrick Henry ($10,500), who had 31 total touches last week but was held to only 15.4 FanDuel points. He wasn't able to find the end zone via the ground but did throw for one on a trick play. The 15.4 FanDuel points were Henry's 2nd-lowest of the season, while his 3rd-lowest outing (17.9) came against the Colts in Week 3.
This isn't overly surprising since the Colts are allowing the 4th-fewest (16.3) FanDuel points per game to running backs this season.
I'll be looking to have some game stacks with and without Henry, given his expensive salary and the tougher matchup. It's tough to fade a running back who can go for 150 yards and 2 touchdowns totally, so I'll have to grab a few shares.
I say all of this and haven't mentioned quarterback Ryan Tannehill ($7,500). He's coming off his second-best game (20.4 FanDuel points) of the season and will be taking on the Colts' defense that is in the bottom half of the league for the most FanDuel points allowed per game to quarterbacks. He's a fine option this week, his salary is affordable, he fits in a game stack, but he's just not jumping off the page.
For the Colts, quarterback Carson Wentz ($7,200) has, quietly, been good -- but not great.
Exactly 2 touchdown passes in each of his last four games, over 300 yards only once, and at or above 17 FanDuel points in all four games with a high of 22 FanDuel points.
All solid from Wentz. But again, he is another quarterback that isn't jumping off the page.
It's a solid matchup versus the Titans, who are allowing the 6th-most (21.3) FanDuel points per game to quarterbacks -- but nothing that screams a must-play. I'll take a few shares of each quarterback, but it's more about the players around them.
T.Y. Hilton ($6,200) is questionable for this game but "looked good" in practice according to Colts' head coach, Frank Reich. Hilton has only played in one game this season; he posted 4 receptions with 60 yards two weeks ago. He sat out last week against the 49ers and, if he were to play, should be in the conversation for the game stack. The Titans are allowing a league-worst 39.8 FanDuel points per game to wide receivers.
The real top receiving option for the Colts is Michael Pittman Jr. ($6,200), who posted a season-high 18.5 FanDuel points from a 4-catch, 105-yard, 1-touchdown line last week. He has team-highs in key metrics: 23.3% target share, 91.0% snap rate, 95.0% route rate, and 566 air yards. He is the best option for the Colts given the soft matchup.
On paper, Jonathan Taylor ($8,500) has a tougher matchup with the Titans, allowing the 9th-fewest (17.9) FanDuel points per game to running backs. However, the 18-plus total touches Taylor has seen in three of the past four weeks dominate the Colts' backfield usage. No other player has seen more than nine total touches in any one game over the past four weeks.
You could consider taking a shot on Zach Pascal ($5,300) due to his affordable salary, his 16.3% target share, and his team-high 9 red zone targets, but he hasn't posted more than 10 FanDuel points since Week 2.
Both offenses are relatively condensed, and it's clear to stack each team's top wide receiver, the star running back, and either of the quarterbacks. It should make capturing the fantasy points in this matchup straightforward.
New England Patriots at Los Angeles Chargers
Both teams are in the top-15 of the league in the fastest average seconds per play run in all situations, averaging more than 24 points per game, and are offering several offensive options to stack.
As you would assume, he leads all Chargers' running backs in snaps, routes run, target share, red zone targets, total rushes, and red zone rushes. If he ends up being out, it will likely be a running back by committee this week.
No firm grasp on what the Chargers' backfield looks like if Austin Ekeler sits.
Joshua Kelley led the others with a 32.1% snap rate in Week 6, but Larry Rountree was inactive. Encouraging that 9 of 17 snaps for Kelley came in the 1st half before things got out of hand, but idk.
— Jim Sannes (@JimSannes) October 29, 2021
If there's no clear option to roster, it's a dart throw at best and not a situation to target. It shouldn't be too much of an issue; the Patriots are in the top 12 of the league in the fewest FanDuel points allowed per game to running backs. However, they are top-half in most FanDuel points per game allowed to wide receivers, so I think we have our path to a game stack anyway.
Wide receivers from the Chargers in a good spot? Yes. We look directly to Mike Williams ($7,600) and Keenan Allen ($6,900), who are both elite options for this game stack. Allen is slightly higher than Williams in snaps played, routes run, target share, and red zone targets, but Williams has out-produced him in four of six games this season. Williams (12.0) has a higher aDOT compared to Allen (7.9), presenting the big-play upside.
According to SharpFootballStats, the Patriots allow a receiver success rate of 41% or lower on all passing attempts that go 15 yards in the air or more. Compare that to their allowing a receiver success rate of 47% or higher on all passing attempts that go between 0 and 14 yards in the air. They are better against the longball and struggle versus the underneath throws. This could put Allen in a spot to shine this week and finally push past 20 FanDuel points for the first time this season.
The secondary options for the Chargers are mostly uninteresting except for tight end Jared Cook ($5,200). Over his last three games, he has 17 targets, 2 touchdowns, and 124 receiving yards. He'd be the only other option I'd consider for a game stack.
Of course, you should look to roster quarterback Justin Herbert ($7,900). His 39-plus passing attempts in every game this season allowed him to access a ceiling of points, but that could be pushed even further this week if Ekeler is out. It wouldn't be a surprise to see the Chargers lean on the passing game a bit more if their top running back is on the shelf.
For the Patriots, rookie signal-caller Mac Jones ($6,900) was able to post the best game (22.18 FanDuel points) of his season last week against the New York Jets. The Chargers are allowing the 5th-fewest (16.3) FanDuel points per game to quarterbacks, making this a tougher matchup on paper for Jones. If push comes to shove, I'm always choosing Herbert over Jones in this game stack -- I don't think that's too surprising.
The Chargers' defense is bad against two of the skill positions while being great against the other. They are allowing the fewest (19.9) FanDuel points per game to wide receivers. They are allowing the most (16.3) FanDuel points per game to tight ends. And they are allowing the 5th-most (26.3) FanDuel points per game to running backs.
Good against wide receivers. Bad against running backs and tight ends. This should make the options for the Patriots very clear for a game stack.
Damien Harris ($6,900) has a nice salary this week and has run for over 100 yards in each of the past two weeks while adding in 3 rushing touchdowns in that time. Since Week 4, Harris leads the Patriots' backfield in snaps (47.3%) and is third in routes run (21.1%) and in target share (3.8%). They deploy a slight running back by committee, but I'm not overly worried about his touches being taken away.
Jonnu Smith ($4,800) has been limited in practice this week but did travel with the team to Los Angeles for the game. Whether he plays or not shouldn't be too much of an issue, as we want to roster Hunter Henry ($5,500) anyway.
Compared to Smith, Henry is playing more snaps, running more routes, and is posting a higher target share. It's clear Henry is the pass-catching tight end for the Patriots who is on fire right now; he has a touchdown in four straight games. He's also going up against his former team, so if you want to add in the revenge narrative, there's always that.
A Herbert-plus-Allen-plus-Williams stack could start things off with Henry as the bring-back option. Or Herbert-Allen-Cook with Damien Harris on the other side. All are in solid matchups, all have good usage in their offenses, and all are good for a game stack.
Philadelphia Eagles at Detroit Lions
Sometimes you stack a game because the offenses on both sides are great. Sometimes you stack a game because the defenses on both sides are bad. This is an example of the latter, as both teams are in the bottom six of the league for the most points allowed this season.
The Eagles put Miles Sanders on injured reserve, which changes their running back situation. Kenneth Gainwell ($5,900) had nine total touches last week and was able to find the end zone versus the Las Vegas Raiders, scoring before Sanders even exited the game. The Lions are allowing the 4th-most (26.6) FanDuel points per game to running backs, putting Gainwell in an awesome spot.
However, we also saw Boston Scott ($5,800) pick up eight touches last week, while Jordan Howard ($5,000) could join the Eagles' active roster. We probably won't have clarity on this situation until inactive on Sunday morning, but I'm leaning towards Gainwell regardless of what happens.
Jalen Hurts ($8,400) is an elite fantasy quarterback and has now posted 21 FanDuel points or more in all seven games this season. He gets it done in the air, he gets it done on the ground, and he will get it done versus the Lions this week. You can look to roster Hurts in any format: in game stacks or solo.
If you're going with a game stack, look to pair him with DeVonta Smith ($6,200), who leads the team with a 23.0% target share, a 90.5% snap snap rate, and a 93.0% route rate while also ranking third on the team with 6 red zone targets.
He is the top option among their wide receivers, and it's not particularly close. The Lions are allowing 31.5 FanDuel points per game to wide receivers, so yeah, Smith is in a spot to feast.
A Hurts-plus-Smith-plus-Goedert is the main stack I'm looking for this week with a few shares of Gainwell mixed in.
The Lions have both D'Andre Swift ($7,900) and Jamaal Williams ($5,600) listed as questionable for this matchup, but it shouldn't be too much of an issue. They've been listed as questionable in prior weeks and neither has missed a game.
Swift stands out this week due to his role in the passing game, which is outstanding. He has seen 5 targets or more in every single game this season and is holding a 20.2% target market share, which is tied for the highest on the team. The Eagles have allowed the 5th-most (49) receptions and the eighth-most (348) receiving yards to running backs this season.
It's an elite matchup for him, especially if the Lions are forced into a passing game script. He is one of my favorite options on the entire slate, regardless of salary or position.
Kalif Raymond ($5,700) has quietly posted six targets or more in four of the last five weeks. He is affordable, has good involvement in the passing game, and fits well into a game stack.
Amon-Ra St. Brown ($5,100) is doing something similar with seven targets or more in three straight games but has yet to find the end zone this season.
T.J. Hockenson ($6,200) started the season on fire but has since cooled off a bit. Hopefully, this is a spot where he can get back on track since the Eagles are allowing the 6th-most (13.9) FanDuel points per game to tight ends. His 20.2% target share, 83.3% snap rate, 82.5% routes run, and 6 red zone targets put him in a good spot for success.
I'm not going to mention Jared Goff ($6,800) because he doesn't hold nearly the same fantasy potential as Jalen Hurts. Start the game stacks with Hurts and the Eagles' pass-catchers; then run it back with Swift, Raymond, or Hockenson, in that order.