FanDuel Daily Fantasy Football Helper: Week 8

Welcome to our weekly FanDuel NFL primer, where we give you an overview of the Sunday main slate to help you get started on your research.

As always, we recommend checking out all of numberFire's daily fantasy tools at your disposal. In particular, our weekly projections can help you nail down who might be the slate's top scorers and best values, while the heat map is a great way to get a general overview of the slate's implied totals and every team's strengths and weaknesses.

Now, let's run through some of the top plays in Week 8.


Josh Allen ($8,800 on FanDuel): With several elite fantasy quarterbacks off the main slate, Allen bests the field by a wide margin in numberFire's quarterback projections. He's projected for over 27 FanDuel points, which is over 3 points higher than any other signal-caller. For the year, Allen is now averaging 26.6 FanDuel points per game, which is the most at the position.

The only problem is that the Bills are 14.0-point favorites over the floundering Dolphins, potentially hurting Allen's upside if things don't stay competitive.

In Buffalo's blowout wins over Houston and, well, Miami, the opposing teams were shut out in non-competitive games, and Allen posted two of his worst 2021 fantasy performances, scoring 21.02 and 17.66 FanDuel points.

The good news is the Bills also beat Washington and Kansas City by multiple touchdowns, but those teams put up just enough of a fight that he turned in 36-plus FanDuel points in both games -- his two best scores of the season.

Whether Miami can keep things remotely interesting remains to be seen. But if they can do just enough to keep the Bills pushing the gas, few quarterbacks on the slate have any realistic shot of besting Allen's ceiling.

Jalen Hurts ($8,400): It's getting more and more difficult to trust Hurts, who continues to struggle as a real-life quarterback but pads his fantasy stats with his rushing ability and garbage time.

To illustrate his woes as a passer, among the 33 quarterbacks with at least 100 drop backs this year, Hurts ranks 23rd Passing Net Expected Points (NEP) per drop back (0.08) and 29th in Passing Success Rate (43.75%). For context, he's tied with Daniel Jones in Passing NEP per drop back and ranked just behind Sam Darnold in Passing Success Rate.

And yet, Hurts' 25.0 FanDuel points per game ranks third among all quarterbacks, exceeding Kyler Murray, Lamar Jackson, and Patrick Mahomes. Of course, this is primarily due to Hurts' rushing stats, where he's tacking on an average of 9.4 carries and 51.6 yards per game. He's also cashed in with five rushing scores this year.

So, yeah, we're taking the good with the bad here.

But if ever there was a time for Hurts to submit a tournament-winning score, it's in this matchup against Detroit. According to numberFire's schedule-adjusted metrics, the Lions rank 29th in total defense and 31st against the pass. This game also has a solid 48.0 total with the Eagles as 3.5-point road favorites, suggesting this could be a back-and-forth game.

Hurts checks in with the second-best projected quarterback score in numberFire's model.

Tom Brady ($8,300): After Allen and Hurts, Matthew Stafford ($8,200), Justin Herbert ($7,900), and Brady are the only other quarterbacks projected for 20 or more FanDuel points.

Herbert can run a smidge here and there, but overall, we're talking about three traditional pocket passers with little to no rushing upside. While that theoretically saps them of tournament-winning upside, all three have demonstrated high ceilings, as each has multiple four-touchdown games through the air.

But if forced to choose one who could have a spike week, it's hard to go against Brady, who's been a touchdown machine in 2021 and could be in the best game environment of the trio.

For Stafford, his Rams are massive 14.5-point favorites over the Texans, putting him at risk of a blowout. We've seen his passing volume fluctuate from game to game, whereas Brady's chucking it regularly, leading the league in pass attempts and logging at least 36 in every game.

Meanwhile, Herbert's game against the Patriots actually rates highly in terms of pace, per our Brandon Gdula, which is a plus. But New England's game plan can vary greatly from week to week, and it wouldn't be shocking to see Bill Belichick slow things down with the run game to try to exploit the Chargers' poor rush defense.

Circling back to Brady, he'll benefit from playing in a dome (at New Orleans), and this bout has one of the slate's best totals (49.5). Tampa Bay is favored by just 4.5 points, too, suggesting this one stays fairly close. The Saints also rank third in schedule-adjusted rush defense, per numberFire's metrics, giving the Bucs even more incentive to let Brady air it out.

Admittedly, New Orleans doesn't exactly play at a grueling pace, but it's also unlikely they'll be able to take the ball out of Jameis Winston's hands and simply run against Tampa Bay's sixth-ranked adjusted rush defense. The Bucs have been a ruthless matchup for running backs in several metrics this year.

If the Bucs are able to dictate how this game goes by jumping out to an early lead -- hardly unreasonable -- then the Saints may be forced into playing at a quicker tempo.

Finally, despite being perhaps the most immobile quarterback around, Brady's second in FanDuel points per game (25.7) and has cracked 28 FanDuel points four times already this year. Should we ever really doubt him at this point?

Running Backs

Alvin Kamara ($8,400): As expected, Derrick Henry ($10,500) tops numberFire's projections at running back. His volume remains incredible, but it's possible we don't see a spike week from him in a slow-paced divisional game against Indianapolis, which ranks first in schedule-adjusted rush defense.

Although Kamara gets a tough matchup himself against the aforementioned Bucs, a sizable increase in receiving work over the last two games should give us renewed confidence in his 2021 role. Suddenly being used like the Kamara of old, he's seen a combined 19 targets over that span (31.7% target share), helping him to 32 and 42 adjusted opportunities (carries plus 2x targets). As a comparison, Henry is averaging 33.0 adjusted opportunities this year.

There's little reason to think Kamara won't be utilized similarly against Tampa Bay, particularly given Tampa's strong run defense and the likelihood the Saints get in a negative game script. It's worth noting that the newly-acquired Mark Ingram could steal some touches, but it's hard to see Kamara being anything but the focal point of the offense.

Kamara's the perfect bring-back option in Buccaneers game stacks.

D'Andre Swift ($7,900): No back on the slate is projected for more targets than Swift, who's averaging a robust 7.4 targets per game on a 20.2% target share. That's helped him to 26.0 adjusted opportunities per game, which ranks sixth at the position this year.

While the winless Lions are no strangers to negative game scripts, that tends to be to Swift's benefit, and they're slight home underdogs to the Eagles.

Much like rostering Kamara with Brady, Swift is an ideal stack pairing if you're rolling with Jalen Hurts at quarterback.

Darrell Henderson ($7,700): Henderson was a surprising bust in a plum spot against Detroit in Week 7 -- particularly in what was a competitive game -- but he still recorded 27 adjusted opportunities and led all running backs in snap rate (88.5%). His role wasn't any different than usual. Excluding Weeks 2 and 5 when Henderson endured mid-game injuries, he's now averaged 24.5 adjusted opportunities with an 88.0% snap rate in four fully healthy games.

As mentioned earlier, there's blowout risk for the Rams, which can hurt the upside of even running backs, but they also have a slate-best 31.25 implied total, and someone has to score those points.

With Henderson's salary dipping below $8,000 this week, he projects are one of the best point-per-dollar plays.

Elijah Mitchell ($5,800): Despite Mitchell's role as the 49ers' lead back, his lack of targets worry me even at this modest salary. In four games this season, he's only seen four targets in total. He technically ran more routes than JaMycal Hasty last week (14 to 11), but Hasty is the clear pass-catching back on third downs, so it's hard to foresee a dramatic uptick in targets for Mitchell.

That being said, he's now logged 19, 17, and 18 carries in three games with Jimmy Garoppolo under center, so just a little work in the passing game would solidify Mitchell as a value play. The game environment won't be exciting against Chicago (39.5 total), but the Bears rank 19th in schedule-adjusted rush defense, and the 49ers are 3.5-point road favorites.

Wide Receivers

Stefon Diggs ($7,300): WIth Cooper Kupp ($9,200) being the only wideout averaging over 20 FanDuel points per game -- 23.2 to be exact -- his salary well exceeds that of anyone else at wideout. He's the slate's top projected wide receiver, but he figures to be popular, and there's a lot of value in the mid-range this week.

Diggs is one such player, as a surprising lack of spike weeks has kept his salary down. He actually projects as the top point-per-dollar player at the position. He's tied to Josh Allen, which is obviously a huge plus, and the usage remains what we would expect, averaging 9.5 targets per game with a 26.0% target share and 33.1% air yards share.

The modest salary ought to add to Diggs' popularity, but he should be your first option as always in Allen stacks.

Chris Godwin ($7,200): While Godwin's volume numbers aren't as exciting as other top wideouts, Antonio Brown is expected to be out again, so Godwin should command a higher target share this week. In Week 7, Godwin saw 11 targets with a 28.2% target share and 37.3% air yards share, helping him to a season-best 21.1 FanDuel points.

Furthermore, his main competition for targets, Mike Evans ($7,500), is expected to draw shadow coverage from Marshon Lattimore. While cornerback matchups can often be overblown in fantasy, these two have a lengthy history of one-on-one battles, and Lattimore has often done a good job of keeping Evans in check.

It's worth noting that Rob Gronkowski ($6,500) will likely return this week, but he only owned a 14.9% target share in his three games, so he shouldn't impact Godwin's overall target share too dramatically. Of course, Gronk's always a threat to steal away touchdowns in the red zone, though.

Calvin Ridley ($7,000): The weekly wait for a Ridley ceiling game continues. He's still seeing encouraging usage -- as shown by his 26.7% target share and 40.2% air yards share -- yet he's exceeded 12 FanDuel points just once this season. Despite averaging 10.4 targets per game, he's just 30th at the position in FanDuel points per game.

This isn't an amazing matchup versus a quality Carolina defense, but this game has a respectable 46.5 total with a tight spread, so we could still see some back-and-forth scoring. Perhaps it all finally comes together for Ridley on Sunday?

DeVonta Smith ($6,200): Rostering Smith has been pretty unexciting for the most part, but his role as the Eagles' top option hasn't changed. With Zach Ertz no longer in town, Smith enjoyed a team-high 9 targets in Week 7 off a 29.0% target share and 31.8% air yards share.

The Lions have one of the worst pass defenses in the league, so we should feel more confidence in Smith turning that usage into fantasy points this week. At his sub-$7,000 salary, he's one of the top values on the board.

Tight Ends

Kyle Pitts ($6,800): As far as value is concerned, Dallas Goedert ($5,900) is the top play on the Ertz-less Eagles, as he and Pitts have similar projections, but Goedert's salary is a good bit lower. In Week 7, Goedart was third on the team in targets (5) and actually led in receiving yards (70) off a solid 28.0% air yards share.

But if we're talking strictly ceiling, there may not be anyone who can match Pitts. All of Travis Kelce, Darren Waller, and Mark Andrews are off the slate, and George Kittle isn't expected to be back from injury until next week.

Pitts blew up for 119 yards in Week 5 when Calvin Ridley was out, and he proved that was no fluke in Week 7, one-upping that yardage total by racking up 163 despite Ridley being back in the lineup. He notably soaked up a team-high 39.4% air yards share last week, reminding everyone that he's no ordinary tight end talent.

If you have the extra cap space, you're essentially drafting a wide receiver for your tight end slot.

Tyler Higbee ($5,300): Higbee disappointed in the box score versus the Lions last week, but his role was as good as ever. He played 100% of the snaps for the fourth time this season, and his 8 targets were good for a 19.5% target share. Unfortunately, he simply didn't get in the end zone.

But you'll take that type of usage every day from a tight end at this salary, and there should be plenty of touchdowns to go around versus the Texans.


San Francisco D/ST ($4,600): The 49ers' defense has the fifth-highest salary on the board, which isn't ideal, but they still rate as numberFire's top value due to their matchup against the Bears.

Specifically, that means facing Justin Fields, who is coming off a disastrous performance against the Bucs. Tampa Bay allowed just 3 points and racked up 4 sacks, 3 interceptions, and recovered 2 fumbles, leading to 21 FanDuel points.

San Franciso's defense isn't quite up at Tampa Bay's level -- they're 12th overall in our metrics -- nor is their offense likely to bust out of the gates with an early multi-score lead. But Fields appears completely lost right now, and he's been one of the very worst quarterbacks in numberFire's metrics. Another meltdown can't be ruled out.

Chicago D/ST ($3,700): In that same game, I also don't mind the defense on the other side. The Bears lead the league in both sacks and adjusted sack rate, and they're 9th in numberFire's schedule-adjusted defense rankings.

While game script could be an issue if Fields totally flops again, it's not like Jimmy Garoppolo has been lighting it up, and it's clear the 49ers prefer to limit his pass attempts when possible. If the hometown Bears can muster something on offense and get a lead, perhaps they can force Garoppolo into some mistakes.