4 Daily Fantasy Football Matchups to Exploit in Week 8
The beauty of daily fantasy football is that, unlike a season-long draft where someone is tied to their top players all year, any top players in the NFL can make their way into your lineup. While that can be a blessing, it can also be a curse.
Although you're able to roster Christian McCaffrey, Dalvin Cook, and Derrick Henry all at once if you want, it is unlikely that all three running backs are optimal plays at their respective salaries for a particular week. There are many elements to decide which players are the best plays, and a large aspect of daily fantasy is the matchup a player has.
While usually encompassed in some respects inside the salary figure, a soft matchup can carry a good running back to a great week. On the other hand, a tough matchup can make superstars suboptimal to roster.
Which matchups are lurking in this weekend's games that we can take advantage of on FanDuel?
Broncos Passing Attack vs. The Football Team's Secondary
The Broncos and the Football Team don't leap out as a game to stack with a 44.5-point total, either. But there are individual matchups that could produce massive games in decently-concentrated volume. That could work.
Washington's pass defense is the weakest unit in the contest. The Football Team has allowed 0.28 Passing Net Expected Points (NEP) per drop back this season (tied for fourth-worst in the NFL), and they also have allowed 27.2 FanDuel points to opposing quarterbacks this season -- most in the league.
Enter Teddy Bridgewater at an insanely-low $7,000 salary on FanDuel. Bridgewater is not the top-tier fantasy quarterback archetype, but with 30 or more passes in five of seven games, Denver does lean on their passing game enough to believe they will be pass-happy in such a positive spot.
Bridgewater also has plenty of quality options to form a stack. Courtland Sutton is the NFL leader in air yards per game (136.1), and he could go significantly overlooked in the same salary area as Stefon Diggs. Jerry Jeudy is back, and his $6,000 salary is more than fair if his seven targets before injury in Week 1 are any indication. Noah Fant is also eighth in targets per game for tight ends, and his salary is fine despite a projected drop in volume with Jeudy back.
In the top matchup for any passing offense in the league, Denver has more than enough promise to put up points in a game they desperately need to stay in the playoff picture.
Joe Mixon vs. The Jets Run Defense
I hope that Joe Mixon's workload gets torn to pieces by daily fantasy players before this matchup.
Mixon played just 54% of the snaps last week with Samaje Perine in the fold. The Bengals likely are trying to limit Mixon's workload as the season progresses because of the ankle injury he fought two weeks ago. However, Mixon is still the top dog. In the first three quarters against the Ravens, Mixon had eight carries to Perine's two.
Cincinnati's rising pass rate is a concern for Mixon in general but not this week. The Bengals are 10.5-point road favorites over the Jets, which should lead to putting their foot off the gas early. Many teams have been able to take their foot off the gas against New York; the Jets are allowing the most FanDuel points per game (34.0) to running backs in the league.
Mixon either should see the lion's share of early rushing attempts against a bad defense before the blowout starts, or he will be in a close game against a weak run defense overall (0.04 Adjusted Defensive Rushing NEP per carry). Especially considering Mixon has 58.3% of Cincy's red-zone carries this season, he could have two touchdowns on the board quickly.
Hunter Henry vs. Chargers Linebackers and Safeties
I feel nauseated that one of the best games to stack of the day might contain Mac Jones.
The Chargers have a sturdy defensive philosophy that significantly limited outside passing; their 0.01 Adjusted Defensive Passing NEP per drop back is the second-best mark in the league. It makes using wide receivers against them difficult, but they still have two gaping holes for opposing offenses to exploit.
I discussed Damien Harris' positive outlook for the Patriots in my bold predictions column, but the Chargers are also awful against tight ends. They are dead last in both raw FanDuel points per game allowed to tight ends (16.3), but they also are last in Brandon Gdula's adjusted FanDuel points allowed per target to tight ends (1.86) metric.
That puts Hunter Henry firmly on the table. Henry's role is tremendous as Jonnu Smith may continue to miss time. Henry played 78.4% of snaps last week, and he has posted a single red-zone-target-turned-touchdown in four straight games.
Normally, regression would be appropriate, but it may have to wait until next week considering the Chargers have a clear deficiency at their linebacking unit, and Henry is already a priority in close for New England.
49ers Pass Rush vs. Justin Fields and the Bears Offensive Line
This isn't exactly revolutionary, but the Chicago Bears' passing game is a dumpster fire at the moment.
Justin Fields has been sacked 22 times. He's only been sacked one more time than second-place Matt Ryan, but Fields has started two fewer games. Chicago is allowing a 33% pressure rate overall, and Fields finally turned this insane duress into a nightmare outing in Week 7 with five turnovers against the Buccaneers.
The San Francisco D/ST is not $4,600 on FanDuel on their own merit; they've ceded 28-plus points in three of four games. They are high-salaried because the Bears take sacks like Halloween candy from a bowl, and the 49ers have posted multiple sacks in four of six games. They also have a 30% pressure rate as a defense.
A matchup with Chicago when boasting a quality pass rush -- or heck, even a non-quality one at this point -- is automatic contention for a daily fantasy defense at this point. Fire them up with confidence.