FanDuel Week 8 Slate Breakdown with Cash and GPP Picks
There are a few ways I want to attack the Week 8 slate. First, I want to have overweight exposure to QBs in the $7,000s at the expense of tempting QBs in the $8,000s. A look at our QB value rankings will reveal that not one QB priced above $8,000 is a top-seven median value, and the highest-rated QB above $8,000 by ceiling value is Dak Prescott, who ranks only 10th. Beyond that, there are a lot of games and teams I want to target in specific ways due to funnel tendencies and overall circumstances; there's only one true onslaught team I like this week.
Note: Funnel ratings are at the end of the article. Click here to jump to them.
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Games to Target
Sunday Update: With the inclement weather throughout the east coast adding a layer of uncertainty to the slate, it becomes less risky to go contrarian. With that in mind, here are some additional contrarian GPP plays to think about: Deonte Thompson ($4,700) against a Raiders secondary missing cornerbacks David Amerson, Garreon Conley, and safety Karl Joseph ... Derek Carr ($7,800), Amari Cooper ($7,200), and Jared Cook ($5,600) against a Bills defense that gave up 320+ yards each of the last two weeks and will be without cornerback E.J. Gaines and potentially safety Jordan Poyer ... Jordan Howard ($6,900) versus a Saints defense ranked 28th in RB aFPA ... Blair Walsh ($4,800) as a home favorite with a 25+ point implied total in good weather ... Seahawks DST ($5,100) as a home favorite against a distracted Texans team ranked 27th in DEF aFPA.
Cowboys (24.5) at Redskins (22.0): Over/Under 46.5
Sun Update: As of Sunday morning, the total is down 3 points since this piece was published, shaving 1 point off each team's implied total, likely due to weather concerns. While that in itself is only mildly concerning, of more concern for Washington is that center Spencer Long (knee) and left tackle Trent Williams (knee) are out while two other starters—tackle Morgan Moses (ankle) and guard Brandon Sherff (knee)—are questionable, with only Moses getting in a limited practice Friday. I'm downgrading Kirk Cousins to GPP-only and would caution against relying heavily on Josh Doctson even in tournament lineups.
Dak Prescott is always there if you need him, but this week I don’t think you need to go overweight with Dak’s climbing price tag pushing him outside the top-eight QB values. Ezekiel Elliott ($9,000) is the top play in this game; despite just a $400 price difference, Elliott’s projected value is above 8 points while Prescott’s is under 2 points. Zeke has averaged 1.2 TDs per game on the road in his career. His cash-game viability is bested only be LeVeon Bell, though Mark Ingram provides better balance in lineups as an RB2.
Washington is the league’s No. 1 TE funnel defense and ranks 28th in TE aFPA while Jason Witten ranks fifth among TEs in FanDuel points per game (10.0) and is tied for fourth in targets per game (7.0).
As a top-two QB value going against a defense ranked 27th in QB aFPA in what projects as a close, high-scoring game, Kirk Cousins ($7,800) is cash-viable. Two weeks ago, Cousins finished as the QB1, but the majority of Cousins lineups throughout the industry were sunk by incorrect stacking choices, so it’s worth noting the Cowboys are the third-best defense to go naked QB against.
The perennial league leader in injuries per fantasy point, Jordan Reed ($6,100) hasn’t been priced lower since Week 14 of 2015 and has Gronk/Ertz upside against a non-prohibitive Cowboys defense (14th in TE aFPA) at $2,300/$1,200 less.
Josh Doctson ($5,200) played 84.4% of the snaps last week but posted only a 3-39 line on 5 targets against an Eagles defense ranked 26th in WR aFPA. Nevertheless, he’s a solid GPP play I want to get out in front of against a Cowboys defense ranked 24th in WR aFPA.
Teams to Target
Sunday Update: As of Sunday morning, the over/under has dropped 3.5 points from its open, from 48 to 44.5, so there is concern about the weather. However, the Eagles' implied team total of 28.5 is still tied for the highest of the week, which will keep his projection high. If pivoting off Carson Wentz, Russell Wilson and Andy Dalton are the safest choices as home favorites with implied totals of 25.75 and 28.5, respectively.
LeGarrette Blount ($6,100) will likely be somewhat popular given the 49ers' last-ranked defense versus RBs, but he'd likely need two TDs to match stud RB production, and with a bunch of inexpensive WRs in play, it's not a chase I'm willing to go overweight on, especially with Wendell Smallwood and potentially Corey Clement in the mix. Blount does make for an intriguing stack with the excessively-priced Eagles DST ($5,400), however, but I'm targeting the Eagles passing (and kicking) game here.
Note: As of Thursday, there's a 100% chance of precipitation in Philadelphia on Sunday, but even with that, Vegas still has the Eagles projected for over 29 points. Rain tends to benefit offensive players because they know where they're going, so it shouldn't factor in heavily unless we start to see the over/under dropping rapidly.
Our top projected value at QB by nearly 2 points, Carson Wentz ($7,900) is this week’s top cash game play as a home favorite with an implied total pushing 30 against a 49ers defense ranked 26th in QB aFPA. Wentz’s mobility (28.0 rushing yards per game) enhances his fantasy upside and blunts concern about the loss of left tackle Jason Peters. Also, note the 49ers have been the top team to go naked QB against.
Many analysts tend to overrate targets for wide receivers, but fantasy production is more predictive than targets over sample sizes larger than five games. For that reason, Nelson Agholor ($6,000) is my preferred overweight WR play on the Eagles. Despite averaging 5.0 targets per game to Alshon Jeffery’s 7.7, Agholor ranks 21st among WRs with 11.2 FanDuel points per game while Jeffery ranks 39th with 8.9. Agholor is also second on the team to Zach Ertz in red zone target share (19.4%) and is tied with Ertz for the team lead in targets inside the 10-yard line (4).
Jake Elliott ($4,800) leads all kickers on the main slate with 12.2 points per game and checks all the cash game boxes as a home favorite with the slate’s highest implied total. Sunday Update: Weather concerns admist a high implied team total render him a GPP-only option.
Drew Brees at home is always tempting, but the salaries of he ($8,500) and to a lesser extent, Michael Thomas ($7,700), don't necessarily provide value against a Bears defense ranked ninth in QB aFPA and fifth in WR aFPA. I'm attacking the run game here.
- Mark Ingram ($7,200) averages 28.0 touches over the last two weeks, tied for third in the league. That volume and home-favorite status make him the ideal RB2 play in cash games and tournaments alike. Despite not topping double-digit FanDuel points with Adrian Peterson on the team, Ingram is already up to 13th in FanDuel points per game (13.9) among RBs.
The Saints defense ($4,800) is an ideal GPP pivot off the Bengals as a nearly equally-large favorite against a Bears offense ranked 28th in aFPA. The Saints have the offensive firepower to force Mitch Trubisky into his highest pass-attempt figure to date.
Thus far, Andy Dalton ($7,600) has had one matchup against a defense ranked bright green in QB aFPA and posted 286 yards and 4 TDs in it against the Browns (31st). He’s a solid bet to replicate a similar feat against a Colts defense ranked 29th in QB aFPA that just allowed 330 passing yards to Blake Bortles.
Not much needs to be said about A.J. Green ($8,500), who is cash-viable as the top WR value on the slate—but don’t overlook Brandon LaFell ($4,600). LaFell is our top WR value under $5,500 and is tied for sixth in the league with 9 red zone targets (five more than Green). The Colts have allowed more targets (7.4) and yards (71.6) to No. 2 wide receivers than No. 1 wide receivers (6.9, 60.6), per Football Outsiders, making LaFell a viable punt play in all formats.
With 3 TDs over his past three games, Tyler Kroft ($5,700) has ably stepped into the Tyler Eifert role, which produced 18 TDs in 21 games during 2015 and 2016. Kroft is a multi-TD upside GPP play against a Colts defense ranked 25th in TE aFPA.
A 51%-snap, 16.7-touch-per game player since offensive coordinator Bill Lazor took over, Joe Mixon’s ($5,900) floor is too low for me to use in cash games, but he’s a strong GPP play as a home favorite against a Colts defense ranked 31st in RB aFPA.
Only Jake Elliott is a better value at kicker than Randy Bullock ($4,600), and with kickers being positively correlated with all other positions, Bullock is stackable with other Bengals.
With no running game to speak of, Russell Wilson ($7,900) has accounted for 78% of the Seahawks’ total yardage (1,720-of-2,206) and 92% of their offensive TDs (12-of-13). He’s a high-upside GPP pivot against a decimated Texans defensive front and top-ranked pass funnel rating.
With two games of 19+ FanDuel points and four others at 8 or below, Doug Baldwin ($7,700) is a boom-bust GPP play whose home splits suggest he has a good shot of booming: since 2015, Baldwin averages a 5.8-79-0.67 line at home compared to a 5.2-57-0.55 line on the road. The Texans rank an unimposing 19th in WR aFPA.
After failing to top 15 touches in three games this season—including the last two since the bye, Devonta Freeman’s ($8,000) cash game viability has been compromised. Freeman is still tied for fourth in the league in carries inside the 10-yard line (7), however, rendering him a strong GPP arbitrage play on the true stud RBs as a favorite against a Jets defense ranked 27th in RB aFPA.
Remove the Week 4 game where Mohamed Sanu ($5,600) exited early due to injury, and he averages 9.8 FanDuel points per game—higher than the likes of Amari Cooper (9.7), Pierre Garcon (9.7), Kelvin Benjamin (9.2), and Alshon Jeffery (8.9), and second-highest among all WRs priced under $6,000, behind Ted Ginn (10.3). Sanu also leads the Falcons in red zone targets with 6 despite missing one game and a good part of another. He’s viable in all formats and is a nice leverage play on the positive recency bias of Julio Jones.
From Week 2 on, LeVeon Bell ($9,400) has averaged 31.5 touches per game while no other RB has averaged more than 24.7 over that span. That’s jam'em in status against a Lions defense ranked as the fourth-strongest run funnel and is ranked 23rd in RB aFPA.
The Steelers ($4,400) quietly have fielded one of the best defenses in the league, ranking first in yards per play allowed (4.5) and second in points per drive allowed (1.33). Road favorites have historically been the most valuable DSTs relative to salary, making the Steelers cash-viable as a 3-point favorite against a Lions team ranked 29th in DEF aFPA.
Tyrod Taylor was a nice play at $7,000 last week, but still barely cracked 20 points against the league's worst defense versus QBs. Now priced at $7,600, Taylor is in a purgatory of sorts—unnecessary in cash games and not as high-upside as you'd like for tournaments. I'd rather go overweight on the Bills running game this week.
Because he has ceded 57% of carries inside the 5-yard line this season to Mike Tolbert, hasn’t hit 4.0 yards per carry since Week 1, and has a merely average matchup against a Raiders defense ranked 16th in RB aFPA, LeSean McCoy ($8,400) is a GPP-only play for me this week. In GPPs, Shady can serve as LeVeon Bell or Ezekiel Elliott arbitrage, but in cash games, not paying the extra $1,000 or $600, respectively, could be costly.
Steven Hauschka ($4,800) has been straight nasty this year, banging home 5-of-5 field goal attempts from 50+ yards and ranking second on the slate in FanDuel points per game (10.8). He’s a strong play in all formats, but especially in GPPs, where his relative lack of popularity will likely keep his ownership modest.
Panthers (22) at Bucs
Given the Panthers' modest implied total and the fact most of the Buccaneers' defensive meltdowns have come on the road, expectations have to be kept somewhat in check, but this is still a defense to attack given its lack of pass rush and the moderate salaries of the Panthers offense.
Kelvin Benjamin ($6,600) averages 71.3 receiving yards per game if you remove his injury-shortened 7-snap outing in Week 3, which would rank 12th in the league. He’s cash-viable against a Buccaneers defense ranked an ocean-floor-low 32nd in WR aFPA. At 6-foot-5, 240 pounds with a TD every 2.3 career games, Benjamin’s TD luck is a better bet to reverse catching passes from Cam Newton than the 6-foot, 210-pound Pierre Garcon, who averages a TD every 3.8 career games and is catching passes from C.J. Beathard.
Cam Newton’s ($7,800) propensity for meltdowns takes him out of cash game consideration—his floor is projected nearly 1 and 3 points behind the similarly priced Kirk Cousins and Carson Wentz, respectively. His 40.0 passing-plus-rushing attempts per game and 41.7% red zone carry share, however, render him as one of the week’s highest-upside GPP options against a Bucs defense also ranked 32nd in QB aFPA.
With a team-leading 24% target market share since Greg Olsen went down, Devin Funchess ($6,600) is also in play against a Bucs defense that will be missing their top two cornerbacks in Brent Grimes (shoulder) and Robert McClain (concussion).
The Patriots have a relatively high implied team total, but with the premium price tags attached to Tom Brady ($9,400) and Rob Gronkowski ($8,400), and with the Chargers ranked in the top five in aFPA versus both QBs (fourth) and TEs (first), the smart play is to leverage opposing passing game correlations in the event of a shootout.
Against a Patriots defense ranked 22nd in TE aFPA, Hunter Henry ($5,500) is a slightly-less safe, but higher-upside cash-viable TE than Jason Witten. Henry has played 80% of the snaps the past two weeks, and aside from (foolishly) not being targeted in Weeks 1 and 3, has 73+ yards or a TD in every game.
The now Dont'a Hightower-less Patriots defense ranks 27th in WR aFPA and has allowed the league’s most passing yards per game (323.2) and second-most passing attempts per game (38.3), while Keenan Allen leads the Chargers with a 27% share of the team’s targets and receiving yards. Allen is a high-upside GPP play with a good shot of benefitting from garbage time like Julio Jones last week, while his 9-target floor against non-Denver defenses makes him viable in cash games.
Other Players to Target
Michael Crabtree ($7,200) is sixth on the slate in FanDuel points per game (13.1) and ninth in projected points (11.5 as of this writing), yet is priced 12th. Since the start of last season, Crabtree has scored double-digit FanDuel points in 15 of his last 22 games. Amari Cooper’s resurgence should only help open things up for the cash-viable Crabtree against a Bills defense ranked 20th in WR aFPA.
Summary of Plays
Cash-viable plays marked with an asterisk (*).
- QB: Carson Wentz*, Russell Wilson*, Kirk Cousins, Cam Newton, Andy Dalton*
- RB: LeVeon Bell*, Ezekiel Elliott*, LeSean McCoy, Devonta Freeman, Mark Ingram*, Joe Mixon
- WR: A.J. Green*, Keenan Allen*, Doug Baldwin, Michael Crabtree*, Kelvin Benjamin*, Devin Funchess, Nelson Agholor, Mohamed Sanu*, Josh Doctson, Brandon LaFell*
- TE: Jordan Reed, Tyler Kroft, Hunter Henry*, Jason Witten*
- K: Jake Elliott, Steven Hauschka, Randy Bullock*
- DST: Bengals *, Saints, Steelers *
Primetime Slate Breakdown
I think the highest floor and ceiling among QBs belongs to Alex Smith ($7,700) against a Broncos defense that has surprisingly been the league’s third-strongest pass-funnel. In slates like this, I’m looking for the QB who (1) is throwing to the best weapons, and (2) has rushing equity; Smith edges Ben Roethlisberger ($7,400) in No. 2. Big Ben is my second-favorite option strictly due to his two star weapons, but I expect the Steelers to continue to be run-heavy against a Lions defense ranked way down at 29th in pass funnel rating. With Darius Slay expected to shadow Antonio Brown ($9,200), the numbers say otherwise, but I’d consider a contrarian combination of Brown and, say, Bennie Fowler ($4,500) for $13,700 over Tyreek Hill ($7,600) and Marvin Jones ($6,100) for the same total price—even in a tough matchup, Brown has the upside to outscore both of the aforementioned wideouts combined even if Fowler puts up a zero. While I don’t think the Steelers will spread the ball around outside of Brown enough for JuJu Smith-Schuster ($5,500) to warrant main slate consideration, but with Martavis Bryant benched, Smith-Schuster is a top-two WR value on the primetime slate as long as he’s cleared from his concussion. Demaryius Thomas ($6,900) has a gorgeous matchup against a Chiefs defense bleeding production to WRs; the only risk is the Chiefs' man-based scheme could conceivably double-team him on nearly every passing snap. Fowler is only 0.6 points behind Thomas in value and provides better leverage. Travis Kelce ($7,200) is the top TE play against a Broncos defense ranked as the sixth-strongest TE funnel. With 17 targets over his last three games, A.J. Derby ($4,500) is the contrarian fade option that will pay off if Kelce gets injured or held in check.
LeVeon Bell ($9,400) is the top play on the slate, and while Kareem Hunt ($8,500) is the second-best play, he’s more fade-able in GPPs. If Hunt fails to score against the Broncos’ top-rated defense in terms of RB aFPA, salary may be best spent elsewhere while plugging in a Lions RBs. Twenty-five percent of opposing pass attempts against Pittsburgh have gone to RBs, sixth-most in the league. Given that Ameer Abdullah ($6,000) has 3+ catches in half of his games and averages 15.0 carries, he’s the preferred play to Theo Riddick ($5,300). Since Devontae Booker entered the mix, C.J. Anderson has yet to come within 10 percentage points of his pre-bye 70% snap rate.
Kicker and Defense/Special Teams
The kickers on both favorites—Harrison Butker ($5,000) and Chris Boswell ($4,900) are the top plays, as aFPA suggests avoiding kickers against the Steelers (first in kicker aFPA) and Chiefs (fifth). As mentioned above, the Steelers ($4,400) are one of the top DST plays of the week. Given their special teams acumen, home-favorite status, and opponent’s ranking of dead last in DEF aFPA, the Chiefs ($4,900) are the top pivot off Pittsburgh.
Note: For an explanation of funnel ratings, click here. Click headers to sort.
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