FanDuel NFL Week 8: In-Depth Player Pool With Expert Analysis
Week 7 was fun and profitable, with my top FanDuel lineup scoring 191.88 points. After the afternoon game, it was winning $2,500 in a single-entry tournament. It fell to a $150 win with a high scoring night game that is not usually included in the FanDuel Main Slate.
I am again focusing on building around eight QBs that are, for the most part, projected to be in the top-10 on the FanDuel Main Slate. This week it’s difficult to zero in on which QB that I’m going to have the most confidence in because several high-end QBs either have a tough matchup, a potentially bad game script, or there are weather concerns for the game.
We have reached the point in the season where the weather should be diligently checked and factored into our lineup builds. I’m very appreciative that Mike Woellert of 4for4 sent me a direct message on Twitter about it snowing in Denver and that he was playing the Chiefs defense. I had already had several shares of the Kansas City defense but increased it with that info.
Bad weather is a great source for good defenses, and offensive players should only be used with caution in those games. Wind will be a major factor in a couple of marquee games on Sunday. WRs who have a low average depth of target may be preferable to deep threats. RBs may get more opportunities in those games.
Research, The Mikes
As regular readers of my column, you will not only see my research of stats but the analysis of some of the best experts in the industry (If you can’t beat them, join and credit them). Mike Tagliere of FantasyPros and Mike Woellert of 4for4 are quoted frequently.
Tagliere’s weekly column, The Primer, is the most compressive look at Fantasy Football. It’s typically about 20,000 words and had well thought out information on every fantasy-relevant (and not so relevant) player. Tagliere takes into account defensive injures, schemes, matchups, and historical numbers. I admire Tagliere’s work. This article is somewhat modeled after The Primer but reduced to only the players I’m using.
Woellert is an expert at WR vs. CB matchups. He continually finds low owned undervalued players that have huge weeks. When spending up at W.R., it’s great to know they are in advantageous situations. As the season progresses, patterns emerge, and it becomes clear which C.B.s should be exploited. Our goal will be to play W.R.s covered by C.B.s, who average near or above 2.0 fantasy points per target.
While my articles give you free exposure to a sliver of the information, at FantasyPros and 4for4, I would recommend subscribing to help with your research.
Week 6 FanDuel Player Pool
Patrick Mahomes ($9,200) is the most expensive and highest projected QB on the slate by 4for4 at 30 points. Tagliere also has Mahomes as his top QB for the week. Like last week when Mahomes only scored 12 fantasy points, I again think he is over projected. Mahomes may be facing a dismal Jets team, but they have only allowed an average of 18.08 fantasy points a game to QBs. That’s because opposing QBs don’t have to do much to beat them. I expect the same this week. I’ll have exposure, but my lineup will likely be entered into a lower cost single-entry.
Russell Wilson ($8,700) is another high-end QB that may fall a little short of expectations. Wilson is the second-highest projected QB that 27.4 points, but faces a 49ers defense that has only allowed an eighth-best 16.13 fantasy points a game to QBs. Wilson has been phenomenal with a 30.55 fantasy points a game average. The exceptions for him in this game should perhaps be in the mid-20s as opposed to the mid-30s. However, that still a 3X performance based on his price.
Aaron Rodgers (GB, $8,400) is coming off a 27.32 fantasy point performance against the Texans. Despite the lofty number, it was only good for his third-best fantasy score of the season. His best performance came in Week 1 against the Vikings when he scored 30.76 points on the road. This week, Rodgers is facing the Vikings again and at home. In large part to Rodgers’ Week 1 escapades, the Vikings are ranked seventh-worst against QBs, having allowed an average of 21.86 fantasy points a game. However, this game has HUGE weather concerns as there should be sustained winds of 25 MPH and wind gusts up to 40 MPH.
Josh Allen (BUF, $8,200) is another high-end QB in a tough matchup. Allen is projected for less than 3X at 22.8 points by 4for4. He faces a Patriots defense that has allowed fourth-best 14.25 fantasy points a game to QBs. Allen is still projected to be a top 10 QB, but my confidence for a high return to value is low.
Ryan Tannehill (TEN, $8,200) is the fourth-highest projected QB at 4for4 at 25.4 points. Tagliere has Tannehill ranked 5th against the Bengals. The Bengals, like the Jets, have not allowed a ton of points to opposing QBs at 19.35 per game average. What makes Tannehill more appealing than Mahomes at $1,000 cheaper is that the game script is more likely to push Tannehill towards his ceiling than Mahomes towards his. However, the weather should be considered in this game with expected wind gusts between 15 to 25 MPHs, limiting deep balls.
Justin Herbert (LAC, $7,700) has thrown for more than 290 yards four times in five games, with three or more touchdowns three times, and has averaged 25.2 fantasy points per game. That’s 3.5X based on his price. Last week, Herbert scored 38.48 points against the Jaguars. Herbert threw for 347 yards and three TDs and rushed for 66 yards and another score. Herbert has the best third-down passer rating at 138.2, according to a Tweet by Pro Football Focus. Patrick Mahomes has the second-best at 132.0. All other QB is at 120 or below. This week, Herbert faces a Broncos defense, which has allowed 20.42 fantasy points a game to QBs. Denver has particularly struggled at containing QBs on the ground, having allowed a sixth most 170 rushing yards to QB and third-most three rushing TDs.
Joe Burrow (CIN, $7,600) is coming off his best performance of his young career. He completed 35 of 47 passes for 406 yards and three TDs and rushed six times for 34 yards and another TD to score 34.64 points against the Browns. Burrow could have another big day this week against the Titans. “The Titans are a team that should be a good matchup for Burrow considering where much of their production goes,” wrote Tagliere. “Wide receivers have seen a 63.7 percent target share against the Titans, which ranks third-highest in the league, and it’s where Burrow directs 66.6 percent of his targets. Not just that, but the Bengals pass 63.5 percent of the time (fifth-highest in NFL) while the Titans opponents have run 67.5 plays per game, so we should see 40-plus attempts in this game.” There is some concern going into this game that Burrow will be missing three linemen. That is somewhat offset because the Titans haven’t had more than two sacks all season, and the Bengals O-line has struggled all season. It may actually mean Burrow racks up more points on the ground as he scrambles away from pressure.
Jimmy Garoppolo (SF, $6,600) is the risky, albeit potentially rewarding value play of the week for QB. Garappolo faces the Seahawks, which have allowed a second-most 26.42 fantasy points a game to QBs. Garappolo has only averaged 13.31 fantasy points a game with only two decent performances this year. His best, however, came against the Rams in Week 6 when he scored 23.52 fantasy points. The game script will likely have the 49ers trailing early, so the potential is there for Garappolo to have a 4x performance. With WR Debo Samuel ($5,800, hamstring) doubtful, all of Garappolo’s WR targets will cost $5,900 or less.
Davante Adams (GB, $9,100) is coming off a monster game against the Texans, where he caught 13 of 16 targets for 196 yards for two TDs to score 38.1 fantasy points. It was his best fantasy performance of the season, but just by 3.5 points. His best second-best fantasy output came against the Vikings in Week 1 when he scored 34.6 fantasy, the same team he faces this week. CB Cameron Dantzler should at best cover Adams. Giddy up!!! “As of now, most of Minnesota’s secondary is dealing with ailments,” wrote Woellert. “Dantzler wasn’t spotted at practice, so we’ll have to monitor his status, but regardless, the Vikings don’t have a corner who’ll be able to handle Adams this week. If Dantzler suits up, I can see Aaron Rodgers picking on him like he’s the new kid in school. Dantzler has allowed four scores and is 2.2 fantasy points per target.”
D.K. Metcalf (SEA, $7,800) or Tyler Lockett (SEA, $7,200) seems like an impossible choice for DFS players when stacking with Wilson. “The Battle of Wits has begun, and it ends when you decide,” The Princess Bride. Last week should have been Metcalf’s week as he had the better CB Metcalf. Metcalf scored 3.3 fantasy points against the Falcons but did make a TD saving tackle after an interception that nearly went the length of the field. Meanwhile, Lockett scored 45.3 fantasy points with 15 receptions for 200 yards and three TDs. The matchup points to Lockett having another great performance this week. Lockett should be covered by CB Jamar Taylor, who has allowed a 50% catch rate and 2.03 fantasy points per target. Metcalf should be covered by Emmanuel Moseley, who has allowed a 51.3% catch rate and only 1.32 fantasy points per target. My choice is Lockett. Check back next week when I recap Metcalf’s 50-Burger!
Stefon Diggs (BUF, $7,100) remains the natural choice to stack with QB Josh Allen. Diggs is third in both targets (70) and targets per game (10). Diggs has the best CB matchup of the Bills WRs. He should be covered by Patriots CB Stephon Gilmore, who has allowed a 56% catch rate and 1.61 fantasy points per target.
Justin Jefferson (MIN, $6,600) is coming off a monster game against the Falcons, where he nine of 11 targets for 166 yards and two TDs to score 35.1 fantasy points. Jefferson has the best CB matchup of the Vikings WRs. He should be covered by CB Kevin King, who has allowed a 61.5% catch rate and 1.92 fantasy points per target. Jefferson is a solid choice for an opposing WR to QB Aaron Rodgers.
Tyler Boyd (CIN, $6,400), Tee Higgins (CIN, $6,000), and A.J. Green (CIN, $5,800) are all in play against the Titans. They can be used as an opposing WR to QB Ryan Tannehill, or more than one stacked with QB Joe Burrow. Woellert prefers Higgins of the trio. “Higgins has five or more targets in six consecutive games and seems to have built a rapport with fellow rookie, Joe Burrow, wrote Woellert. “He’s appeared in at least 80% of the snaps in three straight and finds himself with a favorable matchup opposite Jonathan Joseph. Higgins moves around the field and runs nearly 60% of his routes on the right side, putting him on Joseph. He’ll run routes on Malcolm Butler, as well. Although Joseph has allowed more TDs, Butler has been burned for 389 yards in coverage. Joseph is giving up 16.6 yards per catch and 2.4 fantasy points per target.” Boyd should be covered by Chris Jackson, who has allowed a 73.3% catch rate and 1.75 fantasy points per target. Green should be, for the most part, covered by Malcolm Butler, who has allowed a 60% catch rate and 1.62 fantasy point per target. Weather should be considered when choosing WRs in this game because there are expected wind gusts between 15 to 25 mph. That means the shorter range WRs should fare better. However, there hasn’t been a lot of deep balls by the Bengals. Higgins has the farthest depth of target at 13.2 yards, followed by Green at 12.2. Boyd has the lowest target of 8.7, which may give him an edge in these conditions.
Mike Williams (LAC, $5,900) has, by far, the best CB matchup for Chargers WRs. Williams should be covered by Broncos CB Michael Ojemudia, who has allowed a 55.3% catch rate and 1.73 fantasy points per target. Most DFS players will stack QB Justin Herbert with Keenan Allen ($7,400). Allen isn’t a bad choice because of his massive role in the Chargers offense. Allen has the third-highest targets per game of all WRs at 10.7, and he left one game early with a sore back. However, he has a tough matchup this week against CB Bryce Callahan, who has allowed a 62.5% catch rate, but a low 1.23 fantasy points per target. You may still want to consider stacking Allen with Herbert, but adding Williams makes a lot of sense.
Mecole Hardman (KC, $5,400) has the best CB matchup of the Chiefs WRs. Hardman should be covered by Jets CB Pierre Desir, who we pick on about every week. Most DFS players looking to stack the Chiefs will use WR Tyreek Hill ($8,100) and TE Travis Kelce ($7,900). I’m taking Woellert’s advice and be one of the few that uses Hardman instead. “This one could get out of hand quick, with KC a 19.5 point favorite, so guys like Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce may not factor too heavily in the stat sheet,” wrote Woellert. “Or, they could, but it’s possible the secondary pieces of this offense could see more run. After seeing just one target in Week 6, Hardman doubled his target output. Yes, I know it’s just two, but it’s progress. Hardman will move around but should run 50% of his routes on Pierre Desir. Desir has allowed 84% of catchable targets to be caught, resulting in 330 yards and three TDs. Desir is allowing 2.1 fantasy points per target in 2020.”
Corey Davis (TEN, $5,400) is coming off a 10 target game against the Steelers. This week he has the best CB matchup of the Titans WRs. Davis should be covered by Bengals CB LeShaun Sims, who has allowed a 73.3% catch rate and 2.28 fantasy points per target.
Kendrick Bourne (SF, $5,000) is a great value option as he should also see an uptick in targets with the absence of Deebo Samuel. Bourne is a good choice for an opposing WR to QB Russell Wilson. Seahawks CB Shaquill Griffin should cover Bourne. “The 49ers have a favorable passing matchup overall, facing a Seahawks team allowing the most schedule-adjusted fantasy points (aFPA) to the receiver position, wrote Woellert. “Bourne has run 60% of his routes on the right, which matches him up with Shaq Griffin for most of the day. Griffin has allowed four scores and is second in yards allowed in his coverage, 390 total. He’s allowing 2.2 fantasy points per target.” It’s worth considering that the double stack of Garappolo with Bourne Aiyuk only costs $17,500. That’s an opportunity to cram in a high-end WR and two top RBs.
Adam Humphries (TEN, $5,000) is slate to have a 3X week. This is if you believe in patterns. Here is Humphries off, on, and off again results in terms of fantasy score: (7.7, 13.3, 6.1, 15.4, and 2.4). Humphries may again be in store for a good day as he has a plus CB matchup against Bengals CB Mackensie Alexander, who has allowed a 66.7% catch rate and 2.04 fantasy points per target.
Denzel Mims (NYJ, $4,900) is a rookie who missed the beginning of the season with a hamstring injury. He was not targeted in his debut in Week 6 but then caught four of seven targets against the Bills last week. Mims has the best CB matchup of the Jets WRs. Mims has the second-best CB on the Main Slate in terms of fantasy points allowed per target. Mims should be covered by Chiefs CB Charvarius Ward, who has allowed a 66.7% catch rate and 2.47 fantasy points per target. The Jets will likely trail for most of the game, so Mims should see a wealth of opportunity. Mims, it’s also likely available on the waiver wire if you are looking to plug a WR in for season-long leagues.
Damiere Byrd (NE, $4,900) is another super sneaky play and makes a great choice for an opposing WR to Josh Allen. Byrd will likely serve as the Patriots number one WR with Julian Edelman (knee) out and N’Keal Harry ($5,100) endanger of missing with a concussion. Byrd should be covered by Bill CB Josh Norman, who we frequently pick on. Norman has allowed an 82.4% catch rate and 1.96 fantasy points per target.
Take A Side
Darren Waller (LV, $6,800) leads all TEs for total targets (56) per game and targets per game 9.3, according to the 4for4 Players Target App. Waller has scored double-digit fantasy points in every game except one but has only averaged 11.8 points a game. Waller’s average is dramatically brought down by his Week 3 performance against the Patriots when he only scored 1.9 points. New England has the fourth-best defense against TEs with an average of 8.58 points per game to TEs. Waller has actually had one great matchup for TEs all season, and that came against the Saints, who have allowed a second-worst 18.97 fantasy points a game to TEs, and he scored a season-high 22.5 fantasy points. This week Waller faces the Browns, who have allowed an 11th most 14.58 fantasy points a game to TEs. It’s not a smash spot, but better than most Waller has seen in 2020. He is a great mid-priced option as he has a good shot of seeing more targets than any other TE. I do have some concerns that the weather report shows this could be a wet and windy game. Because of the weather, Waller is the only offensive player that I’m interested in. The weather conditions may even lead to more short targets for Waller.
Jimmy Graham (CHI, $5,400) has the best matchup of any TE on the Main Slate. Graham faces the Saints. Only the Falcons have allowed more fantasy points a game at 20.57. Graham has already taken advantage of a positive matchup this season. His best fantasy performance came in Week 3 against the Falcons when he had caught 10 of six targets for 60 yards and two TDs to score 21 fantasy points. That shows the Bears OC Dowell Loggains will exploit a matchup. Graham is coming off back-to-back five-catch games and has caught 23 passes in the last five games for three TDs. Graham should have no problem reaching 2X, and 3 or 4X is a reasonable outcome. I’ll have multiple shares of Graham.
Derrick Henry (TEN, $9,500) returned to earth last Sunday with a moderate 14.2 fantasy point performance. Because he faces the Steelers top-ranked ran defense that has only allowed 16.35 fantasy points a game to RBs. This week’s matchup against the Bengals is considerably easier, as Cincinnati has allowed an average of 23.60 points to RBs. It’s not a smash spot, but 2-3X should be expected from him this week. Henry has the second-highest projection on 4for4 at 21.9 points. “Despite already getting his bye out of the way, Henry is tied for the league lead in broken tackles on the ground (27),” wrote Tagliere. “His 3.47 yards after contact is flat-out ridiculous. He’s now going into a matchup with a defense that’s allowed 5.06 yards per carry, the second-highest mark in the league, behind only the Texans (who allowed Henry 212 rushing yards a few weeks ago). Teams have only run the ball against the Bengals 42.4 percent of the time, which is pretty low and is the reason they’ve faced just 22.4 carries per game. The Titans run the ball 46.7 percent of the time, and Henry has totaled at least 19 carries in every game this year. There have already been eight running backs who’ve posted at least 60 yards on the ground, including 124 yards and two touchdowns to Nick Chubb back in Week 2. Going back to last year, they allowed seven different running backs to finish as top-12 options and have already allowed four such running backs in 2020. They haven’t allowed much production through the air to running backs, but we know not to expect that out of Henry by now. Start him as a rock-solid RB1 who should post a top-10 performance.”
Dalvin Cook (MIN, $9,200) has the second-highest points per touch average of all RBs who have had at least 100 touches at 1.09, according to the 4for4 Player Touch App. Cook has averaged 20.08 touches a game. The 20.08 times 1.09 = 21.17. In Week 1, Cook scored 21.3 points against the Packers, who the Vikings play again this week. Cook is expected to return this week, but will he receive a full workload. Even if Cook sees a somewhat reduced workload coming off a groin injury, which has sidelined him for three weeks, he could still put up a big day against the Packers. In Week 1, Cook faced the Packers and saw his least touches in the season at 13. Cook had 12 carries for 50 yards and two TDs, and one reception at -2 yards. In that game, Cook averaged 1.64 points per touch. The Packers have continued to struggle against RBs, as they have allowed a league-worst 33.30 fantasy points a game to the position. If Cook were to again average 1.64 points per touch and saw 20.08 touches, he would score 32.90 points, or about what the Packers have averaged against them.
Kareem Hunt (CLE, $8,200) is projected to provide the best value of the high-end RBs. Hunt has the third-highest projection at 4for4 at 21.7 and is also ranked third by Tagliere. “It was good to see Hunt find the endzone last week, wrote Tagliere. “He’s still yet to top 86 yards on the ground or 26 yards through the air this season. Crazy, right? His season-high is 102 total yards. Will that change this week? The Raiders are allowing their opponents 1.67 fantasy points per offensive play, which ranks as the second-highest mark in the NFL. Even better, running backs are scoring 9.2 more fantasy points than quarterbacks against them, which is the ninth-largest gap in football. They’ve allowed a rushing touchdown every 15.0 carries, which is more often than any other team, and it’s allowed three running backs to walk away with multiple rushing touchdowns. Despite facing just 20.0 carries per game, they’ve allowed the second-most fantasy points to running backs, including more than the Panthers, a team we all love to attack. Not only are running backs getting it done on the ground against the Raiders, but they’re also gathering a 27.0 percent target share, which is easily the highest number in the NFL, as no other has faced more than a 24.8 percent target share to running backs. It’s led to 62.3 yards per game through the air to running backs. All in all, they’ve allowed 159.7 yards per game to running backs, and Hunt has received 36 of the 45 touches available to Browns running backs over the last two weeks. He should be locked in as a rock-solid RB1 who has No. 1 upside this week.
Jamaal Williams (GB, $7,000) appears to be the top mid-range value play. Williams will likely again see a workhorse load with Aaron Jones (groin) out. Williams faces the Vikings, who have allowed a seventh-highest 21.86 fantasy points a game to RBs. “Williams did a great job in his place last week, racking up 24 of the 29 running back opportunities in the Packers backfield,” wrote Tagliere. “He’s clearly someone they’ve started to fall back in love with, and it’s likely he’s carved out a real role alongside Jones even when healthy. Jones is used in a different role than most running backs and has four targets that have gone 20-plus yards down the field despite only playing in five games. How rare is that for a running back? There are just four other running backs who’ve seen more than one such target. The matchup with the Vikings is one that Jones has absolutely smashed over the last couple of years. Here are his last four games against them: 2018 (Week 12, 18.3 points), 2019 (Week 2, 25.0), 2019 (Week 16, 30), and 2020 (Week 1, 17.6).” In Week One of this season, Jones also scored 11.6 points. Additionally, the high winds expected favors the running game.
Giovani Bernard (CIN, $5,900) capitalized on his opportunity last week to replace RB Joe Mixon (foot). Bernard had 13 carries for 27 yards and caught all five targets for an additional 59 yards and a TD against the Browns. Mixon has again been ruled out, providing Bernard with another great opportunity against Tennessee. The Titans are in the middle of the pack against RBs with having allowed an average of 23.63 points a game to the position. Despite Bernard’s production last week, his price only went from $4,800 to $5,900. A 3X performance is still with a range. “The Titans have allowed a healthy 4.83 yards per carry to running backs this year, which is the seventh-highest number in the league, wrote Tagliere. “Though that’s not where Bernard gets a ton of his value, as the Bengals running backs have averaged a combined 3.51 yards per carry behind their poor offensive line. The area where Bernard offered a lot of value last week was through the air, which is where the Titans have done a good job, as they’ve allowed just 4.75 yards per target, which is the seventh-lowest mark in the league. Still, volume matters, and every running back who’s totaled more than 12 touches against them (there’s been five of them) have totaled 13.9 or more PPR points. Bernard should be considered a stable RB2.”
Myles Gaskin (MIA, $5,700) looks to be a solid value play. Gaskin has seen back-to-back games with greater than 20 touches. Gaskin’s carried the ball 16 times for 57 yards and a TD and caught all five his targets for 35 yards to score 17.6 fantasy points against very good 49ers run defense in Week 6. He followed with 18 carries for 91 yards and again was 100% in the passing game by catching all four targets for another 35 yards to score 14.1 points against the Jets. This week’s matchup against the Rams is nearly the same as the 49ers. The two teams are ranked 8th and 9th for fantasy points allowed to RBs. The 49ers have allowed 16.08 points a game, while the Rams have allowed 16.13. Rookie QB Tua Tagovailoa ($6,800), fifth overall pick in 2020, will be making his first career start for the Dolphins.
This is a mixed bag for Gaskins. The Dolphins game plan is not likely to have Tagovailoa completely carry the team in his first start on the plus side. That should mean plenty of work for Gaskin’s, and he should see even more pass-catching opportunities as a safety valve for the rookie. The downside is we don’t know how effective Tagovailoa will be moving the ball. He is replacing Ryan Fitzpatrick, who played very well as he had thrown for over 300 yards three of the last five games with 12 (10 passing, 2 rushing) total TDs in the span. Those extended drives meant more opportunities for Gaskin. If Tagovailoa doesn’t play at a high level, then Gaskin could disappoint. However, Miami saw something in Tagovailoa in both drafting in him in the first round and making the switch from Fitzpatrick.
Carlos Hyde (SEA, $5,000) will likely see a workhorse load against his former team, the 49ers. Hyde rose the occasion on Monday night against the Cardinals in place of teammate Chris Carson, suffered a foot strain, and is now considered week-to-week. He carried the ball 15 times for 68 yards with a TD and caught three passed for eight yards to score 15.1 fantasy points. The 49ers have only allowed a second-best 16.64 fantasy points a game to RBs. Nevertheless, Hyde should see enough work where a 2X performance should be his floor, and depending on goalie touches, he could have a significantly better day than that.
FanDuel Lineup Build
There isn’t an exact science in what a winning FanDuel lineup looks likes. However, they should tell a logical story, and certain elements are frequent.
When building a FanDuel lineup, I’ll try to check off most of the criteria:
1) QB stacked with a WR: This allows for a double score when the two connect.
2) Opposing WRs: A recent analysis of big tournaments winners found a high percentage were constructed with two WRs in the same game from both teams. This combination makes sense because high scoring shootouts allow for opportunity on both sides of the ball. Based on matchups, some of our FanDuel builds incorporate this.
3) RB stacked with Defense: There is a strong correlation between an RB performing well with their team’s defense. That’s something to factor in when choosing a reason, but in reality, it’s often the perceived best available defense with money left from the build that gets plugged in.
Follow Dan on Twitter @sandiegosports.