Week 8 is here, and (knock on wood) we haven’t had any new COVID-related changes yet this week. We did however find out last week that the NFL is willing to FLEX games even this early in the season, and it won’t even take COVID to force this to happen.
DFS: The Primetime Slate
Dallas @ Philadelphia Eagles
This game sounded a lot more exciting coming into the season. Of course, Philadelphia now has half of their roster injured and Dallas has their most important athlete injured. Amazingly, this game still has playoff implications as the winner will stay in the hunt with the Washington Football Team in the battle to back into the playoffs by winning this division. Andy Dalton got concussed by a dirty hit from Jon Bostic. He is unlikely to go this week. Many Cowboys’ fans might not care since he wasn’t doing much anyway. Currently, the Cowboys are planning on starting Ben Dinucci. His best attribute is a mustache that rivals Gardner Minshew’s. In addition, he was an AFCA First-Team All American and the CAA Offensive Player of the Year during his senior season at James Madison. He can run a little, but his pocket presence did not look sharp in his first appearance Sunday. Only one team has given up more rushing yards to opposing QBs and they only have three INTs all year, so Dinucci is a serviceable streamer in SF formats. I just don’t like him as anything better than QB3 on this slate. Carson Wentz has quietly slid himself into a top-ten slot, despite having a bunch of UDFA’s and XFL/AAF castoffs to throw to. Wentz is solidly QB2 on this board, and he may outproduce Tom Brady.
Ezekiel Elliott has been neutered by Dallas’ crippled O-line and the QB situation. He is still without a doubt the best option on this slate. Perhaps being on their third-string QB, Dallas will finally focus on the run. With the issues Dallas has, I cannot recommend using Tony Pollard though. Miles Sanders is likely out again. Boston Scott looked very good in his stead last week, and he makes a solid RB2 here. He would be in a dogfight with Ronald Jones, but Jones may be in the doghouse based on his usage last week. Corey Clement didn’t get enough touches last week to garner anything other than Showdown slate usage.
Amari Cooper caught the first pass from Dinucci. I don’t consider that enough of a sample size to rely on for projecting his usage. Philly has done a better job of defending WR1s than slot and other WRs, so perhaps you should avoid him. I also assume that prior to this week, Dinucci got more practice reps throwing to Michael Gallup and Cedric Wilson than Cooper. Speaking of Gallup, this is really the only thing he has going for himself right now. If I was him, I’d be lobbying for a trade to Green Bay or Baltimore or San Francisco, or, or, or. CeeDee Lamb is the safest play among this group as he has no doubt had some reps with Dinucci, and because Philly has struggled with inside WRs. He is likely WR3 at worst on this slate. I’ll put Cooper at WR5, Gallup at WR8, and Wilson at WR9. If you need a punt-WR to fit salary-wise, Wilson might be the best option. Only one player in the entirety of the NFL has more targets over the last four weeks than Travis Fulgham. He also has the third-most receiving yards and the fifth-most receiving TDs over that span. Yes, folks, Travis Fulgham is your WR1 on this board. The only other option I’d consider as WR1 is Mike Evans. With DeSean Jackson back on IR, Greg Ward is also in play as WR6. I will have several lineups with both Fulgham and Ward stacked with Wentz. John Hightower and J.J. Arcega-Whiteside can be used as punt-WR3s or better yet just used in Showdown contests.
Dalton Schultz has done very well all year, and his numbers should be safe with an inexperienced QB at the helm. Philly is rotten against TEs, so play him as TE3/4 here. Zach Ertz is out and Dallas Goedert is not expected back for this game. This means that Richard Rodgers is set for another huge game. Dallas has allowed at least one TE score in five of the last six games. Rodgers will score here easily. He will be my TE1 this week, just slightly beating out Rob Gronkowski. Philly’s defense and Tampa Bay will be your two choices at that position this week.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ New York Giants
The Giants have allowed the fifth-most passing yards through the first seven weeks, but they’ve only given up 11 passing TDs. Looking deeper we find that Ben Roethlisberger, Jared Goff, and Carson Wentz are the only proven QBs they have faced. Tom Brady should have little trouble moving the ball here (even without Chris Godwin). Wentz is the only QB that I’d consider above Brady in this spot. Daniel Jones is facing a Tampa defense that has given up only nine passing TDs all season, but who have been otherwise hit-or-miss. You cannot run against this team, so NY will have to throw. Jones is probably safer to use than Dinucci, but not by a whole bunch.
Ronald Jones was benched for part of the game last week, but he eventually worked his way back onto the field. He is clearly the better back than Leonard Fournette, but Bruce Arians (and possibly Tom Brady) like the veteran a little more. If I knew Jones would be the primary ballcarrier this week, he would be in a battle with Boston Scott for RB2. He still is the obvious RB3 and a great FLEX play. Fournette also needs to be considered for FLEX. Devonta Freeman got hurt last week, you probably weren’t going to use him this week anyhow. Wayne Gallman looked ok last week, and he actually out-targeted Dion Lewis. This is important because as good as Tampa has been against RBs on the ground, they have been equally inept against pass-catching backs. Normally, I would think of Dion Lewis in that role, but he has not been used as such this year. I’d consider him in Showdown or as a deep-punt FLEX. Gallman joins Fournette in the regular FLEX consideration, based on volume, just don’t expect many yards per carry.
Chris Godwin is out with a broken finger and Antonio Brown is still under league suspension. This means that Tom Brady will be forced to start throwing the ball to our WR2 for this week, Mike Evans again. Tyler Johnson and Scotty Miller are also in play as WR3 options. The Giants have been amenable to both outside and inside WRs all year long. This is just a hunch, but I actually think that Johnson will have a blow-up game here as he did in Week 5 when Godwin was out. Downfield receivers have had success against Tampa this year, so I have better faith in both Golden Tate and Darius Slayton than Sterling Shepard this week. Shepard did outproduce the other two last week, and he scored a TD. I’m still not going to rely on any of them as more than a WR3 for fantasy purposes. Despite the trends, Shepard still has the safest floor as the possession guy, but Slayton has the biggest upside as a TD threat.
Rob Gronkowski and Richard Rodgers are your TE1/2 in some order this week. That is a phrase I never thought I would utter. I could actually see going Double-TE with them. Evan Engram slides all the way to TE4. Tampa has allowed TE touchdowns in two of their last three, but they aren’t giving up many yards to the position. For defense, Tampa is the safest play overall. The Giants are tied with Dallas for the worst option.
The Main Slate: My recommended DFS lineups
At DK: $7.6K for Aaron Rodgers. $6.9K for Kareem Hunt. $5.6K for Melvin Gordon. $8.8K for Davante Adams. $4.5K for A.J. Green. $3.8K for Hunter Renfrow. $4.1K for Jonnu Smith. $4.6K for Le’Veon Bell at FLEX. $3.8K for the Rams’ defense.
At FD: $8.4K for Rodgers. $8.2K for Hunt. $6K for Bell. $9.1K for Adams. $5.9K for Brandon Aiyuk. $5.1K for Renfrow. $6.1K for Jonnu. $6K for Jerick McKinnon at FLEX. $5K for the Chiefs’ defense.
At Fanball (SuperFlex – includes Sun Night): Rodgers, Jimmy Garoppolo at SF, Derrick Henry, Gordon, Adams, Green, Travis Fulgham, George Kittle, and Bell at FLEX.
Weekly strategy – Aaron Rodgers is the obvious top option here. That also means that he will be very chalky. Patrick Mahomes looks like a sure thing against the rotten Jets, but how much throwing will he actually do, and which quarter will he be pulled in. The other top options are all hit-or-miss, so you kind of have to use one of those two. If you are looking to save a few bucks, I could see using Joe Burrow, Derek Carr, or Jimmy Garoppolo. The real ballsy play though would be to start Sam Darnold.
Fantasy Four Pack
Aaron Rodgers, Packers vs. MIN ($7600 DK, $8400 FD)
Thanks to trades, free agency, and injury, the Vikes currently have four regular starters on defense remaining from last season. Not to mention, that three of their top four current CBs are questionable for this week. Meanwhile, Aaron Rodgers has thrown for three or more passing TDs in four of six games. This includes 364-4 against the Vikings back in Week 1.
Patrick Mahomes, Chiefs vs. NYJ ($8100 DK, $9200 FD)
If you were a fan of pro wrestling in the ’80s, you might remember King Kong Bundy scheduling matches against four jobbers, and then pinning all four of them at once after a big splash usually less than two minutes into the match. The only difference between that outcome and this game is that this game is required to last 60 minutes. Patrick Mahomes will squash the Jets for thirty minutes before tagging in Chad Henne to go for the easy pin in the third quarter. Outside of DFS, if you are in SuperFlex bye week hell, you could even consider playing Henne.
Russell Wilson, Seahawks vs. SF ($7800 DK, $8700 FD)
San Francisco’s pass defense isn’t nearly as good as you think it is. They have done well again bad QBs like Sam Darnold, Daniel Jones, and Cam Newton, but they have allowed big games to all of the others that they have faced. Russell Wilson had a very impressive final line last week targeting Tyler Lockett and Tyler Lockett, with a few additional passes thrown to Tyler Lockett. That strategy won’t work this week. Fortunately for Russell, he has other options to throw to as well.
Ryan Tannehill, Titans @ CIN ($6800 DK, $7500 FD)
Despite being a run-first team, Ryan Tannehill has accounted for four TDs in half of his games this year. In the other three games, he had posted two touchdowns twice and a 321-yard performance. The Bengals have allowed the fifth-most passing TDs, including eight over the last two weeks. Derrick Henry will feast in this game, but don’t be surprised if Tannehill throws for three scores as well.
Derek Carr, Raiders @ CLE ($5500 DK, $7300 FD)
Cleveland is giving up more than 300 passing yards per game. They have also allowed three or more passing TDs four times this year. Derek Carr is the “vanilla” of fantasy QBs. Only once this year has Carr not topped 260 yards and only once this year has he thrown for less than two TDs. That is always his floor, and it only gets better against subpar defenses. Cleveland matches that description.
Jimmy Garoppolo, 49ers @ SEA ($5400 DK, $6600 FD)
Seattle has only played six games but they have allowed the fourth-most total passing yards. They are allowing an abhorrent average of 374 yards per game. Plus, they have allowed a league-high four QB rushing scores. Jimmy Garoppolo is by no means a rushing QB, but with injuries to three of the top four RBs on the Niners’ roster, he might steal one here. Even without the rushing score, 325-2 should be a lock in a shootout.
Weekly strategy – Two of the four highest-priced options on both sites are questionable due to injury. Either Dalvin Cook or Aaron Jones could be an effective start if we knew they were playing. The safer option is just to go with two of the four other sure-things: Derrick Henry, Kareem Hunt, Jonathan Taylor, and Clyde Edwards-Helaire. Fitting two of them under your cap may be tough. You may be able to pivot to Jamaal Williams if Jones is out. That could save a few bucks, but it will still be tough to fit two of these options under the cap. Jerick McKinnon was set up for a big game, but now it looks like Tevin Coleman may be active, cutting into Jerick’s touches. When I can’t afford two of the above players, I will opt for one of them paired with Melvin Gordon, Le’Veon Bell, whoever starts for Seattle, or Justin Jackson. These will also be my favorite FLEX plays. If you don’t use Taylor, seriously consider using Nyheim Hines as a punt-FLEX.
Fantasy Four Pack
Derrick Henry, Titans @ CIN ($8000 DK, $9500 FD)
Cincinnati is allowing an average of 167 combo yards and a TD to opposing RBs. This is Derrick Henry’s floor. Henry has seven TDs over the last four games. Multiple scores here are not only possible, but they are also likely.
Kareem Hunt, Browns vs. LV ($6900 DK, $8200 FD)
Las Vegas has been bad against opposing RBs allowing nearly 160 combo yards per game and 1.5 TDs per game. They have been particularly damaged by receiving backs like Christian McCaffrey and Alvin Kamara. They have even struggled to stop Devin Singletary, Rex Burkhead, and Leonard Fournette through the air. Meanwhile, Kareem Hunt leads all RBs with four receiving TDs, and he is tied for the overall lead among RBs with seven total TDs. A floor of 125-1 with five receptions awaits Kareem here.
Jonathan Taylor, Colts @ DET ($6600 DK, $7300 FD)
Jonathan Taylor’s production has been far from what we expected coming into the year. Perhaps the bye week has encouraged and allowed the Colts’ brass to finally #LetTaylorSew. Detroit is near the bottom in defending the run allowing nearly 160 total yards per game to the position and multiple RB scores in half of their contests. Yes, this means that Nyheim Hines (who is now the official backup to Taylor) is also in play at a bargain-basement rate.
Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Chiefs vs. NYJ ($6500 DK, $7500 FD)
Kansas City will run through the Jets this week. Patrick Mahomes won’t have to throw the ball a lot because the Chiefs will be up by 20 by the end of the first quarter. This means excessive groundwork for both Clyde Edwards-Helaire and Le’Veon Bell. CEH will score and top 100 total yards before taking his spot next to Mahomes on the bench in the second half.
Melvin Gordon, Broncos vs. LAC ($5600 DK, $6700 FD)
Melvin Gordon gets his revenge game against the Chargers. He gets the benefit of potentially no Philip Lindsay to steal his thunder this week as well. If Lindsay is out (as is expected), Gordon gets to face a depleted Chargers’ defense that has allowed big games to each of the last four featured backs to face them.
Le’Veon Bell, Chiefs vs. NYJ ($4600 DK, $6000 FD)
Did you say something about a revenge game? Le’Veon Bell gets to have the ultimate revenge game here against Adam Gase and the Jets. He will inevitably split touches with CEH here, but Bell will be very active here as well. I predicted this on the @BlitzedPodcast on Monday and I will reiterate it here. Bell will score two TDs this week. Following the second one, he will take the ball, run down the sideline and throw it directly at the face of Gase. This will net him a 15-yard penalty, and he will be kicked out of the game, but he will already have scored 100-2.
Weekly strategy – There have been various sure-things all season. Davante Adams may be the surest of all of them. Just set him at WR1 and build around him. There are two cheaper pivots in A.J. Brown and Tyreek Hill but just use Adams. I have spent a lot already, so I will likely go cheaper at WR2. If you find yourself with extra cash to throw around consider Tyler Boyd or Justin Jefferson. More likely, I will use Brandon Aiyuk or Jarvis Landry. Be prepared to spend down at WR3 as well. I like the Raiders’ WRs, Adam Humphries, Zach Pascal, and Darnell Mooney. The obvious punt play would be to use any of the Jets (Braxton Berrios, Jeff Smith, or Denzel Mims) or subordinate Chiefs -is that an oxymoron – (Demarcus Robinson, Mecole Hardman, or Brian Pringle).
Fantasy Four Pack
Davante Adams, Packers vs. MIN ($8800 DK, $9100 FD)
Davante Adams has made the Vikings his fool for the entirety of his career. This offseason, Minnesota let their top three cornerbacks leave via free agency. Their fourth CB from last year is likely out for the year with a neck injury. Their fifth CB from last year has missed a couple of practices this week. Plus, they drafted two early-round CB this year and one of them is on the COVID list. In Week 1, Adams scorched a fully healthy secondary for 14-156-2…I’ll leave this at that.
A.J. Brown, Titans @ CIN ($6900 DK, $7500 FD)
A.J. Brown has posted 18-293-4 in the three weeks since his return from injury. This includes TDs in each of those games. Meanwhile, Cincinnati has allowed seven different WRs to either top 50 yards receiving and/or score in the last four weeks. At this price, Brown is a nice pivot from the chalky Adams, but if you can fit both of them in, do it. If you cannot fit them both in, consider using Adam Humphries at WR3 to get some exposure to this game.
DK Metcalf, Seahawks vs. SF ($7500 DK, $7800 FD)
Historically, Tyler Lockett has been an absolute pumpkin in games following a blow-up. He usually produces a Laquan Treadwell-esque line. Russell Wilson still will have some success this week. This implies that he will likely have to pepper DK Metcalf instead. Metcalf proved last week that not only is he a dominant WR, he is also the best defensive back on the Seahawks. Bigger WRs such as Josh Reynolds, DeVante Parker, Preston Williams, and Travis Fulgham have all scored against this defense in the last four weeks. Heck, even last week when the Patriots could not do a thing against SF, bigger WR, Jakobi Meyers led the team in receiving yards after fellow big-man, N’Keal Harry, went down with a concussion.
Tyreek Hill, Chiefs vs. NYJ ($6700 DK, $8100 FD)
This is another case of how much will Tyreek Hill score before his inevitable second-half benching. I think we can safely write him in for a couple of long catches at least one of which will hit paydirt. Still, we know that this game will get out of hand and it will ultimately be a clock-burner after half time so keep your expectations slightly in check.
Brandon Aiyuk, 49ers @ SEA ($5800 DK, $5900 FD)
Seattle has given up the most WR receptions and receiving yardage. They have also given up the fifth-most WR touchdowns. This is despite already having had their bye week. Brandon Aiyuk will see many targets this week with Deebo Samuel out. Last week, Deebo and Aiyuk were the only SF wide receivers with a target. That will change this week as I expect Kendrick Bourne to also be involved. Still, Aiyuk will be the primary benefactor of Deebo’s absence.
Darnell Mooney, Bears vs. NO ($3500 DK, $5200 FD)
You want a deep sleeper, how about Darnell Mooney. Allen Robinson is in the concussion protocol and Nick Foles refuses to throw the ball to Anthony Miller. This leaves Mooney as the likely top WR-target this week against the Saints. New Orleans’ secondary has been abused recently including allowing big games to three different Carolina receivers last week. Mooney hasn’t done much with the targets he has received this season, but the talent is there and now so is the opportunity.
Weekly strategy – George Kittle, Travis Kelce, and Darren Waller all have smash games lined up. If you have the money to use one of them, please do. In all likelihood, you won’t have that financial freedom. In that case Robert Tonyan and my favorite play, Jonnu Smith make the most sense. Hunter Henry and Jared Cook could also be solid pivots. There are also several punts that I like this week including Trey Burton, Harrison Bryant, Donald Parham, Cole Kmet, or Albert Okwuegbunam.
George Kittle, 49ers @ SEA ($7000 DK, $7700 FD)
I talked earlier about how San Fran only targeted two WRs last week and one of them is out for this week. Most of the Niners passes were aimed at their tight ends and running backs. Seattle has been so-so against the position, but they have not faced a TE anywhere comparable to George Kittle. I’d be surprised if KIttle doesn’t receive 15 targets this week as the Niners use him as a lineman-sized slot WR.
Travis Kelce, Chiefs vs. NYJ ($6600 DK, $7900 FD)
The Jets have allowed five TE scores this year. Much like KIttle’s opponent, they haven’t faced any real superstars at the position. Meanwhile, Travis Kelce is coming off his worst game of the year, but he is still averaging 6-72. He also has five scores through the first seven games. He will reach his floor well before taking an early shower.
Darren Waller, Raiders @ CLE ($5600 DK, $6800 FD)
Ignoring a matchup where the Patriots took Darren Waller out, Waller is averaging 8-67 with three scores. This is TE1 territory numbers. Cleveland is allowing an average of 5.7-53 to the position with four TDs allowed. Waller should best that Cleveland average pretty easily here in a shootout.
Jonnu Smith, Titans @ CIN ($4100 DK, $6100 FD)
Prior to being injured in Week 6 and then having to face the Steelers the following week, Jonnu Smith had averaged 4.5-55 with five scores over his first four games. This isn’t the Steelers, this is Cincy. They are allowing an average of 6-74 to the position. This includes an incredible 21-257-6 over the last three weeks. I’ll take a third of that here.
Harrison Bryant, Browns vs. LV ($3200 DK, $5000 FD)
Harrison Bryant was one of my favorite tight end sleepers last week. He went off for 4-56-2 as Austin Hooper missed the game. Hooper is doubtful for this week’s game as well and David Njoku has more trade rumors circulating around his name than catches this year. Bryant is a physical beast that is a red zone mismatch for any opponent. Vegas is coming off huge games allowed to Rob Gronkowski and Travis Kelce in back-to-back contests. Bryant isn’t on their level, but in a shootout, he will likely continue to garner some of Odell Beckham’s red zone targets.
Albert Okwuegbunam, Broncos vs. LAC ($2800 DK, $4700 FD)
Until two weeks ago, I had never heard the name Albert Okwuegbunam before. He stepped in when Noah Fant went down with an injury and posted 9-105 on 13 targets over two weeks. Fant returned last week, but it was Albert that still led the team in targets, receptions, and receiving yards. This sort of attention could continue since Okwuegbunam and Drew Lock played together in college at Missouri. So, they are clearly familiar with each other. The Chargers are allowing 54 TE receiving yards per game and they have given up four TE scores through six games. If Okwuegbunam continues to receive the higher target share, his likelihood of scoring is higher than that of Fant. At a sub $3K DK price, one score basically equals 3X value. Anything else is gravy.