DFS Player Pool Week 8
Another strange week has gone by, and now we are onto Week 8. The pricing for DraftKings continues to be odd, but it has lead to some solid plays heading into this week. There are also several evolving injury situations that require monitoring, so stay aware of late injury updates and be prepared to pivot before lock. Anyway, here is the DFS player pool for Week 8.
DFS Player Pool Week 8
Russell Wilson, $7,200, @ ATL
(NOTE: Deshaun Watson is also a great play, but after including him in the last 4 player pools, it was time to fit in some other names. Watson remains an excellent play and is likely to be highly owned.)
On paper, this is the prime combination of player skill and opponent. Wilson is coming off his worst game of the season by almost every measure. Even with a season-high 41 attempts against Baltimore at home, Wilson had his lowest completion percentage of the season and threw his first interception of the year. Normally, having the second-lowest fantasy point score and then traveling from the west coast to the east would lead to a price drop. The Atlanta defense, however, is not a normal situation for opposing quarterbacks.
The Falcons are allowing the most points per game to opposing quarterbacks. This isn’t just a situation where one or two results are skewing the numbers. Atlanta is doing that bad even after Week 1’s QB22 result from Kirk Cousins and his 10 pass attempts. The yardage totals against Atlanta haven’t been that bad, actually. Only Houston’s Deshaun Watson has topped 400 yards against them. What has hurt them is the league-leading 17 passing TDs allowed (as well as the 3 rushing TDs QBs have scored). Look for that to continue as Wilson rebounds on Sunday. The ceiling is likely capped here, but Wilson offers one of the highest floors and safe production.
Matthew Stafford, $6,100, vs. NYG
Very quietly, Stafford has returned to his fantasy prime. On the Week 8 main slate, Stafford has the 5th highest per game scoring average at 21.6. He’s been even better at home where his average bumps up to 24.7. This week, he gets to face the New York Giants, who have yet to allow fewer than 313 yards passing on the road. Detroit has the 4th ranked passing offense DVOA per Football Outsiders. Their efficiency and success at home combined with New York’s generous pass defense make for a solid matchup for Stafford. Add in the fact that starting RB Kerryon Johnson was placed on the IR earlier this week, and all indications are for Stafford to excel this week. His QB8 pricing offers a chance for significant ROI with minimal risk.
Teddy Bridgewater, $5,900, vs. ARI
Teddy Two-Gloves has been excellent filling in for Drew Brees. His first few games saw some slightly conservative play-calling limit his potential, but it was also necessary for him to re-acclimate to being a starting QB. But, ever since his game against Tampa Bay in Week 5, he has looked like an above-average starting QB. Accumulating an impressive 7/1 TD to INT ratio in his last three, Bridgewater has seen his average output rise significantly. His price still keeps him low, meaning it won’t take much for a good return from him.
That low threshold helps Bridgewater in his matchup this week. While Arizona is allowing the fourth-most points per game to QBs, efficiency-wise they are just as bad against opposing RBs. The Saints operate methodically with Bridgwater behind center, meaning the Saints backfield are just as likely to shine in this matchup. But, if this offense is rolling, Bridgewater has been so efficient lately that he won’t need much volume to succeed against this defense. Even the return of Patrick Peterson shouldn’t slow this unit. The strength of Arizona’s offense should also help drive a higher total in this game. The floor is high with a ceiling that is much higher than it should be for this price.
UPDATE: Obviously, should Brees make this start, Bridgwater is not a recommended play. But, Brees would be an easy pivot in a solid matchup for the above stated reasons. A rusty Brees is still better than most of the QBs in play.
Ryan Tannehill, $5,100, vs. TB
Certainly not a play for the faint of heart, but Tannehill has always been a much better fantasy option than real life player. Given the chance to take the starting job for the Titans, Tannehill made the most of it in Week 7. Throwing for 312 yards and 2 TDs while going 23 for 29 is impressive for anyone. For Tannehill, it is just another solid game in a frustrating career. Looking through his past game logs creates more questions than it answers. The ceiling is incredibly high. He has a perfect passer rating game to his credit, as well as a game where he went 10-27 for 82 yards.
Going against Tampa certainly helps Tannehill in his second start of the season. Tampa Bay has been very QB friendly in DraftKings this season, allowing the 6th most points per game. They are the only defense allowing more than 300 yards per game and are third in opponent air yards allowed. It isn’t a fluke they have been this bad. For a bargain price, a wide range of outcomes are available to Tannehill, while offering a solid floor. Rostering top names like Barkley and Hopkins takes sacrifice. Here is one way to do it while taking a calculated risk.
Saquon Barkley, $8,900, @ DET
Obvious plays aren’t always bad plays in DFS. That sums up the case for Saquon Barkley this week. While he didn’t look like the dominant force many expected in Week 7, he was solid and came out of last week’s game healthy. The most important thing this week is that he was a full participant in practice on Thursday. That is good news since he’s facing a Detroit defense that is allowing the 2nd most points per game to RBs, the 5th most rushing yards per game, and an additional 56 yards per game receiving to RBs. Detroit hasn’t allowed fewer than 112 yards rushing in any game this season (a discombobulated Arizona Cardinals offense back in Week 1). Barkley is one of the few true three-down backs in the league, and he will again see the vast majority of work for the Giants. Price is the only obstacle for him this week.
Marlon Mack, $6,100, vs. DEN
Just as predicted, the Colts haven’t missed a beat without Andrew Luck. Actually, there was a wave of panic throughout many in the fantasy industry, but the Colts were oddly confident. Marlon Mack was a major reason for that confidence. Indianapolis has become one of the most balanced teams in the league this season, with only 22 more pass attempts than rushing attempts. This season there has only been one game Mack had fewer than 19 touches. Mack again should be featured against the Denver Broncos.
It hasn’t been extreme, but Denver has been better against the pass than the rush, setting up Mack to handle a major workload as a home favorite (IND is -5). The Broncos’ excellent cover CB Chris Harris is likely to shadow T.Y. Hilton and feeding Mack makes a ton of sense from there. A middle of the pack defense in terms of overall points per game given to opposing RBs, Denver should see a good amount of volume against them. Flacco is only the starter still due to injuries to Drew Lock. Losing Emmanuel Sanders while Indianapolis gets two starting DBs (Kenny Moore and Malik Hooker) back from injury pushes the balance firmly to the Colts’ favor.
Chris Carson, $7,000, @ ATL
Normally an incredibly safe play, almost regardless of matchup, Carson has a bit more risk baked in for a couple of reasons. His role hasn’t changed; he is still the workhorse in the Seattle backfield. What could change Carson’s value has more to do with the Atlanta side of things. The Falcons have been decent against RBs on the season, but have struggled against good rush units. The three top ten rush offenses (in terms of yardage) they have faced (MIN-2, HOU-6, and ARI-7) averaged 146.7 yards per game. Seattle is currently 8th.
Those numbers bode well for Carson, but Atlanta has a potential problem. Matt Ryan, as of Thursday, has not practiced this week. Should he miss the game, Carson’s ceiling might be capped. A big, early lead for Seattle could see more Rashaad Penny in the second half, making Carson’s season-high $7,000 price tag a bit riskier. Still, Carson retains a very high floor, so, like Barkley, if you can make the salary fit, he is a solid play.
Ty Johnson, $4,900, vs. NYG
One of the biggest leaps in potential value is Ty Johnson. Weeks after emerging as a FAAB draining, speculative pickup, Johnson now is poised for a solid DFS day. With Kerryon Johnson being placed on IR after the pricing was released, this is a great bit of salary leverage. Johnson is a near-perfect RB physically, clocking in at just under 6′ and logging 4.45 speed. He is about the same size as Kerryon and was faster in their respective pre-draft workouts. His upside is significant as New York has given up the 6th most points per game to RBs. Included in that ranking is New York’s 4th most rushing yards allowed to RBs and 2nd most rushing TDs. J.D. McKissic might take some of the receiving work, but Johnson’s big-play ability and projected workload help him retain solid value.
Deandre Hopkins, $8,100, vs. OAK
Finally, Hopkins offered a significant ROI on his salary. After weeks of high-level targets, Hopkins checked in with just his second 100+ yard receiving day of the season. With Will Fuller out due to injury, Hopkins is set up to resume his role as a stud receiver with slate breaking ability. His opponent, the Oakland Raiders, have struggled against wide receivers so far. Overall, they are surrendering the 5th most points per game to WRs. There have been better results from the right WR and slot positions in that total number, but Hopkins moves his alignment enough for that not to matter. Both his floor and ceiling are high, and perhaps his slow season to this point will depress his ownership. His salary is high but could be worth it in the end.
John Brown, $5,900, vs. PHI
Don’t let his low price fool you. Brown has one of the best matchups lined up for him in Week 8. By now every DFS player should know that Philly leads the league in points per game to WRs. The majority of that production has come from the outside, especially the right side. Smokey primarily lines up left, but the difference isn’t large enough to fade the matchup. With this price and the upside in play, Brown will be a very popular play. Still, his potential production from this salary range opens things up elsewhere without sacrificing any ceiling. Do not worry about this and plug Brown into lineups, cash, and GPP.
Mike Evans, $6,600, @ TEN
Yes, Evans has mostly been passed by teammate Chris Godwin as the nominal WR1 in Tampa. Much like earlier in the season when his salary dropped this low, Evans has a solid matchup ahead of him. At first glance, Tennessee doesn’t seem like much of a matchup but that is what might help drive Evans’ production. The Titans have been excellent against slot receivers this season, allowing just above 14 points per game. With Godwin preoccupied with the coverage of Logan Ryan, Evans is ready to step up for Tampa. There is risk here as Tennessee is allowing the 9th fewest points per game to opposing QBs. Evans will have low ownership, but there are few players with higher ceilings at this price range.
Golden Tate, $5,800, @ DET
Another week, another appearance for Tate in the DFS player pool. Week 7s return was decent at 14.0 points, but the usage was solid. Tate saw a 31% target share as the Giants’ outside receivers produced nothing. With Sterling Shepard again expected out, Tate remains the WR1. His aDOT falls in line with rookie QB Daniel Jones’ most successful areas of the field by completion percentage, and there has been an immediate connection between the two. Even better, the Lions have been very friendly to opposing slot WRs, allowing the 9th most points per game. The sudden and surprising trade of safety Quandre Diggs will only help to further unsettle a middling defense.
Corey Davis, $4,400, vs. TB
Davis seems destined to confound fantasy owners for a few more years to come, but for now, his stock is definitely rising. After seeing his price crater to its lowest point in the last two weeks, his fantasy relevance has been saved, momentarily, by Ryan Tannehill. After a season-high 7 targets, Davis looks to be ready to enter player pools again. Tampa has been most vulnerable to WRs on the left and slot. Davis had his most diverse alignment of the season and saw some looks from the slot last week. Most notably he scored a TD from a bunch formation featuring him right between the slot and far-right WRs. If Tannehill can continue his solid play, it might be enough to lift this offense from the mediocre swamp it’s been stuck in most of the year. The passing game should be especially important considering Tampa has shut down several solid running backs already this season, including Christian McCaffrey, Saquon Barkley, and Alvin Kamara.
Austin Hooper, $5,500, vs. SEA
The fact that Hooper remains one of the safest plays at TE despite the real chance his QB misses the game is telling of the position as a whole. But, that is more of a concern for season-long players. For DFS players, Hooper is still the TE1 on the season, with a nice matchup this week. Seattle allows the 4th most points per game to TEs, and that includes solid performances from some very underwhelming players. CJ Uzomah, Vance McDonald, Ricky Seals-Jones all scored in double digits against this unit. The recent addition of Quandre Diggs should help in the long term, but this week he is unlikely to make a big difference.
Should Ryan miss the game, backup QB Matt Schaub has shown the ability to target the TE in the past. Just ask Owen Daniels, who was a two time Pro Bowler with Schaub as his QB. That, combined with the recent trade of Mohammed Sanu should offset some of the downgrade from Ryan to Schaub.
Darren Waller, $5,900, @ HOU
Perhaps the most physically gifted TE on the main slate, Waller has proven to be a true TE1. Still, this matchup makes him a risky play. Houston has held TEs to single-digit scoring on average. What sets Waller apart, is the structure of his offense. While they held Austin Hooper and Travis Kelce, among others, in check, neither of those two has as high as target share as Waller. In fact, at 26%, no one does, though Mark Andrews and George Kittle come close. The Raiders will need Waller to again be their leading receiver, as Tyrell Williams remains questionable to play. With the Raider’s inability to effectively rush the passer, the game script here could turn negative quickly, offering up lots of volume for Raiders receivers. Waller is not guaranteed to play up to his talent, but he is just as safe as any other TE while offering a high ceiling.
Jonnu Smith, $2,900, vs. TB
Last year was supposed to be the season of Smith’s ascension. After Delanie Walker suffered a season-ending broken ankle in the opener last year, Smith mostly disappointed. Maybe everyone was just a year early. With Delanie Walker again out last week, Smith stepped up and set a new career-high with 64 yards on three targets. So far, Walker has missed practice on Wednesday and Thursday, throwing his status for Sunday up in the air. If Smith can continue to connect with Tannehill, he could be in for a solid day. Tampa is allowing the second-most points per game to TEs, behind the awful Cardinals. They have given up the second-most yards and fourth-most receptions. The Titans’ run game isn’t likely to break through here, so should WRs Corey Davis and A.J. Brown disappoint, Smith could step in to carry the offense. It’s a strange new world, and Smith just might have a place in it, for a week at least.