After a quick break from the usual format, we are back this week with the standard article you’ve all come to know and tolerate. Last week was interesting as scoring around the league took a break from the insane pace it has been on so far this season. Cash lines were tolerable and hopefully you had success. We’re approaching the halfway point of the season, so be sure to enjoy the time we have with football. As a reminder, this article is not meant for chalk plays and high-priced studs. These are cheap plays that could provide great value and allow for roster flexibility. Most of these guys will only be usable in GPPs, so build your lineups accordingly. With that out of the way, let’s move on to the week eight targets.
DFS Targets: Week Eight
Matthew Stafford, vs. SEA ($5,600)
Stafford is a relative bargain this week, as his season low price of $5,600 puts him at QB16 on the full Thursday-Monday slate. This comes after a few weeks of his price jumping from $5,800, down to $5,700, and back up again. There will not be a ton of people on Stafford this week, as Drew Brees is sitting right below him and many will be scared off by the Seattle Seahawks match up. Don’t worry. Stafford is one of the best bargains in terms of production per price this week.
The last five Lions games have been very good for Stafford. In that time, Stafford has put up an 11/1 TD/INT ratio and has the third best passer rating in the league. He has the longest current streak of 100+ passer ratings in the league. He has been the QB we have wanted him to be, despite his attempts falling every week of his streak. Do not let the first impression he made in Week 1 against the New York Jets taint your impression of Stafford and this offense. After adjusting following that opening night embarrassment, Stafford has gone on to average 20.75 points per game.
The Lions have their trio of dangerous WRs healthy, as Golden Tate was a full practice participant on both Thursday and Friday. Kerryon Johnson has shown that he can step up to be a top RB with the absence of Theo Riddick. And most importantly, the offensive line has come together to give Stafford some of the best protection he’s had in his career.
All of those healthy and effective parts of the offense will help offset the match up against a Seattle Seahawks defense that seems tough on paper. This year Seattle has only allowed 15.2 points per game to QBs, the second best number in the league. That seems impressive, but they reached that number by rolling over some terrible offenses. The Seahawks have held Mitch Trubisky (pre-TB breakout version), Dak Prescott, Josh Rosen, and Derek Carr to 200 yards passing or less. Of those players, only Trubisky averages more points per game than Stafford. Of the two QBs to throw for 300+ against Seattle, Jared Goff is within 3 points per game of Stafford, and Case Keenum is well below. Do not be afraid of the Seattle defense, even coming off the bye week.
Offensively, Seattle has trended to a ground and pound type offense that takes occasional shots through the air. They have actually ran for more yards than they passed for in two of their last three games. Detroit has gone and plugged that major hole in their defense by acquiring Damon Harrison from the New York Giants. Now, one man won’t completely solve the issues Detroit has had, but it will help a unit that has been improving. In the last two games, Detroit has held they opponents to 102.5 yards rushing.
Detroit should be able to handle the Seahawks at home, and if that happens, expect Stafford to be a major part of that success. With the other options this week, his ownership will be low, but do not write him off.
Phillip Lindsay, @KC ($5,200)
Lindsay is priced at RB21 in DraftKings this week and is the most expensive he’s been this season. While slotted as an RB2, he has shown flashes this year hinting at greater potential production. Lindsay has come quite a ways from being a minimum-priced RB to open the season, to this week likely being the feature back for Denver against the division rival Kansas City Chiefs. Prior to this week, he had peaked at $4,800 back in Weeks 4 and 5. Interestingly enough, that Week 4 match up was also against the Chiefs. With the early announcement that Royce Freeman is out for this game, we are looking at an RB1 priced as a late RB2.
Despite sharing time in the backfield this year, Lindsay has been productive. If you remove his lone single digit game, Week 3 against the Baltimore Ravens when he was ejected for throwing a “punch,” he has averaged 14.9 points per game this year. That is great production for someone who hadn’t cracked the $5,000 salary barrier until this week. He has been very efficient with his touches, averaging 5.8 yards per carry. In fact, the Broncos as a team have been incredibly productive, ranking eighth in yards despite being 20th in attempts. This has led to a second best yards per carry mark for the team of 5.1. This is important for Lindsay because now he will be the lead back against the Chiefs.
In the three games that Lindsay has had more than 14 carries, he has averaged 89.3 yards. I doubt very much that Devontae Booker will just assume the same workload that Freeman had been handling. In this game, Denver would do well to feed their best, and most efficient, option. Assuming Lindsay sees a season high number of touches, he should also easily see a season high point total.
Helping that come to fruition, will be the Kansas City defense. The Chiefs are giving up the third most points to RBs in DraftKings this year. Some of that can be attributed to garbage time numbers as teams try to overcome large deficits, but that would be downplaying how poor the KC defense has looked at times. Football Outsiders actually has KC ranked dead last in rush defense efficiency, and that gives a much more accurate picture of how they’ve played.
From a game script standpoint, Denver’s best chance to win this game is similar to what they did to KC in the first half of their game in Week 4. In that game, Denver was trying to put together drives to keep the Chiefs’ offense off the field. The Broncos used both Freeman and Lindsay to run while taking short shots to their receivers. There was one big downfield play in that half to Cortland Sutton for 42 yards, but other than that there wasn’t a pass play that went for more than 17 yards. New England also had success keeping the Chiefs relatively in check by feeding their own rookie RB, Sony Michel. If Denver is able, they will feed Lindsay early and often.
Jalen Richard, vs. IND ($4,200)
Here is another RB that is in line to see a significant change to his workload thanks to injury. The move to put Marshawn Lynch on the IR leaves Oakland with Doug Martin and Jalen Richard as the only other RBs on the roster to see game action this year. Due to the timing of the move, Richard doesn’t come at quite the discount I would have hoped for, but he is still very intriguing as the RB35. I certainly prefer him to Doug Martin, who is slightly more expensive at RB32/$4,400. This is by far the highest price tag for Richard this year, who has been sitting at $3,400 every game except for Week 1. Still, given his role in the Oakland offense, he has more intriguing upside than Martin.
Savvy fantasy players have been watching Richard for a while, as talented pass catching backs will always offer tantalizing potential in PPR formats like DraftKings. Richard this year has the sixth most receptions among RBs, and has actually out touched Doug Martin 42 to 31. These two are used as polar opposites, as Martin has 27 carries and 4 receptions, while Richard has 11 carries and 31 catches. Jalen has done much more with his touches than Martin, as Richard is averaging 9.9 points per game, while scoring in the double digits in four of the Raiders’ six games. Martin has yet to score more than 4.3.
Really, this is a very speculative recommendation based on the skill sets of the options available to Oakland, given the recent personnel moves of the team. In addition to Lynch’s move to the IR, the 13.7% target share that Amari Cooper had is now up for grabs. With a game script that should have them down in this game, I would rather count on the receiving production of Jalen Richard than the plodding of Doug Martin.
With the Indianapolis Colts coming to town this weekend, the match up favors the skill set of Richard. Indy has operated as a solid funnel defense, ranking eighth in defensive efficiency against the run. but only 21st against the pass. Against RBs in fantasy, Indy has held its own, giving up the 15th highest points per game total to RBs this season. If you take a closer look, though, you see a similar trend to Indy’s overall defense. The Colts have allowed the 10th most rushing yards but have been more vulnerable through the air. Indy has given up the second most receptions to RBs, and is eighth in passing yards allowed to RBs.
What this means, is that if you believe that the Raiders can hang close enough to Indy by running the ball, and throwing to Jordy Nelson and Jared Cook, while keeping an offense with a healthy T.Y Hilton, Marlon Mack, Andrew Luck, and Eric Ebron in check, then Martin is the play. If you want to face the reality of the Raiders’ situation, Richard and a negative game script for Oakland is the safer play and much better value.
Chris Hogan, @BUF ($3,900)
It has been a disappointing season for Chris Hogan so far, and that can be seen in his pricing. While this isn’t a season low, it is close. Last week he was $100 cheaper, at $3,800, which is a significant distance from where he started the year ($6,100). This pricing pushes Hogan all the way down to WR65, which should make him a long shot roster consideration.
There are other similarly priced options that will certainly be much higher owned than Hogan, like Larry Fitzgerald at $4,400 or Courtland Sutton at $3,800. But, Hogan offers similar upside with none of the hype. The story line for a Hogan resurgence isn’t as easy to find as a new OC like Fitz has, or a struggling veteran and a cushy match up like Sutton has. For a GPP play, Hogan is a great option to save some salary, and gain some ground in the standings.
So what makes Hogan worth the risk? Well, lost in all the hate for Hogan is the fact that he has very quietly put up his two best yardage totals the last two weeks. In Weeks 6 and 7, Hogan has gone for 4/78 and 7/63. Those might not seem like super productive days, but I believe he is due for a breakout game soon.
In the last two weeks, the Patriots have seen Josh Gordon emerge from the Cleveland haze to be a productive part of their offense. While TE Rob Gronkowski was sidelined in Week 7, Gordon picked up the slack with his third 100+ receiving day since his breakout 2013 season. Even with Gronk in against the Chiefs in Week 6, he was largely absent from that game, despite finishing with a nice box score. Gordon took the majority of intermediary routes that Gronk usually eats up smaller or slower defenders on. Gordon’s 16 targets the last two weeks are a good development for NE, and Hogan. With Julian Edelman also back in the lineup, Hogan can slide back into his role as a third, or even fourth, option on passing downs.
With the easier match ups defensively, Hogan has been able to catch 10 of 11 targets the last two weeks. Combining that excellent catch rate with his actual yards versus his air yards shows a super efficient 1.1 RACR. That kind of efficiency turns those increased targets into real production. Even if Gronk plays, he likely will not be a major part of the offense. Between NE wanting to keep him healthy, and Buffalo holding him in check with TreDavious White last year, I don’t see Gronk taking a ton of opportunities away from the WRs.
As I mentioned above, the additions to the Patriots WR group have allowed Hogan to slide down the depth chart of opposing defensive backs. Gordon or Gronk will draw the attention of the best CB or S when out on routes. Edelman takes the slot CB. James White is a match up nightmare for defenses, leaving Hogan the odd man out. This week he’s likely to be covered by Buffalo’s worst starter, Ryan Lewis. An average QB might make that a wash, but Tom Brady will see that match up and take his shots when he can.
O.J. Howard, @CIN ($3,900)
The tight end position has been tough this year, especially in DFS. If you are like me, and you typically try to save salary here, there have been some very feast or famine weeks. The cheap TE of the week for me, though, has to be O.J. Howard. This is the highest price of the season for Howard, with his previous high being $3,600 last week. O.J. has seen a steady climb, but has had pretty solid production throughout the year. His salary this week has him as the TE14, just outside of the top 10. This is still a very good price point for Howard, as he has actually out-produced the next five names on the list.
It’s been a great sophomore campaign for Howard, and like many other players on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, very productive. As I mentioned above, Howard has out produced the next five TEs above him on the salary list this week. He becomes an even better value if you remove the Week 4 game where he left early in the second quarter due to a sprained MCL. his scoring average jumps up to 13.42. He has the highest yards per catch average of all TEs, and is seventh overall in the league. His 351 yards are seventh among TEs, despite Howard only seeing the 14th most targets.
The really encouraging thing for Howard’s usage, is that the return of Jameis Winston has not affected him. There was a real concern that Winston and his connection with Cameron Brate would eat into Howard’s numbers once the switch was made back to Jameis as the QB. While Brate has seen one more red zone target and caught one more TD, he has yet to see more than four targets in a game. There is definitely room for both of these players in an offense that is averaging 364 yards passing per game.
The best part about Howard, is his match up this week. The Cincinnati Bengals are almost as generous to TEs as the Bucs, giving up 17.7 points per game so far. That includes the most receptions, the second most TDs, and the third most yards to TEs. Personnel-wise, Howard will most likely see Shawn Williams in coverage, who is not equipped to stop him. With all the offensive weapons TB has in the pass game, there will be plenty of mismatches with Mike Evans drawing a ton of attention and DeSean Jackson keeping the safeties deep. I’m expecting a shootout in this game, and most others are as well, with this game having the third highest total for the weekend. If you leave TE for last in lineup construction, think of pivoting off the higher priced options and rolling with Tampa Bay and Howard.