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Fantasy Football: Players to embrace and avoid for Week 8
2:30 | Fantasy
Fantasy Football: Players to embrace and avoid for Week 8
Michael Beller and Andrew Perloff
Saturday October 29th, 2016

The DFS game is largely exempt from the bye-week shenanigans hitting the season-long version of fantasy football this week. Sure, DFS players are also operating without six teams available, but when the whole of the NFL universe is at your fingertips, rather than just the players on your own fantasy team, it’s a lot easier to build a lineup, regardless of how many teams are in action.

In fact, something special is happening in the DFS game this week. Thanks to a couple of ridiculously attractive players at wildly affordable prices, we’re able to team up a handful of elite players that typically can’t fit on the same DFS roster. It might be the byepocalypse in the season-long game, but it’s a bonanza in the DFS corner of the fantasy football world.

Below are my ideal picks for both DraftKings and FanDuel. I will be playing lineups other than the ones I present here, but these are my go-to lineups for both sites. Be sure to read on and check out Andrew Perloff’s plays, as well.

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Quarterback

Jameis Winston (DraftKings: $5,700, FanDuel: $7,400) vs. Oakland

This sets up as an ideal week to use Winston in DFS. Like most quarterbacks, he has had his best games this year when he has been most efficient. In his three 20-plus-point games, he completed 66.7% of his passes for 7.96 yards per attempt. In two of those games, he had a completion percentage north of 70% with at least 8.75 YPA. This week, he draws an Oakland defense that ranks 20th in the league in opponents completion percentage (64.6%) and 30th in YPA allowed (8.44). The Raiders have surrendered the sixth-most points per game to quarterbacks, allowing at least 20 standard-league points in four of their seven games. Winston and the Buccaneers are small favorites at home in a game with an over/under that’s pushing 50. All of this adds up to create the perfect storm for Winston, and he’s priced affordably on both sites. He’s one of my favorite plays regardless of price, and easily my favorite when the cost is taken into account.

Running Backs

Spencer Ware (DK: $6,800, FD: $7,400) at Indianapolis

If not for a disproportionately low touchdown total, based on yardage and touches, Ware would likely be a top-five fantasy running back through seven weeks. His 492 rushing yards rank 10th in the league, and he’s third among running backs with 285 receiving yards. His 777 yards from scrimmage are good for fifth, behind David Johnson (1,004), Julio Jones (830), DeMarco Murray (825) and Ezekiel Elliott (801). Ware has made just three trips to the end zone, a number that should increase with a cushy matchup against the Colts. They’ve allowed the fourth-most points per game to running backs this year, giving up 4.83 yards per carry and a league-high four receiving touchdowns to the position. Ware is chalky, but he’s going to feast on this defense.

Jacquizz Rodgers (DK: $5,800, FD: $6,600) vs. Oakland

In two games as Tampa Bay’s starting running back, Rodgers has averaged 146 yards from scrimmage on 31 touches. That sort of volume will do any running back good, and there’s no reason to expect it to diminish when the Buccaneers host the Raiders this week. Even if the game script isn’t quite as favorable for Rodgers as it was in wins over the Panthers and 49ers, he’s the only show in the Buccaneers backfield. Peyton Barber did siphon away 12 carries last week, but five of those, including his 44-yard touchdown run, came in the fourth quarter with the Buccaneers leading by at least two scores. Rodgers is still the man when the result is in question, and the Raiders are only one-point underdogs, suggesting the game should be close throughout. Rodgers will take advantage.

Devontae Booker (DK: $3,700, FD: $5,600) vs. San Diego

Booker is probably the chalkiest play of the week, regardless of position. He was going to be a sneaky value running back until it was announced that C.J. Anderson would miss Denver’s rematch with San Diego because of a torn meniscus. Now the spotlight is shining brightly on the rookie out of Utah, whose role has grown with each successive week. He racked up 83 yards and a score on 17 carries a week ago, and looked to pull even with Anderson in the Denver backfield. Now that he has it all, or at least mostly to himself, he should be in for the sort of workload that will help make him a top 10 back. The Chargers defense has improved since Joey Bosa’s debut, but they’re still susceptible to the run, allowing the sixth-most points per game to running backs. The line on the game also hints at a big game for Booker, with Denver laying five points.

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C.J. Anderson's injury means more carries for Broncos' Devontae Booker

Wide Receivers

Julio Jones (DK: $9,600, FD: $9,200) vs. Green Bay 

I’m not sure how expensive Jones and Evans would have to be for me to go away from either of them this week, but clearly it isn’t at their actual prices. Let’s start with Jones, who has to be counting down the seconds until he gets to take the field against the Green Bay secondary. Two of the biggest receiver games this season (Stefon Diggs in Week 2 and Marvin Jones in Week 3) came against the Packers. No secondary is really equipped to slow down Jones, least of all one dealing with injuries to multiple starters. It’s not as though the opponent has mattered much to Jones this season. Outside of a bizarre no-show against the Saints and a letdown against the Broncos (one in which the defense sold out to stop Jones, thus letting Tevin Coleman burn them for 132 receiving yards), Jones has at least 12.6 standard-league points in every game this season. He has four 100-yard games, including the 300-yard show he put on the Panthers in Week 4. With Coleman out this week and Devonta Freeman hobbled, Jones’s already outsized role in the Atlanta offense could grow. Meanwhile, Packers-Falcons has a robust 52.5-point total. Jones is well worth every DFS dollar you have to pay for his services.

Mike Evans (DK: $8,100, FD: $7,900) vs. Oakland

The Broncos held Evans to 59 yards on five catches in Week 4. In all five of his other games, he has had at least 13 points in standard-scoring leagues, finding the end zone and totaling at least 70 yards in each of those contests. All told, Evans has put up an average of 16.92 points per game. To give you an idea of how good that is, Antonio Brown averaged 15.13 points per game last season. As we already discussed with respect to Winston, Oakland is absolutely dreadful against the pass. They’ve given up the sixth-most points per game to receivers, allowing at least 100 yards and a touchdown to Brandin Cooks, Willie Snead, Julio Jones, Steve Smith and Tyrell Williams this season. Two other receivers, Travis Benjamin and Marqise Lee, have posted 100-yard games against the Raiders. They have little hope of slowing down Evans.

Michael Floyd (DK: $4,100, FD: $5,300) at Carolina

I know, I’m as surprised as you that Floyd is in not one, but both, of my lineups this week. I finally swore him off a few weeks ago as he was in the midst of disappointing me for the third straight season, but extenuating circumstances in Arizona pulled me back in. Jaron Brown is on IR with a knee injury and John Brown could be out this week as well. If he does play, he’ll likely be compromised due to muscle fatigue related to having the sickle-cell trait. That could increase Floyd’s target share in a matchup with a Carolina defense that is a far cry from the unit it used to be. The Panthers have allowed the third-most points per game to quarterbacks, 10th most to receivers and a league-worst 8.64 YPA this season. Floyd has huge upside and frees up enough resources to roster Jones, Evans and Ware on the same team.

Tight Ends

Rob Gronkowski (DK: $7,000, FD: $8,100) at Buffalo

In three games with Tom Brady on the field, Gronkowski has 16 catches for 364 yards and two touchdowns. That comes out to 16.13 standard-league points per game. Forget about being the league’s best tight end. With Brady under center, Gronk scores like an elite WR1. Thanks to cheap price tags on Jameis Winston, Devontae Booker and Michael Floyd, we’re able to get Gronk into a FanDuel lineup alongside Julio Jones and Mike Evans. Savor it, because that doesn’t happen too often. Narrative Street can often be a path you don’t want to take, but remember that the Patriots only loss is to the Bills this season. Brady didn’t play, while Gronkowski played only sparingly. Don’t be surprised when a healthy New England offense exacts some revenge.

C.J. Fiedorowicz (DK: $2,800, FD: $4,900) vs. Detroit

I don’t have quite as much money to spend at tight end in DraftKings, so Fiedorowicz slots as a value option with a great matchup. Over the last four weeks, Fiedorowicz has turned into a consistent option in the Houston offense, catching 19 balls for 229 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Those numbers don’t jump off the page, but they look a whole lot better when you consider the wreckage at the tight end position. Fiedorowicz comes with a tiny price tag on both sites, and gets a Detroit defense this week that has allowed the third-most points per game to tight ends.

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Kicker

Nick Novak (FD: $4,500) vs. Detroit

Novak comes with a stone minimum $4,500 price tag, and yet Novak has been one of the league’s most effective kickers this year. He’s 16 for 19 on field goal attempts this season, with two of his three misses coming from beyond 50 yards, and he’s sixth among kickers in points. His 19 attempts are tops in the league, with the Houston offense helping him out by moving the ball well enough to get into scoring range, but not well enough to get into the end zone regularly.

Defense/Special Teams

Dallas Cowboys (DK: $3,000, FD: $4,600) vs. Philadelphia

The Cowboys don’t seem an ideal defense choice, especially given their above-average price tag. They have just 11 sacks on the season, which ranks 24th in the league, and a strong pass rush is the best generator of fantasy points from a defense. On the other hand, the Cowboys have done well at generating turnovers, sitting in a tie for 12th with nine takeaways. We also must consider contextual factors. You always want to back a defense in DFS contests that’s tied to a team you think will win. All things being equal, home favorites are the best brand of DFS defense, and the Cowboys are laying 4.5 points to the Eagles this week. Couple that with Carson Wentz’s relative struggles of late compared with the first few weeks of the season, and the case for the Cowboys starts to add up.

DraftKings lineup
QB: Jameis Winston
RB1: Spencer Ware
RB2: Devontae Booker
WR1: Julio Jones
WR2: Mike Evans
WR3: Michael Floyd
TE: C.J. Fiedorowicz
FLEX: Jacquizz Rodgers
DST: Cowboys

FanDuel lineup
QB: Jameis Winston
RB1: Spencer Ware
RB2: Devontae Booker
WR1: Julio Jones
WR2: Mike Evans
WR3: Michael Floyd
TE: Rob Gronkowski
K: Nick Novak
DEF: Cowboys

Andrew Perloff

Some day when they write the history of DFS, they may point to this as the last week before the FanDuel and DraftKings merger … and wonder why everyone played Devontae Booker and Spencer Ware. But that’s the reality this week with the two popular running backs. Good luck going if you choose to go contrarian and leave both out of your lineup.

Quarterback

Jameis Winston (DK: $5,700, FD: $7,400) vs. Oakland

I’m alternating two basic chalky lineups—Winston stacked with Mike Evans and Tom Brady with a more reasonable WR2. Winston’s overall numbers are skewed by a home game against Denver’s ridiculous D and a bad road trip to Arizona. He’s played well against mild defenses. This week, he faces the Raiders and the mildest pass defense in the NFL. Winston had a solid outing against San Francisco (269 yards, 3 TDs, 1 INT).

Alternates

Brady ($8,700 FanDuel, $7,600 DraftKings) threw for 466 yards and three touchdowns when he went to Buffalo last season. ​The Jets’ Ryan Fitzpatrick may have had a nightmare start to the season, but he appeared to be a little more settled down when he came in last week. More importantly, he faces Cleveland. And Brock Osweiler is in play despite all the negative headlines. He’s struggled against good defenses, but has a favorable matchup against the Lions.

Running Backs

Ezekiel Elliott ($8,500 FanDuel, $7,200) vs. Philadelphia

Elliott has run for more than 130 yards in four straight games. The Eagles’ total numbers against the run are solid, but they let up a big game to Washington’s Matt Jones two weeks ago and can be burned.

Devontae Booker (DK: $3,700, FD: $5,600) vs. San Diego

When the C.J. Anderson injury news broke, DFS players everywhere probably thought the same thing—how cheap is Booker going to be? Turns out the rookie is still quite affordable even after running for 83 yards and a TD on 17 carries last week. He’ll be the workhorse against a Chargers defense that has allowed nine rushing TDs this season.  

Alternates

Thanks to Jamaal Charles’s slow recovery, the Chiefs’ Spencer Ware has been a force and Devonta Freeman ($6,900 FanDuel, $6,500 DraftKings) is a good value with Tevin Coleman out this week. The Jets’ Matt Forte is a strong option facing Cleveland. And Seattle’s Christine Michael will get a lot of work against New Orleans—especially if Russell Wilson isn’t 100%.

Wide Receivers

Julio Jones (DK: $9,600, FD: $9,200) vs. Green Bay

The bargain on Booker opens up your lineup for Jones, who should destroy a banged-up Packers secondary. Obviously, you won’t be alone if you play the chalky Jones, but this game is the highest over-under on the board and Jones is the best investment on the board.

Mike Evans (DK: $8,100, FD: $7,000) vs. Oakland

Toss-up between Evans and T.Y. Hilton. We’ll lean Evans because the Chiefs may be able to slow down Hilton. The Bucs’ emerging star ranks third in the NFL with 75 targets. He’s coming off his first multi-TD game against San Francisco and has another favorable matchup against the Raiders.

Larry Fitzgerald (DK: $7,500, FD: $7,000) at Carolina

This is a FanDuel play, not DraftKings. Go with Green Bay’s Davante Adams at $4,900 in DK. Fitzgerald had nine catches on 14 targets for 70 yards in that ugly 6–6 tie last Sunday night. Now he faces the undermanned Panthers secondary. Hopefully his quarterback, Carson Palmer, won’t feel the ghosts from last year’s NFC title game debacle.

Alternates

Adams tends to disappoint after a big game, but without a run game, the Packers will put the ball in the air often. The Raiders’ Amari Cooper has a juicy matchup at Tampa Bay. And the Texans’ DeAndre Hopkins could have his breakout game against Detroit’s banged up secondary.

Tight Ends

Gary Barnidge (DK; $3,300, FD: $5,000) vs. New York Jets

It feels like I put Barnidge in this column every week, but this isn’t a drill. This is the real thing with Josh McCown under center in Cleveland. Barnidge caught six of his nine TDs from McCown last season (the other three came from Johnny Manziel … weird).

Alternates

With Dwayne Allen still out, Colts tight end Jack Doyle is a steal again this week. Seattle’s Jimmy Graham should be fired up to face his former team in New Orleans, although his price has crept up. And if you can afford Gronk against the Bills, by all means feed the big man.

Kicker

Matt Bryant (FD: $4,800) vs. Green Bay

Have to like a kicker indoors in an expected shootout.

Defense/Special Teams

Dallas Cowboys (DK: $3,000, FD: $4,600) vs. Philadelphia

The Boys are coming off a bye and the Eagles’ offense has hit tough times of late. Defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli should have some tricks up his sleeve for Philly rookie Carson Wentz. 

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