NFL DFS Deep Dive: Week 8

Week 7 Review

What a week! Not only did the Bankroll Challenge smash, but the Deep Dive Column also had its most successful week of the year. Success can be measured in myriad ways, but for me, the one that stands out is just one solitary ‘bad’ call. Bad calls happen. Everyone in the DFS space is going to make them week to week, but in the last two weeks out of 26 players that I’ve written up only four of them have failed to return at least 2x the salary to points ratio, with seventeen of those returning at least 3x that ratio. We’re running hot! 

Quarterbacks went exceptionally (aside from Justin Fields), with Matt Ryan (QB11), Derek Carr (QB9) and Tua (QB3), all putting up top 12 performances and returning solid points. At running back Damien Harris was the RB2 of the slate with a 5x dollar/points ratio. James Conner was a bit of a letdown against Houston, but still, put up 12.4 points. At receiver, we ran nicely with Godwin, Bateman, Van Jefferson and Pettis all doing well. Tight end wasn’t as explosive as in week 6 but Goedert (TE8), Henry (TE13) and Ricky Seals-Jones (TE14) all did just about enough to keep your team ticking over. 

Great Plays (3x$) – 40 (48%)

Good Plays (2x$) – 19 (23%)

Bad Plays (<2x$) – 24 (29%)

Week 8 

After the bye week madness, it still feels like we’re missing some of the stars from the main slate. Whilst the Bills and Chargers return, it’s notable that only one game on the main slate has an over/under of 50+ points (Colts V Titans). Instead, we’re met with some more mediocre matchups on paper, but plenty of middling value that could do well. 

Quarterbacks

Carson Wentz v Tennesee Titans – $5700 – 50.5 over/under

Count me amongst those who thought that Carson Wentz was finished coming into the season. Regardless of Frank Reich’s influence, I expected to see the same panicky Wentz prone to turnovers as he tried to do too much. Whilst we’re a long way off his best, Wentz has been solid so far and surprisingly secure with the ball, with just one interception so far which is the fewest by any quarterback to start all seven games. The Titans are riding high after embarrassing the Chiefs but that performance has been the exception to the norm. In the three games, before they held Mahomes to 9.74 points, they gave up an average of 24.7 points per game and on the season rank 9th in most adjusted points allowed to the position. Wentz is averaging 1.6 touchdowns per game and a healthy 7.7 yards per attempt. Over the last three games, the Colts ranks second in the league with 7.0 yards per offensive play. With the highest over/under of the slate, this game should pick up ownership amongst those paying attention.

Jameis Winston v Tampa Bay Buccaneers – $6000 – 49.5 over/under

The second-highest over/under of the slate brings with it a rather sad reunion of Jameis Winston returning to a team that has flourished since he left. Tampa’s problems weren’t exclusive to Winston, and it’s hard to paint this as a big revenge game when he finds himself part of a Saints team lacking in identity. Winston’s stats make for confusion at face value, only Justin Fields averages fewer competitions per game than Winston’s 14.8. Yet Winston is managing to prop up his throwing stats with 2.2 passing touchdowns per game, which ranks 10th overall. Despite Alvin Kamara being the offences main weapon, the team still leans pass-heavy in the red zone with a 13:4 passing/rushing touchdown ratio. Whilst we know the Buccs pass rush will come after Jameis, the Saints offensive line is one of the best in the league and should hold their own. The Buccs also allow the leagues second-most targets to RB’s (62) so Jameis should be able to lean heavily on his safety net of Kamara. It might not be pretty, but if you’re looking for a contrarian option, this might be it. 

Teddy Bridgewater v Washington Football Team – 43.0 over/under

Denver has been on a sad path ever since Head coach Vic Fangio got overly upset about the Ravens chasing records. Despite the tears, Teddy Bridgewater has been nothing if not a surprise this season. After his 2020 season in Carolina, most people expected a conservative Bridgewater to take the helm in Denver. Instead, we’ve been treated to a quarterback willing to throw heavily downfield. Teddy Two-Glove’s ADOT of 8.9 ranks sixth amongst starters. This week will see the return of Jerry Jeudy to add another weapon to the offence and against the league-worst defence Vs. quarterbacks I’m expecting Teddy to do well. Even with a healthy running game, the Broncos still lean towards the pass in the red zone, with the league’s fifth-most passes in that area (39) and a pass to rush touchdown ratio of 12:3.

Honourable mentions

Ben Roethlisberger $5400 @ Cleveland – 9th most completions/gm 25.5. 15th most ypg 252.5. Leads lg in TO worthy plays (12). 3rd most sacks attributed solely to QB play. Very low team total (19.3). CLE allow the 3rd most adjusted points to position. CLE allowed +5.71 ppg more over the last 3 games than the first 3. 

Mac Jones $5200 @ LAC – 10th most comp/gm 24.9. 13th most ypg 254.1. 70.4% comp 3rd out of quarterbacks to play 6 or more. LAC 31st most allowed to the position. Chargers may force the shootout.

Running Backs

James Robinson @ Seattle Seahawks $6600 – 43.5 over/under

Generally speaking, I try to stay a little bit lower in salary terms for this column, but James Robinson looks like an absolute smash this week and I couldn’t pass up the chance to write him up. Despite Urban Meyer’s early attempts to shoehorn Carlos Hyde into this offence, James Robinson’s dominance has won out. Only three other running backs in the league see a higher percentage of snaps than Robinson’s 72.9%, and Robinson ranks sixth at the position for opportunity share. Seattle has spent poorly on defence, prioritising a safety who doesn’t play safety particularly well instead of shoring up other weaknesses in their defence. Seattle allows the second-most points to the position and no team allows more receiving yards to running backs than Seattle’s 495. Between Robinson’s 3.7 targets per game and his 14.0 rushes per game, there’s no doubt that he’ll see plenty of time on the field against a Seahawks team limping towards their bye week with Geno Smith at the wheel. Consider Robinson a nice piece to correlate with any Seahawks pass-catchers if you’re brave enough.

Damien Harris @ Los Angeles Chargers $6100 49.0 over/under

I’ve no doubt that in Week 7’s column a few people skimmed over Damien Harris and dismissed him as a low ceiling player, but on the heels of an RB2 overall performance, perhaps you’ll keep with me for a moment. The L.A Chargers allow the eight most points to running backs across the league. Whilst they threaten to shut down the passing game, they practically encourage teams to rush against them, and when they do, generally it works. Even the dusty has-beens of the Ravens backfield had their way with them before the Chargers bye week. Harris has dominated snaps in situations where the game script was neutral, eventually being yanked in Week 7 after posting career-high figures. Harris boasts the ninth most attempts in the league inside the red zone and has established himself as the alpha of this backfield. His price tag might be a touch high when you start building teams, but he’s the most reliable member of the Patriots for fantasy purposes and I’ll be looking for ways to roster players in this game. 

Myles Gaskin @ Buffalo Bills $5600 – 49.0 over/under

I can’t bring myself to write a mea culpa on Myles Gaskin when we only got here due to injuries, but suffice to say, I wasn’t buying in this off-season. Now, however, it’s clear that this should be Gaskin’s backfield until Malcolm Brown returns from injury. After Brown departed last weeks game against the Falcons with a quad injury, Gaskin saw a season-high in touches (19) and out-snapped Salvon Ahmed 46-22 along with seeing all three RB touches within the 10-yard line. Gaskin has seen regular high value touches like these, ranking tenth at the position with 20 on the season and in the last three weeks he’s averaged five targets per game. The Bills aren’t an easy matchup and the game script might cause the Dolphins to push the ball further downfield, but the team trusts Gaskin near the goal line and he will come in low owned.

Kenneth Gainwell @ Detroit Lions $5000 – 48.0 over/under 

Another running back picking up opportunity through injuries is Kenneth Gainwell, the league’s real Kenny G if you will. Sanders was playing 60.8% of snaps before his injury and it’s unrealistic to expect Gainwell to pick up all of that with how the Eagles like to use running backs. Despite Boston Scott and even Jordan Howard lurking in the shadows I would expect Gainwell’s skillset to shine out and that he’ll maintain the valuable touches that made him worthy of consideration whilst Sanders was healthy. Gainwell leads the league in touchdown rate at the position with 7.7% amongst backs with over 100 snaps. Detroit allows a league-worst 0.9 receiving touchdowns to running backs per game, which clearly matches up well with Gainwell, who leads the Eagles in targets inside the red zone whilst being part of a team that targets their RB’s at the fourth-highest rate within the league.

Michael Carter v Cincinnati Bengals $4900 – 43.5 over/under

Maybe I just like writing up Michael Carter because I know it’ll bring a smile to @MattFFDynasty’s face, or maybe it’s unavoidable at this point that Carter has taken over this backfield. Coming off his Week 6 bye Carter experienced the Post-Bye Rookie Bump (™ of Hayden Winks), setting season and career highs in snaps (72%), routes run (60%), opportunities (20) and tripling his previous highest targets of three, up to nine. Whilst the Jets will be a mess under Mike White, if anyone can create fantasy value it’s Michael Carter and this is about as cheap a running back play as I can find this week.

Honourable Mentions

Zack Moss $5.2k @ MIA – 26th highest snap% at position. 15th most high value touches (17). Miami defence 9th most points allowed to position. 60% of snaps to Singletary’s 40% in last 3 games.

Khalil Herbert $5.4k v SF – Week 723 opportunities to Damien Williams 4 (Result of Williams not practising?). SF Def 18th most points allowed to pos. Chi 3:7 pass rush TD. 5.0ypc over the last 3wks. 4th highest rush grade in the league amongst RB’s in the last 3. Ranks 12th in elusive rating per PFF.

Wide Recievers 

Tee Higgins @ New York Jets – $5200 43.5 over/under

Whilst the above play with Michael Carter has some risk involved, Tee Higgins feels far less risky against this weak New York Jets defence. Ja’Maar Chase stole all the headlines against a Ravens defence with their hands seemingly tied behind their backs, but Tee Higgins saw an impressive 179 air yards in the same game and over the last three games is averaging 9.3 targets per game. On the season Higgins leads the team in target share at 27.4% along with leading the team in red-zone targets with 5. This Jets defence allows the tenth most targets to receivers and with Mike White under centre, it could get messy.

Michael Pittman v Tennessee Titans $5300 – 50.5 over/under

It’s Week 7 and Michael Pittman is at his lowest price since week 2, despite scoring over 20 points in two of his last three matchups. Pittman has become the focal point of the passing offence and even with T.Y Hilton returning Pittman still looked to be the best receiver on the team. Pittman saw the third most air yards in the league in week 7 with 171, despite playing in a weather-affected game and it could have been even more as three targets were negated due to penalties. Tennessee has allowed a league-worst 1583 yards to opposing receivers, along with the leagues most targets to the position at 174. That averages out to 226.14 yards on 24.8 targets per game. Pittman is somebody I will use a lot this weekend. 

Van Jefferson @ Houston Texans $3900 – 47.5 over/under 

I’m slightly hesitant to return to the well on Van Jefferson for two weeks in a row but his usage really hits home the point that he is the Rams third receiver ahead of DeSean Jackson and I can’t quite squeeze Cooper Kupp or Robert Woods into a value column so we’re left looking at the cheaper options. Van Jefferson had the seventh most air yards in the league last week with 144, as he scored 14.3 points. Over the last three games, he’s out-targetted DeSean Jackson 5.3-2.3 and has out-snapped him 71%-23%. The rest of the offence had been assumed to be set apart from this position coming into the season, and unless something drastic happens I think we can keep using Van Jefferson in favourable matchups such as this one against a lifeless Houston who has been outscored 92-10 in the second half of games this season. 

Honourable Mentions

Devonta Smith $5.5k v DET – Eagles 2nd in neutral pass rate over the last 3wks. Detroit allows 26th most adjusted points to pos. DET pass defence allowed +6.04 more points to WR’s over the last 3 than the first four. Leads team in air yards, 101 vs 68 for Q. Watkins.

Adam Humphries $3.4k v DEN – Wks 1-3 Den gave up 0.71 points per non-kneel down possession, since then 2.53 including against Case Keenum. Allows the 24th most points to the position.

Tight Ends

Tyler Higbee @ Houston Texans $4500 – 47.5 over/under 

Higbee’s usage is elite at this point and I would have expected to see his price closer to $5200 this week. Since Johnny Mundt tore his ACL Higbee has played 100% of snaps and run a route on 92% of dropbacks. Houston has been weak against tight ends allowing the 8th most yards to the position with 471 and also allowing 0.9 touchdowns per game to tight ends which is the joint league-highest. Higbee has seen plenty of red-zone usage with the league’s fourth-most targets inside the 20 of all pass catchers at 12.

C.J Uzomah @ New York Jets – $3700 – 43.5 over/under

This smells of points-chasing more than I would like after Uzomah dominated in Week 7, but I can’t resist the chance to play in-form players against the Jets who allow the eighth-most yards to the position and have given up the 14th most points to tight ends. In recent weeks the Jets allowed both Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith to have usable days along with being destroyed by Kyle Pitts for 29.9 points. I’d reserve this play as either a real salary saver or as part of Bengal stacks. 

Dan Arnold v Seattle Seahawks $2800 – 43.5 over/under 

What did Dan Arnold do to deserve this disrespect? Perhaps the solitary double-digit game this season isn’t that impressive, but in three games with the Jaguars, he’s averaged 5 targets per game. The Seahawks allow the fifth-most points to the position and have given up okay to good games to both Pat Freiermuth (12.8 points) and Tyler Higbee (9.4). At this price point, 10 points would do the job, to say the least. 

Honourable mention

P. Freiermuth $3.6k v CLE – 25th most allowed to pos. Played 55% of snaps compared to EE 44%. Taking over the TE1 role and Juju is no longer there. 

As ever, I’ll try and update as news comes out. My Weekly Stack of The Week will be out Friday morning and you can catch up on my Bankroll Challenge here. Good luck all.

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