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Daily Fantasy Football Strategy: Week 8 DraftKings Breakdown

Below is a breakdown of Sunday’s Week 8 NFL contests on DraftKings along with player rankings. Keep in mind that price has a huge impact on a player’s ranking. This post will only cover the 12-game slate beginning at 1:00 p.m. ET on Sunday.

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Quarterback

  1. Philip Rivers – $6,600 – San Diego Chargers
  2. Andy Dalton – $6,000 – Cincinnati Bengals
  3. Ryan Fitzpatrick – $5,200 – New York Jets
  4. Drew Brees – $6,700 – New Orleans Saints

If you’ve read or listened to anything about Week 8, you know Philip Rivers is a great play this week. It’s just too obvious. Baltimore is terrible against the pass ranking 31st in 4for4.com’s schedule adjusted fantasy points allowed (aFPA) to quarterbacks and and allowing the fourth most passing yards to date. On top of the matchup, Rivers has been chucking it with great frequency lately with at least 48 pass attempts in each of his last three games and 171 attempts total over that stretch. Part of that is because they don’t have any faith in their ground game and part of it is because they’ve been playing from behind. They’re a 3.5-point dog this week and probably haven’t started trusting the running game out of nowhere, so it should be more of the same for Rivers this week.

The only reason you might not roster Rivers is the fact that he’s such an obvious play. In cash games that’s much of a concern, but in tournaments you may want to look elsewhere. Josh Shepardson has written up some ownership percentages from the Thursday night contests on Fanduel, which is a pretty good indicator of ownership levels for weekend contests, even over on DraftKings. Rivers was the second highest owned quarterback in those contests, and you can expect his ownership level to be even higher in the weekend contests with Tom Brady out of the player pool as Brady was the only quarterback owned by more teams than Rivers.

Andy Dalton is in a similar boat to Rivers but to a lesser degree. Pittsburgh is one spot below the Ravens with the fifth most passing yards allowed, but they’re a little tougher matchup according to aFPA, ranking 17th in aFPA against quarterbacks. Dalton was also owned at a high rate in the Thursday contests in a virtual tie with Cam Newton for the third highest ownership rate. As good as Dalton has been recently, I just can’t make the case for rostering him. Rivers is a better cash game option, and the high ownership rate makes him a fade in tournaments.

Your tournament options are Ryan Fitzpatrick and Drew Brees. Brees has a higher ranking/projection than Fitzpatrick no matter where you look, but he also costs $1,500 more. For that reason I’d rather gamble with Fitz. But if you want to go contrarian and roster a “safe” quarterback, Brees is your guy. Brees is the more contrarian play of the two as he was the 13th most owned quarterback in the Thursday contests while Fitz was either the fifth or sixth most owned quarterback. But Fitz’s ownership rate was a shade below five percent, so he’s contrarian enough.

Fitzpatrick will face the Raiders who rank 20th in aFPA against quarterbacks and 17th against the pass according to Football Outsiders’ DVOA. Brees will face the Giants who rank 21st in aFPA and 14th in pass DVOA. Fitzpatrick has also scored more fantasy points than Brees so far, so he’s been better overall, his matchup is slightly better, and he’s quite a bit cheaper.

Running Back

  1. Todd Gurley – $6,300 – St. Louis Rams
  2. Justin Forsett – $6,100 – Baltimore Ravens
  3. Le’Veon Bell – $8,300 – Pittsburgh Steelers
  4. Danny Woodhead – $4,500 – San Diego Chargers
  5. Jonathan Stewart – $4,100 – Carolina Panthers
  6. Darren McFadden – $3,800 – Dallas Cowboys
  7. Reggie Bush – $3,200 – San Francisco Giants
  8. Antonio Andrews – $3,300 – Tennessee Titans

Let’s break these rankings up into three groups and start with the guys ranked #1-#3. These three guys are very similar to the top three quarterbacks ranked and discussed above. Gurley and Forestt are obvious plays with good matchups and reasonable price tags, making them great cash game options. But, again, they’re such obvious plays that they were very highly owned in the Thursday contests. Gurley was easily the highest owned running back, which is the least surprising thing ever given the run he’s on and his matchup against San Francisco who ranks 27th in aFPA against running backs in PPR leagues. And Forsett was in a virtual tie for the second highest ownership percentage. Forsett hasn’t been on any kind of run like Gurley recently, but his matchup is as good as it gets against the Chargers who rank 32nd in aFPA against running backs in PPR leagues.

If you’re looking for a lesser-owned running back to play in tournaments. Le’Veon Bell may be your guy. He’s ranked and projected in the top four or five running backs along with Gurley and Forsett virtually anywhere you look. I like to look at the 4for4 and Pro Football Focus projections, and if you average those two projections, Bell is actually projected to score more points than either Gurley or Forsett. Now, he’ll cost you a fair bit more, and he’s probably a bit overpriced. But that’s a large part of why he was only the eighth or ninth highest owned running back in the Thursday contests. His matchup is slightly above average against the Bengals who rank 19th in aFPA against running backs in PPR leagues and 16th in run DVOA, and he has Ben Roethlisberger back at quarterback. For those reasons, I’d probably choose to pay up in tournaments.

Now, the guys ranked #4-#6 are a poor man’s version of the top three guys. Woodhead and Stewart are the guys with good matchups and good price tags. Woodhead has 16 receptions in the last two weeks with 11 last week. The Ravens rank 29th in DVOA against running backs as receivers, so Woodhead could really do damage in that matchup. Stewart will face an Indianapolis team that ranks 26th in aFPA against running backs in PPR leagues and 15th in run DVOA. They were both owned by more teams in the Thursday contests than Bell with the fifth and seventh highest ownership percentages, respectively.

Darren McFadden is the tournament play of this trio. Jospeh Randle will be inactive Sunday, and McFadden racked up 152 yards on 29 carries last week after Randle was injured. That was against the Giants who are a softer matchup than his opponent this week, the Seahawks, but not that much softer. The Giants rank 16th in aFPA against backs in PPR leagues and 12th in run DVOA while the Seahwaks rank fifth in aFPA and eighth in run DVOA. You also have to consider that Dallas’ excellent offensive line can possibly win the battle against the Seattle defense. The Dallas O-line ranks fourth in the league adjusted line yards, a Football Outsiders stat that assigns responsibility for the ground game to the O-line. When Dallas faced Seattle last year, the O-line did win the battle as Dallas running backs ran for 162 yards on 36 carries (5.06 per carry). At $3,800 and not too highly owned, McFadden could be a very nice value if they repeat that performance.

Reggie Bush and Antonio Andrews are your salary relief punt plays in tournaments. They’re priced just above the minimum and both have good matchups per aFPA. But it really shouldn’t be necessary to punt to this degree.

Wide Receiver

  1. Antonio Brown – $7,800 – Pittsburgh Steelers
  2. Keenan Allen – $7,700 – San Diego Chargers
  3. Stevie Johnson – $3,200 – San Diego Chargers
  4. Alshon Jeffery – $6,400 – Chicago Bears
  5. Stefon Diggs – $4,800 – Minnesota Vikings
  6. Mike Evans – $6,800 – Tampa Bay Buccaneers
  7. Demaryius Thomas – $7,700 – Denver Broncos
  8. Nate Washington – $3,600 – Houston Texans

The most highly owned receivers this weekend will most likely be Stefon Diggs and Keenan Allen. Diggs remains very cheap, so I wouldn’t fault you for playing him in cash games, but his ownership rate precludes him from tournament consideration. As for Allen, we’ve already discussed the great matchup against the Ravens as well as the high volume for San Diego’s passing game. On extra note on the volume, Allen has seen 28 targets the last two weeks and turned them into 23 catches. He’s almost impossible to pass up in cash games.

If Allen and Diggs are your WR1 and WR2 in cash games, I think Alshon Jeffery makes for a nice third receiver in that type of contest. He was a pretty popular play in the Thursday contests being in the top 10 of ownership percentages at receiver. He’ll face the Vikings who don’t look like a great matchup for receivers on a team level. Minnesota ranks 10th in aFPA against receivers in PPR leagues and 18th in pass DVOA. But if you look at the PFF WR/CB matchup chart, Jeffery has a great individual matchup, one of the best of the weekend according to that metric.

My favorite play in any kind of contest is Antonio Brown. In the last eight games in which Roethlisberger has played the whole game, Brown’s lowest DK point total was 16.2 points. And dating back to last season, Brown averages 21 DK points with Roethlisberger under center. That makes him a cash game play, and a little bit of hesitation from the masses with Roethlisberger making his first start back also makes Brown a consideration in tournaments. Josh Shepardson has Brown as only the tenth highest receiver owned in the Thursday contests, and Martavis Bryant was actually the higher owned Pittsburgh receiver. If you’re too risk-averse to roster Brown in cash games, that’s fine (I’m obviously not). But he’s definitely a tournament play.

As for some additional tournament plays, Demaryius Thomas and Mike Evans are some high end options, and Nate Washington and Stevie Johnson are your salary relief options. My favorite of those four is Johnson. Stevie wasn’t even listed in the articles I saw breaking down ownership percentages from the Thursday night contests, so that’s a unique way to get exposure to San Diego’s great matchup. Johnson was targeted eight times and had four receptions for 50 yards last week after sitting out a couple of games. He has a tougher individual matchup out of the slot than Allen does on the outside, but for just $200 over the minimum price, Johnson has all kinds of value potential.

The other cheap option, Washington, saw a spike in ownership after his breakout last week, but the spike wasn’t so big to push him out of tournament consideration. Houston has a tough matchup against Tennessee who ranks sixth in both aFPA against receivers in PPR leagues and in pass DVOA. For that reason, and because Johnson is so much cheaper, I’d prefer to go with Stevie as a bargain play.

Tight End

  1. Tyler Eifert – $5,300 – Cincinnati Bengals
  2. Ladarius Green – $3,000 – San Diego Chargers
  3. Crockett Gillmore – $2,500 – Baltimore Ravens
  4. Delanie Walker – $4,100 – Tennessee Titans

Ladarius Green and Tyler Efiert will be very popular plays this week. Eifert was easily the highest owned tight end in the Thursday contests, and Green was a clear third in ownership rate. We discussed the merits of their matchups above when discussing their quarterbacks, but their position-specific matchups are worth discussing. Eifert has the Steelers who rank 28th in aFPA against tight ends in PPR leagues and 20th in DVOA against tight ends as receivers, while Green has the Ravens who rank fourth in aFPA and 18th in DVOA against tight ends. Because Eifert has the better matchup, he’s the safer cash game play. But if you need salary relief, Green is a fine cash game play.

In tournaments, Delanie Walker and Crockett Gillmore are options as their ownership rates in the Thursday contests were below four percent. I’m inclined to go with the cheaper Gillmore against the Chargers who rank 21st in aFPA and 30th in DVOA against tight ends. Walker has the Texans who rank 17th in aFPA and 11th in DVOA. Plus, Gillmore has 44.4 DK points in five games this year while Walker only has 50.4 DK points in five games. Walker has been a bit more consistent week-to-week, and a lot of Gillmore’s production came from just one game. But Gillmore has the better matchup and much more value potential being $1,600 cheaper.

Defense

As I always do, I’ll cop out here and refer you to the (free) D/ST post I write for Fantasy Alarm each week. You can check that out here.

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