My Week 8 DFS picks were just about average for me as some injuries derailed some of my teams. The picks did relatively well, but injury issues forced me into some late week pivots on some of the plays I mentioned in the article.
At quarterback, Rivers had another huge game, throwing for three touchdowns and over 300 yards once again. Cam Newton also had a solid game because his defense blew a lead late to force him to throw the ball. Fitzpatrick got injured early. It’s a shame, as the Jets were behind all game, and he could have been for a big day.
At running back, Todd Gurley once again exploded for a huge day. Justin Forsett crushed our hopes and dreams, and Darren McFadden provided some excellent value in a game where he was heavily involved.
Alshon Jeffery did not disappoint as my top of the week at wide receiver as he continues to be heavily underpriced, especially at DraftKings. Brown did not have the game we expected, which was particularly disappointing even with Bell’s injury. Fitzgerald is a guy I pivoted off of before 1 pm. He continued his decline in production as of late.
Tight end was a mess. Antonio Gates started the game, and Ladarius Green left due to injury. Austin Seferian-Jenkins did not end up suiting up, but more on him later as I think he might be in play this week. Delanie Walker provided his standard ho-hum game, but more than paid off his salary.
The Rams defense was the only real play for me last week. They didn’t disappoint. The Packers got beaten up on Sunday Night by the Broncos run game and were a poor play this week.
Cash Games and Tournaments
In this article, we’ll go position by position regarding my favorite picks for the week. I also will be mentioning if I like a player more in cash games or tournaments. This is standard daily fantasy lingo and is simple to understand.
Cash games are contests where you have to beat a few other players, such as head-to-head or 50/50 contests. In these games, you only need to beat your opponent or place in the upper half of the field to cash. Cash games could also extend to 3-man contests or triple ups, or even larger contests. In these types of games, we want players who have an excellent floor of points and aren’t necessarily looking for upside (though, it certainly helps).
Tournaments are large field prize pools that consist of hundreds of players to thousands of players. For example, the Week 1 Millionaire Maker has over 500,000 thousand available entries. In large fields, it pays to be more contrarian. For tournaments or GPPs (guaranteed prize pools), we’re looking for players who are lesser-owned and have high upside or ceilings.
In summation, in cash games, we’re looking for high floors and per point value and in tournaments, high ceilings, and low ownership percentages.
Now, onto the plays for Week 9.
Tom Brady (FanDuel: $9,500 DraftKings: $8,500) vs. Redskins
Tom Brady is playing angry this season and, well, it’s working for him, to say the least. His efficiency this season has been absolutely ridiculous. He is my favorite quarterback this week for cash games and certainly has the upside for tournaments well.
New England comes into this game as whopping -14 home favorites. They have the largest implied team total of the week at 33 points. The game also has the highest total of the week at 52 points.
Brady’s is the highest priced quarterback at both sites, but no one can touch his floor. It’s very possible this game becomes a “Blount” game if New England builds a quick early lead, but if Washington can somehow stay in it – Brady could have a massive game. Either way, his floor is higher than any quarterback this week, by a large margin.
Kirk Cousins has looked a lot better as of late and the Patriots defense is an above-average, but not elite unit. The best part with Brady is that you get exposure to an offense that is projected to score a ton of points but don’t have to pay similar price tags for Gronkowski and Edelman.
Phillip Rivers (FD: $8,600 DK: $6,900) vs. Bears
Rivers continues to be a football-throwing machine. He only threw the ball 37 times last week, but still had a great game against the Ravens. This week, he takes on a Bears team on Monday night that is pitiful defensively. The Chargers are -4 favorites and have a team total of 26.50 points.
However, Rivers did lose his no. 1 receiver the past week for the season in Keenan Allen. I don’t think that hurts his fantasy production overall much, however, because it may force San Diego to throw the ball even more.
Rivers is a much better play on DraftKings where he is substantially cheaper, and they don’t seem to want to raise his price. Even without his top receiver, he always has the upside for tournaments because of volume. He’s clearly a top value in cash games at DraftKings, where he doesn’t need to do much to reach cash game value.
Derek Carr (FD: $7,000 DK: $5,500) vs. Steelers
How about the Oakland Raiders this year? They finally have a real shot at the postseason and are playing their best football in about two decades. Their offense gets an awesome matchup this week against a Steelers defense that is reeling.
I don’t usually like to target west coast teams heading east after a big win, but the Carr’s spot in this game is tough to ignore, along with his price tag at both sites. At DraftKings, he is near minimum priced, which is ridiculous.
The Steelers are also in deep trouble in their secondary, which has already been poor to start the year. Both of their starting safeties are questionable. Their cornerbacks are abysmal. They defend the run well, so the points will likely have to come through the air.
Oakland is slight underdogs at +4 but still is projected to score about 22 points in this one. Carr won’t need a lot to reach cash game value and has a top of upside in a game that I think has sneaky shootout potential.
Devonta Freeman (FD: $8,900 DK: $8,000) vs. 49ers
Freeman is easily my favorite play at running back this week. We know how high a floor he has due to his touches and passing game involvement, but he is also a weekly multi-touchdown threat which makes him an excellent tournament play as well. He is coming off a “down” week, and there couldn’t be a better bounce back spot than this.
While I prefer to target running backs at home, Freeman faces a San Francisco rush defense that is 28th in the league in Football Outsiders’ DVOA metric. Seattle ran the ball down their throats a few weeks ago with what might be the worst offensive line in the league. Atlanta has an elite unit upfront. There should be massive holes for Freeman to run through this week.
The 49ers have little offense to speak of, with Colin Kaepernick heading to the bench and Blaine Gabbert starting. They’re also on down to their third-string running back. There should be plenty of short fields for the Falcons on Sunday.
We saw the mistakes Matt Ryan made last week. It would make sense for Atlanta to attack SF on the ground and churn clock to an easy victory. If Tevin Coleman is getting touches late to run out the clock, it’s likely because Freeman has already put up a monster stat line. Fade him at your own risk.
Darren McFadden (FD: $6,500 DK: $4,300) vs. Eagles
McFadden isn’t a guy you feel great about rostering, especially in cash games, but he put in another strong performance last week and is assured a massive workload with Joseph Randle now cut.
I was concerned last week when he left the field due to dehydration in the third quarter, but he returned quickly and once again re-established his workhorse role. It’s crazy to say it, but the Cowboys offense is basically centered on McFadden, thanks to what is probably the best offensive line in the league. His ability to catch passes is also crucial on PPR sites like DraftKings.
Philadelphia has a fantastic run defense, but we can’t be too scared off a cheap running back that is going to get 20+ touches and passing game work. Dallas are slight underdogs in this one at +3 and have a team total around 21 points. I think this one stays close throughout. McFadden doesn’t need to score a touchdown to reach value, but if he does, he could have a tremendous day. I like him in all formats this weekend.
Jeremy Langford (FD: $6,400 DK: $4,000) vs. Chargers
The injury to Matt Forte has thrust rookie running back Jeremy Langford into a starting role this week. Langford has a firm grip on the starting job according to beat writers and should see somewhere between 15-20 touches this week.
I debated only putting McFadden and Freeman in the running back column this week, but Langford’s projected role and his matchup make him worthy of consideration, at least in cash games.
The Chargers woeful run defense has been a target of DFS players all season long, and with good reason. They are last in the league in rush defense DVOA and have given up countless big games to running backs this season.
I’m just not fully on board with him being as large as a part of the gameplan as many think he will be. He dropped a key pass last week on third down last week, and let’s also keep in mind the Bears are underdogs. I’m also partial to Alshon Jeffery this week once again, so I may be going there in most of my lineups.
However, I do think Langford is a high-floor player against the Chargers though he may lack the upside to win a large tournament.
Stevie Johnson (FD: $5,400 DK: $3,200) vs. Bears
Stevie Johnson is going to be the “free square” this week at both sites. Without Keenan Allen and with both Gates (although, he should play this week) and Ladarius Green both banged up, Stevie should see plenty of targets.
His near minimum price tag makes him a must-play in cash games. We could make a case for fading him in tournaments, due to high ownership, and perhaps limited upside, with Gates, Floyd and Iman still in the mix for targets, but he should be a staple in cash games this week as he is a near-lock to reach value
Antonio Brown (FD: $8,700 DK: $8,100) vs. Raiders
Brown was a bit of a disappointment last week. I expected him to have a big game against the Bengals with Big Ben finally returning and his price depressed, but he couldn’t get open against Adam Jones. Roethlisberger was also rusty from his injury.
This week is a different story, however. The Steelers should look to Brown early and often in this matchup against a terrible Oakland secondary. It’s also important to note that the Raiders are ranked 5th in DVOA against the run this year. Pittsburgh will need to go to the air this week to score points.
Brown’s multi-touchdown ability is obvious. Let’s also keep in mind that the two weeks that Bell was out this year, (Week 1 and 2) Brown was targeted 22 times, which he turned into 328 yards and two touchdowns. I expect them to go to him in the red zone often this week once again.
They should be there frequently this week with a strong 26 point team total. Brown is in play in all formats and my favorite high priced receiver play of the weekend.
Alshon Jeffery (FD: $7,900 DK: $6,700) vs. Chargers
Alshon Jeffery continues not to get enough respect from both sites. He’s a guy you need to have on your radar for both cash games and tournaments until his price catches up to his usage and talent.
San Diego has a strong pass defense on paper, but once again I refer to the DVOA statistics for the real truth. There, they are ranked 25th in the league against the pass. Jeffery has a tough matchup against Jason Verrett, but he has smoked every cornerback he has faced so far this season.
With Forte out, I expect Chicago to look in his direction a bit more and would not be shocked to see another 30 point outing from Alshon. He will be their top option in the red zone and has massive upside in this one.
Heath Miller (FD: $5,800 DK: $2,700) vs. Raiders
The Raiders are the worst team against the tight end this year and it’s not close. I already expressed my optimism in Pittsburgh’s passing game this week in the Antonio Brown blurb. Miller’s increase usage last week (10 catches for 105 yards) may not be just a one-week thing. The coaching staff expressed they wanted to get him more involved offensively, and they followed through on their coach speak for once.
Miller’s price is dirt cheap at DraftKings, where he makes an ideal value play at the tight end position. He doesn’t need to score to reach value, but if he got gets into the end zone this week, he’s going to have a great day in just one play.
Rob Gronkowski (FD: $8,500 DK: $8,000) vs. Redskins
Gronk is probably the best bet to score a touchdown this week across the board. His price is the only hurdle we have to consider this week with so much value at tight end. I like him more for tournaments as a contrarian move at the position, but if you can find value elsewhere, he’s fine for cash games and has the multi-touchdown upside for tournaments.
Austin Seferian-Jenkins (FD: $5,200 DK: $2,800) vs. Giants
If ASJ is active, and not limited, he immediately becomes one of my favorite plays of the week. The Giants have done a terrible job against tight ends this season and with Vincent Jackson ruled out, he will be the second option in the passing game behind Mike Evans.
He’s been limited in practice this week, but it looks likely that he will suit up Sunday. He’s very likely to make cash game value with this cheap price tag and has a ton of upside in what should be a high-scoring game.
Falcons (FD: $4,900 DK: $3,400) vs. 49ers
Atlanta’s defense is nothing special, but as I mentioned when recommending Freeman, I don’t think San Francisco moves the ball much at all. Blaine Gabbert isn’t some unknown. He was a terrible quarterback in Jacksonville, and there’s no reason to think that’s going to be any different this Sunday. There’s no running game to rely on here, and he will likely be forced to throw sooner rather than later in this one, which could mean all kinds of points for this defense.
Broncos (FD: $5,300 DK: $3,000) vs. Colts
Denver’s defense is bordering on historically elite. Luck has been an interception machine this season and his top target, T.Y. Hilton may be sidelined this week. He has thrown seven interceptions in his past four games against much worse defenses. The Broncos have made even elite quarterbacks look mortals, and Luck is not playing at a high level now to say the least.
Author: Joseph Falchetti (twitter)
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