As the old adage goes: don’t bring a knife to a gunfight. That serves as the metaphorical backdrop for this week’s fantasy football action, which can also be appropriately referred to as “Shootout Sunday” (and Monday).
Vegas has attached an over/under of 48.5+ total points to five games: GB@NO, CHI@NE, IND@PIT, WAS@DAL, and PHI@ARI. To put that in perspective, the past three weeks have provided 6 combined games with a 48+ point total, so there shouldn’t be a shortage of fantasy goodness this time around. Playing into that theme, the following recommendations are aimed to serve as much needed ammunition to reign supreme in your respective FanDuel Week #8 battles.
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Top-dollar options who will justify their hefty price tag.
BORDERLINE: Aaron Rodgers (QB) – GB - $10,000
With Peyton Manning playing on Thursday, Rodgers inherits the de facto #1 QB role for Sunday-Monday contests. What’s not to like? He has four straight games with 3+ TD’s, and New Orleans ranks 28th against the pass. The only downside is Rodgers’ exorbitant price tag. However, as you’ll find later in this column, there are enough value plays to clear cap space for A-Rod this week. If you find him too pricey, Russell Wilson and Carson Palmer (both listed as honorable mention) look promising as well. However, make no mistake about it, a fair amount of security comes in the premium required to roster Rodgers.
MUST PLAY: Jordy Nelson (WR) – GB - $8,800
Any time Aaron Rodgers is considered a borderline must play, you better believe a Jordy Nelson write-up will follow suit. His reliability is astounding, averaging a consistent 7-102-1 per game this season. Consider that his baseline against a New Orleans defense yielding the second-most fantasy points to opposing WR’s. Nelson has cashed in on good matchups all year, and this is the most enticing one to date.
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Players priced in the “second-tier”, but could easily boast top flight numbers.
MUST PLAY: Le’Veon Bell (RB) – PIT - $8,400
He has amassed 100+ total yards in every game this season, and a Matt Forte-like uptick in receiving numbers only helps his cause. Indianapolis appears to rank middle-of-the-pack against the run, but don’t be fooled: the Colts have seen less rushing attempts than any other team in the league. Perhaps the 4.6 yards per carry allowed (ranked 26th) is a more accurate measuring stick, which suggests a prime matchup for Bell to continue his consistent ways.
BORDERLINE: Sammy Watkins (WR) – BUF - $7,300
This pick may seem somewhat reactionary following Watkins 9-122-2 performance last week, but a team-high 29 targets in three games suggests sustainability moving forward. That even includes a horrible outing against New England’s stout pass defense, something that isn’t a concern vs a Jets team ranking 21st in fantasy points allowed to WR’s. New York has a firm run defense, and Buffalo is down to their third-string RB. Expect the Bills to come out throwing, creating an opportunity for a pleasing sequel to Watkins breakout effort.
Mid-range picks with favorable prices and situations.
BORDERLINE: Rob Gronkowski (TE) – NE - $7,200
He’s baaack! Gronk has enjoyed an uptick in targets over the past three weeks (29), aided by much improved play from Tom Brady. The Bears rank towards the middle of the pack vs TE’s (and the pass in general), but a combination of volume and upside profiles Gronkowski as the premium TE of the week for a reasonable price.
BORDERLINE: Justin Forsett (RB) - BAL - $6,700
Coming off a season-high in carries (23), Forsett lines up well in a matchup against Cincinnati's reeling defense. The Bengals have allowed 4.8, 4.3, and 5.0 yards per carry respectively in their past three games. Forsett already touched up Cincy for 70 yards and a TD in week one (only 11 carries), and he should see plenty more touches this time around to build on that performance.
The best of the bargain bin.
BORDERLINE: Jerick McKinnon (RB) – MIN - $5,800
McKinnon has been slowly siphoning carries away from Matt Asiata, enough to dub him Minnesota’s feature back moving forward. After posting an impressive 19-103 line on Buffalo’s stingy run defense, McKinnon’s prospects look especially high against a Buccaneers team allowing the 6th most fantasy points to opposing RB’s. Consider him a great RB2 compliment when trying to squeeze in the higher-priced stars.
MUST PLAY: Jordan Reed (TE) – WAS - $5,200
Okay, maybe tagging Jordan Reed a “must play” is a bit strong. However, if you want to work in Aaron Rodgers and/or Jordy Nelson, a cheap TE like Reed is essential to your lineup. There’s no telling how Reed will perform with McCoy under center, but his role in the Washington passing game shouldn’t waiver too much. If anything, he could see even more targets if an uncomfortable McCoy checks down more than usual. The Cowboys rank 2nd to last at limiting TE’s, so Reed will definitely have some room to operate on Monday night.
Kicker, Defense, and a few honorable mentions.
KICKER: Shayne Graham – NO - $4,800
Graham burned many fantasy backers early in the season, but he (and the Saints’ offense) have since turned it around. He’s a great sub-$5k option given he is kicking for the highest projected scoring team of the day in a dome.
DEFENSE: Dallas Cowboys - $4,700
How far things have come. At the beginning of the season, the Cowboys were a preferred defense to stream against. Now, they serve as an appealing value option against a Washington offense breaking in a new QB.