That’s the question I have been asking myself for the past half hour, staring blankly at my computer screen, searching for clarity.
Truthfully, I don’t think you can go wrong with either, but it’s still extremely hard to pick just one.
The matchups are pretty similar for both players, as Julio takes on a subpar Tampa secondary and Hopkins will face an injury-plagued Tennessee defensive backfield. Julio has a better QB throwing to him, but Hopkins will be the uninterrupted focal point of Houston’s offense. Atlanta could lean heavily on Freeman and the running game, making Julio take somewhat of a back seat. Or will that end up helping Julio, as less defensive resources will be devoted to stopping him?
See my dilemma? Honestly, you could just flip a coin – heads for Hopkins, tails for Jones.
After another 30 minutes of meditation, I have a solution to this problem (listed below), along with seven other strong candidates for your FanDuel NFL Week 8 lineups:
PLATINUM: Build your lineup around these guys
Julio Jones – WR – ATL (FanDuel Price: $9,200)
Ultimately, Julio is the pick over Hopkins. As I mentioned before, he is healthier than he has been all season, staring at a plus matchup against the Tampa Bay Bucs. The emergence of Devonta Freeman is somewhat concerning, but I believe that can also work in Julio’s favor, taking some attention off the superstar wide receiver, giving him more space to work with on the perimeter. Hopkins doesn’t exactly have that luxury, as he’ll be seeing double coverage with a mediocre (at best) QB throwing him the ball. Both make for solid FanDuel plays with a hearty helping of targets, but Julio has more upside of the two.
Cam Newton – QB – CAR (FanDuel Price: $8,000)
There are several different routes you can take at quarterback this week, as Philip Rivers ($8500), Matt Ryan ($8,000), and Ben Roethlisberger ($8,200) are all begging for your attention in their respective matchups. However, I believe Newton is the premium pick of the position, settling into a nice home matchup against a flailing Indianapolis defense. Brian Hoyer, Tom Brady, and Drew Brees were able to put up solid outings in the Colts’ past three games, and Newton has that coveted rushing upside to put him ahead of the pack.
GOLD: Next wave to consider, in terms of priority
Devonta Freeman – RB – ATL (FanDuel Price: $9,100)
Freeman had a relative “down” performance against Tennessee last week, totaling just 14 fantasy points. That’s actually not too bad, as he was able to cross the 100 yard plateau for the third straight game. His matchup against Tampa looks somewhat difficult on paper, as they boast a top-ten run defense. Still, that hasn’t stopped Freeman in the past (remember when he shredded Washington’s top-5 run defense?), and he’s still a top-flight running back with major upside. In addition to his 100+ yard, 1-2 TD projection, you are also getting a cheap WR lumped into the same player, as Freeman ranks second on the team in targets.
Todd Gurley – RB – STL (FanDuel Price: $7,400)
Gurley was the posterboy of last week’s column, and he promptly made good on the matchup with a robust 163 total yards and two touchdowns. This Sunday’s draw vs San Francisco sets up for more of the same, as St. Louis checks in as 7 point home favorites against a 49ers rush defense that has been gashed on the road this season (4.3 yards per carry). Gurley has been able to get it done despite game flow and matchup (vs Arizona, Green Bay), and now he has both of those factors working in his favor.
SILVER: Good options that narrowly rank ahead of similar players
Steve Smith – WR – BAL (FanDuel Price: $6,700)
We talked about Steve Smith last week, and the same rationale carries over to this week’s column. A bad first game against Denver’s stout defense and an uninspiring stat line at Pittsburgh (left early with injury) has kept Smith’s salary down. He’s probably $600-$1000 cheaper than he should be, and he is easily the Ravens best overall receiving option. There should be plenty of scoring in this matchup vs San Diego, as Vegas has denoted this game as the highest point total of the week. I’m willing to be that Smith gets a part of that.
Justin Forsett – RB – BAL (FanDuel Price: $6,900)
As I just got done saying, this Baltimore-San Diego matchup is one of the highest scoring games of the week. Combine that with the fact that San Diego has surrendered more fantasy points to opposing running backs than any other team, and Forsett lines up as a fantastic value play. His fantasy totals have been pretty solid over the past four games, and he’s certainly a breakout candidate in one of his best matchups of the season.
BRONZE: Not 100% necessities, but they mix well into a quality lineup
Michael Floyd – WR – ARI (FanDuel Price: $4,900)
Floyd is the best cheap wide receiver to round out your lineup. He has a combined 8-109-2 stat line over his past two games, as Carson Palmer has been seriously targeting him in the red-zone lately. More of the same should be in store at Cleveland. Also, it sounds like Arizona receiver John Brown is highly questionable to play, which would potentially funnel more targets to Floyd.
Tyler Eifert (FanDuel Price: $6,000)
Eifert has been one of the more consistent mid-range tight ends this season, and now he has an excellent matchup against Pittsburgh, who has given up the fourth most fantasy points to opposing tight ends. With Ben Roethlisberger back for the Steelers, this game has the potential to be a back-and-forth shootout with Cincinnati throwing the ball more than usual. It all sets up well for Eifert to keep rolling.
PARTICIPATION RIBBONS: Fell just short of a featured spot
Antonio Brown – WR – PIT
Matt Forte – RB – CHI
Philip Rivers – QB – SD
Greg Olsen – TE – CAR
Ladarius Green – TE – SD