It’s hard to believe that the season is almost half over. It seems it was just yesterday that I was writing my Week 1 content. The best part about progressing through the season is we slowly gather more data and we don’t have to base our predictions off of the 2014 season. A few big picture thoughts for Week 8: an abundance of plays that were in good spots in Week 7 are also in great spots for Week 8. I don’t have Julio Jones written up in these selections, but I will be plugging him in, if I can afford to do so. Pay attention to the news coming out of Pittsburgh because Antonio Brown will become a near must-play at $8,400 if Big Ben suits up. That would likely be the last time he is ever that cheap again. Now, let’s get to my Week 8 cash game plays!
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Philip Rivers ($8,500): You may hear some people bring up the ol’ “West Coast team going to the East Coast” argument this week on Philip Rivers, but that’s not something I really buy into. Especially when you see that Rivers is leading the league in passing touchdowns, passing yards and he’s second in pass attempts, with 317. Granted the last two weeks, Rivers has found himself in game scripts where he has needed to throw, so I wouldn’t expect him to throw over 50 times like he has the last two games. However, I think 40-45 pass attempts is a reasonable projection as they lack a stable running game and they pass on 66 percent of their offensive plays. Per 4for4, the Chargers have also scored 89 percent of their touchdowns via the pass. They also play a Ravens team that is giving up the second most fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks.
Andy Dalton ($8,100): Who would’ve thought that Andy Dalton would be the league’s most efficient QB through seven weeks? Much like his hair, Dalton has been on fire this season as he is averaging .68 fantasy points per drop-back, per Pro Football Focus. He also has an outstanding 14 touchdown passes with just two interceptions. The Steelers’ secondary is also ranked dead last in PFF’s pass coverage grade. The Red Rifle is featured in a game with one of the higher over/unders on the week at 48.5 points and they boast a 25.5 implied team total. As slight road favorites, I think Dalton should make for one of your favorite DFS quarterbacks.
Todd Gurley ($8,100): In Week 7, Todd Gurley was considered one of the chalkiest plays on the week, especially at his cheap price of $7,400. I don’t believe Week 8 is much different than Week 7 for Mr. Gurley. His price has risen $700, but he’s in another great spot where the Rams are currently 7.5-point home favorites against a 49ers team that is giving up the fifth-most fantasy points per game to running backs. The 49ers rank dead last overall in Football Outsiders defensive adjusted DVOA, including 28th at defending the run. Don’t overthink this one, when Gurley has 70 touches in the last three weeks.
Justin Forsett ($6,900): Since Lorenzo Taliaferro has been placed on injured reserve, Justin Forsett hasn’t played fewer than 76 percent of the snaps for the Ravens and he has played over 80 percent in the last two weeks. Facing the Chargers’ run defense is just as fruitful as squaring off against the Browns’ run “stopping” unit. The Chargers have given up the second-most rushing yards on the season and a league-worst 5.3 yards per attempt, along with giving up the most fantasy points per game to opposing backfields. In fact, the Chargers have allowed backfields to amass over 100 rushing yards in every game after Week 1, including three games over 130 rushing yards. PFF ranks the Chargers dead last in rush defense and Football Outsiders ranks them 31st. When these two sites agree on a ranking, we’ve usually stumbled upon something good. Forsett is a core play for me in Week 8.
Alshon Jeffery ($7,700): Alshon Jeffery is priced as WR12 on FanDuel for Week 8 and I believe he is incredibly underpriced for his skill set. It’s a relatively neutral matchup for Jeffery with the Vikings’ pass defense ranking middle of the road per PFF and Football Outsiders. However when it comes to wide receivers, we’re usually chasing volume over efficiency and Jeffery had 11 targets in his first game back from injury and played 86 percent of the teams snaps. Coming off the bye and playing at home, the Bears should be ready to go for their home game against the Vikings.
Eric Decker ($6,400): Eric Decker finds his way into my lineups nearly every single week. He’s an underrated receiver whose price never seems to rise above a certain threshold. He’s a touchdown machine and sees a stable volume of targets in this offense. Since Week 2 Decker has yet to see less than five targets in a game and he has received 11 or more targets in two of his five games. Oh, and he has four touchdowns in five games. Brandon Marshall has more of the overall market share of targets, but they see almost equal usage in the red zone, Marshall has nine red zone targets to Decker’s eight. Decker will also get the luxury of running most of his routes against DJ Hayden. Hayden is giving up a catch rate of 71 percent and has allowed 392 yards and three touchdowns on 37 receptions.
Tyler Eifert ($6,000): Since I like Dalton, there have to be a few of his pass catchers that I like as well. Well, there are, and Tyler Eifert is one of them. Eifert has been quite amazing thus far with six touchdowns in six games, along with two multi-touchdown games. The Bengals have an implied team total of 25.5 points and I have a hunch this game could turn into a shootout, especially if Roethlisberger suits up for the Steelers. The Steelers rank 20th in adjusted DVOA at defending the tight end position and they are allowing 8.6 targets per game to opposing tight ends, fifth-most in the league. One of factor that raises concerns is the Bengals having some great touchdown-scorers on their offense to go along with Eifert, but the Bengals have scored 43 percent of their touchdowns via the tight end position inside the red zone.
Ladarius Green ($5,300): This play is more volume- and price-based than it is matchup-based. There are reports that Antonio Gates could miss a few weeks with his MCL sprain. This would put Ladarius Green back in play because of how much the Chargers throw the ball. The Ravens have given up the second-fewest fantasy points per game to tight ends, but they’ve also faced a handful of teams that don’t utilize their tight end very often. Per Football Outsiders the Ravens rank 18th in adjusted DVOA at defending the tight end position, so the matchup isn’t extremely difficult for big Ladarius by any means. Gates received 13 percent of the market share of targets inside the red zone, per Daily Roto. So, if Gates is going to be out again this is going to leave some red zone usage up for grabs. Danny Woodhead currently dominates with 33 percent red zone usage, while Green and Keenan Allen are tied with 11 percent. If Gates is out and the ball isn’t being dumped off to little Dan, I think there’s a good chance it’ll be headed towards Ladarius in a game featured with the week’s highest over/under.