You know that targeting the highest scoring games and particularly the teams with the highest implied totals makes sense in fantasy football. This analysis will highlight exactly which situations are the best to take advantage of and which you might want to avoid within those games. We’ll also highlight a couple games to use caution with as well as some less obvious targets. All betting lines are courtesy of Westgate Sportsbook.
The high scoring games:
Seattle at Atlanta, Total 53.5
It’s been hard to argue against Russell Wilson this season. Among QBs with at least 200 pass attempts, he leads the league in QBR (114.3), thanks in part to his amazing 15:1 TD:INT ratio. He ranks third in fantasy points, with one of the best floors of them all. Of course, the issue as always is price. He’s the most expensive QB on both sites, and the second-most expensive option overall on FanDuel. Given that no team allows more fantasy points to QBs than Atlanta, and this implied team total, I think he’s worth the splurge.
I struggle to be confident in any one skill player around him. I like D.K. Metcalf’s low salary and opportunity. He had nine targets last week, and actually ranks second among WRs in air yards per reception (15.7 yards). The big plays and games are coming. Tyler Lockett is definitely the top guy, but in the last four games, he’s had a total of 20 targets, approaching value only when he can catch a touchdown. His salary is a bit more appealing on FanDuel than it is on DraftKings, but still quite high – something to consider if you’re pairing him with pricey Wilson. David Moore and Jaron Brown are potential GPP fliers, but I don’t trust either of them for cash games.
Chris Carson has at least 15 carries in every game this season and over 21 in his last four games. Moreover, he’s averaging almost four targets per game. His Week 7 struggle in Baltimore broke a three-game 100-yard rushing streak, and I like him to get back on that track (for the DK bonus) this weekend. One way to play it is the Wilson/Carson/D/ST stack.
The Falcons report that Matt Ryan suffered a high ankle sprain and haven’t ruled him out yet for Week 8, but that seems the most likely course. Enter Matt Schaub to start his first game since 2015. He looked pretty good in relief, completing six-of-six passes including a touchdown to Austin Hooper in garbage time. One interesting name to keep an eye out for in the bargain column is Justin Hardy, who caught two of those passes from Schaub. Now that Mohamed Sanu is out of the picture, Hardy figures to get a boost in snaps and targets for minimum salary.
Adding to the Falcons woes is a looming potential suspension for Devonta Freeman and the head injury ruling out Ito Smith for Week 8. Basically, both the passing game and running game could be blown up for Atlanta this week, which is why I’d consider using the Seahawks’ D/ST on the road this week. On the other hand, keep your ears open for news that Brian Hill gets the start in Week 8; he’s a capable pass-catching option who could be in for a bigger role this week.
Oakland at Houston, Total 51
At first glance I was surprised that the Texans weren’t bigger favorites, but Oakland pretty consistently puts points on the board (they have three game with exactly 24 points), even though they’re just 3-3 on the season. Houston ranks eighth in the league in points per game, but has had some wild swings offensively (10-to-53 PPG) and defensively aren’t dominating any phase of the game. The Texans get a nice matchup with Oakland, who allows the fourth-most points per game this season, as well as the third-most fantasy points to QBs and fourth-most to WRs. It should be another good one for DeAndre Hopkins, the most or second-most expensive WR on the slate. He’s coming off a 12-target game and could have ended with two touchdowns last week but for a strange ‘in the grasp’ sack call on Deshaun Watson. Watson had a weird day, over 300 passing yards but that TD called back and two interceptions kept him quiet on the fantasy front. Although Watson has taken a lot of sacks this year (21), Oakland ranks 29th in sacks, with only eight all season. He should have an easier time this weekend.
Will Fuller V is going to miss some time, which could force Watkins to turn to one or both of his tight ends in addition to Keke Coutee and Kenny Stills. Stills is an immediate deep threat while Coutee is a higher target-volume slot guy who I’d rather use in PPR formats. I like Coutee’s lower salary as well. The tight ends (Darren Fells and Jordan Akins) each caught both of their targets in Week 7 and this is a low-end time share that will be touchdown-dependent and hard to predict. My preference is Hopkins, Coutee, Stills in order of exposure this week.
The Raiders actually get a fantasy-friendly passing matchup as well, with Houston giving up the seventh-most fantasy points to QBs and third-most to WRs. If Derek Carr were ever to have one of those rare explosive games, this could be it, but I could only stomach using him in multi-entry tournament lineups. Josh Jacobs has been the leading rusher in every game he’s played this season except vs. Minnesota (Dalvin Cook, of course). He followed up his pre-bye 123/2 TD game with another 124 yards on the ground, and has three receptions in each of the last two games as well. I’m pairing Carr with Darren Waller and Jacobs in that GPP lineup, but am ok with sprinkling either Waller or Jacobs into additional rosters. Waller is the clear target leader on this team, and if the passing offense can move the ball downfield, Jacobs should get the red zone work (he’s tied at sixth in the league with 21 such attempts).
I’m avoiding any and all of the WRs on this team, including Tyrell Williams if he returns. Trevor Davis, Hunter Renfrow (the target leader for Oakland WRs with 26), Keelan Doss, Zay Jones, Marcel Ateman, maybe Dwayne Harris…the potential for any of them to do something fantasy-relevant is there this week, but which one? It’s too risky to occupy a roster spot with such a high likelihood of ‘bust’.
The low scoring games:
LA Chargers at Chicago, Total 41
Philip Rivers had a decent outing last week, limiting bad decisions and coming away with another 300-plus yard passing performance with zero interceptions in the loss to Indianapolis. However, the last time he faced a top tier pass defense (Denver), he ended with about six fantasy points. This is a tough one, because he usually eeks out value thanks to his high volume of pass attempts, but Rivers isn’t going to get to keep the ball in his hands enough this week to warrant any consideration. We know the RB situation is a mess, still, and Keenan Allen is also broken, with fewer than nine half-PPR fantasy points in his last four games. Don’t expect the Chargers to get right this week.
Mitchell Trubisky attempted 54 passes against the Saints in Week 7, managing to salvage his fantasy day in garbage time, but overall giving an underwhelming return performance. His outlook here should be similar; I’d wager closer to 200 passing yards than 300 with maybe one touchdown and one interception. Not enough upside to warrant consideration in tournaments and not enough confidence to use in cash games. He does love Allen Robinson, though, so even though his salary has crept up, Robinson is a possible lineup-filler if the salary fits your vacancy.
I’m actually ok with using either defense in this one. The low point total and poorly functioning offenses, combined with reasonable salaries make them interesting pivots from the Patriots or Rams. The Chargers in particular are hugely underpriced on DraftKings.
NY Jets at Jacksonville, Total 41
If you aren’t considering the Jaguars Defense after that Monday Night Football performance by the Patriots, you should start. I understand how brilliant the Pats are defensively, but the poor decision-making and accuracy of Sam Darnold certainly contributed to the six turnovers by the Jets. Further, the Jets are now the lowest-scoring team in the league. The fact that their team total is this high is pretty surprising and I expect the line to move in Jacksonville’s favor as the week goes on.
Leonard Fournette steps into what should be a great game script as well as a matchup that Sony Michel just crushed. I bet he notches his second touchdown this weekend, and maybe the third too. Gardner Minshew has been one of the most consistent QBs in the 17-20 fantasy point range this season. He blipped against the Saints, but bounced back nicely and should be expected to perform in his normal range again this week. He’s a good cash game value who could allow you the salary cap to include some higher end players like Fournette and Hopkins.
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High team totals you might miss:
Cincinnati at LA Rams, Total 48.5
This would be the spot to use the Rams running back, if only they had one instead of three. On the bright side, Malcolm Brown could be out again, and Gurley was healthy enough for 18 carries in Week 7. Unfortunately, he barely managed two yards per carry, and only marginally saved his fantasy day with a rare TD reception. Still, the Bengals have been the absolute best matchup for fantasy running backs this season, Fournette’s inability to score from the one in Week 7 notwithstanding. I’ll be using a lot of Gurley this week.
Jared Goff and his three receivers were in an ideal spot last week, and the Rams actually scored 37 real points without a single Rams’ receiver meeting value. The volume and production was fairly evenly spread out, and though Brandin Cooks did get a couple long bombs like I was hoping, he failed to capitalize on them. I still trust Cooper Kupp the most, Robert Woods the second-most, and will sparingly turn to Cooks in GPP lineups again.
Do we need to talk about Gerald Everett? His last four games feature 34 targets, two touchdowns and over 11 half-PPR fantasy points per game (which would be even better if we took out the game vs. San Francisco’s freak defense). His salary is up over $6K on FanDuel, but still reasonable on DraftKings. He’s not a player I want to trust based on all the other weapons at Goff’s disposal, but he’s impossible to ignore too.
The Rams D/ST is pricey, but I like it. The Bengals rank fourth in sacks taken (24) and second in giveaways (15). The talent is undeniable, and with the way Vegas has this game forecast, Andy Dalton will probably be put in position to make mistakes.
Arizona at New Orleans, Total 48
We have to wait and see how the week goes for Drew Brees and Alvin Kamara. It would almost be better for us if they were both ruled out again, since the Saints are absolutely rolling with Teddy Bridgewater (five straight victories). Bridgewater is reasonably cheap and even with the return of Patrick Peterson, the Cardinals don’t represent a real deterrent to opposing passers. Michael Thomas came out of Chicago smelling like a rose (9-of-11 for 131 ReYds), so I’m confident he’ll be worth using in this game as he and Bridgewater have clearly established the necessary rapport.
If Kamara is out again, Latavious Murray will get another start. He carried 27 times for 119 yards in Chicago Week 7, and game script could favor his heavy involvement once again vs. Arizona.
Teams have had more success passing on the Saints than running against them, so even if he’s ‘healthy’, David Johnson is not making my lineups. In fact, I’m not touching Johnson until further notice in any matchup. As much as I’ve loved Chase Edmonds over the last three weeks, he’s priced out of bargain article range and facing an uphill battle against the Saints front seven. He had 27 carries in Week 7, so volume and talent may prevail, but my trust level for Week 8 has decreased as much as his salary has risen.
Kyler Murray is coming off a very disappointing effort (for fantasy) in New York, but is actually averaging more fantasy points per game than Bridgewater. I love a bounce-back performance here as this game could easily be one of the highest scoring of the week. It still seems unlikely that he’ll get Christian Kirk back this weekend, so the biggest question is who will catch the passes he throws as the Cardinals attempt to stay in this game? The safest approach is a solo Murray or Murray/Edmunds mini-stack in tournaments.
Cleveland at New England, Total 46.5
Poor Cleveland, facing San Francisco and now New England in high viewership time slots. Coming off the bye, I’m hoping that Baker Mayfield and the Browns have figured some things out. For Week 9. I have no hope that any of them will be productive in Foxborough. You all know the Pats defensive stats: 6.9 points per game, 22 takeaways, 26 sacks. It would be a stunning upset if they scored less than 15 fantasy points this week (Cleveland ranks third in turnovers). And don’t forget the Patriots dominate time of possession on offense and lead the league in points scored too. Sony Michel, James White and Julian Edelman are the Patriots offensive options I’m comfortable with.