Watching the World Series and making NFL lineups has to be one of the best ways to spend an evening. I love MLB DFS but it's also kind of nice to just relax and enjoy the game of baseball too. We have all kinds of NFL DFS games to focus on winning in Week 8, including a $2.5M Sunday Million that now has a $500,000 first prize yet still allows 19% of the field to cash, tons of qualifiers to huge live events, and the $200K Double Up.
Here at almost the mid-way point of the season, we trust more in what we know from 2014 than from years past. We have new elite defenses, no longer elite WR and RB, and emerging rookies that just might be trustable. Salaries have gotten tighter and tighter every week, so much so that any obvious bargain plays from the first month are long gone.
As always, I'll strive to make this column about the deepest values out there. I try to choose QB that are priced under $6.5K, WR/RB under $6K, and TE under $5-5.5K but still capable of providing 2.5-3X value. Good luck this week!
Teddy Bridgewater ($5400): Not only the best starting QB under $6000, the ONLY QB under $6000. Two rough weeks against two top defenses in Detroit and Buffalo has shrunk Bridgewater's salary even further. His NFL debut against Atlanta, however, showed what he's capable of: over 300 PaYds and a rushing TD. The numbers in general however, are much more bleak. His fantasy points per drop back are an abysmal 0.33 (per PFF), and he only has one each RuTD and PaTD. His average depth of target stinks (7.4 yards) leading to low yardage totals the past two weeks, but could be overcome with higher efficiency (66% completion rate) and/or better rushing. All of these stats have an excellent chance to improve in Week 8 @ TB. The Bucs give up the 4th most fantasy points to opposing QB (per ESPN).
My take: Teddy opens up a lot of opportunity to roster elite RB and WR in this week of really tight pricing at FD. There is no one else in this price range that I'm willing to roster. Brian Hoyer ($6000) was terrible last week, and even though you could argue a bounce back game against Oakland is in store, it's a gamble. Colt McCoy at $6100 just no. I could have written up Zach Mettenberger ($5200), and I'm ok with one of my dynasty league favorites as a flier, but you can't use him in cash games. It's tough sledding for QB in the bargain range. Go a little higher and you find the Western NY savior, Kyle Orton ($7200) facing the Jets who have given up the league's most PaTDs (18). He's a GPP play only for me.
Jerick McKinnon ($5800): I think the MIN-TB game will feature very little defense, with some offensive upside because of that. McKinnon is the better back for the Vikings, out touching Matt Asiata by a wide margin. He surpassed 100 yards on the ground last week against Buffalo when I didn't believe in him. In that game, he had -2 ReYds, but previously was catching an average of 3/15 per game. The Bucs are not only PFF's worst graded defense overall, but their worst against the run specifically. I think the game stays fairly close, and McKinnon will be relied upon throughout.
Bryce Brown ($5500): There is a lot of difference of opinion on whether it will be Bryce Brown or Anthony Dixon who benefits from the crushing loss of both Fred Jackson and CJ Spiller. Well, mostly of FJax. I have fond memories of Brown in relief of LeSean McCoy two years ago. He plays like a complete back, great in space, involved in the passing game, able to break tackles for the extra couple yards. The concern is that he carries the dreaded fumble prone label and hasn't seen any time on the field with this Bills team in 2014 since pre-season. He's coming in cold, while Dixon, owing to his special teams duties, has played every week. It'll be a time share, but Brown is $400 cheaper than Dixon, and has the higher upside. I think he does more with his touches than Dixon.
My take: I'll have exposure to both. You can safely assume McKinnon will be at least 50% owned in cash games. Some people will avoid the Bills RBs altogether at the Jets this weekend, but I'll have some exposure to Brown. I'm not paying more for Dixon. On the other side of the ball, I always like Chris Ivory ($6000, he paid off nicely last week), and in a high scoring game in NO, I'm a little interested in Mark Ingram ($6100) or Travaris Cadet ($5300).
Mike Evans ($5900): I know, I'm really picking on this gross game. It's partly because the only true bargains left to us are on terrible teams, and partly because of the reasons I've already given, namely poor defense. The Vikings are middle of the pack in fantasy pts vs WR. Mike Glennon is no Peyton Manning, but he manages to get his 250/2/1 every week. In the four games Evans has played, he has caught four passes in each, for 258/2. He's a great red zone target at 6'5" and 230 lbs, and fully back from a groin injury following the Bucs Bye week, I see him having his best game of the season.
Martavis Bryant ($4800): Bryant debuted on MNF, and as I said on Twitter, was the reason you all should play the Mon-Thurs slate. Rostering Bryant for the minimum could have paid off a little better, but notching two catches and his first pro TD on four targets was fine with me. Even that one performance takes him out of the minimum salary this week against a tough IND secondary...in fact the Colts are the #1 PFF graded pass coverage unit. I figure that's going to hinder Antonio Brown a bit, and potentially open up some second look options to Bryant. He's a big target, but he is a raw rookie. This is projected as a high scoring game with Indy only modest favorites on the road. I like fan favorite Bryant to score his 2nd TD and perhaps rack up some yardage this week as well.
My take: WR is usually the easiest place to find good value, but it is truly lacking this week. If you trust Teddy, maybe look at Jarius Wright ($5000) or Greg Jennings ($5500). Davante Adams is still only $5400 after a somewhat let down week. He was involved though, and could be a cheap way to own some of the GB-NO game. Andre Holmes ($5900) could do some damage against Cleveland if Carr is accurate, and on the other side, Andrew Hawkins ($6000) could help Hoyer rebound.
Zach Ertz ($5400): I've talked myself into and out of Zach Ertz for two days. Coming off the Eagles' Bye, who knows what kind of surprises they'll take to Arizona? I'm hoping they opt to go super obvious and hammer their TE, which we all know the Cardinals can't defend to save their lives. That's basically it here...Ertz is going to have ups and downs as there are a lot of hands to feed in Philly. I think he hits the upper end of his range in this beautiful matchup.
Jordan Reed ($5200): A primetime game in Dallas with Colt McCoy throwing to you, hmmmm I bet you can think of more tempting scenarios. Actually I like this pick better with McCoy under center because I see him looking to get rid of the ball quickly for short yardage and that bodes well for Reed. TE can be a great security blanket for inexperienced QBs and Reed is both sure handed (has caught 14/18 targets in his four games this season) and due for a TD. This is another high scoring game, and though Dallas is the huge favorite, they have been vulnerable to TE, allowing the 2nd most fantasy points to them in 2014.
Cleveland Browns ($4900): They get Oakland at home in one of the lowest projected scoring games of Week 8. That's three of the four things I look for in a defense (home, low score, and bad opponent). The problem is that the Browns are average at best on D. They've allowed the 6th fewest passing yards and only 9 PaTDs, but the 4th most rushing yards. They have a mediocre eight takeaways (7 INT) but if they keep Carr in check and the Oakland running game continues to defeat itself, the Browns could be a safe defensive play (they average 8FPTs/game).
Dallas Cowboys ($4700): If you believe in Colt McCoy, I've lost you. If you don't believe in the Dallas D, same. But if you're open to the possibility of McCoy being dreadful, Dallas getting out to an early lead and running the clock down with long drives, and limiting Washington's opportunities to score, the Cowboys might be right for you. They are at home, they do allow the fewest plays to opponents, and McCoy is starting his first game with this Washington offense. You're hoping for turnovers here, as I do think the Redskins will be able to score some points, hopefully via the aforementioned Jordan Reed.
My take: Obviously, if you can afford it, pay for Miami ($5400). Other nice options are the Chiefs at home vs STL, and in what could easily be a classic 3-6 game, either the Bills or the Jets.