Top Tier :
Aaron Rodgers @ Los Angeles Rams ($6400)
Even with 12 QBs unavailable for the main slate, there are some great choices at the top this week. Settling on one was tricky. Ultimately, I'll take the guy who's playing as a 9.5 point road underdog because, well, it's Aaron Rodgers. Having to chase points against a Rams secondary that has been very beatable thus far puts Rodgers in a great spot, and I want him in my lineup this week.
The Rams have the highest implied total on the main slate this week, which sits at 33 points right now. They're averaging 33.6 points a game and have been scoring almost at will, it seems. The Packers 24th-ranked rush DVOA will not serve them well this week against Todd Gurley and the Ram's run game. The Packers are one of twelve teams that rush the ball less than twenty times per game, so there's little chance they'll even attempt to slow it down and ‘grind it out' on offense.
The Rams pass defense is very beatable; Aqib Talib is out, and Marcus Peters is playing through an injury. Kirk Cousins threw for 422 yards and 3 touchdowns; Case Keenum – 322 yards and 2 scores; Russell Wilson threw 3 touchdown passes against them, and Derek Carr threw for 303 yards against them. I'll take 35 pass attempts, at minimum, from Aaron Rodgers this week, plus his rushing upside. He's hoping to play without the knee brace this week, so that just adds to his upside. I don't usually pay up for QBs in cash games, but I am this week; Rodgers is the guy.
Russell Wilson @ Detroit Lions ($5900)
Pete Carroll isn't a good football coach; he's actually quite bad. Luckily for him, he's got Russell Wilson to hide his bad decisions and put the team in a position to win, or at least compete, most weeks. This week should be no different.
Wilson has 6 touchdown passes in the last two weeks on just 45 pass attempts. He's starting to round into form now with Doug Baldwin back in the mix and the run game able to take some of the pressure off of him. The game currently sits at a 49.5 over/under, with Seattle being a 3 point underdog. If they're going to keep it that close, it'll be on Wilson to do so and coming off their bye-week, he'll be fresh and ready to go. The only real concern I have about this play is that the Lions play at such a slow pace. That's something to keep in mind, but otherwise I really like Wilson here.
Lower Tier :
Josh Rosen vs. San Francisco 49ers ($4800)
This is the third week this season that I've mentioned Josh Rosen. When I look at QBs under the $5000 price tag, I look at opportunity and the weapons around him, because that's all I can do to try and justify playing a guy in this tier. On the other side of this game, C.J. Beathard was someone I considered but Rosen is simply in a better spot here.
Arizona has a new OC this week – Byron Leftwich. How good he is as a play-caller remains to be seen, but I'm willing to bet that he's better than Mike McCoy. I'm also willing to bet that he'll get Christian Kirk and David Johnson more involved, and more importantly, put them in situations where their potential is maximized. That has been the biggest issue for the Arizona offense thus far.
Is it a safe play? No, but if you want to jam in the studs in the high-total shootout games, Rosen is definitely in play at his price and he's currently projected to be around 1% owned in tournaments, as well.
Top Tier :
James Conner vs. Cleveland Browns ($7500)
Todd Gurley is the #1 play at any position, every week. You cannot fade him in cash games, and you should have exposure to him in tournaments as well. Saquon Barkley is also a fantastic play for the obvious reason – his usage is crazy high – but, James Conner is $1300 less than Barkley and is in an absolutely prime spot. If you can get up to Barkley, I wouldn't try to talk you out of playing him, but based on the cost savings, I'll be playing Conner in cash games.
Week 1: 31 carries for 135 yards and 2 touchdowns, along with 5 receptions on 6 targets for another 57 yards and 38.2 Draftkings points. That's how Conner started the season against the Browns. Now, in week 8, we have the Steelers coming off their bye week, at home, facing a Browns team that has been gashed week after week by RBs. They're allowing 112 yards a game, at a 5.2 yards per carry clip, and 1.14 rushing touchdowns per game.
The Cleveland defense has played more snaps than any other defense in the league, and are coming off yet another overtime game last week. Everything has been catching up to the Browns recently, and I expect Pittsburgh to blow them out this week, and Conner will be leading the way. I will have Conner everywhere; cash games and tournaments.
Marlon Mack @ Oakland Raiders ($5400)
The Raiders have a bad defense. Not only do they have a bad defense – they have no way to fix it. Not only do they have no way to fix it – they don't WANT to fix it. They're very bad, getting worse, and don't care. On the flip side, the Colts have a good offense that is getting better, and they're getting healthier by the week.
The Colts offensive line has allowed the lowest sack rate in the league at 3.1%. I repeat: The Colts offensive line has allowed the lowest sack rate in the league. This is extremely significant. Last season, the Colts allowed 56 sacks – the most in the NFL. The 10.3% sack rate was also the worst in the league. In 2016, they allowed the fifth most sacks. My point here is that they haven't allowed Andrew Luck the luxury of any protection, OR to benefit from any semblance of a run game – until now.
In Marlon Mack's two weeks back: 31 carries for 215 yards – 6.9 yards per carry – and a touchdown, plus 3 receptions on 5 targets for another 37 yards and a touchdown. GREAT production. Yes, it came versus the Bills and the Jets, but now he gets the Raiders, and that's an even better matchup. At $5400, Mack is definitely in play for cash and tournaments this week. Oakland is looking for draft picks so they can maybe find a top WR or pass rusher, since they're hard to find.
**Update: Mack did not practice on Thursday. He was held out because of an ankle injury. Keep an eye on his practice status on Friday and the updates afterward.**
Lower Tier :
Adrian Peterson @ New York Giants ($4900)
Adrian Peterson is his team's entire offense. Yes, it's 2018. No, I don't quite understand it, but it's the case. The Redskins are currently decimated by injuries on the offensive side of the ball. Maurice Harris has been talked about as being ‘in play' in DFS, just to illustrate how bad it's been. Even before the injury bug really crippled the receiving core, the offense sputtered. The only consistent player has been Peterson.
Four of six weeks, he's gotten at least 96 rushing yards – 96, 120, 97, and 99. While those three games that have come up just short of the 100-yard bonus frustrated owners to no end I'm sure, AP has been very dependable in an offense that now NEEDS him. The last two games, he's gotten 17 and 24 carries, and now he faces the Giants in what should be a close, low-scoring game. The price is definitely right for the workload and gamescript he'll see on Sunday.
Top Tier :
A.J. Green vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers ($8000)
The Bucs' secondary is the most consistent unit in the NFL. I've talked about them every week, and it sure seems like I'll continue to. I mean, I have to, right? They go out there and earn a spot in this article week after week after week. I can't deny them their due.
I was going to talk about Tyler Boyd in this spot; he's a fantastic play here, too. If you're looking to save the $1300, he's a fine play over Green. I prefer Green simply because of how much he's moved around in the offense. No one in the Tampa Bay secondary can cover anyone, and the fact that Green moves around so much, just makes it that much more likely that they won't be able to get comfortable, at all, with what he's doing out there.
The Bucs allow the 2nd most Draftkings points to WRs overall, and the most touchdowns allowed per game at 1.83. I talk about them every week – “no pass rush, no secondary, no answers, no clues” – so I don't need to say too much this week. The Bengals are at home with a 29.5 point implied total, and A.J. Green has arguably the best WR/CB matchup on the entire slate. Add that to the fact that Tampa has an implied total of almost 25 points, and you can see that this is a likely shootout that you'll definitely want a piece of in your lineups. Green is the piece I like the most.
Geronimo Allison @ Los Angeles Rams ($5000)
If you like Aaron Rodgers this week, you might want to pair him with one of his pass catchers. I can tell you that I'll be doing both of these things. Allison is expected to be a ‘full-go' on Sunday in a game where WR targets will be aplenty. I like Davante Adams a lot this week, but the fact that he's almost $3000 more than Geronimo (Adams is $7900) will likely mean I'll have more Allison than Adams. Rodgers spreads the ball around, so the cost savings really stands out to me.
He'll be lined up against either Marcus Peters – who's struggled greatly the last few weeks, as he battles a heel injury – or Troy Hill, who has struggled greatly this season with not being good at football. He'll get to avoid Nickell Robey-Coleman, who's been the Rams best cover cornerback.
Is Allison a better overall play than Adams? No, but dollar-for-dollar there's an argument to be made for it. You could just avoid choosing one altogether and ask yourself: “Why not both!?” That's what I did, and I couldn't argue with my suggestion.
Lower Tier :
Sammy Watkins vs. Denver Broncos ($4600)
Last week, I talked about Jermaine Kearse in this spot. ‘Everybody' talked about what a great play Kearse was. Then, he scored zero Draftkings points. That wasn't optimal. I think the main problem with that play was that Jermaine, like Troy Hill, isn't good at football, so it didn't work out. Sammy Watkins IS good at football, and that has been translating into more than zero Draftkings points when you put him in your lineup.
He's averaging just under 6 targets and 50 yards per game. He's not a sure thing, but he's priced correctly for the role he plays in the KC offense. Tyreek Hill's home/road splits are real. Why? I have no idea, but they're a real thing. That helps Watkins' stock this week at home vs. Denver.
I won't be playing him in cash games, simply because I don't have to, but if I was down to $4600 to fill my WR3 spot, I would be fine with playing Watkins there. He would be my choice.
Top Tier :
Travis Kelce vs. Denver Broncos ($6800)
It's always tough to pay up for a TE who isn't named Zach Ertz. Ertz is playing in London this week, so he's off the main slate, and Kelce stands far and above the rest in both price and in regard to my level of interest. As I say, regularly, Ertz is an elite receiver; he's simply listed as a TE. The same could be said for Kelce. He doesn't get the usage that Ertz gets, but the talent is there, and the QB play is most certainly there.
He's seeing an average of 8.5 targets a game, and he hasn't gotten fewer than 5 in any game. That game was last week, and he caught all 5 for 95 yards. Not only is he a volume play, but his targets are high-quality targets. Unless this is your first day, you already know that Patrick Mahomes is an exceptional QB.
In home games this season, Kelce is averaging 6 receptions for 103 yards and he's had no fewer than 95 – 114, 100, 95. Paying almost $7000 for a TE is a tough thing to do most weeks, but Kelce is the safest play, with the most upside, on the main slate this week and could easily outscore WRs in this price range.
Lower Tier :
C.J. Uzomah vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers ($3500)
There are three players priced very similarly in this group that I like, and will likely have exposure to: O.J. Howard ($3900), Vance MacDonald ($3700) and Uzomah. I prefer Uzomah simply because he's the least expensive and he's got the best matchup.
The Bucs can't stop anything that involves passing the ball through the air to any player on the field. I think I may have mentioned that already, but it definitely applies to TEs and Uzomah has shown he's a capable pass-catcher.
At home this season, he's caught 11 of 13 targets for 142 yards, and he's caught 17 of 19 targets on the season overall. He's very reliable. What's even more reliable is the Bucs inability to defend the TE position. They allow a league-worst 20.13 Draftkings points per game to TEs.
Any of the three names I mentioned are good plays, but I'll take the savings plus a matchup with the Tampa defense this week if I'm looking to pay down at TE.
Good luck this week!