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DFS Early Look: Week 8

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DFS Early Look: Week 8

Another week of NFL football is in the books, which means that more NFL football is right around the corner. With both Fanduel and DraftKings having released their Week 8 DFS pricing, it’s time to look ahead to next Sunday’s DFS slate.

Here are the most glaring values I’ve found after analyzing pricing.

Jalen Hurts, QB, Philadelphia Eagles (AT DET)

DraftKings: $7,200 (QB5) | Fanduel: $8,400 (QB2)

Hurts is currently the QB3 by FPG (24.4) and is currently on pace for the 12th best fantasy season by a QB all-time. He’s averaging 9.4 rushing FPG, which ranks just behind 2020 Lamar Jackson and just ahead of 2018 Josh Allen for the 5th best QB fantasy rushing season all-time. Hurts might have the strongest floor of any fantasy QB, as he’s the only QB this season to score at least 20.0 FPG in every game he’s played. Hurts is the epitome of being amazing for fantasy, but not great in real life as he ranks 20th in PFF passing grades (74.2) and the Eagles are averaging 22.7 PPG (19th).

Week 7 brings a matchup with Detroit, who’s allowed 23.7 FPG to opposing QBs (8th-most). This game offers a total of 47.5, which is the 4th-highest of the Week 8 main slate. An above-average matchup for a clearly elite fantasy QB? Sign me up. Hurts should be popular for both cash games and tournaments on DraftKings, where he ranks as QB5 (by salary). With that said, I’ll likely have the bulk of my Hurts exposure in Fanduel tournaments, where he should (hopefully) carry lower ownership.

Darrell Henderson, RB, Los Angeles Rams (AT HOU)

DraftKings: $6,500 (RB11) | Fanduel: $7,700 (RB10)

Henderson currently ranks 10th in touches per game (18.5), 5th in snaps per game (50.8), 4th in routes per game (26.0), 6th in goalline carries (7), but just 13th in FPG (16.6). Henderson’s mid-tier RB1 usage suggests his FPG should positively regress, and he’ll get a great chance to do that this week with the Rams as 15.0-point favorites against Houston. Henderson was Week 7’s highest owned RB, and he scored just 6.4 fantasy points on 18 touches. That brutal performance is sure to have soured some DFS players on Henderson, and should lower his Week 8 ownership despite another great matchup. Plus, I’m not sure anyone expected the Lions to come out the way they did — kicking a surprise onside kick in the first quarter, faking two punts, and playing incredibly aggressive up front defensively. That Lions’ game plan (which I thought was great, by the way), essentially stole the positive gamescript we all anticipated from Henderson and this Rams’ offense.

Houston, however, is a different story. They lack the kneecap biting intensity and aggression that has flooded the veins of Dan Campbell’s Lions, and instead have largely rolled over for their opponents, losing their last three games by an average of 19.0 points (worst), and giving up 157.3 rushing yards per game in the process (worst). And Houston ranks 6th-worst in PFF rushing grades (48.9 team rush defense grade) and 4th-worst in Football Outsiders rush defense DVOA (-0.2%). This is an outstanding matchup for an RB who is seeing strong enough usage to warrant being priced in the RB5-RB7 range on both DFS sites. Henderson should be one of the most popular RBs of Week 8, but arguably, he should be the highest-owned RB for the second week in a row given his current usage profile.

Damien Harris, RB, New England Patriots (AT LAC)

DraftKings: $6,100 (RB14) | Fanduel: $6,900 (RB15)

Over the last three weeks, Harris has averaged 16.3 touches per game, 93.0 YFS per game, and 17.6 FPG. Over the full season, those numbers would rank 10th-, 9th-, and 9th-best. Harris is, however, a complete non-factor when the Patriots can’t get the ground game going. He’s logged just 1.6 targets per game (56th among RBs) and has only averaged 9.3 FPG in New England losses, compared to 16.2 FPG in victories. So with the Patriots as 5.5-point underdogs to the Chargers, Harris isn’t playable, right? Well, no, because there aren’t many teams that are purposely giving up the run as much as LA.

The Chargers are giving up 5.4 YPC (worst), 162.5 rushing YPG (worst), and 29.8 rush attempts per game (5th-worst). And they rank dead last in Football Outsiders rush defense DVOA (9.6%) and 31st in PFF rush defense grade (35.3). It’s a schematic decision, but the Chargers are giving up as much fantasy production on the ground as any team. In a matchup this good with a near-monopoly on backfield carries, Harris should be priced about $800 more on both sites. The potential for the Chargers to run away with this contest makes Harris a tournament only play, but an excellent one on a 0.5 PPR site like Fanduel, where pass catching RBs will have a much harder time out-producing him on just target volume alone.

Khalil Herbert, RB, Chicago Bears (VS. SF)

DraftKings: $5,400 (RB20) | Fanduel: $6,500 (RB18)

Khalil Herbert is looking more and more like a bell cow. He’s exceeded a 75% snap share in each of his last two games, and he saw 5 targets (71% backfield target share) in Week 7, which is especially impressive given Damien Williams (who’s best skill is pass catching) played in Week 7. And in Week 5, with Williams the presumed lead back, Herbert actually led the backfield in touches (18). Is this due to Herbert working his way into favor with the Bears coaching staff? Or Williams faltering at the coaches expectations? Either way the end result is the same: Herbert is seeing a ton of touches.

And the rookie has responded about as well as possible to this level of volume. Among RBs with 25 or more carries, he ranks 4th in PFF rushing grades (87.1), 15th in yards after contact per attempt (3.26), and 8th in PFF elusive rating (80.2). And he rushed for 100 yards (and a very impressive 5.6 YPC) against the league’s best run defense in Tampa Bay. We may have quite the rusher on our hands.

Week 8 yields a neutral matchup with a San Francisco run defense that ranks middle of the pack in the majority of important run defense metrics. Should Herbert retain his near full-time, bell-cow workload (which I expect) then we can anticipate somewhere in the realm of 20 touches for a player who is currently one of the most efficient runners in football. That makes Herbert a glaring value as the RB20 (by salary) on DraftKings and the RB18 on Fanduel, and he should be one of the most popular RBs of Week 8 as a result.

Deebo Samuel, WR, San Francisco 49ers (AT CHI)

DraftKings: $7,400 (WR6) | Fanduel: $7,800 (WR3)

Among WRs, Deebo currently ranks 2nd in targets per game (10.4), 1st in target share (34.1%), and 2nd in FPG (21.8). Still, he’s not a top-2 WR by salary on either DFS site, and is actually the WR6 on DraftKings.

There’s a lot to like about Samuel and his current role. Outside of Rondale Moore, no WR has seen more designed touches (carries+screens) than Deebo (17) which provides him with one of the most secure floors of any WR. Deebo has been so heavily featured in this offense that the 49ers player with the next most targets (George Kittle) has only seen 48% of the targets that Samuel has. He’s the entire show.

And he’s played great, ranking 6th among WRs in PFF receiving grade (82.7), 3rd in yards per route run (3.27), and 2nd in YAC (320). Now he gets a matchup against a Bears secondary that ranks 5th-worst in PFF coverage grades (44.9), and has given up 32.3 FPG to opposing WRs (4th-worst). This is an ideal spot to roster Samuel, and I’d expect him to be popular in all formats, especially on DraftKings as the WR6.

Diontae Johnson, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers (AT CLE)

DraftKings: $6,700 (WR11) | Fanduel: $7,500 (WR7)

From the Week 7 XFP Report:

Over the past two seasons, Johnson has played in 20 games with Ben Roethlisberger under center. He's been hurt in five of those games and was once benched for drops. Including the two injury games this season, but removing the other four games, Johnson has hit double-digit targets in 15 of 16 games, averaging 12.1 targets, 79.7 receiving yards, and 19.6 FPG.

And he’s even more of a monster this season, hitting at least 14.5 fantasy points in 5 of 5 games (despite 2 injury games). He's finished top-10 in XFP in 4 of his 5 games this year. And you can contrast that to the position leader in XFP Cooper Kupp, who has just 2 top-10 finishes in 6 games.

On a per game basis, he ranks: 11th in FPG (20.9), 3rd in deep targets (2.6), 2nd in targets (11.6), 2nd in XFP (20.9), and 1st in XTD (0.74). So, keep in mind, Johnson's usage is not only significantly better, but he's being used in an entirely different way. He's jumped 2X in deep targets per game and 2X in XTD per game from his numbers last season.

Diontae is seeing the usage of a top-5 WR, but he just isn’t priced like it. And now he gets a matchup with a Browns defense that’s allowed the 7th-most FPG (29.4) to opposing WRs this season. He’s obviously a strong play on both sites, but he’s an incredible one on DraftKings where he is easily $1,000 too cheap. It’s obviously early, but unless projected ownership gets astronomically high, Johnson will be my favorite WR play (by far) on DraftKings in Week 8.

Courtland Sutton, WR, Denver Broncos (VS. WAS)

DraftKings: $6,400 (WR14) | Fanduel: $7,100 (WR14)

Sutton currently leads all WRs in air yards (940), deep targets (19), and prior to Week 7, was tied for 1st with Cooper Kupp, Diontae Johnson, and CeeDee Lamb with 0.7 XTD per game. Sutton, a lights-out deep threat throughout his career, is now seeing the best deep volume of any WR. And he ranks 6th among all players in red zone targets. While he’s performed well on this volume (WR23 by FPG), he hasn’t managed a game with more than 25.0 fantasy points, something I don’t expect to last given the usage he’s seeing deep, and near the end zone.

So when will the blowup game come?

Well, I’m not sure there’s a better opponent for a player like Sutton than the Washington Football Team, who rank 2nd-worst in PFF coverage grades (37.0), 5th-worst in Football Outsiders pass defense DVOA (26.8%), worst in pass YPG allowed (300.6), and worst in FPG allowed to WRs (37.7). And, prior to Week 7 (Week 7 data not yet available), they had given up 128.3 yards per game on deep passes (6th-worst) and 26.5 FPG per game on deep passes (4th-worst).

Sutton’s current role and the return of Jerry Jeudy eliminate him from cash game consideration, but he’s an elite tournament play in Week 8 given his eye-popping deep volume against this abysmal Washington pass defense.

Van Jefferson, WR, Los Angeles Rams (AT HOU)

DraftKings: $3,900 (WR57)

After seeing no higher than a 77% snap share in his last four games, Van Jefferson logged a 94% snap share and a 95% route share against Detroit on Sunday. These weren’t empty snaps either, as Jefferson earned a season-high 7 targets and managed to score, finishing the day with 14.3 fantasy points. His target volume has stayed consistent all season, seeing at least three targets in every game, and at least 4 targets in his last 5 games.

Jefferson’s 9.9 FPG this season isn’t exactly eye popping, but his recent increase in route share combined with his consistent target volume suggest he’s (at the very least) one of the most reliable WRs available for less than $4,000 on DraftKings this week. And unlike most sub-$4k WRs, Jefferson has shown a decent ceiling, scoring over 14.0 fantasy points in 43% of his games this season. Not to mention that we’ve seen a history of success from the WR3 in this offense when they play a full-time role, suggesting Jefferson’s fantasy output could absolutely increase from here. Expect Jefferson to be a popular salary saving option on DraftKings in a Week 8 matchup with Houston, PFF’s 4th-worst graded coverage unit.

Kyle Pitts, TE, Atlanta Falcons (VS. CAR)

DraftKings: $6,300 (TE1) | Fanduel: $6,800 (TE1)

This is the first time, but surely not the last, that Kyle Pitts is the TE1 (by salary) for a regular season main slate. Over the last three games, Pitts is the TE2 by FPG (19.8), 2nd in targets per game (9.0), and 1st in receiving yards per game (110.7). It’s too small of a sample to let ourselves get carried away, but 19.8 FPG over a full season would be the 3rd-best fantasy season by a TE all-time. Historical marks aside, this volume is still a massive improvement over the 8.3 FPG, 5.7 targets per game, and 46.3 receiving YPG he averaged in Weeks 1, 2, and 3. Atlanta seems to finally be making Pitts a featured part of this offense.

Should Pitts be viewed on the same level as Travis Kelce, Darren Waller, and Mark Andrews? I’m not sure at this point, but I am sure he’s the cheapest TE1 we’ve seen on a main slate this season, and if he keeps playing like this we will surely regret rostering him on a slate that’s largely devoid of TE fantasy production. Assuming ownership doesn’t get out of hand, I expect Pitts to be my top tournament TE play of the week in a neutral matchup against a Panthers’ defense that’s allowed 12.0 FPG to opposing TEs (18th).

Ricky Seals-Jones, TE, Washington Football Team (AT DEN)

DraftKings: $3,800 (TE12) | Fanduel: $5,400 (TE11)

Another week, another RSJ write-up. Since taking over as the starter in Week 4, RSJ ranks 7th among TEs in targets (23), tied for 7th in red zone targets (6), 1st in end zone targets (5) and 2nd in routes run (152). He’s become Logan Thomas, and it’s important to remember that Thomas wasn’t cheaper than $4,600 on DraftKings or $5,500 on Fanduel in any healthy game he played this season. RSJ is still underpriced relative to his current workload. Is there anything in his efficiency numbers to indicate he’s a good player? No, not really. But he’s still a heavily discounted Logan Thomas, and will almost surely be one of best projected values of the Week 8 slate. I’d anticipate RSJ to yet again be one of the most popular salary-saving TEs on both sites.

Jake Tribbey is a recent college graduate and lifelong football fan obsessed with extracting every edge possible from NFL DFS, Best Ball, and player props/futures.

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