Don’t tinker with your lineups. Seriously, don’t do it. On my way to church, I caught wind that Melvin Gordon had been ruled out which of course led me to throw him in a few lineups. One person I pulled from a lineup in favor of Austin Ekeler was Marlon Mack who I had a good feeling about but didn’t quite trust enough to put in this article. The move cost me dearly and while I still finished Top 4 in that particular GPP the ROI was about a 3rd of what it should have been. Thankfully, last week’s picks (seen at the end of this column) were strong and carried me through to a nice payday but trust the lineups you build!
On to week 8!
Baker Mayfield QB, Cleveland Browns (DraftKings $5,700 FanDuel $7,200)
I’m going back to the well with Baker again in week 8. Its often a fool’s errand trying to predict game script but when you see a 51 point over/under and your quarterback’s team is an 8 point underdog heading into the contest, it certainly implies that he’ll be passing a good bit! Baker started off slow last week before rounding out a 20 point afternoon. It may go the same way this Sunday at Pittsburgh but don’t fret if Mayfield gets off to a slow start – the Steelers are allowing 24 points per game to opposing passers, 4th most in the NFL.
Andy Dalton QB, Cincinnati Bengals (DraftKings $6,200 FanDuel $7,800)
Dalton was a huge letdown in what looked like a smash spot last week at Kansas City. The Chiefs just pulverized the Bengals and the game got completely out of hand. Things should go a little more according to plan this week when the Buccaneers come to town. The Bucs early season offensive magic (Fitz-magic) may have faded a bit but Tampa is still putting up points. Their offense has averaged 27.5 points per game since the bye while their defense is averaging 27.2 points allowed per game to opposing passers (most generous in the league) Given the Bengals’ own rating as the 5th friendliest match up for quarterbacks and the 54 point over/under, I think its safe to say the recipe for QB success is present in the match up. I’ll take the guy playing at home as a 4.5 point favorite every time in this equation.
Kirk Cousins QB, Minnesota Vikings (DraftKings $5,900 FanDuel $8,300)
Cousins hasn’t put up eye popping numbers since week 4 which has likely pushed his price down a bit but he’s still out there dropping dimes (mostly to Adam Thielen) This week presents a unique challenge as the Viking travel to New Orleans to face the Saints on Sunday night. New Orleans is averaging the 2nd most points allowed to opposing passers which seems somewhat par for the course but its interesting to see that the Vikings perceived stout defense is averaging the 9th most points allowed to quarterbacks per game. I’m always looking for explosive quarterbacks facing each other, when you couple that with a favorable match up defensively, it tends to be a recipe for fantasy success. The last time the Vikings faced a worthy opponent in prime time was on TNF in week 4 – Cousins hung 31+ on the Rams that night. Just sayin’.
Andrew Luck QB, Indianapolis Colts (DraftKings $6,300 FanDuel $8,300)
Luck is averaging nearly 30 points per game over his last 3 contests, two of which were without T.Y. Hilton! I think its safe to say Luck is back at least for fantasy purposes and this week he draws the perplexing Oakland Raiders. It is a West Coast road game but there’s nothing scary about this opponent who is allowing the 12th most points per game to enemy QB’s. With Marshawn Lynch landing on I.R. and Amari Cooper being shipped off to Dallas there is some danger of Oakland falling flat in this contest limiting Luck’s upside a bit. That said, I think the Colts’ defense (currently 24th in the league in total defense) is leaky enough to keep the game close.
Kareem Hunt RB, Kansas City Chiefs (DraftKings $7,100 FanDuel $8,100)
Hunt was sensational last week and I want to thank him for giving me a Top 4 cash in a Week 7 GPP! This week presents another great opportunity for success as the Broncos and their 8th friendliest defense for opposing running backs visit Arrowhead Stadium. The Chiefs could score from any angle, at any point, so there is some risk that Hunt might get left out of the scoring party simply by bad luck. That said, The Chiefs are favored by 10 with a 32 point implied total so Hunt should get his fair share but you’ll want him to score early – this one might get out of hand which brings Spencer Ware into the mix.
Joe Mixon RB, Cincinnati Bengals (DraftKings $7,300 FanDuel $7,800)
The Bengals as a whole had a rough week 7 aside from A.J. Green. I expect them to get back on track vs the Bucs who are bottom 12 vs opposing running backs on the year. With Giovani Bernard still on the shelf, Mixon is dominating the snap share among running backs owning 75% of all the work over the past 3 weeks. In addition to the rushing work, Mixon has also averaged 5 targets per game over the last 3 contests so even if the Bengals fall behind, he should be game script proof. Much like last week vs. the Chiefs, all of the components are there for a successful week – provided the Bengals don’t get blown out again…
Kenjon Barner RB, New England Patriots (DraftKings $3,500 FanDuel $5,500)
This one might be a bit of a reach but hear me out! Aside from James White, Barner is about the only running back they’ve got. I do expect White to get the lion’s share of the work this week but he’s not a late game thumper and this contest may just need one of those. The Bills have fooled us before but once again they are significant underdogs (+14) and should get blown away in this contest. With all the running back injuries do you think Belichick is going to risk James White unless absolutely necessary? I think not. He’s cheap, the match up is prime (Buffalo is bottom 10 vs. opposing RB’s) and the Patriots have a 29 point implied total. I think Barner gets work here and could be a nice way to free up a bunch of valuable salary space for bigger pieces.
James Conner RB, Pittsburgh Steelers (DraftKings $7,500 FanDuel $8,000)
Sunday’s tilt at home vs. the Browns looks like it could be the perfect storm for James Conner who has more than made his case for a running back committee upon Le’Veon Bell’s return. He’s only had one game this season where he failed to reach double digit scoring and has 3 games with more than 30 points. This week should make 4. The Browns are averaging the 12th most points allowed to opposing running backs and have given up 4 touchdowns to the position over the last two weeks. Conversely, Conner has scored as many touchdowns in his last two contests while handling 48 touches in those two games. With the Steelers favored 8 (as of this writing) there should be some extra work in the second half as the Steelers grind out the eventual win. The water is clear for at least another week – take advantage of the discount on this top flight back!
Phillip Lindsay RB, Denver Broncos (DraftKings $5,200 FanDuel $6,500)
All signs point to Royce Freeman sitting out this contest which should leave Lindsay as the bell cow with Devontae Booker in a change of pace role. If the Bronco’s can stay in the game like they did in week 4, Lindsay’s work load should be protected. During that week 4 game Lindsay and Freeman combined for 146 yards total and two scores. I’m not saying that’s going to happen here, but I’m not saying it won’t. The Chiefs have given up the 2nd most fantasy points to opposing running backs this seasoned and until last week’s blowout vs Cincinnati had failed to hold an opposing rushing attack under 24 points in any contest. With Freeman out of the picture, all of Denver’s RB points should belong to Lindsay this week.
Lamar Miller RB, Houston Texans (DraftKings $4,700 FanDuel $6,000)
Lamar Miller almost always gives me pause in DFS. You know he has those big, multi-touchdown games in his playbook but predicting then they will happen is proving an elusive target so far this season. Last week’s 100 yard, 1 touchdown effort vs. the vaunted Jacksonville defense is the perfect example of Miller’s sporadic usefulness. What isn’t sporadic is his usage. He has at least 14 touches in every game this season. The volume lines up well with this week’s match up vs the Dolphins who are currently coughing up the 4th most points per game to opposing running backs. with no less than 14 touches vs a defense this soft, I could see a multi-touchdown game for Miller who comes in a lovely price this week.