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RealTime DFS Strategy: Week 8

Fri Oct 30 9:57am ET
By MIKE BARNER
Contributing Writer

Adams setup for more success


Week 8 brings the potential for another fun slate of games across the NFL, including what should be a great matchup between the Steelers and Ravens. From a DFS perspective, there are also a lot of excellent matchups to take advantage of, and a few to possibly avoid. With that in mind, let’s break down each position to help make setting your lineup a little easier.

Quarterbacks

Aaron Rodgers, GB vs. MIN ($7,000): The Vikings probably aren’t too excited to see Rodgers again. When these two teams faced off in Week 1, he lit up their defense for 364 yards and four touchdowns. Outside of struggling in a loss to the Bucs in Week 6, Rodgers is having an excellent season with 17 touchdown passes and only two interceptions through six games. Look for him to dominate the Vikings again in their rematch, considering they have allowed the fourth-most passing yards per game in the league.

Jimmy Garoppolo, SF at SEA ($5,800): If you’re looking to fade Rodgers at his lofty salary, then Garoppolo should be on your radar further down the salary scale. Yes, playing without Deebo Samuel (hamstring) likely won’t make his job any easier. However, it doesn’t get much better than this matchup against the Seahawks, who have allowed the most passing yards per game despite posting a stellar 5-1 record.

Player to Avoid

Lamar Jackson, BAL vs. PIT ($6,800): Considering you can add Rodgers to your lineup for only $200 more, it’s difficult to justify rolling with Jackson based on his tough matchup. The Steelers defense is among the best in the league, allowing the sixth-fewest passing yards per game and the second-fewest rushing yards. That second stat is more alarming for Jackson, considering he normally does a lot of damage with his legs. Expect this to be a low-scoring game between two teams with excellent defenses.

Running Backs

Derrick Henry, TEN at CIN ($7,900): If you can fit Henry’s salary into your lineup, doing so could pay off in a big way. He already enters as one of the safest options at running back since he has received at least 19 carries in every game this season. On top of that, this is a great matchup against the Bengals, who have allowed the fifth-most rushing yards per game. Not only should Henry rack up yards in bunches in this game, but it’s also likely that he finds his way into the end zone at least one time given that the Bengals have allowed an average of 27.7 points per game.

Giovanni Bernard, CIN vs. TEN ($6,600): The key here will be the status of Joe Mixon (foot), who was unable to play Week 7 against the Browns. Bernard started in his place and stepped up to produce 96 total yards and a touchdown. He was heavily involved both running the ball and in the passing game, and would be again in Week 8 if Mixon is unable to play. A lot of attention has been given to the Titan’s thriving offense, but don’t forget that their defense hasn’t been great. They find themselves in the bottom-10 in the league in both rushing yards and passing yards allowed per game.

Player to Avoid

James Conner, PIT at BAL ($7,000): I’m avoiding this game as much as possible. The Ravens have arguably the best defense in the league, allowing only 17.3 points per game. That has resulted in them allowing four rushing touchdowns all season. Since Conner doesn’t come at much of a discount, the risk might not be worth the potential reward here, especially since Kareem Hunt’s ($7,300) salary isn’t that much higher and he has a great matchup against the Raiders.

Wide Receivers

Davante Adams, GB vs. MIN ($8,900): Adams was the main reason why Rodgers went off the first time these two teams faced each other this season. He couldn’t be stopped, finishing with 14 receptions on 17 targets for 156 yards and two touchdowns. He’s only played four games this season, but he already has two games with at least 150 yards and two touchdowns. Given the likelihood that he once again sees a ton of targets, he’s arguably the top receiving option for this slate.

Nelson Agholor, LV at CLE ($5,300): The Raiders might not have an extremely exciting group of wide receivers, but that doesn’t mean they haven’t been productive. Agholor has certainly been a pleasant surprise, catching four touchdowns through seven games. He received a season-high nine targets in a tough matchup against the Bucs last week and came away with five receptions, 107 yards and a touchdown. This has the makings of a high-scoring game between two teams that have both allowed at least 31.6 points per game, so Agholor could provide value at his cheap salary.

Player to Avoid

Amari Cooper, DAL at PHI ($7,400): The Cowboys’ offense has fallen off a cliff. It’s not because of a lack of talent at the skill positions because they have one of the best units in the league. The problem has been staying healthy at quarterback. Not only is Dak Prescott (ankle) out for the season, but Andy Dalton could miss Week 8 with a concussion. That would leave Ben DiNucci to start at quarterback. Add in a tough matchup against Eagles’ star cornerback Darius Slay and Cooper could really struggle.

Tight Ends

Darren Waller, LV at CLE ($5,700): Agholor isn’t the only Raiders’ pass-catcher to consider. Waller is the focal point of their passing attack, which has resulted in him garnering 56 targets across six games. That includes a whopping 10 red-zone targets. No other player on the team has more than four such targets, so Waller could explode in this potentially scoring-friendly game.

Richard Rodgers, PHI vs. DAL ($4,000): It will be important to monitor the status of Dallas Goedert (ankle), who has been a limited participant in practice this week. The Eagles do have a bye in Week 9, so it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Goedert sit against the Cowboys to make sure he’s completely healthy for the rest of the season. If he doesn’t play, this is a great spot to deploy Rodgers against a Cowboys team that has one of the worst defenses in the league. With Goedert and Zach Ertz (ankle) out in Week 7, Rodgers finished with six catches and 85 yards on eight targets against the Giants.

Player to Avoid

T.J. Hockenson, DET vs. IND ($5,300): This could be a rough week for the Lions’ offense with the Colts allowing only 19.2 points per game. They are fresh coming off of their bye and could get star linebacker Darius Leonard (groin) back from injury. A $400 difference between Waller and Hockenson shouldn’t be enough to deter you from starting Waller when you consider their contrasting matchups.

Mike Barner has been covering fantasy sports since 2007. His work has appeared in Sports Illustrated, Yahoo, SportsLine and RotoWire. Mike was also a finalist for the 2018 FSWA Basketball Writer of the Year award. Follow Mike on Twitter @rotomikebarner.

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Player Notes
Deshaun Watson Nov 25 3:30pm ET

Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson has been an excellent fantasy signal-caller this season. Watson currently sits as the QB6 and aside from a windy, messy game against Cleveland, he's finished as a QB1 in five of his last six games. On the table for Watson is a Thanksgiving matchup with the Lions' 25th-ranked pass defense that has surrendered the ninth-most plays through the air of 20 yards or more. The former Clemson star is as consistent as they come and should be started as an elite QB1 in Week 12. He has the upside to finish as the overall QB1 this week.

From RotoBaller

Marquise Brown Nov 25 3:30pm ET

Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Marquise Brown hasn't been the most impactful option during the 2020 campaign. After finishing Week 1 with 101 yards off five catches, Hollywood's production has fizzled since by surpassing four catches in a game just once. A few weeks ago against New England, he caught an underwhelming two of his seven targets, and in Week 11 against the Titans, he was held without a grab. While Brown always has the potential to pick up some significant gains, the odds aren't in his favor on Sunday night against an efficient Steelers Defense. For the fantasy managers who still have the 23-year-old on their roster, it may be wise to have him sitting in Week 12.

From RotoBaller

Adam Thielen Nov 25 12:40pm ET

Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen's status for Week 12 against the Panthers remains up in the air after he tested positive for COVID-19. Head coach Mike Zimmer said on Wednesday that he doesn't know if Thielen will be cleared to play on Sunday. The team's top wideout was placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 list on Monday, but NFL Network's Tom Pelissero reported that Thielen also had a negative test. Further testing will determine if it was a false positive. Fantasy manager need to keep a close eye on this situation, as the 30-year-old wideout is a must-start if he's cleared after he scored two touchdowns in Week 11. Rookie Justin Jefferson would be quarterback Kirk Cousins' primary target if Thielen were to be ruled out.

From RotoBaller

Kenny Stills Nov 25 12:30pm ET

Houston Texans wide receivers Kenny Stills (quadriceps) and Randall Cobb (toe) have both been ruled out for the Thanksgiving game on Thursday against the Lions and will not travel with the team. Cobb is dealing with a significant toe injury and will miss several more games. With both Stills and Cobb out this Thursday, Keke Coutee should be elevated to three-receiver sets alongside Will Fuller V and Brandin Cooks. Coutee has just four catches for 21 yards and a touchdown in two games played this year, but he'll be a deep DFS sleeper on Thanksgiving against a very generous Lions Defense. Tight ends Darren Fells and Jordan Akins could see more targets as well, but the main beneficiaries should be Fuller and Cooks.

From RotoBaller

Christian McCaffrey Nov 25 12:20pm ET

Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey (shoulder) has arrived at practice on Wednesday and will work in a non-contact red jersey. It's progress for McCaffrey, but it was reported earlier this week that he's expected to miss the Week 12 game against the Vikings. The All-Pro running back hasn't been officially ruled out yet, though, so fantasy managers will need to continue checking on his progress in practice this week. McCaffrey, who has played in just three games this year due to shoulder and ankle injuries, could sit out another game with Carolina's bye coming in Week 13. The 24-year-old is on the wrong side of questionable right now. Mike Davis would be in line for a featured role once again if McCaffrey sits, making him a low-end RB1 for fantasy managers.

From RotoBaller

Auden Tate Nov 25 12:10pm ET

The Cincinnati Bengals placed wide receiver Auden Tate and offensive guard/center B.J. Finney on the Reserve/COVID-19 list on Wednesday. The Bengals reported that they had someone test positive for COVID-19 on Wednesday, but they haven't disclosed exactly who that player was. Either way, both players availability for Week 12 against the Giants is in jeopardy this weekend. Tate has only 14 receptions on 20 targets for 150 yards in eight games in his third season with Cincinnati. The 23-year-old is not a fantasy option while behind wideouts Tyler Boyd, rookie Tee Higgins and veteran A.J. Green on the receiving depth chart, especially now that rookie quarterback Joe Burrow (knee) is out for the season.

From RotoBaller

Cam Sims Nov 25 12:00pm ET

Washington Football Team wide receivers Cam Sims and Steven Sims Jr have a good matchup on Thanksgiving against the Cowboys, but it's hard to trust either in fantasy. Steven Sims Jr caught a touchdown last week but racked up just 13 yards and only had three targets. Cam Sims put up a season-high with six targets two weeks ago, but only saw two looks last week and can't be trusted with his lack of volume. Dallas allows the second-most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers so both players can be good dart throws in DFS, but season-long fantasy managers should be able to find a receiver with a higher target-floor.

From RotoBaller

Terry McLaurin Nov 25 11:20am ET

Washington Football Team wide receiver Terry McLaurin (ankle) has been limited in practice ahead of a Thanksgiving rivalry game in Dallas but does not appear to be in danger of missing the game. McLaurin has been one of the safest receivers to start in fantasy as the second-year wideout has at least seven targets in every game this season. McLaurin torched this Cowboys secondary for 90 yards and a touchdown in Week seven and should see similar success Thursday. McLaurin is a must-start WR1 in all formats versus a Cowboys Defense that allows the second-most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers.

From RotoBaller

Jacksonville Jaguars Nov 25 11:00am ET

The Jacksonville Jaguars Defense will be without three defensive coaches in Week 12 against the Browns, including defensive coordinator Todd Wash. Head coach Doug Marrone said that Wash was among those unavailable this week due to COVID-19 protocols. The entire defensive staff was not at the team facility on Tuesday as the team underwent contact tracing after positive COVID-19 tests. Secondary coach Joe Danna will call defensive plays against Cleveland. Special teams assistant Mike Mallory will run the defense during practices this week. An already bad Jacksonville defense just got worse, and on top of it they placed defensive end Josh Allen and cornerback D.J. Hayden on Injured Reserve on Tuesday. Stay far away from this defensive unit in fantasy against the Browns.

From RotoBaller

Nick Foles Nov 25 10:50am ET

The Chicago Bears are unsure if quarterback Nick Foles (hip), who is still in some pain, will be able to practice this week and play in Week 12 against the division-rival Packers. If Foles is healthy enough to suit up, he would presumably remain the starter under center. Mitchell Trubisky (shoulder) has missed several games but is in fact healthy enough to play if he is needed. So it sounds as though it'll be either Foles or Trubisky going against Green Bay this weekend. Neither QB has been very good in real life or for fantasy managers in 2020, so those in leagues that start one quarterback can obviously avoid this situation. The Packers Defense is a solid streaming option for Week 12 against a Bears offense that has struggled mightily to move the football consistently all season.

From RotoBaller

Mike Glennon Nov 25 10:50am ET

The Jacksonville Jaguars plan to start quarterback Mike Glennon in Week 12 against the Browns, according to head coach Doug Marrone. Gardner Minshew II (thumb) is nearing full health, but it will be Glennon over both Minshew and rookie Jake Luton on Sunday against Cleveland. The biggest takeaway here is that the Browns Defense, which won't have star pass-rusher Myles Garrett or standout defensive back Denzel Ward this weekend, will remain a strong play against a Jacksonville team with one win and on their third QB of the season. Glennon, 30, hasn't started a game in the NFL since 2017 with the Bears and is nothing more than a desperation low-end QB2 in superflex leagues. Make sure to downgrade all of Jacksonville's receivers as well.

From RotoBaller

Brandon Allen Nov 25 10:43am ET

Cincinnati Bengals QB Brandon Allen will start in Week 12 over QB Ryan Finley.

Fantasy Spin: Avoid this situation altogether, and the Bengals' wide receivers like Tee Higgins and A.J. Green also take a hit.

From TheHuddle

Brandon Allen Nov 25 10:40am ET

The Cincinnati Bengals are planning to start quarterback Brandon Allen in Week 12 against the Giants with rookie Joe Burrow (knee) out for the rest of the season, according to sources. Allen was on the practice squad until the other day when he replaced Burrow on the roster. Ryan Finley, who entered the game last week against Washington, will back up Allen. The 28-year-old from Arkansas started three games for the Broncos in 2019 and threw for 515 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions. He'll primarily be a game manager, so he'll be a desperation low-end QB2 in superflex leagues. Receivers Tyler Boyd, Tee Higgins and A.J. Green need to be downgraded in the weekly and rest-of-season rankings. The Giants Defense will be an excellent fantasy play on Sunday.

From RotoBaller

Antonio Gibson Nov 25 10:30am ET

Washington Football Team running back Antonio Gibson put up a career-high 128 rushing yards and a touchdown in his first taste of the Washington/Dallas rivalry and will look to spoil Thanksgiving for the Cowboys in a Week 12 showdown. Gibson has been on fire lately with five touchdowns in his last four games. Normally that would signal regression may be coming, but head coach Ron Rivera went out of his way this week to praise Gibson's tough running style and nose for the goal line implying Washington's first-year coach will keep feeding the rookie in the red zone. Gibson missed Monday's practice (ankle) but logged a full session on Tuesday so he should be all set to suit up Thursday. Start Gibson with confidence in all formats.

From RotoBaller

J.D. McKissic Nov 25 9:50am ET

Washington Football Team running back J.D. McKissic let fantasy managers down last week but has a chance to bounce back on Thanksgiving in Dallas. McKissic saw an obscene 29 targets in his first two games with Alex Smith at quarterback but was not nearly as involved last week with just four targets and six carries. With fellow running back Antonio Gibson seeing twice as many touches last week, expect McKissic to be more involved with Washington playing on a short week. Double-digit touches should be the floor for McKissic making him a solid RB2 in seasonal leagues while being a strong value in DFS formats, especially those that use full-PPR scoring.

From RotoBaller

Mike Glennon Nov 25 9:13am ET

Jacksonville Jaguars QB Mike Glennon will start in Week 12 for the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Fantasy Spin: There's enough tape on Glennon to know that he's not worth starting in fantasy. If Gardner Minshew regains the job, he may have a matchup to use him. Otherwise, avoid this situation altogether.

From TheHuddle

Ryan Kerrigan Nov 25 9:00am ET

The Washington Football Team defense has been an up and down unit for fantasy this season, but they are a strong-start on Thanksgiving against a banged-up Cowboys offense. Perennial Pro-Bowler Ryan Kerrigan and defensive rookie of the year candidate Chase Young should feast on an offensive line that will start several backups to protect Andy Dalton. Dallas has the second-worst turnover percentage in the NFL (18.6) percent making Washington a must-start option on Thursday.

From RotoBaller

Logan Thomas Nov 25 8:30am ET

Washington Football Team tight end Logan Thomas has been playing better in recent weeks and is a start-worthy option for a Thanksgiving game in Dallas. Thomas has at least five targets in every game Alex Smith has started and played well in the first meeting with the Cowboys as he went for 60 yards and a touchdown. Thomas put up a dud last week with only six yards but he had 60-plus yards in two of the previous three games and should be more involved this week. Given the barren landscape of the tight end position in fantasy football, Thomas is a start-worthy option in a plus-matchup.

From RotoBaller

Alex Smith Nov 25 8:20am ET

Washington Football Team quarterback Alex Smith has played well since taking over for Kyle Allen (ankle) and will look to keep rolling in a solid matchup with the Cowboys. Smith has thrown for 300-plus yards in two of his three starts and should be able to take advantage of a good matchup in Dallas. The Cowboys have allowed the second-most passing touchdowns this season and allow the fifth-most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks overall. Smith offers almost no rushing upside so he's not a must-start fantasy option by any means, but he's a start-worthy option in two-quarterback leagues and a good low-cost DFS option.

From RotoBaller

Christian McCaffrey Nov 24 10:40pm ET

Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey (shoulder) and quarterback Teddy Bridgewater (knee) are both expected to get in some practice work on Wednesday as the team prepares for Week 12 against the Vikings. McCaffrey is expected to miss another game this weekend. However, Bridgewater is on track to play on Sunday if all goes well in practice the rest of the week. Minnesota's D has been a good matchup for quarterbacks all season long, but Bridgewater is a shaky low-end QB2 this week if he plays through his knee injury. McCaffrey still hasn't been ruled out for this weekend, but fantasy managers shouldn't get their hopes up. Mike Davis will be a strong RB2 play if he gets another start as the featured back for Carolina.

From RotoBaller