Michael Dubner highlights the players he’s considering for his core FanDuel lineup in Week 8.
WEEK 7 RECAP
- Link to Week 7 FanDuel Core
- Scoring was down in Week 7, which was reflected in the lower cash lines. This wasn’t surprising considering many useful players weren’t on the main slate, and so few players stood out as possessing both floor and ceiling.
- In weeks few viable options, we should be more concerned with building rosters centered around a floor, as many opponents will have risky players that could sink their rosters.
- As we move through the byes, each week will have very different feels depending on the main slate options. As you’ll see, unlike last week, Week 8 has far more viable plays, which means we’ll have to lean more towards ceiling, as cash lines will likely be elevated again.
- We are coming off a pretty successful week with Todd Gurley, Adam Thielen, Jarvis Landry, and David Njoku all strong choices. Jared Goff and Robert Woods didn’t help or hurt your rosters. Ezekiel Elliot was the only dud.1
CREATING YOUR FANDUEL CORE – WEEK 8
I’m primarily a cash game and single-entry tournament player, and have the vast majority of my money (80 percent) on one lineup. Playing one team forces me to make the optimal lineup. Below are the primary players I’m considering for my core lineup on FanDuel in Week 8.
TEAM TO TARGET: Pittsburgh Steelers
JAMES CONNER ($8,000) AS A HEAVY HOME FAVORITE
The Steelers have an implied team total of 28.75 versus as 8-point favorites at home versus the Browns. Despite their early bye week, Conner is top-12 in rushing attempts, rushing yards, total touchdowns, targets, receiving yards, and red zone opportunities. Conner averages 21.5 expected fantasy points per game, third at the position.
Cleveland is allowing 4.5 yards per carry (20th), but more importantly, opponents are force-feeding RBs the third most carries (25.3) and seven targets (20th) per game, which has led to 156 yards and 1.4 touchdowns. Conner has played 85.3 percent of the offensive snaps, so pretty much the entire backfield production will go to him. In their Week 1 encounter, Conner turned 36 touches into 192 yards and two TDs, good for 31.7 FanDuel points.
DON’T OVERTHINK BEN ROETHLISBERGER ($8,400) AT HOME
As I’ve done the past few weeks, pairing together the QB and RB on a prolific offense elevates your roster’s floor by securing all of the touchdowns. This is especially true with the Steelers, where Roethlisberger and Conner have combined for 20 touchdowns in six games. While the second leg of divisional games tend to be lower scoring, the Steelers have scored 21-plus points in each of their last seven games against the Browns. This game will also be played in Pittsburgh…
I usually don’t buy into splits, as they are largely due to variance, but Roethlisberger’s home/road splits have been a trend for too long to ignore. Using the RotoViz Game Splits App, Roethlisberger’s touchdown and yardage differences really stick out at home, as he throws for 1.3 more TDs and 57 more yards at Heinz field.
I can certainly see myself paying down for Jameis Winston or Andy Dalton (both $7,800) in order to save a little salary at the position, but Roethlisberger is my second favorite raw QB this week, obviously behind Patrick Mahomes.
ANTONIO BROWN ($8,800) AND JUJU SMITH-SCHUSTER’S ($8,000) COMBINED OPPORTUNITY
Brown and Smith-Schuster are strong plays regardless of stadium, but the passing game bump with Roethlisberger at home increases our confidence in the passing game as a whole. What also increases our confidence in Brown and Smith-Schuster is how highly concentrated this passing is. The duo have a combined 51 percent target share and 61 percent of the air yards. Their combined 134 targets exceeds the rest of the team (125). Cleveland has allowed the ninth most fantasy points to WRs on the third most targets per game, and matchup doesn’t really matter for this duo anyway.
Brown continues to post strong statistical and periphery numbers across the board. He’s scored in every game but one so far, and has double digit targets in four-of-six games.
Smith-Schuster is just behind Brown in target count (11 per game), and while Brown has more air yards and touchdowns, Smith-Schuster has more receiving yards (94 per game), including 100-plus reYDS in four-of-six games.
KAREEM HUNT ($8,100) ON A PROLIFIC OFFENSE
Unfortunately, we haven’t been able to use the Chiefs much lately with them playing in primetime. But Hunt has been on a tear with 15-plus FanDuel points in every game since his Week 1 dud.
Hunt’s increased receiving usage with back-to-back six target games increases our confidence in his floor. But we are primarily chasing touchdowns on FanDuel, which come easily for the Chiefs. The Chiefs’ whopping 37.1 points per game dwarf even the most prolific offenses like the Saints (34), Rams (33.6), and Patriots (30.6). Hunt has capitalized on his third most red zone opportunities with nine touchdowns (second).
The Chiefs have an implied team total of 31.75 as 10-point home favorites. Before the Broncos’ blowout win over the Cardinals — holding David Johnson to 70 scoreless yards — Todd Gurley and Isaiah Crowell each posted 200 yard games, preceded by Hunt’s own 175 yard, one TD game in Denver.
DAVANTE ADAMS ($8,600) IN CATCH-UP MODE
The Packers will certainly have to throw in order to keep up with the Rams high-powered offense, and Adams is the clear alpha for Aaron Rodgers.
Although Randall Cobb and Geronimo Allison are set to return, Adams still averaged 15.4 points per game in Weeks 1-3. Adams is the ideal FanDuel WR, with 15 red zone targets (second) and six TDs (second) despite the early bye week. Rodgers had the bye week to rest his injury before the game we expect him to attempt his most passes of the season, as the game holds a 56.5 total and the Packers are 9.5-point underdogs.
JARED COOK’S ($5,900) EXPECTED TARGET VOLUME
It always feels gross playing Cook in cash, as he seems to always disappoint whenever we finally give him our trust. On the surface, Cook looks like he’s been a safe play with seven targets and 67 yards per game, but unsurprisingly, he’s had up-and-down season, ranging from 10 yards on two targets in Week 6 to 110 yards and two touchdowns on 13 in Week 4.
However, with the state of the tight end position (or lack thereof), I’ll just roster the guy whose team traded away a top pass-catcher, opening up increased opportunity for Cook to see volume on the upper end of his range of outcomes. Teams have also attacked the Colts with tight ends, as they’ve faced the eighth most targets and eighth most yards per game. This game has an underrated 50.5 total.
FRINGE CORE PLAYS:
As I mentioned at the top, I think this week is super deep. I listed my true core plays above, but I want to make it clear that there a lot of really good plays this week, so below I listed a few more that stand out to me.
Tyreek Hill ($7,800) is underpriced on FanDuel as the WR10 (DraftKings’ WR2). Jarvis Landry ($6,700) should see double-digit targets again, and David Njoku ($5,700) will be heavily involved as well. Tyler Boyd ($6,800) draws the Buccaneers’ secondary that we’ve attacked all year.
There are so many RBs this week. Todd Gurley ($11,000), see below. Joe Mixon ($7,800) has a fairly high touchdown expectation. David Johnson’s price ($7,300) is finally reasonable, and the offensive coordinator change will only help. Christian McCaffrey ($7,300), Kerryon Johnson ($6,900) Marlon Mack ($6,700), and Phillip Lindsay ($6,500) are all expected to get a lot of touches for their respective salaries.
DFS LINEUP OPTIMIZER
A good way to discover under-the-radar players you previously weren’t considering is by seeing who pops in the DFS Lineup Optimizer. Last week the optimizer helped us land Alshon Jeffrey and Zach Ertz, who made for a great contrarian GPP stack with Carson Wentz. With so many viable options this week, I ran the optimizer without locking or blocking any players.
It looks like the lineup optimizer and I are on the same page this week, as four of these players have already been mentioned. Winston showing up in the optimizer further solidifies my desire to stack the Buccaneers-Bengals game. Hunt is a Core play, and we can run it back with Emmanuel Sanders. We can game stack my core Pittsburgh players with Landry or Njoku. Adams always has one of the highest touchdown expectations, and is a core play.
There’s a lot of buzz about Marlon Mack this week after his monster game, but we’ll have to monitor his practice participation this week. Isaiah Crowell has a high touchdown share for the Jets and could handle more work with Bilal Powell on I.R., but should be reserved for large-field GPPs as his floor is very low as a road underdog.
- After coming to the end of this article, I’m sure all of you have noticed Gurley ($11,000) isn’t listed as a core play. I’m not going to tell you to not play Gurley, but on a week with so many quality RBs to choose from, I’ve found I like my rosters more when I fit in three RBs with guaranteed production, rather than trying to scrape the bottom of the jar for a player who could maybe have a solid game. Again, I’m not saying to not play Gurley, but I’m saying I don’t think Gurley is a must play.2
- With so many viable options, I don’t think there will be a chalky roster construction this week. This is good news, as we’re more likely to have diversification in our opponents’ lineups.
- So many viable options also likely means we’ll see high cash lines in Week 8. While we shouldn’t ignore floor, building ceiling into rosters will be important this week.
- I highly encourage you to play around with the Weekly Stats Explorer, as it provides so much information packed into one tool.
You can follow me @Michael_Dubner, where I’ll provide any updates to my FanDuel core throughout the weekend. Good luck everyone. I hope to see you all at the top of the leaderboards.