In this weekly article, we’ll use the early betting lines from Vegas to take a deeper look at which games to target and avoid for NFL DFS. Implied team totals have positive correlations with fantasy output, especially for quarterbacks. Plus, we’ll highlight some potentially under the radar teams with high implied team totals despite a lower over/under. Note that these lines will probably change over the course of the week, which is why we call it ‘starting’ points.
Minnesota at Green Bay, Total 54.5 points
With Atlanta playing Thursday night, we’re left with our top game featuring the third-most generous fantasy defense, the Vikings. We can expect a run on Aaron Rodgers and Davante Adams, both coming off GPP-winning performances from Week 7. The high implied team total is certainly a positive indicator that it can happen again. Adams is your most expensive WR this weekend, while Rodgers comes in around QB3 in salary. Both are fine plays in any format as long as you can find the right savings elsewhere. It’s too early in the week to make any strong claims about Aaron Jones or Jamaal Williams, but my initial preference would be for the pass game anyway. I don’t envision game script favoring a super-heavy Packers rushing attack.
Which leads us to the Vikings. The Packers are a middle-of-the-league defense for fantasy, with a glaring weakness at stopping the run. Running backs are averaging more fantasy points per game vs. Green Bay than any other team. Combined with the pending return of Dalvin Cook for Minnesota, you have a winning formula. Cook is, unfortunately, priced second- or third-highest among running backs but I still think he’ll be worth it (depending on your lineup builds). Adam Thielen had a massive game against Green Bay in Week 1, scoring twice and exceeding 100 receiving yards. Thielen has only one game where he hasn’t scored (Indianapolis), but he’s priced accordingly. Although he looks like a bargain compared to Adams, Thielen will eat up a lot of your cap. It’s therefore an either/or roster move for me with Cook and Thielen. Justin Jefferson continues to be a boom or bust option at WR, but had an absolute monster game vs. Atlanta before the Vikings’ BYE. Bust is probably too strong a word, since he’s had more good games than bad since Week 3. He’s a player I’ll use in a tournament lineup that doesn’t feature a stack of this game.
The Packers are the second-biggest favorite of the main slate, and Minnesota has been somewhat turnover-prone, raising the Packers D/ST into consideration. Look for more on them in this week’s bargain bin article.
Tennessee at Cincinnati, Total 54.5 points
My first thought on this game is that Ryan Tannehill is priced way too close to Cam Newton on FanDuel and Yahoo for my taste. Tannehill’s salary is fair; Newton’s is too high. Seeing them side-by-side makes Tannehill feel like a bargain, and that, combined with their team total, should make him one of the most popular mid-range QB options for Week 8. He has continued this season like last season, with a pretty high floor and much higher ceiling. His 15:2 TD:INT ratio is one of the best in the league. The Titans are decent favorites, but with Joe Burrow’s high-volume pass attack, I expect a good amount of back and forth to keep everyone here fantasy-relevant.
A.J. Brown is the preferred Titans’ receiver. I know Corey Davis had a team-high 10 targets in Week 7, but Brown was so much more successful with his. Brown is the safe WR play every week. Jonnu Smith draws a great TE matchup on paper, and is currently TE5 in PPR scoring. He has converted five of seven red zone targets into touchdowns and is in a four-way tie for the league-lead in that category among TEs. His medium-high price tag combined with a poor showing vs. the Steelers should keep him out of most lineups this week. Could be a sneaky good, low-owned play in GPPs.
Derrick Henry is among the most expensive players regardless of position, but with more rushing yards than anyone, and in a three-way tie for the lead with seven rushing touchdowns, it’s hard to argue. It’s a tough decision to pay up for Henry or Cook this week on FanDuel and Yahoo, but it’s easy to save on Cook at DraftKings.
Burrow gets the 10th-best QB matchup and Tee Higgins, Tyler Boyd and A.J. Green face the fourth-most generous WR matchup. Overall, Tennessee ranks ninth in fantasy points allowed to their opponents. Both Higgins and Boyd could be good returns on investment, with or without Burrow at the helm. With respect to pricing, Burrow is a great value on Yahoo ($27), as are both receivers (Boyd and Higgins; I’m not rostering Green), and Higgins offers substantial savings over Boyd on FanDuel and DraftKings. He hasn’t caught up, but Higgins is closing the gap and was the team’s WR1 in Week 6. I love them both this weekend and will have them liberally placed in all my lineups. Whether or not he suits up for Week 8, there are too many backs I prefer to Joe Mixon (or Giovani Bernard), so the Bengals’ run game looks like a fade for me.
San Francisco at Seattle, Total 54 points
Let’s all hope we get the good version of Jimmy Garoppolo this weekend. I want this to be the game of the week in the worst way! I’m happy to pay up for Russell Wilson, and will probably roll him solo or paired with either Tyler Lockett or DK Metcalf in tournament lineups. Yahoo and DraftKings feel like it’s Metcalf’s turn and have him priced right below Adams, while FanDuel showed some restraint and put him fourth in WR salary. The sure thing is Wilson, especially with the run game still up in the air. It sounds like Travis Homer and Carlos Hyde could be available, but this bears watching as the week goes on. No matter to my lineups though, as the 49ers have been one of the most vicious run defenses, allowing the second-fewest fantasy points to the position.
The fact that Seattle is only a three-point home favorite has something to do with the SF defense, but also with the potential for Jimmy G. to get rolling with George Kittle, Brandon Aiyuk and perhaps Jerick McKinnon or JaMychal Hasty. The run game alone won’t be able to keep up with Wilson and the Seahawks, so my preferred way to play this is with Garoppolo and Kittle. Using any of the others as GPP fill-ins (Aiyuk is priced nice as the default WR1) is the best way to get exposure. If we believe Coach Shanahan, McKinnon is ready for a heavier workload after three dismal games in which he totaled four targets and four rushing attempts. Expect pretty low rostership of McKinnon, with potentially greater returns than the more popular Hasty.
Editor's Note: Looking for an added edge? Dominate all season long with our DFS Toolkit. Use our Lineup Optimizer to come up with winning lineups for DraftKings, FanDuel, and Yahoo! Click here for more!
Las Vegas at Cleveland, Total 54 points
So many times I’ve thought that maybe Cleveland was putting all their talent to the correct use and therefore could sustain either a winning or fantasy-winning streak…and so many times I’ve been wrong. It’s nice to see Vegas betting on the Browns at home, coming off their big win, and Las Vegas does offer up some nice fantasy matchups. They rank fifth to QB, third to RB, and 10th to WR in fantasy points allowed. Cleveland, meanwhile is a better defense, being most generous to opposing QBs. Derek Carr and Baker Mayfield are priced in the low-mid range on all three sites, which is fair, but I don’t really want either one of them leading my lineups this week. They are purely GPP QB plays in my opinion.
I do love some of the skill players here, including Rashard Higgins, Jarvis Landry, Kareem Hunt, and to a lesser extent, Darren Waller, Henry Ruggs III, and Nelson Agholor. The Raiders are giving up over 150 rushing yards per game on the road, making Hunt an interesting lower-profile option at the higher salary tier this week. I’m not buying the Browns’ tight ends repeating their combined 3-TD performance from Week 7, and can’t strongly recommend Landry or Higgins over the other. They’re both priced great and in position to succeed.
The 2020 Browns Defense is actually not horrible. They are tied for first in the league with an average of two takeaways per game, and have limited opponents to 324 total yards in home games. They’re a very affordable option if you don’t mind fading the Raiders (I don’t).
New England at Buffalo, Total 43.5 points
For the first time in decades, the AFC East is wide open and Buffalo’s for the taking. A win over the Patriots would go a long way toward that goal, and the morale of fans who have watched Josh Allen’s last three games with a sinking heart. Compared with his first four, it is a tale of two QBs. The Patriots’ terrible offense has obscured the fall of their defense this season. The Bills might make for a nice under-utilized tournament stack, which could include Allen, the D/ST, and Stefon Diggs. I bet he gets back on track this weekend, and that Diggs will be a big reason why. Of course, New England will attempt to hinder this connection, but I think the Bills will prevail. Averaging the third-fewest real points per game, the Patriots entire offense is unusable right now. The Bills D hasn’t been great either this year, but showed what they were capable of against a bad offense last week with six sacks and two interceptions vs. the Jets.
Kansas City Chiefs vs. NY Jets, Total 48.5 points
Duh, this line actually opened at 21 points, so who isn’t looking at the Chiefs? Start with their defense, and work from there. This spread might actually be so wide that it doesn’t make sense to pay up for Patrick Mahomes, Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce. I like Clyde Edwards-Helaire next after the D/ST and probably even Le’Veon Bell ahead of the pass game stars. Not only are the Jets the lowest scoring team in the league, Kansas City allows just the eighth-fewest fantasy points overall and ninth-most real points to opponents. Not a good time to try out Denzel Mims, yet.