Week 8 FanDuel Top Shelf & Value Plays: Rivers Run Wild

Los Angeles Chargers Philip Rivers

Week 7 claimed another stud fantasy player with Houston Texans All-Pro running back Arian Foster tearing his Achilles heel. Pour another one out for all the Arian Foster owners out there. The list continues to grow of stud fantasy players going down with season-ending injuries. This is what makes playing DFS so intriguing.

Every week you can draft a new team and still compete with everyone else even after all these catastrophic injuries. On a positive note, we did have a lot of interesting matchups come down to the final seconds of the game. Todd Gurley continued to show everyone how truly amazing he is. The Patriots and Panthers both won and remained undefeated along with the Packers and Broncos who were on bye.

The stage is set for Week 8 with the headliner being the Sunday Night game featuring the undefeated Broncos hosting the aforementioned undefeated Packers. On the other side of the country, we have arguably the hottest quarterback in the NFL named Philip Rivers traveling to Baltimore to take on the Ravens. Rivers is having a historical season and I believe the Rivers Run Wild this week in Baltimore with another big game from the gunslinger. Rivers is my poster boy this week and leads my Week 8 FanDuel Top Shelf Plays. Here’s to a profitable Week 8 in your cash and tournament games. Let’s all hope and pray that we’ve seen the last of these devastating injuries to some of our favorite players to watch in the NFL.

Top Shelf Picks

Quarterback

Philip Rivers - San Diego Chargers $8500

at Baltimore Ravens

Philip Rivers continues to ball out and is leading the NFL in passing yards (2,452) while pacing the league with 350 yards passing per game. Rivers is currently on pace for 5,604 passing yards, which would be a new NFL record. Even more impressive is that Rivers has gone four straight games with at least 300 passing yards, which is the longest active streak in the league and of his 12-year career. It’s no secret that the Chargers have struggled to run the ball behind a banged up offensive line. They’ve also been forced to abandon the run due to game script in their most recent matchups.

This week will be no different with Rivers and company traveling to Baltimore to take on a Ravens defense that has been shredded by opposing quarterbacks. The Ravens have allowed the fourth-most passing yards trailing only the 49ers, Giants, and Colts. Flashing back to last year, Rivers had his best fantasy performance on the road versus the Ravens. In that meeting he went 34-45 for 383 yards and three passing touchdowns. I’m expecting a monster game from Rivers which puts him at the top of my list of quarterbacks to target this week on FanDuel. I prefer him in my cash lineups over higher priced options on FanDuel like Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, and Andrew Luck.

Cam Newton - Carolina Panthers $8000

vs Indianapolis Colts (MNF)

Superman is back baby! Cam Newton has been a top five quarterback this season which is impressive considering the loss of Kelvin Benjamin and the lack of no true go-to number one wide receiver. Newton had a tough matchup at home versus the Eagles but still managed almost 17 points on FanDuel. This week, I’m very optimistic that Newton will finish in the top five in scoring at the position. Cam gets another home start this week versus the Indianapolis Colts in a Primetime matchup on Monday Night Football. This is a plus matchup for Cam considering that the Colts have allowed the third-most passing yards while allowing at least 280 passing yards each of their past five games. Newton thrives under the bright lights of Primetime matchups and historically is a better start at home. I’m expecting at least 300 yards passing, a couple of passing touchdowns, and a rushing score. Everyone knows the Colts struggle to stop the run and Cam is their best goal-line option increasing the probability of a score with his legs. Save your money this week and lock Newton into you starting lineup for a reasonable price of $8000.

Bargain Bin Plays

Jay Cutler - Chicago Bears $7300

vs Minnesota Vikings

Jay Cutler finally has a healthy Alshon Jeffery at his disposal and is coming off a bye week so he’s primed for a big week. The Bears host the Vikings at Soldier Field and although the Vikings are an underrated defense they tend to struggle on the road compared to playing at home. Cutler had his fourth-highest passing total last year versus the Vikings at home throwing for 340 yards and three touchdowns. Jay Cutler is a gunslinger and isn’t afraid to throw the ball up to Jeffery and let him beat man coverage. If you’re looking for a nice stack look no further than a Cutler-Jeffery stack which I’ll be rolling out in a lot of my tournament lineups.

Jameis Winston - Tampa Bay Buccaneers $6500

at Atlanta Falcons

Jameis Winston is starting to heat up and is coming off his best performance as a pro, completing 21 of 29 passes for 297 yards and two touchdowns. More importantly is  that he’s finally connecting with Mike Evans and seems to finally be on the same page with his young stud wide receiver. While the potential loss of Vincent Jackson may scare away a lot of people, I’m still on Winston this week. Considering that Winston only targeted Jackson two times last week and he still almost managed to eclipse 300 yards passing.

I believe that Winston is finally starting to mature and, like Teddy Bridgewater last year, is primed for a big second half. The Bucs should also get back one of Winston’s favorite early season targets in Austin Seferian-Jenkins. If Seferian-Jenkins can return to the field, he could be a key threat against the Falcons who struggle to defend over the middle. On the flip side the Falcons have struggled to stop the run and with “Muscle Hamster” running harder than ever the Bucs should be able to move the ball effectively. This will open up the passing game and allow Winston to dial-up Mike Evans and ASJ, assuming he’s back. I absolutely love this matchup for Winston and feel that he’s a strong tournament play now that Evans is back to his normal self.

Top Shelf Picks

Running Back

Devonta Freeman - Atlanta Falcons $9100

vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Freeman is a beast and is hand’s down the top running back in fantasy. He’s been a revelation for his owners and is locked and loaded in Kyle Shanahan’s high-octane rushing offense. I don’t need to keep pumping up Freeman since his numbers speak for themselves but I expect the Falcons to attack the Bucs defense with a heavy dose of Freeman. He’s recorded at least 149 all-purpose yards in every start this year and is basically the Falcons number two wide receiver after Julio. Freeman has 34 receptions for 310 yards and a touchdown while registering 44 targets, second only to Julio Jones (90). He should be even more involved in the passing game this week since Leonard Hankerson is doubtful to play. Expect another monster performance from Freeman making him the top running back play of Week 8. If you’re paying up at running back Freeman is your guy at his current FanDuel salary of $9100.

Todd Gurley - St. Louis Rams $8100

vs San Francisco 49ers

It’s becoming more obvious with every passing week that Todd Gurley is from a different planet. He was highly touted by many scouts as the best running back prospect since Adrian Peterson. It’s quite possible that he’s better than AP but only time will tell. He’s certainly the real deal and worth the wait for the Rams. Make no mistake he’s going to break a lot of records if he keeps up his current pace. Gurley is the first player to have 125 or more rushing yards in three consecutive weeks since Adrian Peterson did it back in 2012. The Rams host the 49ers this week and I expect the 49ers to struggle to move the chains against a ferocious Rams defense. Jeff Fisher isn’t going to reinvent the wheel so expect a heavy dose of Gurley on the ground this week. I predicted last week he’d score his first NFL touchdown and he one-upped me scoring two! Gurley is a lock for all cash and tournament lineups and, while his owner percentage will be high, he’s too good to fade while performing at such an elite level.

Chris Johnson - Arizona Cardinals $7300

at Cleveland Browns

While I’ll be the first to admit I thought CJ2K was done, he has done nothing but prove his doubters wrong. My issue with him was that I felt that once Andre Ellington returned, he would lose snaps and turn back into a pumpkin. On the contrary, CJ2K has run like a man possessed and is motivated to show everyone that he’s still capable of playing at an All-Pro level at age 30. On Monday Night Football versus a stingy Ravens rush-defense CJ2K exploded for 122 yards and a score. He showed a lot of juice on his 26-yard touchdown run making multiple defenders miss and again on a controversial 62-yard scamper where he appeared to be down.

The Cardinals led by Carson Palmer are one of the most lethal offensives in the NFL. Chris Johnson has provided the spark on the ground that the Cardinals have lacked for some time. Proof of that would be his consistency, having rushed for at least 100 yards in three straight games. This week CJ2K has arguably his best matchup of the season versus a Browns defense that ranks dead last in rushing yards allowed (1,057) and rushing yards allowed per game (151). I view CJ2K as a top five option this week who you can get a major discount at his current FanDuel salary of $7300.

Bargain Bin Plays

Charcandrick West - Kansas City Chiefs $6600

vs Detroit Lions

Charcandrick West exploded onto the NFL scene last week with a monster performance versus the Steelers. If you had West in your DFS lineups you most likely had a big smile on your face. West had a breakout performance carrying the ball 22 times for 110 yards and a touchdown. Andy Reid pumped up West in the pre-season and he quickly ascended up the depth chart past Knile Davis. The Jamaal Charles injury opened the door for West and he’s taken the job and ran with it. West played almost 76% of the snaps last week which reinforces the fact that this is his job to lose moving forward.Reid has preferred having a feature back dominating the backfield as history suggests and West in now the guy he’ll lean on heavily. While some may brush off his Week 7 performance as a fluke, I see it as a sign of things to come.

This week West gets to face a Detroit Lions defense that has struggled to defend the run. They’ve allowed the sixth-most rushing yards (864) and are tied with the Falcons with the most rushing touchdowns allowed (10). While the game script could get out of hand the Chiefs should have Jeremy Maclin back, which is why I’m optimistic they’ll be able to stay in this game. Given this week’s FanDuel pricing at the running back position, I’m perfectly fine fading higher priced options and rolling out tournament lineups with guys like West, McFadden, and Danny Woodhead.

Danny Woodhead - San Diego Chargers $6100

at Baltimore Ravens

So I touched on it earlier when talking about Philip Rivers but just to remind everyone, the Chargers have struggled to run the ball effectively this year. They drafted Melvin Gordon who was expected to be the workhorse back but he’s been a major disappointment. Some of the blame can be put on the Chargers offensive line but not the ball-protection issues that Gordon has struggled with. He’s put the ball on the carpet four times and lost three of those fumbles. Add to that his ankle injury that’s limited him to only 14 carries over the past two weeks and you can clearly see that Woodhead has a golden opportunity to earn a larger role in the backfield. Woodhead is money in PPR leagues and clearly one of River’s most trusted pass-catching options behind Keenan Allen. He balled out last week versus the Raiders setting a career-high with 11 receptions for 75 yards and two receiving touchdowns. Woodhead is second on the team behind Allen with 46 targets while hauling in 36 of those passes. The Ravens are a team to attack through the air which is why Woodhead is an excellent bargain bin running back option at his current FanDuel salary of $6100.

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Top Shelf Picks

Wide Receiver

Julio Jones - Atlanta Falcons $9200

vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Julio Jones is back at the top of the list of Top Shelf wide receiver options after being targeted a team-high 17 times last week versus the Titans. He turned those 17 targets into nine receptions for 92 yards and a score. His final line was a little misleading considering that he was ruled out-of-bounds inside the one-yard line late in the game and also just missed another score earlier in the contest. This week Jones will be leaned on even more with Leonard Hankerson looking doubtful to play versus the Buccaneers. The Bucs have struggled to contain opposing number one wide receivers allowing 15 receiving touchdowns. Only the Bears, Bills, Chiefs, and Texans have allowed as many scores through the air. Jones will feast on a porous Bucs secondary and will find pay dirt for the second straight week.

Calvin Johnson - Detroit Lions $8600

at Kansas City Chiefs

Megatron is finally back and should be a trusted option moving forward. He’s scored in back-to-back weeks and now the Lions have a changing of the guard at the offensive coordinator position with Jim Bob Cooter taking over. Cooter is a former quarterbacks coach so I’m expecting him to focus on getting Megatron more involved and making him the focal point of their offense as he should be. This week Calvin Johnson faces a Chiefs secondary that has allowed a whopping 15 scores through the air. Stafford has been a different quarterback the past two weeks throwing for 661 yards, six touchdowns, and only one interception. In his first five starts of the season Stafford had a 6-8 TD to INT ratio. The Lions offense needs a facelift and hopefully Cooter can provide that. Given the matchup and change in personnel I’m expecting a big game from Megatron this week making him a Top Shelf play at the receiver position.

Mike Evans – Tampa Bay Buccaneers $7800

at Atlanta Falcons

We were all waiting for Mike Evans to bust out of his slump and he did bigtime in Week 7. Mike Evans was a target monster soaking up 12 targets for eight receptions and a season-high 164 receiving yards. He recorded four catches of 20 yards or more and benefited from the loss of Louis Murphy in addition to the knee injury that Vincent Jackson suffered late in the game. Jackson is most likely looking at a multi-week absence further opening the door for Evans to dominate targets in the meantime. The Falcons have been burned by opposing number one wideouts like Odell Beckham Jr. and DeAndre Hopkins. Expect another high-volume target game for Mike Evans with the likelihood of him finishing with a monster stat line versus the Falcons. I think a Winston-Evans stack will be in play this week and can be had on the cheap for only $14,400 on FanDuel.

Bargain Bin Plays

Alshon Jeffery - Chicago Bears $7700

vs Minnesota Vikings

Alshon Jeffery came back with a bang in Week 6 posing an impressive 8/147/1 line. Jeffery has had an extra week to heal up with the Bears bye week and will be ready to rock and roll at home versus the Vikings. The Vikings are a lot better at home compared to the road so a trip to Soldier Field is going to be a tough matchup for them. Last year Jeffery balled out versus the Vikings in their home tilt posting an impressive 11/135/1 line. Cutler is going to force feed Jeffery the ball making Jeffery one of the best FanDuel bargains at $7700. Jeffery is a bona fide WR1 option with a FanDuel price tag of a WR2.

Stefon Diggs- Minnesota Vikings $6700

at Chicago Bears

Stefon Diggs continues to impress after posting his third productive game in a row. Diggs has hauled in  19 of his 29 targets over the past three games for 326 yards and a score. Diggs made a highlight reel touchdown catch which appeared to be his best Odell Beckham Jr. impression. He’s quickly become Teddy’s best friend and trusted go-to wide receiver to move the chains. Diggs is electric after the catch and his game breaking ability jumps off the film. He’s got the ability to get up to speed quickly with 4.4 jets. Diggs accelerates quickly and then uses a good jump step to juke opposing defenders out of their jock straps. The Bears will offer little resistance to Diggs and in a plus matchup so I’m expecting a top 20 performance from him. Diggs is still reasonably priced on FanDuel at $6700 and presents a great WR3 option with WR1 upside.

Top Shelf Pick

Tight End

Tyler Eifert- Cincinnati Bengals $6000

at Pittsburgh Steelers

Tyler Eifert has graduated to an every-week TE1 with major upside. Andy Dalton is locked onto Eifert and utilizing him as his preferred red zone threat. Eifert already has six touchdowns (tied 1st) and is only 10 targets behind A.J. Green with 40. The Steelers have allowed the third-most fantasy points to tight ends this season. In addition the Steelers defense has allowed five or more receptions to five different tight ends this year, which leads the league. Eifert is going to feast on the Steelers as an elite option right up there with Gronk. The difference between Gronk and Eifert is that Eifert can be had at a $2400 discount on FanDuel.

Bargain Bin Play

Ladarius Green- San Diego Chargers $5300

at Baltimore Ravens

Are we witnessing a changing of the guard in San Diego at the tight end position? Antonio Gates is dealing with a pretty serious MCL injury and is doubtful to play versus the Ravens. The reason I know its serious is because Gates is a warrior and if he could be out there, he would be. Talent meets opportunity in the form of Ladarius Green. With Gates out Green plays an even bigger part of the Chargers high-powered passing attack. Green has been reliable even when Gates was starting. With Philip Rivers set to sling the pigskin 40-50 times in Baltimore there will be plenty of targets to go around. Green produced a very decent fantasy output last week with four catches for 45 yards, one touchdown, and two 2-point conversions. He barely missed a second score dropping another pass close to the goal line. Green has scored in four out of the six games he’s played in and makes for a great cheap option on FanDuel at $5300.

Defenses To Target

St. Louis Rams $5100

vs San Francisco 49ers

The St. Louis Rams were a great DFS play last week scoring 25 points on FanDuel. I really like them again this week at home versus the San Francisco 49ers. Carlos Hyde is banged up and isn’t the same guy we saw back in Week 1 rumble for 168 yards against the Vikings. Colin Kaepernick is a matchup based quarterback and this is NOT a good matchup for him. The Rams have the defensive front to put some pressure on Kaepernick and force him into some bad decisions, resulting in turnovers. The Rams have allowed an NFL-fewest five passing scores which ties them with the Carolina Panthers and Denver Broncos. Let’s not forget they always have the threat of a special teams touchdown with track star Tavon Austin returning kicks.

Denver Broncos $4700

vs Green Bay Packers

This is a contrarian play and one that might seem a little crazy at first. First, let’s consider how good Denver’s defense has been this year. They have allowed by far the fewest passing yards (1,153) and as I mentioned before are tied for fewest passing scores allowed with five. They have the tough task of containing Aaron Rodgers but have the pass-rush personnel to keep the pressure on Rodgers. The Broncos lead the NFL with 26 sacks and have also registered nine interceptions. If they can stop Eddie Lacy and the running game they force the Packers to become one-dimensional and this favors the Broncos with Chris Harris, Aqib Talib, and T.J. Ward making plays in the secondary. I see a major letdown for the Packers who will be playing with a banged up Randall Cobb and Eddie Lacy. Most people will be off Denver defense this week making them a great tournament play on FanDuel at $4700.

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