NFL DFS Picks and Analysis Week 8: The Grind Down
Welcome to the RotoGrinders NFL Grind Down, a fantasy football advice article for DraftKings, FanDuel, and Yahoo. This DFS breakdown is an all-encompassing preview of the week ahead in the NFL from a daily fantasy sports perspective. We’ll provide all the projections, projected ownership, picks, targets, and analysis you need to set your lineups for this week’s contests.
NOTE: Games will be published as they are completed. Main slate writeups will be completed by Friday evening.
Every game will be broken down with a DFS-first mentality. Betting lines are shown with projected team totals, spreads, and moneyline to give you an idea of the game environment. Each contest is then analyzed team-by-team, with a focus on finding matchups to exploit and trends to follow. At the end of each section, we’ll deliver a DFS cheat sheet of stacks to build, players to target, and low projected ownership plays that can make an impact on your weekly success.
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Projected Ownership: Expected draft percentage for each player.
Player Projections: For every player, game, and team.
Stats and Data App: Create custom GPP projections.
Expert Rankings: Consensus best plays.
Sports Betting Lines and Overview
Cincinnati Bengals DFS Breakdown
Injuries to Monitor
Joe Mixon (Questionable – No Practice)
Running Game Outlook
I was excited to see my name assigned to this game because it is one of my favorites of the week. This game projects to have the fastest pace of any in the main slate and it features both a close spread (5.5 points) and a high total (53.5 points). One of the biggest injuries to monitor this week is the availability of Joe Mixon. He was unable to play last week with a foot injury, he didn’t practice on Wednesday, and the Bengals are listing him as day-to-day. Reading the tea leaves, he might be closer to doubtful than probable at this point. In his absence in Week 7, Giovani Bernard played on 76% of the snaps and had 18 opportunities (13 carries and five targets).
The Titans have a good record and a terrific offense, but that has masked their issues on the defensive side of the football. With Tennessee scoring points so quickly, they have turned into one of the best teams to target players against in DFS. On the season, they are ranked 16th in DVOA against the run and in the bottom half of the league in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks, running backs, wide receivers, and tight ends. Bernard’s price has jumped up enough to where he wouldn’t be a free square this week, but he should certainly be in the conversation at running back if Mixon is ruled out. If Mixon is active, I would be hesitant to target him in any contest other than large-field tournaments. There is always the risk of him re-aggravating his foot injury or the Bengals limiting his workload.
Passing Game Outlook
One of my favorite strategies at the quarterback position is to find competent ones that are playing as home underdogs. It worked wonders with Joe Burrow last week and worked a couple times with Ryan Fitzpatrick earlier in the season. The Bengals have not been shy when it comes to throwing their rookie quarterback into the fire, as he’s topped 44 pass attempts in three of his first seven NFL starts. He’s thrown for at least 300 yards in five of those starts and has shown a solid rushing floor. He has plenty of weapons at his disposal and a nice matchup against the Titans, who are ranked 17th in DVOA against the pass and 24th in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks. I’ll bump up Burrow even more if Joe Mixon is out again, as he took over as the goal line runner last week against the Browns.
While Burrow doesn’t have an obvious pairing mate, there are three solid options in Tyler Boyd, Tee Higgins, and A.J. Green. With this being one of the highest volume passing attacks in football, there has been room for all three wideouts to eat at the table. Boyd continues to man the slot and has the lowest aDOT (8.7) of the three. He often gets labeled as a “safe” play and while that’s true, that doesn’t mean he can’t put up a ceiling type of performance. This label keeps his ownership low in tournaments, despite the fact that he’s topped 20 fantasy points three times in seven games this season.
Green leads the team in air yards, but has arguably been the least productive receiver in football given his opportunity. According to Football Outsiders, he has the worst DYAR (Defense-adjusted Yards Above Replacement) of any eligible receiver. Meanwhile, Boyd and Higgins are both in the top 25 in this statistic. Green will be viable as long as the volume continues, but I much prefer Higgins at a similar price point. He seems to get better each and every week and has had a string of difficult cornerback matchups this season. If our WR/CB matchup chart ends up being right, Higgins (vs. Jonathan Joseph) will have a more enticing cornerback matchup than Green (vs. Malcolm Butler). With these three receivers soaking up so many targets, we should continue to avoid the likes of Drew Sample, Mike Thomas, and Auden Tate.
Strong GPP Differentiators: Tee Higgins
Roster Construction Punts/Values: None
My Expected Team Exposure: Medium
Tennessee Titans Projections Breakdown
Injuries to Monitor
Running Game Outlook
This breakdown could be as simple as this — if Derrick Henry is your running back, then your running game outlook is solid each and every week. He has one of the highest projections of any non-quarterback of the slate. He’s had at least 20 touches in every game this season and has already broken the slate twice. While he doesn’t have a huge role in the passing game, he’s seen at least two targets in all six games. This week he squares off against the Bengals, who are ranked 21st in DVOA against the run. Tennessee should have a major edge in the trenches, as their offensive line is seventh in adjusted line yards while Cincinnati’s defensive line is ranked 25th. The only knock on Henry this week is his price point — he’s the most expensive player on FanDuel ($9,500) and the third most expensive player on DraftKings ($8,000). With that said, you are going to need him if he has another one of his massive games.
Passing Game Outlook:
We tend to rely on old trends, but it is important to spot new ones. The Titans are no longer a slow-paced team that is looking to drain the clock on offense. They are third in seconds per play and fourth in situation-neutral pace this season. On top of that, they use their ground game to set up deep shots down the field. At the quarterback position, efficiency can trump volume and that’s what we’ve seen with Ryan Tannehill this season. He has averaged 24 fantasy points per game despite the Titans having the sixth highest run play percentage in the NFL. He offers a high ceiling regardless, but could really have a big outing if the Titans find themselves behind the eight ball in this one. He has an enticing matchup against the Bengals, who are ranked 26th in DVOA against the pass and 27th in adjusted sack rate this season.
The Titans have such a concentrated offense that there will be games when Tannehill, Henry, and A.J. Brown all exceed salary-based expectations. It’s hard to envision needing all three to win a large-field tournament this week, but it’s certainly possible if Henry somehow scores on receptions and not carries. I bring this up to say all three are strong plays this week against the Bengals, who can be attacked on the ground or through the air. In three games since returning from injury, Brown has caught 18 of his 24 targets for 293 yards and four touchdowns. He’s going to see a nice mix of short, deep, and redzone targets and he still feels a bit underpriced across the industry.
If you are looking to fade Brown or roll out a full stack with Tannehill, Jonnu Smith is the cheapest he’s been since the start of the season. We have him projected for a 19% target share, which is easily the second highest on the team. You can’t ask for a much better matchup, as the Bengals have allowed the second most fantasy points to tight ends this season. Smith has been quiet the last two weeks, but averaged 17 fantasy points in his first four games of the season. With so much interest in Tannehill, Henry, Brown, and Smith, I will not be able to find room in my player pool for Corey Davis or Adam Humphries.
Roster Construction Punts/Values: Jonnu Smith
My Expected Team Exposure: Medium