Here’s a breakdown of one-game DFS contests for the Week 8 Monday Night Football matchup featuring the Miami Dolphins at Pittsburgh Steelers at 8:15 p.m. ET on ESPN.
Cash Game Strategy
James Conner is the top projected player in our DraftKings Showdown Models. Despite being the most expensive player on the slate, he’s easy to fit in with both starting QBs and Miami’s starting RB due to the discounted price tag of Mark Walton relative to Kenyan Drake, who was traded to Arizona.
With DraftKings apparently overcorrecting their DST pricing after the Patriots went off a couple of times in primetime, the play instead is Chris Boswell, who is projected for 0.5 points fewer than Steelers DST at half the cost (good job, DraftKings).
A core of Conner, Walton, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Mason Rudolph and Boswell can be finished off with Allen Hurns, who has seen multiple targets in every game.
On FanDuel, a Conner-Rudolph-Fitzpatrick-Walton leaves $6,500, which is best spent on Vance McDonald.
Core GPP Plays
Note: These are in addition to the players already mentioned in the cash write-up and generally has a focus on pass-catchers. On FanDuel, QBs generally make for the top plays in the 1.5x slot because the half PPR format creates a wider gap in scoring between QB and RB/WR/TE; on DraftKings, a RB/WR/TE who hits the 100-yard bonus is the ideal play.
RB James Conner, Steelers: Has averaged 18.0 touches per game in non-Ben Roethlisberger starts and has the highest projected ceiling in our models as he goes against a Dolphins run defense ranked dead last in Football Outsiders’ DVOA.
WR Juju Smith-Schuster, Steelers: Will run his slot routes against Jomal Wiltz, whose Pro Football Focus coverage grade of 37.4 is ranked 114th among cornerbacks.
Steelers DST: Opposing DSTs are averaging 15.67 DraftKings points against the Dolphins this season, second-highest in the league, according to our NFL Trends tool.
RB Mark Walton, Dolphins: Averaging 35.0 snaps and 14.0 touches over the last two games and could be in for even more work with the trade of Drake.
WR Preston Williams, Dolphins: Leads the Dolphins in targets (44), catches (23) and yards (314) and projects to run fewer of his routes to the side of Joe Haden, Pittsburgh’s best corner.
Individual player correlations can be found in the player cards in our NFL Player Models. Team positional correlations can be found in our NFL Correlations Dashboard. All correlation data is from the past 12 months unless otherwise noted.
- Conner-Samuels +0.97
- Rudolph-Johnson +0.98
- Rudolph-Steelers DST +0.64
- Rudolph-Samuels +0.53
- Rudolph-Conner +0.52
- Boswell-Steelers DST +0.43
- Conner-Steelers DST +0.16
- Smith-Schuster-Steelers DST -0.39
- Conner-Smith-Schuster -0.56
- Rudolph-Smith-Schuster -0.75
- Rudolph-Boswell -0.87
- Rudolph-Washington -0.97
Conner and Jaylen Samuels were a featured part of the game plan together a few weeks ago on primetime and are stackable as long as Pittsburgh is starting a backup QB. Conner has also been a big part of the passing game in three of the last four, with 4, 8, 0 and 7 targets over that span, and is thus a top stacking option with Rudolph. Boswell-Steelers DST is also a strong option if this Monday night game goes full Thursday Night Football on us.
- Fitzpatrick-Gesicki +1.00
- Fitzpatrick-Parker +0.99
- Fitzpatrick-Williams +0.99
- Walton-Ballage +0.89
- Walton-Gesicki +0.89
- Fitzpatrick-Sanders +0.49
- Walton-Parker +0.45
- Sanders-Dolphins DST +0.15
- Parker-Williams -0.01
- Walton-Williams -0.65
- Walton-Sanders -0.69
Most of these are from an extremely small sample size, but overall show the passing game has been in better hands with Fitzpatrick under center. As the Dolphins have tended to use a committee. Walton and Ballage are playable in the same lineups.
Players whose production would benefit owners more than expensive or highly-owned players. Kickers and D/STs generally make for strong leverage plays, but those who stand out will be highlighted below.
K Chris Boswell, Steelers: Has the highest ceiling projection of any player priced under $6,000 on DraftKings.
RB Kalen Ballage, Dolphins: Three carries, 7 yards and a touchdown in each of his past two games, and losing a potential rushing TD could be the difference between Walton hitting value or not.
RB Benny Snell, Steelers: Carried 17 times last game, though his role would be unclear if Samuels makes his return.
Dart Throw Rankings
Ranking the low-cost, complementary players not already discussed in the leverage section by likelihood of having a worthwhile fantasy stat line.
- TE Michael Gesicki, Dolphins: 40-plus yards in each of the past two games and could see increased usage as the Dolphins shift further into evaluation mode.
- WR James Washington, Steelers: Tied for the team lead in air-yard market share (25%, per AirYards.com).
- WR Albert Wilson, Dolphins: Has 12 targets and a rushing attempt on only 52 total snaps this season, but snaps declined from 29 in Week 6 to 17 in Week 7.
- WR Allen Hurns, Dolphins: Multiple targets in every game.
- TE Nick Vannett, Steelers: 30-44 snaps in every game since joining the Steeler but hasn’t topped two targets yet.
- WR Jakeem Grant, Dolphins: Poor man’s version of Wilson who saw seven offensive snaps last game, but will get opportunities as the team’s top return man.
- WR Ryan Switzer, Steelers: Phased out at wide receiver but handles returns.
- WR Johnny Holton, Steelers: 31.8 average depth of target but will be a WR4/situational deep threat on a team that now rarely deems a situation fit to go deep.
- TE Durham Smythe, Dolphins: 25-plus snaps in five straight games but yet to top one target.
- TE Nick O’Leary, Dolphins: 14-28 snaps in every game but yet to see more than one target in a game.
- FB Roosevelt Nix, Steelers: Now healthy, Nix could see the field a lot as the fullback in Pittsburgh’s conservative scheme.
- WR Isaiah Ford, Dolphins: 13 snaps, 2 targets, 0 catches over the past two weeks.
- FB Chandler Cox, Dolphins: Played a season-high 18 snaps last week but still has zero offensive touches as an NFL pro.
- RB Patrick Laird, Dolphins: Has been active lately for special teams purposes and could become the No. 3 running back with Drake gone
- RB Myles Gaskin, Dolphins: Has been a scratch up to this point but could slide into the No. 3 role with Drake gone. In that case, he’d move up to No. 5, as Ballage had some value as the No. 3 these past two weeks.
- TE Zach Gentry, Steelers: Could be a scratch if Nix returns.
- WR Donte Moncrief, Steelers: Phased out of the offense after a dismal start and likely a scratch with Washington back.
Pictured above: Pittsburgh Steelers running back James Conner (30)
Photo credit: Phillip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports