NFL Week 8 wraps up with a Monday Night Football contest between the New York Giants and Tampa Bay Buccaneers starting at 8:15 p.m. ET.
If you’re unfamiliar with the single-game NFL DFS format, it differs a bit on DraftKings and FanDuel. On DraftKings, you have one “captain” spot and five flexes. The captain will score 1.5x fantasy points, but he also costs 1.5x salary. That means if you want to roster Tom Brady at captain and take advantage of the scoring boost, you’ll have to pay $18,000 as opposed to $12,000.
FanDuel’s single-game format features one “MVP” spot and four flexes. The MVP also scores 1.5x fantasy points, but he doesn’t cost any additional salary. That takes away a bit of the strategy and makes the goal simple: get your highest-scoring player in the MVP spot.
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Brady is the most expensive player on this slate, and he has shown virtually no signs of decline in his age 43 season. He’s posted an adjusted yards per attempt of 7.8 through his first seven starts – which represents a sizable increase from his mark of 6.8 last year – and he’s also tossed 18 touchdowns to just four interceptions. He’s racked up some big fantasy performances as well, scoring at least 36.46 DraftKings points in two of his past four games.
Brady won’t have Chris Godwin available for this contest, but he hopefully shouldn’t need him vs. the Giants. They rank just 27th in Football Outsiders’ pass defense DVOA, and Brady leads the slate with an Opponent Plus/Minus of +1.4 on FanDuel.
He also stands out from a Vegas perspective. The Bucs are massive 13-point favorites despite playing on the road, and they’re currently implied for 29.0 points. Brady has posted an average Plus/Minus of +6.59 on DraftKings in two starts with a comparable implied team total this season (per the Trends tool).
No Godwin means Mike Evans should operate as the Bucs clear No. 1 WR. Evans has unsurprisingly benefited from his absence this season, posting 26.4, 28.2, and 15.1 DraftKings points in three contests.
He has the opportunity for another increased workload this week, but it remains to be seen if he can take advantage. He is expected to be shadowed by James Bradberry, who has been one of the top cover corners in football this season. Pro Football Focus gives Bradberry a slight edge in this matchup, so Evans has the potential to struggle. Evans actually owns the worst projected Plus/Minus on FanDuel despite a Bargain Rating of 89%, so he seems overpriced across the industry. I’m fine with being underweight on him.
Daniel Jones rounds out the stud tier, and he has struggled mightily this season. He did manage to post 22.68 DraftKings points in his last game, but he ran for 92 yards in that contest. That’s a major outlier that will be tough to duplicate moving forward.
Additionally, his matchup vs. the Bucs will be significantly tougher than his previous matchup vs. the Eagles. The Bucs rank first in defensive DVOA, first in pass defense DVOA, and third in adjusted sack rate, so this defense is an absolute monster against opposing quarterbacks. Unsurprisingly, Jones owns an Opponent Plus/Minus of -2.8 on DraftKings.
The Bucs’ pass rush in particular could spell trouble for Jones. The Giants have been mediocre in terms of pass protection this season, and Jones has been far worse when pressured. His PFF grade drops from 85.9 with no pressure to just 50.9 when under pressure. Turnovers also remain an issue for Jones, who has thrown seven interceptions and fumbled five times.
How you choose to approach the Bucs’ backfield is one of the biggest decision on today’s slate. Ronald Jones is the priciest option, and he technically drew the start in their last game. That said, he played on just 43% of the offensive snaps. He still led the team with 13 carries and managed to find the endzone, but his upside still seems capped with Leonard Fournette back in the lineup.
Still, it should be noted that the Bucs won their last game by 25 points. Maybe the playing time split will work out more in Jones’ favor in more competitive contests moving forward. However, this game doesn’t look to be all that competitive either.
Fournette played on 56% of the snaps last week and led the team with 18 opportunities. His seven targets in particular were a nice addition to his fantasy portfolio, particularly on a full PPR site like DraftKings. Fournette was also more effective with his carries than Jones and obviously has the superior pedigree.
You can make a strong case for either option this week, but I lean towards Fournette given the massive discrepancy in price. He should carry more ownership than Jones – particularly on DraftKings at just $6,200 – but it’s hard to argue against that after last week’s performance.
The Bucs also have two pass-catchers in this range in Scott Miller and Rob Gronkowski. Miller is coming off his best game of the year in his last outing, finishing with six catches 109 yards, and one touchdown, and that came with Godwin in the lineup. He should increase upon his 60% snap share from last week, which makes him an appealing target.
Meanwhile, Gronkowski has looked like his old self over his past two games. He saw eight targets and found the endzone in each contest, and he also played on 55 of 56 possible snaps two weeks ago. Brady clearly has chemistry with Gronk, particularly around the endzone, and the Giants rank just 18th in DVOA vs. the tight end position this season.
If you expect Evans to struggle with Bradberry, these two options stand out as the biggest potential beneficiaries in the passing game.
On the Giants side, they have a trio of pass catchers worth consideration. Sterling Shepard stepped right into a big role last week following an injury and led the receivers with eight targets. He ultimately finished with 17.9 DraftKings points thanks to six catches, 59 receiving yards, and a touchdown.
Evan Engram actually led the team with nine targets, although his production was more disappointing. He finished with just 10.9 DraftKings points and dropped a pass that could have potentially iced the game for the Giants
Still, it’s hard to ignore a player with that many opportunities at just $5,800 on DraftKings. Tampa Bay has also struggled against TEs more than any other position in the passing game, ranking just 22nd in DVOA vs. the position.
Darius Slayton might be the most intriguing option among the Giants’ receivers. He has the highest ceiling of the group and should command reduced ownership following a poor performance last week. His salary has also dropped to just $7,000 on DraftKings, resulting in a Bargain Rating of 97%. He does draw a difficult matchup vs. Jamel Dean, but Slayton has the potential to pay off his salary with just one catch.
Finally, the Bucs defense is priced all the way up at $7,400 on DraftKings. That is ridiculously expensive for a defense, but they obviously have more upside than usual vs. the Giants. I’m not willing to play them at that salary – they own the second-lowest projected Plus/Minus on DraftKings in our NFL Models – but they will likely return value if they can score a touchdown.
- Wayne Gallman: $5,200 on DraftKings, $11,500 on FanDuel – The Giants will be without Devonta Freeman for this contest, which opens the door for Gallman to operate as their primary RB. That said, he will likely only play on early downs, and that role may not have much value if the Giants struggle offensively.
- Tyler Johnson: $4,800 on DraftKings, $7,500 on FanDuel – Johnson will likely operate as the Bucs’ No. 3 WR this week, and he scored 8.1 FanDuel points in that role three weeks ago.
- Kickers and Giants Defense – These options are always in play for the single-game format. That said, they typically have more viability on lower-scoring slates. You also want to make sure that your lineups are still correlated whenever you include a defense or kicking option.
- Golden Tate: $3,000 on DraftKings, $7,500 on FanDuel – Tate played on just 47% of the Giants’ snaps last week and finished with only two targets. Still, he made his presence felt by finishing with 39 yards and a touchdown.
- Cameron Brate: $1,400 on DraftKings, $6,000 on FanDuel – Brate played on 46% of the Bucs’ snaps the last time Godwin was out of the lineup, which makes him very appealing at a minimal salary across the industry. He’s easily my favorite punt play on the slate.
- Dion Lewis: $1,200 on DraftKings, $7,000 on FanDuel – Even if Gallman handles the majority of the early-down work, Lewis should operate as the Giants’ receiving back. That role could have value in a game where the Giants figure to trail.
- Justin Watson: $800 on DraftKings, $6,000 on FanDuel – Watson is another player who could see a bump with Godwin out of the lineup. He hasn’t caught a pass in each of his past two games but has two games with at least 6.8 DraftKings points this season.
- Kaden Smith: $400 on DraftKings, $5,000 on FanDuel – You probably don’t need to go this cheap for this game, but Smith played on 60% of the Giants’ snaps last week. He didn’t see a target in that game, but that’s a lot of potential playing time at just $400.