The 2018 NFL season rolls on, and we’re still on pace for a record-breaking campaign with an average of 24.0 points per game per team. We could be in for another week of high scoring with a 10-game main slate that kicks off on Sunday, Oct. 28, at 1 p.m. ET.
With four teams on bye, two in London and six in prime-time games, we are without the following quarterbacks:
- Thursday Night Football: Dolphins (Nick O’Leary, Mike Gesicki) at Texans (Ryan Griffin)
- International Series (London): Eagles (Zach Ertz) at Jaguars (James O’Shaughnessy)
- Sunday Night Football: Saints (Ben Watson) at Vikings (Kyle Rudolph)
- Monday Night Football: Patriots (Rob Gronkowski) at Bills (Charles Clay)
- Byes: Falcons (Austin Hooper), Cowboys (Geoff Swaim), Titans (Jonnu Smith) and Chargers (Antonio Gates)
For analysis on the smaller slates, consult Chris Raybon’s premium strategy guides (released throughout the week).
In writing this piece, I’ve relied primarily on the FantasyLabs Models. This breakdown is less of a comprehensive analysis of each wide receiver and more of an introduction to this week’s players via our large suite of analytic DFS Tools. We’ll start with two high-priced tight ends, follow with two guys at the top of our individual Pro Models and finish with the rest of the slate’s fantasy-relevant pass-receivers.
For updates on Vegas spreads and over/unders, check out The Action Network Live Odds page.
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Highest-Priced Tight Ends
There are two tight ends at the top of the salary scale this week.
- Travis Kelce: $6,800 DraftKings; $7,300 FanDuel
- George Kittle: $5,500 DraftKings; $6,800 FanDuel
Travis Kelce: Kansas City Chiefs (-9.5) vs. Denver Broncos, 53.5 Over/Under
UPDATE (10/27): Center Mitch Morse (concussion) will miss his second consecutive game. The interior depth of the Chiefs offensive line will be tested with backup center Jordan Devey (pectoral) and starting right guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif (fibula) both on injured reserve. With backups Austin Reiter and Andrew Wylie tentatively expected to start at center and right guard, the efficacy of the Chiefs offense could be diminished.
Kelce is coming off another typical “I’m great; call me Zeus” 5-95-0 receiving performance on five targets. Even though head coach Andy Reid screwed over bettors with his end-of-game decision not to kick a field goal inside the 10-yard line, the Chiefs helped public bettors crush sportsbooks in Week 7. With Kelce dominating safeties and linebackers, the Chiefs are 7-0 (ATS) this season, the league’s only remaining undefeated ATS team.
On a per-game basis, they have …
- Outscored their implied totals by 10.1 points (No. 1 in NFL)
- Surpassed their game total by 10.2 points (No. 1)
- Covered their spreads by 10.1 points (No. 1)
The Chiefs lead the league in scoring at 37.1 points per game and are nearly unstoppable on offense.
After a horrendous 1-6-0 receiving performance in Week 1, Kelce has lit it up, averaging 20.0 DraftKings points per game, and this week Kelce is on the positive side of his home/away and favorite/underdog splits: Since 2016, he has averaged 17.1 DraftKings points per game as a home favorite.
It’s true that under head coach Andy Reid, Arrowhead Stadium has a league-worst 15-28-0 over/under record. No home team since 2013 has lost over bettors more money (-31.2% ROI) than the Chiefs (per Bet Labs). But most of those games were with a different quarterback. With Patrick Mahomes leading the offense, the Chiefs should put up points. Plus, this is the only game on the slate with two top-10 teams in situation-neutral pace.
Of all the tight ends on the slate, Kelce is first with 60 targets, 38 receptions, 563 yards receiving and 588 air yards. He’s crushing. And now Kelce has a great matchup against the division rival Broncos. While the Broncos have a run-flowing funnel defense, against the pass they have another type of funnel: A tight end funnel. Overall, the Broncos are second in pass defense with a -17.9% DVOA, but they are weakest against tight ends, rankings 23rd with an 18.0% DVOA. And that ranking isn’t a fluke: Last season they were 31st (19.8% DVOA), allowing tight ends to score a top-three mark of 14.9 DraftKings points per game.
While the Broncos aren’t quite as bad this season against tight ends as they were last season, they’re still bad: They allowed a fourth-round block-first rookie in Will Dissley to score 22.5 DraftKings points against them in his first NFL game. Other than All-Pro slot cornerback Chris Harris, the Broncos don’t have one defensive back or linebacker in their dime personnel with a Pro Football Focus (PFF) coverage grade of even 70.0. On top of that, while the Chiefs offense is entirely healthy, Broncos safety Darian Stewart (neck) has been ruled out.
Since developing into his All-Pro self in 2016, Kelce has smashed the Broncos each time he’s faced them.
- 2016, Week 12: 21.1 DraftKings points, 8-101-0 receiving on 15 targets
- 2016, Week 16: 36.0 DraftKings points, 11-160-1 receiving on 12 targets
- 2017, Week 8: 29.3 DraftKings points, 7-133-1 receiving on 10 targets
- 2018, Week 4: 20.8 DraftKings points, 7-78-1 receiving on 12 targets
In these four games, Kelce has an unthinkably high +13.75 Plus/Minus. Against the Broncos, he goes into full-on Zeus mode.
On the Wednesday edition of The Action Network NFL Podcast, we talked about Kelce as a potential option in cash games. He’s expensive, but he might be worth it given his supremacy at the position and matchup.
If you want to roster him in guaranteed prize pools, use our Lineup Builder to stack Kelce with Mahomes. Since 2014, No. 1 tight ends on average have had a 0.47 correlation with their quarterbacks. With Mahomes and Alex Smith before him, Kelce has had a 0.63 correlation.
On Sunday morning, I might look to bet the over on Kelce’s yardage prop. To find the best bets in the props market, use our Player Props Tool, which is powered by our industry-leading projections. Since Week 1, the props with a bet quality of 10 have gone 152-73-5, good for a 66% win rate.
Without question, you should supplement your DFS action with player props.
Kelce leads all tight ends with his median and ceiling projections on DraftKings and FanDuel, where he respectively has a position-high eight and nine Pro Trends. No tight end has a higher Bargain Rating than Kelce’s 99% mark on FanDuel, where he’s the highest-rated tight end in all our Pro Models. For good measure, he’s also the top DraftKings option in all our Pro Models except two (Freedman and SportsGeek).
George Kittle: San Francisco 49ers (-1.5) at Arizona Cardinals, 41.5 O/U
UPDATE (10/27): Wide receiver Pierre Garcon (shoulder, knee) is out for Week 8. Running back Matt Breida (ankle) is questionable.
Kittle leads the team with 49 targets, 32 receptions, 527 yards receiving and a magnificent 367 yards after the catch. To put some context to that number: Kittle has more yards after the catch than any NFL wide receiver. He has a full hundred yards more than Kelce, who ranks second. When Kittle gets the ball, he makes moves.
While backup C.J. Beathard isn’t as good as starting quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, Kittle has exhibited some serious shower synergy in his four 2018 games with his college teammate, averaging 17.2 DraftKings points per game with a +6.31 Plus/Minus. Two of Kittle’s three best career games have come over the past month: He’s playing at a peak level right now.
When the 49ers played the Cardinals at the beginning of the month in Week 5, Kittle had a strong 5-83-0 receiving performance on seven targets, and now Cardinals safety Tre Boston (shoulder, ribs) has been ruled out. Additionally, the 49ers will almost certainly be without wide receiver Pierre Garcon (shoulder, knee), and his absence could open up even more receiving opportunities for Kittle.
Kittle makes for a fine transitional option between Kelce and the middle tier of tight ends.
Model Tight Ends
Besides Kelce, there are two tight ends atop the individual Pro Models that Jonathan Bales, Peter Jennings (CSURAM88), Adam Levitan, Sean Koerner, Chris Raybon, Kevin McClelland (SportsGeek) and I have constructed.
- Ricky Seals-Jones: $3,000 DraftKings; $5,000 FanDuel
- Jesse James: $2,900 DraftKings; $5,200 FanDuel
Ricky Seals-Jones: Arizona Cardinals (+1.5) vs. San Francisco 49ers, 41.5 O/U
UPDATE (10/27): Left guard Mike Iupati (head) and right guard Justin Pugh (hand) are questionable but tentatively expected to play after practicing on a limited basis all week. Backup guard Jeremy Vujnovich (hamstring) is out, so the Cardinals will be thin at the position if either Iupati or Pugh misses the game.
When not touring with his longtime band Ricky, Seals, Ros’n & Jones, the second-year undrafted wide receiver-turned-tight end makes occasional plays in the NFL. While he’s done little to this point in his career, he is a respectable third on the receiver-deficient Cardinals with 35 targets and 204 yards receiving. On top of that, he leads the team with 385 air yards.
While RSJ had a horrible Week 5 performance against the 49ers, failing to make a single catch, he still had a team-high six targets, and in rookie quarterback Josh Rosen’s four starts, Seals-Jones has averaged a respectable five targets per game. The 49ers are without safety Adrian Colbert (leg, IR), so Seals-Jones might have better luck than he had in Week 5 at turning targets into receptions, and on the whole the 49ers rank last in the league with a 37.6 PFF coverage grade.
Seals-Jones is the No. 1 DraftKings tight end in the Freedman Model.
Jesse James: Pittsburgh Steelers (-7.5) vs. Cleveland Browns, 48.5 O/U
UPDATE (10/27): Right tackle Marcus Gilbert (knee) is out. Backup Matt Feiler is expected to start in his place.
It’s hard to trust James because he’s splitting snaps and targets with Vance McDonald, but he is cheap, and before the Week 7 bye he had a five-reception game. It’s a tough matchup for James in that the Browns are first against the pass with a -23.4% DVOA and second against tight ends in particular with a -50.3% DVOA, but James had 11.7 DraftKings points on 5-67-0 receiving and nine targets in Week 1 against these same Browns.
More importantly, the Browns will be without middle linebacker Joe Schobert (hamstring), who leads not just the team but also all NFL linebackers with his 91.2 PFF coverage grade. His absence is especially problematic since the team is also without backup middle linebacker James Burgess (hamstring). In Week 7, without Schobert and Burgess, the Buccaneers went to town on the Browns with their tight ends, who collectively scored 22.1 DraftKings points on 12-111-0 receiving and 18 targets.
Without Schobert locking down the middle of the field in coverage, James has under appreciated potential and is the No. 1 DraftKings tight end in the SportsGeek Model.
Also on the Steelers:
- Vance McDonald: $3,700 DraftKings; $5,300 FanDuel
McDonald’s production is always hard to project, but he’s coming off a 7-68-0 receiving performance on eight targets, and he’s has been impressive (albeit inconsistent) since joining the Steelers last season. Although he was plagued by injuries in 2017, McDonald flashed in the second half of the season, and his playmaking contributions have carried over to 2018. Over his past 10 games (including playoffs), McDonald has averaged 5.6 targets per game with 50-plus yards or a touchdown in seven of them. A 93rd-percentile SPARQ athlete, McDonald has 10 or more DraftKings points in three of his five games this season.
Tight End Rundown
Here’s a quick look at the remaining fantasy-relevant tight ends on the slate.
Jared Cook: Oakland Raiders (-3) vs. Indianapolis Colts, 51 O/U
UPDATE (10/27): Left guard Kelechi Osemele (knee) is questionable.
- $5,000 DraftKings; $5,900 FanDuel
Coming off the Week 7 bye, the offense is now without running back Marshawn Lynch (groin, IR) and wide receiver Amari Cooper (trade). The departure of Cooper has moved this spread from a pick ’em, and the Raiders’ implied total has dropped 1.5 points to 24. With Cooper gone, Cook will presumably see more targets, but he’s already the centerpiece of the team’s offensive feast, leading the Raiders with 43 targets, 32 receptions and 400 yards receiving. He’s tied for second among all NFL players with nine targets inside the 10-yard line.
The Colts could be especially vulnerable this week. Free safety Malik Hooker (hip) has already been declared out, and strong safety Clayton Geathers (concussion, neck) is truly questionable after missing Weeks 6-7, practicing in full on Wednesday and then missing practice on Thursday and Friday.
Eric Ebron & Jack Doyle: Indianapolis Colts (-3) at Oakland Raiders, 51 O/U
UPDATE (10/27): Doyle (hip) will play after missing five games. Wide receiver Ryan Grant (ankle) is out. Wide receiver Zach Pascal (head) is questionable.
- Ebron: $4,900 DraftKings; $6,400 FanDuel
- Doyle: $4,400 DraftKings; $4,900 FanDuel
in his five games without Doyle, Ebron averaged 16.2 DraftKings points and 10 targets per game. Doyle (hip) returns in Week 8 and is expected to play without restriction, but Ebron has seemingly cemented his pass-catching role within the offense. For the season, he’s first among all players (not just tight ends) with five touchdowns on passes into the end zone. He’s also tied for first in the league (with wide receivers Antonio Brown and A.J. Green) with 11 end-zone targets.
Trey Burton: Chicago Bears (-8) vs. New York Jets, 44 O/U
UPDATE (10/27): Wide receiver Allen Robinson (groin) is officially questionable but reportedly expected not to play.
- $4,800 DraftKings; $6,400 FanDuel
After doing almost nothing (1-15-0) in Week 1, Burton has hit his salary-based expectations in each game, averaging 16.2 DraftKings points per week across that span with a +7.76 Plus/Minus. Coming off his best game of the season — a 9-126-1 masterpiece on 11 targets — Burton could see extra targets this week if wide receiver Allen Robinson (groin, questionable) is inactive or limited.
Jimmy Graham: Green Bay Packers (+9) at Los Angeles Rams, 57 O/U
UPDATE (10/27): Wide receiver Randall Cobb (hamstring) is questionable and should be considered a game-time decision. Wide receiver Geronimo Allison (hamstring) will play.
- $4,700 DraftKings; $6,400 FanDuel
Never before has quarterback Aaron Rodgers been this big of an underdog. The Rams are the only undefeated team left in the league at 7-0, but the spread for this game is way off. After stumbling his way to a paltry 2-8-0 receiving line on four targets in Week 1, Graham has averaged 13.6 DraftKings points per game since Week 2, averaging 8.2 targets per game in that time. Of course, with the expected return of wide receivers Randall Cobb (hamstring) and Geronimo Allison (hamstring), he’s might see fewer targets this week.
David Njoku: Cleveland Browns (+7.5) at Pittsburgh Steelers, 48.5 O/U
- $4,600 DraftKings; $5,700 FanDuel
Njoku is developing a strong connection with quarterback Baker Mayfield, leading the team with 22 receptions, 228 yards receiving, 87 yards after the catch, two touchdowns and 14.2 DraftKings points per game in the No. 1 overall pick’s four starts. Last week, Njoku led all tight ends with his 38.6% ownership rate in DraftKings tournaments, and he was rostered at an even higher rate of 47.01% in the high-stakes Luxury Box GPP, suggesting that he was a sharp play. We’re projecting Njoku once again to be one of the most popular tight ends on the slate.
Njoku has a good matchup against the Steelers, who since last season (including playoffs) have been significantly worse without Pro Bowl linebacker Ryan Shazier, allowing 26.7 points and 366.6 scrimmage yards per game to opponents. This season the Steelers have allowed tight ends a top-two mark of 19.1 points per game on DraftKings, where Njoku has a position-high floor projection.
Jordan Reed & Vernon Davis: Washington Redskins (-1.5) at New York Giants, 44 O/U
UPDATE (10/27): Wide receiver Jamison Crowder (ankle) is out for Week 8. Wide receiver Paul Richardson (shoulder, knee) and pass-catching running back Chris Thompson (ribs) are questionable but tentatively expected to play.
- Reed: $4,500 DraftKings; $5,800 FanDuel
- Davis: $2,800 DraftKings; $4,800 FanDuel
Slot wide receiver Jamison Crowder (ankle) is out and wide receiver Paul Richardson (shoulder, knee) and pass-catching running back Chris Thompson (ribs) are questionable, so Reed could have an increased target share. Even though Reed is yet to play even 70% of the snaps in any game, he’s being used as a receiving specialist, running routes on 62.1% of his snaps. Reed’s not getting as much playing time as he used to get, but when he’s on the field, he’s out there to catch the ball. As a point of comparison: Davis ran just five routes last week.
Evan Engram: New York Giants (+1.5) vs. Washington Redskins, 44 O/U
- $4,300 DraftKings; $5,800 FanDuel
Engram had just four targets in his Week 7 return from injury and has fewer than 20 yards receiving in 3-of-4 games this season. It’s possible that a portion of his middle-of-the-field work has been reallocated to slot wide receiver Sterling Shepard.
Greg Olsen: Carolina Panthers (+3) vs. Baltimore Ravens, 44 O/U
UPDATE (10/27): Wide receiver Torrey Smith (knee) is out.
- $4,200 DraftKings; $5,800 FanDuel
Olsen (foot) has a lingering injury, but since returning to action he has averaged six targets per game and played every offensive snap but one. Olsen led all tight ends with 591 targets and 4,844 yards receiving in the half decade before his injury-impacted 2017 campaign.
O.J. Howard & Cameron Brate: Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+3.5) at Cincinnati Bengals, 54.5 O/U
- Howard: $3,900 DraftKings; $5,800 FanDuel
- Brate: $2,700 DraftKings; $4,700 FanDuel
On the verge of a breakout, Howard has averaged 13.4 DraftKings points across his five full games, hitting salary-based expectations each week and providing strong value with his +6.96 Plus/Minus. After recuperating over the Week 5 bye and playing well in Weeks 6-7, Howard seems to be fully recovered from his Week 4 knee injury.
Since his 2016 breakout season, Brate has had stark quarterback-based splits. In starter Jameis Winston’s 27 complete games over that time, Brate has 10.7 DraftKings points per game. In backup Ryan Fitzpatrick’s six complete games, Brate has 3.0.
The Bengals have allowed a top-three mark of 17.7 DraftKings points per game to tight ends this season.
C.J. Uzomah: Cincinnati Bengals (-3.5) vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 54.5 O/U
- Uzomah: $3,500 DraftKings; $5,400 FanDuel
Given that the spread opened at -6 and they have gotten 70% of the tickets so far, the Bengals are on the wrong side of reverse line movement: There’s significant sharp money betting against them. Even so, Uzomah is in a smash spot. Starting tight end and mullet all-star Tyler Eifert (ankle, IR) is out for the season, and backup Tyler Kroft (foot) is also out, which leaves Uzomah with all of the snaps.
The Bucs are dead last in pass defense with a 44.1% DVOA and have allowed a league-high 20.1 DraftKings points per game to wide receivers. And the Bucs are without key coverage defenders in strong safety Chris Conte (knee, IR) and linebacker Kwon Alexander (knee, IR).
Chris Herndon: New York Jets (+8) at Chicago Bears, 44 O/U
UPDATE (10/27): Running back Bilal Powell (neck) has been placed on injured reserve. Left tackle Kelvin Beachum (back) is questionable but tentatively expected to play.
- $2,800 DraftKings; $5,400 FanDuel
Wide receivers Quincy Enunwa (ankle, out) and Terrelle Pryor (groin, released) are unavailable, and Robby Anderson (ankle) is doubtful and fully expected not to play. With their absences, the fourth-round rookie could have an outsized target share in Week 8.
An A-plus athlete, Herndon has flashed over the past two weeks with a combined stat line of 6-98-2 on nine targets. Of course, he also has a tough matchup against a defense that has a league-best DVOA (-15.8%) and is looking for redemption after allowing 30 or more points in each of the past two games.
Herndon has a position-high 99% Bargain Rating on DraftKings.
Mark Andrews, Hayden Hurst, Nick Boyle & Maxx Williams: Baltimore Ravens (-3) at Carolina Panthers, 44 O/U
UPDATE (10/27): Left guard Alex Lewis (neck) is out. Rookie backup Bradley Bozeman is expected to start in his place.
- Andrews: $2,700 DraftKings; $4,600 FanDuel
- Hurst: $2,500 DraftKings; $4,300 FanDuel
- Boyle: $2,500 DraftKings; $4,000 FanDuel
- Williams: $2,500 DraftKings; $4,000 FanDuel
The Panthers have allowed a top-four mark of 17.3 DraftKings points per game to the position, and as a cohort the Ravens tight ends have combined for 9/1 targets per game, a top-five mark on a per-team basis.
Gerald Everett & Tyler Higbee: Los Angeles Rams (-9) vs. Green Bay Packers, 57 O/U
UPDATE (10/27): Wide receiver Cooper Kupp (knee) is officially doubtful and fully expected not to play.
- Everett: $2,600 DraftKings; $4,500 FanDuel
- Higbee: $2,600 DraftKings; $4,200 FanDuel
These guys will have almost no ownership, but they could see some targets with slot wide receiver Cooper Kupp (knee) doubtful to play. The Rams have hit their implied Vegas totals in an NFL-high 17-of-23 games under beard model and HC Sean McVay since last season. Even though the Patriots are surging, the undefeated Rams are entrenched as the No. 1 team in The Action Network’s NFL Power Rankings.
As is often the case, the Rams lead all teams with their 32.5-point implied Vegas total.
Michael Roberts: Detroit Lions (-3) vs. Seattle Seahawks, 48.5 O/U
UPDATE (10/27): Pass-catching running back Theo Riddick (knee) is out.
- $2,500 DraftKings; $5,200 FanDuel
Roberts has been in just three games all season. He’s yet to play 30% of the snaps in any game. He has just four targets. But, of course, three of those have been in the red zone, and they’ve all gone for touchdowns.
I don’t know what to tell you.
Positional Breakdowns & News
Be sure to read the other Week 8 positional breakdowns.
For more in-depth NFL analysis information, check out The Action Network.
After this piece is published, FantasyLabs is likely to provide news updates on a number of players. Be sure to stay ahead of your competition with our industry-leading DFS-focused news blurbs.
Pictured above: Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce (87)
Photo credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports