Tarik Cohen led us to the Promised Land in Week 7, reaching double-digit targets and scoring on a cool play design. Carson Wentz had an under-owned good game. Alvin Kamara tripled up Mark Ingram’s score, but was unable to go truly nuclear, and our fringe wide receivers went kaput as Blake Bortles was benched and Robby Anderson couldn’t secure any of his deep targets.
We continue on our quest to find the million dollar plays in the morass of chalk with fringe plays for Week 8.
Jameis Winston, QB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
For whatever reason, Winston’s highly anticipated return as Tampa Bay’s starter drew mass attention, but he’s been virtually forgotten about by DFS players over the past two weeks. We have him projected for only 5% to 8% ownership, and the Buccaneers offense is not as large of a part of the conversation as it should be.
Winston is third among all active quarterbacks in percentage of aggressive throws per NFL Next Gen Stats and has the highest intended air yards per throw, too. (Ryan Fitzpatrick has the highest of all quarterbacks no longer starting.) Winston also has 15 rushing attempts and a rushing touchdown in his two starts.
Winston has a Patrick Mahomes-level ceiling in this Todd Monken fever dream offense, and I fully plan on continuing to ride this magical ride.
Saquon Barkley, RB, New York Giants
Todd Gurley is the best running back in football. There is no volatility in his performance. He plays on the best (or the second-best) offense in football, is the Rams’ leading scorer and the first option any time they get close to the end zone. However, all of the game theory we have ever discussed for fantasy is going out the window when he’s 65% owned in the Millionaire Maker on DraftKings.
Eventually, Gurley will have a game in which he scores only once and Malcolm Brown does the heavy lifting in the second half. Barkley is $1,000 cheaper than Gurley on DraftKings and shares a comparable workload on a much worse team. His market share of targets and carries is monumental. He has a carry or a touch on 45% of the Giants’ plays so far this season.
While I am not a Barkley truther, there is a distinct chance that he outscores Gurley at one-fifth of the ownership and for a lower salary this week (and most weeks).
Raheem Mostert, RB, San Francisco 49ers
While I am basing the Mostert play on the fact that Matt Breida will not play, even if Breida does play, there is some equity in getting Mostert in your tournament lineups.
Running backs often get hurt, but very rarely do we make lineup decisions based on the assumption that a running back might get injured in a game. Breida has now left three games early with injuries, and Mostert has been the 49ers’ most effective back over their last two games. Alfred Morris led San Fran in carries last week, but Mostert was the more effective runner.
While I am not a believer in the skill of a defense leading to a direct fantasy correlation for opposing players, the Cardinals are a bad team. Playing against a bad team will give Mostert a positive game script, and he has five Pro Trends going in his favor.
Mostert certainly a very risky usage play, but if the game does go in the 49ers’ favor, he has a fairly elite ceiling for his price tag.
Jarvis Landry, WR, Cleveland Browns
The vagaries of ownership are never entirely clear to me. Landry finally had the game that fantasy owners were expecting of him, but he’s projected for less than 10% ownership this week.
Josh Hermsmeyer, the inventor of the Air Yards and the Air Yards model, keeps a three-week rolling model of Air Yards that has the best correlation to future production. It just so happens that Juice is sixth among all wide receivers in Air Yards over the past three weeks and is likely to be in a game script that leads to Baker Mayfield hitting his career-high in pass attempts (in a game that doesn’t go to overtime).
Landry has seen double-digit targets in every game but one this season and I expect that trend to continue against this Steelers defense — even if the Browns offense is less efficient than its season norm.
Chris Godwin, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
As mentioned above, I am very invested in the Buccaneers offense. Godwin is a tertiary member of it, but his per-route ceiling is among the highest of all players in fantasy.
Godwin is 39th in yards per route ran in the NFL, and over Winston’s two starts this season, Godwin has seen 15 targets. He doesn’t fit the usual profile of a guy in this column, as I normally try to find undervalued volume situations. But Godwin is more of an efficiency play.
The target-share profile has actually been very equal between Godwin, Mike Evans, DeSean Jackson and Adam Humphries since Winston’s return. But Godwin has the highest-upside physical profile of the bunch for the rest of the season, and I’ll be making that wager in a high-total, high-play volume game this week.
Jared Cook, TE, Oakland Raiders
You might have heard that the Raiders traded Amari Cooper to the Cowboys, vacating 32 targets. Martavis Bryant and Jordy Nelson are getting the most chatter from the daily fantasy community, but it’s actually Cook who leads Oakland in targets.
Cook stands to gain some extra slot snaps and total targets thanks to the departure of Cooper, and I don’t think that’s the way the larger fantasy community is thinking about the situation. The tight end position will largely be concentrated on the usual suspects, but outside of Travis Kelce and David Njoku, Cook projects with a better ceiling than any other tight end.
Cook has the fourth-highest ceiling projection of any tight end on the slate in our Tournament Model, but will be less-owned than Jordan Reed or C.J. Uzomah.
Pictured above: Jarvis Landry
Credit: Scott R. Galvin-USA TODAY Sports