Week 8 FanDuel Lineup Tips and Picks
If you’ve been playing DFS for a while or you’ve recently followed the industry news, you know how big of a deal ownership percentage is for large-field tournaments. Last week, I recommended Todd Gurley as a value play and even went as far to say that if you don’t have him in your cash game lineups, you’ll likely lose. Gurley didn’t prove me wrong, as he put up a monstrous 30.3 FanDuel points with a salary of just $7400. Gurley was so popular last week, in fact, that he was owned in 54% of Sunday Million lineups!
So sure, we needed to play him in cash games last week if we wanted a chance to cash. But what about in tournaments? Was he a good play given his ownership percentage? Sure, he scored 30.3 points, so it worked out and if you didn’t have him in your tournament lineups, you probably found it difficult to cash.
But what if Gurley didn’t reach tournament value? What if he put up a subpar game and scored 10 FanDuel points? If you didn’t play him, this puts you at a MASSIVE advantage over half the field. In essence, you’ve eliminated half the field and would now only be competing with 46% of the entrants for the top prize.
Here’s a simple formula to determine whether or not someone’s ownership percentage is too high: If his chance of reaching tournament value is greater than his anticipated ownership percentage, he is worth playing.
This may seem arbitrary, but using historical performances and weekly projections can give you a good estimate for a player’s chances of hitting 3x value. As for ownership percentage, many sites publish these numbers from FanDuel’s Thursday contests. They are generally a good indicator of a player’s ownership percentage on Sundays.
To put it in the context of last week’s situation, what were the odds of Todd Gurley scoring 3x value (22.2 FanDuel points) as a touchdown favorite at home versus the Cleveland Browns? If you thought his chances were less than 50 percent, you would have to fade (not play) him.
This isn’t the case for cash games – if someone is 70% owned, you gain nothing by not playing him. Minimize your risk for 50/50 contests and automatically insert someone that highly owned.
If you’re new to daily fantasy football or you just need a refresher, please read my NFL DFS strategy guide here: Draft Kings vs FanDuel vs Fantasy Score
In that article, you’ll find that there are certain value thresholds that we need from our players in order to win the two main types of contests in DFS: cash games (50/50s and head-to-heads) and tournaments (GPPs and leagues).
- For FanDuel cash games, we need our guys to reach 2x their salary (Example: If Andrew Luck is $10,000, he needs to score 20 points to reach value).
- For FanDuel tournaments, we need our guys to reach 3x their salary (In this same example, Andrew Luck needs to score 30 points to reach value).
Most of the plays below are for cash games. Tournament plays will have a *GPP ONLY* designation next to their name. Each week, we’ll review the previous week’s plays and track our success rate for both cash game plays and tournament plays. Our target goal for the season is to hit 60% of cash game plays and 30% of tournament plays. A “hit” is defined as reaching value.
Last week was a mediocre performance, hitting 4 of 8 cash game plays (Antonio Gates did not play). We also missed on our lone GPP play.
- Cash game plays: 26/54 48%
- GPP plays: 5/12 42%
On to this week’s plays!
10. Eli Manning
$7300 (NYG +3.5, 49)
Points needed to reach value: 14.6
Talk about a fantastic matchup and gamescript. Eli Manning and the Giants travel to New Orleans to face a defense that allows the most FanDuel points to opposing QBs. The game has one of the highest projected totals on the board and the Giants are slight underdogs, which should keep them throwing for all four quarters. Manning has a very manageable salary and needs just 14.6 points to reach value, a figure that QBs versus New Orleans have exceeded in every game this season.
9. Jonathan Stewart
$6600 (CAR -7.5, 46.5)
Points needed to reach value: 13.2
Coming out of the team’s week five bye, Jonathan Stewart looks like a changed runner. Now seemingly healthy, which has been a rarity thus far in his career, Stewart has run with savvy and aggression in his last two games. In those two games, Stewart has totaled 203 yards, including two rushing TDs versus the Seahawks. Perhaps most importantly, Stewart has received 10 red zone looks since the bye week, which is a huge boost to his value considering his absence of touches in that area in the past. The game script, home field advantage, and matchup versus the Colts (fifth-most FanDuel points allowed to RBs) just make this a perfect storm.
8. Travis Benjamin
$6300 (CLE +4.5, 46)
Points needed to reach value: 12.6
Earlier in the season, you may have scoffed at the idea of Travis Benjamin being a true number one NFL WR (I know I did). However, Benjamin has now captured the team lead in snap count and hasn’t received less than eight targets in a game since week 2. With his team being so terrible, it just reinforces the fact that he’ll continue to get targets in bunches. With QB Josh McCown ailing with a shoulder injury, we may see Johnny Manziel start versus Arizona on Sunday. Despite throwing just 44 passes this season, Manziel has thrown three touchdowns – passes of 50, 54, and 60 yards, all to Travis Benjamin.
7. Jameis Winston
$6600 (TB +7.5, 48.5) – *GPP ONLY*
Points needed to reach value: 19.8
This game should set up perfectly for Winston to rack up a ton of FanDuel points in garbage time. As a touchdown-plus underdog on the road in Atlanta, it’s hard to envision a scenario where Tampa Bay is leading late in the fourth quarter. With Mike Evans back to form and the likely return of his tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins, a game with 30-plus passing attempts will equal big passing numbers for Winston. The only problem here is the matchup, as only three teams allow less FanDuel points per game to opposing QBs. With that in mind, plug Winston into your GPP lineups.
6. Jeremy Maclin
$6800 (KC -4.5, 45)
Points needed to reach value: 13.4
Jeremy Maclin was supposedly to cleared to play last week after sustaining a concussion in week 6, but was a surprise inactive on Sunday. Keep an eye on his practice participation this week to see if he will get back on the field this Sunday. If he does, he has a fantastic matchup versus a Detroit secondary that allows 19% more FanDuel points than league average to opposing WRs. With Vegas expecting Kansas City to score at least three touchdowns, there is plenty of offense to go around for Maclin to hit 2x value.
5. Justin Forsett
$6900 (BAL -3, 50)
Points needed to reach value: 13.8
It took a few games for Forsett to get going in 2015, but he has averaged more than 15 FanDuel points per game in the last four weeks. This week, Forsett plays in the game with the highest Vegas total (as a home favorite, nonetheless) versus a defense that allows the most FanDuel points to opposing RBs. Even if Baltimore trails in the second half, Forsett plays a big part in the passing game. Running backs who aren’t game script-dependent are exactly what we should be looking for in cash games.
4. Cam Newton
$8000 (CAR -7, 46.5)
Points needed to reach value: 16.0
Sometimes DFS is easy. With numerous rushing attempts each game to give him a high floor, Newton has scored 16-plus FanDuel points in each of last five games. He’s playing at home in primetime with an expected Vegas team total of nearly 27 points. He averages nearly six red zone passes/rushes per game, so a majority of those 27 points should belong to Newton. Fire him up as an easy cash game play this weekend.[wlm_nonmember]
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3. Charles Sims
$5100 (TB +7.5, 48.5) – *GPP ONLY*
Points needed to reach value: 15.3
If you read the analysis on Jameis Winston, you’ll see why Charles Sims is a recommended play this week. In the three games where Tampa Bay has been trailing in the fourth quarter this season, Sims has received more snaps than his counterpart Doug Martin. With the expected game script this week, we should a lot of Sims late in the game. Given Sims receiving prowess (two receiving TDs so far this season), stacking Winston with Sims is a recommended option that is certain to set your lineup apart from the thousands of others competing in your GPPs.
2. Charcandrick West
$6600 (KC -4.5, 45)
Points needed to reach value: 13.2
We heard the Jamaal Charles-lite comparisons for Charcandrick West when Charles went down with a season-ending injury two weeks ago, but it took a game for West to flash his skillset. Last week versus Pittsburgh, West compiled 129 total yards and a TD on 24 touches – quite the featured workload. Since becoming a starter, West has 12 touches in the red zone! With an expected team total of more than 24 points, a continued abundance of red zone touches would turn into many FanDuel points this weekend for West.
1. Alex Smith
$6600 (KC -4.5, 45)
Points needed to reach value: 13.2
Alex Smith is the third Chief to appear in this week’s column, but he may have the best matchup of the three. You don’t think of Smith as a fantasy stud, but he’s been extremely consistent and has scored more than 13.2 FanDuel points (his value threshold for cash games this week) in all but one game this season. His opponent, the Detroit Lions, have allowed the seventh-most FanDuel points to opposing QBs and a majority of that damage has been done on yards after the catch. With the Lions’ defense allowing the third most YAC in the NFL and the Chiefs’ offense ranking 4th in the NFL in YAC, this looks to be a perfect matchup on paper for Alex Smith’s skillset.[/wlm_ismember]
For more DFS advice, follow me on Twitter @BrianJesterFF.
Brian has been playing fantasy football for 16 years and commissioned his first fantasy league at age 12. When he’s not writing about sports, you can find him playing every daily fantasy sport and participating in high stakes fantasy football contests. Brian won more than 1,000 NFL contests on FanDuel last season and has won multiple league championships in the Footballguys Player Championship contest. A graduate of the University of Maryland, Brian usually spends his winters agonizing over Terrapins basketball. When the weather is warmer, Brian is known for his receiving prowess in flag football leagues on the National Mall in Washington, DC.