Week 8’s winner of the NFL FanDuel Sunday Million registered the highest point total of the year, and LeSean McCoy and Ezekiel Elliot were the RB set on the winning lineup for the second straight week.
I was way off on a few ownership projections on Sunday, but my picks performed well overall. Dak Prescott (just 7.32 points) and Watson were under 5% owned, but top RB pivot Mark Ingram was rostered by almost 20% of owners while top TE Hunter Henry was 18.1% owned. Many were blinded by the recency bias there, myself included.
As we guessed, A.J. Green was the week’s highest owned player at 42.9% – but he didn’t live up to the hype. Tevin Coleman was a hit as my honorable mention RB (0.9% owned, 10.9 points), as was Will Fuller, like everyone else in the HOU-SEA game.
A recap of last week’s lineups, then onto my top pivot picks for Week 9 in the NFL FanDuel Sunday million.
Week 8 FanDuel Sunday Million Winning Lineup
Total Points: 224.58
Deshaun Watson: $8,000 salary; 35.78 points; 3% owned
Ezekiel Elliot: $9,00 salary; 25.9 points; 19.4% owned
LeSean McCoy: $8,400 salary; 26.3 points; 24.9% owned
DeAndre Hopkins: $8,00 salary; 32.4 points; 3.5% owned
Paul Richardson: $4,700 salary; 25.5 points; 3.4% owned
JuJu Smith-Schuster: $5,500 salary; 28.8 points; 8.9% owned
Jimmy Graham: $6,400 salary; 17.9 points; 3.9% owned
Matt Prater: $5,000 salary; 18 points; 6.6% owned
Cincinnati: $4,800 salary; 14 points; 23.8% owned
Week 6 Picks
Dak Prescott: 7.32 points; 4.6% owned
Mark Ingram: 14.9 points; 19.8% owned
Will Fuller: 27 points; 8.3% owned
Hunter Henry: 2.1 points; 18.1% owned
Chalk: Deshaun Watson ($8,600), Carson Wentz ($7,900)
Why: The best fantasy QB option in the best matchup, I expect Watson to be 23-24% owned, at least. Wilson is playing out of his mind right now, and he’s still a relative bargain at $8,500. Dak Prescott will be popular in a nice matchup against the Chiefs, too.
This pick is more about ownership than it is about Wentz’s ceiling on Sunday. Against San Francisco in Week 8, Wentz did what he had to do to ensure a victory for Philadelphia, throwing for just 211 yards on 18 completions – adding two touchdowns and one interception.
But Wentz had a 14-3 touchdown-interception ratio in October, and he’s exceeded 20 FanDuel points in three of Philly’s last four. Most importantly, Wentz held his own in his toughest matchup of 2017, throwing for three touchdowns against Carolina’s second-ranked passing defense in a Thursday Night road game in Week 6.
Most people will be scared away by the test against Denver this weekend, but I won’t be one of them. Denver’s defense is ranked No. 1 overall by FanDuel’s metrics, and it’s allowed the 7th fewest points to opposing quarterbacks. Its 91.7 opponent QBR is just 20th in the NFL, though, and one could argue that Wentz is the best QB the Broncos have faced all year. That shouldn’t scare anyone.
For the second straight week I’m targeting the Seahawks with my honorable mention QB pick. It worked out pretty well last Sunday, with Deshaun Watson throwing four touchdowns and 402 yards in a 41-38 shootout loss.
Cousins has a lot to prove Sunday coming off of Washington’s most painful loss of 2017, and he’ll be eager to show he’s better than the numbers he put up in the rain against Dallas. He is. More importantly, the three best quarterbacks Seattle has faced this year (Rodgers, Mariota & Watson) have all performed admirably against the secondary formerly known as the Legion of Boom. Buy.
CHALK: Todd Gurley ($9,100); Lamar Miller ($7,500)
Why: Despite the high price tag, Gurley will be 18-20% owned in a matchup against the Giants bottom-feeder defense. No offensive unit has trended upward more significantly over recent weeks than Houston’s, and any concerns over D’onta Foreman displacing Lamar Miller have subsided. Facing a Colts defense ranked 31st in the league against the run, Miller will be very popular in Week 9.
Chris Thompson has registered double digit FanDuel points in six of Washington’s seven games this year – exceeding 15 points on three separate occasions. But against a Seattle team allowing the NFL’s sixth fewest yards per carry, look for Thompson to be just 6-8% owned on Sunday.
Seattle has scored 87 points in its past two home games, though, and I expect this game to exceed the 45 over/under Vegas is projecting. If Washington is chasing the Seahawks, or if the teams get locked in a shootout, Thompson will be the Redskins’ biggest beneficiary.
Washington’s receiving core remains a confusing mess, with Jamison Crowder and Josh Doctson trading WR1 responsibilities, and Terrell Pryor relegated to the bench. Chris Thompson is second on the team in targets, and although he’s not going to get 10+ carries a game, he’ll get enough volume to be a valuable pivot option on Sunday.
Take a look at the list of Mixon’s total touches every week this year: 11-10-21-21-15-10-14. Cincinnati’s lead back has had his ups and downs in his rookie season, but his role under offensive coordinator Bill Lazor is set.
Mixon’s numbers haven’t been overly impressive over the past two weeks. The tape shows his vision is elite where his speed is not, though, and he’s starting to look comfortable playing at this level.
Many will notice that Jacksonville has allowed the most FanDuel points to opposing running backs despite it’s otherwise imposing defense, but most everyone will still look in another direction at running back on Sunday. Regardless, if Mixon gets 15+ touches and is just 4-6% owned, he’ll be really valuable in Week 9.
CHALK: DeAndre Hopkins ($9,100), Michael Thomas ($7,600)
Why: Although some will shy away from the price tag, Hopkins has unquestionably become a top-5 fantasy receiver with Deshaun Watson quarterbacking in Houston. The matchup against Indy makes him the overall WR1 this week. Michael Thomas hasn’t done anything too special this year, but at this price tag against a weak Buccaneers defense he’ll be a popular option on Sunday.
I don’t expect Dez Bryant’s ownership to be in the low single digits, but if the appeal of guys like Hopkins, Thomas and Mike Evans keeps Bryant anywhere around 10% I really like him in Week 9.
Without Eric Berry, the Chiefs are third worst in the league in passing yards allowed, and they’re giving up the fourth most FanDuel points to wide receivers.
If you overlook last Sunday’s washout in D.C., Dez had drawn 31 targets in Dallas’ previous three games. And despite matchups with some of the league’s best corners, he’s still found the endzone four times this year. Dez was pouting on the sideline last week, and we’ve seen receivers get rewarded for that a few times this season. Without Zeke in the backfield, I think Prescott will lean heavily on Bryant going forward.
Shepard will get some love as New York’s de facto No. 1 receiver, with Odell Beckham and Brandon Marshall out for the season, but LA’s defense will depress Shepard’s ownership enough to make him attractive on Sunday.
Hosting Los Angles for a 1PM Eastern start, New York should fare better against the Rams than some other offenses have this season. Shepard will be a huge part of this offense – for better or for worse – this and every week going forward.
CHALK: Travis Kelce ($7,300), Jimmy Graham ($6,200)
Why: Dallas’s pass defense is weak, and Kelce is firmly entranced as Alex Smith’s favorite target and KC’s top option in the passing game. Graham’s early season struggles feel like a lifetime ago after scoring four times in three weeks and reestablishing himself as Russell Wilson’s top red zone target.
Coming off his best game of 2017, there will be some gravitating towards Doyle on Sunday. But the Colts’ tight end has been maddeningly inconsistent this year, and most people who have been paying attention will look elsewhere in Week 9.
Jacoby Brissett is quietly holding his own, though, and Doyle has been his security blanket for much of 2017. Doyle drew a season-high 14 targets in Week 8, and has seen 39 total targets over the past four weeks – the third most in the NFL among tight ends over that span.
Even better, Houston has been generous to the position this year despite the fact that they’ve faced some of the league’s best tight ends. Jimmy Graham scored two touchdowns against them on Sunday, and Travis Kelce and Gronk each posted double-digit FanDuel performances as well. Doyle will be the fourth best guy they’ve seen all year, and I expect similar results.
Just like Dez Bryant, Jason Witten’s value increases substantially with Ezekiel Elliot suspended for the next 6 weeks.
I think Witten will be about 10% owned on Sunday, but with Kansas City’s pass defense ranking in the bottom of the league Witten can justify a roster spot by drawing just five or six targets.
Witten has been hit or miss this year, and I think that forces most owners to look elsewhere. But this is probably his best matchup of the year, so there is some real value here.