As good as some matchups appear to be on paper in terms of purely competitive football, we also have a decent amount of potentially lopsided games. Thankfully, this split allows us to find targets from either option, especially when seeking members of the passing attack, as the heavy underdogs tend to shine in this area.
Sporfolio’s NFL Daily Fantasy Sports game-by-game analysis columns are driven by expected game flow. Based on a combination of our Week 8 NFL picks against the spread and our expectations for a given game, we project the actions necessary to make these picks come to fruition. We aim to pinpoint players integral to our predicted game flow for each game of the week.
Luke May is Sporfolio’s NFL DFS expert, and Mario Mergola operates Sporfolio as the expert for NFL Picks Against the Spread.
Cleveland Browns at Pittsburgh Steelers
Luke’s DFS Take: The Steelers are fresh off a bye week and have a home game against a Browns team they probably feel they need to serve some payback to after their Week One tie. This is a different Steelers team than the one that struggled early in the season, and they find themselves in first in the division after a couple strong showings in a row. With the bye week and the home game, this feels like the classic huge game for Ben Roethlisberger. That puts the focus on the passing game as we have seen what the Steelers can do at home when they are in a groove. Any of Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown, Juju Smith-Schuster, or Vance McDonald are options this week. With the expectation being that Pittsburgh scores at will, Baker Mayfield will have his hands full trying to play catch up all afternoon. The Steelers’ defense has been far from spectacular this year, ranking 27th in the league in passing yards allowed per game, so this could be a decent spot to target players for some high volume potential. Jarvis Landry and David Njoku have been the only somewhat reliable members of this passing game, but I find myself intrigued by Duke Johnson Jr. this week. With Carlos Hyde no longer on the team, it is all but guaranteed that he will see more on a weekly basis. That didn’t exactly come to fruition last week, but that game never played into his hands very well as Nick Chubb led the way on the ground. This week, the Browns figure to be in a hole from the get go, which should give the snap advantage to Johnson who is the far superior pass-catching back. He has averaged four targets per game since Mayfield took over as starting quarterback, but this game provides an opportunity to increase that number and take advantage of a perfect game script. He is far from a safe pick, but for his minuscule price tag, he may be worth considering.
Mario’s DFS Take: As I wrote in my picks column, there are just too many consecutive instances of close games between the Steelers and Browns for it to continue much longer. The same can be said of Pittsburgh’s relative mediocrity following a bye week under head coach Mike Tomlin. But, what makes this Steelers team different from those of the past is that Pittsburgh is currently not dominating the league. Instead, it is scraping for wins. It will not allow the Browns to be the reason it is still a .500 team nearly halfway through the year. With that, I am looking to Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown, and James Conner as the top fantasy options, with Conner leading the charge. His value is tied to both game flow – the Steelers should be leading late and running the ball – and storyline, where the rumors had swirled about Le’Veon Bell returning to the team, only to have Roethlisberger praise Conner. With Bell still absent, expect Pittsburgh to squeeze every ounce of production out of Conner. With the possibility of a blowout comes the likelihood of a Cleveland passing attack out of necessity. He isn’t my top choice, but Baker Mayfield is worth a look. Running back Nick Chubb might get an increased workload as we approach the second-half of the season, but the game flow does not play in his favor unless the Browns actively look to run the ball early to keep it out of the hands of Roethlisberger and the Steelers’ offense.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Cincinnati Bengals
Luke’s DFS Take: This game is the perfect matchup where people will be forced to make a decision as to whether or not what we saw last week was real. Last week, the Buccaneers’ defense, which has been terrible all season, looked respectable and held its own against the Browns while the Bengals’ offense, which has been good for much of the season, put up a complete dud in a perfect matchup and game script. This will likely cause many people to fall into a recency bias, and ignore this Bengals offense. For me, it takes more than one week to buy into any trend completely, so I will not be one of those people. I like the Bengals’ passing game to rebound in a game they need to win to maintain position near the top of the division. Andy Dalton is in-play, and with most of the passing game going through A.J. Green and Tyler Boyd, both receivers are definitely options, as well. With me liking the Bengals’ offense, the Buccaneers will likely be in a position to pass fairly often in this one, and the Bengals’ defense has struggled a lot this season so there is some appeal for Tampa Bay as well. The problem with them is that Jameis Winston has 5 targets that he likes to get the ball to, and it’s hard to predict any given week which guy may be favored. Between their top three receivers and two tight ends, any of them could be in play this week given the favorable matchup and projected game flow.
Mario’s DFS Take: I am fully aware that the Buccaneers’ offense is not nearly as explosive as the Chiefs’, but the only manner in which Tampa Bay competes – let alone wins – is by pushing the envelope offensively. The change from Ryan Fitzpatrick to Jameis Winston is not exactly crippling the team, as the Buccaneers totaled at least 450 yards in back-to-back weeks. There is no reason why Winston won’t compile numbers again, especially since his team’s defense is so horrible that it constantly puts the team in a bad position. This leads to Andy Dalton in a ‘bounceback’ position, where he should light up Tampa Bay’s defense. Everyone else has. Dalton and A.J. Green make for an ideal pairing, but I also like Joe Mixon – in a point-per-reception contest – and C.J. Uzomah – who has either caught a touchdown or delivered at least 40 receiving yards in each of the last three weeks.
Photo Credit: Keith Allison Flickr C.C. 2.0