You know week 8 has arrived when waiver wire articles lapse into re-runs.
“Three reasons to roster Charcandrick West (again).”
“Darren McFadden is back (again).”
“Time to grab Jordan Reed (again).”
“Go get Rishard Matthews (again).”
Players originally touted in week 2 have come full circle back into the fantasy football headlines. PlayerProfiler and XN Sports will resist the urge to recycle past content and provide a handful of fresh value plays on DraftKings for week 8 of the NFL season.
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The following players are noteworthy plays who could either serve as the cornerstones of an optimal cash lineup or add upside variance to a GPP/tournament roster, or both.
The Vinyl Snob
Zach Mettenberger, $5,100
Projected PPR Fantasy Points: 15.57
Just like in week 6, and just in week 7, Philip Rivers is week 8’s no-brainer chalk play in cash games. Staked to a $6,600 salary facing the league’s worst pass defense, Philip Rivers is the obvious of the week. Rivers’ ownership percentage on DraftKings will undoubtedly be the highest among quarterbacks. For tournament players looking higher variance at lower cost with significant upside, Zach Mettenberger is an attractive week 8 option.
No way Ken Whisenhunt is stupid enough to play his play young franchise quarterback Marcus Mariota two weeks removed from spraining his knee. That would be like playing Arian Foster in the second half of a 41-0 blowout. Oh. Assuming Ken Whisenhunt is more sensible than Bill O’Brien, Zach Mettenberger will be under under against Houston’s horrific pass defense in week 8. Only once has Houston not allowed 200-plus passing yards and multiple passing touchdowns — to Atlanta who went up 28-0 at the half. Matt Hasselbeck threw for two touchdowns, Alex Smith three touchdowns. Blake Bortles is the best fantasy quarterback that Houston has faced this year.
Enter Zach Mettenberger who may be below replacement, but he does have weapons. Kendall Wright is a top possession receiver, Delanie Walker is a top-10 receiving tight end, Dexter McCluster is a quality receiving back, and Dorial Green-Beckham was the size-speed freak of the 2015 NFL Draft whose snap share eclipsed the 50-percent threshold for the first time last week. Shackled by an underwhelming running game, the Titans will likely lean on Zach Mettenberger in an ugly, but possibly high scoring game, that most NFL fans will avoid while fantasy degenerates flock to and cash.
The Time Machine
Chris Johnson, $4,600
Projected PPR Fantasy Points: 16.87
Chris Johnson got shot. Chris Johnson was released by the Jets. Chris Johnson was dropped in every fantasy league. 2015 was unkind to Chris Johnson… until last week. In week 7 of the year of the old man, the 30-year old Chris Johnson ran for 122-yards and a touchdown against a quality run defenses in the NFL. Before week 7, only Le’Veon Bell had rushed for more than 65-yards against the Ravens’ stout defensive front.
While Chris Johnson’s Monday night outburst caught many sports fans and fantasy gamers by surprise, the Cardinals have known what they have since week 2 of the NFL season when Johnson received 20 carries. His RB Opportunity Share (percentage of team running back carries and targets) now sits at 60-percent and climbing. The Cardinals have found a productive workhorse and will ride him regardless of age and mileage.
In week 8, Arizona squares off against a Cleveland defense that allows 31.6 fantasy points per game to opposing running backs, third highest in the NFL. Receiving the lion’s share of the carries and red zone touches for a prolific offense, Chris Johnson’s $4,600 salary represents the best value across all positions in all DraftKings contests.
The Boom-Boom Candidate
Martavis Bryant, $5,300
Projected PPR Fantasy Points: 15.98
Martavis Bryant was the most productive wide receiver on a per target basis in 2014 evidence by a +49.2 Production Premium on PlayerProfiler.com. A 21.2 Yards Per Reception made Bryant the king of the shot play with Ben Roethlisberger last season. Though he was greeted by Landry Jones upon returning from suspension in week 6 this season, Martavis Bryant’s production did not wane as he has posted three touchdown and a 22.8 YPR in three games. Since his debut, Bryant has been all boom, no bust.
From Mike Evans to T.Y. Hilton to Allen Robinson, tournament-winning DFS rosters are often powered by X receivers making big plays on deep routes. At 6-4, 211-pounds running a 4.42 (87th-percentile) 40-yard dash with a 128.3 (83rd-percentile) Burst Score, Martavis Bryant pairs über size-adjusted athleticism with ball skills at the catch point. Martavis Bryant’s stature, athleticism, and on-field production oozes playmaker.
In week 8, Martavis Bryant will face a Bengals team that is scoring 30-plus points per game while also allowing more than 20 points per game. Moreover, Cincinnati allows 34.4 fantasy points per game to opposing wide receivers. Now settled in as Pittsburgh’s go-to receiver on deep routes and double moves, the volatile Martavis Bryant possesses the weekly boom upside that savvy tournament players covet.
The Stealth Bomber
Ladarius Green, $3,000
Projected PPR Fantasy Points: 13.37
Ladarius Green was the NFL’s poster child for tight end volatility in 2014. This year, Green has personified week-to-week consistency posting between 9.7 and 19.5 fantasy points each week playing both in-line and move tight end roles depending on Antonio Gates’ availability. Green is much more than a consistently functional fill-in. He is an athletic specimen evidenced by a 116.4 (91st-percentile) Height-adjusted Speed Score) and 10.18 (82nd-percentile) Catch Radius on PlayerProfiler.com.
Green’s production and athleticism make him one of the league’s few high ceiling, high floor tight ends, particularly when Antonio Gates is inactive. Reports from the Union Tribune San Diego’s Michael Gehlken indicate that Antonio Gates’ sprained MCL looks like a multi-week injury. Operating as an every-down tight end, Green is a featured component of San Diego receiving corps, which lacks explosive athletes. Indeed, only No. 4 wide receiver Dontrelle Inman is faster than Ladarius Green (by 0.01 seconds).
Philip Rivers has been the most productive quarterback over the past two weeks, and San Diego’s prolific passing will likely continue against a Ravens defense allowing 283-passing yards per game. While the Ravens allow the second fewest fantasy points to tight ends, look closer at Baltimore’s opponents. After shutting down the plodding Heath Miller, Mychal Rivera and Owen Daniels early in season, the Ravens allowed the sneaky-athletic Gary Barnidge to shred them for 8 receptions, 139 yards, and a touchdown. Then in week 7, Jermaine Gresham posted his best stat line of the season: 4 receptions for 62 yards. How well do the Ravens defend the tight end? No one knows. If the Ravens tight end defense is effective, Ladarius Green at $3,000 on DraftKings will merely be the best-value tight end in cash games. If the Ravens tight end defense is actually a mirage, Ladarius Green will be a the optimal tight end play in both GPPs and cash games.
May the game flow be ever in your favor.