The Week 8 main slate on FanDuel kicks off at 12:00 ET and features 14 games. Our breakdown will highlight core plays, which are cash game options and also players to build our GPP lineups around. We will also list some other players worth consideration for GPPs. As always, hit me up on Twitter with questions or comments (@hindery).
We are overflowing with strong plays at quarterback, running back and wide receiver. The wide receiver position is especially deep, which potentially allows us to bypass the highest-priced options and still find plenty of upside in the $7,500-$8,500 price range.
Once again, we have a number of tremendous quarterback options priced in the $10,000 range. Kyler Murray has the best blend of passing and rushing upside. Dwayne Haskins and Gardner Minshew III don’t bring much on the ground but should put on a show as passers. Holton Ahlers is a risky play in his first start but the salary savings makes piecing together the rest of your lineup much easier.
Kyler Murray, Oklahoma ($10,500)
Aside an early blowout against FAU where Murray played just the first half, he has been a fantasy monster. In the five games since, he is averaging 39.7 fantasy points per contest. He has topped 30 fantasy points each game and shown his ridiculous upside with a 51.8-point explosion in Week 5 against Baylor. He probably comes in closer to what has been his floor (30 points) in a matchup against TCU’s 14th-ranked (S&P) defense but he has the upside for more. Especially if Oklahoma’s much-maligned defense lets the TCU offense get rolling and we end up with a shootout.
Dwayne Haskins, Ohio State ($10,600)
Over the past two weeks, Haskins has averaged 434 passing yards and 4.5 touchdowns against the top-50 defenses of Indiana and Minnesota. In Week 8, he gets Purdue’s 84th ranked unit. The Buckeyes have a 40.5-point team total in a primetime game that could easily turn into a shootout. Most of those 40 expected points should come through Haskins. Ohio State has struggled to impose its will running the ball without a running threat at quarterback to even numbers in the box. However, the Buckeyes have adjusted by using the quick passing game, especially bubble screens, as an extension of the passing game. It has allowed Haskins to pick up a lot of easy yards with short throws getting the ball to athletes in space. Haskins probably has a bit less upside than some of the quarterbacks who run more often but has a huge floor given it would be a surprise if he didn’t throw for 300+ yards and at least 3 touchdowns.
Gardner Minshew II, Washington St. ($10,300)
Minshew’s passing stats are insane. He is averaging just over 400 passing yards per game and has had at least 319 in every outing this season. He also is averaging 3.5 touchdowns per game. Minshew is facing an Oregon defense that ranks just 91st in what should be a shootout. Washington St. is a 3-point favorite in a game with a 68-point total. With Washington St. hosting College Gameday for the first time, the atmosphere should be electric in Pullman on Saturday night and Minshew will be looking to put on a show. He is one of the top plays on the slate.
Also Worth Consideration
McKenzie Milton, UCF ($10,200)
Milton has disappointed as the chalk two weeks in a row, with 19.8 fantasy points against SMU and 18.7 last week against Memphis. He hasn’t been running the ball as much and Memphis was able to sack him a few times. It is tough to go back to him again. However, the numbers again point to Milton as a top play. UCF has the #3 offense in the country, averaging 556 yards per game and is facing a mediocre (65th) East Carolina defense. UCF is also tied with Alabama for the highest team total on the slate. Milton has slightly more upside than Minshew and Haskins due to his legs but also comes with a lower floor because he isn’t as proficient a passer.
Holton Ahlers, East Carolina ($7,400) A highly-touted true freshman who passed on offers from top SEC schools to stay home at East Carolina, Ahlers is slated to make his first career start. “He doesn’t have a leash. I’ve taken the leash off,” Montgomery said. “He’s going to get to play as long and as hard as he can. The one thing about it is all of us have to realize there are going to be some bad plays in there, but there’s also going to be some really, really good plays.” Ahlers is a big, athletic lefty in the mold of Tim Tebow. He is built like a fullback, which makes him the go-to option as a runner in the red zone. In limited playing time to date, Ahlers has 5 rushing touchdowns on just 36 carries. There is risk backing a true freshman in his first start against a solid UCF defense (37th). East Carolina also has a modest 22-point team total. However, this salary is extremely attractive in the superflex spot given Ahlers’ rushing upside.
Tua Tagovailoa, Alabama ($10,000)
Tagovailoa got off to a fast start against Missouri last week and it looked like we might finally see what kind of numbers he could put up playing most of a game. Alas, he was removed due to a minor knee injury and we still haven’t seen Tagovailoa take a fourth-quarter snap. Despite the lack of playing time, Tagovailoa is averaging a very solid 25.2 fantasy points per game. He has a high floor and if the Tennessee offense can keep things close into the second half, we might finally see Tagovailoa’s ceiling. He is worth playing in GPPs, especially considering the relatively affordable pricing of his top targets.
Trace McSorley, Penn St. ($10,100)
McSorley had his worst game of the season last week against Michigan St. and the Nittany Lions are smarting from back-to-back losses. A matchup against Indiana could be a get-right spot for this team, allowing them to release some frustration and get their season back on track. In the last two weeks, the Hoosiers allowed 320 passing yards and 6 touchdowns to Nate Stanley of Iowa and 455 yards and 6 touchdowns to Dwayne Haskins of Ohio State. There is an opportunity here for McSorley to have a huge day through the air.
Jonathan Taylor looks like the clear top play based upon the plus matchup against Illinois. CJ Verdell also has a great matchup and solid price but less of a track record of success than some of the other top options. Travis Etienne and Darrell Henderson have proven themselves elite and should have success in Week 8 despite tougher matchups.
Jonathan Taylor, Wisconsin ($9,900)
Taylor has rushed for 100+ yards in every game this season. He even topped 100 rushing yards last week on the road at Michigan despite the Badgers playing from behind. This week, Wisconsin is a big home favorite against an Illinois defense that has struggled to stop the run against decent opponents. The Illini allowed Penn St. to run for 387 yards and 6 touchdowns, with Miles Sanders running for 200 yards and 3 touchdowns. Last week, Purdue rushed for 227 yards and 2 touchdowns against the Illini, with D.J. Knox rushing for 150 yards. Taylor is averaging 189 rushing yards per game at home this season and should have a heavy workload. Before the Michigan blowout, Taylor had at least 24 carries in four straight games. If there is one slight negative with Taylor, it is that he hasn’t been quite as consistent a touchdown producer as some of the other top backs on the slate with 21 in 20 career games.
CJ Verdell, Oregon ($9,000)
Oregon started the season spreading running back touches between a large number of backs. However, in recent weeks, the rotation has narrowed. Just two backs had carries in a huge win over Oregon last week, Verdell (29) and Travis Dye (15). Verdell was also officially listed alone atop the depth chart for the first time this week. It looks likes a dream matchup for Verdell against Washington State. The Cougars are 119th in efficiency against the run and 11th against the pass, so it is a spot where the Ducks should lean heavily on the run. Verdell isn’t cheap but the approximately $1,000 in savings compared to the other top backs is a key factor in his favor.
Travis Etienne, Clemson ($10,000)
Etienne has been on fire his last four games, averaging 164 rushing yards and 2.5 touchdowns. With the Clemson passing offense still finding its footing under freshman quarterback Trevor Lawrence, Etienne should again be the centerpiece of the offense. NC State does rank 29th in defense, so it isn’t a plum matchup. However, Clemson does have a healthy 37-point team total and had success against an even better NC State defense last year. In a narrow win on the road, Clemson ran for 224 yards and 3 touchdowns.
Darrell Henderson, Memphis ($10,100)
Henderson leads the nation in rush yards (1,133), yards from scrimmage (1,324), touchdowns from scrimmage (15) and yards per carry (10.3). There hasn’t been a more explosive back in the country and Henderson will be one of our core plays any time Memphis is on the slate. No team is likely to completely contain Henderson. However, this might be a week his production is more pedestrian. Missouri is allowing just 3.5 yards per rush this season and ranks 2nd in the country in limiting explosive runs. Missouri’s run defense has even held up against elite competition, allowing just 4.6 yards per carry to Georgia and 4.0 to Alabama. It’s not a great matchup, so Henderson ranks #4 at the position in Week 8 after topping the list last week.
Also Worth Considering
Miles Sanders, Penn State ($9,800)
Sanders is averaging 126 yards and 1.2 touchdowns per game this season. He put up 162 yards and a touchdown last week against the excellent Michigan St. run defense. Indiana’s run defense is merely average and Penn State is a 15-point road favorite.
Damien Harris, Alabama ($8,600)
Harris had exactly 16 touches in each of the last two weeks and averaged just over 20 fantasy in the two games . With Alabama tightening up the running back rotation a bit and Tua Tagovailoa less than 100% healthy, we could finally see Harris get 20 touches. If he does, he could have a huge game against a bad Tennessee defense (97th).
Damarea Crockett, Missouri ($7,500)
Missouri has one of the highest team totals on the slate at 41.5 points. With the wide receiver ranks badly depleted, expect much of the offensive production to come on the ground. Crockett has 8 less rushes than Larry Rountree III this season (85 to 77) but is priced more attractively and worth a shot in GPPs as a price saver with legitimate upside.
The wide receiver position in Week 8 is the hardest it has been all season. Not because there aren’t strong options but because we are overflowing with strong plays, which makes it hard to find any one or two that stand out above the rest. Due to this, the wide receiver breakdown is going to look a little bit different this week and quickly break down the top plays in three different pricing tiers.
We have some of the most talented, heavily-targeted receivers in the nation on our slate (Laviska Shenault, Marquise Brown, Rondale Moore, Kelvin Harmon, and A.J. Brown) but each faces a difficult matchup.
We also have a bunch of standout values in the $8K range (DaMarkus Lodge, K.J. Hill, Damontie Coxie, and Henry Ruggs III) that give us a nice mix of major upside and solid floors.
Plus, if we want to fit some of these elite expensive plays in, we are going to have to mine for value. Thus, we will look at some of the top options under $7,000.
The Elite Tier
Laviska Shenault, Jr. Colorado ($10,100)
Shenault is similar to Kyler Murray and Darrell Henderson in that he is strongly in play every week regardless of the matchup. The freakishly talented sophomore has wide receiver speed and skills combined with the big body and power of a running back. His production has been off the charts this season. In six games, he has 60-780-6 as a receiver. If that wasn’t impressive enough, he also lines up in the wildcat and has added another 87 yards and 5 touchdowns on the ground. Washington is a tough matchup (15th in S&P) and it is certainly difficult to fit Shenault into lineups. However, his elite production as both a receiver and runner is worth paying up for.
Jerry Jeudy, Alabama ($9,700)
Jeudy is such an anomaly because he is averaging just 5.0 targets per game this season. However he is averaging over 20 yards per target and 27.1 yards per catch with 9 touchdowns. It feels almost certain Jeudy will get loose for one long touchdown against Tennessee. If he does it twice, he could be one of the top plays on the slate.
A.J. Brown, Ole Miss ($8,800)
A potential first-round NFL Draft pick next spring, Brown has been solid this season (50-650-4) but has struggled against top competition. Auburn’s defense ranks 2nd according to S&P but has some injuries and looks beatable. Brown ranks below the top options on the slate in terms of projected points but the price discount compared to the very top guys puts him very much in play. The injury to D.K. Metcalf may also lead to a few more targets Brown’s way.
Davontavean Martin, Washington St. ($9,000)
Washington St. spreads it around (seven guys seeing at least 4.0 targets per game) but Martin sees the most volume (9.5 targets per game). In a likely shootout against Oregon, Martin stacks well with Minshew.
Jalen Reagor, TCU ($9,200)
Reagor has averaged 12.6 targets per game the last five games and is facing an Oklahoma defense that has given up big numbers this season. He should see at least a dozen targets with TCU likely to be playing catchup.
The Mid-Tier ($7,000-$8,500)
K.J. Hill, Ohio State ($8,300)
Hill was a slate winner last week with his 35-point fantasy performance. He has been incredibly efficient for Ohio State this season, catching 40 of 46 targets (87%). The Buckeyes spread the ball around quite a bit but Hill and Parris Campbell have emerged as the two guys most consistently involved on a week-to-week basis. Hill has a great matchup against a poor Purdue pass defense.
Jalen Knox, Missouri ($7,800)
With injuries to veterans starters, the true freshman Knox has emerged as the top receiver for the Tigers. He broke out somewhat against Purdue (5-100-1) and fared okay last week against Alabama (3-61-1). Missouri has a 42-point team total in what should be a high-paced shootout versus Memphis, so Knox could be poised for the first monster fantasy performance of his young career.
DaMarkus Lodge, Ole Miss ($8,100)
A.J. Brown and Lodge are 1A-1B as pass options for Jordan Ta’amu. With DK Metcalf out for the season, both should take on an even bigger share of the targets. Lodge is underpriced despite the tough matchup against Auburn.
Henry Ruggs III, Alabama ($8,000)
Ruggs has been the third receiver for the Crimson Tide but #2 Devonta Smith looks unlikely to suit up Saturday due to a hamstring injury. His absence would make Ruggs the clearcut #2 target behind only Jerry Jeudy against Tennessee.
Sub $7,000 Salary Savers
Jaylen Waddle, Alabama ($6,300)
Assuming Devonta Smith is out, Waddle will step in as Alabama’s #3 wide receiver. As a speedy big-play threat, Waddle doesn’t need many targets to do damage.
Braylon Sanders, Ole Miss ($6,600)
Injury has also opened the door for Sanders to ascend the depth chart. He steps into DK Metcalf’s starting spot and should see a decent amount of targets in a potential shootout against Auburn.
Drew Sample, Washington ($4,600)
Washington’s starting tight end was highlighted here last week and caught 4 passes for 79 yards. We will take that all day from a guy who lets us load up our lineup elsewhere.