Expert DRAFTing Week 8

A how-to-guide to beating this week's snake drafts on DRAFT

Main Slate Breakdown

DRAFT offers weekly fantasy contests with 5-man rosters (1 QB, 2 RB, 2 WR/TE) and 0.5-point PPR scoring (the same as FanDuel).  But instead of using a salary cap like other daily fantasy sites, teams are built through live snake drafts with 30-seconds per pick. The most common contest sizes are Head-to-Head, 3-Team, 6-Team, and 10-Team. 

First, we will dive into the rankings and draft strategy for each of the four Draft sizes. If you are interested in why the players are ranked where they are in the overall rankings, make sure to check out the in-depth breakdowns of the top options in the positional rankings. 

Please feel free to contact me (email or twitter) with any questions or if you are just looking for some extra advice for this week’s drafts. Constructive feedback on the article format and content is always appreciated.

Head-To-Head Draft Rankings and Strategy

  1. Le'Veon Bell
  2. Antonio Brown
  3. Ezekiel Elliott
  4. A.J. Green
  5. LeSean McCoy
  6. Julio Jones
  7. Carson Wentz
  8. Tom Brady
  9. Melvin Gordon III
  10. Mike Evans

Le'Veon Bell is the clear 1.01 in all Drafts this week. His usage rate has been astronomical. Over the last four weeks, Bell has averaged 29.3 rushing attempts and 5.0 receptions per game for 34.3 touches per game. In three of the last four, he had at least 35 touches. 

At 1.02, Antonio Brown and Ezekiel Elliott are the top options. It makes the most sense to grab one running back and one wide receiver at the 1/2 turn. While grabbing the top two receivers has some appeal, having to face both Elliott and Bell would be a daunting task. 

Carson Wentz is a strong option as the top quarterback of the week. The Philadelphia’s implied team total is 30 points and the Eagles offense has done most of its damage through the air. Wentz has thrown 10 touchdowns in the last 3 games and also projects for a couple points worth of rushing yards. Tom Brady will always rank at or near the top of the draft board but his matchup this week is tough. The Los Angeles Chargers have the best pass rush duo in the league (Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram III), which will limit Brady’s time to throw. The Chargers have very good defensive backs as well. 

3-Team Draft Rankings and Strategy

  1. Le'Veon Bell
  2. Ezekiel Elliott
  3. LeSean McCoy
  4. Antonio Brown
  5. A.J. Green
  6. Julio Jones
  7. Mike Evans
  8. Melvin Gordon III
  9. Carson Wentz
  10. Mark Ingram II
  11. Tom Brady
  12. Kareem Hunt
  13. Michael Thomas
  14. Doug Baldwin
  15. Dak Prescott

The top running backs are always the most valuable commodity in 3-Team drafts. Bell, Elliott, and McCoy should be the top two picks. However, it is worth noting that the drop off from the top options to the lower RB options, Kareem Hunt and Mark Ingram II, is not nearly as steep as we see most weeks. If drafting from the 1.03 spot, a WR/WR start is worth considering if you aren’t sold on McCoy’s touchdown upside. Locking in Antonio Brown and A.J. Green provides a unique advantage and there is still solid upside with the later-round backs. Brown is matchup-proof and the clear top receiver for the rest of the season. Unless his matchup is awful, he is the top option at the position every week. Green has a dream matchup against an awful Colts secondary and has the potential to put together a huge fantasy week. He is the clear #2 wide receiver option. 

There looks to be a tier break after the top-4 wide receivers. Michael Thomas is banged up and could have a low-volume week if the Saints jump out to an early lead. Doug Baldwin may be a bit safer but he doesn’t have as much upside as the top receivers in a relatively difficult matchup against the Houston Texans. After locking up one of the top backs, the highest priority in the 2nd and 3rd rounds should be to lock up two of the top-4 wide receivers. 

6-Team Draft Rankings and Strategy

  1. Le'Veon Bell
  2. Ezekiel Elliott
  3. LeSean McCoy
  4. Melvin Gordon III
  5. Antonio Brown
  6. A.J. Green
  7. Mark Ingram II
  8. Kareem Hunt
  9. Julio Jones
  10. Mike Evans
  11. Devonta Freeman
  12. Jordan Howard
  13. Carson Wentz
  14. Christian McCaffrey
  15. Joe Mixon
  16. Michael Thomas
  17. Doug Baldwin
  18. Keenan Allen
  19. Travis Kelce
  20. Rob Gronkowski
  21. Tom Brady
  22. Dak Prescott
  23. Cam Newton
  24. Drew Brees
  25. Kirk Cousins
  26. Chris Thompson
  27. Carlos Hyde
  28. DeAndre Hopkins
  29. Michael Crabtree
  30. Amari Cooper

As mentioned in past weeks, the key to developing early-round Draft strategy requires is looking ahead to the final round possibilities at each position. In Week 8, the big question each individual should consider is whether one or more of the later-round running back options is enticing. Let’s look at some examples:

  • Joe Mixon will be a polarizing player this week. Some will want to avoid him due to his low floor. He is coming off of a week in which he saw just seven carries and running behind a bad offensive line. On the other hand, some will see the Cincinnati Bengals listed as 10.5-point home favorites against an awful Indianapolis team and see a game script that sets up well for Mixon to have a breakout game. 
  • Christian McCaffrey has a plus matchup as well against a Tampa Bay defense that ranks dead-last in DVOA. The Buccaneers have been eviscerated by opposing slot wide receivers. While McCaffrey is listed as a running back, he is also essentially the Panthers top slot receiver. 
  • Carlos Hyde is in the opposite boat from Mixon and McCaffrey. Their usage is more predictable but the matchups are much tougher on the road against Baltimore and Philadelphia, respectively. 

If you like one or more of the backs listed above, it frees you up to be more aggressive in drafting one of the top wide receivers in the first two rounds. If you view the list above and see more risk than reward, then the strategy is to start your draft RB/RB and let other owners roll the dice on the late-round running backs.

There is a tier drop after the top-4 wide receivers and there appears to be little separation from WR/TE5 to WR/TE12. Beauty is going to be in the eye of the beholder within this tier. Once the top four are gone, waiting at wide receiver is viable. 

This is one of the deepest quarterback weeks we have had. Each of the top-6 quarterbacks has a high point projection this week. Due to the relatively flat projections in the second tier at wide receiver, it is perfectly fine to grab your quarterback as early as the 3rd round. However, it is also very easy to wait and happily draft whichever one of the top quarterbacks is still available in the final round. 

10-Team Draft Rankings and Strategy

  1. Le'Veon Bell
  2. Ezekiel Elliott
  3. LeSean McCoy
  4. Melvin Gordon III
  5. Mark Ingram II
  6. Antonio Brown
  7. A.J. Green
  8. Julio Jones
  9. Kareem Hunt
  10. Devonta Freeman
  11. Mike Evans
  12. Jordan Howard
  13. Christian McCaffrey
  14. Joe Mixon
  15. Chris Thompson
  16. Carson Wentz
  17. Michael Thomas
  18. Doug Baldwin
  19. Keenan Allen
  20. Carlos Hyde
  21. Lamar Miller
  22. Alvin Kamara
  23. Travis Kelce
  24. Rob Gronkowski
  25. DeAndre Hopkins
  26. Michael Crabtree
  27. Amari Cooper
  28. Tom Brady
  29. Dak Prescott
  30. Cam Newton
  31. Drew Brees
  32. Kirk Cousins
  33. Russell Wilson
  34. Doug Martin
  35. LeGarrette Blount
  36. Ameer Abdullah
  37. Alshon Jeffery
  38. Zach Ertz
  39. Brandin Cooks
  40. Kelvin Benjamin
  41. Andy Dalton
  42. Philip Rivers
  43. Adam Thielen
  44. Demaryius Thomas
  45. Chris Hogan
  46. C.J. Anderson
  47. Dez Bryant
  48. Jameis Winston
  49. Jerick McKinnon
  50. Matt Forte

Running backs get pushed way up the Draft board in 10-Team drafts. There simply aren’t 20 attractive options at the position in Week 8. Waiting at the position requires rolling the dice on a committee back in a mediocre matchup. While it may seem crazy to draft players like Christian McCaffrey and Joe Mixon ahead of the top quarterbacks and solid wide receivers like Michael Thomas, the positional scarcity at running back makes going this route the optimal strategy. Try to lock up two running backs in the first three rounds and reserve your late picks for quarterback and wide receiver. 

Even in the final round, there should be quarterbacks like Andy Dalton and Philip Rivers with great matchups. Similarly, Kelvin Benjamin and Alshon Jeffery are late-round wide receiver options that have massive upside in fantastic matchups. 

If drafting in the top-half of the first round, the decision is easy: draft the top running back available. In the bottom-half of the first round, the decision is tougher. Do you take one of the solid but unspectacular remaining running backs or one of the elite wide receivers? The best move may be to grab a top receiver in the first round and take the best remaining running back in the second round. 

Positional Rankings and Analysis

Quarterback Rankings

  1. Carson Wentz Wentz has thrown 10 touchdowns in his last three games and has thrown multiple touchdowns in 5-of-7 games. Wentz also has added value due to his rushing ability. He has averaged 26 rushing yards per game this season. The matchup couldn’t be much better against an awful San Francisco secondary. Football Outsiders ranks San Francisco 28th against WR1s, 26th against WR2s, 28th against Other WRs, and 31st against RBs. Wentz will have plenty of positive matchups to exploit. 
  2. Tom Brady The Chargers have a strong pass defense (8th in DVOA), with elite pass rushers and very good cornerback play. The best way to beat the Chargers is either to run the ball or get rid of it quickly to slot wide receivers and running backs. Brady is one of the league’s most efficient quick passers and has the depth of passing game weapons to give the Chargers defense trouble. 
  3. Dak Prescott Over the past three games, Wentz has accounted for 11 touchdowns (9 passing and 2 rushing). He is playing at a high level and will get a stiff test on the road in a key divisional matchup against Washington. With the return of Josh Norman to the lineup, the matchups for the Dallas outside receivers will be very difficult. Washington has been vulnerable against slot receivers and tight ends, however. Look for Prescott to pick apart the Washington defense over the middle of the field. Dallas has had great success running zone read in the red zone. While Prescott isn’t used heavily as a runner (just 3.3 rushing attempts per game), most of those attempts have come down around the goal line. For his career, he has scored 9 rushing touchdowns on just 77 carries. 
  4. Cam Newton The matchup couldn’t be much better for Cam Newton. Tampa Bay is dead last in pass defense DVOA. The Buccaneers have given up 20+ Draft points in 4-of-5 weeks. Tampa may also be without their best cornerback, Brent Grimes. Not only has the Buccaneers secondary struggled mightily, the defense also ranks last in the league with just seven sacks. When Cam Newton has struggled the most this season, it has been when he has faced pressure. He should have more time to operate this week, especially with Tampa’s top edge rusher, Noah Spence, recently having been placed on injured reserve. While Newton has been inconsistent in recent weeks, there have been promising signs for his fantasy prospects. Newton is back to being a major threat with his legs. He has 20 rushing attempts for 121 yards and 1 touchdown over the last two weeks. 
  5. Drew Brees It feels wrong to rank Brees all the way down at QB5 when he is playing at home in the Superdome. Especially when the Saints have a big 28.3-point implied team total. However, game script is a major concern. The Bears offense is devoid of passing game weapons and features a struggling rookie quarterback. With a much-improved defense, the Saints could be content to bleed the clock if they again jump out to a big early lead. 
  6. Kirk Cousins
  7. Russell Wilson
  8. Andy Dalton
  9. Philip Rivers
  10. Jameis Winston

Running Back Rankings

  1. Le'Veon Bell The matchup against the Lions is relatively tough, though Detroit was gashed by New Orleans in their first game without run-stuffing defensive tackle Haloti Ngata. Regardless of matchup, Bell should rank at or near the top of our draft board every week due to talent and volume. Bell’s usage rate has been astronomical. Over the last four weeks, Bell has averaged 29.3 rushing attempts and 5.0 receptions per game for 34.3 touches per game. In three of the last four, he had at least 35 touches. Nobody comes close to having Bell’s weekly floor/ceiling combination.
  2. Ezekiel Elliott Elliott was our recommended pick at 1.01 in all formats last week in a prime matchup against San Francisco. He ranks slightly behind Bell in Week 8 due to a difficult matchup against a tough Washington defense that is allowing just 94.5 yards per game rushing. Elliott has been able to excel in tough matchups over the last two seasons, however. In two matchups against Washington last season, Elliott totaled 207 yards and 3 touchdowns. Elliott gets the nod over McCoy due to touchdown upside, with Elliott averaging 1.0 per game this season and McCoy averaging just 0.3. 
  3. LeSean McCoy The Bills used their Week 6 bye to adjust some of the schemes used in the running game to get McCoy back on track. The changes worked as McCoy scored his first two touchdowns of the season in Week 7 and put up 24.7 Draft points. The Bills are again home favorites and face a solid but unspectacular Oakland run defense. The Raiders have been relatively solid against the run and haven’t allowed a 100-yard rusher this season. However, they have given up some big games through the air to opposing running backs. Melvin Gordon III caught 9 passes for 67 yards and a touchdown and Chris Thompson had 150 receiving yards and a touchdown on 6 receptions. McCoy could have a big day as a receiver even if he is kept in check as a rusher. 
  4. Melvin Gordon III The optimistic view on Gordon is that you ignore the awful Week 7 against an elite Denver defense and focus on the back-to-back 31-point performances in Weeks 5 and 6. In those two games, Gordon averaged 22.5 carries and 10 targets per game. If he sees anywhere near that amount of volume against a middling New England defense, Gordon is a good bet to make a run at high-scorer of the week. The pessimistic view of Gordon is that he isn’t built to be able to stay healthy with week-after-week of heavy workload. Since the big workload in Week 6, Gordon has been questionable and seems to be playing through multiple injuries. Last week, he saw just 19 touches and was outperformed by backup Austin Ekeler (11 touches). Perhaps the Chargers will look to limit Gordon to 20 touches per game and make more use of the backups. There is enough uncertainty here to rank Gordon a tier below the top-3 who each look like near locks for 25+ touches. 
  5. Mark Ingram II Since the Adrian Peterson trade, Ingram has played 57% of the offensive snaps (with 43% for Alvin Kamara). This is definitely a committee, which limits Ingram’s weekly fantasy value somewhat. He has benefitted from ideal game scripts to see 58 touches and produce 27.5 and 19.0 Draft points over the last two weeks. The Saints are 9-point home favorites and facing a hapless Chicago Bears offense, to the game script should again set up for Ingram to have a great week. 
  6. Kareem Hunt Hunt has cooled off from his torrid early pace. After averaging 2.0 touchdowns per game through three weeks, Hunt hasn’t found the end zone in any of his last four games. The matchup is as tough as it gets for Hunt. Denver is #1 in run defense DVOA, hasn’t allowed a single rushing touchdown through seven weeks and have held opposing backs to just 3.0 yards per rush. While we certainly have to downgrade Hunt based on the matchup, he is still a talented back seeing 20+ touches per game and should have a good game script with the Chiefs 7-point home favorites. 
  7. Devonta Freeman
  8. Jordan Howard
  9. Christian McCaffrey
  10. Joe Mixon
  11. Chris Thompson
  12. Carlos Hyde
  13. Lamar Miller
  14. Alvin Kamara
  15. Doug Martin
  16. LeGarrette Blount
  17. Ameer Abdullah
  18. Jerick McKinnon
  19. C.J. Anderson
  20. Matt Forte

Wide Receiver Rankings

  1. Antonio Brown The two teams in the NFL who have generally had success holding Brown in check are AFC North Rivals Baltimore and Cincinnati. In the four games against these rivals, Brown is only a solid option. The other 12 weeks of the season, he should be at the top of our Draft boards. Taking out the Ravens and Bengals games, Brown is averaging 8.8 receptions, 133.2 yards and 0.4 touchdowns per game this season (20.1 points). The matchup against top-20 cornerback Darius Slay isn’t great but isn’t prohibitive. Brown has had three games this season with 155+ receiving yards and nobody else can match that regular upside.
  2. A.J. Green Green is in a fantastic spot against the Colts 30th ranked pass defense and will top the wide receiver rankings for many. The Colts will also be without arguably their two best defensive backs in Malik Hooker and Rashaan Melvin. While Green has similar upside to Brown, the floor is lower. In 3-of-6 games, Green has seen 8 or fewer targets. He also has less than 75 receiving yards and no touchdowns in half of his games this season. With the Bengals running game struggling to get on track, opponents have been content to keep an extra defensive back deep and pay extra attention to stopping Green. Forcing the Bengals to beat you with secondary receivers and their running game has been a successful formula for Cincinnati’s opponents to date. 
  3. Julio Jones After being held in check all game, Jones finally made a fantasy impact in garbage time against the Patriots last week. It has been an incredibly frustrating start to the season for the Falcons offense. The positive is that the directive from head coach Dan Quinn to get Jones more involved was followed. Jones was targeted a season-high 13 times. Expect another heavy workload for Jones against the Jets on Sunday. New York ranks just 23rd in pass defense DVOA. Jones is likely to see shadow coverage from the much smaller Morris Claiborne, who ranks a middling 52nd of 109 qualified cornerbacks according to ProFootballFocus.
  4. Mike Evans Evans has had a string of difficult cornerback matchups to start the season but has still been able to put together solid performances. He is on pace for 1,224 yards and 12 touchdowns. Against a stout Carolina run defense, expect Tampa Bay to be forced to rely on the arm of Jameis Winston to move the ball and put up points. Evans should see plenty of targets (23 in two games against Carolina last season) and have a great shot at scoring a touchdown. 
  5. Michael Thomas Keep an eye on injury news regarding Thomas. He has been dealing with a knee problem and full participation in Friday’s practice will be a key to feeling comfortable drafting him as a top receiver this week. Assuming Thomas continues to look likely to play, he is a top-5 option this week. The Bears defense has been above average this season but ranks just 25th in DVOA against opposing #1 receivers. With Drew Brees at home in the dome, this is about as good a spot as we are going to see for Thomas. Aside from a wonky game in which the Saints defense scored three early touchdowns, Thomas has seen at least 8 targets in every game. He has 80+ receiving yards in 4-of-6 games this season and has one of the higher weekly floors at the position. 
  6. Doug Baldwin
  7. Keenan Allen
  8. Travis Kelce The tight end position has been the best way to attack the Denver defense. Starting tight ends against the Broncos have averaged over 13 Draft points per game over the last five games. Kelce is one of the league’s best tight ends and should see an especially heavy workload on Monday night. In two games against the Broncos last season, Kelce saw a whopping 27 targets and caught 19 passes for 261 yards and 1 touchdown (25.6 Draft points per game). While Zach Ertz and Rob Gronkowski will get more attention, Kelce is the tight end to target in Week 8 Drafts. 
  9. Rob Gronkowski
  10. DeAndre Hopkins
  11. Michael Crabtree
  12. Amari Cooper
  13. Alshon Jeffery While Carson Wentz has been on a tear over the last three games (10 passing touchdowns), Jeffery has been frustratingly quiet. He has been held out of the end zone since Week 4 and been mostly shut down by a string of tough cornerbacks (Patrick Peterson, James Bradberry, Bashed Breeland, Casey Hayward and Josh Norman). San Francisco’s awful secondary lacks anything resembling a top cover cornerback but ranks first in the league against opposing tight ends (tough matchup for Zack Ertz). On paper, it looks like a matchup in which the Eagles offense should heavily feature Jeffery. He is the preferred stacking option over Ertz this week for Carson Wentz owners. 
  14. Zach Ertz
  15. Brandin Cooks
  16. Kelvin Benjamin
  17. Adam Thielen
  18. Demaryius Thomas
  19. Chris Hogan
  20. Dez Bryant

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