We have reached the midway point of the standard fantasy football season, but only three weeks remain in the RotoWire Fantasy Football Championship hosted by FanDuel. Some interesting storylines have developed this year, but none are as remarkable as the one that follows the Patriots single-handily breaking Matt Ryan's soul; beginning with their incredible Super Bowl comeback last season and ending with last week's near shutout on national TV that left Atlanta's gun-shy quarterback with less of a fantasy impact than Josh McCown. I bring those two quarterbacks up because they face each other in Week 8, and while neither will show up in my value play section below, there is only one I would trust at this point. If you couldn't tell, he is the one that costs $800 less than the other.
If you are unfamiliar with the RotoWire & FanDuel Fantasy Football Championship competition, here are the basics:
– 10-week competition hosted on FanDuel
– $10 entry
– Compete against other users and three FanDuel experts (Jeff Erickson, Derek VanRiper, Kevin Payne)
– Finish above the experts and win an entry in the Week 11 Freeroll with over $4,000 in prizes and RotoWire subscriptions up for grabs
– Each qualifying week acts as a double-up with the top 150 doubling up their cash
– This is not a continuous competition so you can enter every week, and you don't have to have participated in Week 1 to enter this week's competition
– You can sign up for this week's competition here.
As per usual, I will give a brief report of the concurrent expert tournament so that you, the beloved reader, can shower praise on the top performer and mock my roster decisions. Michael Rathburn (burnnotice) was Week 7's top expert, riding Zeke Elliott's 40.7-point explosion against my lowly 49ers to a first-place finish. Clutch selections of Kenny Stills (23.5 points) and Jacksonville's D (20 points) helped him post an impressive 167.98-point total. I fell out of the top 10 after producing just 100.26 points, due in large part to believing in Adrian Peterson (3.8 points) and going cheap at QB with Big Ben (16.66 points).
You can check out the full expert leaderboard here, but here's the current top 10:
1. Logan Larson (lxlarson) 841.84
2. Mike Doria (mikeinlalaland) 823.14
3. James Anderson (realjranderson) 816.16
4. Chris Benzine (crispy272001) 812.52
5. Brett Goldhammer (bretskyball) 805.20
6. Tate McIntyre (tmac10) 803.36
7. Chris Smith (smithca28) 801.84
8. Chris Bennett (k30kittles) 800.58
9. James Seltzer (schweppy23) 793.52
10. Benjamin Donabedian (jd0505) 791.16
Weeks 8 has the smallest player pool with 3 non-afternoon games and six teams on the bye.
Excluded Teams: BAL, MIA, CLE, MIN, KC, DEN, AZ, GB, JAX, LA, NYG, TEN
QB Philip Rivers, Los Angeles Chargers at New England Patriots
FanDuel Price: $7,500
The veteran side-armer isn't the fantasy force he once was, but the Patriots' defense is giving up a league-worst 310.3 passing yards/game, and that is including Matt Ryan's underwhelming 233-yard effort last week. Okay, I will let up on Matty Ice from now on. The Chargers are trying to become a more-balanced offense, but there is a good chance this matchup becomes an aerial showdown, and Rivers has proved that he can still air it out with two games of 300-plus yards this season. There are only five starting quarterbacks who come at a cheaper price than Rivers this week, and there is a realistic chance that he finishes as a top-5 QB once the dust settles. That price-to-production disparity is too good to pass up.
RB Christian McCaffrey, Carolina Panthers at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
FanDuel Price: $6,300
The 8th overall pick from this year's draft has been terrible as a true running back (2.53 YPC), which has suppressed his FanDuel price. That said, his production as a receiver out of the backfield has resulted in targets and receptions that resemble WR1. McCaffrey has received a whopping 47 targets over the last five weeks, producing 35 receptions, 257 yards and a pair of touchdowns over that span. He doesn't get things done the traditional way, but the Panthers are clearly trying to force the ball to justify their surprisingly-high pick on a third-down back. That kind of target attention combined with 5 to 10 carries at a mid-to-low RB price makes for a solid value play.
RB Tarik Cohen, Chicago Bears at New Orleans Saints
FanDuel Price: $5,800
Cohen's playmaking speed is unquestioned, but his touches have fluctuated on a week-to-week basis. He received just one touch last week – albeit for 70 yards – compared to 15 in the Bears' previous contest. Game flow seems to determine whether or not Chicago's preferred receiving back will get involved or not. That's where Sunday's opponent, the New Orleans Saints, comes into play. Coach John Fox is hoping to keep this contest close and low-scoring, but any Brees-led offense at home is usually a good bet for at least a 21-spot on the scoreboard. If the Bears fall behind early, expect rookie Mitch Trubisky to rely on short dump offs to Cohen out of the backfield which could end up resulting in much bigger gains. This isn't a selection for the faint of heart, but its about as much upside you can receive from a player in his salary range if you're looking for someone to pair with Le'Veon Bell.
WR Keenan Allen, Los Angeles Chargers at New England Patriots
FanDuel Price: $7,800
If you're going to follow my advice and deploy Philip Rivers this weekend, then pairing him with his favorite target is a must. Allen has garnered 9+ targets in every game this season, with the only exception being last week where the Chargers were chewing clock for the entire second half. I already went over the Patriots' defensive woes in Rivers' blurb, so Allen should have plenty of room to operate this week with a price tag that won't break the bank either.
Note: Hunter Henry ($5,500) –who has seen a steady uptick in production recently – is another good pairing option with Rivers if Allen doesn't fit into your budget, and he is actually the best value I can see at the tight end position.
WR Alshon Jeffery, Philadelphia Eagles at San Francisco 49ers
FanDuel Price: $6,600
Jeffery has had an up-and-down start to the 2017 campaign, but the majority of his down games have come against top-tier corners such as Josh Norman, Patrick Peterson and Janoris Jenkins. This week he will draw the attention of either Rashard Robinson or Dontae Johnson on the perimeter. As RotoWire's 49ers beat writer, I can attest to the fact that neither of those cornerbacks deserve the label of "shutdown corner." This seems like an ideal opportunity for Carson Wentz to reintegrate his top wide receiver in a very soft matchup. It would be hard to find a better value at $6,600.
High Risk/High Reward
RB Le'Veon Bell, Pittsburgh Steelers at Detroit Lions
FanDuel Price: $9,300
If you're one of the three people (who aren't my mother; hi mom!) who follow my advice regularly, you would know that I rarely indulge in the top-tier players at the playmaking positions because anything short of a monstrous outing usually results in a finish out of the money. Well, this may be the week I go against my DFS commandments and roll with Bell. One of the reasons I tend to avoid the high-priced players is that they are usually wide receivers (Antonio Brown, Odell Beckham, Julio Jones), and wideouts are completely target dependent and often fall short of projections due to game flow or defenses double or triple teaming them. That's not as big of an issue when it comes to running backs, especially bell cows (+1 pun point) that have a receiver like the aforementioned Antonio Brown stopping defenses from stacking the box against them. Bell has received 32 or more carries in three of his last four contests, which is absolutely unheard of in today's NFL where committee approaches have become the norm. Even if that one week where he didn't reach the 32-carry mark, he made up for it with 10 receptions. He is easily the safest asset to rely on for a big game in daily fantasy right now, and that won't change in a primetime game against the Lions.
Give me a follow on Twitter @JashFath and let's chat during Sunday's gridiron action.