All Hallow’s Eve
My family goes all-out this time of year. Between flickering orange porch lights, terrifying (and motion-sensing) decorations, and elaborate costumes, Halloween is entirely off the rails at our house. It doesn’t end there, either. We also celebrate Dia de los Muertos from November 1-2, which is a special time to honor all of our loved ones who are no longer with us. We lay out an altar, known as an ofrenda, decorated with flowers, candles, and some of their favorite food and drinks.
The two holidays are intertwined perfectly with what we feel is an important connection with the spiritual world. It also allows us to completely overload on chocolate and alcohol for three days. Being festive is fun. Sharing funny stories about Aunt Pat or Grandpa Willie bring us immense joy, while bringing their spirits back to life within us.
Football Sunday for Week 8 falls directly on All Hallow’s Eve this year. I expect some weird, wild things to happen. The extra bit of ghostly chill in the air should bring about some breakthrough performances by players previously left for dead. Bye-mageddon is over, the portal between the mortal and spiritual worlds is agape, and we have a 12-game main slate to sift through the DFS tricks and treats.
Week 8 Cash Plays
I have a slightly different view from the consensus on how to build winning cash lineups. Instead of focusing on players with a “high floor,” I instead focus on their expected workload. These players often have that safe floor as a result of the VOLUME of opportunities, but they also have a higher likelihood of returning the 3x+ value that most cash games require to end the day above the pay line. A smart cash player has to always consider ceiling as a part of the equation, just maybe weighted lighter than if building for a GPP. I ask myself the same question every time: Does this player’s expected volume of opportunities (EVO) have high odds of accomplishing 3 points per salary dollar, divided by 1,000 (x=3[y/1000]).
KEY INGREDIENT*** — SECRET INGREDIENT*
JOSH ALLEN: VS MIAMI ($8,100)
There are few quarterbacks that strike as much fear into defensive coordinators more than Josh Allen. Buffalo is among the most pass-heavy offenses in the NFL, with Allen taking strides every game to be more potent than ever. Add in his rushing ability, especially at the goal line, and this is a very safe bet to hit value against a terrible Miami defense.
MATTHEW STAFFORD: @ HOUSTON ($7,600)
With the way less-mobile quarterbacks like Stafford and Brady have been dealing, it makes very little sense to have them priced under $8k. I’m not mad at it. You might not normally expect a lot of passing volume in a lopsided game, but the Rams have been keeping their foot on the accelerator deep into games. Stafford is one of the best plays at quarterback this week.
JALEN HURTS: @ DETROIT ($7,200)
Coach Sirianni has been equal parts underwhelming and overwhelmed in his first season, but one thing has been constant: Jalen Hurts will score 20 fantasy points every week. Has Hurts been a good quarterback? That is a resounding “no,” but I can’t think of a better spot for a ceiling performance for Philly’s offense than facing the worst defense in the NFL.
CARSON WENTZ: VS TENNESSEE ($5,700)***
It was stunning to see this much-maligned Titans defense hold the mighty Chiefs without a single touchdown last week. If anything, it revealed a level of dysfunction in Kansas City that is much greater than previously thought. The Colts are trending skyward, with one of the better balanced attacks in the AFC. Wentz has returned to his 2017 form. I’m ok if it only lasts one more week against a defense that still has a ton of glaring weaknesses.
TREVOR LAWRENCE: @ SEATTLE ($5,500)
The top pick is quietly growing right before our very eyes. It seems that Lawrence is improving on every pass he throws, where the other rookie signal callers are going through immense growing pains. This Jags team has leveled off after a tumultuous start to Urban Meyer’s first season as a professional coach, with their stud rookie handling his business with grace. Seattle won’t offer much resistance here, especially with Lawrence forecasted to chuck it over 30 times.
DERRICK HENRY: @ INDIANAPOLIS ($8,900)
I got burned by the Henry chalk in tournaments last week, but his performance was still plenty good enough to pay off in cash games. Stacking volume is still the mission in 50/50 contests, so his immense workload is still coveted at this salary.
ALVIN KAMARA: VS TAMPA BAY ($8,700)
Let the record show that Khalil Herbert is the reason why Kamara makes the list in Week 8. The Bears rookie did the impossible last week, trekking his way to 100 yards against a seemingly impermeable Bucs’ front seven. This is very promising for Kamara, who is one of the best dual-threat weapons in the game.
JONATHAN TAYLOR: VS TENNESSEE ($7,200)
This spot was inhabited by Austin Ekeler, until he popped up on the injury report with a hip issue. Taylor will get a big workload in this one, especially now that Frank Reich has finally discovered that JT is nearly unstoppable in the open field if they use him in the screen game.
JOE MIXON: @ NY JETS ($6,900)
Back to the well with Mixon here. He yielded some carries to Samaje Perine late in the Bengals’ romp over the Ravens last week, but looked amazing when he was on the field. Cincinnati has been very effective through the air this season, but it can’t be ignored that Mixon will enter a date with the lowly Jets on fresher legs.
JAMES ROBINSON: @ SEATTLE ($6,600)***
I might be in a small minority here, but I believe JRob to be one of the most well-rounded running backs in the NFL. He has proven himself to be everything and more for the Jags this season, both on the ground and through the air. Seattle was just picked apart by the Saints last week and offer very little in the way of friction for opposing backs. Robinson will see a ton of work in this one, too.
CHUBA HUBBARD: @ ATLANTA ($6,000)
For how much I despise Hubbard’s skill set, his opportunities have been plenty. He was a dud last week in a decent spot, but we revisit him again as a plus cash option against an atrocious Atlanta front. It’s put up or shut up time for Darnold and this offense without CMC. Their schedule is incredibly soft right now.
KENNY GAINWELL: @ DETROIT ($5,000)
It wasn’t like Miles Sanders was receiving enough work to be relevant before he injured his ankle last week. Gainwell was the more reliable back in the receiving game last week, before and after Sanders left. Now, with Sanders out and Boston Scott in, Gainwell stands to get closer to a 50/50 share of the touches against the worst defense in the NFL. This will be fun.
COOPER KUPP: @ HOUSTON ($9,000)
For all the dysfunction and calamity surrounding the Texans this season, their secondary has done fairly well defending the wide receiver position. Frankly, that doesn’t mean diddly against the mighty Rams, who are imposing their will on every opponent. Kupp is a target monster for Stafford and is adding an ungodly amount of touchdown upside to boot.
STEFON DIGGS: VS MIAMI ($8,100)
I will be incredibly overweight on the Buffalo stack this week in GPPs. Hell, it might be dumb to fade the Bills in all formats. This is the type of game that stands out to me as a free square. Diggs returned to form before the bye. Even a Xavien Howard shadow won’t be enough to prevent him from hitting value in cash.
MIKE WILLIAMS: VS NEW ENGLAND ($7,700)
It has been a few weeks since we saw the Chargers at their best, but we shouldn’t forget just how dominant Williams has been this season as their X receiver. The Patriots famously shut out LA last season, but this is a new regime. The Staley regime is pulling out all the stops and the Chargers will be airing it out early and often with an injured Ekeler.
DEEBO SAMUEL: @ CHICAGO ($7,400)
I’m not yet convinced that the Bears are a bad team. Sure, they are coached by an arrogant buffoon, but their defense is still stout and the offense looks slightly better under Bill Lazor. I think Chicago crushes the 49ers this week with Nagy on the COVID list, which lends me to believe the 49ers will pepper Deebo to keep up.
DIONTAE JOHNSON: @ CLEVELAND ($6,700)***
Aside from a strange game in Week 5, Johnson has been targeted 10 or more times in every game he has played. The Steelers will be heavily reliant on the short passing game to neutralize Miles Garrett and the rest of the Browns’ pass rush. Diontae is one of the sharpest route runners in football and will be looked to early and often by Big Ben.
CALVIN RIDLEY: VS CAROLINA ($6,600)
How could we overlook Ridley, one of the most talented receivers in the NFL? This is an insulting salary for cash games, since the Alabama product has garnered 10-plus targets in every game since Week 1. Carolina has not been as good in the secondary since their competition stiffened in Week 4. Wheels up in all formats here.
CHRIS GODWIN: @ NEW ORLEANS ($6,400)
The Bucs are concerned that Antonio Brown will miss a lot more time with his ankle injury. This is a huge opening for the uber-talented Godwin. Mike Evans got the fanfare of his three touchdown game, but Godwin was the more targeted player and also hit paydirt. The Saints’ secondary will have their hands full on Sunday.
DEVONTA SMITH: @ DETROIT ($5,500)
The Slim Reaper has done everything asked of him this season, which has been overshadowed by the exemplary play of Jamarr Chase. Don’t hold the moronic coaching against the rookie out of Alabama; he will still flash in positive matchups like this one. I foresee a 10-target game against the pitiful Lions.
JERRY JEUDY*: VS WASHINGTON ($4,900)
I can’t contain my excitement this week. Jeudy is one of my favorite young players and appears to be a full go coming back from a high ankle sprain. He also returns to face a Washington secondary that is one of the worst in the NFL at defending the position. I’ll take the one week free square under $5k.
LAVISKA SHENAULT JR: @ SEATTLE ($4,700)
It took Urban Meyer a week to figure out how to get Shenault looks in the passing game without DJ Chark. Looking elsewhere for upside in tournaments might be wise, but I’ll bank on Viska to get another 10 targets at this value and work around it in cash games.
KYLE PITTS: VS CAROLINA ($6,300)
The masses are now seeing why I have been calling this guy one of the best receiving prospects in NFL history. He is not a tight end by any description except for how we slot him in fantasy. The legendary rookie will keep his storybook season rolling against a Panthers team that is struggling mightily.
TJ HOCKENSON: VS PHILADELPHIA ($5,400)
I love picking on the Eagles, especially with stud tight ends. Hockenson is appearing healthier in the last two weeks. That’s great, because Philly is horrible at covering athletes in space. Their lack of athleticism and ball skills will make Hock one of the best values on the board.
TYLER HIGBEE: @ HOUSTON ($4,500)***
I don’t think Higbee is very good, but I know the Texans are terrible at covering tight ends. Stafford will find Higbee running wide open all game and his odds of scoring a touchdown in this game are astoundingly high. I might flex a tight end this week again, with Higbee as one of them every time.
HUNTER HENRY: @ LA CHARGERS ($4,200)
We just love to emphasize the power of revenge! It also helps when Henry’s former team is struggling to cover the tight end position. The strength of the outside corners has created a funnel in the middle of the field. This is an edge that Belichick will see and exploit.
CJ UZOMAH: @ NY JETS ($3,700)
Never walk away from a heater. Uzomah is still under $4k, which means fire him up again in cash and GPP contests. We shouldn’t have to tell you that the Jets suck. The Bengals don’t suck, so you should play any of them with confidence this week.
DAN ARNOLD: @ SEATTLE ($2,800)
This is a hunch play. I predict the Jaguars will roll into Lumen Field and beat the Seahawks behind a potent offensive attack. We don’t need much at all from Arnold at this salary, but 5-7 targets is definitely on the table. He is also going to be tough to cover in the red zone.