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Matt Savoca’s Week 8 Daily Fantasy Football Matchups Breakdown Column

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Matt Savoca's game-by-game breakdowns of the Week 8 daily fantasy football slate for NFL DFS lineups on DraftKings + FanDuel + Yahoo.

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Daily Fantasy Football Matchups: New Orleans Saints (24) at Chicago Bears (20)

New Orleans Passing Game

The Saints travel to the windy city Sunday at 4-2 in the standings, just a half game back of first place in their division, but are far less than 100% healthy at the skill positions, particularly at receiver. Michael Thomas, whose record breaking 2019 season seems further and further away with each passing week, has endured an injury, a suspension, and another injury, but returned to the practice field on Thursday afternoon, introducing a small glimmer of hope that the all-pro could make his first start since opening day against the Bears. More likely, however, the Saints will choose to take their time in rehabbing Thomas, allowing his body to get re-acclimated to football over the course of 10 days, rather than 3.

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With Emmanuel Sanders still on the Covid-19 list and ineligible to return this week, and tertiary weapon Marques Calloway now dealing with an ankle injury, the Saints may be down to Tre’Quan Smith (and only him) as their primary weapon on the outside. That means he’ll likely see plenty of the Bears’ Kyle Fuller, Chicago’s top rated (by PFF) cornerback (although the Bears defense has not utilized shadow coverages at all this year), and worse, the Bears have been excellent against the pass this year, ranking fourth in the NFL in yards allowed per pass attempt.

All this spells trouble for quarterback Drew Brees, who will likely also be battling the elements in this game, as high winds and rainfall are expected during the day Sunday in Chicago. Altogether, it’s enough to cast serious doubt on Brees’ ability to even maintain his season-long averages in production and fantasy scoring – which hasn’t been all that impressive. Brees ranks just 14th in fantasy points per dropback and 15th in fantasy points per game. And worse, his salary values him as a quarterback in a smash spot. Brees projection on Awesemo.com is significantly lower than what his 11th highest quarterback salary would imply.

It’s possible though, that Brees, who was particularly efficient in week 7 (at home), including an 100% completion rate on the third down, finds a way to make his arsenal of middling receivers work, especially with the help of tight end Jared Cook, who caught a touchdown last Sunday, but has only commanded more than 13.5% of the Saints’ targets one time this season. Even with New Orleans severely lacking in weapons in week 7, Cooks still only saw 11% of targets and 16% of air yards. Still, Cook is highly likely to see a usage boost with the Saints’ receiver room so thin, which is likely why the Awesemo projection for Cook puts him significantly higher than than his salary based expectation. As the 10th highest salary tight end on the main slate, Cook’s the option from the Saints (outside of the backfield, of course) most worth considering. Deonte Harris is the only other receiver option worth mentioning, but it was encouraging to see Harris command 28% of the team’s air yards in week 7, and Harris actually out-targeted Cook last week as well. Harris can be considered a decent dart-throw in large-field tournaments.

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New Orleans Rushing Game

It’s yet another week with Alvin Kamara looking like a fantastic play for fantasy gamers, despite the understandably high salary, $8,200, tops among all running backs. Kamara continues to be the primary earner of New Orleans’ high-value backfield opportunities (particularly targets) and he’s getting them at an unprecedented rate. But he also ranks seventh in the league in red zone touches. He ranks first at his position in targets, target share, receptions, receiving yards, and total touchdowns, and second in total evaded tackles. And Chicago has been the 13th-worst defense (in yards allowed per carry) in the NFL over the last 3 weeks, a solid boost to Kamara’s projection on the ground as well. Latavius Murray will undoubtedly be involved (he’s had between 10 and 13 touches in every game since week 2), but he’s no threat whatsoever to Kamara’s receiving workload, and despite the perception that he’s a massive touchdown vulture, Murray only has 15 total red zone touches this year. The Awesemo projections aren’t necessarily down on Murray this weekend, the projections particularly love Kamara, and see him as a no-brainer option, even with a projected ownership north of 26%. Sure, there may be individual instances where fading Kamara makes sense for a daily fantasy football lineup, but for most, it’s full speed ahead for Kamara in week 8.

Chicago Passing Game

The Bears offense was systematically dismantled by the Los Angeles Rams last Monday night. Nick Foles had yet another game under 7 yards per attempt, his fifth in a row, and for the fourth straight week, threw as many (or more) interceptions than he did touchdowns. He’s yet to finish inside the top-15 quarterbacks in any start this season, and it’s something he only managed to accomplish one time as the part-time starter in Jacksonville a season ago. Simply put, Foles does not look like the answer for the Bears, as the underlying metrics aren’t any kinder either. He ranks outside the top-25 quarterbacks in red zone completion percentage, clean pocket completion percentage, total QBR, and true passer rating. And most of these metrics were accumulated prior to Allen Robinson’s injury (concussion) late in the Bears’ week 7 loss, so that’s certainly not an excuse either. It’s not ludicrous to think we say Mitchell Trubisky under center before all is said and done in Chicago this season. Needless to say, the Awesemo projections don’t see Foles as a value compared to 16th-highest quarterback salary on the main slate.

Robinson was the only consistently worthwhile piece of the Chicago passing attack for fantasy gamers, and him missing this contest could be catastrophic for Chicago’s chances of winning this week’s matchup. He’s the unquestioned engine of the offense, having earned the highest amount of targets on the team in every game prior to last week. It’s very likely that in Robinson’s 10.0 targets per game don’t simply get redistributed amongst teammates, but instead it’s more likely that Foles simply will pass less due to less sustained drives and less completions overall. Needless to say, without Robinson, this game could get ugly, and fast.

If Robinson were to sit, it would likely elevate both Darnell Mooney and Anthony Miller closer to a full-time role in the offense. At present, neither do, with Mooney out-snapping Miller at rate of 63% to 54%, but Mooney has had games with five, five five, seven and nine targets with a solid average depth of target of 16.6, meaning he’s seen nearly double the weighted opportunity as Miller. One metric in Miller’s favor, however – over the last five weeks, Miller ranks third on the team in end zone targets, and tied for second in red zone target. They’re clearly looking to get Miller involved as they get closer to the goal line. When considering salary, the Awesemo projections are more bullish on Mooney, who’s seen more usage overall and is only the 59th highest salary wideout on the main slate. Miller’s salary ranks 44th.

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Again, assuming Robinson sits, Jimmy Graham will have great opportunity for increased looks, as the Saints rank third-worst in the NFL in schedule adjusted fantasy points allowed to tight ends. Graham has had an up-and-down season, but has seen fairly consistent usage, especially for the volatile tight end position. Foles has looked his way five times or more in each of his starts this season. He’s the only other pass catcher with enough volume to consider in daily fantasy football lineups, but his salary makes little sense. Inexplicably, Graham is the eighth highest salary tight end on the main slate, which puts him in an ugly middle tier of tight ends. It’s likely more advantageous to pivot to a higher-end option, such as Waller, Kelce, or Kittle, or move closer to a punt play, saving precious salary for other roster spots.

Chicago Rushing Game

It’s never that pretty, and the efficiency’s rarely what we’d like it to be, but David Montgomery is being utilized as a workhorse back in the middling Chicago offense, earning the 10th highest opportunity share (34%) of any running back in the NFL since week 4. He has touch counts of 14, 17, 19 and 23 during that span, and now he’s being valued as if he were a third-tier running back, with a salary more fit for a timeshare back than a team’s unquestioned bell cow. Despite the bitter taste of the Bears’ flat offensive performance against the Rams, and the Saints ranking fourth best in the NFL in yards allowed per carry, and the very real possibility the Bears’ offense has a distinct difficulty moving the ball without their primary passing weapon, Allen Robinson, it’s still possible fantasy gamers have begun to underestimate Montgomery, simply because the volume is rare for the position, and an un-ignorable when factoring in salary, he’s the 17th highest salary back on the main slate. The Awesemo projections see Montgomery the exact same way — his projection’s much higher than what his salary would imply. Plug your nose and play Montgomery in this mediocre matchup.

Prediction: Saints 27, Bears 7.

Looking for more NFL DFS picks and daily fantasy football matchups content? We have loads of articles, data, and more on the Awesemo NFL home page. Just click HERE.

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A middling athlete who was offered his first sports analytics position at age 14, I've been working on NFL and fantasy football data science since 2017. With a particular passion for data visualization and dashboard building, I love to make data accessible by using graphs and charts to communicate ideas that are difficult to explain with words alone. You can contact me by e-mailing [email protected]

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