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




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

Table of Contents

Daily Fantasy Football Matchups: (44.5) Los Angeles Chargers (23.25) at Denver Broncos (21.5)

Los Angeles Chargers Passing Game

In last week’s matchups column, much of the Chargers’ writeup was spent on the ways Justin Herbert had already proven himself to be a quality NFL starter, and that his first win, along with massive fantasy performance, wasn’t too far in the future. 40 fantasy points later, Herbert is outpacing Patrick Mahomes magical 2018 season, and currently has the second most fantasy points in a quarterback’s first five career starts all-time. He torched the Jaguars for 347 yards on 8.1 yards per attempt, adding three touchdowns through the air, and 66 yards and a score on the ground. It was a statement game for the front-runner for rookie of the year (yes, ahead of Joe Burrow), and one he’ll have at least a decent chance to follow-up with another strong performance against a Broncos team that has been more vulnerable on defense in recent games, ranking 23rd in the NFL in points allowed per play over the last three weeks, and 24th in schedule adjusted fantasy points allowed to opposing quarterbacks.

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That’s a solid outlook for Herbert, who can be counted on in daily fantasy football lineups even as his salary continues to increase. He’s now the sixth highest salary quarterback on the main slate, and yet, the Awesemo projections rank him higher than what that salary would imply. Better yet, with the salary-hike (and solid value-options at quarterback available to fantasy gamers this weekend), the projected ownership for Herbert looks to be much lower than last week, sliding in currently at around 4%, 10th among all quarterbacks on the slate. He’s a great bet, and a solid leverage play – that’s a powerful combination.

This analysis can be brief: Keenan Allen should not be the 15th highest salary wideout this weekend. He’s commanded 10, 20,11, and 13 targets in his last four (uninjured) games, and he’s facing a Denver defense that ranks below average in schedule adjusted fantasy points allowed to wideouts over the last five weeks. He’s a screaming value, end of story.

Hunter Henry, despite an uninspiring week 7 statline (Herbert involved tight ends plenty in the passing game last weekend, throwing two touchdowns to two different tight ends, neither of which were Henry), has suddenly been moved down in salary to the 12th highest tight end on the main slate, but he has the ninth highest weighted opportunity at his position not just on the main slate, but in the entire NFL. It appears the salaries are based on a perception of Denver being a consistent shutdown defense – however the metrics (even prior to playing the Chiefs last weekend) indicate that’s simply not the case. Henry’s projection on, like Allen’s, slides in significantly higher than salary based expectations. With Allen back in his regular target monster role, Mike Williams has once again been relegated to third fiddle on this offense, but still has an averaged depth of target of nearly 18, and has seen four or more targets in 60% of his starts this season. He’s a great tournament option as the 40th highest salary wideout on the slate. Denver has been particularly vulnerable to secondary and tertiary wideouts over the last five weeks.

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Los Angeles Chargers Rushing Game

With the Chargers’ passing game hierarchy more solidified than ever, the exact opposite is occurring with the Los Angeles backfield. After dominating the snap share and the quality opportunity share in week 6 against New Orleans, running back Justin Jackson played second-fiddle to rookie Joshua Kelley, who played on 47% of snaps compared to Jackson’s 38%, and out-touched Jackson 17 to 10. Though Jackson still had more targets (he had a healthy six looks in the passing game), Kelley saw five himself, a season-high for the rookie. It looks like the Chargers’ confidence in their rookie running back is continuing to increase, and so long as the trend continues, fantasy gamers should follow suit. Especially while Kelley and Jackson are priced right next each other (Kelley is 29th in running back salary at $4,900 while Jackson is 30th at $4,800), players setting DFS lineups can get-out-ahead of the likely salary increase if a singular player eventually seizes control of the backfield. The Awesemo projections (like they do for the rest of the team) sees this backfield as fundamentally undervalued as well, as both backs belong in the RB15-RB20 range based on their usage alone. Factoring in that Denver has been 27th in yards allowed per carry over the last three weeks, there could absolutely be a gigantic fantasy output from one the Chargers’ two-headed monster this weekend.

Denver Passing Game

Things aren’t great for Drew Lock and the Broncos right now. They’re 2-4 and in one of the most talented (and ruthlessly competitive) divisions in the NFL, they’re without their top overall players on offense (Courtland Sutton) and defense (Von Miller) for the rest of the season, and to make matters worse, Noah Fant, the most capable offensive weapon remaining, isn’t nearly 100% after an ankle injury that forced him to miss week 6. The lack of weaponry shows in Drew Lock’s subpar metrics across the board, beginning with his league-worst (among multi-game) starters passer air conversion ratio, 33rd overall ranking in adjusted yards per attempt, and shockingly, a true completion percentage, clean-pocket completion percentage, and catchable pass rate all outside the top 32 signal callers this season. Yes, it’s somewhat unfair to judge Lock solely on his play without a bevy of his expected weaponry (how fair would it be to judge Matt Ryan in a season without Julio Jones, or Matthew Stafford in a season without Kenny Golladay?), but these metrics are concerning. Like, “this might not be an NFL starter”-level concerning. Lock has not topped 15 fantasy points this season, and doesn’t look like a very enticing option at all for fantasy gamers as the 22nd highest salary quarterback on the main slate.

Though still working through his ankle injury (he’s practicing on a limited basis as of Thursday), tight end Noah Fant managed to tie for the team lead last Sunday with seven targets. The other Broncos player to command seven looks was fellow tight end Albert Okwuegbunam, who now has 13 looks from Lock over the last two weeks, the most of any Denver player during that span. Okwuegbunam leads all players at his position (with at least 5 targets this season) in targets per route run, and is certainly the healthier of the two tight ends, but despite these positive developments, it’s hard to bet on Okwuegbunam as a weekly contributor just yet. He’s fine for those playing in tournaments though. At $2,800 in salary, he offers maximum flexibility (at other positions) for daily fantasy football players this weekend.

At wide receiver, Tim Patrick has actually seen more targets (12) than Jerry Jeudy (nine) has since Lock returned under center two weeks ago. Jeudy is second on the team in red zone and end zone targets, which is encouraging, but receiving less than 20% of both Denver’s targets and air yards makes Jeudy a paper-thin play right now. The Awesemo projections see Jeudy just slightly ahead of his salary based expectations, but that’s mainly due to the fact that he’s now barely inside the top-35 wide receivers in salary after several disappointing weeks. Fantasy gamers shouldn’t look any deeper in this passing game, even if the Chargers have only been about-league average in yards allowed per pass attempt this season, though it’s a positive sign that rookie speedster K.J. Hamler looks poised to return to game action after an extended absence due to a hamstring injury. It’s not a bet for this weekend, but it would be excellent for the Broncos’ long term outlook if they could find ways to get Hamler involved in an attempt to open up their lagging passing attack. Time will tell if Denver can sort this out.

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Denver Rushing Game

In a positive development for Broncos’ fans, Philip Lindsay returned to practice Thursday as he attempts to work his way out of the concussion protocol. Lindsay looked excellent on limited touches before exiting in week 7, but (much to the chagrin of fantasy gamers,) if Lindsay plays, it will be another weekend of the Broncos backfield using a hot-hand approach, as we expected to begin the year, making neither player a particularly strong play in lineups this weekend. The Chargers rank league average in schedule adjusted fantasy points allowed to the running back position, but without any guaranteed volume for either player, this becomes a straight guessing-game for fantasy gamers looking to utilize a backfield option from this team. Gordon has the higher salary of the two, he slides in as the 21st highest salary running back on the main slate, but Lindsay is not far behind as the 27th back. That doesn’t seem like an egregious misevaluation for either player, but more importantly, there are much higher upside backs in that salary range this weekend. This entire backfield is in stay-away mode until we can learn more about how these two backs are utilized together, we simply don’t have a large enough sample size, and the matchup isn’t good enough to force gamers to look at these backs in this spot.

Prediction: Chargers 27, Broncos 21.

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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