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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.

Table of Contents

Daily Fantasy Football Matchups: Minnesota Vikings (24) at Green Bay Packers (31.5)

Minnesota Passing Game

The Vikings emerge from their bye week at an atrocious 1-5, with the bitter taste of being beaten by 17 at home to the otherwise unvictorious Atlanta Falcons still lingering in their collective mouths. Kirk Cousins failed to keep pace with an Atlanta offense that could do whatever they wanted against the hapless Minnesota secondary (see Green Bay Passing Game below). And while Cousins managed to throw for a respectable 343 yards on 9.5 yards per attempt, he threw three costly interceptions, severely inhibiting Minnesota’s ability to keep the game close. From a real football standpoint, Cousins continues to play at a subpar level and is piling on much of his production when games are already out-of-hand, but from a fantasy production standpoint, those stats count just as well as any other. Cousins ranked inside the top 10 quarterbacks for the first time in week 6, but he has been inside the top 12 in 50% of his starts this season. That fact alone makes him a value based on salary — he’s the 14th-highest-salary quarterback on the main slate — but he still has a very low probability of having a top-five quarterback performance based on the run-oriented nature of the Minnesota offense — they rank 26th in air yards thrown per second of play and dead last in true early down pass rate in neutral situations.

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In spite of a continued rock-solid usage profile and averaging nearly 9.5 targets per game over his last three games, fantasy gamers should exercise extreme caution when rostering Adam Thielen this weekend. It’s very likely the Packers will utilize their All-Pro level cornerback Jaire Alexander to shadow Thielen, as Alexander did with Will Fuller on 75% of Fuller’s routes in week 7. Alexander continues to lead the cornerback position in PFF’s coverage grade, and he held Fuller to one reception for 6 yards in coverage. It’s important to note, however, that Fuller managed to find the end zone when not covered by Alexander, and the same could easily occur for Thielen in week 8, but it makes him a much thinner play than one might otherwise assume, especially as the fourth-highest-salary wide receiver on the main slate. The other issue for fantasy gamers is that they won’t get much salary relief by pivoting to rookie wideout Justin Jefferson, who had one of his best games as a pro in week 6, catching nine passes for 166 yards on 11 targets, scoring twice in the process. His salary also places him within the top 12 wideouts on the main slate. Jefferson clearly has the better matchup in the Green Bay secondary, as the Packers have no cornerback ranked inside the top 40 at the position behind Alexander, and it makes a lot of sense if one believes this game will shoot out. With the second highest Vegas total game on the slate this week, there’s a great chance that sentiment becomes reality. If it is, Jefferson’s salary isn’t so prohibitive as to make him a stay-away piece in this game. Jefferson is this author’s preferred run-back option if creating a Packers stack.

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At tight end, one could do worse than Irv Smith, who saw a season-high six targets in the Vikings’ last game and now sits just outside the top 30 among tight ends in true weighted opportunity share on the season. Over the last four weeks, he’s well inside the top 20 in that same metric. With games of 64 and 55 yards receiving over the last two games, betting on Smith to break out makes a lot of sense, and he makes for an enticing option with a salary outside the top 25 tight ends this weekend. Chad Beebe was also a surprise contributor in week 6, who tripled his season-long target totals with a six opportunity game in week 6, though it resulted in just 13 receiving yards. If the usage remains, Beebe could be a great off-the-wall play in large-field tournaments with a salary of just $3,000.

Minnesota Rushing Game

Dalvin Cook returned to Vikings practice Wednesday after scaring fantasy gamers by not participating in the team’s first workout post bye week while he recovers from a groin injury sustained in week 5. That’s a good sign for fantasy gamers hoping to see the engine of the Vikings’ run-first offense back on the field for this exciting matchup against a Packers squad that ranks 29th in fantasy points allowed to the running back position. If Cook’s able to go, his salary is appropriate as the third-highest-salary running back on the slate. If Cook has a setback or he can’t go, that means it will be another week with Alexander Mattison as the lead back, though “lead” is a bit of a misnomer, as Mattison saw only 24% of the Vikings’ total opportunities, tying with Jefferson in week 6. Prior to week 5 (when Cook was injured mid-game), Cook had seen 36%, 41%, 47% and 48% of the team’s total opportunities. That type of usage was nowhere to be found for Mattison in week 6, but part of that had to do with game script, as the Vikings were forced into a furious comeback down big to the Falcons. With plenty of points projected for both teams in this matchup (once again), Mattison might be an even more intriguing play this week (assuming Cook’s out) compared to last, as he’s now just the fourteenth highest salary running back on the main slate. If Cook’s back in the saddle, don’t be afraid to ride with him as your lead running back in daily fantasy football lineups, as his ownership will likely be reduced with some fantasy gamers hesitant to start the Pro Bowler in his first game back from injury.

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Green Bay Passing Game

Aaron Rodgers was unstoppable Sunday against the Texans, tossing four touchdowns and no interceptions in a game for the second time this season, returning right back to MVP form after a disastrous outing against the Buccaneers in week 6. Rodgers has now averaged over 8 yards per attempt in five of six contests this season (you can guess which was the singular game he didn’t reach that mark) and has fifth games without a pick. He’s back up to sixth in expected points added per play and fifth in true drive success rate, good enough for third in quarterback composite efficiency rating this season. And now, a week after roasting a vulnerable Houston secondary, Rodgers gets the Vikings, who rank eighth worst in PFF’s team coverage grade, fifth worst in points per play allowed and third worst in yards per attempt allowed. They don’t have a single cornerback ranked inside the top 50 graded cornerbacks on PFF. If their last performance against the Falcons was any indicator, they can’t stop anyone at all. In short, this spots sets up nicely for back-to-back smashes from Rodgers.

The problem here, of course, is that everyone in the fantasy football community will see the stars aligning for Rodgers as well as for his top wideout Davante Adams, whose 44.6 fantasy points were inexplicably second among all fantasy outputs in week 7 (thanks, Tyler Lockett), which means there’s game theory to what fantasy gamers need to think about when considering rostering either player this weekend. While it probably doesn’t make sense for most to fade either player outright, Adams is the easier of the two to say no to in week 8, as his $8,800 salary, tops among wideouts, will force gamers into difficult decisions at the other positions since that price requires him to reach 25-plus points to be a valuable pick. But you wouldn’t be crazy if you found a way to make the stack work either, as the pair could easily emerge as the top-scoring players on the slate at their positions.

If looking beyond Adams in the Packers’ passing game (and with Adams seeing 16 targets in week 7 and no other player seeing 5, we do mean well beyond), the first thought should still be Marquez Valdes-Scantling, who hasn’t had a game with fewer than four targets all season, and Robert Tonyan, who saw five looks on a team-high average depth of target of 12.5. Tonyan is priced up for matchup as the 11th-highest-salary tight end on the slate, but the increased looks and the divine matchup are all enticing enough to give Tonyan a look as a mid-salary tight end. We’d be heaping praises on Tonyan if he had been the tight end to score in week 7 rather than backup Jace Sternberger, who found the end zone on his only look last week. He and Darrius Shepherd were on the field for 32% and 47% of snaps, respectively, but still don’t have the usage to warrant DFS usage, even in a plus-matchup as this game appears to be.

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Green Bay Rushing Game

With Aaron Jones making a huge push to play in week 7, the assumption is he’ll be back in the saddle for the Green Bay backfield against the Vikings on Sunday. In his absence in week 7, backup Jamaal Williams saw 24 opportunities, which is more than Jones has seen in all but one game in 2020. Williams will still see his now typical 5-12 looks, even with Jones 100% healthy, but it’s also possible, after Williams’ 114 total yards and a touchdown, that this backfield becomes more of a timeshare going forward. We’ve already seen one game where the Packers utilized Jones and Williams within 7% of each other, though that occurred without Adams available. Nonetheless, assuming Jones is healthy, we can all but guarantee he gets 15 looks in an extremely enticing matchup against a soft defense, when his team projects to have plenty of scoring opportunities. He’s worth the risk as the fourth-highest-salary running back on the slate.

Prediction: Packers 28, Vikings 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.

Return to the main Week 8 Matchups Breakdown page.

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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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