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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: Las Vegas Raiders (26) at Cleveland Browns (28.5)

Las Vegas Passing Game

Derek Carr didn’t have his best game by any means in week 7 against the Buccaneers (who are arguably the league’s toughest defensive unit at this point in the season), but he was more than adequate, especially compared to MVP candidate Rodgers’ atrocious performance in week 6 against the same defense. Carr completed 67% of his 36 attempts for 284 yards in a losing effort, along with two touchdowns, which was good enough for the 12th-highest fantasy output among all quarterbacks in week 7. Even with last week’s numbers included, Carr’s efficiency numbers continue to go overlooked by the football community as a whole, as Carr ranks top 10 in the NFL in adjusted yards per attempt, clean pocket completion percentage, deep-ball completion percentage, play-action completion percentage, true passer rating and total QBR. With wins against quality opponents (Chiefs, Saints) and just a game out of the final playoff spot in the AFC, the Raiders are being disrespected by Vegas oddsmakers, as they’re surprise underdogs in this matchup. In reality, they have every bit of the offensive firepower needed to compete with a Browns team that has scored 30-plus points in five of seven contests thus far. With both teams’ offenses far outpacing each others defenses in overall efficiency, this game has the makings of a shootout. Fantasy gamers will likely want pieces from this game to round out their daily fantasy football lineups this weekend.

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Tight end Darren Waller continues to impress in his second season as the unquestioned primary receiver on the Raiders’ offense. Waller has seen 27 targets over the team’s last three games, and he’s turned that into an average of 6.5 catches for 66 yards, and added a score in two of those three contests. Waller ranks second among tight ends in true weighted opportunity share, solidifying his place in the upper echelon of tight ends. Luckily for fantasy gamers, this is a rare week where the entire upper crust of the position (Waller, Andrews, Travis Kelce, and George Kittle), which will naturally flatten the ownership amongst the four. Waller’s salary is the lowest of those four, making $5,600 incredibly appealing in this plus matchup. The Browns rank ninth worst in the NFL in schedule-adjusted fantasy points to tight ends.

Beyond Waller, Las Vegas’ usage gets a little more iffy. Nelson Agholor was the surprise co-leader in targets a week ago, earning a team high 141 air yards, the most of any Raiders’ player this season, but prior to week 7, Agholor had yet to command more than four looks. His increased usage led to a simultaneous decrease for Henry Ruggs (who hasn’t seen more than three targets since week 1) and for Hunter Renfrow, who after eight targets in week 4 has only seen a total of eight targets over the Raiders’ last two games. From a matchup perspective, Cleveland has been a bit more vulnerable to primary and tertiary wideouts (rather than secondary receivers), which would give the nod to Agholor and Ruggs over Renfrow, priced at $4,700 and $4,900, respectively. Each makes for a very interesting pivot play, especially in tournaments, to stack with Carr or even with Carr and Waller.


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Las Vegas Rushing Game

In a development worth monitoring, Josh Jacobs saw his lowest snap count (49%) and opportunity count (14) of the season last Sunday, ceding playing time to both Devontae Booker, who saw nine looks, and Jalen Richard, who saw seven. It’s a troubling sign for a player whom many considered primed for a monster second half of the season prior to the team’s week 6 bye. Jacobs is still top five in the NFL in total touches and continues to rank well above the historical trendline for elusiveness based on his touch count, but as the 12th-highest-salary running back on the slate, gamers are correct to be concerned that’s too steep a number for Jacobs if he’s going to see less than 50% of snaps. Even in a high-shootout-probability game environment, if the workload simply isn’t there for Jacobs, he’s going to have a hard time returning value (he needs 18.5 to 19 points to be a value at his salary.) The Raiders’ backfield is in wait-and-see mode for this article’s author.

Cleveland Passing Game

Week 7 may have been Baker Mayfield’s finest game as a pro. Mayfield finished with his highest passing yardage, yards per attempt, and touchdown totals of the season and completed an improbable last-minute, game-winning drive to keep the Browns just two games back in the viciously competitive AFC North. Even with the devastating loss of receiver Odell Beckham (ACL), the Browns, designed for efficiency in the passing game over immense volume (Mayfield has thrown between 18 and 23 passes three times already this season and above 35 only once), are still primed to make a playoff run this season thanks to Mayfield’s improved on-field decision making. Things will certainly go well when your quarterback throws for 10.5 yards per attempt and five touchdowns, as Mayfield did last week against a struggling Bengals’ secondary, and lucky for Mayfield, the Raiders don’t look to be in much better shape defensively than the Cleveland’s week 7 opponent, ranking well below average in yards allowed per pass attempt and tied for worst in the league in points allowed per play. The Raiders are 31st in PFF’s team coverage grade. Simply, this is a spot where the Browns offense could tee off once again.

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But it will take some adjusting without their primary receiver in the fold for the rest of the year. Much of the onus will likely fall on Jarvis Landry, who will be called upon for increased usage the rest of the way. His six targets tied for the team lead in week 7, and he’s held the team lead in targets two of the team’s last three games. PFF ranks Landry’s matchups with the Raiders’ secondary, particularly when he’s in the slot, as one of the top-10 most receiver advantageous matchups of the entire weekend. As the 22nd-highest-salary wideout on the main slate, the Awesmo projections see Landry as one of the most fundamentally mispriced players on the entire slate. He’s a smash play, particularly when considering salary this weekend against Las Vegas.

The co-leader (with Landry) in targets last week Rashard Higgins, who made several huge plays down the stretch to help give Cleveland the victory and commanded nearly 33% of the team’s air yards with an average depth of target north of 15. While it should be expected that the target distributions have some fluctuations over the coming weeks, that might also see increased looks for tight ends Harrison Bryant (who scored twice in week 7), David Njoku (who scored on one of his two receptions),and most of all Austin Hooper, but that may be another week away as Hooper continues to recover from an emergency appendectomy. As the 46th-highest-salary wide receiver on the slate, tournament players should absolutely consider Higgins (and Bryant), as their Awesemo projection far outpaces salary based expectations. The slam-dunk value here is Landry, but at 10% projected ownership, fantasy gamers who utilize him will need to differentiate their daily fantasy football lineups in other creative ways.

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Cleveland Rushing Game

It’s yet another “Kareem Hunt automatic-start” week against the Raiders this Sunday. It doesn’t take a statistical genius to figure out we should be starting a player who’s virtually guaranteed 30% of his team’s opportunities in a game where upwards of 55 points are expected, especially when he’s playing a team that’s bottom 10 in points allowed per play (even if Cleveland has been more attackable through the air than via the rush so far this season). Even as the fifth-highest-salary running back on the main slate, Hunt is in an obvious position to succeed this weekend against the vulnerable Raiders defense. Enjoy Hunt’s bell cow status for one more week in this matchup, as this backfield will once again get murky, usage-wise, when Nick Chubb (looking like a possibility to return after the team’s week 9 bye) returns to the fold.

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Prediction: Raiders 34, Browns 31

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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