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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: Tennessee Titans (29.5) at Cincinnati Bengals (25)

Tennessee Passing Game

Despite losing to the vaunted Steelers defense in week 7, Ryan Tannehill continued his sharp, efficient play that we’ve come to expect from him as a member of the Titans, posting his 14th straight regular season game with at least 7.0 yards per attempt. Though the yardage totals were unspectacular in week 7 (he completed 60% of his 30 attempts for 220 yards on 251 air yards), he continued to play as close to mistake-free football as one could, tossing no interceptions and completing five of eight attempts after the two-minute warning to put the team in position to kick a game-tying field goal in the final moments of the game.  It just happened to sail wide of the uprights, ending the Titans’ ferocious fourth quarter comeback.

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Regardless, Tannehill appears to be an early-season MVP candidate, and the underlying metrics absolutely agree, as he ranks fourth in fantasy points per dropback, fourth in red zone completion percentage, third in adjusted yards per attempt and ninth in fantasy points per game. In week 8, he’ll face a Bengals defense that ranks below league average in yards allowed per pass attempt and significantly below average in points allowed per play. They’re PFF’s ninth-worst ranked defense this season, and have only one cornerback ranked inside the top 50 according to PFF’s coverage ratings. When considering his reasonable salary, as the eighth highest ranked quarterback on the main slate, Tannehill suddenly becomes a rock-solid option at the quarterback position in all formats.

Even better for fantasy gamers, stacking with Tannehill has gotten fairly straightforward with A.J. Brown having reassumed his duties as an alpha wide receiver on the offense. Brown took a slant 70-plus yards to the house in week 7, capping an eight-target, 154-yard receiving day and the fifth-highest fantasy output among all receivers in week 7. That marks three straight games of over 20 fantasy points for Brown. He’s staring down yet another plus matchup against the Bengals, who typically don’t use shadow coverage, meaning Brown won’t see too much of the only highly regarded Bengals’ corner, William Jackson. Now priced as an elite weapon, Brown will need between 20 and 21 points to be considered a solid value pick, but the game environment sets up excellently for a high-scoring affair. Brown has slate-breaking upside in week 8.

Across the field, Corey Davis continues his excellent season. Finally putting together a fine body of work in his fourth year, Davis caught a touchdown to cap a 10-target week 8 and scored 15.5 fantasy points, making it the third time in four starts where he’s had 100 yards receiving or a touchdown this season. Davis combines with the aforementioned Brown for over 40% of the Titan’s true weighted opportunity share, the 13th-largest amount among any receiver pair in the NFL, though that number might decrease slightly as Jonnu Smith’s health improves. He was able to play in week 8 but had a quiet afternoon, turning four targets into just 9 yards. The Bengals rank 11th in schedule-adjusted fantasy points allowed to tight ends, which makes Smith at least a little interesting this week, but the $4,100 salary is what makes Smith absolutely worth considering. At that salary, he just needs a few catches and a touchdown to make him a valuable play, and with receiving yardage totals of 40, 61 and 80 already this season, that’s absolutely a possibility against the middling Bengals’ defense.

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Adam Humphries is also in consideration, though he’s certainly taken a backseat as the wide receiver room continues to get healthier. Humphphries has seen six or seven targets in four of the five games he’s played this year and is priced in a range that’s typically boom/bust (other receivers in his salary range include Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Hunter Renfrow and the Charger’s Jalen Guyton). He’s enticing as a high-floor option in an area fantasy gamers typically have trouble finding it.


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Tennessee Rushing Game

Derrick Henry’s the second highest salary running back for a reason in week 8. He’s in a terrific spot this week and is boosted by Tannehill playing at such a high level — a quarterback who’s able to take pressure off of the running game through deep passing does wonders for any running back, let alone a back of Henry’s stature and skill. The fantasy production is always a little scarier to count on with Henry, as he needs touchdowns to get the score you need from him at his salary, but the touchdowns (and the breakaway runs to get those touchdowns) happen more often for Henry than they do for just about any other player (he ranks third this season in total breakaway runs, and he’s competing against backs who haven’t had their bye week). He ranks first in the league in red zone touches, and best of all, his elusiveness remains unfathomably good — he ranks fourth in evaded tackles on a league-high carry total. Get ready for Henry to melt faces in week 8.

Cincinnati Passing Game

The Bengals lost a heartbreaker to the division-rival Browns after Joe Burrow completed what looked like a game-winning drive, connecting with Giovani Bernard for the go-ahead score with 1:09 remaining in the fourth. It ended up being too much time for Baker Mayfield, who marched his team 75 yards (with no timeouts, mind you) to win the game. For his part, Burrow played outrageously good last Sunday, completing 75% of his 47 attempts for a whopping 406 yards passing. His 8.6 yards per attempt and three touchdown passes were both new career highs for the rookie gunslinger, and it resulted in his first game inside the top five fantasy scorers at the quarterback position. This week, he’ll have a great chance to repeat his performance against a Tennessee defense that has been vulnerable at times, ranking below league average in points allowed per play and 17th in PFF’s defensive team grades.  More importantly, this matchup features two aggressive offenses (yes, even Tennessee’s offense) that rank at or above league average in air yards per second and in true early-down pass rate in neutral situations. The Bengals rank first in the NFL in the latter statistic.

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Week 7 saw 26 Bengals targets distributed evenly among Tyler Boyd and A.J. Green, the highest for any pair of teammates in the NFL in week 7. Green and Boyd have commanded 49% and 56% of all Bengals’ targets over their last two games, making this high-volume offense suddenly simple to stack. Green has the higher average depth of target, so he gets the slightest of nods over Boyd from a pure projection standpoint, assuming the target shares stay relatively equal. But when considering the drastic difference in salary, with Green allowing for an additional $2,200 of salary spending, he is by far the better option in this matchup. Tennessee ranks No. 32 in schedule-adjusted fantasy points to teams’ second wide receivers. Green is priced below rookie wideout Tee Higgins, who scored an impressive touchdown in week 7 and was efficient on his opportunities, but he still saw less than half the targets of Boyd and Green. With games of six, seven, eight, eight and nine targets already under his belt, the high-volume nature of the Bengals’ passing attack means three wideouts have the ability to be fantasy viable on a weekly basis, particularly if Burrow’s throwing for 400 yards and four touchdowns. That makes Higgins absolutely worth consideration this weekend. He’ll need to eat into Green or Boyd’s usage or reel off another long score in order to pay off his $5,600 salary this weekend.

The only other option for the Bengals is Drew Sample, who saw his highest target total since week 2, with six against the Browns. Sample has yet to produce more than 52 yards this season and ranks fourth on the team in red zone target share since week 3. With one of the better matchups for tight ends compared to other players in his salary range, Sample should be on gamers’ radars, especially those who might be looking to differentiate their Bengals stacks in large-field tournaments.

Cincinnati Rushing Game

As of mid-week, it appears Joe Mixon is a long shot to play in week 8 after spraining his foot against the Colts in week 6. That would mean another week of heavy usage for the eight-year veteran Bernard, whose salary has increased significantly from a week ago, but not nearly enough if the entire backfield is handed over to him once again. The Titans have been especially vulnerable on the ground, ranking fourth worst in yards allowed per rush attempt, which makes Bernard a no-brainer play at his salary. In a game that expects to feature plenty of points and plenty of passing, it’s never a bad idea to take a running book when the usage expectation is so incredibly solid. As the 20th-highest-salary running back on the main slate, Bernard is an auto-start for fantasy gamers this weekend.

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Prediction: Titans 33, Bengals 27.

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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