4 NFL FanDuel Tournament Pivots for Week 8
If you've played daily fantasy sports for a while, you realize by now the importance of being contrarian, especially in large-field tournaments. Being able to recognize which players are going to be owned by the majority of the field -- and to find players who you think have a similar point projection but will come at much lower ownership -- can help separate you from your opponents.
The purpose of this article will be to identify some players who will be the chalk at each position and how you can pivot off of them with high-upside options who could go overlooked.
Let's take a look at pivot options for Week 8 of the 2020 NFL season.
Lamar Jackson, QB, Baltimore Ravens
FanDuel Salary: $8,300
Lamar Jackson hasn't quite been the fantasy force he was in 2019, ranking just seventh on the slate in FanDuel points per game among quarterbacks this year, and he now faces a tough Steelers defense in a game with an unexciting 46.0 total. Pittsburgh has allowed the seventh-fewest FanDuel points per game to quarterbacks, and they're a top-five defense in numberFire's schedule-adjusted metrics.
For those reasons, it's fair to expect Jackson won't be very popular on Sunday, and the opponent does bring about more risk than usual.
That said, while Jackson has fallen flat at times this season, he's still popped for scores of 28.2, 26.0, and 27.5 points in half his starts, so it's not like the ceiling isn't there. While Jackson isn't running at the same rate as last year, only Kyler Murray has more rush attempts and rushing yards than him, and the majority of top rushing quarterbacks haven't had their bye yet like Jackson.
And speaking of which, Jackson will be coming off said bye this week, so the Ravens have had extra time to prepare for this divisional matchup. Perhaps both the time off and game-planning will help Jackson connect with Marquise Brown ($5,900) on the deep ball, something Pittsburgh has struggled to defend in 2020. Brown is among the league leaders in deep targets, per PFF, trailing only Calvin Ridley.
We may have some tantalizing game totals this week, but high winds could negatively impact several of those spots, potentially leading to less lucrative fantasy outings for a few of the more popular quarterbacks on the slate. That could open the door for Jackson to emerge as one of the week's top scorers, and even in the difficult matchup, he rates as one of the top options in Brandon Gdula's Week 8 simulations.
Josh Jacobs, RB, Las Vegas Raiders
FanDuel Salary: $7,800
With appealing high-end rushers like Derrick Henry ($9,500), Dalvin Cook ($9,200), Alvin Kamara ($9,000), and Kareem Hunt ($8,200) on the board, and plenty of options opening up in the value range, Josh Jacobs could get lost in the mix despite being in a game with a 50.5 total.
Jacobs has been boom-or-bust this season, exceeding 20 FanDuel points twice in six games (21.5 and 33.9 points) but also dipping into the single digits three times. While that might not seem encouraging at first glance, the good news is there's a pretty clear pattern here: Jacobs' worst outings have all come in losses.
In victories, Jacobs has averaged 25.0 rushes and 4.0 targets per game, but he's only tallied 13.7 rushes and 4.0 targets in losses. Similarly, he's seen a 69.0% snap rate in wins and just 59.1% in losses.
Now, technically the Raiders are road underdogs to the Browns, but the spread is just 2.5 points, and no one would be all that shocked if Las Vegas came away with a victory. That leaves a path towards a robust workload for Jacobs, and he'll also face a defense that ranks just 21st in schedule-adjusted run defense, per numberFire's metrics.
A.J. Green, WR, Cincinnati Bengals
FanDuel Salary: $5,800
But let's not forget about A.J. Green, too, who doesn't seem to be getting as much love as those other players. Right when everyone was ready to give up on Green, he's suddenly re-emerged over the last two games with a combined 24 targets, helping him to a team-high 28.0% target share and 32.5% air yards share over that span.
Green's still looking for that first touchdown, but it's only a matter of time if he continues to see this level of volume, and no one has more pass attempts than Burrow this season.
This is a golden matchup for all the Bengals' wideouts, too. Tennessee has allowed the fourth-most FanDuel points to wide receivers this season and ranks 25th in Target Success Rate allowed to the position. Green is expected to specifically see a lot of Malcolm Butler, a matchup he should be able to exploit.
Jonnu Smith, TE, Tennessee Titans
FanDuel Salary: $6,100
With Travis Kelce ($7,900), George Kittle ($7,700), and Darren Waller ($6,800) all on the slate, along with value plays like Hunter Henry ($5,600) and Harrison Bryant ($5,000), enthusiasm probably won't be very high for Smith, who's coming off two straight duds.
However, in one of those games, he got hurt and the other came against a tough Steelers' defense. It's true that there are more mouths to feed in this passing offense with both Corey Davis ($5,400) and Adam Humphries ($5,000) now healthy, adding more risk in using Smith, but this matchup against the Bengals could lead Tannehill to look his way more often.
Cincinnati has allowed the third-most FanDuel points per game to tight ends, and no team has been targeted more often than the Bengals by the position. We even saw Cleveland's backup tight ends, Harrison and David Njoku, haul in three touchdowns just last week.
If you're looking for a less popular way to tap into this game, Smith looks like a solid possibility.