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DraftKings Fantasy Football Tournament Picks: NFL Week 8 Top High-Upside DFS Targets, Sleepers

Geoff Ulrich shares his top high-upside targets, stacks and contrarian options for this week’s main fantasy football slate on DraftKings.

Welcome to the weekly tournament plays article for Sunday’s main DraftKings fantasy football slate. I’m going to be focusing purely on high-upside plays and stacks that are likely to be lower-owned in the largest tournaments on the slate. There will be a lot of bust potential found here on most weeks, but big GPPs are generally not won by making the popular moves.

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Joe Burrow ($7,100) — Joe Mixon ($6,900) — Ja’Marr Chase ($7,500)

If you breakdown last week’s millionaire maker lineup, the lead entrant used three players from the Rams who also entered as double-digit favorites. I am being a little ambitious here by stacking the Bengals top three priced players in Week 9, but I do think there’s a great chance we see a similar scenario play out in Week 9, when the underrated Cincinnati offense pours it on against a hopelessly overmatched Jets team.

After starting the season with some really low volume efforts, Joe Burrow has now thrown 38 times in two of his last three starts. He enters this week with 9.23 yards per attempt and faces a Jets team who is 11th worst in defending against that same metric. New York has allowed just 4.1 yards per carry, so teams will throw against the Jets (opponents are actually averaging 37.7 throws per game) which is really terrible news this week if you’re a Jets fan.

As we’ve learned of late, when Joe Burrow is dropping back to pass a lot, that means more Ja’Marr Chase. Chase is averaging an absurd 21.5 yards per catch and leads the Bengals in targets with a 25% market share. The fear most will have in this spot is that Chase simply gets “game-flowed” out of work with the Bengals up big, but with the rookie having already scored six touchdowns in seven games, the Bengals being up big at any point likely means Chase found pay-dirt again. We only need to look back to last week to find precedent here, as receiver Cooper Kupp ($9,000) still managed to grab 10 receptions and 156 yards (and two touchdowns) despite the Rams entering his game against Detroit as 14.5 point favorites.

Cincinnati has a 26.25 implied team total as well, so if we do go a week without Chase finding the end zone, it will be unlucky, but also means somebody else picked up the slack. After seeing what Damien Harris did to the Jets last week (128 yards on 14 rushes), Joe Mixon could be in a spot here to rack up some yardage and garbage time scores. Mixon doesn't have the greatest correlation with Joe Burrow—the running back has only caught 13 passes in seven games—but with a big implied team total of 26.25 for Cincinnati, it may not matter for his fantasy production. The Jets have now given up 11 touchdowns to running backs this year, so it would be a little shocking if Mixon doesn't get us a score here either. Football games and player fortunes can turn on a dime, but the one thing we know for sure about teams playing the Jets this year is that there’s enough for everyone when talking about fantasy potential (of their opponents). Stack the Bengals studs against them for a unique upside play in Week 9.

Just Missed: Taylor Heinicke ($5,300) — Terry McLaurin ($7,600)


Taylor Heinicke, Washington Football Team at Denver Broncos ($5,300)

Heinicke admittedly started his season slow as a rusher, taking just seven carries in his first two appearances of the season. Since then, the former XFL player has ramped up his rushing opportunities and he’s now taken five or more carries in four of his last five starts. What’s most impressive about this sudden rushing surge is the fact that Heinicke is grabbing chunks of yards. He’s averaged over 8.0 yards per carry in his last three games (with a recorded rush attempt) and peeled off 95 yards on just 10 rushes last week.

Considering how bad Washington’s defense is, we should get a lot of drop backs here from Heinicke (he’s averaged 39.1 pass attempts per game in six starts), against a Denver defense that hasn’t look great of late and allowed Derek Carr to throw for 341 yards on just 18 completions, two weeks ago. Heinicke and his favorite target, Terry McLaurin ($7,600), aren't likely to be popular here, but when you consider the low ownership likely to be attached to them, and Heinicke’s rushing upside, you can see the merit in thinking about the second year NFL player as a fantasy target, and a player who is easy to double down on in a QB/WR stack, if you so choose.

Just Missed: Tyrod Taylor ($4,900)

Running Back

Elijah Mitchell, San Francisco 49ers vs. Chicago Bears ($5,400)

Mitchell returned to starting duties last week against the Colts and promptly rushed for 5.9 yards per carry, over 100 yards and a touchdown against a very solid Colts’ defensive front (who was only allowing 4.0 yards per carry before last week). Mitchell has looked great so far in Kyle Shanahan’s rushing scheme—averaging 4.9 yards per carry—and more importantly, hasn't faced any threat to his workload from Trey Sermon et. al, when he’s been healthy. Mitchell also faces a Bears defense who seems to be eroding on a weekly basis. Chicago has allowed 5.7 yards per carry to opposing running backs over their last two games and opponents have now averaged 27.7 rush attempts per game against Chicago—the 10th most in the league.

Despite the great setup, an affordable salary, and Mitchell back to taking over 66% of the snap share last game, there doesn't seem to be a ton of belief in the 49ers’ offense. San Francisco is favored by four in this spot and Mitchell is likely to push for +18 touches based on his past usage when healthy. It seems like every week, a different mid-tier running back goes for a monster game (last week it was Damien Harris) and this week very much feels like it’s Mitchell’s turn again.

Just Missed: Damien Harris ($6,100)

Wide Receiver

Diontae Johnson, Pittsburgh Steelers at Cleveland Browns ($6,700)

Despite Johnson coming into this game averaging 10 targets a game, and having seen 12 or more targets in three of his last four starts, there doesn’t seem to be much appetite in DFS for rostering Diontae Johnson this week. While the thought of a stone-footed Ben Roethlisberger ($5,400) against one of the best pass rushes in the league is scary, the Steelers are going to need to pass here to move the chains. Cleveland is allowing just 3.5 yards per carry and Pittsburgh remains one of the worst rushing teams from an efficiency standpoint with 3.7 yards per rush (fourth-worst in the league).

The Browns defense has certainly had its lapses in 2021 (remember the 47 points they allowed to the Chargers?) and elite wide receivers have exposed this secondary at times. Five different receivers have now gone for over 70 yards and a touchdown against Cleveland, and Johnson’s ability to get open quickly in short spaces is the best way for the Steelers to counteract the Cleveland pass rush. With Najee Harris ($7,500) the only Steeler likely to draw much ownership, Johnson makes for an elite leverage play in big field GPPs.

Just Missed: Michael Pittman Jr. ($5,300)

Tight End

Dan Arnold, Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Seattle Seahawks ($2,800)

Arnold is picking up steam as a DFS punt play this week. Given how few viable plays there are at tight end, I’m not sure we should worry if he cracks 10% ownership or higher. The former Panther/Cardinal/Saint has found a solid fantasy landing spot on his latest team as he’s been peppered with 13 targets in two games since arriving. Arnold is also the only tight end on Jacksonville who has caught more than one pass in a game over the last two weeks, and he’s tied for second on the team with targets over that same span.

With min-priced tight ends, we’re really just touchdown hunting, and at 6’6”, Arnold has averaged right around a touchdown for every 9.5 catches made throughout his career. Seattle has allowed the second-most red zone opportunities to opponents per game, so we can certainly project Arnold to be on the field for at least a couple Trevor Lawrence ($5,600) drop backs near the end zone in this game. These are two flawed teams (and offenses) but the porous defenses and fast pace of the Jaguars should mean Arnold has a better chance than most in his DFS range of paying off with more than just a few catches. He’s as good a pay-down option as you’ll find in the vast, tight end wasteland for Week 9.

Just Missed: Cole Kmet ($3,100)


Buffalo Bills ($3,300) vs. Miami Dolphins

After seeing plenty of DSTs approach $5,000 in salary for DFS on DraftKings this year, I'm honestly not sure why the Bills are only $3,300. The better question might be why they’re not the most overwhelmingly popular pick of the week at this price. People like paying down on defense, but value is value and the Bills at $3,300 represent a pretty great opportunity if you can get up to their price. Miami has turned the ball over the fifth-most times of anyone in the league and have ceded the ninth-most sacks per game.

The Dolphins aren’t going to be able to slow the second-highest scoring team in the league, which means tons of drop backs again for Tua Tagovailoa ($5,500) who has been averaging an interception per game (in games that he’s started and finished). The Bills don’t allow big plays (first in yards per pass attempt), get decent pressure (12th in sacks per game) and lead the league in turnovers. Also, this unit has cruised over the 17.0 DKFP mark three times this season and are in a prime spot to hit that achievement again. They’re not cheap, but for the upside they’re offering, they’re also not priced nearly expensive enough in Week 8.

Just missed: Detroit Lions ($2,300)

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