Week 8 provides some interesting challenges. We are without four of the five elite quarterbacks we have typically been building around every week. With the one remaining top option (Jalen Hurts) likely to be extremely popular, we may need to chase rushing upside and be willing to accept a low floor at the position to save some cap space for the bevy of exciting but priced-up top running backs and wide receivers.
Quarterback Positional Overview
There are five quarterbacks this season scoring 23.3 or more FanDuel PPG. No other quarterback is scoring more than 19.3. Four of those five are not on the main slate this week — Josh Allen, Patrick Mahomes II, Lamar Jackson, and Joe Burrow. Jalen Hurts is the lone member of that Big 5 on the slate, and he is going to be very popular due to that fact. Paying up for one of the elite quarterbacks has been a consistently winning strategy this season, but that is only an option in Week 8 if we eat the chalk on Hurts. What are our other options? Tua Tagovailoa, Geno Smith, and Kirk Cousins provide solid floors and modest passing upside. But our best chance to take down a tournament is to chase rushing upside. There are a few quarterbacks on this slate (in addition to Hurts) who provide a realistic multiple-touchdown upside on the ground. We will highlight these upside dual-threat quarterbacks below and recommend focusing on more athletic passers this week.
Top QB Plays
Sam Ehlinger, Indianapolis ($6,000) We have the perfect storm for a first-time starter emerging as the top points per dollar option on the main slate. First, Ehilinger comes in minimum-priced, which is 35% less than the one truly elite fantasy quarterback on the slate (Hurts). The discount is especially helpful this week, given the talent and upside of the top wide receivers on the slate. Second, Ehlinger has an extremely fantasy-friendly game with the size and strength to be a weapon on designed runs around the goal line. He had 18 rushing touchdowns his junior year at Texas and has racked up 126 rushing yards and a touchdown in 137 preseason snaps. Ehlinger was also fantastic throwing the ball this preseason, showing progress from his rookie preseason.
Jalen Hurts, Philadelphia ($9,200)
Hurts has been a dominant fantasy performer this season. His overall rushing production is tops in the NFL at the positions. He has averaged 12.8 carries for 48.8 yards and 1.0 touchdowns per game this season (10.8 FanDuel PPG as a runner). He has either scored a rushing touchdown or thrown for 300-plus with three-plus passing touchdowns in all but one game this season.
Battle of Pennsylvania between #FlyEaglesFly & #HereWeGo . Jalen Hurts & the Eagles offense have been explosive this year. @gregcosell breaks down Hurts improved ability to read defenses post-snap while staying poised in the pocket.@DariusJButler | @PlaybooKFoley | @__bbell pic.twitter.com/pN1ZR0qtki— NFL Matchup on ESPN (@NFLMatchup) October 28, 2022
The matchup this week is positive. The Eagles are big home favorites with a healthy 26.5-point implied team total. The Steelers defense has given up the third-most passing yards in the NFL (1,998) and does not have the defensive line talent to challenge what is arguably the league’s best offensive line. Hurts provides a nice combination of floor and ceiling but keep an eye on his popularity.
Other QBs to consider
Kyler Murray, Arizona ($8,200) We have yet to see Murray explode for a big fantasy performance this season, which has been a surprise given how many monster fantasy outings he posted the previous two seasons. He may be due for a breakthrough. The Cardinals offense has been picking up its pace, and Murray has been running more. He averaged just 4.0 rushing attempts per game over the first three weeks. Over his last four games, he has averaged 8.3 rushing attempts per game. The rushing upside is there and worth rolling the dice on given the overall lack of other strong options on the slate. The Vikings defense has faced two mobile quarterbacks this season, Justin Fields and Jalen Hurts. In those two games, Minnesota allowed 104 rushing yards and 2 touchdowns to the quarterbacks.
Justin Fields, Chicago ($6,500) Fields has run for at least 47 yards in each of his last five games. Over the last two weeks, he has averaged 85 rushing yards per game. At this price point, 80 rushing yards with the legitimate chance of a rushing touchdown gets you close to what you need with even a little bit of production through the air. The matchup against Dallas is difficult, but that will also mean we should be able to get Fields at low ownership.
Running Back Positional Overview
Last week, we were all over Travis Etienne ($6,200) and Aaron Jones ($6,800) as bargain options to get us up to three top wide receivers. We have a pair of running backs priced almost identically that are in very similar spots this week in Tony Pollard and Raheem Mostert. These two will be much more popular than Etienne and Jones were, but the rock-solid projections, realistic upside, and bargain price tags should still make rostering them a +EV decision. In fact, it is hard to build an attractive lineup without the savings of having at least one sub-$7K running back. If you want to get off of the chalk while still saving cap space, Michael Carter ($6,600) and Brian Robinson Jr ($6,000) are two names to consider.
There are plenty of strong higher-priced options this week. Unfortunately, many of our go-to options from past weeks (Derrick Henry, Saquon Barkley, Ken Walker III, and Josh Jacobs) have been priced up substantially.
Top RB Plays
Tony Pollard, Dallas ($6,300)
Pollard is going to be chalky but it is very hard to pass on him at this price with Ezekiel Elliott out. The last game without Elliott, Pollard had 132 total yards and two touchdowns on 18 touches (12 carries and 6 receptions). For his career, Pollard has averaged 107.6 yards in the seven games he has received 15-plus touches.
The Bears have allowed the sixth-most fantasy points to opposing running backs, and the Cowboys are heavy home favorites. This is a spot where Pollard has both a high floor and a great ceiling. The only reason not to play him at this price is game theory, which is definitely a major consideration in tournaments, given how popular Pollard is expected to be. At least be aware that if you are playing Pollard alongside a few of the more popular options this week, you should be aggressively trying to differentiate your lineup in at least a couple of other spots with some more under-the-radar options.
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