Week 8: Deep Sleepers and DFS Bargains

Can Andy Dalton deliver for desperate fantasy owners in Week 8? Yahoo fanalyst Liz Loza digs his matchup.

It’s time for a TGIF edition of Deep Sleepers and DFS Bargains. I made good on two of my picks last week (Carson Wentz – QB1 and Dion Lewis – RB20). Let’s try to do better this go-around.

To review … all of these players are owned in less than 60 percent of Yahoo leagues (at time of writing) and/or are a significant value in our daily game. They’re not the obvious picks, and they’re not without their risks, but that’s why they’re so cheap and available! I’d never advocate taking all of these guys, but rather utilizing them if a manager were in a pinch at a position or aiming to build a “stars and scrubs” sort of DFS lineup.

 Andy Dalton, QB, Cincinnati Bengals ($27)
After failing to score over the season’s first two weeks and since Bill Lazor’s installation as the team’s offensive coordinator, Dalton’s stats have improved. Posting QB1 fantasy numbers in two of his last four games, the Red Rifle has passed for nine TDs, which comes out to an average of 2.25 per contest.

With stud A.J. Green dragging him into production, and competent red-zone threats Brandon LaFell and Tyler Kroft increasingly involved, Dalton’s completion percentage has risen by nearly 15 percent (an average of 69.73 percent over his last four outings). This week, he’ll be additionally gifted with the speedy talents of John Ross, as the rookie figures to see his first pro action Sunday. Facing a Colts defense (at home, no less!) that’s allowed the second-most passing yards per contest (over 300 per game), the Ginger Fist is a steal of a deal at just $27 in our daily game.

Wendell Smallwood, RB, Philadelphia Eagles ($16)
With six teams on bye, and starters out due to injury or suspension, fantasy owners have to get creative with their RBs. Yes, the Eagles employ a frustrating three-headed hydra, but Smallwood’s upside makes him the most intriguing option in this backfield. After all, this is a pass-catching back who’s averaging 4.8 YPC against base fronts.

Returning from a two-game absence (knee), the second-year RB got the start in Week 7. While he managed only 39 combined yards on 10 total touches, he was efficient through the air, catching both of his targets. His looks figure to grow in a matchup against the 49ers. Lit-up by Ezekiel Elliott on the ground and  via the air last Sunday, San Francisco is clearly missing the talents of DE Arik Armstead (hand). Furthermore, as bad as the 49ers secondary has been, their run defense has been even worse, allowing the fourth-most rushing yards per contest. Yes, LaGarrett Blount will see his standard 14 carries, but there’s room for Smallwood to make a FLEX-worthy impact. He’s inside my top 30 players at the position in Week 8.

Josh Doctson, WR, Washington Redskins ($13)
Fully healthy and building chemistry with Kirk Cousins, Doctson’s star is on the rise. In fact, he got the start over Terrelle Pryor in Week 7. On the field for over 90 percent of the team’s snaps and seeing his highest target total of the season (five), the TCU product lined up as the Redskins’ “X” receiver. While head coach Jay Gruden has threatened to use a “hot hand approach” at wideout (insert eye roll emoji here), the franchise clearly wants their first-round pick from a year ago to succeed. Hosting a Dallas secondary that’s allowing the sixth-most fantasy points per game and has given up the fifth-most TDs to opposing WRs, Doctson is on the WR2/WR3 bubble in Week 8.

George Kittle, TE, San Francisco 49ers ($12)
After a week of Hawkeye-to-Hawkeye hype with zero result, the heat surrounding Kittle has cooled considerably. But I think now is the time to double-down. Listen, C.J. Beathard is going to get beat hard at Lincoln Financial Field on Sunday. But while under duress, he’ll need a security blanket to rely on … and that binky will take the shape of a 6-foot-4 and 260-pound Midwesterner named George Kittle.

Think about it. The Eagles just got smoked by Jordan Reed (8-64-2) on Monday night. Not simply because Reed is an athletic freak, but because MLB Jordan Hicks tore his Achilles in the game’s opening moments. That’s a massive blow to Jim Schwartz’s defense … and one that Kyle Shanahan is likely to exploit. The targets may not have been there for Kittle last week, but the matchup against Dallas (a unit that’s given up just one score at the TE position all year) was far from prime. This week, however, give me the whole Kittle and caboodle.

Ryan Griffin, TE, Houston Texans ($10)
You’re not going to have many more chances to use Griffin, as C.J. Fiedorowicz is close to return (concussion). But if you feel the need to stream in Week 8, you could do a lot worse than the Texans’ back-up TE. Averaging nearly five targets per game since Fiedorowicz was concussed, Griffin garnered eight looks in Week 6, just ahead of the team’s Week 7 bye. Facing a Seattle defense in which the corners clamp down so tightly on the perimeter that there’s sometimes a softness that exists over the middle of the field, Griffin has a shot to produce. The Seahawks are allowing an average of five catches and over 60 yards per outing to opposing tight ends. Second in team targets, Griffin’s volume is better than most heading into Week 8.

Watch List

Deonte Thompson, WR, Buffalo Bills ($10)
Last week I gave Zay Jones one last chance … and, surprise, he let the opportunity (literally) slip through his fingers. However, Bears’ cast-off Thompson showed eyebrow-raising rapport with Tyrod Taylor, converting all four of his targets for 107 yards. It’s not crazy to believe that he’s leap-frogged the disappointing rookie on Buffalo’s depth chart. Thompson will face a beatable Raiders secondary in Week 8.

Phillip Dorsett, WR, New England Patriots ($10)
There’s a real chance Danny Amendola (knee) won’t play Sunday, which would mean an increased role for Dorsett. In possession of 4.3 speed, Dorsett has flashed plenty since entering the league. He’d likely draw slot-corner Desmond King, who has allowed a passer rating of 114.4. Dorsett is currently available in 98 percent of Yahoo leagues.

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Dig Deep with Liz on Twitter @LizLoza_FF.

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