The scoring binge has continued through the first seven weeks of the NFL season. Teams have scored 24.1 points per game, 2.4 more that last season and half a point more than the second highest scoring season way back in 1948. That was the year that plastic helmets were outlawed as too dangerous and officials were given whistles rather than horns. If you remember riding Sammy Baugh, Steve Van Buren and Mal Kutner to a fantasy title that year, prove you've still got it by winning this week's RotoWire FanDuel Fantasy Football Championship!
A quick rules refresher: we're running a $10 contest in each of the first 10 weeks of the season, where the top 150 finishers double their money. Compete against fellow RotoWire readers as well as three experts: Kevin Payne, Jeff Erickson and Derek VanRiper. Beating all three experts in one week earns you a ticket to Week 11's championship round, where the top 120 scores earn a prize and the top score gets $1,000 and a two-year RotoWire subscription. Sign up for this week's contest here.
Meanwhile, the experts here at RotoWire have been running a parallel contest. Darin Brown took home the victory last week (despite a dud from last week's "Expensive Landmine" Mark Ingram) due to a 30.9-point performance from Marlon Mack. The overall leaderboard through eight weeks can be found here. The current top 10 are as follows:
- Joshua Fathollahi (jashfath) 986.02
- Joel Bartilotta (joelbartilotta) 967.68
- Darin Brown (dasabre) 965.90
- Ken Crites (kencrw) 965.60
- Andrew Laird (kingmorland) 958.16
- Eric Caturia (etcat30) 946.06
- Scott Jenstad (oaktownsj) 943.58
- Herb Ilk (joecomma) 935.62
- Benjamin Donabedian (jd0505) 928.66
- Joe Bartel (alphacool) 927.96
Before this week's recommendations, a quick reminder to check out RotoWire's lineup optimizer, the best place to go to begin to work out your lineup. It looks to be another high-scoring week, with four games having over/unders north of 50. Note: the Dolphins, Texans, Saints, Vikings, Patriots and Bills all have played in or will play in primetime games this week, and the Eagles and Jaguars are playing early in London, so their players are not included on the main slate. Meanwhile, the Falcons, Cowboys, Chargers and Titans have bye weeks.
RB Kareem Hunt: Kansas City Chiefs vs. Denver Broncos
FanDuel Price: $8,100
The Chiefs have the second highest implied point total on the slate at 31.75 points, and Hunt should be a large part of them reaching that mark. After a slow start to the season, Hunt put up 25 points away at Denver in Week 4. Since that point, he's averaged 25.6 points per game. He should have a high floor and a high ceiling against a Broncos team that has given up the seventh most points per game to opposing running backs.
WR JuJu Smith-Schuster: Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Cleveland Browns
FanDuel Price: $8,000
Last week's post contained some math comparing teammates Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs, concluding that Thielen was the better option (which turned out to be the correct call). Time for a similar exercise to compare Smith-Schuster with teammate Antonio Brown. If you recall that we can safely throw out the $4,500 it costs to fill the WR slot with a practice squad player, we find that Brown costs $249 per point ((8,800-4,500)/17.3), while Smith Schuster comes in at $230 per point ((8,000-4,500)/15.2). Smith-Schuster looks to be the slightly better deal, assuming similar levels of production hold. He also has 16 red-zone targets compared to just nine for Brown. Smith-Schuster is the Steeler to go with against Cleveland's exploitable pass defense.
QB Jameis Winston: Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Cincinnati Bengals
FanDuel Price: $7,800
Winston remains on this list after a solid, 22.1-point performance last week against the Browns. He'll face a Bengals defense which has allowed the fifth most points per game to opposing quarterbacks this season in a game which looks set up to be a shootout. With questions in the backfield (Peyton Barber is battling an ankle injury) and the Buccaneers expected to be trailing, Winston should have even more reasons to throw than usual and his full stable of excellent weapons to target.
QB Andy Dalton: Cincinnati Bengals vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
FanDuel Price: $7,800
The other side of this matchup is equally interesting. The Bengals have the third highest implied point total on the slate (29.25). Dalton is less dynamic than Winston and his group of receivers isn't quite as exciting (even with A.J. Green), but the Bucs' pass defense is even worse than the Bengals', giving up a league-high 27.3 points per game to opposing quarterbacks. The last time Dalton faced a bottom-five defense in that category, he put up 25.78 points against the Falcons back in Week 4.
WR Jarvis Landry: Cleveland Browns at Pittsburgh Steelers
FanDuel Price: $6,700
Another repeat recommendation, Landry's price has gone up just $200 after a season-high 20.7-point performance last week against the Buccaneers. It took 15 targets to get him there, though that wasn't much of an aberration, as the wideout has averaged 11.7 targets per game this season and is second in total targets behind only Adam Thielen. He's caught just 50 percent of his targets thus far this season, but if that moves up towards the 70 percent mark he posted in four seasons in Miami, he'd be a clear top-tier receiver going at a mid-tier price. Even if his catch rate doesn't change this week, he's still an excellent option against a Steelers defense which allowed the third most fantasy points per game to opposing receivers and which Landry put up 106 yards against in Week 1.
RB Ronald Jones II: Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Cincinnati Bengals
Jones looked like a bust right out of the gate this summer, struggling with the playbook, with pass protection and simply with running the football in training camp and the preseason. After not playing in Tampa Bay's first three games, he's been gradually working his way into the picture, playing a career-high 29 offensive snaps last week against the Browns. Peyton Barber isn't much of an obstacle, having rushed for just 3.5 yards per carry this season, and has been just a limited participant at practice due to an ankle injury. If he's unable to go, or if reports suggest his role will be limited, Jones could finally be given a chance to justify his draft position against a Bengals defense which has given up the fifth most points to opposing running backs this season.
WR Jermaine Kearse: New York Jets at Chicago Bears
FanDuel Price: $4,700
Kearse is hardly an exciting option, with just 4.8 targets and 4.1 fantasy points per game this season. He's coming off a blank in Week 7. Still, who else are the Jets going to throw to? Quincy Enunwa has been ruled out with an ankle injury. Robby Anderson has been missing practice with an ankle injury of his own. Terrelle Pryor has been released. Kearse becomes an attractive budget option as the last man standing in the Jets' receiving corps. The Bears defense isn't as bad a matchup as they may seem, as they've given up the seventh most points per game to opposing receivers.
QB Cam Newton: Carolina Panthers vs. Baltimore Ravens
FanDuel Price: $8,100
Newton is having an excellent season, posting the second most points per game among starting quarterbacks on this week's main slate. He's dropped to the sixth most expensive quarterback this week, but even at that price he's a risk. He's been limited in practice this week due to a shoulder issue, which the Panthers have downplayed but which is still worrisome. More importantly, he's facing a Ravens defense which has been second best against opposing quarterbacks, allowing just 14 points per game, and which held Drew Brees to a pedestrian 212 yards last week. Newton has largely picked on fantasy-friendly defenses this season, facing four of the top 12 in terms of most points given up to opposing quarterbacks. His only two games against teams in the bottom half of that statistic have been his two worst, with an 18.24-point showing against the Cowboys and an 18.38-point performance against the Giants, and neither of those defenses has anything on Baltimore.