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NFL Prime Time – Week 8 Sunday Night Football (FREE)

Eric MacPherson

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Week 5 start 'em sit 'em fantasy football rankings quarterbacks QBs Kirk Cousins free expert projections add drops

Week 8 Sunday Night Football

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Greetings Gamers! We have Drew Brees on the road, but fortunately in a dome against a fellow pass happy team in the Minnesota Vikings.  Offensive options abound, though with so many to choose from, the key of course will be to get the selections right!

While these teams did square off in Week 1 last season, the lasting memory for all of us will be of the Minneapolis Miracle with Stefon Diggs scoring on a 3rd and 10 with 10 seconds remaining with a 61 yard touchdown click here for a refresher. So we know both teams will be hyped up for this rematch after the Vikings ended the Saints post-season dreams in spectacular fashion.

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New Orleans Saints at Minnesota Vikings – Pick’em / 52.0

New Orleans Saints 26.0 implied point total

Quarterback – Drew Brees has generated a lot of consternation over the last several years of his career with the DFS world emphasizing that he is much better at home than on the road, fortunately he will be playing this road game in a controlled atmosphere because US Bank Stadium is an indoor venue.  As we can see over his last 38 games played, conveniently split between home and away, he is about 10-12% better in most categories in games played at the Superdome, with touchdowns being the main difference at +21% during this stretch.

LocationGamesDKFduCompAtt%AvgYds/GmTDsINTsSacksPRtg
Home1922.921.351270173.0%8.7320.5401227111
Away1919.718.751572870.7%7.3280.1331129100.3

The Vikings defense is solid against the run with Football Outsiders #9 DVOA ranking but they are #19 against the pass.  Last September, when Brees last faced Minnesota at home he was 27 of 37 73.0% for 291 yards with one touchdown, one sack and no interceptions.

He is a fringe QB8-12 in this matchup for the full-slate, but as we must note – we only have two starting quarterbacks in the single game player pool.

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Running Back – with both Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram available and healthy, it will be interesting to see how coach Sean Payton elects to distribute the workload.  The conventional thinking is that with the Saints sitting pretty with the third best record in the league at 5-1, they will share the workload between their two backs who are capable in all facets of the game.  While those of us who play fantasy wish that Kamara would not have to share touches, he is the long-term future for New Orleans and with Ingram wrapping up the final year of his contract, he is “disposable” so the Saints will not be afraid to use him up to preserve Kamara for the playoffs as well as for next season.

With the Vikings rushing defense being effective, at least we can take solace in both of these versatile running backs being able to be active in the passing game.  On DraftKings I prefer Kamara in the full-PPR scoring system even though he is proportionally more expensive than on FanDuel – where I am more interested in Ingram and hoping his number comes up when the touchdowns are scored.

Wide Receiver – Michael Thomas is the clear cut top option and it isn’t even close, though he is definitely priced as such as the fourth most expensive option on both sites.  Thomas is #14 among WRs with 58 targets on the season, though not all of those ahead of him have had their bye week yet.  He has hauled in an astounding 91.4% of those opportunities for 53/588/4 with all of the other receivers on the Saints combining for 53 targets for 34/510/5.  With Ted Ginn Jr. on the injured reserve, Tre’Quan Smith looks like he will be the next in line for targets among the wide receiver corps with Cameron Meredith as the third wheel.

The bonus will be CB Xavier Rhodes (QUES – ankle) possibly missing this game as he has not practiced yet this week.  While we are considering defensive personnel, DL Everson Griffen missed Week 3 with a knee injury and has been out since for personal reasons (threats of bodily harm to others and leaping out of an ambulance), may be back in some fashion for Week 8 and key LB Anthony Barr has already been designated as out with a hamstring injury.

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Tight End – Ben Watson has been solid in his second tour with New Orleans seeing 28 targets for 23/230/1 and most importantly he has one red zone look in every game except for Week 3.  Backup Josh Hill has caught all 8 of his targets for 124 yards and a score.

Defense/Special Teams – while Minnesota has coughed up 6 fumbles on the season, they have allowed just 3 interceptions.  In four of their 7 games they have allowed at least 3 sacks, but the Saints are near the bottom of the league in that category.  As we have seen time and time again in these single game contests – ANYTHING can happen.

 

Minnesota Vikings 26.0 implied point total

Quarterback – Kirk Cousins is checking in as a top three signal-caller in most projection systems this week which dovetails with the Saints allowing the third most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks this season.  With a trio of terrific options in Adam Theilan, Stefon Diggs and Kyle Rudolph, we can target Cousins in all formats on all slates.

Running Back – Dalvin Cook (hamstring) will not return before Week 11, so that leaves Latavius Murray as the lead option, though in the last four games Cook has missed, Murray has seen only two targets in each game.  In his last two outings (ARZ/NYJ) he has a combined 39/224/3 on the ground which is nice and he will not be threatened by C.J. Ham, Mike Boone or Roc Thomas for carries.

Wide Receiver – Adam Thielen has simply been amazing this season leading the league with 13.0 targets per game propelling him to the most receptions (67) and yards (882) as well as the fourth most touchdowns with five.  There is not much else to say.  Stefon Diggs is outstanding in his own right sitting at #7 with 10.6 targets per game culminating in 48/468/3 and if we want to get creative with our salary cap, combining this duo with Kirk Cousins makes for one heck of a synergy strategy this week.

Aldrick Robinson has been relatively quiet since destroying the Week 4 Prime Time slate with 2 targets for a pair of touchdowns in Los Angeles against the Rams.  Since then he has five total targets with one reception and another touchdown coming last week in New York against the Jets.

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Tight End – Kyle Rudolph has been steady this season with at least four targets in each of his last six games and in that time he has seen 33 targets against the 5 from the other TEs combined.  He is clearly behind Theilen and Diggs, but reasonably priced for the single game contests, particularly on FanDuel.

Defense/Special Teams – Drew Brees has yet to throw an interception this season and the Saints have allowed just 9 sacks and 6 total fumbles.  With the injuries to the Vikings key defensive contributors, we are holding out hope for a return score if we roll them in our lineups.

 

Summary – this should be a particularly fun game because we have a pretty good idea of where the offensive opportunities will be concentrated, but as we saw with Aldrick Robinson in Week 4, anything can happen when the touchdowns come from unexpected sources.

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Single Game Ranking (taking into account projected production, pricing and popularity)

  1. Kirk Cousins (everything lines up nicely for him with the lack of a running game, the Vikings likely missing some key defensive personnel and a cherry matchup against the Saints secondary – eat the chalk and differentiate elsewhere)
  2. Adam Theilen (on DraftKings we have a decision to make with him checking in at the top of the pricing list and the 1.5x multiplier for the Captain slot – on FanDuel he is the third most expensive option and even with the half-PPR scoring, he is worthy of the MVP slot and he will also likely be a popular Captain option on DraftKings, even with the lofty price tag)
  3. Drew Brees (ideally the Vikings are able to shuffle things around and continue to deploy a solid run defense – which will encourage Brees to go for more short passes to his RBs and TE.)
  4. Stefon Diggs (for his price and potential, he is checking in as the fourth best option on both sites)
  5. Alvin Kamara/Mark Ingram (yes, when the discount for Ingram is considered, they really are a toss-up)
  6. Michael Thomas (we really are splitting hairs as I would not have any issue listing him as the #4 option on this list, but he slides just a bit considering that Kamara and Ingram will likely both have more touches – of course it very well could be the former Ohio State Buckeye with a multi-touchdown game)
  7. Latavius Murray (while he may not be involved in the passing game as much as we would like, he has the market cornered for the Vikings ground attack)
  8. Dan Bailey (he is 11 for 14 on field goal attempts over his last four games and 11 for 11 on PATs)
  9. Wil Lutz (he has had 3+ field goal attempts in three of his six games and he is 18 for 19 on PATs – this is the highest combined kicker ranking for my single game articles this season!)
  10. Tre’Quan Smith (while he has big play upside, do keep in mind he has 11 targets for 6/155/2 in his last three games with 3/111/3 in the memorable Monday Night Football tilts against Washington in Week 5)
  11. Kyle Rudolph (as the #3 option in the Saints passing game, Rudolph just barely sneaks ahead of …)
  12. Ben Watson (we will need him to convert his red zone opportunity, but with the fireworks on tap that is a definite possibility)
  13. Taysom Hill (do not lose sight of the fact that Sean Payton has special packages to leverage the athleticism of Hill who is 1 for 2 and 10 yards passing and more importantly he has had several red zone rushing opportunities and he is 18/125/1 on the season – oh yeah, he also has a reception, albeit for negative four yards plus the bonus that he has 7 kick returns for a 24.3 yard average)
  14. Aldrick Robinson (Mr. Boom/Bust is the poor man’s version of Tre’Quan Smith)
  15. Laquon Treadwell (nice salary saver on DraftKings – he has had at least four targets in every game with the exception of last week when he saw only three – averaging less than 10.0 yards per reception just isn’t going to get it done on FanDuel unless you are into MME)
  16. Pick a Defense (this is a coin flip as with the lack of sack opportunities and both quarterbacks doing a good job of limiting turnovers, we need a return touchdown)

As always, you can reach out to me in Awesemo.com Premium Slack or on Twitter @EMacDFS if you have any questions.

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Good Luck Gamers! ~ EMac

Eric "EMac" MacPherson won the 2007 Fantasy Baseball grand prize (trip for two to the MLB All-Star game) in the Roto format on ESPN. He won again in 2008, this time in the H2H format. As one of the early adopters of daily fantasy sports, EMac has been providing content for baseball and basketball as well as both professional and college football since 2012 for a variety of websites including DraftKings Playbook, FanVice, RotoWorld, Daily Fantasy Bootcamp, and RotoGrinders. He is well into his third decade of fantasy sports and has a wealth of knowledge and experience. Follow him on Twitter @EMacDFS or contact EMac by emailing [email protected].

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