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The Slant and Go with Chris Spags: Matthew Stafford and Week 9 NFL DFS Picks (FREE)

Chris Spags

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EMac has your NFL Monday Night Football, Showdown Slate NFL DFS Picks for DraftKings & FanDuel: Detroit Lions at Green Bay Packers

It was a very solid week for some of the NFL DFS picks we had in last week’s Slant and Go. Now that we’re officially past the halfway point of the season, I’m hellbent on dragging all of us to the pay window with this column as we enter the home stretch. Week 9 features a shorter slate that lacks some of our recent popular plays like Leonard Fournette or the Los Angeles Rams. But it’s a week that should feature some surprisingly interesting games with lots of scoring expected by Vegas. That’s all we can ask from the NFL DFS picks gods as I take you through all my game breakdowns and playable options on this Week 9 slate.

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Before we get into all my preferred plays on the Week 8 NFL DFS main slate, let’s do our weekly accountability check with my Week 7 Victory Laps and Walks of Shame:

Week 8 Victory Laps

  • I had a lot of Kenny Golladay after declaring him a prime bounce-back candidate and that ended up one of my favorite plays of the week. We’ll face another Sophie’s Choice with Detroit’s receivers again in a killer spot this week, but for now, I’m going to bask in my reflected Golladay glory.
  • Tevin Coleman jumped out to me given his big workload and strong matchup on paper versus Carolina. I greatly underestimated how much of him I should have but he was a great value at running back in a week where that opened up a lot of upside at wide receiver.
  • I mentioned that I would play the hell out of a chalky Latavius Murray if Alvin Kamara were to miss again for New Orleans, and true to form, I had upwards of 80% Murray while the field was surprisingly low on him. It wasn’t a bold play but it was a crucial one you had to avoid getting too cute with.

Week 8 Walks of Shame

  • The opportunity was there on paper for Kenny Stills but oooh boy, was he not worth chasing chalk ownership on. Wide receiver is a highly variant position so that wasn’t a shocker. But the fact that Keke Coutee also barely played as a pivot while Darren Fells went nuts was an absolute soul crusher.
  • I said I wanted a fade of Ty Johnson on On the Contrary and yet here I was playing more Ty Johnson than the field. I hate myself sometimes. Thankfully, I didn’t advocate for him in any content but this is very much a walk of shame.
  • I pointed out how likely Cooper Kupp was to benefit from Cincinnati’s penchant to give up intermediate routes and, of course, I played basically no Cooper Kupp. This is more of a personal Walk of Shame than a content-based one, but I’m just venting here at this point. You get it.

Now that we did our always important self-loathing and pats on the back, let’s get to it with the Slant and Go and my Week 9 NFL DFS picks!

Indianapolis Colts (20.8 implied points) at Pittsburgh Steelers (22.3 implied points)

Top IND NFL DFS picks:

  • Much like last week versus Denver, a game in which he had a strong but not stellar 20 touches for 90 yards and a touchdown, Marlon Mack interests me. When things get gritty for Indianapolis, Mack is there. At his price point, he has some upside.
  • T.Y. Hilton is never entirely out of play with a secure role and 7.7 targets per game, including 1.3 in the red zone. Hilton’s price isn’t massively appealing but he looks as playable in GPPs as ever.

Top PIT NFL DFS picks:

  • As of publishing, James Conner looks unlikely to play with an AC joint injury. That makes the status of Jaylen Samuels and, to a lesser extent, Benny Snell keys to watch. Samuels seems likely to return after practicing in full last week but being held out of the Monday Night Football game. He contributes well as a pass catcher and passably as a runner and could be a top value play this week if Conner is out as expected. Indianapolis allows 4.8 yards per carry to opponents.
  • JuJu Smith-Schuster looked resurgent in a cake matchup versus Miami on Monday Night Football. It’s possible he keeps it going one more week even though that doesn’t feel terribly secure; Indianapolis allows a 23.2% boost to WR1s according to Football Outsiders’ DVOA. I’d be more inclined to chase his big day than Diontae Johnson’s.

Tennessee Titans (18.8 implied points) at Carolina Panthers (22.3 implied points) 

Top TEN NFL DFS picks:

  • Ryan Tannehill was a hipster play in Week 8 for some in the industry. But he mostly lucked into his success thanks to turnovers from Jameis Winston that perfectly set up Tannehill with pristine field position. I would not chase his moderate success against a Carolina D that allows a 62.8% completion rate with an 83.1 coverage grade from PFF.
  • Derrick Henry could be in a bounce-back spot against that same Carolina defense that allows 135.1 rushing yards per game and a 6.3% rushing touchdown rate. Henry bombed out versus Tampa’s elite run defense and his price is down enough to ignore his lack of pass game involvement.
  • It seems worth noting that Corey Davis saw four targets of 20-plus yards among his six total targets in Week 8. I still don’t love the matchup, but that kind of deep work could be valuable for Davis in more favorable spots (and maybe worth a dart toss or two this week).
  • Jonnu Smith was an interesting value play in Week 8 and he exceeded expectations with six catches for 78 yards and a score on seven targets. Smith is a more dynamic weapon than Delanie Walker but neither feels very playable if Walker is back in the lineup.

Top CAR NFL DFS picks:

  • Christian McCaffrey is the first running back to cross the $10,000 threshold on DraftKings this season. It’s hard to argue against him after he still took advantage of a tough San Francisco defense for 30.5 FP on 117 rushing yards, 38 receiving yards and a touchdown. Tennessee has limited opposing running backs to 96.5 rushing yards per game and a 1.5% rushing touchdown rate, but McCaffrey’s usage and 3.3 red zone rushes per game makes him still viable.
  • Kyle Allen does not have a great matchup in front of him in what could be his last start. But Tennessee does only get a 19.3% pressure rate so it wouldn’t be crazy to see Curtis Samuel get loose after he had two deep targets on 11 overall in Week 8. Ditto for D.J. Moore who had three deep targets and eight overall.

Chicago Bears (19 implied points) at Philadelphia Eagles (24 implied points)

Top CHI NFL DFS picks:

  • I found Mitchell Trubisky to be an interesting contrarian quarterback on On the Contrary in Week 8 and despite all the opportunity with 35 pass attempts, he could not get it done with no touchdowns and one pick. Philadelphia looked somewhat better against Buffalo after their internal squabbles following Orlando Scandrick’s release. Still, I could see one more “thanks for the bad times” stack of Trubisky in Week 9 with Allen Robinson given his 26% target share, 1.9 deep targets and 9.4 overall targets per game.
  • David Montgomery had the best game of his young career with 27 carries for 135 yards and a score plus four catches for 12 yards on five targets. Now he faces a mostly stout Philadelphia run defense who allows 90.5 rushing yards per game. If he can maintain that volume, it’s hard to ignore him at his price, but he’s far from a lock play.

Top PHI NFL DFS picks:

  • Chicago has lost some games but they still allow just 317 yards per game with no obvious weaknesses. They also generate pressure at a 29.4% rate and seem due for some positive turnover regression, something they excelled in last season. It’s hard to imagine any of these Eagles really excelling but I’d be curious about DeSean Jackson if he were somehow able to return to the lineup. And this does seem like the kind of spot where Zach Ertz could be relied on more than he has been with Dallas Goedert taking away a lot of his workload recently, particularly in the red zone.

Washington Redskins (13.8 implied points) at Buffalo Bills (23.3 implied points)

Top WAS NFL DFS picks:

  • If Dwayne Haskins starts, this is a horrendous spot for every Washington player, even more than usual. Haskins has an 18.2% interception rate and a 15.4% sack rate and, somehow, he’s even worse under pressure with a 40% sack rate and 20% interception rate with just 25% accuracy. He is not a good player and I would not play anyone who relies on him, even a player like Terry McLaurin, who seems talented enough to get going in any situation.

Top BUF NFL DFS picks:

  • Given that information for Haskins, Buffalo’s defense would be very appealing if Haskins starts.
  • John Brown is in play with his ability to blow the top off any defense. But Washington mostly keeps passes in front of them with just 6.8 air yards per target and 7.3 yards per pass allowed, so it may not be an ideal spot for him. Maybe Cole Beasley and his same-as-Brown 7.6 targets per game has more value as a result.
  • Frank Gore had just nine touches in Week 8 with a focus towards Devin Singletary in the pass game. Singletary’s six targets matched his high in Week 1. But Gore could see more work versus a Washington defense that gives up 4.4 yards per carry with 31.4 rushing attempts per game, 137.8 rushing yards per game allowed overall. Buffalo may not need much to escape with a win if Haskins is starting.

NY Jets (22 implied points) at Miami Dolphins (19 implied points)

Top NYJ NFL DFS picks:

  • This is the week Sam Darnold may be able to fail upwards. He’s priced up for the opportunity but Miami just allowed Mason Rudolph’s best fantasy performance of the year and he is substantially less talented. Miami allows an 8.8% passing touchdown rate with 8.7 yards per attempt and 10 air yards per attempt, a nice opportunity for Darnold with Robby Anderson. I wouldn’t run away from Jamison Crowder either with him likely to see even easier coverage in the slot. Demaryius Thomas is in the mix with the occasional deep target, but Anderson is a potential smash play.
  • Le’Veon Bell could also see his best game as a Jet despite a big jump in his price. Bell’s 6.5 FP versus Jacksonville were a season low. In fact, they were his lowest since Pittsburgh’s 2016 playoff loss to New England. Bell should rise along with the Darnold tide and could also serve as a pivot if Darnold’s ownership were to become untenable.
  • Ryan Griffin had a career day with four catches for 66 yards and two scores in Week 8. Things should be easier for the outside receivers in this spot but Griffin could see similar work if Chris Herndon remains out.

Top MIA NFL DFS picks:

  • Mark Walton is vaguely interesting after over 14 touches in his last two games and no Kenyan Drake. The Jets allow a 4.9% rushing touchdown rate with 5.4 points per red zone visit so Kalen Ballage could also siphon some opportunity at low ownership. Ballage sees 0.7 rushes inside the five per game and could see more if Fitzpatrick moves the ball like he did versus Pittsburgh.
  • I still wouldn’t find Ryan Fizpatrick particularly playable but I get why you may want to take a stab. The Jets’ pass coverage is likely not as bad as it seems with a 70 grade from PFF and just 6.9 yards per attemp with a 3.4% passing touchdown rate allowed. Preston Williams and DeVante Parker see 1.9 and 1.7 deep targets per game and either can break one, even if Fitzpatrick doesn’t have massive upside. Both ran twice as many routes as Albert Wilson in Week 8.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (22.5 implied points) at Seattle Seahawks (29 implied points)

Top TB NFL DFS picks:

  • Mike Evans went nuts in Week 8 with 11 catches for 198 yards and two scores on 12 targets. Seattle doesn’t generate great pressure with just a 17.3% pressure rate and 4.1% sack rate, so I could see a full Tampa stack here with Jameis Winston and Chris Godwin. Evans might not reach that ceiling, but it’s possible both he and Godwin have more reasonable big days given the 273 passing yards per game Seattle allows.

Top SEA NFL DFS picks:

  • This is an exceedingly high total for Seattle so it’s hard not to like Russell Wilson in this spot. Tampa bay allows 286 passing yards per game and their pass defense is infinitely worse than their run defense in every metric.
  • Tyler Lockett and D.K. Metcalf should both see advantages in their matchups. Metcalf had two scores on just 13 yards in Week 8 while Lockett did the heavy lifting with six targets and 100 yards. Atlanta was safely kept at distance for most of the game and that shouldn’t be the case in this spot, making both compelling targets with Wilson.
  • Chris Carson would likely be a contrarian play given the 68.6 rushing yards per game Tampa Bay allows. Tampa Bay has a 81 run defense grade from PFF and allows just 3.0 yards per rush. Carson’s volume is elite with 22.6 touches per game and with that high total he might be worth a few flyers.

Detroit Lions (24.3 implied points) at Oakland Raiders (26.3 implied points)

Top DET NFL DFS picks:

  • Matthew Stafford is in big consideration given the 285.3 passing yards per game Oakland allows along with a 7.9% passing touchdown rate and a 68% completion rate. Stafford was a strong play as we expected in Week 8 as he pushed Kenny Golladay to a monster game with six catches for 123 yards and two scores. Golladay remains the top option each week but it wouldn’t be shocking to see any of Marvin Jones, Danny Amendola or forgotten T.J. Hockenson go off. There is no strength to Oakland’s defense; they just bleed the clock well offensively which limits how many plays opponents get to run. I would favor Golladay and Jones first though, given Stafford’s still sky-high seven targets of 20-plus yards per game with 10.6 air yards per attempt.
  • If Oakland’s defense were to have a strength, it’d likely be their run defense, which allows just 3.7 yards per carry. Detroit barely showed an inclination to run in Week 8 with 12 carries for Tra Carson, three carries for Paul Perkins and seven carries with four targets for Ty Johnson. Johnson still seems like the most appealing of the trio but none look good in any traditional sense.

Top OAK NFL DFS picks:

  • Derek Carr is an interesting thought against a high production Detroit defense that gives up 289.7 passing yards per game. Oakland brings poor pressure with a 12.4% blitz rate and Carr may need to throw more given the likelihood of Detroit’s scoring.
  • Darren Waller and Tyrell Williams remain Carr’s only consistently playable targets. I’d favor Waller given their respective prices and a 14.5% boost to tight ends according to DVOA. But Williams keeps scoring with his relatively low six targets per game and did fairly well for us as a Waller pivot in Week 8 with 91 yards and a touchdown.
  • Josh Jacobs might be the most appealing option given how likely Oakland is to control the clock. Their 31:06 time of position is one of the best marks in the league and they run a high 46% of the time. If Stafford scores early, the equation could change, but Jacobs looks shockingly good to me despite his rising price.

Green Bay Packers (25 implied points) at LA Chargers (22 implied points)

Top GB NFL DFS picks:

  • Aaron Rodgers may very well continue his heater given a poor Chargers defense that gives up a 73.2% completion rate and 7.9 yards per attempt. Rodgers likely would prefer to see Davante Adams back with a very winnable matchup, but the Chargers have allowed a high 43.5% boost to pass-catching running backs. Given how all of Rodgers passing scores went to Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams, it’s very possible to have another good game even if Adams is out.
  • Aaron Jones looks like a fine play after another big game in Week 8 with 13 rushes for 67 yards and seven catches for 159 yards and two scores on eight targets. Green Bay should be able to move the ball on the ground and through the air and Jones has definitely benefited from Adams’ absence.

Top LAC NFL DFS picks:

  • Melvin Gordon is too cheap even with just 11 touches in Week 8. He’s been poor this year with 2.5 yards per attempt, but he had more touches than Austin Ekeler once again. Green Bay gives up 4.8 yards per carry with a bad 62 run defense grade from PFF.
  • Keenan Allen should be healthier after running a limited 24 snaps in Week 8, just behind Mike Williams’ team-leading 29. Allen could benefit from the scoring Green Bay will likely find. I’d take him at his price over Hunter Henry at his comparable one even though the latter’s seven targets and 32 routes per game are strong for the tight end position.

Cleveland Browns (20.5 implied points) at Denver Broncos (22.5 implied points)

Top CLE NFL DFS picks:

  • It may shock you to hear that, once again, this does not look like a Baker Mayfield spot. Denver brings better than average pressure with a 25.3% pressure rate, but they hold opponents to just 194.8 passing yards per game with a 2.4% passing touchdown rate. I’d be way more inclined for Nick Chubb in his tough spot against Denver’s 85-graded run defense than Mayfield in his versus Denver’s 84-graded pass coverage.
  • That said, Odell Beckham could maybe find his way to some success given the 25.4% DVOA boost Denver has allowed to WR1s. Beckham may see shadow coverage from Chris Harris, but I’m less afraid of that matchup for Beckham than other receivers.

Top DEN NFL DFS picks:

  • Brandon Allen will start for Denver with Joe Flacco injured, possibly for the year. Allen is cheap enough to consider given Cleveland’s iffy 49.4 pass coverage grade from PFF, but he likely is not a good player who will also not see a ton of opportunity with Denver already passing a low 52.3% of the time with Flacco. I could see a dart toss or two based solely upon price and Cleveland’s iffy defense but their 37.5% blitz rate versus a young quarterback gives me no real hope.
  • Courtland Sutton will likely suffer even more without any worrisome targets besides him and Allen at quarterback. He is the unquestioned WR1 though, and if I were playing Allen, I’d stack him with Sutton.
  • DaeSean Hamilton was worthless in Week 8 and saw just 25 routes and one fewer target than Fred Brown on his 23 routes. Noah Fant took over some of Denver’s slot routes and may have gained the most from the Emmanuel Sanders trade with his eight targets and five catches the most he’s had this year.
  • If Allen as starter doesn’t ruin everything, the run game may be much more appealing against the 4.8 yards per carry Cleveland allows. Phillip Lindsay remains slightly more involved than Royce Freeman, but both have some upside if Cleveland isn’t able to completely load the box against Allen.

Follow me on Twitter @ChrisSpags to see all the rest of the NFL and NBA content I’ll have with new shows and videos just about every day all week long!

Chris Spags is the senior director of editorial strategy at Awesemo.com and contributes to the site's NBA, NFL, and MLB coverage as a writer and host of video content. Chris's content background from sites like Guyism, Uproxx, and Barstool Sports allows him to bring a unique spin to the world of daily fantasy sports analysis. Chris writes regular columns with NBA and NFL analysis as well as his inimitable style and his 'Four Corners' videos for basketball, baseball, and football DFS are the primary short form content offering on Awesemo's YouTube channel. You can find him on almost any given night providing analysis right up to slate lock on Awesemo's flagship Live Before Lock livestreams or on Twitter @ChrisSpags. You can contact Chris by emailing support@awesemo.com.

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