The Wednesday Watchman: NFL Week 8 Betting, DFS and Fantasy Information to Know

Teams based in the state of New York are a combined 16-4 (sorry New Jersey). Are the Giants lucky or good? It takes a bit of both to have a successful franchise, and I am not willing to write off a team winning close game after close game. They have passed every test with solid defense and basically no receiving options. Sometimes grit just looks lucky. 

Unfortunately, game quality (especially primetime) is tanking while injuries are on the rise. As players of fantasy football and DFS, we are perturbed, but we should be mindful these players are real people suffering real devastating injuries. Rich or not, blowing out your knee on live television is not a fun scenario. Games are hitting the under at an alarming rate. We can only make so much lemonade with all these lemons.

In the “Betting” section of last week’s Watchman article, we easily hit on Chiefs -3, Seahawks +6.5 and Bears-Patriots over 40, while missing on the Steelers-Dolphins over. It’s too bad both teams forgot how to play offense after halftime.

Hopefully, you caught the DVOA Dispatch article debut last Friday. The top-three running game recommendations from my system were the Ravens, Cowboys and Raiders. Baltimore rushed for 160 team yards and two TDs (Gus Edwards had 66 yards and both TDs), Dallas rushed for 139 team yards and two TDs (Ezekiel Elliott had 57 yards and both TDs, Tony Pollard had 83 yards) and Las Vegas saw one-man wrecking crew Josh Jacobs rush for 143 yards and three TDs on his own. Impressive results!

The Bengals were also in the top three for passing game recommendations. Joe Burrow threw for almost 500 yards and three TDs while running another in for a score. Tyler Boyd had himself a game with eight receptions for 155 yards and one TD, while Ja’Marr Chase exploded for 130 yards and two TDs. As I wrote:

“Joe Burrow was a tournament winner last week, and it looks like he will continue his momentum. I can’t guarantee a healthy Tee Higgins, but Ja’Marr Chase should keep dominating. Tyler Boyd is another viable option considering the Falcons are terrible vs. slot WR.”

This result got me thinking; Atlanta had a respectable rush defense, but a below-average pass defense. The Bengals had to pass the ball in order to compete. Superfluous points followed.

Let’s explore similar Week 8 scenarios.

Games to Focus On

Teams playing defenses ranked in the top half of the league in yards per rush, but bottom 10 in net yards per pass attempt (NYd/PA):

Arizona Cardinals (vs. Minnesota Vikings)

Carolina Panthers (vs. Atlanta Falcons)

Houston Texans (vs. Tennessee Titans)

Philadelphia Eagles (vs. Pittsburgh Steelers)

New Orleans Saints (vs. Las Vegas Raiders)

Detroit Lions (vs. Miami Dolphins)

Minnesota Vikings (vs. Arizona Cardinals)

Betting Analysis

It looks like a juicy indoor matchup between the Cardinals and Vikings. If the offensive game plans for these teams are constructed by analytically-minded folks, this should be the highest-scoring game of the week. As both teams make the list, the only fear I have is Kliff Kingsbury somehow messing this up. At 49, I will take the over.

Panthers-Falcons is a divisional matchup featuring two enigmatic teams. The Panthers seemed hapless and ready to tank, trading away their offense (RB Christian McCaffery). They then defeated Tom Brady’s Buccaneers in a blowout. After starting the season 6-0 ATS, the Falcons were down multiple touchdowns late to the Bengals. They still refused to pass the ball. Head scratching. They’re a hard pass for me.

Texans-Titans is another divisional fight. No team seems particularly interested in winning the AFC South, but someone has to. Neither team is taking advantage of the prime matchup they are each being presented with. In theory, the Titans can run the ball down the throat of Houston’s 29th-ranked run defense. Consequently, Houston QB Davis Mills should proceed to hit his receivers with ease while playing catch-up. I don’t think the Texans can sustain a rushing attack for long. Another “pass” from me.

The Steelers-Eagles game should be high-scoring, in theory. However, we saw how well Miami handled its cake matchup last week. Considering the best way to move the ball on Philadelphia is by running, not passing, the game plans for each team should be opposite one another. The Steelers should grind the clock by working their ground game. The Eagles should pass to their capable WRs. While the total is fair at 43.5, the spread favors the Eagles by 10.5 points. That is a ton of points for a team that doesn’t do much in the second half of games. I would lean toward Steelers +10.5 here.

Raiders-Saints should play out differently than Las Vegas’ rushing onslaught against the Texans last week. The Saints are allowing 0.64 fewer yards per rush than Houston. Las Vegas can still run with success, just don’t expect quite what we saw last week. Conversely, the Saints may have trouble getting RB Alvin Kamara going against the Raiders’ seventh-ranked rush defense. So, whether it’s Andy Dalton, Jameis Winston or “tight end” Taysom Hill, I expect the Saints to gameplan around the pass. Saints are +1.5 home underdogs, with the total currently at 48.5. I lean toward the over.

Lions-Dolphins is Miami’s second chance at annihilating a lowly defense. Detroit is bottom three in both yards per rush and NYd/PA. The points should be there for the Dolphins. Now, the way to beat the Dolphins fits this script nicely, since their defense is 11th in yards per rush, while also 25th in NYd/PA. Unfortunately, bettors must already think this will play out the way that we hope because the total is up to 50.5. That is a tough pill to swallow after each of these teams failed to put up points last week.

DFS Picks 

Justin Jefferson ($9100) piques my interest, as the Cardinals are middle of the pack versus slot receivers, compared to third best in the league against receivers in general. That means I’m likely off of Adam Thielen ($6200), but I will be all over TE Irv Smith ($3500) as a punt play with high upside. We target TEs playing Arizona. This game is not in prime time, so Kirk Cousins ($6100) is viable.

On the other side, Arizona will send out reestablished target hog DeAndre Hopkins ($7400), as well as Zach Ertz vs. a bottom-10 TE defense. Kyler Murray ($7500) can run and pass, as long as coach Kingsbury stays out of his way.

WR D.J. Moore ($7500) is the only Panthers’ player I have a semblance of interest in. He should be a great investment this week.

The Panthers are first in rush defense EPA, but the Falcons are only interested in running. Which way will coach Arthur Smith go? If they can put their heads on straight, the Falcons should be utilizing their duo of first-round draft picks from the past two seasons, TE Kyle Pitts ($4000) and WR Drake London ($5100). Good luck with that.

The Texans play the horrid pass defense of the Titans, but it’s a risk to play Brandin Cooks ($5900) or Nico Collins ($4200) with the offense in its current state.

For the Titans, it’s just Derrick Henry ($8400) against the 28th-ranked rush defense of the Texans. Lock him in where you can.

Play Eagles’ QB and WRs. Jalen Hurts ($8300), A.J. Brown ($7700) and Devonta Smith ($6300) are all great plays. Unfortunately, the Steelers are the best team in league defending the tight end, so Dallas Goedert ($5000) is a tough sell.

You can’t pass on Philadelphia, and I don’t trust the Steelers’ run game. But, you could roll the dice on Steelers RB Najee Harris ($5700) and hope for a close game 

The Saints are in QB flux, but whoever starts is playable. The Raiders are terrible against WRs. You can start any healthy Saints WR. Who is healthy? Who is starting? If Chris Olave ($6000) or Jarvis Landry ($4300) play, I’d invest.

Did you see what the Bengals just did to New Orleans? Derrick Carr ($5900) and Davante Adams ($8600) should be serious considerations.

The Lions play the Dolphins, who are below average vs. both WRs and TEs. Fire up TE T.J. Hockenson ($4900) and WR Amon-Ra St. Brown ($6900).

Even after putting up a dud against the Steelers last week, I would still be interested in basically all Dolphins. Tua Tagovailoa ($6200), Tyreek Hill ($8500), Jaylen Waddle ($6700) and Raheem Mostert ($5900) are all good bets.


Check out what my colleagues are saying about waiver pick-ups! Trades and injuries abound. I am intrigued by RB Jamycal Hasty now that James Robinson is a Jet.

Check in again next time for The Wednesday Watchman: Week 9!

(Data courtesy of SIS and TruMedia Networks)

WATCH MORE: The 33rd Team’s Waiver Wire Show


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