After researching the pool of NFL players like quarterback, running back, wide receiver, and tight end every week for the past few seasons, I will be on a new path for daily games in 2021. I continue to make projections for Illustrated Sports, and this baseline will be used to identify possible values at each position during the season.
In daily games, we see low-paid players each week posting scores that make a difference. The key to winning is mixing a core of studs with some undervalued options that post impact scores for their price.
Depending on the format, the goal is to find players who score three or four times their salary for a shot at GPP (grand prize).
Upper tier: Josh Allen, Buffalo Bills ($ 8,100 / $ 8,800)
The Bills have won six straight games against the Dolphins and scored a combined 232 points. During this span, Allen gained a combined 1,740 yards with 20 touchdowns. Buffalo dominated Miami in Week 2 (35-0), starting a streak of 177 points scored in their last five meetings. Allen leads quarterbacks in scoring (29.59 FPPG) in four-point touchdown leagues. He finished with more than 30.00 Fantasy points in three of his last four outings (40.80, 39.65, 33.25).
Miami allowed more than 300 passing yards in four of its five previous meetings (LV – 386/2, TB – 452/5, JAX – 319/1, ATL – 336/2) with failures in three games defending wide receivers (13 / 259/1, 23/349/4, 18/232/1). Additionally, they allow 8.0 yards per pass attempt and have a minimum passing run (12 sacks).
Sports betting YES Buffalo is the favorite by 14 points with 48.5 over / under. Allen looks poised for another great day after losing a disappointing game to the Titans in Week 6. However, he needs Miami to fight better on the scoreboard than they did earlier in the season to fill his salary bucket.
Plus: Patrick Mahomes – 32.79 fantasy points
Value: Kirk Cousins, Minnesota Vikings ($ 6,500 / $ 7,600)
After two games down (203/1 and 275/1), Cousins beat the Panthers by 389 combined yards and three touchdowns in Week 6. He has passed for more than 300 yards in three games, plus three touchdowns in the half of his six starts. Cousins has been a better player on the road this season (868/8 with no interceptions). In 2020 against the Cowboys at home, he finished with 314 passing yards and three touchdowns.
Dallas has played better defensive quarterbacks the last two games (294/1 and 229/2), but they still rank 29th in quarterback defense (25.44 FPPG). The Cowboys allowed more than 300 passing yards in their first four games (TB – 379/4, LAC – 338/1, PHI – 326/2, CAR – 301/2). Generally, quarterbacks gain 8.2 yards per pass attempt with some success on the ground (26/89/2).
This confrontation has a over / under 55 in almost an even showdown, aiming for a high-scoring affair. Dallas kept running backs under 100 rushing yards in five of their six meetings, indicating that Cousins will need to throw the ball to win this game.
Plus: Jameis Winston – 22.99 Fantasy Points
Top tier: Jonathan Taylor, Indianapolis Colts ($ 7,200 / $ 8,500)
Sometime in 2021, the Colts will realize they need to give Taylor the ball as much as possible. He has over 100 combined yards in his last four starts, leading to a combined 553 yards with six touchdowns and 10 receptions averaging 6.5 yards per rush. As a result, Taylor scored 1,075 Fantasy points per touch in the PPR leagues, compared to 0.8926 for Derrick Henry. Over the past two weeks, Indy had him on the field for 65 to 69 percent of his plays (highest totals for the year).
The Titans have a top 10 defense against running backs (20.27 FPPG – ninth), but they allow 4.5 yards per rush. The Jaguars’ offense had the most success against them with their running backs (179 yards combined with a touchdown and two receptions).
The Colts have a superior offensive line, and Tennessee could come to this flat game after getting a couple of big wins against the Bills and Chiefs. Indianapolis listed Taylor as questionable for this week’s game with a rib problem. However, if he is given the go-ahead for Sunday, the all-in card seems to be in play.
Plus: Derrick Henry – 30.14 fantasy points
Value: Kenneth Gainwell, Philadelphia Eagles ($ 5,000 / $ 5,900)
With Miles Sanders expected to miss several weeks with an ankle problem, Gainwell seems poised to see most of the touches on the Eagles’ running back. In Week 7, Philadelphia had him on the field for 51 percent of their plays, but they also involved Boston Scott after the game got out of control. During the first seven games, Gainwell scored 66.40 fantasy points in the PPR leagues, highlighted by his success in Week 4 (89 combined yards with a touchdown and six receptions). He averaged 1,476 Fantasy points per touch on this stretch.
The Lions played well in two weeks defending running backs (5.80 and 9.8 fantasy points), but they rank 29th in fantasy points allowed per game (28.86). Green Bay (45.90), Chicago (39.30) and Cincinnati (43.30) had the most success. Running backs have 12 high-production touchdowns in the passing game (30/274/6).
I expect Philadelphia to turn on two backs, but Gainwell won the RB2 job in all seven games. Your opportunity should be well above your salary heading into action in week 8.
Plus: Darrel Williams – 19.30 Fantasy points
The wide receiver
Top tier: Stefon Diggs, Buffalo Bills ($ 8,100 / $ 7,300)
Coming out of the bye week, Diggs is the 17th highest scoring wide receiver (15.88 FPPG) in the PPR leagues. Last year, he averaged 20.54 fantasy points per game while setting personal records for receptions (127), yards (1,535) and targets (166). This season, he averages 9.7 targets (10.34 in 2020), but his catch rate (63.4) is well below his break year (76.5 percent).
Miami ranks 30th in wide receiver defense (101/1384/10 in 153 goals). Most of the damage occurred in three clashes (LV – 13/259/1, TB – 23/349/4 and JAC – 18/232/1). CB Xavien Howard and CB Byron Jones played last week after losing time in Week 7.
The Dolphins will try to pair Diggs with CB Nik Needham for the most significant advantage, but he has the advantage over all Miami cornerbacks. The investment in Diggs comes from the fact that he needs a correction game to move up the overall rankings.
Plus: Justin Jefferson – 29.31 fantasy points
Value: DeVonta Smith, Philadelphia Eagles ($ 5,500 / $ 6,200)
Smith hasn’t scored a touchdown since Week 1. After seven games, he has 32 receptions for 406 yards and a touchdown on 53 goals, ranking him 40th in wide receiver scoring (11.37 FPPG) in the PPR leagues. Based on his current salary, Smith delivered two playable games (6/71/1 and 7/122).
Detroit fell to 22nd as a defensive wide receiver (86/1346 / 7) after the Rams’ wide receivers beat their defense for 20 receptions, 269 yards and three touchdowns. The Lions allow 15.7 yards per catch with a high catch rate (68.8).
Smith will be active in this game; a score and more than 100 receiving yards are at your fingertips.
Plus: Corey Davis – 19.79 fantasy points
Upper tier: Travis Kelce, Kansas City Chiefs ($ 7,500 / $ 8,000)
The combination of Patrick Mahomes to Kelce has only one touchdown in the last five games. Kansas City gave him double-digit goals (10, 11, 12) in his previous three starts. He has a record of six receptions in seven contests while gaining more than 100 yards in two meetings.
New York held tight ends in short games (5/36 and 2/12) for the past two weeks, raising them to 18th in tight ends defense (37/341/4). During the first four weeks, a tight end scored in every game, with Denver having the most success (10/85/1).
The Chiefs need a statement game and they need their star players to shine Monday night. Unfortunately for those who have played him, Kelce has yet to pay off in the daily contest in 2021 due to his high salary.
Hunter Henry, New England Patriots ($ 4,200 / $ 5,500)
Mac Jones has given Henry a touchdown in each of his last four meetings. During this span, he has 14 receptions for 155 yards on 19 goals. The Patriots have looked in his direction just 32 times (4.6 goals per game) this year, but Henry still ranks 10th in tight end scoring (10.63 FPPG). Henry faces his former team for the first time on Sunday.
The Chargers have allowed tight ends double-digit fantasy points in every game. They sit 29th defending tight ends (36/476/5), with two displays of disaster (KC – 11/122/1 and CLE – 7/149/1). A tight end has a touchdown against Los Angeles in each of the last four games.
Plus: Tyler Higbee: 14.97 fantasy points.
Week 8 screenings are on Illustrated Sports, with a second update on Saturday morning after all practices close on Friday night.
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Senior analyst Shawn Childs is a high-stakes, multi-sport fantasy legend with six-figure lifetime earnings. He has been providing in-depth analytical breakdowns for years while helping his subscribers to rake in countless titles and earnings throughout the season and DFS. Shawn, an inaugural member of the NFBC Hall of Fame, can teach you how to gear up like a champion.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.