The NFL Week 8 slate is now complete with the exception of the Colts-Panthers Monday Night tilt. Week 8 saw a heavy emphasis on the passing game early, with the Saints-Giants final tally of 52-49 providing a treasure trove of fantasy success. Curiously enough, the Broncos-Packers matchup did not produce a single passing touchdown, but did manage to revive the career of CJ Anderson. Todd Gurley remains the most elite RB play in fantasy football.
We also saw some unfortunate injuries that surely rattled a vast number of carefully constructed DFS lineups. Injuries to Le'Veon Bell, Steve Smith Sr., and Ryan Fitzpatrick being the most notable. This is your weekly reminder that there is still an element of luck involved with the DFS game. If you were fortunate enough to fade Bell, Smith, and Fitzpatrick, it definitely wasn't because you had the foresight to see their injuries coming. If you did, please get in contact with me as I am always searching for an oracle. I know there are people out there working on algorithms that predict injuries, but I remain skeptical there simply because I am ignorant of the process.
Week 8 Treats
Drew Brees, Eli Manning, Derek Carr, Carson Palmer, Willie Snead, Ben Watson, Odell Beckham Jr., Todd Gurley, CJ Anderson Julio Jones, Alshon Jeffrey,
Week 8 Tricks
Ben Roethlisberger, Andy Dalton, Justin Forsett, Mark Ingram, Chris Ivory, Pretty much every RB not named Todd Gurley. Brandon Marshall,
Personally, it was a tough week for me in DFS. I had pretty decent Fitzpatrick and Bell exposure, which wasn't my fault, but I also expected a lot more out of Justin Forsett, which only added to my misery. My silver lining this week was that my Raiders mangled my QB and my defense and put together an impressive win against a stingy defense. Bad beats happen. Having one or two vital components of your lineup get hurt is something that will happen from time to time and is part of the game.
Nobody is impervious to bad beats. Just like a receiver who drops a critical 4th down catch, you have to put it behind you quickly. This is a brutal game. There are sympathetic people in the world who will understand your pain, but they will also secretly be glad it didn't happen to them. There is value in failure. Understand where you went wrong and learn from it.
Looking back on this week it seems clear that we need to consider the role narrative plays in our decision making. Narrative and collective groupthink shape the opinions of a lot of DFS experts and players. There are certain takeaways we glean from a new season that we begin to accept as truths, but are they always truths?
For example: Peyton Manning is finished. He's old. He's done. The offense doesn't suit him. The Broncos are winning in spite of Peyton Manning. Last night, if you watched the game, you saw a Peyton Manning who was at his clinical best. Yes, he finished with 0 TD passes and threw an interception, but that didn't tell the story of the game. Peyton consistently found Demaryius Thomas, even on the deep throws. The running game finally showed up, and the Denver Broncos dominated Aaron Rodgers in a way that no other team ever has. So, is Peyton really done? Food for thought.
Other narratives floating around: The Saints don't throw the ball anymore, they are a run first team. Whoops. You can't run the ball on the Jets. Jameis Winston is careless with the ball. These are narratives that influence our decisions. We pour over PFF grades, game film, advanced metrics, red-zone opportunities, etc looking for clues.
Days like yesterday remind us that the NFL is a wild ride because of how unpredictable it is. Brees and Eli combine for 13 TD passes in a game that looked more like a Baylor-TCU shootout. Jameis Winston took care of the ball and Matt Ryan did not. The Ravens are still allergic to giving Justin Forsett goal-line touches. Derek Carr carved up the vaunted Jets defense for 300 yards 4 touchdowns. The Steelers-Bengals game failed to produce much offense.
Ultimately, the more we think we know, the less we find out we know. Weeks like this one debunk our knowledge, but we have to trust our research because it is all we have. The more doubt we accumulate, the less confidence we have in our research, the more questionable our decisions become. Chalk Week 8 up as a win for the contrarians.