There might be no better story of redemption and fulfilled promise in the NFL this year than St. Louis Rams rookie running back Todd Gurley. After suffering a torn ACL in his final season at Georgia, the strong and athletic rusher has responded with three-straight 120-plus yard games and may even be exceeding the early hype of a No. 10 overall pick.
To put it in perspective, Gurley’s gained all but nine of his 442 yards and two touchdowns over the last three weeks, an incredible output that makes him one of the best fantasy plays in any league format.
But as a result, Gurley’s salary in weekly fantasy leagues has rocketed to $8,100 in FanDuel and $6,300 in DraftKing formats, or 13.5 percent and 12.6 percent of budgets, respectively.
Instead owners should look to spread the wealth more evenly along their lineups in Week 8, rather than devote nearly 15 percent of their budgets to one star player.
So take a look at five running backs and five wide receivers who offer favorable matchups in a much cheaper package in Week 8. All salaries are from FantasyPros.com with a $60,000 FanDuel and a $50,000 DraftKings budget.
Chris Johnson, Cardinals (FanDuel $7,300; DraftKings $4,600)
Marking his third 100-plus yard game of the season in Week 7, Johnson next faces a Browns defense that’s allowed the second-most points to opposing running backs this season. Rookie David Johnson poses a “vulture” threat when Arizona is in the red zone, but the bulk of the carries belongs to the veteran who could be your RB1 or RB2 depending on the depth of your weekly league.
Charcandrick West, Chiefs (FanDuel $6,600; DraftKings $4,700)
West blew up in Week 7 with the first 100-yard game of his career and at a little more than 10 percent of your FanDuel and less than 10 percent of your DraftKings budget he could be a steal against a Lions rushing D that’s allowed 10 rushing touchdowns and 4.2 yards per carry.
Ronnie Hillman, Broncos (FanDuel $6,100; DrafKings $4,600)
The Broncos rushing offense has been atrocious, No. 30 overall in the NFL, but coming out of the bye Hillman and crew are rested and can feast on a middling Packers rushing D with several injuries on its front line.
Eddie Lacy, Packers (FanDuel $6,700; DraftKings $6,200)
Inarguably the most disappointing back in all of fantasy this season, Lacy’s had an extra week to rest up his bothersome right ankle and next draws a Broncos D that will be more focused on stopping Aaron Rodgers than him and James Starks. Lacy could be on the uptick and ready for a second-half burst.
Justin Forsett, Ravens (FanDuel $6,900; DraftKings $6,100)
Since busting out two straight 100-yard games Forsett’s tailed off with 98 yards in his last two games, but it’s hard not to like a matchup against a Chargers D letting up 23.6 points per week to opposing running backs. He might seem pricey at first given his up-and-down nature of late, but Forsett’s at least the best RB2 in Week 8.
Steve Smith, Ravens (FanDuel $6,700; DraftKings $6,100)
Like his teammate Forsett, Smith’s balanced his three 130-plus yard games with three middling performances, but the Chargers could miss secondary leader Eric Weddle again this week. San Diego already made the Raiders look like a beast and Baltimore should light them up in Week 8.
Tavon Austin, Rams (FanDuel $5,300; DraftKings $4,600)
San Francisco’s been horrendous against opposing receivers, 26.3 ppg, and Austin’s the kind of electric playmaker who could torch them just like Seattle’s Tyler Lockett did last week.
Danny Amendola, Patriots (FanDuel $5,800; DraftKings $3,600)
Thursday night plays are always a difficult call, but Amendola’s garnered nine targets the last two games and he’s exploded for 15 receptions for 191 yards and a score. He’ll face a Dolphins D allowing 24.6 ppg to opposing receivers and that should be preoccupied with stopping Rob Gronkowski and Julian Edelman.
Ted Ginn, Panthers (FanDuel $5,300; DraftKings $3,400)
Ginn’s played well when the matchup was in his favor. In Week 6 he was held to one catch for 18 yards off four targets against Seattle, last week it was five catches for 59 yards off seven targets vs. the Eagles ninth-worst fantasy defense against opposing receivers. In Week 8? A Colts D letting up 25.6 ppg.
Willie Snead, Saints (FanDuel $5,800; DraftKings $4,500)
Snead faces a Giants secondary that’s strangely No. 31 in the league against the pass, but in fantasy that’s only translated to 19 ppg allowed to opposing receivers because they’ve let up only four receiving touchdowns all year. But the rookie Snead has proven himself as a worthy WR2 for Drew Brees, and he’s a steal at less than 10 percent of weekly owners’ budgets.