Daily Fantasy Week 2: Sunday night picks for Chiefs-Ravens

·10-min read

By Matt Savoca, 4for4

Special to Yahoo Sports

Yahoo is expanding its daily fantasy football options in 2021 with a single-game offering. Yahoo has a roster construction of one "Superstar" that scores at a 1.5 multiplier, while the remaining four FLEX roster spots accumulate points at the normal rate. This is half-point PPR scoring and the "Superstar" salary does not change from the Utility. All scoring and rules can be found here.

This week might be the best overall matchup of the young season with a battle between two AFC powerhouses as the defending conference champions, the Kansas City Chiefs travel to Baltimore to take on the Ravens, who are still reeling from their surprise upset loss in Las Vegas in Week 1.

Depending on the type of contest we’re creating rosters for, we’ll need to adjust our player selection strategy. If playing in a tournament with a huge amount of contestants, it will be vitally important to play something other than the optimal lineup based on projections. Differentiating yourself from the rest of the field is equally valuable. Once we understand the type of roster we need to be building for the specific contest you’re trying to take down, we can then focus on player selection, working to identify combinations of players that could all hit their respective ceilings together, based on specific game environments. Slow, run-oriented defensive battles often allow very different players to hit their ceiling score compared to when a game is fast-paced and pass-happy.

Vegas Total and Spread

Unsurprisingly, the Chiefs are favorites in this game, with a current implied team total of 28.5 points. The Ravens aren’t expected to be blown out in this contest, and have an implied total of 25. The game’s total has decreased over the course of the week, as it started around 55.5 points before settling on its current total of 53.5. Based on these implied totals and line movement Chiefs have roughly a 64% chance of winning this Sunday’s contest.


Meteorologists are predicting a perfect night for football: 73 degrees at kickoff, with clear skies and no wind.

[Play in Yahoo's $100K Single Game Chiefs-Ravens Baller]

Potential Game Flow Scenarios

With so much star power on both sides of the ball, most fantasy gamers (and casual fans, alike) know that the most likely game flow involves both teams running up the scoreboard with their all-pro playmakers. On the Kansas City side, Patrick Mahomes ($39) helms a highly-concentrated offense that centers around the tight end Travis Kelce ($30), and the speedy Tyreek Hill ($34), who combined for a staggering 66% of team targets, including all but one red zone target, as well as 89% of the team’s air yards in Week 1. That final number is unsustainably high, but it’s a perfect indicator of the way the Kansas passing attack beats their opponents.

The defense knows what’s coming, and they still can’t stop it. The situation is made worse by the fact that Baltimore has been ravaged by injuries already this season, including in the secondary. Pro bowler Marcus Peters has been lost for the year, and the defensive backs behind the Ravens’ primary cornerback Marlon Humphrey on the depth chart struggled in coverage against the Raiders last week, allowing a monster game to tight end Darren Waller, and getting beat over-the-top multiple times. That’s a recipe for disaster against Mahomes and company, who have arguably the best tight end and best deep threat in the world.

The Chiefs hardly lean on the run at all, but at the very least, Clyde Edwards-Helaire ($18) proved he has the Kansas City backfield all to himself in Week 1. Edwards-Helaire’s 17 opportunities last week were middle of the road for starting running backs, but that usage equated to a 95% opportunity share, meaning in situations where the Chiefs rely more heavily on their running back, Edwards-Helaire’s total opportunities could skyrocket. He’s a sneaky strong play due to his every-down role within an explosive offense. The Ravens graded outright at league average against opposing rushers last season, and once again in Week 1.

In the off-chance that none of Kelce, Hill, and Edwards-Helaire are open (a genuine rarity) Mahomes will rely on former second-round pick Mecole Hardman ($13), still just 23 years old, who was in on essentially every passing play for the Chiefs, but hasn’t yet carved out a consistent role for himself in this offense. Demarcus Robinson ($12) and Byron Pringle ($10) will serve as rotational pieces, but could still earn somewhere between one and three targets each Sunday night.

Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes and Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce head off the field after connecting for a touchdown during the second half of an NFL football game against the Cleveland Browns, Sunday, Sept.12, 2021 in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Reed Hoffmann)
Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes and tight end Travis Kelce won't be easy to squeeze into a lineup but the upside is massive if you can pull it off. (AP Photo/Reed Hoffmann)

For the Ravens’ their ability to stay competitive in this contest hinges entirely on the play of former MVP Lamar Jackson, who racked up 321 total yards in Week 1, including 86 yards as a rusher, but only one total touchdown, and fumbled multiple times in crucial situations. As expected, the Baltimore offense will remain a low-volume passing attack, as Jackson’s 23 pass attempts, even in an overtime game, ranked outside the top-20 in the NFL last week. Still, it was encouraging to see Jackson connect on 50% of his passes of 20-plus yards down the field, and to get both Marquise Brown ($16) and the newly-acquired ($12) Sammy Watkins involved. This did come at the expense of targets for the typically reliable Mark Andrews ($20), however. Andrews should have better days ahead, but his three receptions on five targets were highly underwhelming a week ago. The Ravens are correct in trying to take more deep shots this season. If they can add more chunk plays through the air, it will mark Jackson’s otherworldly rushing ability even more lethal.

The Ravens’ backfield has been ravaged by preseason injuries, with all three expected primary contributors, J.K. Dobbins, Gus Edwards, and Justice Hill, lost for the season with leg injuries. In their relief, undrafted rookie Ty'Son Williams ($16) got the start, and looked effective as a rusher, even breaking off a huge touchdown run in the first half. But Williams seemed to struggle in protection, and as the game wore on, the Baltimore coaches seemed to be leaning more on the newly-signed Latavius Murray ($14). This week, the Ravens have also elevated veteran Devonta Freeman ($10) to the active roster, but that doesn’t necessarily mean he’s ready to contribute right away. Expect this to be a full-blown committee, with Lamar Jackson being the primary Ravens’ rusher worth rostering.

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Close, low-scoring game

  • Patrick Mahomes

  • Lamar Jackson

  • Travis Kelce

  • Clyde Edwards-Helaire

  • Mark Andrews

  • Latavius Murray

  • Ty'Son Williams

Close, high-scoring game

  • Patrick Mahomes

  • Lamar Jackson

  • Travis Kelce

  • Tyreek Hill

  • Marquise Brown

  • Mark Andrews

  • Sammy Watkins

Blowout for home team

  • Lamar Jackson

  • Patrick Mahomes

  • Travis Kelce

  • Latavius Murray

  • Tyreek Hill

  • Mark Andrews

  • Sammy Watkins

  • Devin Duvernay

  • Ravens Defense

Blowout for away team

  • Patrick Mahomes

  • Travis Kelce

  • Tyreek Hill

  • Lamar Jackson

  • Clyde Edwards-Helaire

  • Demarcus Robinson

  • Mecole Hardman

  • Byron Pringle

  • Chiefs Defense

Cheap/Unique Stack Options

Latavius Murray ($14), Lamar Jackson ($30), Ravens Defense ($16)

In single-game slates, especially in large-field tournaments, it’s important to consider unorthodox game scripts, and attempt to create lineups that work in antithesis of the most probable flow of the action. Though we can all agree that this outcome is far from likely, we witnessed this same Chiefs team score a paltry nine points in last year’s Super Bowl, proving they’re not quite invincible on the offensive side of the ball. By building a tournament lineup centered around the low likelihood that the Chiefs offense falls flat in this game, we should be able to soar past other lineups if this game flow were to occur. Capturing a large majority of the Ravens’ expected rushing totals by rostering Jackson and Murray, as well as their defense, could be massively beneficial if the Chiefs’ weapons were to disappoint.

Low-Salary Volatile Plays

In single-game slates, in order to have a unique lineup that takes down a tournament on its own, you almost always need to find a dart-throw player or two, and hope for a ceiling game. Here are few options to round out your lineups.

Mecole Hardman ($13)

Hardman played on 66% of the Chiefs’ snaps in Week 1 but ran a route on 86% of the team’s dropbacks. Though he only earned three targets last week, that type of usage in such a high-efficiency offense can lead to the occasional monster performance. Hardman’s upper-percentile speed score doesn’t hurt his upside, either.

Sammy Watkins ($12)

Watkins, a former Chief, ran a route on 100% of the Ravens’ passing downs last week and earned a 31% target share, which ranked fifth-highest among wide receivers. Eight targets in his first game with a new team is nothing to scoff at. Watkins could wind up being a major factor in this Ravens passing attack

Devin Duvernay ($10)

The second-year speedster served as a rotational player last week, running a route on 53% of the Ravens’ dropbacks, and saw just two targets. Still, Duvernay possesses above-average agility and just needs to convert on one or two targets in order to become a value-play at salary. Duvernay’s sub-4.40 40-yard dash should help earn him playing time, especially in obvious passing situations.

Superstar Picks

Lamar Jackson ($30)

Jackson is hindered by the lackluster protection around him, as the Ravens continue to deal with a multitude of injuries on the offensive line and in the backfield (running backs are responsible for blitz-pickups, as well), but can break the game open in so many different ways. With just a slightly lower probability of being the top-scoring player on the slate behind Mahomes, but at more than a 20% salary discount, Jackson is easily the best value superstar on the slate.

Patrick Mahomes ($39)

Mahomes is undoubtedly the most likely player to have the highest raw score on the slate, and that’s typically who we want to roster at the Superstar position. However, Mahomes’ $39 salary, significantly higher than any other player, should give us pause about the effectiveness of our overall lineup. Try to fit him in wherever you can.

Travis Kelce ($30)

Kelce is arguably the safest play at the FLEX position in all of fantasy football, and in a single game slate where most will be selecting one of the quarterbacks as their Superstar, Kelce looks even more appealing and possess an incredibly high floor and ceiling projection.

Tyreek Hill ($34)

The FLEX player with by far the highest ceiling projection, Tyreek Hill proved once again why he’s one of the best plays in all of DFS, earning a staggering 15 targets and 231 air yards in the team’s Week 1 victory over Cleveland. His five targets of 20-plus yards led the league, and Hill likely won’t be giving up that lead this week, either.

This article originally appeared in its full form on 4for4.com

A middling athlete who was offered his first sports analytics position in middle school, Matt has been working on NFL and fantasy football data science since 2017. With a particular passion for data visualization and dashboard building, he loves to make data accessible by using graphs and charts to communicate ideas that are difficult to explain with words alone.

More from 4for4.com: An expert's cheat sheet to Yahoo's Week 2 Baller

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