Whether you've played Daily Fantasy on Yahoo before or are giving it a try for the first time, this weekly column will take an early look at the DFS landscape, revealing whom I like building lineups around, stars to fade, undervalued plays and bargain bin options to help you construct a better team.
Lineup building blocks
Javonte Williams ($26) vs. Detroit Lions
The all-time leader in fantasy points per game started, Williams is going to be in pretty much all DFS lineups if Melvin Gordon sits again this week. The rookie more than lived up to the hype last week in primetime and leads all runners in missed tackles forced per attempt this season. This week the Broncos are more than touchdown home favorites against a Detroit team coming off its first win of the season and allowing the third-most fantasy points to running backs.
Especially in a slate missing a bunch of the usual DFS stars (Jonathan Taylor, the Minnesota RB spot, Cooper Kupp, Davante Adams, Gardner Minshew 😀), Williams is tough to fade with a salary outside the top-five RBs (although note that Gordon is expected to be back practicing at some point this week).
Austin Ekeler ($36) vs. New York Giants
Ekeler is dealing with “bumps and bruises” but is expected to be back at practice this week and be good to go against a run-funnel Giants defense. Ekeler could see extra targets with Keenan Allen on the reserve/COVID-19 list, and he should have a highly favorable game script with the Chargers double-digit home favorites against a New York team decimated by injuries and likely starting Jake Fromm at quarterback (who will be making his NFL debut). Mike Williams ($21) also gets a big boost if Allen sits.
Tom Brady ($34) vs. Buffalo Bills
Brady was the No. 2 fantasy QB in Week 13, and yet his salary is nearly 20 percent lower this week despite returning home, where he’s thrown six more touchdowns in two fewer games than on the road. Buffalo comes in with the league’s top-rated pass defense but has benefitted greatly from the NFL’s easiest schedule (and Monday night’s game will further muddy the stats, as Mac Jones attempted the fewest passes in a game since 1974) and is now missing star corner Tre’Davious White. The Bills will also be traveling after playing a wild Monday night game, and Brady is averaging four TD passes and 316.8 passing yards at home this season (and performs far better when he has Rob Gronkowski). Expect the Bills to bounce back offensively in better conditions against an injury-riddled Buccaneers defense too, as this matchup has easily the highest total (52.5 points) of the week.
Chris Godwin ($22) vs. Buffalo Bills
Godwin didn’t see a jump in salary despite leading the league in targets (17) and catches (15) last week. Tampa Bay is likely to struggle trying to run against Buffalo, leading to another busy day for Godwin against a Buffalo secondary missing Tre’Davious White. The Bucs are getting the most yards per play (6.3) at home this season, and this game looks like the clear DFS matchup of the week. Mike Evans ($21) and/or Rob Gronkowski ($23) can be used in a stack along with Stefon Diggs ($29).
Star to fade
Patrick Mahomes ($38) vs. Las Vegas Raiders
While this week’s opponent (Gus Bradley refused to change during their earlier meeting) is without question better for Mahomes than Denver’s Cover-2 heavy scheme, this is quite the salary for someone who’s gotten just 6.4 YPA with an 11:8 TD:INT line over the last eight games (and just posted a -17 CPOE last week). Moreover, Kansas City’s defense is playing terrific, and the Raiders are vulnerable against the run. There’s no reason to use Mahomes when Brady’s salary is $4 cheaper.
Elijah Moore ($22) vs. New Orleans Saints
With Zach Wilson as his QB and with a top-10 WR salary, Moore may not seem undervalued, but the rookie wideout is still a bargain at $22. Moore impressed onlookers throughout summer more than any rookie in recent memory, and he’s among the league leaders in targets per route run over the last month.
Wilson remains a work in progress but flashed last week (three touchdowns in the first 20 minutes), when he gave Moore the highest air yards share among all receivers. Corey Davis is now out for the season, while Ryan Griffin left last game with an ankle injury, so Moore should be looking at a ton of targets Sunday. Indoors against a pass-funnel Saints defense that ranks first in DVOA against the run while ceding the fifth-most fantasy points to receivers, Moore’s in a favorable DFS setup.
Josh Jacobs ($17) @ Kansas City Chiefs
Jacobs led all running backs in target share (25%) last week, when he racked up a career-high nine catches. With Kenyan Drake suffering a season-ending ankle injury (and Jalen Richard on the reserve/COVID-19 list), Jacobs should continue to see a greater role as a receiver moving forward (especially with Darren Waller banged up). Kansas City’s defense has played better recently, but the unit also just allowed fantasy’s top scoring back last week. Jacobs is a bargain given his new expanded role.
Taysom Hill ($28) @ New York Jets
Hill’s more of a tournament than cash play given the real risk of him playing through a finger injury, but he finished as the QB4 last week despite throwing four picks during his first start of the year while also missing his center and tackle against a tough Dallas defense. The Jets struggle mightily stopping the run, and the Saints enter off a mini-bye having last played Thursday. Because of his running, Hill is among the all-time leaders in fantasy points per dropback, so he’s an intriguing DFS option at an affordable salary in a terrific matchup (while his injury and recent four-pick performance in primetime should keep his roster percentage down).
Los Angeles Chargers ($13) vs. New York Giants
The Chargers are dealing with a COVID outbreak that needs to be monitored, but $13 screams out for a team that’s double-digit home favorites. The Giants have been destroyed by injuries on offense and got just 3.9 yards per play while failing to score a touchdown last week. And now Sunday’s likely starter will be Jake Fromm (State Farm) making his first career NFL appearance.