Yahoo Daily Fantasy Football Primer: Week 1
Each week, this piece will go position by position on the NFL Yahoo DFS slate looking at high-priced, mid-range, and value options that are viable in cash and GPP lineups. Every article will also feature a player, team, or situation that holds the key to the week due to their price, match-up, or projected ownership.
Our long nightmare is over, ladies and gentlemen. We made it to Week 1. This is the week every NFL season where we have the juxtaposition of the best values available but also the toughest choices. How much will Ezekiel Elliott actually play? How will the Los Angeles Chargers backfield be divided without Melvin Gordon? Who among the Philadelphia Eagles pass-catchers should we stack with Carson Wentz? What week will we be in when the Miami Dolphins score their first points of the season? How old are Frank Gore’s grandchildren this year? These are the important questions that need answering.
Let’s dive into the analysis.
This Slate Hinges On:
Ezekiel Elliott ($32) – Elliott is planning to suit up after signing a $100 million contract but the questions that remain are how much will he play and how effective will he be after no training camp? If you think Zeke is eased in and Tony Pollard ($10) steps into a larger role, Pollard should instantly be a must-play at his price.
However, as much as I would love to play Pollard in a semi-featured role for $10 in GPPs, my head is telling me it would be better if Zeke is out there for 60 minutes and levels the playing field a bit. Elliott and Pollard get a tasty match-up against the New York Giants D/ST that ranked 26th in Adjusted Defensive Net Expected Points per Rush (Adj DRNEP) 2018 and gave up the 7th most fantasy points per game to the running back position last year. Keep track of the news coming out of Dallas the rest of the week to see if any definitive plans are finalized for the Cowboys running backs.
Our current projections rank Elliott third among running backs with 19.5 Yahoo points, a realistic expectation if he sees his normal percentage of snaps.
High Price – Philip Rivers ($36) – I was tempted to write up Patrick Mahomes ($39) in this slot, but in a game at the Jacksonville Jaguars (who have two of Pro Football Focus’s (PFF) top 10 cornerbacks in the game), and the unknown residual effects of Hurricane Dorian, I thought I best to play it safe.
Rivers is at home facing 2018’s 21st ranked Adjusted Defensive Net Expected Points per Pass (Adj DPNEP), the Indianapolis Colts also have PFF’s 25th ranked secondary heading into the season and gave up the most receptions and yards to the tight end position last year. Come on down Keenan Allen and Hunter Henry.
Mid-Range – Jameis Winston ($31) – Let’s see what boxes we can check here. High total? The game is listed at 50.5 on FanDuel Sportsbook. Offensive weapons? We’ve got Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, and O.J. Howard ready to go. Porous defense? The San Francisco 49ers ranked 25th in 2018 pass defense and gave up the fourth-most fantasy points per game to the wide receiver position. If pace and points are your thing, this is the game for you - there might be one or two more names from this contest that show up below.
Value – Lamar Jackson ($26) – I hope Yahoo players enjoy the one week they get Lamar Jackson below $30 this season. Other QBs such as Jimmy Garoppolo, Nick Foles, and Kirk Cousins are all priced higher than Jackson this week – something I predict we will not see again in 2019. These other QBs may all see positive game scripts, but only Jackson is playing the Miami Dolphins who gave up the third-most rushing yards and sixth-most passing touchdowns to quarterbacks in 2018.
High Price – Christian McCaffrey ($37) – In another Sunday game with a total that has pushed past 50 points, McCaffery looks to be involved early, often, and always as the Carolina Panthers hope to take advantage of a Los Angeles Rams D/ST that allowed the eighth-most rushing yards by running backs in 2018. Digging deeper into the Rams defense shows that opponents only attempted 336 rushes against LA last year (18th most) – presumably, because they were frequently losing – so the 4.87 yards per rush the Rams allowed was quietly the fourth-worst in the NFL.
The paragon of a dual-threat running back, McCaffery also figures to be Cam Newton ’s safety valve when the Rams’ sixth-ranked adjusted pass defense comes knocking.
Mid-Range – Dalvin Cook ($27) – In 2018, the NFL average for running back receptions allowed by a defense was 84.6 for the season. The Atlanta Falcons allowed 117. The NFL average for receiving yards allowed to running backs was 684 yards. The Falcons allowed 934 yards. Kirk Cousins’ average depth of target (aDOT) in 2018 was the lowest of his career (7.3 yards). Cook caught 40 passes in only 10 starts last season. Play Dalvin Cook against the Falcons.
Value – Miles Sanders ($14) - Currently 10-point favorites on FanDuel Sportsbook, the Eagles should be looking at plenty of second-half run-out-the-clock time against the Washington Redskins. I expect Philadelphia to take their brand new car out for a spin to see what they might have uncovered in the draft. Against a Redskins weak defense that already lost Reuben Foster to a torn ACL, Sanders should have plenty of opportunities to draw value out of this price tag as the Eagles look to save Jordan Howard's legs for a more competitive game. Our projections currently have Sanders as the seventh-best running back on this slate from a points-per-dollar perspective.
High Price - Odell Beckham ($30) – This pick is partially match-up and partially I just want to play with the shiny new toy. Removed from the shackles of Eli Manning and his 24th ranked air yards per attempt and his 23rd ranked accuracy rating, Beckham teams up with Baker Mayfield to form The Great Beckham Baker Show under head coach Freddie Kitchens, who comes from the Bruce Arians tree of "We Pass The Ball Here, Dadgummit!"
We have Beckham projected to score the 3rd most Yahoo fantasy points this week, as he faces off against Malcolm Butler, who ranked 76thth in both yards and touchdowns allowed to his assignment in 2018.
Mid-Range – Chris Godwin ($20) – One interesting thing about writing about fantasy sports is if you don’t love Godwin in 2019, the authorities come and take your license away and you aren’t allowed to write anymore.
The love for Godwin this offseason may have gotten a little out of hand at times – Fantasy Football Calculator shows that he has been picked as early as the eleventh pick in the second round in recent drafts. That’s right about where Keenan Allen and Adam Thielen are going. But this week he is about to prove all of his fans right as he faces a San Francisco team and their 29th ranked secondary. In addition to what was referenced above about Winston, the 49ers ranked 26th in the league last year against number two wide receivers and ranked 31st against number three wide receivers – so wherever you think Godwin slots in this year, he has an attractive match-up.
Value – Dede Westbrook ($15) – I have more shares of Westbrook in Best Ball lineups than I care to count, and it’s because I think he can be something special with a semi-competent quarterback slinging him the ball in 2019. In his limited action in 2018, Nick Foles ranked fourth among QBs in true completion percentage, fifth in play-action completion percentage, 12th in red zone completion percentage, and number one overall in pressured completion percentage. Blake Bortles’ numbers in those categories: 33rd, 19th, 49th, 18th.
Foles and Westbrook seem to have already developed some bromantic feelings for one another. According to PFF, Westbrook had the highest target per route percentage of any wide receiver in the preseason. If these two continue to develop their chemistry, we could be buying elite production at a bargain-bin price.
High Price – George Kittle ($27) – For the same price as Travis Kelce, the GPP pivot (and frankly, a solid cash game play) could be Kittle. Kittle not only led all tight ends in receiving yardage in 2018, he basically lapped the field in yards after the catch with more than 300 yards more than the next-closest tight end.
The Buccaneers will likely be helpless to contain Kittle in this regard if their 2018 performance is any indication; Tampa Bay ranked in the bottom five in Adjusted Defensive Net Expected Points per Pass in 2018. While they addressed several of their defensive shortcomings in the draft and in free agency this off-season, their additions were primarily to the secondary and the defensive line, allowing plenty of breathing room for Kittle to operate in the middle of the field. Our projections have Kittle leading the position this week with 14.0 Yahoo points.
Value – Will Dissly ($14) – I mean, Tyler Lockett can’t get every target, right? In a home game in front of their crazy fans, Dissly gets to line up against a Cincinnati Bengals defense that gave up the 4th most receptions to tight ends and who allowed the most total touchdowns and most fantasy points per game to the position in 2018.
Ryan Kirksey is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice Ryan Kirksey also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username rmkirksey. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his/her personal views, he/she may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his/her personal account. The views expressed in his/her articles are the author’s alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.