Yahoo Daily Fantasy Football Primer: Week 3
Each week, this piece will go position by position on the Yahoo daily fantasy slate, looking at high-priced and value options who 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 price, matchup, or projected ownership.
Welcome to NFL Week 3! I personally came out of Week 2 healthy, but from what I've heard, I think I am the only one. When these types of significant injuries occur, DFS sites are often slow to the news, and it takes a week or two before the replacements for the injured players are priced up to levels of expected usage or volume. During this time, we have crucial decisions to make.
For example, how do we feel about playing Teddy Bridgewater at $22 against a Seattle Seahawks team that has been very generous to quarterbacks through two weeks. Are we more comfortable with the price or scared off by the risk of the unknown?
I was also not benched this week (at least as far as numberFire has told me), but we do have a decision to make on Daniel Jones (the minimum $20) and his matchup against a Tampa Bay Buccaneers passing defense everyone thought would be a turnstile but has actually been a top five unit in terms of Adjusted Defensive Passing Net Expected Points (NEP) per play so far. With all the turnover in the past week, clearly....
This Slate Hinges On:
Cheap Quarterbacks - In Week 3, we have our choice of Teddy Bridgewater ($23), Mason Rudolph ($23), Luke Falk ($20), Kyle Allen ($20) and Jones ($20) if you are wanting to scrape the bottom of the bargain bin at quarterback. I guess if you like to YOLO your lineups, you can also throw Taysom Hill ($20) into the mix.
But are any of these injury/benching replacements actually better than a quarterback like Jameis Winston ($23), who faces the New York Giants but has been #notgood, or Kyler Murray ($25), whose team is playing at lightspeed this season but faces a tough Carolina Panthers front seven this week.
We love the certainty that quarterbacks like Dak Prescott ($39), Patrick Mahomes ($38), or Lamar Jackson ($36) bring to our lineups, but can we find enough value in the running backs and wide receivers to justify playing high-priced quarterbacks? Tournaments will be won or lost this week based on this decision.
Lamar Jackson ($36) - I honestly can't tell if this guy is the next Michael Vick or if that is selling him way too short. Against the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday, Jackson accomplished something never done before in NFL history -- he is now the only player to throw for at least 270 yards and rush for 120 yards in a single game, according to Pro Football Reference. Jackson currently sits at 0.65 Passing NEP per dropback, meaning every time goes back to pass, he is adding two-thirds a point to his team's expected total. In context, this is almost three times as much as a quarterback like Carson Wentz (0.23 Passing NEP per drop back), someone who has had a nice start to his season.
Jackson now gets to take part in a high-profile Quarterbacks of the Future game against Patrick Mahomes that will surely be must-see TV. I mean, this is going to be like Breaking Bad finale must-see TV. The Chiefs are a bottom-10 passing defense through two games of the season, per our numbers, despite having faced Nick Foles, Gardner Minshew, and Derek Carr. Jackson -- projected for the third-highest Yahoo points total at his position, per our models -- and the Baltimore Ravens could soar past their implied total of 23.00 points.
Daniel Jones ($20) - Eli Manning confused face dot gif. All credit to Eli, who is handling his benching with a tremendous amount of dignity, but the time had clearly come (last year, but whatever) to move on to the franchise's future. Jones is a tremendous athlete -- he scored in the 84th percentile of burst score among quarterbacks -- who excelled in short throw accuracy in college (come on down Saquon Barkley and Evan Engram) while also rushing for at least 475 yards in each of his last two college seasons. Manning has rushed for 568 yards in 16 seasons. Eli Manning sad face dot gif.
I'm personally not buying Tampa Bay's hot start on defense. So far they have faced Jimmy Garoppolo in his first game in 10 months since coming off of an ACL tear and Cam Newton on a short week who apparently has some kind of mysterious foot ailment that may keep him out this week. At the minimum price on Yahoo, we don't need an MVP-performance from Jones to make value. We currently have the rookie as the second-best point-per-dollar play on the week.
Christian McCaffrey ($40) - Perhaps the worst part about McCaffery throwing up a 6-point dud last week is that we didn't get an expected price decrease in Week 3. He is actually up one dollar as the Panthers go into Arizona for a track meet against the Cardinals. Darn algorithms being too smart. With the very real prospect of Newton missing this game, Run CMC would be relied on even more if such a thing is even possible.
The Cardinals have allowed 298 total rushing yards over their first two games of the season and find themselves as 2.5-point underdogs at home, a perfect storm of context for a player like McCaffery. As one of the rare game-scripts-don't-matter backs in the game, he should be the focal point of Kyle Allen's scripted playbook as the Panthers look to keep Allen comfortable in a first start on the road.
Aaron Jones ($20) - In Week 2, Jones was finally #free with a combined 27 touches and 150 total yards. Before Sunday, Jones had never received more than 20 touches in a game in his career. Despite some coach-speak that has come out this week about balancing out running back touches (stop it), the fantasy community stands ready to welcome Jones as an official member of the Bellcow Club. Through two games, Jones ranks fourth among all running backs with 18 rushing successes (runs that increase a team's expected point total) and fifth among all running backs with at least 10 carries with a 50% Rushing Success Rate.
The once-feared Denver Broncos defense has zero sacks or takeaways this season and ranks as the sixth worst D, according to numberFire's metrics. Assuming an acceptable level of volume, Jones should have cleaner boxes in which to operate and will benefit from being an eight-point favorite at home, as the Green Bay Packers will look to put this game out of reach early.
Amari Cooper ($29) - I'm not really one to kick a Dolphin while it's down, but it's getting to be downright comical how bad the Miami Dolphins defense has been. One stat is really all you need to justify being overweight on Cooper in lineups. Miami allows 1.44 Adjusted Passing NEP per play on the season. This essentially means that every 4.2 passes thrown against them, they allow a touchdown.
If fantasy football is a game of looking for the most likely outcome to occur, a Dallas Cowboys team without Michael Gallup will likely be targeting Cooper heavily, and he should be in a prime spot to catch at least one of the projected five touchdowns the Cowboys will score (34.5-point implied total).
Mike Evans ($20) - Here is where we get to reap the benefit of poor performances to date leading to a depressed price. Mike Evans has not been Mike Evans so far this year, ranking 73rd in total Reception NEP and 96th in Reception NEP per target on the young season. However, Jameis Winston has not had a solid game yet, and Tampa Bay gets to take on a New York Giants defense ranked 31st against the pass in 2019, per our numbers.
Evans still ranks as a top-20 wide receiver in terms of total air yards and average depth of target (aDOT). It's only a matter of time before the Winston-Evans connection evolves into something special and provides more fire to this Bruce Arians offense.
Mark Andrews ($21) - We live in world where Mark Andrews is now more expensive than Zach Ertz and is the same price as George Kittle. I guess that's what happens when you have the fourth-most targets among tight ends, the second-highest target share at the position, and the highest catch rate of any tight end with at least five targets. Andrews also ranks first among all tight ends with at least 10 targets with 1.47 Reception NEP per target, an unbelievably efficient number.
Lamar Jackson has eyes for Andrews and Marquise Brown when he throws -- and that's about it right now. Nothing should change when Baltimore faces Kansas City's 10th-worst pass defense on Sunday.
Austin Hooper ($16) - Hooper has had a seemingly uneven start to the season. In Week 1, he was targeted nine times and caught all nine for 77 yards. In Week 2, he was targeted six times for four catches and 34 yards. His 20% target share through two weeks ties him for ninth at the tight end position among those who have at least 10 targets.
What is encouraging is it seems Hooper's volume is going up from 2018 to 2019. Last year, Hooper only had two two-game stretches with more than 15 targets. But with at least six targets in both games this year, he joins Evan Engram, Greg Olsen, Darren Waller, Mark Andrews, Travis Kelce, and Delanie Walker as tight ends with at least six targets in each game. For Hooper, with volume and usage comes opportunity, and it's only a matter of time before Matt Ryan finds him in the end zone.
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.