Yahoo Daily Fantasy Football Primer: Week 8
Each week, this piece will go position-by-position on the main Yahoo daily fantasy football slate, looking at high-priced and value options who are viable in cash and GPP lineups.
This whole David Johnson and Chase Edmonds start/sit debacle from Week 7 raises a number of very interesting points for DFS grinders. The most important takeaway for me, however, is the overwhelming importance of news in our lineup process.
In what many dismissed as a throwaway line, head coach Kliff Kingsbury stated on Friday that if the game had been held that day, Johnson would not have played. Most of us chalked that message up to gamesmanship or a coach not wanting to show his cards too early, so when it was tweeted that Johnson would play and when he was declared active on Sunday, most daily and season long players were happy to plug him into their lineups, including yours truly.
Now there are a lot of angles from which this can be debated, especially between a GPP or cash game perspective, but hindsight now tells us that this comment from his coach was the most important data point we had in preparing for Week 7. All the matchup information, implied totals, historical trends, and usage can be thrown out the window if there is a legitimate chance the player will not see the field.
Perhaps you feel that the risk in a situation like this is worth the reward when considering guaranteed prize pools (GPP) or mass-multi-entry, but I imagine if you heard a coach say Johnson would be used in an emergency before the game started, he wouldn't be in your player pool.
We must, as smart and rigorous daily fantasy players, begin using even the smallest pieces of news or the seemingly insignificant quotes to assist in our lineup construction. If you had hedged that Johnson would not be on the field based a on a lingering injury, you would have had a major leg up on the field, just as Latavius Murray owners did. So as we look at the evidence-based opportunity and matchup for each slate, we must consider the human element as of information coming out of a team's game preparation.
Let's dive into the position-by-position analysis for Week 8.
Russell Wilson ($40) - What happens when you pair one of the most effective and efficient quarterbacks of our era against a thank-you-sir-may-I-have-another pass defense that can't stop a runny nose, much less Russell Wilson? We are about to find out on Sunday inside Mercedes Benz Stadium, my friends.
Wilson is the highest priced quarterback on the Yahoo slate for good reason. The Seahawks as a team rank sixth the the NFL in terms of Adjusted Passing Net Expected Points (NEP) per play. Compared to other quarterbacks, Wilson ranks fifth in passing NEP per drop back and owns the sixth highest Passing Success Rate in the league. Meanwhile, the Atlanta Falcons have the 31st ranked adjusted pass defense in 2019 and have given up the most fantasy points per game to quarterbacks -- yes, even more than the Miami Dolphins.
The Falcons somehow have gotten worse over their last three games, allowing 6.8 yards per play to their opponents, second-worst in the league in that span. With Chris Carson, Tyler Lockett, and D.K. Metcalf at his disposal, Wilson is about to lay waste to the city of Atlanta.
Jared Goff ($29) - Speaking of quarterbacks against Atlanta, Jared Goff is coming off his best performance of the season against the Falcons but sees his price drop by 12% in what seems like an overreaction to the game two weeks ago against the San Francisco 49ers. In a London matchup against the Cincinnati Bengals cubs, we get to reap the benefits of the mis-pricing against a truly vulnerable opponent.
When you roster Goff, you don't necessarily have to worry about the flavor of the week problem -- and whether he prefers Kupp, Brandin, Robert, or Gerald in a given week. Goff ranks third in the NFL with 283 passing attempts as he leads a progressive offense that understands the importance of not only a healthy passing attack but also not pushing Todd Gurley too far too fast. The Bengals are currently the 28th ranked pass defense in the league and allow 0.28 Adjusted Passing NEP per play. To put it plainly, the average drop back against Cincinnati puts more than a quarter of a point on the scoreboard. The Rams, not surprisingly, have the highest implied team total on the main slate,
Our model predicts 19.3 points for Goff in this matchup, the fourth best point-per-dollar play at the position. Here's a tip for free: You don't want the three ahead of him. Their names are Mitchell Trubisky, Daniel Jones, and Ryan Tannehill.
Christian McCaffery ($37) - 96%. That number not only represents the snap share for Christian McCaffrey this season but also reflects the percentage of my lineups that will include McCaffery on Sunday. Does he face a tough test against the San Francisco 49ers? Yes. Do I think it matters? No. And for those who feel the same, we are rewarded with McCaffery's lowest price of the season.
Despite a stout 49ers run defense, our projections show McCaffery scoring the second-most running back points on the slate, including leading the position in targets and receptions. I suppose we could see a facsimile of Week 2 against Tampa Bay, when CMC had by far his worst game of the season at 6.3 points. But he still had 22 opportunities (rushes plus targets) in that game. Give me that many touches, and I will gladly roll the dice in GPPs that his talent proves defense doesn't matter.
Ty Johnson ($13) - It's next man up for the Detroit Lions as they recently lost Kerryon Johnson. In his place, Ty Johnson takes over the majority of the work against the Week 8 matchup against the New York Giants, who are looking more like Little Giants these days with their running back defense.
The G-Men have allowed the fourth-most rushing yards, the fourth-most receiving yards, and the fifth-most fantasy points per game to running backs through the first seven weeks of the season. Now, we don't have much exposure yet to Ty Johnson, who only has 96 total snaps on the season, with more than half of those in Week 7 after Kerryon went down. But what was encouraging in that game was seeing him involved in both the running game (10 attempts) and the passing game (4 targets). We can expect more rushing opportunities against New York, a game being played in Detroit where the Lions are healthy seven-point favorites. Volume alone should allow the next Johnson to be a valuable point per dollar play.
Michael Thomas ($36) - Drew Brees is heading toward being a game-time decision this week, but his welcome back present this week would be a home game against the Arizona Cardinals and their 26th-ranked pass defense. He will reunite with his favorite target, Michael Thomas, who didn't miss a beat with Teddy Bridgewater under center the past several weeks.
Thomas enters Week 8 with only one game below nine targets as he leads the league in that category. What is the secret to Thomas' success this year?
Five WRs have had fewer than 10% of their targets be considered deep-ball looks this season among 86 qualified players (20+ yard attempts, PFF)
Julian Edelman (9.1%)
DeAndre Hopkins (8.9%)
D.J. Moore (8.5%)
Tyler Boyd (7%)
Michael Thomas (4.5%)
— Ian Hartitz (@Ihartitz) October 16, 2019
The Saints have found the formula that gives Thomas high-probability catches (Thomas is third in the league in catch rate) and lets him go to work after. He also isn't afraid to mix it up with his assigned defender -- he leads the league in contested catches with 12. Thomas is simply the most quarterback- and defense-independent receiver in the game. The Cardinals, even with Patrick Peterson will likely offer little resistance.
Kenny Stills ($17) - With the loss of Will Fuller for a period of at least several weeks, the Houston Texans are in need of another outside threat to take pressure off of DeAndre Hopkins and open up the underneath for Keke Coutee. Fortunately for Houston and for Kenny Stills, his chance to jump into that role comes against a soft Oakland Raiders secondary on Sunday.
Earlier in the season, Stills and Deshaun Watson connected for passes of 45, 38, 37, and 31 yards and now there is an average market share of 21% per game up for grabs in the Houston offense. At the time of his injury, Fuller was averaging over 100 air yards per game, so Stills may be asked to fill some of the deep threat role. The 30th-ranked Oakland pass defense combined with Watson averaging more than 6.5 deep pass attempts per game could be just the recipe for Stills to smash value in Week 8.
Austin Hooper ($25) - If you stack Russell Wilson and Chris Carson or Tyler Lockett this week, a sharp move on Sunday might be to bring it back with Austin Hooper in his elite matchup against the Seattle Seahawks.
Hooper has transformed into one of the elite tight ends this season and Matt Ryan's most trustworthy option. He is second only to Hunter Henry in fantasy points per game and now grades out as one of Pro Football Focus' top five at the position.
The NFL's highest-graded tight ends after Week 7 pic.twitter.com/qh6xePNUWo
— PFF (@PFF) October 23, 2019
The Seahawks give up the fifth-most points to tight ends in 2019, including the third-most receiving yards. This is especially noteworthy as Hooper now only trails Travis Kelce in receiving yards on the season and has the fourth-most air yards among tight ends. This game has the highest implied total on the slate, so grabbing some exposure on both sides of the ball is recommended, but monitor the health of Ryan as the week goes along. As of this Wednesday, we have Hooper projected to score the third-most points at his position.