Yahoo Daily Fantasy Football Primer: Week 9

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.

Week 9

The situation brewing between the Cincinnati Bengals and Andy Dalton baffles me and comforts me at the same time.

It baffles me because a team that is struggling benches its nine-year starter, and it's seemingly not based on performance. His numbers extrapolated to a full season don't look too different than 2014 or 2017, both years in which Dalton played full seasons. He has taken an alarming 29 sacks through eight weeks, already more than four of his full seasons. That's hardly all Dalton's fault, just as Joe Mixon's struggles aren't to be solely blamed on him.

Perhaps due to all the losing, Dalton is averaging a career-high passing yards per game, even without A.J. Green on the field and Tyler Eifert looking like a walking corpse. To say the winless record is on the shoulders of Dalton is lazy and shortsighted.

It comforts me because we know why they are REALLY benching him. Dalton is a professional, competent quarterback who is capable of winning real NFL games. Sitting at 0-8, the Bengals have no more desire to win games, and they know Ryan Finley gets them closer to that goal. It comforts me because it often seems we are shooting in the dark as to a team's game-plan and intentions -- so a move like this assures us we can understand what teams are trying to do.

The Bengals want to lose, plain and simple, and starting Finley gives them the highest likelihood of that outcome without the Bengals releasing a statement that reads, "We are trying to lose."

We are at the point of the season where a team's motivation must become a part of our regular research. Often that motivation is not quantifiable, but as with the Bengals, it can certainly be transparent. Position changes, play-calling, personnel moves -- the signs are there. When on the fence in your DFS decisions, hopefully, a team with winning aspirations can help you make a final call.

Let's dive into the position by position analysis for Week 9.


Russell Wilson ($38) - Wilson and his running back Chris Carson will likely see very little room to run successfully on Sunday, as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have held down the spot as the number one rushing defense since Week 1. The fortunate outcome for the Seattle Seahawks should mean a heavy dose of drop-backs for Wilson and company.

Tampa Bay has fared far worse against the pass, ranking only 23rd on the season, feeding directly into the quarterback's greatest strength. Wilson ranks third among all quarterbacks with at least 200 drop-backs with a 53% success rate - or plays ending in a passing success. Our projections have Wilson finishing the week with the most points at the position, including the highest projected touchdown total.

Josh Allen ($27) - We don't expect 20 miles per hour winds again this week against the Washington Redskins, so Allen and John Brown can hopefully reestablish their deep-ball connection. The Redskins have slowly dropped down to the 26th-ranked pass defense based on numberFire's Net Expected Points (NEP) metric, and now face Allen, who throws more than 6.5 passes per game over 15 yards.

Earlier in the season, there was a narrative that some of Allen's value from last season was lost because of his reduced rushing role. That narrative can now be put to bed as Allen has the second-most rushing attempts in the league for a quarterback (47, trailing only Lamar Jackson), including more than seven rushes per game in his last three contests.

Running Backs

Dalvin Cook ($39) - It's actually harder to find a numberFire metric where Cook doesn't rank top-five in the NFL than it is to find the reverse. He ranks top-three in total rushing NEP, NEP per rush, rushing successes, success rate, NEP per target, total reception NEP, carries and rushing yards - just to name a few.

Rostering Cook in any matchup at this point is advisable, but when he gets to face a Kansas City Chiefs defense ranked 28th against the run, the decision becomes rather easy. Cook has one game this season with less than 16 rush attempts and two games with less than 96 rushing yards. Even as Minnesota has trended slightly more pass-heavy to satisfy Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs, Cook remains essential to any Minnesota Vikings game plan.

Derrick Henry ($19) - After Tevin Coleman thrashed them in Week 8, the Carolina Panthers now rank last in the NFL in rushing defense. Enter Derrick Henry, who looks to continue making his case for 72% of his team's rushing attempts in a tasty matchup where the Tennessee Titans will surely look to ground pound the Panthers into submission.

Our projections rank Henry as the second-best point per dollar running back in Week 9, even at $19.

Wide Receivers

D.K. Metcalf ($18) - If Russell Wilson is going to reach his projections and throw for 265 yards and 2.25 touchdowns, the most likely recipients of those statistics will be Tyler Lockett and D.K. Metcalf.

There is a narrow passing tree for the Seattle Seahawks now that Will Dissly is on the shelf. In recent weeks, Metcalf had begun to ascend to the numbers many expected when he was drafted last spring. Since Week 5, he has increased his target share every week, finally reaching 25% in Week 8. With the share of targets and increased receiving yards, the scores have followed. Metcalf brought down one touchdown in his first four weeks, but now has three scores in his last four games.

Robby Anderson ($17) - It's dollar night at the wide receiver bar! Two value receivers for the price of one. This week, it seems like the optimal strategy is to roster several cheap wide receivers to have room to pay up for Wilson, Christian McCaffrey, Cook, and the tight end discussed below.

The Miami Dolphins may have conceded the title of worst rush defense to the Panthers, but they are still holding strong on the league's worst pass defense. To make matters worse, they just placed Xavien Howard on the IR, depleting an already trashy secondary. I'm throwing my dart at Anderson and his 13.6-yard average depth of target (12th in the NFL for receivers with at least 40 targets).

Tight End

Darren Waller ($21) - Speaking of target share, in five of Waller's seven games this year, he has more than 25% of his team's target share, 24% of the air yards, more than eight targets, and at least six receptions. He has clearly become the alpha receiver in the Oakland Raiders' offense and is Derek Carr's primary option. Our models agree, projecting Waller for 10.6 points on Sunday.

The Detroit Lions rank 28th in the league allowing a 61.2% success rate on tight end targets and have allowed at least 40 yards and a touchdown in their past two games to the position. Only Travis Kelce is more expensive than Waller on this slate, but if this were a wide receiver with his metrics and matchup, we would happily play him at $30. At $21, there is still value to be found considering Waller's massive offensive opportunity.