Yahoo NFL Daily Fantasy Football Primer: Week 11
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.
I think I may have finally figured out why winning DFS tournaments is so hard. Oh, it's not hard for you? Good for you. For the rest of us it is a seemingly unconquerable struggle. Even if running 150 lineups, why can't we identify that right combination that puts us in the top 0.1%, even with all the research and data at our fingertips?
In my boredom this week, I happened to run across this math question that looks at the possible number of combinations of NFL DFS lineups assuming each roster spot only had five possible options. They determined there are 43,750 combinations with that extremely limited player pool. We, however, often have more than 30 options per position on a main slate, so imagine how exponentially large the total number must be on a standard Sunday. My lazy brain can't comprehend math that hard.
How are we supposed to find that needle in a haystack? The literal one in a million(s)?
But the challenge of unlocking one of those rare combinations in the millions of possibilities plus the scarcity of opportunity (only about 20 main slates a year) are what make football DFS so great. The sweat in football is like none other because if you miss out on a big score, it's a week until you can do it again. As we barrel into Week 11, here's hoping you have found or will find that elusive top lineup wherever you choose to play.
Let's dive into the position-by-position analysis for Week 11.
Kyle Allen ($27) - Full disclosure: you are going to read a lot about this game over the next several hundred words. The Texans/Ravens and Saints/Buccaneers matchups might have slightly higher totals, but the affordable plays can be found in this projected 49.5-point shootout between the Carolina Panthers and Atlanta Falcons. Christian McCaffrey notwithstanding, this is outstanding contest from which to find strong point-per-dollar plays.
Would you believe me if I told you Allen has a higher average depth of target (aDOT) on his passes than Aaron Rodgers, Deshaun Watson, Matt Ryan and Carson Wentz? Many felt that when Allen was installed as the quarterback, the game plan would be to keep it short and simple. Instead, he is in the top 10 among all quarterbacks in aDOT and has generated stats that have now allowed both Curtis Samuel and D.J. Moore to both be top-20 wide receivers in weighted opportunity rating. He does always have the CMC safety valve to fall back on, but it has not meant that Allen is stuck in a conservative gameplan through his seven starts.
The Falcons continue to be a bottom-10 team in points allowed to quarterbacks and wide receivers, and per numberFire's metrics, Atlanta ranks 30th versus the pass. It's easy to see why Carolina enters the week with a 27.5 implied total, fourth-highest on the main slate.
Brian Hill ($14) - You've heard of the Next Man Up philosophy before, but for the Falcons right now, it's Last Man Up. With Devonta Freeman likely out, Ito Smith on injured reserve, and Tevin Coleman long gone, Hill is about to get a full-time shot for an extended period of time and is going to be the Week 11 chalk you will just have to be prepared to eat.
Why would Coach Dan Quinn express supreme confidence in Hill this week as a full-time, three-down back? In his small sample, Hill has a Rushing Success Rate that is more than seven percentage points better than Freeman's (Hill: 35.7%, Freeman: 28%). In fact, Freeman has the second worst Success Rate among all running backs with at least 30 carries on the year.
The Carolina Panthers are one of the well-known run-funnel defenses this year, ranking third against the pass but falling all the way to stone-cold last against the run. Look for the Falcons to try to establish Hill early in the game.
Leonard Fournette ($23) - Yes, I understand Fournette is allergic to the end zone this season. One of the more staggering pairing of stats this year is looking at the fact that Fournette is second in the league in red zone touches but is 53rd in total touchdowns with one lousy score. Considering he still demands 72% of the Jacksonville Jaguars' rushing attempts and averages 92.0 rushing yards and 5.7 targets per game, there is no one player who screams positive regression more than Fournette.
In a tight, 3.0-point spread against the Indianapolis Colts, I believe the pendulum starts swinging the other direction. The Colts rank only 20th in rushing defense and have to deal with a relentless Fournette -- according to Pro Football Focus, he ranks second in the league with 3.75 yards after contact, trailing only Chris Carson.
Julio Jones ($29) - Julio Jones at his lowest price of the season in a projected shootout with no Austin Hooper or Mohamed Sanu as competition? Sign me up. I am well aware Jones has not scored since September, but he has commanded at least nine targets in four straight games and is top 10 in the league in targets, receiving yards, and air yards.
The loss of Hooper should not be understated. He was second on the team with a 19% target share (including averaging a 33% share in the red zone) and averaged 7.4 targets per game. With Hooper gone, Sanu in New England, and Brian Hill with four total targets on the season, Jones and Calvin Ridley suddenly have even more opportunity open to them going forward.
The Falcons have by far the highest pass-to-run ratio in the league, and as 5.5-point underdogs on the road, Matt Ryan should be slinging it all over the field.
Tyler Boyd ($19) - Boyd is one of numberFire's top point-per-dollar plays on the slate as the Cincinnati Bengals face another game as a large underdog and trail only the aforementioned Falcons in pass-to-run ratio.
In five of Boyd's nine games, he has amassed at least a 25% target share, and his season total sits at 25.1%, tied for sixth in the league with players like Mike Evans, Cooper Kupp, and Julian Edelman. The touchdowns have also alluded Boyd this year, with only one on his ledger, but with only one game on the season with less than seven targets, Boyd figures to be heavily involved against an Oakland Raiders pass defense ranked 27th in the league.
Greg Olsen ($16) - Old Man Olsen is still out there every Sunday, getting things done. This past week, Olsen recorded his fourth game of the season with at least 20% of the target share, and he ranks in the top 10 among all tight ends in season-long target share. Among tight ends with at least 30 targets this season, Olsen ranks fourth in total air yards and eighth in aDOT, proving he is not a short-yardage, catch-and-fall tight end.
Per numberFire's projections, Olsen is predicted to have the fourth highest tight end score of the week, and he comes at a tremendous discount from Mark Andrews, Darren Waller, and Zach Ertz. Coming off a game where the Falcons' defense allowed six catches and 74 yards to Jared Cook, the Panthers should make their tight end an integral part of the game plan.