Yahoo Daily Fantasy Football Primer: Week 12

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. As injuries, matchups, and usage come into clearer view late in the season, roster construction becomes much more critical to differentiating your lineup from the field.

Let's dive into the position-by-position analysis for Week 12.


Matt Ryan ($33) - Let's start with what should be a layup at the quarterback position for Week 12. Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons are at home, small favorites in a projected shootout, and face a Tampa Bay Buccaneers defense that ranks 24th by our Net Expected Points (NEP) metric.

If that's not enough ammunition for you, the Bucs also allow the second most fantasy points to the position this season (23.0 per game). We seem to go over this every week, but the Falcons remain the pass-heaviest team in the league, running more than two pass plays for every rushing play, automatically raising the floor of Ryan each and every week while also allowing for a higher ceiling, as well. And not only do the Falcons throw more than any other team in the NFL, but the types of throws they attempt are some of the most fantasy-friendly in the league. According Sharp Football, the Falcons are eighth in the percentage of their plays that are "explosive pass plays."

With Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley healthy and at his disposal against one of the worst secondaries in the league, Ryan should be able to substantially add to those frequent explosive pass plays on Sunday.

Running Back

Alvin Kamara ($32) - Facing off against slate-breaker Christian McCaffrey, there is enough evidence available to push me off CMC and onto playing the New Orleans Saints' star running back at 80% the cost.

Kamara has tallied an identical target share to McCaffery on the year, at 21.3%, and his percentage of targets has gone up in each of his last five games. For as much of a funnel the Saints were to Kamara and Michael Thomas in the early portion of the season, it is even more pronounced recently. Last week, more than 60% of the Saints' passes went to one of those two players. Against the Carolina Panthers, the Saints have the highest implied team total on the slate at over 28 points and are back at home in the comfort of the fast track.

The Panthers have struggled all season against the rush and now rank last in the league in our NEP models. Even as 10-point favorites, Kamara should be playable anywhere as a game-script neutral running back who should get ample passing game volume and clear rushing lanes.

James White ($15) - The New England Patriots look dangerously thin at pass-catching options on Sunday in a thrilling matchup against the Dallas Cowboys in a potential Super Bowl preview. All of Phillip Dorsett, Mohamed Sanu, and Julian Edelman are at least limited this week, and Dorsett and Sanu are extremely questionable for this game. Benjamin Watson has been M.I.A. all season, so who do we expect Tom Brady to turn to when the Cowboys turn up the defensive pressure?

This has the makings of a James White game.

White, rarely involved in the running game, makes his money as a pass-catcher. Among running backs, he is top six in all of the following: target share, targets, receptions and receiving yards, and he laps the field with his 14 red zone targets (the next closest running back has 10). The lack of other options this Sunday should mean more touches for White in a game where they will desperately need him.

Fortunately for the New England Patriots, White's touches have been money in the bank.

Wide Receiver

Odell Beckham ($22) - We have officially reached the depths. Allen Robinson, D.J. Moore, Calvin Ridley, Jarvis Landry, and Tyrell Williams are all priced higher than Beckham this week. These are all decent players, but Beckham is supposed to be an elite talent in a much better offensive environment this year. What happened?

Well, despite the narrative, Beckham still ranks sixth among all receivers in target share, is ninth in air yards, and is fourth in weighted opportunity rating. So why does he only rank 27th in PPR points this year? The answer lies in his quality of targets. In throws from Baker Mayfield, Beckham ranks 47th out of 55 receivers with at least 30 targets in Target NEP per target. The connection that Mayfield and Beckham were supposed to find just has not materialized.

I believe, however, that a home matchup against the worst pass defense in the league might just be the remedy to what has plagued the Browns' passing game this season. If OBJ can't get it done in this matchup, it just ain't going to happen in 2019.

James Washington ($14) - Washington is another player benefiting from multiple guys likely unavailable due to injury. The Steelers should be without top weapons JuJu Smith-Schuster and James Conner, opening up tremendous opportunity for Washington.

No player on the Steelers averages more air yards per game than Washington (67.3) as he is routinely the downfield threat while Smith-Schuster and Diontae Johnson are left to work in the short- and intermediate field of play. Washington's target share (13.3%) may not seem appealing at first glance (fifth on his own team), but when you consider that two of the four players ahead of him will likely miss the game, freeing up more than 33% of the team's weekly targets, Washington immediately looks more attractive.

His potential opportunity against a 31st-ranked Cincinnati Bengals pass defense creates the perfect storm for Washington to smash past his low price tag.

Tight End

Zach Ertz ($22) - The Seattle Seahawks are a bottom-10 team in defending the tight end this season and have allowed 8.6 fantasy points per game to the position. Now Ertz and Dallas Goedert pay them a visit.

Despite all the regression talk coming off of Ertz's career year, he is still a top-five tight end in snaps, targets, receptions and target share, and he is top 10 in red zone targets. Ertz has one game in his last seven with a target share below 20% as he continue to strengthen his connection with Carson Wentz. And even though he is splitting receiving duties more often with Goedert this season, the Eagles still target their tight ends more than 36% of the time -- second most in the NFL. There should be plenty to go around for Ertz on Sunday.