Yahoo Daily Fantasy Football Primer: Week 1
Welcome to the weekly Yahoo NFL DFS Primer. This will be a weekly piece where I analyze high-dollar and value plays at each position across Yahoo’s NFL main slate.
Introduction to Playing Yahoo DFS
Playing NFL DFS on Yahoo is quite different than the game you will find on DraftKings or FanDuel. The first difference you will see is the massive discrepancy in the salary cap. On Yahoo, the cap is $200 for eight positions, where it is $50,000 on DraftKings and $60,000 on FanDuel.
If you’re used to playing on those two sites, the salaries just look weird on Yahoo. But you will quickly see common trends. Running backs and wide receivers take up the bulk of the salary cap, with quarterbacks being slightly lower than those skill positions and tight ends and team defenses a salary tier below those (unless you are George Kittle or Travis Kelce).
The next major difference is that the main slate always includes the Sunday night game. This is important to remember as I have seen opportunities for leverage in the past where frequent DraftKings and FanDuel players just ignore that game as it is not part of their weekly analysis.
Alternatively, it can make for a very, very long sweat if you are sitting near the top of the standings and don’t have anyone in that game.
Speaking of Sunday night games, we are fortunate that Yahoo includes the Los Angeles Rams and Dallas Cowboys game this week, which has the highest implied game total on the slate and should provide plenty of opportunity for fantasy points.
As with most sites, Yahoo tends to be somewhat conservative with pricing in the first week. Especially in a strange offseason with no preseason games and little in the way of practice reports, there are so many unknowns and DFS sites want to entice people to play with relatively soft salary prices that lead to high-scoring lineups.
Quarterback pricing is especially tight for the opening slate. Thirteen of the 26 quarterbacks available are within a $7 price range ($26-$33). The differentiator at the position will be determining which of this tight group will rise above the rest, or deciding if it’s best to spend down to bulk up at other skill positions.
However, at the very top of the four offensive positions, you are going to have to open up the wallet if you want the best of the best. Here are the top four positional players in salary for Week 1 and their percent above the next highest player at that position:
Lamar Jackson - $38: 15% higher than the next QB
Michael Thomas - $38: 19% higher than the next WR
Christian McCaffrey - $39: 26% higher than the next RB
George Kittle - $29: 32% higher than the next TE
Because of the soft salaries, these players are not unattainable, but they certainly are going to make you think about it. If you really wanted to, you can actually make a roster with all four of these players and have $11 left per open spot.
All this to say that these players are all strong DFS options, but because of the relative salary discrepancy, they are not absolutely necessary. In cash games, however, I bet we see a lot of lineups with at least two of these guys present.
Game selection is always a relatively fun puzzle to solve on Yahoo. You have 50/50 and Double-Up contests at all price ranges, plus a variety of single-entry contests for about 50-150 players that typically pay out about 20-22%. You can enter multi-entry tournaments in all price ranges from 25 cents to $109.
But what stands out most in Week 1 is the $500K Baller; a $10, 150-max entry contest that promises $100,000 to first place. That type of contest might be just any other Sunday for FanDuel, but for Yahoo, it is a massive stake in the ground. These large-field contests on Yahoo draw a lot of players but rarely fill and this one is likely to have significant overlay. Going into Wednesday, the contest was less than 10% filled.
Carson Wentz ($28) – This game is being played at Washington, which is allowing the point spread to stay at about a reasonable 6.5 points, on the side of the Philadelphia Eagles. Targeting quarterbacks in high-spread games is usually risky business, as the favorite could spend 1.5 quarters handing the ball off, but this one looks to be stabilizing as a one-score contest.
Even if this game does turn into a runaway for the Eagles, Washington looks to be an enticing matchup for Wentz.
Washington was outscored last season by an average of about 10.5 points per game, leading to a 3-13 record. As you might imagine, this meant a lot of quarterbacks taking it easy towards the end of games. In fact, Washington had the eighth-fewest passing attempts against in the league last year. But despite so few passing attempts allowed, they gave up the third-most touchdown passes in the league in 2019 (35).
This means they allow teams to be ultra-efficient against them, and with a 28th ranked secondary in 2020 according to Pro Football Focus, Wentz should be able to continue that trend to start this season.
The Rams fully committed to the pass last year (jumping up from 24th in pass % from 2018) and all signs point to that sticking in 2020. In a projected shootout with the Cowboys, Goff is the value play of the slate at the position. For comparison, Goff’s salary is the same as Teddy Bridgewater.
Josh Jacobs ($26) – Do you know what team allowed the most fantasy points to opposing running backs last season? Perhaps Washington, Arizona, Miami, or Atlanta? All wrong. In 2019, the Carolina Panthers allowed 2.5 more fantasy points per contest to running backs than any other team in the NFL.
Las Vegas’ first opponent is going to be rolling out fantasy points like a slot machine that hit the jackpot.
Enter Jacobs, who looks primed to take over even more of the offensive load as he enters the season healthy and on a team that called the eighth-highest percentage of run plays last year. Jacobs makes sense on his own as at a reasonable price tag as well as in game stacks, alongside Christian McCaffrey ($39).
Antonio Gibson ($11) – We have never seen Gibson on an NFL field, but he is going to be the running back chalk on Sunday nonetheless. Fade him at your own risk.
After releasing Adrian Peterson last week, the Washington backfield officially belongs to the Memphis Tigers' product, who had a shockingly low 33 career rush attempts during his time there. But his skills as a receiver (38 receptions) and his other-worldly workout metrics (98th percentile on both the 40-yard dash and speed score) stand out on a team that figures to be throwing the ball in negative game script situations frequently.
At only one dollar above the minimum price, Gibson should be a lock button in all cash lineups and demands heavy exposure in tournaments.
Michael Thomas ($38) – Sometimes, my friends, you have to just believe in the old mantra that you get what you pay for. There is no need to rehash Thomas’ historic season from 2019, we know how dominant he was. Just know that between weeks 1-15 last year, there was one week where Thomas did not score at least 13 Yahoo fantasy points in half-point per reception scoring.
Anytime the New Orleans Saints line up against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, fireworks typically follow -- especially in games played at the Superdome. Although the Bucs may have had a stout rush defense last season, their problems persisted against the pass, as they allowed the most fantasy points per game, receptions, and receiving yards to the position as well as the third-most touchdowns.
There are signs that the secondary for the Bucs is improving, but it is still one of the youngest in the league and one that Thomas should have no issue exploiting.
D.J. Moore ($19) – The more I look at it, the more I am falling in love with a Panthers-Raiders game stack that includes McCaffery, Jacobs, Moore, and a cheap Darren Waller ($16) or Bryan Edwards ($19).
In Moore, you are getting a wide receiver who finished in the top 10 in targets, receptions, and receiving yards in 2019, but somehow only tallied four touchdowns. If Moore can demand more red-zone looks than last season (12 total, only 28th among wide receivers), he has the pedigree of an elite pass-catcher, who currently has a salary number lower than the likes of Emmanuel Sanders ($20) and DeSean Jackson ($20).
Hayden Hurst ($15) – Instead of predicting Hurst’s production on Sunday, I predict you will grow weary of seeing his name across the DFS universe this week, as he is criminally underpriced for the matchup he has in Week 1.
The Falcons’ tight end is only the 10th most expensive at the position on Sunday and gets to face a Seattle Seahawks' defense that allowed the third-most fantasy points per game to the tight end position in 2019.
Our projections have Hurst scoring the sixth-most Yahoo points on Sunday in another game projected with a high implied total of around 49 points. With a full-time role this season, Hurst -- who ranked number seven among tight ends last year in fantasy points per pass route -- should begin his breakout season in Week 1.