Yahoo Daily Fantasy Football Primer: Week 3
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. The focus will be on both tournament and cash game options as we try to unlock slate-breaking upside in Yahoo's unique DFS game.
Slates like the one we will see on Sunday are tricky to navigate. Due to all of the Week 2 injuries, there will be ample opportunities for value at the running back and wide receiver positions. But what can often happen when there is so much strong value is we suckered into the FOMO of not wanting to miss out on the cheap smash play that we prioritize those players above the high-usage studs.
Evaluation of these value plays is essential. Just because a guy is starting and cheap, doesn't make him a must-start. This week, we will look at some of these value plays and decide which is the better option in DFS lineups.
Ryan Tannehill ($31) - At some point, we are going to have to just start believing that what Ryan Tannehill is doing right now is for real. The Tennessee Titans certainly do, and they rewarded him with a four-year, $118 million extension this off-season.
Since the beginning of the 2019 season, only Dak Prescott, Russell Wilson, and Jameis Winston (10) have more games with at least two passing touchdowns than Tannehill (9). Every one of those quarterbacks in front of him has at least 16 games played since the start of last season, while Tannehill just finished his 13th game on Sunday.
Surprisingly, the Titans are only 2.5-point favorites on the road against the Minnesota Vikings this Sunday. This is giving the Vikings an awful lot of credit considering how atrocious their defense has been this season. They have allowed opponents to post the fifth-highest completion percentage, the sixth-most passing yards per game, and the second-most passing touchdowns per game, all while ranking sixth-lowest in sacks per drop-back.
Start Tannehill with full confidence this week, especially with a full arsenal of weapons available with A.J. Brown rejoining the lineup.
Somehow, someway, Trubisky keeps getting the job done for the Bears. The five passing touchdowns Trubisky has through two weeks might be a bit fluky, as the Bears have run passing plays at the ninth-lowest rate in the league and Trubisky only has 38 completions on the year and a 13.2% touchdown-to-completion ratio is likely to regress.
However, the only thing the Falcons have done in their first two games is to make fantasy winners out of players who roster the opposing quarterback. Both Russell Wilson and Dak Prescott accounted for 4 total touchdowns and more than 30 completed passed against the Falcons in Weeks 1 and 2.
The Falcons have been so bad at defending the pass, they have allowed 65 completions in 84 attempts in their first two games. In context, there have been only three other teams since 2000 that have allowed a streak of at least 38 points per game and at least 65 total completions. The problem is, those three other teams allowed at least 65 completed passes IN THREE GAMES. The Falcons have somehow managed to do it in two.
If anyone can make Trubisky look like a competent quarterback, it will be the 2020 Atlanta Falcons.
Miles Sanders ($21) - I'm not exactly sure why Sanders did not see a price increase after returning to the lineup and posting 131 total yards plus a touchdown on 27 opportunities (rush attempts + targets), but I'm not going to hesitate taking advantage this week against a hapless Cincinnati Bengals rush defense.
The same Bengals squad just got absolutely flattened by the Cleveland Browns on the ground last Thursday night, allowing 215 rushing yards and three rushing touchdowns.
In just his first game of the season, Sanders was unleashed in a massive way and reminded us what an efficient runner he is. Sanders' net expected points (NEP) per carry on Sunday (0.14) placed him sixth-best in the league among all rushers with at least 20 carries, and he now has the highest rushing success rate of any back through two weeks (70%).
The Bengals will likely have no answer for Sanders this week, and his cheap price tag should easily help him reach value.
Mike Davis ($14) - In terms of cheap running backs on this slate, Yahoo players have an interesting decision to make. Both Jerick McKinnon and Mike Davis are $14 and will be the value backs du jour on a slate that still has plenty of desirable high-priced studs. While McKinnon might be the flashier name and has displayed some dynamic play-making abilities in the first two weeks, Davis' game environment looks to be much more attractive.
First, the Los Angeles Chargers (Davis' opponent) run 12 more plays per game than the New York Giants (who McKinnon plays) and play at a much faster pace through two weeks. Carolina also owns a slight advantage in the trenches as they have the better matchup against the Chargers' defensive line, who allow the eighth-most yards before first contact this season, according to Pro Football Focus.
If you needed any more proof that the Legion of Boom is long gone, this year has certainly provided the evidence. Through two games, Seattle has allowed a total of 831 passing yards to the Falcons and Patriots. Since 1980, only two teams have given up more passing yards over a two-game stretch than this year's Seahawks (the 2018 Chiefs and the 2004 Packers).
In two competitive games to start the year, Cooper has amassed 23 targets (tied for second among all wide receivers) and ranks 10th in total air yards and 12th in share of his team's air yards. While he hasn't scored a touchdown yet, the consistency of usage tells us the explosion games are coming -- perhaps this week in the best game environment of the slate (a gigantic 55.5-point total).
Cooper's primary coverage this week will be from Shaquill Griffin who ranks bottom 20 at his position in both catch percentage allowed and fantasy points allowed per route defended.
Johnson, after a mini-breakout in 2019, is second in the NFL with 23 targets through two weeks, and is third in target share for all wide receivers who have played two games (32%). As JJ Zachariason pointed out, Johnson is in elite company as one of only two players with at least a 30% target share in each of his first two weeks.
Players with at least a 30% target share in each of the first two weeks of the season:
- Adam Thielen
- Diontae Johnson
— JJ Zachariason (@LateRoundQB) September 22, 2020
In Week 3, Johnson faces the Houston Texans who have allowed the sixth-highest passing NEP per play through two weeks. Johnson also faces the eighth-easiest one-one matchup. according to Pro Football Focus, as he lines up against Bradley Roby.
Darren Waller ($18) - In Waller, we have an opportunity to take advantage of soft pricing since the Las Vegas Raiders played a game on Monday and Yahoo's algorithm couldn't react to the 16 targets, 12 receptions, 103 receiving yards, and a touchdown he put up on the New Orleans Saints. Waller's price actually dropped by $1 since that game, giving us an opportunity to jump on one of the highest-usage players at the position.
Much like Diontae Johnson, Waller is simply too cheap for his week-to-week usage. The Walrus has been in on 91% of the Raiders' snaps and ranks second in the NFL in targets through two weeks -- not second among tight ends -- second among ALL players. Waller leads the entire NFL with 37.8% of his team's targets, a full three percentage points higher than the next closest receiver, DeAndre Hopkins.
This massive volume was predictable after studying the game plan utilized by the Raiders last season, and the targets are once again likely to be there in a game on Sunday against the New England Patriots where Las Vegas is a five-point underdog in a contest with a projected total around 48 points. Our projections have Waller once again leading the position in targets and fantasy points this week, and our target projection of eight might simply be too low.