NFL

4 Daily Fantasy Football Players to Avoid in Week 9

As you're filling out your DFS lineups, it's always tempting to simply target the biggest superstars. However, player salaries don't always align with their expected production in a given matchup.

In this preview, I'll highlight a few players who might ordinarily be on your radar but are probably best to avoid this week. These aren't going to be players you absolutely must avoid due to injuries or playing-time demotions but rather players who are in a bad spot due to a matchup or a salary that has risen too high to justify rostering.

Let's take a look at four players who may not live up to expectations this week. All references to betting totals and spreads are from the FanDuel Sportsbook. All stats are from Pro Football Reference, unless otherwise noted.

Patrick Mahomes, QB, Chiefs

FanDuel Salary: $9,300
DraftKings Salary: $8,100

You can probably safely roster Patrick Mahomes in cash games, but he may not have enough of a ceiling against the Carolina Panthers defense to justify his salary in tournaments. On both DFS platforms, Mahomes carries the biggest cap hit among quarterbacks.

Carolina's defense has been unexpectedly strong this season, especially in terms of shutting down fantasy production. Based on DraftKings' scoring, opposing quarterbacks are falling 6.2 fantasy points below their average against Carolina, the second-largest negative difference in the league. Additionally, all but one quarterback (Drew Brees) has fallen below his average against the Panthers, and even Brees only eclipsed his mark by 0.6 fantasy points.

Zack Moss, RB, Buffalo Bills

FanDuel Salary: $5,800
DraftKings Salary: $5,200

After a career-high 14 carries and 20.1 fantasy points last week, Zack Moss's salary has risen significantly, as he may be taking over the Buffalo Bills' backfield from Devin Singletary. However, he draws a more difficult matchup this week against the Seattle Seahawks.

Seattle's issues in pass defense have been well documented, but their run defense has remained steady. According to Sports Info Solutions, opponents are averaging just 1.4 rushing yards before contact against the Seahawks, the third-lowest rate in the NFL. Moss is a physical runner, but he's not particularly elusive, so this Seattle defense may pose problems for him.

Additionally, Buffalo is a three-point underdog, so Moss is less likely to benefit from a favorable game script, as he did last week in Buffalo's victory over the New England Patriots.

Amari Cooper, WR, Cowboys

FanDuel Salary: $7,000
DraftKings Salary: $5,600

Since Amari Cooper is the Dallas Cowboys' leading receiver, I'm specifically mentioning him, but the following explanation likely applies to all Cowboys receivers in this matchup with the Pittsburgh Steelers -- even on their extremely discounted cap hits.

The Cowboys' offensive weapons took a significant hit last week with Ben DiNucci taking over at quarterback -- Cooper managed just one reception on five targets -- but it could get even worse against the Pittsburgh defense. According to Sports Info Solutions, 84 percent of the Cowboys' pass attempts come from 11 personnel. When facing 11 personnel, the Steelers defense is generating pressure on 57 percent of opponents' dropbacks, the best rate in the league.

No matter who starts at quarterback for Dallas, it's tough to imagine they'll be capable of finding Cooper, or any of their receivers, with consistency on Sunday.

DeVante Parker, WR, Miami Dolphins

FanDuel Salary: $6,300
DraftKings Salary: $5,600

In recent years, Ryan Fitzpatrick has been among the most aggressive downfield passers in the league, which helped boost DeVante Parker's fantasy stock. 59 percent of Parker's yardage has come on targets at least 10 yards downfield this season.

Unfortunately for Parker, the Miami Dolphins appear to be easing Tua Tagovailoa slowly into the offense. While 33 percent of Fitzpatrick's attempts traveled at least 10 yards downfield, only 13 percent of Tagovailoa's attempts have traveled as far, according to Sports Info Solutions. In fact, 71 percent of Tagovailoa's passes have been within five yards of the line of scrimmage.

Since Parker is so heavily used in the downfield passing game, he saw just two targets from Tagovailoa last week against the Los Angeles Rams. Eventually, Miami will start to open up the offense again because the deep passing game is a skill set Tagovailoa showed at Alabama, but we might not be able to trust Parker in our lineups until we've seen that shift in the Dolphins offense.


Ryan McCrystal is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Ryan McCrystal also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username cfbfilmroom. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his/her personal views, he/she may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his/her personal account. The views expressed in his/her articles are the author’s alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.