Yahoo Daily Fantasy Football Primer: Week 13
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.
Aaron Rodgers ($32) - If ever there was a model of consistency in DFS this year, Rodgers is it. Rodgers has scored between 22 and 29 fantasy points each of the past six weeks, has thrown at least two touchdown passes in each game in that span, and has had a salary between $32 and $33 in six straight weeks. On average, you are getting a return of 300 passing yards and 3 touchdowns on your investment.
He's the model of consistency.
Over those past six weeks, Rodgers has 20 passing touchdowns. Put another way -- in half of his season, he has more passing scores than 22 other NFL teams have all year. He may not use his legs anymore (45 rushing yards in six games), but at a $4 to $8 discount from the other elite quarterbacks, Rodgers' passing volume and efficiency is making up for his lack of ground game.
With the Philadelphia Eagles ranking in the top 10 in fewest rushing yards and receiving yards allowed to running backs this year, I fully expect Davante Adams and Robert Tonyan to be heavily involved in a massive Packers aerial assault on Sunday.
James Robinson ($30) - In terms of running back rankings this season for DFS or season-long players, Dalvin Cook and Derrick Henry are in a tier of their own through 12 weeks. But it's not at all crazy to say that the next tier is headlined by undrafted rookie James Robinson.
In the past four weeks, only three running backs have accumulated at least 85 rushing attempts: Cook, Henry, and Robinson. Only three running backs have rushed for at least 400 yards: Cook, Henry, and Robinson. Only two running backs have at least 80% of the rushing share on their team: Cook and Robinson. Robinson's 49 targets on the year are only 10 fewer than what Cook and Henry have combined for this season.
You get the picture.
numberFire's projections have Robinson ranked as the fourth-best back for Week 12 as he faces a Minnesota Vikings team that has a lot of offensive firepower but also allows the 12th-most rushing yards and 10th-most receiving yards to opposing running backs. At only $30 this week, Robinson gives you the workload of a Cook or Henry at only 75% of the salary.
Antonio Gibson ($19) - Case studies like Gibson in Week 13 give us a clear peek behind the curtain of how Yahoo's salary algorithm must work.
After scoring more than 18 fantasy points in four of the past five weeks and totaling seven touchdowns in those games, including three just last week, Gibson's salary comes in at $2 lower than it was four weeks ago. The only way that can be explained is by a heavily weighted perceived difficult matchup.
Yes, Gibson does face the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 13. The Steelers do rank as the 10th-best rush defense and best overall pass defense by our metrics, but it doesn't mean they are impervious to strong rushing attacks. They have allowed at least 95 rushing yards in six of 11 games this season and have given up at least 75 yards to a few backs, including Henry, Robinson, and J.K. Dobbins.
With Gibson at an $18 salary, 75 rushing yards, 20 receiving yards and one short touchdown run more than pays off the production you need at the position. With more than 17 touches in four of the last five games, those numbers are certainly within reach.
Justin Jefferson ($26) - Let's play a little game called Which Wide Receiver Do I Want to Roster in Week 13. Here are your choices, based on their last five games played:
Wide Receiver A is Tyler Lockett, who plays the New York Giants this week and saw a salary increase despite four of his past five games coming in under 10 fantasy points. Wide Receiver B is Jefferson, who is now playing a massive role in the Minnesota offense, even when Adam Thielen has been on the field.
This doesn't count as just box score watching, either. Lockett's role in the Seattle Seahawks' offense is slowly diminishing while Jefferson's is ascending.
Jefferson did not see a salary bump after his two-touchdown explosion last week, even though he is facing the Jacksonville Jaguars, who allow the fifth-most fantasy points per game to opposing wide receivers. Many might jump off of Jefferson now that Thielen is expected to play, so at a salary that is still too low, this makes the perfect opportunity to buy in at a potentially lower draft percentage.
Brandin Cooks ($18) - Let me be the 943rd fantasy analyst to remind you this week you need to have Cooks in your lineups. Just know this is going to be the heavy chalk at wideout this week. I'm talking like the Costco mega-pack of chalk.
With Will Fuller done for the season, seven targets per game and 22% of the target share (both dragged down by Fuller's zero-target game in Week 2) are all up for grabs, and the key offseason acquisition for the Houston Texans looks to be the primary beneficiary. We have already seen Cooks put up six games with at least eight targets so far this season, and that looks to be his floor moving forward.
The Fuller news broke midweek, so this is the one time we will have to take advantage of a depressed salary on Cooks. Expect Cooks to jump up to the $22 to $25 range next week. Enjoy the value while you can.
Jordan Akins ($10) - If you want to get contrarian on the Texans and fade the Cooks chalk, tight end Jordan Akins is sure to see an increased role in a Will Fuller-less offense the rest of the season.
The Texans' tight end situation is often a difficult puzzle to solve with Akins, Darren Fells and Pharaoh Brown in the mix. On the season, Akins (28 targets) has only four more targets than Fells (24) while Brown has nine. Digging deeper, however, we see who Deshaun Watson prefers when it matters most.
First, Akins runs a route on 64% of the Texans' pass plays, compared to only 45% for Fells, according to PlayerProfiler.com. With Houston down three receivers during this final stretch of the season (remember: Kenny Stills was released and Randall Cobb is hurt), that number is sure to go up, as will the 3.5 targets per game Akins sees.
Second, while his target share coming into Week 13 is only 12%, Akins has seen 14% of the Texans' red zone targets. Akins' five red zone targets this year is only one less than Brown and Fells combined.
With Akins at minimum salary, you can do a lot worse than rolling the dice on him this week.