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Whether you've played Daily Fantasy on Yahoo before or are giving it a try for the first time, this new weekly column will take an early look at the DFS landscape, revealing whom I like building lineups around, stars to fade, undervalued plays and bargain bin options to help you construct a better team.
Lineup building blocks
Patrick Mahomes ($36) vs. Dallas Cowboys
Despite a rough stretch, Mahomes is suddenly fantasy’s QB1 this season after Sunday night’s eruption (he’s the QB4 in points per game). This week he gets a home matchup in a game with the highest total (55.5 points) by a wide margin against a Dallas defense allowing the sixth-most fantasy points to quarterbacks in 2021 (and missing Randy Gregory). The Chiefs have the highest implied team total this week, yet three QBs have a higher salary than Mahomes. This will be a popular DFS game to stack.
Christian McCaffrey ($40) vs. Washington Football Team
McCaffrey had 17 touches before halftime and finished with 10 targets last week in a game that saw him rested in the fourth quarter of a blowout (his snap share fell to 14% in the 4Q). CMC also had another visit to the medical tent, as he appears to be a real injury risk. There’s also now concern Cam Newton steals goal-line touchdowns. But few backs can match McCaffrey’s production when on the field, as he was a top-five fantasy RB last week despite seeing fewer than 15 carries and not scoring a touchdown in a tough matchup. Sunday the Panthers are home favorites against an underperforming Washington defense that just lost Chase Young, and Newton is unlikely to be worse than Sam Darnold for Carolina’s offense.
Nick Chubb ($32) vs. Detroit Lions
This obviously depends on Chubb returning from the reserve/COVID-19 list, but he’ll be a DFS option if good to go. The Browns are double-digit home favorites in a game that could be rainy against a Lions defense that just played five quarters and has allowed the second-most fantasy points to running backs this season. Cleveland’s elite offensive line has gotten healthy, while Baker Mayfield will likely be playing at less than 100%, so Chubb should be the center of the Browns offense this week (Kareem Hunt likely remains out). If Chubb is unable to return, D’Ernest Johnson ($25) would become extremely popular in DFS.
Stars to fade
Jonathan Taylor ($35) @ Buffalo Bills
With Derrick Henry going down, Taylor has a case to be called inarguably the best back in football right now. But he’s a shaky DFS play this week with the second-highest (non-QB) salary while on the road facing a Buffalo defense allowing just 3.8 YPC and the fewest fantasy points to running backs this season. Game script could also be a problem, as the Bills are TD favorites, and Nyheim Hines steals some passing downs. Dalvin Cook’s salary is $8 cheaper against a run-funnel Green Bay defense.
AJ Dillon ($20) @ Minnesota Vikings
Dillon is a Derrick Henry clone and the new three-down workhorse for the Packers with Aaron Jones (and Kylin Hill) sidelined. The Packers might be getting LT David Bakhtiari back Sunday and face a run-funnel Vikings defense allowing the third-most YPC (4.7) in the NFL. Dillon should be ranked as a top 3-5 fantasy back this week, so it’s hard to pass on his DFS salary.
Tyler Lockett ($21) vs. Arizona Cardinals
Lockett keeps racking up air yards and should benefit from a rebound game from a healthier (and less rusty) Russell Wilson. Arizona isn’t an ideal matchup, but Seattle won’t be able to run the ball against the Cardinals, who’ve been middling against fantasy receivers this season. This game also has a healthy over/under of 49.5 points. Lockett is averaging 97.3 yards at home this year and could be in store for one of his renowned blowup games.
Brandin Cooks ($18) @ Tennessee Titans
Cooks ranks No. 1 in air yards% and should get much better QB play over the second half of the season with a healthy Tyrod Taylor coming off a bye. Cooks has seen a whopping 35 targets over three games with Taylor this season (and the QB left one at halftime), and Sunday he gets a Tennessee defense that’s allowed the most fantasy points to receivers. The Texans are double-digit underdogs, so expect heavy passing, and the fantasy stats in garbage time count all the same.
Dan Arnold ($13) vs. San Francisco 49ers
Arnold is getting as much consistent usage since getting traded to Jacksonville as pretty much any tight end in the league. Trevor Lawrence (and Urban Meyer) has been a real problem, but Arnold’s projected volume is too high for a salary this low.
Tyrod Taylor ($21) @ Tennessee Titans
Taylor is at the near minimum thanks to coming off an ugly game the last time we saw him, but his hamstring should now be fully healthy following the team’s bye. Even with the horrible outing returning from injury (and playing for the Texans), Taylor has gotten a solid 7.5 YPA while also averaging 26.0 rushing yards (over 2.5 games). Houston’s offensive line is a problem, but Taylor’s stats are helped by the team's inability to run. He gets a Titans defense this week that’s dealing with numerous injuries and has allowed the eighth-most fantasy points to quarterbacks.
T.Y. Hilton ($10) @ Buffalo Bills
Hilton was quiet during his return last week, but he saw five targets in a weird game where the Colts jumped out to a quick 17-0 lead and Carson Wentz finished with just 180 passing yards. Hilton is clearly behind Michael Pittman (who could see a lot of Tre’Davious White), but he’s Indy’s No. 2 WR when healthy. Moreover, Buffalo’s stout run defense (opponents have averaged the second-fewest rushing attempts) should lead to a more pass-heavy game than usual from Indianapolis, and Hilton’s the DFS minimum.