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Single-game primetime daily fantasy football contests have arrived at Yahoo Fantasy. It’s an absolutely thrilling and different way to approach DFS that pushes managers to be creative in lineup construction when only focusing on single games.
Every week I’ll offer up my general, high-level view of the three island games on the schedule as well as some of my favorite salary-based plays — and of course, my top pick for the all-important SUPERSTAR spot.
Thursday Night Football
New York Jets at Indianapolis Colts
The Mike White revolution continues in front of a national audience this week.
The Jets’ unknown backup quarterback put together a performance that launched the team to its best offensive outing of the year by a country mile. White threw for over 400 yards, executing the offense to the tee. Much of White’s damage was done underneath, as 24 of his 37 completions went to running backs or slot receivers but that comes back to the execution standpoint.
At this stage, Zach Wilson is just not going to play within the structure of an offense and “Take what’s given.” White will at least do that.
That’s a solid sign going against a Colts defense that’s a strict, old-school cover-two scheme designed to take away explosive plays but is allowing the third-highest completion rate in the league.
On the Colts’ side, after four-straight games of mostly strong play from Carson Wentz, they got a bad outing in Week 8. Beyond some of the laughable turnovers, Wentz averaged just 4.5 yards per attempt against the Titans. That’s a beatable defense and he was clearly jumpy. The Jets don’t provide much of a tough matchup either, as they rank 28th in offensive DVOA.
As always ... we’ll see with Wentz.
No matter how he performs, this offense is so highly concentrated between its two young stars that we don’t have to panic about the surrounding talents. Jonathan Taylor has edged ahead of Nyheim Hines in routes run over the last few weeks and is one of the most explosive talents on the ground. More on him below.
In the passing game, Michael Pittman is looking like a bonafide No. 1 wide receiver who wins in all areas of the game. He’s currently on pace for an 85-catch, 1,200-yard season.
SUPERSTAR pick: Jonathan Taylor ($34)
Jonathan Taylor ranks second in rushing yards with 375, trailing only Derrick Henry. He leads all backs with 12 runs of 10-plus yards. Couple that with his 12.6 yards per catch average on the season, and few backs are as capable of breaking a slate as Taylor right now. The Jets are the 23rd-ranked run defense in DVOA and do not present a formidable matchup.
Must-play: Michael Carter ($15)
Over the last two games following the Jets bye week, rookie running back Michael Carter has totaled 276 yards from scrimmage. It’s come via a playing time bump, as he’s averaged 71 percent of the team snaps over the last two weeks — a number he never came close to clearing prior to the bye. The Colts run defense has been awesome this season but much of Carter’s appeal comes in the passing game. He ranks first on the team in targets (21) and second in routes run (58). Carter is a lock at this salary.
Sneaky cheap option: Elijah Moore ($11)
None of the Jets wide receivers are full-time players (minus Corey Davis) so they’re a good place to mine for value dart throws. With Davis sidelined last week, Moore drew six targets — trailing only Jamison Crowder among the receivers. With a 5.8 average depth of target, it’s clear they want to get the ball to the rookie quickly and let him work in space. He could bust a few big plays in this one, although Crowder ($15) is the best overall play from the Jets’ passing game if Davis is out.
Sunday Night Football
Tennessee Titans at Los Angeles Rams
Bad days get worse for the Titans as they’ll play their first game post-Derrick Henry’s trip to IR in Los Angeles. The Rams have been white-hot all season and have torched their last three cupcake opponents.
The Rams have outscored their opponents 104-52 the last two weeks and most of what they allowed to Houston last week (22 points) came in pure garbage time. Stafford has thrown 10 touchdowns to one pick at 8.8 yards per attempt in that stretch. It doesn’t get much better than that.
The Titans have their issues on defense this year but have gotten a good push from their pass rush. Tennessee ranks fourth in quarterback hurries and first in total pressures (95). Guys like Harold Landry have taken another leap for them. They’ll need Landry and co. to step up big time in this matchup, especially since LA expects Andrew Whitworth to play.
The big story for the Titans is obviously how they’ll replace Derrick Henry.
Spoiler alert: They won’t.
Tennessee will hope to get Adrian Peterson up to speed at some point to give them about a 60-percent version of Henry. In the meantime, expect Jeremy McNichols ($15) to fill in. A once highly regarded prospect, he’s struggled to stick on NFL rosters but has carved out a nice receiving role in Tennessee. He’s snagged 21 balls, second-most on the team, so far this season. He’s in play this week.
Things are much simpler for the Rams. Cooper Kupp is in a tier of his own and his $41 salary reflects that. Then it’s Darrell Henderson ($24) and Robert Woods ($25). It’s hard to justify Woods at $25 when A.J. Brown is the same salary. Van Jefferson should justifiably get a bump at $16 now that DeSean Jackson is out of town.
SUPERSTAR pick: Matthew Stafford ($34)
The Rams quarterback is inching closer to the center point of the MVP discussion. He’s earned it, too. Stafford hasn’t been in a nationally-televised game for the last three weeks so this (and Monday night in Week 10) is an excellent spot for him to further that endeavor. The Titans have a strong pass rush but have still allowed the fifth-most passing yards in the league.
Must-play: A.J. Brown ($25)
Over the last three weeks, A.J. Brown ranks second among all pass-catchers in team target share (35.5 percent) and team air yards share (49.8 percent). Only Cooper Kupp and CeeDee Lamb (one fewer game) have out-paced Brown from a points-per-game standpoint. He’s back to the elite wide receiver territory.
Sneaky cheap option: Geoff Swaim ($10)
Often times when looking for a punt play at tight end, we start with high-total games. This one qualifies with a 53.5-point over/under. Swaim has run 30 routes over the last three weeks, good for third-most on the team. It’s a total dart throw but might help you save space to get up to the top-heavy players in this matchup.
Monday Night Football
Pittsburgh Steelers at Chicago Bears
Oh boy. It’s not often you get a game with a 40-point total in today’s NFL. It’s even less likely when the under is very much in play but that’s the case with this Bears vs. Steelers matchup.
This is not a game where we can expect much fantasy glory.
On the other hand, we’re well to the point where we know what these two teams are. The Steelers almost exclusively flow through Diontae Johnson and Najee Harris. Chase Claypool has gotten the role we wanted in the wake of the JuJu Smith-Schuster injury but just hasn’t played that well over his last two games. That could change at any moment and he does have a strong WR/CB matchup this week. At just $23 and unlikely to be very popular, he could be a solid play.
On the Chicago side, it’s all about Khalil Herbert at just $19. Herbert has carried the ball 60 times for 269 yards over the last three weeks. This will be his most difficult matchup in that stretch, however.
It's tough to ignore Allen Robinson at $12 ... even if the Bears have been doing it for most of the season. At some point, Robinson will be healthier than he’s been and his play will improve on the field. He’s taking 42 percent of his snaps as a slot receiver this season. The Steelers allow 83 targets to players lined up in the slot, 11th-most despite already having their bye.
SUPERSTAR pick: Najee Harris ($25)
Najee Harris is tied for third among running backs in points per game. He’s fourth among running backs in carries and second in catches, despite the Steelers already having their bye week. He’s as true of a workhorse as there is in the NFL ... so why is he only $25? The Bears’ defense without Khalil Mack doesn’t move the needle and just gave up 7.6 yards per carry to Elijah Mitchell and 5.7 to the Bucs’ running backs over the last two weeks.
Must-play: Justin Fields ($21)
If the Bears coaching staff doesn’t plan to keep the Justin Fields’ blueprint from last week alive every single week the rest of the season, they deserve to be fired right now. Fields might just be the most athletic quarterback in the league, especially when adjusted for size and should push for eight to 10 rush attempts every game. At just $21, we can risk that the game plan will hold true even against a tough Steeler defense.
Sneaky cheap option: Pat Freiermuth ($11)
With Eric Ebron out last week, the rookie tight end was third on the team in routes (24), lined up in the slot on 34 percent of his snaps and finished behind only Diontae Johnson with six targets. He’s a great opportunity-based play with plenty of talent at a steal of a salary.