Whether you’ve played Daily Fantasy on Yahoo before or are giving it a try for the first time, this weekly column will take a 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
Justin Jefferson ($37) vs. Kansas City Chiefs
Kansas City has the youngest defense in football playing well, and L’Jarius Sneed will likely shadow Jefferson roughly 70% of the time Sunday, so pivot to Tyreek Hill ($40) if you prefer. But unlike last week’s game script that saw Minnesota run just 44 plays, the Vikings should be passing a ton on Sunday. The Chiefs have the highest pass rate over expectation (+8%) and the Vikings sport the third highest (+3.8%). The matchup indoors will also be high-paced and has the highest total (52.5 points) of the week. Jefferson nearly scored three touchdowns last week despite running just 24 routes, and he’s recorded 71% of his TDs at home during his career.
Bijan Robinson ($32) vs. Houston Texans
Robinson’s rush share has steadily increased each week, while Tyler Allgeier’s snap share has decreased. Robinson is third in the NFL in yards per touch and leads all running backs in receptions. Atlanta’s last two matchups came on the road against a Lions run defense ceding an NFL-low 45.3 rushing YPG to running backs and a Jacksonville D allowing the fifth-lowest EPA/rush. This week Robinson is at home versus a Texans defense that’s the second-most favorable to fantasy running backs when schedule adjusted. Desmond Ridder’s struggles don’t help, but the Falcons have by far the lowest pass rate over expectation (-10.1%) in the NFL. And Robinson also happens to be HIM. He’s the top fantasy back in Week 5.
David Montgomery ($27) vs. Carolina Panthers
Montgomery saw a whopping 32 carries last week despite recently coming off a serious-looking injury. He gets 10 days to rest up and a home matchup against a Panthers defense allowing the fourth-most fantasy points to running backs. Carolina has suffered numerous defensive injuries and is also ceding the most EPA/rush in the league by a wide margin.
Detroit has been extremely run-heavy this year, and Montgomery is the team’s lead back, whether us Jahmyr Gibbs backers want to accept it or not. Montgomery had more red-zone carries last week than Josh Jacobs, Derrick Henry and Joe Mixon have all season. He had more (or as many) carries inside the five-yard line last week than every player in the league other than Kenneth Walker III this season. The Lions are 10-point home favorites Sunday, so game script should once again be favorable. And Montgomery should remain busy with Amon-Ra St. Brown a big question mark due to an abdomen injury and Gibbs turning up on the injury report Friday with a hamstring issue.
Star to Fade
Saquon Barkley ($31) @ Miami Dolphins
There’s a realistic chance Barkley returns this week, and Miami’s run defense looks inviting. But Barkley would be just three weeks removed from suffering a high-ankle sprain and almost certainly not himself. The Giants are also the biggest underdogs (+11.5) this week, with the third-lowest implied team total. Game script and scoring opportunities may not be on Barkley’s side. Play Bijan Robinson ($32) in DFS instead.
Isiah Pacheco ($18) @ Minnesota Vikings
Pacheco has seen his opportunity share increase each week this season, including many in the red zone (he’s been stopped at the one twice already in 2023). His touches have similarly increased as the season has progressed. It’s big news if Pacheco has become a feature back on a Patrick Mahomes offense. His salary remains outside the top 15 running backs, so Pacheco is undervalued in a matchup with this week’s highest over/under.
Jaylen Waddle ($23) vs. New York Giants
Waddle hasn’t seen the target share as expected this season, but give him a pass for last week while returning from a concussion, when he also had a TD catch nullified by a penalty. Waddle got 3.14 (!) yards per route run and scored all his touchdowns when Tua Tagovailoa was on the field last season, and Tua is getting an NFL-high 9.6 YPA this season; big games are coming. The Dolphins have the highest implied team point total (30.0) in Week 5, and Miami’s running backs can’t keep stealing all the touchdowns.
Joshua Dobbs ($22) vs. Cincinnati Bengals
Dobbs shockingly has been fantasy’s No. 6 QB since Week 1 despite facing the San Francisco and Dallas defenses. Dobbs is third in the league in Next Gen’s CPAE, just behind Josh Allen and Justin Herbert. Dobbs is also fifth among quarterbacks in designed runs, so his fantasy output is no fluke (albeit due for some regression). The Bengals have allowed the fifth-most rushing yards to QBs this season. Dobbs’ salary is the near minimum if you want to pay down at quarterback this week.
Zach Wilson ($20) @ Denver Broncos
If you want to go even cheaper at quarterback, Wilson is the minimum in a highly favorable matchup. The Broncos have the worst defense ever tracked by DVOA through four games. Denver is being gashed for an NFL-high 8.9 YPA and the most touchdown passes (13). The Broncos have also allowed by far the most fantasy points to quarterbacks, a group that includes Jimmy Garoppolo, Sam Howell and Justin Fields. Wilson can run and benefits from having Garrett Wilson (and the Jets unleashing Jeremy Ruckert). Wilson is coming off the best game of his career (against a good KC defense) and gets a prime opportunity to continue improving.
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