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.
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Lineup building blocks
Christian McCaffrey ($40) @ Los Angeles Rams
McCaffrey had his longest run in Week 1 since joining San Francisco and finished with the most rushing yards (and RYOE: rush yards over expected) in the league despite facing the highest percentage of eight-man fronts. CMC also didn’t lose nearly as many touches to Elijah Mitchell like he did at times last season, even staying in the game when the score was lopsided. McCaffrey was also one of only two RBs who earned 100% of his team’s red-zone snaps. The 49ers have one of the highest implied team totals this week against a shaky Rams defense that benefitted from Seattle’s offensive line injuries. CMC stands out at running back.
Amon-Ra St. Brown ($28) vs. Seattle Seahawks
The Lions averaged an NFL-high 33.1 points at home last season, where Jared Goff posted a 23:3 TD:INT line (6:4 on the road). St. Brown scored all six of his touchdowns last season at home. He’s become a top-five target earner in the league and gets a favorable matchup this weekend versus a Seattle secondary allowing the second-most EPA/pass that was just torched by the Rams WRs without Cooper Kupp (although Jamal Adams and/or Devon Witherspoon may return). Detroit has one of the highest implied team totals this week in a fast-paced matchup, and St. Brown should remain the center of the Lions’ offense. I can’t wait to see his next touchdown celebration Sunday.
Calvin Ridley ($28) & Trevor Lawrence ($34) vs. Kansas City Chiefs
Ridley carried his preseason hype into a big first half in Week 1, when he finished with elite target share numbers. He should be treated as a borderline top-five fantasy WR moving forward. This matchup has the highest over/under (51 points) of the week and should be targeted in DFS. We can stack Ridley with Lawrence, who was throwing darts in Week 1. Kansas City gets Chris Jones back, but the Chiefs allowed the second-most fantasy points to quarterbacks last season.
Star to Fade
Garrett Wilson ($30) @ Dallas Cowboys
Wilson’s salary is top-three among receivers this week, but he’s outside my top-20 on my ranks with Zach Wilson now his quarterback. Garrett Wilson was the WR60 with Zach Wilson last year and the WR8 without. He didn’t catch any touchdowns over nine games together. Life wasn’t any better in Week 1, when 48 different players had more targets and air yards than Wilson. The game plan will be different after practicing knowing who’s starting at QB, but the Jets get a dominant Cowboys defense allowing the second-lowest EPA/pass on the road this week. There’s no way to sugarcoat it — the loss of Aaron Rodgers was devastating to Wilson’s fantasy value.
James Cook ($21) vs. Las Vegas Raiders
Cook didn’t have a huge box score in Week 1 but saw encouraging usage like the preseason. The Jets’ defense is one of the best in the league, and almost all of Cook’s yardage came after contact. He had a healthy route share and saw six targets — a number Devin Singletary reached just five times across 37 games with Buffalo. Cook also led all running backs in average depth of target, so the only concern is goal-line work. The Bills are at home coming off an extremely disappointing loss and among the biggest favorites on the board this week. The Raiders ceded the fifth-most fantasy points to running backs last season, so the setup is nice for Cook.
Nico Collins ($16) vs. Indianapolis Colts
Collins saw the fifth-most targets, the third-most air yards and ranked top-10 in first-read target share in Week 1. He was one of only five receivers to post a 50% air yards share and a 25% target share. The Texans encouragingly had a pass rate above expectation during CJ Stroud’s first NFL start (on the road), so there’s upside even in a lackluster offense. The Colts have a vulnerable secondary and run their offense at a lightning pace, so Collins is undervalued in DFS this week. Keep an eye on Stroud though, as he came up on Friday’s injury report with a shoulder ailment.
Jaxon Smith-Njigba ($16) @ Detroit Lions
Smith-Njigba had a quiet debut but immediately led Seattle in targets per route run (finishing with five). It was a weird game that saw the Seahawks run only 14 offensive plays and get just one first down (via penalty) in the second half after losing multiple linemen. It was the fewest second-half yardage output since 2008. O-line remains an issue for Seattle, but this weekend’s matchup should feature a much different game script. Seattle and Detroit are both fast-paced, and the matchup is indoors against a Lions team that averaged the most combined points (51.8) during their games last season. Detroit yielded the third-most fantasy points to wide receivers last season, so JSN is a sneaky DFS play who’ll likely be overlooked this week.
Denver Broncos DEF ($12) vs. Washington Commanders
Denver remains arguably the best home-field advantage, and the Broncos get a favorable matchup on Sunday. The Commanders allowed six sacks and a defensive score at home to the Cardinals. Washington’s offensive line might be the worst in the league, and Sam Howell also holds onto the football far too long. The Broncos DEF could be a top fantasy play this week at a bottom DFS salary.