Whether you've played Daily Fantasy on Yahoo before or are giving it a try for the first time, this 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
Dalvin Cook ($30) @ Chicago Bears
Justin Jefferson ($40) also deserves consideration facing a Bears defense allowing an NFL-high 7.5 YPA. He's also within striking distance (194 yards) of breaking the single-season receiving yards record. But with Nathan Peterman starting for Chicago in a matchup in which the Vikings are favored by more than a touchdown, game script may not require a ton of passing. Opponents already have the highest run rate when facing the Bears this season.
Enter Cook, who gets a Chicago defense allowing the second-most fantasy points to running backs this season. There’s some question as to whether Minnesota would be better off avoiding a possible first-round matchup with Green Bay, but coach Kevin O’Connell has indicated the starters will play Sunday, further backed by Minnesota having one of the highest implied team totals on the slate.
Ken Walker ($25) vs. Los Angeles Rams
Walker rushed for the most yards the Jets have allowed all season last week and gets a Rams run defense without Aaron Donald that was just gashed for 8.8 YPC by Austin Ekeler and Josh Kelley. Walker has missed practice this week, but that’s become routine lately, and he’s still averaged 24.5 carries over the last two games. Walker is due for some touchdown regression having not scored over the last four games (despite seeing four carries inside the 10 last week) and should benefit from a positive game script Sunday with Seattle near TD home favorites.
Cam Akers ($25) @ Seattle Seahawks
Akers continues to impress and ranks first in Success Rate among 14 running backs who’ve had at least 100 rush attempts since Week 11 (h/t Rob Pizzola). He gets a run-funnel Seattle defense that hasn’t allowed a 100-yard receiver since Week 1 but is yielding the third-most fantasy points and the most yards per target to running backs this season (and just lost leading tackler Jordyn Brooks to a torn ACL last week).
Akers can be used in DFS even with L.A. having nothing to play for this week.
Star to fade
Tyreek Hill ($30) vs. New York Jets
Hill doesn’t have playing-time concerns like others such as Saquon Barkley ($30) with Miami in a must-win game, but the star wideout will be dealing with Skylar Thompson as his quarterback and a tough Jets secondary that limited him to a 7-7-47-0 line when the teams met earlier this year. New York is allowing just 5.9 YPA, the second-fewest TD passes and the second-fewest fantasy points to wide receivers this season, making Hill a shaky DFS play this week.
Brock Purdy ($30) vs. Arizona Cardinals
Purdy has remarkably thrown multiple touchdowns in all five of his appearances since replacing Jimmy Garoppolo despite playing through a torn oblique and fractured ribs (limiting his practice). He's even throwing no-look passes like he’s Patrick Mahomes. The 49ers have one of the highest implied team totals this week with the No. 1 seed (and more likely the No. 2) still attainable, and Christian McCaffrey may be limited after spraining his ankle last week (and in a game S.F. is a 14-point favorite). If CMC sits, Jordan Mason ($13) would become a DFS sleeper in this matchup, although there’s also a chance Elijah Mitchell ($14) returns as well (and the later start time does fantasy managers no favors).
Either way, expect another nice game from Purdy, who’s been a top-15 fantasy QB during all four weeks in which he’s started.
Garrett Wilson ($22) @ Miami Dolphins
Wilson was a DFS bust last week but had to deal with a Seattle secondary that hasn’t allowed a 100-yard receiver since Week 1. He was the No. 3 PPR fantasy WR with Mike White this season before last week’s dud, and hopefully, White’s ribs are healthier Sunday. The Jets get a funnel Dolphins defense that ranks 25th vs. the pass and sixth against the run in DVOA. Opponents also have the second-highest pass rate when facing Miami this season, so Wilson should finish his impressive rookie season with a big performance.
Trey McBride ($12) vs. San Francisco 49ers
McBride saw season highs in targets, catches, yards and scored the first touchdown of his career with David Blough starting last week. The rookie impressed, and while San Francisco hasn’t been gashed by tight ends, opponents have the highest pass rate in Levi’s Stadium this season. DeAndre Hopkins remains out, so McBride should be a big part of an Arizona offense that likely won’t be able to run with any success either. Few tight ends can be projected for more targets this week than McBride, who’s also the near DFS minimum.