Daily Fantasy Football Primer: Pay up for King Henry in Week 16

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

Derrick Henry ($39) vs. Houston Texans

Henry struggled through a stretch of tough run defenses but has bounced back while getting 5.9 YPC over the last two games. He’s already set career-highs as a receiver this season and will see even more work in the passing game with Dontrell Hilliard on IR.

Whether it’s a hobbled Ryan Tannehill or (more likely) rookie Malik Willis starting at QB, Henry will see a heavy workload this week in a highly favorable matchup. The Texans have ceded the most fantasy points to running backs and the second-most rushing touchdowns (19) this season. Henry has averaged 223 rushing yards with nine touchdowns over his last four games versus Houston, including a huge performance with Willis starting earlier this season.

Henry has put up far better fantasy production during Tennessee wins, and the Titans are five-point favorites this week. He’s a strong (albeit popular) DFS building block.

Patrick Mahomes ($37) vs. Seattle Seahawks

The temperature is projected to feel like -8 degrees at kickoff, but Kansas City has by far the highest implied team total (29.0 points) this week anyway. Mahomes completed 88 percent (!) of his passes and put up top-three QB stats against a Texans defense allowing the fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks last week. He now gets to return home for the first time in December this season.

Patrick Mahomes #15 of the Kansas City Chiefs is a fantasy superstar
Patrick Mahomes' daily fantasy salary is well worth it. (Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images)

Jalen Hurts is injured, and while Josh Allen is also an option with the same salary, he’ll be dealing with possibly 20 mph wind to go along with even colder temperatures. Kansas City’s receivers are getting healthier, and no team throws more inside the 10-yard line. This looks like a good week to pay up for football’s best player in DFS.

Dalvin Cook ($28) vs. New York Giants

Cook has been a fantasy disappointment this season, but he’s dominated usage in Minnesota’s backfield. He was coming off an incredibly tough six-game stretch (@Was, @Buf, Dal, NE, NYJ, @DET) against stingy run defenses before last week, when Cook finished as fantasy’s No. 2 RB. He now gets a Giants run defense allowing an NFL-high 5.4 YPC and 146.6 yards from scrimmage/game to RBs this year. Cook has averaged 108.4 YFS with six touchdowns at home this season. In a week filled with low over/unders and matchups dealing with poor weather, Cook plays indoors on a Vikings offense with one of the highest totals on the slate.

Stars to fade

Joe Burrow ($35) @ New England Patriots

Burrow would be an easy top-five pick if starting an NFL franchise, but his YPA has dropped from 8.6 at home to 7.0 on the road during his career, and he gets a tough matchup in New England this week. The Patriots defense has allowed the fewest yards per play (4.5) at home this season and ranks top-three in pressure rate and sacks recorded (48). New England has given up a couple of big fantasy performances from rushing quarterbacks this year, but the Pats have shut down pocket passers.

Game script could also pose a problem, as Burrow may not need to throw much in a matchup featuring a struggling Mac Jones against a surging Bengals defense. Pay $2 more for Patrick Mahomes' salary instead.

All New Orleans Saints @ Cleveland Browns

Nick Chubb ($28) can be used if his foot injury checks out (and Kareem Hunt's $15 salary becomes an option if Chubb sits), but everyone else in this game should be avoided. This matchup has a historically low 31.5-point total thanks to weather that could include wind gusts more than 40 mph. Amari Cooper ($22) is also dealing with a hip injury and seeing fewer targets from Deshaun Watson ($24), who’s struggled mightily since returning. Chris Olave ($19) was someone to avoid in DFS even in favorable weather conditions dealing with a hamstring injury, while David Johnson ran more routes than Alvin Kamara ($23) last week.

Undervalued options

DK Metcalf ($26) @ Kansas City Chiefs

Metcalf isn’t a huge bargain, but he’s undervalued with a salary outside the top-five WRs despite Tyler Lockett being out. Metcalf is looking at a ton of targets with Lockett removed from a highly condensed offense and facing a Kansas City defense with the fourth-highest pass rate against this season (opponents are averaging more than 36 pass attempts per game).

The Chiefs have also allowed the fifth-most fantasy points to wide receivers and a whopping 30 passing touchdowns — five more than the team ceding the next most. Both teams are top-10 in Pace (neutral situations), so Metcalf looks like a strong comeback option in DFS this week.

Jerick McKinnon ($22) vs. Seattle Seahawks

McKinnon has remarkably been the top-scoring fantasy RB in back-to-back weeks while Isiah Pacheco has also averaged 16 opportunities over that span. McKinnon has quietly been dominating red-zone snaps as well as the high-value touches in a Kansas City offense averaging the most yards per play, EPA/play and points per game this season.

McKinnon’s recent fantasy production is obviously unsustainable, but it feels less painful paying for recent stats when his salary remains so affordable (still not priced as a top-12 RB). “Jet” is getting the second-most yards per touch and has run the seventh-most routes among running backs this year, and he’ll continue to benefit from a potent KC offense that has easily the highest implied point total this week. McKinnon gets a fading Seattle team that’s allowed the second-most rushing touchdowns and fantasy points to running backs, so he’s undervalued with Clyde Edwards-Helaire out.

George Kittle ($14) vs. Washington Commanders

Washington has yielded the fewest fantasy points to tight ends this season but has also been far easier to pass against than run. Moreover, Kittle has a 21% target rate over the last two games with Joe Montana Brock Purdy starting, and that figures to remain with Deebo Samuel sidelined. Given Kittle’s upside when used and at an extremely weak tight end position, he’s awfully intriguing at $14 this week.

The 49ers have the No. 1 offense in DVOA since trading for Christian McCaffrey (and have been on par with the Eagles since playing in a monsoon in Week 1), and Purdy already provides SF’s offense more upside than with Jimmy G.

Bargain Bin

Gardner Minshew ($20) @ Dallas Cowboys

Especially with so much line movement (Dallas is now -5.5), it still seems likely that Jalen Hurts misses this game. It’s not the easiest matchup, but Minshew will benefit from one of the league’s best offensive lines, group of receivers (that includes the return of Dallas Goedert) and play caller. Minshew posted a 104.7 Passer Rating and got 7.4 YPA with a 4:1 TD:INT ratio over two starts last year, including a top-10 fantasy QB finish during a week he played on the road against the Jets. He’s the clear best option if you’re looking to punt salary at quarterback this week.

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