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
Cooper Kupp ($40) vs. Dallas Cowboys
Kupp was held out of the end zone for the first game all season but saw a whopping 19 targets Monday night. He’s separating himself as fantasy’s safest player, somehow seeing a significant increase in target and air yardage share this season compared to his amazing 2021.
The Cowboys aren’t a particularly favorable matchup, but no player is put in better situations/mismatches than Kupp and the Rams are at home with a healthy implied team total (24 points).
Tom Brady ($28) vs. Atlanta Falcons
Brady matched his previous season total with three TD passes last week with his receivers finally close to full strength, and he figures to be plenty motivated Sunday coming off back-to-back home losses. With a depleted offensive line, Tampa Bay has struggled badly when trying to run (fourth-worst EPA/rush), and Brady’s at home facing a Falcons defense that ranks third-worst in pressure rate and has allowed the 10th-most fantasy points to quarterbacks.
With no Lamar Jackson or Patrick Mahomes on the slate and with Josh Allen possibly not having to do as much as usual with Buffalo favored by two touchdowns, Brady is an intriguing DFS option this week.
Rhamondre Stevenson ($22) vs. Detroit Lions
Stevenson impresses both in the underlying stats as well as the eye test, and while he remains in a timeshare with Damien Harris, he’s averaged 17 touches with 10 targets over the last two games. New England will be favored at home no matter who starts at quarterback this week in a highly favorable matchup against a Lions defense that’s been gashed for a league-worst 5.6 YPC and an NFL-high 10 rushing scores.
Detroit has given up more rushing touchdowns this season than the Commanders, Cowboys, Titans, Bengals, Giants, Chiefs and Patriots combined.
The Lions have also ceded the second-most fantasy points to running backs while becoming the ideal fantasy opponent, as Detroit is somehow both allowing (35.3) and scoring (35.0) the most points in football. Keep in mind, however: Stevenson is going to be an extremely popular DFS pick this week.
Star to fade
Christian McCaffrey ($37) vs. San Francisco 49ers
McCaffrey is playing through a thigh injury, scored half his fantasy stats last week during Carolina’s final drive in garbage time and now gets the worst matchup possible. The 49ers defense ranks first in DVOA while allowing the fewest points per game (11.5), YPC (2.9) and yards per play (3.8) in the NFL. In fact, San Francisco is allowing a half-yard less per play than the 1985 Bears and 2000 Ravens.
The 49ers have also yielded the second-fewest fantasy points to running backs, and McCaffrey has to deal with easily the worst quarterback play in the league while on a Panthers team on pace to run the fewest number of plays over the past 20 years. Carolina is also the only team yet to total 300 yards in a game this season and has the lowest implied team total (16.5 points) this week. It'll be tough to justify paying up for CMC and his second-highest salary among RBs.
Zach Wilson ($23) vs. Miami Dolphins
Wilson balled out in the fourth quarter last week during his season debut, and he now gets a pass-funnel Dolphins defense allowing the third-most fantasy points to quarterbacks. Miami’s defense actually ranks bottom-three in EPA/pass (0.26) yet top-five in EPA/rush (-0.23), so it doesn’t get much more funnel than that.
Moreover, the Dolphins have yielded the second-most YPA (7.8) with an 8:1 TD:INT ratio and possess the second-lowest pressure rate in football. Wilson remains a major work in progress, but he has sneaky rushing upside and is loaded with weapons in Garrett Wilson, Elijah Moore, Corey Davis and Breece Hall (Dolphins corner Xavien Howard is questionable too).
Breece Hall ($18) vs. Miami Dolphins
As illustrated above, Miami is a better matchup for passing than running, but Hall is still undervalued with a salary outside the top-20 RBs (I suggested trying to trade Najee Harris for Hall straight up during Week 4's Fantasy Wrap).
Hall saw the second-most carries/targets in the red zone among all RBs last week, as he continues to take over as New York’s lead back. While the rookie is among the league leaders in explosive rush rate, Michael Carter is toward the bottom. Crucially, Hall saw six targets during his first game with Wilson at quarterback last week, and the rookie running back somehow leads all pass catchers in the NFL in targets per route run rate. And he’s on a Jets team that’s averaged the second-most combined plays this season.
Hall’s DFS salary doesn’t reflect the explosion that’s about to happen.
Khalil Shakir ($10) vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
Jamison Crowder is out with a fractured ankle, and Isaiah McKenzie left last week’s game with a concussion, so Shakir could suddenly be Buffalo’s starting slot receiver. With Gabe Davis among the lowest receivers in football in target rate while hobbling through an ankle injury and Jake Kumerow dealing with a high-ankle sprain himself, Shakir could be looking at a healthy number of targets in a pass-happy Bills offense.
The rookie is a good athlete and faces a Steelers defense allowing the sixth-most fantasy points to wide receivers, struggling against the slot. Shakir is especially enticing at the DFS minimum, should McKenzie be forced to miss Week 5.