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Week 16 DFS: Cooper Kupp's historic pace worth paying up for

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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 ($41) @ Minnesota Vikings

Even in Yahoo’s 0.5 PPR scoring and with a salary that’s 22% higher than the No. 2 wide receiver, Kupp is hard to pass in DFS, especially in a slate missing Jonathan Taylor and Davante Adams. After another monster game Tuesday night, Kupp has the most fantasy points by a WR over the first 14 games ever and is on pace to finish the season with 147 catches, 1,973 yards and 17 touchdowns, which is still decent even after accounting for the additional game. This week he gets a Vikings defense allowing the most fantasy points to receivers this season in a game indoors with the slate’s highest total (49.5 points).

Justin Jefferson ($32) vs. Los Angeles Rams

Jefferson finished first in WOPR last week yet produced a relatively quiet game thanks to Kirk Cousins throwing for a career-low 87 yards. Even if Adam Thielen returns this week, he’ll likely be less than 100% just a few weeks removed from a high-ankle sprain, and most importantly, Sunday’s matchup with the Rams should force the Vikings to pass more than usual. Jefferson is coming off his second-lowest yardage output of the season despite leading the league in opportunity, so expect a big game.

DETROIT, MICHIGAN - DECEMBER 05: Justin Jefferson #18 of the Minnesota Vikings reacts after catching the ball for a first down during the third quarter against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field on December 05, 2021 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Justin Jefferson in in position for a bounce-back performance against the Rams. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

Cordarrelle Patterson ($27) vs. Detroit Lions

Patterson continued his newest role as a more traditional back last week (when he led the league in red-zone snaps and touches), but a tough matchup against San Francisco resulted in an ugly box score. Expect C-Patt to bounce back this week at home, where he’s averaged 5.2 YPC this season, and against a Lions defense allowing the third-most fantasy points to running backs. Atlanta should also be in a more favorable game script than usual, so Patterson should be treated as a top-five fantasy back this week.

James Robinson ($26) @ New York Jets

Robinson was treated as a true feature back last week with Urban Meyer gone and Carlos Hyde inactive (who’s since gone on IR). He ranks behind only Jonathan Taylor in rush yards over expectation on the season, and this week Robinson gets the most favorable matchup possible facing a Jets defense allowing by far the most fantasy points to running backs. Even while playing on a bad Jacksonville offense, Robinson is a top-five fantasy back this week.

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Stars to fade

Josh Allen ($37) @ New England Patriots

Conditions can’t possibly be worse than the last time these teams met, but Allen still faces a Patriots defense that’s moved into first in DVOA and has allowed the second-fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks this season. The Bills have a lowish implied team total (21 points), and Allen ran less than usual last week while playing through his sprained foot. Allen won’t have a bad game Sunday, but there are better ways to spend in DFS this weekend.

Undervalued options

Justin Fields ($23) @ Seattle Seahawks

Fields has now been a top-10 fantasy QB in each of his last four full starts, with his rushing the usual cheat code. He also finished with a strong 5.9 CPOE last week while attempting a career-high 39 passes, so he’s clearly improving in other areas too. This week the Bears get a Seattle team that just played Tuesday and is allowing only 3.8 YPC yet ranks bottom-five in pass defense DVOA; an ideal setup for passing. I have Fields ranked as a top-10 QB this week — his salary is barely top-20.

And if you’re looking to stack, Cole Kmet ($14) has averaged eight targets over the last month (and ranked eighth in WOPR among TEs last week) and gets a Seahawks defense that’s easily been the most favorable for tight ends when adjusting for opponents/schedule.

Ronald Jones ($18) @ Carolina Panthers

Over the four games Leonard Fournette missed last season, Jones averaged 23 touches and 115 scrimmage yards while scoring three touchdowns, so he’s suddenly an elite fantasy option. Bruce Arians said it’s Jones’ job now, so even while losing passing down work, he has a bunch of upside in a Tom Brady offense with banged-up receivers. The Bucs are double-digit favorites against a run-funnel Panthers defense, so Jones is primed to smash this week. What could possibly go wrong?

Tee Higgins ($22) vs. Baltimore Ravens

The Bengals frustratingly have a below average neutral pass rate over five games since their bye, but hopefully that changes Sunday while facing an extreme pass-funnel Ravens defense (and with Joe Mixon battling a sprained ankle). Baltimore has been the stingiest defense against fantasy backs when schedule adjusted, but the team’s secondary has been ravaged by injuries.

Moreover, Higgins has averaged 89.0 yards at home (compared to 50.2 on the road) while scoring three of his four touchdowns this season. He also averaged 122.0 yards (with two TDs) over a three-game stretch before last week’s dud that somehow saw Joe Burrow attempt just 22 passes (in a game that totaled only 25 points). Higgins has mostly matched Ja’Marr Chase’s production when on the field together, but the rookie’s DFS salary ($28) is the WR4 while Higgins’ is outside the top-15 WRs.

[Week 16 Fantasy Rankings: QBs | RBs | WRs | TEs | FLEX | DST | Kickers]

Bargain Bin

Kenny Golladay ($11) @ Philadelphia Eagles

Golladay has been a huge fantasy bust all year, but he’s an intriguing near minimum DFS option this week. With Sterling Shepard going on IR, he’s looking at increased targets, hopefully coming from Jake Fromm, who appears to be a major upgrade over Mike Glennon. Golladay did most of his damage in the second half last week after Fromm came in, finishing top-12 in air yards. Especially if Kadarius Toney is forced to sit again, Golladay is a DFS punt option this week.

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