Yahoo Daily Fantasy Football Primer: Week 8
Welcome to the weekly Yahoo NFL DFS Primer! This will be a weekly piece where I analyze high-dollar and value plays at each position across Yahoo’s NFL main slate. The focus will be on both tournament and cash game options as we try to unlock slate-breaking upside in Yahoo's unique DFS game.
Baker Mayfield ($28) vs. Derek Carr ($28) - In what is one of the best game environments on the slate for a potential shootout, Mayfield and Carr simply have salaries too low for the offensive fireworks that might appear. These two both come in at $28 and are tied for the 12th-highest salaries on the Yahoo main slate.
Both quarterbacks certainly have had their share of flaws in 2020, but they also have been running white-hot of late.
Carr has four straight games with at least two passing touchdowns and has chipped in 12.5 rushing yards per game just for good measure. What's more impressive is these strong games have come against the New England Patriots, Kansas City Chiefs, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, all top-10 overall defenses by numberFire's Net Expected Points (NEP) metric.
Mayfield, after a middling start to the season, has only one game in his last four with fewer than 15 fantasy points, including a 30.8-point eruption against the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday. After Baker struggled with accuracy his first four games (when he never had more than 21 completions and 219 passing yards), some kind of switch flipped on for him after Odell Beckham went down last week as he started lighting up the defense at all levels of the field.
After struggling with early miscues and the interception that led to Beckham's injury, Mayfield began spreading the ball around to his pass-catchers, including five touchdown completions that ranged from one yard to 28 yards downfield.
With a game total that is approaching 52 points and a spread that is within three points at most sportsbooks, this looks like the sneaky game stack of the week and is a pivot off of a likely more chalky Green Bay-Minnesota contest that will have all the eyeballs.
Derrick Henry ($38) - I saw a great tweet this week that is in no way predictive but fits the abominable snowman narrative we all know surrounds Henry this time of year.
Winter is coming.
Derrick Henry career yards per carry by month:
— Ian Hartitz (@Ihartitz) October 26, 2020
Henry does have the earned reputation as someone who gets stronger as the season gets longer, and his usage is certainly not showing any signs of slowing down. Even in a "down" week like he had in Week 7, Henry gathered 22 touches and 14.2 fantasy points against the Pittsburgh Steelers, the consensus top rush defense in the league.
King Henry should see much easier running lanes this week against the Bengals, a team that has allowed the fourth most rushing yards on the season and ranks bottom 12 in the league in Adjusted Defensive Rushing NEP per carry.
Henry tops our projections as the best running back play this week, more than a point and a half more than runner-up Alvin Kamara. At a salary $2 cheaper than Kamara's and in a game where his team is a 6.0-point favorite in most places, Henry ranks as a slam-dunk play.
La'Mical Perine ($12) - There is certainly nothing sexy about anything associated with Perine -- team total, team context, team motivation, team talent and so on -- but I ran across an interesting fact in research this week that draws me here at this low salary.
Near the midway point of the season right now, the Kansas City Chiefs rank dead last in the NFL in Adjusted Defensive Rushing NEP per carry (0.20). This essentially means each time their opponent rushes the ball, the average result is one-fifth of an expected point.
The Chiefs have allowed the third most rushing yards to running backs this season as well as the 10th most receiving yards to opposing backs, adding up to a shade fewer than 20 fantasy points per game allowed to the position. That number is actually held down by a stingy four rushing touchdowns allowed, but it's clear that backfields are finding room to run against the Chiefs.
Since Adam Gase continues to establish the run even when down multiple scores, Perine could be in for a heavy workload despite the New York Jets being a three-touchdown underdog.
Justin Jefferson ($22) - DFS managers are hoping and praying for an offensive display between the Minnesota Vikings and Green Bay Packers similar to the one we saw in Week 1, when these two teams first met (a 43-34 Packers victory). Since that time, Jefferson has seen a full-on breakout and should be much more involved in this game, which carries a strong 53.5-point total.
Leading up to this game, a pretty big spotlight has been pointed at Packers cornerback Jaire Alexander and how he is shutting down opposing wide receivers this season.
Jaire Alexander: PFF's highest-graded CB through Week 7 pic.twitter.com/Oy1x3E35RA
— PFF (@PFF) October 28, 2020
That doesn't bode well for Adam Thielen, who has moved from the slot to the outside and is pegged to be covered primarily by Alexander this week. Jefferson should be the beneficiary on the other side as he lines up against Josh Jackson, Pro Football Focus' 56th-ranked cornerback.
Since drawing only six total targets across Weeks 1 and 2, Jefferson has averaged almost eight targets per game, ramping up to a 32% target share and 42% air yards share in Week 7. At a sharp discount from Thielen ($28), Jefferson is a strong pivot in an elite game environment.
Jarvis Landry ($17) - With the news that Odell Beckham is done for the year, other players are going to have to step in and fill the target share void left by OBJ. Landry seems to be the most likely piece to step up his game, even though he has disappointed through the team's first seven contests.
In 2020, Landry's box scores show six games with no more than six targets. Compare that to his 2018 and 2019 seasons, when he only had seven total games with six or fewer targets. Landry's normal high volume of targets have not materialized thus far, but that could change this week (assuming he is healthy).
If we want a piece of Mayfield against the atrocious Las Vegas Raiders' pass defense, we can also turn our attention to one of the Browns' pass catchers, and Landry fits the bill at his low salary. The Raiders have been torched for 654 yards and six touchdowns by opposing wide receivers in just their last three games.
Look for Landry to add to those earth-scorching numbers in Week 8.
Richard Rodgers ($11) - Zach Ertz? On IR and turned to dust. Dallas Goedert? On IR. Philadelphia Eagles wide receivers? Travis Fulgham and a bunch of shrug emojis. Forced into action in Week 7, Rodgers responded with eight targets, six catches, and 85 receiving yards against a New York Giants team that allows only 5.8 fantasy points per game to the tight end position.
This week, Rodgers lines up against the Dallas Cowboys, who you may have heard have a #notgood defense. The 'Boys have allowed a touchdown to the position in four of their last six games as well as at least eight fantasy points to tight ends in five of their last six.