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Whether you've played Daily Fantasy on Yahoo before or are giving it a try for the first time, this new 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
Jonathan Taylor ($41) @ Houston Texans
Taylor fell just three yards short of becoming the first player in NFL history to record 100+ yards from scrimmage with a touchdown in nine straight games, yet he still finished as fantasy’s RB8 this week. This came while “disappointing” in a tough matchup (and in a game that saw the Colts lose three fumbles and give up 38 points).
In other words, Taylor is a fantasy machine right now and he gets a run-funnel Texans defense in Week 13 that’s been surprisingly effective versus the pass but among the league leaders in fantasy points allowed to running backs. Taylor is easily fantasy’s No. 1 player right now, has scored nine touchdowns over five road games this season and is tough to fade in DFS.
Joe Mixon ($34) vs. Los Angeles Chargers
Mixon has totaled 12 touchdowns over his last eight games and has seen more targets over the last month than he had previously totaled over the first seven games of the year. This week he gets the NFL’s premier run-funnel defense, as the Chargers invite opponents to run while allowing 4.7 YPC. I typically hesitate paying for last week’s stats in DFS, but with the Bengals home favorites in a matchup tied for this week’s highest total (50.5 points), Mixon has a favorable setup for yet another big game Sunday.
Elijah Mitchell ($27) @ Seattle Seahawks
Highly questionable to even play after undergoing finger surgery, Mitchell suited up last week and finished with the second-most opportunities (33 carries/targets) in the league. He has just 15 fewer rushing yards this season than fellow rookie Najee Harris while playing in three fewer games. He's also averaging the third-most rushing yards per game among all backs this season. Mitchell is clearly San Francisco’s workhorse, and the team even designed some screens for him last week when he finished with a career-high six targets.
With Deebo Samuel out the next 1-2 weeks on an extremely run-heavy SF team, Mitchell can safely be projected for a ton of volume if health cooperates. The Seahawks have allowed the second-most fantasy points to running backs this year (and will have to deal with a short week playing Monday night), so Mitchell has a strong argument to be ranked as a top-three fantasy RB in Week 13.
Darrell Henderson* ($23) vs. Jacksonville Jaguars
The Jaguars have a solid run defense, yet they rank middle of the pack in fantasy points allowed to running backs thanks to volume (favorable game scripts for their opponents). This week the Rams enter losers of three straight and nearly two-touchdown home favorites, so Los Angeles could go off for a 50-burger. Henderson returned as LA’s clear feature back (his 80% carry share led all RBs in Week 12) after splitting work with Sony Michel before the team’s bye, and (health permitting) could be looking at even more work moving forward with Matthew Stafford dealing with multiple injuries. Henderson’s salary isn’t even priced as a top-10 back this week.
* If Henderson’s quad injury forces him to sit, Sony Michel ($13) would become a strong DFS pivot.
Stars to fade
Tom Brady ($42) @ Atlanta Falcons
Brady is sure to have a nice game indoors against a soft Atlanta defense that struggles to pressure the QB one week after watching his teammates run in four touchdowns, but his DFS salary is too high; he's priced in a tier by himself. Moreover, the Falcons offense is unlikely to force Brady into a ton of volume.
While maybe nothing, the GOAT has dramatic splits this season, throwing 20 TDs over five home games and just 10 TDs over six road games. Brady has also somehow failed to break 6.7 YPA in four of his last five games (7.1 YPA over his last six). Pay up for running backs on this DFS slate instead.
Alexander Mattison ($18) @ Detroit Lions
While he may cede some carries to Kene Nwangwu, Mattison is in line for a ton of work as Minnesota’s new feature back with Dalvin Cook sidelined. Mattison has averaged 162 yards from scrimmage over two starts this season, including an earlier season matchup against these Lions when he finished as fantasy’s RB6. Detroit has been shredded by fantasy backs all season, so Mattison is almost a DFS-must at this salary.
Brandon Aiyuk ($18) @ Seattle Seahawks
Aiyuk finished top-20 in WOPR last week and should see further increased volume with Deebo Samuel sidelined. Aiyuk has looked as he did as a rookie (impressive) over the last month since exiting Kyle Shanahan’s doghouse, and this week he gets a favorable matchup against a beatable Seahawks secondary. While the 49ers are without question run-heavy, they also field an extremely efficient offense, as Jimmy Garoppolo is getting 9.2 YPA over the last five games (against three top-10 pass defenses). Aiyuk saw the second-most targets inside the five-yard line as a rookie over just 12 games last season, so he has real nice fantasy upside with Samuel out.
Van Jefferson ($14) vs. Jacksonville Jaguars
Emerging from their bye with time to prepare for life without Robert Woods, Jefferson racked up nine targets and the second-most air yards in the NFL last week. Odell Beckham was also plenty busy, but Tyler Higbee has been phased out and no other receiver saw a single target. Moreover, Beckham was noticeably in back pain throughout last week’s game and is now dealing with a hip pointer, so it’s not hard to see Jefferson getting 10+ targets this week against a pass-funnel Jacksonville defense; his salary isn’t priced as a top-40 WR.
Gerald Everett ($11) vs. San Francisco 49ers
Russell Wilson and the Seattle offense look broken right now, but this is an intriguingly low salary at a thin tight end position thanks in part to the prices being released before Everett led Seattle in targets and scored Monday night. Everett has seen at least eight targets in two of the last three weeks and has taken over as Seattle’s full-time tight end. The Seahawks are unlikely to run with much success against the 49ers in Week 13, leading to a bunch of pass attempts.