Welcome to the Exclamation Point!, an analysis of stand-out cash and GPP options for consideration on Yahoo Daily Fantasy Sports. Yahoo presents a variety of options to suit the fancy of any DFS player out there, and we are looking to arm you with the information needed to build winning lineups no matter what type of player you are. This week presents an interesting dynamic as the masses will be paying up for the chalk running back option while struggling to find value to offset that salary hit. There is not much of a lock value option this week, but there are definitely some cheaper guys to be considered—so let’s get right to it!
MARCUS MARIOTA - $33 (CASH / GPP)
Marcus Mariota has quietly become one of the league’s top fantasy quarterbacks this season, currently ranking 5th in overall fantasy points scored and 3rd over the past four weeks behind only Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers. While Mariota’s rushing ability has certainly helped him this season, he has also looked very solid as a passer with at least two passing touchdowns in seven of nine games played. Mariota draws a solid matchup this week against the depleted Green Bay secondary. Green Bay allowed Andrew Luck to have his way with them last week, and the Titans offense is clicking on all cylinders after putting up 35 points and Mariota’s season high 313 passing yards against the Chargers last week while scoring at least 26 points in five straight games for the first time in over a decade. This Vegas total opened up at 48 and is already up to 49.5 as of Thursday night with Green Bay only favored by a field goal, so there are points to be scored in this matchup that is stacking up to have plenty of shootout potential. With how Mariota has been playing lately, he should be playable in all formats as a good bet to outperform his mid-tier salary.
TREVOR SIEMIAN - $26 (CASH)
Trevor Siemian is in play here purely because of his cheap salary and premium matchup in the Superdome against the Saints. Siemian has not been spectacular this season with only two games passing for more than one touchdown and only one game above 300 passing yards, but he is in a matchup against the league’s most pass friendly secondary allowing 300 passing yards per game and 8.3 yards per attempt with over 50% of completions against them going for 10 or more yards. Siemian has solid weapons to throw to and has a questionable situation at running back in a matchup with a solid offense that can put up points. He will not need much to achieve value here, and any quarterback in the Superdome automatically gets a boost to his ceiling. With the lack of a clear-cut cheap option at skilled position this week for cash games, Siemian actually can be considered as a salary-saver at quarterback that allows you to load up elsewhere. His lack of a ceiling removes him from strong GPP consideration though.
AARON RODGERS - $39 (CASH / GPP)
Aaron Rodgers should be one of the safest options at quarterback this week in a matchup that bodes well for quarterbacks on both teams. Rodgers has been playing very well in the past four weeks, ranking 2nd overall in fantasy output at his position with 11 passing touchdowns and 117 rushing yards during that span. Quarterbacks have been finding easy fantasy success against the Titans and their 27th ranked DVOA pass defense this season. The Titans defense has allowed quarterbacks to throw for multiple touchdowns in each of the last four games with three 330+ passing yard performances across that span. While it is looking likely that the Packers will get James Starks back, expect for them to continue a pass-heavy approach in a game that has the makings of a shootout. Rodgers is safe to pay up for in all formats.
JAY CUTLER - $30 (GPP / CASH)
While Jay Cutler has historically been tough to trust, he comes into this week with a solid matchup against a Buccaneers defense that is allowing 281 passing yards per game, including 847 passing yards and 8 passing touchdowns over their past two outings. The Buccaneers have allowed nearly 21% of completions against them to go for 20 or more yards while they have allowed the second most pass attempts per game. Cutler was quite productive in a tough matchup against Minnesota in their game before the bye last week, and as long as his rushing game is strong to keep the secondary open, he should again have a solid outing this week. Cutler may be risky for most in cash games this week, but he offers good salary relief so is certainly an option. A pairing with his top target in Alshon Jeffery could yield significant dividends in tournaments as the Buccaneers have allowed quite a few top-10 fantasy receivers this season.
DAVID JOHNSON - $41 (CASH / GPP)
This is a no-brainer—plan to plug David Johnson into your cash game lineups this week and build around him. The matchup with the 49-ers speaks for itself. Johnson has been one of the best backs in the league this season with the ability to stack up points in multiple ways. Even at this price, he still tops the Footballguys Interactive Value Chart in both Points and H-Value and should be one of the highest owned players in all formats, making Johnson a very attractive option for cash games. While his ownership levels would warrant consideration for a GPP fade based on game theory, only try that in limited lineups as David Johnson may have the highest ceiling of any player we have seen this season.
DARREN SPROLES - $18 (CASH)
Darren Sproles should be a pretty popular play this week at this discounted price point. Coach Doug Pederson has been quoted saying he wants quarterback Carson Wentz to throw less, which naturally will lead to more carries to spread around in the ground game. Darren Sproles has out-touched Ryan Matthews in each of their last two games while out-snapping him a whopping 123 to 16 over that span. Sproles is averaging nearly five yards per carry this season combined with heavy usage in the passing attack. His usage through the air bodes well for this matchup, as the Falcons are allowing the 2nd most receptions (71) and most receiving yards (530) to running backs this season. Look for Sproles to have a solid shot at hitting value as a great salary relief option opposite David Johnson in your cash lineups.
CHRIS IVORY - $14 (CASH / GPP)
While Chris Ivory is still being out-snapped by T.J. Yeldon, Ivory has clearly become the primary rusher in this offense as displayed last week when he rushed 18 times compared to Yeldon’s seven attempts. Ivory had four rushes of more than 10 yards, including an explosive 42-yard scamper that helped him cross the 100-yard rushing mark for the first time this season. Ivory is being used as the primary goal line back, meaning he could be in line for a few scoring opportunities against a Texans defense that has allowed eight rushing touchdowns on the season. With the Texans allowing the 6th most rushing yards per game this season, Ivory at this salary should be in a good spot to achieve value for cash games while he could easily exceed it should he find the end zone. It is definitely a risk, but to pay up for David Johnson this week, you will have to plug in some of these value options, and Ivory looks to be one of your best bets at that salary tier.
MARK INGRAM - $20 (GPP)
Mark Ingram II has had his question marks this season, but he dispelled many of those by putting up 30 fantasy points last week with over 10 yards per carry on 15 attempts. All of this production came despite Ingram being on the field for four fewer snaps and eight fewer carries than Tim Hightower. While the risk of a split is still there, Ingram made a strong case for taking back the lead role last week. The Saints are back at home, but they draw the tough Denver Broncos defense. While Denver has a solid defensive unit overall, the ground game has definitely been their weakness this season as they have allowed 4.4 yards per carry and the 4th most rushing yards per game (128.6) this season. The Raiders’ Latavius Murray torched Denver last week to the tune of 114 yards and 3 touchdowns on the ground, so Ingram should be coming into this game with much more confidence than a running back may have had last season against this defense. The risk of workload is certainly there, but the home matchup against a mediocre rush defense puts Ingram in play for tournament formats, especially at this middle tier salary.
DEMARYIUS THOMAS - $23 (CASH)
Demaryius Thomas will have a solid floor coming into this week’s matchup with the Saints. He has had very consistent usage lately with exactly 10 targets in each of his last four games and either five or six receptions in all but one game this season. His ceiling has not been high due primarily to the limitations of Trevor Siemian under center, but everyone gets a matchup boost in the Superdome against the Saints. Thomas is projecting out as the top H-Value option on the Footballguys Interactive Value Chart this week due to his mid-range salary in this solid matchup. Steer clear in tournaments, but feel free to plug in Thomas for your cash game rosters as he should be a solid candidate for decent production and a shot at a touchdown.
ANTONIO BROWN - $35 (CASH / GPP)
Antonio Brown will be a tough guy to roster even at this discounted salary for many people this week due to the need to pay up at running back, but he could pay huge dividends for those who can fit him in. Brown matches up against an injury-depleted Dallas defense in his first game back at home with Ben Roethlisberger under center. Despite a rough outing for the Steelers offense as a whole last week, Brown still managed to haul in seven catches for 85 yards and a touchdown, mostly in garbage time. It is widely known that the Steelers offense tends to play better at home, and Vegas tends to agree this week as they actually are nearly a field goal favorite over a 7-1 Cowboys team, leading the Steelers having around the 4th highest implied team total of the week. A roster composed of both David Johnson and Antonio Brown should be a fairly unique one for tournament lineups, yet Brown is a guy you can roster with confidence in all formats as he should be expected to feast this week.
TYREEK HILL - $17 (GPP)
Tyreek Hill has a unique opportunity this week with lead wide receiver Jeremy Maclin likely to be sidelined. There are a number of guys in play to step up and fill this vacancy (i.e. Albert Wilson, Chris Conley), yet neither have near as many touchdowns as that of Tyreek Hill’s team leading four scores. Hill’s snap count has increased in each of his last three outings as he played on around 65% of snaps last week. In addition to his contribution on offense, Hill is a key weapon on special teams with the ability to bring a punt return to the house due to his impressive speed—widely regarded as one of the fastest players in the league. With the opportunity of Maclin’s absence combined with his special teams upside, Hill makes for a guy worth taking a shot at for tournament lineups.
ODELL BECKHAM JR - $32 (GPP)
Odell Beckham Jr Jr. has been wildly inconsistent this season, yet he has still managed to put up numbers to rank him within the top 10 in fantasy wide receiver scoring. Beckham has had a couple of very solid outings within the past three weeks, including a 222 yard 2-touchdown game against the Ravens along with another 2-touchdown game last week against the Eagles. The downside is that Beckham has been inconsistently utilized this season, making him prone to clunkers like three outings in which he failed to make it into double-digit fantasy points. Beckham will have tournament value this week primarily due to his expected matchups against a combination of Adam Jones and Dre Kirkpatrick—two of the worst performing cornerbacks this season according to Pro Football Focus. His ownership should be relatively low (as will many other high end WR’s this week), and he is priced a few dollars below other top tier guys with similar ceilings.
TYLER EIFERT - $20 (GPP / CASH)
Tyler Eifert made his mark for the first time this season in the Bengals’ last game as he put up massive numbers, hauling in nine receptions for 102 yards and a touchdown in his first game back at 100% health. The Bengals utilized him heavily with 12 targets as Eifert found himself open more often than not on routes down the middle of the field. Eifert not has had an extra week of rest off the bye, and he returns to a matchup against a Giants team allowing the most targets per game (9.5) to tight ends. With the Giants cornerbacks playing well this season, Eifert could be in a good spot to take advantage of open looks down the middle against the Giants linebackers. While it is risky to overreact to a one-game sample size this season, Eifert did look really good and has a matchup that bodes well for a heavily used tight end. He is playable in all formats, but weight usage moreso to GPP’s due to the risk of a cooldown.
TRAVIS KELCE - $22 (CASH)
Travis Kelce has been a productive option at the tight end position this season, ranking 4th overall in fantasy points at the position and leading his team in receptions and yards per game. Kelce gets a solid opportunity to step up his volume this week as the Chiefs are likely to be without lead wide receiver Jeremy Maclin. Kelce already led the team in most receiving categories and had been keeping pace on targets all season with Maclin. The Panthers have been lit up by tight ends this season, having allowed the 2nd most fantasy points per game to the position. They let Lance Kendricks go for seven receptions and 90 yards against them last week, while even backup Tyler Higbee managed to haul in a long pass for 31 yards. The Panthers secondary is definitely vulnerable, and Kelce should be the prime target to exploit them. While his salary is up there, he has a solid matchup among the top tier of tight ends, making Kelce a playable option to pay up for in your cash games. We would be hesitant using Kelce in tournaments just because of the limited ceiling of any pass-catching option in the Chiefs offense.
LANCE KENDRICKS - $11 (CASH / GPP)
Lance Kendricks has come on strong in the Rams’ last three outings, leading the team with 29 targets across that span while being thrown at a season high 12 times for 90 yards last week. The Jets secondary has been notably bad this season, and they are allowing the 10th most fantasy points per game to tight ends, including four double-digit fantasy point outings. The Rams offensive line has been playing horribly as of late, meaning the quick route to someone like Kendricks has and should continue to be popular. At close to the minimum salary, Kendricks is the guy to look at this week for salary relief at tight end.
CAROLINA PANTHERS - $16 (CASH)
The Panthers are noted this season for their atrocious pass defense, ranking 4th worst in yards per game and total fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks. However, the Panthers should not have much to worry about through the air this week as they face a Chiefs team that only passes for 242 yards per game despite facing only two opponents ranking in the top half of passing defenses this season, with three of their last four opponents ranking in the bottom five. The Panthers have climbed up to 4th ranked in sacks this season, fueled by stellar performances in their past three games averaging over four sacks per game—the highest mark in the league during that span. The Panthers come at a discounted price with a home matchup and a low Vegas point total. This is a great spot to plug them in with confidence for the first time all season.
ARIZONA CARDINALS - $20 (CASH / GPP)
The Cardinals should be a chalk play on defense at the top tier, as they have the best matchup on this slate against a San Francisco offense that has struggled to move the ball all season. The Cardinals are well rested off the bye in a home matchup as nearly two touchdown favorites. While San Francisco showed significant flashes of offense last week, they still allowed a historically bad Saints defense to rank T-7th on the week as a Team Defense. The 49-ers have fumbled more than any other team (16 times, lost nine) while they are T-3rd in most overall turnovers at 17. The Cardinals could get up big quickly in this game, forcing Colin Kaepernick to throw much more than he typically would be accustomed to which only ripens the pot for fantasy upside here. The Cardinals are pricy, but should be worth the salary in all formats.
JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS - $12 (GPP)
The Jaguars look to be your best bet for a value defense if paying down at the position this week. They come into a home matchup against the Texans with the third lowest Vegas point total of the week. Houston’s offense has looked anemic for most of this season, ranking 3rd worst in both points (17.6) and yards (313.3) per game. Texans quarterback Brock Osweiler ranks 29th at his position in fantasy output this season with a sub-60% completion percentage and T-4th in the league with nine interceptions. The Jaguars defense has been less than spectacular this season as they have forced a league-low 5 turnovers, but the matchup at home against the Texans combined with their near-minimum salary will put them in play for tournament formats as a boom or bust option.
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