Exclamation Point! - Yahoo DFS: Week 15

A dive into some of the top cash and tournament picks for Yahoo DFS.

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 article will point out some solid plays at varying salary tiers per position to allow you plenty of flexibility in your lineup construction process. 

This is the time of year where we have to start becoming hyper-aware of weather conditions. As a note this week, keep in mind that there are four games with Vegas totals near or above 50 points while there are with totals below 44 points. Many of those projected low-scoring games are due to weather. Keep this in mind when building your rosters, and make sure to check weather Sunday morning.

 

QUARTERBACK


MATT RYAN - $40 (CASH)

Matt Ryan and the Falcons have one of the most potent offenses in the league, currently leading the NFL in both points and yards per game. On paper, this week will by nature shape up to be one the Falcons are looking forward to as the 49-ers defense just so happens to be ranked on the opposite end of the stat sheet, allowing the league’s most points and yards per game while ranking 31st overall using DVOA. Matt Ryan has played very well this season and should continue his success in this matchup, with the 49-ers having allowed 2nd most passing touchdowns and fifth most fantasy points to quarterbacks this season. The weather is not a concern with this game in the dome, and the Falcons have the highest expected team total by a wide margin of nearly five points. Ryan is the highest price option, but he still should be one of the most popular options due to his high floor in this matchup. While game flow could be a concern due to the 49-ers particular weakness against the run, Ryan should be a safe bet to hit cash game value with plenty of multi-touchdown upside to creep into GPP value territory.

kirk cousins - $37 (CASH / GPP)

Kirk Cousins has been one of the most reliable quarterback options in fantasy this season. With multiple touchdowns in eight consecutive games and a pair of 440+ yard outings sprinkled in that span, Cousins is a guy who can be counted on for very consistent production, especially when given a solid matchup. This week, he gets just that against a Panthers defense allowing the third most passing yards per game (272.4) and the seventh most fantasy points per game to quarterbacks. Cousins has come up huge with deep balls this season, completing half of his deep-passing attempts while recording the league’s most passing yards (1,092) on deep targets this season according to Pro Football Focus.  The Redskins have the second highest implied team total on the slate in this matchup that very well could be a shootout with both sub-par defenses in play. While Matt Ryan is a fine option to pay up for, Cousins offers a few dollars of salary relief for a slightly safer game script and ceiling due to the big play potential. As a result, Cousins will be an option to target in all formats.

Cam Newton - $32 (GPP)

Cam Newton has been a tough guy to trust this season, as we have seen him drop off in a big way from his 2015 success. This week however, Newton gets a solid matchup with the Redskins in prime time. The Redskins defense ranks 26th overall using DVOA and have allowed 300+ passing yards in four of their last five games. The Redskins are allowing one of the highest completion percentages (67%) in the league and have been demolished by the tight end position this season—both stats boding very well for Cam Newton to have a bounce back game using one of his most effective and reliable weapons in Greg Olsen. This game has one of the higher totals of the slate, yet many will be off Newton due to the Monday night game and sloppy, unpredictable performance this season. While both his floor and price are low, Newton’s upside is huge due to his rushing ability and solid matchup against a poor secondary, making Newton a great target for GPP’s—especially when stacked with Olsen (see below).

Alex Smith - $26 (CASH)

Alex Smith will roll into one of his most favorable matchups of the season as he faces off against the Titans’ 28th ranked defense using DVOA. Quarterbacks opposing the Titans defense have averaged 324 passing yards per game over the last eight games while five of them have scored at least 21.5 fantasy points across that span. As a result of these abysmal few weeks against quarterbacks, the Titans rank third in fantasy points allowed to the position. Smith is not a high ceiling guy as he rarely passes for more than one touchdown, but the Titans secondary can make even the worst of quarterbacks look pretty good here lately as they have allowed multiple passing touchdowns in 8 of their last 10 games. Don’t go overboard with it, but Smith should be a low owned, cheap option to provide some salary relief if you want to go risky on a few cash game rosters. For GPP’s, he simply doesn’t have the upside needed to make him a viable play even with this low salary.  

 

RUNNING BACK

 

David Johnson - $42 (CASH / GPP)

Despite a relative clunker last week from David Johnson (yes, per his standards, 121 total yards and no touchdowns is still a clunker), he comes into this week with the highest salary we have seen for any player all season. This steep price does not come unwarranted, as Johnson will be squaring off against the Saints 24th ranked defense allowing the second most touchdowns (17) and sixth most fantasy points per game to running backs. Johnson should be expected to torch the Saints both on the ground and through the air, especially considering the struggling Arizona pass attack that has now lost Michael Floyd. Many will be on Le'Veon Bell for #3 cheaper after his monster game last week, but Johnson has the clear better matchup with less competition for touches and just as much upside as Bell. While Bell is clearly roster-able, look to Johnson for the majority of your exposure in cash games to get a slight edge over the field.

Latavius Murray - $32 (CASH / GPP)

Latavius Murray has neither been highly touted now highly owned in daily fantasy this season, yet across the last seven weeks, he has quietly managed to rank as the fourth highest scoring running back in the league. Murray has been a touchdown machine, scoring in each of his last three games with nine touchdowns in his last eight games. While he only has two 100+ yard outings on the ground, Murray’s usage in the red zone (39 red zone looks) has helped him to score a touchdown on every 13.5 carries—the highest rate in the league among quarterbacks with at least 100 carries. San Diego has allowed the seventh most fantasy points to running backs with at least one touchdown given up to the position in all but two games this season. Murray has scored the 2nd most rushing touchdowns (12) in the league while the Chargers has allowed the 2nd most touchdowns to running backs. This is one to target, and this game should have plenty of scoring to go around with good weather and a high total. Murray should be under-owned this week, and while it may be tough to work him into cash games while fitting an elite option like Johnson or Bell, he will be an excellent option to consider in both cash and GPP formats.

CARLOS HYDE - $26 (GPP)

Carlos Hyde appears to be back in top form after a mid-season injury that kept him sidelined for a few games. Hyde has double-digit fantasy points in each of his last four outings, with a whopping 200 total yards and a touchdown last week against a tough Jets run defense. The matchup is much more favorable this week 28th ranked Falcons run defense allowing the third most fantasy points to running backs this season. The Falcons have allowed at least 15 fantasy points to opposing starting running backs in each of the last four weeks, with each back finding the end zone at least once. While game script may keep Hyde’s carries down since the 49-ers figure to be playing from behind as 14-point underdogs, that should not matter for Hyde’s usage since he has the ability to catch passes out of the backfield as well. Atlanta has been gashed by pass-catching backs, allowing the most receptions (97), yards (801), and receiving touchdowns (5) to running backs this season. This game should have a ton of points to go around, and Hyde has been the primary feature of the 49-ers offense lately, gaining over 50% of their total yards. The potential for game script limitation puts enough risk in play to keep Hyde off the table as a lock and load cash game play, however he has plenty of upside in this matchup to be considered a very attractive option for GPP’s.

Jerick McKinnon - $12 (Cash)

*UPDATE* As of Friday, reports indicate that Adrian Peterson will return Sunday against the Colts. The matchup is great as indicated below, and Peterson is minimum salary at $10. Let's keep an eye on news regarding what worklooad Peterson could expect, but this certainly puts a damper on McKinnon and shifts Peterson into this value spot. Given the uncertainty of his first game back and likely limited workload, both McKinnon and Peterson have become risky options.

Jerick McKinnon has a great matchup at home this week against the Colts 30th ranked rushing defense that has allowed the eight most fantasy points to running backs. While the Vikings rushing attack ranks dead last in the league with only 73.4 rushing yards per game, the matchup here does give them a slight boost while McKinnon has shown the ability to do damage through the air. In his last three games, McKinnon impressively hauled in 14 of 15 targets for 97 yards and a touchdown in addition to averaging just over 10 carriers per game during that span. While Matt Asiata will get the goal line carries, McKinnon does not even need a touchdown to hit cash game value at this $12 salary. His usage and matchup against the abysmal Colts defense combined with a favorable game script with the Vikings favored at home puts McKinnon in clear view for a cash game salary relief option.

 

WIDE RECEIVER


ANTONIO BROWN - $36 (GPP)

A significant amount of people are going to be scared off of Antonio Brown in this game for several reasons. One is there is a narrative that the Steelers do not perform on the road, and while it is true that Ben Roethlisberger is better at home, but on the season, Antonio Brown has more yards, receptions and touchdowns on the road than at home. The second reason that people are going to avoid him is that over his last four games he has only gone over 100 yards once against the Bengals, but if you look at his last six games he has gone over 100 yards in three of those games and averaged 90.5 yards per game. The final reason people will not start him is because of his price, and there is no arguing that he is expensive, but he is the premiere option at the wide receiver slate.
Brown has been circling this game ever since week two when he had a poor performance against the Bengals as he is looking for revenge for the Vontaze Burfict hit that knocked him out of the playoffs game last season. Brown has continued to bring it up even this week so you know that he is looking for revenge in this game. Brown will not match up against just one corner in this game as he will likely see all of them as the Steelers will look to move him around this offense. The primary reason that Brown is only a GPP play in this game is that his cost is so prohibitive on Yahoo in a tight salary cap where you typically can only spend up on a small number of players and starting Brown would mean you would have a difficult time spending up on Le'Veon Bell and or David Johnson.

MICHAEL CRABTREE - $24 (CASH / GPP)

Michael Crabtree has been the Chargers number one receiver in terms of yards and targets over most of the second half of the season. In their first meeting between the two teams, Casey Hayward lined up against Michael Crabtree for the majority of the day, but it is looking like Hayward will draw Amari Cooper in this game. With Craig Mager’s injury for the Chargers, it appears that rookie Trevor Williams will be lined up against Michael Crabtree.  Williams (who was an undrafted rookie) has really struggled defensively this year, making this a positive matchup for Crabtree to have a terrific day.  The Chargers on the season have allowed the seventh most passing yards per game at 261.4 yards. There is some risk here as if Hayward lines up against Amari Cooper, it could be Cooper that will have a big game. However Crabtree has seen 31 targets over his last three games and should be a very solid target to roster in all formats.

DEMARYIUS THOMAS - $23 (GPP / CASH) 

Demaryius Thomas has been an absolute target machine over the course of the past eight games as he has seen 10+ targets in every game except one where he only had eight targets. The Broncos are at home where they take on a Patriots team that is in the middle of the pack in terms of passing yards allowed (15th), However, the big reason behind the Patriots’ perceived success against the pass is that they have faced Landry Jones, Cody Kessler/Charlie Whitehurst, Brock Osweiler, Ryan Fitzpatrick, and Jared Goff. Needless to say, they have faced some poor quarterbacks that Trevor Siemian is much better than. Siemian has thrown for 300+ in each of his last two games against Kansas City and Tennessee. With the Broncos running out Justin Forsett as their starting running back, expect them to be forced to throw the ball a significant amount of times in this game which means that those targets will be going to Thomas as the primary receiver. Thomas will likely see a lot of Logan Ryan, and while on the season Ryan has been good defensively, the Patriots have not faced a wide receiver of Thomas’ caliber in seven weeks in which they allowed 108 yards to Antonio Brown and 88 yards to A.J. Green the week prior. This is a situation where Thomas is a great cash game play as he is underpriced for the opportunity and targets that he will receive, and if he scores a touchdown, he has tremendous GPP upside.

J.J. NELSON - $14 (GPP)

J.J. Nelson will benefit the most from Michael Floyd being cut after a DUI arrest earlier this week. John Brown continues to be limited with complications due to the sickle cell trait, meaning this is Nelson’s chance to shine as he should receive a significant increase in his snap count. This game is projected to be the second-highest scoring game of the week, and for the Cardinals to move the ball, they will have to throw. The Saints run defense has been much better since the beginning of the season, as they have not allowed a running back to go over 77 yards rushing since Week 3. Nelson is a GPP play only, however, as there is significant risk in this game due to Nelson being a boom/bust big play threat in this offense.

TY MONTGOMERY - $14 (CASH / GPP)

All the talk this week out of Green Bay is that they need to increase Ty Montgomery’s workload and that they want to try to get him the ball twenty times. The good news for Montgomery is that the weather lends itself to a short/intermediate passing game along with a run-based game plan as it will be sub-zero temperatures and potentially windy. James Starks suffered a concussion in a car accident this week and is quickly becoming phased out of this offense as he only saw seven snaps this past week while Montgomery saw 30, his highest count since Week 9. For a player who is averaging 5.2 yards per carry rushing the ball, Montgomery makes for a terrific play as he should easily exceed value if he does see close to 20 touches as expected.

 

TIGHT END

 

Greg Olsen - $19 (CASH / GPP)

Greg Olsen has really struggled to put up consistent fantasy-worthy numbers this season, with only two double-digit outings in his last seven games. While his role is not nearly as huge as it was last season, Olsen is still very involved in this Panthers offense as he remains the top target while leading the team in receptions (65) and yards (907). Olsen had twice as many touchdowns in 2015 as he does at this point in the season, while his yardage and receptions are almost exactly identical through Week 13. It is those lack of touchdowns and an overall lackluster past few weeks that now has Olsen priced down to fifth among tight ends. Washington is a great opponent for Olsen to bounce back against, as they are allowing the fourth most fantasy points per game to opposing tight ends while allowing at least 15 fantasy points to a tight end in four of their last six games. There should be touchdowns to go around in this game with a 51-point total, making Olsen a solid candidate for GPP upside with a good floor for consideration everywhere.

Jermaine Gresham - $11 (CASH)

Jermaine Gresham has been a very consistent contributor over the last three weeks for Arizona, amassing 23 targets across that span with five receptions in each game 35, 52, and 45 yards in each game. The Cardinals are down an option in the passing attack without Michael Floyd, and while David Johnson will certainly get his workload, it will not take much for Gresham to pay off this near-minimum salary. With his recent target share in this offense, a stat line close to four receptions and 50 yards would be just fine for cash game usage in this spot. While both Greg Olsen and Travis Kelce are fine options to pay up for, look to Gresham near the bottom of the barrel if paying up at other positions such as quarterback and running back.

 

DEFENSE


Buffalo Bills - $19 (CASH / GPP)

The Buffalo Bills will square off against Cleveland in a game sporting one of the lower point totals of the week. This continues the trend of plugging in defenses against Cleveland, as so far this season, opposing defenses have averaged almost 11 fantasy points per game, while the last four have averaged 17 points per game. The Bills expect to face Robert Griffin III III, who attempted only 43% of his passes last week while throwing one interception. The Bills defense rank tied for fifth in sacks (33) while Cleveland is allowing an average of 3.7 sacks per game—the highest rate in the league. This home matchup in unfavorable weather conditions poses a solid spot for the Bills defense to achieve value in all formats.

Houston Texans - $16 (CASH)

It is really saying something to have a game this week with a sub-40 point Vegas total when it is one of the three games being played in a dome. These two teams have been far less than stellar offensively this season, with both quarterbacks having played terribly. Blake Bortles has been one of the league’s most consistently terrible quarterbacks, as shown by his 19 total turnovers and team’s 2-11 record. The Jaguars are allowing the league’s fourth most points to opposing defenses, and they have one of the lowest team implied totals of the slate. This is a value salary given the matchup, and the Houston defense has the upside required for consideration in GPP’s and cash games alike. 


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