Exclamation Point! - Yahoo DFS: Week 16

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. 

 

QUARTERBACK


Matt Ryan - $39 (CASH)

Matt Ryan has been a staple cash game quarterback this season, and this week is no different as he faces a Panthers defense that he absolutely torched to the tune of a season-high 36.5 fantasy points back in Week 4. The Falcons still have plenty to play for in this matchup as they are vying for a playoff spot, while the Panthers are in a similar spot needing to win to keep their playoff hopes alive. This game has one of the highest point totals on the board with a spread currently at less than a field goal in the Falcons’ favor, meaning the expectation is a highly competitive, high scoring affair. With Julio Jones coming back into the fold, Ryan’s upside only increases. Getting a piece of Matt Ryan in a matchup like this against a Panthers defense allowing the most passing yards per game (275) is very highly recommended.

Andrew Luck - 35 (CASH / GPP)

Andrew Luck has been playing very well down the stretch, with multiple passing touchdowns in each of his last three games since returning from a concussion. Luck has completed at least 75% of his passes in two of those three games with very consistent yardage totals during that span as well. As an added bonus, Luck has been using his legs quite often this season, rushing for 20 or more yards in 8 of 13 games this season with more than 50 yards rushing on two occasions. The Raiders defense has player better throughout the year, but they are still a bottom half unit ranking 21st against the pass using DVOA. One criticism of Luck this season has been the amount of sacks he has taken, as the Colts rank third in sacks allowed with 40—but the matchup here would suggest that the Colts offensive line should have an easier time keeping the Raiders away from luck as they have only amassed 25 sacks (T-27th) this season. This is another game that should be very competitive with a close spread / high point total, and with the Colts on the road as underdogs, expect for Luck to be throwing early and often to give him a very attractive fantasy floor for cash game consideration.

Ben Roethlisberger - $33 (GPP)

Ben Roethlisberger is one of the best quarterbacks you will find when playing at home. This week, he happens to draw one of the league’s best defenses in Baltimore. However, it is tough to count Roethlisberger out at home even in this tough matchup. Roethlisberger is averaging 26.4 fantasy points per game at home three games of 300+ yards and 3+ touchdowns. While the Ravens defense is solid, they are much more effective against the run than the pass. Keep reading, and you will see that the Steelers offense is high on the list this week. There is not a lot being said about them in the industry this week due to the off-slate game time for Sunday—that combined with the matchup will keep ownership for all Steelers much lower than it normally would be. While it is a risk, getting exposure to Roethlisberger at home is always a good idea, especially when stacking him with Antonio Brown. His salary is down, so the stack is very much in play while not sacrificing too many other roster spots.  

Robert Griffin III III - $22 (GPP)

If you are looking for a punt QB this week, Robert Griffin III III will be your guy. Griffin is near the minimum salary as one of the cheapest quarterbacks of the week, so he will not need a ton of production to come close to hitting value. Griffin’s upside will come from his rushing ability. Since taking over the starting job, Griffin has averaged 39 rushing yards per game and has scored a rushing touchdown in back to back games. He has been far from spectacular passing the football with less than 200 passing yards and no passing touchdowns in all three games, but if Griffin can stack up 50 rushing yards and a couple rushing touchdowns, that is the value you’d be looking for to pay off at this salary. The Chargers defense will be a tough test, but they have allowed three rushing touchdowns to quarterbacks this season. Griffin is the highest projected super-value quarterback on the Footballguys Interactive Value Chart, so don’t be afraid to roll him out in a few GPP lineups this week.  

 

RUNNING BACK

 

Le'Veon Bell - $38 (GPP)

Le'Veon Bell has been simply amazing this season. He is clearly one of the top backs in fantasy football, and has a weekly floor that puts him in play in all formats. Bell had a “quiet” outing last deep despite amassing 131 total yards—with a long run of only 12 yards and no touchdowns. Bell will face a tough challenge this week against a Baltimore defense widely noted as one of the stingiest units in the league, ranked first against the run using DVOA. He really struggled against the Ravens in their last meeting, rushing for a season low 32 yards on 14 carries with only 38 receiving yards on 6 receptions. If there was ever a week for people to be wary of playing Bell, this would be the week—which is exactly why he should be the apple of your eye for GPP purposes. Any time you can get a player with Bell’s ceiling (regardless of matchup, he has the highest ceiling of any running back) with ownership expected to be down, you have to capitalize on it and get him into some of your tournament lineups. The Ravens actually have let their foot off the gas against running backs lately, allowing a rushing touchdown in each of their last two games along with 245 total rushing yards, including a 128-yard outing to Ryan Mathews last week. Bell could have a tough time reaching value if he struggles, making him a risky cash game play—but he should be strongly considered in GPP formats.

LeSean McCoy - $33 (CASH)

LeSean McCoy has been shredding opposing defenses in recent weeks, averaging 25.3 fantasy points while surpassing 100 total yards per game and over his last four games—ranking him as the second highest scoring running back in fantasy during that span. The Bills rank first in the league with 27 rushing touchdowns while McCoy himself ranks T-4th with 12 touchdowns despite only playing 11 full games this season. The Dolphins own the 22nd ranked rushing defense using DVOA, allowing over 100 rushing yards per game. Last week, the Dolphins let Bilal Powell average over five yards per carry while hauling in a whopping 11 receptions for a total of 162 yards from scrimmage. A dynamic back like McCoy, who has shown his ability to catch his fair share of passes out of the backfield (ranks 5th in receptions among backs with at least 100 rushing attempts), should be able to do some serious damage in this lineup. Expect for him to be heavily relied upon here, and also heavily owned in most formats at this price discounted from the top tier. McCoy will be playable primarily in cash games, as he is a solid bet to hit that value mark.  

Jordan Howard - $31 (Cash)

The Bears will be squaring off against a bottom tier Redskins defense this week that is allowing 4.5 yards per carry and the third most fantasy points per game to running backs this season. The offense in Chicago has revolved around Jordan Howard for most of this season, and there is no reason to believe Howard wouldn’t be an integral part of their plan yet again this week. Howard has amassed 99 or more total yards in each of his last seven games, averaging nearly 22 touches per game while ranking as the 5th highest fantasy scoring running back across that time frame. Howard’s expected workload and positive matchup make him one of the safest options on the slate, and his price allows some slight salary relief that could be used in paying up elsewhere. Look to Howard as a great play for your cash game lineups.

todd gurley - $22 (GPP / CASH)

Todd Gurley has been a guy to avoid all season long—only five touchdowns with an abysmal 3.2 yards per carry and not a single game above 85 rushing yards will make any DFS player cringe after the season that Gurley had in 2015. This week however, Todd Gurley gets the best opportunity he has had all season to finally bounce back and show us the 2015 Gurley. The Rams will welcome the 49-ers to down—the league’s absolute worst rushing defense, ranked at or near the bottom in every single rushing statistical category. The 49-ers have allowed an AVERAGE of 31.5 fantasy points per game top starting running backs over their last three games---that would be nearly 1.5x value for Gurley at his $22 salary. Many other fantasy sites priced Gurley up this week, but Yahoo barely bumped him at all (from $18 to $22) this week. Look for Gurley to be rightfully highly owned, as any running back should be against the 49-ers. He is a great salary relief option in all formats, but particularly in tournament formats.

Ty Montgomery - $20 (GPP / CASH) 

The Packers have finally figured out that Ty Montgomery should be a big part of their offensive game plan. The Packers have won every game in which Montgomery has carried the ball at least nine times, and they absolutely dominated last week when Montgomery got a season high 16 carries for 162 yards—averaging over 10 yards per carry! With playoff hopes on the line, the Packers should be relying on Montgomery yet again as they have now won four straight and need to win again this week to make it into the post season. The Vikings run defense has been touted as one of the best in the league, however that has not exactly been true as of late. Their DVOA ranking against the run has plummeted from a consistent weekly top-5 down to 16th against the run this week. The Vikings have allowed at least 95 rushing yards in seven of their last nine games while allowing an average of 21.8 points scored per game in that span compared to only 12.6 points per game through the first six weeks of the season. With Montgomery expected to get between 16-20 touches again this week, he should be in a good spot to take advantage of this overrated defensive unit. Regardless of the game script (which points to a run-heavy approach with the Packers favored by a touchdown), Montgomery should be good for volume as he will be rushing the ball if the Packers jump out to a lead while he should catch passes out of the backfield if the Packers need to play catch-up. His salary has jumped up since last week and he is now classified as a Running Back instead of Wide Receiver, but Montgomery is still priced as a value given the volume he should see. Look to Montgomery as a GPP upside play in addition to a salary

Bilal Powell - $18 (Cash / GPP)

Bilal Powell is the guy in New York right now. Despite a gimpy Matt Forte being declared active last week, Powell was on the field for 64 snaps 27 touches compared to Forte playing 13 snaps with only five touches. Through the last two weeks, Powell has touched the ball on 44.5% of his snaps and accounted for almost exactly that same percentage (44.6%) of the Jets total yards from scrimmage during that span. While Powell has played a couple of abysmal run defenses in those last two weeks, the Jets are putting a lot of faith in him with this huge workload, showing their willingness to feed him both carries and receptions throughout the game. With Matt Forte likely to be inactive and/or ineffective again this week due to lingering injuries, Powell should again be the go-to guy in this struggling Jets offense. While the Patriots have been stout against the run, they have allowed the second most receptions (93) to running backs this season as game script has forced teams to pass much more heavily than run. With Powell’s displayed ability to be a significant threat in the passing game, this is even more evidence that a significant workload should be there for the taking. Regardless of whether Powell can find the end zone or not, he represents a solid value play who should hit cash game value with ease. He is near the top of the H-value scale on the Footballguys Interactive Value Chart—play Powell with confidence in all formats.

 

WIDE RECEIVER


Antonio Brown - $40 (CASH)

Antonio Brown has had a few down weeks as of late, hauling in a season-low of five receptions last week, but he still remains one of the biggest threats at wide receiver in the game. Despite the Ravens being a top tier defense, Brown managed to have a decent game against them earlier this season with seven receptions for 85 yards and a touchdown. With cornerback Jimmy Smith nursing an ankle injury, Brown will be expected to match up against Shareece Wright for at least half of his snaps. According to Pro Football Focus, Wright has allowed a QBR of 120 along with six touchdowns when being thrown at this season. The Ravens defense has been worse all season against receivers than they have running backs, and with Ladarius Green likely to miss this week, Brown should be a very safe bet to meet or exceed his average of 10.2 targets per game (2nd in the league). Brown is expensive, but should be a safer play in cash games than Le'Veon Bell, meaning you will be spending down slightly at running back and more able to fit in Brown at receiver.

Michael Thomas - $25 (Cash)

With a Vegas point total creeping near 53—one of the highest on the slate—it would be wise to get some exposure to this potential shootout at the Superdome between the Saints and Buccaneers. One of the safest ways to get that exposure in cash games looks to be via Michael Thomas. Thomas has been consistently involved in the Saints offense all season, leading the team in receptions (76) and touchdowns (8) despite missing one game due to injury. Thomas is a big-bodied receiver—the tallest on the team, making him a top threat for Drew Brees in the end zone. It looks like Vernon Hargreaves will be set to line up opposite of Thomas this week. Luckily for Thomas, Hargreaves has been one of the worst cornerbacks in the league, allowing more receiving yards than any other cornerback in coverage this season according to Pro Football Focus. With Thomas priced equal to his counterpart Brandin Cooks this week, expect for most ownership to be on Cooks. While Cooks will have the higher ceiling, Thomas will give you a higher floor to stand on for cash game purposes.

Amari Cooper - $21 (GPP / Cash)

Amari Cooper, along with the rest of the Raiders receiving core, will be drawing an excellent matchup Saturday against the Colts’ 29th ranked pass defense. This game is tied for the highest point total on the slate, so there should be plenty of scoring opportunities to go around. While Cooper has been down as of late (out-targeted by Michael Crabtree in four of the last five weeks), it is clear that he has been drawing the best cornerbacks on the opposing defense, including Casey Hayward last week. Cooper should still be considered the WR1 on this Raiders offense, and the Colts have been gashed all season by top wide-outs—ranking 29th against WR1’s according to Football Outsiders. Playing Cooper this week does not come without risk, as Crabtree can always steal a red zone looks while Derek Carr has not been playing at his best as he deals with a finger injury. But as is the case with recency bias, Cooper should be the lower owned between the two Raiders receivers. With the upside he has in this matchup, look to Cooper to bounce back as a solid GPP target with some limited appeal in cash games as well due to the high total in game.

Julian Edelman - $20 (CASH) 

Julian Edelman has been one of the most highly utilized wide receivers in the league this season. Edelman has had double digit targets in over half of his games and actually leads the NFL in targets (67) over the past five weeks. While touchdowns have come at a premium for Edelman this season, he has been one of the most consistent wide receivers in the league as of late with an average of  7.3 receptions and 84.7 yards per game over his last six games, with not a single outing below 73 yards across that stretch.This week, Edelman will be squaring off against the 32nd ranked Jets pass defense--a unit against which he caught eight balls for 83 yards back in Week 12. The PAtriots are huge favorites here, so game flow could of course be a concern--however the Patriots have been favorites in nearly every game since Week 4 of this season, yet Edelman has still consistently put up stats. He is not a guy you will rely on for touchdowns and huge upside, but he has one of the highest floors of any player at the position. The Footballguys Interactive Value Chart has him projected near the top in terms of H-Value, so look to get some exposure to Edelman at this bargain price in your cash game lineups.

Tyler Lockett - $13 (GPP)

Tyler Lockett is a guy who offers cheap exposure to the Seattle offense expected to score the fifth most points on the slate this week. Lockett has had some explosion games in recent weeks, putting up over 22 fantasy points in two of his last three games. Over his last four games, Lockett has accounted for 25% of the Seahawks’ receiving yardage while averaging nearly seven targets per game. The Cardinals defense has not been playing well in recent weeks, allowing the most fantasy points per game to receivers across that same four-week span. While Lockett will see a lot of Patrick Peterson, which will certainly lower his floor, it only takes one big play to pay off this $13 salary—and Lockett is a big play guy who can easily blow the top off a secondary unit. Look to Lockett for cheap exposure to the Seahawks in tournament lineups this week.

 

TIGHT END

 

Jason Witten - $14 (CASH)

The veteran Jason Witten has not put up eye-popping numbers this season, but he has had a fairly consistent workload with at least seven targets in five of his last seven games. While Witten had a very rare goose egg a few weeks ago, he bounced back last week by hauling in all 10 of his targets for 51 yards as he played an integral role as Dak Prescott’s primary check down option. This week, Witten has a very solid matchup against a Detroit defense that we targeted quite often early in the season as they were allowing a touchdown to tight ends in virtually every game. While the Lions have not allowed a tight end to score in six straight weeks now, they still have allowed solid outings in the realm of 5+ receptions and 40+ yards to tight ends in three of their last four games. With Darius Slay likely to cover up Dez Bryant most of the day, Witten could yet again play a big role in the offense. At a $14 salary, he does not even need a touchdown to hit value in cash games. While his ceiling is not huge, Witten’s volume alone puts him in play for cash game rosters as a value option.

Charles Clay - $14 (GPP)

Charles Clay has battled through injuries all season long, but he finally appears to be healthy as he had his best game of the season last week by hauling in all seven of his targets for 72 yards and a touchdown. Clay has now found the end zone in back to back weeks and actually led the team in targets last week. He has played close to 100% of the snaps since returning from injury, and he has a solid matchup against Miami (allowing the 10th most fantasy points to tight ends). This is a #narrative game for Clay as well, as he spent his spend the first four seasons of his career in Miami. Clay has a low floor, but this potential usage warrants consideration in tournament formats as a guy who should be less than 5% owned across the board.

 

DEFENSE


New England Patriots - $18 (CASH / GPP)

The Patriots defense gets a prime matchup this week against a New York Jets offense that has been horrific in recent weeks. The Jets have exceeded 17 points just once in their last five games, managing to turn the ball over 11 times across that stretch—including four turnovers in their last game against Miami. The Jets have given up more interceptions (22) than any other team this season, with poor quarterback play plaguing them all year long. It has not gotten much better with the recent switch to Bryce Petty, as he has been sacked 11 times while turning the ball over seven times in four starts. The Patriots defense doesn’t stand out on the stat sheet in any particular categories, but they have put up consistent points in recent weeks and have the best matchup on paper with the Jets team expected total less than two touchdowns—one of the lowest team totals of the entire season. Look for the Patriots to be a popular selection in this solid matchup, playable in all formats.

Houston Texans - $11 (GPP)

If in need of a punt option at defense, the Texans will be your best bet at the bottom of the salary pile this week. The Texans are playing at home in this matchup against a Bengals offense that hasn’t faced a decent defense since Week 12 when the Ravens defense scored 11 fantasy points against them. The Bengals offensive line has not played well this season, allowing the 8th most sacks (37) in the league, including a 4-sack outing to a very bad Browns defensive line two weeks ago. This game is near the bottom in terms of point totals this week, and the Texans defense has been known to play much better at home than on the road. Look for a low scoring affair in which the Texans defense could have a good shot at hitting tournament value at the minimum salary. 


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