Whether you've played Daily Fantasy on Yahoo before or are giving it a try for the first time, this 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
Nick Chubb ($34) at Houston Texans
Chubb hasn't faced a bottom-15 run defense since Week 5 but has remained highly productive anyway. His schedule eases up significantly Sunday, when the Browns get a Texans defense allowing the most fantasy points to running backs this season. Houston has let five different RBs run for 140+ yards, as game script is usually favorable for opponents as well. It remains to be seen how the return of Deshaun Watson affects the offense, but it's safe to expect a run-heavy approach Sunday with the Browns touchdown favorites and their QB making his first start since 2020. Cleveland has the second-highest implied team total this week. Chubb is getting 5.3 YPC on the road this season compared to 2.8 by Kareem Hunt. Chubb is a strong DFS building block this week.
Josh Jacobs ($32) vs. Los Angeles Chargers
Jacobs will be a popular DFS play after totaling more than 300 yards from scrimmage last week, but he'll be tough to fade in this matchup and with a salary that's 20 percent cheaper than Derrick Henry and Austin Ekeler. Jacobs was just given a whopping 39 touches while playing through a sore calf, so it doesn't look like he'll practice much this week in hopes of playing. Keep an eye out for updates, but he's been able to handle as big of a workload as any back in the league this year, when he's lapped the league in 30+ point fantasy performances.
The Chargers have been gashed for an NFL-high 5.4 YPC and the second-most EPA/rush while allowing the fourth-most fantasy points to running backs this season. Remarkably, Los Angeles has allowed their season-high in rushing yards to every opposing running back since Week 6! That includes 120 last week to James Conner, who previously hadn't rushed for 70 yards in a game this season. Jacobs looks primed to smash yet again this week if he's able to play.
Travis Kelce ($33) @ Cincinnati Bengals
Kelce has already recorded a career-high 12 touchdowns and still has six games left this season, as it appears he's not indeed washed. His dozen TD catches are as many as (or more than) 10 other teams in the NFL this season. Kansas City has easily the highest implied team total (27.5 points) of the week, and Kelce is in a tier by himself when it comes to a dreadful tight end position this year. It helps having the world's best quarterback throwing to him, as Patrick Mahomes has the most passing yards in NFL history through 80 games while playing 74. Kelce is as reliable as any pass catcher in the league right now.
Star to fade
Lamar Jackson ($30) vs. Denver Broncos
After throwing 10 touchdowns over the first three weeks of the season, Jackson has just seven TD strikes over eight games since. A hip injury thankfully hasn’t prevented Jackson from running, but he’s clearly not 100% and gets as little help from his WRs and RBs as any quarterback in the league (while also currently missing his left tackle). Jackson’s rushing always keeps his fantasy floor high, but Sunday’s game script limits his ceiling as much as his supporting cast.
Denver is the worst kind of fantasy matchup, sporting an offense that's averaging the fewest points per game since the 2000 Browns but a defense that's yielding an NFL-low 5.4 YPA and the fewest passing touchdowns (nine) in the league. The Broncos are also allowing the second-fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks this season, including the fifth-fewest rushing yards per game (12.2) to the position. Moreover, the Panthers had an NFL-low 29.2% pass rate against Denver last week, as teams simply don't have to throw against the legendary Russell Wilson/Nathaniel Hackett combo. This matchup's total is by far the lowest (38.5 points) of the week, and the under is 10-1 during Broncos games this year.
Jackson is an easy fade in DFS.
Jared Goff ($24) vs. Jacksonville Jaguars
The Lions are averaging the third-most points per game (30.5) at home this season, behind only the Bills and Bengals. Goff has a 2:7 TD:turnover ratio on the road compared to a 15:3 mark in Detroit. Put differently, Goff is averaging more touchdown passes at home (2.5) than all other quarterbacks are for the season other than Patrick Mahomes, who's averaging 2.6 TD passes this year. Detroit faces a shaky Jacksonville defense allowing the second-most yards per play in the NFL over the last three weeks in a home matchup indoors with a high over/under (51.5 points). Goff should be considered a top-10 fantasy QB this week — when his WRs are healthier than at any point this season as well. He's a DFS bargain with a salary outside the top-15 QBs.
Dameon Pierce ($19) vs. Cleveland Browns
Pierce won't likely be a popular DFS play after he's failed to reach 10 rushing yards in consecutive games and with the Texans touchdown underdogs, but he's a sneaky tournament play. He's been held back by a poor offense and game scripts, but Pierce encouragingly matched his season-high with six targets during Kyle Allen's first game starting at QB last week (and Rex Burkhead has entered concussion protocol). Houston's tough recent schedule against the run also becomes much more friendly Sunday, as the Browns have ceded the most EPA/rush, the second-most fantasy points to running backs and the third-most rushing scores (16) this year. Expect Pierce to bounce back and possibly in a big way this week.
DeVonta Smith ($20) vs. Tennessee Titans
The box score may not show it, but Smith has seen significant increased opportunity and a higher target share than AJ Brown since Dallas Goedert went down. Brown being sick factored into that during Sunday night's game, but Jalen Hurts may be sore and run less after racking up 33 carries over the last two weeks. He'll also be facing a pass-funnel Titans defense Sunday that ranks first against the run yet 16th versus the pass in DVOA, also allowing the second-most fantasy points to wide receivers this season. Smith should benefit and becomes a DFS option as a result.
Elijah Moore ($12) @ Minnesota Vikings
Moore only saw two targets last week, but he took one to the house and should continue to benefit from Mike White now starting at QB. Moore admittedly wasn't sharing the field with Garrett Wilson, but he was a top-10 fantasy WR over four games with White last season. More volume should be there Sunday with the Jets underdogs and playing indoors (it poured rain during Magic Mike's impressive season debut last week) against a Vikings offense that should put up points. Minnesota's defense, meanwhile, has allowed an NFL-high 7.8 YPA this year and the most yards per play (6.9) over the last three weeks. Moore is an intriguing DFS flier at the near minimum.