Whether you’ve played Yahoo Daily Fantasy before or are trying it out for the first time, this weekly column will take a first look at the DFS landscape, revealing who I like to build lineups, stars fading, undervalued plays and bargain bucket picks for help you build a better team.
Structural elements of composition
Christian McCaffrey ($37) vs. Cleveland Browns
While no enough as valuable in 0.5 PPR, McCaffrey remains in a fantasy class all by himself compared to all other players — when he is on the field. CMC enters 2022 fully healthy and not recovering from any major offseason surgery. He’ll also get a big upgrade at QB, going from bottom-three production to somewhere around league average with Baker Mayfield taking over.
Playing at home with fresh legs, McCaffrey’s salary is somehow $3 cheaper than two other Week 1 running backs, making him an unusual building block.
CeeDee Lamb ($25) vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Lamb is ready to see a ton of targets with Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup, James Washington and Blake Jarwin are all gone or unlikely to play in Week 1. Noah Brown enters the season as Dallas’ WR2. With long splits with Cooper off the field and playing at home against a Bucks defense that is sure to be loaded Ezekiel Elliott and the Cowboys run game without LT Tyrone Smithit would be an upset if Lamb doesn’t see at least a dozen targets in Week 1. Six other receivers, however, have a higher salary in some way.
Leonard Fournette ($23) @ Dallas Cowboys
Fournette’s salary is incredibly modest for a quarterback who led the NFL in high-value touchdowns last seasonand while there is cause for concern on his long-term stamina, he’s back in shape and fully healthy for Week 1. Especially with so many problems in the middle of their offensive line (and with Chris Godwin and Russell Gage dealing with injuries), expect a ton of sacks on Fournette (Tom Brady has the highest RB target percentage of any QB over the last five seasons).
In one of the few games on the slate with an over/under north of 50 points, Sunday night’s TB/Dallas game looks like a DFS matchup with a goal.
Star to go out
Najee Harris ($27) @ Cincinnati Bengals
Harris quietly lost in August while dealing with a Lisfranc sprainputting his health in question in Week 1. The Steelers talked openly about reducing Harris’ workload earlier this summer while he was a rookie Jaylen Warren has emerged as an alternative that the team seems to trust. And there’s also a concern that Pittsburgh’s new QBs aren’t falling into the run as often as they should Ben Roethlisberger He made. With the Steelers having one of the lowest implied point totals in Week 1, there’s no reason to pay $4 more for Harris than Leonard Fournette.
Saquon Barkley ($18) @ Tennessee Titans
Returning from last season’s unfortunate sprained ankle and now two years removed from ACL surgery, Barkley looks ready to carry the load inside Brian Dumballnew offence. Barkley’s DFS salary as the RB20 seems to factor into his questionable ability to stay healthy this season, something DFS punters don’t have to worry about as much with only Week 1 in mind. Barkley remains in his prime just a year older than Najee Harris and should be incredibly busy in Week 1 with New York’s entire receiving corps a big question mark (Harold Landry Going to IR for the Titans should also help).
I have Barkley as an easy top-five fantasy RB entering the year, so he’s a steal here.
Trey Lance ($25) @ Chicago Bears
The 49ers may enter the year with questions along their offensive line and a tough game with Lance having so little experience (he’s made just three starts since 2019!), but he led all QBs in tackles per drop and he had the highest Passer rating by a rookie QB when not under pressure since 2016;. He has a ton of fantasy upside right away in an offense that led the NFC in yards per game last season. The bears lost Akiem Hicks and Khalil Mak during the offseason, and Lance’s salary is barely that of a top-15 QB, so he’s a Week 1 bargain.
Kyle Pitts ($16) vs. New Orleans Saints
Mark Andrews he’s the only fantasy tight end I’m ranked higher entering the year, yet eight others have a bigger DFS salary in Week 1. The first tight end to ever record 1,000 yards before turning 22, while somehow finishing sixth (just before Justin Jefferson) among all pass catchers last season in yards per route run vs. manPitts looks poised to explode in 2022 with a new attacking quarterback in areas of the field that suits him much better compare to Matt Ryan.
With Atlanta playing tight (and likely from behind while unable to run the ball) and with WR1 Drake London Unlikely to be at full speed after the rookie missed weeks in August, Pitts has to see all goals in the 1st week.
Dameon Pierce ($11) vs. Indianapolis Colts
There is some concern with Houston being the biggest Week 1 underdog and Pierce losing his job Rex Burkhead even if he is the team’s clear starter right away. But Davis Mills got 7.9 YPA with a 12:1 TD:INT ratio at home last season, the Texans quietly have a nice mix of tackles and Pierce looks like the real deal. Definitely worth playing in DFS at the very least.
Cole Kmet ($11) vs. San Francisco 49ers
Kmet would be even more valuable in full PPR, but he seems safe to project 8+ targets with just Darnell Mooney its main competition. The 49ers usually defend the edge well, but their ability to shut down Chicago’s run game should lead to a ton of targets for Kmet, who is on a near-minimum salary.