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
Jalen Hurts ($39) vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
Hurts stands out in a DFS slate missing Josh Allen, Lamar Jackson, Justin Herbert, Patrick Mahomes and Joe Burrow. The Steelers aren't the same defense without T.J. Watt, having allowed the third-most passing touchdowns (13), the sixth-highest EPA/pass and the ninth-most fantasy points to quarterbacks this season. Hurts is getting 8.5 YPA at home and will be fresh coming off a bye, so he's going to be a popular building block in a slate without so many star quarterbacks.
Derrick Henry ($40) @ Houston Texans
Henry is averaging 28.3 touches over the last four games and continues to see more work as a receiver than ever. In fact, King Henry remarkably ranks top three among running backs in yards per reception and yards per route run. And that’s with easily the most volume of his career, as Henry hasn’t shown signs of decline as feared coming off the foot injury at 28 years old.
This week the Titans face a Texans defense yielding 5.2 YPC and the most fantasy points to running backs this season, including an NFL-high 135.5 rushing yards per game to RBs. Henry has averaged more YPC (6.1) against Houston than any other team during his career, and the Texans rank last in run defense DVOA this season. He’s one of the clear DFS building blocks in Week 8.
Josh Jacobs ($29) @ New Orleans Saints
Jacobs has totaled 523 yards while getting 6.4 YPC and scoring six touchdowns over the last three games. He's averaging at least 30+ rushing yards per game more than any other back this month. This week he gets a crumbling Saints defense allowing 4.6 YPC this season and 34.7 points over their last three games. Jacobs is seeing more targets than ever, has suddenly become one of the league's biggest workhorses and has become the biggest beneficiary of Davante Adams joining Las Vegas.
He's also just been really good, ranking third in Juke Rate this season. Jacobs' salary remains too low, making him a DFS building block once again.
Star to fade
Dak Prescott ($30) vs. Chicago Bears
Prescott was either impressive or he struggled during his return to action last week, depending on which stats you prefer. More play action would help, but Prescott is clearly working his way back to full strength. He's getting just 6.3 YPA despite playing both games at home this season, and while it's safe to expect a better performance during his second game back from a thumb injury, Sunday's matchup may not be as favorable as the point spread suggests (Dallas is double-digit home favorites).
Volume could be an issue, as the Bears defense has the lowest pass rate against in the NFL. Chicago’s offense showed major signs of life Monday night, but they’ll now be traveling during a short week to face a Cowboys defense that’s lapping the league in pressure rate.
In other words, even with a hobbledEzekiel Elliott (keep your eye on a $17 Tony Pollard), Sunday's game script is unlikely to require Prescott to throw a ton (QBs are averaging just 188.3 passing yards versus Chicago this season).
Kenneth Walker ($25) vs. New York Giants
Walker finished as fantasy's No. 3 RB last week and has completely taken over Seattle's backfield with Rashaad Penny out. K9 reached the fastest speed by any ballcarrier this season during his long touchdown run, and he's now the favorite to win Rookie of the Year while leading the league in rush yards over expectation per attempt. Walker is the real deal, and he's going to be featured in Seattle's offense with DK Metcalf likely sidelined and Tyler Lockett slowed by a hamstring injury. Walker should be treated as a top-five fantasy back this week facing a Giants defense allowing an NFL-high 5.7 YPC and sporting DVOA's 30th-ranked run defense.
Daniel Jones ($27) @ Seattle Seahawks
Jones was the No. 2 fantasy QB last week despite throwing for just 202 yards and one score, as he continues to add fantasy value with his legs. In fact, he's been a top-10 fantasy QB per game while averaging fewer than 175 passing yards and throwing just six touchdowns over seven games this year. Only Lamar Jackson has more rushing yards than Jones among quarterbacks this season.
Danny Dimes is also an underrated deep passer and New York's receivers are starting to help more. This week the Giants face a Seattle defense that has become the ideal fantasy matchup, allowing the fifth-most EPA/pass. Jones is getting 7.8 YPA on the road this season, so expect him to finish as top-five fantasy QB for the second week in a row.
Brandon Aiyuk ($18) @ Los Angeles Rams
Aiyuk has seen 11 targets in back-to-back games and could see even more volume Sunday with Deebo Samuel battling a hamstring injury (the 49ers have incentive to be cautious with the team's upcoming bye). San Francisco is facing a Rams defense that ranks second against the run in DVOA and has also ceded by far the fewest fantasy points to tight ends — not one TE has exceeded even 45 receiving yards against them this season. Christian McCaffrey will get his, but he's also still learning an entirely new playbook on the fly.
That leaves Aiyuk, who quietly was among the leaders in expected fantasy points last week. All three of Aiyuk's touchdowns have come on the road this season, and the key with Jimmy Garoppolo is pocket cleanliness; the Rams rank second to last in pressure rate this season.
Michael Carter ($15) vs. New England Patriots
Carter is still a DFS bargain this week even after the Jets traded for James Robinson, who will be learning a new system, is dealing with knee soreness and has struggled mightily while returning from Achilles surgery. It's simply unreasonable to expect him to be a big part of Sunday's game plan. Meanwhile, Carter is set to take over the Jets' backfield with Breece Hall out for the season, and New York has turned into a run-heavy team since Zach Wilson returned. The Patriots rank 28th in run defense DVOA, so Carter is a sneaky DFS play this week.