Daily Fantasy Football Week 9: Lineup building blocks and undervalued options to target

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

Austin Ekeler ($39) @ Atlanta Falcons

Ekeler stands out in a DFS slate missing a ton of stars from a dozen teams. The Chargers are coming off a bye but might be missing Mike Williams and Keenan Allen, so Ekeler should remain heavily involved in the passing game; the RB saw 28 targets over LA’s last two games before the team’s bye.

Even while ceding some goal-line work, Ekeler has scored eight touchdowns over his last four games after failing to hit paydirt over the first three weeks. He’s averaging the most fantasy points among all backs in 0.5 PPR leagues this season despite reaching 15 carries in just one game (when he saw 16 rush attempts).

This week the Chargers play indoors against a Falcons defense that ranks second to last in DVOA in a matchup with one of the highest totals (49.0 points) of the week.

DeAndre Hopkins ($29) vs. Seattle Seahawks

Hopkins has racked up a 27-22-262-1 line over two games since returning from suspension, leading the league in catches and yards while ranking second in target share (37.5 percent). He leads the NFL in air yards per game while also benefitting from finally moving around the line of scrimmage and seeing time in the slot in Arizona.

DeAndre Hopkins #10 of the Arizona Cardinals is back in our fantasy lives
DeAndre Hopkins has made a raucous return to fantasy football. (Photo by Michael Owens/Getty Images) (Michael Owens via Getty Images)

This week the Cardinals face a fast-improving Seahawks defense that actually ranks first in DVOA since Week 6, but volume should remain; Seattle’s defense ranks top-10 in EPA/rush but nearly bottom-five in EPA/pass allowed this season. D-Hop should continue to be targeted among the highest rates in the league with Marquise Brown out, and his DFS salary isn’t priced as a top-five WR in a matchup with the highest total (50.5 points) of the week.

Josh Jacobs ($32) @ Jacksonville Jaguars

There’s some concern with just how poorly the Raiders’ offense has performed on the road this season, but Jacobs has seen his YPC actually increase to 5.9 away from home. There’s also a real chance Jacksonville is sluggish having just played in London the previous week.

Jacobs is coming off a disastrous fantasy performance thanks to game script but had totaled 523 yards and six touchdowns over the previous three games. The Raiders are (slight) favorites Sunday against a Jaguars defense allowing the eighth-most fantasy points to running backs this season, including the third-most catches and receiving yards per game to the position.

Star to fade

Jonathan Taylor ($27) @ New England Patriots

Taylor hasn’t scored since Week 1, and it remains unclear how much his high-ankle sprain continues to affect him. Either way, Taylor is in a tough spot Sunday on the road against a New England defense allowing the second-fewest fantasy points to running backs this year. Nyheim Hines was traded away, but Taylor saw just one target from Sam Ehlinger last week, which is discouraging since he’s Indy’s new starting QB moving forward.

The Colts just fired their offensive coordinator, badly miss Nick Sirianni and have the second-lowest implied team total (17.0 points) this week (only the Broncos have averaged fewer combined points during their matchups this season). Fade Taylor in DFS at his top-five RB salary.

Undervalued options

Aaron Jones ($26) @ Detroit Lions

Jones had a season-high in carries (20) and rush yards (143) last week, getting 7.2 YPC against a Buffalo run defense that entered allowing just 3.5 YPC and an NFL-low 52.8 rush yards per game. He forced a career-high 13 missed tackles against the No. 1 ranked run defense in DVOA and now leads the NFL in avoided tackle rate.

This week the Packers get a much different Lions defense yielding 5.1 YPC, 13 rushing touchdowns and the third-most fantasy points to running backs this season. Detroit also sports one of the league’s highest run rates against over the last month and has averaged easily the most combined points during games this year.

Jones’ DFS salary isn’t among the top-five running backs, but he has a strong argument to be the top-ranked fantasy RB this week given the matchup (and with six teams on bye).

Amon-Ra St. Brown ($26) vs. Green Bay Packers

St. Brown was back playing full snaps last week after returning from ankle/concussion issues, and he’s now set to see increased targets with T.J. Hockenson traded to Minnesota and D’Andre Swift still reportedly far from full strength. The Lions are averaging 3.3 more touchdowns per game when playing at home this season, and Jared Goff is due for more passing scores with just one over the last three games; Jamaal Williams has the second-most rushing touchdowns (eight) without surpassing 20 carries in any game this season.

ARSB was a fantasy monster down the stretch last year when Detroit was without Hockenson and Swift and was one of the most valuable fantasy players before suffering an ankle injury in Week 3. St. Brown’s DFS salary might not be lower than this for years to come.

DJ Moore ($16) @ Cincinnati Bengals

Moore has a 39.1% target share and has been a top-10 fantasy WR during both games without Robbie Anderson and Christian McCaffrey over the last two weeks when he’s also experienced far more accurate quarterback play and has seen more time out of the slot. Moore led the league in air yards last week and leads the NFL in air yardage share over the last month. He remains affordable in DFS this week facing a Bengals secondary dealing with multiple injuries, so Moore is undervalued.

Bargain Bin

Van Jefferson ($12) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Jefferson didn’t record a catch and rotated with Ben Skowronek during his return to action last week, but he could be looking at a big increase in targets with Cooper Kupp suffering a horribly unnecessary injury in garbage time last week (and with Allen Robinson washed).

Kupp expects to play, but he’s likely to be at least limited this week while dealing with tissue swelling in his ankle. The Rams are sure to struggle to run the ball as usual Sunday but could enjoy some success passing against a crumbling Tampa Bay defense that ranks 29th in DVOA over the last three weeks.

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