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Single-game DFS Week 2: Rostering Patrick Mahomes and Lamar Jackson on SNF

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Single-game primetime daily fantasy football contests have arrived at Yahoo Fantasy. It’s an absolutely thrilling and different way to approach DFS that pushes managers to be creative in lineup construction when only focusing on single games.

Every week I’ll offer up my general, high-level view of the three island games on the schedule as well as some of my favorite salary-based plays — and of course, my top pick for the all-important SUPERSTAR spot.

Sunday Night Football

Kansas City Chiefs at Baltimore Ravens

The Ravens have struggled to get past the Chiefs during the start of the Patrick Mahomes/Lamar Jackson era. A team like Kansas City is always going to give the Ravens problems because they can build such a huge lead while Baltimore features a methodic, run-heavy approach.

Baltimore also enters this spot licking their wounds after a difficult, last-minute loss against the Raiders. I’m not full-scale panicking about the Ravens after that game but they did not look like an elite team. They should have been able to put the Raiders away.

The Ravens are extremely beat-up and down to reserves in several spots, so we shouldn't expect them to be immediately elite. The offensive line looks even more problematic than last year. A date with the Chiefs is hardly a get-right spot.

[Play in one of Yahoo's Week 2 single-game DFS contests]

From a pure fantasy angle, we know what Kansas City will do. You can stack Mahomes with either Hill or Kelce; take your pick there depending on how you want to construct the rest of your lineup. The bigger questions come from Baltimore. One silver lining for this team is that Sammy Watkins and Marquise Brown played quite well against Las Vegas. That alone could increase their offensive ceiling, especially if Mark Andrews turns his pristine usage into production.

The Ravens might not have enough juice right now to win this game but they should have more firepower to chase the Chiefs than they did early in 2020.

SUPERSTAR pick: Patrick Mahomes ($39)

Mahomes has averaged 378.7 passing yards and scored 10 total touchdowns in his three career meetings with the Ravens. He’s dominated this team and the Chiefs are 3-0 in that stretch. The Ravens defense showed some cracks in the secondary against the Raiders Monday night amid injuries to Marcus Peters and Jimmy Smith. There’s no reason to expect anything but another lights-out performance from Mahomes.

Must-play: Lamar Jackson ($34)

I’m doing what I can to get creative in this spot to assure I roster both quarterbacks. The potential point-total and game environment is just too good. Lamar Jackson looked dynamic at times against the Raiders in Week 1, which is no shock. Several pinpoint passes to the likes of Marquise Brown and Sammy Watkins were a welcome sign. His 12 carries for 86 yards was business as usual. The Ravens did struggle to protect him last week, especially new right tackle Alejandro Villanueva, and he came away from Monday with a 9.1 percent sack rate. But the Chiefs struggled to put heat on Baker Mayfield in Week 1. Mayfield came away with the 12th-lowest pressure rate among Week 1 starters.

Sneaky cheap option: Sammy Watkins ($12)

Sammy Watkins ran the most routes among Baltimore receivers in Week 1 and led the team with a 36.2 percent share of the air yards. It’s hard to overstate what a dramatic difference it is to have Watkins, who is at least an average starter, on the other end of Lamar Jackson’s throws rather than the husk of Dez Bryant or Miles Boykin at X-receiver. Watkins also averaged 7.4 yards after the catch. He’s getting ideal usage for his skill set.

A revenge game narrative is just a bonus.

Monday Night Football

Detroit Lions at Green Bay Packers

No team suffered a more embarrassing defeat than the Green Bay Packers in Week 1. They were outclassed in every regard by a Saints team firmly in transition.

Imagine being Aaron Rodgers and going through all this offseason charade just to get blown out by Jameis Winston in Week 1.

Luckily for all your Packers’ players, they get a date with the Lions in Week 2. This should be an absolute smash spot. The Detroit defensive depth chart already looked bad and we aren’t feeling any better after what the 49ers did to them in Week 1. Rodgers and co. should be fine here.

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12)
Aaron Rodgers should be able to bounce back swimmingly against the Lions. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)

With a 48-point total, there’s some expectation the Lions will be able to give it back to the Packers. That part could go either way, in my view.

The Lions ran an absurd 84 plays in Week 1, which boosted the volume for everyone on that team. That’s not going to happen every week, even if they’re getting crushed on the scoreboard. Detroit wasn’t playing fast in the first half (17th in pace of play) but kicked it up several notches all the way to 1st in the second half. It’s difficult to know what kind of Lions we’ll see in Week 2 and beyond. I’ll be diving more into this in my advanced stats notebook piece on Friday.

Either way, the core plays for Detroit remain the same. T.J. Hockenson is the locked-in top guy after running a route on 98 percent of the Lions' passing plays. Jamaal Williams and D’Andre Swift might not see the same receiving workload this week but are in play based on salary. If you want to stack Packers players, though, you’ll need to only pick one or two of those guys, pass on Goff and scrape the bottom of the target hierarchy with their wide receivers.

SUPERSTAR pick: Aaron Rodgers ($34)

Aaron Rodgers was the QB34 last week. You are correct in thinking that the league did not expand this year and that only 32 quarterbacks started in Week 1. Non-starters Justin Fields, Trey Lance, and Marcus Mariota (on one rush) outscored Rodgers’ hideous outing against the Saints.

Who cares?

He’s facing a Lions’ defense that already looked hapless and just placed their No. 1 cornerback on IR. Rodgers could deliver a crushing blow to this team on Monday night to re-establish himself.

[So many reasons to play Yahoo DFS: Learn more now and get in on the fun]

Must-play: Aaron Jones ($31)

The Lions were absolutely barreled over by the 49ers in Week 1. Starter Raheem Mostert took his two carries for 20 yards before unfortunately sustaining a year-ending injury. Then his backup, Elijah Mitchell, proceeded to rip off 104 yards on 19 totes with a touchdown. Ignore Aaron Jones’ Week 1 whiff and lock him into a huge game here. We’re definitely rocking with a Packers’ onslaught.

Sneaky cheap option: Quintez Cephus/Amon-Ra St. Brown ($11/$10)

If we’re going to stack Rodgers/Adams/Jones we have to dig into these Lions’ receivers. It’s hard out here but the Packers’ defense was torn apart on the backend by Jameis Winston and his no-name crew of pass-catchers. The Lions could find those same holes. Cephus scored a touchdown and a two-point conversion once Tyrell Williams went into concussion protocol. He still played just 30 snaps overall. My initial lean is toward Amon-Ra St. Brown. With Jaire Alexander roaming the outside, the rookie might find more favorable matchups in the slot.

Thursday Night Football

New York Giants at Washington Football Team

These NFC East rivals enter Week 2 nursing losses from their openers. Neither is in the place they were hoping this early.

Washington has already lost their veteran starting quarterback with Ryan Fitzpatrick going on IR after a hip injury. It’s a huge bummer for Fitzpatrick who was finally going to get his shot to run a team as the guy. However, dropping down to Taylor Heinicke may not be the death-knell some will make it out to be.

Heinicke has already shown to be a capable, albeit perhaps streaky, backup-level quarterback. He’s a guy the coaching staff likes, who showed last year he can play. In some ways he’s like the young version of Fitzpatrick; energetic, has some mobility, and has a “devil may care” style of play. Heinicke threw 26 percent of his passes into tight windows in Week 1, per Next Gen Stats, which was the third-highest among Week 1 passers and a continuation of what we saw in the playoffs last year (20.5 percent). He’ll try to write some checks his arm can’t cash but that does lead to the positive side of variance, on occasion.

Basically, I’m not wholesaling Washington players just because Heinicke is now the starter.

New York doesn’t have an injury issue under center ... but they’ve certainly got problems. Daniel Jones was as erratic as usual in Week 1. It wasn’t all just the offensive line’s fault, either. Jones was “kept clean” on almost 75 percent of his dropbacks (per PFF) but just fell apart at the first sign of heat, completing just two of six throws under pressure for 14 yards. Of course, Denver’s defense is a potentially great unit but Washington can absolutely rival them.

The problem with this game for DFS is that with a mere 40.5-point projected total we aren’t exactly expecting a shootout. Further complicating matters is that the theoretical best player, Saquon Barkley, is difficult to trust at $24.

We’ve got a challenging build ahead of us this week.

SUPERSTAR pick: Antonio Gibson ($24)

Week 1 showed us that Gibson is indeed going to get the role we all hoped he would. Gibson led the backfield in snaps played (33) and carries (20) but that was to be expected. More importantly, he ran more routes than J.D. McKissic (13 to 9) and drew five targets. McKissic actually played on more passing snaps overall but stayed in to block more often than Gibson. If Gibson is trending toward this type of workload, we can feel good about him every week. He might touch the ball close to 30 times on Thursday night in a competitive game, given that the Giants offense doesn’t look capable of putting distance between themselves and any team right now.

Must-play: Sterling Shepard ($13)

Sterling Shepard led the Giants in the following categories:

  • - Routes run 40

  • - Snaps 56

  • - Slot routes 28 (65%)

  • - Targets 9

  • - YAC/rec 5.6

All while averaging 10.4 air yards per target. He was not used as some bunny-hop slot guy — he was used as the team’s No. 1 wide receiver.

It’s highly likely that Kenny Golladay will emerge as the season goes along. However, given his lack of practice time and Shepard’s own talent we shouldn’t be shocked the latter is the guy right now. Washington got lit up by Keenan Allen in Week 1 (13 targets), who plays a similar style of football to Shepard.

Sneaky cheap option: Dyami Brown ($10)

Some excitement built up around Dyami Brown when Curtis Samuel was placed on IR. Brown did indeed take over the starting vacated outside receiver gig across from Terry McLaurin but did nothing in Week 1. However, some good peripheral indicators are there. Brown ran a route on 92 percent of the Football Team’s passing plays. He averaged just under 10 air yards per target. If Brown runs out as the starter again on Thursday night he only needs a few good plays to return value. We need the savings in this game as these two teams are top-heavy for fantasy.

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