Daily prime-time single-game fantasy football competitions have arrived on Yahoo Fantasy. It’s an absolutely exciting and different way of approaching DFS that prompts managers to be creative in line-up building when they are only focusing on single games.
Each week, I’ll feature my high-level overview of all three island matches on the schedule, along with some of my favorite salary-based games – and of course, my top pick for the all-important SUPERSTAR spot.
Thursday night football
Dallas Cowboys at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers
At first glance, I was surprised how easy it was to put together a highly desirable lineup for this match between two potentially powerful offenses. You can quite easily form a roster with Tom Brady, Ezekiel Elliott, two Buccaneers wide receivers and one from the Dallas side while having a small remaining budget.
The 2021 season opener has a total of 51.5 points, with the Buccaneers favored by 8 points. It seems fair to me.
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Tampa is entering this outrageously fortified season after winning the Super Bowl last year. And I believe the Bucs’ rhetoric that they thought they only started ‘getting along’ at the end of the season.
I expect the offense we’ve seen from their 2020 pass through to the Super Bowl to be standard for this team. Tom Brady threw 22 touchdowns with four interceptions to 8.7 yards per attempt in that range. In a full season clip (17 games), that would put Brady at 5,100 yards and 47.6 touchdowns. I think that’s the bare minimum we’re looking at with this Bucs passing attack. Tampa’s star quality sports off the receiver with solid auxiliary players in the backfield and on the tight end is really ridiculous.
We shouldn’t rule out a special season for Brady, who rivals his 2007 season in New England. Dealing with a Dallas defense that is absolutely still trying to make it into the season opener is just about such a perfect lead for this offense to start taking off in 2021.
On the Dallas side, while I’m optimistic about the Cowboys offense overall, we shouldn’t be shocked if they start slow in Week 1.
For starters, Dak Prescott hasn’t faced live action since week 5 of the last NFL season and on top of that, he spent most of training camp and the entire preseason on the tray. It would be fair to expect it to be a bit rusty in this spot.
On top of all that, facing the Bucs defense is no joke. We saw what this unit did to Patrick Mahomes in the Super Bowl and they’ve been a great unit all last season. They placed in the top five in the Football Outsiders DVOA and were the best unit against the run.
This could prove problematic for Dallas. It would make sense to task Elliott with carrying a huge workload and relieve Prescott. However, if Dallas drags out most of this game – as I expect – it won’t create a lot of first-pitching opportunities, and rushing against Tampa is like banging your head into a brick wall like that. ‘It is. That said, Elliott should still be in pretty much every DFS roster as he threatens to wipe 20 touches and will get a pass job. He saw 30 targets in Dallas’ first four games last year as they played in a mostly negative game scenario.
SUPERSTAR choice: Tom Brady ($ 34)
Brady should absolutely crash there. Dallas’ defense should certainly be improved from the nightmare they faced in 2020, but they will always be outscored against Brady and co. in week 1. Brady could be the top performing quarterback in the table in week 1. He just makes too much sense for the 1.5x bonus.
To play : Antonio Brown ($ 18)
Bruce Arians just can’t stop espousing his enthusiasm for Antonio Brown in 2021 now that he is, in the words of the coach, in perfect health and playing at the level he was at with the Steelers. I tend to believe it. Brown was drafted into seasonal leagues like he was “just a WR3” on a big power offense – but he’s not. At one point, Brown was playing in the all-time top five and was still excellent last year when he had just retired from the game. All of the Bucs’ receivers averaged between 6.3 and 7.0 targets per Week 14 Super Bowl game. Brown is just as ready as Evans and Godwin. You probably have to choose between the latter two for DFS Week 1, but Brown should be the lock.
Cheap sneaky option: Blake Jarwin / Dalton Shultz ($ 10)
As mentioned above, the wages aren’t tight enough to really need a dart throw at this level, but if you want to go that route you can play the tight Dallas guessing game. Devin White had his blanket gaps last year and one of those two guys could sneak into the end zone as Dallas tries to catch up. It looks like Jarwin and Shultz could split the time at the top of the depth board.
Sunday night football
Chicago Bears at Los Angeles Rams
These two teams have redone their quarterbacks during the offseason. Unfortunately, only one of them offers their most exciting new option in week 1.
It’s finally time to see what Matthew Stafford looks like in the Rams’ offense. Looks like trading took place about 50 years ago at this point. The great revelation is finally upon us. Stafford can make his home debut, but it’s hard to envision an offensive fireworks scenario.
With the best defense of 2020 ready to take on an ill-configured Bears offense, Stafford and co. maybe don’t need to lift a lot of heavy loads. The total predicted for this contest is only 45.5 and the Rams are a 7.5 point favorite.
You can still project solid stat lines for all of the Rams’ frontline players, but unless the Bears can keep pace, the Rams passing game won’t have to show all of their cards.
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I just don’t see how the Bears will be able to hold their end of the bargain. With the appearance of their offensive line in the preseason, Andy Dalton is completely poised to fail. How is this veteran, non-mobile passer supposed to thrive against the waves of pressure brought on by Aaron Donald and the Rams’ defense? Dalton gets the ball out quickly, but the complex area-based covers that Los Angeles used last year won’t give him much of a layup.
That said, I’m still okay with deploying Allen Robinson to this $ 17 location. Robinson is rightly sidelined due to a tough clash with Jalen Ramsey and the Rams secondary. However, he should still see a dominant target share in a team that goes need to throw in this game often. The Bears are also doing a good job of moving Robinson into the lineup. It ran out of room on nearly 30% of its routes in 2020 and wasn’t exclusively covered by Ramsey (who isn’t a full-time ghost corner) when the team played last year. You can take advantage of it at a possibly low registration rate in DFS if others are afraid. But that’s about it when it comes to the Bears.
SUPERSTAR choice: Darrell Henderson ($ 18)
I expect that Rams backfield to be tough to project, a year-round back-and-forth committee approach. It would make sense for Henderson to get the first chance in week 1. Sony Michel is probably still in the integration phase of this system, leaving Henderson to do most of the work on his first release. Since we expect this to be a heavy defensive game in which the Rams control the script, there should be plenty of rush volume for everyone.
To play : Cooper Kupp ($ 18)
As Stafford begins his full immersion in the Rams offense, he should be called Cooper Kupp early and often. No receiver gets more layup routes against area coverage than Kupp. Stafford should find these windows heartwarming, just as he did with Golden Tate back then. Chicago slots coverage has been the weakest point of their defense in previous years, even when they were at their peak.
Cheap sneaky option: DeSean Jackson ($ 12)
DeSean Jackson will never be healthier this year than he will be in week one. Why not participate at this stage? Jackson was apparently on a throwing account for the first time in his career this summer and while he could still only play about 20 snaps against the Bears, we know it only takes one moon shot to Jackson to reimburse that salary.
Monday Night Football Breakdown & Analysis Coming Soon!