Week 18 NFL DFS: Target players, teams with something on the line

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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

Jonathan Taylor ($40) @ Jacksonville Jaguars

Jacksonville isn’t a doormat run defense, but this matchup should produce a highly favorable game-script for Taylor, who’s run for 100+ yards in nine of the last 11 contests, totaling 20 touchdowns over that span. Taylor’s targets have taken a real hit (just four over the last four games), but that matters less in Yahoo’s 0.5 PPR scoring and could easily change Sunday (Taylor ran just one fewer route than Nyheim Hines last week). Taylor scored 60 more fantasy points (0.5 PPR) than the No. 2 RB this season; he’s a DFS building block with the Colts 15.5-point favorites while fighting for the playoffs.

Cooper Kupp ($41) vs. San Francisco 49ers

The Rams are playing to win, and Kupp is 12 catches and 136 receiving yards away from breaking those single-season records. He gets a pass-funnel 49ers defense that’s strong against the run (No. 2 in DVOA) but has been vulnerable versus the pass thanks to numerous injuries in their secondary (including an early COVID outbreak this week). Matthew Stafford has averaged 300+ passing yards and sees his TD% increase at home this year, which should help Kupp complete his historic season.

Justin Jefferson ($34) vs. Chicago Bears

Jefferson has racked up nearly 300 more air yards than any other receiver and has moved into first in WPOR for the season. This week he gets a Bears defense allowing a 101.1 Passer Rating and the seventh-most fantasy points to receivers, likely with Kirk ­Cousins back. Jefferson is averaging 101.6 yards while scoring five touchdowns over seven home games, and Adam Thielen is done for the season. Jefferson is a strong DFS play this week and has a compelling argument to be a first-round fantasy pick in 2022 drafts.

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Trey Lance ($25) @ Los Angeles Rams

Lance could also be labeled “undervalued,” but we’ll go with building block under the assumption Jimmy Garoppolo’s thumb injury prevents him from playing in a game with the playoffs on the line. Despite a quiet first half while making the second start of his career (and attempting his first pass since Week 5), Lance finished as a top-10 fantasy QB last week. He would’ve been the QB4 if a late rushing score wasn’t called back thanks to an unnecessary holding penalty.

Lance led the league in average air yards last week, posting a completion percentage over expectation in the 82nd percentile while throwing deeper than any 49ers QB in a game over the past three seasons. He has as many touchdown passes for 30+ yards this season as Josh Allen and Aaron Rodgers. Lance has the best YPA over his first two starts of any quarterback over the last five years, and his salary isn’t a top-15 QB. Lance gets a much tougher matchup and is on the road this week, but his rushing helps his fantasy floor as well as his ceiling.

It’s obviously been a small sample, but fantasy’s QB1 Josh Allen is getting 0.63 fantasy points per dropback this season. Lance is getting 0.89.

SANTA CLARA, CA - JANUARY 2: Trey Lance #5 of the San Francisco 49ers rushes during the game against the Houston Texans at Levi's Stadium on January 2, 2022 in Santa Clara, California. The 49ers defeated the Texans 23-7. (Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images)
Trey Lance's ability to run gives him a safe fantasy floor with room for more in the passing game. (Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images)

Stars to fade

Davante Adams ($36) @ Detroit Lions

While Green Bay’s starters are reportedly going to play some — likely just enough to let Adams get 22 yards to break Jordy Nelson’s franchise single-season record — the Packers are almost certainly going to rest their main players for most of Week 18 while locked into the NFC’s No. 1 seed. Don’t listen to any coach speak (this is especially true when it comes to someone who would kick a field goal inside the 10-yard line down one score with two minutes left to give the ball back to the GOAT in the Championship Game) as Vegas speaks louder than words (as Confucius once said).

The 13-3 Packers opened as 11-point favorites against the 2-13-1 Lions, but the line has since dropped to GB -3.5; don’t even consider paying up for Adams in DFS during a week his playing time is so in question.

Undervalued options

Devin Singletary ($23) vs. New York Jets

Singletary was a top-five fantasy back last week, and he’s racked up 63 touches compared to 10 combined from Zack Moss and Matt Breida over the last three games. Josh Allen will steal goal-line scores and more targets would be nice, but Singletary has earned a valuable fantasy role becoming Buffalo’s true feature back. This week he gets a Jets defense that ranks last in DVOA while allowing the most fantasy points to running backs and an NFL-high 27 rushing touchdowns. The Bills are 16.5-point home favorites, so Singletary looks like a bargain.

D’Onta Foreman ($23) @ Houston Texans

Foreman may not have high snap percentages like other workhorse backs, but he led the league in carries (26) last week. He’s run for 100+ yards in three of the last five games and scored during the other two. Tennessee leads the NFL in run plays and faces Houston’s 24th ranked run defense in DVOA. The Texans also have allowed a healthy 4.7 YPC, the fourth-most fantasy points to running backs and the second-most rushing scores (25). The Titans are more than double-digit favorites in a game they can clinch the No. 1 seed (and crucially a bye) with a win, so they’ll have plenty of incentive to ride Foreman and not even think about risking Derrick Henry after he was designated to return from IR ahead of the playoffs.

[Week 18 Fantasy Rankings: QBs | RBs | WRs | TEs | FLEX | DST | Kickers]

Cyril Grayson ($18) vs. Carolina Panthers

Grayson led Bucs wide receivers in targets (eight) last week (and finished 11th in the league in air yards) and could easily lead the team in looks Sunday with Chris Godwin on IR, Mike Evans playing through a hamstring injury and Antonio Brown no longer around. Seemingly every Bucs running back is also injured, and Carolina’s defense has declined throughout the season. Grayson is an undrafted 28-year-old who was a track star with 95th percentile 40 speed. He’s a threat to see double-digit targets from Tom Brady this week, and Grayson’s salary is outside the top-20 WRs.

Tampa Bay has incentive to win, and for what it’s worth, Brady is 488 passing yards from breaking Peyton Manning’s single-season record.

Bargain Bin

Baltimore Ravens D/ST ($11) vs. Pittsburgh Steelers

Baltimore’s defense has disappointed, but the unit has scored 11+ fantasy points in three separate home games and Sunday gets a broken Steelers offense traveling during a short week. The Steelers are also coming off an emotional win during Ben Roethlisberger’s final home game in Pittsburgh, which included him posting an almost unfathomable 2.7 YPA. His game-script will be much different Sunday in Baltimore, and Big Ben has taken 19 sacks and fumbled seven times over seven road games this season. There might be a Mason Rudolph sighting.

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