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Single-game DFS Week 6: Stefon Diggs could have his big game

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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.

Thursday Night Football

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Philadelphia Eagles

As if you needed any more confirmation, last week showed us this season is about legacy-building and record-hunting for Tom Brady’s Bucs. Brady and co. are going to drop hammers on inferior teams all year with this wildly exciting passing game.

They get another subpar team to beat up on this week.

The Eagles have had some moments this year but got a gift of a win from the Panthers last week, mostly courtesy of an offensive line in flux and Sam Darnold. This is a team that should be 1-4.

The Bucs are 7-point favorites walking into Philadelphia and have shredded the two weakest teams they’ve faced (Atlanta and Miami). Both of those games were at home and the Eagles might be just a slightly better operation overall.

At the very least, we can expect their offense to give it back to the Bucs a bit. The Eagles rank seventh in neutral situation passing rate and have been one of the most pass-happy teams in the NFL. It’s not what we expected in the preseason but it’s been effective, as they’re the ninth-best team in dropback EPA. That works well with the Bucs in town because Tampa Bay is so good against the run that teams are essentially not even trying it anymore.

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Jalen Hurts has played well, on balance, this year. I think he’s been solid enough to project a healthy amount of points for the Eagles' offense.

Still, with Brady and his group white-hot and Philadelphia’s zone-heavy approach on the back-end, it’s hard to imagine the Bucs not wrecking shop in this contest. Brady and all of his receivers are certainly in play. Taking them even at -7 feels like the right way to go in this game.

SUPERSTAR pick: Tom Brady ($40)

It’s just going to be near impossible to not play Brady in the superstar spot every time he’s in one of these island games. We know he has five-touchdown upside just about every time he takes the field. If you want to be slightly contrarian, consider just rolling out Brady but instead of trying to pick two of the three wide receivers, stack him with Leonard Fournette. The backfield has slowly started to narrow down to him as the primary guy. He’s gotten five targets in back-to-back games (one with Gio) and was the main ball-carrier before garbage time in Week 5. The Eagles are the 23rd-ranked run defense in DVOA.

Must-play: DeVonta Smith ($19)

DeVonta Smith is the clear-cut best play on the Eagles offense and I’m not sure it’s close. The team treats him that way too. Smith ranks 13th in weighted opportunity (target share/air yards share) so far this season. He’s also just been extremely unlucky in the touchdown department. The Bucs secondary is the clear and obvious weak point of this team and Smith should be able to exploit that.

Sneaky cheap option: Zach Ertz ($14) or Quez Watkins ($14)

With Dallas Goedert on the COVID-19 list, Ertz is going to be an extremely popular pick — for good reason. He was already running a similar amount of routes to Goedert and has drawn 14 targets in his prior two games. Watkins might be the more sneaky option. He ran just two fewer routes than the disappointing Jalen Reagor last week and certainly brings more juice. Watkins could rip some big plays with his speed as a slot receiver (29 inside snaps in Week 5).

You need the savings from one of these guys to access your Bucs.

Sunday Night Football

Seattle Seahawks at Pittsburgh Steelers

We’re going to see a Seahawks game without Russell Wilson as the starting quarterback for the first time in ages. It feels weird.

Geno Smith will take the wheel of this offense and despite his brief solid moments last week, he is still largely an unknown. His lone start since his Jets’ days came on an infamous day against the Raiders when he disrupted Eli Manning’s start streak with the Giants. So ... it’s been a minute.

One encouraging note was that Smith still took off three times for 23 yards on the ground last week. If you’re daring enough to use him at $23, there might be a rushing-based floor you can find comfort in.

To let you know what kind of game this could be, Ben Roethlisberger comes with the exact same salary as Smith. Not great.

Roethlisberger is coming off his best game of the season with a 10-yards-per-attempt figure against the Broncos, but he's still been a problem this year. He’s outside the top-20 in big-time throw percentage (3.9 percent) but is still one of just three quarterbacks with double-digit turnover worthy throws, per PFF. The other three are two rookies (Lawrence, Wilson) and Taylor Heinicke.

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Roethlisberger is coming off his best game of the season with a 10-yards-per-attempt figure against the Broncos, but he's still been a problem this year. He’s outside the top-20 in big-time throw percentage (3.9 percent) but is still one of just three quarterbacks with double-digit turnover worthy throws, per PFF. The other three are two rookies (Lawrence, Wilson) and Taylor Heinicke.

This game comes with a 42-point projected total, per BetMGM, and that feels fair. I’m not expecting many high-scoring daily fantasy lineups.

SUPERSTAR pick: Najee Harris ($29)

Harris ranks third in the NFL in touches. The volume is getting him there. While that one game when Diontae Johnson was absent is still buoying this total, he does lead all running backs with 39 targets. With JuJu Smith-Schuster now on IR and done for the season, his passing game volume should remain steady. No one in this game has the floor/ceiling projection of Harris.

Must-play: Diontae Johnson ($21)

Johnson continues to get massive volume but has actually been efficient this year (zero drops, top-15 in yards per route run). He’s a good player. Now with JuJu Smith-Schuster out, he should own the short-area passing targets all to himself. Johnson could easily snare 10 passes in this spot.

Sneaky cheap option: Steelers defense ($12)

We have a Steelers sweep on this one. The problem with any other cheap options in this game is that both teams are top-heavy in their target distribution and with Wilson out, neither is efficient either. The Steelers rank seventh in pressure rate and third in quarterback hurry rate. It’s worth throwing them out there on the hopes that Geno Smith, who has thrown fewer than 80 passes since 2016, makes a couple of mistakes.

Monday Night Football

Buffalo Bills at Tennessee Titans

When these two teams faced off in 2020, they were in very different places. The Titans were riding high at the peak of their powers and destroyed the Bills in what some dubbed an exposing moment for Josh Allen.

A lot has changed since then. We know for sure now Allen is without a doubt no fluke and his rise last year has been cemented as a true career turning point. The Titans, meanwhile, underwent some changes and have been a rocky operation to start 2021.

Buffalo rides into Week 5 coming off a huge win in Kansas City. They’re 5.5-point road favorites this week in Nashville.

Tennessee’s defense leaves yet another wide-open lane for Buffalo to cruise through. The Titans rank 27th in defensive DVOA and have allowed several passing games (namely the Jets) to enjoy their best season-to-date performances. Allen should roll once more.

Last week should have been the get-right game for Stefon Diggs but when your quarterback is gaining 21 yards per completion, no one is going to push for 10-plus targets. Diggs just got unlucky that his long pass didn’t result in a touchdown.

The buy-low window should slam shut after this primetime matchup. We don’t have volume or ceiling concerns with Diggs right now. He’s still top-12 among receivers in targets. Now he’s in a friendly matchup and high-scoring game script for the second week in a row. This week won’t be identical to last.

Buffalo Bills receiver Stefon Diggs (14)
The big Stefon Diggs game we're waiting for could arrive in Week 6. (AP/ Photo Jeffrey T. Barnes)

The Titans will need more than just Derrick Henry runs to take down the Bills when both their offense and defense are playing at this level. As such, A.J. Brown could see his buy-low window shut in this game too. Brown has just been unlucky on deep passes, hauling in zero of his six targets of 20-plus yards on the season. He’s the lone player with six-plus deep targets to go catch-less.

Derrick Henry is the most difficult piece of this week’s puzzle. He’s the highest salary player of the bunch at $38. Fading him is playing with fire. But he makes building lineups almost impossible. There’s a chance the Bills sell out to stop him, which is essentially what they did in Week 4 of 2020. Henry scored twice but managed just 57 yards on 19 carries. This time around, Buffalo’s defense is light years better, so they might be able to truly pull it off, and putting the game in Ryan Tannehill’s hands is overall a less scary proposition.

SUPERSTAR pick: Josh Allen ($37)

Josh Allen is coming off an awesome, MVP-level performance where he cleared 300 yards through the air on just 15 throws and ran 11 times for 59 yards against the Chiefs. This week he’ll go to work against one of the worst pass defenses in the NFL. The Bills are the most pass-heavy team in the NFL and rank second in situation-neutral pace of play.

This is Allen’s show — and he’s killing it.

Must-play: A.J. Brown ($22)

We have two bounce-back wide receivers in this spot (Diggs was mentioned above) and you can find ways to play both. If I am picking one, Brown gets the nod. He’s over $10 cheaper than Diggs and this is his lowest salary of the season. He has yet to have a massive game and while this is not an easy matchup, there’s so much positive regression due for his outlook. Brown still had a 27 percent target share last week, but the Titans just didn’t need to do much to beat up on the Jaguars. They’ll need him this week.

Sneaky cheap option: Jeremy McNichols ($10)

If you’re playing McNichols, it essentially means you’re close to full-on fading Derrick Henry. That doesn’t make you feel comfortable. But if you’re projecting the Bills to build a big lead, there is some logic to chasing the Titans' scat back. He’s run more routes on the season than Derrick Henry and has 17 catches on 20 targets. Obviously, most of that came in the Jets game without Julio Jones or A.J. Brown but still, we could see Tennessee in super negative game script. That would open up more snaps for McNichols. There are not many other realistic options in the cheap-o range.

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