Welcome back to the Air Yards DFS Value Index Week 18! Before we discuss the Value Index, I want to express well wishes for Damar Hamlin, his family, teammates, and all others directly impacted by what occurred Monday night. As someone who has played fantasy sports for almost 20 years, I have never witnessed a more jarring moment that reorients just how meaningless fantasy points are in the grand scheme of things. For some fantasy sports can be considered a very dehumanizing activity. However, it has always been something for me that makes me more interested in the players I roster, both in what they do on the field and who they are as a person. I hope and pray for Hamlin’s quick recovery and look forward to him rejoining the Bills in the future.
The goal of the Air Yards DFS Value Index is to determine the best “bang for your buck” in daily fantasy. This is accomplished by utilizing a player’s Air Yards and Air Yards Share to create a weighted Air Yards metric. We then compare this metric with each player’s DFS salary to create a Value Score.
The best value Air Yards play on the week is always scored with a value of 100. All other players are compared against that player with decreasing value. This list is not a mere recitation of where each player is ranked — a simple machine could do that. The list contextualizes each player’s Value Score to present the top ten Air Yard values in DFS for the week focusing on players priced at or below $5,500 on DraftKings.
We will highlight two wide receivers on the Air Yards Value Index priced above $5,500. Then, our focus will shift to the top ten Air Yards value plays priced at $5,500 or below on DraftKings.
Amari Cooper – DK: $6,000
Air Yards Value Score: 100
Air Yards: 1,719 (No. 4 among qualified wide receivers)|
Air Yards Share: 39.2-percent (No. 6)|
Unrealized Air Yards: 860 (No. 2)|
Amari Cooper saw a season-low four targets with DeShaun Watson under center. However, he had his best fantasy performance since Watson’s return posting 25.5 fantasy points on three receptions, 105 receiving yards, and two touchdowns. Despite the low target output, Cooper remains Watson’s go-to receiver. He should provide a solid floor against a Steelers secondary that he previously roasted in Week 3 when he scored 25.1 fantasy points.
D.J. Moore – DK: $6,100
Air Yards Value Score: 97.69
Air Yards: 1,446 (No. 12)|
Air Yards Share: 46.3-percent (No. 1)|
Unrealized Air Yards: 712 (No. 11)|
D.J. Moore is on fire! He has scored at least 18 fantasy points in four of his past five games. He has averaged 105.2 Air Yards during this same time. Sam Darnold even looks good. The only potential reason to pivot off Moore this week is that he is playing in a game where both teams are eliminated from playoff contention, and his reps could be limited. Otherwise, it is wheels up for D.J. Moore.
Top-10 Value Plays
10) Jakobi Meyers – DK: $4,900
Air Yards Value Score: 46.81
Air Yards: 898 (No. 39)|
Air Yards Share: 28.4-percent (No. 30)|
Unrealized Air Yards: 331 (No. 61)|
Jakobi Meyers in cash forever and always! Meyers has absolutely redeemed himself after his game-losing interception miscue in Week 15 against the Raiders. He has posted two consecutive games with six receptions and a touchdown. Meyers has averaged over 18.5 fantasy points in the past two games. With the Patriots fighting for a playoff berth, look for Mac Jones to pepper Meyers with targets again as the Patriots attempt to keep pace with the Bills’ offense. Meyers is a great value-based option in all formats this week.
9) Darius Slayton – DK: $4,600
Air Yards Value Score: 49.35
Air Yards: 888 (No. 40)|
Air Yards Share: 28.7-percent (No. 29)|
Unrealized Air Yards: 409 (No. 47)|
We discussed Darius Slayton last week as a way to discuss his teammates, Isaiah Hodgins (DK: $4,500) and Richie James (DK: $4,400). Last week, both Hodgins and James scored over 14 fantasy points whereas Slayton scored 1.4. Slayton was also out-targeted by both Hodgins and James and saw the least amount of Air Yards when comparing all three. As both James and Hodgins are priced lower than Slayton this week, I would prefer both of them in my lineups over Slayton assuming the Giants do not rest their starters.
8) Donovan Peoples-Jones – DK: $4,700
Air Yards Value Score: 53.13
Air Yards: 1,109 (No. 25)|
Air Yards Share: 25.3-percent (No. 41)|
Unrealized Air Yards: 455 (No. 37)|
Donovan People-Jones’s performance this year had him on the verge of entering the Jakobi Meyers tier of cash game plays. Peoples-Jones has scored double-digit fantasy points in 10 of 16 games this season and finished lower than WR47 only four times. However, he has had some uneven usage the past four weeks as he’s seeing less than 20 Air Yards in two of four games. While a touchdown salvaged his fantasy day last week, he has transformed into a much more volatile play compared to his performances during the bulk of the season. He is a low-upside dart throw this week.
7) Brandin Cooks – DK: $4,800
Air Yards Value Score: 53.77
Air Yards: 946 (No. 37)|
Air Yards Share: 30.6-percent (No. 23)|
Unrealized Air Yards: 534 (No. 26)|
Brandin Cooks has averaged 121 Air Yards and eight targets in the past two games where he has served as the Texans’ unquestioned number-one receiver. Unfortunately being the Texans’ number-one receiver means that this phenomenal usage is tied to the woefully inefficient Davis Mills. As such, Cooks has failed to post a top 24 week since his return from injury. He makes for a much better value cash play than tournament play, but it should surprise no one if he is able to torch a Colts secondary.
6) George Pickens – DK: $5,000
Air Yards Value Score: 54.25
Air Yards: 1,167 (No. 22)|
Air Yards Share: 26.1-percent (No. 40)|
Unrealized Air Yards: 543 (No. 23)|
George Pickens’s usage in the past four games has been pretty consistent. He is usually seeing four to five targets and anywhere from 50-70 Air Yards. Unfortunately, this has resulted in some uneven fantasy performances as Pickens’ 14.8 Average Target Distance (no. 6) is near the top of the league. With Diontae Johnson‘s usage surging (see below), Pickens is a pure boom-bust option without a huge ceiling. This makes him a non-preferable play in all formats, but you certainly could do worse.
5) Marquise Brown – DK: $5,300
Air Yards Value Score: 54.34
Air Yards: 1,002 (No. 33)|
Air Yards Share: 32.3-percent (No. 17)|
Unrealized Air Yards: 514 (No. 28)|
Marquise Brown has resumed WR1 duties in Arizona with DeAndre Hopkins out with an injury. Unfortunately, he is relying upon David Blough to get him the football. While catching passes from a fourth-string quarterback is not a recipe for fantasy success, Brown was still able to post a top 24-week last week seeing nine targets and 105 Air Yards. He makes for a great value-based cash game play, but it’s hard to see a boom week happening with Blough and the Cardinals up against the 49ers who arguably have the best defense in the league.
4) Gabriel Davis – DK: $5,400
Air Yards Value Score: 54.83
Air Yards: 1,229 (No. 18)|
Air Yards Share: 27.1-percent (No. 39)|
Unrealized Air Yards: 579 (No. 21)|
Gabriel Davis has a top-5 Average Target Distance of 15.0 Yards. He has seen 1.6 Deep Ball targets per game.
While the uber efficacy hasn’t been there this season, he is still extremely efficient with his touches posting a +9.5 Production Premium. Facing a tough New England defense this week, he is a great contrarian boom-bust tournament option.
3) Drake London – DK: $4,900
Air Yards Value Score: 64.12
Air Yards: 1,152 (No. 23)|
Air Yards Share: 30.6-percent (No. 24)|
Unrealized Air Yards: 634 (No. 17)|
Drake London is averaging ten targets a game over his last four games. He has also averaged 116 Air Yards during this time. He is a no-brainer cash play, but with his offense still trending run heavy the ceiling does seem to be there for a slate-breaking performance.
2) Courtland Sutton – DK: $4,800
Air Yards Value Score: 66.98
Air Yards: 1,273 (No. 17)|
Air Yards Share: 28.4-percent (No. 31)|
Unrealized Air Yards: 613 (No. 19)|
Since his return from injury in Week 16 Courtland Sutton has been solidly behind teammate Jerry Jeudy in the Broncos’ target pecking order. Jeudy is out targeting Sutton 18 to 13. However, Sutton has 30 more Air Yards during this two-game span. While Jeudy has outscored Sutton by almost nine fantasy points during this time, Sutton has more untapped upside. Both are viable cash game plays. However, Sutton has slightly more juice.
1) Diontae Johnson – DK: $5,200
Air Yards Value Score: 79.43
Air Yards: 1,440 (No. 13)|
Air Yards Share: 32.2-percent (No. 18)|
Unrealized Air Yards: 778 (No. 4)|
The Steelers have a final chance to get Diontae Johnson a touchdown this regular season. He has amassed 137 targets, and he is without his first score of the year which is a truly historic feat. However, he has pulled away from George Pickens in opportunities the past four weeks as he is out targeting the rookie wide receiver 32 to 17 and posting 136 more Air Yards.
Patrick Mahomes receiving yards today: 6
Zach Wilson receiving TDs this season: 1
Diontae Johnson receiving TDs this season: 0
— Ahaan Rungta (@AhaanRungta) January 1, 2023
He has also seen red zone targets in two out of his past four games. For sake of all models out there, this man needs a score, and he may get one against the Browns this week. Fire him up in cash lineups as a value play. He also has enough upside, if he has a score, to have tepid tournament exposure.
Good luck to everyone in Week 18. May all your Air Yards be realized.