Tier 1: Stud Stack Targets
As usual we’re going to look at pairing a few of the stud QBs from STLCardinals84’s excellent QB/RB Grind Down with their top WR complements, forming a ‘Stack’ of players whose fantasy values are linked. This approach can really put you ahead in tournaments – for more information, check out this lesson on‘Stacking’ or ‘Handcuffing’ NFL players in DFS.
Calvin Johnson, Detroit Lions, $9,400 (most expensive WR)
Pair With: QB Matt Stafford, $8,200 (11th-most expensive QB)
Total Stack Cost: $17,600 (29.3% of cap)
It’s time for the encore. Also known as, Megatron vs The Bears ‘Defense’ Part 2. Also known as, ‘Calvin Johnson, Kyle Fuller, and a Cloud of Dust’. I don’t think there’s any chance the Bears will leave rookie CB Kyle Fuller alone on Megatron again after the 11-146-2 debacle on Thanksgiving… but what choice do they have? They’ll likely commit more resources to Calvin’s side of the field this week, but they simply don’t have the personnel to match up with him, nor do they have the safety play to provide any sort of reliable help once their CBs get beat. It’s lose-lose for the Bears (as usual), making Calvin the unquestioned top option at WR.
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Jordy Nelson, Green Bay Packers, $8,800 (5th-most expensive WR)
Pair With: QB Aaron Rodgers, $10,000 (MOST expensive QB)
Total Stack Cost: $18,800 (31.3% of cap)
When Jordy dropped the 94-yard TD that would have salvaged both his, his QB’s, and his team’s day vs the Bills last week, the entire room at FanDuel’s FFFC event let out an audible groan. Having $3 million on the line will do that to a crowd. Jordy will be looking for redemption this week, and is a strong bounce-back candidate against a Bucs squad that coughs up the MOST FPPG to opposing WRs and also grades out as Pro Football Focus’s 7th-worst coverage unit. Nelson’s skillset and size should pose an awfully big problem to the Bucs personnel and Cover 2 scheme, who have struggled against other top WRs with prototypical size and/or traits: Kelvin Benjamin methodically bullied the Bucs for 8-104 with his size and leaping ability last week, and Calvin Johnson put on a WR clinic for 8-158-1 in Week 14. An expectation of 100+ yards and a TD is well within reason for Nelson, who is 2nd to only Calvin Johnson at WR this week.
Kenny Stills, New Orleans Saints, $6,100 (40th-most expensive WR)
Pair With: QB Drew Brees, $9,100 (5th-most expensive QB)
Total Stack Cost: $15,200 (25.3% of cap)
You might be wondering, why am I STILLS talking about this guy after he hauled in just 5 catches for 67 yards in a cake matchup last week? Because there’s plenty more cake in store for Stills this week. The Falcons grade out as PFF’s 2nd-WORST coverage squad, and outside of stud CB Desmond Trufant, they have very, very, very little talent in the secondary. Keep in mind this is the same squad that was just eviscerated for 10 catches and 123 yards by Antonio Brown last week, and bombed by Jordy Nelson for 8-146-2 the week prior. Stills isn’t on the level of either of those WRs, but his QB is absolutely on fire right now, and Stills’ big-play potential gives him plenty of upside against this limp secondary.
Tier 2: The Next Best Things
We can’t roster ALL the stud WRs -- every week we’ll take a look at players who offer solid upside at a more modest price.
Jeremy Maclin, Philadelphia Eagles, $8,000 (13th-most expensive WR)
Maclin is in an excellent spot to be both one of the top scoring WRs of Week 16, and one of the best values in DFS. The matchup is everything here. The Redskins are beyond atrocious in coverage, and are fresh off being completely dismembered for 12 catches, 143 yards, and THREE TDs by Odell Beckham Jr last week. Both of their outside CBs are in the bottom-15 in terms of PFF coverage grades, and have given up over 1400 yards and 11 combined TDs. This one is a no-brainer: Maclin is a high-floor/high-ceiling play who is suitable for all game types.
Golden Tate, Detroit Lions, $7,400 (17th-most expensive WR)
Tate is an interesting pivot from Calvin Johnson this week. Nobody will remember because of Calvin’s monstrous performance on Thanksgiving, but Tate was also effective in that game, hauling in 8 catches for 89 yards. The Bears simply can’t stop anyone in the passing game, and the more they dedicate to stopping Megatron, the more success Tate will have. If you don’t want to pay up for Calvin, or simply want to be a little different in a tournament, Tate is a top-20 option.
Edelman & LaFell are both #GrindDown Matchup Hammers against the Jets. They’ll draw the coverage of a ‘Darrin Walls’ and a ‘Marcus Williams’ this week. You’ve never heard of them because they’re not good players; both were undrafted, and signed off the street by the Jets as injuries mounted in their secondary. Now they have the unenviable task of slowing down a red-hot Pats offense. You can’t go wrong with either WR, but the nature of their production thus far suggests that Edelman is the preferred cash game play due to his higher floor. LaFell, on the other hand, is best suited to tournaments due to his big-play potential and high-ceiling. Both are great plays against this wimpy secondary.
Tier 3: Bargain Bin Ballers
These are the low-salary plays that allow you to go BIG at other positions. Usually made up of rookies, injury replacements, or players taking on new roles – upside and increased opportunities are the name of the game here!
Donte Moncrief, Indianapolis Colts $5,900
Moncrief broke many hearts last week as a penalty negated what would have been a tipped 48-yard TD. He’s a risky option at his current usage, but things are looking up for the rookie WR. First, reports suggest that that Reggie Wayne might be rested more until the playoffs – if his snaps are scaled back, or if he misses any time entirely, Moncrief would stand to benefit. Second, TY Hilton is questionable this week, and has been missing practice. Obviously if TY can’t go, Moncrief becomes a very enticing option. Playoff seeding plays a factor here. The Colts are nearly locked into their seed, which could mean they choose to rest Hilton and/or Wayne to get them healed up for the playoffs. In that scenario Moncrief is an excellent value play, so keep an eye on the RotoWorld Player News page for any updates!
Rob Gronkowski, New England Patriots, $7,800
WR Price Equivalent: WR14 (Kelvin Benjamin)
SEE everybody, I told you we didn’t need to worry about the scary Dolphins DVP. Gronk conquers all. And now he wants to give us all our Christmas presents early: a matchup against a helpless Jets squad that allows the 3rd-most FPPG to TEs and has coughed up an absurd 12 TDs to the position. There’s no extra analysis necessary here: G-R-O-N-K GRONK! GRONK! GRONK!
Jimmy Graham, New Orleans Saints, $7,100
WR Price Equivalent: WR20 (Jarvis Landry)
I am on a mission to point out the immense value of the top 2 TEs every week until they are priced congruently with their upside. Both Gronk and Graham have weekly top-10 RECEIVER upside, and given their incredibly high ceiling relative to most other TEs, they represent tremendous values while they’re priced as top-15/top-20 WRs.
If you had the ‘Saints TE’ position last week against the Bears, you racked up a massive 7-102-2. Unfortunately the 2 TDs in that total went to the Saints lesser receiving TE, Josh Hill. Nonetheless, Graham at least looked back to his old form with a sharp 5-87. This week he gets a Falcons squad that he has terrorized since his emergence; he diced the Falcons for 8-82 in their Week 1 meeting, and they’ve since lost key members of an already weak secondary that only boasts one player with a positive coverage grade on PFF (CB Desmond Trufant). Their LBs are absolutely horrid in coverage, and the defense as a whole simply doesn’t have the personnel to contain Graham. He is a top-2 TE this week.
Travis Kelce, Kansas City Chiefs, $5,600 (7th-most expensive TE)
Kelce doesn’t appear to be priced that many spots below Gronk & Graham, but the difference between the 1st and the 7th-most expensive TEs is $2,200. That’s enough salary to turn Jarvis Landry into Calvin Johnson this week.
With last week’s 5-59-1 against the Raiders, Kelce now has two straight weeks of legitimate usage as a featured weapon in the Chiefs Offense. Andy Reid has a way of completely abandoning game plans that are working (see also, Charles, Jamaal), but in a pivotal game against the Steelers, Kelce should remain the primary big-play threat in the Chiefs passing attack. As long as Baby Gronk is being schemed the ball on quick hitting routes (like his trademark TE screens), he’ll be an excellent upside play in DFS.