This weekly article gets us ready for NFL DFS by considering some of the safest stacks, contrarian stacks, and a mini-stack or two. The premise is based on research showing the degree of correlation between one player’s fantasy output and another in his game. Among the strongest correlations are QB-QB(opponent), QB-WR1, QB-WR2, QB-WR1(opponent), QB-TE, and RB-D/ST.
My safest plays this weekend are Packers. They’re home, in decent weather, and have been rock solid for weeks. The Bucs are a good defense, but susceptible where Green Bay is strong – the Rodgers—Adams connection. Rodgers has thrown 10 touchdown passes in the last three games, and five of them went to Adams. There is no place I’d rather spend up…and Rodgers can be considered a bargain. Tonyan is not as safe a play as Travis Kelce (see below), but is much more affordable, and fits with a Packers stack better than either of the secondary receivers do. He had an amazing touchdown run earlier in the season, but hasn’t been a huge factor lately, perhaps partially because the Packers have been winning games with ease. Still, his catch rate is respectable, and his past TD success at least indicates that he’s a capable endzone outlet for Rodgers.
The Packers big flaw is their run defense. It ranked fifth in fantasy points allowed to running backs during the regular season, and just let Cam Akers run pretty wild in the Divisional game. I do like Ronald Jones as a salary-saving option in other lineups, but if I’m going for high floor, I’m going with Fournette. He has been used as the clear lead back most of the time, and is probably going to be worth the extra salary. The most recent game did see Jones get four red zone carries to Fournette’s two, but of course, Fournette was able to convert his lone red zone target into a receiving score. Also, Jones was more efficient, averaging 4.8 YPC to Fournette’s 3.7 YPC. This is all to say, where it makes more sense to save the salary with Jones, don’t feel bad about it, and if, like me, you find it possible (optimal?) to fit both Bucs backs, you've covered this glaring positional advantage thoroughly.
It looks like Mahomes is going to be fine for the Conference Championship, as I had initially assumed. This game has the highest point total, and Kansas City is now a three-point home favorite. That makes the Chiefs an easy team to stack, in theory anyway. The only real barrier to a full Chiefs stack is price. It’s nearly impossible to fill a lineup featuring all three of Mahomes, Kelce and Tyreek Hill, so I’m prioritizing Kelce. Tight end is just a much harder spot to fill with any degree of security. Plus, Buffalo has been overly generous with opposing tight ends this season, a theme that has continued into the playoffs. I love Hill, and think he’s going to smash, but if forced to choose between he and Kelce, I’m taking Kelce.
Buffalo might be the worst defense left, but the Chiefs aren’t that far behind. Their best DvP to target is the running back position, which is being occupied solely by Devin Singletary in the wake of Zach Moss’ season-ending injury. Yes, they signed Devonta Freeman and TJ Yeldon is around, but Singletary should be the main man by far. The problem with him is that isn’t such a great role in Buffalo, with Josh Allen himself taking so many of the high-yield goal line carries. Still, you have to save on this slate, and Singletary is a reasonable place to do so while building a game stack here.
This is contrarian to me, but I see lots of love for Brady and the Bucs this week so it may end up being more popular than I think it should be. Still, it’s hard to argue with the Bucs ascension to this stage of the playoffs. They did it last week with very little from what is arguably the league’s best wide receiver trio of Chris Godwin, Mike Evans and Antonio Brown. All three receivers were out-produced by Cameron Brate, as he and Gronk both had five targets in the win over New Orleans. The Bucs certainly do have endless weapons, and Brady likes to spread it around. Most of the hype I see is around Evans, who was the only star WR to catch a TD last week, but my favorite play here is Godwin. Their salaries are similar, so you might just go with the cheaper option, but I really think Godwin will be the lower-rostered player. So if you want unique, he’s the fit. Again, I think Kelce is hands-down the best TE option, but Brady has a sense of fairness with his surrounding talent. Gronk is beyond due after three games with fewer than five PPR fantasy points in a row. He is always an endzone threat, and it’s hard to imagine Brady not finding him in this Conference Finals game for a score after all their years together. That is a sentimental justification, but it’s hard to argue against given the history.
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Josh Allen and Stefon Diggs
I think Allen could be the overlooked QB after a not-so-great fantasy line in the second round of the playoffs vs. Baltimore. Plus, he and the Bills are underdogs on the road. Still, the Bills implied team total is in the range I target when selecting a solid QB and you know they are going to rely on Allen to win this game. He threw a ton in the last game, and I expect that to remain the plan. Diggs is a must-stack with Allen given his volume, his hands, and his playmaking ability. You know the story. I feel he should be much closer in salary to Adams, but am happy to take the discount. He may not be as good a lock for a touchdown, but should meet or exceed in catches and yards, especially with a potentially weaker than usual Chiefs’ secondary (Bashaud Breeland Q).