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.
The Bills game has an over/under of 51.5 points, highest of the Saturday games, and the Bills are 6.5-point favorites. Their offense ranks second in scoring this season, averaging 31.3 points per game. Josh Allen was the leading fantasy QB this season, mainly on the strength of his passing (though he did rush over 100 times for 8 TDs). Stefon Diggs was a big reason why, as Diggs finished the regular season as the leader in receiving yards. These two will cost you, but should also come through in a big way. The Colts Defense started the season as one of the very best, is still good, but has allowed over 300 yards passing in five of their last seven games. The two misses were Jacksonville in Week 17 and Tennessee, a game in which Derrick Henry went nuts as the Titans scored 45 points. This is to say that I’m not scared of the Colts D this weekend.
If Cole Beasley remains out for this game, and they will try to have him back, I’m sure, Isaiah McKenzie is the cheap filler for this stack. If Beasley plays, he, too, is an affordable component of this game stack, but not nearly as cheap as McKenzie. I’m not suggesting he’ll score three times this week, but he should be involved in a high-volume passing game script.
If you have a strong preference for Jonathan Taylor (expensive, but I like him) or Zach Pascal, you don’t have to include Hilton here. I’m banking on the connection we saw briefly in the middle of the season between he and Philip Rivers, and the fact that Buffalo has been particularly susceptible to slot receivers and tight ends. Unfortunately, Indy doesn’t have a clear-cut No. 1 TE I’m comfortable rostering. It therefore feels like Hilton hits the right price/upside balance in this stack. The other comeback option is Nyheim Hines, and he can be cheaply deployed in any lineup. He’s obviously a better bet on full PPR sites (DK) as he’s struggled to reach double-digit fantasy points in half-PPR the last four weeks. Still, he’s the kind of player that Buffalo has had problems stopping if Indy calls the right plays.
Lamar Jackson is the most expensive QB on two of the three main sites, and he has been worth all the pennies in the past few games. He made it over the 1000-yard rushing mark, leading No. 2 Kyler Murray by almost 200 yards. That floor makes him a priority, but he’s been tossing touchdowns lately – eight of them in the last three games – which gives him all the upside we want and need. The big benefit to a Ravens stack, aside from their talent, is the fact that they get the best defensive matchup in the playoffs by a LOT. Tennessee ranks as the fifth-best QB matchup, seventh-best RB matchup, and second-best WR matchup. Overall, during the regular season, they allowed the sixth-most overall fantasy points to their opponents. Unlike many of the post-season teams, the Titans got here with their offense alone.
Which brings us to Derrick Henry. Henry had a terrific season by any measure, but he is particularly special down the stretch. His game logs look a little like a roller coaster, with single-digit outings flanked by 40-point outings, but the first time he played Baltimore, he was pretty average, with 23 fantasy points.
You do need to find ways to save, because adding Derrick Henry leaves only $4200 per player on DraftKings. However, on a small slate, I’m not messing around at RB. Henry is going to be the focal point of the Titans Offense and even though the Ravens are a formidable defense, Henry has run over everyone lately. Baltimore actually ranks 20th against the run for fantasy, which is one of the better matchups, believe it or not. Anyway, we can save some salary with Brown, $6300 FD, $5400 DK, $22 Yahoo, who has caught six touchdown passes in his last six games on about seven targets per game. If you think about it, there is a big salary range among receivers that have significantly overlapping ranges of outcomes. Therefore, I’m spending more on RB and less on WR here.
Seattle has fantasy fans shaking their heads. What happened? Russell Wilson has barely touched 20 fantasy points once since Week 9, often throwing for fewer than 200 yards. Only 12 of his passing touchdowns came in that span (vs. 28 in the first half of the season). But he’s also gone from being the most expensive QB on every slate to like seventh (FD) or fourth (DK and Yahoo). And his roster percentage should be very, very low. I talked about how the low total on this game combined with the excellent Rams’ defense made the Seattle offense an avoid, but if you are interested in multi-entry tournaments, please consider it. If this magical trio does what they did back in the early going, you are getting bargain fantasy points. Lockett and Metcalf both had 10 receiving touchdowns and both surpassed 1000 receiving yards, despite the fall-off in Wilson’s productivity. I’m rooting for a dominant, resurgent game from all three of them.
The Bucs are the biggest favorites of Saturday’s slate, and Brady has really embraced his new team. He’s thrown touchdown passes to everyone, but when Mike Evans went down last week, it was Chris Godwin and Antonio Brown who each caught two. That made four in the Bucs’ last three games for both wide receivers, on a similar number of targets. If Evans is unable to play this week, I think you might just as well use the cheaper of two similar producers, which is Brown. The numbers for Godwin and Brown are eerily similar, and I’ve decided to embrace the “Brady loves Brown” narrative and spend my extra money at RB.
Drew Brees and Michael Thomas
The Saints are the biggest favorites on Sunday, at home vs. Chicago. The Bears are a good defense, and Brees has not been an overly bright fantasy star when he’s played this season, but this is the playoffs, and he will have Thomas back. I wouldn’t trust this duo in a cash game lineup, but do think they have some tournament potential, even if Alvin Kamara is back. The Saints were creative in compensating for injuries this season, but I think with a SuperBowl in sight, they are going to rely heavily on the experience of Brees and Thomas. These two could be a fairly inexpensive difference-making combo in bigger GPPs.