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. These are for the main slate on Sunday.
Herbert bounced back nicely from a couple tough outings with a mistake-free three-touchdown game in Week 15. Denver hasn’t been the passing defense to avoid this season; on the contrary, they are giving up the ninth-most fantasy points to QBs. I expect a Josh Allen-like performance from Herbert this weekend, and assuming that Keenan Allen remains limited or is in fact ruled out (he hasn’t practiced as of this writing), I’m comfortable with one of the young receivers. Both Guyton and Johnson have developed some chemistry with Herbert and Guyton especially seems to be a magnet for those long TD passes. They both carry low enough salary that they don’t need to put up huge numbers to be of value. I don’t hate Austin Ekeler, but view him as more of a tournament play this week. This game stack could easily shift in that direction by including Ekeler and Mike Williams. Noah Fant should be a popular play this weekend. I’ve said it many times; Drew Lock is better when he targets Fant often, and the Chargers have been particularly susceptible to getting beat by opposing TEs.
Watson has faced some tough opponents over the last three weeks (Indianapolis twice and Chicago), and while I haven’t felt he was worth the salary in those games, he hasn’t been bad (average about 20 fantasy points per game). This week he could be closer to 40. Coutee, Brandin Cooks and Chad Hansen could all be valuable, but Coutee is my favorite play of the three, assuming that the foot injury that caused him to be limited on Wednesday is no big deal. Bernard could be a trap play, given that his Week 15 usage was surprisingly strong, but the matchup with Houston is too good to pass on. In a large tournament, you could certainly take a shot on Samaje Perine or Trayveon Williams taking advantage of the second-best rushing matchup in the league. They both had decent volume in Week 14.
Atlanta’s run defense seems to be legit, but they are still a passing dream. Mahomes needs little to no justification; the Chiefs are huge home favorites and as noted, Atlanta ranks first in fantasy points to QBs. He’s not going to hold back here. With Tyreek Hill dealing with a hamstring injury, which will almost certainly impact his speed and cutting ability if active, I’m turning to Hardman and Kelce. Hardman is nearly as fast as Hill, and is coming off a nine-target game. He caught only three, but one was a nice touchdown grab. Kelce should dominate here, as usual. Though the Mahomes/Kelce stack is super-expensive, you can balance it by adding Gage and taking advantage of the opposing WR-QB correlation. Gage has been operating as the WR2 for Atlanta, and they certainly have no reason to put Julio Jones at risk at this stage of the season. Gage’s Week 16 salary is still firmly in the bargain range.
Chicago is still in the hunt for a playoff spot, and the easy matchups just keep coming for them. Congratulations to Montgomery, who is finally taking advantage. Look for his high usage to pay off again this week against a Jaguars team that is equally generous to opposing pass and run games. Though Allen Robinson is the favored target of Trubisky, Mooney is really coming on strong lately. Mooney has scored in the last two games, and is seeing around 5-6 targets per game, on which he boasts a 77 percent catch rate. This affordable GPP stack should include one Jaguars receiver, unless you go all in with the Chicago D/ST. I’m not inclined to roster them on the road, despite the Bears being big favorites (the exception might be on Yahoo, where they are underpriced). They don’t rank highly in sacks or takeaways, though the points allowed/points scored ratio is favorable for the Bears in this game. Shenault last scored in Week 13, but the Jaguars are still giving him a couple rushing attempts per game, and he has seen as many as 11 targets (from Gardner Minshew) in the last few weeks. He’s the most versatile option Jacksonville has, and my pick for the big game this weekend.
This game isn’t necessarily contrarian, but I know a lot of folks do not trust Wilson this week. He’s ‘regressed’ since the first half of the season but the Seahawks need this game to stay atop the NFC West. They have home-field advantage, which doesn’t mean as much as it used to, and are favored by 2.5 points. The Rams’ defense has been formidable, but I think Seattle, using a heavy dose of Metcalf, can beat it. Of course, Seattle’s defense has stopped nothing this season, and I’m fine with stacking both Rams’ receivers here. One or both should have a great day. Given the salary and matchup differential, the primary way to be contrarian here is to use Wilson over the much more popular Jared Goff.
Mini-Stack of the week:
The Ravens are huge home favorites over the Giants, and Jackson is in ideal form right now. If you commit to spending on tight end, pairing Andrews with Jackson is a safe, high-floor with upside way to go. Andrews is boasting over a 90 percent catch rate in the last two games, which is a lot more than you can say about any Ravens wide receivers. Jackson is pricey, too, but he’s averaged 30 fantasy points per game over the last three. He’s worth it, even in a tough on-paper matchup with the Giants (remember the QBs they’ve played this season).