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.
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The Chargers have one of the better team totals this weekend, on the main slate anyway, making Herbert an instant option. They are decent favorites, at home, coming off their bye and facing a New England team that has taken a step back on defense this season. I’m rolling with the obvious names here – high volume, good hands, lots of trust – in Ekeler and Allen. To the extent they can still manage it, it is the Patriots’ M.O. to take away their opponent’s biggest threat. This year, that man is Mike Williams. He’s also a way higher salary than Allen. There probably won’t be many games where Williams takes a back seat, but I suspect this could be one. To round out the game stack, I’m avoiding an improving Mac Jones and his motley band of receivers and relying on Harris to put up his fourth consecutive game with a touchdown and third with over 100 rushing yards. The Chargers defense has underperformed so far, but they’ve allowed more fantasy points to running backs than opposing passers or receivers. If you’re in need of salary relief in a GPP, Brandon Bolden could be considered as the receiving back for the Patriots.
We’ll find out if Brady really can throw four touchdown passes every week as the Bucs travel to New Orleans. He’s the best player in fantasy so far, this season and ever, but still checks in considerably cheaper than Josh Allen. Mike Evans is coming off a 3-TD game, Antonio Brown is not going to play, Rob Gronkowski is questionable (I am on record saying I think he’s more of a blocker/decoy if he is active), which leaves me with Godwin. Brady is an equal opportunity QB and likes to keep everyone happy. The Saints have been very generous to opposing receivers while remaining typically stingy to opposing running backs. I’m calling it a Godwin week, and saving some salary cap while I’m at it. I think it’s actually possible to roster both Evans and Godwin, but you might not be affording Kamara if you do so. Tampa has had one of the league’s better run defenses the past couple years, but aren’t a complete avoid, especially for someone like Kamara who accounts for basically all of his teams’ offense – rushing and receiving.
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Goff started the season off so good, and things have quickly gone downhill. Yes, DeAndre Swift has accounted for some of that, and injuries to the receiving corps have too, but I think he’ll have some good games left in him. The visiting Eagles aren’t a threatening opponent, and Vegas has them as only three-point favorites against the winless Lions. Regardless of whether that goose egg disappears from their record, Goff and his new favorite receiver, Raymond, should get on the board at least once this week. Smith has been a bit boom or bust, and more bust than anyone was expecting. Jalen Hurts is hard to watch, but despite the fits and starts, Smith is capable of the big games. He hasn’t scored since Week 1 and his lone 100-yard receiving game came in Week 4 vs. the Chiefs. This is potentially a game script that will allow him to put those together and get us a really nice return on investment as his salary continues to dwindle. Because you have to fill the TE slot somehow, I’m adding Goedert or Hockenson here. T.J. Hockenson started the season as hot or hotter than Goff, but dealing with a couple mild injuries and a series of tough matchups caused his value to plummet. He’s been back in the double-digit fantasy point range the last two weeks, and could see himself back in the 20’s this weekend. Goedert has been pretty reliable, but not a ton of upside. With Zach Ertz in Arizona, he should be seeing more than five targets a game. Assuming full health Sunday for Hockenson, you might use salary or personal preference as your guide to choosing one of these tight ends (Goedert is a little cheaper everywhere).
Bridgewater got top billing in the bargain article this week, thanks to his facing the league’s most generous pass defense at home. He’s a pretty high-floor player with upside in this week’s matchup, especially if we get off to a hot start by both sides. Most people think he’s too boring to use in a large-field GPP, but there’s nothing stopping him from throwing four touchdowns. I like all the Broncos this week, and have been slotting Noah Fant and Courtland Sutton in where they fit, but Jeudy is the risk/reward play I’m after for this stack. His salary is high enough that he’s not a no-brainer given that he’s been out basically the whole season. Can he make an immediate impact? I’m betting yes with this tournament team. McLaurin continues to shine, no matter how ugly the rest of the Football Team’s box score is. The Broncos defense has some potential here, but Heinicke has managed to keep a lot of games closer than expected (for a while at least). McLaurin is who he trusts the most, and the player most likely to top 25 fantasy points, so he has to be included in the game stack even though he’s a pretty safe play.
This game should be close and high scoring, but that doesn’t mean you need a QB from it. While I think both Ryan Tannehill and Carson Wentz will be fine, Wentz is simply cheaper and allows for more flexibility in the rest of the build. He hasn’t been amazing, but he also hasn’t been a lineup-killer…since he played the Titans in Week 3. Look for a bounce-back game for Wentz as things seem to be coming together for the Colts a lot better lately. Wentz accounted for three scores in a horrible weather game in San Francisco, so he should be able to at least get you 20-plus fantasy points this week. People might be a little bit down on Derrick Henry and Taylor because 1) neither was great in their first matchup, 2) their salaries are high (especially Henry’s) and 3) both are coming off down weeks for them (13-15 fantasy points). I’m reluctant to pay all the way up for Henry, but think Taylor is a nice fit with someone like Joe Mixon or James Robinson in DFS lineups.
In a perfect world, you can afford Michael Pittman Jr. here and I’m fine with that, but I also noted in the bargain article that Pascal has been a leading red zone target and someone Wentz looks at to score. Brown has been disappointing this season, until Week 7. This is the kind of performance we expect every week, and given that he was back to seeing nine targets in Week 6 as well, I think we should be optimistic on Brown. His salary feels like a bargain from an upside perspective.
Mini-Stack of the week:
The Bills are big favorites over their division rival Dolphins, and though it could be a wet one this Sunday, Allen projects as the highest scoring QB in our model. It’s possible his salary keeps his roster percentage down on a week with less value than usual. I’m doing my best to make it happen, however. I also like Diggs to come up with one of his show-stopping double-digit catch and multiple touchdown games. He hasn’t had one yet this season, and Miami ranks third in fantasy points allowed to opposing wide receivers. Expect the Bills’ defense to give them good field position and for Allen to keep pushing them down field drive after drive through Diggs’ sure hands.