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 are the hot ticket right now, and bettors have driven the point total up 3-4 points this week. Allen and Diggs couldn’t look more comfortable together, and the combination of Zach Moss and Devin Singletary is working to move the ball down the field. While the run game could be a fantasy headache, I’m confident in Allen and Diggs putting together a high volume, high scoring day. John Brown is definitely in consideration too, at a lower salary than Diggs, but with about equal opportunity to score. The game should provide more of a test for Buffalo’s defense, which hasn’t looked as strong without a few key players from last year. I expect the Rams to keep this game close, and based on how we’ve seen Jamison Crowder and Mike Gesicki attack the Bills D, it’s Kupp that I think has the best chance to rack up the catches and yards. Still, if you can afford Higbee this week, I don’t mind including him in a hefty game stack of this one.
Murray is a lot like Allen when it comes to trust this week. There’s the nice rushing floor, with the capability of racking up the passing yards and scores in what should be another high scoring game. Detroit ranks third in points allowed right now. Along with Seattle, Arizona has the highest implied team total of the week (30.5 points), a metric that correlates well with QB performance. DeAndre Hopkins has been stellar so far, as his DFS salary reflects, but per NextGenStats, it’s Christian Kirk with the biggest share of the Cardinals’ air yards (35.2 percent). Kirk has only turned that into 57 receiving yards (to Hopkins’ 219), and is expected to draw the tougher matchup against Desmond Trufant this week (credit to Mike Clay), leaving Hopkins to potentially feast again. Detroit has been the fourth-best RB matchup for fantasy running backs this season, exactly where they were last year. We should expect a balanced pass/run approach to the game from Murray, with both phases having success. Drake is cheap enough to fit easily in this stack. Make it a bit more contrarian by adding Golladay, assuming he suits up Sunday. I expect people will want to ‘see it’ before committing to the top receiving option for Matt Stafford, but Golladay is capable of stepping right into a huge role in a shoot-out style game.
Dallas Cowboys at Seattle: No wrong answers
This game carries the highest point total of the week (55.5), with Seattle the modest home favorite. As good as Russell Wilson (fantasy QB1), Tyler Lockett and D.K. Metcalf have been, the Seahawks’ defense is not doing them any favors. Through two weeks, Seattle has given up the second-most fantasy points to opposing QBs (Matt Ryan and Cam Newton), and the most to wide receivers. Dak Prescott is sort of a hybrid between those two, and is having a very solid season already. Using either QB from this game in your cash or tournament lineups is A-OK with me, as is combining the receiving corps any which way that works (or multiple ways in multi-entry GPPs). Amari Cooper, CeeDee Lamb, and Michael Gallup are prioritized in that order, and I think at least one of them gets a receiving TD this week. Dalton Schultz is a bargain darling this week after earning a surprising 10 targets in Week 2 and catching nine of them. He should be freely used in any lineup, whether stacking this game or not. For the Seahawks, I prefer Metcalf to Lockett on pricing and touchdown potential, but no real concern on Lockett. Ezekiel Elliott has been fantastic, one of the backs I don’t mind paying up for, but this week I’m sticking with the pass game for both teams.
Cleveland is playing it smart with Baker Mayfield, and not asking him to do more than he needs to. Though Washington is a great matchup on paper, this defense could still get after Mayfield like it did Carson Wentz in Week 1. I prefer to take my QB from another game, and instead focus on some of the high upside receiving options. Cleveland is a touchdown favorite here. OBJ has seen almost twice as many targets as Jarvis Landry (16 vs. 9), and Austin Hooper hasn’t been the factor many of us hoped. You could take a shot on one of those guys scoring, but I think Odell is usually low-enough rostered in DFS that you don’t have to go that far out of your way to be a little contrarian. I also like Hunt over Nick Chubb, both for his expanded role in the passing game, but also the Browns’ willingness to use him as a pure rusher. He has only about 10 fewer carries than Chubb (two fewer touches), and both have been active in the red zone. Clearly Cleveland wants to dominate games on the ground, and not only is Hunt cheaper, this game script looks like it will set up well for him to reach value at least as easily as Chubb will (at lower ownership). Using McLaurin on the other side of the field covers Washington’s passing game pretty well. McLaurin is clearly the favorite target, but still doesn’t get a ton of DFS ownership, either due to team mistrust, price, or some combination. I think that Washington will have success moving the ball against Cleveland, and McLaurin gives them the best chance to do so.
Herbert performed really well when he started Week 2 out of the blue. Let’s hope he is able to stay out of his head with all the crazy media attention this QB situation has gotten over the past week. The Chargers are still 6.5-point home favorites, although the total has dropped a half point over the week. Herbert couldn’t have been much better in his debut, rushing and passing for touchdowns while throwing for over 300 yards. When you see Carolina, you think running back, and it’s true, the Panthers are the most generous fantasy matchup for this position. Nothing against Austin Ekeler, but I’m hoping to get an equal usage rate out of Kelley for thousands less in this game stack. Right now, Kelley has two fewer targets than Ekeler, but they both have 35 carries through two games, and are separated by less than two fantasy points (half-PPR). We can also save big on Davis on the other side of the field. It’s not nearly as nice a matchup, but Davis is expected to shoulder the Christian McCaffrey load pretty much on his own, and that is a super role for the salary it will cost you.
I put Allen in here, but it could also be Hunter Henry as the receiver for LA. I think a lot of people will go Higbee at TE coming off a 3-TD game, or save big with Schultz. Allen saw 10 targets in Week 2, and Henry saw eight from Herbert. Both should be in line for similarly high volume here, and I think they could each have five percent ownership or less.
Mini-Stack of the week:
Big Ben’s arm really might be better than ever. He connected on two sweet touchdowns with Chase Claypool and Johnson in Week 2, and with JuJu Smith-Schuster apparently prepared to play at less than 100 percent in Week 3, these guys are definitely on my radar. Roethlisberger is priced at QB 8ish but has a legit chance to be Top 5 this week. I trust Johnson infinitely more than Claypool. I always follow targets over highlights, and Johnson’s 13 in Week 2 led the team by a wide margin. I also always have a bias for Ben at home, which the Steelers are this week, and Houston has allowed opponents the fifth-most points so far this season. A slight spin would be to use Ben with James Conner or Smith-Schuster if you don’t mind the extra salary.