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.
Despite the new haircut, I expect Herbert to have no shortage of confidence when taking the field at home vs. the lowly Jets this Sunday. The Chargers are one of the biggest favorites of the week, and Herbert has been playing well enough to pop his salary into the Top 2-3 across DFS sites. With one of the best passing and overall fantasy matchups, I’m going heavy on Chargers despite the cost. Keenan Allen has continued to be the target hog in LA, averaging over 10 targets per game. Even if you’re not stacking LA, Allen should be in consideration for all lineups this weekend. His salary on Yahoo is especially nice. Rostering Ballage is a low-cost way to cover most, if not all, the rushing action from LA’s side. He has been the dominant back over the last two weeks and there doesn’t seem to be any need to change that up since he’s racked up about 70 rushing yards per game and another 50 or so receiving yards with one score. This will be his best matchup yet.
You can run it back with any of the Jets’ receivers; they’ll all help save some salary cap, but I like the way Joe Flacco was looking for Perriman the last time they played. He ended up with two touchdowns and a couple of nice big plays. I get the allure of Denzel Mims, and he was targeted often too vs. New England. Jamison Crowder had been a favorite of Sam Darnold, but was largely overlooked by Flacco on Monday Night Football in Week 9 (two targets, though one in the end zone for a touchdown). Perriman is the riskiest play here, but it does look like the Jets will take to the air to attempt to keep pace in this game, and the Chargers’ secondary has been soft to say the least.
The Vikings are another big favorite this week, going up against a Dallas defense that allows the most real points per game and the 10th-most fantasy points per game. Rarely will I want all aspects of the Vikings game, but the passing/receiving matchups are too good to roll with Cook alone. Of course, I expect Cook to be busy come Sunday, and he’ll have an easier time than he did Monday against the Bears. Cousins put up nice numbers in that game, getting both Thielen and Justin Jefferson involved. I feel like Thielen could have 12 targets this weekend, so he’s my spend-up receiver from this game. Speaking of savings, Cooper’s salary is in the bargain bin ($21 Yahoo, $5400 DK, still $6900 FD, though). I don’t love Andy Dalton under center, but he’s going to have to throw the ball, and Cooper is the best bet to reach value. I have no issue with substituting CeeDee Lamb or even Michael Gallup if you feel strongly about either one of them or want to hedge.
Newton started the season pretty strong, then it feels like he had a really bad stretch, but it was really only one bad game vs. San Francisco. His salary is easy to fit on all three sites, and perhaps especially tempting on Yahoo ($27). Houston is allowing opponents about 28 real points per game, and ranks sixth in overall fantasy points allowed. They are a friendly matchup across the board, being most generous to running backs (third-best matchup). Part of Newton’s recent consistency has stemmed from the emergence of Jakobi Meyers, a hot dynasty prospect last year who has only really gotten hot the past two weeks. Meyers is averaging over 10 targets per game the last three weeks, and despite not catching any touchdowns, has responded with about 15 half-PPR fantasy points per game.
You should know how I hate to rely on the New England backfield, but Harris is coming off one of his best games of the season (with a season-high 22 carries). He has three 100-plus yard games this year, and although Sony Michel should be back, which complicates the picture, Harris has been too good to bench. The only game in which he’s averaged fewer than 5.0 YPC was in Week 6, vs. Denver, when he had only six carries (also his only single-digit carry game). I hate to call him a safe play, but his salary is fair and the matchup is fantastic. On any other team, he’d be a no-brainer. For Houston, Will Fuller V has been the better fantasy receiver, with more yards and more touchdowns, but Cooks is the higher target-getter, and his catch rate is improved to a somewhat respectable 63 percent. New England will focus on getting to Deshaun Watson this week, and will probably prioritize Fuller over Cooks in terms of secondary coverage. The salary discrepancy between the two Houston receivers still feels too large to me…I’m taking the discounted Cooks this week.
The Steelers are 10-point favorites this week, so Big Ben is probably not that contrarian. Stacking the Steelers hasn’t been so easy this season however, and including Conner here ensures at least one low-owned player. Conner hasn’t lived up to even the lowest expectations the past two games (Dallas and Cincinnati). Good backs bounce back, and that’s what I expect to happen with Conner this week. Those were so-so matchups, but the Jaguars are GREAT. Being on the road has never been the best time to roster Pittsburgh players, another fact that could leave them lower on the roster percentage scale. Furthermore, how do you choose between three very similarly productive receivers? Claypool has the most PPR fantasy points, while JuJu Smith-Schuster leads in yards and catches and Diontae Johnson has the most targets. Claypool has turned 11 red zone touches into six scores – two rushing and four receiving. Claypool is not a fluke, and yet he also can’t expect to score multiple touchdowns every week. But this week, a repeat performance is likely. As with Dallas above, if you swap to Johnson or Smith-Schuster, I have no issue with it and think it’s a good place to hedge in multi-entry scenarios.
I don’t know why, but the absence of Drew Brees makes this divisional matchup less exciting for fantasy somehow. I also don’t expect the Falcons to be completely forgotten, but not many will go with a full stack. At this point, we don’t know if Calvin Ridley is active. He has great historical numbers vs. the Saints, but with Jones fully healthy, I’m going with Jones. New Orleans has again been great at stopping the run, but they have shown some vulnerability to opposing tight ends (fifth-most fantasy points). Hurst is quietly having a great stretch, averaging 7-8 targets and 13 fantasy points per game over the last four Falcons’ games. Ryan’s salary is interesting. It’s high on FanDuel, which will turn some people away for sure, but he has as much upside as anyone, coming off the bye and facing a Brees-less Saints team that will cobble together a Jameis Winston/Taysom Hill QB. I can see mistakes being made by the Saints new-look passing offense, which could land Ryan in great field position once or twice. This QB situation also has me willing to spend up on Kamara. Atlanta is not as good a rushing matchup as they once were, but Kamara is never about the matchup. His usage should be sky-high in this high scoring and competitive game.
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Mini-Stack of the week:
I want to get some exposure to a very cheap Smith in a great matchup, coming off a surprisingly high-volume game (55 pass attempts). Smith is fitting in well with the Football Team, and though McLaurin remains the top dog, he has involved everyone, including both Sims. J.D. McKissic had a notable 15 targets in Week 10, and Antonio Gibson was also great. I exclude them here because it’s a mini-stack, but if you want to expand to include one or both backs, I expect them to stay very involved in the game plan.