By TJ Hernandez, 4for4
Special to Yahoo Sports
Whether you are playing in the biggest tournament of the week on Yahoo or prefer to play in smaller GPPs, there are some general GPP strategies that you can implement in contests of any size. These concepts include stacking, finding pivots off of popular players, and targeting players that won’t be on many rosters.
While it’s important to implement these into your lineup-building approach, the foundation of any tournament lineup is a solid core — usually players that you would use in cash games.
Stacks to Target
QB Kyler Murray, ARI ($29)
WR DeAndre Hopkins, ARI ($28)
TE George Kittle, SF ($29)
These two teams combined for 115 points in two games last season and Kyler Murray exceeded 21 Yahoo points in each contest. Over the second half of 2019, San Francisco allowed 22 fantasy points per game to opposing passers. The 49ers defense enters 2020 down a couple of key starters from last season with injuries to players that are still there while Murray and Kliff Kingsbury now have a year together under their belt. Look for this game to be closer than the spread suggests, possibly in a shootout. Kittle will be a popular play, but the Murray-Hopkins combo will offset any high rostered percentage. This game is worthy of stacking from top to bottom.
QB Josh Allen, BUF ($31)
WR John Brown, BUF ($18)
Early in the season, betting lines are exploitable and this is a spot where the Bills should score way more than expected. In an abbreviated offseason, continuity cannot be understated, which is why Brown is the preferred pairing with Allen rather than Stefon Diggs. Regardless of his deficiencies as a passer, Allen has proven his fantasy upside with his rushing prowess — and now he has one of the best wide receiver duos in the league. The Jets come into the season ranked 28th against wide receivers, according to 4for4’s schedule-adjusted fantasy points allowed metric. This offense has as much upside as any in the league and targeting Buffalo early in the DFS season is the exploitable play before they gain popularity.
RB Christian McCaffrey, CAR ($39)
RB Josh Jacobs, LV ($26)
Two running backs from the same game is generally a play to avoid in any DFS contest since it’s a play that is usually negatively correlated but this is a unique situation. Both McCaffrey and Jacobs are the focal points of their offenses and their respective quarterbacks aren’t known to take many risks. In other words, when these teams score, a lot of the opportunity will go to the running backs. Las Vegas and Carolina are two of the worst defenses in the league, making most relevant position players in this game worthy of a look in tournaments. While both of these backs will be popular plays, few lineups will feature the two together. This isn’t a traditional quarterback stack, but nine Baller winners in 2019 used stacks from at least two games.
Contrarian Plays to Target
RB Ezekiel Elliott, Cowboys ($31)
Most rosters that pay up at running back are going to feature Christian McCaffrey, Josh Jacobs, Dalvin Cook, or Austin Ekeler. Furthermore, anyone targeting the Sunday night game figures to load up on the passing games of the Cowboys and Rams in hopes of a shootout. This makes Ezekiel Elliott the perfect tournament play — he’s a pivot off of similarly priced, popular players at his position and he’s a leverage play against players in his game. An additional bonus is that playing him in the flex allows for a late swap before the final game of the day, if necessary.
RB Marlon Mack, Colts ($17)
Indianapolis is favored by over a touchdown against the Jaguars which means this already run-heavy offense should be in a game script that encourages even more running. Jacksonville comes into the season ranked last against running backs, according to 4for4. Offseason hype on rookie Jonathan Taylor will likely make him the more popular Colts back, which makes Mack a great leverage play.
The Ravens will be one of the most popular offenses in tournaments this week, making Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry fantastic, low-rostered options to add to Baltimore stacks. The Ravens will allow underneath passes, as evidenced by Landry’s big outings against them recently, and with Beckham now at full health, both receivers can do damage after the catch. This isn’t a spot to play both Cleveland receivers together, but either could blow up in a game where the Browns will likely be forced to throw.
WR Marvin Jones ($14) / TE T.J. Hockenson ($12), Lions
Like the aforementioned Cleveland duo, the Lions aren’t a team that I am looking to stack but they do have stand-alone upside, especially with Kenny Golladay dealing with a hamstring injury. Matthew Stafford had the most efficient season of his career last year under offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell, largely because Bevell let Stafford throw the deep ball often. If Golladay sits, Jones will get more snaps in a plus matchup against Bears cornerback Jaylon Johnson. Playing Hockenson carries the added benefit of rostering a tight end in a low salary tier in a week when paying up at the position will be the preferred strategy.
Cash Game Strategy
The backbone of my cash game approach is 4for4’s proprietary value metric, which goes beyond simple point per dollar projections. That value calculation extends to a player’s odds of hitting cash game value based on their implied volatility according to their floor, median, and ceiling projections.
In Week 1, cash games will be decided on who pays up for Lamar Jackson and/or Christian McCaffrey and who doesn’t. In order to make both players work, lineups will likely have to gamble on Antonio Gibson and his uncertain role in a game where Washington figures to be trailing. With Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson off the main slate, Lamar is even more intriguing than most weeks. As will almost always be the case, rostering three running backs locked into high volume will be the top priority.
Cash Game Plays
QB: Lamar Jackson, Cam Newton, Josh Allen, Tyrod Taylor
RB: Chris Carson, Miles Sanders, Josh Jacobs, Joe Mixon, Ezekiel Elliott, Austin Ekeler, Christian McCaffrey
WR: Robert Woods, Marvin Jones, DJ Moore, Allen Robinson, Adam Thielen, DK Metcalf, Tyler Lockett, Marquise Brown, Anthony Miller, Terry McLaurin, D.J. Chark
TE: Mark Andrews, George Kittle, Zach Ertz, Hayden Hurst
DEF: Chargers, Eagles, Bills, Colts, Patriots
Follow TJ on Twitter @TJHernandez
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TJ is a former full-time poker player who has been playing fantasy football for more than a decade. After online poker was outlawed, TJ ended his poker career and dedicated himself to fantasy football. His background in poker statistics and analytics translates to success in both daily and season-long fantasy football.