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 Kirk Cousins, Vikings ($34)
WR Justin Jefferson, Vikings ($30)
TE Irv Smith Jr., Vikings ($15)
This will by no means be a contrarian stack but there are plenty of affordable, unique pieces to build around to take advantage of the potential onslaught on Detroit. Minnesota is one of three teams with an implied point total of at least 30 points, and they’ll be facing a Lions defense ranked in the bottom five in scheduled-adjusted fantasy points allowed to every skill position, according to 4for4. Potentially down their top two running backs, the Vikings could implement a pass-heavy attack much like the Buccaneers did against this defense last Saturday.
Minnesota’s upside has been via the deep ball all year and no team has allowed more completions on passes 20 or more yards downfield than Detroit. Kirk Cousins ranks in the top five in the league in deep ball rate while Justin Jefferson has totaled the fourth-most air yards since Week 10.
With Kyle Rudolph out, Irv Smith has played over 80% of snaps in each of the last two games and is coming off of a nine-target game in Week 16. While stacking both of the Vikings’ primary wide receivers is viable, opting for Smith saves salary in a week where studs dominate projections.
QB Deshaun Watson, Texans ($34)
WR Brandin Cooks, Texans ($24)
WR A.J. Brown, Titans ($29)
Tennessee’s offense should draw the highest rostered percentage across the board this week with Derrick Henry taking on a huge chunk of that. The Titans are favored by 7.5 in a game with the highest over/under of the week but Houston has just as much upside through their passing game, if not more.
Since Week 9, only four quarterbacks have averaged more fantasy points per game than Deshaun Watson and he’s leaned heavily on Brandin Cooks since Will Fuller’s suspension. In that span, Cooks has accounted for over a third of the Texans’ air yards and ranks 17th among all players in expected touchdowns per game. When adjusted for strength of schedule, Tennessee ranks 31st in fantasy points allowed to wide receivers and bottom 10 against quarterbacks.
Although this is a smash spot for Henry, running back a Texans stack with A.J. Brown leverages Henry’s high rostered rate while attacking Houston’s secondary, which has allowed the second-most touchdown to receivers this year.
Contrarian Plays to Target
RB Aaron Jones ($31) @ Bears
After A.J. Dillon’s big Week 16, DFS players may shy away from Aaron Jones, especially with the Packers’ passing game getting most of the attention in DFS this week. The door was open for Dillon last week because Jones missed most of the first half with an injury but he should maintain his starting role in Week 17. The Bears are a tough matchup for running backs but Green Bay is projected for over 28 points and this is a tournament play betting on touchdown upside.
WR Jarvis Landry ($20) vs Steelers
Pittsburgh has announced that they will rest some starters in Week 17, including their great pass-rushing duo of T.J. Watt and Cam Heyward. Meanwhile, Cleveland’s pass-catching corps will be back at full strength after missing Week 16 because of COVID protocols. In the six games before the Jets game, Baker Mayfield ranked in the top five in touchdown rate while Landry saw 27% of the Browns’ targets and ranked in the top 10 in expected touchdowns.
TE Noah Fant ($17) vs Raiders
With so much attention on the games with playoff implications, this contest could fly under the radar as a potential shootout. Of the five games with an over/under of at least 50, this is the only one with a spread smaller than 5.5 points. Fant has totaled 20 targets over the last two weeks and Denver is expected to be without K.J. Hamler this week. With Darren Waller likely being somewhat popular for the Raiders, Fant offers leverage at a thin tight end position.
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 17, following news and tracking potential playing time is arguably as important as Vegas lines and player projections. For cash game purposes, it’s often best to stick to players that are in games with playoff implications when possible, especially when considering high-salary players.
Cash Game Plays
QB: Lamar Jackson, John Wolford, Aaron Rodgers
RB: Derrick Henry, Melvin Gordon, Myles Gaskin, Jonathan Taylor, Malcolm Brown
WR: Davante Adams, Mike Williams, Russell Gage, Calvin Ridley, Josh Reynolds, Curtis Samuel, Sterling Shepard, Amari Cooper, Jamison Crowder, Justin Jefferson
TE: Mark Andrews, Noah Fant, Irv Smith Jr.
DEF: Browns, Vikings, Ravens, Packers
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.