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 Joe Burrow, Bengals ($27)
WR Tee Higgins, Bengals ($19)
WR A.J. Green, Bengals ($17)
WR A.J. Brown, Titans ($28)
This game has an over/under currently sitting at 53 with Tennessee favored by 5.5, so the Titans offense will be one of the most popular of the week. Stacking the Bengals side gets exposure to this game on the less popular side while also opening up salary to pay up for studs elsewhere in equally good spots.
Cincinnati throws at the second-highest rate in neutral game script and the Titans are one of two defenses ranked in the bottom 10 against every skill position in 4for4’s schedule-adjusted fantasy points allowed metric. Tee Higgins, A.J. Green, and Tyler Boyd have seen a relatively equal share of targets and air yards in recent weeks but if the Titans have one strength against the pass, it’s been in the middle of the field. Tennessee has allowed a respectable 8.64 yards per attempt to wide receivers lined up in the slot, where Boyd primarily lines up. Meanwhile, perimeter cornerback Malcolm Butler has been targeted at a top-10 rate in the league, according to SportsInfoSolutions, and Jonathan Joseph allows the sixth-most fantasy points per target on the other side.
Bringing it back with A.J. Brown plays into the shootout game script while also getting a Titans player that isn’t as popular or expensive as Derrick Henry.
QB Jimmy Garoppolo, 49ers ($26)
WR Brandon Aiyuk, 49ers ($22)
TE George Kittle, 49ers ($26)
WR Tyler Lockett, Seahawks ($26)
Getting unique exposure to either of these passing games will be difficult and that’s where Jimmy Garoppolo comes in. The 49ers quarterback figures to be in fewer than 10% of lineups and stacking the San Francisco side instead of the Seattle side won’t be an overly popular play.
The concern with Jimmy G is his low fantasy output this season but he’s actually been quite efficient, ranked 12th in fantasy points per pass attempt. Additionally, San Francisco hasn’t been as run-heavy as some might think, as their 58.3% passing rate in neutral situations ranks 15th.
Stacking Garoppolo with George Kittle is the obvious upside play but Aiyuk should see increased volume with Deebo Samuel out. The rookie saw 28% of San Francisco’s targets last week and was thrown at on 22% of the 49ers passes the last time Samuel missed a game.
Usually, choosing between Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf is a coin flip but Locket offers $7 in salary savings compared to his teammate.
Contrarian Plays to Target
RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Chiefs ($27) vs Jets
Kansas City will be one of the most popular offenses to stack this week. They are favored by nearly 20 points and have the highest implied point total on the slate. Despite their potentially amazing game script, though, their backfield could go largely ignored. Edwards-Helaire has struggled to find the end zone this season and DFS players will be especially trepidatious about rostering him due to Le’Veon Bell’s presence. All of this adds up to CEH being an incredible leverage play against a Jets defense ranked 27th in fantasy points allowed to running backs when adjusted for strength of schedule.
WR Marquise Brown, Ravens ($20) vs Steelers
Fantasy managers are getting frustrated with the Ravens No. 1 wide receiver but rostering high-upside players when the public is off them is how to win tournaments. Brown’s usage suggests massive upside—he ranks in the top 15 in target share and no player on the main slate has seen a higher percentage of their team’s air yards this season. In addition to Brown’s fantasy output, he is likely to be unpopular because he is facing one of the best defenses in the league but the Steelers allow the third-most fantasy points to wide receivers when we adjust for schedule strength.
TE Robert Tonyan, Packers ($17) vs Vikings
The Packers’ tight end is a similar play to Edwards-Helaire in that he is in an offense that will be stacked heavily but he will not be in many lineups. The difference here is that both sides of this game figure to be popular so Tonyan works as an addition to game stacks or as a one-off leverage play on DFS teams that choose to stack other games. The wind could be a concern in Green Bay and if Aaron Rodgers dials back the deep balls because of blustery conditions, that could mean an increased target share for his tight end.
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.
Things change leading up to kickoff every week in the NFL but this week we can at least anticipate some of the mayhem. Wind above 15 mph usually leads to a dropoff in passing efficiency and there are multiple games this week that may have wind concerns. Use the weather as a tie-breaker between equally valued players and consider avoiding quarterbacks in bad wind conditions for cash games.
Joe Mixon is unlikely to play but he has not officially been ruled out while Chris Carson has been declared a game-time decision. The health of both backs will determine what kind of value is available at running back and how much salary is available to spend elsewhere. Even if Carson doesn’t play, his backups are also dealing with injuries, so it’s a situation to monitor closely. Aaron Jones has yet to practice as of this writing, as well. If he is out, Jamaal Williams is a great value again this week.
Cash Game Plays
QB: Patrick Mahomes, Joe Burrow, Ryan Tannehill, Ben DiNucci
RB: Giovani Bernard, Boston Scott, Kareem Hunt, Derrick Henry, Darrell Henderson
WR: Keenan Allen, Tyreek Hill, Jarvis Landry, Brandon Aiyuk, Rashard Higgins, A.J. Brown, Justin Jefferson, Tee Higgins, Tyler Lockett
TE: George Kittle, Travis Kelce, Richard Rodgers, Darren Waller, Harrison Bryant
DEF: Chiefs, Eagles, Bills, Saints
Follow TJ on Twitter @TJHernandez
More analysis from 4for4: Bankroll Management
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.