NFL DFS Stacks Week 9

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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. These are for the main slate on Sunday.

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Safe Stacks:

Buffalo Bills at Jacksonville: Josh Allen, Stefon Diggs, Cole Beasley, Jamal Agnew/Dan Arnold

The Bills are the highest scoring team in the NFL, while their defense is allowing the fewest points per game. They are massive favorites in Florida this weekend, and even so, I love the pass game. This isn’t a team that wants to take it easy and run out the clock; they are full-go with Josh Allen’s arm (and legs) at the helm. Allen is easily the most expensive and highest floor QB you can roster, but that’s what makes this a safe stack. His top receiving weapons have been Diggs and Beasley, with Dawson Knox also a possibility if he advances to active status, but that seems unlikely at this point. Beasley should continue to provide great value on his high-volume role, while it’s virtually impossible for the Jaguars to keep Diggs out of the end zone, right? Jacksonville isn’t the best QB/WR matchup, but they do rank ninth in fantasy points allowed. You could definitely go all Bills here, but Agnew is an intriguing name to consider for serious salary savings if you want a bigger game stack. Carlos Hyde would get a lot of traction if James Robinson is ruled out, but game script suggests a pass-heavy day for Trevor Lawrence. Agnew has been leading the team in targets lately (12 in Week 8) and for $4300 (DK), $10 (Yahoo), or $5200 (FD), he’s more reward than risk.

Kansas City Chiefs vs. Green Bay: Patrick Mahomes, Travis Kelce, Tyreek Hill, Chiefs D/ST

I, like many people, am not giving the Packers much of a chance without Aaron Rodgers this weekend. Not only are they on the road, Jordan Love hasn’t attempted an in-game pass since the Week 1 disaster in New Orleans, when he completed five of seven passes for 68 yards. With some off-field distractions over Aaron Rodgers’ vaccination status unsettling this team, I think we have the makings of a strong Chiefs rebound game. All of the talent is there, and some of the salaries are even down after the last two games left Kelce and Mahomes supporters in the lurch. The Chiefs’ defense, not even a consideration when Rodgers was playing, is now potentially the bargain play of the week. I know Love could surprise us, but the Chiefs have shown some signs of life against their lower end opponents lately, with one interception in each of the last three games and three sacks of Daniel Jones.

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Contrarian Stack:

New York Giants vs. Las Vegas: Daniel Jones, Kadarius Toney, Evan Engram, Giants D/ST

Toney is experiencing some rookie growing pains, but does seem to be getting better as games go on and as the season goes on, and maybe most notably, it’s clear that Daniel Jones isn’t giving up on him. Jones is tied with Matthew Stafford with the eighth-highest pass attempts, and while the similarities stop there, volume is something. Toney should serve as a nice underneath complement to John Ross’ big play, field-stretching ability, assuming his thumb is good to go on Sunday. He seems most likely of all the Giants receivers to take the field. I like the Giants regardless of how this game goes. The Raiders are traveling east to play in the early slot, something that often takes a toll on west coast teams. Further, while they were still reeling from the abrupt exit of their head coach, they are hit with more off-field tragedy, this time surrounding Henry Ruggs, who is no longer with the team. It’s possible that Derek Carr and Co. rally in the face of disaster and put on a good show making this a competitive game. It’s also possible that they sputter and fail, giving the Giants a big confidence boost and easy win. Like I said, either way, it should be good for Jones and Toney (and Ross in your GPP lineups). There aren’t many inexpensive defenses to use this weekend besides the Chiefs, and if you’re a fan of Love you might consider the Giants, and hope for the sputtering and failing scenario from the Raiders.

Houston Texans at Miami: Davis Mills, Brandin Cooks, Mike Gesicki

As noted in this week’s bargain column, Mills has really faced a string of quality NFL defenses to start his career in Houston. His numbers have been up and down, and he notably came out ok for fantasy in garbage time vs. the Rams last weekend. So, facing what is ranked as the third-best matchup for QBs in Miami this week, he should be able to produce at the higher end of his range. If that’s around 25-fantasy points, I’m thrilled for his salary. You have to pair him with Cooks, as the target, yards and touchdown leader of the Texans by a mile. Miami is a decent home favorite here, as Houston isn’t exactly known for their defense either. I love Gesicki to fill the TE slot this week, as he has been the most productive receiver on the team (in yards). Jalen Waddle has one more touchdown, as well as more targets, but the return of Davante Parker last week gives me pause on using Waddle here. Parker immediately caught eight of 11 targets last week vs. Buffalo while Waddle only hauled four of his 11 targets. With three talented mouths to feed, I choose Gesicki based on the TE DvP (Houston is third-best matchup) and the fact that he fills the tougher position in my roster.

Arizona Cardinals at San Francisco: Kyler Murray, DeAndre Hopkins, George Kittle

With so much drama this week, this game seems to be flying a bit under the radar. It’s a big one for the Western Conference, and with Murray sporting a questionable tag since his Thursday Night Football injury, I think he’s going to be rostered at a very low percentage. I’ll never get away from pairing Hopkins with him, because even though Hopkins only saw a miserable two targets in Week 8, he was the top Cardinals’ WR for fantasy (half-PPR). Both players will need to practice on Friday for this stack to have any traction. Some people also see the 49ers and think “bad matchup”, but in reality, they rank as the third-best QB matchup this season. Murray had his worst game of the season against them a few weeks ago, but I always say lightning doesn’t strike twice; he’s not going to have the same stat line the second time they play. Kittle is another name with red all over it. As of this writing he’s expected to be activated and according to Twitter, he can’t wait to play with his friends again. No doubt, Kittle is a risky DFS play this weekend, but he could also be a very rewarding one if he and Jimmy Garoppolo get on the same page early.

Mini-Stack of the week:

Lamar Jackson and Mark Andrews, Baltimore Ravens vs. Minnesota

Baltimore and Jackson have been good at home this season, and Jackson is averaging 10 more fantasy points per game at home than on the road. Minnesota is a pretty neutral matchup, with enough offensive power to keep this game interesting. I love Jackson in a competitive or even come from behind game environment. He’s the top value according to our DFS Optimizer for FanDuel and second-best on DraftKings. It’s tempting to look at Rashod Bateman or Marquise Brown, and you certainly could go full game stack here with all the great receivers, but I think Andrews is the safest play with Jackson. Remember we haven’t seen the Ravens since Week 7, and that was a down game for Andrews after a stretch of quality performances. Andrews’ salary on DraftKings is great, and not too bad on Yahoo either. On FanDuel, I’m more likely to save with Gesicki or Kyle Pitts at TE and pair Lamar with Brown. Players coming off a bye are likely to have lower roster percentages, making this mini-stack a good one for any DFS contest this weekend.