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.
Indianapolis is now the fifth-highest scoring team in the league, while allowing the seventh-fewest fantasy points to opponents. The Colts’ defense is third-best in the turnover department, which tends to give Rivers and the offense good field position. No team in the league offers a better running back matchup than Houston, and while there is still some discussion of “hot hands” in Indy, Taylor is clearly the best man for the job. I don’t hate Nyheim Hines at all this week, especially where he represents a significant discount, but Taylor should rightly be one of the most popular DFS plays of the week. Pair Rivers with either Pittman, who I’m so ready to see break out for a big game, or Hilton, who has been great in the recent good passing matchups Indy has seen. I personally can’t escape the thought that three games without a hamstring strain seems too many for Hilton and worry that rostering him at his increased salary this week is tempting fate. Not very scientific, I know. The fact that Pittman is significantly cheaper might be more persuasive.
The Titans’ defense isn’t known as a fantasy powerhouse, but facing Chase Daniel can pique anyone’s interest. Detroit will probably rely on D’Andre Swift a lot this week, and I do like him for DFS, but the Lions’ pass game is untouchable without Matthew Stafford. Ryan Tannehill and Derrick Henry both figure to be pretty popular plays, and if you wanted to go heavy here, you could certainly add A.J. Brown or Corey Davis to the core stack. Henry should crush this Detroit run defense, as most everyone who has come before him has. Plus, December. Here you account for all the Titans scoring, barring anything super weird, and they have one of the highest team totals of the week. Should be a solid cash game core.
It’s hard not to go back to the Ravens after that exciting Monday Night game. Jackson was his best self, and there is really no reason to expect less from him in a better matchup with the Jaguars. The one concern is that Jacksonville can’t keep the pressure on like the Browns did in Week 14, but Cleveland did expose some weakness in the Ravens’ D. Though Marquise Brown managed to eek out fantasy value again, I prefer the stability and upside of Andrews here. It’s hard to like TE as usual, unless you spend up. Pairing Jackson and Andrews is costly, but should be worth it. For the Jaguars, Gardnew Minshew will get the starting job this week, and that means that Chark could be fantasy-relevant again. The two were on the same page to start the year, and as much as I’m a fan of Laviska Shenault, I think Chark is great value this week at his depressed price tag.
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Hurts’ first start was a dominant success for fantasy believers. It was a tough matchup, but he showed off his rushing ability and made some good decisions. He has the chance to build on the rapport he started to show with fellow rookie and Jalen, Raegor, and it might be the last chance to roster these two on the cheap. I am impressed with Goedert’s 6 and 7 targets the past two games, and he has shown what a good scoring option he can be. The presence of Zach Ertz might cause some people to just avoid the Philly tight end situation, but I think Goedert has earned the trust this season. Pairing the Eagles stack with Kirk, rather than DeAndre Hopkins certainly increases the uniqueness of the game stack, but if we expect Hopkins to see the Eagles best coverage (could be shadowed by Darius Slay, if he makes it out of the concussion protocol), Kirk could be remembered by Kyler Murray this week, and when he’s a focal point, he can put up huge numbers.
Washington’s defense continues to handle opponents, giving the offense at least the opportunity to move the ball and score. This week, the traveling Seahawks should provide less resistance than some recent matchups. Seattle is notoriously bad this year, allowing the second-most fantasy points to QBs, and third-most overall. There is still some question as to whether Smith or Dwayne Haskins will start this Sunday. If it is Haskins, the stack should include his favorite target, Terry McLaurin, who for reasons I don’t fully understand, has not hit his stride with Smith. McKissic should be solid regardless as Antonio Gibson is starting to look more doubtful than questionable. Logan Thomas just needs the action, and in a game where the Seahawks have plenty of scoring weapons of their own, Washington is going to have to take a more high-powered offensive approach to win.
Mini-Stack of the week:
They’re facing the Jets at home, with one of the largest spreads of the season (minus-17). Expect the Rams’ defense to put Goff and Co. in great field position all day long. While the team could elect to run the ball more this week, the passing matchup is too good to pass on. Goff ranks sixth in passing attempts, and eighth in yards; his touchdown number could be higher than 18, but perhaps that changes this weekend. Kupp has been the Rams leading target-getting with the most catches, 79, though Robert Woods has out-scored him. The Jets are going to have a hard time containing this offense, so if Woods is your strong preference, I have no objections.
It isn’t the best of matchups, as New Orleans allows the third-fewest overall fantasy points to opponents, but this isn’t any duo. Mahomes and Kelce are as matchup-proof as it comes, and in what should be a close and high-scoring game, they are optimal plays this week. I also love Tyreek Hill, but a 3-way Chiefs stack gets very expensive very fast, and Kelce solves a much more difficult lineup problem than Hill does.