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.
You’ll have to pay up for Jackson, but if there is one player who will make good on his high salary this week, Jackson is the safe pick. After being frustrated by the Chiefs in Week 3, I expect Jackson and the Ravens to come out big this weekend, and yes, I pity the Washington Football Team for it. While he may take a page from Kyler Murray and move the chains with his legs in this matchup, I also think he’ll make a statement by getting the ball to his primary receivers in Andrews and Brown, who were also frustratingly shut down Monday night. Look for big bounce-backs from all three of them. Paying up for the Ravens’ D/ST makes sense based on the spread, but also when you consider that Washington has one of the most-sacked QBs (3.3 sacks per game), and is tied for second in the league with seven turnovers. The Ravens tie with several teams for second in takeaways, with six. Note, starting this way leaves you about $5100 per player on DraftKings, $18 per player on Yahoo, and $6300 on FanDuel, so be sure to check our bargain options to make it work.
Much has already been made about the Texans finally getting a break defensively so I won’t belabor the point that the Vikings secondary is, let’s say, soft. Watson has played better than I personally expected the past couple weeks, but this could really be an excellent opportunity for Fuller. The Vikings give up the fourth-most fantasy points to WRs, being torched in recent weeks by Davante Adams and Kalif Raymond (we expected big things in Week 2 from Parris Campbell but he was, of course, injured early). I also like the matchup for Johnson, and am not worried about the pending return of Duke Johnson either. It’s not like David J.’s targets shot up the weeks Duke missed. Johnson has struggled against Pittsburgh and Baltimore in the last two games, but those teams are ranked as the 30th and 31st in fantasy points to RBs. I’m encouraged by Minnesota’s defense allowing both Derrick Henry and Jonathan Taylor 100-plus rushing yards in the last two weeks, while Aaron Jones posted a nice well-rounded stat line against them in Week 1. To round out the game stack on the cheap, include Jefferson (or Adam Thielen, if you have extra salary and prefer). With a 54-point total and just a 3.5-point spread, both teams are expected to put up points here. Jefferson was fully unleashed in Week 3, and I’m not sure you can put that kind of genie back in the bottle. If possible, Dalvin Cook is also poised to produce here as the Texans have been allowing an average of 188 rushing yards per game (total).
The Rams are one of the largest favorites of the week, by nearly two touchdowns. Not only are the Giants one of the lowest scoring teams in the league, they’ve turned the ball over seven times already (T-2nd in the league). The Rams’ defense should have a field day here. I don’t always aim to stack offense and defense from the same team, but it’s a recurring theme this week.
Meanwhile, Goff and his talented receiving options might be on the lower-owned side this week, but can still be safely deployed. The toughest part is choosing your weapon(s). I excluded Tyler Higbee here based on volume and price, but could certainly see him scoring (once, not three times again). Kupp is the favorite target of Goff, and has an amazing catch rate, but Woods is not far behind and can also produce on some sneaky running plays. It’s also worth noting that Woods is a few hundred dollars less of the salary cap on FanDuel and DraftKings, but a dollar more on Yahoo. I’m happy using both WRs with Goff.
The absence of a running back mention here is simply due to Malcolm Brown being off the injury report this weekend. As good as Darrell Henderson has been, averaging 5.7 YPC, I think the carries and targets will be pretty evenly split again once Brown is fully healthy. This doesn’t mean one of them won’t have value; it just means I’d rather deploy them as substitutes in multi-entry tournament lineups than a cash game stack.
This stack was sketched out before the Thursday news about OBJ (strained back) and revelations from Jarvis Landry (not fully over last season’s injury/surgery). A less stubborn writer might simply delete, but I think the Browns still have value in this game. Dallas gets a lot of attention for their offense, but they’ve given up the third-most fantasy points to opposing QBs, second-most to WRs, and 10th-most to TEs. If anything, the question marks now surrounding Odell and Landry make me more optimistic about Hooper’s chance to finally be the receiving weapon he once was in Atlanta. Mayfield is not a TE-aversive QB, so let’s see some real targets and production from Hooper this week! On Mayfield, he has been decidedly conservative this season, but I think game script is going to demand he throw the ball. Look for a season high attempts (to this point) from him.
Beckham was never going to have high ownership, but a possible injury will further tank it. You’ll have to watch Friday and Saturday’s news carefully before deciding to roll with him. If he plays, he’s worth a GPP lineup spot, especially as a pivot from the sure to be popular D.J. Moore on DraftKings, where Beckham’s just $200 more. Dallas will field the more popular plays for all contests this weekend, and a good game stack should include one or more Dallas receiver. I favor Michael Gallup, but some lineup builds have led me to Lamb, which is fine with me. The two are separated by just one PPR fantasy point.
Much like Dallas, Seattle is an offensive powerhouse (second-most points in the league, fantasy goodness everywhere), but their defense is really nothing to write home about. In fact, they’ve allowed more fantasy points than any other team on the main slate to QBs and the most to WRs. With the Dolphins expected to be trailing in this game, it further enhances the appeal of the Miami pass game. Fitzpatrick has not been bad at all in the last two games against Buffalo and Jacksonville, averaging 26 fantasy points per game. The only site respecting those performances and the matchup is Yahoo. Fitzpatrick is a steal on DraftKings and FanDuel. It makes sense to target his primary receiving options in Parker and Gesicki. Gesicki was amazing in the Dolphins only other home game (Buffalo), while Parker has mirrored Fitz’ better games in Weeks 2 and 3 with five catches for an average of about 62 yards.
You can’t even consider this game without wanting a piece of Lockett or Metcalf. Deciding between them is the hard part. Lockett is my preferred, but you can also let salary be your guide. Taking them both on DraftKings in this stack will leave you about $6000 per RB depending what you do at D/ST and FLEX.
Mini-Stack of the week:
The Saints are four-point favorites in a 54-point over/under game in Detroit. Detroit has been pretty equally generous in passing and rushing yards allowed, so these two make sense together, not to mention that Kamara is the favored target for Brees this season. Brees is currently QB17, averaging just under 20 fantasy points per game. His DraftKings salary really caught my eye this week ($5800), and he’s $3 cheaper than Fitzpatrick on Yahoo! On those sites, it’s pretty easy to take a shot on a low-owned QB with plenty of upside and a receiving back in a Top 9 fantasy matchup. Kamara has done almost all of his fantasy damage in the receiving game. In fact, the numbers disparity between he and Latavius Murray are so striking that I was shocked to see that Kamara had only one more carry than Murray. It has everything to do with talent and value; Kamara has converted five of his 16 red zone opportunities into scores, while Murray is zero for eight. These two make for an affordable, high floor, high ceiling mini-stack that can work in multiple contests.