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.
For Week 5, I’m excluding games with the potential to be impacted by COVID-19 (e.g. Buffalo at Tennessee).
No big news here if you’ve been following my articles this week. Atlanta enters Week 5 as the defense allowing the most points per game and the most fantasy points to opposing QBs. They’re a dream matchup on all fronts, including allowing the 10th-most fantasy points to RBs. They have been particularly vulnerable allowing receiving touchdowns to opposing backs, which bodes well for Bridgewater and Davis, who has caught 21 of 23 targets from his QB this season. Bridgewater himself is overcoming an early TD draught, accounting for three in Week 4, and almost assuredly getting ready to match or exceed that number this weekend.
It's hard to argue for D.J. Moore over Anderson at this point. Anderson has caught almost everything thrown his way, while Moore is struggling with a 56 percent catch rate. You might think he’s getting the tougher (deeper) balls, but Anderson is actually averaging 11.1 yards per target (Y/T) vs. Moore’s 9.0 Y/T. If you like the idea of a Carolina stack, but want to be more contrarian, Moore is a way to do it.
Finally, with a game total of 55 points, both sides are expected to score here. I can’t bring myself to trust Julio Jones, who wasn’t present at practice Thursday, and while Calvin Ridley put up a big zero in Week 4 and looked hobbled doing it, it looks like he’s getting better and increasing his level of activity as the week goes on. If that goose egg from Ridley, in combination with his high salary scares you, you could save some salary and take a chance of Russell Gage or Olamide Zaccheaus, who was targeted a whopping nine times in Week 4’s loss to Green Bay.
Houston started the season in a series of difficult matchups. Things got a bit easier for them in Week 4, and that continues now vs. Jacksonville. Of course, the Texans haven’t been stellar on defense either, allowing the fifth-most points per game and ranking in the Top 4 vs. RBs for fantasy. The Jaguars rank in the Top 10 in fantasy points allowed to QB and RB, meaning that both of these teams should be useful for DFS this weekend. Vegas puts a 55-point total on the game, with Houston favored by almost a touchdown. Watson is the 11th-highest salaried QB on Yahoo, sixth on the other two sites. He’s coming off his first 300-yard game of the season and also his first without a pick.
Fuller is the leading target-getter for Houston, catching 82 percent of them, and coming off his first 100-plus yard receiving game in which he also picked up his second score. Given the competition, Fuller should be primed for another busy day. If you’re super-hot for this game, you could also consider Randall Cobb, who has proven a reliable outlet for Watson, though not a major red zone factor.
On the Jaguars side, I think Robinson again gets one of the best matchups in the league. His non-star salary is easiest to take at FanDuel (he’s priced as RB13), but his quality performances are catching up with him at Yahoo ($25) and DraftKings ($6700). His volume is great, and it’s worth noting that more than a third of his fantasy points have come from within the red zone. Round out this game stack with Chark, Gardner Minshew’s most efficient target. Chark has turned a mere 16 targets into 15 catches, three of which were for touchdowns. His best week yet was Week 4 in Cincy, where he caught eight of nine passes with two scores.
Also consider: New England, Baltimore, LA Rams, Dallas
The Giants might be forgiven for their horrible start if they can harness their many talents to put up points on the Cowboys. We have quite a battle brewing: the offense who has to this point scored the fewest points in the league vs. the defense who has allowed the most points in the league. Which side will suck more??
I’m taking a chance on a GPP Giants stack, after watching Dallas get beat up on by anyone and everyone from Russell Wilson to D’Ernest Johnson. I mentioned Devonta Freeman in the Bargain Bin on Wednesday, and still think he’s a reasonable option especially on Yahoo where he costs the minimum, but here I’m pursuing the passing game. Jones has scored fewer fantasy points this season than Mitchell Trubisky and Sam Darnold. Yikes. He needs his offensive line to step up here, and he needs to take some shots this week. Risky, yes, but this is a young player that still has a chance to improve and certainly play well enough to accommodate his low salary. Slayton is sort of the no-brainer to stack with Jones, and Engram, despite miserable results, is actually the third-ranked TE in targets (30). They are averaging a paltry 4.4 yards per, but he is definitely in position for some positive regression and his best game of the young season.
While you’re taking wild chances and saving money, Gallup is the Cowboy receiver to add in. Yes, I think Amari Cooper and CeeDee Lamb are ‘better’ plays. But Gallup is on the receiving end of the highest-volume pass attack in the league too, has a 93 percent snap share, and ranks second in air yards per completion (17.4). He’s poised to make some big plays and have a big fantasy impact, although the nature of that role is volatility. At least his salary is down considerably.
Feel free to add in a 49ers QB when we know who that will be, but I didn’t want to miss a chance to hype the 49ers at home in a cross-country battle with the 1-3 Dolphins. Said QB will step into the fourth-best fantasy matchup, while Aiyuk and Deebo Samuel get the sixth-best for fantasy wideouts. They are nine-point favorites without even having a known starting QB, though maybe news that Jimmy Garoppolo has practiced on consecutive days provides confidence that it’ll be him. I’m waiting for an official announcement.
Among TEs with at least 20 targets, only Darren Waller has a higher usage rate than Kittle – targets per snap (15.9 percent). Another way to look at it is that Kittle is targeted on 27.4 percent of the team’s passes. When active, Kittle enjoys a 100 percent snap share, and has caught 95 percent of the passes thrown his way. He’s an easy play, with a San Fran stack or not. But adding in McKinnon and the run game – he outplayed Jeff Wilson significantly in Week 4 – makes sense if this game gets out of hand. Even in a closer game McKinnon is playing well enough to earn your DFS slot. The return of Raheem Mostert would derail my McKinnon plans, but he’s had only two limited practice sessions coming off a pretty serious injury to a game the 49ers should win easily without him. Keep your ears open, nonetheless.
Deebo Samuel was not practicing Thursday, but I like Aiyuk regardless. He’s less costly, and he also shows off that dual WR/RB versatility the 49ers love. He’s scored two rushing touchdowns and totaled 69 yards on just four rushing attempts. Sometimes we run a stack back with an opposing WR or TE, but this week, I’m keeping it small. Even missing some key players, the 49ers D is allowing the third-fewest points per game (see also, their opponents have not been #good).
Mini-Stack of the week:
The face on Mahomes last Monday night…it was frustrated. His team came away with the win, but New England tried and was often successful at dominating time of possession and limiting the Chiefs’ potent offense especially in big plays. Some of the frustration was doubtless aimed at himself; he and Kelce in particular did not appear to be in sync. Look for a correction to come this weekend at the Raiders’ expense. While known as the league-best fantasy running back matchup (cheers for Clyde Edwards-Helaire), I fully expect this high-salaried duo to produce some fireworks and a large number of corresponding fantasy points. The Raiders’ defense has allowed between 24-30 points in every game so far, and has very little in the way of counting stats: two interceptions, zero fumble recoveries, and four sacks. I’m looking for a Mahomes-Kelce Classic.