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.
This one is kind of a no-brainer, and there are multiple ways to play this high-scoring game. Rodgers and Adams were hot last week, and they were hot in Week 1 vs. the Vikings. Minnesota is one of the best passing/receiving matchups for fantasy in the league. This is a costly stack, but it should be worth it. When Adams is fully healthy, the sky is the limit, and he and Tyler Lockett are the only NFL receivers with two 40-plus fantasy point games this season.
Combining the high-powered Packers with Cook, returning from injury this week, further adds to the salary woes of this game stack. But Green Bay has been the league’s most generous run matchup, and I trust him a heck of a lot more than Kirk Cousins. Cook has scored in every game he’s played in this season, including two touchdowns in Week 1. If you wanted to add one more from this game (and save some serious salary), consider Irv Smith, Jr. He was in double-digits Weeks 5 & 6 in PPR formats with exactly four receptions on five targets per game. He and Justin Jefferson weren’t yet on the scene in Week 1, so I expect Minnesota to use that to their advantage.
This game should be a boon for DFS players. The Browns rank sixth and the Raiders seventh in total fantasy points allowed to opponents. Vegas has a 54-point total on this one and the Browns are only small home favorites. Both sides should be expected to put up points. Carr, despite not being a flashy fantasy producer this season, has a 13:2 TD:INT ratio and is averaging about 21 fantasy points per game. Priced about the same on FanDuel and Yahoo, Carr is $500 less than Baker Mayfield on DraftKings. I know Mayfield was great in his epic turnaround game last week, but I’m trusting Carr more here based on the season’s body of work. I could pair him with any of his receivers, depending on how I felt about roster percentages and risk, but Waller is the safest play. TE is likely to be spread out between Waller, George Kittle and Travis Kelce primarily. Cleveland is the second-best WR matchup for fantasy, and I consider Waller more a wide receiver than traditional tight end. He, and/or Henry Ruggs III, Hunter Renfrow, or Nelson Agholor (touchdown magnet!) should have nice returns on investment.
For the Browns’s side, Kareem Hunt is nearly a must-play. Not only has he been wildly productive this season, the Raiders give up the third-most fantasy points to the position. Hunt can beat them on the ground and through the air. Add Rashard Higgins, who stands to pick up a lot of Odell Beckham Jr.’s targets and production, if Week 7 was any indication. He’s a great bargain option to round out this game stack.
The Colts, too, find themselves modest road favorites in another high scoring game. Let me lead with the D. Indianapolis’ defense allows opponents the fewest fantasy points, overall, in the league. They rank in the bottom five to QB, RB and TE. They allow the fourth-fewest real points per game. They also come in (tied) at sixth in turnovers, averaging almost two per game. They are less expensive than they probably should be.
On the offensive side, there are too many quarterbacks I prefer to Philip Rivers. He is coming off a good effort, his best of the season BY FAR, but I’m not forgetting the previous five games yet. He’s been low-volume, low-scoring, and high-mistake prone. So I’m skipping him and heading straight to Taylor. The Lions are well-known as a weaker run defense, and now rank fifth in fantasy points allowed to opposing running backs. Taylor’s only really poor game came against the Bears in Week 4, and he has actually been picking up some steam in the passing game with seven targets in the last two games. Expect him to be busy and hopefully get back in the end zone (more than once?). Adding Trey Burton provides another element of lower rostership. Burton is coming off a great game, and is enjoying a reasonably high target share for the Colts. On paper, Detroit looks great against tight ends, but in reality, they haven’t faced a team that features a tight end on offense or uses the position the way that Rivers always has. It is another factor that should drive people away from Burton’s upside.
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When people think Chargers, they now think Herbert. It’s hard to ignore what the rookie has accomplished in his short time. What’s more is that his fantasy trajectory continues to point upward. Denver isn’t a pushover defense, but neither are they one to fear, especially if we’re talking about the opposing pass game. I’m not seeking Justin Jackson nor Joshua Kelley this weekend, as Denver ranks 31st in fantasy points to RBs. Herbert’s favorite target has been Keenan Allen, and I like Allen a lot here. I do think that the Broncos’ secondary will zero in on him, and that his rostership level will be higher than teammate Jalen Guyton. Guyton is averaging the same amount of fantasy points per game as Mike Williams and Hunter Henry (7.9, half PPR), but costs much less. He also has more touchdowns (3) than any other Chargers receiver or tight end. Herbert seems to trust Guyton with the big play ability and we’ve seen over and over that the team is willing to draw those plays up for him.
Pairing your mini-Chargers stack with a receiving option from the Broncos makes some sense, as Vegas doesn’t have the Chargers as huge favorites on the road. With Tim Patrick dealing with a hamstring strain this week, it makes sense to look at Jeudy. Jeudy has taken a backseat to Patrick lately, even with Noah Fant missing a week. But I’m looking for a rookie resurgence here against a Chargers’ secondary that has disappointed to say the least.
Mini-Stacks of the week:
This is an easy play, allowing you to save significantly at QB while still taking advantage of one of the best defensive matchups for opposing pass games this season. Garoppolo is cheap thanks to the 49ers predilection to run first, but they’re down to Jerick McKinnon and JaMycal Hasty. Plus, I think Seattle is going to continue to put up points, being the highest scoring team in the league. With pressure to keep up and little in the way of pass defense to stop him, I’m betting Garoppolo pays off his salary with relative ease this week. Pairing him with Kittle is super-easy, although I like Brandon Aiyuk plenty this weekend as well.