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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Green Bay vs. Washington: Aaron Rodgers, Davante Adams, Allen Lazard/Aaron Jones, Packers D/ST
Washington is the league’s best QB matchup for fantasy, and they also rank first in overall fantasy points allowed. It is another great week to look at the Cardinals or Chiefs, but I think the Packers actually save you some salary cap and get you a just as good or better return on your investment. I always pair Rodgers with Adams, no explanations needed for that, but I’m adding in Lazard this week. Our DFS Optimizer loves him, and he’s a really affordable way to fill out this stack. He saw a season-high five targets and scored in Week 6. He usually has a couple big games, and if Washington can get healthy enough to keep this game somewhat competitive, Rodgers should be busy enough to feed Adams and Lazard. If that’s too risk/reward for you, you could go a safer, albeit more expensive route with Aaron Jones. In fact, if Washington doesn’t have Terry McLaurin, Curtis Samuel and Antonio Gibson, I’d definitely prefer Jones, but I don’t see that being the likely scenario. The Packers’ defense is one of a very few affordable options and I include them here for that reason, their home field advantage, and the spread on this game. Washington isn’t a team that takes a lot of sacks or turns the ball over a lot, but Green Bay can be a tough place to play, especially from behind.
Arizona vs. Houston: Kyler Murray, Cardinals D/ST, DeAndre Hopkins
The Cardinals are massive home favorites over the Texans, tied with the Rams for the highest implied team total of the week. Arizona ranks fourth in points scored per game, and has allowed the second-fewest points per game. The Cardinals defense also ranks highly with 2.8 sacks per game and 13 total takeaways. Meanwhile, Houston is one of the lowest scoring teams in the league this season, behind only the lowly Jets. Murray hasn’t thrown an interception since Week 3, and is coming off a 4-TD game. One concern over the last couple weeks is a lack of rushing production, after he started off hot with three straight rushing touchdowns. Still, he should be worth the price in this situation. The plethora of receiving options Murray has to throw to can be overwhelming, to the point that I have recommended rostering Murray alone some weeks. Hopkins remains a favorite to score, as well as lead the team in receiving yards, though he has yet to top 100. I like that his salary has come down a bit, and think he hits the triple digit mark this weekend. To be more contrarian, or to save some salary cap, I think Rondale Moore could have a big game as well.
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Atlanta Falcons vs. Miami: Matt Ryan, Calvin Ridley, Kyle Pitts, Jaylen Waddle
Atlanta is coming off a bye, and Miami was in London last weekend, so I think this is a game that could go a little under the radar. Both QBs have favorable matchups on paper, with Miami allowing the 10th-most fantasy points to the position, as well as the third-most to wide receivers. Atlanta is also Top 10 in both stats. Vegas has a pretty high total on the game, with the Falcons being very small road favorites. Some of us will have an opinion of Ryan and Ridley anchored in their Week 1 debacle, but they’ve honestly turned it around. Ryan is one of the cheapest QBs you’ll find this week, and he’s turned in four good to great performances in a row, with multiple touchdowns in each and exceeding 300 passing yards twice. Ridley had double-digit fantasy points in three of those, before missing the London game with a personal matter. He should be ready to go this weekend and has yet to really light the fantasy world on fire. I’m here for it. Pitts finally emerged as the offensive weapon we thought he could be vs. the Jets, and there is some reason to hope it wasn’t a fluke. He had nine targets in Week 4 before his explosive 9-catch, 119-yard, 1 TD game in London. Matt Ryan can be single-minded when it comes to feeding his receivers, but in a competitive game there should be enough targets to satisfy both Ridley and Pitts. If you’re concerned about Pitts losing volume to Ridley, you could save some salary cap with Mike Gesicki on the other side. He’s had three nice games this season, including his best yet with Tua Tagovailoa back in Week 6. Providing Tua is healthy for Sunday’s matchup, I’m preferentially stacking Waddle in this lineup. He’s clearly the favorite target of Tua, and the two connected for two short touchdowns last week. These two are meant to grow together, along with Gesicki, so I expect them to keep up a pattern of high-volume usage.
Carolina Panthers at NY Giants: Sam Darnold, Chuba Hubbard, D.J. Moore, Sterling Shepard
Another game that it’s easy to overlook is this one in New York. It does have a lower total than most of the others, but so many factors point to a Panthers field day that I’m overlooking that in favor of building a tournament lineup around them. Darnold was at one point QB6, thanks in part to five rushing touchdowns. He’s currently QB11, thanks to an ugly 7:7 passing TD:Interception ratio. The past two weeks have seen zero rushing scores, and four of those interceptions. His salary is way low, and this matchup is the perfect spot for a bounce-back game. Darnold has been uncannily good on the road this season, almost doubling his fantasy points in away games compared to home games. That’s partially due to the opponent, but we have good news in that department too. New York allows the third most real points to opponents, and the sixth-most fantasy points to QBs. They also rank high vs. RB (seventh). Hubbard is coming off two consecutive nice games, with over 100 rushing yards in Week 5 and a score in Week 6. His salary is still reasonable, and overall this is a very affordable stack. Moore was frustrating last week, as he caught only five of 13 targets, but he is still far and away the best option Darnold has. Though Robby Anderson got in the end zone vs. Minnesota, he was even worse, catching just three of 11 targets. As I said, salary isn’t really a concern with this stack, so I see no reason to go cheap with Anderson just to be more contrarian. The home team Giants are not expected to just roll over and die here. The spread is only 3 points. Though they are still injury-riddled, with the news getting worse as Evan Engram missed practice Thursday, at least Daniel Jones has Sterling Shepard back. Shepard is his go-to guy when healthy, and he caught 10 of 14 targets in Week 6.
Mini-Stack of the week:
Darrell Henderson and LA Rams D/ST
I’m hoping it’s not illegal to run back the same mini-stack two weeks in a row…but here we are again, with Henderson rushing into the league’s best RB matchup (Detroit) and the Rams 15-point favorites at home. There are some HUGE spreads this weekend and generally I think that is a good sign for quarterbacks and passing games. Here I think the Rams might get an early lead and take the rest of the game off. I find it hard to pay up for Matthew Stafford, Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods when they just might not be needed. Everyone can run on the Lions, and Henderson has been amazing this season. T.J. Hernandez notes on Twitter that he’s the only skill player to log at least 15 fantasy points in every game so far this season.