Stacking Lamar Jackson was a disaster, and that really sums up the week on both sites. For FanDuel, three of my most exposed quarterbacks in Jackson, Justin Herbert, and Taylor Heinicke busted. Kareem Hunt‘s injury didn’t help, and neither did Terry McLaurin struggling to break 30 yards. I don’t think there’s much to take away from this week, just have to take it on the chin and move on to the next one. I lost $4.78 on these lineups, dropping the bankroll to $54.21.
Draftkings was a similar story, although since it’s only one lineup I think there’s more to learn from it. Stacking Jackson didn’t work any better on this site, and the Chargers’ complete inability to score also crippled Keenan Allen. Mark Andrews was the only piece of the stack to get there. I think it’s pretty easy to write this off as just a bad runout in that game, as three different running backs scored short touchdowns, Andrews was tackled at the 1-yard line, and Marquis Brown dropped a sure touchdown. For sure some of that is bad luck, but I also think I should have given more consideration to how bad the Chargers’ run defense has been, and how likely the Ravens would be to just pound the ball if that was an option. Darrell Henderson was a strong play thanks to his incredibly valuable role, and Sterling Shepard was solid even if he only averaged 7.6 yards per reception. Hunt’s injury was unfortunate, but in retrospect, he just wasn’t as good of a play as Khalil Herbert. Herbert was cheaper, less popular, and was similarly positioned to handle all of his team’s backfield work. Jakobi Meyers and Michael Pittman didn’t work out, but I’m still fine with those plays. I lost $3, dropping the bankroll to $42.
Philadelphia Eagles, team total of 23,@ Las Vegas Raiders, team total of 26
This game may not have the highest total on the slate, but it features two of the faster teams in the league and neither defense has been one we need to avoid. From the Philadelphia side, Jalen Hurts ($6900 on Draftkings/$8300 on FanDuel) seems to find a way to get fantasy points every week, regardless of how bad his offense looks on the field. Hurts’ lowest fantasy score on the season came in Week 2, and he still posed 21.8 DK points. He has at least seven rushing attempts in every game, and the Eagles are throwing at one of the highest rates in the league.
Since the Eagles traded Zach Ertz their targets should be more concentrated on DeVonta Smith ($5400/$5800) and Dallas Goedert ($4600/$5900) going forward. Both are extremely affordable this week. Smith leads the team with a 22% target share and is top-ten on this slate in air yards for the season. Goedert doesn’t have great underlying stats, but removing Ert’z 16% target share should help boost those, and Goedert is the type of player I’d rather risk being early on than miss the breakout. Ertz’s trade should also mean the Eagles run more three-receiver sets, which boosts Quez Watkins ($3900/$5300) and Jalen Reagor ($3800/$5200) and both are capable of breaking big plays thanks to their speed and run-after-the-catch abilities. Lastly, Miles Sanders ($5100/$5900) played over 80% of the snaps last week, despite the matchup with a Tampa Bay defense that doesn’t give up much in the run game. He saw four targets, and it appears Sanders is starting to put some distance between himself and Kenneth Gainwell ($4200/$5200) in the running back pecking order.
Las Vegas is a little harder to project given the turmoil their franchise is currently going through. Derek Carr ($6000/$7400) is coming off his season-low in pass attempts but his season-high in yards-per-attempt. The Raiders certainly have the personnel to take shots down the field, but even if they revert back to a more conservative offense Carr’s volume should be enough to get it done against a bad Philadelphia secondary. Henry Ruggs ($5500/$5700) still isn’t seeing a strong target share, but his speed and big-play ability make him an ideal candidate for game stacks.
Darren Waller ($6700/$6800) looks mispriced on FanDuel and leads the team with a 25% target share. He’d look like an easy play if not for popping up on the injury report late in the week, and since this is one of the later games we may not know his status by the time the early games lock. If Waller sits, Ruggs and Hunter Renfrow ($4800/$5600) would be the top options, with Bryan Edwards ($4100/$5200) also in play. If Waller does suit up, I’ll probably limit my stacks to only include Waller and Ruggs. Renfrow’s 7.1 aDOT is unappealing for tournaments, as is Edwards’ 12% target share, so unless we can expect a higher target share for both of them I won’t look their way.
Kansas City Chiefs, team total of 31, @ Tennessee Titans, team total of 26.5
This game does have the highest total on the slate, an unbelievably high 57 at the time of writing, and should be the most popular game to stack this week. With almost all of the main pieces boasting high salaries this week, this is a difficult game to full-stack. Chiefs’ quarterback Patrick Mahomes ($8400/$8800) may be having a down year by his standards with only an 18-8 touchdown-to-interception ratio and a 3-3 record. That hasn’t stopped him from being the top fantasy quarterback on the season, and a matchup with a terrible Titans’ defense should be a spot he takes advantage of. The Chiefs stand out as having a favorable matchup for their offensive line which should give Mahomes a clean pocket, and there is no one in the Titans secondary that can keep up with any of his weapons.
Said weapons all look great this week with Tyreek Hill ($8600/$8500) leading the way. Hill typically does well against man-cover defenses, which the Titans run a lot of, and has three straight games with double-digit targets after getting off to a bit of a slow start. Travis Kelce ($7600/$8200) is the top tight end this week and is priced at a bit of a discount from earlier this season. His combination of floor and ceiling is only really matched by Waller at tight end, but given their salaries, it’s tough for both Kelce and Hill to get there this week. Mecole Hardman ($4300/$5400) is the only other pass-catcher I’d want from this offense, but I’d only play him in a game stack. Hardman’s appeal is as a big-play threat and if he does break a big play that increases the chance this game shoots out, which makes playing him as a one-off not seem great. Darrell Williams ($5800/$6700) doesn’t catch enough passes to make sense in a traditional stack, but playing him, Mahomes, and one of Kelce or Hill seems like a decent way to get exposure to all of the Chiefs touchdowns, and there should be enough to go around for Williams to run one or two in without crippling the passing game’s fantasy scores.
The Titans’ passing game has struggled this year but there’s no cure for that quite like playing the Chiefs. A.J. Brown ($6300/$7000) has struggled with injuries, and now food poisoning, to start the season. He’s still one of the most explosive receivers, but he’s a bit of a risky play this week given how sick it sounds like he’s been heading into this game. Julio Jones ($6100/$6900) has also dealt with injuries and while he still shows flashes of being the Julio of old it is difficult to play an older receiver coming off a hamstring injury. This is a great environment for one of the two to break out and they’re certainly priced cheap enough to double stack, but it isn’t hard to imagine that one or both of them can’t finish the game.
The headliner from the Titans is of course Derrick Henry ($9200/$11000) and he’s priced like it. At his salary Henry has to do more than just have a good game, he has to truly dominate to pay it off. He’s obviously capable, and the Titans will likely give him every opportunity to, but if the Titans fall behind early Henry might get scripted out of the game. That salary is tough to stomach for a running back that just isn’t a featured part of the passing game, but Henry has been an outlier for several seasons now. If the Chiefs can’t rush out to a big lead Henry should push for 25-plus touches, as he’s done four times already this season.
Los Angeles Rams, team total of 33.25
The Rams have the highest implied total on the slate and should be able to do whatever they want on offense. That likely includes letting Matthew Stafford ($7100/$8100) put on a show against his former team. The Rams play fast and should have an advantage in the trenches this week giving Stafford time to throw against possibly the worst secondary in the league. Cooper Kupp ($8400/$8800) has been almost unstoppable this year and has dominated with a 34% target share. He leads the league in targets inside the 10-yard line. Robert Woods ($6400/$6800) has been priced up considerably, and aside from his 14-target outlier, he hasn’t hit double-digit targets. He’s still clearly the number two option in this passing attack, but at that salary, I would probably prefer to pay down for Van Jefferson ($3500/$5500) who has an aDOT over three yards higher than Woods’.
Tyler Higbee ($4500/$5500) hasn’t turned his snaps into a large enough target share to justify his salary, but he makes sense as a way to get exposure to this offense while knocking out the tight end position. He’s fifth in the NFL in targets inside the 10-yard line, and if he does catch a touchdown he’s already done enough. Darrell Henderson ($6600/$8000) is one of the top running backs this week, and playing him and Stafford together makes sense if you expect this game to blow out. Given the 16-point spread that scenario seems pretty likely.
It is hard to find any Lions to run it back with aside from D’Andre Swift ($6000/$7100). Swift has an 18% target share, hasn’t had a game with less than five targets, and has double-digit carries in four of six weeks. The issue is he isn’t cheap and his team has the third-lowest implied total. This is one of the rare times where a run-back doesn’t seem to make sense. Typically that would make this a stay away for me in tournaments, but with how popular running it back has become I think it may actually it’s starting to become more viable to avoid it to get a more unique build. In my Rams stacks this week I won’t be forcing in any Lions.
Lamar Jackson ($7400/$8400) let us down last week, but I’m going right back to the well. The Bengals have a solid run defense, which should prevent the dusty Ravens’ running backs from stealing all the touchdowns, and hopefully Marquise Brown ($5800/$7300) feels up to catching the ball this week.
Kyler Murray ($8500/$8700) and the Cardinals have the second-highest implied total this week against the Texans. Kyler should be able to do whatever he wants, the only concern is that he might not want to do too much if Arizona is able to just lean on their running game to win this one. Kyler also has only seven combined rushing yards the past two weeks, a concerning trend given that he popped up on the injury report in that time frame with a shoulder injury. Kyler should always be in consideration for tournaments, but if he’s not going to run the ball it’s hard to justify that salary.
Justin Fields ($5300/$6500) should improve as the season goes on. The Bears will need him to throw the ball this week if they have any hope of keeping up with Tampa Bay, and last week we saw Fields rush the ball six times after not really using his legs in any of his starts. If he can put it together this week he doesn’t have to do much to be a value and he should have plenty of dropbacks to do it, even if the real-life product looks bad.
Leonard Fournette ($6600/$8000) has established himself as the alpha in Tampa Bay’s backfield, totaling 56 carries in the last three weeks to go with 16 targets. His salary hasn’t caught up to this role, and he stands out as one of the best values at running back. He’ll be popular but he’s probably good chalk as a true three-down running back priced so low.
Chase Edmonds ($5600/$6200) still doesn’t have a touchdown this year, something that seems almost impossible with how much he’s touched the ball. He’s been out-carried by James Conner ($5600/$6500) but there should be enough work to go around for both of them this week in a projected blowout against the Texans. I prefer Edmonds thanks to his receiving work, earning at least four targets every game this season, but both backs are in play here.
Aaron Jones ($7500/$8500) is getting overlooked this week since he’s sandwiched between Henry and the cheaper three-down running backs. His snap percentage has also been trending in the wrong direction, but he’s one of the running backs capable of breaking the slate every week and he’s a great tournament play any time he isn’t going to be popular. Green Bay are big favorites at home this week against Washington, and Jones is still the clear goal-line back for the Packers.
Terry McLaurin ($6900/$7200) is another guy that let us down last week, but this should be a get-right spot for him. Washington will likely need to throw a lot to keep up and the Green Bay secondary is very banged up. McLaurin has an elite 29% target share and a 46.6% share of his team’s air yards.
Calvin Ridley ($6600/$7300) hasn’t had a big game yet this year after coming into the season with a ton of hype. Still, he’s accounting for over a quarter of the Falcons’ targets and almost half their air yards. The big game is coming, and coming off a bye I like the Falcons to have drawn up some better ways to get Ridley going in the downfield passing game.
Allen Robinson ($5100/$5800) is priced so low it’s tough to ignore him. He’s still earning a 24% target share, and his chemistry with Fields should improve each week. Tampa Bay has been a great matchup for receivers all season, so it’s now or never for Robinson. He’s still got the talent that earned him his reputation, and at this salary, he doesn’t even need a full return to form to be a value.
Tight end is pretty thin, with only two plays not mentioned in the stacks section standing out. Mike Gesicki ($4700/$6000) continues to operate as more of a slot receiver and has the third most air yards of any tight end on the slate. Ricky Seals-Jones ($3700/$5400) has stepped into an every-down role, and with how bleak the other cheap tight ends look he stands out as a value play.
Kansas City DST ($2600/$3400) are cheap, and if they can get out to a lead and force the Titans to throw they should be able to generate pressure and force some turnovers. Philadelphia DST ($2300/$3500) find themselves in a similar spot as a cheap defense, but they come with the added bonus of having a strong defensive line and not facing Derrick Henry. Arizona DST ($3100/$5000) is the most expensive defense on FanDuel, but on Draftkings they haven’t been priced up despite a great matchup against the Texans. A revenge game for J.J. Watt is probably good for a sack or two.
For this lineup, I’m going to make the difficult choice to fully fade Kansas City’s and Tennessee’s offenses, as their salaries combined with their projected popularity has me preferring a different path in a single entry. Stacking Matt Stafford, Cooper Kupp, and Darrel Henderson with no run-back isn’t something I typically would do, so I think this is a good chance to work through how that type of lineup will look. Since I’m not correlating my main stack, I’ll include two mini-stacks. First is Leonard Fournette and Allen Robinson, hoping that Fournette and the Buccaneers get out to a lead and force the Bears to throw, and also hoping to balance out the popularity of Fournette with Robinson’s lack of popularity. Second, is Dallas Goedert and Henry Ruggs in a game I like to be high scoring. Goedert has typically been a strong play without Zach Ertz, and Ruggs has slate-breaking speed and could become an even strong play if Darren Waller is out or limited in any way. This is an expensive lineup, so to afford all these plays I’ll need two value plays. Rashod Bateman had a strong debut, earning six targets and playing most of the offensive snaps, and at only $3400 I’m happy to bet on his talent. That leaves DST, where I’ll go with the Kansas City DST, hoping that they can generate some pressure and score a touchdown, which would be one less touchdown that their offense gets to score and would further give my lineup some leverage over the Kansas City stacks that should be popular.
As of now, I’m not taking any crazy stands this week beyond being over the field on both Miles Sanders and Calvin Ridley, two players that have disappointed so far this year but seem to be trending in the right direction. Otherwise, I’ll mostly just be playing the plays described above.
My top five plays at each position right now, by how much exposure I have to them:
QB: Jalen Hurts, Ryan Tannehill, Kyler Murray, Patrick Mahomes, Matthew Stafford
RB: Leonard Fournette, Darrell Henderson, Chase Edmonds, Miles Sanders, Myles Gaskin
WR: Tyreek Hill, Brandin Cooks, Calvin Ridley, DeVonta Smith, Davante Adams
TE: Darren Waller, Travis Kelce, Kyle Pitts, Mike Gesicki, Dallas Goedert
DST: Jets, Buccaneers, Giants, Chiefs, Ravens
Good luck this week!
Photo by Patrick Gorski/Icon Sportswire