This is an odd main slate for DFS purposes in the sense that every single game’s betting total is under 50 points, meaning there isn’t a game that will create chalk exposures. The fact of the matter is we don’t have the absolutely lucrative games to attack this week the way we have the past couple of weeks, particularly for our cash lineups.
What we do have is a handful of matchups to attack and some injuries that will elevate some cheaper salaried players into our cash lineup to make our big guns fit. Given this situation, we won’t lead with a game stack this week. Instead, we will dive right into the positional portion and lead with the most important one: running back.
There is a head-and-shoulders running back play this week, and it is Ezekiel Elliott ($8,300). His workload remains rock solid, averaging 23.7 touches over the last three games. It is safe to say not taking part in training camp was only a concern for Week 1 and is a forgotten blip in the rear-view mirror. He gets the best running back matchup at home — look at how bad the Packers have been against running backs, courtesy of the RotoViz Stat Explorer:
|Year||Week||Team||VS.||PPR||PPR Rk||EP||EP Rk||FPOE||FPOE Rk|
Elliott is a lock for cash and heavy tournament exposure, but the paying up at running back this week does not end there. There is another matchup to heavily attack with another bell-cow back, and that is favorably priced David Johnson ($7,500) at the Bengals.
|Year||Week||Team||VS.||PPR||PPR Rk||EP||EP Rk||FPOE||FPOE Rk|
We would be overthinking it to go away from Johnson this week after the Steeler running backs decimated the Bengals on Monday night both rushing and receiving. Johnson is a plus receiver and has seen at least seven targets in three of four games this year and is set up almost as well as Zeke. He is also necessary for cash and heavy tournament exposure.
Our third cash running back isn’t one with a perfect matchup by any means, but it is the one with the perfect skill set and work load. Look at where Christian McCaffrey ($8,700) ranks in workload and output:
As you can see, this is the workload to attack and where there are not three other glaring options at the running back position and can be fit into lineups with the other high priced options, it is a no-brainer to do so for cash. McCaffrey should also see sound tournament exposure, albeit less than Elliott and Johnson.
Alternative High Priced Options
Now that we have our cash backs and highest tournament exposure backs covered, we need to fill in the remainder of backs to consider/use for the rest of our tournament builds. The first one to touch on is Alvin Kamara ($8,600). His role will remain robust, but if he is to hit this week, it will likely be as a receiver against the pass funnel in Tampa Bay. He’s someone to not go overboard on by any means this week. Dalvin Cook ($8,400) has been a point of emphasis for the Viking offense and brings a real floor and ceiling into each week. This week, however, there are squeaky wheels needing greased in the passing game and the matchup dictates he may take a week off of high-end production. More on that later.
There are two backs this week that will handle the vast majority of their team’s running back touches, and their DK output will depend on, for lack of a better phrase, how well they play. Wayne Gallman ($5,400) and David Montgomery ($5,200) both have real ceilings and touchdown potential, and both are plus receivers. They should both see adequate tournament exposure but nowhere near the exposure that would make or break the slate for you.
Game-Script Dependent Ceilings
We have three backs this week to mix into your tournament builds that will all have an attainable ceiling, assuming their team is playing from ahead or neutral game scripts. These players are Melvin Gordon ($7,000), Mark Ingram ($6,300) and Joe Mixon ($6,100). We know the uncertainty of the Gordon workload in his first game back playing, but the matchup is great and his ownership will be low, so he can be mixed in. The other two players in Ingram and Mixon have good matchups that they will more easily exploit in favorable game scripts that dictate a more run heavy approach for each team.
All signs point to Jamaal Williams sitting out with a concussion this week and it should lead to the debut of Dexter Williams ($4,200). The Packers are wholly committed to a committee backfield, to the point of often using a fullback last week after Jamaal Williams was injured. There is no floor here, but if Dexter Williams can pop an early good play or two, he could see increased opportunity throughout the game. A game-script dependent cheap play is left-for-dead Duke Johnson ($4,200). Should the Texans get burned by the Falcon wide receivers early and be forced into a comeback mode for most of the game, Johnson could see more work, particularly as a receiver in a matchup that can be exploited.
Quarterbacks and Stacks
This is an ugly week for the quarterback position in cash games. The thing to do is to attack the best matchup — I even have a narrative to back up my thoughts. The Giants are the most easily beaten team by wide receivers and Kirk Cousins ($5,300) is the beneficiary of the week. It is no secret that wide receivers Adam Thielen ($6,700) and Stefon Diggs ($6,200) are wholly unhappy with the run-heavy state of the offense and their resulting roles. This matchup is the ultimate and typical get right spot where a coaching staff can simultaneously exploit a cake matchup, and grease the squeaky wheels on the team. Cousins is the cash quarterback, but I don’t want to guess at which wide receiver gets the preferential treatment, so I think naked Cousins is the ideal use. In tournaments however, Cousins can be stacked with either or both.
When paying up at quarterback in tournaments, the highest total game on the slate is the Falcons at the Texans and is likely to produce at least one high-end stat line from high-end fantasy quarterbacks Deshaun Watson ($6,700) and Matt Ryan ($5,900). Watson always brings an extra element with his legs and can be played naked in tournaments, but is more prudently stacked with either DeAndre Hopkins ($7,800), Will Fuller ($4,500), or both. On the Falcons side, Ryan has leaned on Austin Hooper ($4,500) more than expected this season, and Hooper is in play as a stack, but the Texans are more easily exploited across the board by the wide receiver position. This should be a spike game for at least one of Julio Jones ($7,700) and Calvin Ridley ($4,900). These two are the best tournament plays and, like Houston, can be stacked individually or in conjunction. The aforementioned Duke Johnson is in play as a contrarian dart in this game stack.
Popular Plays With Ceiling
The following three players will certainly be in the top five of ownership at the position. All have ceilings but all have identifiable paths to busting.
Lamar Jackson ($7,100) is highly unlikely to bust from a raw points perspective. The worry with him is busting relative to his salary. He is the top-priced quarterback on the slate and it is likely anything less than the slate’s QB1 is unlikely to see him to the optimal. That said, his rushing floor and ceiling give him a reasonable chance to get there each week. He can be played naked or stacked with Marquise Brown ($5,700). I am waiting to see some level of health before going back to Mark Andrews. The game stack option is Diontae Johnson ($4,400) and there is enough value in Johnson to use him in plenty of lineups not attached to this game.
In what is likely the battle to see which team possesses the league’s worst offensive line, Kyler Murray ($6,300) and, even more so, Andy Dalton ($5,700) will be extremely popular. Dalton will see heavy cash ownership while both will see heavy tournament ownership. I tend to think it’s too far of a reach to make these players chalk but I do think they need to be used. Murray will be without one of his security blankets in Christian Kirk and the matchup for David Johnson is far better than the matchup for Murray. Murray lineups only have two stack options in Johnson and Larry Fitzgerald ($6,000).
As for Dalton, the only skill position player who has returned game breaking ability to this point in the season is John Ross, who landed on IR this week. With this being the case, the legitimate wide receiving options are down to Tyler Boyd ($6,500) and Auden Tate ($3,500). Boyd is a possession threat who will need to get there on sheer volume, and should be relegated to a tournament stack only. Tate, however, will see more than enough volume to return his tiny salary and is very much a cash play and a tournament play independent of Dalton. The same holds true for tight end Tyler Eifert ($3,300) who gets the best matchup in football and should be heavily used in all formats. A deeper large field tournament receiving punt who will have some role due to the Ross injury is Damion Willis ($3,000).
Tom Brady ($6,500) gets a sweet matchup with Washington’s vulnerable secondary. This game is likely a laugher and Brady needs to get there in three quarters, but it is doable. The stacks with Brady in order of strength of play are Phillip Dorsett ($4,900), Julian Edelman ($6,300) and Josh Gordon ($6,100). The best game stack option is Chris Thompson ($4,600) to get a volume pass catcher while avoiding the Patriots’ league-best secondary.
There are an additional handful of wide receivers that won’t be used in stacks but should be used independently in builds and a couple even in cash. Let’s start with the cash options.
For Both Cash and Tourney
Michael Thomas ($6,600) and Golden Tate ($4,600) are not only cash options, they are very strong cash plays. Thomas’ volume PPR role at a highly depressed price against an exploitable across the board secondary is very much a cash and tournament spot to attack. Tate returns from a four game suspension and the expectation is he runs most of his routes from the slot, avoiding Xavier Rhodes and potentially seeing large volume at a favorable price. His skill set fits well with the limitations of Daniel Jones and is both a cash and tournament play, but the level of ceiling for tournaments is up for debate.
The last group of players should be included in tournament builds as standalone options. Chris Godwin ($6,900) has shown he’s an every-week play that will hulk smash on the weeks the volume comes and is not matchup dependent. Jamison Crowder ($4,300) and even Robby Anderson ($4,500) will be very much in play in a sweet matchup if Sam Darnold is able to return this week. If he is not able, Anderson is taken out of play while Crowder becomes the thinnest of thin. Emmanuel Sanders ($5,100) will avoid Casey Hayward and should see volume in a game the Broncos familiarly trail throughout. I expect the Cowboys to lead early and often, meaning a Packer pass catcher or two is likely to hit when forced into a pass heavy game script. I see the strength of play in order as Jake Kumerow ($3,800), Jimmy Graham ($4,300), Geronimo Allison ($5,000) and finally Marquez Valdes-Scantling ($5,600).
This is a fairly easy week to run down at the position. Kelce and Kittle are off the main slate and we’ve already covered Eifert and Hooper. This narrows us down to our two every-single-week considerations of Evan Engram ($5,800) and Darren Waller ($5,000). Waller is cash viable if you can’t take the plunge on Eifert, but both should be used in tourneys. The tournament addition of the week for a team that will be trailing is the favorably priced rookie Noah Fant ($2,800). The position is pretty straightforward this week.
Good luck and bink one!